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I get so sick of liars like Charles Murray, a man who’s made a 30 year career of shoveling shit. I don’t mean to suggest he works on a farm: that’s actual work. No, Murray writes “scholarly books” he refuses to submit for peer review, because his data and conclusions are made of excrement.

This time, he’s slandering Philadelphia’s working class. So he’s our piggie of the week.

Amnesty: Time for Taser controls

Seems like every day, there’s another inappropriate tasing! Notice how this recent Occupy D.C. protester was hit directly in the center of the back. Now, read this excerpt from a lawsuit settled against a California police department:

During March 2006, however, a TASER-funded study documented that current from a Model X26 to the chests of test animals “captured” the heart’s electrical system, leading the researchers to advise TASER that “avoidance” of darts near the heart “would greatly reduce any concern for induction of ventricular arrhythmias.”

Nevertheless, in May 2006 TASER issued “Training Version 13,” which continued the misrepresentations that TASER ECDs cannot affect cardiac rhythm. Training slides pictured officers shooting Model X26 darts directly into the chest, and instructed officers to aim for “center body mass,” where the heart is located. The WPD relied exclusively on these fraudulent TASER training materials, and believed that a shock to the chest could not affect the heart.

Taser International has done all kinds of interesting things to avoid dealing with these issues, including threatening coroners with lawsuits for citing Tasers as a cause of death. But the information is mounting anyway:

According to data collected by Amnesty International, at least 500 people in the USA have died since 2001 after being shocked with Tasers either during their arrest or while in jail.

On 13 February, Johnnie Kamahi Warren was the latest to die after a police officer in Dothan, Alabama deployed a Taser on him at least twice. The 43-year-old, who was unarmed and allegedly intoxicated, reportedly stopped breathing shortly after being shocked and was pronounced dead in hospital less than two hours later.

“Of the hundreds who have died following police use of Tasers in the USA, dozens and possibly scores of deaths can be traced to unnecessary force being used,” said Susan Lee, Americas Programme Director at Amnesty International.

“This is unacceptable, and stricter guidelines for their use are now imperative.”

Strict national guidelines on police use of Tasers and similar stun weapons – also known as Conducted Energy Devices (CEDs) – would effectively replace thousands of individual policies now followed by state and local agencies.

Police forces across the USA currently permit a wide use of the weapons, often in situations that do not warrant such a high level of force.

Law enforcement agencies defend the use of Tasers, saying they save lives and can be used to subdue dangerous or uncooperative suspects.

But Amnesty International believes the weapons should only be used as an alternative in situations where police would otherwise consider using firearms.

In a 2008 report, USA: Stun Weapons in law Enforcement, Amnesty International examined data on hundreds of deaths following Taser use, including autopsy reports in 98 cases and studies on the safety of such devices.

Among the cases reviewed, 90 per cent of those who died were unarmed. Many of the victims were subjected to multiple shocks.

Most of the deaths have been attributed to other causes. However, medical examiners have listed Tasers as a cause or contributing factor in more than 60 deaths, and in a number of other cases the exact cause of death is unknown.

Other factors include: Lack of regular calibration of the instruments (resulting in the delivery of a much more dangerous shock than intended), lack of a policy and procedures guide for officers, updated training on new models which deliver continuous voltage instead of the automatic cutoff off earlier models, and Taser International’s very cozy relationship with police departments across the nation.

This is what freedom looks like!

I’m Looking Through You

I assumed for many years, because of the scorned and scornful tone of the lyrics, that this was a John Lennon song. Actually, Paul McCartney wrote most of it. The fact that he’s lead singer should have tipped me off. John plays acoustic rhythm guitar and sings back-up.

Footnote: Paul is 69 and sounding a bit ragged (check out the Grammy Awards), but so what? The Beatles’ records will never get old.

All my rage

Laura Marling:

Philly newspapers

The thought of these people buying our newspapers creeps me out – and I like Ed Rendell! Really, it’s disgusting.

Lifetime of love

Allen Stone with Daryl Hall:

Mitt, they see through you

Even Mitt’s millions might not be able to help him in the Michigan primary, where voters know he would have let the big auto companies go bankrupt. More here.

Safe and sound

Taylor Swift with the Civil Wars:

Politifact

Why so many reporters and bloggers have stopped paying attention to it.

The hand of the free market

Isn’t this great?

The maker of cancer drug Avastin is warning hospitals, doctors, and patients that a counterfeit version of the expensive medical treatment has been found in the United States.

Reuters reports that Swiss-based pharmaceutical company Roche discovered the fakes after a recent test on a batch of the drug—which is used to treat cancers of the colon, lung, kidney, and brain—showed that its active ingredient was missing is some of the distributed product.

The FDA has launched its own investigation, although it is not yet clear how much of the counterfeit drug is in circulation. The Associated Press reports that the federal agency has contacted at least 19 medical facilities that purchased the drug from Quality Specialty Products, a foreign supply company.

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