How else to put it?
American life expectancy has declined.
There’s no foreign invasion. No war within its borders. No one to blame but ourselves. How then, is America killing Americans?
Most reports point to three things: drugs and alcohol, guns, and despair.
There is also fat. Statistically, it is more important, but oddly, it is not often included in discussions about the decline in life expectancy.
This last decline is from 78.7 years of life to 78.6. That does not sound terribly frightening. One-tenth of a year. One month and one week less to live. However, it has gone down for three years in a row, which has not happened in more than 100 years. The last time life expectancy went down was during World War I, when apart from deaths at the front, the US suffered an influenza epidemic that killed 675,000 people.
Is it just the US?
An article published on BMJ (previously the British Medical Journal) looked at 18 high-income countries: Japan, Switzerland, Spain, Australia, Italy, Norway, Sweden, France, Canada, Netherlands, Finland, Austria, Portugal, the UK, Belgium, Denmark, Germany and the US.
Over the last quarter of a century, the lifespans in all of those countries have gone up. People are living four to five years longer, except in the US, where it has only increased by 3.7 years. Actually, the US fell into last place in life expectancy in 2001 and the gap has been growing since. The Germans, the next lowest on the list, get to live almost two years longer than the Americans. The Japanese make it to 84 – or almost six more years.
Drug overdoses killed more than 70,000 Americans in 2017 – an increase of 95 percent over 10 years (up from 36,000 in 2007).
Guns killed nearly 40,000 Americans in 2017, according to official statistics, which only counts cases if guns were “the principal cause” of death but not if they only “contributed” to it; that is 4.43 deaths per 100,000. By contrast, the death rate from gun violence in Japan and the United Kingdom is 0.04 and 0.06 respectively.
About two-thirds of all gun deaths in the US are suicides. This tells us there is plenty of despair. It has gone up by 33 percent in the last two decades while the global suicide rate has declined by 30 percent in roughly the same period.
Then there is fat.
The US is one of the most obese nations in the world, second only to island nations and Kuwait. It is listed as having an obesity rate of 36.2 percent. Most of the Western European countries have a rate of 20 to 25 percent.
Obesity is a relatively new problem and studies of it are even newer. The statistics are rapidly changing and becoming more dire. It started with saying that only severe obesity mattered and that it could shorten a lifespan by about 10 years. Moderate obesity was supposed to be OK, probably, but newer studies have said that it can take up to three years on average from someone’s life.
Do these four elements have anything in common?
Yes. Free market theology is at the root of it all.
America has a profit-driven health care system. Not only is it more expensive than any other system in the world, but it creates special inefficiencies and distortions. Its goal is always to sell an item, usually a drug or a service. How, then, can it address the obvious causes of the obesity epidemic – bad diet, lack of exercise, and a sedentary lifestyle? For the most part, it cannot and it does not.
The more insidious contributor to the American wideness and wallow is the food industry which uses excessive levels of sugar, fat and salt to ensure food is addictive.
The pharmaceutical industry also plays a major role in this. Its protected status allows it to spread addiction to various medications, causing more damage than the Mafia, the Colombian cartels and the Mexicans that Donald Trump accuses of bringing drugs over the border, combined.
Meanwhile, money from the gun industry and the NRA – a profit-seeking enterprise – keep Americans shooting themselves and each other.
Maps of suicide and addiction rates are maps of despair. They largely match the disappearance of American manufacturing. We can date that decline to President Ronald Reagan’s economic policies of the 1980s. They gutted the industrial midlands, destroyed the unions, leaving the traditional working-class poor and powerless. A certain portion of them turned to alcoholism, addiction and suicide.
There are other things that the American health care system cannot address, and that free market theology considers non-existent: self-esteem, supportive communities, positive expectation for the future, especially for children, which clearly affect healthy lifestyles and life expectancy.
Free market theology insists that what we pay for things is the best and only true measure of their value. The higher inequality rises, the more we have the feeling that this must be true.
Teaching was once a highly regarded, even revered profession. Teachers were doing a public service. They had college and advanced degrees. But now their pay has become closer to the poverty line than to the middle class. How valuable can they be?
As the 1 percent continue to amass wealth, we are getting to the point where they are literally sucking the life out of the 99 percent.
That is how America kills Americans.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial stance.
Whenever a tragic act of violence makes national headlines, the calls to give up more of our freedoms and liberties in exchange for the promise of increased security become deafening. But if we take another step toward becoming an authoritarian society every time something horrible happens, eventually we won’t have any of the basic liberties and freedoms that previous generations of Americans fought so hard to secure for us. Unfortunately, voices like mine are becoming increasingly rare, and the American people seem to want a society that will shelter them from anything that could possibly go wrong. Of course, there has never been such a society in all of human history, and we won’t be able to create one either. No governmental system can eliminate the problem of evil, and bad things sometimes happen to good people. And without a doubt, the mass shootings that we witnessed over the weekend were absolutely horrific. In less than 24 hours, 29 American lives were lost between these two mass shootings, and this has greatly shaken the entire nation…
On Sunday, Americans woke up to news of a shooting rampage in an entertainment district in Dayton, Ohio, where a man wearing body armor shot and killed nine people, including his own sister. Hours earlier, a 21-year-old with a rifle entered a Walmart in El Paso and killed 20 people.
In a country that has become nearly numb to men with guns opening fire in schools, at concerts and in churches, the back-to-back bursts of gun violence in less than 24 hours were enough to leave the public stunned and shaken.
Sadly, these are not isolated incidents. As our society has become less moral, we have seen an escalation of violence all over the country.
According to USA Today, so far in 2019 there have been more mass shootings than days in the year…
As gunfire ripped through America in an unprecedented 24 hours, a bleak milestone in a nation pocked by gun violence was marked: There have been 251 mass shootings in 2019, according to the Gun Violence Archive.
A shooting spree early Sunday at an entertainment district in Dayton, Ohio – which left at least nine dead and more than two dozen injured – notched an even darker statistic: It occurred on the 216th day of the year, meaning there have been more mass shootings than days so far this year.
As I have been warning for years, the thin veneer of civilization that we all take for granted is steadily disappearing.
At one time, you could walk down the streets in most communities in America without worrying that someone would suddenly gun you down, but that is no longer a safe assumption.
And in some areas, things are getting really, really bad. Just check out what happened in Chicago over the weekend…
In Chicago at least three people have been killed and 37 more injured since Friday evening in shootings within city limits, including 22 people shot Sunday in less than four hours, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.
In particular, a mass shooting that took place near a children’s playground was particularly tragic…
As The Epoch Times’ Jack Phillips reports, at least seven people were shot and wounded on Aug. 4 as they gathered near a children’s playground on Chicago’s West Side. The people gathered at 1:20 a.m. as they stood in the park on the 2900 West Roosevelt Road when a person opened fire from a black Chevy Camaro, said Chicago Police.
So why didn’t this mass shooting get the same kind of coverage that the other mass shootings received?
Could it be that it is because it didn’t neatly fit the agenda that the mainstream media is trying to promote?
The city of Baltimore is another major American city where violence is completely and utterly out of control. In fact, there is only one nation on the entire planet that has a higher homicide rate than Baltimore…
Only one country in the world has a higher per capita homicide rate than the city of Baltimore.
According to WorldAtlas, the murder capital of the globe is Honduras — where there are 90.4 homicides per 100,000 people.
Baltimore, with 56 homicides per 100,000 people, edges out the number two spot ahead of Venezuela, where there are 53.7 homicides per 100,000 people.
As the violence across our country continues to escalate, the calls to restrict our 2nd Amendment rights are going to become overwhelming.
But taking away our 2nd Amendment rights is not going to solve the problem. Instead, it will just take the guns out of the hands of law-abiding citizens.
The truth is that the El Paso shooter picked a gun-free zone for a reason. When they know that their targets will be sitting ducks, that just makes things even easier for the mass shooters.
And the bad guys will always find ways to get guns. Just look at the city of Chicago – they have some of the harshest gun laws in the entire nation, but they also lead the country in gun deaths.
Unfortunately, logic doesn’t tend to work with those that love authoritarianism. Whenever something happens, they want the government to do “something”, and that “something” almost always involves eroding our most basic rights.
I wish that it wasn’t true, but this is where our country is heading. Americans have been trained to believe that the government should take care of them from the cradle to the grave and should do all that it can to shield them from everything bad that can possibly happen in life.
Sadly, every time such a totalitarian “utopia” has been attempted throughout human history, it has always ended very badly, and that will be the case here as well.
About the author: Michael Snyderis a nationally-syndicated writer, media personality and political activist. He is the author of four books including Get Prepared Now, The Beginning Of The Endand Living A Life That Really Matters. His articles are originally published on The Economic Collapse Blog, End Of The American Dream and The Most Important News. From there, his articles are republished on dozens of other prominent websites. If you would like to republish his articles, please feel free to do so. The more people that see this information the better, and we need to wake more people up while there is still time.
Tragically, in America, mass shootings — in which murdering psychopaths go on rampages in public spaces — have claimed the lives of 339 people since 2015. While this number is certainly shocking and far too high, during this same time frame, police in America have claimed the lives of 4,355 citizens.
While some of these citizens were armed and dangerous, others were innocent, unarmed, and include small children. Daniel Shaver was one of these people whose life was brought to a screeching halt as he begged on his knees for police not to shoot him. Despite being innocent and unarmed, this father of three was murdered in cold blood by Philip Brailsford who was never held accountable and allowed to retire from the police force with his pension.
Jeremy Mardis was another one of these citizens who was gunned down in cold blood by two killer cops. Mardis was just 6-years-old when he was murdered by these killer cops — one of whom was released last month after serving less than two years for his role in this innocent child’s death.
The list goes on. Yet despite its increasing length, most American citizens think that reining in America’s deadly police problem is somehow “unpatriotic” or “un-American.” Instead of the right realizing the threat to freedom caused by cops who can kill thousands with impunity, they blame the left. Instead of the left realizing the threat to freedom caused by cops who kill with impunity, most of them blame guns.
The result of this complacency and failure to address the problem has been less freedom and more gun grabs.
Sadly, most people who call for gun control fail to realize what that actually means—only the government has the guns. And, if the above numbers are any indicator of what that would mean, this would be a horrific scenario.
Every time a lunatic, who is usually on some form mind-altering pharmaceutical, goes on a shooting rampage, the do-gooders in Washington, with the aid of their citizen flocks, take to the TV and the internet to call for disarming the American people.
The citizens who call for themselves and their neighbors to be disarmed, likely think no deeper than the shallow speeches given by the political blowhards, designed to appeal to emotion only. They do not think of what happens during and after the government attempts to remove guns from society. They also completely ignore the fact that criminals do not obey laws and making guns illegal would have zero effect on criminals possessing guns.
In the perfect statist world in which only the government has guns, we’re told that crime rates would plummet, people wouldn’t be murdered, gun violence would be brought to its knees, and a disarmed heaven on Earth would ensue. But how effective would disarming the citizens actually be at preventing gun violence, while at the same time keeping guns in the hands of government?
One simple way to determine the outcome to look at the above numbers and compare mass shootings in America with those killed by police. It is entirely too easy to compare all senseless murders carried out by the state to those carried out by citizens, so we will zoom in with a microscope.
However, just as a point of reference, in the 20th Century alone, governments were responsible for 260,000,000 deaths worldwide. That number is greater than all deaths from illicit drug use, STD’s, Homicides, and Traffic Accidents — combined.
Now, on to the micro-comparison.
According to a comprehensive database of all American mass shootings that have taken place since 2015, constructed by Mother Jones, there have been exactly 339 deaths attributed to mass shootings that have taken place on American soil.
As Mother Jones notes, in their database, they exclude shootings stemming from more conventional crimes such as armed robbery or gang violence. Other news outlets and researchers have published larger tallies that include a wide range of gun crimes in which four or more people have been either wounded or killed. While those larger datasets of multiple-victim shootings may be useful for studying the broader problem of gun violence, our investigation provides an in-depth look at the distinct phenomenon of mass shootings—from the firearms used to mental health factors and the growing copycat problem.
If we compare the 339 citizens killed in mass shootings to citizens killed by police in the same time frame, the comparison is off the charts. We are talking about a 1,280 percent difference.
Already, in 2019, American police have killed 488 people. This number is set to increase by one, on average, every 8 hours.
Since 2015, cops in America have killed 4,355 citizens. And most people are not saying anything about it.
As Truth Out recently reported:
The institutional racism rooted in American policing prevents the public from categorizing police shootings as gun violence, Natacia Knapper with Stop Police Terror Project DC explained to Truthout via email. “A large swath of people in our nation — white people in particular, but many others as well — don’t want to reckon with the horrors police have caused in communities of color because to do this would call into question the entire way we have viewed these systems and their roles in our society.” News media consumption, television shows and movies constantly reinforce the belief that policing is an irreplaceable institution keeping society safe and stable. Unlearning this “truth” is akin to unlearning that the Earth is round. Knapper continued, “For many Americans, I think it’s easier to compartmentalize the type of gun violence that comes from the police as “other” and incidents that result in the brutalizing and death of American citizens — Black, Brown or otherwise — are treated as individual instances that are not connected to a larger, overarching problem.” Police and the media exploit this divide when they describe the police violence victims’ unrelated criminal history or the victims’ possession of a gun or pocket knife, regardless of whether it was a factor during the killing. The underlying message is that the deceased deserved to die in order to keep everyone else safe.
As the blowhards spew their nonsense about grabbing guns from law-abiding citizens and those in government demand action, all of these people conveniently ignore the giant pink elephant in the living room — cops in America are killing citizens at an alarming rate.
Ironically enough, those calling for taking guns from citizens are oftentimes the ones most critical of police killings. How, exactly, they rationalize disarming the citizens and having only police, who kill far more people than mass shooters, be the sole possessors of guns, is a mystery.
Indeed, Radley Balko sums up the mental gymnastics of both parties perfectly in regard to the distorted realities held as “truth.”
Red: “We need guns to protect us from the government. Also, it is unpatriotic to second-guess when armed government employees kill people.”
Blue: “The government has a history of racism and oppression. Guns are instruments of death. Only government employees should have guns.”
In the United States, the overall homicide rate is 4.9 per 100,000 among the citizens.
Thanks to independent watchdog groups who have decided to document this number on their own, we have a total number of citizens killed by police. Given that America has roughly 765,000 sworn police officers, that means the police-against-citizen kill rate is more than 145 per 100,000.
The police kill rate is nearly 30 times that of the average citizen, yet somehow people still call for disarming citizens and say nothing about the police. And no, the citizens are not becoming more violent. In fact, humanity is at its safest time in history—ever—and, in spite of the lunatic terrorists shooting up public places, violent crimes as well as all crime continues to drop, significantly.
