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Forum Post: School Shootings Continue Despite Safety Emphasis

Posted 5 years ago on Feb. 3, 2014, 7:17 p.m. EST by LeoYo (5909)
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School Shootings Continue Despite Safety Emphasis


Associated Press By KIMBERLY HEFLING10 hours ago

WASHINGTON (AP) — Despite increased security put in place after the massacre at Connecticut's Sandy Hook Elementary School in December 2012, there's been no real reduction in the number of U.S. school shootings.

An Associated Press analysis finds that there have been at least 11 school shootings this academic year alone, in addition to other cases of gun violence, in school parking lots and elsewhere on campus, when classes were not in session. Experts say the rate of school shootings is statistically unchanged since the mid- to late-1990s, yet still remains troubling.

"Lockdown" is now part of the school vocabulary. In Pennsylvania and New Mexico, Colorado and Tennessee, and elsewhere, gunfire has echoed through school hallways, and killed students or their teachers in some cases.

Last August, a gun discharged in a 5-year-old's backpack while students were waiting for the opening bell in the cafeteria at Westside Elementary School in Memphis. No one was hurt. Ronald Stephens, executive director of the National School Safety Center, said there have been about 500 school-associated violent deaths in the past 20 years.

The numbers don't include a string of recent shootings at colleges and universities. Just last week, a man was shot and critically wounded at the Palm Bay Campus of Eastern Florida State College, according to police.

Finding factors to blame, rightfully or not, is almost the easy part: bad parenting, easy access to guns, less value for the sanctity of life, violent video games, a broken mental health system. Stopping the violence isn't.

"I think that's one of the major problems. There are not easy answers," Stephens said. "A line I often use is do everything you can, knowing you can't do everything."

Bill Bond, who was principal at Heath High School in West Paducah, Ky., in 1997 when a 14-year-old freshman fired on a prayer group, killing three female students and wounding five, sees few differences in today's shootings. The one consistency, he said, is that the shooters are males confronting hopelessness.

"You see troubled young men who are desperate and they strike out and they don't see that they have any hope," Bond said. Schools generally are safer than they were five, 10 or 15 years ago, Stephens said. While a single death is one too many, Stephens noted that perspective is important. In Chicago there were 500 homicides in 2012, about the same number in the nation's 132,000-plus K-12 schools over two decades.

The recent budget deal in Congress provides $140 million to support safe school environments, and is a $29 million increase, according to the office of Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.

About 90 percent of districts have tightened security since the Newtown shootings, estimates Randi Weingarten, the president of the American Federation of Teachers.

Many schools now have elaborate school safety plans and more metal detectors, surveillance cameras and fences. They've taken other steps, too, such as requiring ID badges and dress codes. Similar to fire drills, some schools practice locking down classrooms, among their responses to potential violence.

Attention also has focused on hiring school resource officers, sworn law enforcement officers who are trained to work in a school environment, said Mo Canady, executive director of the National Association of School Resource Officers. He said his organization estimates there are about 10,000 of them in the U.S.

Since the shootings at Colorado's Columbine High School in 1999, in which two students killed 12 classmates and a teacher and wounded 26 others before killing themselves, police nationwide have adopted "active shooter" policies where officers are trained to confront a shooter immediately.

"The goal is to stop it, from the law enforcement side, stop it as quickly as you can because we know with an active shooter if you don't stop it, more lives will be lost," Canady said.

Confronting a shooter certainly carries risks.

In Sparks, Nev., math teacher Michael Landsberry was killed in November after calmly approaching a 12-year-old with a gun and asked him to put the weapon down, witnesses said. The boy, who had wounded two classmates, killed himself.

Weingarten said more emphasis needs to be placed on improving school cultures by ensuring schools have resources for counselors, social workers and after-care programs. Many of these kinds of programs were scaled back during budget cuts of recent years.

Experts have said a healthy school culture can prevent such incidents and even lead students to tell adults about classmates who display warning signs that they could commit such violence.

Associated Press writers Kate Brumback in Atlanta, Sheila Burke in Nashville, Mark Scolforo in Harrisburg, Pa., and Jim Anderson and Dan Elliott in Denver contributed to this report.



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[-] 1 points by LeoYo (5909) 5 years ago

Military Metaphysics: How Militarism Mangles the Mind

Monday, 03 February 2014 10:14
By Chris Hedges, Truthdig | Op-Ed


[-] 1 points by LeoYo (5909) 5 years ago

Vermont Becomes 12th State With Legislation Targeting NSA Spying

Tuesday, 04 February 2014 10:22 By Michael Boldin, Truthout | News Analysis


On Tuesday, January 28th, a transpartisan group of four Vermont state representatives introduced legislation that would block some of the practical effects of mass data collection by the National Security Agency (NSA).

