Friday, April 24, 2015

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Could You Spot a Potential School Shooter?


By Alan Caruba

In April 1999, we were all stunned by the news that Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold had attacked and killed students at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado and, more recently, in December 2012, that Adam Lanza, after killing his mother at home, then massacred twenty-six staff and students at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. These events evoke dread of potential events, a quest to understand why they occurred, and ways to avoid further comparable killings.

Peter Langman has authored “School Shooters: Understanding High School, College, and Adult Perpetrators.” It offers very little comfort, but only because this psychologist, widely recognized for his expertise, is refreshingly honest.

“Many people seek to reduce school shootings to a bite-sized explanatory chunk, but the phenomenon defies easy analysis,” says Langman. “There is no one cause of school shootings, there is no one intervention that will prevent school shootings, and there is no one profile of a school shooter.”

He offers a wealth of information about forty-eight shooters He divides them into “Psychopathic shooters” whom he describes as “profoundly narcissistic, arrogant, and entitled; they lacked empathy, and met their needs at other’s expense” and ”psychotic shooters” who “suffered from schizophrenia or a related disorder. They were out of touch with reality to varying degrees, experiencing hallucinations or delusions.”

“Unlike the psychopathic and psychotic shooters, who generally came from well-functioning, intact families, traumatized shooters endured chronic abuse as children. They grew up in violent, severely dysfunctional homes.” Most fell into the first two categories.

I would like to offer the reader some comfort that school shooters can be “spotted” in advance, but in most of the cases that Langman cites, they looked like everyone else in any school. Only if one of them was to confide his plan was there any opportunity to intervene and then only if he was reported.

Among the psychopathic category “at least 75 percent (nine out of twelve) had body issues. Many of these physical characteristics had a direct bearing on perceived manliness, including short stature, thin build, chest deformity, and fear of sterility” leading Langham to suggest a link between feeling weak or damaged and extreme narcissism. It is widely believed that bullying is linked to these events, but Langham notes that while about forty percent were harassed only one targeted a bully. While there is concern these days about bullying in schools, it is mostly due to a heightened awareness, not because there is more or less of it than has ever existed.

One thing does stand out, however, “nearly all shooters had bad educational experiences, including academic difficulties (failing classes, repeated grades, not graduating) or disciplinary problems…at least 92 percent had negative academic or disciplinary experiences.” And then there’s this: “At least 38 percent of shooters had relatives who worked or volunteered in schools.”

Another common factor was that “at least half of the perpetrators engaged in substance abuse (illegal drugs, prescription drugs, or alcohol.) In addition, “at least 42 percent of the shooters had a history of legal troubles, including arrests, contempt of court, and loss of a driver’s license.”

“Many shooters had trouble getting or holding jobs.” This was particularly true of the older shooters. Charles Whitman, an American engineering student at the University of Texas, gained infamy when in August 1966 he killed his wife and mother in their homes and later that day went to the Austin campus where he killed sixteen people and wounded 32 others over the course of ninety minutes, firing from the observation deck of the main building before being killed by an Austin police officer.

To academic and employment problems, add romantic failures. “Most shooters either failed to establish any romantic or sexual relationships or else suffered breakups or rejections that contributed to their anguish and anger.”

It should surprise no one that a number of the shooters “had specific role models for violence, including serial killers, mass murders, and other school shooters.” Most of them were psychotic, whereas the psychopaths “felt no need to attach themselves to a source of power; they were the source of power.”

Out of this densely documented book Langham concludes “There is no one way to prevent school shootings.” What also emerges is the fact that “Most school shooters leave a trail of warning signs that are either not noticed or not responded to.”

What the shootings are not about is gun ownership. Many of the shooters came from families that owned guns and used them for hunting or sport shooting. They had little reason to regard them as instruments with which to kill people other than their own twisted psychological interpretation.

What I came away with was the conclusion that the shooters are people we would all easily identify as “losers.” Beyond that, there is no specific way of identifying them, only suspicions of their capability to do the unthinkable.

© Alan Caruba, 2015

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

The White House is Lying About Climate Change and Health


By Alan Caruba

Let us begin with the understanding that there is no connection between the climate and health. The climate is something measured in decades and centuries, so what happened in the last century has nothing to do with whether you are sneezing today.

The weather surely can help generate health problems. For example in the northeastern states, the Lyme disease season is beginning. Between 1992 and 2010 reported cases of Lyme disease doubled to nearly 23,000 according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but CDC officials believe the actual number of those infected may have been three times that number.

