How the NSA Can Greatly Reduce Mass School Shootings

Preface:Instead of spying on Americans to crush dissentconsolidate power, or gather sensitive information for blackmail, the NSA could actually do something useful.

The NSA could reduce the number of mass shootings using existing technology and resources.

Remember, virtually all school shooters are males in their teens or early twenties.

And the New York Times reports that most school shooters leave numerous public clues about their intentions before the shooting … and most are obsessed with reading about prior school shootings:

Studies have shown, for example, that in school shootings, the killers virtually always “leak” their intentions, leaving a trail of clues behind them. Nikolas Cruz, the 19-year-old who the police said has confessed in the Parkland shooting, apparently was no exception: Students reportedly avoided him and joked that if anyone were going to shoot up the school, it would be him.

Researchers have also found that in many, if not most, cases of school violence, the perpetrator has done extensive research on previous school shootings, studying them in detail, often with special attention to the killings at Columbine High School in 1999. A study of nine school shootings in Europe conducted by J. Reid Meloy, a forensic psychologist in San Diego who consults on threat assessment for schools and corporations, found that a third of the killers had “consciously imitated and emulated what had happened in Columbine.”

Elizabeth Englander, Professor of Psychology, and the Director of the Massachusetts Aggression Reduction Center (MARC), Bridgewater State University, writes:

Technology may challenge kids’ social development, but it can also be harnessed for good. Anonymous reporting systems – perhaps text-message based – can make it easier for parents and students to alert law enforcement and school counselors to kids who seem disconnected or disturbed. That enables early intervention.

In Steamboat Springs, Colorado, one such tip appeared to prevent extreme violence in May 2017. Police took a young man who’d threatened to harm his peers into protective custody before he could act on his words.

***

Extreme violence is almost always preceded by certain behavioral problems. These typically include a propensity toward aggression, a marked lack of social connectedness, indications of serious mental illness and a fascination with violence and guns.

***

Most young people today use social media to express their feelings and aspirations. In the case of school shooters, these posts are often violent. A single violent post is hardly a guarantee of homicidal acts, of course. But evidence strongly indicates that repeated expressions of this nature can be a sign of trouble.

But the current approach of law enforcement is just to wait and hope for a luck break:

We are not proactively scraping the Internet for offenders … We react.” Instead, the agents depend on what [the head of the FBI’s the National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crime, America’s top expert on identifying mass shooters] calls “the human bystander.” They depend on somebody giving someone else the creeps. Though he acknowledges that many bystanders are fragile resources—“it’s usually the people closest to an individual who are best positioned to observe those kinds of concerning behaviors and at the same time the most reluctant to report”—his team members have no choice but to wait for a concerned person to tell them about a person of concern.

But we don’t have to wait for a lucky break of a volunteer bystander getting the creeps … the NSA can do it for us.

After all, the NSA is already spying on virtually everyone in America.

The high-level NSA executive who created the NSA’s global electronic surveillance system, Bill Binney, says that the NSA could help identify would-be shooters … while protecting the privacy of most Americans.

Specifically, the system which Binney designed at the NSA to catch terrorists automatically encrypted and anonymized Americans’ information.  The information could only be decrypted with a court order.

Binney thinks this could work for school shooters …

Specifically, the NSA could gather information from the web, social media, and other sources and gather information on:

  • Males in their teens or early twenties
  • Who lack social connectedness
  • Who have obsessively studied past school shootings … or otherwise made violent statements on social media or the web
  • Who have experienced mental health issues
  • Who law enforcement personnel or others say are unstable

The identity of people who turn up using these parameters would be kept encrypted and anonymous … unless and until a judge ordered them to be decrypted in order to further investigate and question the individual.

Then the suspect could be imprisoned, counseled or left alone … as appropriate.

How about the NSA do something – for a change – which actually helps the American people?

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10 ways schools, parents and communities can prevent school shootings now


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While politicians debate control, local communities can act now to keep kids safer at school.
AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee

Elizabeth Englander, Bridgewater State University

After a shooter killed 17 people at a Florida high school, many have expressed frustration at the political hand-wringing over gun control and calls for prayer.

