Monday, December 31, 2007

Jesse Saenz' Raton, NM post-taser death- Different Henhouse, Same Foxes

police fox in taser henhouseI get comments so infrequently here! I hate to be negative about any of them. This post is in response to a thoughtful comment to my earlier post about a flawed Wake Forest University taser injury study. The responder wrote:

“Say what you wish but I would much rather be shot with a Taser than with a 9mm. The reality is that the persons being shot have predominately caused a scenario to unfold wherein they have or are about to cause bodily or deadly harm to themselves or someone else. Again, stopping the threat is the main desire and I would preferred to be stopped by a 5 second Taser hit than a possible deadly hit from a 9mm or other weapon.”

Thanks for the comment- but this is is a false dichotomy. I'd rather be shot with a taser than with a 9mm myself, but I'd much rather not be shot at all.

Taser use often has nothing to do with threats to the victim, to bystanders, or to the officers. They're increasingly used not for defense or to avoid the use of deadly force but to terrify or simply force compliance with the officers' demands. Too many are not a low-voltage five-second jab in drive-stun mode (pressing the taser against the target) but sustained and repeated shocks administered through taser darts embedded in the victim's flesh and under full control of the attacker. Case in point...

This weekend the Las Cruces Sun-News ran an AP report describing how city police officers used two tasers to shock a Raton man 23 times. Jesse Saenz died before reaching the county detention center. A witness states that there was no struggle, and that the shocks continued over a period of five minutes. The AP report says that the exact cause of his death has not been determined. The officers using the Tasers said the devices malfunctioned, of course- they're unlikely to admit that they hosed Jesse unnecessarily for an extended period of time.

Watch the KOAT (7) Albequerque video here- the victim's sister claims that he was handcuffed at the time. Watch Captain Mike Galardi Of the Raton PD state that the taser was used to force compliance, not in response to a deadly threat. Hear police claim that they tasered the victim once, and hear a witness describe watching multiple extended taser flashes and hearing Jesse scream for five minutes.

The incident has been turned over to the New Mexico State Police for investigation. Will they investigate until the truth is revealed and then report it honestly, or will they protect their brothers in law enforcement? See my earlier post about Foxes guarding the Henhouse.

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Fort Worth TRE Says- Throw Jesus from the Bus

religious nonsense on the busCBS 11 reports that a passenger was escorted off a Ft. Worth bus because she continued reading the bible aloud after the driver asked her to stop. She claims the TRE bus line discriminated against her religion. I disagree. TRE, like many transit companies, has a policy against loud or abusive behavior. The driver asked her politely to stop breaking their rules, and she refused. It's as simple as that. If TRE was discriminating against anything, they were discriminating against Stupidity. It's not a bit different than kicking a drunken mime off the bus before he pukes on your shoes.

If this bothers you, substitute the title of another book into the news report to clarify the issue. “Christine Lutz says she was reading her Bible (Koran, Torah, Book of Mormon, copy of Dianetics, Congressional Record, Necronomicon, Phone Directory, Zend-Avesta, Upanishads, Bhagavadgita) aloud... when the bus driver asked her to stop or get off the bus.” See the difference? If the first was OK with you, and the second isn't, you'd best examine your notion that annoying public transit riders with random phrases blurted from your favorite good book is OK. If you doubt that this twit was anything more than a self-righteous fool, watch the video.

Jamming your personal favorite version of The Ultimate Truth up other peoples' noses works in Islamic countries, not here. This is especially true in politics.

Sunday, Republican Mike Huckabee effectively sunk his candidacy when he stood by a comment he made at a 1998 Southern Baptist Convention, "I hope we answer the alarm clock and take this nation back for Christ." Christ never owned America. We've spent a great deal of thought, sweat, and blood making sure no religion ever will. The American people are unlikely to hand their country over to Christ, Allah, or Frosty the Snowman anytime soon.

I hope the electorate is bored and disgusted with religious posturing by now, whether it's Dubya's convenient christianity, Hillary's chameleon christianity, Huckabee's Southern Baptist throwback version, or Obama's crypto islamo/jesus blend. None of them believe a word of it, except as it suits their needs. All they're managing to do is confirm the prejudices of my favorite religionists, the atheists. They can point to this rampant religious vote-whoring and argue that the candidates' continued existence proves there is no god, for no self-respecting deity would fail to smite the clowns taking His Name so egregiously in vain. Smite them, or at the very least, offer them the choice of shutting up or getting off the bus.

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Sunday, December 9, 2007

Huckabee stands firm; Giuliani agrees, more or less

Huckabee Stands FirmThe AP (myway) reports that Mike Huckabee, in a display of constancy, courage, and leadership uncommon in this or any other presidential campaign, refuses to back down from his 1992 stance on AIDS. "I still believe this today," he said in a broadcast interview, that "we were acting more out of political correctness" in responding to the AIDS crisis. "I don't run from it, I don't recant it," he said of his position in 1992. Huckabee stated his positions then in an AP questionnaire in which he also called homosexuality "an aberrant, unnatural, and sinful lifestyle," and this is one part of his remarks that's really stirring the pot now.

Giuliani, who appeared on NBC's "Meet the Press" Sunday, said in response to a question that he did not believe homosexuality was aberrant. "The way somebody leads their life isn't sinful. It's the acts," said Giuliani, who supports gay rights and lived with an openly gay couple after separating from his second wife while mayor. "It's the various acts that people perform that are sinful, not the orientation that they have." That's a bit of careful hair-splitting. To Be or to Do? Are you homosexual, or do you “do homosexuality”?

The secular among us would stop short of the candidates' “sinful” label. Few would argue against describing homosexuality as abnormal in the statistical sense. Let's adopt Giuliani's spin and restrict this discussion to acts rather than orientation. Promiscuity, debatably more common in though not exclusive to certain homosexual lifestyles, is demonstrably more effective at spreading STDs than monogamy. If the acts involved in the expression of homosexual orientation involve using body parts for other than their intended purposes or (to avoid the pitfall of divining intent from configuration) for purposes other than those to which they are biologically and medically suited, they are contraindicated for health reasons.

Sinful? Immoral? Your call. Statistically aberrant, medically problematical, epidemiologically inadvisable? Indisputably so. Read the Whole Post (opens in a new tab or window)

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Hucka boo boo: Candidate Makes Sense, probably Ruins Chances

Mike HuckabeeRepublican Mike Huckabee made a great showing in the Iowa polls. Immediately afterwards, in a howling coincidence, the AP reported his responses to questions about homosexuality and AIDS on their 1992 questionnaire. Mike Allen of POLITICO feels that this may harm his chances of a nomination. He says:

“The revelations could dampen the enthusiasm for the candidacy of Huckabee, a former Baptist minister, because the language clashes with his image as a compassionate, sunny leader... It also could cause Republican voters to reevaluate whether he would be effective at winning swing voters in a general election that looks trying for the GOP.”

He has a point. Huckabee is guilty of making sense in a race stuffed with choices like Billary (Socialist Ventriloquist and her dummy) Clinton and the O' Show team of Oprah and Obama, who either avoid the hard questions altogether or say what they think will buy your vote.

