How Are Schools Dealing With Threats of Violence?

How American Schools Are Dealing With Violent Threats - Carlos GaminoBy Carlos Gamino

In the wake of the February 2018 school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, schools are struggling to come up with the right answers – solutions that protect students and minimize the risks associated with guns and schools.

Knowing how to respond can be a tremendous challenge for schools. According to Dewey Cornell, a University of Virginia expert on school violence, “Schools must avoid two errors: over-reacting to the numerous threats that are not serious and under-reacting to the rare threats that are deadly serious.” Cornell says that most school threats are pranks or expressions of anger – and the people who make them typically have no serious intent to carry them out.

Since the massacre in Parkland, the Educator’s School Safety Network has tracked nearly a thousand threats to schools. Most involved guns and bombs, and the majority of those took place on social media and verbally.

And right now, most schools are treating all threats equally – and harshly. An 11 year-old-girl is facing criminal charges in Cloquet, Minnesota, and an autistic 13-year-old boy in Hawaii is, too. There were dozens of school threats in Florida in the weeks immediately following the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, and even more in other states.

Wisconsin governor Scott Walker came out against arming teachers while those in other states have already passed legislation allowing teachers to carry guns. Still, whether or not teachers carry weapons in the classroom doesn’t cover the whole issue. The fact is that there’s nothing in place that equips school administrators or teachers to deal with school threats, credible or not, in place – and nobody has come up with a way to prevent or handle them.

What Do You Think?

How should schools respond to potential threats? Should there be a nationwide plan in place that teachers should implement, and more importantly, do you think teachers should be carrying guns to school in an effort to protect kids? I’d love to hear your thoughts, so please share them on my Facebook page or on Twitter.

Carlos Gamino

Atlantic Ocean Current Slowing

Atlantic Ocean Current Slowing - Carlos GaminoBy Carlos Gamino

The current in the Atlantic Ocean that helps regulate the climate across the world has reached a 1,000-year low – and scientists warn that it could be trouble.

The current, which is called the “conveyor belt of the ocean,” swaps out warm water that comes from the equator area with the Arctic’s much colder water.

Geologist David Thornally says that the current – technically, the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation, or AMOC – “plays a key role in the distribution of heat” on Earth. He says that melting ice from Greenland causes a flood of fresh water to flow through the oceans, but because fresh water isn’t as dense as salt water is, it rises to the top and floats on the ocean’s surface. One theory is that this slows the ocean’s circulation, although scientists haven’t been able to pinpoint an exact cause for the slowing.

According to the geological record, the same thing may have happened during the last ice age and it’s possible that it completely stopped the current.

“Evidence from the past suggests that it actually did happen during the last ice age, and it is possible that it could happen in the future, although at the moment we consider it very unlikely,” says Thornally. “What we don’t really know is, are we close to one of those tipping points where runaway processes could suddenly allow the mark to weaken much quicker than it has been doing?”

Scientists agree that this slowdown – or worse, a complete stop – would have tremendous effects on ocean ecosystems.

“These delicate ecosystems rely on ocean currents to supply their food and disperse their offspring,” says Professor Murray Roberts of the University of Edinburgh. “Ocean currents are like highways spreading larvae throughout the ocean, and we know these ecosystems have been really sensitive to past changes in the Earth’s climate.”

The complete shutdown of the AMOC was the premise for the movie The Day After Tomorrow, but scientists don’t believe we’re facing anything that extreme.

What Do You Think?

What steps do you think we should take to prevent the ice sheets from melting, potentially stopping the changing ocean currents? I’d love to hear your opinion on the current research and your ideas on how we could make improvements, so please share them on my Facebook page or on Twitter.

Carlos Gamino

Self-Defense and Guns: What You Need to Know

How Frequently Do People Defend Themselves With Guns - Carlos Gamino

By Carlos Gamino

About 48 percent of gun owners say that they own guns for self-protection, but how often do they actually use them for that purpose?

A Harvard University analysis shows that people defended themselves with a gun in just 0.9 percent of crimes between 2007 and 2011, and David Hemenway, who led the research, says that the risks outweigh the benefits if you own one simply for self-defense.

“The average person … has basically no chance in their lifetime ever to use a gun in self-defense,” says Hemenway. “But every day, they have a chance to use the gun inappropriately.”

