When disaster strikes, our natural instinct is to take cover and seek shelter. But in severe weather, especially the type that breeds tornadoes like we saw in Oklahoma and parts of the Midwest this week, there are those that ride toward the storm.
Oklahoma native Chris McBee is one of those so-called storm chasers, and he was on the ground near Moore, the area hit hardest by Monday's massive tornado that experts now say was an EF-5, the most powerful.
McBee told All Things Considered host Melissa Block that he was about a half a mile south of the tornado as it crossed into Moore when he captured his dramatic video.
"There was debris raining out of the air on top of us," McBee says. "It just gave us a sick feeling because we knew it was hitting a lot of structures and really affecting a lot of lives."
McBee says that while chasing storms and documenting tornadoes is a thrill, he also does it to help the National Weather Service know what is happening on the ground so they can warn those in the path of the storm.
"That's really a priority among storm chasers," he says. "It certainly is a thrill to be out there ... [but] we're trying to warn people in the path as well."
A native of nearby Norman, Okla., McBee says severe weather is a regular part of life. Monday's damage, however, is the worst he's ever seen as a storm chaser.
"There's no way to get used to the destruction we saw yesterday."
A federal court is set to decide on the lawfulness of stop-and-frisk, New York City's controversial policing strategy meant to stop gun violence. The policy gives police officers wide discretion to stop, question, and in some cases, pat down people they suspect are carrying illegal guns.
But the numbers are jarring: of the 533,000 stops made last year, nearly nine in 10 were black or Latino. (There have been nearly 5 million stops in the city over the last decade.) Only about 10 percent of those stops were subsequently given summonses or arrested, and the stops yielded a total of 780 weapons.
City officials, including the Mayor Michael Bloomberg, have long argued that those numbers can be chalked up to the makeups of the neighborhoods with the most gun violence and say that the victims of gun violence are overwhelmingly black and Latino. "I can't imagine any rational person saying that the techniques are not working and that we should stop them," Bloomberg said.
But critics say that the stops violate the civil rights and essentially criminalize entire neighborhoods.
Our friends at Tell Me More are getting into the weeds of stop-and-frisk in the first of a two-part series. Today, they talk to some of the policy's vocal critics. Tomorrow, they'll speak to some of the policy's defenders inside the NYPD and elsewhere.
David Harris of the University of Pittsburgh Law School said that the policy is ineffective, if not counterproductive to policing:
Targeting them based on their racial or ethnic appearance is not a successful crime fighting strategy, despite what the Commissioner and the Mayor seem to believe. What they say is, 'See it's working!' By this method, they say, of instilling fear in people - 'We don't want people to carry their guns, that's why they do this.' So, they win either way. Targeting people based on race or ethnicity has never been shown - not in New York, not in anywhere else where this has been statistically tracked — to be the successful way to get guns, to get drugs, to get bad guys, because what you do, is you force people overall to pay an enormous cost, across an entire racial or ethnic group, for the actions of a very few people, and it also leaves out the fact that you could certainly use other methods, as other cities do, to force crime down that don't rely on this kind of very aggressive stop and frisk activity that embarrasses and humiliates, and most importantly drives people away from police.
Delores Jones Brown of John Jay College of Criminal Justice, suggested the NYPD employ different tactics that might be just as effective:
There are other policing tactics - something called "hot spots policing" that's being used by the NYPD that doesn't necessarily involve stop-and-frisk that researchers have found have in fact contributed to the crime reduction in the city. So, one of my suggestions recently has been to do more of that, and less of stop-and-frisk, because we can see a direct causal relationship between that kind of a practice - hot spots policing or something else, where we focus on the few dangerous people that can be identified individually and remove those people from the street, while leaving the law-abiding people alone.
In my view, the department is engaging in something I call "appearance profiling." And so, if they see a young Black or Latino male in certain types of clothing, like a hoodie or sagging pants, and they appear to be between certain ages, they automatically suspect them of criminality. But there's nothing criminal about being young, being Black, being Latino, being male and wearing sagging pants or a hooded sweatshirt or wearing particular colors that the police assume are gang-related.
