Size Inflation Gives Americans a False Sense of Thinness

 

 

It is a sad fat that many want to ignore. The more we work out, the more "diet foods" we eat, the fatter Americans are actually getting. A chilling documentary released this summer, Fed Up, narrated by Katie Couric, highlights Americans losing battle with the bulge and indicts government capitulation to the agricultural industries that make the most fattening food. According to the New York Times, the average American man now weighs 194 pounds and woman, an astounding 165 pounds. In 2002, the average American woman weighed 153 pounds and in 1994, 147 pounds, say Florida State University researchers. Does anyone see a trend?

 

Nor are pounds the only sign of the growing American adiposity: the average American woman in the 1950s had a 25 inch waist and today has a waist of  34 inches. Maybe that should be "waist."

 

Not surprisingly, our growing girth is a big problem to the fashion industry. In fact, one industry captain was heard to comment that designers are no longer dressing American women but "upholstering" them. Overweight people do not rush to buy clothes and when they do find themselves squeezed between the garment racks, they do not buy clothes that don't fit or have an insulting size label. It is the same reason shoe stores sometimes leave the size off women's shoes.

 

Enter size inflation, sometimes called vanity sizing, with its ego-flattering Size Zero denomination. Size Zero is said to fit women who measure from 30-22-32 to 33-25-35 inches. But a little quick fashion research shows that those dimensions used to describe a Size 5! In the 1970s, those dimensions described a Size 10.

 

If anyone has a doubt about how size inflation has made us all thinner without losing a pound, go to a resale shop and try to try on the Jones New York Size 7 off-white linen pencil skirt. Prepare to be demoralized.

 

Men don't scour resale shops the way women tend to do but if they did they would likely be just as demoralized if they tried to try on the three-piece powder blue disco suit similar to the one John Travolta wore in Saturday Night Fever. Can a vest be left casually unbuttoned?

 

Many say baggy Hip Hop fashions, low riding pants that sit on the hips and stretchy yoga pants and leggings have enabled Americans to balloon in size without realizing it because their clothes still fit. Once upon a time, our ancestors called elastic waistbands "the Devil's Playground" for exactly that reason.

 

It is often said that Marilyn Monroe wore a Size 14 dress, a fact that is supposed to show that being "plump" used to be more acceptable than it is today. But it is just the opposite. Ms. Monroe rarely weighed as much as 120 and usually weighed between 115 and 118--putting her close to today's Size Zero category, no doubt.

 

No, the truth is that like cars, McMansion houses, food portions and soft drink sizes, Americans are getting bigger every day--and because it is happening everywhere, few notice. Worse, the harder we try to lose poundage with low calorie foods, fitness centers and personal trainers, the bigger we are becoming.

 

While people in industrialized countries other than the United States are also packing on the pounds, it is said that women in France have remained enviably thin. Why?  Because unlike so many of us, they do not "diet." They eat what they want, including  higher calorie foods or even high fat diet foods but not in our super-sized American portions.

 

Clearly, U.S. "dieting" is doing a lot more for diet food manufacturers and fitness centers than the American waistline. Meanwhile, the fashion industry wonders where to go after Size Zero.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chicago

 

About 45 people gathered on a hot August night at a Chicago LBGT community center  to hear a chapter in Chicago history that is often forgotten--how John Gacy prowled the streets of Chicago's northside from 1972 through 1978, picking up young men and murdering at least 33 of them. Gacy, one of the most vicious mass murderers in U.S. history, was found guilty of the murders, sentenced to death and executed by lethal injection at Stateville Correctional Center in Joliet, Illinois on May 10, 1994.

 

Author and activist Patrick Dati spoke about his acclaimed memoir, I Am Me: Survivor of Child Abuse and Bullying Speaks Out which recounts how Dati overcame a life of bullying and emotional terror which included an assault by mass killer John Gacy when he was only 9-years-old. The book has been acclaimed by Fox News, the Chicago Sun-Times and Kirkus Reviews. Dati told the group he hid his true identity as a gay man through two failed marriages and that sharing his story in his memoir, as he has finally done, is the "ultimate coming out journey to find acceptance and love."

