Sunday, February 26, 2017

February 26, 2017--A Quick Run Around the Web

The video is focused on competition (and relies heavily on the equipment), but the positioning of the weapon and general technique may have some application to self-defense or combat.

  • "Tactical Pens"--Modern Survival Online. The author discusses some characteristics he believes are useful in a tactical pen, offers some thoughts on particular brands/models, and discusses the use for self-defense.
  • "Foam Armor Defeats 30-06 AP Rounds"--Anonymous Conservative. The foam was 1 inch thick foamed metal.
  • "Emergency Water Filtration"--Dreaming Of Sunsets Over Ochre Dunes. Ingenious method using a strip of fabric. Easier to show with a photograph than explain, but you put a strip of cloth leading from the container with the contaminated water (which is at a higher level) to the container to collect the filtered water (sitting somewhat lower than the other container). Capillary action and gravity work to move the water from one container to the other.
  • Video: "Bow Drill Lesson Learned The Hard Way"--Survival Lilly (about 7 min.). Don't use too hard of wood. Watch the video to see technique, and note that she uses a wheel from on inline skate to help hold the upright stick in place.
  • "CDC: Bullets Can Cause Lead Poisoning"--The Truth About Guns. If left in the body for a substantial period of time.
  • "Didn’t Col. Colt And John Moses Browning Take Care Of This Over A Century Ago?"--Instapundit. Glenn Reynolds points out a technology prize is being offered for the development of a device to protect women against sexual assault. The problem? “The winning team’s solution will autonomously and inconspicuously trigger an emergency alert while transmitting information to a network of community responders, all within 90 seconds.” 
  • "What’s The Number One Prepper Mistake?"--Prepper Journal. The author writes:
From my perspective, the single biggest mistake made by people engaging in disaster preparedness is they follow the wrong advice and adopt a bunch of tactics and related equipment simply because people are chatting/blogging about them. But that’s not how it’s done; you must adopt a survival strategy first, and then comes the tactics, equipment and supplies that support the strategy, not the other way around, as I see done all too frequently by a lot of misinformed people.
For those that saw my post yesterday that included links to articles on using a sailboat for prepping, the author of this piece also discusses some of the advantages he sees in using a boat as a mobile "retreat."
  • "Deconstructing 'Assault Rifle': The Quest for Universality in Modern Infantry Warfare"--Nathaniel F. at The Firearms Blog discusses how the modern select-fire rifle became a universal or generalist weapon with its primary benefits being described as standardization of training and simplifying logistics. As I've discussed before, that was not its original intention, which was to allow infantry to lay down automatic fire while assaulting or storming an enemy position. This dream of "assault" seems to have stayed strong notwithstanding the lessons of the First World War. My father related his training in the Army (Korean War era) that included advancing while firing the Garand from the hip, and I would note that the AR-10 was originally touted as allowing automatic fire while advancing (presumably, this would be advancing under cover of a rolling artillery barrage). That is not how the ultimate use turned out, at least in the West, but we are nevertheless still left with the phrase "assault rifle."

Other Stuff:
  • No, not a sick joke: "It’s Time To Stop Talking About A Border Wall And Start Stabilizing Mexico"--The Federalist. The author contends that out border problem with Mexico is because of "the decay of civil society in Mexico and the virtual absence of the rule of law," and that the solution is not a wall or expelling illegal aliens, but military intervention in Mexico--in other words, nation building as we've attempted in Iraq and Afghanistan (the latter, in particular, being an abject failure). Incredulously, the author actually cites to General Pershing's 1916 expedition into Mexico to apprehend Pancho Villa (which, itself, was a complete failure). Yet the author has the gall to seriously propose:
The cartels won’t be deterred by a wall, but they might be deterred by U.S. forces on their side of the border. Trump reportedly mentioned the possible deployment of American troops to Mexico in a phone call with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto earlier this month. But of course troops alone wouldn’t be enough. The U.S. would have to get serious about investing in Mexico’s long-term stability. That means more trade, not less, and better coordination with Mexico’s military and law enforcement agencies. After all, a stable and secure Mexico is in America’s best interest.
I don't know if the author knows anything about Mexico, but despite the drug trade and rampant corruption, Mexico is not a failed state; and being the 11th largest economy in the world, it does not need the United States to rebuild it. 
  • "Support: MOUT For The 21st Century"--Strategy Page. Training for near-peer combat in cities. It should be interesting: mega-cities could literally swallow up the entire armed forces of the largest nations, let alone smaller army, battalion, or brigade sized elements. Think of the Russian plains that swallowed up the German army compressed to one or two hundred square miles.
  • "Tom Cotton: ‘The Powerful and Elite Reap the Benefits of a Constant Influx of Low-Skill Labor’"--Breitbart. Well, who else will they get to mow their lawns or clean their houses. More seriously, though, the problem is not low-skill labor but low-cost labor, whether low skilled illegal aliens or the modern "indentured servents" brought in via the H1b visa program to fix the non-existent STEM crises.
  • "Would Jesus Scold Trump on Refugees?"--American Thinker. The author sums up:
To say that Christians have a duty to care for widows, orphans, the impoverished, and the endangered is unquestioned (by anyone) Biblical truth. To say that such care can only be provided by enacting open-door refugee policies that may or may not compromise the security of citizens (including widows, orphans, and the impoverished here at home) is an entirely different proposition. It’s a proposition that, to this point, does not appear to be supported by Scripture.
  • "Why Are Women in Combat?"--American Conservative. The author suggests it is so the DoD has enough recruits to sustain our current practice of endless war. Perhaps. But the simpler explanation is that the Pentagon has succumbed, to some extent, to the same stupidity that cultural Marxism has introduced to other government institutions.
  • The purpose of war is to destroy the will of the enemy to fight: "War and the reshaping of societies" by Donald Sensing--a repost of a 2002 article at the Sense of Events. The article discusses the role of mass terror bombing of the populations of Germany and Japan during World War II and the subsequent occupations had in "reshaping" German and Japanese public attitudes toward war and militarization. 
  • The science is never settled: "Most scientists 'can't replicate studies by their peers'"--BBC. I've posted before how the majority of social science experiments can't be reproduced; and, of course, some of the fake science that underlie nutrition studies in the 1960s and '70s. The same problem has cropped up in landmark cancer studies.
  • "The Danger of Metastasis"--Richard Fernandez at PJ Media. He writes:
       The imminent expulsion of ISIS from its geographical strongholds in Syria and Iraq may signal not its excision but metastasis.  Michael Flynn, before his resignation, used to show "visitors a map predicting what will happen to the Islamic State after its stronghold in Mosul is captured. It shows menacing black arrows reaching west toward other, future battlefronts in Iraq, Syria and beyond." He feared metastasis.
           After Raqqa, some jihadis will head back to Europe, which thinks it can absorb them. "A programme to rehabilitate former Isis fighters and other extremists with housing, employment, education and financial support is being trialled in Sweden. Local authorities in the city of Lund say the controversial measures aim to reintegrate returned jihadis into society and prevent them reverting to their former networks." Others are going back to Muslim majority countries where they are rather less welcome.

