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Garland Robinette

Tune in to "The Think Tank" for independent, intelligent discussions with experts on matters of news, politics, science and much more!

Weekdays 10am-1pm

Twitter: @garlandWWL
Email: garland@wwl.com

Posts from May 2014


Garland: Do we pay for a cell, or a pill?
“Neurocriminology” is a whole new field of research that deals with minds of violent criminals.  The big question -- how much of who we are and what we do -- is because of our brain chemicals?  Through years of hosting the "Think Tank" and anchoring and reporting TV news, I’ve learned if you simply raise that question, you get one response from scientists and another from the general public.  Scientists say, “our actions are based on environment and very little chemistry.”  The general public pounces, “you’re one of those liberals, who wants to find more reasons to go easy on violent criminals!”
 
No, no, no. Not a liberal. You can’t put me in one of your boxes.  My questions are based on common sense.  So, let me ask you; if violent, schizophrenic people are made calm by a pill or injection, isn’t that a chemical change, not environmental?  If depressed people snap out of moderate or even severe depression by taking pills that influence neurotransmitters like serotonin, norepinephrine… is that not chemical too?
 
Let’s look at the other common sense aspect of this. We can no longer afford the largest prison system in the world.  If we hate additional taxes, if we hate government bureaucracy, shouldn’t we be looking for ways to reduce costs, crime and recidivism?  To me the question is simple. Do we pay for a cell (for years, if not decades or a lifetime)… or a pill to change brain chemistry?
 
The author of “The Anatomy of Violence: The Biological Roots of Crime,” Adrian Raine asks: “If bad brains do cause bad behavior, if brain dysfunction raises the odds that somebody will become a criminal offender – a violent offender – and if the cause of the brain dysfunction comes relatively early in life… should we fully hold that adult individual responsible?”
 
We’re not talking about brain chemicals being destiny.  We’re considering an option that is currently not part of the discussion about crime and criminals.  Just another possible solution to a problem we have to solve, because the current situation is unsustainable.
 
There is some slight evidence to support the brain chemsitry/criminal activity relation.  In the 50’s, 60’s and 70s lead was everywhere. Gas, paint, and even in the soil.  In the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s violent crime went up in America.  Then, in the 90’s (and continuing today) violent crime started to come down.  Some scientists believe the prevalence of lead in the environment, and the subsequent removal of lead from that environment, may have been a major factor in both the increase and the decrease of crime during that time period. Lead removal became a national campaign in the 70’s.  Scientists tell us, in fact, if you map environmental lead levels over time, lead can explain 91% of those violent crime changes.
 
Let’s look at this in simple, every day terms. If someone meets you for the first time and you’re suffering from a headache, that person may label you grumpy or distracted. Maybe even label you a bad guy or lady.  Not a person they or society want to deal with.  If you take medication for that headache, you may revert back to your pleasant, amiable self.  Did the person meet a bad guy, a good guy or simply a person who had not changed his brain chemistry?
 
It’s just a thought.  No reason to cling to dogma. No reason to get angry.  No reason not to look for needed answers.
 
Just a thought.
 (1) Comments




 
Garland: Do we pay for a cell, or a pill?
“Neurocriminology” is a whole new field of research that deals with minds of violent criminals.  The big question -- how much of who we are and what we do -- is because of our brain chemicals?  Through years of hosting the "Think Tank" and anchoring and reporting TV news, I’ve learned if you simply raise that question, you get one response from scientists and another from the general public.  Scientists say, “our actions are based on environment and very little chemistry.”  The general public pounces, “you’re one of those liberals, who wants to find more reasons to go easy on violent criminals!”
 
No, no, no. Not a liberal. You can’t put me in one of your boxes.  My questions are based on common sense.  So, let me ask you; if violent, schizophrenic people are made calm by a pill or injection, isn’t that a chemical change, not environmental?  If depressed people snap out of moderate or even severe depression by taking pills that influence neurotransmitters like serotonin, norepinephrine… is that not chemical too?
 
Let’s look at the other common sense aspect of this. We can no longer afford the largest prison system in the world.  If we hate additional taxes, if we hate government bureaucracy, shouldn’t we be looking for ways to reduce costs, crime and recidivism?  To me the questions simple. Do we pay for a cell (for years, if not decades or a lifetime)… or a pill to change brain chemistry?
 
