The Police States of America

I’m just shaking my head over this one. I would never have thought that a tactical police response was necessary in the wake of a neighbor dispute over dog shit.

Resident Kim Polk told WITI that it all began when a neighborhood man’s dog had crapped in her yard on Saturday afternoon.

“His dog proceeded to soil my grass and I asked him you are going to pick that up because I don’t want that sitting on my grass,” Polk recalled.

She said that the man responded by kicking the dog poop into a pile of leaves she was raking, and then threatening her family’s dog with a bow and arrow.

When Polk’s husband went to talk to the man about the confrontation, she said that he came to the door armed.

“He closed the door and came back to the door with a machete in his hand, a very long machete so at that time my husband backed up off the property and I had my daughter call the police,” Polk explained

WTF?!

Your response when confronted about your dog shitting in someone’s yard is to arm yourself? You can’t talk about the issue like an adult? You want to get all macho and puff up your chest and threaten someone else? This. Is. Over. Dog. Shit. And the dog owner was in the wrong (in more than one way, given that he threatened to kill their dog).

Of course now that the cops have been called, the situation got defused and the dog owner apologized to his neighbors and they lived happily ever after. Yeahbutno.

Disturbing cell phone video posted to YouTube shows tactical officers taking cover behind an armored vehicle, when a small dog runs out of the suspect’s home. The dog appears to turn and head back to the home after spotting the armored vehicle, but officers quickly fire at least two shots and the dog falls to the ground.

“Oh my God!” a person watching from a nearby home can be heard screaming. “They shot the dog. You f*cking a**holes!”

In a statement to the Racine County Eye, Racine Police Chief Art Howell expressed his regret for the dog’s death.

“On a personal level, I am saddened over the loss of a domestic pet that more than likely, had no malice against anyone,” he said. “During this standoff, the dog owner threatened to use a body armor piercing crossbow to kill officers, and this subject threatened to use his dog as a weapon against officers as well. After several hours of dialogue with crisis negotiators, the barricaded subject ultimately made good on his threat to introduce the dog into the active standoff.”

“Officers, who for over three hours were focused on peacefully resolving this crisis through dialogue, were now forced to deal with the distraction and unpredictability of having the subject’s dog moving through the scene of this active encounter at a critical time.”

They couldn’t deal with the dog, so they shot and killed it. I just can’t even…

Does this need to be a part of police training in the future? “This is how to deal with a small dog when it is distracting you from peaceful talks with a guy who isn’t really a threat to you”

Then there’s the fact that an armored vehicle was brought in. This was a fucking dispute over dog shit. Yeah, the dog owner was waaaaaaaaaaay over the top, but the cops couldn’t have just sent two officers over to give this guy a stern talking to?  ‘Dog shit+threatening your neighbor ‘now requires police show up in an armored vehicle? This requires crisis negotiations? I know they have to make use of the military equipment somehow, but maybe they could use it when, oh, I don’t know–there’s a hostage situation??!

And let me return again to the dog. Take a look at the video and see for yourself how terrifying this dog was:

Clearly they were all about to be mauled by Cujo.

Look at those cops. They’re in full gear. They have an armored vehicle. They have their own dog (german shepard by the looks of it). They have weapons.  All of that is deployed against a guy with a machete, a bow and arrow, and Toto. The cops  were afraid of…what exactly? Did they think the dog was going to deploy it’s sonic scream and go all Banshee on their asses?

The cops acted as if the dog owner was a terrorist.  Their response has become an all too common reality here in the United States. Cops treating civilians like they’re the enemy. Deploying excessive force for minor infractions. This is not what the cops should be doing. This is not how they should be acting.  This is not serving and protecting. This is terrorizing the civilian population and making them fear you. Yet we’ve normalized this behavior and it’s going to keep continuing and unfortunately will probably escalate. Welcome to the Police States of America.

The Police States of America
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Science, Skepticism, & Social Justice links

Man sets a new world record by diving more than 1000 feet

Diving off the coast of Dahab, Egypt, Gabr reached a depth of 1,090 feet 4 inches (332.35 meters). The previous record holder for the deepest scuba dive, Nuno Gomes of South Africa, also dove off the coast of Dahab, in 2005, reaching a depth of 1,044 feet (318.21 m).

To put these depths into perspective, three American football fields laid end to end would measure 900 feet (274.32 m) long — less than the distance these divers reached underwater. Most recreational scuba divers only dive as deep as 130 feet (40 meters), according to the Professional Association of Diving Instructors.

