Alan Vervaeke - Someone to blame for Ft. Lauderdale

Another gunman this week? One hearing voices? Voices telling him to hurt people? Golly, why didn't someone DO something? Five dead people. A grandfather. A great-grandmother. Killed right next to their spouses.
The gunman is a veteran. They said he has PTSD. His family said that serving his country in Iraq "changed him." That he could not get the images of dead children out of his mind. Mental illness and then issues involving domestic abuse. An unwell man with a weapon.
Who's to blame?
He turned himself in to the FBI in Alaska and told them he was hearing voices. That is what's called a "plea for help." They had him evaluated and they took his gun. And then they gave it back. They gave it back. Now five people are dead and six more wounded. And already I read about how "liberals want to take our guns away." "It's another madman!" "Guns don't kill people — crazy people kill people."
But the FBI turned Esteban Santiago over to local police. They had him examined by mental health experts and one month later they gave him his gun back. Because that is the law. That unless he — as a veteran—- was adjudicated and found mentally incapacitated, they had to. Because that's how the gun rights people want it. That's how America wants it. That's the price we all pay for "freedom."
Now I just know that someone with an NRA sticker on their truck won't like that, but I'm sorry. I don't know about any of YOU, but if I was hearing voices I'd want someone to take away MY gun to ensure that my wife and kids (and yours) are safe and protected. Wouldn't you? Because, let me tell you, if you're NUTS then I promise that you're probably the last one to know it.
I honestly and seriously keep expecting for this to happen here. But in 2013, after Aurora and Newtown, the vice president led a commission to examine what could be done to eliminate this specific kind of gun violence. This one — crazy people with guns. That commission produced 23 recommendations and the president submitted them to Congress. Here they are:
Please pay extra attention to items: 5, 14, 17, and 20-23.
1. Issue a presidential memorandum to require federal agencies to make relevant data available to the federal background check system.
2. Address unnecessary legal barriers, particularly relating to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act that may prevent states from making information available to the background check system.
3. Improve incentives for states to share information with the background check system.
4. Direct the attorney general to review categories of individuals prohibited from having a gun to make sure dangerous people are not slipping through the cracks.
5. Propose rulemaking to give law enforcement the ability to run a full background check on an individual before returning a seized gun.
6. Publish a letter from ATF to federally licensed gun dealers providing guidance on how to run background checks for private sellers.
7. Launch a national safe and responsible gun ownership campaign.
8. Review safety standards for gun locks and gun safes (Consumer Product Safety Commission).
9. Issue a presidential memorandum to require federal law enforcement to trace guns recovered in criminal investigations.
10. Release a DOJ report analyzing information on lost and stolen guns and make it widely available to law enforcement.
11. Nominate an ATF director.
12. Provide law enforcement, first responders, and school officials with proper training for active shooter situations.
13. Maximize enforcement efforts to prevent gun violence and prosecute gun crime.
14. Issue a presidential memorandum directing the Centers For Disease Control to research the causes and prevention of gun violence.
15. Direct the attorney general to issue a report on the availability and most effective use of new gun safety technologies and challenge the private sector to develop innovative technologies.
16. Clarify that the Affordable Care Act does not prohibit doctors asking their patients about guns in their homes.
17. Release a letter to health care providers clarifying that no federal law prohibits them from reporting threats of violence to law enforcement authorities.
19. Develop model emergency response plans for schools, houses of worship and institutions of higher education.
20. Release a letter to state health officials clarifying the scope of mental health services that Medicaid plans must cover.
21. Finalize regulations clarifying essential health benefits and parity requirements within ACA Exchanges.
22. Commit to finalizing mental health parity regulations.
23. Launch a national dialogue led by Secretaries Sebelius and Duncan on mental health.
Not one of those 23 recommendations would interfere with responsible gun ownership or Second Amendment rights in any conceivable way. Unless, of course, you're crazy.
But if put into place and funded, these recommendations could have prevented this shooting as they were designed to do. Esteban Santiago might have gotten the help he needed instead of getting his gun handed back.
So, what happened? Surely something was done? These look reasonable and responsible. No. Nope. Nadda. Zip. Diddly. Bupkis.
Conservative congressman and senators — the same ones condemning law enforcement and the FBI for not doing something — called President Obama a gun grabber, anti-American, and "pathetically out of touch with Middle America." And those same folks who were bought and paid for by the NRA refused to consider the president's recommendations.
So, if you're looking for somebody to blame for Fort Lauderdale, you don't need to look any further than the mirror if you voted Republican. You can put the blame squarely on our Congress and those Americans who put those useless (expletive) into office and let them get away with it.
Why don't things get accomplished regarding gun violence in America? One word and that word is "Washington."

