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marble falls

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Name: herb morehead
Gender: Do not display
Hometown: marble falls, tx
Member since: Thu Feb 23, 2012, 03:49 AM
Number of posts: 7,284

Journal Archives

Tree Lobsters rediscovered after 80 years


While they were thought to have been the unfortunate victims of non-native rats, a rare species of so-called "tree lobsters" has been found surviving on Ball's Pyramid, part of an old, inactive volcano near Australia.

According to NPR, the six-legged insects, which are about the size of a human hand, were almost wiped out by black rats that invaded nearby Lord Howe Island -- the creatures' native home -- when a British supply ship ran aground there in 1918.

Then, in 2001, two scientists found the surviving tree lobsters living in a bush atop Ball's Pyramid, some 13 miles southeast of Lord Howe Island. How they got there and survived for all these years is still a mystery to scientists.

The Age explains that, as part of an effort to increase the species' population, zookeepers used glasshouses to reproduce the humid environment favored by the tree lobsters.

The program has been a success and the zoo will breed its tenth generation this year, according to The Age.

The next step for tree lobster advocates is to convince the people of Lorde Howe to exterminate the island's rats in order to make it habitable for the insects once again, an endeavor which could prove very expensive.

The Awl's Dave Bry writes that the whole story "brings up some of the same very powerful emotions as the last page of Cormac McCarthy's "The Road."
Posted by marble falls | Sat Sep 7, 2013, 01:00 PM (7 replies)

McCain slaps down Fox's Brian Kilmeade

Watch John McCain Rip A Fox News Host For His Criticism Of A Syrian Rebel's Chant

In his media tour Tuesday morning, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) ripped into Fox News host Brian Kilmeade for his criticism of a Syrian rebel's chanting of "Allahu Akbar."

On "Fox & Friends," Kilmeade told McCain — who has been a constant advocate for U.S. intervention in Syria — that he had concerns over the Syrian rebels' alleged "ties to extremists." Kilmeade played a clip of an explosion on government-held territory in Syria, after which a rebel shouts, "Allahu Akbar! Allahu Akbar!"

"I have a problem helping those people screaming that after a hit,” Kilmeade said.

McCain, clearly annoyed, shot back immediately at Kilmeade.

"Would you have a problem with an American person saying, 'Thank God! Thank God!?'" McCain said.

"That's what they're saying. Come on! Of course they're Muslims. But they're moderates, and I guarantee you they are moderates. I know them and I've been with them. For someone to say, 'Allahu Akbar' is about as offensive as someone saying, 'Thank God.'"

Here's the clip of McCain's appearance on Fox (the relevant part starts around the 3:00 mark) at the website:

Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/john-mccain-fox-news-brian-kilmeade-muslim-allahu-akbar-2013-9#ixzz2dvmhHQoz
Posted by marble falls | Wed Sep 4, 2013, 09:42 AM (0 replies)

Russia Warns Citizens About Traveling To America Or Allied Countries

Russia Warns Citizens About Traveling To America Or Allied Countries

Brian Jones Sep. 3, 2013, 6:32 PM 3,342 6

The Russian government has issued an odd travel warning to its citizens — beware of the United States.

Travel warnings typically warn citizens of war, disease, other unrest. This announcement from the Russian Foreign Ministry warns against U.S. extradition law.

“Recently, detentions of Russian citizens in various countries, at the request of American law enforcement, have become more frequent — with the goal of extradition and legal prosecution in the United States.”

The announcement goes on to assert that people wanted by the United States who travel to countries with extradition treaties with the U.S. are kidnapped with shaky evidence and tilted toward conviction.

It's a bit of an endzone dance for Russia, which offered asylum to the fugitive NSA-contractor-turned-whistleblower Edward Snowden, despite U.S. pleas for extradition.

After Russia welcomed Snowden, the U.S. cancelled planned meetings between U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The move is reminiscent of how the Assad regime in Syria issued a travel warning against Turkey when there were protests earlier this summer. More than 300,000 Syrians have sought refuge in Turkey from the violence in their home country.

Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/russia-issues-travel-advisory-against-us-2013-9#ixzz2dvglBqS7
Posted by marble falls | Wed Sep 4, 2013, 09:17 AM (1 replies)

My E-Mails with Brenda at Starbuck's

1.)--- Original Message ---
From: Herb Morehead
Received: 8/30/13 3:56:46 AM MDT
To: <info@starbucks.cust-serv.com>
Subject: Corporate social responsibility

"Social responsibility? Really:Starbucks Fires Employee on
Food Stamps for Eating a Sandwich from the GarbageLast
Monday, 21-year-old barista Coulson Loptmann says he was
fired from a downtown Seattle Starbucks where he?d worked
for more than a year. The reason? He ate a sandwich that had
been thrown away. Really. Like most cafes, the coffee giant
gets rid of food that has expired; they donate what they can
and toss the more perishable items.Loptmann, who says he
couldn?t get enough hours to pay his bills and survives
partly on his food stamps, explains, ?I hadn?t eaten all day
and I was on a seven-hour shift.? A coworker had just marked
some breakfast sandwiches out of stock, and he figured no
one would mind if he grabbed one of the plastic-wrapped
sausage sandwiches out of the trash can.But Starbucks did
mind. According to Loptmann, his manager sat him down a week
later and told him she?d found out about the sandwich and
contacted HR, ?and they consider it stealing, and it?s
against policy. So I?m sorry, but I have to terminate you.?
She fired him on the spot.The incident comes up just as
fast-food workers prepare for another strike this
Thursday?and this time, they're asking baristas to join
them. Seattle's fast-food walkouts this spring were
extraordinarily successful, shutting down multiple
restaurants, and this week, organizers for Good Jobs Seattle
are encouraging low-wage workers in coffee shops to join the
national push for a $15 an hour minimum wage.The rest at:

Whats wrong with Starbucks and the food/service industry in
this country? For shame. I've been very busy e-mailing
and posting this every single place I can.

Herb Morehead


Dear Herb,

you for contacting Starbucks.

Thank you for sharing your
concerns and thoughts with us. However, I can tell you that
our managers want our partners to succeed, and regularly
coach them if they are having performance challenges. When
making tough decisions, like letting someone go, our
managers evaluate a partner’s performance holistically not
on the basis of a single, minor infraction.In general, a
partner would not be let go for a single violation of our
mark-out policy. However, a partner could be let go if they
violated this policy after having ongoing performance

again for writing us. If you ever have any
questions or concerns in the future, please don't
hesitate to get in touch.

We would love to hear your feedback. Click here to take a short survey.


Celeste E
customer service


Dear Celeste

I find your reply unsatisfactory. This may have been a last straw, but what a bad reason to fire someone. I submit that allowing your innuendo packed statement as true still leaves us with a minimum waged adult on food-stamps for eating out of a garbage can,

Shame on Starbucks.

Herb Morehead



Thank you for your email, I hope you are doing well today.

We do not discuss former partner's employment history. However, I can tell you that our managers want our partners to succeed and regularly coach them if they are having performance challenges.

When making tough decisions, like letting someone go, our managers evaluate a partner’s performance holistically not on the basis of a single, minor infraction. In general, a partner would not be let go for a single violation of our mark-out policy. However, a partner could be let go if they violated this policy after having ongoing performance challenges.

Thanks again for writing us. If you ever have any questions or concerns in the future, please don't hesitate to get in touch.


Brady M

customer service



Starbucks seems to want to have it both ways: "We fired her for due reasons and we we can't disclose the reasons over privacy."

Her privacy IS paramount here and you've discussed her as a problem employee who's been counseled to no avail - to the point of being fired for eating garbage. So your claim of respecting an employee's right to privacy is a little surprising after you let the horse out of the barn.

My point - respecting the privacy of an employee that Starbucks thought so much about, is that eating garbage is no justifiable straw to break the camel's back.

I'm still po'd over Starbuck's policy of splitting tips with shift leaders. I am curious about how many of your full time fellow co-workers make a wage that qualifys them for food stamps or rent help. Have any stats on that you'd care to share?


