Would You Like to Donate $1 Today to Bring Deadbeat dads to Justice?

Happy Father’s Day to my Dad, and all Dads out there except the deadbeat dads.

Yeah, you can call me judgmental, but a happy Father’s Day isn’t a right. Check with the United Nations. It’s a privilege, and deadbeat dads certainly haven’t earned it.

Anyway, I had an idea for fundraising for the cause that’s a little funny, but might just be effective.

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Would You Commit Vigilante Justice to Stop Severe Bullying on Your Kids if the System Couldn’t?

Parents generally say they’d die to save their kids if ever in such a situation. Would they really? Bullying in America might just put that to the test soon. See why and take the survey at the end.

There is a bullying epidemic going on in America. For all the awareness being done about it, there doesn’t seem to be anything more concrete that is producing actions and results. Ellen Degeneres puts out a message that goes viral. People around the country wear pink for a day. However, while people are listening, they all seem just to shake their heads at the problem and get on with their lives afterward.

We just hear more stories about kids and young adults committing suicide over bullying, often with a history in each case where the signs were all there, but that the system just ignored them and failed the people involved. It was bad enough in Mentor, Ohio, a very prevalent CNN Top 100 Places to Live neighbourhood, that 4 bullied teens has committed suicide, one after another, and all the school could say was that complaints lodged were deleted during a computer transfer (Yahoo Oct 8 2010). The family even had to watch the bullies come past the open casket at the wake and laugh at their daughter lying there dead!

I don’t know what the answer is to stop the rash of bullying going on in America, but I’m pretty sure it’s going to take a concerted effort from the top to the bottom. There needs to be some visible leadership to get some laws in to make it a heavily punishable crime. The people in the system, especially the school system, needs to buy in to watch for signs and take complaints more seriously. However, I think the most crucial element will be the “organic” one from everyday people because you can put in all the laws you want, if you can’t enforce them, they’re no good. It takes a presence to see or notice things going on in order to prove, if not stop in the moment, the bullying going on. If the cops could do that to the level needed to stop bullying, there’d be no epidemic like there currently is. Local grass roots movements are going to have to be set up and mobilized to reduce the bullying, whether by preventing it in the first place or providing enough evidence to convict those guilty. If not, I am afraid that sooner or later, there will follow a rash of stories about Parents taking justice into their own hands to commit violence against the bullying kids and young adults, to try and stop the bullying, because they just feel nothing else can be done.

Am I crazy to think this? Try this train of thought, then answer the poll at the end.

As a Parent, would you be willing to die to save your kid’s life if a situation let you make this decision?

Whether you are a Parent or not, I think you know the perception in society is that a lot of good Parents would say “yes”.

Well, committing assault or murder against some kids to stop severe bullying on your kids is just a situation. In some cases, there are plenty of signs, and complaints lodged just go unanswered for years, like that in Mentor, Ohio. That’s plenty of time to think about “stepping in” with some vigilante justice. It’s not even a sudden situation like a car underwater and you have to make a decision to get your kids out before you to save them while dying in the process. This can be thought about, or come to a boiling point for rash action one day. Furthermore, you probably don’t even have to die for it. Just plea bargain for life in prison, if it’s murder, or plea guilty for less penalty if it’s not murder as the death penalty might not apply. What jury wouldn’t “understand” your choice? The jury might still give you a lighter sentence or acquit you even if you don’t plea guilty. There have been far more ridiculous acquittals than a crime for your “cause”. And because it’s usually more than one person doing the bullying, you could save the world a bunch of bullies for one “life”. Isn’t “fair trade” in these days?

Is that what it’s going to take before anybody does anything about this bullying?

I would certainly hope not! But how much patience does America have? Wait. America and patience?

Also, let’s hope the Parents of kids who committed suicide over bullying don’t take any drastic actions after their kids’ death, either, when they may perceive there isn’t anything else to live for. Hey, lots of people do revenge killings for things far less than their children. Killing out of revenge for your kid’s death is pretty real, in my mind.

I hope America will stop its soul searching soon and get doing something about this bullying epidemic. There’s no need for soul searching here. It’s just wrong! So get going to do something about it.