(Alan Vervaeke is a veteran and father happily living in Gilford.)

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Bob Meade - It's up to the people . . .

I am sympathetic to the concerns for the Palestinian people. However, as Thomas Jefferson opined, "People get the government they deserve."

The Israelis have been under attack or siege ever since they signed U.N Resolution 181 in 1948. They have attempted to resolve the issues peaceably a number of times but have been rebuffed at every turn. The United Nations has been both feckless and anti-Semitic throughout.

Virtually nothing was done to Jordan when it captured and took control of the city of Jerusalem in the 1948 war. The Israelis had agreed to the provision in Resolution 181 that Jerusalem was to be an international city under the control of the U.N. During the war in 1967, Israel won back that city and a significant amount of other territory. After the war, the Israelis chose not to give back captured territories unless the Arab forces would agree to Israel's right to exist and promise not to continue attacking. The Arabs refused. To this day, the Arab position as stated, is to eliminate all the Jewish people.

After World War I, England was put in charge of the "Palestinian Protectorate" — the Palestinian Territory. After World War II, the United Nations was charged with equitably dividing that territory among its groups of inhabitants . . . Jordanians, Israelis, and the remaining Arabs, now commonly referred to as Palestinians. To that end, the U.N. General Assembly developed Resolution 181. The Jews accepted the resolution and declared their independence on May 14, 1948. They were then attacked by troops from Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Yemen, the Sudan, and Egypt.

The fighting continued until February 1949 when Egypt, Lebanon, Transjordan, and Syria agreed to formal armistice lines. The result of the fighting was that Israel gained some territory formerly granted to the Palestinian Arabs under the U.N. resolution in 1947. Jordan gained control over East Jerusalem and the West Bank and Egypt controlled the Gaza strip.

The armistice lines held until 1967. It was then, on June 5, Israeli forces attacked the forces from Jordan, Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Kuwait, and Algeria which had joined together to attack Israel. Six days later, the United Nations brokered a cease-fire to end the war. By that time, Israel had almost doubled its size with the captured territories it had won in the battle, including East Jerusalem. The U.N. asked the Israelis to return the captured properties but their request was denied. Israel said it would return Gaza, the West Bank, the Golan Heights, and the Sinai in exchange for Arab recognition of the right of Israel to exist and guarantees against future attack. The Arab States refused, choosing a policy of no peace, no negotiation, and no recognition of Israel.

"The UN adopted Resolution 242 in late November 1967, five months after the Six-Day War ended. It took that long because intense and deliberate negotiations were needed to carefully craft a document that met the Arabs' demand for a return of land, and Israel's requirement that the Arabs recognize Israel's legitimacy, to make a lasting peace. It also took that long because each word in the resolution was deliberately chosen, and certain words were deliberately omitted, according to negotiators who drafted the resolution.

So, although Arab officials claim Resolution 242 requires Israel to withdraw from all territory it captured in June 1967, nowhere in the resolution is that demand delineated. Nor did those involved in the negotiations and drafting of the resolution want such a requirement. Instead, they say Resolution 242 explicitly and intentionally omitted the terms "the territories" or "all territories."