Posted by marble falls | Tue Sep 3, 2013, 09:01 PM (3 replies)

New Leaked Document Outlines U.S. Spending on Intelligence Agencies

The most detailed public disclosure of American intelligence spending in history shows a surprisingly dominant role for the Central Intelligence Agency, a growing emphasis on both defensive and offensive cyberoperations, and significant gaps in knowledge about targeted countries despite the sharp increase in spending after the 2001 terrorist attacks.
Enlarge This Image
The Guardian, via Associated Press

Edward J. Snowden obtained the spending information when he was a contractor for the National Security Agency.

The top secret budget request for the current fiscal year was obtained by The Washington Post from the former National Security Agency contractor Edward J. Snowden and published in part on its Web site on Thursday. The newspaper said it was withholding most of the 178-page document at the request of government officials because “sensitive details are so pervasive” in its description of spying programs.

The document shows that the agencies’ budget request for the year ending Sept. 30 was $52.6 billion, a small decrease from the 2011 peak of $54.6 billion, which came after a decade of rapid spending growth. Of that, the biggest share was taken by the C.I.A., which carries out traditional human spying and intelligence analysis but also now conducts drone strikes against terrorism suspects in Pakistan and Yemen.

The C.I.A. asked for $14.7 billion, significantly outpacing the two big technological spy agencies, the eavesdropping N.S.A., which sought $10.8 billion, and the National Reconnaissance Office, which operates surveillance satellites and sought $10.3 billion. While the document reflects the money requested for the 2013 fiscal year and not what was actually received, the record of past expenditures suggests that real spending this year is probably very close to the amount requested.

The 16 American spy agencies employ about 107,000 people, including some 21,800 working on contract, the document shows. The number does not include tens of thousands of contractors who work in support of the intelligence agencies, in some cases outnumbering actual employees, said Jeffrey T. Richelson, a prolific author on intelligence.

Mr. Richelson said he thought the N.S.A. budget figure understated the real cost of its electronic surveillance, because it omits much of the support it receives from military personnel who carry out eavesdropping on its behalf.

The latest disclosure underscores the extraordinary impact of the leaks by Mr. Snowden, 30, who has accepted temporary asylum in Russia as he tries to avoid prosecution in the United States on espionage charges.

The documents he took from his job as an N.S.A. contractor and provided to The Guardian, The Post and other publications have set off the most significant public debate in decades about surveillance and data collection by the government. The parts of the new budget document published by The Post, while containing no major surprises, offer by far the most granular look to date at how billions of dollars is spent for intelligence collection. (The Guardian has recently shared some of Mr. Snowden’s documents with The New York Times.)


Feds won't sue to stop pot use in Washington and Colorado - with caveats

Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) - Despite 75 years of federal marijuana prohibition, the Justice Department said Thursday that states can let people use the drug, license people to grow it and even allow adults to stroll into stores and buy it - as long as the weed is kept away from kids, the black market and federal property.

In a sweeping new policy statement prompted by pot legalization votes in Washington and Colorado last fall, the department gave the green light to states to adopt tight regulatory schemes to oversee the medical and recreational marijuana industries burgeoning across the country.

The action, welcomed by supporters of legalization, could set the stage for more states to legalize marijuana. Alaska could vote on the question next year, and a few other states plan similar votes in 2016.

The policy change embraces what Justice Department officials called a "trust but verify" approach between the federal government and states that enact recreational drug use.

In a memo to all 94 U.S. attorneys' offices around the country, Deputy Attorney General James Cole said the federal government expects that states and local governments authorizing "marijuana-related conduct" will implement strong and effective regulatory and enforcement systems that address the threat those state laws could pose to public health and safety.

"If state enforcement efforts are not sufficiently robust ... the federal government may seek to challenge the regulatory structure itself," the memo stated. States must ensure "that they do not undermine federal enforcement priorities," it added.

The U.S. attorney in Colorado, John Walsh, said he will continue to focus on whether Colorado's system has the resources and tools necessary to protect key federal public safety interests.

