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North Carolina officer rams dog into car, launches investigation

A North Carolina Police Department ordered an investigation into a video that appeared to show an officer lifting a police dog off the ground by its leash during a training exercise and slamming it into the side of a patrol car.

Salisbury Police Department Chief Jerry Stokes declined to comment in detail on the episode at a press conference on Tuesday, saying it was “an ongoing personnel matter”. He said the dog had been separated from the officer shown in the video and an investigation was underway.

The 4-year-old German Shepherd, whose name is Zuul, was present at the press conference. “You can see it here today,” said Chief Stokes. “He is in good health and well and will be in normal service in the near future.”

“The dog was not injured and is healthy and well cared for,” he said.

Chief Stokes did not respond to questions from reporters.

The video, which is almost a minute long, was posted by WJZY-TV of Charlotte, NC. The station said it was submitted by an anonymous source.

It was not clear when the video was recorded. The chief did not disclose the name of the agent shown in the video or how the ministry learned of the episode.

City spokeswoman Linda McElroy said Thursday she could not comment further as it was a personnel matter, citing North Carolina law.

In the video, an officer can be seen exiting a police SUV as a helicopter hums above his head, leaving the back door of the car open. The police dog jumps out of the vehicle and tries to follow the policeman, but immediately lies down when the policeman yells at him.

The officer then walks over to the dog and puts him on a leash. He then uses the leash to lift him off the ground and pass him onto his back before heading for the car.

“We’re good, no witnesses,” said a voiceover.

The officer slams the dog against the side of the vehicle – a thud is heard – before pushing it inside. He shouts “Stay!” before raising your hand and hitting the dog.

“Is your camera on?” asks for a second voiceover.

“Ah, no, my power is off,” says the person who appears to be recording.

Chief Stokes told the press conference that the dogs in the department are trained for use against criminal suspects and that officers must have full control over the dogs at all times.

“When a dog does not comply with the handler’s commands, the handler is trained to correct the dog,” he says. “Dog training tactics and corrective action can be alarming at times out of context. SPD cannot and will not say if the training tactics used in the video were appropriate as they are still under review. “

Salisbury is approximately 45 miles northeast of Charlotte. The police department has five dogs and five handlers, Ms. McElroy said.

Chief Stokes said the investigation would include former police dog handlers from other departments, an owner of a police dog training company and K-9 supervisory staff from the Salisbury Department.

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How Wealthy Hospitals Benefit Patients in Car Crashes

As part of its registration process, a Catholic hospital in Oklahoma is offering some accident victims a sign waiver stating that they do not want their health plan billed for care. A patient received the waiver shortly after a car accident in which her head hit the windshield. She said she did not remember signing the document, but was faced with a lien of $ 34,106 as a result.

“The way they run it is you don’t want to use your health insurance because someone else caused it,” said Loren Toombs, an Oklahoma lawyer who represented the patient. . “It’s clearly a business tactic and a huge problem, but it’s not always illegal.”

Hospitals have come under intense scrutiny in recent years as they increasingly look to the courts to collect unpaid patient bills, even amid the coronavirus pandemic. Hospitals, many of which received large bailouts last year, have used the court rulings to garnish patients’ salaries and take back their homes.

But less attention has been paid to hospital privilege laws, which many states passed in the early part of the 20th century when less than 10% of Americans had health coverage. The laws were meant to protect hospitals from the burden of caring for uninsured patients and to encourage them to treat those who could not pay upfront.

A century later, hospital liens are most often used to settle the debts of victims of car accidents. The practice can be so lucrative, according to documents and interviews, that some hospitals use outside debt collection companies to scan police records for recent accidents to make sure they identify which of their patients might have been in a wreck, so they could pursue them with. privileges.

Some laws limit how much of a patient’s payment a hospital can claim, and others only allow nonprofit hospitals to collect debts in this manner. Some states require hospitals to bill accident victims’ health plans rather than using a lien. This approach is considered more user-friendly as patients benefit from the discounts that health plans negotiated on their behalf.

“If a patient has viable coverage from multiple sources, it would be reasonable to ask for payment from whoever pays the most,” said Joe Fifer, managing director of the Healthcare Financial Management Association, a professional group of hospitals. . financial officers.

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Meet George Jetson? Orlando unveils plans for US’s first flying car hub

In an ad that drew immediate comparisons with “The Jetsons,” the city of Orlando, Florida, and a German airline officially unveiled plans on Wednesday to build the first hub for flying cars in the United States.