The next time your friends try to tell you that citizens should be disarmed, tell them what that really means; they only want government, who has a history of racism and violence, who kill indiscriminately, with zero accountability, and far more often, to be the ones with guns.
America’s horrendous gun violence can be attributed to many factors, but there is one factor that is hardly talked about or explored in public discourse – the apparent link between mass shootings and the rampant culture of US militarism.
Mass shootings in the US – involving four or more persons – occur on an almost daily basis. The most recent major atrocity was in Virginia Beach last month in which 12 people were killed. The shooter was reportedly a military veteran.
Turns out that US military veterans are disproportionately responsible for violent gun deaths among American civilians. Investigative journalist David Swanson has recently found that some 35 percent of mass shootings in the US have involved an ex-serviceman. Swanson studied a database sample of 97 recent deadly incidents, and found that, from publicly available information, more than a third of the perpetrators were listed at some time in the past as having served in the military. The journalist cautions that the actual proportion could be much higher due to lack of publicly available information on the other shooters.
Swanson emphasizes an obvious point that the vast majority of US military veterans are not mass shooters. Nevertheless, the factor of having served in the armed forces and the frequency of mass shootings does appear to be a highly significant correlation. What’s more, he says that it is strangely conspicuous how US corporate news media have not delved into what seems to be an urgent issue concerning gun violence in American society.
The reluctance by news media and politicians to acknowledge such a factor is no doubt because it would open up a Pandora’s Box of self-indictment. It raises painful questions about a host of issues that Americans take for granted as normal: the militarization of US culture and society, where young children are compelled to salute the stars and stripes and sing paeans to American “greatness”; the obscene expenditure of over $700 billion a year on military instead of on public services and social development; the near-permanent deployment of US military forces all around the world in countless illegal wars; the blasé indifference to war crimes committed by US servicemen, whereby even President Donald Trump wants to grant amnesty to killers in uniforms.
On the latter issue, it should be deplored, but isn’t, how a congressman and former veteran recently went on a mainstream news channel and appeared to brush off mass killings and other war crimes committed by US forces as being a routine occurrence, and therefore in his view no big deal. His chillingly nonchalant views were aired with barely a murmur of public reaction, never mind condemnation.
America’s criminal overseas military rampaging over several decades is bound to take a grim toll on society at home. Veterans return home traumatized in body and mind from the horror of mass violence they have participated in or witnessed. The American public pays the price from ballooning budgets for veterans’ medical care. They also pay a price from broken families and myriad pathological problems, ranging from drug abuse to suicides. It is reckoned that more US veterans have lost their lives by suicide than were killed in action during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. American ex-military personnel turning guns on themselves. Why is that?
Put starkly, it cannot be expected that US military forces inflict millions of casualties in foreign countries and for that slaughter not to be manifest at home in some pathological way or another.
Millions of young Americans, mostly from poor, deprived backgrounds, are trained to use lethal weaponry funded by billions of dollars at public expense. After they are sent to shoot up foreign countries while loaded up on paranoid propaganda that often dehumanizes, these professional killers are then unceremoniously dumped back in their home country, often without jobs or a future, and often with haunting memories of crimes conducted in the service of “American greatness” – whose “greatness” does not extend to treating them as human beings.
This brutalizing subject needs a lot more research. What is the definitive number of US military veterans involved in American society mass shootings? Swanson, the journalist, seems to have tapped a very significant causal factor. But a bigger database of mass shooting incidents should be studied and the military history of all the shooters disclosed. As Swanson surmises, the proportion of ex-servicemen involved in mass killings is likely to be a lot more than 35 percent.
It should also be studied how many of the veterans involved in mass shootings were deployed overseas.
Another interesting aspect is to track the incidents of gun violence in the US as a function of time, decade by decade, over the past century. We might expect that as the number of illegal American wars have multiplied in the past two decades, so too have the number of violent gun deaths at home.
Last week, US President Trump and other Western leaders paid tribute to the sacrifices of American veterans during the Second World War. That war is commonly thought of as a “good war”, meaning that the soldiers went into battle motivated by a noble conviction to defeat Nazi tyranny.
In the seven decades after WWII, American forces have been deployed in dozens of wars overseas, from Korea (1950-53) to presently in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria among several other countries. Arguably, not one of those American wars since WWII was, or is, justified by any genuine noble cause, despite official Washington and US media propaganda claims. They were all waged by American rulers with imperialistic calculations for strategic objectives benefiting elite interests. In short, criminal wars systematically perpetrated and repeated non-stop with impunity, without ever there being a critical accounting or prosecution.
However, inevitably if there is such a thing as natural justice, the crimes that American rulers commit through illegal wars are eventually repatriated back to American society. The foreign bodies mutilated in foreign lands by US military eventually appear in the form of blood-splattered American civilians.
That’s an excruciating heavy price which American citizens are not even permitted to learn or talk about by their corporate media. The acceptability of horrific violence abroad is supposed to be acceptable at home, according to the comfortably numb US mass media.
Indeed, it can be deduced, the dutiful, apathetic US corporate-controlled media are part of the mass-killing machine that is American imperial power. Cue “Russia-gate”, celebrity gossip, political trivia, sports and weather news. Anything but the appalling, bloody reality of American state terrorism.
May 19, 2019
According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), a mass murder occurs when at least four people are murdered, not including the shooter, over a relatively short period of time during a single incident. Over the last 30 years, the United States has seen a significant increase in mass shootings, which are becoming more frequent and more deadly.
Seemingly every time a mass shooting occurs, whether it’s at a synagogue in Pittsburgh or a nightclub in Orlando, the anti-gun media and politicians have a knee-jerk response – they blame the tragedy solely on the tool used, namely firearms, and focus all of their proposed “solutions” on more laws, ignoring that the murderer already broke numerous laws when they committed their atrocity.
Facts matter when addressing such an emotionally charged topic, and more gun control legislation has shown that law-abiding Americans who own guns are not the problem. Consider the following: The more gun control laws that are passed, the more mass murders have occurred.
Whether or not this is correlation or causation is debatable. What is not debatable is that this sick phenomenon of mass murderers targeting “gun-free zones,” where they know civilian carry isn’t available to law-abiding Americans, is happening. According to the Crime Prevention Research Center, 97.8 percent of public shootings occur in “gun-free zones” – and “gun-free zones” are the epitome of the core philosophical tenant of gun control, that laws are all the defense one needs against violence.
Therefore, when the media and politicians focus their ire on guns, specifically what types of guns are used, such as AR-styles, carbines, semi-automatics, and “high capacity” handguns, in the wake of such tragedies the American public are being intentionally drawn into an emotionally charged debate about legal gun ownership (irrespective of whether the murderer’s gun was legally or illegally obtained). This debate leads them away from the elephant in the room and one of the real issues behind mass shootings – mental health and prescription drugs.
Ignoring what’s going on in the heads of these psychopaths not only allows mass shootings to continue, it leads to misguided gun control laws that violate the Second Amendment and negate the rights of law-abiding U.S. citizens. As Jeff Snyder put it in The Washington Times:
“But to ban guns because criminals use them is to tell the innocent and law-abiding that their rights and liberties depend not on their own conduct, but on the conduct of the guilty and the lawless, and that the law will permit them to have only such rights and liberties as the lawless will allow.”
Violence, especially random violence, is a complex manifestation of various thoughts, feelings, and external factors. When a multivariate analysis of these factors is conducted, it becomes apparent that it’s not just mental health issues that are leading to such an increase. There may be an underlying substance which plays a role in a high percentage of these violent acts – the use of prescription antidepressants, specifically selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs.
At first glance, it makes sense that those involved in mass shootings may be taking antidepressants, as they’re clearly suffering from some sort of mental health issue. But the issue with SSRIs runs much deeper than just a random mental health break. These drugs are a prescription for violent crimes, and that’s a story the anti-gun media and politicians don’t want to talk about.
To understand the rise in antidepressant use, one must first understand depression. Everyone, no matter how great their life, has periods of sadness, times when they feel down or low. This is especially true when faced with hardships or going through things like a divorce, the loss of a job, or the death of a parent.
This is not clinical depression. Clinical depression is a serious mental disorder that impacts how a person functions on a daily basis. Depression makes it hard to get out of bed. It makes it hard to go to work. It makes it hard to take a shower or answer the phone. It stops a person from functioning on the basic levels.
According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, commonly referred to as the DSM-5, to be considered clinically depressed, a patient must experience five of the following symptoms most of the day, every day, for at least two weeks. What’s more, these symptoms must be so severe, they interfere with normal functioning:
Depression is a serious, and sometimes life-threatening, illness. But in the modern world, it’s highly over-diagnosed. A study published in Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics looked at 5,639 patients in the U.S. who were diagnosed with depression by their clinician and compared their symptoms to the DSM criteria for clinical depression. Of these patients, only 38.4 percent met the criteria, even though the majority of the 5,639 patients were prescribed depression medication.
Today, with the way antidepressants are prescribed, nearly one in four Americans will meet the criteria to be diagnosed with depression within their lifetime, and will be prescribed medications that interfere with how their brain functions.
In the 1950s, the first generation of antidepressants hit the market. The introductory class of antidepressants to gain Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval were monoamine oxidase inhibitors, known as MAOIs. Although highly effective, MAOIs can cause extremely high blood pressure when paired with certain foods or medications, and therefore require diet restrictions. Because of these restrictions, they’re rarely used today to treat depression except in cases where other treatments fail.
By the late 1950s, a new class of antidepressants became available – tricyclic antidepressants. Tricyclic antidepressants are also highly effective for treating depression, but are prone to side effects. Even so, this class of antidepressants remained the go-to depression treatment for years. Other drugs were tested for depression treatment, but they hadn’t proved more effective than tricyclic and MAOI antidepressants, especially for severe depression.
Fast forward to the 1980s. America’s tranquilizer dependence was becoming problematic. Quaaludes were heavily over-prescribed for anxiety, resulting in overdose deaths, as well as an increase in deaths from vehicle accidents. The Feds stepped in and in 1984, classified Quaaludes as a Schedule 1 drug, making them illegal to sell, buy, and use.
Valium, a benzodiazepine prescribed for anxiety, was also extremely popular, and was the most prescribed medication in the U.S. from 1969 through 1982. In 1978, the year the medication peaked, more than 2.3 billion pills were sold in the U.S. But Valium was highly addictive and it was believed that a serotonergic medication was a better option to fill the void that was left when Quaaludes were outlawed.
In 1987, Prozac, the first SSRI, was released for depression. Along with it came the idea that depression could be the underlying cause of anxiety. The idea took off, as did the sales of Prozac, and within a few years, it overtook the antidepressant market. Soon, other SSRIs followed.
Along with these SSRIs came direct-to-consumer advertising, which became legal in 1985. By the mid-1990s, the FDA regulations became looser and direct-to-consumer ads exploded into the market. Prozac and other medications showed Americans through glossy advertisements that unhappiness, stress, and anxiety could be treated with a pill.
Instead of doctors recommending a specific medication, patients started coming in, requesting a medication they saw in a magazine or on television.
SSRI sales skyrocketed.
By 2010, 11 percent of Americans over the age of 12 were prescribed an antidepressant, making it the third most prescribed medication, topped only by nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen and naproxen. When looked at over time, there has been a 400-percent increase in antidepressant use from 1988 through 2008.
Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, a class of drugs commonly referred to as SSRIs, are the most prescribed antidepressant in the United States. These second-generation antidepressants are marketed to doctors and patients as safe and effective, with relatively minimal side effects. SSRIs are designated to treat mild to moderate depression, as well as anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder, and bulimia nervosa.
SSRIs work to increase the amount of serotonin in the brain. A neurotransmitter that helps neurons communicate, serotonin is associated with many different body functions, but is best known for its influence on mood. Sometimes called “the happy chemical,” serotonin plays a role in a person’s happiness and general feelings of wellbeing.
Low levels of serotonin are linked to depression, although the relationship is not clear. Research has not determined if the low neurotransmitter level causes depression or if depression causes the level of serotonin to drop. It should also be noted that a large amount of serotonin, up to 90 percent, is produced in the gut and may be influenced by what a person eats and drinks.
SSRI medication does exactly what its name says. When two neurons communicate, one releases neurotransmitters, which causes the other neuron to react in a certain way. Because this is constantly going on, these chemicals are always present in the brain. To keep the brain’s chemical balance correct, neurons regulate the amount of neurotransmitters released by a process called reuptake, which involves the reabsorption of the chemical by a neuron.
For instance, if there’s a high level of serotonin, the neuron knows to release less through reuptake, keeping the level balanced. If levels of the neurotransmitter are low, reuptake tells the neurons to release more.
SSRIs inhibit the reuptake of serotonin, causing neurons to release more of the neurotransmitter, therefore increasing the amount of the chemical found in the brain.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved a variety of SSRIs, including:
When it comes to effectiveness, SSRIs don’t appear to have an influence on those with moderate to severe depression, with virtually no improvement seen when comparing SSRI use to placebos. Instead of a popular drug with a high efficiency, modern SSRIs have become popular based on an effective marketing campaign and little more.
Sometimes serotonin levels become too high, causing Serotonin Syndrome. A potentially life-threatening disease, it occurs when serotonin levels in the brain increase to a toxic level, often caused by too much medication or taking two serotonin-increasing medications that use different mechanisms to increase the neurotransmitter.
Along with physical symptoms of excessive nerve activity, such as dilated pupils, elevated heart rate, and high blood pressure, those with the syndrome may also experience:
Regardless if depression is overdiagnosed and America has a habit of over-prescribing mind-altering medications, there’s little doubt that SSRIs have a risk of increasing violence in patients, even in patients who have no previous history of violence or aggression before taking the medication.
This risk of violent behavior, both to the individual taking the medication and those around them, is so significant, it has led to the FDA mandating a black box warning on all SSRI medications. These black box warnings are designed to provide information and draw attention to the fact that the medication has serious and life-threatening risks.
As of 2004, all antidepressants in the U.S. are labeled:
“Anxiety, agitation, panic attacks, insomnia, irritability, hostility, aggressiveness, impulsivity, akathisia, hypomania, and mania have been reported in adult and pediatric patients being treated with antidepressants for major depressive disorder as well as for indications, both psychiatric and nonpsychiatric.”
In one study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry, patients suffering from depression, but free of serious suicidal ideation, were given fluoxetine. Within two to seven weeks of starting the medication, six patients developed an intense, preoccupation with violent suicide. Although all were immediately taken off the medication, this preoccupation persisted from three days to three months, depending on the case. In all six cases, the patient had never experienced such a severe level of depression or troubled state of mind before or with other psychotropic prescriptions.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Surveillance for Violent Deaths, in 2013, 35.3 percent of those who committed suicide tested positive for antidepressants at the time of their death.