Because the Arabs were clearly the aggressors, nowhere in Resolution 242 is Israel branded as an invader or unlawful occupier of the territories. The wording of Resolution 242 clearly reflects the contention that none of the territories was occupied territory taken by force in an unjust war.

Given that the Palestinian Arabs never had sovereignty over the West Bank and East Jerusalem and Jordan had seized them illegally in 1948, Professor, Judge Stephen M. Schwebel, former president of the International Court of Justice in the Hague, concluded: "State [Israel] acting in lawful exercise of its right of self-defense may seize and occupy foreign territory as long as such seizure and occupation are necessary to its self-defense. ... Where the prior holder [Jordan] of territory had seized that territory unlawfully, the state which subsequently takes that territory in the lawful exercise of self-defense [Israel] has, against that prior holder, better title.

"As between Israel, reacting defensively in 1948 and 1967, on the one hand, and her Arab neighbors, acting aggressively, in 1948 and 1967, on the other, Israel has the better title in the territory of what was Palestine, including the whole of Jerusalem, than do Jordan and Egypt."
(http://www.2nd-thoughts.org/id248.html. See also id162 and id91)
Professor Julius Stone, a leading authority on the Law of Nations, has concurred, further clarifying: "Territorial Rights Under International Law. ... By their [Arab countries] armed attacks against the State of Israel in 1948, 1967, and 1973, and by various acts of belligerency throughout this period, these Arab states flouted their basic obligations as United Nations members to refrain from threat or use of force against Israel's territorial integrity and political independence. ..."

(The above seven paragraph quote was taken from this link: http://www.think-israel.org/hertz.unresolutions181and242.html)

On Dec. 23, 2016, the United States did not veto U.N. Security Council Resolution 2334, which specifies actions
against Israel that it (the U.S.) had vetoed in past resolutions. The resolution essentially aims to strip Israel of its territorial rights and arbitrarily awards the Palestinian Arabs with territories rightfully claimed by Israel. It can only be labeled what it is: an anti-Semitic ruling tacitly encouraged and endorsed by the current administration.

Israel has repeatedly shown a willingness to negotiate for a fair and lasting peace. The Arab people in the Middle East, not just those we refer to as Palestinians, need to put pressure on their leaders to work toward peace, not a continuing war. As Jefferson said, people get the government they deserve.

(Bob Meade is a Laconia resident. He may be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)

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Michelle Malkin - MTV protesting bigotry by practicing it

It's only the second week of 2017, but it's already been a banner year for preening liberals on cable TV who are hell-bent on self-immolation in the name of proving everyone else's moral inferiority.

To use young people's slang these days, you're "lit," media progressives. But not in a good way.

On Tuesday, just before the confirmation hearing for Attorney General nominee and Alabama GOP Sen. Jeff Sessions kicked off, an MTV News reporter demonstrated his high and mighty commitment to racial tolerance ... by mocking Sen. Sessions' half-Asian granddaughter. Sessions' daughter, Ruth, is married to Asian-American John Walk. They have four girls.

Upon spotting Sessions with one of his multiracial granddaughters sitting on his lap as he waited for the proceedings to begin, MTV News "culture writer" Ira Madison III tweeted a photo of them and snarked: "Sessions, sir, kindly return this Asian baby to the Toys 'R' Us you stole her from."

So much for liberals celebrating diversity. So much for Michelle Obama's rallying cry to the left that "our motto is, when they go low, we go high."

Madison sneered that Sessions' granddaughter was a "prop" and that there was "no reason for that child to be in his lap in a hearing other than to send an 'I'm not racist message.'" Even after being informed that the beautiful little girl was Sessions' biological grandchild, Madison continued to attack — accusing conservative critics of having "long used Asian-Americans as 'model minorities' since the rise of the (C)ivil (R)ights (A)ct." He further justified his bigotry by accusing Sen. Sessions of "horrendous anti-black behavior" and snidely dismissed the senator's "love for an Asian family member."

