Thursday, April 10, 2014



Alex Hribal, the suspect in the stabbings at the Franklin Regional High School
 is taken from a district magistrate after he was arraigned on charges in the attack
 on Wednesday, April 9, 2014 in Export, Pa. (Keith Srakocic /AP)


(Thursday April 10, 2014, Pittsburgh, PA)  In the wake of a slashing spree yesterday at the High School in Murrysville
that left 21 students and a security guard with varying degrees of slash and stab wounds local, state and federal leaders are calling for more “knife control” legislation.  As the small town of Murrysville just north of Pittsburgh was coming to terms with the shocking events of yesterday some parents and officials were demanding that the issue of knife control to be addressed as a serious threat.  “There are far too many knives in our society.  People are very careless with their knives.  Some knives like penknives, Boy Scout knives or pocket knives are not as dangerous as kitchen knives, hunting knives, survival knives, carving knives, boning knives, sabers, daggers, swords, machetes, and some of the larger bladed implements that are out there”, said a man who would only identify himself as Stanley for fear that he might become a target for a stabbing or slashing if his identity was revealed.  Others in the community and here in Pittsburg as well echoed Stanley’s opinion.

In Washington, DC the Democratic Senator and Majority Leader hapless Harry Reid went to the Senate floor late yesterday afternoon and made an impassioned plea that “We all wake up to the fact of knife violence.  We should not need to be reminded about this country’s knife problem whenever a mass attack such as we witnessed today in a suburban Pittsburgh High School occurs.  We should be dealing with making this less of a knife culture all the time”.  Democrats have long been advocating for increasingly stricter knife control laws.  The Republicans, on the other side of the political divide, are very knife friendly and received staunch support and financial donations from the National Knife Association (NKA).

NKA Chairman Dwayne La Sagna made a statement at a hastily called press conference at the NKA headquarters in Washington, DC.  La Sagna commented that “We all recognize that what happened today in that Pennsylvania high school was tragic.  However, if we continue to just look at knives as the issue we will never reduce knife violence and knife deaths.  Over 99.9% of Americans own and use knives for the same purposes they have and their families have for generations.  The knife is no more a danger to our society in itself than is the crossbow.  We have ample knife control laws on the books and really need to look at the causative factors with knife violence such as the mental health of young offenders. Knife control is not the answer.  I own many knives and use them safely and responsibly for many purposes.  Maybe parents should be teaching their children more about knives and knife safety”.

Dr. Arlen D. Stutter, a clinical psychiatrist at the Western Pennsylvania Home for Lunatics, is a recognized authority on knife violence particularly among young offenders.  Dr. Stutter noted, “We live in a generally violent society.  As a people we tend to be more aggressive in manner and actions, more impulsive and have plenty of ways for us to safely, productively even, to express our aggressive urges and violent tendencies.  But the young people who commit these mass casualty slashing and stabbing crimes tend to be shy, introverted and, as is usually found in most of them, suffering from a more significant mental health issue ranging from simple idiopathic neurosis to schizophrenia and severe psychopathy.  These troubled youths need early intervention and most should be taking copious amounts of anti-psychotic drugs”. 

If the previous four paragraphs seem a bit ludicrous it is because they are.  They are meant to be.  If you were to go back and reread them and replace the word “gun” every time you saw the word “knife”, you would see just how ludicrous those assertions and statements are.  Make no mistake about it; yesterday’s events are horrifying to imagine.  That they transpired in a school, a place historically of safety, security and refuge makes them even more concerning. One might argue that had that 16 year old student with the knives been armed instead with guns we would be counted dead bodies rather than stab wounds and they are correct.  To a point.  Accessibility to and choice of weapon notwithstanding, a person bent on or driven to commit mass violence will achieve that goal one way or another. The point here is that the topic of "gun control" is asinine. The issue, if it were to be addressed, is "illegal" firearms out on the streets being peddled as easily as a rock of crack or a bag of weed.  Those are the guns that need control not the overwhelming majority of firearms owned and used by responsible people.

