A new public-opinion poll in Canada by Forum Research found that 24 percent of electronic-cigarette users who tried them to quit smoking were successful. So "this may be considered the success rate for this method of smoking succession" in Canada, the pollsters conclude. (Disclosure: I quit smoking using e-cigarettes.) Reflecting on the results, Boston University public-health professor Michael Siegel writes on his blog that "70% of smokers surveyed who had used e-cigarettes to try to quit reported that these products were somewhat or very effective in helping them quit," so "despite the pre-determined conclusions of many anti-smoking groups, consumers seem to be indicating that these products can work." (Van Smith)
Over at Vice Sports, Jessica Luther has gotten a copy of the transcript from the Dec. 2 hearing at Florida State University that was held to determine if Jameis Winston, the school's star quarterback, was responsible for sexual assault. The incident reportedly happened on Dec. 7, 2012, and even though the victim, a freshman at FSU at the time, reported the assault to the police almost immediately, police hardly did anything until the story became public knowledge a year later, at which point the local prosecutor announced he lacked the evidence to charge Winston. As the New York Times reported in April, "there was virtually no investigation at all, either by the police or the university." Today's Vice Sports article, titled "Jameis Winston conduct hearing transcript reveals mass confusion and bizarre decision-making," paints a pretty damning picture of FSU's hearing.
In the transcript, the woman who Winston allegedly raped provides a detailed account of the story, down to demonstrating the different ways in which he pinned her down and hit her head against the bathroom floor. She also had numerous witnesses corroborating her version of events and confirming that she appeared extremely traumatized after the rape occurred. Winston, on the other hand, summarizes the night as being consensual: "During our consensual sexual interactions Complainant engaged in a little sexual talk and took other actions that made it clear that the sex was consensual and she was enjoying having sex with me." The only witness he calls is "Jason Newlin, an investigator with the State Attorney's office, [who] was not the original investigator on the case." But even his support for Winston looks shaky when the woman cross-examines Newlin. And yet Major Harding, a retired Florida Supreme Court justice who was in charge of the hearing, decided that there was not a preponderance of evidence—i.e. greater than 50 percent likelihood, the standard for university disciplinary hearings—to prove that Winston had raped the woman, writing that he did "not find the credibility of one story substantially stronger than that of the other." Beyond the questionable decision-making, the transcript shows that Harding wasn't even clear with how the hearing was supposed to proceed, asking others in the room numerous times for advice on what the procedures were. Basically, the hearing sounds like a shit show. Trigger warning for descriptions of rape. (Anna Walsh)
While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says flu season has reached epidemic proportions, it appears the New York Police Department is beset by a crippling case of the blue flu. The New York Post reports a 66 percent drop in all arrests, compared to the same period last year, and a 94 percent decline in traffic tickets and minor-offense citations. The apparent police work stoppage comes after the Dec. 20 killing of two NYPD officers by a man who first shot his ex-girlfriend in Owings Mills. (Van Smith)