As a parent, I understand the desire for practical responses to school shootings. I also absolutely believe the government should do more to prevent such incidents. But the gun control debate has proven so divisive and ineffective that I am weary of waiting for politicians to act.

I study the kind of aggressive childhood behavior that often predates school shootings. That research suggests what communities and families can start doing today to better protect children. Here are 10 actions we can all take while the federal government drags its heels.

What schools can do

Because educators observe students’ emotional and behavioral development daily, they are best positioned to detect troubled behaviors and intervene. In Los Angeles, for example, schools have successfully used outreach and training to identify potentially violent students before problems occur.

1. Teach social and emotional skills

Children learn social skills from everyday interactions with each other. Playtime teaches young people how to control their emotions, recognize others’ feelings and to negotiate. Neighborhood “kick the can” games, for example, require cooperation to have fun – all without adult supervision.

Today, frequent social media use and a decrease in free play time has reduced children’s opportunities to learn these basic social skills.

But social and emotional skills can – and should – be taught in school as a way to prevent student violence. Students with more fluent social skills connect better with others and may be more able to recognize troubled peers who need help.

2. Hire more counselors and school resource officers

Due to budget cuts, many schools have few or no trained school psychologists, social workers or adjustment counselors on staff. These mental health professionals are society’s first line of defense against troubled students – especially with the current increase in adolescent depression and anxiety.

In my opinion, school resource officers – trained police officers who work with children – are also helpful for students. While untrained officers may pose a threat to students, well-trained school resource officers can connect with kids who have few other relationships, acting as a support system. They are also on hand to respond quickly if crime or violence erupts.

Putting trained school resource officers and counselors in every school will cost money, but I believe it will save lives.

3. Use technology to identify troubled students

Technology may challenge kids’ social development, but it can also be harnessed for good. Anonymous reporting systems – perhaps text-message based – can make it easier for parents and students to alert law enforcement and school counselors to kids who seem disconnected or disturbed. That enables early intervention.

In Steamboat Springs, Colorado, one such tip appeared to prevent extreme violence in May 2017. Police took a young man who’d threatened to harm his peers into protective custody before he could act on his words.

What communities can do

Communities also help raise children. With many eyes and ears, they can detect often smaller problems before young people grow into violence.

4. Doctors should conduct standard mental health screenings

Extreme violence is almost always preceded by certain behavioral problems. These typically include a propensity toward aggression, a marked lack of social connectedness, indications of serious mental illness and a fascination with violence and guns.

Doctors could detect these problems early on with a standardized screening at health checkups. If concerns arise, referrals to counseling or other mental health professionals might follow.

Doctors are an underutilized community resource. Regular check-ups could help prevent violence.
Myfuture.com, CC BY-ND

5. Enlist social media companies in the effort to detect threats

Most young people today use social media to express their feelings and aspirations. In the case of school shooters, these posts are often violent. A single violent post is hardly a guarantee of homicidal acts, of course. But evidence strongly indicates that repeated expressions of this nature can be a sign of trouble.

I would like to see companies like Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat create algorithms that identify repeated online threats and automatically alert local law enforcement.

What parents can do

Parents and guardians are often the first to detect their child’s emotional struggles. Here are some tips for monitoring and promoting healthy emotional development at home.

6. Think critically about your child’s social media use

From virtual war games to cruel trolls, the internet is full of violence. The relationship between violent content and aggression hasn’t been consistent in research: Some studies see no relationship at all, while others find some correlation between violent video games and violent behavior.

This mixed evidence suggests that online content affects children differently, so parents must assess how well their child handles it. If your daughter likes “Assassin’s Creed” but is gentle, socially successful and happy, the onscreen violence may not be strongly impacting her.

But if your child is drawn to violent games and tends to be aggressive or troubled, discuss the situation with your pediatrician or school counselor.

7. Consider what your child is missing out on

Is your child sleeping properly? Do your kids socialize with other young people? These two behaviors are linked to mental health in children, and excessive screen time can reduce or diminish the quality of both.

Make sure digital devices aren’t disrupting your kids’ sleep, and schedule play dates if your kids don’t make plans on their own.

