San Francisco police officers use force against African-Americans more often than against other racial groups, according to a 432-page federal report made public Wednesday.

The report, issued by the U.S. Department of Justice in response to charges of racial bias by San Francisco police, shows that 37 percent of the cases in which police used force between May 2013 and May 2016 involved African-Americans, a larger percentage than any other ethnic group. Nine of the 11 people who were killed during use-of-force incidents in that time frame were also people of color.

In all, federal officials made 272 recommendations for reform in the report, which was requested by Mayor Ed Lee after Mario Woods, an African-American, was shot at least 21 times by police in 2015.

“This report makes clear the significant challenges that lie ahead for the Police Department and the city,” Ronald Davis, director of the Department of Justice’s Community Oriented Policing Services Department, said in a statement. “More than 90 findings outlined in the report reflect key operational deficiencies in the Police Department.”

Federal intervention in local policing has become more common in recent years after several controversial shootings sparked a national debate about the use of force against people of color and led to protests and demands for greater transparency.

But the findings in San Francisco are not binding, unlike those issued in Ferguson, Mo., and Cleveland after other incidents in which law enforcement agencies were accused of using excessive force.

The report also recognized deficiencies in the way the department investigates and collects data about use-of-force incidents.

The city has been beset by scandals involving alleged police bias since 2015. Prior to Woods’ highly publicized death, court documents revealed that a number of officers had exchanged racist and homophobic text messages, making free use of racial slurs, referring to minorities as “savages” and suggesting members of some ethnic groups should be spayed like animals.

San Francisco officers shot Woods, 26, on Dec. 2, 2015, while responding to reports of a knife-wielding man suspected of assault. Woods, who was under the influence of methamphetamine, according to an autopsy report, repeatedly ignored officers’ commands to drop the knife.

Police fired five less-than-lethal rounds before unleashing a barrage of gunfire. A cellphone video of the shooting, however, appeared to show Woods walking away from the officers before they opened fire. The footage went viral, prompting large protests in San Francisco.

—Los Angeles Times


FDA: Homeopathic teething remedies implicated in 10 infant deaths

PHILADELPHIA — At least 10 babies have died and 400 children have developed serious illnesses after being treated for teething pain with homeopathic remedies, federal authorities announced Wednesday.

The FDA launched an investigation into the natural remedies after receiving a “comprehensive report” about an infant who suffered a seizure after the gel was applied to the child’s gums, said spokeswoman Lyndsay Meyer.

The news was first reported this morning in BuzzFeed.

During the past six years, hundreds of infants have suffered a number of adverse health effects after being treated with the questionable cures. Ailments linked to the homeopathic substances also included fevers, shortness of breath, lethargy, constipation, vomiting, sleeplessness, agitation and irritability.

The FDA is strongly advising parents to throw away any homeopathic teething remedies they might be using for their children.

“We’re not limiting our alert to any one product,” Meyer told the Philadelphia Inquirer. “We’re making the alerts about all homeopathic teething products.”

Most homeopathic remedies often contain nothing but water. But several brands of the infant teething products contain belladonna, also known as deadly nightshade. The substance is used in infinitesimally small amounts to allegedly help ease redness and inflammation.

A statement issued by Hyland’s Homeopathic on Oct. 1 said “a 10-pound child would have to accidentally ingest, all at the same time, more than a dozen bottles of 135 Baby Teething Tablets before experiencing even a dry mouth from the product.”

On Tuesday, Hyland’s announced it would stop distributing the teething products in the U.S.

CVS removed all homeopathic teething remedies from its shelves on Sept. 30.

—The Philadelphia Inquirer


USAID to spend $3.3 million on innovations to combat Zika

MIAMI — In the fight against Zika and future disease outbreaks, aerial drones might help by delivering medical supplies to remote areas and ferrying back lab samples for testing, or by dropping squadrons of sterile mosquitoes over an affected area to halt spread of a virus.

Those are among the ideas selected by the U.S. Agency for International Development, or USAID, to receive $3.3 million in funding for testing and development. Other possible innovations, many of them currently being tested overseas, include mining data to forecast future outbreaks and harnessing the collective power of mobile phones to improve disease surveillance, according to Wednesday’s announcement.

None of the ideas are currently being put to use in Florida, where health officials on Wednesday reported six new mosquito-borne infections in Miami-Dade, including five cases requiring epidemiological investigations to determine the source of exposure. In total, Florida has reported 1,014 Zika infections this year, with 172 mosquito-borne infections and 837 travel-related cases, including 104 pregnant women.

Many of the innovations funded by USAID could eventually be used in the United States, said Wendy Taylor, director of the Center for Accelerating Innovation and Impact at the federal agency.

Altogether USAID has awarded $30 million to private companies, universities and researchers to develop innovations that will address the current Zika outbreak — and prepare for the next global disease outbreak, Taylor said.

Ideas range from mosquito control to disease surveillance and diagnostic test improvements. All were submitted as part of USAID’s “Grand Challenge to Combat Zika and Future Threats,” an open call for ideas to prevent, detect and respond to future disease outbreaks.

The contest attracted 900 ideas, with 26 selected, including development of an environmentally friendly pesticide at Johns Hopkins University and production of low-cost sandals treated with mosquito repellent by the Ifakara Research Institute in Tanzania.

—Miami Herald


Germany bomb attack suspect commits suicide in prison cell

LEIPZIG, Germany — A Syrian man suspected of planning a bomb attack on a German airport was found dead in his cell at a prison in Leipzig, officials confirmed late Wednesday.

Sebastian Gemkow, minister of justice for the eastern state of Saxony, said he would give further details regarding the suicide of 22-year-old Jaber al-Bakr at a news conference Thursday.

Sources told dpa he had been found hanged.

Al-Bakr, whom investigators said had links to the Islamic State terrorist group, was arrested on Monday after a two-day manhunt following the discovery of explosives and other bomb-making equipment at his flat in the nearby city of Chemnitz.

Following his death, German politicians expressed disbelief that a suspect who was reportedly considered a suicide risk had been able to kill himself.

“How can someone, who’s supposedly under constant surveillance, be found hanged?” tweeted Greens lawmaker Tobias Lindner.

Al-Bakr, who narrowly avoided arrest on Saturday when his apartment was raided, was later captured and handed over to police by three Syrian refugees who have since been lauded as heroes.

However, sources told dpa that during police interrogation al-Bakr had accused the refugees of having known in advance about the planned attack.

The truth of the accusation was not clear, and prosecutors in Karlsruhe leading the investigation refused to confirm the information or say whether the refugees were being treated as suspects or witnesses.


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