It took Gabr only about 12 minutes to reach the record depth, which he achieved with the help of a specially tagged rope that he pulled along with him from the surface, Guinness World Records officials said in a statement. However, the trip back up to the surface took much longer — about 15 hours. Returning too quickly from such depths is associated with a number of health risks, such as decompression sickness (also known as the bends) and nitrogen narcosis from excess nitrogen in the brain, which Gabr luckily avoided.

15 hours to return to the surface? I wonder if he got bored with all that waiting.

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Paralyzed rats walk with spinal cord stimulation

Spinal cord injury is one of the leading causes of paralysis in the US, and the outlook for the vast majority of patients is depressingly bleak. The spinal cord is essential for movement because it acts as a middle man between the brain and the rest of the body; when it is injured, the flow of information to other body parts can be disrupted, resulting in the inability to move some or all limbs. Unfortunately, there is no effective treatment, so for many the paralysis is permanent.

But recently, there have been some encouraging developments in treatment as scientists figured out a way to mimic the brain signals required for movement by directly stimulating the spinal cord with electrical pulses. Remarkably, this experimental therapy allowed four paraplegic men to regain some voluntary movement in their hips, ankles and toes.

The problem with this technique, which is known as epidural electrical stimulation (EES), is that the amplitude and frequency of electrical pulses need to be constantly adjusted, which is difficult to achieve while an individual is attempting to walk. To overcome this limitation, EPFL researchers have developed algorithms that automatically adjust the pulses in real-time during locomotion, dramatically improving the control of movement.

For the study, the researchers used paralyzed rats whose spinal cords were completely severed. They surgically implanted electrodes into their spines and then placed them on a treadmill, supporting them with a robotic harness. After testing out different pulses and monitoring walking patterns, the researchers discovered that there was a relationship between how high the rat lifted its limbs and pulse frequency. Using this information, the researchers were able to develop an algorithm that constantly monitored the rats’ movement. This data was then fed back into the system which allowed automatic, rapid adjustments in the stimulation in real time, mimicking the way that neurons fire naturally.

The rats were able to walk 1,000 steps without failure and were even able to climb staircases. “We have complete control of the rat’s hind legs,” EPFL neuroscientist Grégoire Courtine said in a news release. “The rat has no voluntary control of its limbs, but the severed spinal cord can be reactivated and stimulated to perform natural walking.”

If they can successfully adapt this for use on humans, this could benefit so many people.  Science-continuing to advance understanding and making lives better.

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Bob Carroll of The Skeptic’s Dictionary asks a few questions in an entry on Political Skepticism

Most skeptics don’t do politics unless religion is involved. Some don’t do religion unless politics is involved. Most skeptics, however, whether they do politics or religion, claim to be involved in some sort of consumer protection. They have no problem with criticizing and debunking various so-called alternative health practices. People are risking their lives and wasting their money on treatments that provide false hope at worst and some sort of placebo effect at best. Most skeptics have no problem with criticizing and debunking pseudoscientific ideas such as perpetual motion machines, free energy claims, and junk science programs that promise to unleash all that potential you have in your brain, your heart, or your body. People are wasting their time and their money on programs and devices that have no plausible scientific support. Most skeptics have no problem criticizing and debunking people who claim to be psychic. People are being emotionally manipulated at great expense by those who claim to get messages from the dead or see into the future. So why–when people are being manipulated, robbed, or physically and emotionally abused by those cloaked in the authority of religion or the state–do some skeptics balk at going there to criticize and debunk? One answer is tradition: skeptics have traditionally focused on exposing psychic fraud, paranormal mischief, and pseudoscientific quackery. In any case, there are only a few prominent skeptics who stay away from anything to do with religion, but most still do not spend much time scrutinizing the political scene for deception, fraud, abuse, unethical extortion of money, and lies that do much more damage to us than all the psychics, supplement pushers, cancer quacks, detoxers, and promoters of brain-enhancing exercises put together.

[…]

Where are the skeptics questioning the long-term effects of creating a nationwide militarized network of local police departments that not only monitor our every move, but are prepared to turn against our own citizens? What kind of Homeland Security is that? Add to all this the federal government’s monitoring of phone conversations that have nothing to do with national security or terrorism and what do you have? A recipe for a very dark future, all begun under the guise of protecting us from foreign enemies–those terrorists who “hate our freedom.

****

Police Militarization Infographic

Science, Skepticism, & Social Justice links

Science, Skepticism, & Social Justice links

Man sets a new world record by diving more than 1000 feet

Diving off the coast of Dahab, Egypt, Gabr reached a depth of 1,090 feet 4 inches (332.35 meters). The previous record holder for the deepest scuba dive, Nuno Gomes of South Africa, also dove off the coast of Dahab, in 2005, reaching a depth of 1,044 feet (318.21 m).