8. Assess your child’s relationships

Like adults, children need confidants to feel invested in and connected with their community. The trusted person can be parent, a family member or a friend – just make sure someone’s playing that role.

For children who struggle to make friends and build relationships, there are programs that can help them learn how.

Children need confidants to feel connected to their communities.
AP Photo/Gerald Herbert

9. Fret productively about screen time

Research shows that excessive screen time can damage kids’ brains. That’s alarming in part because parents can’t realistically keep kids entirely off devices.

So rather than just fret over screen time, focus instead on how children can benefit from a variety of activities. Evidence shows that children who experience different pursuits over the course of their day – from sports and music to an after-school job – are happier and healthier for it.

10. Talk with your child

This is both the easiest and hardest way to make sure your kids are doing OK. Children, especially teenagers, don’t always want to talk about how life is going. Ask anyway.

My research shows that simply asking children about their friends, their technology use and their day is an important way to show you care. Even if they don’t respond, your interest demonstrates that you’re there for them.

The ConversationTry this one now. Ask your children what they’re thinking about the shooting in Florida and how they like their friends and school. Then listen.

Elizabeth Englander, Professor of Psychology, and the Director of the Massachusetts Aggression Reduction Center (MARC), Bridgewater State University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

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Globally Top-Respected Experts on Middle East Warn Syrian War May Produce WW III

Globally Top-Respected Experts on Middle East Warn Syrian War May Produce WW III

Eric Zuesse, originally posted at The Saker

Abdel Bari Atwan, the retired editor-in-chief (1989-2013) of the pan-Arab newspaper Al Quds Al Arabi and author of widely respected books on the Middle East, headlined on February 18th, “A superpower confrontation could be triggered by accident in Syria” and he opened:

Qatar’s plans to build a gas pipeline to the Mediterranean were a major cause of the outbreak of the Syrian civil war. Seven years on, Syria’s oil and gas reserves east of the Euphrates, and especially around Deir az-Zour, have the potential to trigger World War III.

Four military aircraft were downed over Syria in the course of one week: an Israel F-16 shot down by a Russian-made Syrian missile; a Russian jet hit by an American-made shoulder-fired MANPADS; an Iranian pilotless drone intercepted by Israeli missiles; and a Turkish helicopter brought down in the countryside of Afrin by US-backed Kurdish fighters.

Warplanes from at least six countries crowd Syria’s airspace, including those of the American and Russian superpowers, while numerous proxy wars rage on the ground below involving Arab, regional and international parties.

Atwan goes on to note the reason why the war has ratcheted up after Donald Trump became America’s President:

The US has made clear that it has no intention of withdrawing its 2,000 military personnel from Syria even after the expiry of the original pretext for deploying them, namely to fight the Islamic State (IS) group. Administration officials have repeatedly affirmed that these forces will remain indefinitely in order to counter Iranian influence in the country.

Trump has abandoned former U.S. President Barack Obama’s excuse for invading Syria, and replaced it by what is now clearly an American hot war against Iran, which indisputably has become the U.S. President’s target — no longer (even if only as an excuse) ISIS or “radical Islamic terrorism.”

Iran never attacked the U.S. However, Iran did overthrow the U.S.-installed Shah in 1979 and capture the U.S. Embassy, which had ruled Iran (and allowed or disallowed what the Shah did) ever since America’s 1953 coup there overthrew Iran’s democratically elected progressive secular Government and installed instead the Shah’s brutal dictatorship. But the aggression was by the U.S. Government, not by Iran’s Government.

And, after 1979, Iran never committed aggression against the United States; so, the U.S. is entirely in the wrong, now, to be planning (or instructing Israel) how to destroy Iran.

This U.S. President clearly wants an invasion of Iran, which Israel is now preparing to launch.

Iran is an ally of Russia. On February 19th, Russia’s Tass news agency headlined “Moscow calls on US not to play with fire in Syria” and reported the Russian Foreign Minister’s statement: “I once again call on our American colleagues not to play with fire and measure their steps proceeding not from immediate needs of today’s political environment, but rather from long-term interests of the Syrian people and of all peoples of this region.”