As Americans we have to accept certain aspects of our culture and society today that may be a little unsettling at first glance, need to be carefully considered when we debate matters of crime, criminality, mental health, gun ownership, gun control and our cultural obsession with violence.  We are a violent people; we always have been.  Our Country itself was born out of violence, practiced wholesale genocide on the Native American population, fought a brutal Civil War and has never known the true sacrifices that come with military conflict on our shores since the early years of the 1800’s.  The two “World Wars” were fought overseas as were all the other military conflicts in which we became engaged. Having not experienced war in our homeland, in our own cities, towns and communities we have become vicariously violent as spectators of violent sports, video games and more than jaded by the daily news. 

Some will argue that we do not have to “accept” these truths about our society, that we have the power to change it.  After all, we are not some banana republic or “third world nation”: we are American’s dam it, and we can change whatever needs changing.  Alas, if this were so.  We are who we are; we do what we can do.  We might dance around the fringes of an issue such as why many of our young children develop into stalkers, bullies, murderers, arsonists, drug abusers, antisocial personalities and exhibit all the various disorders defined in the textbook of mental disorders.  But, for all the fancy footwork and dancing, for all the studies, panels, experts, blue-ribbon commissions, peer reviewed papers and all the rest, we seem to wind up at the exact same point from which we began. 

For a country as big, diverse and disparate as ours with a multicultural, multiethnic composition, free markets, freedom of speech, religion and all the other traits that make our country what it is, it is a little surprising why we do not have more crime, why we don’t have more frequent mass casualty crimes committed.  We number over 400 million in population and are scattered over this part of the North American continent in big urban centers surrounded by rings suburban and exurban living.  We have smaller cities interspersed throughout rural sections in the continental 48 States and our Constitution, while a little strained and twisted, has served us well.  Our public education system and criminal justice system are profoundly dysfunctional and, if one were to believe that those two entities are not intimately related, they would be very much mistaken.  If as a society we cannot provide an equal education for all of our children regardless of any external factors then we are failing as a society.  When our jails, prisons and penitentiaries become the go-to warehousing place for the mentally ill among us we are falling short.

Our broad systemic failures in public education also pose a serious national security threat.  In a paper sponsored by the Council on Foreign Relations and co-authored by two former Secretaries of State, Henry Kissinger and Condoleezza Rice reported that an alarming number of applicants to enlist in the Armed Forces cannot even pass the basic competency tests for admission to the military.  In a similar study conducted by the RAND Corporation over 25% of potential enlistees were disqualified because they could not achieve a passing grade on that same basic skills test that Drs. Kissinger and Rice evaluated in their work.

Providing a basic education for every child in the country should be among the very top priorities of the federal government.  State and local politics, regional tendencies and any number of extraneous variables should not be impediments to attaining that goal.  Our educators interactions with our children may be the only positive interactions they have with an adult.  This is not about need or merit, nor is it about any of the other red herrings that politicians like to throw out into this debate.  This is a nation-wide problem and it needs to be addressed in a serious manner.

We do not intend to say or even remotely imply that lack of education, poverty, bad neighborhoods or whatever else can be tossed into the excuse pot are “valid” reasons for, or “causes” of violence in our society especially among our youth.  That is simply not the case.  Millions of Americans over generations and hundreds of years have lived in less than ideal circumstances and have gone on to be productive law abiding members of society.  We cannot perform some type of “Mass mental health evaluation” for every child or teenager in the country but, the more of them we can teach – actually get into a classroom and keep them there - the better off we will all be.  Having our youth as “students” allows for them to be casually observed and unofficially evaluated by their educators on a daily basis and it is that level of scrutiny, that noninvasive or confrontational observance that might help a teacher identifies a legitimately “troubled” student before they drop out and pick up a knife…or a gun.  Our public schools lose hundreds of students a month to the streets or town squares.  In some of our largest cities, the biggest urban school districts, the dropout rates are almost at 50%.  That should be unacceptable to every person in the country, to every voter, to every elected official be they members of a local school board or the President of the United States.