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper said the state is working to improve education and prevention efforts directed at young people and on enforcement tools to prevent access to marijuana by those under age 21. Colorado also is determined to keep marijuana businesses from being fronts for criminal enterprises or other illegal activity, he said, and the state is committed to preventing the export of marijuana while also enhancing efforts to keep state roads safe from impaired drivers.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee also laid out guidelines for marijuana entrepreneurs.

"If you don't sell this product to children, if you keep violent crime away from your business, if you pay your taxes and you don't use this as a front for illicit activity, we're going to be able to move forward," Inslee said.

Under the new federal policy, the government's top investigative priorities range from preventing the distribution of marijuana to minors to preventing sales revenue from going to criminal enterprises, gangs and cartels and preventing the diversion of marijuana outside of states where it is legal.

Other top-priority enforcement areas include stopping state-authorized marijuana activity from being used as a cover for trafficking other illegal drugs and preventing violence and the use of firearms in the cultivation and distribution of marijuana. The top areas also include preventing drugged driving, preventing marijuana cultivation and possession on federal property.

The Justice Department memo says it will take a broad view of the federal priorities. For example, in preventing the distribution of marijuana to minors, enforcement could take place when marijuana trafficking takes place near an area associated with minors, or when marijuana is marketed in an appealing manner to minors or diverted to minors.

Following the votes in Colorado and Washington last year, Attorney General Eric Holder launched a review of marijuana enforcement policy that included an examination of the two states. The issue was whether they should be blocked from operating marijuana markets on the grounds that actively regulating an illegal substance conflicts with federal drug law that bans it.

Peter Bensinger, a former head of the Drug Enforcement Administration, said the conflict between federal and state law is clear and can't be reconciled. Federal law is paramount, and Holder is "not only abandoning the law, he's breaking the law. He's not only shirking his duty, he's not living up to his oath of office," Bensinger said.

Sen. Chuck Grassley, R- Iowa, ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee and cochairman of the Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control, called the administration's decision the latest example of selective law enforcement.

"The administration is now effectively instructing law enforcement not to prioritize the prosecution of the large-scale distribution and sale of marijuana in certain states," Grassley said late Thursday. "Apprehending and prosecuting illegal drug traffickers should always be a priority for the Department of Justice."

Last December, President Barack Obama said it doesn't make sense for the federal government to go after recreational drug users in a state that has legalized marijuana. Last week, the White House said that prosecution of drug traffickers remains an important priority.

A Pew Research Center poll in March found that 60 percent of Americans think the federal government shouldn't enforce federal anti-marijuana laws in states where its use has been approved. Younger people, who tend to vote more Democratic, are especially prone to that view. But opponents are worried these moves will lead to more use by young people. Colorado and Washington were states that helped re-elect Obama.

Advocates of medical marijuana were cautious about the new policy. Twenty states and the District of Columbia have enacted laws that effectively allow patients to access and use medical marijuana. Threats of criminal prosecution and asset forfeiture by U.S. attorneys have closed more than 600 dispensaries in California, Colorado and Washington over the past two years, said Americans for Safe Access, which advocates for safe and legal access to therapeutic cannabis.

Dan Riffle of the Marijuana Policy Project, the nation's largest marijuana policy organization, called the policy change "a major and historic step toward ending marijuana prohibition" and "a clear signal that states are free to determine their own policies."

Kevin Sabet, the director of Project Smart Approaches to Marijuana, an anti-legalization group, predicted the new Justice Department policy will accelerate a national discussion about legalization because people will see its harms - including more drugged driving and higher high school dropout rates.

Kristi Kelly, a co-founder of three medical marijuana shops near Denver, said the Justice Department's action is a step in the right direction.

"We've been operating in a gray area for a long time. We're looking for some sort of concrete assurances that this industry is viable," she said.

A national trade group, the National Cannabis Industry Association, said it hopes steps will be taken to allow marijuana establishments access to banking services. Federally insured banks are barred from taking money from marijuana businesses because the drug is still banned by the federal government.