      * * *

               Still others are headed for African failed states where their skills, ruthlessness and ideology will make them the new Dogs of War. But as John E. McLaughlin of the School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) at Johns Hopkins University explained before Congress, history itself may be preparing the soil for ISIS to take root. It will encounter extraordinarily favorable conditions in the next decades as burgeoning non-Western populations flock to megacities in the Third World, if not to Europe, perfect for their style of fighting.
          Read the whole thing.

          A Review of Revelations--Part 11--The Two Witnesses

          "Two witnesses to be unbound"

          [Part 1] [Part 2] [Part 3] [Part 4] [Part 5] [Part 6] [Part 7] [Part 8] [Part 9] [Part 10]

                 This is a continuation of my series reviewing The Book of Revelation: Things Which Must Shortly Come to Pass by G. Erik Brandt. Today, I will be discussing Chapter 11 of Revelation.

                 Chapter 11 reads, in the King James Version:

                 1 And there was given me a reed like unto a rod: and the angel stood, saying, Rise, and measure the temple of God, and the altar, and them that worship therein. 
                 2 But the court which is without the temple leave out, and measure it not; for it is given unto the Gentiles: and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months. 
                3 And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth. 
                4 These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth. 
                5 And if any man will hurt them, fire proceedeth out of their mouth, and devoureth their enemies: and if any man will hurt them, he must in this manner be killed. 
                6 These have power to shut heaven, that it rain not in the days of their prophecy: and have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to smite the earth with all plagues, as often as they will. 
                7 And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them. 
                8 And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified. 
                9 And they of the people and kindreds and tongues and nations shall see their dead bodies three days and an half, and shall not suffer their dead bodies to be put in graves. 
               10 And they that dwell upon the earth shall rejoice over them, and make merry, and shall send gifts one to another; because these two prophets tormented them that dwelt on the earth. 
                11 And after three days and an half the Spirit of life from God entered into them, and they stood upon their feet; and great fear fell upon them which saw them. 
                12 And they heard a great voice from heaven saying unto them, Come up hither. And they ascended up to heaven in a cloud; and their enemies beheld them. 
                13 And the same hour was there a great earthquake, and the tenth part of the city fell, and in the earthquake were slain of men seven thousand: and the remnant were affrighted, and gave glory to the God of heaven. 
                14 The second woe is past; and, behold, the third woe cometh quickly. 
                15 And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever. 
                16 And the four and twenty elders, which sat before God on their seats, fell upon their faces, and worshipped God, 
                17 Saying, We give thee thanks, O Lord God Almighty, which art, and wast, and art to come; because thou hast taken to thee thy great power, and hast reigned. 
                18 And the nations were angry, and thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that thou shouldest give reward unto thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear thy name, small and great; and shouldest destroy them which destroy the earth. 
                19 And the temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in his temple the ark of his testament: and there were lightnings, and voices, and thunderings, and an earthquake, and great hail.
                 Initially, I would note that we are still discussing the period before the third woe (see verse 14), and the location is Jerusalem (see verse 8). In this chapter, we finish the sidetrack into what is happening in heaven or spiritually, begun in Chapter 10, and pick up the chronological earthly narrative left off in Chapter 9.

                 First, to finish up the spiritual:

                John is handed a reed and commanded to measure (i) the temple of God, (ii) the alter, and (iii) those who worship therein. Brandt explains that, historically, a measuring reed was a slender rod generally about 10 feet in length. It was used by surveyors and, when cut to length, became the standard in construction and restoration projects. Brandt suggests that the measuring of the temple, the alter and the worshipers "symbolizes that preserving the faithful during the second woe will require divine intervention." That is, the symbolism is not only that the Lord will be measuring up his faithful as to their righteousness, but He is also laying out boundaries to demarcate the faithful from the worldly.

                 Brandt compares the language here to that used in Isaiah 28:17 where the Lord uses the metaphor of a plumb bob to ascertain the straightness of the children of Israel. It suggests that the Lord has established standards that apply to on Earth. (See Isaiah 34:16, discussing the entry of the names of the righteous into the book of the Lord). The implication is that, contrary to what many preach today, the Lord is not going to be "tolerant" or "inclusive" and preserve everyone; there will be standards and those not conforming to those standards will be at peril.

                 This is taken up by reference to the temple. As Brandt notes, the temple under Mosaic law was split into several parts: the temple (containing the Holy of Holies), the inner court, and the outer court. Only priests were admitted to the temple (and the High Priest only entered the Holy of Holies once per year); the inner court were limited to people of Israel; but foreigners could be admitted to the outer court. Brandt explains:
          One purpose for laying out the temple in this manner was to represent the post-mortal kingdoms of glory. The outer court represented the world or the telestial kingdom where those who make no covenant with God were allowed. The inner court represented the terrestrial kingdom, and the temple itself, the celestial kingdom. Each kingdom has its standards and laws (1 Cor. 15:40-41).
          This again serves to support the interpretation that the Lord will establish and enforce standards:
          By commanding John to measure the temple, the inner court, and the altar, the angel pronounces the standard or law by which a person may qualify for divine protection in the great conflict. The inner court and the temple represent the terrestrial and celestial laws respectively. The altar symbolizes the great sacrifice, the Atonement, and the sacrifices of the individual. Those whom the Lord preserves in the great conflict, whether physically, spiritually, or both, include individuals whose lives have conformed to the terrestrial or celestial laws. They are often referred to as “honorable”and “just”men and women (D&C 76:50, 75).
          Brandt adds:
          The standard should come as no surprise, for the same “lines”have been established for all who desire divine preservation during the calamities preceding the Second Coming (D&C 88:85). All other’s, those in the outer court and the proud and wicked, are left to themselves to suffer from the desolations of war, and the famine and pestilence that follows.
                 Returning to the earthly, we learn that, apparently following the invasion of Gog and Magog, the armies shall occupy "the Holy City" for forty-two months (3-1/2 years). But during that time, the Lord shall send two prophets.

                 Brandt views the two prophets as serving two missions: protecting or defending Israel from the invading armies, because Israel will be unable to defend itself (see Isaiah 51), and defending Jerusalem from invading armies; and, according to Brandt, after their deaths, Jerusalem shall be taken, citing to Zechariah 14:2. However, while this may be correct, that conclusion does not necessarily flow from the words of the text. Just as Christ's mission was to spiritually deliver Israel, not physically free them from Roman rule, so to the text here indicates that the two witnesses will serve the purpose of preaching to the Jews. That is, "[a]s defenders and messengers their mission is to turn the Jews to the true and living God and lead them to believe that their Messiah is Jesus Christ, and not look forward to another Messiah (2 Ne. 25:16)." I would also note that the words of Zechariah, indicating that Jews would remain after Jerusalem was captured, would be consistent with the two witnesses preaching after the taking of the city.