 

The book started as a personal diary that Dati's psychiatrist recommended he write to "release the trauma" Dati told the group. But when his best friend who was a writer read the manuscript, he told Dati that the powerful narrative of overcoming shame, childhood abuse and bullying would have national appeal. Soon a book was born and I Am Me: Survivor of Child Abuse and Bullying Speaks Out was launched by Amazon Digital Services earlier this year.

 

Many who now live in Boystown, Chicago's LBGT neighborhood, were not alive when Gacy cruised its streets. On the day of Dati's encounter with Gacy in the winter of 1973, he had been playing outside in the snow with his brother and other children. The boys went into Goldblatt's at Belmont and Central, a prominent Chicago department store chain now closed, to warm up and continue playing. But when he went to the men's room something happened to Dati that meant he "was never a child again," he says. He was sexually assaulted by a knife-wielding John Gacy. Dati fought back, he told the audience, refusing to "leave with" Gacy and possibly saving his own life.

 

Dati was likely only the second of Gacy's scores of victims, Dati told me. The crimes would continue until 1978, with victims usually losing their lives.

 

Dati said the shame and guilt about the violent assault kept him from telling anyone about it for many years. Ironically, when police finally arrested Gacy in 1979, Dati was with a friend of his who lived close to the Gacy Chicago residence. It was only then that he realized who had assaulted him. As soon as he saw Gacy's face flash on the TV screen, Dati said he ran to the bathroom and "I was throwing up and I was crying."

 

In addition to the assault, Dati said he has coped with bullying and abuse most of his life made all the more acute by a strict Catholic upbringing. The youngest of five children, Dati was bullied by his brother and his father would dismiss the abuse as "boys will be boys," he said.  But it wasn't good natured pranks or teasing, says Dati, "It was bullying."

 

Dati struggled with depression and thoughts of suicide after the assault, enduring more abuse in personal relationships because the emotional landscape of exploitation was so familiar to him. Dati also had two marriages before coming out and has a daughter. Since I Am Me has been published, Dati has become an advocate for survivors of sexual abuse and bullying as well as closeted gay men. Eighty to 85 percent of men who have been abused never come forward and reveal the harm and violence done to them, he says. He hopes to become a public speaker on the topics and his talk at the community center was videotaped for an upcoming CD.

 

“Too often in life the person we were raised to be is not the person we are,” Dati explains. “I lived my life to please others and it doesn’t work. I suffered so much and now I want to share my journey with others to that they too can come out of their darkness and into their light. Just be who you are. That’s the message!”

 

In addition to regularly speaking at national forums, he is active in several local and national anti-bullying and child abuse prevention organizations including, RAINN the Rape, Incest National Network.

 

Dati says he now regrets that he "didn't come forward" and reveal his traumatic experience sooner than he did. "I may have been able to save so many other kids' lives," he reflects. Dati is planning a second book to educate parents, teacher and school superintendents about the signs of bullying and abuse.

 

 

 

 

 In Omaha, Nebraska, there is a proposal on the table for people buying meat to choose an animal and watch it being slaughtered. But many are saying this encourages insensitivity and lack of empathy for suffering, whether human or animal. Many anthropologists say there is a strong cultural link between barbaric treatment of animals and barbaric treatment of humans--agony and terror no longer disturb people because they have become used to it.

 

Since the United States and other countries moved from an agrarian society to an urban one, many complain that kids think chicken nuggets grow on trees and that they have no awareness or respect for the fact than an animal died to make lunch. Because meat is daintily wrapped in cellophane at the grocery store, it is easy to pretend no violence, sacrifice or pain was involved--not even the pain experienced by the slaughterhouse workers who also suffer from a shockingly unregulated industry.

 

Many people realize that even though they may eat meat all day and every day, they would not be able to kill an animal themselves. This guilt and awareness of how cushy their dietary situations are can produce a perverse respect for hunters who are not in denial. But of course not all hunters eat what they kill or allow an animal "fair chase." 

