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Toward a real solution for school shootings

World-renowned expert on adolescent addictive illness, clinical psychologist, and Orthodox priest weighs in on the epidemic of shootings and what needs to be done to stop them.

Seraphim Hanisch

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This is a contribution from Dr Miller Newton, author of Adolescence: Guiding Youth Through the Perilous Ordeal; Not My Kid; Kids, Drugs and Sex and other books treating the topic of adolescents with compulsive behavior disorders such as alcoholism, drug use, sexual deviancy and other addictions.

Here, the world-renowned expert on both adolescent development and treatment of adolescents with problems speaks about the Parkland Massacre.


The massacre by 17-year-old Nicholas Cruz has resulted in a national furor about school mass shootings. In our pain, trauma, grief, and anger America is demanding solutions to the problem ranging from gun regulation to armed school personnel and hardening of school security. Unfortunately, many of the suggestions will not effectively solve the problem.

One father in President Trump’s listening session, in his deep grief, angrily stated “I have lost my daughter who is lying in a cemetery in Parkland Florida and that after the first incident of mass school shooting (Columbine High School in Colorado), it should have been the end of school mass shootings.” And he is absolutely right. We should have decisively addressed the issue after Columbine.

The shooters have all been troubled adolescent males.

These young males have grown up in highly stressed and troubled families often headed by single parents, families whose children have low sense-of-self or personal potency. The growth of this group of low sense-of-self males is a result of the impact of the deterioration of Judeo-Christian morality as a basis for our society.

First and foremost is the growth in number of unmarried mothers as a result of deterioration of sexual morality making unwed childbirth acceptable. Add to this, the ease of divorce based on the personal whim of adults, neglecting the devastation of divorce on the children. The absence of two parents means financial stress, neglect of attention to children because of the mother’s stress to provide a financial base for the family and her need to have some kind of social life outside of the family. The immaturity of teenage unmarried mothers results in young women who are emotionally unable to provide stability for children due to their young age and lack of maturity. (There are single mothers, who with help of extended family, put aside a selfish personal life and amass the personal resources necessary to raise healthy children.)

Young males grow up without the stability of both male and female figures as parents. The single mother is under stress and is unable to support the young males in the various activities which are self-affirming, such as sports, scouting and other activities. The young males are lonely, often the victims of impatience and criticism, and they enter the school world as loners who do not connect with peers, who do not participate in school or extracurricular activities, and so are generally looked on as losers by peers and school staff. Most of these children simply live in isolation and loneliness. For a small number, their growing sense of impotence leads to anger, growing resentments which become rage.

They cope with the isolation, loneliness and rage by building a fantasy life in which violence becomes the tool of self-affirmation. This is enhanced by violent video games, movies and television shows. The action figures are the epitome of power and strength as they violently wipe out others with weapons. These fantastic characters and their violent behavior are the seeming antidote to the impotence of these young males. They fantasize about showing all the adults and peers who treat them badly how powerful they really are by gunning them down. The sense of loneliness and fantasy is enhanced by the isolation produced by electronic devices such as smart phones, tablets, video games, and personal computers. One can easily witness groups of teenagers sitting next to one another, but each on his or her electronic device without any personal contact with the kids right next to them. All that is needed to complete the fantasies is the actual acquisition of weapons and a strategy to empower themselves by shooting others.

Many of the proposed solutions to the problem will fail.

Solving the problem through gun restrictions, such as raising the age from 18 to 21 for acquisition of rifles such as the AR-15 is not a real solution. It is possible to acquire weapons at gun shows that have little regulation as well as through personal purchases from individuals including slightly older teenage friends. Weapons will always be available to these troubled adolescents. Changing the law in this manner does nothing to change that fact.

Solving the problem by placing armed personnel in our schools will only cut down the number of victims since the armed personnel will be involved in shootouts with the young male assassins. It is true that this strategem might cut down the number of victims, but there will still be victims and trauma for all the children in the school. President Trump’s idea that this will be a preventive strategy will only happen after one or two actual events take place that involve shootouts with armed school personnel. Do we really want any more school gun battles?

Hardening the security boundaries of schools would hopefully contain the gun battle at school entrances. However, my sense is that the young shooter will incorporate in his fantasy a strategy for dealing with the security at school entrances and so the increased security measures will in no way deter the gun battle.