The risk of SSRIs and suicide is most prevalent in patients under the age of 25. It’s also more likely to occur shortly after starting the medication, after a dosage increase, or after a patient stops taking the medication.
Some of the side effects caused by SSRIs can increase the risk of violence against others. Perhaps the most risky, emotional blunting (or detachment) has been linked to SSRI use and many people who’ve taken the drugs report “not feeling” or “not caring” about anything. There’s also been an established causal relationship between SSRI use and psychosis and hallucinations, both of which are known to increase the risk of violence in individuals.
According to a review of the FDA’s database, 484 drugs were identified as triggers to serious adverse events significant enough to warrant a case study during the five-year period from 2004 through 2009. Of these 484 medications, 31 were identified to have a “disproportionate” association with violence. These 31 drugs make up 78.8 percent of all cases of violence toward others in the FDA’s database and included multiple psychotropic medications:
Researchers concluded that violence against others was a “genuine and serious adverse drug event” and that of the 484 medications, the drugs that were most consistently and strongly associated with violence were the smoking cessation medication, varenicline (Chantix), and SSRIs.
The list includes five SSRI antidepressants:
While a surprise to the American public, this shouldn’t have been a surprise to the drug companies. During the clinical trials for paroxetine, hostility, which was the term to include homicidal idealization and aggression, presented in 60 of the 9,219 participants (.65 percent). Hostile acts were documented both while taking the medication and after tapering off. Children with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) taking the medication were the most at risk for becoming hostile, with a 17-times higher probability than the rest of those in the clinical study.
In a Swedish study published in PLoS, researchers looked at information on over 850,000 patients prescribed SSRIs in the Swedish Prescribed Drug Register, which is a national database of all dispensed medications. They then compared the violent crimes committed during a three-year period and compared it to violent crimes committed by the same individuals when not taking the medications. When age was taken into effect, a significant association was apparent between violent crime convictions and SSRI use in patients between the ages of 15 and 24.
In one 2001 case, Cory Baadsgaard, a 16-year-old who attended Wahluke High School in Washington, was first prescribed Paxil, which caused hallucinations, and then was switched to Effexor. He started at a 40 mg dosage that, over the course of three weeks, increased to 300 mg. On the first day of that high dose, he woke with a headache and returned to bed. He then got up, took a rifle to his high school, and held 23 classmates hostage.
Baadsgaard’s testimony claims he has no recollection of the event, or of his principal convincing him to put the gun down and release the hostages.
In 2002, the BBC aired the documentary Panorama, which focused on paroxetine. The producers received 1,374 emails from viewers, the majority of whom told stories of violence or self-harm while taking the medication, particularly when starting and when increasing the dosage.
What’s more, in 2009, after investigating the connection between SSRIs and violence, the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare revised the label warnings on these drugs to read: “There are cases where we cannot rule out a causal relationship [of hostility, anxiety, and sudden acts of violence] with the medication.”
In most cases, the vast majority of people who suffer from mental illness are nonviolent. Even those who self-harm are highly unlikely to hurt others. In fact, these individuals are more likely to become victims of violent crimes than the general public.
Yet after each mass shooting tragedy, the media fills with psychiatrists who say that the individual didn’t seek the help they needed and that with the proper treatment, the tragedy may have been prevented. But research doesn’t support that philosophy.
In fact, depression in particular doesn’t lead to violence, yet since the increase in SSRI antidepressants being widely prescribed, the rise in mass shootings has increased right along with it. And evidence shows that many mass shooters were either taking or had recently taken SSRIs.
Here are just some examples:
The list goes on and on. And with the implication of patient privacy laws, getting information on the medication and mental health diagnoses of people has become harder and harder, even with mounting evidence that there’s a connection between SSRI use and violence.
In 1996, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act commonly referred to as HIPAA, was set in place. HIPAA represents the U.S.’s first attempt at national regulations for the use and disclosure of a person’s personal health information, or PHI. HIPAA makes it more difficult for medical personnel to release information regarding a person’s medical care, diagnosis, and prescription drugs, including those involved with mental health related crimes.
For example, in the 2008 Virginia Tech shooting, perpetrator Seung Hui Cho had multiple interactions with the mental health department on campus, some for suicidal ideation, but yet his parents nor authorities were never notified. University officials stated privacy laws restricted them from sharing the information.
Beyond the necessity for communication prior to these horrific shootings, after the incident, the person’s records are often protected. Even in situations where the perpetrator dies during the shooting, HIPAA protects their records for 50 years.
Because of this, the American public doesn’t know what kind of medications these people were taking and if it may have had an affect on their actions. Just looking at public shootings over the last five years, there’s a huge list of murderers who were likely on SSRIs. Here are a few:
With the media’s coverage of mass shootings, more and more legislation arises limiting the rights of those with mental health issues. While no one wants firearms in the hands of the mentally ill, the lack of clear language surrounding mental illness, and the limitations caused by government red tape, make knee-jerk mental health legislation dangerous and lay a path for more government control.
In general, people with mental illness are rarely violent to other people. Many mental health experts and advocates agree that policies that focus on the violence of mental illness make scapegoats of the individuals, who are likely to never act violently against another person.
What’s more, according to the MacArthur Violence Risk Assessment Study (MVRAS), substance abuse was significantly more responsible for violence committed by discharged psychiatric patients than their mental health. Those patients who didn’t abuse drugs or alcohol showed no higher risk for violence than the others in their communities without mental health issues.
Laws are being created that don’t focus on the research, but on the fear of guns, thinking that stricter gun laws will keep people safer.
Red flag laws are the newest gun legislation making their way through Congress. Considered a “protective order,” red flag laws will allow a family member or law officer to petition a temporary seize on someone’s firearms if they’re deemed a threat. What a “threat” consists of isn’t clearly defined.
There’s also a push for universal background checks on all gun sales, even those sold between private individuals, and the FixNICScampaign. The philosophy behind FixNICS is that the background check system can only be as strong as the records it contains. And it’s currently missing a lot, especially when it comes to mental health issues and domestic violence.
For instance, documentation of an individual diagnosed as “mental defective,” having been involuntarily committed to a mental health setting, or having engaged in domestic abuse disqualifies that person from purchasing or owning a firearm. When this information is present in the NICS, it flags the background check and stops the sale of the firearm. But too many of these records are missing.
That was the case with the 2017 Sutherlands Springs church shooting. The gunman Devin Patrick Kelley was prohibited from purchasing firearms due to a 2012 court martial for two counts of domestic abuse. The U.S. Air Force failed to provide this information to the NICS, allowing Kelley to erroneously pass his background check and to purchase an AR-style 5.56 rifle – which he used to kill 26 people and injure 20 more. He was confronted and pursued by a neighbor, another good guy with a gun.
When it comes to mass shootings, there’s no easy solution. Violence, especially random violence, is a complex manifestation of various thoughts, feelings, and external factors. While it may be impossible to fully stop mass murders, ignoring the fact that certain medications, including SSRIs, play a role in a high percentage of these violent acts, no justice is being served.
Gun control is obviously not the solution, as the rate of mass shootings has increased over the last 30 years, at a time when multiple gun control laws have been implemented. Taking firearms away from law abiding citizens has not and will not stop the problem.
Instead, doctors need to educate patients and make them aware of the risks, as well as take the time to explain warning signs to loved ones. If patients are taking medication for a mental health disorder, including depression, then they should see a mental health professional and be involved in mental health treatment. After all, medication – even mental health medication – does nothing to fix the problem, it only masks the symptoms.
Patients need to take some responsibility for their lives, improving their health before reaching for a mind-altering pill to make them feel good about themselves. A healthy diet, physical activity, and time spent in nature are ways to boost the mood that can help relieve the symptoms of mild depression.
Lastly, the government and big pharmaceutical companies need to be held accountable for not sharing what they know about the medications they create. A study published in The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) looked at drug company sponsored clinical trials on antidepressants.
Of the 74 FDA-registered trials the study looked at, 38 had positive outcomes, 36 had negative outcomes. Thirty-seven of the positive outcome trials were published, but of the 36 negative outcomes trials, 22 were not published and 11 were written in a way that initially presented the data to convey a misleading positive outcome. Only three were published with unbiased and accurate information about the drug.
With this type of misrepresentation of clinical trials on medications, particularly antidepressants, the medical community and the public can’t trust medical literature for honest and reliable drug information, nor the government agency that’s designed to monitor new pharmaceuticals for safety. When medical professionals can not rely on the FDA to provide unbiased and honest clinical trial information, a true risk-benefit ratio can’t be determined and patients suffer the consequences.
The connection between the FDA and big pharma goes beyond clinical studies. Drug companies lure FDA employees to sit on their regulatory boards. They hire their spouses. These pharmaceutical giants utilize the field’s leading experts, who happen to be the same experts who are invited by the FDA to sit on screening panels.
Big pharma’s influence over the FDA goes even deeper. Drug companies spend billions of dollars on political lobbying and campaign contributions. Direct payments support the FDA budget. And in response, the FDA conceals risks and looks the other way when necessary.
The FDA also gives its own kickback to the drug companies. Only FDA-approved medications can be prescribed for government health insurance programs like Medicare, Medicaid, and through the VA. And to ensure Big Pharma continues to sell its drugs, the federal program only allows treatment claims on FDA-approved drugs.
The FDA approval process is a laborious and expensive endeavor, which typically takes more than a year and can cost up to a million dollars to complete. The process allows drug companies to patent their product. But when it comes to natural supplements, they can’t be patented, and therefore don’t go through the FDA approval process. Therefore supplements, which are often highly effective with little to no side effects, can not claim to “treat” a condition, even when there’s research that supports that claim.
On the surface, this may not seem like too big of a deal, but let’s circle back to Prozac, which hit the market in 1988. In the fall of 1989, the FDA recalled the supplement L-tryptophan, an amino acid that’s a precursor for serotonin and highly effective in treating depression. The recall occurred after one supplement company had an additive that caused a flu-like reaction. On March 22, 1990, the FDA issued a complete ban of L-tryptophan for public sale. Four days later, on March 26, 1990, Prozac was featured on the cover of Newsweek, along with a lead article about its benefits.
In 2001, the ban on L-tryptophan was lifted and since, research has shown it has huge therapeutic potential in the treatment of pain, insomnia, depression, seasonal affective disorder (SAD), bulimia, premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), attention disorders, sleep disorders, and chronic fatigue.
A quick note about PMDD. Premenstrual dysphoric disorder is a severe form of premenstrual syndrome, otherwise known as PMS. It officially became a medical condition in 2013 with the newest addition of the DSM-V. Yet in July of 2000, the FDA approved a new medication from Eli Lilly, the same pharmaceutical company that created Prozac. The drug was Sarafem and it was marketed to treat PMDD, which technically wasn’t even a fully recognized medical condition at the time.
Sarafem is, quite literally, the exact same medication as Prozac, only in a different color capsule. Why would Eli Lilly issue the exact same drug under a different name? It just so happens that the patent for Prozac expired in August of 2001, which allowed generic versions to be made. Eli Lilly changed the medication’s name, indicated it for this “new” disease, and the company had a new patent for Sarafem that would last until 2007.
Situations like this demonstrate that the more aspects the government controls, the worse this corruption and mismanagement becomes. Federal agencies in the hands of big pharmaceutical companies, and politicians using gun control to give a false hope to the American people, distracts them from the real cause of the current state of the nation and the frequency of mass shootings.
It’s time to personally explore the evidence surrounding the issues and come to your own conclusions.
|Right to Know: A Historical Guide to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)|
|Federal Gun Control in America: A Historic Guide to Major Federal Gun Control Laws and Acts|
|State Gun Control in America: A Historic Guide to Major State Gun Control Laws and Acts|
|The TSA and Security Theater: Understanding American Airport Security Following 9/11|
|The Supreme Court and the Second Amendment: Understanding the Court’s Landmark Decisions|
|Negroes With Guns: The Untold History of Black NRA Gun Clubs and the Civil Rights Movement|
|American Gun Ownership: The Positive Impacts of Law-Abiding Citizens Owning Firearms|
|Handgun Wounding Factors: An Effectiveness Guide for Law Enforcement|
|3D-Printed Firearms and Defense Distributed: A Guide to Understanding “Ghost Guns”|
|Asymmetrical Warfare and 4GW: How Militia Groups are America’s Domestic Viet Cong|
|Weapons of War On Our Streets: A Guide to the Militarization of America’s Police|
|Policing For Profit: How Civil Asset Forfeiture Has Perverted American Law Enforcement|
|Locked Up: How the Modern Prison-Industrial Complex Puts So Many Americans in Jail|
|The 16th Amendment: How the U.S. Federal Income Tax Became D.C.’s Favorite Political Weapon|
|Commercial Ammo: The Untold History of Springfield Armory and America’s Munitions Factories|
|Gun Background Checks: How the State Came To Decide Who Can and Cannot Buy a Firearm|
|The American Old West: How Hollywood Made It “Wild” to Make Money & Advance Gun Control|
|America’s Sovereign States: The Obscure History of How 10 Independent States Joined the U.S.|
|Early American Militias: The Forgotten History of Freedmen Militias from 1776 until the Civil War|
|American Militias after the Civil War: From Black Codes to the Black Panthers and Beyond|
|Freedom vs. Liberty: How Subtle Differences Between These Two Big Ideas Changed Our World|
|Prescription For Violence: The Corresponding Rise of Antidepressants, SSRIs & Mass Shootings|
There have been 307 mass shootings in the US this year, new data shows.
Source: PressTV-US experienced 307 mass shootings in 311 days: Data
The recent killing spree at a restaurant in the US state of California, where a gunman shot dead 12 people and himself, marked the 307th mass shooting in the US since the beginning of 2018, underscoring the country’s ongoing gun violence epidemic.
The massacre on Wednesday night at the Borderline Bar and Grill, became the nation’s latest mass shooting, according to data from the Gun Violence Archive (GVA), a not-for-profit organization that provides online public access to information about gun-related violence.
In all, 328 people died in those incidents, and 1,251 were injured, according to the data. The numbers include incidents in which four or more people were shot or killed, not including the shooters, according to the archive.
The FBI defines mass murder as four or more killed rather than four or more shot.
The rampage also came during three weeks of hate and terror that have jolted the country, including a massacre at a synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, that left 11 elderly Jewish worshippers dead.
In September, Amnesty International warned that the gun violence situation in the US has grown into a full blown “human rights crisis” and the administration of President Donald Trump was doing little to solve it.
In a scathing report the UK-based group warned that “all aspects of American life have been compromised in some way by the unfettered access to guns, with no attempts at meaningful national regulation.”