What can be done you might ask?

Well, how’s about forming something like a voluntary citizen neighbourhood patrol? Or have a group of people willing to accompany the bully victims where they aren’t under supervision, like the walks to and from school, or even in school over lunch and such? Just one person with a victim would do. It doesn’t have to even be someone big and strong, either. Just having another person there to be a credible witness would deter a lot of bullies. One bullied student’s story versus a group that lie together to defend themselves may be hard to win a case on, but one adult who can confirm the bullied student’s story turns the tables completely. Get a group together where individuals could be called upon as cases arise. It’s voluntary, but I hear there are a lot of unemployed Americans these days. Surely there must be some among them who would be willing to step up, if not some retired people and just other good citizens able to find the time.

Schools could also have more supervision around, and rules about what students could be kicked out for, whether kicked out of school or just the lunch cafeteria. Give the bullied students some places of solace. Take their complaints more seriously.

While none of this would likely ever stop the bullying, it probably could relieve it enough that far fewer students might get to the point of suicide. It might not be cool for the bullied student to be viewed as needing an adult to protect them, but I don’t think being cool is their first priority in life under the circumstances.

Meanwhile, get some laws in to make punishments for bullying real to those who do it. They’re mostly not yet adults. They’ll not likely be charged with a lot of jail time anyway. So just put in a bill for some jail time for starters.

And continue the awareness efforts. Just make sure there’s more to go with it.

It’ll be interesting to see where this goes in the next couple of years. Let’s hope it’ll never get to Parents committing violence on the kids. But in the meanwhile, the question lingers in my mind.

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Notes:

I am not a Parent so I am not writing this with emotional blindness a Parent might. I can only imagine the situation. Yet, I feel it is realistic enough a situation that I think if I were a Parent, I might just answer “yes” to my own poll.

As for the bullies, ironically, they’re the ones with the least self-esteem. Not able to succeed in life by the measures the rest of society uses to determine success, they have to gang up on individuals just to feel good about themselves… and they can’t even do it alone. Unfortunately for them, life doesn’t afford them this opportunity for ever. It’ll only be a matter of time before their loser status catches up to them, and it’ll be a lot harder to dig out later in life than earlier. Too bad they’re too stupid to realize this.

Flesch-Kincaid Grade Reading Level: 8.0

Details and Implications of the US Navy Freeing Captain Richard Phillips from Somali Pirates

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This post was originally created from live coverage of a Pentagon press conference (Sun 4 pm EST) by Vice-Admiral William Gortney (YouTube clip at end), and breaking news on CNN in the immediate hours following. Later updates are made as revisions or additions as heard on TV news.
Last update: Mon Apr 13, 10:03 pm EST.

Capt Phillips after rescue

Commander Frank Castellano of the USS Bainbridge and Captain Phillips after the latter's rescue

Background: Armed pirates attacked the Maersk Alabama container ship, armed with automatic weapons and small arms. The crew fought back and took the ship back. The Captain was captured and taken aboard the life boat from which this trauma as resulted. The Captain tried to jump Saturday and was shot at, but was not injured.

The Captain was rescued at 7:19 p.m. (12:19 p.m. ET) on Sunday, according to the US Navy, reported by CNN before this press conference. However, stories the captain jumped overboard and was rescued was false. There was only one attempt by the Captain to try and escape on Saturday. One pirate survived, believed to be the one injured in the original attack of the Maersk Alabama. The other three were shot and killed. The Captain was uninjured and in relatively good shape. President Obama is congratulating everyone involved, including the Captain for his bravery.
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Story Synopsis (from press conference and other CNN reporting)

What happened was described below, with quite a few bits of new details that paints a different picture of what was went on.

During negotiations, several US Navy SEALs (Sea, Air, Land) parachuted in snipers in the cover of darkness into the sea and made their way to the USS Bainbridge. Of course, the Bainbridge expected them but the pirates would not have known this was going on. The snipers, then, took spots in the fan tail of the Bainbridge around the clock, out of sight of the pirates aboard the life boats. They and this action, ultimately led to the events that free Captain Phillips.