To solve the problem, we must move the line of defense from the school to the street, detecting the troubled young males who were contemplating a school attack.

In the case of Nicholas Cruz there were numerous ‘red flags’, including:

  • two reports to the FBI
  • numerous police visits to his house
  • a Florida Department of Children and Families visit assessing his potential for violence

along with numerous school actions including:

  • not allowing him to have a backpack on school grounds
  • warning school personnel that he was a dangerous individual
  • eventually expelling him

All of this was enough to provoke serious action to investigate his social media, his possession of weapons and his potential for school attack. The same “red flags” were actually true of most of the other young males who perpetuated a violent attack on their schools.

So why the failure to prevent the attacks?

A “culture of reluctance” exists on the part of the helping systems including social work, mental health, and law enforcement. We often hear from law enforcement, “we cannot do anything until he commits a crime”. And from mental and social work professionals, “we don’t have enough information.”, or “he is just a ‘poor troubled young person”.

This is based in part on the atmosphere created by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) attack on civil commitment, which has resulted in the HIPPA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 law concerning confidentiality with a multitude of detail regulations that prevents commitment of individuals who are potentially harmful to self or others.

As a clinical professional I have experienced numerous occasions where individuals I have taken to Emergency Rooms or admission departments of mental health units were not committed by professionals who used a variety of small detail criteria to avoid a commitment. It often happened that the individual in the next day or two made a suicide attempt. These professionals are afraid of possible lawsuits and/or sanctions from their superiors, so they go out of their way to avoid commitments.

Second, a “culture of ‘seductive obsession’ with troubled adolescents” exists among the helping professions. The psychiatrist who was treating the Aurora Colorado theater shooter had all the information she needed to either commit him to an institution or report him to the police but in her obsession to protect him she did neither, and then he murdered a number of people in the theater. I saw the same thing occur with the blonde Public Defender who put a protective arm around Nicholas Cruz and then told the world that he was “a broken child who was remorseful”. Granted, she needs to defend him legally, but there was this air of personally protecting this 17-year-old killer who destroyed not only 17 individuals and their families, but who also injured 14 others and created trauma for hundreds in the school.

We desperately need to change the culture in the helping and law enforcement communities. We must force them to become proactive in sharing information and immediately pursuing investigation of young males who are acquiring weapons and showing signs of violence, including investigations of their social media activities. Without waiting for the political discussion to end, and new laws to be enacted, funding to be increased for mental health, and the training and arming school personnel, there needs to be an immediate national initiative to search for young males who are acquiring weapons and ammunition. Then using these names, the criminal justice system, the family service system and their schools need to be checked for incidents. Finally, social media needs to be checked for talk of school violence.

I guarantee there are 10 or 15 others in the wake of the Parkland Massacre who are stimulated by it, and who are actually also fantasizing themselves on TV News like Nicholas Cruz was, who are at this moment dreaming of achieving self-empowerment by school violence and are in the process of acquiring weapons and developing their strategies.

We must move the line of defense from the front door of the school to the place where these troubled young males are developing fantasies and strategies for self-empowerment by school violence, and we must stop them now before they act. This is the only solution that actually prevents violence and victims at schools.

– Dr. V. M. Newton

 

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Photos of swastika on Ukrainian mall stairway creates a stir [Video]

Ukrainian nationalist press in damage-control mode to explain away the Nazi sign, but they forgot the name of the street the mall is on.

Seraphim Hanisch

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One of the aspects of news about Ukraine that does not make it past the gatekeepers of the American and Western news media is how a significant contingent of Ukrainian nationalists have espoused a sense of reverence for Nazis. The idea that this could even happen anywhere in the world in an open manner makes the claim seem too absurd to be taken seriously. Gone are the days when the Nazi swastika adorned streets and buildings in Europe. Right?

Well, maybe, wrong.

This was seen in Kyiv’s Gorodok (or Horodok, if you insist) Gallery, a shopping center in that city, located on Bandera Avenue.