The author of “The Anatomy of Violence: The Biological Roots of Crime,” Adrian Raine asks: “If bad brains do cause bad behavior, if brain dysfunction raises the odds that somebody will become a criminal offender – a violent offender – and if the cause of the brain dysfunction comes relatively early in life… should we fully hold that adult individual responsible?”
 
We’re not talking about brain chemicals being destiny.  We’re considering an option that is currently not part of the discussion about crime and criminals.  Just another possible solution to a problem we have to solve, because the current situation is unsustainable.
 
There is some slight evidence to support the brain chemsitry/criminal activity relation.  In the 50’s, 60’s and 70s lead was everywhere.Gas, paint, and even in the soil.  In the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s violent crime went up in America.  Then, in the 90’s (and continuing today) violent crime started to come down.  Some scientists believe the prevalence of lead in the environment, and the subsequent removal of lead from that environment, may have been a major factor in both the increase and the decrease of crime during that time period. Lead removal became a national campaign in the 70’s.  Scientists tell us, in fact, if you map environmental lead levels over time, lead can explain 91% of those violent crime changes.
 
Let’s look at this in simple, every day terms. If someone meets you for the first time and you’re suffering from a headache, that person may label you grumpy or distracted. Maybe even label you a bad guy or lady.  Not a person they or society want to deal with.  If you take medication for that headache, you may revert back to your pleasant, amiable self.  Did the person meet a bad guy, a good guy or simply a person who had not changed his brain chemistry?
 
It’s just a thought.  No reason to cling to dogma. No reason to get angry.  No reason not to look for needed answers.
 
Just a thought.
 (1) Comments




 
Garland: Wake up! Demand state lawmakers protect your family and property
If you’re not paying attention to what happens with this lawsuit and the actions of our state leaders… wake up!   The future of your home, your family, your business…our community is at stake.  Over 40 years ago I began warning in news story after news story about the dangers lurking as our wetlands began to disappear.   Very few listened.  I hope you’re listening now.   

A Louisiana House committee voted Wednesday to kill a lawsuit filed by the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East against 97 oil and gas companies, claiming that these companies failed to follow through on their duty to repair and restore more than 10,000 miles of canals dug through our wetlands. Studies show that oil and gas industry activity is responsible for 36.7 percent of coastal erosion in this state.

By amending Senate Bill 469, the House Committee on Natural Resources have specifcally and directly made it impossible for SLFPA-E to bring legal claims against those companies, limiting that privlege to government agencies with a Coast Zone Management Plan. The vote was 12-5 in favor of the amendment, and now the vote will go to the full House sometime next week.

We've been talking about this lawsuit for weeks and weeks with John Barry, formerly with the SLFPA-E. He joined me on "The Think Tank" this morning to discuss this development and had this to say about it: reaction? 

"Well, I'm sure if this bill does pass, the attorneys will challenge it in court, but there is a precedent where the Supreme Court upheld the legislators' ability to do this. There is a reasonable possibility that this would be held unconstitutional, but there's also a reasonable possibility that it would be held constitutional. So the key is for the House to kill it when they vote on it next week."

So it looks like oil and gas companies may not have to pay up the money to repair our wetlands. Why does it matter to our listeners?

"First, there's no money in the Master Plan to protect people and rebuild the coast, and the Flood Authority doesn't have any money. Here's a single example of one project. The landbridge that juts out from New Orleans East into the lake - goes most of the way across the lake into Slidell - that is eroding away. If that disappears, then the entire Gulf of Mexico will pour unimpeded into the lake when there's a storm. That means people all around the lake who never dreamed they'd be threatened by a hurricane will suddenly be threatened."

What about the levees we already have in place? 

"The levees constructed with the idea that that peninsula remained in place t block storm surge, those levees will be overtopped by any kind of major storm. Just to keep that landbridge in place would cost $1.2 billion. That's one of the highest-priority items if the authority wins the lawsuit and gets the money. That would protect every person who lives around the lake."

There's a lot more to the story and there's still time for your voice to be heard. You can call the House of Representatives switchboard at 225-342-6945 and tell your legislators what to do when the bill comes up for a full vote next week.

FULL AUDIO: Garland talks to John Barry about Flood Authority lawsuit


 
 (3) Comments
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Locations: Gulf Of MexicoSoutheast Louisiana
People: John Barry




 
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