Wandering Eye: The CDC gets it wrong on e-cigs, more trouble for the B-1, and more

A Baltimore man filed suit on Sept. 5 against three Baltimore police officers, seeking monetary damages for a strip and anal cavity search he says police performed on him on the sidewalk on the 200 block of North Highland Avenue. As the D.C. Clothesline reports, Lyons was on his bike on May 3, 2013, heading to a park, when police asked him if he had any drugs on him. Lyons said no, and the cops "proceeded to pull down this man's pants, spread his legs, and conduct a cavity search in the middle of the sidewalk in full view of passersby." Lyons is seeking damages for battery, false arrest, false imprisonment and violations of the Maryland Declaration of Human Rights. "It's as simple and outlandish as it appears," Isaac Klein, Lyons' lawyer, told the website. Lyons "was embarrassed and outraged." Named in the suit as defendants are Officer Demario Harris, Officer Keith Savadel, and "Sgt. Martin." Lyons' arrest for drug possession shortly after this incident was not related at all, his lawyer says, and those charges were dropped, as was a handgun charge filed earlier this year. Lyons' co-defendant in last year's narcotics case did plead guilty, according to court records. "According to Klein," the Clothesline reports, "this was yet another negligent error by police who mistakenly arrested and charged Lyons, for which they are filing another civil suit." (Edward Ericson Jr.)

 

The U.S. military is killing American soldiers because it insists on using B-1 bombers for close air support. That is the conclusion of Harper's national security correspondent Andrew Cockburn after a close read of an Air Force report on a June 9 incident that happened in Afghanistan. A team of five special forces soldiers and an Afghan, under sporadic sniper fire, climbed a ridge to outflank the enemy and contacted a circling B-1 crew to kill the snipers. The problem with this is the B-1 (unlike the A-10 or even the AC-130 "Puff the Magic Dragon" planes that have long served the lowly function of killing people on the ground who are near our own soldiers) can't really see who it is dropping its 500-pound bombs on, 12,000 feet below. It's not maneuverable enough, its cameras can't distinguish the friendly troops' infrared signals from nearby muzzle flashes, and even its windows are too thick, having been designed and built for a completely different mission. "Although its advertised function was to carry nuclear weapons to Moscow at supersonic speeds, the B-1 was developed principally to bolster Republican electoral fortunes in California, where it was built." (This will be familiar territory to anyone who remembers U.S. Rep. Robert "B-1 Bob" Dornan.) After several failed attempts to deploy its bombs, the B-1 crew finally dropped two on the men who had summoned them, blowing them to pieces. "This disaster occurred just as the fight in Congress over the plan to discard the A-10 was peaking, so the Air Force was bound to handle the mandatory investigation with the most delicate sensitivity," Cockburn writes. The resulting report, released Sept. 4, apportions blame equally so that no one will be held responsible and nothing will change, Cockburn writes. For more on how this went down and how it got covered, see the NYT piece on the incident from June 10. And compare it to the Military.com story here. For more on the B-1's troubled history see this 2001 piece in the Times. (Edward Ericson Jr.)

 

While the Centers for Disease Control continues to contend that electronic cigarettes pose a danger as a gateway to traditional cigarette use among youngsters, data released Wednesday from United Kingdom anti-smoking group Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) suggest that's a red herring. As Boston University's Michael Siegel explains, ASH has found that "despite substantial experimentation with e-cigarettes by youth, this experimentation does not appear to be leading to regular e-cigarette use by a large proportion of youth, and those who are regular users are overwhelmingly youth who are already smokers or who smoked in the past." He adds that "similar data from the U.S. would be very helpful," as needed regulations over e-cigs are currently in the works, but may overreach in ways that actually protect the tobacco industry from this emerging, disruptive technology that shows great promise in helping people quit smoking. (Van Smith)

 

A couple of recent studies seem to have thrown conventional wisdom about healthy food on its head. As New York Times food writer Jeff Gordinier (a former colleague) posted on his Facebook page, "Okay, just so everyone's clear on where things stand right now: A big cup of coffee + eggs fried in butter = good for you. Sitting at your desk for hours sipping a diet soda = death." But, of course, the idea that all-natural foods—even those high in fat—are better for you than processed foods is not a new idea. It goes back at least to Michael Pollan's 2006 book, "The Omnivore's Dilemma," in which he broke down his advice to three simple directives: "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants." But actually, as any cinephile knows, the thwarting of conventional wisdom about food—among other things—goes back to 1977, when Woody Allen, as Alvy Singer in "Annie Hall," complained, "Everything our parents said was good is bad. Sun, milk, red meat . . . college." Woody, ahead of his time again. (Evan Serpick)

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