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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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Foreign Banks Are Embracing Russia’s Alternative To SWIFT, Moscow Says

Given its status as a major energy exporter, Russia has leverage that could help attract partners to its new SWIFT alternative.

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Via Zerohedge


On Friday, one day after Russia and China pledged to reduce their reliance on the dollar by increasing the amount of bilateral trade conducted in rubles and yuan (a goal toward which much progress has already been made over the past three years), Russia’s Central Bank provided the latest update on Moscow’s alternative to US-dominated international payments network SWIFT.

Moscow started working on the project back in 2014, when international sanctions over Russia’s annexation of Crimea inspired fears that the country’s largest banks would soon be cut off from SWIFT which, though it’s based in Belgium and claims to be politically neutral, is effectively controlled by the US Treasury.

Today, the Russian alternative, known as the System for Transfer of Financial Messages, has attracted a modest amount of support within the Russian business community, with 416 Russian companies having joined as of September, including the Russian Federal Treasury and large state corporations likeGazprom Neft and Rosneft.

And now, eight months after a senior Russian official advised that “our banks are ready to turn off SWIFT,” it appears the system has reached another milestone in its development: It’s ready to take on international partners in the quest to de-dollarize and end the US’s leverage over the international financial system. A Russian official advised that non-residents will begin joining the system “this year,” according to RT.

“Non-residents will start connecting to us this year. People are already turning to us,”said First Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Russia Olga Skorobogatova. Earlier, the official said that by using the alternative payment system foreign firms would be able to do business with sanctioned Russian companies.

Turkey, China, India and others are among the countries that might be interested in a SWIFT alternative, as Russian President Vladimir Putin pointed out in a speech earlier this month, the US’s willingness to blithely sanction countries from Iran to Venezuela and beyond will eventually rebound on the US economy by undermining the dollar’s status as the world’s reserve currency.

To be sure, the Russians aren’t the only ones building a SWIFT alternative to help avoid US sanctions. Russia and China, along with the European Union are launching an interbank payments network known as the Special Purpose Vehicle to help companies pursue “legitimate business with Iran” in defiance of US sanctions.

Given its status as a major energy exporter, Russia has leverage that could help attract partners to its new SWIFT alternative. For one, much of Europe is dependent on Russian natural gas and oil.

And as Russian trade with other US rivals increases, Moscow’s payments network will look increasingly attractive,particularly if buyers of Russian crude have no other alternatives to pay for their goods.

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US leaving INF will put nuclear non-proliferation at risk & may lead to ‘complete chaos’

The US is pulling out of a nuclear missile pact with Russia. The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty requires both countries to eliminate their short and medium-range atomic missiles.

The Duran

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Via RT


If the US ditches the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF), it could collapse the entire nuclear non-proliferation system, and bring nuclear war even closer, Russian officials warn.

By ending the INF, Washington risks creating a domino effect which could endanger other landmark deals like the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) and collapse the existing non-proliferation mechanism as we know it, senior lawmaker Konstantin Kosachev said on Sunday.

The current iteration of the START treaty, which limits the deployment of all types of nuclear weapons, is due to expire in 2021. Kosachev, who chairs the Parliament’s Upper House Foreign Affairs Committee, warned that such an outcome pits mankind against “complete chaos in terms of nuclear weapons.”

“Now the US Western allies face a choice: either embarking on the same path, possibly leading to new war, or siding with common sense, at least for the sake of their self-preservation instinct.”

His remarks came after US President Donald Trump announced his intentions to “terminate” the INF, citing alleged violations of the deal by Russia.

Moscow has repeatedly denied undermining the treaty, pointing out that Trump has failed to produce any evidence of violations. Moreover, Russian officials insist that the deployment of US-made Mk 41 ground-based universal launching systems in Europe actually violates the agreement since the launchers are capable of firing mid-range cruise missiles.

Leonid Slutsky, who leads the Foreign Affairs Committee in parliament’s lower chamber, argued that Trump’s words are akin to placing “a huge mine under the whole disarmament process on the planet.”

The INF Treaty was signed in 1987 by then-President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. The deal effectively bans the parties from having and developing short- and mid-range missiles of all types. According to the provisions, the US was obliged to destroy Pershing I and II launcher systems and BGM-109G Gryphon ground-launched cruise missiles. Moscow, meanwhile, pledged to remove the SS-20 and several other types of missiles from its nuclear arsenal.