                In any event, Brandt explains the meaning of the two being referred to as olive trees and candlesticks:
          John identifies the two prophets as “olive trees”and “candlesticks”who stand as representatives of God. They Lord carry the sustaining oil of the Spirit and bear testimony that the Lord of Heaven has not forsaken them, but has sent light and truth to guide all who will hear and believe. The reference to candlesticks draws meaning from the writings of Zechariah, who spoke of two ancient candlesticks: Joshua, the high priest, and Zerubbabel, the descendant of David, who was the heir to the throne of Israel. These ancient leaders were charged with the responsibility of bringing the exiled Jews out of their captivity in Babylon and building the temple. Like the ancient “candlesticks,”these two modern prophets will be commissioned with the same responsibilities of restoring the gospel blessings among the Jews, and of preparing the way for the building of the millennial temple.
           They will, through the miracles they perform in sealing up the heavens, or calling fire down on their enemies, serve as a testimony of the Lord and his power to both the Jews and the whole world. At the end of their 3-1/2 year mission, the two prophets will be overcome and killed by the armies that have invaded the land. (See also Dan. 7:25). We do not know how they will be killed; only that they will be overcome by the beast--i.e., the anti-Christ.
          The fact that their bodies remain in the street without proper burial exemplifies the contemptuous attitude of the invaders toward their fallen foes. Middle Eastern tradition has long required swift and proper burial as a sign of respect for the dead. By leaving the two prophets unburied, neither retrieving nor allowing their retrieval, the brutal-murderers will demonstrate their utter contempt for the two who have caused so much trouble to their efforts to conquer and destroy.
                 The joy of the invaders at killing the two prophets will be short lived: “And in that day will I make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people: all that burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces, though all the people of the earth be gathered together against it” (Zech. 12:3). The two prophets will rise from the dead and ascend into heaven. Now the Lord will come to fight for the Jewish people remaining (see Zach. 14:2 and 12:3). There will be a great earthquake, "such as was not since men were upon the earth, so mighty an earthquake, and so great." (Rev. 16:18).
          "His feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south” (Zech. 14:4).
          The nations of the earth will mourn, and the wicked shall be overcome and consumed. (See D&C 45:48-50).

                 According to the Revelation, 1/10 part of the city shall fall, and 7,000 shall die. Brandt suggests that these numbers should not be taken literally, but are figurative: the number 10 represents a full portion, and the number 7 signifies completeness.  At the same time, Gog and his forces will be destroyed; only a fraction of the original army will survive (see Ezek. 39:2), and Gog shall die. The dead will be buried in the valley of Hamon-Gog. (Ezek. 39:11).
          But the destruction is not limited to Jerusalem or the surrounding region. For the Lord promises, “I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem”(Zech. 12:9). President Joseph Fielding Smith taught that the great earthquake would encompass the entire earth, “There will be the great earthquake. The earthquake will not be only in Palestine. There will not be merely the separation of the Mount of Olives, to form a valley that the Jews may escape, but the whole earth is going to be shaken.” The quake's reverberations extend globally, affecting the neighboring nations and distant lands. The kingdoms who allied together against Israel will be shaken violently, collapsing buildings in many cities to the ground (Rev. 16:19). Other cities will sink into the sea or be covered by giant waves and “every mountain and island [will be] moved out of their places”(Rev. 6:14).
           Brandt continues:
                 Other punishing calamities are sent forth with the great quake. Fire descends upon the land of Magog, where Gog’s evil alliance was celebrated. Storms of punishing hail rain down on those who “dwell carelessly in the isles,”referring to supporters and sympathizers who deemed themselves safe from the conflict because of their distance from Europe, Asia, Africa and the Middle East (Ezek. 39:6). These areas would include the Americas, eastern Asia and the many isles of the sea. These harsh judgments are so far-reaching that no corner of the earth is unaffected. 
                 Great lightnings and thunders accompany the tempests and hailstorms with such unimaginable fury and magnitude that they carry away men and destroy the crops of the earth (D&C 29:16; see also: Ezek. 38:22). Some atmospheric storms are of such magnitude that hailstones tumble in the winds until they reach the weight of a “talent”(about 70 lbs) before crashing to the earth (Rev. 16:21). During these terrible events, men’s hearts will fail them and many will run to the mountains into caves and crevices and call upon them to cause the rocks to tumble down and hide them from the fury of the Lord (Moses 7:66; D&C 45:26; Luke 21:26). 
                 As the calamities subside and relative calm is restored, the Savior shall speak to the nations “and all the ends of the earth shall hear it,”and the wicked “shall mourn, and they that have laughed shall see their folly”(D&C 45:49, 47-50; see also: D&C 29:15). The Lord’s rebuke will reveal why he has unleashed these horrific natural catastrophes. His words will echo the rebuke given to the children of Lehi after the cataclysmic events on the promised land. Cries throughout the world will rend the air as the survivors mourn their fate. It will be very much like the period after the destruction described in the promised land: And in another place they were heard to cry and mourn, saying: 
          O that we had repented before this great and terrible day, and had not killed and stoned the prophets, and cast them out; then would our mothers and our fair daughters, and our children have been spared, and not have been buried up in that great city Moronihah, And thus were the howlings of the people great and terrible”(3 Ne. 8:25). 
          The inhabitants of the earth will cry at this sorrowing tragedy because of their loss. But the judgments were sent “that the blood of the prophets and the saints shall not come up any more unto me against them (3 Ne. 9; Rev. 16:6).
                  During the earthquake, the Jews remaining in the city will flee toward the Mount of Olives which, as mentioned, will split in two. In the crevice, the survivors will encounter the resurrected Christ, who will show then the prints of the nails in his feet and hands, and lament what their ancestors did to the Christ. (See D&C 45:51-53; Zech. 12:10 and 13:6). But the Lord will comfort them as a mother comforts her child. (See Isa. 66:13).

                 Brandt indicates that these Jews that have witnessed the Christ will, in turn, share their testimony to the other surviving Jews upon the earth, and that the House of Judah will be restored, and the Jews will once again become a righteous branch of Israel. (Isa. 60:21).

                 And yet this is not yet the end, for the third woe is still to come. It is also important to note that this appearance by Christ is not what we think of the Second Coming--when Christ returns in all his glory. There will yet be much to happen before that:
          Judah must return, Jerusalem must be rebuilt, and the temple, and the water come out of the temple and the waters of the Dead Sea be healed. It will take some time to rebuild the walls of the city and of the temple, and all this must be done before the Son of Man will make His appearance. 

          Saturday, February 25, 2017

          February 25, 2017--A Quick Run Around the Web

          Chris Bartocci (35 min.)

