Farewell. The Flying Pig Has Left The Building.

Steve Hynd, August 16, 2012

After four years on the Typepad site, eight years total blogging, Newshoggers is closing it's doors today. We've been coasting the last year or so, with many of us moving on to bigger projects (Hey, Eric!) or simply running out of blogging enthusiasm, and it's time to give the old flying pig a rest.

We've done okay over those eight years, although never being quite PC enough to gain wider acceptance from the partisan "party right or wrong" crowds. We like to think we moved political conversations a little, on the ever-present wish to rush to war with Iran, on the need for a real Left that isn't licking corporatist Dem boots every cycle, on America's foreign misadventures in Afghanistan and Iraq. We like to think we made a small difference while writing under that flying pig banner. We did pretty good for a bunch with no ties to big-party apparatuses or think tanks.

Those eight years of blogging will still exist. Because we're ending this typepad account, we've been archiving the typepad blog here. And the original blogger archive is still here. There will still be new content from the old 'hoggers crew too. Ron writes for The Moderate Voice, I post at The Agonist and Eric Martin's lucid foreign policy thoughts can be read at Democracy Arsenal.

I'd like to thank all our regular commenters, readers and the other bloggers who regularly linked to our posts over the years to agree or disagree. You all made writing for 'hoggers an amazingly fun and stimulating experience.

Thank you very much.

Note: This is an archive copy of Newshoggers. Most of the pictures are gone but the words are all here. There may be some occasional new content, John may do some posts and Ron will cross post some of his contributions to The Moderate Voice so check back.


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Pepper Spray Myth

Commentary By Ron Beasley

Jennifer Fox a 19 year old Seattle woman had a miscarriage after she claims the police hit her in the stomach and gave her a shot of pepper spray.

�I was standing in the middle of the crowd when the police started moving in,� Fox recalled. �I was screaming, �I am pregnant, I am pregnant. Let me through. I am trying to get out.��

She claimed that police hit her in the stomach twice before pepper spraying her. One officer struck her with his foot and another pushed his bicycle into her. It wasn�t clear if either of those incidents were intentional.

�Right before I turned, both cops lifted their pepper spray and sprayed me. My eyes puffed up and my eyes swelled shut,� Fox said.

While there is evidence that she was shot with pepper spray there is little evidence of the physical abbuse she claims.

But this brings up another issue, the myth that pepper spray is safe, - pepper spray is dangerous and can be fatal.


As the chart makes clear, commercial grade pepper spray leaves even the most painful of natural peppers (the Himalayan ghost pepper) far behind. It�s listed at between 2 million and 5.3 million Scoville units. The lower number refers to the kind of pepper spray that you and I might be able to purchase for self-protective uses. And the higher number? It�s the kind of spray that police use, the super-high dose given in the orange-colored spray used at UC-Davis.

The reason pepper-spray ends up on the Scoville chart is that � you probably guessed this - it�s literally derived from pepper chemistry, the compounds that make habaneros so much more formidable than the comparatively wimpy bells. Those compounds are called capsaicins and � in fact � pepper spray is more formally called Oleoresin Capsicum or OC Spray.

And yes it's dangerous stuff.

My own purpose here is to focus on the dangers of a high level of capsaicin exposure. But as pointed out in the 2004 paper, Health Hazards of Pepper Spray, written by health researchers at the University of North Carolina and Duke University, the sprays contain other risky materials:


Depending on brand, an OC spray may contain water, alcohols, or organic solvents as liquid carriers; and nitrogen, carbon dioxide, or halogenated hydrocarbons (such as Freon, tetrachloroethylene, and methylene chloride) as propellants to discharge the canister contents.(3) Inhalation of high doses of some of these chemicals can produce adverse cardiac, respiratory, and neurologic effects, including arrhythmias and sudden death.

We have seen the police spraying it into protestors mouths:

The more worrisome effects have to do with inhalation � and by some reports, California university police officers deliberately put OC spray down protesters throats.  Capsaicins inflame the airways, causing swelling and restriction. And this means that pepper sprays pose a genuine risk  to people with asthma and other respiratory conditions.


NYPD pepper sprays man to death

The death of a Bronx man who suffered a fatal asthma attack after cops pepper-sprayed him has been ruled a homicide by the city medical examiner.

An autopsy found that Kemp Yarborough cause of death was by�acute bronchial asthma attack during a physical altercation including pepper spray,� the city medical examiner told the New York Daily News.

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