Until we assume the responsibility as a people to provide an equal education for every child we will continue our slow but sure backsliding and it will continue to get worse.

Copyright The Brooding Cynyx 2014 © All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, April 9, 2014








(Wednesday April 9, 2014, The Bronx, NYC)  The inadequacy of words is most acutely evident at a time such as this. While a vocabulary exists to express the emotions and feelings in the face of such a tragedy, they all fall short.  They are, after all, just words.  When a man’s actions are such that we are awed by them our vocabulary no matter how expansive and detailed it is it will  not be capable of providing a way to express that which is in our hearts and minds without them sounding tired and worn.  Some of this is because we have over used some words and undervalued some actions.  When the true mettle of a man is exposed for the world to see it is a challenge to give it voice.  That which is so crystal clear in our minds rings hollow and flimsy no matter the words used.

Earlier this morning a New York City Police Officer, 38 year old Dennis Guerra, passed from this earthly realm after succumbing to injuries sustained last Sunday when he and his still hospitalized partner waded into a thick blanket of toxic smoke and carbon monoxide responding to calls about that fire raging on the 13th floor of a New York City Public Housing building on Surf Avenue out in Coney Island.  The fire was intentionally started by a 16 year old resident of that building who set a mattress on fire because he “was bored”.  The ironies are stunning between these two people.  A Cop without a second thought rides the elevator up to the floor where the fire was most intense and is knocked unconscious by the super-heated noxious billows of smoke condensed in the narrow corridors of that building.

But the ironies are not what we dwell on today nor is it the time to allow our anger and rage to distract us from honoring the son, the man, husband, father of four, and eight year NYPD Veteran Officer.   Dennis Guerra epitomizes the term “Public Servant”.  As part of his sworn duty to provide safety and security for our City and our 9 million residents he reacted to aid and assist those residents at the point where the blaze was most threatening. Neither he nor his 36 year old partner and mother of four, Rosa Rodriguez, had any idea what awaited them as soon as that elevator’s doors slid open but that fact did not dissuade them or hamper their response.

Today when Mayor Bill de Blasio said, "On behalf of all 8.4 million New Yorkers, our hearts go out” to the Guerra family he was likely expressing his own feelings because it would be a false claim to say that this NYPD Officer’s death is a “shared loss”, “a shared tragedy”, because it simply isn’t so.  It is however a very real shared loss experienced by the entire NYPD, past and present members alike, and the families of active duty  Police Officers who often must deal with sacrifices from the most minor disruption of family plans to a major life altering catastrophe such as the Guerra’s face from this day forward.

With the public and media typically so intent to tarnish the NYPD and any of its Members over any infraction real, rumored or false, the unseen thousands of acts of humanity, of quiet kindness and humility, of decency and courage are lost; buried beneath the average New Yorker’s consciousness when they think of the men and women serving in NYPD.  Perhaps that is natural and not an exception to a norm that applies in other parts of the country.  Police Officers are Law Enforcers and, as such, they perform all the down and dirty work that must be handled every day and every night to keep the multitude protected from the criminal minority. But often, they are called upon to act in ways far afield from enforcing the law.  That was the scenario last Sunday.

That Officers Guerra and Rodriquez raced to face down a danger not in the form of a man with a gun or a violent drama being played out is also part of what Police Officers do.  They faced a menace in the form of a corridor from hell engulfed in flames with smoke depriving the Officers that essential element for life – oxygen.  As the fire feasted on the available oxygen the clock ticking off the remaining minutes of the life span for both Officers had already begun.  But, a brain deprived of oxygen dies within minutes and it was in that smoke chocked corridor where life departed from Officer Guerra’s body.  Having never awakened from his coma, with no detectable neural activity, in the small early hours of this morning, the Guerra family decided that any life so dependent on the medical technology that can keep a heart beating as long as electricity is available, would be no life at all.  They understood the cruel fact of “brain dead”.