The 56,000-square-foot transportation hub, first shown in renderings and a video simulation, resembles an airport terminal. Think of Eero Saarinen.

The so-called vertiport is expected to be completed in 2025 and will allow passengers to bypass Florida’s notoriously congested freeways, the city and the hub’s developers say.

The electric-powered aircraft will be able to take off vertically from the hub to the ground and reach a top speed of 186 miles per hour, according to Munich-based airline Lilium, which is working with Orlando Tavistock Development Company on the project.

But is the ambitious plan to introduce Lilium’s flying taxis as a faster but more expensive alternative to ridesharing services like Uber and Lyft viable? There is a caveat: the planes are still in development.

Orlando officials do not seem deterred by this uncertainty. On Monday, city council approved more than $ 800,000 in potential tax cuts in Lilium.

Buddy Dyer, the city’s longtime mayor, called the project transformational in a statement Wednesday.

“For this new technology to truly reshape the transportation ecosystem and benefit Orlando residents in the long term, it will take a true partnership between cities, developers and transportation operators,” said Dyer. “We have strived to find the right partners to become a global leader in advanced air mobility.”

The site selected for the transportation hub is at Lake Nona, a planned 17 square mile community within the city limits, adjacent to the Orlando International Airport. It will require approval from the Federal Aviation Administration. The planes themselves will also come under the agency’s surveillance.

“The FAA is the regulatory authority for all flight activities in the United States, including urban air mobility aircraft,” the FAA said in a statement Wednesday evening. “The agency is in the early stages of working with these candidates and will continue to work with them as they strive to meet certification standards.”

Jim Gray, a city council commissioner whose district includes the planned hub site, said Monday the tax incentives were justified and the project would create around 140 jobs that would bring in about $ 65,000 a year on average.

“This is what we need,” Gray said at the board meeting. “We need better paying jobs. So I think our investment, which is to prime the pump to help this job with tax cuts, is absolutely the right thing to do.

Orlando officials noted that projected salaries would be more than 25% higher than the average salary in Orange County, which includes the city. They also said the tax cuts did not support existing funds.

“The focus should also be on the discounts that are on the value they generate,” Dyer said Monday. “We are refunding money that would not be there otherwise.”

In a January 2019 report on the emergence of flying cars, analysts at Morgan Stanley said that “autonomous urban planes may not be comic books anymore.” But they took a longer-term view of the technology, saying flying cars would be mainstream by 2040, with the global market expected to be between $ 1.4 trillion and $ 2.9 trillion by then.

Some officials in Florida couldn’t help but recall the 1960s animated series “The Jetsons,” in which the father, George Jetson, sailed the skies in a flying car.

“This,” said Jerry L. Demings, mayor of Orange County, “is really making the Jetsons come true in the central Florida backyard.”

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Used car exports are pollution problem, UN warns

Such rules can have a significant effect. In the European Union, cars built after 2005 had to comply with so-called Euro 4 standards, which aimed to reduce the most harmful pollutants in car exhaust gases by more than 70% compared to older models. These pollutants, such as fine particles and nitrogen oxides, have been linked to an increased risk of heart attack, lung cancer and asthma. Europe further tightened its pollution rules for new cars in 2009 and 2014.

Most used cars shipped to Africa still do not meet these standards, although 15 West African countries including Nigeria and Ghana recently agreed to adopt the equivalent of Euro 4 rules. for all cars imported from 2021.

Researchers have also found that aging cars with a lot of wear and tear can be less safe to drive and more likely to crash. The report noted that countries with low import restrictions, such as Nigeria or Zimbabwe, have particularly high road fatalities, while countries like Chad which have limited imports of very old cars see considerably fewer deaths.

Even so, the new regulations can be politically controversial. In some African countries, officials have expressed concern that overly stringent restrictions could make cars unaffordable for many people, said Jane Akumu, Africa’s sustainable transport expert at the United Nations Environment Program.

However, Akumu added, countries like Cote d’Ivoire that have restricted trade in older and dirtier used cars have so far not seen their imports drop. “Instead, they saw a move towards cleaner vehicles,” she said.

Rich countries could also carry out more careful quality checks on their exports, according to the report. On Monday, regulators in the Netherlands released the results of an investigation showing that most of the used cars the country exported to Africa in 2018 did not have valid roadworthiness certificates, while some vehicles had their catalytic converters, which filter air pollutants, stripped of their value. metals like platinum.