During the negotiations, the USS Bainbridge apparently transported a rib (tiny vessel) back and forth to the life boat where the pirates were holding Captain Phillips, so there was was far more intimate contact than we knew of. Messages from the Captain’s family was passed to him, and vice-versa, during this time, including his wife’s message to him that they’d save him an Easter egg if his son didn’t eat it first, to which the Captain replied via a US Navy Admiral, ultimately, that his son should leave the eggs alone.

In the contact with the pirates, the one that ultimately survived this order, who might be as young as 16 and was the one injured in the original hijacking, was on-board the USS Bainbridge for treatment of his injuries. He was expressing a lot of doubt about the hostage taking, had had enough and didn’t want to go back, though it was not clear at this time if he ever went back. The Navy was trying to convince him to persuade his comrades to end the situation peacefully but his comrades did not want to. Things also got rather heated over the negotiations, possibly as a result of this and/or other reasons, with the pirates wanting quite a lot of money. However, the reported $2 million was neither confirmed nor denied by Vice-Admiral Gortney.

USS Bainbridge

USS Bainbridge

As for authority of action, President Barack Obama had given a “standing order” twice for the “on scene commander”, Commander Frank Castellano of the USS Bainbridge, to take military action as necessary if the Captain’s life seemed like it was in “imminent danger”. The President gave the order to take military action as needed on Good Friday at 8 pm, and then he authorized technical and additional resources as needed at 9:20 AM on Saturday. With Presidential standing authorization the USS Bainbridge Commander was the one who had operational authorization, so to speak, and he had to use it on a few seconds’ notice of the following scenario, as it turned out. That was how it all developed. From one report, the execution of the rescue was a highly professional operation where the snipers reported they had a clear shot at the target and the Bainbridge Commander would have had to give the order “initiate, initiate” before the snipers could shoot.

As time progressed, the seas got rougher and the weather deteriorated. The USS Bainbridge ended up towing the life boat with the pirates and Captain Phillips out of this area, just 25-30 meters (80-100 feet) behind.  This was because the life raft was bobbing up and down on the high seas, and putting it in the path of a moving ship minimized this effect to give US Navy SEALs snipers hiding in the fan tail of the USS Bainbridge a better shot. They had no intentions to shoot if Captain Phillips was in the line of fire, which would have been hard because the life raft was just 18 feet long, and one miss could spur the pirates to kill Captain Phillips.

At some point, the pirates lowered their AK-47 rifles downward at Captain Phillips, but their heads and shoulders could be seen. What else happened to differentiate this moment from another when the pirates would have pointed their guns at the Captain, it is not sure. That may never be made public because the Navy can’t be giving all the operational details away for another encounter. However, at this time, just after 7 pm local time after the sun had set so night vision goggles were being used, Bainbridge Commander Castellano determined that Captain Phillips’ life was in imminent danger and gave the order for the snipers to fire. The snipers determined they had a decent shot despite the distance and bobbing life boat, shot three times, killing three pirates with shots to the head. With the fourth pirate of the group being on the USS Bainbridge getting treatment for his injuries, doubting going back and possibly acting as a communicator in negotiations, Captain Phillips was out of danger and free to go. The Navy sent over a rib (tiny vessel) that Captain Phillips boarded after untying himself and it was reeled in to bring him aboard the USS Bainbridge. Of course, the remaining pirate then surrendered.

Could Hollywood have written a better story or ending?

The Captain seemed to be in fairly good condition after a shower and medical check-up. He declined food when offered upon his boarding the Bainbridge. He is now being transferred to the USS Boxer where there are better facilities and arrangements are being made to get him back to the United States as soon as possible. The surviving pirate is being treated humanely, treated for his injuries and given food and drink.

