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Thurgood Marshall Blasted Police for Killing Black Men With Chokeholds

By Dave Gilson |

Early on the morning of October 6, 1976, 24-year-old Adolph Lyons was pulled over by two Los Angeles police officers for driving with a burned-out tail light. As the facts of the incident were later recounted by Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, "The officers greeted him with drawn revolvers as he exited from his car. Lyons was told to face his car and spread his legs. He did so." After an officer slammed his hands against his head, Lyons complained that the keys in his hand were hurting him.

What happened next nearly killed him:

Within 5 to 10 seconds, the officer began to choke Lyons by applying a forearm against his throat. As Lyons struggled for air, the officer handcuffed him, but continued to apply the chokehold until he blacked out. When Lyons regained consciousness, he was lying face down on the ground, choking, gasping for air, and spitting up blood and dirt. He had urinated and defecated. He was issued a traffic citation and released.

Lyons, who was African-American, sued the Los Angeles Police Department for damages and asked a federal judge to enjoin the further use of chokeholds except in circumstances where they might prevent a suspect from seriously injuring or killing someone. Lyons also argued that his constitutional rights had been violated by being subjected to potentially deadly force without due process.

His case, Los Angeles v. Lyons, eventually made it to the Supreme Court. In April 1983, the justices ruled against Lyons 5 to 4 . The majority punted on the question of whether chokeholds are constitutional, instead finding that Lyons lacked standing to sue the LAPD since he could not prove that he might be subjected to a chokehold again.

Writing in dissent, Marshall blasted this as absurd: "Since no one can show that he will be choked in the future, no one—not even a person who, like Lyons, has almost been choked to death—has standing to challenge the continuation of the policy." Lyon's lawyer said the ruling turned any encounter with the police into a deadly game of chance. "The LAPD regulations mean Lyons everyday plays a game of roulette," Michael Mitchell said . "The wheel has 100,000 slots. If the ball should fall in your slot, you die."



Electric eels deliver Taser-like shocks

The electric eel – the scaleless Amazonian fish that can deliver an electrical jolt strong enough to knock down a full-grown horse – possesses an electroshock system uncannily similar to a Taser.

That is the conclusion of a nine-month study of the way in which the electric eel uses high-voltage electrical discharges to locate and incapacitate its prey. The research was conducted by Vanderbilt University Stevenson Professor of Biological Sciences Kenneth Catania and is described in the article “The shocking predatory strike of the electric eel” published in the Dec. 5 issue of the journal Science.

People have known about electric fish for a long time. The ancient Egyptians used an electric marine ray to treat epilepsy. Michael Faraday used eels to investigate the nature of electricity and eel anatomy helped inspire Volta to create the first battery. Biologists have determined that a six-foot electric eel can generate about 600 volts of electricity – five times that of a U.S. electrical outlet. This summer scientists at the University of Wisconsin-Madison announced that they had sequenced the complete electric eel genome.

Until now, however, no one had figured out how the eel’s electroshock system actually worked. In order to do so, Catania equipped a large aquarium with a system that can detect the eel’s electric signals and obtained several eels, ranging up to four feet in length.



Glaciers around the Amundsen Sea are losing half a Mount Everest a year in ice

for National Geographic

Melting Antarctic glaciers that are large enough to raise worldwide sea level by more than a meter are dropping a Mount Everest's worth of ice into the sea every two years, according to a study released this week.

A second study, published Thursday in the journal Science, helps explain the accelerating ice melt: Warm ocean water is melting the floating ice shelves that hold back the glaciers.

The two new pieces of research come as officials of the World Meteorological Organization announced Wednesday that 2014 is on track to be the warmest year on record.

Scientists have long worried that the West Antarctic ice sheet is a place where climate change might tip toward catastrophe. The ice sheet holds enough water to raise sea level by 16 feet (5 meters). The region along the Amundsen Sea is the sheet's soft underbelly, where the ice is most vulnerable. (See "Rising Seas" in National Geographic magazine.)



Living African group discovered to be the most populous humans over the last 150,000 years

New genetic research reveals that a small group of hunter-gatherers now living in Southern Africa once was so large that it comprised the majority of living humans during most of the past 150,000 years. Only during the last 22,000 years have the other African ethnicities, including the ones giving rise to Europeans and Asians, become vastly most numerous. Now the Khoisan (who sometimes call themselves Bushmen) number about 100,000 individuals, while the rest of humanity numbers 7 billion. Their lives and ways have remained unaltered for hundreds of generations, with only recent events endangering their hunter-gatherer lifestyles. The study's findings will be published in the journal Nature Communications on 4 December 2014.