The study flies in the face of research promoted by organizations such as the NRA, including the well-known Kleck-Gertz estimate. Published in 1995, that analysis – conducted by criminologists Gary Kleck and Marc Gertz – says that there are between 2.2 and 2.5 million incidents in which guns are used for self-defense each year.

Researchers criticize the findings, saying that the respondents in the Kleck-Gertz estimate are nowhere to be found; the number of people killed or treated for gunshots in that time frame is less than half those Kleck and Gertz say exist. Why wouldn’t those who were injured in a self-defense incident visit the emergency room?

“The researchers who look at [Kleck’s study] say this is just bad science,” says Hemenway. He says that if people don’t visit the hospital for a gunshot wound, they’ll end up “with sepsis or other major problems.” That means the numbers of people who were treated for gunshot wounds in that time frame should be higher – but within the confines of the Kleck-Gertz estimate, they just don’t add up.

What Do You Think?

Do the risks of owning a gun for self-defense outweigh the benefits? Which are you more inclined to believe – the Harvard analysis or the Kleck-Gertz estimate? I’d love to hear your take on gun ownership as it pertains to self-defense, so please share them on my Facebook page or on Twitter!

Carlos Gamino

Controversial Starbucks Arrest in Philadelphia

Controversial Starbucks Arrest in Philadelphia - Carlos GaminoBy Carlos Gamino

Police officers arrested two men in a Philadelphia Starbucks in mid-April in a move that some are saying boils down to race.

In a video that’s since gone viral, police are arresting two African-American men who were waiting for a friend to arrive. According to witnesses, the two men didn’t do anything – but a Starbucks barista called the police on them when they refused to leave. When the police arrived and the two men still refused to leave, police arrested them.

The original call to police alleged that the men were creating a disturbance and trespassing.

Onlookers say the two men didn’t do anything wrong.

“They did not raise their voices; they were not confrontational,” said the woman who took the video, Melissa DePino.

When the men’s friend – real estate investor Andrew Yaffe – arrived, he attempted to explain to police that the pair was simply waiting for him to get there.

“What did they get called for? Because there were two black guys sitting here, meeting me?” Yaffe asks on the video. “What did they do?”

The men were held for just under eight hours, according to NPR, when police discovered that Starbucks didn’t intend to press any charges against them.

Philadelphia mayor Jim Kenney said, “I am heartbroken to see Philadelphia in the headlines for an incident that — at least based on what we know at this point — appears to exemplify what racial discrimination looks like in 2018. For many, Starbucks is not just a place to buy a cup of coffee, but a place to meet up with friends or family members, or to get some work done. Like all retail establishments in our city, Starbucks should be a place where everyone is treated the same, no matter the color of their skin.”

What Do You Think?

Did you watch this unfold and see the backlash on Twitter and other social media networks? Do you think that this is part of the larger racial discussion the U.S. needs to have, or is this something that was blown out of proportion thanks to social media? I’d love to hear your thoughts, so please share them on my Twitter feed or on Facebook.

Carlos Gamino

 

 

FDA Wants to Lower Nicotine in Cigarettes

FDA Wants to Lower Nicotine in Cigarettes - Carlos GaminoBy Carlos Gamino

If you’re a smoker – or even if you’re not, as the number of smokers has been drastically declining over the past couple of decades – you might already know that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration plans to force cigarette manufacturers to lower the amount of nicotine in cigarettes to make them less addictive.

The agency said in a statement, “As part of our comprehensive plan on tobacco and nicotine regulation announced last summer, we’re issuing an advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPRM) to explore a product standard to lower nicotine in cigarettes to minimally or non-addictive levels. This new regulatory step advances a comprehensive policy framework that we believe could help avoid millions of tobacco-related deaths across the country.”

Smoking is the leading cause of preventable disease and death in the country, so it makes sense that the FDA would want to tackle it – but under an administration that promises to loosen regulations on companies so they’re free to profit, how does that “gel”?

Do You Think the Government Should Regulate the Amount of Tobacco in Cigarettes?

It’s been a hot debate on Capitol Hill for decades – in 2000, the Supreme Court ruled that the FDA could not regulate tobacco under the laws that existed them.

Some lawmakers, including Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) said that the FDA couldn’t, and shouldn’t, regulate tobacco simply because it’s not beneficial to public health; others believe that the only agency that can regulate it is the FDA.