Do you have any experience with stop-and-frisk? We'd love to hear about them in the comments, or tweet to us at #tmmfrisk.
A massive tornado swept through the Oklahoma City area Monday afternoon, leaving ruin in its path.
Moore Medical Center, which stood directly in the tornado's path, was devastated. But the workers, patients and their families in the hospital escaped.
Nick Stremble, a registered nurse and manager at the hospital, told Shots Tuesday what he saw.
"My ER is destroyed," he said. "My department was at the Moore Medical Center. I mean it's wiped out. The building is roped off so we're not doing anything there."
About 250 or 300 people were inside as the storm approached. The staff was able to direct everyone to designated zones located in the center of the hospital.
"[We] were able to move everbody to a safe location ... [and] get everybody where they needed to go and kind of hunkered down," Stremble said.
Stremble was doing a final sweep of the floors when he saw the storm heading for the hospital:
"I could see the debris in the air, and there was no mistaking it was going to be hitting the hospital. It was just right in front of me, so I ran downstairs to the safe zone and let everybody know they needed to hunker down. You could hear the noise picking up and wind kind of picking up and howling. And you can start to feel pressure on the doors, so I kind of braced the door with my back, trying to keep the door closed."
Stremble saw a door near him get sucked open and then he prepared himself as things deteriorated:
"My door got [blown] inward and I got pinned between the door and the wall. ... I was facing down the hall, and I could see all the folks being hit with the wind that was coming through the building, and the people that were kind of along the wall just kind of starting to tumble and roll and be pushed down the hall. And they all kind of ended up in a pile, down in front of another set of doors."
He said it's tough to comprehend the damage. "You can't recognize your landmarks — everything is just flat. It's disorienting to look around and not know where the streets should be."
The staff at Moore Medical Center staff is now working at other branches of the Norman Regional Health System and preparing for the possibility of more storms and more patients.
When it became clear that the conditions over Moore, Okla. were ripe for a huge tornado, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration put its GOES-13 satellite into high gear.
Instead of imaging the earth every 30 minutes, it was doing it every 5 minutes. The images it beamed back are stunning. Here's a time-lapse video that NOAA put together and released today:
NOAA says that their GOES-15, which sits over the Western U.S. and Pacific, was taking pictures at 1-minute intervals. Here are images from that satellite:
A controversial petition by the dairy industry to allow milk sweetened with aspartame or other alternative sweeteners to be labeled on the front of the carton simply as MILK is drawing criticism from the nation's leading group of nutritionists.
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics is urging the FDA to reject the petition, which we first told you about in March.
"The Academy's recommendation to deny the petition is not based on the safety of artificial sweeteners," writes Ethan Bergman, the group's president, in a release explaining its opposition.
So what's the academy's rationale? Well, as we previously reported, the petition is aimed at boosting consumption in schools, where many kids have decided that milk is not their drink of choice. Given the options of water, juice or milk, milk is losing out.
Studies show that offering flavored milk such as chocolate or strawberry turns more kids onto milk, but critics have pointed to the extra sugar as a drawback.
In an effort to get around the sugar problem, the dairy industry has petitioned to change what's known as the standard of identity of milk, which is basically the definition of milk, allowing aspartame or alternatives such as stevia to be used to sweeten the milk.
So what's the academy's beef with the petition? Well it goes back to the assertion that the dairy industry makes in its petition that the change (allowing no or low-calories sweeteners in milk) could promote healthful eating and help reduce childhood obesity.
Not necessarily, says the academy.
"Flavored milk is not a major source of added sugar in children's diets," says Bergman.
The academy points to studies, including this one, that show that school-aged kids who drink flavored (chocolate and strawberry) milk meet more of their nutrient needs, don't consume more added sugar, fat or calories. These kids are also "similar in weight compared to non-milk drinkers," according to a statement released by the academy. In other words, there's no need to try to cut sugar and calories with artificial sweeteners.
And there's criticism among consumers, too.
A petition by the group Sum Of Us, which says the goal of the petition is to "turn the wholesome drink (milk) into another artificial flavor-laden sweet snack," has received about 117,000 signatures.