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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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BREAKING: Explosion in Crimea, Russia kills many, injuring dozens, terrorism suspected

According to preliminary information, the incident was caused by a gas explosion at a college facility in Kerch, Crimea.

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“We are clarifying the information at the moment. Preliminary figures are 50 injured and 10 dead. Eight ambulance crews are working at the site and air medical services are involved,” the press-service for the Crimean Ministry of Health stated.

Medics announced that at least 50 people were injured in the explosion in Kerch and 25 have already been taken to local hospital with moderate wounds, according to Sputnik.

Local news outlets reported that earlier in the day, students at the college heard a blast and windows of the building were shattered.

Putin Orders that Assistance Be Provided to Victims of Blast in Kerch – Kremlin Spokesman

“The president has instructed the Ministry of Health and the rescue services to take emergency measures to assist victims of this explosion, if necessary, to ensure the urgent transportation of seriously wounded patients to leading medical institutions of Russia, whether in Moscow or other cities,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitriy Peskov said.

The president also expressed his condolences to all those affected by the tragic incident.

Manhunt Underway in Kerch as FSB Specialists Investigate Site of Explosion – National Anti-Terrorist Committee

The site of the blast that rocked a city college in Kerch is being examined by FSB bomb disposal experts and law enforcement agencies are searching for clues that might lead to the arrest of the perpetrators, the National Anti Terrorism Committee said in a statement.

“Acting on orders from the head of the NAC’s local headquarters, FSB, Interior Ministry, Russian Guards and Emergency Ministry units have arrived at the site. The territory around the college has been cordoned off and the people inside the building evacuated… Mine-disposal experts are working at the site and law enforcement specialists are investigating,” the statement said.

Terrorist Act Considered as Possible Cause of Blast in Kerch – Kremlin Spokesman

“The tragic news that comes from Kerch. Explosion. The president was informed … The data on those killed and the number of injured is constantly updated,” Peskov told reporters.

“[The version of a terrorist attack] is being considered,” he said.

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10 percent of American F-22 fighter jets damaged by Hurricane Michael

Part of the reason the F-22’s were left in the path of the storm is that they were broken and too expensive to fix or fly.

Seraphim Hanisch

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Note to the wise: When a hurricane comes, move your planes out of the way. Especially your really expensive F-22 fighter planes. After all, those babies are $339 mil apiece. Got the message?

Apparently the US Air Force didn’t get this message. Or, did they find themselves unable to follow the message?

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The Washington Times reported Tuesday that between 17 and 20 of these top-of-the-line fighter jets were damaged, some beyond the point of repair, when Hurricane Michael slammed ashore on Mexico Beach, Florida, not far from the Tyndall Air Force Base in the same state. The Times reports that more than a dozen of the F-22 Raptor stealth fighter jets were damaged after being left in the path of the extremely fierce storm:

President Trump’s tour Monday of devastation wrought by Hurricane Michael took him close to Florida’s Tyndall Air Force Base, where more than a dozen F-22 Raptor stealth fighter jets were damaged after being left in the path of the powerful storm.

The pricey fighter jets — some possibly damaged beyond repair — were caught in the widespread destruction that took at least 18 lives, flattened homes, downed trees and buckled roads from Florida to Virginia.

The decision to leave roughly $7.5 billion in aircraft in the path of a hurricane raised eyebrows, including among defense analysts who say the Pentagon’s entire high-tech strategy continues to make its fighter jets vulnerable to weather and other mishaps when they are grounded for repairs.

“This becomes sort of a self-defeating cycle where we have $400 million aircraft that can’t fly precisely because they are $400 million aircraft,” said Dan Grazier, a defense fellow at Project on Government Oversight. “If we were buying simpler aircraft then it would be a whole lot easier for the base commander to get these aircraft up and in working order, at least more of them.”

This is quite a statement. The F-22 is held to be the tip of the American air defense sword. A superb airplane (when it works), it can do things no other plane in the world can do. It boasts a radar profile the size of a marble, making it virtually undetectable by enemy radars. It is highly maneuverable with thrust-vectoring built into its engines.

However, to see a report like this is simply stunning. After all, one would expect that the best military equipment ought to be the most reliable as well. 

It appears that Hurricane Michael figuratively and physically blew the lid off any efforts to conceal a problem with these planes, and indeed with the hyper-technological basis for the US air fighting forcesThe Times continues:

Reports on the number of aircraft damaged ranged from 17 to 22 or about 10 percent of the Air Force’s F-22 fleet of 187.

The Air Force stopped buying F-22s, considered the world’s most advanced fighter jets, in 2012. The aircraft is being replaced by the F-35, another high-tech but slightly less-expensive aircraft.

Later in the tour, at an emergency command center in Georgia, Mr. Trump said the damage to the F-22s couldn’t be avoided because the aircraft were grounded and the storm moved quickly.

“We’re going to have a full report. There was some damage, not nearly as bad as we first heard,” he said when asked about the F-22s, which cost about $339 million each.