What better way to send an "I'm not racist message" than to double down on the revolting dehumanization of the family members of one's political opponents?

MTV News, which touts itself as the "conversation authority for the millennial audience," has become the Sideshow Bob of the internet. Like the hapless character in "The Simpsons" cartoon series who can't stop stepping on rakes and smashing in his face, this supposed "music" network keeps veering into the social justice lane — and causing bloody self-harm. (Fun fact: bigot Ira Madison, who purports to protest bigotry by practicing it, pens a column called "Delete Your Account," poking fun at social media blunders by public figures.)

Before Christmas, the same MTV News division that employs Madison aired a sanctimonious video titled "2017 Resolutions for White Guys." Reeking of extremist identity politics, a parade of smarmy millennials lectures every last white man on the planet to "try to recognize that America was never great for anyone who wasn't a white guy." While assailing "mansplaining," the cast proceeds to MTVsplain that "Black Lives Matter isn't the opposite of All Lives Matter. (...) Also, Blue Lives Matter isn't a thing."

Swamped by mockery on both sides of the aisle, MTV deleted the condescending video, but apparently not the condescending attitude.

We've seen it before in cable TV news. Former MSNBC host Melissa Harris-Perry indulged in holier-than-thou anti-racism racism when she openly mocked Mitt Romney's black adopted grandson in 2013 and laughed with other MSNBC commentators at a sweet holiday photo of the devout Mormon's large family.

And MSNBC was forced to apologize again in 2014 after conservative multiracial parents, including me, battled the network's vile racism slurring "right-wing" Americans as intolerant of biracial families featured in a Cheerios ad.

Responding to those of us who refused to tolerate their prejudice disguised as tolerance, MSNBC commentator Richard Wolffe insisted at the time: "That's not who we are."

We see you for exactly who you are: flaming hypocrites who can't help themselves. Stay lit!

(Syndicated columnist Michelle Malkin is the daughter of Filipino Immigrants. She was born in Philadelphia, raised in southern New Jersey and now lives with her husband and daughter in Colorado. Her weekly column is carried by more than 100 newspapers.)

 

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Jim Hightower - Bring those jobs home, Ivanka

It's about time America has a president who will stand up to those greed-headed corporate executives who keep hauling our middle-class jobs out of country. Bring those jobs back home, Donald Trump bellowed, or I'll slap you with a huuuge tariff when you try to sell your foreign-made products here.

Great stuff, Donnie. And to prove you mean business, I know just the CEO you should target first: Her name is Ivanka. Yes, your daughter!

Ivanka's multimillion-dollar line of clothing and accessories are sold through major national retailers, ranging from Macy's to Amazon, and she pitches her Ivanka Trump-branded dresses, handbags, boots, blouses, etc. to America's working women. Yet, practically all of her products are made on the cheap in factories anywhere but America, with most coming from the low-wage bastions of China, Indonesia and Vietnam. Imagine the message it would send to runaway corporations and the integrity it would establish for The Donald if he slapped his first tariffs on Ivanka's goods!

But neither Daddy Trump nor his daughter wants to discuss the embarrassing conflict between his political bluster and her ethic of runaway capitalism. Instead, she's tried to dodge the issue by saying it doesn't matter, since she'll "separate" herself from the business if she becomes a White House advisor.

Nice try, Ivanka, but the stench of hypocrisy will only grow nastier if you're at your father's side while he castigates and punishes other corporations that have absconded from America. The only way to salvage even an iota of moral virtue is to repatriate the manufacturing of your brand-name apparel. And bringing those middle-class jobs home to the good ol' US of A would also make a powerful political statement.

But no, showing that money trumps both political savvy and the morality of simply doing what's right, Ivanka says her corporate brand will stay offshore. As a spokeswoman put it: "We want to make responsible business decisions."

Really? How does that "Make America Great Again?"

But take heed, for I have good news, folks : our new president says he's planning a tax holiday for you!

