Monday, May 26, 2014

Memorial Day Mass Killing -- A Facebook Colloquy

I posted this on Facebook as a graphic and it triggered the following exchange.

HP  oh my gosh...i actually think i agree w/something this guy said....end times

JB  This case has all the makings of a "smoking gun", if you'll excuse the reverse analogy, implicating NRA complicity. All the parts of their perfect avoidance were there -- therapist and parents both in the loop, therapist alerted parents in a timely manner and they, in turn, alerted the police, police did as much as they were legally permitted to do (no "grounds" for a search warrant), and finally the words of the perpetrator in his manifesto "if they had looked in the other room it would all be over" or something to that effect. 
The NRA has put into place all the ways that everyone who could have intervened was blocked from doing so.
If this doesn't crack the blind indifference of the Second Amendment extremists, nothing will.

HP  what's the solution?

JB  There is no one solution that will protect against all avoidable firearms killings. There are just too many open pathways and too much political opposition to even the slightest adjustments, but a partial list would include...

**  responsible study by the CDC and NHS to find out what safety and statistical analysts recommend, much as they study the drugs, toys, cars and trucks, hazardous materials, mine safety and other matters of life and safety. (The NRA has successfully blocked any Congressional funding for both of those agencies -- and brags about it in their official statements.)
**  legislation limiting the number and availability of military grade weapons for non-military use (including "collecting" which is often used as a cover for bulk straw purchases at "gun shows"
**  A national database of who owns what. And why. And what they aim to do with them.
This is the most hated of all suggestions, it being the first step in "the government taking away our guns." Of course the phrase "background check" is only that -- a phrase. There is no way that any meaningful background check for firearms danger signals can be done if there are holes in the database big enough to drive a truckload of weapons on the way to Mexico through.
**  HIPAA privacy rules have made eveybody in healthcare and law enforcement paranoid about discussing anything with anybody unless they have a signed document from that person giving them permission to do so. It's so bad that I was taught at Wellstar not to even discuss anything about a resident with another member of the staff, even in the bathroom, on the chance that somebody not authorized might overhear. 

This is totally nutty. I understand privileged conversations between lawyers and clients, clergy and laity with an expectation of privacy, doctors and patients, etc.
But when a mental health professional suspects that someone is about to act out on violent fantasies, the least that should happen is surveillance of that person's access to the means of carrying out those fantasies. 

I could go on, but you see where this is going. We don't let children have dangerous toys. We now see auto companies recalling millions of cars because of the statistical possibility of injury or fatality which is minuscule compared with the almost certain expectation that a similar number of firearms will result in far greater numbers of death and injury. (Fatalities, of course, will outnumber injuries, thanks to the purpose of guns compared with that of cars. And since any comparitive studies are forbidden -- see the first item about CDC abd NIH -- we can't go there until other things are in place.
Nope. No simple single solution.
Again, to excuse the analogy, no silver bullet.
But if we don't take the first steps we well never go down that much safer path.

HP   i don't see the point in assault firearms, at all. don't like guns to begin with and don't like even killing chickens. That being said, we actually, believe it or not, really HAVE to hunt to have meat on the table at times...  
two deer saved our butts last year. And if I heard about some patient that i thought was going to be dangerous, I'd sure as heck tell somebody who could do something. It makes me nervous to think that the government knows exactly what hunting rifles I have at my house, but i thought that was what happened when we registered. So none of what you're suggesting scares me to death. Glad to hear that you're not suggesting we turn in our hunting rifles....guess we'd have to learn use a hunting bow.
JB  Sensible firearms safety is light years away from hunting and self-defense. America is one of the most heavily armed populations on the earth.

HP  i honestly think that that poor kid in california would probably have found a knife or concocted a bomb if he didn't have a gun...but i know what you're saying, too.

JB  You haven't been following the story closely. He began with a kinfe. They pulled his first three victims out this morning from the place where he lived -- three Asian dudes with whom he lived. They were all stabbed to death. My guess is that he planned that part as well, knowing that the noise of a gun would have alerted authorities too soon for him to get a head start. His victims then were scattered among half a dozen more separate crime scenes as he went from place to place at random, shooting some here, more there, as he went randomly through the residential streets. The police responded quickly, but he was a moving target. Even at the end he was using the car as a destructive device, crashing it into bikes and people. And he was in possession of three Glock semi-automatic handguns, all legally registered to him. Something is very wrong with this picture.

BO  It was reported that the same law enforcement agency came in contact with him recently on a request for a welfare check, but he smooth talked the officer's and convinced them that he was doing great and the concerns were without merit. He wrote is his manifesto that had they entered his home to investigate further, they would've found his guns and his writings about what he intended to do.
JB  Exactly. This is an example of the authorities "need to know" in the interest of public safety and common sense exceeds the rules of HIPAA and whatever other obstructive tactics have been crafted by otherwise well-meaning people more paranoid than the sickos they need to be concerned about.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Palestinian Chef Joseph Asfour

Pope Francis makes a three-day visit to the Middle East. But this pope is doing more than going through the motions of the usual papal visit. I will leave the symbolic analysis to others but this Tweet and story caught my eye just now. The chef is identified as Palestinian. That is important, especially because a large number of people argue that there is no such country as Palestine and no people with such an identity. This is what I found with a quick search:

A December issue of This Week in Palestine featured sketches of eleven Palestinian chefs, of which Chef Joseph Asfour was one.
Chef Joseph Asfour 
 Chef Asfour spoons out dollops of humus.
Born, raised, and educated in the Golden City, Jerusalem, Chef Joseph comes with a packed bag, just like Saint Nicholas on Christmas Eve, yet Chef Joseph’s bag is packed with expertise in the theory and practice of food, beverage, and condiments processes. His education and knowledge, which started back in 1983, come from countless training courses in quality management for hotels and restaurants, marketing management, and human resources development, in addition to courses in food and beverages, where he developed a unique style among other chefs. His presentations are fashionable and eloquent. It is as if he communicates his love of food from his heart to yours. His outstanding knowledge of French, Italian, Irish, Palestinian, and other cuisines makes Chef Joseph a highly qualified artist. 
He is the founder of one of the most elaborate settings in Ramallah, Darna Restaurant. His work at Angelo’s Restaurant, the Red Crescent in Ramallah, and other localities, here and overseas, has provided Chef Joseph with the knowledge he needs to present food of exquisite quality. Chef Joseph believes in quality rather than quantity on the plate.

Chef Joseph has had the opportunity to serve his delicious creations to many presidents and dignitaries, such as the late President Yasser Arafat of the PLO, Mr. Mahmoud Abbas, the current head of the PNA, Russian President, Mr. Putin, US Secretary of State, Ms. Rice, former British prime minister, Mr. Tony Blair, the late Pope John Paul II, the former UN general secretary, Mr. Kofi Anan, Mr. Javier Solana, the famous American actor Mr. Richard Gere, and many others.