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Fri, 05 Mar 2021
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Thinking the Unthinkable


Michael holding a butterfly
In the wake of another horrific national tragedy, it's easy to talk about guns. But it's time to talk about mental illness.

Three days before 20 year-old Adam Lanza killed his mother, then opened fire on a classroom full of Connecticut kindergartners, my 13-year old son Michael (name changed) missed his bus because he was wearing the wrong color pants.

"I can wear these pants," he said, his tone increasingly belligerent, the black-hole pupils of his eyes swallowing the blue irises.

"They are navy blue," I told him. "Your school's dress code says black or khaki pants only."

"They told me I could wear these," he insisted. "You're a stupid bitch. I can wear whatever pants I want to. This is America. I have rights!"

"You can't wear whatever pants you want to," I said, my tone affable, reasonable. "And you definitely cannot call me a stupid bitch. You're grounded from electronics for the rest of the day. Now get in the car, and I will take you to school."

I live with a son who is mentally ill. I love my son. But he terrifies me.

A few weeks ago, Michael pulled a knife and threatened to kill me and then himself after I asked him to return his overdue library books. His 7 and 9 year old siblings knew the safety plan - they ran to the car and locked the doors before I even asked them to. I managed to get the knife from Michael, then methodically collected all the sharp objects in the house into a single Tupperware container that now travels with me. Through it all, he continued to scream insults at me and threaten to kill or hurt me.

That conflict ended with three burly police officers and a paramedic wrestling my son onto a gurney for an expensive ambulance ride to the local emergency room. The mental hospital didn't have any beds that day, and Michael calmed down nicely in the ER, so they sent us home with a prescription for Zyprexa and a follow-up visit with a local pediatric psychiatrist.

Black Cat

Paedophile ring at Elm Guest House being re-investigated by police


Elm Guest House, Rocks Lane
Boys in care were allegedly being groomed for sex at parties at a south-west London house attended by well-known and powerful figures. James Hanning and Paul Cahalan investigate

There is no more ordinary-looking row of suburban Edwardian houses in the country than Rocks Lane, south-west London. But nowhere has given rise to such an outlandish series of allegations than the one formerly known as Elm Guest House. The claims are now being re-investigated by the Metropolitan Police, decades after they were first made. Attempts have been made by care workers to lay bare the secrets of Rocks Lane but to no avail. Whatever the outcome of their investigations in the past, the police seem convinced that a number of serious wrongs need to be righted.

Rocks Lane is a conspiracy theorist's dream, taking in allegations of the grooming of young boys in care for sex, elaborate gay parties involving senior public figures including members of the Conservative Party, charges of a police cover-up and even the suggestion of murder. The police believe that in the context of the Jimmy Savile scandal and renewed claims over the treatment of boys in care in North Wales, there is every reason to look again at an extremely murky saga.

A month ago, in conditions of the utmost secrecy (so much so that nothing was even put on computers), the Metropolitan Police set up Operation Fairbank, to look into, among other things, allegations made by Tom Watson in the House of Commons. The Labour MP had spoken of a "powerful paedophile ring" and its links to a previous prime minister's "senior adviser". Mr Watson has been uncharacteristically diffident about speaking to journalists on the issue since then, saying that he is passing on any information to the police. He said yesterday: "I'm not seeking to add any specific allegations myself, but hope that my comments will help the authorities get to the bottom of this."

Bizarro Earth

Violent crime rising in the United States: 2012 sees string of deadly rampages

Reports state that violent crime is on the rise in United States, increasing 18 percent just last year after the crime rate was thought to have begun to decline 20 years ago.

In 2012, the nation has seen a string of deadly rampages like no year before. As yesterday's shooting spree at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut marked one the of most deadly school shootings in American history, it added onto a long list of violent crimes that erupted throughout the year.


One of the first tragedies of the year involved a former Oikos University student who had dropped out of school months prior, and ended up killing seven of his classmates at point-blank range.

One Goh

One Goh
The gunman, One L. Goh, 43, had been a nursing student at the Christian university in Oakland, and is believed to have returned to the school to kill an administrator. However, when the staff member did not show up at work that day, Goh took his frustrations out on others.