Lyme disease is transmitted by deer ticks and since these tiny insects will hitch a ride on birds, squirrels, mice and small animals as well, even if you live in an area without deer, the possibility of being bitten by a deer tick is just as likely. This increases for people who love gardening or outdoor recreational activities such as hiking and camping. Children, too, are particularly susceptible.

The fact that Lyme disease shows up in the Spring simply tells you that the warm weather facilitates the tick population. The weather has always been tied the mating habits and activities of various species, but that does not mean that is constitutes a massive threat to everyone’s health.

That’s not the way the White House sees it. On April 7 the administration made it official. It announced that it is “committed to combating the health impacts of climate change and protecting the health of future generations.” 

Since the climate changes over extended periods of time, not just month to month, one has to wonder what “health impacts” the White House has in mind. The last Little Ice Age lasted from around 1300 to 1850. It was cold all over Europe and North America. Does the White House propose that it can “protect” us from a new one? If so, that’s absurd.

Let us understand, too, that there has always been what the White House announcement calls “extreme weather events.”  Notice the change from “climate” to “weather”? Among the events identified are “severe droughts and wildfires to more powerful hurricanes and record heat waves…” Has there been a time when such weather-related events have not occurred? In fact, there are times when they don’t. For example, there hasn’t been a single Category 3-5 hurricane hit the U.S. mainland since 2005!

The White House has launched a massive brainwashing effort using many elements of the federal government to frighten Americans using the “climate” and the “weather.” How deceptive is it?

One example is sufficient. The President has claimed that climate change was the cause of one of his daughter’s asthma. In its announcement, it claimed that “In the past three decades, the percentage of Americans with asthma has more than doubled and climate change is putting these individuals and many other vulnerable populations at greater risk of landing in the hospital.” 

Here’s what the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America has to say about the various causes of asthma.

“Since asthma has a genetic origin and is a disease you are born with, passed down from generation to generation, the question isn’t really ‘what causes asthma’, but rather ‘what causes asthma symptoms to appear?’ People with asthma have inflamed airways which are super-sensitive to things which do not bother other people.”

What the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America is telling us is that there is no direct connection between either the climate or the weather and the illness called asthma.

Those who suffer this disease however can be affected by a range of triggers such as irritants in the air, pollens, molds, and even cockroach droppings. Infections such as colds, flu, and sore throats are among the leading triggers for asthma attacks in children.

The facts, the truth, were no deterrent to the April 7 White House twelve-page announcement of all the things it intends to do to brainwash Americans into believing that there is a connection between the “climate” and health.

Here’s just a few of the dozens of events and programs it will initiate so that the media will report on them and thus convey the message that climate change is the greatest threat to Americans today:

“The Administration is expanding its Climate Data Initiative to include more than 150 health-relevant datasets…this is intended to help communities and businesses reduce the health impacts of climate change.”  Only there are no such impacts.

The Administration is announcing a coalition of Deans from 30 medical, public health, and nursing schools around the country, who are committing to ensure that the next generation of health professionals is trained to address the health impacts of climate change.” Only there are no such impacts.

“Announcing the White House Climate Change and Health Summit.” It will feature the Surgeon General who will lead discussions to “the public health impacts of climate change and identify opportunities to minimize these impacts.” Only there are no impacts and nothing that could be done if there were.

From the Department of Homeland Security to the Department of the Interior and the Environmental Protection Agency, many elements of the federal government will be integrated into this massive brainwashing effort.

What can be done to ignore a government determined to lie to everyone about a “threat” that does not exist? Not much.

© Alan Caruba, 2015

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The Environmental Insane Asylum


By Alan Caruba

Earth Day was declared in 1970 and for the past 45 years we have all been living in the Environmental Insane Asylum, being told over and over again to believe things that are the equivalent of Green hallucinations. Now the entire month of April has been declared Earth Month, but in truth not a day goes by when we are not assailed with the bold-faced lies that comprise environmentalism.

Around the globe, the worst part of this is that we are being victimized by people we are told to respect from the President of the United States to the Pope of the Catholic Church. Their environmentalism is pure socialism.

Organizations whom we expect to tell the truth keep telling us that “climate change is one of the biggest global security threats of the 21st century.”  This was a recent statement by “world leaders” like the G7, a group of finance ministers and central bank governors of seven advanced economies, the International Monetary Fund, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and the United States. On April 17 they adopted a report about the “threat” put together by think tanks that included the European Union Institute for Security Studies and the Wilson Center in Washington, D.C.