Here is a description of what will likely be entailed if Israel launches a military attack against Iran; it was published on February 22nd, by Russian geostrategic expert Peter Korzun, under the headline “Israel and Iran: Inching Toward Conflict”:

If Iran itself is attacked, its sites related to its nuclear program will top the list of the prime targets for Israel’s F-35, F-15, F-16, and Kfir fighters, drones, and intermediate-range Jericho missiles. There are different routes they could take, but all of them would require flying through the airspaces of Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Syria, or Turkey. None of these Muslim countries will openly allow Israel to use their airspace, but anti-Iran sentiments are strong in the Sunni-dominated Arab states. Some of them might be willing to look the other way. A clandestine agreement to tacitly allow Israeli aircraft to cross their air space is entirely possible. Anger could be vented publicly once the mission has been completed.

Iraq is not focused on monitoring its airspace – it has many other problems to deal with and Israel could take advantage of that. The route through Iraq looks like it might be the best option.

The distance that would need to be covered would be between 1,500 km (930 miles) and 1,800 km (1,120 miles). The aircraft will also have to make a return trip, so in-flight refueling will be a necessity. Israel is only believed to own between eight and ten large tanker aircraft (such as Boeing 707s). That will hardly be enough. The Israeli military is not particularly adept at aerial refuelling. If the aircraft have to fly undetected, the F-35s will have to forgo their externally mounted weapons in order to preserve their stealth capabilities. Then their payload will be reduced to only two JDAM-guided bombs in the internal bay. Pretty underwhelming.

Then Iran’s radars will have to be spoofed, and its air defenses, especially the Russian-made S-300, will have to be knocked out. It won’t be easy.

Israel has a few dozen laser-guided bunker buster bombs (the GBU-28). The Jericho III is an Israeli three-stage solid propellant missile with a payload of more than a ton and capable of carrying multiple low-yield independently targeted reentry warheads. All the targets in Iran fall within its range of up to 6,500 km (4,038 miles). These missile strikes are capable of destroying every command and control site, as well as all major nuclear facilities.

The Heron-2 and Eitan drones can hover in the air for more than 20 consecutive hours to provide guidance and intelligence and to jam Iranian communications and confuse its radar.

Israel would wage electronic warfare against Iran’s military and civilian infrastructure, such as its electric grids and Internet, creating interference with Iran’s emergency frequencies.

After the war has begun, Israel will come under rocket and missile attack from Iran’s proxies: Hamas in the Gaza Strip and Hezbollah in Lebanon. Hezbollah has up to 150,000 rockets that can reach anywhere in Israel. It is true however, that Israel possesses a sophisticated, multilayer, air-defense shield. A first-class intelligence and early-warning system will mitigate the fallout, but substantial damage will be unavoidable.

Israeli troops will have to deploy in the Strip and move across the Lebanese border. But the Shia group will have to fight on two fronts: in Syria to prop up the Assad government, and in Lebanon against Israel. Syria is likely to find itself involved in combat operations. Israel will go to any length to keep Iran and Hezbollah away from its border.

Iran may try to block the Strait of Hormuz. But even if it does not, global oil prices would go up. Iran or its proxies might attack US forces in the Middle East, primarily in Syria and Iraq. Should that happen, Iraq would likely become a battleground between US forces and Iranian proxies, with American reinforcements rushing in. Iran could punish the Americans for their support of Israel in Afghanistan.

An attack against Russia’s ally would be an attack that will significantly weaken Russia. Will Russia come to the defense of its ally, the victim of this uncalled-for invasion by America’s proxy, Israel? Will Russia retaliate by destroying Israel — and maybe destroying also its sponsor?