Rep. Teo Zagar (D-Windsor-4-1), along with co-sponsor Reps. Susan Davis (P/D-Orange-1), Patricia Komline (R-Bennington-Rutland) and William Stevens (I-Addison-Rutland) introduced the Fourth Amendment Protection Act to prohibit any state support of the NSA.

Based on model legislation drafted by the OffNow coalition, House Bill 732 (H732) would make it state policy to "refuse to provide material support for or assist or in any way participate in the collection of a person's electronic data or metadata by any federal agency or pursuant to any federal law, rule, regulation, or order unless the data is collected pursuant to a warrant that particularly describes the persons, places, and things to be searched or seized."

Similar legislation has now been introduced in 12 states, including California, where Sen. Ted Lieu (D-Torrance) and Sen. Joel Anderson (R-San Diego) co-sponsored SB828 to do the same in their state.

"State-funded public resources should not be going toward aiding the NSA or any other federal agency in indiscriminate spying on its own citizens and gathering electronic or metadata that violates the Fourth Amendment," Lieu said in a press release.

Practically speaking, the Vermont bill addresses two areas where the NSA relies on state assistance to continue their programs.

It would ban the state from using information collected without warrant by any federal agency in criminal investigations or prosecutions.

As Reuters reported in August, 2013, the secretive Special Operations Division (SOD) is "funneling information from intelligence intercepts, wiretaps, informants and a massive database of telephone records to authorities across the nation to help them launch criminal investigations of Americans."

Documents obtained by Reuters show that these cases "rarely involve national security issues," and that local law enforcement is directed by SOD to "conceal how such investigations truly begin."

Shane Trejo of the OffNow coalition suggested that this was the most important part of the legislation. "While state actions might not be able to physically stop the NSA from collecting our data without a warrant, legislation such as this can significantly reduce the practical effect of what they are trying to do with it, namely, use it in the states for non-terror criminal cases, such as prosecuting the war on cannabis," he said.

The bill would also ban the state of Vermont from providing any resources, including water or electricity, which aids any federal agency in the collection of electronic data or metadata without a "judicially-issued warrant that particularly describes the persons, places, and things to be searched or seized."

While the NSA does not have a physical facility in Vermont, the legislation addresses "any federal agency," which brings many others under the proposed ban on state cooperation.

Reports in the Washington Post and USA Today last fall documented how "the FBI and most other investigative bodies in the federal government" are regularly using a mobile device known as a "stingray" to intercept and collect electronic data without a warrant. Local and state police "have access through sharing agreements."

Passage of H732 would ban the receipt of such information and prohibit "material support" by the state to any federal agencies engaged in the practice, known as a "tower dump."

The legislation is based off the long-standing legal principle of the anti-commandeerng doctrine, which prohibits the federal government from requiring, or "commandeering" the states to carry out its acts. The Supreme Court has upheld the doctrine in four major cases going back to 1842.

In the Prigg case of 1842, the Supreme Court held that the federal government was not allowed to require the states to help carry out federal slavery laws. And in 2013, California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law the TRUST Act, which limits the state's cooperation with federal immigration authorities.

"While Washington waffles on immigration, California's forging ahead," Brown said in a press release after signing the legislation into law. "I'm not waiting."

Trejo took a similar position on federal spying. "Instead of waiting for the federal government to stop itself, we're taking a different path and saying 'no' to the idea of helping them carry out their surveillance programs," he said. "And if we learned anything this century, Rosa Parks taught us that the simple act of saying no can change the world."

Copyright, Truthout.

[-] 1 points by LeoYo (5909) 5 years ago

Protecting What's White: A New Look at Stand Your Ground Laws

Monday, 03 February 2014 10:09
By Sabrina Strings, The Feminist Wire | Op-Ed


[-] 4 points by LeoYo (5909) 5 years ago

The GOP's Coke Freak-Out

Tuesday, 04 February 2014 15:37 By The Daily Take, The Thom Hartmann Program | Op-Ed


During the Super Bowl on Sunday, soda giant Coca Cola aired its newest commercial.

The ad, which featured groups of people singing the song "America the Beautiful" in a number of different languages," looked at first to be yet another forgettable ad in what turned out to be a pretty forgettable Super Bowl for ads.

Here's a clip of the commercial if you need a refresher.

Pretty innocuous, right? Well, not for many conservatives.

They are outraged, and I mean outraged that Coca Cola would dare "tarnish" a patriotic American anthem with foreign languages.