Johnson reported from Seattle. Associated Press writers Alicia Caldwell, Rachel La Corte in Olympia, Wash., and Kristen Wyatt in Denver contributed to this report.

Jerry Jones says CAT Scan reveals he has the ‘brain of a 40-year old’

Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones says CAT Scan reveals he has the ‘brain of a 40-year old’
Eric Edholm 5 hours ago Shutdown Corner FootballJerry JonesDallas Cowboys

(USA Today Sports Images)
Dallas Cowboys fans who are prone to questioning the sanity of owner Jerry Jones, please take note: Medical science says you're way off base.

Jones, 70, apparently told the Dallas Morning News that he has the brain of a man 30 years younger. And wouldn't we all like to have one of those?

“I’ve been told that I have, by , that it’s like the brain of a 40-year-old,” Jones crowed. “…The guy really did not know it was me. I was there anonymously. He said, ‘And so I just wanted to come down. I saw your chart. I know how old you are. That part is really impressive.’”

Jones is at the nerve center of the Cowboys, from top to bottom, and he has shown no signs of slowing down. Age apparently is no matter for the man who recently said that Tony Romo (who is 33) has an offensive mind on par with Saints head coach (and former Cowboys assistant) Sean Payton, who is 49. And Jones green-lit the acquisition of defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin, who is a venerable 73.

Lest you think Jones has lost his touch during a period in which the Cowboys have won two postseason games since 1996, Jones begs to differ.

“I know more about what I’m doing than hopefully I did 25 years ago,” he said, referring to the time he entered the NFL as an owner.

Recently, Jones' son, Stephen, who has taken on an increased role in the running of the franchise, said that the Cowboys have the "secret sauce" to win championships (plural) again. If you ask Dad what the recipe for said sauce is, it apparently is coursing through his veins, like some kind of naturally produced youth serum. And that means that neither Jones is likely to go anywhere anytime soon.

Isn't science cool, Cowboys fans?

Air strikes ineffective, even counterproductive, analysts say

Punitive strikes ineffective, even counterproductive, analysts say
The type of limited military campaign being contemplated against Syria has failed to deter U.S. adversaries in the past, military analysts say.


1998 Sudan strike

A U.S. operation in 1998 targeted a pharmaceutical factory in Sudan that U.S. officials thought was making chemical weapons. Later evidence cast doubt on that claim. (Raouf, Associated Press / August 21, 1998)

By Ken Dilanian

August 27, 2013, 6:00 a.m.

WASHINGTON — The type of limited, punitive military campaign now being contemplated against Syria has failed to deter U.S. adversaries in the past, and at times emboldened them, military analysts say.

In two major episodes in 1998, the U.S. government unleashed a combination of bombs and cruise missiles against its foes — Osama bin Laden's Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein's government in Iraq. In a more distant third case, in 1986, the U.S. bombed Moammar Kadafi's Libya.

The bombs and missiles mostly hit their targets, and the U.S. military at the time declared the attacks successful. But in the end, they achieved little.

Two years after the U.S. bombed Tripoli, Pan Am Flight 103 exploded over Lockerbie, Scotland, killing 270 passengers and crew. Investigators later concluded that the U.S. attack was a primary motive for Kadafi to support the Lockerbie bombing.

Al Qaeda killed nearly 3,000 people in attacks in the United States on Sept. 11, 2001. Hussein kicked out international weapons inspectors and survived despite sanctions until a U.S.-led invasion deposed him in 2003. The benefit to the U.S. of that costly war and the occupation that followed remains in dispute.

In a paper reviewing the 1998 attack on Iraq, Mark Conversino, associate dean of the U.S. Air War College, cited the unease of some military experts about the use of air power within tight constraints.

"Many air power theorists had long cautioned against using air power in penny packets or in hyper-constrained political environments," he wrote in the 2005 paper.

Yet presidents confronting limited options continue to consider such action. President Obama is said to be contemplating a limited series of cruise missile strikes in response to the apparent chemical weapons attack last week on civilians by the Syrian government of Bashar Assad.