Our City lost one of our good guys today who also happened to earn his living as a Police Officer. But, ask any Police Officer about the thought of losing their life on the Job and to a man or woman you will always get the same reply; it would be a noble way to go especially if my actions saved the life or lives of another.  If Officer Guerra had been asked that question last Saturday night that is almost certainly the answer he would have provided.

Rest in Eternal Peace Officer, your Job here is complete.  EOW.  Amen.

Copyright The Brooding Cynyx 2014 © All Rights Reserved

Monday, April 7, 2014









(Monday April 7, 2014 NY, NY)  The headlines were too outlandish, so far from reality that they had to be pranks.  Had they appeared as satirical pieces on April 1st, April Fool’s Day, they would have been seen as very clever and extremely funny.  The Reverend Al Sharpton in bed with the Italian Mafia back in the 1980’s!?!  But today is not April Fool’s Day and the story as reported below those stunning headlines is truly one of the oddest about the oddest of bedfellows in New York City’s recent memory and that is saying a mouthful.

One must turn back the clock to early 1980’s New York City, a City that bears little semblance to the City of today. Quality of life issues were considered as too small to handle while the NYPD was fighting crime levels of incredible proportions.  Companies and businesses were fleeing, tourism was almost nonexistent and the evaporating tax base left the City in a perpetual state of debt.  Thanks to the federal government cuts in spending on state run mental health facilities as mandated by the addle-minded Ronald Reagan as of 1983 we had an estimated 400,000 homeless men, women and children living on the streets, in the parks, in subway trains and stations.  New York City held that most ignominious distinction for having the highest crime rates in all major categories, including murder, as reported by the Justice Department. We were a City on the edge, on the threshold of a downward spiral that it would likely take decades to return to from  Since those dark days the transformation of New York City has been as remarkable as the personal transformation of Al Sharpton himself.

Those were not good times in our City’s history and Mayor David Dinkins' ineptitude on every front was epic.  He appeared as if he didn’t know if he was coming or going but he would, thankfully be a “one and done” Mayor.  The City couldn’t take much more of Dinkins’ inadequacies.

Back in those days a bombastic, clownish, character as only NYC can produce began making noise and hasn’t really stopped ever since. The Reverend Al Sharpton suddenly appeared on the scene: an obese, obnoxious, tracksuit wearing agitator with a garish Jerri-curled permanent wave worn as a thick mane that fell over his shoulders.  He was a self-described “civil rights leader”, a “community activist”, an “ordained minister” who appeared to the majority of New Yorker’s as nothing more than an attention seeking instigator who profited by exploiting those he referred to as “my people”.  At every flare-up or even any mildly controversial episode with racial overtones that sprang up, it wouldn’t be long until the buffoonish rabble-rousing Reverend Al would be on TV as he claimed be there at their bequest  of those "victimized" to offer comfort and support.

He really caught the national spotlight as the personal spiritual adviser for any African American in New York City who got caught up in a controversial Police action, any hint of “his people” being underserved could trigger one of his infamous “days of outrage” when he and some of his most vocal followers would pick a busy subway station or intersection on the streets and basically shut it down like a college sit-in back in the 1960’s.  But this was not the 1960’s and the “protesters” were not expressing their displeasure with the military draft and the unpopular war in Viet Nam.  No, these were people revved up into a frenzy beyond all proportions to whatever the real or contrived initiating event may have been.