 

For example, Madonna told BBC Radio One in 2001, "You have more respect for things you eat when you go through, or see, the process of killing them.” But the pop star was allowing "canned hunts" at her historic Wiltshire mansion, Ashcombe House, stocked with battery cage-raised baby pheasants from France and allowing rich guests like bankers, brokers and celebs Vinnie Jones and Brad Pitt to "pay up to £10,000 a day" to kill the tame and defenseless birds, reported the Sunday Times.

 

Chefs and foodies are also experimenting with slaughter transparency and self-slaughter. College student Jake Lahne enrolled in a meat production course at the University of Illinois, a strong agricultural school, to achieve “a real understanding of where meat comes from.” But during his do-your-own slaughtering, he found that “animals do not want to die. They can feel pain and fear, and, just like us, will struggle to breathe for even one single more second.” He even warns other self-slaughterers, “If you’re about to run 250 volts through a pig, do not look it in the eyes. It is not going to absolve you.”

 

Christine Muhlke, a New York Times food writer, planned to report on one of the first uses of a van-like “mobile slaughterhouse,” which serves customers who live far away from slaughterhouses or who have a hard time transporting animals. But even though she describes herself as a “meat hipster who serves pickled pigs’ tongues,” the frenetic “wild thrashing” of the animal in the box which did not want to die horrified her.

 

New York Times city critic Ariel Kaminer also tried her hand at witnessing slaughter. She decided to take the life of a Bourbon Red turkey with rich brown feathers “flecked with white” at an Islamic slaughterhouse in Queens. But, “Stepping out of the slaughterhouse and squinting at the light, I didn’t feel brave. I didn’t feel idealistic. I felt crummy,” she wrote.

 

Many who eat meat say they feel "squeamish" about the animal's death. But squeamish implies something unpleasant but necessary like giving blood or treating bedsores. Animal flesh is not necessary for a healthy diet and is actually the opposite of a healthy diet when you consider heart disease, stroke and obesity. Do we really want to get over such "squeamishness"?

 

You would think the world's oldest civil rights organization, as the NRA calls itself, would speak out about the events in Ferguson. Aren't the law enforcement personnel in the hot seat the same jack-booted thugs the NRA screeched about 20 years ago?

 

But wait! The racial unrest is doing a better job of selling product than the NRA's "they're gonna take your guns" marketing after President Obama's election and the Newtown massacre. It has started a feeder frenzy of gun sales among area residents, says CNN. People are scooping up shotguns, AR-15s, concealable handguns, Glocks, Rugers, firearms with high capacity magazines and a "boatload" of ammunition, as fast as they can says Steven King, owner of Metro Shooting Supplies, a gun shop in the St. Louis suburb of Bridgeton.

 

At Mid America Arms in St. Louis, sales have jumped 50 percent.

 

Much as it tries to update its image with its African-American spokesman Colion Noir and Gabby Franco (not only a woman but an Olympic shooter from Venezuela who legally emigrated--3 PR points!) NRA can't shake its White Power roots. In 1967, it supported California Governor Ronald Reagan's Mulford Act that restricted people carrying guns--because Black Panthers were carrying them. “There’s no reason why on the street today a citizen should be carrying loaded weapons,” said Reagan at the time.

 

As recently as 2007, a racial-fear mongering NRA brochure draft was leaked to the press that shows an Aryan nation under siege by African-Americans. The brochure, called Freedom In Peril; Guarding the 2nd Amendment in the 21st Century, was intended for fundraising but is so paranoid and racist, it seems right out of the satirical newspaper the Onion. In high budget illustrations, homeowners are shown defending themselves from a Helter Skelter-like apocalypse by shooting from their rooftops. "Thousands of lawful Americans were reduced to the final and purest form of self-reliance in the face of terrifying anarchy," said the brochure about the unrest after Hurricane Katrina,

 

While the NRA has almost equal fear of "bad guys" which usually means African-Americans and government officials with their black helicopters, in New Orleans both fears were combined in one entity since most law enforcement personnel were African-American. No wonder the brochure spells out special hatred for former New Orleans Police Department Chief Eddie Compass as a top enemy.

