Shorter Question Everything
• Metro Vancouver storm surge a climate-change preview, expert says: Logs and debris smashed into Stanley Park’s seawall Monday, causing significant damage to the pathway from Second Beach to the Siwash Rock. The seawall was closed from Second Beach to Lions Gate Bridge as waves ricocheted over its path onto the cliff face.
• Police in Vancouver locked down the Thunderbird Elementary School in East Vancouver on Monday morning while they investigated an apparent threat to the students’ safety. The lock down was ended by 3 p.m. PT without any injuries. Police did not elaborate on the nature of the threats.
• Forsaken: Inquiry on missing Vancouver women slams police failures, public blindness. Recommendations: The report makes 63 recommendations in all. They include that the province establish a Greater Vancouver police force – as opposed to the combination of municipal departments and RCMP detachments currently in place – and that the province also establish a compensation fund for the children of the missing and murdered women. Though he doesn’t count it as a formal recommendation, Mr. Oppal also urges the province to immediately provide funding for centres that provide emergency services to women engaged in the sex trade.
• Canada’s Conservative government will soon stop producing and distributing medical marijuana, leaving it up to the private sector in a policy change that angered critics on Monday. Canada’s Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq made the announcement on Sunday, claiming current regulations “have left the system open to abuse.” “We have heard real concerns from law enforcement, fire officials, and municipalities about how people are hiding behind these rules to conduct illegal activity, and putting health and safety of Canadians at risk,” the minister said. “These changes will make it far more difficult for people to game the system.” Aglukkaq said Ottawa would no longer produce and distribute marijuana for medical purposes. Instead, companies will be licenced to grow and sell the product at market rates.
• Shame will do that: Pro-gun America relatively quiet in wake of Sandy Hook massacre.
• Michael Moore – “If only the first victim, Adam Lanza’s mother, had been a gun owner, she could have stopped this before it started.”
• Is the NRA working for casual gun-owners, many of whom, according to polling, support tougher restrictions on gun ownership— or is the NRA serving the gunmaker lobby— which is purely interested in policies that will promote greater gun sales and more profits? Any gun control policy debate should begin with this question.
• The largest U.S. gun-rights organization — typically outspoken about its positions even after shooting deaths — has gone all but silent since last week’s rampage at a Newtown, Connecticut, elementary school that left 26 people dead, including 20 children. The National Rifle Association’s Facebook page has disappeared. The NRA has posted no tweets. It makes no mention of the shooting on its website. None of its leaders hit the media circuit Sunday to promote its support of the U.S. Constitution’s Second Amendment right to bear arms.
• Adam Lanza is the shooter in the most recent domestic gun-slaughter, this time at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut. His first victim was his mother, who owned the weapons he used to kill her and then twenty children, most aged 5 to 10 years old. NRA fetishists (sorry, arms manufacturer sales-support groups) think the tragedy could have been stopped if only Adam Lanza’s first victims had been armed. Except of course, his first victim was armed. She was a gun owner. And her gun got her killed. And twenty kids along with her.
• Other countries also have violent movies, video games, and no corresponding rise in violent crime. The games aren’t the problem: As Annalee Newitz reminds us in a valuable post at io9, there is no conclusive evidence that consuming violent games, movies, or comics leads to violent behavior in the real world. And at the Washington Post, Max Fischer ran the numbers on video game popularity in countries with much lower rates of gun violence, and found no correlation between game play and real-world violence. And there’s something deeply sophistic, in the absence of that evidence, about pivoting away from questions of effective gun control to proposals for video game regulation or condemnation. At least discussion of the mental health care system is part of a reasonable tapestry of efforts, including gun control, that we ought to be considering, if not a substitute for conversations about magazine capacities and the reinstatement of the assault weapons ban. Blaming video games or any other kind of violent media for causing violence in the real world is a dodge from policy solutions.