The pro-nationalist news service UNIAN wasted no time going to press with their explanation of this incident, which admittedly may be accurate:

Children and teenagers who participated in the All-Ukrainian break dance festival held in the Kyiv-based Gorodok Gallery shopping mall were shocked to see a swastika image projected onto an LED staircase.

The mall administration apologized to visitors, explaining saying that their computer system had apparently been hacked.

“The administration and staff have no relation to whatever was projected onto the LED-staircase, and in no way does it support such [an] act. Now we are actively searching for those involved in the attack,” it said in a statement.

According to Gorodok Gallery’s administrative office, it was not the first time a cyber breach took place.

As reported earlier, Ukraine is believed to be a testing ground for cyberattacks, many of which are launched from Russia. Hackers have earlier targeted critical energy infrastructure, state institutions, banks, and large businesses.

This time, it appears, hackers aimed to feed the Kremlin’s narrative of “Nazis in power in Ukraine” and create a relevant hype-driving viral story for Russian media to spread it worldwide.

The Gorodok Gallery also apologized on its Facebook page and said that this was a result of hacking.

But what about the street that the mall is on? From the self-same Facebook page, this is what we see:


To translate, for those who do not read Ukrainian or Russian, the address says the following:

23 Steven Bandera Prospekt, Kyiv, Ukraine 04073

This street was formerly called “Moscow Avenue.” Big change, as we shall see.

Steven Bandera got his birthday designated as a national holiday in Ukraine last December. He is known in Ukraine’s history for one thing. According to the Jerusalem Post:

The street where the shopping mall is located is named for Stepan Bandera, a Ukrainian nationalist who briefly collaborated with Nazi Germany in its fight against Russia.

His troops are believed to have killed thousands of Jews.

Several Israeli papers picked this bit of news up, and of course, the reasons are understandable. However, for the West, it appears possible that this news event will largely go unnoticed, even by that great nation that is often called “Israel’s proxy”, the United States.

This is probably because for certain people in the US, there is a sense of desperation to mask the nature of events that are happening in Ukraine.

The usual fare of mainstream news for the West probably consists of things like “Putin’s military seizes innocent Ukrainian sailors in Kerch incident” or, “Ukraine’s Orthodox Church declared fully independent by Patriarch of Constantinople” (not that too many Americans know what a Constantinople even is, anyway), but the overriding narrative for the American people about this country is “Ukraine are the good guys, and Russia are the bad guys,” and this will not be pushed aside, even to accommodate the logical grievance of Israel to this incident.

If this article gets to Western papers at all, it will be the UNIAN line they adhere to, that evil pro-Russia hackers caused this stairway to have a swastika to provoke the idea that Ukraine somehow supports Naziism.

But UNIAN neglected to mention that the street name was recently changed to Stephan Bandera (in 2016), and no one appears to have hacked this. Nor does UNIAN talk about the Azov fighters that openly espoused much of the Nazi ideology. For nationalist Ukrainians, this is all for the greater good of getting rid of all things Russia.

A further sad fact about this is the near impossibility of getting assuredly honest and neutral information about this and other similar happenings. Both Ukrainian nationalists and Russian media agencies have dogs in the race, so to speak. They are both personally connected to these events. However, the Russian media cannot be discounted here, because they do offer a witness and perspective, probably the closest to any objective look at what is going on in Ukraine. We include a video of a “torchlight march” that took place in 2017 that featured such hypernationalist activity, which is not reported in the West.

More such reports are available, but this one seemed the best one to summarize the character of what is going on in the country.

While we do not know the motive and identities of whoever programmed the swastika, it cannot really be stated that this was just a random publicity stunt in a country that has no relationship with Nazi veneration.

The street the mall is on bears witness to that.

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It’s Back to the Iran-Contra Days Under Trump

Abrams and his cronies will not stop with Venezuela.

Strategic Culture Foundation

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Authored by Wayne Madsen, via The Strategic Culture Foundation:


Showing that he is adopting the neoconservative playbook every day he remains in office, Donald Trump handed the neocons a major win when he appointed Iran-contra scandal felon Elliott Abrams as his special envoy on Venezuela. Abrams pleaded guilty in 1991 to two counts of withholding information on the secret sale of US weapons for cash to help illegally supply weapons to the Nicaraguan right-wing contras, who were battling against the government of President Daniel Ortega. Abrams would have headed to a federal prison, but President George H. W. Bush, an unindicted co-conspirator in the scandal, issued pardons to Abrams and his five fellow conspirators – former Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger, former National Security Adviser Robert McFarlane, and former Central Intelligence Agency officials Alan Fiers, Duane “Dewey” Clarridge, and Clair George – on Christmas Eve 1991, during the final weeks of Bush’s lame duck administration.