Former Florida GOP Congressman Allen West said on his blog that he found the ad frightening. After a few rambling sentences about the dangers of multiculturalism - he wrote,

"If we cannot be proud enough as a country to sing "American the Beautiful" in English in a commercial during the Super Bowl... doggone we are on the road to perdition. This was a truly disturbing commercial for me, what say you?"

Conservative columnist Michael Patrick Leahy, meanwhile, went even further in a post on Breitbart.com, arguing that the ad showed that,

"As far as the executives at Coca Cola are concerned, however, the United States of America is no longer a nation ruled by the Constitution and American traditions in which English is the language of government. It is not a nation governed in the Anglo-American tradition of liberty."

That's right, a group of children singing "America the Beautiful" in Arabic or Spanish on a Coke commercial is a sign that "constitutional government" is dead.

As usual - the worst conservative reactions came on Twitter where people like Fox News contributor Todd Starnes wrote things like "Coca Cola is the official soft drink of illegals crossing the border. #americaisbeautiful" and people like this guy - whose Twitter handle is "Gareth" - wrote genius things like "#boycottcoke thanks for desecrating our national anthem."

I don't know, but I think you might want to check your facts out before you tweet, "Gareth."

All jokes aside, though, the fiasco that was the conservative reaction to Coke's Super Bowl ad is symbolic of a bigger issue: the Republican Party has become the last refuge of bigots.

Jimmy LaSalvia, the founder of the gay conservative advocacy group GOProud who quit the Republican Party in January, talked about this phenomenon on a recent episode of my TV show. He said,

"I thought that the anti-gay forces and frankly the forces of intolerance in the party would diminish, and honestly, I've come to the conclusion that the Republican Party is the only place in America where they're left."

Jimmy is right.

There are obviously intolerant jerks who call themselves Democrats but the Democratic Party doesn't depend on or celebrate bigotry quite like the Republican Party does.

I mean, just last week at the State of the Union address Republican lawmakers like Paul Ryan and Lindsey Graham went out of their way to pose with Duck Dynasty star Korie Robertson like he was some sort of conquering hero.

Sure, you could argue that Paul Ryan was just excited to see a TV star, but let's be honest, this was really about making a dog-whistle to all those people on the far-right who thought Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson was the victim of a "liberal media" conspiracy after he made homophobic and racist remarks in an interview with GQ.

This shouldn't be all that surprising.

It's almost a foregone conclusion that once a week a Republican congressman like Louie Gohmert or Steve Stockman will say something ridiculously intolerant about women or minorities.

Sensible conservatives try to say that people like Gohmert and Stockman are just a few bad apples, but those conservatives are ignoring their party's own history.

The real agenda of the Republican Party is to serve billionaires and transnational corporations, but because that group represents such a small number of voters - they need to expand the tent.

They have done this by aggressively courting bigots and racists, along with the religious fringe, misogynistic men, and people who fetishize guns.

It started when Richard Nixon manipulated white people angry about the Civil Rights Movement in his 1968 presidential campaign, the so-called "Southern Strategy."

It was perfected when Ronald Reagan gave the first speech of his 1980 campaign for President of the United States in Philadelphia, Mississippi - the place where three civil rights activists were killed in the 1960s - and told people at a county fair that he "believed in states' rights."

Last March, RNC chairman Reince Preibus promised that his party would try to make itself more appealing to women and minorities, but a year of scandals and politically incorrect freakouts - the most recent over a Coca Cola ad of all things - shows that the Republican Party still embracing their Southern Strategy.

It's won them elections for decades, and unless racism suddenly disappears, it will continue to win them elections for years to come.

The GOP remains the last refuge of bigots, and however much people like Reince Preibus try to whitewash that (pun intended), it's not going to change anytime soon.

This article was first published on Truthout and any reprint or reproduction on any other website must acknowledge Truthout as the original site of publication.

[-] 1 points by MattLHolck (16833) from San Diego, CA 5 years ago

no one tell them that borders are drawn on a map

their precious world view would be unskewed

[-] 4 points by LeoYo (5909) 5 years ago

Currently, the 504 issues are still happening. I tried to login earlier today but couldn't. Previous to that, I often had to hit the login again whenever too much time had passed in order to get it done. Now, the 504 issue is even affecting making a new post. Currently, I'm trying to logout even though the same time delay is affecting even that. Posting comments to threads appears to be the only thing not affected so far.

[-] 3 points by LeoYo (5909) 5 years ago

I spoke too soon. Even posting comments to threads is affected as well.

[-] 1 points by MattLHolck (16833) from San Diego, CA 5 years ago

same problems


[-] 0 points by shoozTroll (17632) 5 years ago

I still get them too. In fact the site was down for about 4hrs this afternoon. Jart's been very busy, as troll activity is up too.