Palestinians are flying ‘fire balloons’ into Israeli territory, report says

Palestinian protestors are sending flaming helium balloons into Israeli territory during the “March of Return” protests in Gaza, following similar stories last month of burning “incendiary kites” being flown and injuring protestors.

The tactic has resulted in thousands of acres of valuable farm land and nature preserves being burned, the Times of Israel reported.

The helium balloons outfitted with flaming material attached to a long string have been used for at least the last month and a half, but the tactic has more recently picked up traction. Approximately 4,300 acres of land have already been burned as a result of more than 250 fires during the last two months from both balloons and kites.

For now, the Israeli military says that it has yet to come up with a way to combat the threat of the flaming objects. Originally, a pilot program utilizing drones to shoot down the objects was in practice, but ultimately deemed a failure, Israel’s Kan TV said. Instead, Israel must resort to preparedness and a rapid response when fires do break out.

The biggest problem, authorities said, is that the fires have destroyed valuable farm land along with more than half of Isreal’s nature reserves. Farmers are tasked with digging out borders surrounding the fires in order to starve the flames out and save some of the land, and around 2,470 acres of parks and natural reserves have also been destroyed just in the last few weeks.

On Saturday, some 74 acres of the Carmia nature reserve burned in one of the largest individual fires since the start of the protests. The damage claimed one-third of the park’s total land area, and Israel’s Hadashot news reported that the blaze was likely started by a fire balloon.

Approximately 620 acres of Jewish National Fund forests have also burned, according to a spokesperson for the organization.

The fires will likely cost Israel millions of dollars in damages, with the Tax Authority estimating that the farmland alone will need more than $1.4 million to recover. The money will be paid out from the government’s fund for damage caused by terrorist activity.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also announced that the government would withhold funds from the Palestinian Authority to cover the costs. The decision was met with some criticism by analysts who pointed out that the PA does not control the Gaza Strip, and punishing the PA for Hamas’ actions would likely encourage Hamas to continue with its fire-enduing tactics rather than stopping them.

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David Hogg’s Florida Home ‘Swatted’ by Prank Hostage Call

Hogg and cops said a prank call targeted the teenage school-shooting survivor’s home, triggering a substantial law-enforcement response. PARKLAND, Florida-Stoneman Douglas High School shooting survivor David Hogg , now one of the most outspoken voices in the anti-gun violence “March for our Lives” movement, was the victim of a “swatting” prank Tuesday morning, when police responded to a hoax call about criminal activity at Hogg’s Florida home.

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When They Said They Would Be Clogging, We Didn’t Know What To Think. Then The Music Started

If you don’t know what clogging is, you’re in for a treat. But if you do, you might be surprised to learn that eight clogging dancers were able to share moves that went viral on the internet. Viral videos come in all shapes and sizes. But often they revolve around cute animals or babies or they are clips of extreme situations that stun.

Clips showcasing talent can also be popular.

But for them to capture the attention of millions of people online (people are just a click away from the latest, greatest cat video), the performers need to be world-class – like make Simon Cowell burst into tears world class. And when you tune into this video, you’ll see why the dancers at the Tap This! dance group has attracted attention from all over the globe. Tune in and prepare to be clogged!

The award-winning dance group shows off the potential of clogging as they bang out their dance moves to Andy Grammar’s “Honey I’m Good.” And when you watch their moves, you’ll be impressed.

Because clogging is not a highly popular dance, Tap This! has given hope to young people everywhere. They have proven that if you dedicate yourself to your craft, you can rise to world-class status.

According to their online page, “Tap This! is a four-time national championship clogging team from Lincoln, Nebraska. The blending of different dance forms and percussive footwork gives a high energy performance that leaves audiences on their feet and wanting more.”

If that doesn’t make you want to go on a clogging video binge, then I don’t know what could!

The clip below gives you a taste of what these dancers are able to create. You can imagine how much more powerful their footwork would be if you were watching them in person. The video only captures part of the experience. And clogging is so much more than how they look on stage. Their choreography is spot on, and they’re full of energy and passion for the art of clogging.

