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Q&A:

Shootings by police

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How many shootings of black men by white police officers happen every year in the United States?

No system is in place that documents, case by case, fatal shootings of black men or anyone else by police officers in the United States. The FBI, Bureau of Justice Statistics and the Centers for Disease Control all cite a figure of about 400 justifiable police homicides a year. Other organizations think the number is closer to 1,000 or more.

The available statistics have several potential problems, as pointed out recently by the news website fivethirtyeight.com: They are self-reported by police agencies, and not all agencies report. In some cases the reports lag until the investigation is resolved, and in others police involvement is not noted in coroner reports. The numbers also do not include "unjustifiable" homicides or shootings in prisons or on military bases.

Miley Cyrus charity

How much more money did the charity get after Miley Cyrus had a homeless man accept the VMA award for her?

A week ago, singer Miley Cyrus made headlines again at the VMAs — but this time not for twerking. She had a young homeless man, 22-year-old Jesse Helt, accept her award and make a plea on behalf of My Friend's Place, a 26-year-old nonprofit based in Hollywood that assists about 1,400 homeless youths a year.

By Monday afternoon, the New York Times reported that more than $200,000 had been donated to the nonprofit, which is rated a four-star charity by Charity Navigator. In its financial statement for the fiscal year that began July 1, 2012, and ended June 30, 2013, My Friend's Place reported total revenue of $1,282,856. That's an average of about $3,500 a day, so the impact of Cyrus' act could certainly be considered a windfall.

With or against traffic?

Should bicycle riders on city streets go with traffic or against it? I have heard both.

On its website, the Florida Bicycle Association spells it out clearly:

"In Florida the bicycle is legally defined as a vehicle and the bicyclist is a driver. Bicyclists have the same rights to the roadways, and must obey the same traffic laws as the drivers of other vehicles. These laws include stopping for stop signs and red lights, riding with the flow of traffic, using lights at night, yielding the right of way when entering a roadway and yielding to pedestrians in crosswalks." (By the way, drivers must stay at least 3 feet away from bicyclists when passing them.)

You can read more at floridabicycle.org/drive-your-bike, or you can check the state law governing bicycles at leg.state.fl.us/statutes. Click on Title XXIII, then Chapter 316 State Uniform Traffic Signal, then section 316.2065.

Compiled from Times and wire reports. To submit a question, email jbooth@tampabay.com.

Q&A: 08/29/14 [Last modified: Friday, August 29, 2014 5:01pm]
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