He is stated to have shoved a secretary at the university into a classroom, where Goh ordered the students gathered to line up against the wall. When some refused to do so, he opened fire.

Five students died at the scene, and two others passed away at the hospital. Three were wounded in the incident.

chaotic, calculated and determined gentleman that came there with a very specific intent to kill people, and that's what his motive was and that's what he carried out," said Oakland Police Chief Howard Jordan.

Goh left the building following the incident, and as police arrived at the scene, they found students in an extremely emotional state.

"Officers found several victims throughout the classroom - throughout the building," Jordan explained. "There were several people hiding in locked buildings, locked doors, behind desks. As you can imagine, very frightened. Very scared. Some of them were injured, so we had to rescue them out."

An hour after the incident, Goh walked into a grocery store, where to told a clerk, "I just shot some people." Police then arrested Goh, who was later charged with seven counts of murder and three counts of attempted murder.

Reports state that Goh had also been dealing with tax problems and had lost two loved ones over the past year.


2 dead in murder-suicide on Vegas Strip

Excalibur hotel

Excalibur hotel and casino
A man shot and fatally wounded a woman, then killed himself Friday night at the Excalibur hotel-casino on the Las Vegas Strip, sending frightened patrons fleeing.

Las Vegas Police Lt. Ray Steiber said the shootings happened at about 8:30 p.m. near the high-rise hotel's front entrance.

Steiber said the man shot the woman, who was a vendor at the hotel's concierge desk, and then turned the gun on himself. The man was found dead at the scene.

The woman was taken to a local hospital, where she was pronounced dead.

Neither the gunman nor the victim was identified. However, Steiber said the woman worked as the concierge desk, where tourists can get show tickets and restaurant reservations. He said the relationship between the shooter and the victim wasn't immediately clear.

Better Earth

War criminal Hillary Clinton concussed after 'falling at home'

Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton laughing about Gaddafi's lynching
Secretary of state, 65, likely to miss congressional hearings into Benghazi attack next week after fall brought on by stomach virus

The US secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, is recovering at home after suffering concussion in a fall brought on by illness, her spokesman said on Saturday.

Clinton, 65, had already been forced to cancel a planned trip to the Middle East and north Africa this week. It is thought that she will now miss congressional hearings due next Thursday into the September attack on the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya, which killed four Americans including the ambassador, Chris Stevens.

A spokesman for Clinton, Philippe Reines, said the secretary of state came down with a stomach virus last weekend. "While suffering from a stomach virus, Secretary Clinton became dehydrated and fainted, sustaining a concussion," he said.

"She has been recovering at home and will continue to be monitored regularly by her doctors," Reines said in a statement.

Bizarro Earth

Why are mass shootings becoming more common?

The news on Friday was horrific. A man shot and killed 27 people, including 20 children, at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut.

Yet these sorts of headlines are also becoming gut-wrenchingly familiar. Of the 12 deadliest shootings in U.S. history, six have taken place since 2007. (The Newton school shooting will likely rank second on that list.) Mass killings appear to be on the upswing - even as other types of homicides and violent crimes are becoming less frequent.

David Brooks highlighted this discrepancy back in July. For much of the 20th century there were, on average, a handful of mass killings per decade. But that number spiked in 1980, and kept rising thereafter. In the United States, there have now been at least 62 mass shootings in the past three decades, with 24 in the last seven years alone. This has happened even as the nation's overall violent crime and homicide rates have been dropping.

So what explains the rise in mass killings?


Anti-smoking authoritarian follower changes classical Christmas poem: No smoking for Santa


Santa Claus clenches pipe in his teeth in the 1901 McLoughlin Bros. edition of "A Visit From St. Nicholas."
''Twas the Night Before Christmas' gets a patch

Santa, dear Santa, don't say ho-ho-ho. Just say no-no-no.

To smoking, that is.

That is the plea of a Canadian entrepreneur, who has self-published an abridged version of "'Twas the Night Before Christmas," the poem also known as "A Visit from St. Nicholas" and "The Night Before Christmas."

First published anonymously in 1823, the poem is generally attributed to New York scholar Clement Clarke Moore (though at least one academic believes it was written by a distant relative of Moore's wife).