Whether or not you smoke, do you believe the government should regulate how much tobacco manufacturers can put into cigarettes? Is the FDA the appropriate agency to oversee this effort, or should government stay out of what tobacco manufacturers do? I’d love to hear your thoughts, so please share them on my Facebook page or on Twitter.

Carlos Gamino

 

Space Travel Changes Your DNA

Space Travel Changes Your DNA - Carlos GaminoBy Carlos Gamino

If you’re a regular reader of the Carlos Gamino blog, you know we’ve covered a lot of stories on space, like possible alien invasions, the discovery of 95 new planets, whether the Tiangong-1 Space Station would slam into Earth, and whether private companies are going to start mining the moon. (I can’t help it – this stuff is fascinating!)

And now, researchers have determined that traveling to space can change a person’s entire genetic makeup. Some DNA doesn’t return to normal after spending time in space.

Look at astronaut Scott Kelly: NASA found that about 93 percent of his genes returned to normal upon his return to Earth after spending a year on the International Space Station. The other 7 percent didn’t change back to normal, though. Spaceflight apparently affects gene expression because of oxygen deprivation stress, changes in nutrients (which you can experience on Earth), and increased inflammation.

Cornell University researcher Chris Mason calls these changed genes “space genes.”

In Kelly’s case, the 7 percent of genes that didn’t return back to normal after his year on the ISS are tied to his immune system and DNA repair – as well as other bodily functions. However, most of the other biological changes his body experienced returned to normal within a short period of time.

Would These Genetic Changes Stop You From Traveling to Space?

Someday soon we might all have the opportunity to travel to space, whether it’s a day jaunt to the moon (SpaceX took deposits from two tourists at about $81 million each) or a long-term stay in a colony on Mars… so would you travel to space knowing that your genetics could undergo permanent alteration? I’d love to hear your thoughts, so please feel free to share them on my Facebook page or on Twitter!

Carlos Gamino

 

Should We Be Outraged Over the Katy Perry – Benjamin Glaze Kiss?

By Carlos Gamino

On the American Idol season premiere, judge Katy Perry kissed a contestant – and some people are extremely upset about it.

It might be worth noting that neither Perry or the man she kissed, contestant Benjamin Glaze, are upset about it, though.

Here’s what happened: the judges were questioning Glaze, and one asked if he’d “kissed a girl and liked it,” a play on an old Katy Perry song. Glaze replied that he couldn’t kiss a girl without being in a relationship; Perry asked him to approach the judges, where she asked Glaze to kiss her on the cheek. Glaze did, and Perry asked for another – but the second time, she turned her face so he kissed her on the lips.

Later, in an interview with The New York Times, Glaze said the kiss made him uncomfortable.

That outraged a significant number of viewers, who took to Twitter to condemn Perry.

Glaze, however, clarified on Instagram that he wasn’t upset, saying, “I am not complaining about the kiss from Katy Perry at all, doing a few news reports and being interviewed by many different reporters has caused some major questions. The way certain articles are worded is not done by me, and my true intentions are not accurately represented in every article you read about the situation. I am not complaining about the kiss.”

He also clarified that he was only “uncomfortable” about the kiss because it was his first kiss – and he wasn’t expecting it.

Twitter didn’t agree.

What Do You Think?

Should Katy Perry be in hot water over the kiss she sprung on Benjamin Glaze, or is it different because she’s a female celebrity? I’d really love to hear your opinion on this one, so please share your thoughts on my Facebook page or Twitter!

Carlos Gamino

Death Penalty for… Drug Dealers?

Should Drug Dealers Get the Death Penalty - Carlos GaminoBy Carlos Gamino

President Donald Trump’s administration is allegedly putting together a plan that says it will solve the opioid crisis – but it includes provisions that would allow giving some drug dealers the death penalty. The plan, which changes mandatory minimum sentences for drug traffickers and asks prosecutors to seek the death penalty in cases where drug dealers can be tied to fatal opioid overdoses, has been a long time coming; one of Trump’s campaign promises was to end the crisis that’s gripping large swaths of the country.

At one time, Trump praised Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte for his crackdown on drugs, although Duterte’s war on drugs has been extremely bloody and has garnered worldwide criticism.

Trump also suggested that his plan would include the possibility of suing “opioid companies.”