• Common Ground on Gun Legislation: Listen to NRA Members, Not Its Con-Artist Leadership. “If we’re going to get past this almost hysterical fear of trying to do anything at all on gun rights,” MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow asked on Friday during her breaking coverage of the mass shootings at the Sandy Hook elementary school in Newtown, CT, “if we’re going to try to puncture the myth that anything to reform or rationalize gun laws is absolutely, politically impossible as a categorical thing, what would happen if we just started at the edges?” “What would happen if we just started with what even members of the NRA say they want from national gun laws? Because they want a hell of a lot more than we’ve got right now,” she correctly noted. “The organization that they’re a member of may not admit that, but when you poll their members, even they want improvements.” If we could reform gun safety laws just enough in this country to meet the wishes of the vast majority of the NRA membership, we would be leaps and bounds beyond the deadly political quagmire we have been languishing in as a nation — thanks to the insidious liars and profiteers of the NRA and the cowardly politicians afraid to take them on — for at least a decade in this country.
• No, Mr. Huckabee, It’s Not Because God Has Been Removed From Schools: So, according the “reasoning” of Mike Huckabee and Brian Fischer, incidents of gun violence in schools must have been nonexistent before 1962, since that’s when God was “removed” from schools, right? Wrong. At the end of this post is a list of dozens of school shootings that occurred prior to 1962 — all committed by students, teachers, and others who presumably grew up praying in school. One of these shootings even occurred at a Sunday school — in 1886. And how do Huckabee and Fischer explain the school shootings that have occurred at Christian schools? When 15-year-old Virginia Beach student Nicholas Elliott shot and killed his teacher in 1988 and then attempted to shoot his classmates, was it because prayer had been removed from his school? Probably not, since that shooting took place at the Atlantic Shores Christian School. Was the 2006 shooting at the West Nickel Mines School in Pennsylvania, in which ten young girls were shot, five of whom died, because the Amish turned their backs on God?
• Anonymous vows to ‘destroy’ Westboro Baptist Church over Sandy Hook picket plans. “Your impact and cause is hazardous to the lives of millions and you fail to see the wrong in promoting the deaths of innocent people,” an “Anonymous” video featuring a computerized voice says over ominous music. “You are self-appointed servants of God who rewrite the words of his sacred scripture to adhere to your prejudice. Your hatred supersedes your faith, and you use faith to promote your hatred.” The voice goes on to explain that members of the collective have decided “to execute an agenda of action which will progressively dismantle” the church. It doesn’t say how, but warns that “attrition is our weapon,” and that the campaign may be long.
• Michigan’s Gov. Rick Snyder said Monday that he’ll take a closer look at a piece of gun legislation headed to his desk that would allow concealed weapons in previously “gun-free zones” like churches and schools.
In other news
• NBC News’ chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel and his crew are safely out of Syria after being held captive for five days. Engel and the crew were kidnapped Thursday morning after entering Syria. They were blindfolded and put in the back of a truck. Other than being bound and blindfolded while they were held, the team wasn’t injured.
• Arizona birthers: The state’s 11 Republican electors formally cast their ballots today for Mitt Romney — but not before three of them said questions remain about whether Barack Obama was born in this country.
• A laptop computer stolen from a vehicle of a NASA employee on Halloween contained sensitive, private information on more than 10,000 current and former NASA employees, an internal report revealed Monday.
• Israel on Monday gave the green light for developers to go ahead with controversial plans to build 1,500 settler homes in Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem, the interior ministry told AFP. Spokeswoman Efrat Orbach said that the ministry’s planning committee had told the applicants to trim their request to build 1,600 new housing units at Ramat Shlomo to 1,500 and resubmit it “for final approval.” The plan caused a diplomatic rift with Washington when it was first announced in 2010 as US Vice President Joe Biden met top Israeli officials in Jerusalem to boost Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. It has lain dormant since August 2011 but two weeks ago the ministry announced that it had been revived.
• The founder of the Domino’s Pizza chain filed a lawsuit on Friday in an effort to prevent his employees from accessing free contraception through the company’s health insurance provider. Tom Monaghan, a billionaire who founded Domino’s Pizza but has since resigned and now owns the company’s office complex, is a devout Catholic and believes that using contraception is “gravely immoral,” according to his court filing. The suit adds that prior to the Affordable Care Act’s passage, the company specifically sought out insurance that does not cover contraception.
• Russia sent warships to the Mediterranean to prepare a potential evacuation of its citizens from Syria, a Russian news agency today, in a sign President Bashar al-Assad’s key ally is worried about rebel advances that now threaten even the capital.