Loose laws that allow people to own handguns without a license or permit in 30 US states and the lack of preventive measures such as a national registration system for gun owners were among the factors that Amnesty said contributed to the situation.
According to the organization, an average of 106 individuals died a day from firearm-related incidents in 2016, totaling 38,658. Of that figure, nearly 23,000 were suicides and more than 14,400 were homicides, Amnesty said.
The report also said that more than 116,000 people suffered injuries from firearms in 2016.
The issue of gun violence has become all the more polarizing under Trump, a Republican whose presidential campaign was funded partially by the National Rifle Association (NRA).
The president has been reluctant to address the growing issue in his speeches and following several high-profile mass shootings in the country.
However, faced with mounting pressure, the president agreed earlier this year to sign a $1.3 trillion spending bill that included modest improvements to background checks for gun sales and grants to help schools prevent gun violence.
Political commentator John Steppling believes gun violence in the US is interlinked with the country’s global militarism.
Nov 8, 2018
Chicago gun violence erupted to start this weekend, leaving two people dead and at least 18 others severely wounded, including a woman killed in a brutal domestic dispute. It follows last weekend’s record for violent crime, when 12 people were killed and 74 shot.
Some have linked the increased aggression among residents to relentless scorching hot temperatures this summer, and Chicago has been ground zero for inner city aggression in 2018. According to NBC Chicago, the most recent incident occurred Saturday morning in the Lawndale neighborhood on the West Side. A 25-year-old man was wounded in a shooting at about 1:55 a.m. in the 4000 block of West Grenshaw.
Law enforcement officials said he was standing outside when two people began firing shots that struck the man. First responders rushed him to St. Anthony’s Hospital with gunshot wounds to the buttocks and the groin, with the hospital now listing him in fair condition.
About 4:45 p.m. Friday, a 29-year-old woman involved in a domestic dispute with someone in the 2500 block of East 79th Street was killed, Chicago police said. The woman, who had a pending court order against the shooter, suffered a fatal gunshot to her back, police said.
Genice Hines, the mother of the 15-year-old, told the Chicago Tribune it felt like any other Friday night, until late evening when she left work and received a terrifying call. Her son and nephew, two close friends, had been shot. The boys were both standing at the 1300 block of South Independence Boulevard in the West Side’s Lawndale neighborhood when they heard gunfire. Reports indicated the children were about a block from the gas station at Roosevelt Road and Independence.
The 15-year-old was shot in the head, and the 17-year-old was shot in the abdomen. First responders took them both to Mount Sinai Hospital where they were both listed in good condition.
“Chicago is a scary place to be,” Hines warned. “Even I’m scared to walk to the corner store.”
The boys were among 20 people shot in the past 48 hours. NBC Chicago provides the list of shootings:
Chicago gun violence erupted to start this weekend, leaving two people dead and at least 18 others severely wounded,…
Some more disturbing statistics about America’s inner city warzone:
So far this year, 318 people have been killed in Chicago. The silver lining: that is 110 fewer than 2017.
Homicides tend to peak in the summer months, on the weekend and during later hours.
The majority of Chicago homicides are the result of gun violence.
Though homicides are recorded throughout the city, they are most concentrated in the South and West sides.
The majority of the victims of homicide in Chicago are young, black men.
Previously Trump had proposed “sending in the Feds” to stabilize the death toll in the “gun free” city.
So far, this remains merely a suggestion.
Chicago, ranked among the list of America’s most dangerous cities due to its high homicide rate, has been experiencing a spike in violence that is startling even by its own grim standards.
Some 25 people were victims in five mass shootings that rocked the city early on Sunday. A teenage girl was killed in Chicago’s Lawndale neighborhood on Sunday morning in a shooting that resulted in another five people being injured, including an 11-year-old boy.
The girl was shot in the face and died at the scene, police said. A 26-year-old man also suffered gunshot wounds to his abdomen and ankle as a gunman fired from a moving vehicle. The man succumbed to his injuries and was pronounced dead in hospital.
In another mass shooting that took place in a courtyard, eight people, including children, were injured.
Lawndale witnessed another mass shooting shortly after the city descended into darkness. The incident unfolded near an elementary school, where three teenagers, two boys and a 17-year-girl, as well as a 25-year-old man were injured in a shooting rampage by unknown perpetrators, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.
A street brawl in the West Garfield Park neighborhood sparked a shootout between two rival gangs. Three women who were standing on a porch nearby were injured in the incident and taken to hospital.
Another shootout occurred in the West Humbold Park neighborhood, after perpetrators in a black Cadillac fired at a group of people standing on the sidewalk. Four people, including a passerby, were injured as a result. The Cadillac swayed off the road and crashed during the shooting, but the attackers still managed to escape in the car.
In a spate of several separate shootings, each involving a single victim, a 14-year-old boy suffered a wound to his leg in Garfield Park, an 18-year-old teenager sustained “multiple shots” in Lawndale, and a 26-year-old man and a 20-year-old woman were shot in the leg and an abdomen respectively in the Little Village and Logan Square neighborhoods.
A total of 60 people have been shot in Chicago since 5pm on Friday, nine of whom died, as the city endured one of its deadliest weekends, ABC’s Chicago affiliate WLS reported on Monday, citing police. Police said that the local hospital, its resources stretched thin by the bloodbath, was placed under “trauma lockdown,” meaning only closest family members can access patients.
Chicago secured 12th place in the Wall Street Journal’s ranking of America’s 25 murder capitals last year. While the position in the middle of the list may seem unworthy of the nickname “Chiraq,” likening the city to a war zone, the WSJ notes that Chicago, “however, was largely responsible for the increase in violent crime nationwide over the last year,” as its surge in murders, from 18 to 28 murders per 100,000 residents “accounted for 21 percent of the total increase in homicides nationwide.”
In order to raise awareness about the issue that has been plaguing the city for years, activists have recently erected a mock ‘gun-sharing’ station. The station looks like a bicycle-sharing station but with AR-15 rifles, with a sign inviting all “to unlock and load.”
A series of deadly mass shootings in the US during the past two years – particularly the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida last February – have breathed new life into the gun-control movement. A wave of protests with thousands of attendees led by the survivors of the massacre swept across the US, with demonstrators demanding that existing lax gun laws be toughened in a bid to reduce gun violence.
April 10, 2018
It’s time to address an epidemic in the United States. It’s one that could be deadly, particularly to liberty.
It’s an epidemic of Dunning-Kruger. It’s why ignorant people are so certain that they’re right.
What’s that, you ask?
The Dunning Kruger effect is a cognitive bias in which individuals, who are unskilled at a particular task, believe themselves to possess above-average ability in performing the task. On the other hand, as individuals become more skilled in a particular task, they may mistakenly believe that they possess below-average ability in performing those tasks because they may assume that all others possess equal or greater ability. In other words, “the miscalibration of the incompetent stems from an error about the self, whereas the miscalibration of the highly competent stems from an error about others.” (source)
And haven’t we all seen that lately? Let’s look at a recent example right here in the good ole USA.
Let’s start with the current gun control debate.
We have high school kids who think they are experts on policy, firearms, and the Constitution, smugly telling us how clueless they believe we are.
We have movie stars who make millions from movies where they shoot people and who are protected by armed security guards, telling us that we law-abiding citizens who have guns are vicariously responsible for every school shooting that has ever happened.
We have wealthy city dwellers who live in buildings with doormen telling the rest of us that we’re nuts for wanting to protect ourselves.
And all of these people who want to loudly tell the rest of us how to live our lives have one thing in common: they are completely out of touch with the real world.
When you live in your guarded castles, you don’t have to worry about defending yourself from a rapist who might break in through your bedroom window. When you’re a kid, you can’t fathom the vast responsibility one feels as a parent to protect one’s children from home invaders or kidnappers. When you haven’t yet gone out there and lived your life with jobs and crime and financial instability, you have no idea what it’s really like for the average American.
And yet, these out-of-touch people are the ones screaming the loudest that only they know what is right for America.
Back in 1999, social psychologists David Dunning and Justin Kruger of Cornell University performed tests on some subjects and discovered that in many cases, the lower the performance of a subject, the higher their confidence was that they had done well. They published their findings in a paper entitled, “Unskilled and Unaware of It: How Difficulties in Recognizing One’s Own Incompetence Lead to Inflated Self-Assessments.”
In an article by David Dunning called “We Are All Confident Idiots,” he wrote of his studies:
In 1999, in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, my then graduate student Justin Kruger and I published a paper that documented how, in many areas of life, incompetent people do not recognize—scratch that, cannot recognize—just how incompetent they are, a phenomenon that has come to be known as the Dunning-Kruger effect. Logic itself almost demands this lack of self-insight: For poor performers to recognize their ineptitude would require them to possess the very expertise they lack. To know how skilled or unskilled you are at using the rules of grammar, for instance, you must have a good working knowledge of those rules, an impossibility among the incompetent. Poor performers—and we are all poor performers at some things—fail to see the flaws in their thinking or the answers they lack.
What’s curious is that, in many cases, incompetence does not leave people disoriented, perplexed, or cautious. Instead, the incompetent are often blessed with an inappropriate confidence, buoyed by something that feels to them like knowledge.
This isn’t just an armchair theory. A whole battery of studies conducted by myself and others have confirmed that people who don’t know much about a given set of cognitive, technical, or social skills tend to grossly overestimate their prowess and performance, whether it’s grammar, emotional intelligence, logical reasoning, firearm care and safety, debating, or financial knowledge. College students who hand in exams that will earn them Ds and Fs tend to think their efforts will be worthy of far higher grades; low-performing chess players, bridge players, and medical students, and elderly people applying for a renewed driver’s license, similarly overestimate their competence by a long shot. (source)
Hmmm….that sounds familiar.
And the way Dunning applies this to politics vividly demonstrates why we have the polarization we’re currently experiencing in the US.
Some of our most stubborn misbeliefs arise not from primitive childlike intuitions or careless category errors, but from the very values and philosophies that define who we are as individuals. Each of us possesses certain foundational beliefs—narratives about the self, ideas about the social order—that essentially cannot be violated: To contradict them would call into question our very self-worth. As such, these views demand fealty from other opinions. And any information that we glean from the world is amended, distorted, diminished, or forgotten in order to make sure that these sacrosanct beliefs remain whole and unharmed…
…Political and ideological beliefs, too, often cross over into the realm of the sacrosanct. The anthropological theory of cultural cognition suggests that people everywhere tend to sort ideologically into cultural worldviews diverging along a couple of axes: They are either individualist (favoring autonomy, freedom, and self-reliance) or communitarian (giving more weight to benefits and costs borne by the entire community); and they are either hierarchist (favoring the distribution of social duties and resources along a fixed ranking of status) or egalitarian (dismissing the very idea of ranking people according to status). According to the theory of cultural cognition, humans process information in a way that not only reflects these organizing principles, but also reinforces them. These ideological anchor points can have a profound and wide-ranging impact on what people believe, and even on what they “know” to be true.
It is perhaps not so surprising to hear that facts, logic, and knowledge can be bent to accord with a person’s subjective worldview; after all, we accuse our political opponents of this kind of “motivated reasoning” all the time. But the extent of this bending can be remarkable. In ongoing work with the political scientist Peter Enns, my lab has found that a person’s politics can warp other sets of logical or factual beliefs so much that they come into direct contradiction with one another. (source)
And most importantly:
Sacrosanct ideological commitments can also drive us to develop quick, intense opinions on topics we know virtually nothing about. (source)
This article isn’t just about the hot-button topic of gun control. It’s about how we’re living our everyday lives.
Here’s an example: People either love President Trump so much they are unwilling to see any wrongdoing or they despise him to the point that they are unwilling to recognize any right-doing. Most people’s analyses of the actions of the President are completely warped by their sacrosanct ideologies of whether he is “good” or “bad.” They don’t weigh the merits of the actions – instead, they judge them from a place of deeply committed cognitive bias.
The same thing is true for many topics:
All of us – myself included – can look at the list above and immediately say whether we are for or against these things, and what our specific belief is – but do we honestly know the details of these topics? Are our opinions sourced from cognitive bias or fact?
I have biases. You have them. We all do. However, the ability to recognize your own cognitive bias and not useit as “evidence” in a debate is the gold standard of intelligence.
It’s completely normal for us to base our opinions on our own moral beliefs. As Dunning wrote, we are, at heart, either individualist or communitarian, hierarchic or egalitarian. These are core attributes that would be difficult, if not impossible, to change.
But what we CAN do is make a conscious effort to catch ourselves when we make rapid judgment calls without the facts. We can educate ourselves on both sides of an issue and make an effort to use facts instead of feelings in our arguments.
What we CANNOT do is expect everyone to play by these rules. But that’s okay because by understanding how an opposing view was developed, we can use that to fuel our own arguments. We can call out the cognitive biases. What we can’t expect is for facts to change their deeply held beliefs, no matter how ignorant those beliefs might be.
We can correct the lack of information, but we can’t really expect someone with a confident, sacrosanct opinion to change their minds. They’ll hold on to a belief even after it is proven factually incorrect because, as Dunning said, “We are all confident idiots.” Remember, facts have nothing to do with why they have their points of view.
The good news is that there are folks in the middle, who may not have a deeply held opinion on hot-button topics. These are the folks who can be reached by logic and facts. It’s nearly impossible to battle confident ignorance, but with facts, you can influence people who are undecided.
If you ask me what is going to be the end of our civilization, the rampant epidemic of Dunning-Kruger seems to be the most likely cause. Let’s not be guilty of this confident ignorance ourselves. Let’s vow to inoculate ourselves with facts instead of enabling ourselves with emotional biases.
Hat tip to Suzanne
Please feel free to share any information from this site in part or in full, leaving all links intact, giving credit to the author and including a link to this website and the following bio. Daisy is a coffee-swigging, gun-toting, homeschooling blogger who writes about current events, preparedness, frugality, and the pursuit of liberty on her website, The Organic Prepper. Daisy is the publisher of The Cheapskate’s Guide to the Galaxy, a monthly frugality newsletter, and she curates all the most important news links on her aggregate site, PreppersDailyNews.com. She is the best-selling author of 4 books and lives in the mountains of Virginia with her two daughters and an ever-growing menagerie. You can find Daisy on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter.
Every year over 30,000 Americans are killed by gunfire. Every month, in public schoolyards, dance clubs, concert venues, work places and public gatherings, innocent people are slaughtered by assassins wielding legally purchased high powered semi-automatic weapons. The National Rifle Association (NRA), a 3 million-member organization, supports and sponsors free and easy access to military-level weaponry. The vast majority of US legislators, Presidents and judges support the possession of the very weapons responsible for massacres.
The question is why does the US political system bemoan the frequent occurrence of mass shootings, and yet turn around and endorse the political process that makes these killings possible? The size, scope and duration of massacres requires that we examine the large-scale, long-term systemic features of the US political economy.