Most scenarios for a world-ending nuclear war entail “errors,” or else a traditional non-nuclear conflict (perhaps in Syria, or in Ukraine — or it could be in Iran, or in North Korea) producing victory for one side (it could be either the U.S. versus Russia, in Syria, Ukraine, or Iran; or else the U.S. versus China, in North Korea), unless the other side (it could be either Russia versus the U.S., or else China versus the U.S.) blitz-launches almost its entire nuclear arsenal against the other side and against the other side’s strategically key allies. (For example, if Israel invades Iran, then perhaps Russia will launch a blitz-nuclear invasion of both Israel and the United States.) The first-to-strike in an all-out war between the nuclear superpowers will have the best chance of winning (i.e., in military parlance “winning” means simply inflicting more damage on the other side than it inflicts upon the “winner” — regardless of how damaged both sides — and the rest of the world — are). If the U.S. or its allies invade more than they’ve already done (practically all allies of Russia), then a blitz from Russia and/or China would be reasonable, because then obviously the U.S. aims to become conqueror of the entire world — the only super-power. Once one side has lost the traditional conflict in Syria and/or Ukraine, or elsewhere, the other side will either unleash its nuclear stockpile against the other (except for whatever anti-missiles it holds in reserve against any of the enemy’s missiles that haven’t yet been destroyed in that blitz-attack), or else it will surrender to the other. There will be a ‘winner’, but the entire world will be the loser. This is what America’s ‘democracy’ has brought us to.

Billionaires (including owners of controlling interests in weapons-manufacturers whose main or only customers are the U.S. Government and its allied governments — the ‘democratic’ decision-makers who had won political power because of donations from those billionaires) are planning to survive nuclear war. There seem to be two main ways:

Google this line:

billionaires moving to “new zealand”

Others are buying bunkers deep underground in countries where they already reside — such as here, and here, and here, and here, and here, and here, and here, and here, and here, and here, and here — to protect themselves from the nuclear blasts, though nothing can protect anyone (not even, ultimately in New Zealand) from the resulting nuclear winter, and global famine and die-off.

More about what’s behind this can be seen in an excellent article by Edward Curtin, which has been published at a number of terrific news-sites — especially Greanville Post, Counter Currents, Global Research, and Off-Guardian (all four of which sites are prime ones to visit regularly, if a person wants to understand today’s world) — and it is aptly titled “The Coming Wars to End All Wars”.

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Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of  CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.

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Venezuela’s New Cryptocurrency: Just Another Form of Control Fraud

The broke and broken country of Venezuela appears to be the first nation-state to issue a cryptocurrency token (the petro) as a means of escaping the financial black hole that’s consuming its economy: Maduro Launches Oil-Backed Crypto “For The Welfare Of Venezuela”.

For context, here is a chart of the black market (i.e. real-world) value of the Venezuela’s fiat currency, the bolivar: a 100,000 bolivar note is worth somewhere around 40 cents USD (US dollar), i.e. near zero. (Venezuela maintains a fantasy-official USD/bolivar exchange rate that has no relation to the actual purchasing-power value of Venezuela’s fiat currency.)

The gee-whiz component of the petro is that it is supposedly “backed by oil.”In other words, unlike other cryptocurrencies/ tokens, the petro has intrinsic value because it’s backed by oil.

But what does backed by oil actually mean?

The only way any currency, fiat or crypto, is “backed” by any real-world commodity is if the currency is convertible into the commodity on demand, that is, the currency can be exchanged for the commodity at a transparent published conversion rate.

If Venezuela’s petro cannot be converted directly into deliverable-upon-demand oil contracts, it’s not backed by anything. It’s important to understand that any currency that claims to be “backed” by gold, oil, rice, bat guano, etc. must be convertible to the underlying commodity at a transparent conversion rate.

If a currency can’t be converted on demand into the underlying commodity, it’s not “backed by oil,” it’s just another form of control fraud, which I define asthose holding power in centralized institutions enrich themselves at the expense of the citizenry by modifying what’s legally permissible.

Conventional fraud is against the law; control fraud is legal because it benefits those who make the rules. If there is no transparent mechanism for converting petros into oil that can be sold and delivered in the global marketplace, then the petro is nothing but a central-state control fraud: those foolish enough to believe the con that the petro is “backed by oil” will end up with a worthless token.

A bit of history will clarify “backed by something real” conversion. In the 1960s, the US dollar was famously “backed by gold,” which meant that other nations (via their central banks) could convert $35 USD into an ounce of gold upon demand.