 

Does the NRA's recruitment of Colion Noir mean it is no longer a tacit White Power organization? Only if you ignore the comments of NRA board member Ted Nugent who characterized President Obama as a "sub human mongrel." Nugent also said the President is "a piece of s**t, and I told him to suck on my machine gun." If the "world's oldest civil rights organization" disagreed with the uncouth and racist remarks, would Nugent still be a board member?

 

 

Tell corporate America to get off the gun violence "sidelines." Join the action against <a href=" http://www.operationsideline.org/" target="_blank">Hallmark,</a> the only major corporation that has publicly sworn it will never support anti-gun initiatives. <em>When corporations want sane gun laws, we will have sane gun laws.

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The NRA has two overarching image problems. One is the way it arms "bad guys" through fighting universal background checks and defending gun "rights" of domestic abusers and people with mental illness. Thanks for that.

 

The other is that young people do not find Bubbaland cool. Half of all millennials now support stricter gun laws and only 18 percent of 18 to 25 year olds even own a gun! Nor is hunting a cool pursuit. Kids are more involved with “cars, girlfriends or hanging out” Kevin Kelly, a college student, told the lower Hudson Valley’s Journal News. “Only a couple of my friends really hunt,” high school student Jonathan Gibbons told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “The rest have never really found the appeal of sitting out in the cold to shoot an animal.”

 

Enter NRA Freestyle and NRA Sharp,  two gun owner image overhauls that are "about as appealing to young folk as MTV under the direction of George Will," writes former New Yorker staffer Mike Spies. The NRA Freestyle channel seeks to show what babe magnets guns are and NRA Sharp offers lifestyle tips. It is a "kind of GQ meets BuzzFeed for stylish gun owners," says Spies.

 

Many have observed that we are at the second-hand smoke moment in gun violence. We no longer believe another person's "right" to smoke or carry a lethal weapon does not impact (or should that be "infringe"?) upon the rest of us. That is why corporations like Starbucks, Sonic Drive-In, Chili's Grill & Bar, Chipotle, Jack in the Box and Target are increasingly "disinviting" guns in their stores for the safety of their other patrons.

 

 

The NRA's attempt to make guns cool is also like Big Tobacco whose shameless ads told women that cigarettes liberated them (Virginia Slims) and men that they were babe magnets (Camel Filters Man). The cartoon character "Joe Camel" blatantly hawked smoking to kids charged the American Medical Association in 1991.

 

Of course there are other similarities between Big Tobacco and the gun lobby. Both had a stranglehold on Congress (the NRA still does) even as their products were killing every day. And Big Tobacco and gun manufacturers were the only two industries that could not be sued. Today there is only one and it is not Big Tobacco.

 

More than a decade ago, corporate America said about cigarettes, "you want to bring WHAT in here?" and it spelled the end of smoking in public places. Banning dangerous products that kill was clearly a good business decision. When will corporate America say "you want to bring WHAT in here" about guns?

 

Smoking images courtesy of Marjorie Fujara, M.D.

 

Tell corporate America to get off the gun violence "sidelines."

 

 

 

Robert Wilbur and Martha Rosenberg

 

As the nation is horrified by another botched execution, a capital defense lawyer in Texas, legal scholar in New York and the former warden of San Quentin work against capital punishment.

 

 

There were only three people in the room: Jeanne Woodford, the chaplain and the man strapped to a gurney with tubes coming out of his arms. After hearing the man's last words, Woodford signaled the corrections officer who was "working the chemicals," which means in prison argot that he started infusions of lethal chemicals that flowed into the man on the gurney. As warden of California's San Quentin, Woodford presided over this high-tech ritual of punishment four times. After a stint as Executive Director of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, she threw in the towel to become Executive Director of Death Penalty Focus, the abolitionist organization that sponsored the 2012 SAFE referendum seeking to replace the death penalty with life without parole. Though the referendum failed to pass, Woodford is still hard at work in the movement to abolish capital punishment in California.

 

Meanwhile, across the continent, in the gentility of Fordham University's school of law, Arthur A. McGivney Professor Deborah W. Denno writes scholarly articles about "working the chemicals" that are published in the nation's leading law journals and quoted at death penalty hearings before the United States Supreme Court.