While we’ve gone on a bit of a rant about clogging, you might not yet know what it is. But it is a type of dance performance that has a rich history that spans years. These dancers participated in the Clogging Champions of America. And on their website, the CCA describes more about the history of clogging and how it became a championship sport.

“Clogging Champions of America was formed in 1997 to generate more activity and interest in clogging and competition, to promote a spirit of fun and fellowship, and to make sure the beginner clogger will get to enjoy competing as much as the clogger who has been in it for years.”

The CCA also aims “to create an atmosphere of spirited and sportsmanlike competition, and to provide more opportunities for cloggers within the competitive and entertainment realms.”

Clogging can be a great activity and way for people to get exercise, meet like-minded people and have fun.

If you’re interested in cloggers, check out the video below and see how the champions do it!

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Suicide Rates for Black Children Twice That of Whites

African-American children are taking their lives at roughly twice the rate of their white counterparts, according to a new study that shows a widening gap between the two groups.

The 2001-2015 data, published Monday in the journal JAMA Pediatrics, confirm a pattern first identified several years ago when researchers at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Ohio found that the rate of suicides for black children ages 5 to 12 exceeded that of young whites. The results were seen in both boys and girls.

Although suicide is rare among young children, the latest findings reinforce the need for better research into the racial disparities, lead author Jeffrey Bridge said Monday. Suicide is one of the leading causes of death for older children and adolescents in the U.S.

{snip}

Historically, suicide rates in the U.S. have been higher for whites than blacks across all age groups. That remains the case for adolescents, ages 13 to 17, according to the new study. White teens continue to have a 50 percent higher rate of suicide than black teens.

Overall between 1999 and 2015, more than 1,300 children ages 5 to 12 took their own lives in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Those numbers translate into an average of one child 12 or younger dying by suicide every five days. The pace has actually accelerated in recent years, CDC statistics indicate.

{snip}

Although the study was unable to provide a cultural context for the racial difference in suicide rates, psychiatrist Samoon Ahmad thinks a number of reasons could account for the disparity.

“To me, the 5-12 range is more related to developmental issues and the possible lack of a family network, social network and cultural activities,” said Ahamad, a clinical associate professor at the NYU School of Medicine who was not involved in the research. “And with the introduction of social media, there is more isolation with children, not as much neighborhood play. Kids are more socially in their own vacuum.”

Ahmad described this age group as “probably the most vulnerable.” Yet adults tend to think the children are somehow too young to experience such depths of despair, he noted.

{snip}

In 2017, research by Bridge and colleagues found that among children, ages 5 to 11, and young adolescents, ages 12 to 14, those who took their own lives were more likely to be male, African American and dealing with stressful relationships at home or with friends. Children who had a mental health problem at the time of death were more likely than young adolescents to have been diagnosed with attention-deficit disorder or attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder.

{snip}

That 2017 report found more than a third of elementary school-aged suicides involved black children compared to just 11.6 percent of early adolescent suicides.

{snip}

[Editor’s Note: The JAMA study is available for purchase here.]

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US poison control centers receive 29 calls per day about children exposed to ADHD medications

A new study conducted by the Center for Injury Research and Policy and the Central Ohio Poison Center at Nationwide Children’s Hospital found that there were more than 156,000 calls to US Poison Control Centers regarding exposures to attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder medications among children and adolescents 19 years of age and younger from January 2000 through December 2014, averaging 200 calls each week or 29 calls per day. The study, published online today in the journal Pediatrics , found that while the number of calls about ADHD medication exposures among children and adolescents fluctuated throughout the years of the study there was on overall increase of 61% during the study period.