Huckabee also responded that AIDS research was receiving an unfair amount of federal money. Instead, he said celebrities should pay for the research themselves. “In light of the extraordinary funds already being given for AIDS research, it does not seem that additional federal spending can be justified... An alternative would be to request that multimillionaire celebrities, such as Elizabeth Taylor, Madonna and others who are pushing for more AIDS funding be encouraged to give out of their own personal treasuries increased amounts for AIDS research."

Put their money where their mouth is, in other words. AIDS is not a plague in the sense of anthrax, or flu, or bubonic plague, ebola or dengue fever. You don't catch it from the air, or the water, bad cold cuts, or a flea, or a sneeze. You catch it by doing something you have no business doing, or, in the sad cases of innocents, through intimate contact with someone who has. If fully-informed, potential AIDS patients won't stop putting themselves at risk through actions totally within their control, should we pay for their treatment when they don't beat the odds? According to AVERT, for data at the end of 2005:

88% of cases among men are due to avoidable behavior; sex with men, intravenous drug use, or a combination of the two. Don't want AIDS, guys? Stop doing those things.

33% of cases among women are due to avoidable behavior; intravenous drug use. 65% are exposed through heterosexual contact, and that means with men who have sex with men or are intravenous drug users. Ladies, don't want AIDS? Put down the needle.

Huckabee also spoke in favor of quarantine. "If the federal government is truly serious about doing something with the AIDS virus, we need to take steps that would isolate the carriers of this plague.... It is the first time in the history of civilization in which the carriers of a genuine plague have not been isolated from the general population, and in which this deadly disease for which there is no cure is being treated as a civil rights issue instead of the true health crisis it represents."

Making sense in America. Yep, he's done.

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Friday, December 7, 2007

Sluts in Denial- not a taser post

researching sluttinessThe New Zealand Herald carried the story “Women 'want No-Strings Sex' ” on 8 December. Maybe they carried it to boost flagging circulation. It reads like nothing so much as frustrated academics examining their own navels under tight deadlines, like a schoolboy who waited to write a book report until the night before it's due. One's a Kiwi, and one's Canadian, so there are some language problems- they speak a dialect of English known as Brit-Colonial Academic Estrogenese. I've translated these excerpts for my readers. No thanks are necessary.

Two young women researchers are calling for a new form of sexual ethics that would allow women to have casual sex without feeling that they're "sluts". They want to be sluts without feeling like they are sluts. This is a particularly pathetic version of the “perception is reality” argument as applied to self-deception.

Canadian sociologist Melanie Beres, a post-doctoral researcher at Auckland University, and Auckland doctoral student Pantea Farvid (we call this “devaluing the PhD”) told a sociology conference yesterday that rape prevention efforts should stop just giving women tips to avoid harm and promote an ethic of "self-care and care for the other". We call this kind of nonsense “Doctoral Feces”.

Dr. Beres interviewed young Canadians aged 19 to 25 about their casual sex experiences, while Ms Farvid interviewed New Zealanders in the same age bracket. Nice sample, representative of nothing. The New Zealand women were more likely to have actively initiated casual sex (here we call these “self-actualized sluts”) whereas the Canadians were more likely to say it "just happened" (we call these “sluts in denial”). Drink was used by some as an excuse for their choices. Really?

Studies have shown New Zealanders start sex younger than in many countries and have high rates of teen pregnancies and STDs (These are what we call “diseased sluts”). By the age of 25, 13 per cent of women have had more than 10 sexual partners (These are what we call “high mileage sluts” or “retreads”).

Dr. Beres said some women deliberately challenged society's "double standard" that said casual sex was okay for men. It's not OK for guys either. This is a blatant attempt to ennoble sluttish behavior. It's a logical fallacy, known formally as The Noble Slut. One woman in her study took the initiative in sexual encounters (we call this “loose”) and another had decided that a serious relationship would hinder her career, so she sought casual sex to meet her physical needs. We call this “assisted wanking”.

Ms. Farvid said a more open approach to sex would move away from the legal idea that the only issue in sexual morality was consent. Shevek says that a more moral approach to life would move away from the idea that the only issue in sexual morality is libido.

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Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Wake Forests' highly suspect taser injury study; Foxes Guarding the Henhouse.

taser in the henhouseThe Winston-Salem Journal reported on 10/8 of this year that a study led by researchers at the Wake Forest University School of Medicine suggests that Tasers are safe. The study, funded by the National Institute of Justice, is said to be the first large, independent study to measure the risk of Taser injuries in real-world situations. Doctors at six jurisdictions across the country reviewed medical and police reports of everyone police used a Taser on, noting injuries ranging from mild (cuts and bruises) to serious, such as bruising to the brain caused by a fall after a man was shocked. These were, of course, police reports and initial contact medical reports without follow-up patient examinations. This is not science. This is propaganda. This is sales.

Study director Dr. William Bozeman, associate professor of emergency medicine at Wake Forest University School of Medicine, commented that despite the conclusions of the study “You cannot treat it as a magical thing that can’t hurt. You have to understand that it is a weapon. It’s very important to recognize that these devices are not 100 percent safe.” This disclaimer aside, Steve Tuttle, a spokesman for Taser International, said he was “thrilled” with the results. Of course he was.

Raj Jayadev of Indybay offered a less enthusiastic view on 10/18, pointing out that examination of the study leaves more questions than answers. Nationally recognized Taser expert Aram James of the Coalition for Justice and Accountability (CJA) says, “The study concludes, without supporting data, that Tasers reduce injuries to both police and the individuals tasered. But the authors offer no systematic data to support this conclusion.” The abstract reported 23% of 597 subjects received some sort of injury. “...hardly support for the proposition that Tasers are safe -- and when coupled with 293 taser related deaths, a statistic conveniently ignored by the authors, the conclusion that Tasers are safe is not only not true but in fact a lie of deadly proportions.”

Richard Konda, Executive Director of the Asian Law Alliance and CJA co-founder, says the study ignores the reality that some populations are at higher risk when Tased. “The study fails to mention the effect of Tasers on vulnerable populations, such as pregnant women, the elderly, the mentally ill, and those under the influence of drugs, who are far more likely to suffer serious injuries and even death as a result of being Tasered... medical remedies to prevent death are being developed because Tasers kill. In Miami emergency medical technicians are spraying a sedative in the noses of Tasers victims or inject them with iced saline solutions. These protocols lead us to only one conclusion – that Tasers are deadly weapons and must be banned.”

The study was essentially a law enforcement report, and James points to several red flags. “First, it was conducted at six law enforcement agencies across the country, interestingly enough not disclosed. Why the secrecy? Secondly, underlying police reports and any accompanying medical records were reviewed by ‘tactical physicians' closely connected to a law enforcement agenda. Finally, not mentioned anywhere in the press release is the companion piece put out by the Wake Forest Physicians Group. In a study dated September 4, 2007, the same doctors credited with the above study reported on a police officer who, after volunteering to receive a 5 second Taser exposure under very controlled circumstances... suffered a very serious and apparently permanently debilitating thoracic compression fracture. Why was this piece buried? So much for Tasers being a low risk of injury weapon. If they're unsafe for the cops they're unsafe for us.”

Academics don't work for free. To evaluate any university study, follow the money. The funding agency, the National Institute of Justice, is an arm of the U.S. Department of Justice. Their website lists grant awards, though the most recent data available is for 2006. These are a few of them:

Wake Forest University Health Sciences received a grant of more than $149,000 in the category of Less-Lethal Incapacitation to study injuries produced by Law Enforcement's use of less-lethal weapons.