As U.S. trade and federal budget deficits soared in the late 1960s, nations such as France began converting their excess dollars into physical gold. If this conversion had been allowed to continue, foreign entities would have drained all of America’s gold as they converted their dollars (exported via trade deficits to other nations) into gold. As a result, the U.S. had no choice but to end the conversion of dollars to gold.

The notion that China or Russia will issue a gold-backed currency attracts considerable attention, but a currency is only “backed by gold” if a foreign financial institution can convert their yuan or rubles into gold upon demand. If there is no transparent, easy mechanism for foreign holders of the currency to convert their currency into gold upon demand, then the currency isn’t actually backed by anything: it’s simply a form of control fraud.

It doesn’t matter if the currency is digital, paper or crypto: if it can’t be directly converted into the underlying commodity at a transparent published conversion rate, it’s not backed by anything.

Until a foreign financial institution successfully converts its Venezuelan petros into actual barrels of oil, or oil contracts that can be sold immediately on the global market, then the petro isn’t backed by anything. Until that conversion process is functioning transparently, the petro is nothing but a giant control fraud perpetrated to benefit the few clinging to power in Venezuela at the expense of the many.

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I’d Elect the People on My Facebook Page Over Any Weapons-Funded Hack

I asked my Facebook page which high school teacher they’d least like to have had a gun in their desk. Go read their answers.

I’d elect those people over any recent president or any current member of Congress.

These bursts of public discussion with dashes of sanity thrown in that follow each particularly media-covered mass-shooting are always encouraging. And it’s especially encouraging to have young people being allowed to have a say.

But let’s be clear about the limitations of what’s happened so far. The first set of limitations is those that are created by universal militarism worship.

These kids were killed by a kid trained to kill by the JROTC, the U.S. Army, the U.S. Congress, and your tax dollars, with a bit of spare change thrown in by the NRA. He was trained to shoot and praised for it in the same school where he shot and was condemned for it. He committed his crimes wearing his JROTC shirt. He did not separate the good shooting from the bad shooting in his mind. Neither, apparently, do the U.S. military veterans who make up a hugely disproportionate share of mass-shooters in the U.S. They’ve been praised for mass-murder of non-Americans. They are then killed or imprisoned and roundly condemned (but made famous) for the mass-murder of people in the United States. Perhaps one of their failures is to draw a sharp enough nationalistic line. The United States is the one nation on earth that has not ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child which forbids military recruitment of minors. The U.S. military describes JROTC as a recruitment program that results in some 30% of participants joining the U.S. military. Some students are put into JROTC against their will. In addition, the U.S. has had mass-shootings on military bases, literally surrounded by “good guys with guns.” And, of course, the majority of the human beings killed with U.S. weapons on any given day are outside the United States. A foreign policy based on guns is no less insane than a classroom based on guns. None of this is mentioned, not by students, not by parents, not by teachers, not by anti-NRA organizers. What students and others are now saying is terrific because they are saying it, and because TV corporations are showing it, but it is the same things others have been saying for years, and it is bound by the same restrictions as to what it is permissible to mention.

Another set of limitations are those created by a system of legalized bribery. While you can get an auditorium full of people to demand that a senator stop taking legalized bribes from the gun industry, the senator can still spit in your face and count on the weapons profiteers to give him enough money to buy enough advertisements (plus related free corporate media) to sway many more people than are in the room. Of course, such powers are not invincible. If you continue building a strong enough movement, you may in some cases overcome them. But the world will not help. The United Nations and related institutions are under the thumbs of the five permanent security council members, and most nations are afraid to morally condemn or sanction the United States. And the media coverage won’t continue. Other stories, important or trivial, will take over. You’ll go on holding rallies and demanding change, but people will accuse you of having stopped because you won’t be on TV anymore. And it’s then that you’ll have to really push hard to organize and encourage and inspire a public that believes television is more real than the actual world.

If you do push on, as I hope you will, I recommend forming alliances with other groups working on related issues, joining forces and finding more strength. If you try that approach, it may at some point begin to look strategic to mention the existence of the JROTC.

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