 

Until lately, the chemicals Denno wrote about were sodium thiopental, an ultra-short acting barbiturate that, given intravenously, is supposed to deliver almost instantaneous sleep so that the condemned person will be impervious to the rest of the evening's proceedings; pancuronium bromide, next on the menu, which is related to curare, plant extract poisons from Central and South America traditionally used on arrows which paralyze the body's skeletal muscles (including the muscles of breathing); and for the coup de grace, a jolt of potassium chloride, which stops the heart. This deadly mixture was known as Carson's Cocktail, so named after the Oklahoma pathologist, A. Jay Carson, MD, who concocted it as a "humane" alternative to the electric chair.

 

Since the early 1980s, the Carson Cocktail was the gold standard for dispatching society's sinners (and the innocent too, if recent exonerations are factored in). But since thiopental supplies have dried up because of the EU's resistance to the death penalty states embracing the death penalty have been forced by the courts to seek other drugs with results like this week's botched execution in Arizona. Now Professor Denno must address the ghoulish new and often secretive lethal chemicals in use even as states calls for bringing back the electric chair or firing squad.

 

In Texas, attorney Kathryn Kase despaired as the Lone Star State executed its 500th person since the resumption of the death penalty. Kase wears three hats. She is Executive Director of the Texas Defender Service, where she supervises a staff of ten lawyers. She is herself a courtroom lawyer specializing in death penalty cases. And she and her staff mentor Texas lawyers in need of capital litigation tactics.

 

Kase's organization was founded as a public-defender body with a focus on the death penalty, but not specifically an abolitionist organization dedicated to ending the death penalty. When she puts on her administrative hat, Kase must play hardball as a politico, convincing fellow politicians of the importance of the Texas Defender Service and wringing money out of the state government and foundations.

 

Woodford, Denno and Kase could not be more different in personality and background, yet all have thrust themselves into the battle against capital punishment. There was a time when working in capital punishment was considered men's work that was too gruesome for women. Not anymore.

 

Jeanne Woodford, whose manner is crisp and to-the-point, took a BA degree in criminology and worked her way up to the highest rank of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. Woodford told us that she chose criminology because there were few women in the field and because she wanted to bring a more even-handed standard of justice to criminology as practiced in California.

 

Woodford is dismayed that, since the 1950s, penology has been dominated by a punitive rather than rehabilitative philosophy; people want their pound of flesh, even though punishment deepens sociopathic behavior, she says. Mere confinement accomplishes nothing and rehabilitation is essential whenever possible, says Woodford.

 

An unabashed abolitionist, Woodford says she is not "soft on crime" but as a "policy person" she finds no respectable evidence that the death penalty is a deterrent. By the time the legalities are done, it also costs more to execute a person than to incarcerate him or her for life she says. There is, she adds, a small element of the criminal population that it is so dangerous that it requires lifelong incarceration.

 

Woodford's demeanor is so crisp that we felt a little trepidation about asking her how she felt about overseeing the execution of four men when she was warden of San Quentin in light of her views on the death penalty. "That," Woodford replied, "Was a policy issue."

 

We asked Woodford what, specifically, changed her mind about capital punishment and she told us she has always opposed it on moral and practical grounds and that nothing has changed her opinion. Woodford says she sees hope that behavioral science is beginning to change peoples' minds about the issue.

 

One could not imagine a woman more different from Jeanne Woodford than Kathryn Kase. Funny, streetwise and a gifted lawyer, Kase started out as a journalist in San Antonio, Texas, got bored covering police court, and craved the action on the other side of the bar. Kase went to law school and moved to New York, where she worked for brief periods for private law firms. She then returned to Texas, where she says she found her calling in the Texas Defender Service, of which a more thankless labor could not be imagined.

 

By most accounts, Texas really needs Kase. By 2011, Texas governor Rick Perry had presided over more executions than any governor in modern history--234. The numbers continues to grow.

 

Speaking to Randi Hensley of the Campaign to End the Death Penalty in an internal memorandum, a Texas lawyer agreed. "Once guys get on death row in Texas, there's about a 90% chance they will die," said the lawyer: "There are no public defenders, no money, no experienced death penalty lawyers."