The Police Executive Research Forum received more than $400,000 to evaluate the effects of less-lethal technologies on police use-of-force outcomes. PERF is a national membership organization of police executives from the largest city, county and state law enforcement agencies.

The International Association of Chiefs of Police was awarded more than $250,000 for a study of Electronic Control Weapons and Deaths in Custody.

Blackhawk Industries Products Group, a large manufacturer of tactical law enforcement gear, received $174,000.

Politics and grant monies make strange bedfellows. Given the company of the members of this list, is there any reason whatever to suspect that the Wake Forest study is independent of the influence of police agencies and weapons manufacturers? This looks to me less like rigorous peer-reviewed research than whoring science out to support foregone conclusions in the service of sales, marketing, and the casual use of excessive force.

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Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Idiot cops taser deaf man

ASL don't tase me broEyewitness News 12 in Wichita, Kansas reports that multiple police officers responding to an anonymous call about a shooting broke into the wrong house and tasered a naked deaf man. Donnell Williams had just gotten out of the bath tub, wearing only a towel around his waist, when he turned the corner to see guns pointing right at him.

"I ain't never been so scared," says Williams. Without his hearing aid he is basically deaf. "I kept going to my ear yelling that I was scared. I can't hear! I can't hear!" The cops, apparently deaf, blind, and stupid themselves, feared for their own safety because it appeared Williams was refusing to obey their commands to show his hands. I suppose he was holding up the towel with one hand and pointing at his ear with the other. So they tasered him.

The case is being reviewed by the Wichita Police Department. This is a lot like relying on the fox to review security measures at the henhouse. Nothing to see here, folks... move along, move along. Deputy Chief Robert Lee said, "The first few minutes getting control of the scene are very, very important. Do I wish there would have been some way they were notified in advance this gentleman was hearing impaired? I certainly do. No one is happy with the way it worked out." I imagine the tas-ee is just a little more distraught than the tas-ers. Officers repeatedly apologized, no doubt hoping to ignore a huge lawsuit.

Eyewitness News, shilling for the cops, actually published this sentence: “Police wish it never happened, but with the information they had at the time, their choices were limited.” Limited to shooting first and asking questions later?

The whole incident is one long string of mistakes for which no one will be held accountable. Eyewitness news will drop the story and never follow it up. Dispatch reported the wrong address for an untraceable shooting call. Inept cops failed to correctly evaluate the threat level of a dripping wet, naked, empty-handed man fresh out of the bathtub and decided their best option was to tase him. The excuse machine kicked into high gear and spewed twisted logic to justify the screwup; for example, I'm very sure the department has no written policy that explicitly forbids tasering naked unarmed deaf people, so the cops violated no procedures.

If this is handled like most unwarranted tasering incidents, the shooters are probably still working or on administrative leave with pay, waiting to be returned to active duty once the news storm blows over. With fresh cartridges in their tasers.

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Friday, November 30, 2007

Tasering is not the same as an insulin injection.

The Dothan (Alabama) Eagle reported on Nov. 9 that Police in Ozark tasered a sober man who was having a diabetic seizure. Three police cruisers investigated a truck and trailer pulled over on the side of the road. James Bludsworth, 54, with no criminal record, was was slumped over behind the wheel. He was not responsive to police commands.

Did these Officer Friendlies help the sick man? Did they realize that this inert, possibly unconscious man was no threat to anyone? Did they call paramedics? No, this brave crew summoned their courage, overcame their terror, and tasered him three times. One now says that he smelled alcohol on Bludsworth, who blew 0.00 (stone cold sober) on a breathalyzer. Ozark Police Chief Myron Williams also claims the sick man was "combative." Maybe he was snoring too loud.

Did they take him to a hospital? No, he was booked at Dale County Jail and charged with resisting arrest (by using the force of gravity?) and driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI). Bludsworth has no recollection of the incident and is free on $1000 bond pending a December court date.

There must be something in the gene pool other than stagnant pond scum in Ozark, Alabama.

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Ohio Sheriff sells your Fourth Amendment rights for Cash

cops on the takeChristmas is coming, and office parties along with it. Be very careful in Ohio. You can buy anything there for the right sum, and the citizens of Summit County, Ohio have had their Fourth Amendment rights sold out from under them for a paltry $175,000. The Akron Beacon-Journal reports that Summit County Sheriff Drew Alexander agrees that sobriety checkpoints violate the spirit of the Fourth Amendment but sold out to that state for grants of that amount. The cash is earmarked to fight drunk driving, and requires the use of sobriety checkpoints, your rights be damned.

Checkpoints are a scam. The sheriff himself considers them less effective than roving patrols. The Beacon-Journal cited Ohio statistics that show traditional patrols catch drunk drivers five times more effectively than roadblocks. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court found that 99.3 percent of drivers stopped at roadblocks were completely innocent and that it took 53 percent more manpower to effect an arrest at a roadblock than with roaming patrols.

Who, then, likes these checkpoints? Ohio State Government loves them for a few reasons. MADD loves them, for one thing, and they're a huge, self-perpetuating fund raising and media machine. Lawmakers love them because they're motherhood and apple pie, safe to champion without requiring any thought or actual work, and citizens never question their effectiveness. Most of all, the cops themselves love them. It's cushy busywork and so much easier than roving patrols. The grant money goes primarily to off-duty cops from dozens of Summit County agencies who are paid time-and-a-half for their voluntary overtime. Cops, Ohio lawmakers, and MADD don't mind selling your right to be protected from illegal, warrantless search and seizure as long as they make out on the deal. They also know that getting citizen sheep used to having their Fourth Amendment rights whittled away bit by bit for a putative good cause sets good precedent. You know-for farther down the road.

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Thursday, November 29, 2007

Taser it before it grows- cops electroshock pregnant women. Three cases...

taser pregnant womanCops aren't shy about tasering old folks, kids, or women, even pregnant ones. A quick Google search using the term “taser pregnant” turned up three. Oldest first:

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported in October of 2005 (no, taser brutality isn't a recent phenomenon) that officer Donald Jones tasered Malaika Brooks for refusing to sign a traffic ticket. Three cops couldn't handle her without using electroshock multiple times but eventually managed to get her cuffed and into a squad car. King County sheriff's Sgt. Donald Davis, who worked on the county's Taser policy and also, apparently, its lame excuses, blamed taser use on the victim. "I know the Taser is controversial," he said. "Why use a Taser in a simple traffic stop? Well, the citizen has made it more of a problem. It's no longer a traffic stop. This is now a confrontation." Malaika's healthy baby girl was delivered without incident next January.

Fast forward to the fall of 2007, when an Alachua County (think Gainesville) Florida Sheriff's Lieutenant tasered pregnant Leslie Donaldson on her baby bump and elsewhere while she was trying to help break up a fight between neighborhood kids. The cop claims he didn't realize she was eight months pregnant at the time and felt threatened. This is ridiculous; the woman looks like she swallowed a pumpkin whole. She was arrested for battery after being checked out at a hospital. You check out the video. But it's OK: the department has no policy prohibiting tasering hugely pregnant women.