To put these depths into perspective, three American football fields laid end to end would measure 900 feet (274.32 m) long — less than the distance these divers reached underwater. Most recreational scuba divers only dive as deep as 130 feet (40 meters), according to the Professional Association of Diving Instructors.

It took Gabr only about 12 minutes to reach the record depth, which he achieved with the help of a specially tagged rope that he pulled along with him from the surface, Guinness World Records officials said in a statement. However, the trip back up to the surface took much longer — about 15 hours. Returning too quickly from such depths is associated with a number of health risks, such as decompression sickness (also known as the bends) and nitrogen narcosis from excess nitrogen in the brain, which Gabr luckily avoided.

15 hours to return to the surface? I wonder if he got bored with all that waiting.

****

Paralyzed rats walk with spinal cord stimulation

Spinal cord injury is one of the leading causes of paralysis in the US, and the outlook for the vast majority of patients is depressingly bleak. The spinal cord is essential for movement because it acts as a middle man between the brain and the rest of the body; when it is injured, the flow of information to other body parts can be disrupted, resulting in the inability to move some or all limbs. Unfortunately, there is no effective treatment, so for many the paralysis is permanent.

But recently, there have been some encouraging developments in treatment as scientists figured out a way to mimic the brain signals required for movement by directly stimulating the spinal cord with electrical pulses. Remarkably, this experimental therapy allowed four paraplegic men to regain some voluntary movement in their hips, ankles and toes.

The problem with this technique, which is known as epidural electrical stimulation (EES), is that the amplitude and frequency of electrical pulses need to be constantly adjusted, which is difficult to achieve while an individual is attempting to walk. To overcome this limitation, EPFL researchers have developed algorithms that automatically adjust the pulses in real-time during locomotion, dramatically improving the control of movement.

For the study, the researchers used paralyzed rats whose spinal cords were completely severed. They surgically implanted electrodes into their spines and then placed them on a treadmill, supporting them with a robotic harness. After testing out different pulses and monitoring walking patterns, the researchers discovered that there was a relationship between how high the rat lifted its limbs and pulse frequency. Using this information, the researchers were able to develop an algorithm that constantly monitored the rats’ movement. This data was then fed back into the system which allowed automatic, rapid adjustments in the stimulation in real time, mimicking the way that neurons fire naturally.

The rats were able to walk 1,000 steps without failure and were even able to climb staircases. “We have complete control of the rat’s hind legs,” EPFL neuroscientist Grégoire Courtine said in a news release. “The rat has no voluntary control of its limbs, but the severed spinal cord can be reactivated and stimulated to perform natural walking.”

If they can successfully adapt this for use on humans, this could benefit so many people.  Science-continuing to advance understanding and making lives better.

****

Bob Carroll of The Skeptic’s Dictionary asks a few questions in an entry on Political Skepticism

Most skeptics don’t do politics unless religion is involved. Some don’t do religion unless politics is involved. Most skeptics, however, whether they do politics or religion, claim to be involved in some sort of consumer protection. They have no problem with criticizing and debunking various so-called alternative health practices. People are risking their lives and wasting their money on treatments that provide false hope at worst and some sort of placebo effect at best. Most skeptics have no problem with criticizing and debunking pseudoscientific ideas such as perpetual motion machines, free energy claims, and junk science programs that promise to unleash all that potential you have in your brain, your heart, or your body. People are wasting their time and their money on programs and devices that have no plausible scientific support. Most skeptics have no problem criticizing and debunking people who claim to be psychic. People are being emotionally manipulated at great expense by those who claim to get messages from the dead or see into the future. So why–when people are being manipulated, robbed, or physically and emotionally abused by those cloaked in the authority of religion or the state–do some skeptics balk at going there to criticize and debunk? One answer is tradition: skeptics have traditionally focused on exposing psychic fraud, paranormal mischief, and pseudoscientific quackery. In any case, there are only a few prominent skeptics who stay away from anything to do with religion, but most still do not spend much time scrutinizing the political scene for deception, fraud, abuse, unethical extortion of money, and lies that do much more damage to us than all the psychics, supplement pushers, cancer quacks, detoxers, and promoters of brain-enhancing exercises put together.

[…]

Where are the skeptics questioning the long-term effects of creating a nationwide militarized network of local police departments that not only monitor our every move, but are prepared to turn against our own citizens? What kind of Homeland Security is that? Add to all this the federal government’s monitoring of phone conversations that have nothing to do with national security or terrorism and what do you have? A recipe for a very dark future, all begun under the guise of protecting us from foreign enemies–those terrorists who “hate our freedom.

****

Police Militarization Infographic

Science, Skepticism, & Social Justice links