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• Tasers : Tsunami
Tasers : Tsunami
By Florida Today, Melbourne – December 28, 2004
The public arms police with stun guns because it wants to give officers a nonlethal edge over out-of-control suspects. Not every suspect shot with 50,000 volts from a Taser, however, has been out of control. Some have been in custody when repeated shocks ended in their deaths. …
Amnesty International has documented 74 Taser-related deaths nationwide since 2001 and asked police to stop using the guns until testing proves them safe. Taser International of Scottsdale, Ariz., blames other factors and backs medical examiners except when they contradict the company’s position. …
Meanwhile, more than 5,000 police departments own Tasers. In November, the Transportation Security Administration said they could be used aboard commercial airliners. … When they work, Tasers save lives. …
The technology, however, is too new to know for sure what effect it has on the heart, particularly when drugs are involved. Studies should continue, and departments should review Taser guidelines. Tasers are supposed to be better than guns. But if they kill when police believe them to be harmless, they are worse than guns.
From the Los Angeles Times December 28, 2004
Though it happened on the other side of the world, news of a killer tsunami striking two continents should be seen by Californians as a fundamentally local story. Our home, planet Earth, is seriously flawed. …
The tsunami … underscores how global disparities can exacerbate even natural disasters. Turns out that many of the people living in its path were have-nots in more ways than one, as they lacked the advance notice that scientists as far away as Alaska and Hawaii had received about what was about to hit them.
There isn’t likely to be a 12/26 commission, nor should we pretend that such calamities can be avoided, but questions must be asked about the lack of preparedness. Indonesia was too close to the epicenter to benefit much from an early warning, but a few hours’ notice could have saved many lives in India and Sri Lanka. …
Expect plenty of debate over whether the tsunami should prompt the building of a comprehensive global-warning system. A more sensible approach may be to simply expand the Pacific monitoring system and build up emergency mobilization programs in South Asian nations that could be used to respond to a wide variety of calamities.
Closer to home, where quakes are frequent, the tragedy should trigger efforts to improve California’s own tsunami warning system.
It also makes sense to expand the U.S. Geological Survey’s Advanced National Seismic System, already in place in Southern California and the Bay Area, to help other earthquake-prone regions.
Though the system can’t predict earthquakes, it can speed rescue workers toward the areas expected to incur the most damage.
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