Finally we have today's attack in Trotwood, Ohio (near Dayton), where Breitbart reports that a cop tasered visibly pregnant single mother Valreca Redden. USA Today also says that Officer Michael Wilmer tackled and tasered her for being uncooperative when she appeared at the police station, seeking help, at the recommendation of Child Services. Michael Etter, Trotwood's Public Safety Director, blamed the incident on the victim, saying "I don't think any of this would have happened had she cooperated with us." Etter said he began an internal investigation after a man complained about Redden's treatment. Michael Brooks, an FBI spokesman, said the agency has opened a preliminary civil rights investigation based on information supplied by Trotwood police. He declined to comment further. Gunslinger Wilmer remains on duty.

Bob Marley wrote:

Sheriff John Brown always hated me;
For what I don't know.
Every time that I plant a seed
He said, "Kill it before it grows."

A pattern emerges; Clueless cop, no credible threat, no crime, visibly pregnant woman, blame the victim, no policy prohibiting egregious, unjustified taser use, no departmental oversight, energetic excuse machine, cop remains on duty with pay. In these three cases, there's another even more disturbing pattern: white cop, black target.

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Monday, November 26, 2007

I'll be Tased for Christmas

christmas taserConsumer Sheep everywhere rejoice: Calls from Amnesty International for a moratorium on taser use and United Nations condemnation of taser use as torture have spawned a “news” article that attempts to minimize the effect of taser electroshock and cuddly ads on Taser's website marketing Tasers for Christmas.

Breitbart features a Nov. 24 article from Antoine di Zazzo, who claims to have been tasered more than 50 times and never felt worse for the ordeal. "You cannot call it real pain," he said. "I just found that time was infinitely long." Biased testimonial? Noooo. He's chief of Taser France, who's also developing a miniature flying-saucer-like drone which could fire Taser stun rounds on criminal suspects or rioting crowds (no mention of drunk waitresses, your grandmother, disoriented Polish nationals, or folks who refuse to sign traffic tickets). He expects it to be launched next year and to be sold internationally by Taser. In other words, he has a huge financial interest in convincing you that tasers are wonderful things. I'm calling BS on his 50-plus hits- no documentation. I'd like to see some fact-checking from Breitbart.

Three frames of a rotating ad banner on Taser's site sell the warm fuzzies of electroshock. One features a glowering Santa Claus studying his “Naughty” list and asks “What does Santa bring you when YOU have been GOOD but the WORLD is getting BAD?” Another, designed to tug your familial heartstrings, lays simulated polaroids of a happy dad giving his son a piggyback ride and a blindingly white blond woman nuzzling her newborn on a background image of a lonely airport waiting area. Both are ads for the Taser ® C2, the low-power consumer version of the weapon, molded in a selection of smooth metallic pastels to fit a smaller hand. A third announces a charity poker tournament, complete with Playboy Playmates, to raise funds for the families of fallen law enforcement officers.

I'm not sold yet. I'm waiting until Taser runs seasonal specials like Google decorates their title banner for each holiday. I want to see baby Jesus in the manger packing Taser heat he got from the Three Wise Arms Dealers to protect himself and his mom from Herod's minions. I want to see white, yellow, and orange candy corn tasers for halloween. I want a taser with Miami-style flamingo and teal colored handle that smells like cocoa butter tanning lotion for spring break. I want a pink and white Hello Kitty ® taser with rhinestones and the logo on the handle. Hell, I want a taser cell phone with camera, GPS, and 20 gigs of storage for my favorite tunes. How stupid does Taser think we are?

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Sunday, November 25, 2007

Even a broken clock is right twice every day. Tasers are Torture.

taser tortureI am no fan of the United Nations, but their recent comments about tasers are on the mark. Agence France-Press reports that the UN's Committee Against Torture has declared stun guns a form of torture. "The use of these weapons causes acute pain, constituting a form of torture. In certain cases, they can even cause death, as has been shown by reliable studies and recent real-life events,'' the committee of 10 experts said in recommendations to Portugal, which has bought the newest taser for use by police. Portugal "should consider giving up the use of the taser,'' as its use can have a grave physical and mental impact on those targeted, which violates the UN's Convention against Torture.

It's clear that taser use has been extended from enforcement to torture. Videos of taser deployment repeatedly show officers continuing to discharge the weapon after the victim is under control. Police and military worldwide, along with the manufacturer, believe this sort of sadism is just fine. They aggressively sell the notion that taser electroshock is not a last resort but a first option on a continuum of force, appropriate for use against any citizen in any situation even after the victim is under complete physical control. Sorry, no: if it's wrong at Abu Ghraib, it's wrong in Alabama.

It's long been my impression that Canada is in some ways more civilized than the US- certainly Canadians believe so- but the rise in taser deaths has followed unwarranted taser deployment northward. The Ottawa Citizen ran a fact-packed article this Saturday. On Sunday, Nov. 18, in a sad echo of Ohio's Heidi Gill episode, police in Ottawa tasered Marlena Sarazin after she had been torn from her vehicle, handcuffed, and pinned face-down on the pavement under an officer's knee. This followed the recent post-tasering death, caught on video, of Polish immigrant Robert Dziekanski at Vancouver airport last month. RCMP was seen kneeling on his neck in that video.

Earlier this week, Paul Kennedy, assigned to review the RCMP's use of Tasers in the wake of Mr. Dziekanski's death, said police use the devices "inappropriately at too early a level of intervention." Amnesty International said last June that Tasers "are used too readily by law-enforcement officers, too low down the use-of-force scale, and not as a weapon of last resort." Amnesty wants police forces to suspend use of the devices pending a "thorough, impartial and independent" investigation into their medical and other effects. Long term effects need further study; days after Ms. Sarazin was attacked, her hands were still tingling, though she's been told those effects will gradually subside.

Canadian cops are coming to have more in common with American cops than with Canadian citizens. Kingston Police Chief Bill Closs says tasers are here to stay. He thinks politicians and police governing bodies have misled the public by selling them as an alternative to lethal force and created a false expectation that police will use them only when they might otherwise have to shoot someone. In fact, he says, the rules permit their use whenever police are dealing with someone who is actively resisting, engaging in "assaultive behaviour" or posing a threat to the safety of the officer or the public. Because the officers themselves have written The Rules, and the threat determination will be made by an officer on the scene without witnesses or oversight, this means they'll use it whenever they want to, public opinion be damned. Unless citizen response reins in this relentless escalation, they'll rewrite rules to suit their needs. In five years we'll see LRADS (acoustic) and ADS (microwave) crowd control weapons deployed as freely as tasers are today. They're already in use here in the USA.

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Monday, November 19, 2007

Gunslinger cops in Frederick, MD non-lethally taser another target. He's dead.

taser gunslingerDo police departments get Most Frequent User awards from Taser International? The Frederick County Sheriff's Department must be up there in the standings. CNN reports that a 20-year-old man died Sunday after being tasered by a sheriff's deputy. Cpl. Jennifer Bailey of the Frederick County Sheriff's Office said deputies responding to a fight tasered one of four people, who then fell unconscious and was pronounced dead at Frederick Memorial Hospital. The shooter is on administrative leave with pay pending completion of an investigation.

This is the same Jennifer Bailey who insists that Cpl. Jody Maybush acted with “necessary and reasonable” force when he tasered a Tuscarora High School student November 8 after threatening another with the same the day before. She said, "There's no information that indicates he did anything inappropriate at all." She's a busy lady. No word yet on whether FOP attorney Patrick J. McAndrew considers today's tasering as “heroic” as he did the Maybush incident. Stay tuned.