Military analysts are warning about the limits of such an approach.

"If the U.S. does something and Assad is left standing at the end of it without having suffered real serious, painful enough damage, the U.S. looks weak and foolish," said Eliot Cohen, a professor at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, and a former State Department official in the Bush administration, who has long been skeptical about reliance on air power.

"Can you do damage with cruise missiles? Yes," said Anthony Cordesman, military analyst with the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington think tank. "Can you stop them from having chemical weapons capability? I would think the answer would be no. Should you limit yourself to just a kind of incremental retaliation? That doesn't serve any strategic purpose. It doesn't protect the Syrian people, it doesn't push Assad out."

Previous such punitive attacks were aimed at countries that had targeted or threatened American personnel or facilities. If Obama authorizes action against Syria, he would be striking a country that has posed no clear threat to the United States.

However, Obama did authorize U.S. participation in a U.N.-approved mission to protect civilians in 2011 that ultimately led to the fall of Kadafi's government. Secretary of State John F. Kerry, in a toughly worded statement Monday, cited what he called "the indiscriminate slaughter of civilians" in the attack last week in Syria.

In 1986, after officials concluded that Kadafi had ordered a bombing that killed two U.S. service members in a Berlin disco, President Reagan authorized an airstrike of 60 tons of munitions in 12 minutes on targets in Tripoli. Among the targets was Kadafi's residential compound, but he had fled after having been warned.

In August 1998, days after Al Qaeda bombings of American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania killed 224 people, including 12 Americans, President Clinton signed off on plans to target Bin Laden with cruise missiles, and the U.S. fired 75 of them into terrorist training camps in Afghanistan.

Clinton's operation also targeted a pharmaceutical factory in Sudan that U.S. officials thought was making chemical weapons. Later evidence cast doubt on that claim.

Bin Laden canceled a planned meeting at one of the bombing sites, and he and many of his top lieutenants escaped unharmed. Documents declassified in 2008 suggested the strikes may have brought Al Qaeda and the Taliban closer politically and ideologically. The U.S. invaded Afghanistan after the 2001 attacks when the Taliban refused to hand over Bin Laden.

A few months later, in December 1998, Clinton ordered an operation designed to "strike military targets in Iraq that contributed to its ability to produce, store, maintain and deliver weapons of mass destruction," according to a Pentagon history.

Later evidence showed Hussein had shelved his banned weapons programs by then, but the attacks were at the time considered a military success, having inflicted serious damage on Iraq's missile development program.

However, Hussein's government survived, and he ended United Nations weapons inspections. The attacks also weakened the international sanctions against him, analysts say, because some countries in the coalition were opposed to the operation and became less committed to the penalties afterward.


Like WillPitt says, 10# bag and 20# of poop.

Rick Perry begging for Obamacare even as he maligns it

Rick Perry begging for Obamacare even as he maligns it


by Egberto WilliesFollow

Big bad macho Texas Gov. Rick Perry, the governor who says publicly he won’t take any Obamacare dollars, is now begging for these dollars discreetly. Politico reports:

Perry health aides are negotiating with the Obama administration on the terms of an optional Obamacare program that would allow Texas to claim stepped-up Medicaid funding for the care of people with disabilities.

the move comes as a surprise coming from a governor who has insisted he won’t implement the Obamacare reforms, and who slammed Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius for touting the law during a trip to the Lone Star State earlier this month.

“With due respect, the secretary and our president are missing the point: It’s not that Americans don’t understand Obamacare, it’s that we understand it all too well,” Perry said at the time. “In Texas, we’ve been fighting Obamacare from the beginning, refusing to expand a broken Medicaid system and declining to set up a state health insurance exchange.”

More than 25 percent of Texas residents are uninsured. No one would believe that in the home of one of the best medical centers in the world (Texas Medical Center), that over one quarter of its population do not have insurance and receive substandard medical coverage. It won’t be long before the Texas medical establishment forces the hand of Texas politicians as they lose billions to other states.

