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Missouri state trooper disciplined after blowing the whistle on in-custody drowning death

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A Missouri highway patrol officer who criticized the department after a handcuffed man fell into water and drowned has been more harshly punished than the officer who failed to secure a life vest on the deceased man.

Veteran state trooper Randy Henry was demoted from sergeant to corporal and transferred from his post of nearly three decades at the Lake of Ozarks, the Springfield News-Leader reports. In March, Henry told public officials during a committee hearing that lack of training, but also recklessness and poor judgment contributed to the death of 20-year-old Brandon Ellingson last year.

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Ellingson had been pulled over in the Lake of Ozarks and arrested by water patrol officer Anthony Piercy last May on suspicion of boating while intoxicated, the News-Leader reports. Instead of properly securing him with a life vest, Piercy pulled an already-buckled vest over Ellingson’s head and upper torso. Ellingson’s wrists were handcuffed behind his back.

The college student tumbled from the boat and the life vest slipped off quickly. He drowned and died.

A special prosecutor declined to charge Piercy in the death, and it was ruled accidental. Sources told the Kansas City Star that he was suspended for five days.

“It was a slap on the wrist,” a former water patrol officer told the Star. “It was nothing.”

The highway patrol’s marine division has been under scrutiny since Ellingson’s death, the Star reports. Missouri lawmakers found since a 2011 merger between the highway patrol and state water patrol, training has been lacking. Piercy was a veteran road officer, but the Star discovered he had only two days of field training before being sent out on the water alone.

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Henry’s attorney, Chet Pleban, told the Star the department has been looking to retaliate against the officer for being a whistle blower, sending him for mental health evaluations that turned up “no cause for concern,” then launching a “professional standards” investigation.

“You’re going to make that man move from his home, where he’s lived for 19 years, and force him to move to Truman Lake?” where Henry was transfered, Pleban asked the Star. “And you’re going to say that’s not retaliation, malicious and vindictive?”

Henry has appealed the discipline and transfer from Lake of the Ozarks, the Star reports.

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In a secluded region in Russia’s Arctic they are rejecting Putin in rare protest

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Lyudmila Laptander, an activist advocating autonomy for her mineral-rich Nenets region in the Russian Arctic, worries authorities are planning to sacrifice its traditions for the promise of economic enrichment.

"If Nenets is merged with another region, I worry that no one will look after our language or our traditions, and that our small villages in the tundra will be forgotten," said Laptander, 61, a member of the Yasavey cultural group.

The autonomous region on the edge of the Arctic Ocean was gripped by protests in May against the government's plans to integrate it with neighbouring Arkhangelsk.

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People are paying to hire this donkey to crash their Zoom meetings

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The coronavirus pandemic has led millions of people to embrace meetings via Zoom, but admittedly, those can be as tedious as in-person conferences.

So one animal sanctuary in Canada, in dire need of cash after being forced to close to visitors, found a way to solve both problems.

Meet Buckwheat, a donkey at the Farmhouse Garden Animal Home, who is ready to inject some fun into your humdrum work-from-home office day -- for a price.

"Hello. We are crashing your meeting, we are crashing your meeting -- this is Buckwheat," says sanctuary volunteer Tim Fors, introducing the gray and white animal on a Zoom call.

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Republican senators are suddenly trying to social distance — from Trump

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There’s something interesting in today’s news:

A number of Republican Senators have said they are skipping the Republican National Convention this year. The convention was originally scheduled in Charlotte, North Carolina, but at Trump’s insistence was relocated to Jacksonville, Florida, last month. The stated reason was that Democratic North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper would not commit to permitting a full convention out of concerns about the spread of coronavirus, but the abrupt switch to Florida, less than 80 days before the convention, still seems odd to me. Regardless, the switch has created a new problem: Florida is in the midst of a dramatic spike in coronavirus cases, setting a record for new cases in a single day during the weekend —11,458—and running low of ICU beds.

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