The fate of the pirates are not known exactly at this time. The Somali government will be consulted for the return of the dead pirates’ bodies. The Pentagon is consulting with the Dept of Justice on what legal options are available for prosecuting the surviving pirate, based on not just legal jurisdiction, but also available evidence and his particular actions during the ordeal. There is no international court or law that could be used to try the surviving pirate. However, US law allows it to take action on pirates who harmed its ships or citizens without interference from other countries. That is, the US doesn’t need permission from Somalia to bring the surviving pirate to justice as it pleases, and the Maersk Alabama had American citizens and registration. This is similar to what most countries have, by the way, not some American arrogance to take control just because its “property” was involved. The Maersk Alabama was declared a crime scene several days ago by the US government. Another option may be that the surviving pirate may also be put back into the Kenyan legal system, though it was not explained why other than that there was a lot of precedence for that. Meanwhile, CNN seems to be taking a public poll on what Americans should do with this pirate.

President Barack Obama

President Barack Obama

President Barack Obama has called Commander Castellano of the USS Bainbridge, talked to Captain Richard Phillips, and also his family, to offer his congratulations and commend them for their actions through this ordeal. The President released this statement just moments ago from time of posting:

I am very pleased that Captain Phillips has been rescued and is safely on board the USS Boxer. His safety has been our principal concern, and I know this is a welcome relief to his family and his crew.

I am also very proud of the efforts of the U.S. military and many other departments and agencies who worked tirelessly to secure Captain Phillips’ safe recovery.

We remain resolved to halt the rise of piracy in this region. To achieve that goal, we must continue to work with our partners to prevent future attacks, be prepared to interdict acts of piracy and ensure that those who commit acts of piracy are held accountable for their crimes.

I share the country’s admiration for the bravery of Captain Phillips and his selfless concern for his crew. His courage is a model for all Americans.

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Implications

Vice-Admiral Gortney stated that he believes the outcome of this incident could escalate the violence in the Sea of Aden area, particularly with regards to pirate reactions towards other crew members in future incidents. After all, blood was shed, those pirates do have other hostages and would have lots of reason and resolve to band together. If they don’t kill off hostages in revenge, for still hoping to get money from them, you can bet they will deal with future ship crews much more violently than now. They could get revenge for these killings later, but they will also learn from this incident not to leave their hostages so well off physically that they could try to escape, and that does not bold for future potential hostages.

Update: Monday, Apr 13, the day after this story’s original posting, Reuters already published a story with these quotes from the pirates that, in essence, backed up what I had said in vowing revenge.

“We were mourning for dead friends and then roaring planes came — grief upon grief. America has become our new enemy.”

“The French and the Americans will regret starting this killing. We do not kill, but take only ransom. We shall do something to anyone we see as French or American from now,” Hussein, a pirate, told Reuters by satellite phone. Reference to the French is from an incident where their people killed pirates in rescuing hostages.

In the bigger picture, America could not have asked for a better outcome, including having some pirates killed, as much as some people not liking the fact anybody was killed. Having killed some pirates showed some toughness and sent a message that America meant business. Terrorists often think of Americans and those in the free world weak for expending so much resources over a life or two, but we win because we value life more than they do, not because we are weak to worry so much over each life.

America also managed to flaunt a little prowess in how it dealt with the situation, from the psychological of that young survivor, to the militaristic from the covert operations to the precision shooting with the snipers… and they haven’t even called in the big boys! Let’s hope they won’t have to because there won’t be any precision killings in such a case.

Of course, we are dealing with people who don’t fear death because death might even be better than the condition they believe themselves to be living in, so logical negotiations may not be effective. If they were logical, they wouldn’t justify taking hostages for money as being all right but killing, as a consequence of it, as not being all right. Hey, if you want to play the game, you’ve got to be man enough to, you know? You don’t set the rules and whine when you suddenly have to deal with consequences.

Sure, the outcome of this situation may well strengthen the pirates’ resolve and their cooperation, as the pirates did try to bring in additional support during the hostage taking via cell phones. However, at least for now, they know it’s not going to be as easy a road as they thought given the set back they had just been dealt.

So I predict more violence and more drastic reactions in the near future, but that we will get this resolved because the pirates will make the stupid decision they want to become big enough to be on the world stage. They weren’t happy sneaking around and jabbing the dragon, but that they had to awaken it, and so be it! The dragon has awaken, made its presence known, and will react more drastically as required in the future.

Flesch-Kincaid Grade Reading Level: 10.6

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Pentagon briefing YouTube video