“I’m always concerned about cost. I don’t like it,” Mr. Trump said.

Still, the president remains a fan of the high-tech fighter jet.

“The F-22 is one of my all-time favorites. It is the most beautiful fighter jet in the world. One of the best,” he said.

The Air Force managed to fly 33 of the F-22s to safety, but maintenance and repair issues kept 22 of the notoriously finicky aircraft on the ground when the powerful storm hit the base.

About 49 percent of the F-22s are out of action at any given time, according to an Air Force report this year.

This is a stunning statistic. This means that of the 187 planes in existence, 90 of them are not working. At their cost, that means that over thirty billion dollars worth of military equipment is sitting around, broken, just in airplanes alone.

As a point of comparison, the entire Russian military budget for 2017 was $61 billion, with that budget producing hypersonic missiles, superb fighter aircraft and tanks. Russian fighter planes are known for being able to take harsh landing and take-off conditions that would cripple the most modern American flying machines.

It would seem that Hurricane Michael exposed a serious problem with the state of readiness of American armed forces. Thankfully that problem did not arise in combat, but it is no less serious.

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Saudi Arabia trying to squirm free of Khashoggi murder (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 2.

Alex Christoforou

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RT CrossTalk host Peter Lavelle and The Duran’s Alex Christoforou take a quick look at Saudi Arabia’s possible admission to killing journalist Jamal Khashoggi…accidentally, while they were torturing the man inside the consulate in Istanbul.

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Via Zerohedge

Even before the publication of last night’s Saudi trial balloon hinting that the kingdom would soon acknowledge that the extrajudicial killing of Jamal Khashoggi – the insider-turned dissident journalist who walked into the Saudi consulate in Istanbul last week and never walked back out – was the result of a “botched” kidnapping attempt carried out by “rogue killers” (despite reports that the US intelligence community knew that Khashoggi was being “targeted”), two realities had become increasingly clear. One: That the Saudis would avoid responsibility for the killing by pinning it on some unfortunate underling, and two: that there would be few, if any, lasting diplomatic repercussions.

And as more media organizations confirmed reports about Saudi’s plans to spin Khashoggi’s murder as a botched interrogation (we can only imagine what was said in that room to justify the use of such extreme violence), CNN calculated the Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met with Saudi King Salman in Riyadh for approximately 15 minutes early Tuesday, following his 12-hour-plus flight to the kingdom.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s meeting with King Salman of Saudi Arabia lasted no more than 15 minutes, CNN estimates based on the time the top US diplomat’s motorcade arrived at the royal court and departed.

The motorcade arrived at the royal court at 11:42 a.m. (4:42 a.m. ET) and left 26 minutes later. There is a fair distance to walk from where the motorcade dropped Pompeo off to where he met the king.

While Trump said on Monday that Pompeo would travel to Turkey “if necessary”, the Saudi’s decision to “come clean” about Khashoggi’s death pretty much rendered Pompeo’s fact-finding mission unnecessary.More important are developments in Turkey, where the joint Saudi-Turkish “investigation” is turning its attention toward the home of the Saudi consul, where a black diplomatic van that departed the Saudi consulate just under two hours after Khashoggi entered was captured on camera disappearing into a garage. Some speculate that this is where the killers finished disposing of Khashoggi’s body. This comes after a “nine-hour” search of the Saudi consulate building that, according to leaks published in Al-Jazeera, turned up “evidence of tampering” by the Saudis. On Tuesday, Turkey’s foreign minister clarified that Saudi had yet to admit its role in Khashoggi’s disappearance and probable death.

Turkish investigators will carry out a search of the Saudi Consul General’s residence on Tuesday as the probe into the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi continues, according to a Turkish diplomatic source.

CCTV footage released to the media from the day the Washington Post writer vanished show movement of vehicles from the consulate building to the Consul General’s residence nearby.

As speculation mounts that the incident could unseat the increasingly authoritarian Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman (who has already marginalized or incapacitated nearly every threat to his rule), it’s looking more likely that neither the US nor the rest of the Western world will do much to punish the world’s most important oil exporter, which can “weaponize” the oil market seemingly on a whim.

Any punishment for this flagrant violation of human rights will need to come, therefore, from the private sector, which, according to Bloomberg, could sabotage MbS’s grand Vision 2030 plan, which aims to remake the Saudi economy via a flood of foreign direct investment:

The economic strategy of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, known as MBS, is to make investment the main engine of economic growth instead of government spending, but the disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi could frustrate these ambitions. Foreign direct investment, a key part of the plan to reinvent Saudi Arabia’s economy, declined sharply in 2017 and is unlikely to return to previous levels, leaving the government’s target for 2020 beyond reach, according to analysis by Bloomberg Economics. Increased policy uncertainty and, after the Khashoggi incident, the risk of reputational damage to foreign companies working in Saudi Arabia won’t help.

 

 

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