 

While the lawyer's observations are somewhat exaggerated, not by very much: organizations like the Texas Defender Service and the death penalty "clinic" at the University of Texas are so short staffed that they find themselves desperately filing appeals moments before the chemicals began to flow. Press reports of Texas executions have been chilling.

 

As Kathryn Kase dukes it out in the rough and tumble of Texas courthouses and the statehouse, Deborah Denno continues to highlight the cruelty of lethal injections in her academic work. Soft-spoken and poised, Denno says her turning point was the electrocution of Willie Francis, who walked the long road twice because the first execution was bungled.

 

When lethal injections supplanted the "hot squat" (the electric chair) as a more "humane" means of extinguishing human life, Deborah Denno made the cruelty of lethal injections her academic focus. Denno's work is invaluable in helping to paint for the public a complete picture of executions, from electrocution to the death gurney says Steve Hall, executive director of the Texas abolitionist group StandDown.

 

In a field once dominated by men, Kase, Denno and Woodford are bringing new passion to the fight against the death penalty along with a small pool of capital defenders like Judy Clarke and Maurie Levin. This week's shocking botched execution may bring more Americans to their side of the issue.

 

 

 

Robert Wilbur is a psychopharmacologist who also writes semi-popular articles on capital punishment, prison reform, and animal rights. Martha Rosenberg is a regular contributor to Alternet.

 

 

It has been four years since Thomas Insel, M.D., director of the National Institute of Mental Health was suspected of pharmaceutical conflicts of interest. According to the Chronicle of Higher Education, he assured the dean of the University of Miami medical school that if the dean hired Charles Nemeroff, government money would not be denied to U. of Miami.

 

Why was it in danger of being denied? Because Nemeroff, a disgraced Emory researcher, had a National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant terminated, a rare occurrence, after a Congressional investigation probed his unreported drug industry income. At the time that Insel downplayed the revocation of Nemeroff's government money, Insel was leading NIH efforts to stamp out conflicts of interest and supposedly a steward of our tax dollars, says the Chronicle.

 

Why the largesse? Press reports said Insel wanted to repay Nemeroff for getting Insel a job at Emory University when Insel lost his NIH position in 1994. Nice old boys' network, revolving door work, if you can get it.

 

Recently Insel was again in the news, this time writing a blog on the National Institute of Mental Health web site that more children are being medicated for emotional and behavioral problems because more children likely have emotional and behavioral problems. Reacting to a recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that as many as US 10,000 toddlers are on stimulants like Ritalin, Insel wrote that that a "bigger problem" than over-medication of children and toddlers may well be "under-treatment." Ka-ching.

 

Insel was an early believer in the biomedical model of mental health, reports the New York Times--which is behind drugging children. A passionate animal researcher, Insel directed the Yerkes Regional Primate Research Center once he was at Emory, one of the world's largest centers for research on monkeys and great apes, before returning to NIH.

 

Unlike other animal-based industries like the meat industry, animal research is scrupulously hidden from public view.  Scientists say it is because average citizens cannot judge scientific merit, especially when experiments looks cruel. (And even though we are usually subsidizing it with our tax dollars.)

 

But you do not need a PhD to see the banality and inhumanity of many animal experiments which have less to do with scientific advancement than the government conferring "pork" on academic research centers.

 

Have you ever heard of Henry Harlow, the infamous primate research who subjected baby primates to "Iron Maiden" mothers and what he shamelessly called the "pit of despair"? Insel's experiments on primates continue the same chilling tradition.

 

In one experiment, newborn monkeys were "removed from their mothers within 48 h of birth," and subjected to  "stressors" (use your imagination) without being "able to use a social companion to buffer their response to a stressor." What did this Harlow-like experiment add to scientific knowledge? "As expected from previous studies, monkeys removed from their mother shortly after birth and raised in standard nursery conditions develop a syndrome characterized by decreased affiliation, increased aggression, and increased self-directed, repetitive behavior," write the researchers.

 

In another experiment  conducted by Insel on voles, a mouse-like mammal, "an animal was placed in the start box" with 2-8 days old pups. "Parental behavior was recorded as time spent with pups, either nursing, grooming or crouching during a 5-min period. Females were decapitated the same day." What?