What Al Sharpton’s good friend and close ally, Don King was to the world of legitimate prize fighting, The Reverend Al was to legitimate preaching.  He never had a congregation, a home church or a flock he tended to spiritually.  Sharpton was only interested in making as much noise by drawing attention to himself and his never ending litany of crimes and misdemeanors perpetrated “on” his people by the Cops, Jewish landlords, Jewish shop keepers, Hassidic Jews, Korean green grocers, Armenian street vendors, White people in general, Sheikh taxi drivers, Chinese take-out proprietors and the rest of the City “Establishment”.

Perhaps his most prominent act was when he rushed to the side of a young 15 year old African American girl from a suburb north of New York City, Tawana Brawley, who claimed to have been tortured and raped by a gang of six white men. While the country was outraged by the allegations this girl made and the condition in which she was found after missing from her home for four days drew national outrage.  Apparently she was smeared with feces and had words written on her body with a substance that might have been charcoal.  Long story short, Reverend Al was with Tawana and the entire Brawley clan until the whole case imploded and it was revealed to be nothing but an elaborate hoax by Tawana Brawley herself.  Reverend Al with some high priced lawyers in tow quietly slithered back to Brooklyn not embarrassed or humiliated but more angry than ever.  He would spend the next decade of his life making some changes virtually all of them cosmetic and superficial. 


The facts as reported thus far and Sharpton’s arguments to cast them in an entirely different light have been more than amusing to observe, they have defied even the most numb-skulled among us to understand.  Never at a loss for words or to confuse and muddle a topic or direct question, Reverend Al is doing exactly what he has accused so many other public officials, elected leaders and the media of doing; that is, using the tried and true techniques of verbal gymnastics. Only a lifelong con man, scam artist and serial bloviator could turn his being a mob informant into his contention that he was merely helping to fight crime.  His hands were dirty far before he got nailed by the FBI while involved in plotting a drug deal of a sort.  Realizing he was in deep shit, Sharpton turned rat and there is no other way to say that despite what Al proclaims all these years later.  He became a confidential informant to save his own lard ass from doing real time in a real prison; not an overnight stay at some Precinct holding cell after a symbolic arrest at one of his on-going series of protests and “day of outrage” antics.

In many ways Sharpton was an ideal informant.  He had ties to the corrupt, convicted felon boxing promoter Don King and was also working with some aspiring young “Rap” artists with music producers of questionable repute.  This was how Al made his money; the position of self-declared community activist and civil right leader does not come with a salary.  Sharpton’s association with a cast of dubious characters, some simply flat out, hard core felons and his own sense of importance and ego allowed him to play any role the moment demanded of him.  From chameleon champion of the poor and down-trodden to FBI secret agent, Reverend Al would play his part as directed. 

Perhaps it is necessary to reset the illicit drug trade stage circa 1980.  The Five Families had an iron fisted grip on all the heroin and cocaine coming into America.  Way down the food chain in the drug trade, where it’s all “hand to hand” scraggly addicts coping from petty street dealers, the Italians used African Americans as middlemen; they would sell to them in bulk , get paid for the product and allow the street hierarchy to function as it would.  The Italians wanted no part of the nitty gritty end of the drug game:  too sloppy, too tawdry, way too close to the gutter for them.  But one man distinguished himself and thrived by having his own independent sources for raw heroin originating in Viet Nam; that man was Nicky Barnes.  He had no need or use for the Italians and he let them know it.  They looked down on him but had some degree of respect in that he strictly abided by the code of the streets and that, to old school Italians and Sicilians meant something in those days.