The Politics of Wars: Massacres Abroad as ‘All American’ Heroism
The US government has engaged in multiple bloody wars where it has massacred millions of civilians – including whole families in their homes – representing no conceivable threat to the American people. The wars feature the success of destruction and death as a means to advance US political programs. War criminals are honored. Domestic political conflicts and social problems are resolved by destroying invented adversaries and entire nations.
In a political economy where overseas massacres are perpetrated by democratically elected leaders, who is to question the behavior of ‘a neighborhood sociopath’ who is merely following the practices of his president? This should surprise no one: Wholesale massacres abroad, fostered by our leaders, are reflected in the domestic retail massacre unleashed by the local ‘nutcase’.
The Mass Media: Weapons Talk, Killings Resolve and the Media Profit
Everyday, at every hour, on every media outlet, guns and slaughter dominate the minds, thoughts and fantasies (or nightmares) of viewers, especially the millions who absorb ‘the message’. Films, TV programs and computer games are saturated with conflicts resolved by guns, killing victims – whether police or civilians. Problems are solved through violence.
The message of the mass media is that victories come from mass killings.
Wars and killings are portrayed in a wide variety of settings: Homes, public buildings, public schools, workplaces, streets and plazas.
If wars and massacres are essential in this political system, the mass media ensures that it permeates and normalizes in the minds of the masses.
Weapons, used in massacres, represent a very lucrative business: The manufacturers, wholesalers, retailers, gun clubs, and police and military institutions all thrive in this free marketplace of murder. The arms industry thrives on wars and media messages – and mass consumption. Political leaders rely on the gun economy to finance their election campaigns. Politicians approve of wars, gun industries and associations. They perpetuate the conditions for massacres. Big business is protected from massacres at home, school and play. Why would the CEO’s and political elites worry about public school massacres when their own children are safe in expensive private schools? After all, votes and profits are at stake. Only ‘losers’ send their children to dangerous public schools. The ‘winners’ have safe alternative…
To confront the epidemic numbers of mass shootings, changes in the political economy are essential.
Fake and Positive Approaches to Massacres
President Trump proposed to arm school teachers as a ‘solution’ to school massacres. This is a bizarre alternative that will only exacerbate the spread of weapons, encourage more shooting and massacres, undermine the role of teachers as educators and create new ‘role models’ for would-be assassins. Trump’s proposal also underscores his administration’s profound contempt for the role of public education and public educators in building a healthy society. His tendency to blame the victims…’if only the teachers were armed…’ shows the grotesque Social Darwinism inherent in his ideology as he seeks to utterly destroy the public sector. The children of the elite and politicians do not have to attend their French or calculus classes taught by armed teachers. According to the logic of Trump and the political and business elite, armed shootouts in the public school class rooms merely underscore the need to dissolve the Departments of Education at all levels, as well as all public services in this nation.
Teachers should be able to focus their work on educating students to become productive, competent citizens who prize community and cooperation over weapons and war. They should graduate students who can critically evaluate the role of the mass media in promoting violence. They should provide their students with the civic skills to mobilize against political leaders who have accepted bribes (‘donations’) from death cults, like the NRA.
Community organizers can boycott businesses that provide political and material support to the war mongers, militias and other gun-toting extremists to stop the violence.
National legislation should be passed, limiting firearms to very specific areas and events, like shooting clubs or hunting.
Individual gun owners should be licensed based on strict psychological criteria and renewal of license should be frequent. The US military must inform local civilian authorities of any criminal violent behavior of its discharged soldiers; they cannot just release a ‘ticking time bomb’ into the civilian population they are sworn to protect. Mental illness is a public health issue and public funds for hospitals and facilities to identify and treat individuals should be increased. The mentally ill should not be warehoused in and out of the jails or dumped on the streets.
Gun dealers and gun shows should be regulated and forced to follow procedures or face penalties.
Hunters should use weapons appropriate to the game they are shooting. Semi-automatic firearms are not appropriate for hunting deer, rabbits or turkey. Semi-automatic weapons are used for hunting and killing human beings, including unarmed children in their classrooms.
Cultural, political and economic changes can take place over time but require mass sustained struggles. In the meantime, short term reforms that regulate and reduce the frequency and fatality of local massacres should be implemented.
The scenario where police cordon off the site of a mass shooting , preventing medics and ‘first responders’ from entering quickly to stabilize the wounded, while protecting themselves – a process that may take over an hour and lead to avoidable deaths by treatable blood loss, has to be exposed and rectified. ‘Golden minutes’, the time when injured victims can be stabilized by routine emergency measures and transferred to higher level facilities for life saving surgery and replacement of lost blood, are being wasted while ‘SWAT Teams’ gear up and ‘secure the perimeter’ through a choreographed series of maneuvers to ensure ‘force protection’ (a euphemism for protecting the police). The horrendous rate of mortality in these shooting, 100% of the young victims at Sandy Hook Elementary School, is a scandal – especially in view of the silence that followed. Clearly the local and state coroners and police are covering up information regarding the role that preventing the rapid entry of emergency medics played in such high mortality. Independent investigation of this deliberate police delay in providing life- saving care should be a priority.
Virtually all school massacres have been committed by individuals known to the police or community for erratic behavior and domestic abuse. The local police or family knowledge that these demented, homicidal individuals had access to military level firearms and did not act on repeated complaints requires independent investigation at the state and federal level. Laws and statutes regarding preventative hospitalization or detention of such unstable abusers must be enforced. There should be a national commission to investigate the state of mental health treatment resources in the US. It is long overdue. Rather than demanding that school teachers arm themselves, quality mental health facilities at the state and local level must be established. It is not enough to merely warehouse the mentally ill in the local jails for misdemeanor offenses and then discharge them back into the streets without support.
Public schools and teachers must be supported. The decades-long policy of undermining basic public services, like public education, in favor of ‘school choice’ – a euphemism for privatizing education – and making education a privilege for the wealthy rather than a right of free citizens – must be reversed. Rather than one lone teacher in a classroom (preferably armed – according to President Trump and the NRA) with forty students, each classroom should have three competent teachers working together to ensure that the students are advancing in the various subjects necessary for their future as free and productive citizens. It is a scandal that the US Department of Education and its Secretary of Education have been absent and silent following the frequent school massacres. However, it is not surprising, considering the priorities of the upper officials of the Department of Education who come from the elite, and, in the case of current Secretary Betsy DeVos, from the billionaire class. They have never entered a public educational facility. Their children are either ‘home-schooled’ with private tutors or attend elite private academies. Their policies in undermining public education reflect their ideological hostility to the entire notion of public welfare. Trump’s blaming the school teachers for being unarmed in their class rooms shows most clearly his own contempt for public education and the working and middle class families who entrust their children to the public education systems across the country.
These events occur in the public space, a space once trusted and free to all free citizens – public schools have been the foundation of providing for a free and productive citizenry. It is no accident that mass school shootings take place exclusively in public schools. The worthy children of the elite are safe in their fortress-like homes and highly selective private schools. Their highly qualified teachers are free to teach, unencumbered by concealed weapons or any disruption by any ‘active shooter’ drill. These children have guaranteed futures.
The situation for the children of the working and middle classes is far more uncertain. Access to quality education is no longer a right and a duty for free and productive citizens and their families. At most, youth may have ‘access to educational loans’ at usurious interest rates that fetter them to decades of debt peonage, while the students from the wealthy classes are free to pursue their careers and develop their talents. As the deterioration of future prospects for the US youth continues, with the massive shifts of national wealth to the elite, these massacres, as well as suicides, deaths from overdose and domestic and overseas wars will only grow. There is a sociopolitical context in which this occurs: deliberate decisions made at the top spawn horrors and mayhem at the base.
There is a class basis for the nightmares gripping working and middle-class parents, teachers and students across the country. Security, quality education and quality health care are increasingly the private, exclusive domain of the elite. The elite-driven policies, starting with the reign of President Ronald Reagan, have engineered the breakup of public mental health facilities and the mass release of unstable vulnerable, as well as violent, citizens into unprepared communities. Those who suffer from the consequences of these policies mean nothing to the elite political classes – except for photo-op funerals. Elite-driven policies, implemented under the bi-partisan administrations of Presidents Bill Clinton, George Bush, Jr., Barack Obama and Donald Trump, are furthering the agenda of shredding the public sector and privatizing the wealth and institutions of the nation.
The massive lowering of taxes, under the tax bill passed by Donald Trump represents an over one trillion dollar wind- fall for the investor class (finance elite) at the expense of the public institutions and safety nets serving the working and middle classes. The increasing incidence and the location and identities of the victims of mass shootings are not random: They are class-defined and reflect the loss of citizen power. The winners in this class war from the top will shed crocodile tears at media events while privately ridiculing the victims’ families for relying on public institutions.
The decisions, made at the top, which have given birth to this epidemic of mass public school shooting, as well as the parallel epidemics of suicide and overdose among the working and middle classes, have immensely benefited the elite. The billionaires and the donors to both political parties have no incentive to reverse course and implement reforms or policies designed to bring back citizen rights and the public space. Only the friends, families and neighbors of the working and middle-class victims, those who are secretly viewed as ‘losers choosing to send their children to public institutions’, can unite to change this and bring back social and economic justice to honor the innocent dead and offer a just and dignified future to their children. It is not a matter of arming teachers, or of wrapping small pupils in ‘bullet proof blankets’, while the elite blame us for our suffering from the safety of their mansions. Understanding the class basis for this crisis will help form the foundation for real solutions.
The mayor of Baltimore is receiving much-deserved criticism after she allocated $100,000 to bus students to a gun control rally in Washington D.C. later this month. The reason for the criticism is founded in the fact that students froze all winter long because the mayor says they have no money to fix the slew of broken heaters.
Earlier this year, students in Baltimore schools were told to bring blankets and cold weather attire to class every day because the heating systems in over one-third of all the schools were either broken or barely working. Students, faculty, and staff were forced to bundle up inside the school in January until it became so unbearable that the schools actually closed due to unsafe temperatures.
To most people, these underperforming, outdated, and broken heating systems would be a priority to get fixed. However, at the time, Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh claimed that there simply wasn’t enough money to make the repairs and upgrades.
It is not just the heat either. The infrastructure in the Baltimore school system is crumbling and many students find themselves unable to even drink the water. But we see where the priorities lie.
Fast forward to March, and suddenly—in spite of claiming they have no money—the mayor has miraculously pulled $100,000 out of nowhere to bus thousands of students to a gun control rally in Washington D.C.
“America needs to hear the voices of the young people of Baltimore,” Pugh told the students before announcing the city’s plan to fund the trip to the “March for Our Lives” rally in Washington, D.C., on March 24.
The $100,000 will pay for 60 buses, free t-shirts, boxed lunches and other amenities for a few thousand students who signed up to go to the rally.
While $100,000 isn’t nearly enough to fix the heating systems, it shows that basic necessities for students are taking a backseat to political theater.
As Our Community Now reports, at the time, the mayor’s office explained that the schools’ heating systems were beyond fixing because the city simply didn’t have the money to make the repairs and upgrades. Initial estimates from the American Civil Liberties Union (it’s never good when HVAC systems in schools get the attention of the ACLU) estimated that it would cost at least $2.8 billion to modernize the heating and air conditioning in Baltimore City Public Schools.
The problem became so bad that earlier this year, citizens were forced to take action outside of the government. A concerned citizen then set up a GoFundMe account to raise money to fix the problem. It was titled, “We Need Heat in Our Public Schools,” and it raised over $84,000 to provide space heaters. The mayor’s $100,000 could’ve stretched that out to further reduce suffering in schools but this did not happen.
Parents and students alike are left wondering why the mayor would justify spending upwards of $100,000 on political activism when children are suffering every single day in school.
It is no secret that Baltimore is one of the worst places in the nation as far as gun violence is concerned. And, if students want to voice their concern over this problem, they have every single right to do so. However, when the mayor spends money they don’t have to bus a few thousand students to DC for a day to call for gun control when Baltimore is already highly regulated, this speaks to the nature of such an act.
In Baltimore, there is already an “assault weapons” ban, a “high capacity” magazine ban, and special fingerprinting and reporting requirements on handgun sales. Yet their murder rate more than doubles other cities that are much larger—like Chicago.
According to WJZ, murders occur so frequently in Baltimore that the number of murders in the city is higher than the number in Philadelphia, even though Philadelphia “has two and a half times the population.” Moreover, Baltimore sees more murders than New York City, although NYC “is almost 14 times larger.”
Yes, Baltimore has a problem but all the gun control in the world is doing very little to stop guns from coming in. Even the police admit that after all the guns were banned in 2013, criminal use of banned guns skyrocketed every year after.
Proving that if you disarm a population, only criminals and cops will have guns, Baltimore Police spokesman T.J. Smith said, “We’re dealing with absolute criminals who want as much weaponry as possible when they’re going after their targets. They’re not carrying .22s. They’re carrying the big guns that have these high capacities.”
Sadly, the mayor’s move to spend $100,000 of taxpayer money that they don’t have to send students to call for gun control that won’t work is the epitome of everything wrong with government in America.
Until politicians educate themselves on the cause of this violence, these uninformed and corrupt lawmakers will continue to focus on controlling the symptoms.
On the Parkland, Fla., shooting:
“There were four armed police officers, including one cop who was assigned to the school as a resource officer, on campus during that shooting. All four cops stayed outside the school with their weapons drawn (three of them hid behind their police cars).
Not a single one of those cops, armed with deadly weapons and trained for exactly such a dangerous scenario, entered the school to confront the shooter.”
“Seventeen people, most of them teenagers, died while the cops opted not to intervene.”
“This begs the question: if the police don’t have a duty to protect the public, what are we paying them for? And who exactly do they serve if not you and me?
It is fast becoming a government “of the rich, by the elite, for the corporations,” and its rise to power is predicated on shackling the American taxpayer to a life of indentured servitude.”
With permission from
By John W. Whitehead
February 26, 2018
“After a shooting spree, they always want to take the guns away from the people who didn’t do it. I sure as hell wouldn’t want to live in a society where the only people allowed guns are the police and the military.”—Author William S. Burroughs
In the American police state, police have a tendency to shoot first and ask questions later.
In fact, police don’t usually need much incentive to shoot and kill members of the public.
Police have shot and killed Americans of all ages—many of them unarmed—for standing a certain way, or moving a certain way, or holding something—anything—that police could misinterpret to be a gun, or igniting some trigger-centric fear in a police officer’s mind that has nothing to do with an actual threat to their safety.