 

With disturbing links to cronyism, pharmaceutical conflicts of interest, overmedication of children and cruelty to animals--why is this person heading a government institute? Supported by our tax dollars?

 

 

 

Martha Rosenberg is an award-winning investigative journalist who covers food and drug safety and regulation. Her acclaimed expose, Born with a Junk Food Deficiency, with 30 cartoons, is now available as an ebook.

 

 

Days after the Rev. Kenneth Walker was killed in Phoenix with a .357-caliber gun owned by fellow priest Rev. Joseph Terra, Georgia churches are welcoming guns. Thanks to arguably the most lenient US gun law ever passed, church goers no longer have to risk being attacked and mugged by bad guys in the pews.

 

Luckily some religious leaders see the obscenity of armed worship. “I saw this as a wonderful opportunity to talk about what it means to be a follower of Jesus in the 21st Century,” said Bishop Robert Wright of the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta whose109 parishes will not welcome firearms. “Even though permission has been given to have guns everywhere, that stops for us at the sanctuary. This is a gun-free zone.” 

 

But other religious leaders, in Georgia and elsewhere, seem comfortable with armed sanctuaries and even "carry" themselves. They often say they "pray" that they never have to use their lethal weapons and kill someone as opposed to, say, turning the other cheek.

 

A year ago, prominent Atlanta bishop William Henry Murphy III allegedly tried to board a airplane with a loaded 9 mm handgun at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. Atlanta's airport led the nation in such gun confiscations even before Georgia's new law. Authorities also found 10 rounds of ammunition in the minister’s bag. He “forgot” about his lethal carry-on, said Murphy.

 

In March, the Rev. John Koletas of the Grace Baptist Church in Troy, New York, announced plans to raffle off a Smith & Wesson M&P semi-automatic rifle during a Sunday service. Why? To honor "hunters and gun owners who have been so viciously attacked by the antichristian socialist media and antichristian socialist politicians the last few years," said the peace-loving pastor.

 

And last month, Pastor Heath Mooneyham of Ignite Church in Joplin, Missouri also raffled off lethal weapons, The grand prize in the raffle was a Black Rain AR-15, which Pastor Mooneyham called “the Lamborghinis of AR-15s.” The pastor says he is not encouraging violence because, "The first murder recorded in the Bible was with a rock” and “If we can get more people to follow Jesus, I’ll give away 1,000 guns. I don’t care.”

Ignite Church is a youth oriented ministry with live music and counter culture elements used in worship.

 

Then, there is the Pentecostal preacher James McAbee, of the Lighthouse Worship Center in Beaumont, Texas, who wears two loaded guns to church, one on his hip and one on his ankle. He wife also packs for church.  Hope no one in the congregation makes any sudden moves.

 

 Rev. McAbee is such a gun enthusiast, he also teaches gun classes. Asked if he is cultivating violence he said no and cited Psalm 144:1, which reads "The Lord has trained me for battle" and Luke 22:36, in which Jesus instructs the disciples to arm themselves.

 

Many gun carrying religious leaders say they are "carrying" because it is a different world today. Right. It is a world in which religious leaders are willing to kill.

 

 

 

 

Boycott Hallmark cards which refuses to publicly support universal background checks. Send instead these free, custom-designed SHATTERED HEART™ cards.

 

 

 

It is happening more and more. T.S.A. screeners at the airport, in addition to finding hidden bottles of shampoo, are finding guns that passengers "forgot." It is "a vivid indication of the normalization of casual gun-ownership," said the New York Times this week. "Airports in states with lax gun laws tend to have the highest incidence of firearms at checkpoints."

 

Last year, a Littlestown man on his way to Music City USA was found to have a loaded gun in his carry-on bag at the Baltimore–Washington International Airport. The wife of rock musician and NRA board member Ted ("Obama is a subhuman mongrel") Nugent was caught with a gun in her carry-on luggage at the Dallas airport. At the Bismarck airport, also last year,  a Utah man was trying to disarm his gun so he could check it onto a plane when it went off.  Oops. Both a pastor and a Chicago lawmaker have recently "forgotten" they were carrying lethal weapons which were found by airport screeners when they tried to board planes.