When I speak of “climate” I am referring to data gathered not just about decades, but centuries of the Earth’s cycles of warming and cooling. When I speak of “weather”, the closest any of us get to it other than today’s, are local predictions no longer than a few days’ time at best. The weather is in a constant state of flux.

Climate change is not a threat and most certainly there is no global warming. As Prof. Bob Carter, a geologist at James Cook College in Queensland, Australia, has written, “For many years now, human-caused climate change has been viewed as a large and urgent problem. In truth, however, the biggest part of the problem is neither environmental nor scientific, but a self-created political fiasco.”

The fact that the Earth is now into the nineteenth year of a natural planetary cooling cycle seems to never be acknowledged or reported. “The problem here,” says Prof. Carter, “is not that of climate change per se, but rather that of the sophisticated scientific brainwashing that has been inflicted on the public, bureaucrats and politicians alike.”

In a book I recommend to everyone, “Climate for the Layman” by Anthony Bright-Paul, he draws on the best well-known science about the Earth noting that “Since there is no such thing as a temperature of the whole Earth all talk of global warming is simply illogical, ill thought out, and needs to be discarded for the sake of clarity. The globe is warming and cooling in different locations concurrently every minute of the day and night.”

“Since it is abundantly clear that there is no one temperature of the atmosphere all talk of Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW) is simply an exercise in futility.” A look at the globe from either of its two poles to its equator and everything in between tells us with simple logic that being able to determine its “temperature” is impossible. The Earth, however, has gone through numerous warming and cooling cycles, all of which were the result of more or less solar radiation.

The Sun was and is the determining factor. The assertion that humans have any influence or impact that can determine whether the Earth is warmer or cooler is absurd.

The Earth had passed through warming and cooling cycles for billions of years before humans even existed, yet we are told that the generation of carbon dioxide through the use of machinery in manufacturing, transportation or any other use is causing the build-up of “greenhouse gases” in the atmosphere. We are told to give up the use of coal, oil and natural gas. That is a definition of insanity!

Here’s the simple truth that most people are not told: The Sun warms the Earth and the Earth warms the atmosphere.

As for carbon dioxide, the amount generated by human activity represents a miniscule percentage of the 0.04% in the Earth’s atmosphere. There has been more carbon dioxide in the Earth’s atmosphere—well before humans existed—contributing to the growth of all manner of vegetation which in turn generated oxygen.

Without carbon dioxide there would be no life on Earth. It feeds the vegetation on which animal life depends directly and indirectly. As Anthony Bright-Paul says, “A slight increase in atmosphere of carbon dioxide will not and cannot produce any warming, but can be hugely beneficial to a green planet.”

The Earth’s atmosphere is approximately 78% Nitrogen, 21% Oxygen, 0.9% Argon, 0.04% Carbon Dioxide, and the rest is water vapor and trace gases in very small amounts. They interact to provide an environment in which life, animal and vegetable, exists on Earth.

When you live in a Global Environmental Insane Asylum, you are not likely to hear or read the truth, but you can arrive at it using simple logic. We know instinctively that humans do not control the waves of our huge oceans, nor the vast tectonic plates beneath our feet, the eruptions of volcanoes, the Jetstream, cloud formation, or any of the elements of the weather we experience, such as thunder, lightning, and other acts of Nature.

Why would we blindly assume or agree to the torrent of lies that humans are “causing” climate change? The answer is that on Earth Day, Wednesday, April 22, we will be deluged with the propaganda of countless organizations worldwide that we are, in fact, endangering a “fragile” planet Earth.  We hear and read that every other day of the year as well.

The achievement of the human race and the last 5,000 years of so-called civilization is the way we have learned to adapt to Nature by creating habitats from villages to cities in which to survive and because we have devised a vast global agricultural and ranching system to feed seven billion of us.

As for the weather, John Christy, the director of the Earth System Science Center at the University of Alabama, says he cringes “when I hear overstated confidence from those who describe the projected evolution of global weather patterns over the next one hundred years, especially when I consider how difficult it is to accurately predict that system’s behavior over the next five days.”

“Mother Nature,” says Christy, “simply operates at a level of complexity that is, at this point, behind the mastery of mere mortals—such as scientists—and the tools available to us.”

