Archive for October, 2012

Are suicide terrorists really so different from rampage, workplace and school shooters?

October 30, 2012

A comparative analysis of suicide terrorists and rampage, workplace, and school shooters in the United States from 1990 to 2010

From Homicide Studies

There is a long history of terrorists, rampage shooters, workplace shooters, and school shooters carrying out acts of murder-suicide against unarmed civilians.This study offers the first combined quantitative assessment of suicide terrorists and rampage, workplace, and school shooters who attempt suicide, to investigate where there are statistically significant differences and where they appear almost identical. Suicide terrorists have usually been assumed to be fundamentally different from rampage, workplace, and school shooters Many scholars have claimed that suicide terrorists are motivated purely by ideology, not personal problems, and that they are not even suicidal. This study’s focus was on attacks and attackers in the United States from 1990 to 2010 and concluded that the differences between these offenders were largely superficial. Prior to their attacks, they struggled with many of the same personal problems, including social marginalization, family problems, work or school problems, and precipitating crisis events. Ultimately, patterns among all four types of offenders can assist those developing security policy, conducting threat assessments, and attempting to intervene in the lives of at-risk individuals. Given the stakes, this should quickly become a top priority, so that the many social costs of these horrific attacks can finally be reduced.


Threat of separation often the trigger for murder of collaterals such as children related to intimate partner conflict

October 26, 2012

Who died? The murder of collaterals related to intimate partner conflict

From Violence Against Women

Over recent years it has seemed far more common to read news headlines about collateral murders associated with intimate partner conflict, particularly a saddening trend of males killing their children and then committing suicide following partner conflict. Using data from the Murder in Britain Study, the authors of this paper focus on collateral murders including children, allies, and new partners. The research focuses on these three types of Intimate Partner Conflict Murders (IPCMs) and compare them to cases in which only the intimate partner was murdered. Qualitative data provide a characterization of the three types of collaterals, and quantitative data are used to compare characteristics of perpetrators. Unlike the other two collateral types, most of the child murders involved previous violence to the victim. In many cases the dynamics of child murder involved notions of sexual jealousy as the perpetrator targeted for violent abuse and eventually killed the child of a previous partner of the woman. The study suggests that for intimate partner murders as well as the collateral murder of allies and new partners, separation or threat of separation was often associated with a dynamic process in which the man “changed the project” from one oftrying to cajole or force his partner to remain/return to him to one directed at revenge, punishment, and annihilation for not doing so. Various disciplinary approaches are reflected in the research design, data collection, findings, and conclusions. The results have important implications for research, policy, and practice.


No link found between cannabis use and the proximity of coffee shops

October 24, 2012

Cannabis use and proximity to coffee shops in the Netherlands

From European Journal of Criminology

Across Europe, the illicit retail market in cannabis is similar, with various levels of distribution ranging from social suppliers to profit-making sellers. The Netherlands is an exception, however, because retail sales of cannabis for personal consumption by adults are condoned in ‘coffee shops’. Almost 80 percent of Dutch municipalities have no coffee shops and, of all coffee shops one-third are located in Amsterdam.

The aim of this paper is to assess the influence of coffee shop availability on the prevalence and intensity of cannabis use, as well as the effectiveness of the ‘separation of markets’ policy. This study found current cannabis use and the proximity of coffee shops were not correlated, but early use of cannabis might still be influenced by the proximity or availability of coffee shops. From the results it remains unresolved whether the presence of coffee shops stimulates more intense cannabis use (routine activity), or whether more frequent users more often buy at coffee shops (rational choice). Coffee shops may not cause but rather facilitate frequent use. It is suggested longitudinal studies are required to confirm whether coffee shops might stimulate both frequency of use and amounts used per occasion.



Opening the debate about Rushdie’s legacy ‘The Satanic Verses’

October 23, 2012

Online Special Issue: The Satanic Verses

From The Journal of Commonwealth Literature

Joseph Anton, the new memoir by Salman Rushdie  was published with great fanfare and to mixed critical reception in September 2012. Its publication has led to an outpouring of reflections by Rushdie, his supporters, and opponents on the Satanic Verses affair, its long aftermath, and Rushdie’s literary merits (or otherwise). In this online special issue a selection of the best articles past and present, have been collated. In doing so, it is hoped textual weight and complexity is offered to the discussion, especially given that the novel itself often gets lost in debates about the fatwa, freedom of speech versus offence, and so on.

Whether positive or negative, taken together or individually, these articles open up the debate about Rushdie’s legacy, The Satanic Verses as a serious work of art, and the issue of religious groups protesting against creative works. This has continuing relevance today, as we are reminded by the recent violence caused by the (itself violently Islamophobic) film Innocence of Muslims.