Pershing missiles stationed in the US Army arsenal. © Hulton Archive / Getty Images ©

By scrapping the historic accord, Washington is trying to fulfill its “dream of a unipolar world,” a source within the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

“This decision fits into the US policy of ditching the international agreements which impose equal obligations on it and its partners, and render the ‘exceptionalism’ concept vulnerable.”

Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov denounced Trump’s threats as “blackmail” and said that Washington wants to dismantle the INF because it views the deal as a “problem” on its course for “total domination” in the military sphere.

The issue of nuclear arms treaties is too vital for national and global security to rush into hastily-made “emotional” decisions, the official explained. Russia is expecting to hear more on the US’ plans from Trump’s top security adviser, John Bolton, who is set to hold talks in Moscow tomorrow.

President Trump has been open about unilaterally pulling the US out of various international agreements if he deems them to be damaging to national interests. Earlier this year, Washington withdrew from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) on the Iranian nuclear program. All other signatories to the landmark agreement, including Russia, China, and the EU, decided to stick to the deal, while blasting Trump for leaving.

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Converting Khashoggi into Cash

After two weeks of denying any connection to Khashoggi’s disappearance, Riyadh has admitted that he was killed by Saudi operatives but it wasn’t really on purpose.

Jim Jatras

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Authored by James George Jatras via The Strategic Culture Foundation:


The hazard of writing about the Saudis’ absurd gyrations as they seek to avoid blame for the murder of the late, not notably great journalist and Muslim Brotherhood activist Jamal Khashoggi is that by the time a sentence is finished, the landscape may have changed again.

As though right on cue, the narrative has just taken another sharp turn.

After two weeks of denying any connection to Khashoggi’s disappearance, Riyadh has ‘fessed up (sorta) and admitted that he was killed by Saudi operatives but it wasn’t really on purpose:

Y’see, it was kinda’f an ‘accident.’

Oops…

Y’see the guys were arguing, and … uh … a fistfight broke out.

Yeah, that’s it … a ‘fistfight.’

And before you know it poor Jamal had gone all to pieces.

Y’see?

Must’ve been a helluva fistfight.

The figurative digital ink wasn’t even dry on that whopper before American politicos in both parties were calling it out:

  • “To say that I am skeptical of the new Saudi narrative about Mr. Khashoggi is an understatement,” tweeted Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina. “First we were told Mr. Khashoggi supposedly left the consulate and there was blanket denial of any Saudi involvement. Now, a fight breaks out and he’s killed in the consulate, all without knowledge of Crown Prince. It’s hard to find this latest ‘explanation‘ as credible.”
  • California Rep. Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said in a statement that the new Saudi explanation is “not credible.” “If Khashoggi was fighting inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, he was fighting for his life with people sent to capture or kill him,” Schiff said. “The kingdom and all involved in this brutal murder must be held accountable, and if the Trump administration will not take the lead, Congress must.”

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan must think he’s already died and gone to his eternal recreation in the amorous embraces of the dark-eyed houris. The acid test for the viability of Riyadh’s newest transparent lie is whether the Turks actually have, as they claim, live recordings of Khashoggi’s interrogation, torture, murder, and dismemberment (not necessarily in that order) – and if they do, when Erdogan decides it’s the right time to release them.

Erdogan has got the Saudis over a barrel and he’ll squeeze everything he can out of them.

From the beginning, the Khashoggi story wasn’t really about the fate of one man. The Saudis have been getting away with bloody murder, literally, for years. They’re daily slaughtering the civilian population of Yemen with American and British help, with barely a ho-hum from the sensitive consciences always ready to invoke the so-called “responsibility to protect” Muslims in Bosnia, Kosovo, Libya, Syria, Xinjiang, Rakhine, and so forth.

Where’s the responsibility not to help a crazed bunch of Wahhabist head-choppers kill people?

But now, just one guy meets a grisly end and suddenly it’s the most important homicide since the Lindbergh baby.

What gives?

Is it because Khashoggi was part of the MSM aristocracy, on account of his relationship with the Washington Post?

