Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Update on Omar Gonzales, White House fence jumper and Iraq War veteran

 Accused White House fence jumper Omar Gonzalez makes his initial appearance in District of Columbia Saturday, Sept. 20, 2014.

Mr. Gonzalez's friends and family described him as a dedicated soldier who returned home so paranoid about an unnamed "they" that he kept rifles and shotguns behind the doors and patrolled the perimeter of his home near Fort Hood, Texas. 
"He's a standup guy—he's a hero," said Jerry Murphy, the son of Mr. Gonzalez's former wife. "He sacrificed his mind and his body for his country." 
Mr. Murphy and his mother, Samantha Bell, said a military psychiatrist treated Mr. Gonzalez for post-traumatic stress disorder and paranoid schizophrenia before his medical retirement from the military in 2012. Citing privacy laws, a military spokesman declined to provide details about any medical treatment. 
The Department of Veterans Affairs provides Mr. Gonzalez with $1,652 in monthly disability payments. "However, at this time, it does not appear the veteran sought treatment in any VA health-care facility," a VA spokeswoman said. 
Mr. Gonzalez served his first Iraq tour from October 2006 to January 2008, when he was based in Baghdad and manned a machine gun atop Humvees and Bradley fighting vehicles. On his second tour, he was stationed in Mosul. Known to his comrades as "Gonzo," he encountered firefights, roadside bombs and close-quarters combat, according other soldiers in B Troop, 4th Squadron, 9th Cavalry Regiment. 
At times, insurgents would throw handmade teapot grenades at the scouts' passing vehicles, the soldiers recalled. "We saw a lot of dead bodies, a lot of shooting, a lot of people killed," said Sgt. 1st Class Michael Lashua, who shared a vehicle with Mr. Gonzalez in Iraq. 
When Mr. Gonzalez returned to Fort Hood, Ms. Bell said he wouldn't discuss his experiences, except to say they were "very bad" and imply they involved children in some way. 
Mr. Gonzalez took to walking around the house with a pistol on his hip, peeking out through the blinds. He worried "they" were pumping poison in through the vents, said Ms. Bell, who left him in 2010. He patrolled the yard looking for footprints, compulsively checked the locks and kept weapons behind the living-room and bedroom doors. "He wasn't violent—he was a great guy," she said. "It was just those bizarre behaviors. I couldn't deal with it anymore." 
One time he closed the blinds while Ms. Bell was running on a treadmill in the same room. "'I'm closing the blinds because they're looking in,'" she remembered him saying. "He always said 'they' but would never tell me who." A fellow soldier who knew Mr. Gonzalez well recalled that he was unable to sleep well and was troubled by nightmares. "He wouldn't hurt anybody ever," the soldier said.
Mr. Gonzalez was medically retired from the military because of a disability related to severe plantar fasciitis, his former wife said.
Among the awards he received were three Army Commendation medals, one Army Achievement Medal and an Army Good Conduct Medal, according to his records.
"Omar has an illness," said Ms. Bell. "I would love for that to be treated. I don't want him to be punished."
Secret Service agents reported that after his apprehension inside the White House, Mr. Gonzalez said he was "concerned that the atmosphere was collapsing" and that he needed to get unspecified information to the president.
At Monday's hearing, Magistrate Judge John Facciola asked Mr. Gonzalez's public defender, David Bos, if his client appeared to suffer from any mental disease or deficiency. Mr. Bos said there was no basis for a court-ordered competency evaluation. "Sadly, many of my clients suffer from mental illnesses—including PTSD—but are still competent to stand trial," he said in an email after the hearing.

Well, his public defender thinks he's Competent to Stand Trial. That's great. I hope this doesn't turn into another Ralph Tortorici tragedy.

Another VA Scandal brewing in the White House fence jumper?

NBC News

The ex-wife of the man accused of scaling a security fence and charging the White House with knife says that he suffers from mental illness as a result of a "terrible" incident during a tour of duty in Iraq and needs treatment, not jail.
"I wish there was something I could have done to help him, he's not a bad guy," Samantha Murphy Bell, told Indianapolis NBC affiliate WTHR in a telephone interview on Monday. "He didn't go to the White House to hurt Obama."
Bell said she met her ex-husband, Omar Gonzalez, 42, in 2005 or 2006, and they were married in 2006. They separated in 2010 and were officially divorced in July of this year.
She said that life with Gonzalez — who is charged with unlawfully entering a restricted building or grounds while carrying a deadly or dangerous weapon — was fine until a second tour of duty where something bad happened in Iraq.
The Army says Gonzalez first enlisted from July 1997 to September 2003, then reenlisted in July 2005 and served until his retirement in late 2012, serving in Iraq from October 2006 to January 2008.
"It was his second tour and I noticed that he was doing a lot of things that were making me uncomfortable — I knew he would never harm me (but) I know whatever happened in Iraq, it affected him," said Bell.
She said it was difficult if not impossible to talk to Gonzalez about the traumatic incident that had scarred his psyche, but once she asked, how bad it was and, "he said, 'It was terrible.’ he said, ‘Sam, the only thing I could tell you is it involved little children.'"