          • "CCW Holder Wrongly Convicted in 5 Minutes, for Defending His Life from BLM Thugs"--Ammo Land. Yesterday, I commented on an article in which the author suggested that a person should always call the police if they have to draw their firearm in self-defense even if they don't actually fire the weapon. I questioned this because of the risk of being prosecuted for brandishing or aggravated assault. After publishing my post, I came across the Ammo Land article, which seems to support my concern. From the article:
                  Mike [Strickland] is an independent journalist/videographer who was covering a progressive anarchist “demonstration” in Portland, Oregon when he became surrounded by a mob of radical, anarchists. You know the types, the one in masks that throw bottles and break things, otherwise known as peaceful Democrat “protestors” supported by the former president “What’s His Face.”
                   As the mob continued to surround and outflank him, they chanted “get him” and other nasty garbage. Mike did what any expert would teach any student to do; he retreated as best he could before being surrounded and overwhelmed by the ever growing mob. Realizing he was now nearly surrounded and in fear for his life, Mike drew his lawfully concealed firearm and used it to keep the crowd at bay. He never fired a shot, and in fact, his finger never touched the trigger.
                     Law enforcement finally arrived, and after some investigation, Mike was charged (wrongly in my opinion) with misdemeanor menacing.
              According to the article, the charges were later expanded to include 10 counts of unlawful use of a weapon, 10 counts of menacing and one count of disorderly conduct. Strickland was found guilty of all 21 counts and "now faces fifty years in an Oregon penitentiary for drawing his lawfully concealed weapons to defend himself from an advancing mob of progressive, anarchist, Obama/Clinton Democrats while trying to retreat to safety."
              • "Jim Corbett's Rigby Returns to India"--Outdoor Life. If you like to read accounts by big game hunters of a century ago, you've probably come across books by Corbett of his adventures hunting down man-eating tigers in India. Amazingly, he used a relatively light weight caliber: .275 Rigby (aka 7×57mm Mauser). He also generally hunted with no assistance other than a dog. In any event, the article gives a bit of background on Corbett, if you don't know about him.
              • "3 First Aid Tools Every Shooter Should Have In Their Range Bag"--The Truth About Guns. The author recommends (1) a triangle bandage, (2) a pressure dressing, and (3) a Combat Application Tourniquet. As some of the commentators suggest, you might also want some quick clot and/or a chest seal.
              • "Loose AR Receivers? JP Enterprises Fixed Them with MicroFit Pins"--The Firearms Blog. The pins are manufactured at standard size, 0.001 inch oversized, and 0.001 undersized.
              • "Herniated Disc – Prepper Treatment"--A Survival Plan. Ah, back injuries. Herniated disks can be debilitating when the disk bulge impinges on the nerves or spinal cord. The author discusses what a herniated disk is, and some home remedies to help with recovery. The best treatment is time--most herniations will heal by itself with rest--but the healing time can be 12 to 18 months.
              • "Sailboats, survival, and SHTF"--Graywolf Survival. While the author thinks it a great idea, it appears to me to be a very high maintenance proposition. You will have to be a jack-of-all-trades to maintain the boat and its accouterments. If you are interested further in this topic, here are a few articles I've found that discuss sailboats in the context of survivalism or bugging out:
              Of course, there are a plethora of resources, websites, and magazines on sailing, but I thought a few articles about living on a sailboat might be of interest:
              And, I'm sure, there are plenty of blogs by people living on boats.
              • "How To Prep Pepper Seedlings"--Go Garden Club. Time to be thinking about planting.
              • "Best Canned Meat For Your Deep Pantry Food Storage"--Modern Survival Blog. "The RDA (Recommended Daily Allowances) for daily intake of protein is 56 grams for men and 46 grams for women." The author provides recommendations on several commercially canned meats, but keep in mind that you can also can your own meats, or pre-made meals such as stew or chilli which will also provide animal protein.

              Other Stuff:
                      Last week, The Wall Street Journal revealed that members of the intelligence community — part of the deep state, the unseen government within the government that does not change with elections — now have acquired so much data on everyone in America that they can selectively reveal it to reward their friends and harm their foes. Their principal foe today is the president of the United States.
                         Liberty is rarely lost overnight. The wall of tyranny often begins with benign building blocks of safety — each one lying on top of a predecessor — eventually collectively constituting an impediment to the exercise of free choices by free people, often not even recognized until it is too late.
                  * * *
                        The surveillance state regime today permits America's 60,000 military and civilian domestic spies to access in real time all the landline and mobile telephone calls and all the desktop and mobile device keystrokes and all the digital data created and used by anyone in the United States. The targets today are not just ordinary Americans; they are justices on the Supreme Court, military brass in the Pentagon, agents in the FBI, local police in cities and towns, and the man in the Oval Office.
                  Read the whole thing. I would note that secrets--and secret agencies--are antithetical to a government by the people. 
                           ... Overgrazing led to soil erosion. A lack of wood—Greenland has very few trees, mostly scrubby birch and willow in the southernmost fjords—prevented them from building new ships or repairing old ones. But the greatest challenge—and the coup de grâce—came when the climate began to cool, triggered by an event on the far side of the world.
                             In 1257, a volcano on the Indonesian island of Lombok erupted. Geologists rank it as the most powerful eruption of the last 7,000 years. Climate scientists have found its ashy signature in ice cores drilled in Antarctica and in Greenland’s vast ice sheet, which covers some 80 percent of the country. Sulfur ejected from the volcano into the stratosphere reflected solar energy back into space, cooling Earth’s climate. “It had a global impact,” McGovern says. “Europeans had a long period of famine”—like Scotland’s infamous “seven ill years” in the 1690s, but worse. “The onset was somewhere just after 1300 and continued into the 1320s, 1340s. It was pretty grim. A lot of people starving to death.”
                               Amid that calamity, so the story goes, Greenland’s Vikings—numbering 5,000 at their peak—never gave up their old ways. They failed to learn from the Inuit, who arrived in northern Greenland a century or two after the Vikings landed in the south. They kept their livestock, and when their animals starved, so did they. The more flexible Inuit, with a culture focused on hunting marine mammals, thrived.
                        However, archaeologists now believe that the story is more complex. The Norse established two primary settlements on the island, feeding themselves by annual seal hunts and produce that they produced on their small farms. But the real reason they were in Greenland, it is now believed, was to hunt walrus for their ivory tusks. 
                                 Many ivory artifacts from the Middle Ages, whether religious or secular, were carved from walrus tusks, and the Vikings, with their ships and far-flung trading networks, monopolized the commodity in Northern Europe. After hunting walruses to extinction in Iceland, the Norse must have sought them out in Greenland. They found large herds in Disko Bay, about 600 miles north of the Eastern Settlement and 300 miles north of the Western Settlement. ...
                            * * *
                                   Then, in the 13th century, after three centuries, their world changed profoundly. First, the climate cooled because of the volcanic eruption in Indonesia. Sea ice increased, and so did ocean storms—ice cores from that period contain more salt from oceanic winds that blew over the ice sheet. Second, the market for walrus ivory collapsed, partly because Portugal and other countries started to open trade routes into sub-Saharan Africa, which brought elephant ivory to the European market. “The fashion for ivory began to wane,” says Dugmore, “and there was also the competition with elephant ivory, which was much better quality.” And finally, the Black Death devastated Europe. There is no evidence that the plague ever reached Greenland, but half the population of Norway—which was Greenland’s lifeline to the civilized world—perished.
                                     The Norse probably could have survived any one of those calamities separately. After all, they remained in Greenland for at least a century after the climate changed, so the onset of colder conditions alone wasn’t enough to undo them. Moreover, they were still building new churches—like the one at Hvalsey—in the 14th century. But all three blows must have left them reeling. With nothing to exchange for European goods—and with fewer Europeans left—their way of life would have been impossible to maintain. The Greenland Vikings were essentially victims of globalization and a pandemic.