 

Rules around flying with guns are clear. Travelers may only transport unloaded firearms in a locked, hard-sided container or as checked baggage. All firearms, ammunition and firearm parts, including firearm frames and receivers, are prohibited in carry-on baggage. Which part of this do gun lovers fail to understand?

 

It is easy to see why gun carriers at the airport would be inclined to make the same mistake again. Nothing happens to them. Unlike a drunk driver who can lose his license and face jail time, gun owners are not licensed to begin with so there is no license to lose. Let's enforce existing laws!

 

Passengers caught with guns as they try to board airplanes are subject to state law and in most states their gun is returned and they are told to put it in their car before boarding. Ouch. While police may confiscate the weapon and make an arrest, they usually let the passenger with a lethal weapon he"forgot" proceed on his way. Gun carriers will, after all, be gun carriers.

 

Even if the carrier has no criminal intent, guns go off accidentally and can kill passengers and crew members. They can cause structural damage and, in certain cases, go through the plane’s fuselage causing everyone to be ejected from the plane due to explosive decompression. Like the open and concealed carriers, we are all threatened when gun enthusiasts, fueled by the gun lobby's "guns everywhere" movement, pack weapons.

 

Why isn't bringing a gun into the security zone of an airport a felony?  Because lawmakers ignore the 90 percent of the nation that does not want to live in an armed camp in favor of belligerent and threatening "gun advocates" who use extortion and mob-like tactics to get their way. As long as the law continues to smile on gun carriers who treat their lethal weapons like cell phones, these "forgetful incidents" will keep occurring.

 

Boycott Hallmark cards which refuses to publicly support universal background checks. 

 

 

 

 

 

While there are more guns in the US than there were thirty years ago, fewer households actually have guns. According to UPI, over half of US households in 1977 had guns; now less than a third have guns. The reason for the steep decline, says UPI, is "aging of the current-gun owning population, a lack of interest in guns by youth, the end of military conscription, the decreasing popularity of hunting; land-use issues that limit hunting and shooting and the increase in single-parent homes headed by women."

 

Needless to say, gun sales are increasingly to households that already have guns, reflecting the sales pitches after the election of President Obama and the Sandy Hook massacre that new guns laws, if not outright confiscation, would ensue. Right. Actually laws became even more gun friendly after Newtown.

 

Households that were already armed are even more armed today. It is reminiscent of a New Yorker cartoon that said, "Let's say you have up to six hundred intruders per minutes," as he tries to sell a customer a military style weapon.

 

Still, the post Newtown profit party is over. In December, both Smith & Wesson Holding Corp. and Remington Outdoor Co. reported profits down, according to the Wall Street Journal. Outdoor retailer Cabela's Inc. also reported sales of firearms and ammunition down, as much as 50 percent. Chief Executive Thomas Millner admitted the feeder frenzy after Newtown was "a bubble."

 

The sinking of gun culture, whether for self-defense or hunting, is especially apparent in young people.  Half of all millennials now support stricter gun laws and only 18 percent of 18 to 25 year olds even own a gun! Hunting is not cool anymore compared to soccer, snowboarding and social media.

 

Kids are more involved with "cars, girlfriends or hanging out" and "think it's boring to sit in a tree for hours and have nothing walk by," said Kevin Kelly, a college student, to the lower Hudson Valley's Journal News. It's not popular in middle school either agreed Carmel student Nick Sadowski.

 

"Only a couple of my friends really hunt," high school student Jonathan Gibbons told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. "The rest have never really found the appeal of sitting out in the cold to shoot an animal." According to the Wildlife Service, the number of young hunters, aged 16 to 24, fell by 300,000 from 1996 to 2006.

 

The message of the young people statistics is clear. The old white men of the NRA who have terrorized this country and caused 30,000 gun deaths a year are on the wrong side of history. So are the old white lawmakers who do their bidding.

 

National Gun Victims Action Council has Declared a Boycott of Hallmark cards in time for Fathers Day. Here is why--join in!

http://www.cnbc.com/id/101718214