Was it because of his other, darker, connections? As related by Moon of Alabama: “Khashoggi was a rather shady guy. A ‘journalist’ who was also an operator for Saudi and U.S. intelligence services. He was an early recruit of the Muslim Brotherhood.” This relationship, writes MoA, touches on the interests of pretty much everyone in the region:

“The Ottoman empire ruled over much of the Arab world. The neo-Ottoman wannabe-Sultan Recep Tayyip Erdogan would like to regain that historic position for Turkey. His main competition in this are the al-Sauds. They have much more money and are strategically aligned with Israel and the United States, while Turkey under Erdogan is more or less isolated. The religious-political element of the competition is represented on one side by the Muslim Brotherhood, ‘democratic’ Islamists to which Erdogan belongs, and the Wahhabi absolutists on the other side.”

With the noose tightening around Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman (MbS), the risible fistfight cock-and-bull story is likely to be the best they can come up with. US President Donald Trump’s having offered his “rogue killers” opening suggests he’s willing to play along. Nobody will really be fooled, but MbS will hope he can persuade important people to pretend they are fooled.

That will mean spreading around a lot of cash. The new alchemy of converting Khashoggi dead into financial gain for the living is just one part of an obvious scheme to pull off what Libya’s Muammar Kaddafi managed after the 1988 Lockerbie bombing: offer up some underlings as the fall guys and let the top man evade responsibility. (KARMA ALERT: That didn’t do Kaddafi any good in the long run.)

In the Saudi case the Lockerbie dodge will be harder, as there are already pictures of men at the Istanbul Consulate General identified as close associates of MbS. But they’ll give it the old madrasa try anyway since it’s all they’ve got.Firings and arrests have started and one suspect has already died in a suspicious automobile “accident.” Heads will roll!

Saving MbS’s skin and his succession to the throne of his doddering father may depend on how many of the usual recipients of Saudi – let’s be honest – bribery and influence peddling will find sufficient pecuniary reason to go along. Saudi Arabia’s unofficial motto with respect to the US establishment might as well be: “The green poultice heals all wounds.”

Anyway, that’s been their experience up to now, but it also in part reflects the same arrogance that made MbS think he could continue to get away with anything. (It’s not shooting someone in the middle of Fifth Avenue, but it’s close.) Whether spreading cash around will continue to have the same salubrious effect it always has had in the past remains to be seen.

To be sure, Trump may succeed in shaking the Saudi date palm for additional billions for arms sales. That won’t necessarily turn around an image problem that may not have a remedy. But still, count on more cash going to high-price lobbying and image-control shops eager to make obscene money working for their obscene client. Some big American names are dropping are dropping Riyadh in a sudden fit of fastidiousness, but you can bet others will be eager to step into their Guccis, both in the US and in the United Kingdom. (It should never be forgotten how closely linked the US and UK establishments are in the Middle East, and to the Saudis in particular.)

It still might not work though. No matter how much expensive PR lipstick the spinmeisters put on this pig, that won’t make it kissable. It’s still a pig.

Others benefitting from hanging Khashoggi’s death around MbS’s neck are:

  • Qatar (after last year’s invasion scare, there’s no doubt a bit of Schadenfreude and (figurative) champagne corks popping in Doha over MbS’s discomfiture. As one source close to the ruling al-Thani family relates, “The Qataris are stunned speechless at Saudi incompetence!” You just can’t get good help these days).

Among the losers one must count Israel and especially Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu. MbS, with his contrived image as the reformer, was the Sunni “beard” he needed to get the US to assemble an “Arab NATO” (as though one NATO weren’t bad enough!) and eliminate Iran for him. It remains to be seen how far that agenda has been set back.

Whether or not MbS survives or is removed – perhaps with extreme prejudice – there’s no doubt Saudi Arabia is the big loser. Question are being asked that should have been asked years ago. As Srdja Trifkovic comments in Chronicles magazine:

“The crown prince’s recklessness in ordering the murder of Khashoggi has demonstrated that he is just a standard despot, a Mafia don with oil presiding over an extended cleptocracy of inbred parasites. The KSA will not be reformed because it is structurally not capable of reform. The regime in Riyadh which stops being a playground of great wealth, protected by a large investment in theocratic excess, would not be ‘Saudi’ any longer. Saudia delenda est.”

The first Saudi state, the Emirate of Diriyah, went belly up in 1818, with the death of head of the house of al-Saud, Abdullah bin Saud – actually, literally with his head hung on a gate in Constantinople by Erdogan’s Ottoman predecessor, Sultan Mahmud II.

The second Saudi state, Emirate of Nejd, likewise folded in 1891.

It’s long past time this third and current abomination joined its antecedents on the ash heap of history.

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