                              Friday, February 24, 2017

                              I Thought The Science Was Settled: Are P-MAGs the Best or Not?

                                    Greg Ellifritz linked to an article at Primary & Secondary explaining "Why PMAGs Are Better Than Aluminum USGI Mags." The author of that piece gives several reasons, but basically comes down to:

                              1. Better reliability, particularly M885A1 ammunition, because of the improved geometry of the follower;
                              2. The feed lips are more resistant to deformation (e.g., bending) than the USGI magazines, and if the magazine is damaged, it will be clearly broken;
                              3. The ability to quickly disassemble the magazine for maintenance and cleaning, whereas the aluminum magazines are more difficult to disassemble, and it is easy to bend the tabs that hold the floor plate in place;
                              4. The windows on the Gen 3 make it easy to estimate remaining ammunition;
                              5. The need to download the GI magazines to 28 rounds to allow seating the magazine with a closed bolt, but that the PMAG allows sufficient compression to allow a full 30 rounds; 
                              6. The PMAG is more reliable in the M249 SAW; and,
                              7. The better reliability and geometry of the PMAG allow it to be used as an impromptu monopod, whereas putting pressure on the bottom of the aluminum magazine can induce a malfunction.
                                     Since the USGI magazine was intended to be disposable--only used once--the ability to tear down the magazine is probably not something that concerns military planners, but is very important to a civilian shooter who does not have the U.S. taxpayers buying his magazines. On the other hand, some of the points raised are not relevant to the civilian shooter, including feeding using the M885A1 ammunition and compatibility with the M249.

                                     Ironically, however, compatibility with different weapon systems may be a reason not to select the PMAG. In the video, below, Alex C. with The Firearms Blog explains why he won't buy PMAGs is because they do not work with other firearms he owns which, nevertheless, use STANAG magazines.

                              He specifically notes that PMAGs generally won't drop free from most of his other weapon systems that use STANAG magazines, and won't seat in some of them (e.g. the FN 2000); and using a PMAG can actually result in damage to the FN SCAR. He also notes that the standard GI magazine is less expensive and weighs less.

                                     Although not mentioned by either of the foregoing, I would also note that some of the older magazine pouches will not accept PMAGs (at least if you are trying to put two in the pouch and still want to snap the cover closed).

                                     In short, if you are using the AR system, the PMAG is a great option, but if you have other rifles that use STANAG magazines, you may have compatibility issues.

                              February 24, 2017--A Quick Run Around the Web (Updated)

                              Sargon of Akkad (21 min.). A debate on whether Islam
                               and suicide bombings are related.

                              If SHTF, there are going to be a lot of people with guns and no food.  That’s not a good recipe as PJF has already stated.  Me thinks if emergency services are unable to respond in the event of disaster, there will be a lot of “preppers” turned marauder.
                              Well, I don't know about "a lot," but it is axiomatic to beware the prepper with lots of guns and ammunition, but no food storage.
                              • "You Draw Your Firearm In Self-Defense But Don’t Fire A Shot. Do You Call Police To Report The Incident?"--Concealed Nation. The author contends that you should always call the police after every firearm related incident, even if the firearm is not discharged, but not necessarily immediately. He warns that, above everything else, make sure you are in a safe place before calling police. There are also other circumstances (such as if your actions were witnessed by other people) where you may want to speak with an attorney first. 
                              The correct answer to most legal questions is: it depends. Thus, I am automatically suspect of anyone saying that you should always do this or that. Realize that if you call the police, you will also be the subject of an investigation, and could be charged with a crime such as brandishing or aggravated assault. It will likely also be an effort in futility: with little or no evidence, it is unlikely that the suspect will be identified, let alone caught.
                              • "XS Sights Big Dot Xpress Tritium Set | Review"--Loadout Room. This system uses a large front dot over a line on the rear sight which is a shallow V. The author of this review really liked it, both for daytime shooting and at night.
                              • "The Value of Adjustable Sights"--Priority Performance. The author changed defensive rounds to a lighter, higher velocity offering and had to adjust his sights.
                              • "Encryption Update ** UPDATED **"--Combat Studies Group. The NSA recently released guidance on minimum encryption required for transmitting secret information. The author discussed the guidance and recommendations for updating your encryption, if you use it.
                              • "Shoot the Terrorist Gun Game"--The Box of Truth. A drill for rifle shooters, including a target, times and scoring.
                              • "Smokeless Powders: Cordite"--Firearms History, Technology and Development. The invention of cordite--the UK's first smokeless powder.
                              • "Proposed Executive Order Designating Certain Rifles for ‘Militia Purposes’"--The Truth About Guns. Due to the recent 4th Circuit Court of Appeals decision upholding a ban in AR rifles and their standard magazines, the Trump Administration is looking at issuing an executive order designating ARs, M-1As, and M-1 Garand rifles with their ammunition and magazines as suitable for militia purposes. A copy of the proposed order is included in the article.