By comparing nearly all the genes of these individuals -- their genomes -- with the genomes of 1,462 people from around the world, the researchers discovered that the inflow of new genes into the Khoisan peoples has been quite restricted the past 150,000 years, indicating that this large hunter-gatherer culture was physically isolated for most of its history and that its men typically did not take wives from outside the group.

"Khoisan hunter-gatherers in Southern Africa always have perceived themselves as the oldest people" said Stephan Schuster, a former Penn State University professor, now at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore and a leader of the research team, which includes scientists at Penn State and other research universities in the United States, Brazil, and Singapore. The Nature Communication paper analyzes five study participants from different tribes in Namibia. The study investigated 420,000 genetic variants across 1,462 genomes from 48 ethnic groups in populations worldwide. These analyses reveal that Southern African Khoisans are genetically distinct not only from Europeans and Asians, but also from all other Africans. The paper's first author Hie Lim Kim, formerly at Penn State and now at Nanyang Technological University, said "It is fascinating to unravel the population history of humankind over the last 150,000 years."

By conducting extensive computational analyses, the team demonstrated that two of the sequenced individuals showed no signs of having inherited any genetic material from members of other ethnic groups. Interestingly, these individuals are the oldest members of the Ju/'hoansi tribe, which still live in protected areas of Northwest Namibia. "This and previous studies show that the Khoisan peoples and the rest of modern humanity shared their most recent common ancestor approximately 150,000 years ago, so it was entirely unexpected to find that this group apparently did not intermarry with non-Khoisan neighbors for many thousand years," said Webb Miller, professor of Bioinformatics at Penn State and a member of the research team. "The current Khoisan culture and tradition, where marriage occurs either among Khoisan groups or results in female members leaving their tribes after marrying non-Khoisan men, appears to be long-standing."



Scientists reveal the ancient origins of drinking alcohol

There’s an emerging branch of research called Paleogenetics that tries to answer the questions of the present by scrutinizing the genetic material of the past. And when it comes to figuring out when drinking alcohol began — igniting both merriment and alcoholism — you need to go pretty far back: 10 million years. That was when some curious primate stumbled across a rotting piece of fruit and thought, “Why not?” And boom, drinking was born.

That’s at least how a new theory published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences describes it. The consumption of alcohol, which otherwise wouldn’t have been palatable and might have been poisonous, was an evolutionary boon when our ancestors descended from the trees and started looking for food.

“Evolutionary biologists such as myself study so much peculiar and fascinating examples of organisms adapting to their environment, there is a cliche in our field: ‘Life will find a way,’” lead author Matthew Carrigan wrote in an e-mail to The Washington Post. “So when I began this research, I thought, ‘If ethanol is present in naturally fermenting fruit, why shouldn’t some frugivores adapt the molecular machinery to digest it?”

At the center of this molecular machinery is an enzyme called ADH4. This is a very important enzyme: first, because it’s found in a primate’s throat, stomach, and tongue; and second, because it is the first enzyme that can metabolize alcohol, including ethanol and other alcohols found in plants. So Carrigan and other researchers went about the task of analyzing ADH4′s evolutionary history by resurrecting ancient enzymes, believing it would tell them when such consumption began.



U.N. rights experts seek review of U.S. police practices

Source: Reuters

United Nations human rights experts on Friday called for a halt to racial profiling by U.S. law enforcement officers and a review of laws allowing police to use lethal force.

The independent experts regretted that grand juries in the United States had failed to indict police officers for killing two unarmed black men in separate incidents that have led to mass protests.

Sending to trial the cases of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and Eric Garner in New York would have brought all evidence to light and allowed justice to take its course, they said in a statement.

"I am concerned by the grand juries' decisions and the apparent conflicting evidence that exists relating to both incidents," said Rita Izsak, U.N. special rapporteur on minority issues.

Read more: http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/12/05/us-usa-new-york-un-idUSKCN0JJ1E620141205

2014 on track for best year for hiring since 1999

US employers are thought to have hired at another robust pace in November in the latest sign that the United States is outshining struggling economies throughout the developed world.

Analysts have forecast that the economy generated 225,000 jobs last month and that the unemployment rate remained 5.8%, according to a survey by FactSet. If those predictions prove generally accurate, November would mark the 10th straight month of strong US job gains above 200,000 and would put 2014 on track to be the best year for hiring since 1999.

The government will release the November employment report at 8:30 a.m. ET on Friday.

The improving US job market contrasts with weakness elsewhere around the globe. Growth among the 18 European nations in the euro alliance is barely positive, and the eurozone's unemployment rate is 11.5%. Japan is in recession.

Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/a-strong-us-jobs-would-put-hiring-in-1999-territory-2014-12

Friday TOON Roundup 3 - The Rest







Friday TOON Roundup 2 - Black and White

Friday TOON Roundup 1 - Choked to death

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