Well... not directly for you. Trump's trillion-dollar whopper of a tax break will go to only a handful of multinational corporations, such as Apple, GE, Johnson & Johnson and Microsoft. However, Trump and Congress will push for cuts in your name, insisting that the trickle-down effect will be to create thousands of new jobs for America's hard-hit working stiffs.

Here's the deal: The giants of Big Pharma, Silicon Valley and other global industries have dodged paying the taxes they owe to our country by stashing about $2-trillion worth of their profits in offshore bank accounts. Now they want to bring this pile of loot back here to their homeland — yet they want to be rewarded for doing so by having the taxes they owe to us slashed. Enter The Donald, who has delighted those scofflaws by offering a better deal than even they'd proposed: an income tax rate of only 10 percent, versus the 30 percent you and I pay for America's upkeep. Trust me, exclaims The Donald. They'll expand their business here and generate jobs for you!

I was born at night, but it wasn't last night. We've been suckered with this tax holiday scam before. In 2004, George W. Bush pulled it on us — and instead of creating jobs, the corporate tax-dodgers eliminated thousands more of our jobs!

Why'd that happen? Because they put their "repatriated" profits not into expanding business, but by buying back their corporation's stock, which jacks up the payout to top executives and the richest shareholders, and by shrinking the number of businesses by buying up competitors and firing duplicate workforces.

The way to know whether or not Trump's tax holiday will benefit workers is to see if it requires that corporations actually create the thousands of good jobs promised before they get the tax break. Anything less is just another swindle.

(Jim Hightower has been called American's most popular populist. The radio commentator and former Texas Commissioner of Agriculture is author of seven books, including "There's Nothing In the Middle of Road but Yellow Stripes and Dead Armadillos" and his new work, "Swim Against the Current: Even Dead Fish Can Go With The Flow".)

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Lakes Region Hiking — Ancient pines of the Hemenway State Forest

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The village of Tamworth from the pastures of the Remick Farm

By Gordon DuBois

Throughout the world ancient forests are disappearing, being devastated by man, for economic gain. These age-old forests are being destroyed every day to supply cheap lumber, paper, pulp and palm oil to the world. Thousands of acres are cut daily, extinguishing the last remnants of woodlands that in some cases are more than 1,000 years old. In the United States, pockets of ancient forests have been protected from the modern industrial machine. Forests have been preserved in our National Parks and Monuments, state forests and parks. Private individuals, conservation groups and nonprofit agencies such as the Nature Conservancy have played a major role in preservation of our ancient woods. These protected forests can be found throughout the United States: the giant sequoia in California, the redwoods in Oregon, the bristle cone pine in California, the cypress in Florida.

Here in New Hampshire we have our own protected ancient forests, small but worthy of protection: the red spruce in Nancy Pond Natural Area, pitch pine-scrub oak in the Ossipee Pine Barrens, hemlock in Chesterfield Gorge and Pisgah State Park and black gum. The black gum tree is apparently the longest-lived broadleaf deciduous tree in North America. Six sites have been documented in New Hampshire that have black gum trees older than 500 years, with the oldest individual at one of these sites exceeding 679 years in Rockingham County.

Close to the Lakes Region is the Big Pines Natural Area of the Hemenway State Forest. These 108 acres of protected forest represents one of the last visages of the old growth forests of white pine that covered the northeastern United States. Within the past 200 years, most of the forestland has been cut for farming and logging. For some unknown reason this stand and others in the northeast escaped the woodsman's ax. These behemoths have not only withstood the colonial mast trade, but the great lumbering era, survived the great hurricane of 1938, disease, rot and invasive pests.