                              Other Stuff:
                                     ... Unlike Europe, the American Left has never been about economic equality. It was always about spiritual equality. The radicals on the Continent were always obsessed with busting up the class structure. The radicals in American have always been focused on saving the immortal soul of the nation. Economic equality was never anything more than a a political tool for the reformers to use as a way to get control of the culture in order to impose their moral vision on the nation.
                                       In order for this to work, the Left has always needed victims and oppressors, saints and sinners. In the 20th century, they could champion black civil rights and women’s issues. Then it was onto gays and now foreigners. ...
                                • "Anti-Trump Hysteria: What is the Establishment Afraid Of?"--Emmet Scott at Gates of Vienna. Scott begins my noting that "most of the opposition to Trump has nothing whatsoever to do with traditional left-wing concerns, such as working-class poverty, and is almost entirely driven by sexual and sex-related issues. His opponents fear losing the culture-war gains they made under Obama." He continues, though:
                                         ... However, I would suggest that many members of the establishment have, in addition, something very personal to fear from the Trump administration: For it would appear that some of America’s most powerful people have been involved in activities which if brought into the public forum would utterly destroy them, not only professionally, but also personally.
                                            For many years now rumors about a massive pedophile ring operating among the upper echelons of the Hollywood elite have been rife. That such a network does exist has been confirmed by several of the world’s most respected child (or former child) actors. The televised testimony of Corey Feldman, for one, can be viewed by anyone on YouTube; whilst similar statements have been made by Elijah Wood and several others, and it is fairly clear that sexual abuse of children in Hollywood has been a problem for many years — one that has been continually brushed under the carpet by an extremely powerful elite. Only occasionally have perpetrators been accused in public — as was Roman Polanski in 1977 — and even less commonly have such persons been brought to justice.
                                             But the Hollywood elite, it would seem, are only one part of the establishment up to their necks in this kind of behavior. We know that Bill Clinton made twenty-six journeys on Jeffrey Epstein’s notorious ‘Lolita Express’ — the aircraft which brought Epstein’s guests to parties on his Caribbean island and other destinations where underage girls were regularly on the menu. Recent revelations about Anthony Weiner, the estranged husband of Hillary Clinton’s personal assistant Huma Abedin, point in the same direction. Then of course we have the leaked Podesta emails and the whole ‘Pizzagate’ affair. If there is any truth at all in the idea that the coded language used in these emails refers to the sexual abuse of underage children, then it would appear that a substantial segment of the Democratic Party (as well apparently as some members of the Republican Party) are active pedophiles.
                                      • "Church, State, and Melania Trump"--American Thinker. The author discusses the Left's fury over Melania Trump's recent recitation of the Lord's Prayer at Pres. Trump's recent rally in Florida. Of course, the Left reflexively cites to the First Amendment and its supposed "separation of church and state." However, this modern view is diametrically opposed to the actual history and intent of the First Amendment. Yes, the Founders wished to prevent a State sponsored religion, but, no, they did not intend to create a purely secular state let alone drive religion from the public square. The author of this piece observes that "[t]he Constitution mandates government’s neutrality to religion, but its alleged desire to avoid any endorsement of religion has mutated into an unmistakable hostility." That is, the government has ceased being neutral and now is antagonistic against religion and its practice:
                                               ... People are no longer free to apply their religious beliefs to their businesses, as the vendetta against Hobby Lobby demonstrates. The Obama administration went to court to force the Little Sister of the Poor to provide contraceptive coverage to their workers. Bakers were forced to bake cakes for gay weddings in violation of their religious beliefs. 
                                                 As the late Francis Cardinal George of Chicago, former head of the U.S. Council of Catholic Bishops, once observed, President Obama’s idea of religious liberty, an idea shared by many liberals, differs little from Josef Stalin’s:

                                                   Freedom of worship was guaranteed in the Constitution of the former Soviet Union," Chicago's Francis Cardinal George recently wrote.
                                                     "You could go to church, if you could find one. The church, however, could do nothing except conduct religious rites in places of worship -- no schools, religious publications, health care institutions, organized charity, ministry for justice and works of mercy that flow naturally from a living faith. We fought a long Cold War to defeat that vision of society."
                                                As I've noted before, this is rooted in the Civil Rights Act of 1964: once you agree that the government can require you to associate with and labor for someone you do not want to associate with or labor for because of that person's skin color, national origin, gender, and so on, it is but a short step to forcing you to associate with or labor for people in violation of your religious consciousness. That is, once you allow the government to force people to associate or labor for another for any reason, it is thereafter merely an issue of drawing the line on how far the government will exercise its authority. 
                                                         Life expectancy in the United States is already much lower than most other high-income countries and is expected to fall even further behind by 2030, new research published today predicts.
                                                           According to the most recent government figures, life expectancy at birth in the United States is 76.3 years for men and 81.2 years for women.
                                                             Using a number of forecasting models, researchers from the U.K. predict life expectancy in the U.S. will improve to 83.3 years for women and 79.5 years for men by the year 2030.
                                                               But despite these modest gains, the United States is still lagging behind other developed countries.
                                                                 A Chinese-American businessman at the center of a Clinton campaign finance scandal secretly filmed a tell-all video as an 'insurance policy' - because he feared being murdered.
                                                                   In footage provided exclusively to, Johnny Chung spills details on how he illegally funneled money from Chinese officials to Bill Clinton's 1996 re-election bid.
                                                                     The Chinese-American Clinton fundraiser recorded the 'elaborate videotaped testimony' while in hiding in 2000.
                                                                       He smuggled it to trusted friends and family with instructions to release it to the media in the event of his untimely death because he believed he was at risk of being assassinated. 
                                                                         Chung is believed to still be alive and living in China. 
                                                                    Unlike the fake Russian influence of the latest election, the 1996 illegal campaign money from China was a real example of a foreign power attempting to influence American elections.
                                                                       Europe has many fine traditions. Its newest tradition is the burning car. Why burn cars? Because, as George Mallory once said of mountains, they're there. There are lots of cars around and if you're a member of a perpetually unemployed tribe that wandered up north and forages on social services, you might as well do something to pass the time.
                                                                      • A reminder that we live in the 21st Century: "Kids Will Soon Be Able to Write Code With Lego"--Fortune. "The Danish-based toy maker ... debuted a new toy called Lego Boost, a hybrid building and coding set that the company says combines the play experience of a traditional Lego set with an app-based coding play experience." The story continues:
                                                                        The hope is that Lego Boost can help kids learn to code using a downloadable app and the physical toy set. Lego Boost comes with building instructions and coding commands to create five possible Lego creations, including a robot and a cat. The app also includes more than 60 activities related to building and coding. The bricks also come with built-in sensors that can detect color.
                                                                         Update: Corrected typo.

                                                                        Video: "What happened with the M16 in Vietnam?"

                                                                        For those of you firearm or military history buffs, this is a great video discussing the changes to the M16 after it was issued to U.S. troops, including not only what was changed, but why. It runs about 1 hour, but is worth your time.