“Some countries have a very, very tough penalty, the ultimate penalty. And by the way, they have much less of a drug problem than we do. So we’re going to have to be very strong on penalties. Hopefully we can do some litigation against the opioid companies,” Trump said at the opioids summit. The president also said that there are no drug problems in Singapore and China because they have a “zero tolerance policy,” citing the fact that the two countries have the option to put drug dealers to death – a claim Politifact rates as true.

According to Rolling Stone, “When asked about Trump’s comments, some lawmakers brushed aside the president’s focus on the death penalty as mere campaign rhetoric, but many others were terrified at the underpinnings of his thinking. He’s reported to have been briefed on the extreme policies used in China and the Philippines, and now lawmakers fear he wants to amass the same power and actually execute drug dealers.”

Representative Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) is one of them. “Capital punishment is the most extreme of all, and for him to cavalierly throw it around in the manner that he does is very dangerous. It’s dangerous for our system, and it creates another foil for him,” Grijalva said.

What Do You Think?

Do you think drug dealers that can be connected to opiate overdoses should be given the death penalty? How do you feel about the way the president is modeling policy after China, Singapore and the Philippines? I’d love to hear your thoughts, so please share them on my Facebook page or on Twitter.

Carlos Gamino

3 Great Productivity Tools for Lawyers

3 Great Productivity Tools for Lawyers - Carlos GaminoBy Carlos Gamino

If you’re like me, you’re always looking for ways to become more productive. After all, there are only so many hours in the day – and only some of them are allocated to work.

Fortunately, these three amazing productivity tools can help you right now.

3 Great Productivity Tools for Lawyers

#1: Slack

Slack, a cloud-based program that’s free to use, lets everyone in your office collaborate on projects using message boards that help keep your inbox clear and file storage so you can easily access documents anywhere. One of its best features is the ability to search through old conversations, decisions and work – that way, you never have to hunt for something you (or someone else) said months ago. It’s all right in front of you.

#2: Command Hound

Command Hound is a task-management system, but it’s bigger and better than most. It lets teams create tasks, assign them to individuals, and create due dates. It’s far superior to Teamwork and Asana, which do the same things, too, because if a task is “Late” on one of those two sites, all you can do is mark it “Late” and hope someone finishes it. On Command Hound, you can escalate late and unfinished tasks to partners or other lawyers so nothing falls through the cracks.

#3: iTimeKeep

iTimeKeep makes it quick and easy to do lots of things we all need to do: dictate, enter time worked on projects and even set timers to switch tasks. You won’t miss billable hours, which really add up a tiny bit at a time, and it’s really secure. It’s easy to install the app on your phone, tablet or desktop, too.

What Do You Think?

What apps do you find make you more productive? (You don’t have to be a lawyer to answer!) I’d love to hear your thoughts, so please join the conversation on Facebook or Twitter.

Carlos Gamino

Did You Get Your Flu Shot?

Did You Get Your Flu Shot - Carlos GaminoBy Carlos Gamino

Did you get your flu shot this year?

Experts say that this season’s vaccine is only 36 percent effective overall, and only 25 percent effective against the worst strain, but everyone needs it anyway.

The current vaccine, according to experts, still provides some protection against H3N2 – the flu virus that can change faster than any other flu virus transmitted among humans. The 25 percent effective rate, experts say, means that “one in four people who get the shot reduce their risk of becoming sick enough to need to see a doctor.”

It’s tough for health officials to predict which flu strains will pop up in any given year, so they must pick three or four strains and tell vaccine makers which ones to target for an upcoming season. They make the decision months before flu season starts, so health officials have to rely on past data and what they know about current strains to make the best predictions they can.

This flu season, kids and the elderly are far more at-risk than healthy adults are. At least 63 child flu deaths have already been reported since October 1, 2017, and about 80 percent of the kids who died were not fully vaccinated.

“I would still take 25 percent over nothing any day of the week,” said Ed Belongia, an infectious-disease epidemiologist at the Marshfield Clinic Research Institute in Wisconsin.

What Do You Think?

Have you gotten your flu shot this year, or do you plan to? How do you feel about its efficacy rate, and do you know anyone who’s gotten the flu this year? I’d love to hear your thoughts, so please share them on my Facebook page or on Twitter.

Carlos Gamino