Once the NYPD brought down the notorious heroin distribution operation of Nicky Barnes in the late 1970’s to early 1980’s, there was suddenly a power vacuum in the drug trade open to all comers provided they had the relationships with and consent of certain members of the Five Families, a coalition of Italian organized crime groups known as “The Mafia”, in particular, a certain Capo in the Genovese Family, they could keep Barnes former network thriving while the Italians pulled the puppet strings from behind heavy concealing curtains.  The hypocrisy implicit in this story is that while Reverend Al was preaching about the perils of drug use and how it was destroying African American communities at the same time he was, at least tangentially, prospering from that very same ill legal enterprise.  He ridiculed, mocked, scorned and all but declared war on those in the illicit drug business for “polluting our youth” and that all the drugs dealt in the African American community were brought in by some anonymous groups of “others”; after all, inner city Blacks didn’t have access to the global high-stakes drug trade.  But, little did anyone know Reverend Al had a taste of the action.  It was at this time that a small group of African American Congress Members, Activists and “Scholars” began the urban myth that our federal government as in the CIA and FBI introduced illicit drugs into the African American communities to “keep them impoverished”, “get them addicted” and otherwise as a means to dispense with what those who floated these outrageous claims, said was to “control” them.  Sharpton on many occasions in the 1980’s sung that tune as well.  The only part of his song missing from his public pontificating and saber rattling were the choruses of him singing with Italian mobsters.

Reverend Al can twist words and phrases so far beyond their true meaning that he is not even worth listening to or reading about.  What is fascinating is the case laid out about him as brilliantly reported in an in depth, detailed, highly corroborated expose on The Smoking Gun web site.  The sources for the material released thus far are of the highest credibility.  No one involved in the underworld nexus where the drug trade and the Italian Mafia crossed in those days had any idea that the day would come when a Freedom of Information Act request could and often would declassify and generally release long held “secret documents”.  Reverend Al ought to be waiting for the next shoe to drop because, as is usually inevitable in such circumstances, more will be revealed.  As more information from those days, the days of the famous “Mob and Mafia Trials” were conducted under the leadership of the Federal Prosecutor for the Southern District of New York, a tough lawyer with a bad comb-over, Rudy Giuliani, was just making a name for himself while systematically going after Italian mobsters, there is a virtual treasure trove of information to be discovered in the archives.  Reverend Al was not likely a one-time petty player; it has already been rumored among people safely ensconced in high positions in the Federal Court here in Manhattan, that there is much more about Sharpton’s associations with, business dealings for, and two-timing as a  rat on the payroll of the NYPD/ FBI Joint Organized Crime Task Force payroll.


For all his asinine obfuscation, the strident cadence and vociferous denials of any wrong doing or of being a rat, The Reverend might want to say a few extra prayers and hire an extra body guard or two.  Revelations like this, even when they are related to events that transpired 30 or 40 years ago do not go unpunished by Italians; mobsters or not, Italians might at times forgive but never forget.  Italian’s have the vendetta gene, a mindset that doesn’t allow for revenge because revenge can take too long.  Scores must be settled and settled as quickly and quietly as possible.  And that is how it should be.

Sharpton has most certainly cleaned up his act.  He’s lost a few hundred pounds, traded his Reebok track suits for garish pin-striped suits and silk ties.  He has become much better educated on a wide range of issues and was actually a Democratic presidential contender during the primary season in 2004.  He had a radio show and now has an hour long program every weeknight on the left-winged cable network MSNBC.  He hob knobs with the President, important movers and shakers in Washington, DC and has made a fortune as a professional “Black”; his earning have historically come from his playing his public role as a “Black Advocate” whatever the hell that entails.  Now,  that he is legit, has published a book and gets hefty sums for speaking engagements he might have forgotten or lost sight of those days when he was a fat, loud-mouthed, race-baiting instigator with no sense of comportment or civil discourse.

But, one might make a small, safe wager that there is some small handful of Italians still alive and not incarcerated who remember those meeting in Brooklyn with the Reverend.  He may have forgotten his dealings with those men way back when but, rest assured, they haven’t and, he must now also be concerned with the Law.  What exactly was his role between Don King, violence, drugs, money laundering, rap artists, music producers and the entire cast of characters that made a cartoonish character into a semi-pro player?

Maybe you have to be from a place like The Bronx or Brooklyn to imagine the possibilities.

Al Sharpton – Mob Rat…just had to mention that one more time.

 Copyright The Brooding Cynyx 2014 © All Rights Reserved