Whether it is the President or the Pope, or the countless politicians and bureaucrats, along with multitudes of “environmental” organizations, as well as self-serving “scientists”, all aided by the media, a virtual Green Army has been deliberately deceiving and misleading the citizens of planet Earth for four and a half decades. It won’t stop any time soon, but it must before the charade of environmentalism leaves us all enslaved by the quest for political control over our lives that hides behind it.

We must escape the Environmental Insane Asylum in which they want us to live.

© Alan Caruba, 2015

Monday, April 20, 2015

The Prison Called Cuba

 

By Alan Caruba

We are told we need to feel sympathy for the Cuban people who have suffered from a U.S. embargo and lack of diplomatic recognition. That ignores a long history of oppression in Cuba no matter who was in charge.

Prior to Fidel Castro, Cubans were in the grip of Flugencio Batista who overthrew the existing government in September 1933 and then dominated Cuban politics for the next 25 years until Castro’s revolutionary movement took control of the capitol in January 1959.

Fifty-six years ago in 1959, I was about to graduate from the University of Miami and among my friends were young Cubans sent there to get a degree. I have often wondered which among them returned to Cuba and which, like those who could afford it, were joined by their family who fled Cuba.

The U.S. had been involved with Cuba from the end of the Spanish-American War in 1898 when Spain ceded Puerto Rico, the Philippines, and Guam for $20 million. We stayed in Cuba until it was granted independence in 1902 as the Republic of Cuba. Its first president faced an armed revolt in 1906 so we returned to briefly occupy Cuba to restore some stability, but they never really got the hand of being a democratic self-governing nation.

How much better it would have been for the Cubans if the U.S. had decided to make the island a territory like Puerto Rico. Then we could have let the island prosper without having to end up with becoming a Communist nation closely allied, first with the Soviet Union and after its collapse in 1991, with others like China and Venezuela.

The lesson we might be expected to draw from this is that Communism does not work. It is an utterly failed economic and social system that can only stay in power by jailing or executing anyone who resists. That is exactly what the brothers, Fidel and Raul Castro, have done since seizing power. One consistency of the past five decades has been the anti-America policies they have pursued.

The reason given by Obama was that U.S. policies toward Cuba “have not worked” and that it is time for a change. There is some truth in this and it should be noted that Canada has long had good relations with Cuba as have European and, of course, Latin and South American nations.

Even so, what are we to conclude from the report that Russia plans to join military drills with Cuba and North Korea that may also include Vietnam and Brazil? Russia’s aggression in Ukraine has left it sanctioned and isolated, so the military drills send a message that it still has nations friendly to it, but what nations!

Cuba was caught not long ago when it attempted to ship weapons to North Korea, so we are talking about two dedicated Communist nations. Over the years, it has more than demonstrated its anti-American hostility.

Generally, there is little to be gained by exchanging embassies or relieving Cuba. Lifting our embargo and other sanctions leaves the U.S. with even less leverage, if any.

What has been largely overlooked since Obama’s announcement is the fact that Cuba is still ruled by a Castro and is likely to remain so because Raul’s son, Alejandro Castro Espin, a colonel in Cuba’s intelligence apparatus is likely being groomed to take over after becoming a general and a member of the Communist Party Politburo, Cuba’s ruling body. As noted in an article in The Atlantic, it is the Cuban military not only that plays a major role in the Politburo, it also controls at least sixty percent of the island nation’s economy.

I have no doubt that reaching out to Cuba ranks just below reaching out to Iran as Obama contemplates his “legacy.” Both are notorious enemies of the U.S. Nor would it surprise me if Obama would try to unilaterally shut down Guantanamo. Failing that, he will do everything he can to empty it by the time he leaves office.

Since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Cuba has had to struggle to survive economically. Its earlier behavior got it banned from the Organization of American States that was not lifted until 2009, but which did not confer full membership until it was deemed to be “in conformity with the practices, purposes, and principles of the OAS.” At the time, Fidel said he was not interested in joining.

Not much has changed in terms of the enmity the Castro brothers have expressed toward the U.S. but practical considerations to keep unrest among elements of Cuba’s population under control require them to ease some of the earlier control over being able to travel and likely who Cubans can do business with would improve whatever commerce will be permitted.

At this point, the only “winner” is Cuba.

© Alan Caruba, 2015

Sunday, April 19, 2015

What Today's American Politics Tells Us


By Alan Caruba

There is something very disquieting occurring in American politics today. Most dramatically, the Democratic Party is offering a candidate who is a moral cesspool filled with lies and a history of behavior that would render anyone unthinkable for the highest office in the land. Something is very wrong when Hillary Clinton is, at this point, the only candidate for President the Democrats will be able to vote for and, worse, an estimated 47% of them will vote for her.