In recent years, Americans have been killed by police merely for standing in a “shooting stance,” holding a cell phone, behaving oddly and holding a baseball bat, opening the front door, running in an aggressive manner holding a tree branch, crawling around naked, hunching over in a defensive posture, wearing dark pants and a basketball jersey, driving while deaf, being homeless, brandishing a shoehorn, holding a garden hose, and peeing outdoors.
So when police in Florida had to deal with a 19-year-old embarking on a shooting rampage inside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., what did they do?
There were four armed police officers, including one cop who was assigned to the school as a resource officer, on campus during that shooting. All four cops stayed outside the school with their weapons drawn (three of them hid behind their police cars).
Not a single one of those cops, armed with deadly weapons and trained for exactly such a dangerous scenario, entered the school to confront the shooter.
Seventeen people, most of them teenagers, died while the cops opted not to intervene.
Let that sink in a moment.
Now before your outrage bubbles over, consider that the U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly affirmed (most recently in 2005) that police have no constitutional duty to protect members of the public from harm.
Yes, you read that correctly.
According to the U.S. Supreme Court, police have no duty, moral or otherwise, to help those in trouble, protect individuals from danger, or risk their own lives to save “we the people.”
In other words, you can be outraged that cops in Florida did nothing to stop the school shooter, but technically, it wasn’t part of their job description.
This begs the question: if the police don’t have a duty to protect the public, what are we paying them for? And who exactly do they serve if not you and me?
Why do we have more than a million cops on the taxpayer-funded payroll in this country whose jobs do not entail protecting our safety, maintaining the peace in our communities, and upholding our liberties?
Why do we have more than a million cops who have been fitted out in the trappings of war, drilled in the deadly art of combat, and trained to look upon “every individual they interact with as an armed threat and every situation as a deadly force encounter in the making?
I’ll tell you why.
It’s the same reason why the Trump Administration has made a concerted effort to expand the police state’s power to search, strip, seize, raid, steal from, arrest and jail Americans for any infraction, no matter how insignificant.
This is no longer a government “of the people, by the people, for the people.”
It is fast becoming a government “of the rich, by the elite, for the corporations,” and its rise to power is predicated on shackling the American taxpayer to a life of indentured servitude.
Cops in America may get paid by the citizenry, but they don’t work for us.
They don’t answer to us. They’re not loyal to us.
And they certainly aren’t operating within the limits of the U.S. Constitution.
That “thin, blue line” of loyalty to one’s fellow cops has become a self-serving apparatus that sees nothing wrong with advancing the notion that the lives—and rights—of police should be valued more than citizens.
As one commentator remarked, “‘Protect and Serve’ are the words we see on the side of many police cars and is the motto of most police forces. The words define the mission of the police, which is to ‘protect’ citizens and ‘serve’ the public. However, it has become increasingly clear that in far too many police forces those words have been twisted beyond recognition. Too often they appear to mean, ‘to protect officers and serve the police force.’ ‘Force Protection’ has become the primary motivating force for many in the Police. That term is actually a military concept which means that you do everything you can to protect the troops when planning and executing a combat mission.”
The myth of the hero cop really is a myth.
Cops are no more noble, no more self-sacrificing, no braver and certainly no more deserving of special attention or treatment than any other American citizen.
Yet, as journalist David Feige explains, “For the last three decades, police unions have managed to portray their members as indispensable heroes in a deadly and dangerous war. [In] the years since the Sept. 11 attacks, the story of the hero cop has become so powerful and pervasive that even questioning police behavior is decried as disloyal, un-American, and dangerous.”
This misplaced patriotism about police and, by extension, the military—a dangerous re-shifting of the nation’s priorities that has been reinforced by President Trump with his unnerving knack for echoing past authoritarian tactics—paves the way for even more instability in the nation.
“There are real-world harms that follow from the myths perpetuated by police unions. Arguments about the dangerous nature of police work drive the increasing militarization of police departments. The life-and-death nature of the job is used to push for extremely generous medical leave, overtime, and pay packages. Most insidious of all, the exaggerated danger and trumped-up heroism drives an us-versus-them mentality that suffuses contemporary big-city policing and bleeds into the criminal justice system, causing systemic imbalances that chronically favor the police over citizens. Together, this creates a sense of invincibility and righteousness among the police that is used to justify even outrageous behavior while simultaneously creating the perception among the public that the police are untouchable.”
For years now, we’ve been told that cops need military weapons to wage the government’s wars on drugs, crime and terror.
We’ve been told that cops need to be able to crash through doors, search vehicles, carry out roadside strip searches, shoot anyone they perceive to be a threat, and generally disregard the law whenever it suits them because they’re doing it to protect their fellow Americans from danger.
We’ve been told that cops need extra legal protections because of the risks they take.
None of that is true.
For the record, any police officer who tells you that he needs tanks, SWAT teams, and pepper spray to do his job shouldn’t be a police officer in a constitutional republic.
Unfortunately, “we the people” don’t get to call the shots anymore. And we no longer live in a constitutional republic.
Welcome to the American police state, funded by Corporate America, policed by the military industrial complex, and empowered by politicians whose primary purpose is to remain in office.
It’s a short hop, skip and a jump from the police state we’re operating under right now to a full-blown totalitarian regime ruled with the iron fist of martial law.
The groundwork has already been laid.
The events of recent years have only served to desensitize the nation to violence, acclimate them to a militarized police presence in their communities, and persuade them that there is nothing they can do to alter the seemingly hopeless trajectory of the nation: the invasive surveillance, the extremism reports, the civil unrest, the protests, the shootings, the bombings, the military exercises and active shooter drills, the color-coded alerts and threat assessments, the fusion centers, the transformation of local police into extensions of the military, the distribution of military equipment and weapons to local police forces, the government databases containing the names of dissidents and potential troublemakers.
The sight of police clad in body armor and gas masks, wielding semiautomatic rifles and escorting an armored vehicle through a crowded street, a scene likened to “a military patrol through a hostile city,” no longer causes alarm among the general populace.
Few seem to care about the government’s endless wars abroad that leave communities shattered, families devastated and our national security at greater risk of blowback. Indeed, there were no protests in the streets after U.S. military forces carried out air strikes on a Syrian settlement, killing 25 people, more than half of which were women and children.
And then there’s President Trump’s plans for a military parade on Veterans Day (costing between $10 million and $30 million) to showcase the nation’s military might. Other countries that feel the need to flex their military muscles to its citizens and the rest of the world include France, China, Russia and North Korea.
Connect the dots, people.
This stealthy, creeping, silent coup that is the same danger that writer Rod Serling warned against in the 1964 political thriller Seven Days in May, which put the military in charge of a coup that would institute martial law packaged as a well-meaning and overriding concern for the nation’s security.
On the big screen, the military coup is foiled and the republic is saved in a matter of hours. In the real world, however, the plot thickens and spreads out over the past half century.
We’ve been losing our freedoms so incrementally for so long—sold to us in the name of national security and global peace, maintained by way of martial law disguised as law and order, and enforced by a standing army of militarized police and a political elite determined to maintain their powers at all costs—that it’s hard to pinpoint exactly when it all started going downhill, but we’re certainly on that downward trajectory now, and things are moving fast.
The question is no longer whether the U.S. government will be preyed upon and taken over by the military industrial complex. That’s a done deal.
We’ve allowed ourselves to be acclimated to the occasional lockdown of government buildings, Jade Helm military drills in small towns so that special operations forces can get “realistic military training” in “hostile” territory, and Live Active Shooter Drill training exercises, carried out at schools, in shopping malls, and on public transit, which can and do fool law enforcement officials, students, teachers and bystanders into thinking it’s a real crisis.
Still, you can’t say we weren’t warned.
Back in 2008, an Army War College report revealed that “widespread civil violence inside the United States would force the defense establishment to reorient priorities in extremis to defend basic domestic order and human security.” The 44-page report went on to warn that potential causes for such civil unrest could include another terrorist attack, “unforeseen economic collapse, loss of functioning political and legal order, purposeful domestic resistance or insurgency, pervasive public health emergencies, and catastrophic natural and human disasters.”
In 2009, reports by the Department of Homeland Security surfaced that labelled right-wing and left-wing activists and military veterans as extremists (a.k.a. terrorists) and called on the government to subject such targeted individuals to full-fledged pre-crime surveillance. Almost a decade later, after spending billions to fight terrorism, the DHS concluded that the greater threat is not ISIS but domestic right-wing extremism.
Meanwhile, the government has been amassing an arsenal of military weapons for use domestically and equipping and training their “troops” for war. Even government agencies with largely administrative functions such as the Food and Drug Administration, Department of Veterans Affairs, and the Smithsonian have been acquiring body armor, riot helmets and shields, cannon launchers and police firearms and ammunition. In fact, there are now at least 120,000 armed federal agents carrying such weapons who possess the power to arrest.
Rounding out this profit-driven campaign to turn American citizens into enemy combatants (and America into a battlefield) is a technology sector that has been colluding with the government to create a Big Brother that is all-knowing, all-seeing and inescapable. It’s not just the drones, fusion centers, license plate readers, stingray devices and the NSA that you have to worry about. You’re also being tracked by the black boxes in your cars, your cell phone, smart devices in your home, grocery loyalty cards, social media accounts, credit cards, streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon, and e-book reader accounts.
All of this has taken place right under our noses, funded with our taxpayer dollars and carried out in broad daylight without so much as a general outcry from the citizenry.
It’s astounding how convenient we’ve made it for the government to lock down the nation.
Mind you, by “government,” I’m not referring to the highly partisan, two-party bureaucracy of the Republicans and Democrats.
As I point out in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, I’m referring to “government” with a capital “G,” the entrenched Deep State that is unaffected by elections, unaltered by populist movements, and has set itself beyond the reach of the law.
I’m referring to the corporatized, militarized, entrenched bureaucracy that is fully operational and staffed by unelected officials who are, in essence, running the country and calling the shots in Washington DC, no matter who sits in the White House.
This is the hidden face of a government that has no respect for the freedom of its citizenry.
Constitutional attorney and author John W. Whitehead is founder and president of The Rutherford Institute. His new book Battlefield America: The War on the American People (SelectBooks, 2015) is available online at http://www.amazon.com. Whitehead can be contacted at email@example.com.
Every time a mass shooting rocks the United States, Americans demand their government do something. Whether it’s confiscating guns, arming teachers, or turning schools into prisons, neither politicians or the public can agree upon a solution to the ongoing violence, but they know their government should act.
With last month’s Valentine’s Day shooting in Parkland, Florida, most Americans are consumed with outrage targeted at guns, and conversely, those who want to ban guns. They have largely forgotten about the massive celebration of gun violence — and worse — that their president is planning one in the capital city for later this year.
Last week, the budget details of President Trump’s proposed military parade revealed a cost of between $10 million and $30 million. This is the same military that has, for decades, been abusing, raping, and killing civilians in countries around the world. It’s the same military that fails to adequately punish such egregious offenses. It’s the same military that has inadvertently created breeding grounds for more radicalism that eventually produces further violence, both in the countries the U.S. attacks and on U.S. soil.
Yet as the military repeatedly commits these acts, the public that funds it is not outraged. Rather, they’re outraged that some professional football players choose not to bow to symbols of this violence. They celebrate films that glorify this institution. Even the film industry, which half the country condemns as a hive of liberal scum and villainy, goes out of its way to glorify this militarism, often working directly with the Pentagon to sanitize the empire’s image.
State violence is routinely exalted in American society, whether in the form of brutality from police officers or the heroism of soldiers who excel at murder. But no one can figure out why America is a violent country.
No one seems to notice that a growing number of mass shooters are either former military, were rejected by the military, or enthusiastically admire it.
The gruesome nature of war, the military’s chief responsibility, is out of sight, out of mind, leaving us only with grandiose ceremonies celebrating their propagandized honor — like Trump’s impending military parade.
While some may balk at the cost of Trump’s show of worship for the military, however, the actual costs are far greater. The trillions of dollars Americans now owe for wars that have failed to achieve their stated goals — making the world safe for democracy and stopping threats like communism and terrorism — pale in comparison to the natural consequence of a society glorifying military violence: A parade akin to the rituals performed by the very countries and ideologies the U.S. claims to keep the world safe from.
March 5, 2018
continue to be a favored strategy used by the New World Order (NWO) controllers to further their agenda of fear and domination. It seems that every time a gap of time opens up since the last one, the US public is again hit with another incident. This shows that these events must be working to achieve the intended objectives of their orchestrators. For those who wonder when false flag mass shootings will become an ineffective social engineering tool, the answer is simple: only once enough people awaken to the deception, bring consciousness to their reactions to these events, and intentionally respond in new ways. Having said that, there are various stages of awakening to pass through regarding these events. It is only from a broader perspective that we can truly hope to stop the effectiveness of these events, designed to play with and exploit the emotions of the average person.
The first stage is the knee-jerk reaction: “Something has to be done! Let’s get rid of all the guns!” However well-meaning these sentiments are, they lack the basic recognition that guns in and of themselves are a tool, which can be used constructively or destructively. Yes, guns are designed to shoot bullets to injure or kill, but nonetheless, they can be used as a deterrent or for other defensive purposes. For those who hunt, or simply defend their livestock from other predatory animals, guns serve a constructive purpose. To focus on the tool or instrument, rather than the intent and mindset of the person that uses them, is only approaching the issue from a very shallow perspective.
I am not a typical gun rights advocate; I don’t like guns. I recently read a bumper sticker that stated “If guns cause crime, pencils cause misspellings.” It’s humorous, yet at the same time, it’s undeniable that guns are a tool of violence. I understand that violence begets more violence. By owning and carrying a gun, you may be attracting or drawing in situations where gun use will be likely or required. However, I am a firm believer gun rights, the 2nd Amendment and the decentralization of power in all its aspects. I trust that the overwhelming majority of gun owners are sensible, moral people who exercise extreme care in handling a gun, which is more than we can say for the US Government, whose agents are trained to kill foreigners (US military) or to kill its own citizens (trigger-happy US cops). US police killings account for far more annual American deaths than false flag mass shootings.
Here are 7 reasons that gun control is short-sighted, reactionary and fails to achieve the objectives that people want:
– gun control doesn’t guarantee that criminals won’t get guns. Criminals will break the law and find a way to acquire them illegally. It only limits gun ownership by law-abiding citizens;
– gun control punishes the respectful, decent majority of gun owners for the alleged actions of a tiny few crazies;
– gun control centralizes power. It puts exclusive rights of gun ownership in the hands of the government, which people already know to be extremely untrustworthy. Why is the corrupt, deceitful and violent government somehow more likely to protect you, or do you less harm, than your average fellow citizen?