The manufacturer of the electroshock weapons claims that post-tasering deaths are not caused by the taser itself, but by related police action or the victim's excited delirium. Video of the Vancouver airport taser death of a Polish man that showed the victim continuing to struggle after being shot with the device "is proof that the Taser device was not the cause of his death," the company said on its website. Despite that, deaths are increasing as tasers become more common. Which of the following statements makes any sense?

“The man continued to struggle after being tasered. This proves the taser didn't kill him.”

“The catfish flopped around on the bank after I landed him. This proves the fishhook didn't kill him.”

“The buck ran a hundred yards after I shot him. This proves the shotgun didn't kill him.”

Amnesty International reported that since June 2001, more than 150 people have died in the US after being subdued with a stun gun and has called for police to suspend use of the devices pending study of their risks. Back-to-back electroshocks, one resulting in death, are reason enough for an immediate moratorium on their use in Frederick, MD.

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Sunday, November 18, 2007

School taser violence in Frederick, MD

taser lessonI can't recall the source of a quote I remember from the 1960's. “The first places in a free society that civil liberties are violated are prisons and public schools”. Tuscarora High School in Frederick, Maryland is proving that quotation true. The Frederick News- Post for today reports the following.

During a class change Nov. 8, student Dereck Holland saw his sister escorted to the school office by a cop. He didn't know she'd been in a fight and was headed to the office for discipline. He was worried and approached her, putting his arm around her. He never intended to prevent Cpl. Jody Maybush and a school administrator from taking her to the office, he said in an interview.

According to police reports he physically prevented the cop from escorting her to the office. Maybush threatened to tase him. Holland stopped hugging his sister and told the officer, "Do it." He did. The cop must have been itching to try the electroshock weapon out; he'd threatened to taser another Tuscarora student the day before he zapped Holland.

Once the weapon was discharged the law enforcement spin machine kicked into high gear to generate enough paperwork and official ruckus to cover the cop's behind. Maybush arrested Holland and hit him with a real grocery list of charges: disorderly conduct, failing to obey a reasonable and lawful order, disturbing orderly school conduct and obstructing the performance/duties of an officer. Paperwork is Truth. Trumped- up charges help create the impression that the force used was “necessary and reasonable” instead of “twitchy and ill-considered.” Where's there's smoke, there's fire, right?

Maybush is still on duty. The department is defensive and unapologetic. "There's no information that indicates he did anything inappropriate," a sheriff's office spokeswoman said. An FOP attorney called Maybush's actions “heroic," saying "the subject took an aggressive stance...(He) was in a posture to strike the deputy." Shooting an unarmed student who has done nothing violent is appropriate and heroic in Frederick, MD.

Holland's mother wants Frederick County Public Schools to develop a policy to dictate when officers in schools should be able to use force. Marita Loose, spokeswoman for FCPS , said she doesn't know that the school system or Frederick County Board of Education can create such policies. How can this be? They've already created a policy that allows tasering kids, and she think that's just fine.

The PTA thinks tasering kids in school is fine, too. Janice Spiegel, president of the PTA Council of Frederick County, Inc., said she hasn't heard much parental rumbling about excessive police force in schools. "When it comes to this specific incident, we haven't talked about it; we haven't met because we haven't heard anything," Parents seemed content with a letter sent home from the school detailing the taser incident, she said.

Maybe that's the problem. Maybe parents in Frederick just don't care.

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Friday, November 16, 2007

Taser Willie, will yeh, yeh cheesehead sherrrriff!

taser the janitorThe Green Bay (WI) Press-Gazette reports that on November 6, a Brown County Sheriff's Department resource officer “inadvertently and accidentally discharged” a taser, striking the janitor at Bay View Middle School. The officer was removed from the post at the school, given “remedial” training, and disciplined. Not canned outright.

How does this happen unless the taser unholstered and the cop is displaying it or playing with it? Cops nationwide have driven taser use to such a casual level that this department considers it appropriate for show-and-tell. This kind of liaison kids don't need- a poorly trained cop wandering around a middle school armed with a 50,000 volt electroshock weapon that law enforcement officials everywhere desperately wish to believe is universally non-lethal and without lasting effects. And she can't control it.

I hope the janitor has a good lawyer. There's no reason to believe that the neural and neuromuscular effects of taser electroshock won't manifest themselves later in his life. He should be able to retire comfortably on a judgment or settlement in this case. I hope the parents get a good lawyer to protect themselves from a sheriff and school district willing to expose their kids to the same poorly understood systemic damage.

A cop has an itch he wants to scratch? Out comes the taser. A sudden itch, a spastic twitch, you're on the ground. Gee, sorry.

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Thursday, November 15, 2007

Brit Docs Nix Snatch Patch

female victim of islamic nonsenseLondon's Evening Standard reports that the National Health Service pays for surgery to repair hymens, and increasing numbers of woman are paying for the fix in private clinics. The trend is condemned as a sign of social regression driven by Islamic fundamentalists. Some countries have made hymen reconstruction operations illegal.

The operation can involve suturing of a tear in the hymen, such as can be caused by sexual or normal activity. A membrane is constructed, sometimes including a capsule of an artificial blood-like substance. How utterly medieval. A gynecologist at the London's Regency Clinic who started hymen reconstruction more than 18 years ago in the Middle East, said: "In some cultures they like to see that the women will bleed on the wedding night. If the bride is not a virgin, it is a big shame on the family."

Labor MP Ann Cryer said she was "absolutely horrified" to learn of the practice. "We should be trying to protect girls from this. It is a form of abuse... and it may be that the woman who is asking for the operation to be done does not recognize the abuse that is taking place against her, but in later life she certainly will. We have to also ask whether our National Health Service should be providing this... I don't think it should be available on the NHS."

Isabelle Levy, who studied the issue for her book Religion in the Hospital, said young Muslim girls “have adventures like other Europeans - which never happened in the past. But... fundamentalism is spreading and these girls are getting sent back to their countries of origin to marry. And they will be rejected if it is found out that they are not virgins."

This idiocy may have made sense to somebody in a seventh century tribal existence where virginity was important because women were regarded as property, people screwed like bunnies and establishing parentage was an issue. Today this kind of fossilized gender apartheid is important only to insecure male culture. Perhaps they fear comparison.

In other Islamic gender news, Breitbart reports that a court in Saudi Arabia is punishing a female victim of gang rape with 200 lashes and six months in jail. The sentence was originally for 90 lashes, but in a verdict issued after Saudi Arabia's Higher Judicial Council ordered a retrial, the court more than doubled the count, punishing the victim further for "her attempt to aggravate and influence the judiciary through the media." The court banned her lawyer from handling the case and withdrew his license to practice law because he challenged the initial verdict.

Her crime? "Being in the car of an unrelated male at the time of the rape," the Arab News reported. The six men who raped her received between two and nine years in prison. The case has angered members of Saudi Arabia's Shiite community. Are they angry that she was raped? Who knows? The woman was Shiite. The convicted men are Sunni Muslims, the dominant community in the oil-rich Gulf state. Their honor was violated.

What's wrong with these people?

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Monday, November 12, 2007

Officer, it's Black and White- You Serve Us

cops serve the peopleIn elementary school I learned that Officer Friendly served the community. I was impressed that squad cars carried the motto “To Serve and Protect.” That made the fine point that police were authority empowered by and serving the people. When I grew older I noticed that the motto had been inverted to “To Protect and Serve.” I don't think this was an accident.

Keegan Hamilton reported last Saturday on RFT Blogs that a man was tasered at a concert at Washington University in St. Louis, MO after resisting arrest and taking his clothes off. He refused a Concert Security request to leave. Security called the cops, who asked him to put his shirt back on. Instead, he took off his pants; that's not even sort of the same thing. Police tried to handcuff him. He resisted. “He was tased in the ass for a prolonged period of time,” one female witness stated. “It was terrible.”

Concertgoers headed for the exits and a large crowd gathered just outside the door. Several people yelled at the police officers standing near the exits, “Don’t taze me bro,” and “You serve us.”

RFT blogs promises details and the police report when it becomes available. That's worth waiting for. By initial reports this fool was out of control. The case could be made that he was dangerous. Whether he deserved a 50KV kick in the ass, whether the taser was the right tool, and whether it was used excessively (as is becoming common) remains to be seen. What caught my eye was the crowd response, “You Serve Us.”

Do they still? Do they enforce the laws enacted by a government that answers to the people, or do they believe that they ARE the law? Read a few cop blogs and you'll be surprised. At best, we're referred to as “civilians”. This is an improper distinction. Police, in a very legal sense, are civilians themselves, not a militia. The wordplay is their means of creating a satisfying Us vs. Them division. So is the wordplay on the side of the squad car. Service first must have rankled. Some cop, somewhere, was irked by the notion of service.

Cops need to hear that concert chant from time to time. You Serve Us. It reminds me of another chant that, whether you agreed with it or not, had an effect; “The Whole World is Watching.” Dash cams, security cams, and cell phone and video cams are everywhere in the hands of citizens. YouTube and other sites are full of video examples of police who have forgotten their mandate. From Myanmar to Minneapolis, the whole world is watching. You Serve Us.

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Sunday, November 11, 2007

Veterans' Day, 2007 – Rock On, America

This photo comes to you courtesy of the forum at The Mountain. It was taken at the Veterans' Day parade in Washington, DC. The Westboro Baptist Cult attended to protest, knee deep in kool-aid and carrying signs that mocked veterans. I've posted about these fools before: they're the group that just lost a huge judgement in a suit brought by the father of a downed vet whose funeral they chose to desecrate. The signs are all shown shown in the pic on the linked forum (I won't post it), and the signs read:

Soldiers Die, God Laughs

God Hates America

God is Your Enemy

USA = Fag Nation

Thank God for Maimed Soldiers

America is Doomed

Thank God for Dead Soldiers

Don't Worship the Dead

They are Not Heroes

Because this is America, their signs are protected speech. Because this is America, nobody stomped their sorry asses to a bloody pulp. Because this is America, Rolling Thunder Vets, members of Gathering of Eagles, and Protest Warriors were there to honor vets and offer peaceful counterpoint. Because this is America, vets marching in the parade offered a bit of their own protected speech in response. Excellent! Rock on, Vets Everywhere.

Visit the forum and Alabama Mountain Man's blog.

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Saturday, November 10, 2007

Thug cop gets off on tasing, brags about it online

It's pretty clear from You Tube videos what tasering feels like. From victim accounts we know the immediate effects can include loss of muscle control, nausea, convulsions, fainting, and involuntary defecation and urination. Lasting effects reported include muscle stiffness, long-term damage to teeth and hair, post-traumatic stress disorder and severe depression. I'd add helplessness, humiliation, and risk of secondary injury due to impeded respiration or falling or being beaten. Have you ever wondered what it feels like to be the shooter instead of the target? No need to wonder. One corrections officer was nice enough to boast about it online.

Eve Tushnet writes in Reason Online about a story broken by the Portland Tribune in Oregon on September 7 of this year. “The post suggests that the guy gets off on violence and he enjoys tasering people,” said Tribune reporter Nick Budnick.

Multnomah County Corrections Officer David B. Thompson bragged in a chat room of the City of Heroes MMORPG, an online game he played while on the county clock. Here's what he said: "Seeing someone get tasered is second only to pulling the trigger. That is money- puts a smile on your face."

Now, because of another post in the same chat room, authorities at the Justice Center Jail are investigating whether the same deputy also filed a false police report to cover up the beating of an inmate. Lieutenant Jason Gates, apparently not as big a fan of illicit taser fun as officer Thompson, regrets the incident. “All we have is public trust. What does that do to our public trust? It destroys it,” he said. Good, I say. It should be destroyed when this happens.

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Thursday, November 8, 2007

Arming your police with more weapons you can't have.

taser shotgun round
The company that makes Tasers is field testing and plans to sell in 2008 a wireless electroshock round that can be fired from any 12-gauge shotgun. It delivers the same electrical effect as the handheld Taser at distances up to 100 feet, and adds blunt impact to that knockdown electrical power.

The round leaves the barrel live and already discharging, and continues to discharge for 20 seconds. Four barbed electrodes embed themselves in the flesh at impact. The projectile then breaks apart to release six additional electrodes to further distribute electroshock. Its outer shell carries more electrodes to enhance shock when the victim reflexively grasps it and completes a circuit through the hand and arm. The round carries a miniature microprocessor to identify the best- working electrodes and reroute electroshock for best effect. Unlike the tasers we are all becoming familiar with, it carries all its charge onboard the round and needs no wires connecting it to the gun.

I can find no estimate of the cost of these rounds, nor any discussion of them being made available for private purchase. Weapons technology has always run ahead of the law. Police departments have a habit of lusting after arms that the citizen can't afford and the law has the distressing habit of making police weapons unavailable to the average citizen. We can hope that this round opens the gap wide enough to require the attention of watchdog agencies and the courts.

This abomination will be released for use against American citizens with absolutely no independent testing or government oversight, no doubt with the same claims of non-lethality made for handheld tasers. Protestors, students, women, children, and other members of the public will provide their services as guinea pigs free of charge. TASER international has done detailed technical and social engineering to make this round everything a police state enforcer could want.

Traceability is gone. Police versions of the hand-held taser have a datalogger in the handset to record the date and time of each firing and the number of times the trigger is pulled to deliver a shock. Privately available versions discharge miniature confetti, each piece imprinted with a unique number linked to the gun. The XREP projectile is completely unrelated to the weapon; it can be used in any 12-gauge shotgun, and carries no datalogger or tattletale confetti. The shooter has no fear of being held to account for the shot.

The stigma of electroshock weapons has been sidestepped. Police will carry only substitute rounds for their existing firearms, not strange-looking plastic weapons stowed in a second holster on their hip.

The marketing point of reduced lethality has been preserved. These rounds will be presented as a humane alternative to buckshot.

The element of enforcer personal risk has been removed. Once these are available, police will no longer approach their intended victim closely enough to put themselves at risk. They can taser trick-or-treaters from across the street. They can taser homeowners filming police activities on their own property from across the yard and never put down their doughnut.

The one-shot limitation has been overcome. One aggressor cop can paralyze mobs of protestors as fast as he can pump his shotgun. The shells probably also work in a 12-round capacity Striker or Protecta street- sweeper style weapon.

There's absolutely no reason to believe this round won't be abused as freely as hand-held tasers are now.