                                                                        Chris Bartocci 

                                                                        Thursday, February 23, 2017

                                                                        February 23, 2017--A Quick Run Around the Web

                                                                        HaleyStrategic (5 min.) (h/t Fleeting Survival)

                                                                        • "Domestic Violence: More Guns, Less Injury"--The Truth About Guns. "A new study [based on data from Philadelphia] shows that only 17 of 35,413 domestic violence incidents resulted in a gunshot wound." Citing a Journal of Family Violence paper, the author also notes: "Numerous studies have shown that women use IPV [intimate  partner violence] against men at a rate that is equal or higher than men use IPV against women."
                                                                        • "Basic Radio Equipment for Preparedness and Survival: Our Recommendations"--Security and Self-Reliance. The author has some radio equipment advice for a family or small group--i.e., not for a large, geographically separated group. His equipment recommendations go from the most basic that you should have (a NOAA radio receiver) and then in increasing importance (and cost) all the way up to a portable shortwave radio. Check it out.
                                                                        • Putting things into perspective: "Some Numbers on the European Radioactive Iodine Story"--The Silicon Graybeard. Most of you have probably seen some scare headlines about Iodine-131 being discovered in the atmosphere in Europe. It probably is the result of something innocuous: a mishap on changing a filter at a manufacturing facility (something like this happened several years ago) or even the urine of someone being treated for thyroid cancer. But the Silicon Graybeard has made the effort to put this into perspective. The level of radioactive iodine detected is 0.31 µBq/m3 for particulates, and an estimated 1.5 µBq/m3 for total particulate and gaseous. The author explains:
                                                                        That abbreviation represents a rate, and means 1 micro (millionth of) 1 Bequerel per cubic meter.  A Bequerel is a measure of how much radioactive material there is. 1 Bq means that one atom is decaying every second.  Saying 1.5 micro Bequerel implies one millionth of one atom is decaying but that just can't happen; atomic decay only applies to whole atoms.  To turn that into a whole number, you have to multiply the whole thing by 2 million, which says 3 atoms are decaying in 2 million cubic meters per second. 
                                                                        Or, as he goes on to explain, this is equivalent to those three atoms decaying in a volume encompassed by 10 Hindenburg sized zeppelins. As he further notes, you would receive five times as much radiation from eating a banana. So, just another example of media scaremongering (and an example of how sensitive our detection equipment has become).
                                                                                 Ross River Virus is a mosquito-borne pathogen harboured by marsupial animals like kangaroos and wallabies. So far, it has been restricted largely to Australia and Papua New Guinea. But scientists from the University of Adelaide and the Australian National University have now found that the virus has been silently circulating in the South Pacific. The area saw an outbreak of Ross River Virus fever in 1979-’80 with more than 5,00,000 [sic] cases and is thought to have been started by an infected Australian tourist who travelled to Fiji.
                                                                                   Ross River Virus infections symptoms include fever, chills, muscle aches, rash, fatigue, headaches and joint aches. Although an infection has never killed anyone, it can be severely debilitating for months, sometimes years.
                                                                                     According to a study published in the International Journal of Infectious Diseases, the Australian research team found that the virus circulating in the South Pacific has escaped its marsupial reservoir and can been able to survive in other mammals. The researchers tested blood samples of American Samoan born after the 1979-1980 epidemic and had lived in American Samoa their whole lives. Among these subjects, a massive 63% had antibodies to the Ross River Virus, suggesting local transmission of the virus after 1980.
                                                                              Interesting. Compare with Revelation 9:5. Not saying its the same, but here is a disease that doesn't cause death but produces debilitating symptoms for several months. 

                                                                              Other Stuff:
                                                                                     Working from an office suite behind a Burger King in southern Virginia, operatives used a web of shadowy cigarette sales to funnel tens of millions of dollars into a secret bank account. They weren’t known smugglers, but rather agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
                                                                                       The operation, not authorized under Justice Department rules, gave agents an off-the-books way to finance undercover investigations and pay informants without the usual cumbersome paperwork and close oversight, according to court records and people close to the operation.
                                                                                         The secret account is at the heart of a federal racketeering lawsuit brought by a collective of tobacco farmers who say they were swindled out of $24 million. A pair of A.T.F. informants received at least $1 million each from that sum, records show.
                                                                                           The scheme relied on phony shipments of snack food disguised as tobacco. The agents were experts: Their job was to catch cigarette smugglers, so they knew exactly how it was done.
                                                                                             Government records and interviews with people involved reveal an operation that existed on a murky frontier — between investigating smuggling and being complicit in it. After The New York Times began asking about the operation last summer, the Justice Department disclosed it to the department’s inspector general’s office, which is investigating. The inspector general “expressed serious concerns,” court records show.
                                                                                               It is unclear how broadly the A.T.F. adopted this practice, at what level it was approved, and whether it continues. Nearly all references to the A.T.F. have been blacked out of public court records, and most documents are entirely sealed.
                                                                                                 The investigation and the looming racketeering trial will bring renewed scrutiny to the A.T.F., which has been buffeted in recent years by the botched gun-tracking operation known as Fast and Furious and its mismanagement of undercover investigations. Representative Jason Chaffetz, whose House oversight committee investigated Fast and Furious, asked the A.T.F. on Wednesday for reams of documents related to the secret tobacco account.
                                                                                            This shouldn't be all that surprising to anyone. It has long been rumored that the CIA has done the same with drug smuggling since at least the 1960's where the Agency was reputed to have used Air America to smuggle heroine from South East Asia, to the smuggling of cocaine in the 1980s and 1990s from South America.
                                                                                                     The statement of the German test pilot Hans Zinsser in the file is considered evidence: the missile expert says he observed in 1944 a mushroom cloud in the sky during a test flight near Ludwigslust.
                                                                                                       His log submitted to the Allied investigators reads; 'In early October 1944 I flew away 12-15 km from a nuclear test station near Ludwigslust (south of Lübeck).
                                                                                                         'A cloud shaped like a mushroom with turbulent, billowing sections (at about 7000 metres) stood, without any seeming connections over the spot where the explosion took place. Strong electrical disturbances and the impossibility to continue radio communication as by lighting turned up.'
                                                                                                    The cited report also listed other witnesses to the explosion.
                                                                                                             In the end the report states that the Allies believe the Germans fell short of triggering the nuclear chain reaction necessary to trigger a nuclear blast - but none could come up with an explanation for what occurred in the skies over Ludwigslust in 1944. 
                                                                                                        Skulls from two of the Mexican regions – Sonora and Tlanepantla – clustered together in the shape analysis. But skulls from the third region, Michoacán, were different. The variation was on a scale normally seen between two populations that have been separated for millennia, often because they have settled in regions that are thousands of kilometres apart. Yet the distance between Michoacán and Tlanepantla is under 300 kilometres.
                                                                                                                 The bodies of five per cent of females and 11 per cent of males had marks of violence, such as arrow wounds, stab wounds or evidence of being bludgeoned.
                                                                                                                   This level of trauma in the population wasn't reached even in countries involved in the Second World War, said study author Mark Allen of California State Polytechnic University Pomona in a statement.
                                                                                                              Sadly, this was downright peaceful compared to most other primitive societies.
                                                                                                              • "With the Pentagon on the telephone, BYU president held his ground on the Honor Code"--Salt Lake Tribune. I'd mentioned this incident before: the head of the Air Force RTC program at BYU refused to sign the honor code that all students and faculty at the University are required to follow (the officer was to serve as faculty, so it is not purely a military appointment). I wondered at the time why the officer had even been assigned to BYU or accepted the assignment if it was going to be an issue--it's not like requirement was anything new or surprising. Moreover, the BYU program was conducted jointly with one at Utah Valley University (UVU), and the solution was to move the classes to UVU. But this article sheds a bit more light on the background:
                                                                                                                       Documents obtained by The Salt Lake Tribune show the discussions the Air Force and BYU had after Col. Timothy Hogan in July decided not to sign the campus' Honor Code, which includes prohibitions against premarital sex, alcohol, coffee and tea.
                                                                                                                         Those discussions reached the upper echelons of the U.S. Department of Defense, where at least one official was concerned about a "religious test for appointment to a military position," the documents show.
                                                                                                                    I know that this is probably quite a reach, but we've seen that the military has been infected with Cultural Marxists (wearing high-heels, anyone); and I wonder whether this was another attempt by so-called social justice warriors to try to get the Church to cave on other issues of morality.
                                                                                                                             According to the Washington Post, Donald Trump wants to make a splash in space. And he apparently wants to make that splash by orbiting the Moon.
                                                                                                                               Orbiting the Moon? Merely circling it? What a comedown from America’s past high…landing twelve humans on the lunar surface. ...
                                                                                                                          It is as though the author is trying to give the impression that it is Trump's fault for wanting such limited goals. However, the truth of the matter is that NASA didn't even want a manned mission. It is because of Trump that NASA will be sending anything other than an empty capsule around the Moon.
                                                                                                                                   Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) secretly traveled to northern Syria last weekend to speak with American military officials and Kurdish fighters at the forefront of the push to drive Islamic State out of their de facto capital of Raqqa, according to U.S. officials.
                                                                                                                                     The unusual visit, which officials said was organized with the help of the U.S. military, came as the Trump administration is debating plans for an accelerated military campaign against Islamic State, also known by the acronyms ISIS and ISIL.
                                                                                                                                       Mr. McCain, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, first traveled to rebel-controlled Syria in 2013, when he met with leaders of the Free Syrian Army, the umbrella group supported by America and its allies. This was believed to be his first visit to Syria since then.
                                                                                                                                  The article goes on to then explain that such trips by Congress-critters is unusual, while listing trips by other Congress-critters to the region. Then it concludes with the Catch-22 that we need Kurdish help to retake Raqqa, but Turkey is opposed to arming of the Kurds.