Bell said that Gonzalez started walking around their home with a .45-caliber pistol on his hip at all times. "It never left him, and he had a gun or a shotgun behind every door," said Bell, who claimed that her ex had been diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder, schizophrenia and post-traumatic stress disorder.
"He needs to get treatment," she said. "I think he needs to get proper help — throwing him in a jail is not helping him."
According to the affidavit from when Gonzalez was first detained after busting onto White House property on Friday, he told a Secret Service agent that "the atmosphere was collapsing and needed to get the information to the president of the United States so that he could get the word out to the people."
On Monday Gonzalez was ordered held without bail until Oct. 1. It was also revealed that he had been detained near the White House with weapons at least two other times in the past three months.

Poor guy. The march to keep the atmosphere from collapsing was in New York, not DC.

I doubt the schizophrenia diagnosis (onset is too late in life), but I wouldn't be surprised if he had been prescribed anti-psychotics such as Seroquel. A Google search would have shown him and his ex- that those meds are used to treat schizophrenia (as well as to help combat vets sleep).

Don't be too quick to dismiss the story about an incident involving "little children" as a product of mental illness.

It would be an egregious injustice to prosecute this guy. I guess we should be thankful that they didn't kill him, as cops in DC are wont to do to the mentally ill.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Florida Grandfather in Family Annihilation-Suicide


A grandfather shot and killed his daughter and her six children Thursday in the town of Bell, Fla. before committing suicide after police arrived at the scene, authorities said.
The children ranged in age from three months to 10 years old...
the suspect [is] Don C. Spirit, 51, a white man. The sheriff said Spirit had placed a 911 call around 4:30 p.m. in which he "made reference to harming people and himself."
"There's still a lot of unanswered questions," [the sheriff] said. "There's going to be questions that we're never going to get answered."
The victims' identities were released by the Gilchrist County Sheriff's Office late Thursday: Alana Stewart, 3 months old; Brandon Stewart, 4; Destiny Stewart, 5; Johnathon Kuhlmann, 8; Kylie Kuhlmann, 9; Kaleb Kuhlmann, 11; and Sarah Lorraine Spirit, 28.
In 2001, Spirit pleaded guilty to a charge of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon after he fatally shot his 8-year-old son in the head in a hunting accident, the Orlando Sentinel reported. Spirit, who also was convicted in 1998 for felony possession of marijuana, was sentenced to three years in prison for the shooting, the Sentinel added. He was released in 2006.


Sunday, September 21, 2014

Sir Patrick Spens -- Anonymous, 17th Century Scotland

I. The Sailing

THE king sits in Dunfermline town
  Drinking the blude-red wine; 
'O whare will I get a skeely skipper 
  To sail this new ship o' mine?' 
O up and spak an eldern knight,         5
  Sat at the king's right knee; 
'Sir Patrick Spens is the best sailor 
  That ever sail'd the sea.' 
Our king has written a braid letter, 
  And seal'd it with his hand,  10
And sent it to Sir Patrick Spens, 
  Was walking on the strand. 
'To Noroway, to Noroway, 
  To Noroway o'er the faem; 
The king's daughter o' Noroway,  15
  'Tis thou must bring her hame.' 
The first word that Sir Patrick read 
  So loud, loud laugh'd he; 
The neist word that Sir Patrick read 
  The tear blinded his e'e.  20
'O wha is this has done this deed 
  And tauld the king o' me, 
To send us out, at this time o' year, 
  To sail upon the sea? 
'Be it wind, be it weet, be it hail, be it sleet,  25
  Our ship must sail the faem; 
The king's daughter o' Noroway, 
  'Tis we must fetch her hame.' 
They hoysed their sails on Monenday morn 
  Wi' a' the speed they may;  30
They hae landed in Noroway 
  Upon a Wodensday. 
II. The Return