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Wednesday, November 7, 2007

How little is Too little to Taser in Gwinnett, GA?

matroshka taser lineupThe Atlanta Journal Constitution (ajc) reports that police in Gwinnet, GA tasered a 14 year old female trick-or-treater last week. It's OK, though, because the department has a Policy that exempts nobody but pregnant women from taser shots. That exemption will stand right up until some testosterone-deficient cop feels threatened by a woman about to pop one out on the sidewalk.

Apparently the taserable offense was cursing. Loudly. Officer W.A. Bohn heard that, called for backup, and together these two studs managed to cuff the girl. She was tased when she continued to struggle. That took balls, W. A. Two on one, handcuffs, and a taser. Fun date. No roofies? Did you swipe her candy?

But they have a Policy. A WRITTEN Policy. "People who are handcuffed are still a threat no matter what age," said Cpl. Illana Spellman, a Gwinnett County Police Department spokeswoman and custodian of the department's lone pair of cojones. What about a 5- or 6- year old? That's OK according to the policy. Gwinnett police Maj. Keybo Taylor is reviewing the incident. "We are still reviewing it to see if any policies were violated, and so far we do not see any policies violated," Taylor said. Thank goodness.

Apparently Georgia cops statewide fear handcuffed teen girls. Frank Rotondo, director of the Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police, said his organization believes age should not be the deciding factor in use. "You have to look at the behavior of the individual rather than the age. And in the Gwinnett case, the Taser was able to stop the behavior." The young lady is lucky those cops had tasers, because that stop-the-behavior reasoning works for shotguns, too.

When is tasering justified? Georgia cops have answered the question: Any time they feel like it and have their blue asses covered with a nice, broad policy not subject to citizen review. And want some candy.

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Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Chicago Granny channels M.C. Hammer- It's Taser Time!

taser grannyCBS2 reports that a Chicago police sergeant tasered 82 year old, 5'-1”, 160 lb. granny Lillian Fletcher last week. Workers with the city's Department on Aging saw her through the window of her apartment with a hammer in her hand, swinging it back and forth. The social workers called police. A landlord opened the door with a key and when police stepped inside, Lillian was seen swinging the hammer. Officers immediately wet themselves and, fearing for their lives, tased Granny Fletcher in self defense.

Fletcher's granddaughter told the Chicago Sun-Times that Fletcher suffers from schizophrenia and dementia. "She can be belligerent," Traci Taylor told the newspaper. "I just don't think they should be tasing 82-year-old women."

Amnesty International USA agrees, and voices concerns that police use tasers routinely rather than in cases of serious danger. In 2005, the Chicago Police department suspended the distribution of stun guns following the deaths of two people police shot with tasers. They've reconsidered that cautionary step in response to the surge in grannies with easy access to hand tools. About 200 cops have tasers and 150 more will be issued to field training officers.

Police stress the need for additional training and seek citizen volunteer taser targets to “help teach officers how to use tasers effectively when faced with physically intimidating perpetrators in life-threatening situations,” said department liaison patrolman Suzy Bluesuit. “Candidates should be at least as fierce as drunken blond waitresses or infants. Catatonic paraplegics, the blind, triple amputees, and patients confined to iron lungs” are encouraged to apply.

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Monday, November 5, 2007

Faith vs. Reason 2: Jehovah's Witness mom bleeds out after giving birth.

transfusion superstitionThe earlier post about the tragic burning deaths of Muslim schoolgirls and today's news have spawned a Category here at HABOP. Faith vs. Reason posts will highlight occasions when stupid people put faith before reason.

Britain's Daily Mail reports today that a young mother died hours after giving birth to twins because she refused a life-saving blood transfusion. A Jehovah's Witness, Emma Gough signed a form before the birth barring transfusion. Hospital staff begged her husband, also a Jehovah's Witness, and other relatives to allow it. Believing that blood transfusions are prohibited by the Bible, the family would not sanction the treatment.

Imagine the conversation a few years from now when the twins want to know why they don't have a mommy. What will dad say- mommy bled to death when you were born because God, daddy, and auntie wanted her to die rather than allow her body to be sullied by proven medical technology available to the most indigent of patients? If that chat takes place before they're fully brainwashed the cult has lost the kids for sure. That may be the only good thing to come of this. There's nothing good about blood doctrine nonsense. It's all bad.

It's Bad Science. In a 1961 Watchtower, a doctor and surgeon was quoted as saying "Moral insanity, sexual perversions, repression, inferiority complexes, petty crimes often follow blood transfusion." Another is quoted: “The blood in any person is in reality the person himself. It contains all the peculiarities of the individual.... The poisons that produce the impulse to commit suicide, murder, or steal are in the blood.” This is bad vampire fiction. Cross-matching, screening for infection, anticoagulant preservatives, and control systems all but guarantee safety from less supernatural risks.

It's Bad Religion. Blood transfusions are mentioned in the bible as often as CAT scans, tennis shoes and popsicles; never. The prohibition is generated by parsing and extrapolating scripture beyond its original meaning. Blood doctrine evolved from recommendations for abstinence in 1909 to prohibition by 1945, to a disfellowshipping offense in 1961, and ad absurdum to forbidding transfusions for pets and use of blood-based fertilizer in 1964. It's a classic example of the Making Shit Up school of theology. All faiths do it. Yours does. It's funny or sad depending on the consequences. Furthermore, it's far from universally accepted within their own church. Witnesses, like Muslims, Catholics, and Jews, exhibit a refreshingly human lack of uniformity in acceptance of official dogma.

It's Bad Morals. It's nothing more than assisted suicide. Jack Kevorkian did hard time for that but at least had the decency to provide the feel- good drugs. In the case of denying proper 21st century post- partum care, it's gender apartheid on a par with enforced marriages and genital mutilation.

I'm a huge believer in the right to be stupid at your own expense. Unfortunately the victims of stupid people's mental and moral lapses are often not themselves but innocents caught under the wheels of their crazy train. By the act of procreation, parents lose the right to flush their own lives down the toilet. A proper god would consign this woman's soul straight to hell.

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Sunday, November 4, 2007

Oregon Cop plays fast and loose with the Truth, his DUII arrest record soars

judge, jury, and executionerThis week the Corvallis Gazette-Times reports that city is being sued over a DUII arrest of a completely sober citizen earlier this year. Officer David Cox is widely recognized for the number of DUII arrests he's made- 27 of the total of 35 for the entire Corvallis police force in May of this year, for example. Now he's become recognized for the lousy quality of those arrests. Six of the 27 he arrested had BAC's under the legal limit and were not found to have been using drugs. About a quarter of those he arrested were either not prosecuted by the DA's office or had charges dismissed by the court.

The police department and the courts failed to rein in this cowboy and he finally busted someone who decided to sue. Cox could not smell intoxicants on the driver's breath but insinuated that he'd been drinking and smoking marijuana. The man passed a field sobriety test, blew 0.00 on a breathalyzer, and submitted urine for a drug test that found nothing but a trace amount of codeine from cold medication. He was stone cold sober.

Undeterred by lack of factual evidence, Cox wrote a highly embellished description of the man's appearance and behavior in a police report. 22 of his 27 May police reports repeated the same creative writing almost word for word. Four of the remaining five spun the language a little differently to support Cox's suspicions that drugs were involved instead of alcohol.