                                                                                                                                  Protests After Video of Officer Discharging Firearm Surfaces

                                                                                                                                         Yesterday I posted about a video of an off-duty Anaheim police officer who apparently suffered a negligent discharge while attempting to arrest a Latino teenager and threatened by a group of other teens. According to news reports, "hundreds" of protesters had protested outside the officer's home. It is apparently being spun as a "get off my lawn" incident where the officer got out of hand. Even The Truth About Guns has tacitly accepted this narrative in an article discussing what the officer could have done differently.

                                                                                                                                         Just in reviewing the video of the incident, however, it is clear that this was not simply the case of an irate homeowner (who happens to be a police officer) getting overly aggressive with delinquents. While you can't hear what the officer is saying in the video (at least, I couldn't), the 14-year old he was trying to arrest was very audible at points and pretty much tells you the story through his various denials. At one instance, for example, the teen is screaming about not knowing if the officer was a police officer or not, which tells us that the officer had identified himself as a police officer. At another point, the 14-year old is screeching that he hadn't threatened to shoot the officer, but that he had threatened to sue the officer. Given the foregoing, it is clear that the teen had threatened the officer (at least the officer believed it had been a threat), which justified detaining the teen. By the time the video begins, it also apparent the teen had already been fighting with the officer. And, having been attacked by several of the teens and being rapidly surrounded, the officer, in my opinion, was justified in drawing his firearm.

                                                                                                                                         The different accounts appear to agree that the root of what happened was that the officer had become fed up with teens crossing his lawn on their way to or from school and had confronted the teens about it. The TTAG author, Nick Leghorn, raises the "castle doctrine," but that doctrine, or related laws, is not applicable here. In most jurisdictions, a landowner may use reasonable force to eject a trespasser from their property if, after being directed to leave, the trespasser refuses to do so. In this case, at least one of the trespassers obviously escalated the level of force.

                                                                                                                                         Leghorn also suggests that a fence would probably have been an easier solution. And it probably would have: "good fences make for good neighbors," and all that. Unfortunately, there are things called "Homeowner's Associations" with covenants and restrictions (C&Rs), most of which prohibit construction of fences around front lawns. So, it is likely that a fence was not an option.

                                                                                                                                         The real problem, though, is the complete lack of respect shown by the teens for private property, probably aggravated by the fact that most of them were clearly r-selected individuals with no concept of any real restrictions on their behavior and who did not expect to ever face any consequences for their actions.

                                                                                                                                  Wednesday, February 22, 2017

                                                                                                                                  Video: Off Duty Cop Draws Handgun After Attacked By Teens

                                                                                                                                         Although the video doesn't show how the incident started, it picks up with the homeowner (an off-duty police officer who, based on what was said, had already identified himself as a police officer) attempting to arrest the teen while being heckled by a larger group of teens. Eventually, several of the other teens rush the officer and knock him over a hedge row. While the officer attempts to maintain his grip on the 14 year old, some of the other teens again attempt to gang up around him. At that point, the officer starts fumbling at his waist trying to raise his shirt and get to his firearm. Then, as he further tussles with the 14 year old, the firearm goes off.

                                                                                                                                        A few points:
                                                                                                                                  1. Don't kid yourself if you think you could get away with anything like this unless you are a police officer. The Leviathan, and only the Leviathan, has the authority to use force for anything less than a threat of death or serious injury.
                                                                                                                                  2. This was a potentially dangerous situation for the officer, and might have turned out much worse for him if he did not have a firearm.
                                                                                                                                  3. But, even having drawn the firearm, note that the teens did not abandon their attack until the firearm went off--the threat of force may have given them pause, but it was not enough to terminate the encounter.
                                                                                                                                  4. It was not clear to me if the officer drew his firearm using his off hand or if he was left-handed. But, in any event, he had difficulty getting to his firearm (covered by a t-shirt). 
                                                                                                                                  5. The officer claimed that the firearm went off accidentally.  Viewing this from the safety of our computers or smart phones, it is easy to criticize the officer for not having kept his finger off the trigger (assuming that is what caused the discharge), but it is another thing to be in the situation, struggling for your balance, where it is natural to grasp the firearm tighter to avoid dropping it. Nevertheless, that is something to keep in mind: if you do lose your balance, you will either react by dropping the firearm to use your hand to catch yourself, or tighten your grasp on the firearm; and if you have your finger on or near the trigger when that happens, it is not unlikely that you might pull the trigger.
                                                                                                                                  More information: "The moment an off-duty LA cop 'accidentally' opens fire on a gang of teens as he fights with them outside his house"--Daily Mail.

                                                                                                                                  The Syrian War Explained With One Map