Abrams escaped being charged with more serious crimes by Independent Counsel Lawrence Walsh because he cut a last-minute deal with federal prosecutors. Trump, who has made no secret of his disdain for cooperating federal witnesses, would have normally called Abrams a “rat,” a gangster term meaning informant. The man who helped engineer the pardons for Abrams and his five convicted friends was none other than Bush’s Attorney General, William Barr, who has just been sworn in as Trump’s Attorney General. Trump, who is always decrying the presence of the “deep state” that thwarts his very move, has become the chief guardian of that entity.

During a recent hearing of the US House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee, newly-minted congresswoman Ilhan Omar, Democrat of Minnesota, reminded her colleagues and the world about the sordid background of Abrams.

Omar zeroed in on Abrams’s criminal history:

“Mr. Abrams, in 1991 you pleaded guilty to two counts of withholding information from Congress regarding the Iran-Contra affair, for which you were later pardoned by President George H.W. Bush. I fail to understand why members of this committee or the American people should find any testimony you give today to be truthful.”

Abrams, as is the nature of neocons, refused to respond to Omar and cited her comments as “personal attacks.”

Abrams’s and his fellow criminals’ use of mercenaries and “death squads” to conduct secret wars in Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala during the Ronald Reagan administration in the 1980s has made a re-entrance under Trump. Abrams was brought on board by neocons like National Security Adviser John Bolton, Vice President Mike Pence, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to oversee a US military build-up in Colombia, said to be 5000 US troops, to support Venezuelan paramilitary and military efforts to topple President Nicolas Maduro. Abrams and Bolton are also believed to have retained the services of another unindicted conspirator in the Iran-contra affair, Michael Ledeen, a colleague of the disgraced and convicted former Trump National Security Adviser, retired Lieutenant General Michael Flynn. Ledeen and Flynn co-authored a book titled, “The Field of Fight: How We Can Win the Global War Against Radical Islam and its Allies.” The book contains nothing more than the standard neocon tripe one might expect from the likes of Ledeen.

An official investigation of the Iran-contra scandal by the late Republican Senator John Tower of Texas concluded that Abrams’s and Ledeen’s friend, Iranian-Jewish middleman Manucher Ghorbanifar, a long-time Mossad asset and well-known prevaricator, was extremely instrumental in establishing the back-channel arms deals with Iran. Ghorbanifar has long been on the CIA “burn list” as an untrustworthy charlatan, along with others in the Middle East of similar sketchy credentials, including the Iraq’s Ahmad Chalabi, Syria’s Farid “Frank” Ghadry, and Lebanon’s Samir “Sami” Geagea. These individuals, however, were warmly embraced by neocons like Abrams and his associates.

Abrams, whose links with Israeli intelligence has always been a point of consternation with US counter-intelligence officials, is part of an old cabal of right-wing anti-Soviet Democrats who coalesced around Senator Henry Jackson in the 1970s. Along with Abrams, this group of war hawks included Richard Perle, Frank Gaffney, William Kristol, Douglas Feith, Lewis “Scooter” Libby, Abram Shulsky, and Paul Wolfowitz. Later, this group would have its fingerprints on major US foreign policy debacles, ranging from Nicaragua and Grenada to Lebanon, Iraq, and Libya. Later, in December 2000, these neocons managed to convince president-elect George W. Bush of the need to “democratize” the Middle East. That policy would later bring not democracy but disaster to the Arab Middle East and North Africa.

Abrams and his cronies will not stop with Venezuela. They have old scores to settle with Nicaraguan President Ortega. The initiation of “regime change” operations in Nicaragua, supported by the CIA and the US Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) in Miami, have been ongoing for more than a year.