This incompetence would be pathetically funny if those people didn't still have DUII arrests on their records. Oregon law does not allow arrests for motor vehicle violations to be removed from a driver’s record, even if the driver was never charged or convicted. Arrest records are accessed every time a law enforcement officer stops someone, for any reason. Employers see the records when screening prospective employees, and a DUII arrest, justified or not, can have a negative effect.

“An arrest for traffic is not expungeable,” said Corvallis defense attorney Jennifer Nash. So when innocent people are arrested, “There is actual damage.”

Courts give greater weight to the testimony of an officer than to the arrested party. There are too many Coxes in uniform to tolerate this bias. In Livingston County, Illinois, where I live, similar official sleight-of-hand is common. When juveniles are stopped for suspicion of possession of marijuana and released for lack of evidence, the police report records a “street resolution” of the incident; that is, the juvenile was released at the officer's discretion. No record is made of what has not been found. The wording is deliberately chosen to avoid this and create an impression useful to the court. The report remains in the record and is considered damning by the court when the juvenile's record is reviewed. This allows the justice system to dance around the letter of the law. You will find that this is common and occurs to some degree where you live.

Let's hope Corvallis listens to its citizens. Read their comments to the article cited above on the bottom of the paper's webpage. Cox should lose his job, as should his immediate supervisor; his department should be censured, and the DA's and judges who became aware of police malfeasance when these junk arrests came before the court should be punished. Read the Whole Post (opens in a new tab or window)

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Westboro Baptist Church loses big: It's a win for the separation of Church and Stupid

westboro baptist church losersGod wouldn't smite these world class attention whores so a federal jury in Baltimore did the job and awarded nearly $11 million dollars to the family of Marine Lance Corporal Matthew Snyder, whose funeral was desecrated by their shameful antics.

The weeklong trial pitted the moral and ethical rights of the family to a quiet funeral against the first amendment rights of the misbegotten spawn of Fred Phelps, founder of Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kansas, whose 71-member congregation is largely made up of his relatives. The suit named the church, Phelps, and his two daughters as defendants. The Phelps family did not apologize for their conduct.

This is, of course, a free speech case. Partly in response to WBC protests, at least 22 states enacted or proposed laws to limit the rights of protesters at funerals. Church members stretch first amendment protection to the breaking point, exercising tactics of calculated brinksmanship while hiding behind the constitution of what they refer to as The United States of Sodom. They've paraded with inflammatory messages on garish signs at reportedly more than 30,000 protests, including hundreds of military funerals. Check out the upside-down flag that appears in the address line of your browser next to their URL. The site spews classic hate.

If an appeals court reverses the judgement on grounds of protected speech these losers will, after checking to be sure the cameras are rolling, offer extravagant thanks to God for justifying their stand. This is no different than the homicide bomber who shouts to Allah as he blows a cafe full of innocents to hamburger; both varieties of idiot look outside reality for validation without fear of contradiction. God's characteristically mum. This was Baltimore's week to take the garbage to the curb.

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Sunday, October 28, 2007

No headscarves? Get Back In There and Burn to Death

Faith is fine until it replaces reason; this is what happens when believers substitute religion for reality.

BBC News reports that Saudi Arabia's powerful “mutaween” religious police, the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, prevented fifteen schoolgirls from leaving a blazing building because they were not wearing correct Islamic dress, headscarves and black robes, according to Saudi newspapers. The girls died in the fire.

The girls were locked in the school at the time of the fire, a common practice intended to ensure segregation of the sexes. The watchman refused to open the gates to let the girls out. Firefighters confronted the police and may have prevented even greater tragedy. The mutaween stopped men who tried to help the girls and warned "it is a sinful to approach them". Saudi parents and news media are incensed. Apparently it's OK to segregate them, stifle them, and treat them like second class citizens, but they draw the line at burning them to death.

It's difficult for the rest of the world to take Islam seriously when this kind of foolishness is a matter of official policy. The kingdom uses Islam to keep its rulers in power and its people under control. The mutaween are widely feared as a kind of religious stormtrooper. They roam the streets enforcing dress codes and sex segregation and ensuring prayers are performed on time. Those who refuse to obey their orders are often beaten and sometimes put in jail.

We in the West seldom see a dramatic clash between common sense and religion. Here the mainstream religions have been tamed and have learned to stay safely, irrefutably unreal. Preachers leave their predictions of religious manifestation- miracles, the end of the world- comfortably far in the future. They won't tell you the second coming will happen next Tuesday at 11:30 AM EST because those who've tried that have been disappointed. The rest of them caught on and dummied up quickly, not wanting to blow a cushy gig. Our remaining examples of sheer dogmatic idiocy are the occasional Jonestown or Heaven's Gate tragedy, Scientology, or the Westboro Baptist Church, wolves who have found some of the sheep that are always with us. Islam is state-sanctioned; none of the western sideshows are. This is why we separate church and state.

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Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Hillary Turns her Back

Hillary turns tailToday's Guardian interview of Hillary Clinton illuminates her stance on terrorism. This is a flattering interview. Guardian America's editor Michael Tomasky seems to have one foot in Hillary's pocket. Even so, this excerpt is terribly telling. Clinton's tuning her rhetoric to suit her political needs- to distance herself from the stance of the current administration- at the expense of speaking clearly against terror. As the interviewer says, the president and current administration officials have said repeatedly that terrorists hate us for our freedoms. Clinton clearly takes a different view:

"Well, I believe that terrorism is a tool that has been utilised throughout history to achieve certain objectives. Some have been ideological, others territorial... And I think we've got to do a much better job of clarifying what are the motivations, the raisons d'etre of terrorists."

"I think one of our mistakes has been painting with such a broad brush, which has not been particularly helpful in understanding what it is we were up against when it comes to those who pursue terrorism for whichever ends they're seeking."

So it's not, I asked, helpful to America's fight to say they hate us for our freedoms? "Well, some do," Clinton said. "But is that a diagnosis? I don't think it's proven to be an effective one."

Ms. Clinton, that brush is indeed broad. It has had to be, to paint the USS Cole, three airliners, embassies in Tanzania and Kenya, the Khobar Towers, the Pentagon, and the World Trade Center, twice. Those terrorists' masterpieces hang in our own national gallery. The brush is wider now, world-wide, well loaded and dripping with the terrorists' favorite shade of crimson, and ready to paint again.

There's adequate proof that Islamofascist terrorists hate and fear our freedoms. We know how they feel about freedom of speech in film, print, and even cartoons. Ask Salman Rushdie, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, or Theo Van Gogh- well, you can't ask him, they killed him, you see- if you have doubts. We know how they feel about freedom of religion- ask apostates who want nothing more than to leave Islam and can only do so under a death threat. Worldwide Islam is more about denying freedoms than ensuring them. Women suffer virtual enslavement under their ideals, according to female authors. It's odd that you, one of the few females in a bully pulpit, are unmoved by this and feel no responsibility to speak out.

Ms. Clinton had nothing to say about a strong response to terror. What does she think might be a more effective diagnosis? She's clear about that.

"One of the lessons that I think we all should take out of the last six-and-a-half years is that ideologically driven foreign policy that is not rooted in a realistic assessment of the world as we find it today is not likely to result in any positive outcome."

The terrorists' policies, foreign and domestic, are driven by ideology. Apologists for terror and even those who merely turn away are helping to make the terrorists' assessment of the world a realistic and rewarding one. The outcome will not be positive.

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