Froma Harrop - Twisted social media & mass murder

The first details about the mass killer at the community college in Roseburg, Oregon, were that he was a young man, lonely and full of hate. Of course he was. They all are.

Lonely young men full of hate have been with us since there were lonely young men. The modern phenomenon of their acting out their madness on a large scale started almost 50 years ago, when Charles Whitman climbed the University of Texas Tower and shot to death 16 people down below. There have been similar assaults against innocents ever since, but what accounts for the current rapid pace of what used to be rare, horrific events?

One change may be the growth of social media, creating an online community to ease the loneliness of these mentally ill time bombs — and perhaps endorse their perverse fantasies. The community lets the killers know that after the deed, which usually includes their death, they will have lots of people following them.

Christopher Harper-Mercer, who slaughtered nine at Umpqua Community College, had made an online reference to Vester Lee Flanagan, who murdered two former colleagues from a Roanoke, Virginia, TV station while they were on the air. Flanagan had referenced Dylann Roof, a young white man accused of murdering nine people at an African-American church in Charleston, South Carolina. Flanagan was enraged at Roof and then copied him.

In between, there was John Russell Houser, a rare older mass shooter, 59, who posted his political ravings online before killing two and wounding nine others at a movie theater in Lafayette, Louisiana. And he may have been copying James Holmes, who killed 12 and injured 70 at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado.

The natural response after these multiple shootings is to blame lax gun control. The appalled father of Harper-Mercer went on TV and did just that.

Politicians agreed or not, depending on their fear of the National Rifle Association. Yes, bans on weapons of war and gun sales to the mentally ill are desperately needed. Looking back at these massacres, most of the weaponry was legally obtained.

But perhaps as dangerous as the flood of arms are the fumes of paranoia spread by the NRA and other peddlers of gun mania. What better audience for the instant-empowerment-of-guns message than depressed, lonely men.

Ours seems to be the only culture that uses guns for psychotherapy, as was well-portrayed in the movie "American Sniper". One creepy similarity between Harper-Mercer and Adam Lanza, who slayed 26 at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, was that their mothers took them out shooting.

Certainly in Lanza's case, the mother bizarrely thought she could channel her boy's sick obsession with guns into a bonding thing. Both mothers had left lying around the house the guns their deranged sons used.

In the meantime, these lonely men find companionship, however imaginary, in these online communities of gun worship, places that often validate their paranoiac thoughts. (Many also seek refuge in violent video games.) What they desperately need is real community to offer reality checks and interface with mental health professionals.

Some law enforcement is trying to withhold the perpetrators' names to deprive the criminals of the celebrity they crave. These officers fully understand the motive, but their good efforts can't go far. The curious public does want to know names and the killers' grievances, however crazy, and media will provide them.

The bigger concern is the ugly public seething online, honoring killers past and certifying the most twisted worldviews. Social media have some very dark corners that encourage mass bloodshed, and what can we possibly do about it?

(A member of the Providence Journal editorial board, Froma Harrop writes a nationally syndicated column from that city. She has written for such diverse publications as The New York Times, Harper's Bazaar and Institutional Investor.)

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Susan Estrich - A message to Hillary supporters

Do not panic.

Of all the candidates in this race, Hillary Clinton is the only one that most Americans could imagine being president. Think about it. Every day, people ask me, "Could (Trump/Carson/Sanders) ever be president? Could (Paul/Cruz/Rubio) ever be president?" Most of the time I just shrug, because winning the White House is only one measure of a "successful" primary campaign.

No one asks, "Could Hillary Clinton ever be president?"

What they're asking, more loudly each day, is some version of what the you-know-what is going on? How can the much-vaunted Clinton-political-genius machine be stumbling so badly in dealing with the home server situations? Doesn't anyone there know that you need to play to her strengths, not to her weaknesses — the biggest of which is almost certainly her defensiveness about admitting mistakes.

I understand why the Clintons see political opponents around every corner. It's quite simple, actually. It's because there are political opponents around every corner; how can there not be when you've been playing big league politics for as long as these two have? And if you aren't ready to take aggressive action to smoke them out, you won't be the frontrunner for president, which Hillary still is.