– it plays into the broader scheme of citizen disarmament which was carried out by past tyrants (Hitler, Stalin, Mao). History shows that this mostly served to solidify their power, thus making people in those nations less safe;
– gun control emboldens burglars and other criminals, who knowing that guns will be illegal and obtaining some for themselves anyway, can carry out more attacks, since their victims are less able to defend themselves;
– it abandons a right that our forefathers had the wisdom to instate in the Bill of Rights. The real reason for the 2nd Amendment was not to protect those who wanted guns for hunting, but rather as a last recourse for citizens to overthrow an out-of-control government that no longer served them; and
– gun control is a key plank of the overarching NWO agenda known as Agenda 21 or Agenda 2030. The idea is force people into human habitats like smart cities where they will be monitored 24/7, dependent on government for everything and without the rights they currently have today.
The next stage of awakening around false flag mass shootings is to look more closely at the mindset of the alleged shooter. More and more people are starting to recognize the obvious connection between pharmaceuticals – often psychiatric and psychotropic drugs – and mass shootings. These drugs are designed to numb you out, detach you from reality and kill your ability to feel emotion – including empathy. With empathy gone, it’s anything goes.
There is much evidence of the psych drug-mass shooter connection. I wrote the following in a 2013 article Psychiatric Drugs and Mass Shootings: The Definitive Connection:
“The link between violence (especially gun murder) and pharmaceutical drugs has been well established. [The former website www.ssristories.com] contain [ed] a long list of documented instances where hundreds of people have been wounded or killed by gunshot at the hands of someone who was under the influence of SSRI antidepressant psychiatric medication – Prozac, Celexa, Paxil and Zoloft being the most common. The list (which is not exhaustive) shows that psychiatric drugs are not only connected to gun violence – they have also been implicated in numerous instances of knife attacks, bomb threats, bizarre behavior, assault and hitting victims with a car. According to CCHR, between 2004 and 2011, there have been more than 11,000 reports placed via the U.S. FDA’s MedWatch system of psychiatric drug side effects related to violence, including 300 cases of homicide, close to 3,000 cases of mania and more than 7,000 cases of aggression. There is evidence that psychiatric drugs were involved in the all of the mass shootings at Columbine (1999), Virginia (2007), Aurora (2012) and Sandy Hook (2012).”
Jon Rappoport quotes psychiatrist and author Dr. Peter Breggin:
“With Luvox there is some evidence of a four-percent rate for mania in adolescents. Mania, for certain individuals, could be a component in grandiose plans to destroy large numbers of other people. Mania can go over the hill to psychosis.”
“In his book, Toxic Psychiatry, Dr. Breggin discusses the subject of drug combinations: “Combining antidepressants [e.g., Prozac, Luvox, Paxil] and psychostimulants [e.g., Ritalin] increases the risk of cardiovascular catastrophe, seizures, sedation, euphoria, and psychosis. Withdrawal from the combination can cause a severe reaction that includes confusion, emotional instability, agitation, and aggression.” Children are frequently medicated with this combination, and when we highlight such effects as aggression, psychosis, and emotional instability, it is obvious that the result is pointing toward the very real possibility of violence.”
In true problem-reaction-solution style, some are now advocating more authority for mental health agencies.
Moving beyond blaming just the weapon, or even just the shooter, some people now believe that the deepest cause for these false flag mass shootings is the culture of violence. We are inundated with violence, especially in the form of Hollywood movies and video games which are now becoming so realistic it is easy for the brain to confuse the two. We are the imagination of ourselves; we become what stories we tell to ourselves and our children. As long as our hall of heroes is full of men (and women) shooting others with guns, we will worship and emulate these “heroes.”
This culture of violence creates a mindset of “might is right”, “force is justified” and “peace through strength.” This last phrase was adopted by the US government/military (e.g. Ronald Reagan) but is very old. It was even used by leaders such as the Roman Emperor Hadrian in the first century AD. The idea is that you have to be strong, tough, macho and aggressive to deter anyone else from attacking you, and that this translates into peace. This is another shallow idea which fails to understand that genuine peace can only be created through a win/win scenario, not through a situation where others harbor feelings of fear, resentment and hate towards you, for that is powder keg waiting to blow.
This culture of violence also affects people’s mental health on an individual level, which is exacerbated by psych drugs as pointed out in #2 above. This leads on to the next stage of awakening around false flag mass shootings: mind control.
Mind control is a massive topic which has a very direct relevance to false flag mass shootings, because so many of these patsy shooters show evidence of being mentally influenced and tampered with. Mind controlled assassins can be traced way back to the Cult of the Assassins in the Middle East during the Middle Ages. In more recent history, the CIA, using Nazi research and scientists under Project Paperclip, developed MK Ultra starting in 1953, which was so large it had 149 sub-projects. The fruits of this operation begun to pay off in the 1960s, when the CIA used their mind control techniques to cultivate assassins such as those used in the murders of JFK, RFK, MLK and John Lennon.
These days the techniques have no doubt been perfected. James Holmes, the alleged gunman of the 2012 Aurora Colorado shootings, looked incredibly drugged up and mind controlled during his time in court. There are also links among James Holmes’ family, DARPA and mind control. Aaron Alexis, the Washington Navy Yard shooter of 2013, said a statement that “he heard voices in his head” which may well be a reference to the electronic and psychotronic weaponry deployed by the Intelligence Agencies to mind control the shooters. Alexis reported that “individuals were speaking to him through the floor and ceiling and using “some sort of microwave machine” to send vibrations through the ceiling, “penetrating his body so he could not fall asleep.”“
When you understand the scale on which these events operate, a knee-jerk reaction of advocating gun control seems absurd. The evidence shows that the government is literally mind controlling people to commit heinous acts without being fully conscious of it! Why are we wasting our energy and attention on the type of weapon used when this type and scale of evil is being perpetrated?
However, this is not the end of the story. Next, we need to look at unpeel another layer of the deception of false flag mass shootings.
At this stage of awakening, you begin to see that there is a large force directing events, which renders the whole gun control debate in a completely new light.
The official narratives of these mass shootings never add up. They are full of more holes than the proverbial Swiss cheese. As I covered in the article The False Flag Formula – 15 Ways to Detect a False Flag Operation, false flag mass shootings contain many elements that prove the events are orchestrated in advance by the government, such as drills at the same place at the same (or nearby) time, foreknowledge, conflicting eyewitness accounts, witnesses reporting multiple shooters when the official story is only 1 shooter, the rapid way in which the MSM names the alleged shooter or patsy, the supposed shot and kill rate of the patsy (who is often young, weak or overweight with no military training), the destruction of evidence and so on.
False flag mass shootings need to be seen in the context of false flag operations in general, which have been the instigators of countless wars, such as the 1898 Spanish-American War, World War 1, World War 2 (Pearl Harbor), the Vietnam War (Gulf of Tonkin), 9/11 and more. It’s always the same trick; someone wants war but doesn’t want to be seen as the aggressor, so they make it look they are being attacked and thus only acting in self-defense.
I could go on for a very long time but here is the point: the government is carrying out these operations. Why are we so focused on supposedly protecting our safety by advocating giving more control and weaponry to the very same government, which then has the effect of disempowers us further, thus doing the exact opposite of what we want?
There are steps beyond just seeing mass shootings as false flags. We live a world of such immense fakery – Everything is Fake! – that we have to question everything, because unfortunately our eyes and senses are easy to deceive. This is only going to become even worse as technology develops. Face fakery/invention is easy; video fakery is easy; holograms are now so good that it’s hard to tell the difference between them and reality.
Sandy Hook was a watershed event in the history of mass shootings, because for the first time, awakened individuals had to ask whether there were actually real victims, i.e. in other words, whether it was a false flag (with real victims) or a false flag hoax (with no real victims). Fake blood, fake injuries and smiling & laughing crisis actors show that these events are at least partially (and perhaps fully) staged.
From the perspective of the controllers, having an entirely staged event with no real victims is “cleaner”, because you can control everything down to the last detail (exactly who gets shot, who “dies”, etc.) without worrying about a situation getting out of hand or possible lawsuits in the future. If there are no real victims or real dead kids, there are no parents to sue the government, right?
The NWO manipulators who orchestrate these events are very cunning. They have deliberately targeted schools as the object of many false flag mass shootings, so as to inspire the maximum amount of fear and chaos, which is their life force energy. Another benefit for them is that anyone who suggests these events are not merely false flags, but actually false flag hoaxes, is immediately ridiculed and/or censored in many ways, including being viciously attacked for being insensitive to the “dead” kids. This adds to the atmosphere of self-censorship where there are certain “no go” zones for researchers (and ultimately “no think”) zones which is the exact goal, of course, of political correctness.
False flag mass shootings are all about fear, chaos and control. They are designed to usher in the New World Order. They induce an enormous amount of fear in people who worry that they or their children could be struck at any time; they create huge emotional upheaval and chaos to rip people out of their grounded, rational or sensible way of seeing the world to create a skewed perspective; and they aim to deceive people into giving up control.
False flag mass shootings will continue to be rolled out against a bamboozled and unsuspecting public as long as the deception remains profitable and effective in achieving its intended goals. However, as more and more people awaken to the game and begin to see the bigger picture, these events will become less effective. I see signs that people are beginning to question more, e.g. with the February 14th, 2018 Florida high school shooting earlier this year, people were asking questions about the psych drug-shooter connection in the immediate aftermath. Hopefully the awakening will quickly continue to the next stages en masse.
Makia Freeman is the editor of alternative media / independent news site The Freedom Articles and senior researcher at ToolsForFreedom.com, writing on many aspects of truth and freedom, from exposing aspects of the worldwide conspiracy to suggesting solutions for how humanity can create a new system of peace and abundance.
Welcome to Southwestern High School in suburban Indiana, where the classrooms door are bullet-resistant…
…ceilings have built-in smoke-bombs…
…cameras are everywhere, and the Sheriff’s department – only 10 miles away – can track an intruder in real-time.
Additionally, as The Daily Signal reports, the school has a top-of-the-line security system – which can be activated in the event of an emergency by teachers who wear special key fobs – that has been called “revolutionary” and is reported to have cost $400,000. It was installed after the Indiana Sheriff’s Association selected the school as a test site.
“I think that Newtown, Sandy Hook, really made people understand, made us all understand that this could happen to us,” Dr. Paula Maurer, Southwestern Consolidated Schools superintendent, told local affiliate Fox59.
“Now is the time to do something about it. We have some answers. We have the technology. We have ways to make our kids safer and we have to do it.”
The system came at no cost to Southwestern High School after Net Talon, the Virginia security company behind the design, offered to fund the installation. The school also used grant money to cover some costs. It raises the question of whether such a system could be implemented elsewhere and, perhaps more glaringly, how it would be funded.
With permission from
February 16, 2018
Americans have a remarkable tolerance for child slaughter, especially the mass murders of the children of others. This emotional indifference manifested itself vividly after the disclosure of the My Lai Massacre, when dozens of Vietnamese infants and children were killed by the men of Charlie Company, their tiny, butchered corpses stacked in ditches. After the trial of Lt. William Calley, more than 70 percent of Americans believed his sentence was too severe. Most objected to any trial at all. In the end, Calley served less than 4 years under house arrest for his role in the execution of more than 500 Vietnamese villagers.
Twenty-five years later, American attitudes toward child deaths had coarsened even harder. When it was revealed that US sanctions on Iraq had caused the deaths of more than 500,000 Iraqi children, Bill Clinton’s Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright, icily argued that the deaths were “worth it” to advance US policy in the Middle East. Few Americans remonstrated against this official savagery done in their name.
Now the guns are being turned on America’s own children and the rivers of blood streaming out of US schools cause barely a ripple in our politics. If the Columbine shooting (1999) was a tragedy, what word do you use to describe the 436th school shooting since then?
Don’t look for an answer or even solace from any of our political leaders. All you’ll get is cant, hollow prayers and banal vituperations of the sort we’ve been hearing for two decades from the likes of Nancy Pelosi. Pelosi’s most restrictive gun control proposals wouldn’t have stopped any of the recent shootings. She plays politics with the blood of children as cynically as the NRA’s Wayne LaPierre. Both are adept at fundraising off the bodies of the dead.
Even the RussiaGaters seized the opportunity to turn Vladimir Putin into one of Nikolas Cruz’s co-conspirators. Democratic blowhard Eric Boehlert, formerly of Clinton defense team Media Matters, tweeted: “key Q: how much $$$$$ did @NRA accept from Russia in 2016?”
In these moments of national trauma, Donald Trump can be counted on to open his mouth only to extract one foot and insert the other. This week his creaky mandibles got quite the workout. First, he was goaded into mumbling his generic opposition to wife-beating. Then only a day later he had to summon the energy to sputter out scripted condolences for the victims and families of the mass shooting at Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
In the past, Trump has railed against what he—or Steve Bannon—called the “American carnage.” Of course, this week’s slaughter isn’t the kind of “carnage” that Trump was referring to, since it was committed by a MAGA-hat wearing teen from the suburbs, who was trained in the proper use of rifles by an NRA grant funded shooting program. From an operational perspective, the only thing missing was the silencer hawked by Trump’s idiotic son, Donald Jr. Trump’s urban villains, naturally, use knives, brass knuckles and switchblades.
One might be tempted to cut Trump some slack. After all, his political options were constricted. He couldn’t possibly be expected to talk about the fact that this is the 239th school shooting since Sandy Hook (2012). He couldn’t speak about the 438 people who have been shot in schools since Sandy Hook. Or the 138 people who have died in school shootings since Sandy Hook. Why? Because most of Trump’s hardcore base don’t believe the Sandy Hook massacre really happened. They believe it was a fake shooting staged by the gun cops of the Deep State. Next week, they will be saying the same thing about the Parkland slayings. The Trump presidency levitates on such dark fantasies. Better to keep the messaging simple.
So Trump could only say that the killings were the work of a teenager who was “mentally disturbed.” His bland, six minute homily deftly avoided the word “gun.” It couldn’t have slipped Trump’s mind that one of his first acts as president was to sign into a law a measure over-turning an Obama-era ban on the sale of guns to people with mental disabilities. Thus, instead of endorsing any measure to restrict the sale of guns to the insane, Trump called on his American subjects to become mental health snitches, to profile potential psychopaths and report suspicious “instances to authorities, again and again!” Can we start with the president? Do we dial 1-800-Deranged? Will Jeff Sessions pick up the line?
By most accounts, Nikolas Cruz was a troubled kid, who led a creepy life that was spiraling into acts of increasingly sadistic violence. Both of his adopted parents had died and Cruz was living a dead-end existence in a friend’s basement, while working a nothing job at the Dollar Tree store. He had apparently been treated for depression, but walked away from his therapy sessions. There’s no word yet on whether, like so many other shooters, he’d been fed anti-depressants. It’s when you come off the serotonin uplifters that the real trouble usually starts.