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Lawmakers: Drug Distributors Missed Suspicious Opioid Sales

WASHINGTON (AP) — Lawmakers of both parties accused wholesale pharmaceutical distributors on Tuesday of missing signs of suspicious activity that resulted in hundreds of millions of prescription opioid pills being shipped to West Virginia, a state …

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The school shooting epidemic as a slow-motion riot

At least 10 people were killed today in a school shooting at a Texas high school. There’s still a lot we don’t know about the shooter and his motives. No doubt we’ll still be writing about that for days or weeks to come. But today National Review’s David French steps back from this particular instance and takes a look at the pattern of shootings. French is relying heavily on a piece written by Malcolm Gladwell back in 2015 which attempted to offer an explanation for the pattern of shootings over the past couple decades. Gladwell starts by introducing some social science on the topic of riots and what drives them:

In a famous essay published four decades ago, the Stanford sociologist Mark Granovetter set out to explain a paradox: “situations where outcomes do not seem intuitively consistent with the underlying individual preferences.” What explains a person or a group of people doing things that seem at odds with who they are or what they think is right? Granovetter took riots as one of his main examples, because a riot is a case of destructive violence that involves a great number of otherwise quite normal people who would not usually be disposed to violence…

Granovetter thought it was a mistake to focus on the decision-making processes of each rioter in isolation. In his view, a riot was not a collection of individuals, each of whom arrived independently at the decision to break windows. A riot was a social process, in which people did things in reaction to and in combination with those around them. Social processes are driven by our thresholds—which he defined as the number of people who need to be doing some activity before we agree to join them. In the elegant theoretical model Granovetter proposed, riots were started by people with a threshold of zero—instigators willing to throw a rock through a window at the slightest provocation. Then comes the person who will throw a rock if someone else goes first. He has a threshold of one. Next in is the person with the threshold of two. His qualms are overcome when he sees the instigator and the instigator’s accomplice. Next to him is someone with a threshold of three, who would never break windows and loot stores unless there were three people right in front of him who were already doing that—and so on up to the hundredth person, a righteous upstanding citizen who nonetheless could set his beliefs aside and grab a camera from the broken window of the electronics store if everyonearound him was grabbing cameras from the electronics store.

The important point here is one that Gladwell reaches later: “the longer a riot goes on, the less the people who join it resemble the people who started it.” Sure, at the start, the people breaking windows are probably the kind of hotheads who would do that on any pretext. But as the riot spreads, eventually the people participating are people who are only doing so because everyone else around them is doing it. They are people who would never have thrown the first rock.

Gladwell’s idea is to apply this concept to the kind of misfit losers who commit school shootings. I won’t go into all the details (you can read his entire piece for that) but he posits that the Columbine shooting created a kind of social script for others to follow. And people have been following. It’s very common for school shooters to be people obsessed with previous school shooters, especially the Columbine killers. Even the shooter in the Texas high school today appears to have been fond of wearing a black trench coat to school.

Now imagine that the riot takes a big step further along the progression—to someone with an even higher threshold, for whom the group identification and immersion in the culture of school shooting are even more dominant considerations. That’s John LaDue…LaDue is a scholar of the genre, who speaks of his influences the way a budding filmmaker might talk about Fellini or Bergman. “The other one was Charles Whitman. I don’t know if you knew who that was. He was who they called the sniper at the Austin Texas University. He was an ex-marine. He got like sixteen, quite impressive.”

So if you imagine the series of school shootings as a kind of slow-motion riot spread out over years, then as more cases make the news, more people reach the threshold for participation. People who would never have been the first to do something like this are willing to be the 10th or 20th. And as this progresses, some of the people involved become less identifiable as the kind of obviously troubled kids who might consider something like this.

In the day of Eric Harris, we could try to console ourselves with the thought that there was nothing we could do, that no law or intervention or restrictions on guns could make a difference in the face of someone so evil. But the riot has now engulfed the boys who were once content to play with chemistry sets in the basement. The problem is not that there is an endless supply of deeply disturbed young men who are willing to contemplate horrific acts. It’s worse. It’s that young men no longer need to be deeply disturbed to contemplate horrific acts.