I do wish she had just stood up and taken full responsibility when this whole server business broke. Remember when Janet Reno took responsibility for the disastrous shootout at Waco, Texas, even though she herself didn't have much to do with it and certainly wasn't there? Her popularity skyrocketed — even though most people disapproved of the raid — because she took responsibility. Taking responsibility for things you yourself didn't do, or for acting on bad advice, is particularly appealing.

Blaming other people tends to be less appealing. Getting the story out, the whole story, as fast as you can, is the way to stop it from growing. That is, assuming there's not much there, which seems to be the case: it was a mistake to try to have a private server as secretary of state, and there was a relatively small number of e-mails that should not have been on the server under any circumstances. That is the outline of the story that has been plaguing Hillary for months now.
"Much ado about not much" is how most of her supporters see it. What worries them is the "campaign's" hapless handling of it, taking what could have been a contained mistake and letting it bloom into a question of character.

"Why didn't anyone tell her?" people ask me all the time.

One of two answers must be true, maybe both: People did tell her. There aren't that many approaches to a situation like this, and the approach that uses responsibility and transparency in one fell swoop has been the industry standard since Geraldine Ferraro did her endless press conference in 1984, unloading more tax returns than anyone could swallow in response to her initial reluctance to disclose them.

Either that, or Clinton is surrounded by people so eager to win her favor that they tell her what they think she wants to hear, rather than what she needs to hear. Every politician falls prey to this, which is why in many campaigns, senior operatives have a limited shelf life. Most of us like people who think well of us. I would rather hear how well I did than how poorly, rather be told that it wasn't my fault than that it was.

But here's the good news. It is October of 2015. We're still in spring training, getting out the kinks. If you're paying close attention, God bless you, but you're in the minority. The Clinton machine is getting the kinks out. But all the reasons that made you support her, all the reasons that make her the frontrunner, are as true today as they were the day before that server was discovered. This too shall pass, and the lessons learned may prove valuable when the World Series comes along.

(Susan Estrich is a professor of Law and Political Science at the University of Southern California Law Center. A best-selling author, lawyer and politician, as well as a teacher, she first gained national prominence as national campaign manager for Dukakis for President in 1988.)

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State Sen. Jeanie Forrester - N.H. Senate Republicans restoring state's 'advantage'

The governor's veto of the 2016/17 budget was successfully overridden on September 16. I am especially pleased that we were able to come together, get this budget in place, and continue to move our state in the right direction.
Five years ago when I started my first term, Senate Republicans crafted a long-term plan to restore the "New Hampshire Advantage". The plan included some core principles to correct a course that had put our state on an unsustainable path. These principles included:
— Putting our fiscal house in order by producing truly balanced budgets that rely on realistic revenues without new taxes or fees, and rebuilds our rainy day fund.
— Supporting our most vulnerable citizens by ensuring adequate funding for important programs like Service Link, Meals on Wheels, the developmentally disabled, mental health, and drug and alcohol services.
— Reforming the way government does business by reducing costs and shrinking the size of government while still maintaining core services.
— Creating a more business-friendly state by reducing regulation, streamlining and updating existing laws, and instituting business tax reforms.
As I look back over the accomplishments of the last five years, what stands out is the resolve shown by our elected officials to deliver on what the voters of New Hampshire sent them to Concord to do. Republicans have held the majority in the Senate since 2011 and we have delivered on the promises we've made.

We have produced budgets that are balanced, without new taxes or fees, and have started the process of re-building New Hampshire's rainy day fund, from $9.3 million in the 2012/13 budget to a projected $24 million in the 2016/17 budget.

Beginning with the repeal of many of the 80+ taxes and fees instituted prior to the 2011/12 legislative session, we have been consistent in holding the line on new taxes and fees including rejecting the governor's more recent proposal for millions of dollars in increases on drivers, smokers, and small business.

We've also held as a priority, assuring that effective, cost-saving programs and services for our most vulnerable citizens are supported. From funding mental health and developmental disabilities to emergency shelters and Meals on Wheels, we understand the need for these critical programs. Whether it was restoring funding to the Children In Need of Services program in the 2012/13 budget or restoring cuts made by Governor Hassan to the home health agencies in this budget — we have been steadfast advocates for our most vulnerable population.

The Senate also understood the need to reform state government and enacted legislation throughout the last five years that has produced positive results. This includes legislation requiring state agencies to submit reduced spending alternatives when they build their budgets; requiring consolidation of government contracts that allows the state to use economies of scale to bring down costs; and the elimination of 1,000 vacant government positions.

We did all this and still provided core services like keeping our troopers on the road and our DMV stations open; providing more funding to repair our roads and bridges and sending money back to our cities and towns by funding state aid grants, flood control, and rooms and meals distribution.

We also understood that policies enacted by government can hurt or help job creation in the private sector. So, to strengthen economic and job growth in our state, we began laying the groundwork for creating a more business-friendly environment.

We started with legislation like eliminating the state's tax on gambling earnings, reforming workers' compensation, updating and reforming New Hampshire's securities laws, increasing research and development tax credits and finally bringing forward modest business tax cuts that will restore New Hampshire's competitiveness over neighboring states.

Today, New Hampshire ranks fourth lowest in the nation at 3.6 percent for unemployment. This means we have been able to consistently put more Granite Staters back in the workforce when compared to December 2010 when over 42,000 friends and neighbors were out of work (5.5 percent unemployment).

When we look to and rely heavily on our business community to provide the revenues to pay for our spending priorities, it is important that we assure they can be competitive in today's world.

By holding the line on spending, keeping taxes low, and reducing the red tape from Concord, the Legislature is allowing the economy to grow, free from government burdens. Businesses can feel comfortable hiring and investing because they trust that the current legislature's priorities are designed to help, not hurt their success. Combined, these efforts will help us preserve and strengthen the "New Hampshire Advantage", attract new business, and ensure New Hampshire continues to lead.

You've heard the saying, "leave it better than you found it..." I am proud to say that in the New Hampshire Senate, we have done just that.

(Meredith Republican Jeanie Forrester represents District 2 in the N.H. Senate.)

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Lakes Region Profiles – Laconia, the pheonix of the Lakes Region


In Greek mythology, a phoenix is a long-lived bird that is cyclically reborn when it obtains new life from the ashes of its predecessor. Laconia arises from its past as the phoenix of the Lakes Region. Nestled on the shores of three of N.H.'s largest lakes – Winnipesaukee, Winnisquam, and Opechee – with the picturesque Winnipesaukee River running alongside its downtown area, Laconia continues to be a very desirable place to live and work. Sturdy brick and stone structures left from the age of industry provide it a strong backbone for new life.

Laconia was incorporated as a town in 1855 from lands at Weirs, Lakeport, Meredith Bridge, and part of Gilmanton. There had been a settlement of sorts in the area since the 1770s. By the early 1800s, there were several houses, stores, and workshops. In 1797, the first mills were introduced with the building of a dam harnessing the waterpower from the river flowing through town. With the coming of the railroad in the 1840s, larger industries were established and Laconia flourished for 100 years until steam and electricity replaced hydropower and many of the industries closed or moved out. From these vacated buildings of an era gone by, vibrant businesses have arisen.

The railroad station on Veterans' Square was built in 1892. It was designed by renowned New York architect, Bradford Gilbert, who designed what was considered New York City's first skyscraper. With its impressive entrance and vaulted rotunda, the station has now become a premier jewelry shop, Kramer and Hall, family owned and operated Prescott Florist, and two popular eateries, Burrito Me and Local Eatery. Brian D. from Maryland, in a review on the world's largest travel site, TripAdvisor, says Local Eatery is "worth going out of your way for." Across the street from the station, the Baptist Church built in 1836 has recently been extensively renovated to become the sister of the Holy Grail in Epping, an Irish pub and restaurant. On New Salem Street, freight buildings built in 1890 as a track-side depot for Pitman Manufacturing of Laconia, one of the largest manufacturers of hosiery in N.H. in the 1800s, have been transformed into Pitman's Freight Room, a trendy venue for weddings, functions, and musical events with a capacity of 200. Robert M. calls this place "outstanding...the musicians are often world renowned and always exceptional."

The Belknap Mill built in 1832 is listed on the National Register of Historic Landmarks. This one-time textile mill is the oldest structure of its type in the U.S. The mill's water-powered wheelhouse from the early 1800s, which once supplied electricity to downtown, is the last of its kind in the U.S. According to the Belknap Mill Society webpage, it "was the first organization to receive federal funds, and an award from the National Trust, for preserving an industrial structure." LIFE and Yankee Magazine wrote of the efforts to save the mills. Now, the Belknap Mill is a popular place to hold art exhibits, craft and quilt shows, and weddings. Next door, a second hosiery mill building constructed in 1853 and once owned by John Busiel, serves as beautiful office space for professional firms.

In the late 1800s, Laconia Car Company was the largest manufacturer in the area. Founded as a car shop in 1848, at its height the company produced hundreds of luxury passenger cars a year for trolley and rail service. It was located in the center of Laconia with over 50 buildings covering 7 acres. When the business closed in the 1930s, a large portion of the property was purchased in 1934 by Allen-Rogers. This wood turning company, famous for supplying the White House with decorative wooden eggs for its yearly children's Easter egg hunt, closed in 1999 and its buildings are being turned into popular riverfront condominiums. Beautifully restored with exposed beams and wood floors, the units sell quickly. The latest phase, which involves the conversion of another building into additional units, is underway. Many of the other enormous brick buildings of the car company have provided downtown professionals and businesses with space for many years.

Along Main Street, stately brick buildings house many small businesses and shops worth visiting. Some have been there for many years, including Greenlaw's Music, established over 60 years ago. Others have sprung up recently. One in particular, Wayfarer Coffee Roasters, takes first time visitors by surprise. Melanie F. from Toronto calls the place a "little gem...a beautiful quality place," and Eleanor L. from San Francisco adds, "the coffee was out of this world...if I lived in the area this would be my go to place."

The transformation of old to new extends beyond the immediate downtown area. Scott & Williams, a leading manufacturer of knitting machines, moved from Boston to Laconia in 1910. One of its many buildings in Lakeport was resurrected into Lake Opechee Inn and Spa and O Steaks and Seafood. Across the street is Fratello's Ristorante in what used to be Lakeport National Bank, which was established in the late 1800s. Other surprising eats beyond the downtown area include the tapas restaurant and piano bar Tavern 27, which features a farm to table experience in a colonial house built in 1781, and Nothin' Fancy on Weirs Boulevard.

Surrounded by history and nestled amid three lakes, Laconia is a wonderful place for families, second-homers, and semi-retirees to live. There are beautiful well-established residential areas, many with community beaches, all located near downtown including the Shore Drive, Holman Street, Old North Main Street, and Morningside Drive neighborhoods. Even for those without private beaches, Laconia's residential areas are within walking distance or a short drive to beautiful public beaches. These include Opechee Park and Bond Beach on Lake Opechee, Bartlett Beach and Ahern Park on Winnisquam, and Weirs Beach on Winnispesaukee.
Laconia also has an abundance of planned residential areas. The 126-acre Taylor Farm has new life as a part of the 360-acre South Down Shores and Long Bay communities. South Down has approximately 490 properties, which are arranged within nineteen distinct villages. The community has 4,000 feet of shoreline on Lake Winnipesaukee and many amenities including sandy beaches, docks, tennis courts, skating pond, cross country ski trails, and walking trails. The sister community of Long Bay comprises approximately 100 acres with two beaches and 1,200 feet of shorefront along Paugus Bay. Wildwood Village is located in an attractive and long established neighborhood. Award winning architect Claude Miquelle designed these townhouses, and each includes deeded rights to a private natural sand beach on Lake Winnisquam. Breakwater Condominiums on Lake Winnipesaukee offer a quiet setting with amazing views of Paugus Bay. On Opechee, Mallard Cove and Country Club Shores offer two different styles of living coupled with lake access and next-door location to Laconia Country Club.

In the Weirs, condos and cottages are tucked in all corners. There are traditional condominium choices such as Fours Seasons and Evergreen Condominiums and smaller communities including Hi Spot and Holiday Bay Condos. The brand new Lake Houses at Christmas Island are luxury waterfront townhomes with westerly exposure and each has its own dock on Lake Winnipesaukee. Meredith Bridge and The Village at Winnipesaukee are a quick stroll to the Weirs boardwalk, arcades, and dock for the M.S. Mount Washington.