The Texas Republican governor and legislature have done nothing to solve Texas health insurance problem. They have not offered alternatives to the Medicaid expansion in the Affordable Care Act nor have they done anything to provide incentives to control the cost of health insurance.

This should really not be a surprise. Gov. Perry has a habit of speaking out against federal government handouts in public even as he begs for government handouts behind the scene. When the fertilizer plant exploded in West, Texas, a private company that was privy to virtually no state regulations, he vehemently complained when his requests for government handouts were initially denied.

The Affordable Care Act will be a marked improvement to the current state of the health insurance market in the United States. In fact in the states that have been proactive in adopting all aspects of Obamacare, it is proving very successful. Instead of running around the country maligning the new law, Perry should stay in Texas and fix its many problems that are undermining the Texas working middle class even as the Texas wealthy do well.

Stun gun death toll mounts


By Frank Cerabino - Cox Newspapers

When a teenager made the fatal mistake of running from Miami Beach police officers this month, he became the 12th Floridian to die after being zapped by an electronic stun gun during the past five years.

Israel Hernandez, 18, an aspiring artist, was spray-painting the letter “R” on the side of a vacant McDonald’s in the early morning hours of Aug. 6 when officers confronted him. The teen ran. The foot chase ended when one officer shot Hernandez in the chest with a Taser cartridge, causing him to collapse on the sidewalk, where he went into cardiac arrest and died.

It’s extremely rare that stun guns, which deliver 50,000 volts through barbed prongs that pierce the skin, end up leading to a person’s death. But consider this:

In the final five years that Florida operated “Old Sparky” to kill Death Row inmates, 11 Floridians died in the electric chair.

With Hernandez’s death, stun guns have now been instrumental in the deaths of more Floridians than the electric chair over the same period of time.

These stun-gun-related deaths aren’t ending the lives of killers but often people who are suffering from mental problems, drug-related psychosis or just a lack of common sense not to run from police after being stopped for a minor infraction.

Derrick Humbert, a 38-year-old father of three, was stopped by a Bradenton police officer for riding his bike without a light one night five years ago. Humbert, who was high on cocaine at the time, ditched the bike and ran. The officer zapped him, and Humbert died after going into cardiac arrest on the way to the hospital.

Another man, Preston Bussey III, voluntarily walked into a Melbourne hospital emergency room to seek treatment. Several officers of the Rockledge Police Department arrived and tried to take the mentally confused, unarmed man into custody. When Bussey failed to follow their instructions, he was shot six times by their stun guns, which led to his death.

In 2006, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement conducted a study of the use of these weapons, which the agency refers to as “electronic control devices,” or ECDs.

“ECD devices are not likely to cause serious injury or loss of life for suspects or law enforcement officers, except in situations where certain medical conditions and drug use are factors,” the study found. “However, more research should be done on the overall safety of such devices.”

An Orange County Sheriff’s Office Taser Task Force report found that the use of stun guns reduced officer injuries by 80 percent and produced less injuries to detainees than batons, sprays and other arrest techniques used by its deputies.

But in 2005, the U.S. Army discontinued the use of stun guns on its own soldiers during training exercises, finding that “seizures and ventricular fibrillation can be induced by the electric current.”

The Police Executive Research Forum published a list of 50 guidelines for the use of stun guns, recommending that they should be deployed only to counteract “active aggression,” that fleeing from police isn’t enough justification to use them, that no more than one officer at a time should use them, and that officers should refrain from stunning children, pregnant women, the elderly and people in handcuffs.

Danielle Maudsley was in handcuffs at a Florida Highway Patrol substation in Pinellas Park two years ago after she had been caught trying to leave the scene of two traffic accidents. The 20-year-old woman, who had cocaine and oxycodone in her system, tried to slip away from the substation before she could be processed. But a trooper chased her out the building and fired his Taser at her back.

Maudsley fell backward, hitting her head on the asphalt parking lot, causing a concussion that led to a coma and left her brain in a vegetative state.

She is not listed among Florida’s stun-gunned dead.

Cerabino is a columnist for the Palm Beach Post.frank_cerabino@pbpost.com
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