'Mak ready, mak ready, my merry men a'!
  Our gude ship sails the morn.' 
'Now ever alack, my master dear,  35
  I fear a deadly storm. 
'I saw the new moon late yestreen 
  Wi' the auld moon in her arm; 
And if we gang to sea, master, 
  I fear we'll come to harm.'  40
They hadna sail'd a league, a league, 
  A league but barely three, 
When the lift grew dark, and the wind blew loud, 
  And gurly grew the sea. 
The ankers brak, and the topmast lap,  45
  It was sic a deadly storm: 
And the waves cam owre the broken ship 
  Till a' her sides were torn. 
'Go fetch a web o' the silken claith, 
  Another o' the twine,  50
And wap them into our ship's side, 
  And let nae the sea come in.' 
They fetch'd a web o' the silken claith, 
  Another o' the twine, 
And they wapp'd them round that gude ship's side,  55
  But still the sea came in. 
O laith, laith were our gude Scots lords 
  To wet their cork-heel'd shoon; 
But lang or a' the play was play'd 
  They wat their hats aboon.  60
And mony was the feather bed 
  That flatter'd on the faem; 
And mony was the gude lord's son 
  That never mair cam hame. 
O lang, lang may the ladies sit,  65
  Wi' their fans into their hand, 
Before they see Sir Patrick Spens 
  Come sailing to the strand! 
And lang, lang may the maidens sit 
  Wi' their gowd kames in their hair,  70
A-waiting for their ain dear loves! 
  For them they'll see nae mair. 
Half-owre, half-owre to Aberdour, 
  'Tis fifty fathoms deep; 
And there lies gude Sir Patrick Spens,  75
  Wi' the Scots lords at his feet! 

GLOSS:  skeely] skilful.  lift] sky.  lap] sprang.  flatter'd] tossed afloat.  kames] combs.


Saturday, September 20, 2014

Are You Alright? -- Lucinda Williams (2007)

Somebody should give her some kind of mental health advocacy award for this song. I had thought it was too wimpy for this blog but then they used it in True Detective, leading up to the epic stash house takedown sequence.

Are you all right?
All of a sudden you went away
Are you all right?
I hope you come back around someday.
Are you all right?
I haven't seen you in a real long time.
Are you all right?
Could you give me some kind of sign?
Are you all right?
I looked around me and you were gone.
Are you all right?
I feel like there must be something wrong.
Are you all right?
Cause it seems like you disappeared.
Are you all right?
Cause I've been feeling a little scared.
Are you all right?

Are you sleeping through the night?
Do you have someone to hold you tight?
Do you have someone to hang out with?
Do you have someone to hug & kiss you?
Hug & kiss you
Hug & kiss you
Are you all right?

Are you all right?
Is there something been bothering you?
Are you all right?
I wish you'd give me a little clue.
Are you all right?
Is there something you want to say?
Are you all right?
Just tell me that you're OK.
Are you all right?
Cause you took off without a word.
Are you all right?
You flew away like a little bird.
Are you all right?
Is there anything I can do?
Are you all right?
Cause I need to hear from you.
Are you all right?

Are you sleeping through the night?
Do you have someone to hold you tight?
Do you have someone to hang out with?
Do you have someone to hug & kiss you?
Hug & kiss you
Hug & kiss you

Are you all right?

Are you all right?

Are you all right?

Friday, September 19, 2014

10% of Americans go to work high

High Times magazine has some ideas about what these employees are doing while stoned at work.

Showing up to work high? You're not alone.
A new report has found nearly 1 in 10 Americans are showing up to work high on marijuana. Mashable.com conducted the survey in partnership with SurveyMonkey, and found 9.7 percent of Americans fessed up to smoking cannabis before showing up to the office.
The data analyzed the marijuana and prescription drug habits of 534 Americans. What's more, nearly 81 percent said they scored their cannabis illegally, according to the survey.
Cannabis and the workplace seem quite linked lately. Entrepreneur and venture capitalist Peter Thiel recently chimed in on marijuana and work. While criticizing Twitter during an appearance on CNBC Wednesday, Thiel said Twitter is a "… horribly mismanaged company—probably a lot of pot smoking going on there."


Thursday, September 18, 2014

Slow Reading Groups



This is kind of pathetic, but I'm all for it.
Once a week, members of a Wellington, New Zealand, book club arrive at a cafe, grab a drink and shut off their cellphones. Then they sink into cozy chairs and read in silence for an hour.
The point of the club isn't to talk about literature, but to get away from pinging electronic devices and read, uninterrupted. The group calls itself the Slow Reading Club, and it is at the forefront of a movement populated by frazzled book lovers who miss old-school reading.
Slow reading advocates seek a return to the focused reading habits of years gone by, before Google, smartphones and social media started fracturing our time and attention spans. Many of its advocates say they embraced the concept after realizing they couldn't make it through a book anymore.