All said and done, it would be difficult to find another community such as Laconia. Almost as an island in the middle of three beautiful lakes, like a phoenix it is rising brilliantly from the ashes of its past. This rebirth is a reflection of the aspirations of the people who chose to see the potential, build their businesses, and make their home in Laconia.

For more information on the City of Laconia, visit its website and the websites of the Historical Society, Illustrated Laconian, and the Belknap Mill. Please feel free to visit to learn more about the Lakes Region and its real estate market. Mary O'Neill is a sales associate at Roche Realty Group in Meredith and Laconia, NH and can be reached at (603) 366-6306.

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Froma Harrop- Rx price gouging a product of our political system

If Hollywood had created Martin Shkreli as the monster from Wall Street, we would have accused it of unfair characterization. But Shkreli — a 32-year-old hedge fund director in T-shirts, dabbler in the punk rock music world — has saved Tinseltown the trouble.

Shkreli has also done the American people a service by showing in high def how the pharmaceutical industry gouges us. The pharmaceutical industry is angry with him for the same reason.

Drugmakers prefer a subtler approach. Do it quietly and with a touch more nuance. For example, the day Valeant Pharmaceuticals acquired two heart drugs, it raised the prices for them by only 525 percent and 212 percent.

That was a model of self-control next to Shkreli's instant 5,455 percent price hike on a 62-year-old lifesaving drug. This wasn't a good visual for the industry. The audio wasn't so hot, either.

To recap, Shkreli's startup company recently bought the marketing rights to Daraprim and proceeded to raise the price from $13.50 a pill to $750 a pill. (It used to cost $1 a pill.) Daraprim is often the last hope for cancer patients and others with weak immune systems suffering from parasitic infections.

Some Shkreli decoders explained that his drug company raised prices to recoup the $55 million it had just spent for the rights to sell Daraprim. Thing is, the $55 million acquisition price for a drug serving a relatively small number of patients seemed justified by the belief that one could raise the per-pill cost more than fiftyfold overnight. You can only get away with that in the United States, but we're a big, big market.

No other industrialized country lets drugmakers pick prices out of thin air and assume patients, insurers and taxpayers will somehow come up with the ransom. The U.S. setup comes courtesy of our lawmakers in Washington, above all our Republican lawmakers.

In the Valeant case, Sen. Bernie Sanders, a Vermont independent seeking the Democratic presidential nod, demanded documents defending the price increases. Valeant said no, that such information is "highly proprietary and confidential". Wouldn't it just.
Governments elsewhere, however far to the left or right, see negotiating drug prices for their people as a duty of leadership. The United States does little of that. In fact, the law establishing the Medicare prescription drug benefit specifically forbids the government to negotiate drug prices.

Let's talk about markets, okay? We believe in a market system, buyers negotiating prices with sellers, right? U.S. taxpayers fund 73 percent of the Medicare drug benefit. They are the buyers.

But in our skewed political language, Republicans denounce proposals to have the federal government negotiate Medicare drug prices as an attack on our allegedly free-market system. Somehow letting the taxpayers defend their interests is "socialism".

It is true Medicare beneficiaries obtain drug coverage through private insurers who do negotiate prices. And it is true that, as Republicans say, the Medicare drug program is costing less than originally projected. But this is a shell game.

The relevant comparison is what the drug benefit costs next to what it would have cost had the government been allowed to bargain on prices. Taxpayers could save up to $16 billion a year if Medicare did the negotiating, according to a recent estimate in The Wall Street Journal.

The week Shkreli revealed the creepy reality of drug pricing, Hillary Clinton issued a proposal to curb "profiteering" by the drug industry. Biotech stocks promptly took a hit on Wall Street.

That hedge funder let the cat out, for sure, and it will be screeching right through Halloween. Some boys are so bad they do good.

(A member of the Providence Journal editorial board, Froma Harrop writes a nationally syndicated column from that city. She has written for such diverse publications as The New York Times, Harper's Bazaar and Institutional Investor.)

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