China’s nuclear dilemma

October 18, 2012

Making China’s nuclear war plan

From The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

The authors of this study believe that this is the first comprehensive non-governmental study on how China’s nuclear-war plan was developed. They examine the evolution of China’s overall defense strategy, with a focus on central elements of today’s nuclear war plan and how they are operationalized.  It highlights the risk of escalation to nuclear war from a conflict beginning with conventional weapons, due to the unusual structure of the nation’s military. They conclude that China’s unique deployment of modern conventional ballistic missiles had a decisive effect on its war plan. The possibility of combining or sequentially launching conventional and nuclear missiles is deemed a fundamental source of political and military strength – but also generates critical uncertainties.

Beijing’s overall defence strategy has evolved significantly in recent decades. Step by step, the ever-more complex command-and-control mechanisms of the People’s Liberation Army adopted and refined new roles for its nuclear and conventional missiles to support peacetime diplomacy, to manage military crises, and to pursue combat readiness. Nuclear deterrence strategies finally came of age in 2006 with the official endorsement of the terms ‘nuclear deterrent force’ and ‘strategic deterrence’ in a defence white paper.


Do clinical psychologists extend the bereavement exclusion for major depression to other stressful life events?

October 17, 2012

From Medical Decision Making 

This study aims to systematically examine whether clinicians’ judgments reflect agreement with formal specifications. It considers to what extent clinicians interpret symptoms within the explanatory context of major life stressors in cases of major depressive disorder (MDD). The current guidelines specify that only bereavement-related life events exclude a client from a diagnosis of MDD. However recent research has overwhelmingly demonstrated that the manifestation of MDD does not differ across life stressors (e.g., bereavement, divorce, job loss). Thus, it is widely acknowledged that changes to the bereavement exclusion criterion should ultimately be made. In this controlled examination of the influence of explanatory life event context on perceptions of depression symptoms, it was found that currently practicing, experienced clinical psychologists were strongly influenced by life event context in making decisions. It outlines that clinical psychologists’ diagnostic and related judgments overwhelmingly reflected agreement with the idea that the bereavement exclusion criterion should be expanded to include other stressful life events.


Addressing poverty and inequality; new forms of urban governance in Asia

October 16, 2012

Articles examining The Asian Coalition for Community Action (Acca)

From Environment and Urbanization

This issue of the Journal has seven papers on different aspects of an Asia-wide initiative to address urban poverty and inequality at scale – the Asian Coalition for Community Action (ACCA) – which was launched in 2009 and is active in 19 Asian nations. The issue offers a range of papers that report on the scale and scope of this programme, and examine in some detail different aspects of the initiative. The authors bring different perspectives, including those of community leaders from informal settlements and young professionals. Statistics on inequalities usually relate to income or assets, living conditions or health outcomes (such as infant and child mortality rates). But one of the most profound inequalities is rarely mentioned – how those living in informal settlements have no influence on local government or service providers (who ignore them and their needs) and no influence on decisions about development investments and priorities.

The ACCA programme seeks to channel the energy, resourcefulness and motivation evident in the inhabitants of most informal settlements into a larger, more focused and more collective force to address larger problems of housing, access to land and basic services and finance. With the small grants available to them, it is up to each community organization to choose what to do, how best to do it and how to use the money. This forms or strengthens a network of community organizations that can begin to work at city scale.


How close were we to Armageddon? Fifty years on, why still study the Cuban Missile Crisis?

October 12, 2012

Special Issue: Fifty years beyond the brink: Writing the Cuban Missile Crisis

From International Relations

Why, fifty years on, is the Cuban Missile Crisis still a subject of considerable fascination for academics and professionals alike? Should we still be studying it, and if so, how? As one of the most intensely studied events of the twentieth century, the Cuban Missile Crisis could suffer from “over examination”, yet as the Guest Editor of this special issue remarks: “While all historiography may be revisionist in intent, the missile crisis provides much ammunition for those who question whether ‘the truth’ can be found’”. While new information has clarified or changed our understanding fundamental debates remain over key issues, the interpretations of historians and the models of political scientists. As such these interpretations require revisiting and revising. Much of what has been learned over the past few decades has reinforced the view that we were closer to the brink of nuclear Armageddon than realised, and this is what is argued deserves our attention moving forwards.


Minority children at a higher risk for weight problems in both the US and England

October 10, 2012

Race/Ethnicity and nativity disparities in child overweight in the United States and England

From American Academy of Political and Social Science

With ties to diabetes, hypertension, and high cholesterol, childhood obesity in wealthy countries is certainly of growing concern to researchers. This study explores the ties between childhood weight problems, socioeconomic status, and nationality and finds that race, ethnicity, and immigrant status are risk factors for weight problems among children in the US and England. The researchers studied data of 6,816 children from the US and the UK to analyze childhood weight problems among certain demographics. This research highlights the consequences of migration for children, an area of study that is often overlooked by immigration researchers. “In the United States, both Hispanic and black children of native-born mothers have a higher risk of overweight than children of native-born whites,” the authors observe “In England, children of native-born black mothers have a higher risk of overweight, and in some models, children of native-born Asian mothers have a higher risk.” They recognize that migration requires children to make sense of a new country, often facing unwelcoming communities, whilst learning to navigate the social institutions of their host society and, more often than not, a new language.


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