The Trump administration has already achieved a regime change victory of sorts in El Salvador. Nayib Bukele, the former mayor of San Salvador, who was expelled from the formerly-ruling left-wing Farabundo Marti National Liberation (FMLN) party and joined the right-wing GANA party, was recently elected president of El Salvador. Bukele has quickly re-aligned his country’s policies with those of the Trump administration. Bukele has referred to President Maduro of Venezuela as a “dictator.” He has also criticized the former FMLN government’s recognition of China and severance of diplomatic ties with Taiwan. It will be interesting to see how a sycophant like Bukele will politically survive as Trump continues to call hapless asylum-seeking migrants from his country, who seek residency in the United States, “rapists, gang monsters, murderers, and drug smugglers.”

Another country heading for a US-installed “banana republic” dictator is Haiti. President Jovenal Moise has seen rioting in the streets of Port-au-Prince as the US State Department removed all “non-essential” personnel from the country. Moise, whose country has received $2 billion in oil relief from Venezuela, to help offset rising fuel prices, has continued to support the Maduro government. However, at the US-run and neo-colonial artifice, the Organization of American States (OAS), Moise’s envoys have been under tremendous pressure to cut ties with Venezuela and recognize the US puppet Juan Guaido as Venezuelan president. Moise’s refusal to do so resulted in armed gangs hitting the streets of Port-au-Prince demanding Moise’s resignation. It is the same neocon “regime change” playbook being used in Venezuela and Nicaragua.

There will be similar attempts to replace pro-Maduro governments in his remaining allies in the region. These include Suriname, Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.

Abrams was also brought in as an adviser on Middle East policy in the George W. Bush administration. The carnage of Iraq is a stark testament to his record. In 2005, it was reported that two key Bush White House officials – Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove and Deputy National Security Adviser Elliot Abrams – gave a “wink and a nod” for the assassinations by Israeli-paid operatives of three key Lebanese political figures seeking a rapprochement with Syria and Lebanese Hezbollah – Member of Parliament Elie Hobeika, former Lebanese Communist Party chief George Hawi, and former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

In 2008, a United Nations panel headed by former Canadian prosecutor Daniel Bellemare later concluded Hariri was assassinated by a “criminal network” and not by either Syrian and Lebanese intelligence or Lebanese Hezbollah as proffered by Abrams and his friends in Washington.

Representative Omar was spot on in questioning why Abrams, whose name is as disgraced as his two fellow conspirators – Oliver North and John Poindexter – whose criminal convictions were overturned on appeal, is working for the Trump administration on Venezuela. The answer is that the neocons, who can sense, like raptors, Trump’s political weakness, have filled the vacuum left by top-level vacancies in the administration.

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Putin: If mid-range missiles deployed in Europe, Russia will station arms to strike decision centers

Putin: If US deploys mid-range missiles in Europe, Russia will be forced to respond.

RT

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Via RT…


If the US deploys intermediate-range missiles in Europe, Moscow will respond by stationing weapons aimed not only against missiles themselves, but also at command and control centers, from which a launch order would come.

The warning came from President Vladimir Putin, who announced Russia’s planned actions after the US withdraws from the INF Treaty – a Cold War-era agreement between Washington and Moscow which banned both sides form having ground-based cruise and ballistic missiles and developing relevant technology.

The US is set to unilaterally withdraw from the treaty in six months, which opens the possibility of once again deploying these missiles in Europe. Russia would see that as a major threat and respond with its own deployments, Putin said.

Intermediate-range missiles were banned and removed from Europe because they would leave a very short window of opportunity for the other side to decide whether to fire in retaliation after detecting a launch – mere minutes. This poses the threat of an accidental nuclear exchange triggered by a false launch warning, with the officer in charge having no time to double check.

“Russia will be forced to create and deploy weapon systems, which can be used not only against the territories from which this direct threat would be projected, but also against those territories where decision centers are located, from which an order to use those weapons against us may come.” The Russian president, who was delivering a keynote address to the Russian parliament on Wednesday, did not elaborate on whether any counter-deployment would only target US command-and-control sites in Europe or would also include targets on American soil.

He did say the Russian weapon system in terms of flight times and other specifications would “correspond” to those targeting Russia.

“We know how to do it and we will implement those plans without a delay once the relevant threats against us materialize,”he said.

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