Generations of children have grown up reading this poem on Christmas Eve. It has inspired many of the ideas we hold about Santa, a "right jolly old elf" who drives a reindeer-powered sleigh full of toys and enters homes via chimneys to deliver those toys on Christmas Eve.

With its vivid rendering of Santa - his roselike cheeks, cherrylike nose, and a belly that shakes, when he laughs, "like a bowl full of jelly" - the poem is pure joy in verse form.

Alas, not everyone sees it that way.

Comment: Pamela McColl clearly exhibits the traits of an authoritarian follower. For information about the benefits of tobacco, please read:
Nicotine - The Zombie Antidote
Let's All Light Up!
First They Came for the Smokers... And I said Nothing Because I Was Not a Smoker
Study finds smoking wards off Parkinson's disease
Nicotine helps Alzheimer's and Parkinson's Patients
Nicotine Lessens Symptoms Of Depression In Nonsmokers
Scientists Identify Brain Regions Where Nicotine Improves Attention, Other Cognitive Skills
Can Smoking be GOOD for SOME People?

Bizarro Earth

Police kill suspects in separate shooting incidents in Alabama

3 wounded in hospital shooting; 2nd shooting east of Birmingham.

© Joe Songer/Associated Press
St. Vincent's Hospital in Birmingham, Ala. was the location of a shooting on Saturday.
Police in Alabama killed two suspects Saturday following separate shooting incidents 120 kilometres apart that left three other people dead and several injured, including two officers.

Authorities said Jason Letts, 38, of Jemison opened fire early Saturday morning at a hospital in Birmingham, wounding a police officer and two employees before being shot and killed by another officer.

Police were sent to St. Vincent's Hospital around 4 a.m. to check on a report of an armed man inside the facility. Two officers who arrived separately converged on the suspect on the hospital's fifth floor.

A handful of cardiac patients and several staff members were on the fifth floor, hospital spokeswoman Liz Moore told reporters during a news conference. She said the hospital is secure and stable, and patient care was not interrupted.

Birmingham Police Chief A.C. Roper said in a statement, "In light of the recent mass shooting in Connecticut, too many of these incidents end with unimaginable tragedy."


Another mall shooting: More than 50 shots fired at Fashion Island mall parking lot in Orange County; suspect held

Marcos Gurrola, 42, of Garden Grove is suspected of firing a handgun in the mall parking lot in Newport Beach. No one was hit.

California, Newport Beach - A gunman at Fashion Island in Newport Beach apparently fired more than 50 rounds in a parking lot at the busy shopping mall Saturday before he was apprehended by police, authorities said.

Marcos Gurrola, 42, of Garden Grove, was arrested in the parking lot near the Macy's department store shortly after allegedly firing the shots about 4:30 p.m., said Kathy Lowe, a spokeswoman for the Newport Beach Police Department. Officers on bike patrol apprehended Gurrola as he was standing by a white Honda.

Police searched the mall but did not find anyone who had been injured by the shots, which were apparently fired either into the air or at the ground.

More than 50 rounds from a handgun were recovered at the scene, said Deputy Chief David McGill. A handgun was also recovered at the scene, but police did not reveal any more details about the weapon. The state's landmark assault-weapons law, which went into effect in 2000, banned the use of handgun magazines with more than 19 bullets.


Connecticut shooting - Man in camouflage pants grabbed by police. Was suspected of being second shooter

A witness to the aftermath of the terrible school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut on December 14th described police cuffing a man in camouflage pants and a dark jacket who was walked past him, and who looked at gathered parents and told them that he wasn't responsible for the shooting. At the time the witness was interviewed by CBS News, the man he described was not far away. In fact, he was sitting in the front of a police car that was nearby.
Witness: I saw them walk a guy earlier with handcuffs...he walked by us and said he didn't do it.

Reporter: It was a grown man?

Witness: A grown man, yeah. He's sitting in the front of the police car over there now. So, I mean...

Reporter: He didn't have a gun?

Witness: No, I didn't see any gun...just had him handcuffed and he walked by us and looked into parents' eyes and said "I didn't do it".

Reporter: How was he dressed?

Witness: Camo pants with a dark jacket.