What we are witnessing is a Democratic Party that has been debauched by decades of socialism, an economic and political system that has failed everywhere it was implemented.

By contrast, what is being largely overlooked is the wealth of political talent—Rubio, Walker, Paul, et al---that the Republican Party has to offer as an alternative. Instead of obsessing over the different aspects of its candidates, we should be celebrating the fact that voters will be able to choose someone of real merit for whom to vote.

While the brain-dead media talks about the Republican candidates, seizing on every small element of the policies they are individually offering for consideration, the contrast with Hillary Clinton widens into a gap as large as the Grand Canyon. Her campaign thus far has been an exhibition of media manipulation. She talks of “income inequality” as if it has not existed from the dawn of time and is based on the socialist utopia of everyone being equally poverty-stricken. Who wants to live in a nation where you cannot become wealthy if you’re willing to take the risks and work hard to achieve it?

It is this gap between those concerned with the very real threats to our nation’s security and welfare that lies at the heart of the months ahead in the long political campaigns. We can, at the very least, give thanks that President Obama cannot run again. We must, however anticipate that he will do everything in his power to initiate or expand policies that do not bode well for the nation.

Why anyone would vote for a party that foisted ObamaCare on us, driving up the costs of healthcare though numerous taxes and impacting the healthcare industry in ways that have already caused many physicians to seek retirement or be forced to process their patients as rapidly as possible to pay their bills? The fact that the Republican candidate Sen. Ted Cruz is calling for the repeal of ObamaCare is reason enough to give him serious consideration.

 
Similarly, conservatives resist amnesty programs that would load the voting rolls with those who entered illegally and now, because they’ve been here for several years, we are supposed to consider them comparable to those who did so legally. Republican candidates who resist this understand that a nation with no real citizenship standards and borders that do not close off easy access rapidly ceases to be a nation. At the same time, these illegals are competing for jobs with those who are legal by birth and naturalization.

It’s a wonder to me that this nation is $18 trillion in debt, has over ninety million unemployed, and the nation continues to “redistribute” money from those who are working to those who are not. These programs are a huge magnet for the illegals, but it is the states that must struggle to fund their educational systems and Medicaid. Meanwhile our infrastructure goes old and in need of repair.

Beyond our shores, thanks to the foreign policies of the President, the United States is no longer the leader of the free world. As the Middle East slips into anarchy Obama wants nothing more than to give Iran the right to have its own nuclear weapons with which to pursue its hegemony of the region. Lift sanctions? Why would we want Iran to have more money to fund the terrorism that it uses to expand its influence? Closer to home, White House efforts to accept Cuba ignores its dictatorship, its record of providing weapons to our enemies, and years of hostility.

This represents a deliberate effort to undermine and weaken the moral principles on which our nation has been founded and risen to leadership in the past. Who is more widely criticized in our society than the evangelicals who have high moral standards and the Tea Party movement that is seeking to slow the obscene growth of the federal government?

We need to worry about a nation where marijuana is legalized and thus able to affects the mental capabilities of those who have used it since its heyday in the 1960s? Where is the need to reexamine the moral issues involved in the murder of babies in the womb? From 1973 through 2011, there were nearly 53 million legal abortions nationwide. In 2011, approximately 1.06 million abortions took place.

In March I noted that “More than a quarter of births to women of childbearing age—defined here as 15 to 44 years old—in the past five years were cohabiting couples, the highest on record and nearly double the rate from a decade earlier, according to new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for 2011 to 2013.”

“And here’s a statistic that really caught my attention: “Cohabiting parents now account for a clear majority—59%--of all births outside marriage, according to estimates by Sally Curtin, a CDC demographer. In all, 40% of the 3.93 million births in 2013 were to unmarried women.” Moreover, “It is mostly white and Hispanic couples who are driving the trend, not black couples, experts say.”

This speaks to the breakdown of the institution that is most essential for a healthy, successful society, the dissolution or downgrading of marriage and the births that occur outside of it.

American politics—always a national debate on where we are and where we’re going, is critical to the future. Right now America is at risk of becoming a place where our founding morals, values, and traditions are being cast aside.

Your vote was never more important.

© Alan Caruba, 2015

Friday, April 17, 2015