For many years I had driven by the Hemenway State Forest. It had always been of interest to me. Then a friend suggested a hike through the woodland and I accepted. I started the hike with several other hiking companions at the Big Pines trail head, off route 113A in Tamworth. When we entered the Hemenway State Forest I was struck by the towering and immense stand of white pines that have been around for more than 200 years. Hemlocks 250 to 300 years also grow here. The trail was well packed and it was an easy stroll with micro spikes, stopping to admire the many gigantic pines, some more than 150 feet in height. We craned our necks looking toward the sky, trying to see the upper reaches of these trees. We stopped in front of one monstrous white pine and were awestruck by the circumference of the trunk. We then made a chain of human hands around the tree and it took 5 of us to totally encircle the tree, amazing.

We continued our walk through the ancient forest and then began the ascent of Tower Hill, a steep climb to this height of land with views of the surrounding terrain. A fire tower graces the summit, still maintained by the Tamworth Conservation Commission. We climbed to the top of the tower and entered the fire warden's cabin to find spectacular views of the Ossipee and Sandwich Mountain Ranges. In the distance, Whiteface, Passaconaway, Square Ledge and Chocorua gleamed in the bright sun.

As I gazed at Chocorua, with its distinctive summit, I thought of the Native American legend, "The Curse of Chocorua." As legend has it, in 1720 Chocorua, a native chief, was on friendly terms with settlers and in particular the Campbell family that had a home in the village now called Tamworth. Chocorua was called away and left his son in the care of the Campbell family, early settlers in the village. Chocorua's son found and drank a poison that Mr. Campbell had made to eliminate troublesome foxes. When Chocorua returned he found his son had died of the poison. Chocorua, distraught with grief, pledged revenge on the Campbell family. Shortly thereafter, Mr. Campbell returned home one afternoon to find his wife and children had been slain. Campbell suspected Chocorua and pursued him up the mountain that today bears his name. Chocorua was wounded by a shot from Campbell's musket. Before Campbell could reach Chocorua, he uttered a curse upon the white settlers and their homes, livestock, and crops, and leapt from the summit to his death, screaming these words, "May the Great Spirit curse you when he speaks in the clouds and his words are fire! Lightning blast your crops! Wind and fire destroy your homes! The Evil One breathe death on your cattle! Panthers howl and wolves fatten on your bones!" Given the fact that many early settlers, tired of trying to farm the rock-laden soil, left New Hampshire to find more fertile land further west. Most certainly they sensed the curse of Chocorua.

With that I mind I hustled down the tower and we began our trek back to the highway. We took a side path that led us along a nature trail which identified particular plants and trees of along the pathway. The total distance of this hike was two miles. This would make a terrific outing for a family. The trail is easy to follow as it winds its way through the Big Pines, and eventually leads to Tower Hill with its eponymous fire tower.

Following our exit of the Hemenway State Forest, we made our way back to Tamworth for a respite at the Other Store on Main Street. This general store is very welcoming and sells everything from ice cream to snow shovels, from nails to post cards. We stopped in the store and were greeted by Andrea Kennet, who offered us hot soup and sandwiches. We had lunch, chatted briefly with town folk, learning more about the store and the history of the town. This is one of those quintessential New England towns that appear on the Currier and Ives pictures we see in Yankee Magazine.

Following our lunch we made our way over to the Remick Country Doctor Museum and Farm. We found the farm museum closed, but took advantage of a trail that winds around the property. While walking this trail we found striking views of the farm and Tamworth Village along with Mount Chocorua in the far distance.

Located on Cleveland Hill Road in the center of Tamworth village, this working farm was the home of the Remick family since 1790. Dr. Edwin Remick and his son Dr. Edwin "Doc" Crafts Remick, lived and practiced medicine on the farm for a combined 99 years, serving the rural population of Tamworth and the surrounding area. The museum and farm are open year round, but the best time to visit is during the summer when the livestock – goats, pigs, chickens, sheep and dairy cows  – are grazing in the pastures and willing to greet visitors, especially children. Special programs are offered year-round. If you are interested in learning more about this unique New Hampshire institution check out their web site, remickmuseum.org.

You can find Gordon and his dog Reuben exploring the many hiking trails in the Lakes Region and beyond. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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Fire tower at summit of Tower HillRemick Farm

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