I would point out that Nikolas Cruz, the Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school shooter, seems like the kind of low threshold person who would throw the first brick in a riot. So it’s not necessarily the case that with each new school shooting we’re getting kids who seem less obviously prone to this sort of thing. We’re still seeing kids who were obviously troubled (and should have been stopped). Does that mean Gladwell’s thesis is wrong? Maybe it just means that, as the riot expands, everyone below the current threshold joins in, not just those at the highest limit. If five people are throwing bricks and someone else walks up who is a zero (i.e. prone to throw the first brick even if alone) he’ll simply join in with the other five without hesitation. There can be more than one person at each level so the progression won’t be always upward.

Finally, based on Gladwell’s analysis, David French recommends a solution to the problem:

it’s the pattern of elaborate preparation and obsession with the subculture of mass shooters that has led in part to my own advocacy of the gun-violence restraining order. While we don’t have sufficient details about today’s shooter in Texas to know if it would have made a difference, it’s a fact that large numbers of mass shooters broadcast warning signals of their intent to do harm, and it’s also a fact that family members and other relevant people close to the shooter have few tools at their disposal to prevent violence. A gun-violence restraining order can allow a family member (or school principle) to quickly get in front of a local judge for a hearing (with full due-process protections) that can result in the temporary confiscation of weapons from a proven dangerous person.

This sounds like the sort of thing that might help in some instances, but remember that in the case of Nikolas Cruz, police had been to the house many times but never took any firm action. And the people he was living with just prior to the shooting say he never betrayed any signs of troubling behavior. So even if this program had been in place, it’s not clear it would have been used against Cruz.

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When Calling 911 Makes the Emergency

Dear White People,

I’m scared of you.

Almost all of you have a superpower that I’m in fear of. You have the power to call the police and be automatically believed. {snip}

{snip}

I obviously respect every citizen’s right—slash duty—to engage the police when there’s actual danger or when there’s a real crime taking place. But some white people are wearing crime glasses that make normal actions by black people like walking, sitting, or sleeping appear criminal. {snip} If you think someone being black somehow justifies expecting criminality from them then you are a part of the problem. Keep this in mind: The overwhelming majority of black people have never and will never commit a crime. {snip}

But white fear is only part of the story. {snip} I think in some cases people leap to call the police as an expression of dominance.

{snip}

Allow me to reclaim the term white power—I don’t mean it in any Klanish sort of way but in this sense: to use law enforcement in this way in an attempt to police black behavior is a form and direct expression of white power and privilege in America. The ability to call in armed guards to remind someone that white privilege means being able to call the cops and be automatically believed and even lie and get away with it is an exercise in that power.

{snip}

{snip} I have witnessed a white person in my neighborhood call the police on a black person over a slight disagreement where there was no threat involved. It was more of a desire to pull rank. {snip} You can see why I’m afraid.

{snip} If you think the police tend to show up and calmly assess the situation and foment peace and smile and leave, well, you may need to remember that’s not usually the black experience. {snip}

Black interactions with police can too easily lead to trauma or death. In many situations, calling the police on a black person can be like tossing a grenade at them.

If at any point you’re thinking, well if black people were just cool to the police then there’d be no problems then you are also part of the problem and mistaken. {snip}

That said, if a black person is not committing a crime and they have to stop and explain to a police officer who they are and why they’re there, I can understand why they might lose their cool. It’s frightening to have the police question you, even if you’ve done nothing wrong, especially when you’re black and you know doing nothing wrong isn’t necessarily the end of the story. Not only is it frightening, but it’s frustrating, enraging, insulting, and triggering—I can understand why someone would be indignant about having to prove their innocence or their right to be there. It’s enraging to have a law-abiding existence interrupted by police officers who are demanding that you defend your right to be in that space while performing a basic, legal human activity. And sometimes you just don’t have the energy to kowtow, even for the police. And black indignance is read by some officers as disrespect. {snip}

{snip} When black people are involved the police are an unpredictable, chaotic weapon that could end a life, like Eric Garner’s or Tamir Rice’s or Sean Bell’s. I could go on.

I live in Brooklyn. I don’t fear the Klan. I don’t worry about no Proud Boys. I fear the random white person who calls the police when I’m doing nothing. I also fear the police. {snip}

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