Society had turned its back on Cruz. He was one of the expendables, cut adrift by his school, which wasn’t equipped to deal with his deep psychological problems, to freefall without any safety net to catch him. But when he hit bottom, he returned with a vengeance to the very institution that had rejected him. Now we’re told to keep watch for others just like him. How many are out there, one bad experience from snapping and going full-auto at a mall or a schoolyard?
I try to summon some empathy for Nikolas Cruz, but can’t. Cruz tortured animals, threatened fellow students and openly bragged about his desire to kill people. This man should never have possessed even an pop gun, but on his minimum-wage job he was able to walk into a gun store and legally buy an AR-15 assault rifle and multiple magazines of ammunition. He made no effort to conceal his simmering animus or his arsenal of weapons. It’s all up on Youtube and Facebook. Cruz was even reported to the FBI, which, typically, didn’t pursue the lead. The FBI prefers to devote its resources to investigating crimes it orchestrates itself.
If you’re looking for the tragedy in all of this, it’s to be found in the fact that the same implements of mass death used at My Lai are entirely legal to buy, sell and own in the US fifty years later. In fact, these weapons are sanctified in American culture. AR-15 medallions hang like crucifixes from the necks of thousands of Americans. We have stepped in death so deep we’ve made a virtue of it.
The American moralists are always carping about personal responsibility. Well, Nikolas Cruz will be tried for his crimes and will likely spend the rest of his miserable life in one of Florida’s hellhole prisons. But who will be held accountable for allowing a monster like Cruz the means to commit them? Those are the people who should be reported to the authorities. The problem is: they are the authorities.
+ While we’re (momentarily) speaking of gun violence, it’s 45 days into the new year and already 154 people have been killed by police.
+ If 17 kids died in a school bus crash and the driver tested positive for marijuana, what do you think J. Beauregard Sessions would blame?
+ In the live-action version of Kafka’s “The Trial,” the part of Joseph K. is being played today (as it has been for the last 2,067 consecutive days) by Julian Assange…
+ It looks like Operation Mockingbird never ended. The CIA is arguing that the agency has the authority to selectively declassify secret files and leak them to favored reporters, while denying access to the same documents to other journalists.
+ Nearly every mile of US coastline is being opened for oil drilling…what could possibly go wrong?
+ Trump’s EPA cited an industry-funded study to rationalize its rollback of diesel emissions. That study is now under investigation for academic fraud. But the rollback rolls on, for those who have $250,000 to exploit the loophole…
+ This just in from Hamid Karzai on why the US continues to occupy and bomb Afghanistan: “The United States is not here to go to a party. There is no need for them to build so many bases just to defeat a few Taliban. They are here because all the great American rivals are in the neighborhood, and we happen to be here, too. They are welcome to stay but not to deceive us…Too many Afghans are dying for an uncertain future,. We are too small and poor to ask the U.S. to stop, but we are a country, and our interests must be respected.” Of course, Karzai’s precise understanding of the metrics of US foreign policy is derided in the western press as a “dark theory.”
+ Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats gleaned praise from Democrats this week for doubling down on his assertion that the Russians meddled in the 2016 elections. But lest anyone conclude from these endorsements that Coats is a “rational actor” consider the fact that he followed up those observations with a threat to bomb North Korea, warning that “decision time” is near at hand…
+ The corporatization of weed is well underway in California, which means, among other things, that the state is moving to make sure Native Americans don’t get a cut of the action. Same as it ever, ever was…
+ Meanwhile, Berkeley just became the nation’s first “marijuana sanctuary city.” As if J. Beauregard Sessions didn’t have enough crises on his plate…
+ Blow up the deficit on tax cuts for billionaires and pork for the weapons lobby, then blame the old, the poor and the sick…
+ Newsflash from the Karma Wire: election reforms enacted by Democrats in California may end up costing Democrats control of the US House of Representatives in 2018 elections.
+ On January 27, hikers in Olympic National Park discovered more than 100 towering old growth trees mysteriously toppled. Sasquatch or climate change?
+ Comrade Ken: Well, I’m off to hack into the Idaho voter rolls today, Barbie. Will you be trolling gullible and lonely lefties with your Alice Donovan persona again?
Comrade Barbie: No, I have an assignment tonight at the Moscow Ritz-Carlton. The memo says it may involve wetwork.
Comrade Ken: Gun, garrote or knife?
Comrade Barbie: Not that kind of wetwork, Ken.
+ So Trump’s military parade may cost $30 million–that’s if the Abrams’ Tanks don’t crumple the pavement on Pennsylvania Avenue. Perhaps Trump consigliere Michael Cohen could write the check?
+ Cohen admitted that he paid Stormy Daniels $130,000 out of his own pocket to keep the porn queen quiet about her assignations with Donald Trump, the alleged entanglements of flesh occurring shortly after Melania gave birth to Barron. Don’t know yet if that figure includes a lifetime subscription to Forbes magazine or the rights to Stormy’s shiny gold dress, but one hopes that Trump at least pitched in for the tip…
+ The pentimento (literally: “I repent”) under that Obama portrait….
+ Where we see drones, Sean Hannity sees something that he finds much more unnerving: sperm…
+ Another dubious record for the Peace Prize Prez: Obama’s arms exports more than doubled Bush’s.
+ The gap between black and white home ownership is wider now than at any time since the end of Jim Crow. This grim trend is not happening by accident…
+ Newsflash from the Karma Wire: Elk in Utah downs helicopter.
+ Meanwhile, back at Uday and Qusay’s gun club the neighbors are suffering from PTSD.
+ Remember when Don Jr. became a pitchman for “silencers” so that “little kids can get into the game”?
+ In the latest magical pronouncement from the Wizard of the Soundproof Booth, EPA director Scott Pruitt declares the burning of wood products to be “carbon neutral.”
+ Pruitt the Snowflake insists on flying first class, because he’s been subjected to angry critiques of his previous magical pronouncements from the plebes back in coach, where the atmosphere is “politically toxic.” One passenger scolded, “Scott Pruitt, you’re fucking up the environment!” The truth hurts, doesn’t it Scott?
+ Brave New Democrats! A Pew poll shows that Democrats now view both the CIA and the FBI more favorably than Republicans by wide margins. Only 12 percent of Democrats perceive any stains on the agency.
+ Not the most appalling thing I’ve read this month, but close: “Cops Across America are Getting Thank You Plaques for Helping to Crush Standing Rock Protests.”
+ The rather blasé Oregon congressional delegation, led by Ron “the Weenie” Wyden, has somewhat surprisingly amassed a huge following on Facebook and Twitter. Unfortunately, most of their fans are fake…
+ Political Science is to Science, What Kenny G is to Jazz, which, of course, didn’t stop Trump from making 31-year-old Michael Kratsios his top science advisor….
+ 80 of Trump’s 87 judicial nominees for the federal bench are white. That’s 91.2 percent. Non-Hispanic whites account for 63 percent of the US population. In other words: Black Robes, White Justice.
+ It is likely that there is less extant sea ice today than at any time since the dawn of human “civilization.”
+ Yes, this woman’s husband is “running” the economy…
+ Trump once called for a travel ban over an outbreak of Ebola virus which had killed no Americans. Now, as a vicious flu epidemic kills 4,000 a week, the president proposes slashing the CDC’s budget by 10 percent…
+ Another case of eviction by execution, this time involving an 84-year old veteran…
+ Did Melania’s parents benefit from “chain migration“?
+ One of the most ridiculous paragraphs ever written. Of course, the author is David Brooks:
In the first half of the 1990s, I worked in Europe for The Wall Street Journal. I covered nothing but good news: the reunification of Germany, the liberation of Central Europe, the fall of the Soviet Union, the end of apartheid in South Africa, the Oslo peace process in the Middle East. Then, toward the end of my stay, there was one seemingly anomalous episode — the breakup of Yugoslavia.
+ The latest trendy fashion among the office-bound tribe of post-modern environmental historians is to postulate that species extinction is no big deal ecologically or morally. The great Carl Safina sets the record straight.
+ Israeli leaders now openly proclaim their darkest intentions to suppress the rights of its Arab citizens in order to maintain a Jewish majority. Here are the defiant words of Ayelet Shaked, who serves as Israel’s Justice (yes, Justice) Minister: “There are places where the character of the State of Israel as a Jewish state must be maintained and this sometimes comes at the expense of equality.”
+ From the “You Can’t Make This Shit Up” Dept.: Virgin Atlantic Airlines removed the word “Palestinian” from the couscous dish on its menu, after complaints from Jewish and Israeli passengers.
+ Beauregard rides again…! Speaking at the National Sheriffs Association, Jefferson B. Sessions rhapsodized over the “Anglo-American heritage of law enforcement,” tracing the word “sheriff” back to the reeves of the English shires. But most British punks have a better sense of etymology than the Attorney General. They know that “sheriff” derives from the Arabic “sharif,” as in “Sharif, don’t like it…”
+ Remember that the torturers at Abu Ghraib learned their sadistic craft as guards in US prisons. School’s still in session…
+ California’s water use restrictions should have become permanent 40 years ago–especially for Oprah.
+ Newsflash From the Karma Wire…Poacher eaten by lion pride he was hunting.
+ The Duterte-Trump summit will be one for the ages, the Dark Ages…
+ Being Hope Hicks: “When we landed, it was Hope’s job to steam him. ‘Get the machine!’ he’d yell. And Hope would take out the steamer and start steaming Mr. Trump’s suit, while he was wearing it! She’d steam the jacket first and then sit in a chair in front of him and steam his pants.” From Corey Lewandowski’s Let Trump be Trump.
+ This one’s for you, Hunter: Pot sales in Aspen totaled more than $11 million in 2017, beating out liquor sales for the first time.
+ The abstract expressionist movement was a men’s club, whose critical ascent was boosted by lavish grants from CIA-financed foundations. The painter Sonia Gechtoff, who died last week at the age of 91, didn’t play by those rules. She was as talented as Pollack or DeKooning, but never held her tongue or hid her politics, as her daughter recalled to the New York Times: “She was not an average mother in that we as her children learned to curse from her and to never hold back on our opinion. I remember her cursing at the TV whenever Lyndon Johnson was on talking about the Vietnam War.”
Over to You, Lou
What I’m reading this week…
Surveillance Valley: the Secret Military History of the Internet by Yasha Levine
Pandemic 1918: The Story of the Deadliest Influenza in History by Catharine Arnold
Palaeoart: Visions of the Prehistoric Past by Zoë Lescaze
What I’m listening to this week…
Black Panther (Soundtrack) by Kendrick Lamar, et al.
Nameless by Dominique Fils-Aimé
Raw by Typh Barrow
Live at Club 47 by Doc Watson
A Crow Looked at Me by Mount Eerie
Would You Mind?
Terry Pratchett: “I get it,” said the prisoner. “Good Cop, Bad Cop, eh?”
“If you like,” said Vimes. “But we’re a bit short staffed here, so if I give you a cigarette would you mind kicking yourself in the teeth?” (Nightwatch.)
The Wednesday mass shooting at a high school in Florida was the 18th shooting at an school since the beginning of 2018, that is one shooting every 60 hours.
There has been over 6,500 shooting incidents across the US so far, leading to the death of over 1,820 people and injuring more than 3,100 other.
The data have been compiled by the Gun Violence Archive, a non-profit that tracks gun-related violence in the US.
According to the website, since January 69 children between the ages of 1-11 years and a staggering number of 333 teenagers (12-17 years) have been killed in various incidents.
As of Thursday, there has been 30 mass shootings, collectively killing over 58 people and injuring dozens more.
According to Everytown for Gun Safety, a gun control advocacy group, a school shooting is “any time a firearm discharges a live round inside a school building or on a school campus or grounds, as documented by the press and, when necessary, confirmed through further inquiries with law enforcement or school officials.”
That is the very definition of what happened at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Pompano Beach on Wednesday afternoon, where a former student who was fired for disciplinary reasons killed at least 17 people at his school.
At least 17 people have been killed and several others injured in a shooting at a high school in the US state of Florida.
The suspect, identified as 19-year-old Nikolaus Cruz was armed with an AR-15 rifle and what officials described as endless number of magazines.
The semi-automatic weapon, which was introduced by Colt in the 1960s, has virtually become the favorite weapon for mass murderers across the US and has been linked to many similar shootings.
Last October, a gunman armed with 14 AR-15s and a cache of other deadly weapons opened fire on a music festival from his nearby hotel room leaving 58 people dead and 851 injured.
In September 2016, a gunman used stormed a nightclub in Orlando, Florida, Killing 49 people and wounding 58 others using his AR-15.
Just two days after the shooting, the Huffington Post sent a group of reporters to see how long did it take to purchase the latest iteration of the deadly weapon. The result was astonishing: You can buy an AR-15 in Orlando in just 38 minutes.
It is estimated that there are between 270 million and 300 million guns in the US, about one per person, according to the New York Daily News.
Perhaps it is no surprise then that Statistics by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show firearms kill more than 33,000 people in the US every year, a number that includes accidental discharges, murders and suicides.
Here is a look at some of the deadliest school shootings in recent US history:
April 2007: Seung Hui Cho, a 23-year-old student, went on a shooting spree at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia, killing 32 people, before killing himself.
December 2012: Adam Lanza, 20, killed as many as 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, before taking his own life.
August 1966: Charles Joseph Whitman, a former US Marine, shot and killed 16 people from a university tower at the University of Texas in Austin before being shot by police.
April 1999: Students Eric Harris, 18, and Dylan Klebold, 17, started shooting students and teachers at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, killing 12 students and one teacher while wounding more than 20 others. They both killed themselves.
February 2008: Steven Kazmierczak, 27, stormed into a lecture hall at Northern Illinois University and opened fire, killing five students and wounding 18 others before killing himself.
March 2005: Jeff Weise, 16, killed his grandfather and his companion before heading to a high school on the Red Lake Indian Reservation in Minnesota, where he killed five students, a teacher and a security guard before committing suicide.
Memorial to the September 13 2006 Dawson College Shooting Rampage | by caribb
Three of the deadliest mass shootings in US modern history have occurred in the last five months.
On Wednesday, a gunman opened fire on a high school in southeastern Florida, killing at least 17 people and injuring more than a dozen others.
In early November 2017, at least 26 people were killed in a mass shooting during a church service in Sutherland Springs, Texas, making it the “largest mass shooting in state history”, Governor Greg Abbott said.
The shooting came about a month after Stephen Paddock opened fire on concert-goers at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino on the Las Vegas Strip, killing 58 people and injuring more than 500 others.
The three shootings are among the deadliest in the US since 1949.
Here’s a look at the deadliest mass shootings in the US over the last two decades:
In November 2009, US Army psychiatrist Nidal Hasan opened fire at his military base in Killeen, killing 13 people and injuring 42 others.
SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies