Friday, September 22, 2017

September 22, 2017 -- A Quick Run Around the Web

"Shooting the Norinco QBZ/Type 97 NSR"--Forgotten Weapons (11 min.)


Firearms/Self-Defense/Prepping:
  • "International Firearm Ownership and Homicide Rates"--Ammo Land. The author cites to a Guardian article comparing gun ownership and homicide rates (at least for countries where both data sets were available) seemingly shows no correlation. The author did his own statistical analysis and found that "[t]here was only a small negative correlation, of -.137. That is not a strong correlation. It shows that the homicide rate tends to fall a bit with higher firearms ownership.  It is not statistically significant."
  • More hurricane news--this from Puerto Rico--and it doesn't look good:
  • "Puerto Rico Dam Failing; Flash Flood Emergency Declared"--NBC News. The article reports: "Operators of the Guajataca Dam said it failed at 2:10 p.m. ET, prompting the NWS to issue a flash flood emergency warning for Isabela and Quebradillas municipalities, home to some 70,000 people, the agency said in three tweets."

Other Stuff:
    Here we investigate the possible modulation of the total energy flux input from the solar wind into the Earth’s magnetosphere on the global tropical cyclone activity during 1963–2012. From a global perspective, the accumulated cyclone energy increases gradually since 1963 and start to decrease after 1994. Compare to the previously frequently used parameters, e,g., the sunspot number, the total solar irradiation, the solar F10.7 irradiation, the tropical sea surface temperature, and the south oscillation index, the total solar wind energy flux input exhibits a better correlation with the global tropical cyclone activity. Furthermore, the tropical cyclones seem to be more intense with higher geomagnetic activities. A plausible modulation mechanism is thus proposed to link the terrestrial weather phenomenon to the seemly-unrelated solar wind energy input.
             At least nine people died including eight civilians and one soldier, which was the result of a clash between military personnel and members of the La Familia criminal group in the municipality of Teloloapan, located in La Tierra Caliente region in the  north of the state of Guerrero.
               Faced with the surprise attack, Mexican Army troops repelled the aggression and during the exchange of shots managed to shoot down 8 civilian criminals carrying large caliber weapons, while a military soldier by the name of Oscar Alexis "N", was wounded and later died while being attended to in the community hospital. 
                 The most significant gangs in Texas are Tango Blast and associated Tango cliques (estimated >19,000 members), Latin Kings (estimated >1,300 members), Texas Mexican Mafia (estimated >4,100 members), and Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) (estimated >500 members).
                    These Tier 1 gangs pose the greatest gang threat potential based on their cartel relationships, high levels of transnational criminal activity, level of committed violence, and overall statewide strength and presence.

            Thursday, September 21, 2017

            September 21, 2017 -- A Quick Run Around the Web

            "CHP's Newhall Incident Training Video"--The Santa Clarita Valley Signal (42 min.)

                      The Newhall Incident (sometimes called the Newhall Massacre) was a shootout between California Highway Patrol (CHP) officers and two bank robbers on April 5, 1970, just north of Los Angeles. In approximately 4-1/2 minutes, the two robbers killed 4 officers. The incident prompted a serious look at police training and protocol. The video linked to above is a CHP presentation of the facts of the incident, and appears to be intended for in-house training. In researching this matter, I found an analysis of the shooting by Mass Ayoob which sets out the lessons to be learned for the law enforcement community. 

                         However, in watching the video and reading up on the incident, what struck me was the overall poor shooting performance of the officers involved. A total of 40 rounds were fired in the incident, 25 by the perpetrators, leaving 15 for the four officers and a witness who briefly tried to assist. None of the officers struck any of the perpetrators with shots from their revolvers; and of the shotgun rounds fired by the police, only a blast through the back window of the perpetrators' vehicle resulted in a hit--a single pellet of buck shot that, having gone through the back window, caused only a superficial wound although the perpetrator had been struck in the head. Conversely, the perpetrators obtained multiple hits on the officers that were killed. There were other mistakes, to be sure--and it can be argued that one of the officers might have lived if he hadn't been too busy trying to reload his revolver from a "dump pouch," although considering the wounds he had already suffered, I doubt it--but the poor shooting is clearly a significant factor.

                     It would be easy to blame the poor shooting on the use of revolvers by the police. However, the perpetrators were initially armed with revolvers and made effective use of them, so that is not an acceptable answer. I would suggest it probably came down to practice. The events that led to the shooting started when the perpetrators were testing the effective range of their walkie-talkies, and it makes sense that if they were testing their other gear, they probably also practiced with their weapons.

            Firearms/Self-Defense/Prepping:
            First off, buckshot.  I highly recommend Federal's Flite Control rounds as one's primary buckshot load for defensive use.  I prefer the #1 buckshot reduced-recoil (i.e. slower muzzle velocity) cartridge (15 pellets per load), but others choose 00 buck in standard-velocity or reduced-recoil rounds.  The special Flite Control shot cups hold the load together quite a long distance from the muzzle, so that even out to 30 yards, most of the pellets will hit a human-size target.  Most 'conventional' buckshot is lucky to get half as far without some of the pellets drifting off target, and at 30 yards, you'll be lucky to get two or three buckshot pellets in the kill zone.
            Other Stuff:
                       Sports photographer Michael Orta's Port Arthur house was destroyed after it was filled with four feet of stagnant flood water.
                         He found his son's precious Woody doll floating in the water.
                           Even though Orta and his son Maddox lost everything in Harvey, the pair went to help others by unloading a donation truck.
                               'We're still blessed because everyone's still alive and we have family,' Orta said. 'But when Maddox lost his Woody doll, I remember seeing Woody's little hat floating in the water, and I just remember how upsetting that was for me.'
                                Orta had to pause speaking because emotions began to overwhelm him.
                                   'When these guys showed up, they said I have something for your son.' Maddox and Orta spotted a Woody doll hanging out of a backpack on the truck. The toy had been donated by another young boy named Xander.
                                      A handwritten note came with the doll. It read: 'Praying things get better for you all. Woody is very special to Xander so I hope whoever gets him gives him a loving home.' 
                          • "The Statue of Mikhail Kalashnikov is Unveiled in Moscow"--The Firearms Blog. The article notes that in addition to this new statue, there are others of Kalashnikov in Ijevsk, in the Russian Federal Military Memorial Cemetery, on the campus of Izhevsk State Technical University, and in a Russian military base in Armenia.
                          • Celebrating diversity: "Danes In The Midst Of Low-Tech Jihad"--Anonymous Conservative. He cites an article reporting that "[t]housands of incidents involving loosened wheel bolts on cars, large rocks or cinder blocks thrown from highway overpasses, and thin steel wires strung across bicycle paths meant to decapitate unsuspecting cyclists, is spreading a growing sense of horror among the Danes." The article also indicates that "[i]n almost all cases, the perpetrators have turned out to be from MENAP countries (Middle East, North Africa, Pakistan)."
                          • A couple new stories about Obama's spying on the Trump campaign:
                                     Samantha Power, the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, was 'unmasking' at such a rapid pace in the final months of the Obama administration that she averaged more than one request for every working day in 2016 – and even sought information in the days leading up to President Trump’s inauguration, multiple sources close to the matter told Fox News. 
                                         Two sources, who were not authorized to speak on the record, said the requests to identify Americans whose names surfaced in foreign intelligence reporting, known as unmasking, exceeded 260 last year. One source indicated this occurred in the final days of the Obama White House.
                                       According to media reports this week, the FBI did indeed “wiretap” the former head of Trump’s campaign, Paul Manafort, both before and after Trump was elected. If Trump officials — or Trump himself — communicated with Manafort during the wiretaps, they would have been recorded, too.

                                       But we’re missing the bigger story.

                                        If these reports are accurate, it means U.S. intelligence agencies secretly surveilled at least a half dozen Trump associates. And those are just the ones we know about.

                                          Besides Manafort, the officials include former Trump advisers Carter Page and Michael Flynn. Last week, we discovered multiple Trump “transition officials” were “incidentally” captured during government surveillance of a foreign official. We know this because former Obama adviser Susan Rice reportedly admitted “unmasking,” or asking to know the identities of, the officials. Spying on U.S. citizens is considered so sensitive, their names are supposed to be hidden or “masked,” even inside the government, to protect their privacy.

                                         In May, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates acknowledged they, too, reviewed communications of political figures, secretly collected under President Obama.
                              She goes on to warn of the dangers of allowing the intelligence agencies to become king makers.

                              Wednesday, September 20, 2017

                              September 20, 2017 -- A Quick Run Around the Web

                              "Historical Body Mechanics: Walk Medieval!"--Roland Warzecha (~ 7 min.). Before the wide spread use of thick soled shoes and boots, people walked by first placing the ball of the foot down, followed by the heel, instead of the heel-to-toe method we use today.


                              Firearms/Self-Defense/Prepping:
                              • "How to Deal With the Firearms and Ammunition That Were Damaged By Flood"--The Firearms Blog. The author cites to a couple sets of instructions published by SAAMI, a video from the American Gunsmithing Institute and an article from Brownells (with links), as well as summarizing the information. Basically, it comes down to disassembling the weapon, cleaning and lubricating it (including using lubricants that are designed to displace moisture) and allowing parts (especially wood) to dry naturally. Ammunition is trickier because different ammunition may have different susceptibility to water damage than others (e.g., rimfire is more easily infiltrated by water than centerfire ammunition; ammunition that has sealant around the primer and the neck of the casing to prevent water intrusion will obviously fare better than ammunition that has not).
                              • "Shell Shock Technologies NAS3 Shell Cases, 2-Piece Nickel Alloy ~ Video & Review"--Ammo Land. Shell Shock produces a two-piece 9 mm casing that uses an aluminum base and a nickel allow case wall. The product purportedly offers two advantages over brass cartridges: lower weight and longevity (i.e., it can reloaded more times than brass without splitting or cracking). The reviewer, in this case, found both to be true. One of the down-sides, though, is that the cases require special dies from Shell Shock. The author of this review, however, noted that toward the end of his testing, he used regular reloading dies without issue.
                              • "Real Life Survival: One Family’s Experience with Disaster when the Floods Came"--Imminent Threat Solutions. The author describes his family's experience with floods in Colorado in 2013. The primary take away, however, was the speed of everything: their first warning of flooding was a knock on their door by a fireman warning them to evacuate. By that time, their garage already had about 10 inches of water. They were given 5 to 10 minutes to pack up what they could and leave. I've written about similar experiences with wild-fires: that in some cases you may have only minutes, if even that, to evacuate safely.
                              • Greg Ellifritz has posted a review of Grant Cunningham's book, Prepping for Life. Cunningham, you may know, is a well respected firearms instructor and author, and particularly known for his advocacy and training for revolver use. Ellifritz thought that the book was well-written and useful. I gather from the review that it takes the "baby-steps" approach to prepping that I and many others advocate: identifying and dealing with more common potential emergencies first before attempting to address those that are less likely.
                              • "How To Make Homemade Vinegar"--Prepper's Will.  Self-explanatory from the title.
                              • "September Food Storage & Prep Handout"--Food Storage Organizer. This blogger offers monthly guides that focus on either obtaining or checking off certain preparations and food storage in a way that allows you to slowly build up your preparations, as well as a Family Home Evening (FHM) activity which, for September, is based around earthquake preparations.
                              • Continuity of Government in action: "Hours After Hurricane Irma, Miami-Dade County Tickets Residents for Code Violations"--Reason. The most common warning ticket apparently was for having a fence around a swimming pool blown down. 


                              Other Stuff:
                              • Related: "Potentially deadly bomb ingredients are ‘frequently bought together’ on Amazon"--Channel 4 News. The story reports that if you look up one bomb ingredient on Amazon UK, it will list the other ingredients as part of its "frequently bought together" suggestions. It raises two points: one, there must be a lot of people buying bomb components over Amazon (or perhaps a lot of people that need to bleach their hair and clean off fingernail polish, grease or grime); and, two, the terrorists must be incredibly stupid to buy their ingredients all at once and together off Amazon.
                                      The spying ramped up after Trump’s win when the results could no longer be used to engineer a Hillary victory, but would instead have to be used to cripple and bring down President Trump. Headed out the door, Rice was still unmasking the names of Trump’s people while Obama was making it easier to pass around raw eavesdropped data to other agencies.
                                        Obama had switched from spying on a political opponent to win an election, to spying on his successor to undo the results of the election. Abuse of power by a sitting government had become subversion of the government by an outgoing administration. Domestic spying on opponents had become a coup.
                                  He goes on to explain:
                                             Either the investigation gets results. Or its perpetrators are left hanging in the wind. If McMaster is fired, which on purely statistical grounds he probably will be, and a Trump loyalist who wasn’t targeted by the surveillance operation becomes the next National Security Adviser and brings in Trump loyalists, as Flynn tried to do, then it’s over. 
                                               And the Dems finally get their Watergate. Except the star won’t be Trump, it will be Obama. Rice, Power, Lynch and the rest of the gang will be the new Haldeman, Ehrlichman and Mitchell. 
                                                 Once Obama and his allies launched their domestic surveillance operation, they crossed the Rubicon. And there was no way back. They had to destroy President Trump or risk going to jail.
                                                   The more crimes they committed by spying on the opposition, the more urgently they needed to bring down Trump. The consequences of each crime that they had committed spurred them on to commit worse crimes to save themselves from going to jail. It’s the same old story when it comes to criminals.
                                                     Each act of illegal surveillance became more blatant. And when illegal surveillance couldn’t stop Trump’s victory, they had to double down on the illegal surveillance for a coup.
                                                       The more Obama spied on Trump, the more he had to keep doing it. This time it was bound to pay off.
                                                           Obama and his allies had violated the norms so often for their policy goals that they couldn’t afford to be replaced by anyone but one of their own. The more Obama relied on the imperial presidency of executive orders, the less he could afford to be replaced by anyone who would undo them.  The more his staffers lied and broke the law on everything from the government shutdown to the Iran nuke sellout, the more desperately they needed to pull out all the stops to keep Trump out of office. And the more they did it, the more they couldn’t afford not to do it. Abuse of power locks you into the loop familiar to all dictators. You can’t stop riding the tiger. Once you start, you can’t afford to stop.
                                                           If you want to understand why Samantha Power was unmasking names, that’s why. The hysterical obsession with destroying Trump comes from the top down. It’s not just ideology. It’s wealthy and powerful men and women who ran the country and are terrified that their crimes will be exposed.
                                                              It’s why the media increasingly sounds like the propaganda organs of a Communist country. Why there are street riots and why the internet is being censored by Google and Facebook’s “fact checking” allies. 
                                                              It’s not just ideology. It’s raw fear.
                                                                 The left is sitting on the biggest crime committed by a sitting president. The only way to cover it up is to destroy his Republican successor. 
                                                                  A turning point in history is here. 
                                                                     If Obama goes down, the left will go down with him. If his coup succeeds, then America ends.
                                                            • It's been 20 years since Jared Diamond's book, Guns, Germs and Steel was published. In the book, Diamond proposed and, at least to his satisfaction, demonstrated that the reason why certain peoples were more successful (i.e., became dominant and wealthy) was due to natural circumstances such as climate, the availability of resources (e.g., easily domesticated plants and animals), diseases (both resistance to and as carriers of disease), and were able to build upon these advantages to advance far beyond other groups. However, to understand Diamond's thesis and reasoning, it is not only necessary to look at what Diamond considered, but what he ignored out-of-hand. And you don't have to dig for it. In his prologue, at pages 18-20, Diamond specifically indicates that he rejects any notion that one group of people has a genetic or biological advantage over another group of people, especially intelligence or IQ. It is not even that Diamond considers the possibility; instead, to Diamond, to even suggest such an explanation was to be beyond the pale. (In fact, he goes to the opposite extreme, arguing that natives of Papua New Guinea are more intelligent than the average American or European). He also rejects Arnold J. Toynbee's theory that climatic differences impacted people differently, with harsh climates requiring greater creativity and intelligence in order for people to survive. There is a lot to criticize in Diamond's theory; and, to me, the two biggest weaknesses in his theory is that it cannot explain how Britain and Japan became the technological and economic powerhouses they did, while New Guinea did not, when the former two suffered from at least as much as a disadvantage as the latter in terms of natural resources, climate, and domestic resources.
                                                                      In any event, there are a couple of articles that look at how well (or poorly) Diamond's hypothesis has held up:
                                                              It is [my] academic and casual interest in history that has led me to the conclusion that Diamond’s thesis is deeply flawed, and flawed not because he presents facts which are incorrect, (although some are certainly debatable) but because he allows his personal views and attachments to the native cultures that he has personally studied and interacted with to color his judgment. It’s arguable that Diamond is also something of a cultural relativist, given how far he goes out of his way to point out that even though the vast majority of scientific, mathematical, and societal achievements have come from Eurasian civilization, this has nothing to do with the inherent intelligence or moral character of the native populations that he has come across. Instead, he lays credit for the outcome of history — European hegemony over the known world such as what had emerged by the 18th century — at the feet of what I’ll call “geographic determinism.”
                                                                He also focuses on China--a civilization that had every advantage Diamond attributes to Europe, but in spades, yet nevertheless stagnated. 
                                                                • "Guns, Germs, and Steel revisited"--West Hunt. The author of this piece doesn't dismiss the general idea that climate or other factors may have given a leg up to certain civilizations. What he attacks are Diamond's complete dismissal of the science of psychometrics, and the numerous factual and logical errors. He concludes:
                                                                  We could use more serious work on macrohistory and the rise of civilization: it’s an interesting and important subject. In particular I’d like to see a really smart and detailed comparison of the two totally independent births of civilization in the Old and New Worlds. But this book isn’t serious. The thesis is a joke, and most of the supporting arguments are forced ( i.e. wrong). Perhaps the most important thing we can learn from Guns, Germs, and Steel is that most people are suckers, eager to sign on to ridiculous theories as long as they have the right political implications.

                                                                    Tuesday, September 19, 2017

                                                                    September 19, 2017 -- A Quick Run Around the Web

                                                                    (Source)


                                                                    Firearms/Self-Defense/Prepping:
                                                                            As of Monday morning, Virgin Islands officials had received none of the 29 generators ordered. About 15,000 sheeting covers were delivered for protecting homes, of more than 135,000 requested. And a dozen shelter kits arrived, of more than 58 ordered — with supplies like clothing, medical equipment and hygiene items.
                                                                               The territory is also short about 400,000 meals, of 2 million ordered. Out of 450 cots requested, 300 are available.
                                                                      1.  Don't become a casualty, meaning that you need to also take care of yourself--don't become over fatigued or unnecessary risks.
                                                                      2. Stay flexible, meaning don't become married to any single plan--circumstances change.
                                                                      3. Smartphones are powerful tools, so make sure you have one and have a way of charging it.
                                                                      4.  Maintain preparedness and self-sustainment at all times--don’t wait until disaster strikes to get prepared (and the author includes a list of supplies and equipment that came in handy).
                                                                      • "Gear Review: Spartan Armor, Banshee Plate Carrier"--Tier Three Tactical. The author discusses the different rating levels for body armor, as well as the non-standard Level III+. He also argues Level III+ is adequate for most any threat that a person would realistically face. He then goes on to review the Spartan armor and plate carrier.
                                                                      • "Items You Should Stockpile For Proper Off The Grid Sanitation"--Prepper's Will. The items include: 5-gallon sealable buckets (for storage or an improvised commode); water bottles or containers, and a funnel (storage of water); water filters (the author recommends a Berkey filter); manual water pumps; plastic spray bottles of various sizes (for storing and using any cleaning solutions you may make); unscented household bleach (for both purifying water and cleaning surfaces); household cleaning products; anti-bacterial gels, wipes and sanitizers; liquid soap; toilet paper; paper towels and napkins; N95 face masks and plastic gloves (to use when making soaps or disposing of infectious waste); heavy duty garbage bags; rope, duct tape and zip ties; personal hygiene items; feminine pads and tampons; diapers (if you have babies or toddlers); cat litter or sand (for soaking up spills); and disposable utensils (for using when you don't have water for cleaning).
                                                                      • Related: "How to Take an Old Fashioned Bird Bath"--Perking Prepping Grandma. Some people might refer to this as a sponge bath. But, basically, she discusses how to bath using a minimum of water. And, of course, the wash basically proceeds from the top down; feet are last because, generally, they are the dirtiest part of the body. And use a separate wash cloth for the head and face. In one of the areas of my mission, we lived in a small house that did not have a shower, although it had a bathing area with a drain, and soaking tub. Because it took so long to heat the water, however, it was verboten to actually soak in the tub. Instead, we used a small container to dip out water out of the tub to pour over us to rinse off shampoo and soap as we performed our "bath." I recommend having a small stool on which to sit (we used a small plastic step).
                                                                      • "Things To Scavenge Off Of Old & Abandoned Vehicles In A SHTF Survival Situation"--Be Survival. The author notes that not only do many people carry tools, flashlights, and so forth in their trunk or glove box, but that parts from the car (including mirrors and materials from the seats) may be useful.
                                                                      • "Maintenance and storage of pressure canners"--Poverty Prepping. The author explains that two of the parts to look at, especially, are the safety plug and seals deteriorating; particularly with older canners where they generally were made using rubber. 
                                                                      • "South Korean Preppers: Government Instructs Citizens How to Get Ready for War"--The Organic Prepper. With the threat from North Korea, prepping is going mainstream in South Korea. The article discusses this, as well as noting some resources and advice from the South Korean government on how to prepare and respond in the event of an attack.
                                                                      • "Moment a Nazi wearing a swastika armband is tracked down and beaten in Seattle after 'harassing a black man on a bus'"--Daily Mail. The reason I include this article is because it shows how organized that the violent Left have become. The victim allegedly harassed a black man on a bus; a photo of him was taken and passed on to Antifa, who tracked him down within 90 minutes and beat him. In this case it was a neo-Nazi, but it could just have easily been someone wearing a MAGA hat or someone who refused to use the politically correct gender pronoun. The video is also of interest because the victim tried to diffuse the situation, which only allowed the Antifa thugs to get close and deliver a knock-down punch.


                                                                      Other Stuff:
                                                                      • A new Woodpile Report is up. A couple of interesting articles that he includes:
                                                                      • "Tesla vs Edison: the AC/DC current wars make a comeback"--Cosmos. As you may remember from history or science classes, the problem with direct current (DC) was that it could not be transmitted over long distances as could alternating current (AC) because AC voltages could be raised (and, at the end point, lowered) by using transformers. This article notes, however, that there are now transformers that can do the same with DC: 
                                                                      These new transformers take the form of electronic circuits that convert DC currents up and down the spectrum from a few volts to a million or more. Lighter and smaller than traditional ones, DC transformers make it easier to integrate wind and solar electricity into the grid, and they reduce the likelihood of failures cascading from one electricity generation region to another.
                                                                      • "The Pentagon’s New Wonder Weapons for World Dominion"--Unz Report. According to the author, "[w]ithin a decade, the Pentagon apparently hopes to patrol the entire planet ceaselessly via a triple-canopy aerospace shield that would reach from sky to space and be secured by an armada of drones with lethal missiles and Argus-eyed sensors, monitored through an electronic matrix and controlled by robotic systems." The author then discusses each tier in more detail. Interesting reading.
                                                                      • "South Korea: The Wild Card in the Korean Crisis"--George Friedman at Mauldin Economics (h/t Bayou Renaissance Man). Friedman explains why the U.S. has been limited to saber rattling over North Korea's nuclear program, and why North Korea is becoming arrogant in its flouting of its nuclear program: South Korea's refusal to cooperate with the U.S. in a military solution. He writes:
                                                                              A couple of weeks ago, the reason for their [the North Koreans'] confidence became evident. First, US President Donald Trump tweeted a message to the South Koreans accusing them of appeasement. In response, the South Koreans released a statement saying South Korea’s top interest was to ensure that it would never again experience the devastation it endured during the Korean War. From South Korea’s perspective, artillery fire exchanges that might hit Seoul had to be avoided. Given the choice between a major war to end the North’s nuclear program and accepting a North Korea armed with nuclear weapons, South Korea would choose the latter.
                                                                                With that policy made public, and Trump’s criticism of it on the table, the entire game changed its form. The situation had been viewed as a two-player game, with North Korea rushing to build a deterrent, and the US looking for the right moment to attack. But it was actually a three-player game, in which the major dispute was between South Korea and the United States.
                                                                                   The US could have attacked the North without South Korea’s agreement, but it would have been substantially more difficult. The US has a large number of fighter jets and about 40,000 troops based in the South. South Korean airspace would be needed as well. If Seoul refused to cooperate, the US would be facing two hostile powers, and would possibly push the North and the South together. Washington would be blamed for the inevitable casualties in Seoul. The risk of failure would pyramid.
                                                                                     With the South making it clear that it couldn’t accept another devastating war on the peninsula, the war option was dissolving for the United States. When we consider North Korea’s confidence now, it is completely explicable. Assuming the South hadn’t told the North its position, Pyongyang’s intelligence service certainly picked it up, given the various meetings being held. I thought these meetings were about war plans, but in retrospect they were about pressuring and cajoling South Korea to accept the plans. Another indicator I missed was a general absence of South Korean preparations for war and an odd calm among the public. The US was leaning forward, and yet there were few practice evacuations, as if the South did not expect war.
                                                                                        The key element I missed was that South Korea’s overriding imperative was the avoidance of war. It wasn’t happy with North Korea’s programs, but it was not prepared to sustain the kind of casualties an attack on North Korea would precipitate in the South, and especially not the possibility that, like other American wars, a quick intervention would turn into a long and limitless war.
                                                                              Tharoor’s speech reminded me of the time my grandfather was sitting in a park in suburban London. An elderly British man came up to him and wagged a finger at him. “Why are you here?” the man demanded. “Why are you in my country?”
                                                                                “We are the creditors,” responded my grandfather, who was born in India, spent his working years in Kenya, and was now retired in London. “You took all our wealth, our diamonds. Now we have come to collect.”
                                                                                  Most of this is Marxist drivel, but it provides an insight into what the more educated migrants and refugees are thinking.
                                                                                  • "Gas stations disappearing from rural areas"--Japan Times. As areas of Japan become depopulated, gas stations are also disappearing, making it more difficult for the few residents that remain. 
                                                                                  • You may have seen some reports that John Kelly told President Trump that Mexico was on the path to becoming a failed state (story here and here). This, of course, caused outrage from liberals and from Mexico. However, due to the expanding violence and power of the drug cartels over the last several years, warnings that Mexico was becoming a failed state have come from several sources. (See, e.g., this 2015 article from the Cato Institute). Of course, semantics are important here. What policy makers consider a "failed state" is somewhat broader than a collapse into anarchy such as Somolia. Rather, it has to do with whether the government has fallen under the control of criminal enterprises. George Friedman explained in this 2008 article from Stratfor
                                                                                    There comes a moment when the imbalance in resources reverses the relationship between government and cartels. Government officials, seeing the futility of resistance, effectively become tools of the cartels. Since there are multiple cartels, the area of competition ceases to be solely the border towns, shifting to the corridors of power in Mexico City. Government officials begin giving their primary loyalty not to the government but to one of the cartels. The government thus becomes both an arena for competition among the cartels and an instrument used by one cartel against another. That is the prescription for what is called a "failed state" — a state that no longer can function as a state. Lebanon in the 1980s is one such example. There are examples in American history as well. Chicago in the 1920s was overwhelmed by a similar process. Smuggling alcohol created huge pools of money on the U.S. side of the border, controlled by criminals both by definition (bootlegging was illegal) and by inclination (people who engage in one sort of illegality are prepared to be criminals, more broadly understood). The smuggling laws gave these criminals huge amounts of power, which they used to intimidate and effectively absorb the city government. Facing a choice between being killed or being enriched, city officials chose the latter. City government shifted from controlling the criminals to being an arm of criminal power. In the meantime, various criminal gangs competed with each other for power. Chicago had a failed city government. The resources available to the Chicago gangs were limited, however, and it was not possible for them to carry out the same function in Washington. Ultimately, Washington deployed resources in Chicago and destroyed one of the main gangs. But if Al Capone had been able to carry out the same operation in Washington as he did in Chicago, the United States could have become a failed state. It is important to point out that we are not speaking here of corruption, which exists in all governments everywhere. Instead, we are talking about a systematic breakdown of the state, in which government is not simply influenced by criminals, but becomes an instrument of criminals — either simply an arena for battling among groups or under the control of a particular group. The state no longer can carry out its primary function of imposing peace, and it becomes helpless, or itself a direct perpetrator of crime. 
                                                                                             The thefts are conducted by heavily armed criminals with high-powered weapons, accompanied by local residents, she said. “We’re not prepared to fight against the large numbers of people who arrive with support from armed individuals.”
                                                                                               The former are used as a human shield while the thieves help themselves to appliances, sugar, wine and liquor, cement, tires and more, Aranda said.
                                                                                          The article indicates that the robbers are placing barriers on the tracks to stop trains.
                                                                                          • Speaking about countries on the path to becoming failed states: "Muslim Grooming Gangs"--New English Review. The author writes:
                                                                                                   To the public, the finding of the Jay report that for 16 years, gangs of Pakistani heritage men had been allowed to violently sexually abuse at least 1400 young girls with near impunity, verged on the unbelievable.
                                                                                                       The refusal of the authorities to protect children who were so clearly being subjected to the most appalling abuse is a clear example of the power of political correctness to throttle the ability of ordinary people to distinguish between right and wrong. Indeed, failure to hold a minority group accountable for such actions is to exempt Muslims from normal moral standards, as if they can’t be expected to know better. Such condescension is appropriately referred to as cultural exemption, which is racism of the most odious and politically most dangerous kind. As Jonathan Freedland in The Guardian put it: “That’s not just political correctness gone mad. That’s political correctness gone racist.” How ironic then that its worst offenders are on the political Left.
                                                                                                       That said, one would have expected the authorities in Rotherham to have been sufficiently chastened to set their house in order, but the opposite appears to be the case. ...
                                                                                                • "Demography and the End of Diversity?"--Powerline Blog. Another pundit wakes up to the fact that diversity has been oversold. The author not only notes Robert Putnam's research showing increased diversity resulted in less social cohesion and social capital, but new research showing that diverse groups, when in competition, become more conservative. He then comments:
                                                                                                         If you view government as a primary spoils system, then the zero-sum nature of it will cause infighting among the spoils-seekers. We can already see this at work in California, where the move to reinstate affirmative action admissions in public universities was sailing along until Asian Democrats in the state legislature, under pressure from their constituents, opposed the change.
                                                                                                            Maybe this partly explains why Trump got a higher share of the Hispanic and black vote than Romney or McCain did?

                                                                                                    Monday, September 18, 2017

                                                                                                    Parsons Green "Bucket Bombers" Were "Child" Refugees

                                                                                                    The Australian reports that "[b]oth of the 'vulnerable'’ Middle East refugees arrested over the bucket-bomb, peak-hour attack on a London Tube train were fostered by the same, generous, unsuspecting elderly couple at Sunbury-on-Thames." The two suspects are Syrian refugee Yahyah Farroukh, now 21, and an unnamed 18-year old Iraqi refugee. The article relates that "Farroukh appears to have flown to Cairo and then crossed the Mediterranean to Italy on an old fishing boat before being granted asylum as an unaccompanied child in London several years ago." The other suspect "claim[ed] to be an orphan from Baghdad and to have traversed across Europe to the Calais Jungle refugee camp."
                                                                                                    The two men were placed with the Joneses as part of the British government’s Syrian Vulnerable Person Resettlement Program, a multi-million-dollar support system for 23,000 of the Syrian war’s most vulnerable that began in 2014. It provides accommodation, care, English lessons, schooling, medical support and financial subsidies.

                                                                                                    Here We Go Again ... Hurricane Maria Set to Plow Through Caribbean (Updated)

                                                                                                    CBS News reports:
                                                                                                            The storm was on a path that would take it near many of the islands already wrecked by Hurricane Irma and then on toward Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. Maria could hit Puerto Rico on Wednesday as a Category 3 or 4 hurricane, said Ernesto Morales with the U.S. National Weather Service in San Juan. 
                                                                                                          "This storm promises to be catastrophic for our island," he said. "All of Puerto Rico will experience hurricane force winds."
                                                                                                    According to the article, hurricane warnings are in effect for the U.S. and British Virgin Islands, Guadeloupe, Dominica, St. Kitts, Nevis, Montserrat, Martinique and St. Lucia; and a tropical storm warning was issued for Antigua and Barbuda, Saba, St. Eustatius, St. Maarten and Anguilla.

                                                                                                    Update: Now being classified as a Category 4 storm.

                                                                                                    Update (Sept. 19, 2017): Now Category 5. Puerto Rico has imposed rationing of basic supplies such as water, baby formula, batteries, milk, canned foods, and flashlights (another reason to prep).

                                                                                                    September 18, 2017 -- A Quick Run Around the Web

                                                                                                    "Why the West HATES and is DESTROYING Itself"--Black Pigeon Speaks (10-1/2 min.)
                                                                                                    Black Pigeon presents an interesting argument that World War II, the Nazis, and the Holocaust created a new foundation myth for the West--one that is self-destructive rather than uplifting or inspiring.

                                                                                                    Range Notes:

                                                                                                            One of my friends picked up a Keltec KSG shotgun this weekend and we took it out to run a few rounds through it. Although he purchased a vertical foregrip, he hadn't purchased sites, so it was more of a handling and function test rather than accuracy (such as hitting a bouncing target or clay pigeons).  As you may know, the KSG is a bullpup, pump action shotgun that uses duel magazine tubes to give you up to 17 rounds on board. The controls are pretty straightforward: the action release is an ambidextrous lever ahead of the trigger; the safety is a push button that is above the trigger; and the switch for changing tubes is in the loading/ejection port just behind the two tubes. Take down is fairly simple as well, with two retention pins that can be removed to slide out the but stock and allow access to the internals, similar to HK/CETME pattern rifles. One trick, however, is that when sliding the butt stock into place, you need to lift up slightly on the bolt to provide clearance for the butt stock to slide into place.

                                                                                                           Although we only ran 17 rounds through it (basically loaded it up with a mixture of slugs and buckshot and shot through it), its mechanical function was fine for that limited shooting. The action seemed solid--it wasn't loose and locked up nicely. Like most pump action shotguns, you do need to make sure to solidly pull the slide to the rear to avoid short-stroking. Ejection is straight down from the ejection port which, if you have the weapon to your shoulder, will drop the empty shell between your torso and your arm.

                                                                                                           Recoil mitigation was surprisingly good. The weapon comes with a thick recoil pad that does a very good job of absorbing recoil. It was more a shove than a blow when firing. And, between the in-line action and stock arrangement and use of a vertical front grip, the climb was minimal.

                                                                                                           The switch between each of the magazine tubes is manual: it didn't shift automatically. You can shift back and forth while shooting, but we noticed on a couple of occasions that a shell was sticking out just enough to occlude easy movement of the switch without pushing on the back of the shell slightly. However, when we had finished off one magazine, it was just a simple click of the switch to change tubes. Also, a nice feature, is that there are small slots along each tube that allow you to gauge how many rounds you have left.

                                                                                                           All in all, it seems like a very nice product, and certainly an imposing weapon. The two tubes and the bullpup configuration do a good job of eliminating two of the disadvantages to shotguns: insufficient capacity and overall length.  I would need to play with it some more, but I was favorably impressed with it.


                                                                                                    Firearms/Self-Defense/Prepping:
                                                                                                    • "Surviving Irma - The Lessons Learned Post"--Silicon Greybeard. The author recommends not putting all your eggs into one basket, so to speak. He relates that he and his wife figured that electrical power would not be an issue because they had an LNG powered generator and plenty of fuel. However, a defective valve meant that the generator, while operating fine, was spraying out LNG. The author couldn't smell it, but a neighbor had and called the fire department. So, after that, they only ran the generator for an hour or two at a time ... which the author learned was not enough to keep refrigerated items cold.
                                                                                                    • And a couple from Bayou Renaissance Man (Peter Grant):
                                                                                                    • "In preparing for an emergency, flexibility is vital"--noting that even with the best of plans and preps for "bugging in," you may need to evacuate, so make sure you have a plan for evacuating that includes a reasonable amount of your supplies and what not.
                                                                                                    • "A useful tip for storing emergency water supplies"--he notes that you can get rid of the plastic taste from most water storage containers using plain white vinegar (a half-gallon per container, and fill the rest of the way with water), let stand in a warm location for 2 days, and then empty and replace with clean water. He has some other useful advice for water storage, as well, so read the whole thing.
                                                                                                    • "Hot Off the Assembly Line: Ruger AR-556 MPR"--The Firearms Blog. Ruger's new "multi-purpose rifle" is essentially what I did when I built an AR. It has an 18-inch barrel with a rifle-length gas action, and free floated in a 15-inch tube capable of accepting M-LOK accessories. The butt stock is adjustable, and it also comes with Ruger's "Elite 452" trigger at 4.5 pounds. The MSRP is $899, which seems a good deal considering what is included.
                                                                                                    • "Don’t Dig the Rig #12"--Active Response Training. Greg Ellifritz will periodically post comments about a concealed carry rig featured in Concealed Nation's "Dig The Rig." Most of the time, it is because the set-up is impractical or presents some problems. In this post, however, Ellifritz's critique is not so much what is wrong, but tips on how it could be made a bit better: specifically, avoiding an after-market recoil spring in the Glock pistol, and picking better performing ammunition (the "Dig the Rig" guy was using 135 grain Hornady Critical Duty ammunition, which is designed for a full size pistol, not a short barreled concealed carry rig).
                                                                                                    • "Hornady 62 Grain BLACK Accuracy Evaluation"--The New Rifleman. Short take: using two different rifles, the author found that the Hornady ammunition could only provide about 2 MOA accuracy.
                                                                                                    • "The Many Moral Aspects of Violence and Resistance"--Ammo Land. The author discusses the Moriori people that once inhabited the Chatham Islands near New Zealand. After the island was discovered by the Maori and the British, the Moriori were quickly wiped out because of their strong pacifistic culture based on the teachings of a revered Chieftain, Nunuko. The author writes:
                                                                                                           Chief Nunuko had created a suicidal culture that would eventually accept slavery, rape and death for their families and themselves.
                                                                                                              We today view this as a failed culture, but there are some who would thrill to the bravery of the Moriori, whose principles guided them onto the path of death rather than to the use of violence, violence that would have protected their families and children. One might almost admire such a virtuous path, until we imagine the horendous screams of dying families.
                                                                                                        The author goes on to discuss the obvious parallel that can be drawn between the Moriori and those who support open borders for the United States. Read the whole thing.

                                                                                                          Other Stuff:
                                                                                                                    The sea surface temperature in our favorite NiƱo3.4 region in the central Pacific was about 0.1°C colder than the long-term average over June – August, smack-dab in the neutral range. The atmosphere also reflected neutral conditions during the summer, with the winds above the equatorial Pacific neither particularly enhanced nor weakened, and an average pattern in the clouds and rainfall.
                                                                                                                       While neutral prevailed during meteorological summer (what we call June – August, while the summer solstice through the vernal equinox is “astronomical summer”), we began to see some indications over the course of August that a change may be afoot. The first of these is the downward trend in central Pacific sea surface temperature anomalies (departure from the long-term mean) from July into August, with the August average in the Nino3.4 region of about -0.4°C, using ERSSTv4 data.
                                                                                                              • Yes, if there is a correlation: "Looting and Race: Should It Matter?"--PJ Media. And the article supports a correlation. The subject of the article is a news reporter in Houston that reported on blacks looting and but whites carrying items that they found, suggesting racial animus on the part of the reporter. Except, what the reporter described was true. The blacks had broken into intact stores to steal merchandise such as shoes; whereas the whites were actually carrying food items they found floating in the water. But even if both were looting, Kira Davis, a black woman, makes some good points:
                                                                                                                So what if it’s an unfair comparison? Is no one going to say anything about the fact that it’s a damn embarrassment as a black person to watch other black people so gleefully and pathetically steal the labor of others when the people around them are at their most vulnerable? We should be talking about how disgusting it is to watch our own people act like thieves and feral animals. We should be talking about how there is an entire segment of our community that seems to think these actions are justified because of oppression, slavery or hypocrisy. Black Lives Matter demands that all Americans display more respect and compassion for black Americans, but has no words at all about the disrespect we show for ourselves. How can we expect the American majority to take us seriously and show us more respect when we refuse to be accountable for the rot in our own communities?
                                                                                                                • "Diversity Can Spell Trouble"--Victor Davis Hanson at the Hoover Institute. While he probably would not like the characterization, Hanson has picked up on something that the Alt-Right has been saying for years:
                                                                                                                         ... Amid all this turmoil, we forget that diversity was always considered a liability in the history of nations—not an asset.  
                                                                                                                            Ancient Greece’s numerous enemies eventually overran the 1,500 city-states because the Greeks were never able to sublimate their parochial, tribal, and ethnic differences to unify under a common Hellenism. The Balkans were always a lethal powder keg due to the region’s vastly different religions and ethnicities where East and West traditionally collided—from Roman and Byzantine times through the Ottoman imperial period to the bloody twentieth century. Such diversity often caused destructive conflicts of ethnic and religious hatred. Europe for centuries did not celebrate the religiously diverse mosaic of Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant Christians, but instead tore itself apart in a half-millennium of killing and warring that continued into the late twentieth century in places like Northern Ireland.
                                                                                                                              In multiracial, multiethnic, and multi-religious societies—such as contemporary India or the Middle East—violence is the rule in the absence of unity. Even the common banner of a brutal communism could not force all the diverse religions and races of the Soviet Union to get along. Japan, meanwhile, does not admit many immigrants, while Germany has welcomed over a million, mostly young Muslim men from the war-torn Middle East. The result is that Japan is in many ways more stable than Germany, which is reeling over terrorist violence and the need for assimilation and integration of diverse newcomers with little desire to become fully German.
                                                                                                                                Never before have we seen the leadership of both major political parties so humbled. That power vacuum is currently enabling the president to act without any loyalty to his own party, while working with whomever he pleases on whatever issues he wants.
                                                                                                                                   It's why we have a Republican congressional leadership, headlined by a Senate Majority Leader with an 18 percent approval rating in his own home state, that could not deliver on its party's seven-year-long promises to repeal and replace Obamacare.
                                                                                                                                     And it's why the Democratic Party is getting more and more embarrassed as its highly-experienced-but-failed 2016 presidential nominee continues to weaken the brand by going on a national tour blaming everyone else for her election loss.
                                                                                                                              The result, as the author describes in detail, is a president that will free to work with either party, and individual members siding with the President as is politically expedient, weakening the influence of the Senate Majority Leader and Speaker of the House positions. Truly setting the stage for the age of Caesarism. 
                                                                                                                                So the street hypnosis. The reporter had been off the grid for a while, and away from his normal haunts. A stranger approached out of the blue, and said something strangely specific to the individual, and indicative of knowing something unusual which he couldn’t possibly have known. The reporter reported feeling both extraordinarily confused and shocked. As he stammered a response, the approacher said more things, and the reporter said he couldn’t remember exactly what was said because he was so confused and shocked at the initial statement as he tried to figure out what was happening and how it could be happening. The middle of the encounter was a black hole in his mind.
                                                                                                                                The accelerating expansion of the Universe may not be real, but could just be an apparent effect, according to new research published in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. The new study—by a group at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, New Zealand—finds the fit of Type Ia supernovae to a model universe with no dark energy to be very slightly better than the fit to the standard dark energy model.

                                                                                                                                Friday, September 15, 2017

                                                                                                                                The Rule of Law is Dead

                                                                                                                                From the Washington Examiner:

                                                                                                                                       Recently retired federal appeals court Judge Richard Posner said he rarely looked to legal rules when deciding cases and often sought to skirt Supreme Court precedent.

                                                                                                                                       "I pay very little attention to legal rules, statutes, constitutional provisions," Posner told the New York Times in an interview published Monday. "A case is just a dispute. The first thing you do is ask yourself — forget about the law — what is a sensible resolution of this dispute?"

                                                                                                                                       When confronting a case with some form of legal obstacle in the way, the former 7th Circuit Court of Appeals judge said he would look to circumvent whatever prevented him from reaching his desired result.

                                                                                                                                       "When you have a Supreme Court case or something similar, they're often extremely easy to get around," Posner said.

                                                                                                                                Keep in mind that this is from a supposedly "conservative" judge. And since the Supreme Court takes so very few cases on appeal, he knew there was little chance of the decisions of his and his fellow judges being overturned. The reason why "rule of law" is important is to provide stability and assurance when it comes to legal questions; that someone can know whether or not they are within the law...even if the results may, at times, seem unfair; and that the law is being applied blindly and without partiality. This judge has created uncertainty and undermined the rule of law. But more than that, by ignoring legal rules, statutes and the constitution, this judge has usurped the role of the legislature and the will of the people, and violated his oath of office.

                                                                                                                                September 15, 2017 -- A Quick Run Around the Web

                                                                                                                                In the country, no one can hear you scream: "Detectives Seek to Identify Armed Squaw Valley Burglars"--Fresno Sheriff's Office (1 min.) This  August 31, 2017, video shows a three-man team committing a fairly standard smash and grab: one man acts as a lookout while the others steal items from the house. It appears at least two of the men were armed. You will also note that it apparently only took a single kick to break the door open. 

                                                                                                                                Firearms/Self-Defense/Prepping:
                                                                                                                                       Summer might be high season in the vegetable garden, but autumn brings wonderful rewards as well. Fast-growing salad crops will revive the most bedraggled fall gardens, and good care can keep sweet root crops and cabbage cousins growing for several weeks beyond the first frost. The tips below will help you extend your vegetable season long beyond the heat of summer.
                                                                                                                                         The secret to having great fall garden vegetables is timing. That means thinking a little differently because you have to plan backward.
                                                                                                                                            Start with your area's average first fall frost date. Then look at the number of days to harvest for planting fall vegetables. You should be able to find that number on the seed packet or in the catalog description. Use that number to count back from the first frost date. Then add two weeks, because many fall vegetables grow more slowly as days shorten in fall.
                                                                                                                                              Here's an example: If your first fall frost typically occurs around October 31 and you want to grow 'French Breakfast' radishes, which mature in about 25 days, you'd plant them around September 22.
                                                                                                                                        You don't have to start from seeds, either. There are many vegetables and herbs that you can buy as starts and plant. This guide from Bonnie Plants lists some vegetables and herbs you might want to consider.
                                                                                                                                        • "Chicago’s Black Women Begin to Leave the Gun Control Plantation Behind"--The Truth About Guns. The article reports: "Five years ago, less than one-third of African-American families took a positive view of gun ownership. Today, nearly 60% not only recognize the benefits of gun ownership, but consider it a 'necessity' according to the New York Times report of a Pew study. Nationally, the numbers of African-American women seeking concealed carry licenses nationwide has grown sharply." 
                                                                                                                                        • A couple of weeks ago, TFB posted a video on  the topic of "Bears vs Handguns: Defending Yourself in Bear Country" (~13 min.). The video touched upon some research showing that bear spray is much more effective at stopping a bear attack than a firearm. The articles that he mentions in the video are:
                                                                                                                                        • "Shoot or Spray? The Best Way to Stop a Charging Bear"--Outside Magazine. This article references a BYU study that showed that bear spray was effective 98% of the time, whereas "aggressive bears were repelled (or killed) 84 percent of the time with handguns, and 76 percent of the time with long guns."
                                                                                                                                        • A Fish & Wildlife Department circular discussing the topic (PDF). This particular circular focused on grizzly attacks, and noted that in 50% of the cases where a firearm was used, the victim suffered injury from the bear, whereas "most" of the persons using bear spray escaped injury.
                                                                                                                                               Bear spray, when properly used, halted aggressive bear behavior in 92 percent of the cases. Of the 175 people involved in the bear-spray encounters, only three were injured and none required hospitalization. Wind interfered with the spray in only five incidents, and in no case, stresses Smith, did it fail to reach the target. Twelve users reported irritation from the spray, but the irritation was minor in all but two instances. And in the 71 encounters when bear spray was used, not once did the can malfunction. 

                                                                                                                                                By comparison, Smith's examination of the use of firearms in hundreds of bear encounters shows that bullets deterred a charge just two-thirds of the time, and that it takes an average of four shots to stop a bear. “A bear attack is a surprise encounter,” Smith says. “Most charges start from only a few yards away. A hunter with his rifle slung is nothing more than a hiker with a stick of steel on his back.”
                                                                                                                                        Of course, I would keep a handgun handy for the 8% of the time the bear spray doesn't work, and for potential predators of the two legged kind. 


                                                                                                                                      • Sometimes you need to step back and smell the roses: "The Case for Camping Alone (Sometimes)"--Outside.  The author maintains that "[t]here’s possibly nothing more therapeutic than going into the woods solo," and describes a 3-day solo hike into the wilderness by himself, versus how his "normal" trips into the woods for camping or hunting go. 
                                                                                                                                          • Related: "37 Tips for Women Hiking Alone [Bonus: Female Hikers’ Blogs]"--Hike & Cycle. In my mind, there are a lot of risks to anyone hiking alone: a sprained ankle, broken leg, or even going slightly off the trail and getting lost are serious risks. Of course, the risk is further magnified the farther you get back into the wilderness and away from civilization. While the risks can never be fully removed (and let's face it, if they could, it would eliminate much of the adventure), they can be mitigated with planning and skills. This article, although aimed at women, sets out in an organized manner tips and information for basic safety, readying yourself for a solo trip (both physically and mentally--it can be hard for some people to handle being truly alone), planning the trip, and dealing with animals and other people that you might find on the trail. I want to emphasize that this is not the typical 5 paragraph puff piece that you might commonly see, but is a seriously useful article--besides organizing and setting out her points, the author has links to sources and additional information on each topic. It is a good article for men as well as women, and well worth your time if you like to backpack or hunt.

                                                                                                                                        Hurricane Related Items:
                                                                                                                                                Miami-Dade's hurricane shelters experienced "chaos" during Irma, and the Miami-Dade schools chief Alberto Carvalho says that's because the Red Cross was missing in action.
                                                                                                                                                   The Red Cross is contracted to run 42 shelters in Miami-Dade schools, but in many cases, Red Cross personnel were late to show up, and in others, no one showed up at all.
                                                                                                                                            The article goes on to state that "[t]he Red Cross hired AT&T exec Gail McGovern to serve as CEO in 2008, and since then the organization has been plagued by mass layoffs, low volunteer morale, secrecy and suspicious accounting, massive executive paychecks, and an emphasis on "branding" exercises at the expense of serving the organization's core mission." It also cites examples of problems in Haiti (2010) and Sandy (2012). However, I remember the Red Cross coming under intense criticism after 9/11 because money being donated to assist 9/11 victims and impacted areas was not being used for those purposes.


                                                                                                                                            Other Stuff:

                                                                                                                                            (Source)


                                                                                                                                            • Speaking of known wolves: "'KNOWN WOLF' TERROR SCANDAL: CIA Knew About 9-11 Hijackers, Didn't Provide Intel to FBI"--PJ Media. When a read this barely a week after another article about CIA rank and file upset that a LGBT event at the CIA was cancelled, it is pretty clear that the CIA part of the swamp that needs to be drained. The whole purpose for the CIA was a central intelligence clearing house that would get needed information to other government departments and agencies, and it obviously has failed at its core mission.
                                                                                                                                            • From a few days ago: "Thousands evacuated after bomb threats in Moscow"--Times of India. Per the article, this is just the latest of a string of threats that have disrupted commuter travel in Russia. No bombs have been found, though.
                                                                                                                                            • "Police Officers Are Authorized to Buy Army Weapon"--Folha de S. Paulo. There have been so many police killed in Brazil this year, that the government has authorized police officers to be able to purchase military handguns in 9 mm (I presume, without knowing, that like many countries, private ownership of firearms in military calibers must normally be prohibited). The article is humorous, though, in the reporter's complete ignorance of firearms: he states that the 9 mm pistol is "considered one of the most lethal weapons in the world."
                                                                                                                                            • Just in case you are thinking of traveling to Mexico City: "20,000 places where you can buy drugs"--Mexico News Daily. The article reports: "A joint report by the city’s Public Security Secretariat (SSP) and the Attorney General’s office identified 20,000 places where drugs were being sold as of January this year compared to 13,000 known points in 2015." 
                                                                                                                                            • A picture is worth a 1000 words: "Rocket Science: North Korea's Missile Programme"--The Straits Times. This is a collection of graphics (diagrams and photographs) explaining the North Korean missile program and performance of various missiles that have been tested. 
                                                                                                                                            • "Black Serial Killers Skyrocket"--Anonymous Conservative. Apparently, beginning in the 1990s, the number of serial killers identified as being black began to surge. "Since 2000, a majority of all serial killers have been black. Blacks only make up about 12.5% of the US population, but almost 59.8% of serial killers since 2010." I wonder if the "surge" was because of more black serial killers, or because of better detective work/reporting.
                                                                                                                                            • And the news regarding Imran Awan--the Pakistani IT worker used by a significant number of Democrats in the House of Representatives--is getting more interesting:
                                                                                                                                                      Now-indicted former congressional IT aide Imran Awan allegedly routed data from numerous House Democrats to a secret server. Police grew suspicious and requested a copy of the server early this year, but they were provided with an elaborate falsified image designed to hide the massive violations. The falsified image is what ultimately triggered their ban from the House network Feb. 2, according to a senior House official with direct knowledge of the investigation.
                                                                                                                                                        The secret server was connected to the House Democratic Caucus, an organization chaired by then-Rep. Xavier Becerra. Police informed Becerra that the server was the subject of an investigation and requested a copy of it. Authorities considered the false image they received to be interference in a criminal investigation, the senior official said.
                                                                                                                                                          Data was also backed up to Dropbox in huge quantities, the official said. Congressional offices are prohibited from using Dropbox, so an unofficial account was used, meaning Awan could have still had access to the data even though he was banned from the congressional network.
                                                                                                                                                           Awan had access to all emails and office computer files of 45 members of Congress who are listed below. Fear among members that Awan could release embarrassing information if they cooperated with prosecutors could explain why the Democrats have refused to acknowledge the cybersecurity breach publicly or criticize the suspects.