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Study Finds Pandemic Hasn’t Slowed Down Police Killings In 2020

A new study published this week suggests that police killings have not slowed down during the pandemic, and have even increased in some states compared to previous years.

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A new study published this week by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) suggests that police killings have not slowed down during the pandemic, and have even increased in some states compared to previous years. The data analysis for the study was conducted by Justin Nix, an Associate Professor of Criminology and Criminal Justice, at the University of Nebraska, in Omaha.

The data showed that there were 511 recorded police killings in the US between January and June of this year, compared with 484 during the same period in 2019. During this span of time in 2018, police across the country had already killed at least 550 people. The numbers are not uncommon, and not the highest seen in recent years, but they are certainly high considering the current circumstances.

The researchers found that the number of people killed by police has averaged out to somewhere near 1,000 each year since 2015. It is hard to get accurate records of police shootings prior to 2015 because police have never openly disclosed that type of data to the public for obvious reasons. After the 2014 killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, different groups that were concerned about police brutality began to keep count on their own.

The Washington Post has its own regularly updated record of police violence, but unfortunately, like everything else on the paper’s website, this information is locked behind a paywall. The researchers used the Washington Post data for their study, but there are many other websites keeping an ongoing record and they are just as accurate. Mapping Police Violence and Killed By Police.net are often even more up to date than the Washington Post database. Wikipedia also keeps its own running list.

While it is certainly disturbing, it is important to keep an accurate record of the people who are killed by police because it shows the massive scale of the problem, which is exactly why police have been hesitant to hand over this data voluntarily. Instead, journalists and activists are left to sift through media reports, social media posts, and police reports, which still may not account for every police killing.

Udi Ofer, the director of the ACLU’s Justice Division, told NBC News that he expected police killings to go down during the pandemic because the general public was having less contact with police.

“We want to express alarm that even when the nation was on lockdown during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic … that didn’t stop police fatally shooting people at the same rate,” Ofer said.

It is also important to note that the report only counted fatal on-duty shootings and not other types of incidents where victims died during or following a police encounter, like in the cases of George Floyd or Freddie Gray. Another interesting point raised by the researchers is the fact that crime was actually significantly reduced during the pandemic, despite media reports about “crime waves” related to looting. Even with a lower crime rate in most areas and fewer interactions with the public, police are still killing people at an alarming rate. 

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Animals

Dolphin Swims Through Louisiana Neighborhood in Aftermath of Hurricane Ida

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A Louisiana family was shocked to find a dolphin swimming through their neighborhood in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida.

Amanda Huling and her family were assessing the damage to their neighborhood in Slidell, Louisiana, when they noticed the dolphin swimming through the inundated suburban landscape.

In video shot by Huling, the marine mammal’s dorsal fin can be seen emerging from the water.

“The dolphin was still there as of last night but I am in contact with an organization who is going to be rescuing it within the next few days if it is still there,” Huling told FOX 35.

Ida slammed into the coast of Louisiana this past weekend. The Category 4 hurricane ravaged the power grid of the region, plunging residents of New Orleans and upwards of 1 million homes and businesses in Louisiana and Mississippi into the dark for an indefinite period of time.

Officials have warned that the damage has been so extensive that it could take weeks to repair the power grid, reports Associated Press.

Also in Slidell, a 71-year-old man was attacked by an alligator over the weekend while he was in his flooded shed. The man went missing and is assumed dead, reports WDSU.

Internet users began growing weary last year about the steady stream of stories belonging to a “nature is healing” genre, as people stayed indoors and stories emerged about animals taking back their environs be it in the sea or in our suburbs.

However, these latest events are the surreal realities of a world in which extreme weather events are fast becoming the new normal – disrupting our lives in sometimes predictable, and occasionally shocking and surreal, ways.

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Animals

Mom in LA Suburbs Fights Off Mountain Lion With Bare Hands, Rescues 5-Year-Old Son

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A mother in Southern California is being hailed as a hero after rescuing her five-year-old son from an attacking mountain lion.

The little boy was playing outside his home in Calabasas, a city lying west of Los Angeles in the Santa Monica Mountains, when the large cat pounced on him.

The 65-pound (30 kg) mountain lion dragged the boy about 45 yards across the front lawn before the mother acted fast, running out and striking the creature with her bare hands and forcing it to free her son.

“The true hero of this story is his mom because she absolutely saved her son’s life,” California Department of Fish and Wildlife spokesman Captain Patrick Foy told Associated Press on Saturday.

“She ran out of the house and started punching and striking the mountain lion with her bare hands and got him off her son,” Foy added.

The boy sustained significant injuries to his head, neck and upper torso, but is now in stable condition at a hospital in Los Angeles, according to authorities.

The mountain lion was later located and killed by an officer with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, who found the big cat crouching in the bushes with its “ears back and hissing” at the officer shortly after he arrived at the property.

“Due to its behavior and proximity to the attack, the warden believed it was likely the attacking lion and to protect public safety shot and killed it on sight,” the wildlife department noted in its statement.

The mountain lion attack is the first such attack on a human in Los Angeles County since 1995, according to Fish and Wildlife.

The Santa Monica Mountains is a biodiverse region teeming with wildlife such as large raptors, mountain lions, bears, coyote, deer, lizards, and snakes. However, their numbers have rapidly faded in recent years, causing local wildlife authorities to find new ways to manage the region’s endemic species.

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Video Shows Taliban Taking Joyride in Captured US Blackhawk Helicopter

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The rapid fall of Kabul to the Taliban has resulted in a number of surreal sights – from footage of the Islamist group’s fighters exercising at a presidential gym to clips of combatants having a great time on bumper cars at the local fun park.

However, a new video of Taliban members seemingly testing their skills in the cockpit of a commandeered UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter shows the chilling extent to which U.S. wares have fallen into the hands of a group it spent trillions of dollars, and exhaustive resources, to stamp out.

In the new video, shared on Twitter, the front-line utility helicopter can be seen taxiing on the ground at Kandahar Airport in southeastern Afghanistan, moving along the tarmac. It is unclear who exactly was sitting in the cockpit, and the Black Hawk cannot be seen taking off or flying.

It is unlikely that the Taliban have any combatants who are sufficiently trained to fly a UH-60 Black Hawk.

The helicopter, which carries a $6 million price tag, is just a small part of the massive haul that fell into the militant group’s hands after the country’s central government seemingly evaporated on Aug. 14 amid the withdrawal of U.S. and coalition troops.

Some 200,000 firearms, 20,000 Humvees and hundreds of aircraft financed by Washington for the now-defunct Afghan Army are believed to be in the possession of the Taliban.

The firearms include M24 sniper rifles, M18 assault weapons, anti-tank missiles, automatic grenade launchers, rocket-propelled grenades and mortars.

Taliban fighters in the elite Badri 313 Brigade have been seen in propaganda images showing off in uniforms and wielding weaponry meant for the special forces units of the Afghan Army.

The U.S. is known to have purchased 42,000 light tactical vehicles, 9,000 medium tactical vehicles and over 22,000 Humvees between 2003 and 2016.

The White House remains unclear on how much weaponry has fallen into Taliban hands, with National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan admitting last week that the U.S. lacks a “clear picture of just how much missing $83 billion of military inventory” the group has.

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