Friday, November 30, 2012

FYI--Cope's Sale on 30-Round AR Magazines

Cope's Distributing has a sale right now for 30-round ASC AR-15 (5.56 mm) magazines for $8.75 each. (Plus shipping and handling, which is generally $9.95 flat rate).

Thursday, November 29, 2012

UN Votes for Palestinian Statehood

A day to live in infamy. The Washington Post reports:
The United Nations voted overwhelmingly Thursday to recognize a Palestinian state, a long-sought victory for the Palestinians and an embarrassing diplomatic defeat for the United States.

The resolution upgrading the Palestinians’ status to a nonmember observer state at the U.N. was approved by a vote of 138-9, with 41 abstentions, in the 193-member world body.

A Palestinian flag was quickly unfurled on the floor of the General Assembly, behind the Palestinian delegation. In the West Bank city of Ramallah, hundreds crowded into the main square waved Palestinian flags and chanted “God is great.” Others who had watched the vote on outdoor screens and television sets hugged, honked and set off fireworks before dancing in the streets.
Some additional thoughts from The Lid:
Today, with its vote to recognize Palestine as a non-member state the UN creates something out of nothing just as the Roman's did two thousand years ago, when they changed the name of the Jewish State from Judea to Palaestina. As a slap in the face to those stiff-necked "Jews" who revolted against Roman rule too many times. They renamed their homeland using the name of an ancient Israelite Aegean enemy who disappeared from the region over five centuries before--all to ensure that the land lost its Jewish identity.

But it never did lose its identity, because the Jews are a stiff-necked people who have clung to their faith and their God ever since a man named Abram left his father's house in Ur and traveled to the holy land and changed his name to Abraham.

This is not a centuries-old battle as many would describe it; the Children of Israel had lived in that particular piece of God-given land continuously since a disciple of Moses named Joshua led them back home three and a half millennia ago. Most of the two thousand years since Rome, there had been peace. Only in the past century and a half since the in gathering of the Jewish exiles began, has there been an attempt to take away the heritage of Israel.

Today the UN attempts to moves that Heritage process along by taking a group of refugees who were forced to fester by the King of Jordan and the President of Egypt until they were radicalized. Today the UN is creating something out of what has never been. There was never a country of Palestine, only a territory controlled by Rome, the Ottomans and the British. Yasser Arafat was its first official leader; it has no boarders or capital. Its only “ancient history" was as the Israelite land of Judea and Samaria. There was never even a call for a Palestinian State in the years Egypt controlled Gaza and Jordan controlled Judea and Samaria.

Today neither Fatah the terrorist organization controlling Judea and Samaria, or Hamas (which is biblical Hebrew for violence and chaos) recognize the Jewish people's right their historic homeland but today they are approaching the UN to give them a State with no history.
... This Palestinian entity ... is simply a band of terrorist thugs, born out of the hatred of Jews, forced to live in camps, left to fester by Egypt and Jordan who would not allow them to become citizens of their countries even though those countries controlled the land they lived in, and finally they were unleashed on the world to commit violence against innocents.

This Palestinian entity claims the Jewish People never lived in the land, that the Temples in Jerusalem, which were recognized by Mohammed and worshiped at by Jesus-- never existed. Despite a continual Jewish presence in the land since before the beginning of Christianity and Islam, they claim the nation of Israel was only formed because of the Holocaust. Two thousand years later the followers of the Muslim Prophet and the Christian Messiah are banding together to give those claims credence.

Every time the Jewish people and the nation of Israel attempts to defend herself against the terrorist mission Anti-Semitism intensifies in the Muslim world, the “Third world” and even in Europe and the United States.

Today the United Nations will recognize Palestine a name created by Rome to destroy the heritage of the Jews, and give it to a people whose goal is the same---to destroy the heritage of the Jews. In doing so this world body continues with what they started in 1974 with the invitation of a mass-murderer to the General Assembly--- to nurse terrorism and promote hatred of the Jewish people.

Decline in U.S. Birthrates

The U.S. birthrate plunged last year to a record low, with the decline being led by immigrant women hit hard by the recession, according to a study released Thursday by the Pew Research Center.

The overall birthrate decreased by 8 percent between 2007 and 2010, with a much bigger drop of 14 percent among foreign-born women. The overall birthrate is at its lowest since 1920, the earliest year with reliable records. The 2011 figures don’t have breakdowns for immigrants yet, but the preliminary findings indicate that they will follow the same trend.

The decline could have far-reaching implications for U.S. economic and social policy. A continuing decrease could challenge long-held assumptions that births to immigrants will help maintain the U.S. population and create the taxpaying workforce needed to support the aging baby-boom generation.
... “We’ve been assuming that when the baby-boomer population gets most expensive, that there are going to be immigrants and their children who are going to be paying into [programs for the elderly], but in the wake of what’s happened in the last five years, we have to reexamine those assumptions,” he said. “When you think of things like the solvency of Social Security, for example . . . relatively small increases in the dependency ratio can have a huge effect.”

The average number of children a U.S. woman is predicted to have in her lifetime is 1.9, slightly less than the 2.1 children required to maintain current population levels.
The article goes on to indicate that while birth rates tend to rebound after economic downturns (they seem overly optimistic that we are coming out of our "downturn"), it also notes that there are some shifts that suggest that the rebound will be more mild this time, including lower illegal immigration rates, better access to birth control, and more immigrants wanting smaller families.

Turning Up At An Airport Near You....

The Guardian reports that Syrian rebels have "liberated" and started using man-portable surface to air missiles.

Syrian rebels are believed to have used surface-to-air missiles to down two government aircraft in less than 24 hours – the first time such weapons have been used in the 20-month insurrection.
The downing of the aircraft is being hailed as a significant tactical advance in northern Syria, where fierce clashes between Assad regime forces and rebels over the summer have given way to several months of stalemate and rising despair on the opposition side.
A warplane crashed on Wednesday near Darat Azzah outside Aleppo after being shot at from the ground. The wounded pilot was captured. Late on Tuesday, a regime helicopter also crashed. Several videos uploaded to the internet clearly showed a missile hitting it broadside before it plummeted to earth.
Geez, I wonder how soon before some of these missiles find their way into the hands of terrorists.

Looking Forward -- Warp Drive


The idea came to White while he was considering a rather remarkable equation formulated by physicist Miguel Alcubierre. In his 1994 paper titled, "The Warp Drive: Hyper-Fast Travel Within General Relativity," Alcubierre suggested a mechanism by which space-time could be "warped" both in front of and behind a spacecraft.

Michio Kaku dubbed Alcubierre's notion a "passport to the universe." It takes advantage of a quirk in the cosmological code that allows for the expansion and contraction of space-time, and could allow for hyper-fast travel between interstellar destinations. Essentially, the empty space behind a starship would be made to expand rapidly, pushing the craft in a forward direction — passengers would perceive it as movement despite the complete lack of acceleration.
White speculates that such a drive could result in "speeds" that could take a spacecraft to Alpha Centauri in a mere two weeks — even though the system is 4.3 light-years away.

"Remember, nothing locally exceeds the speed of light, but space can expand and contract at any speed," White told io9. 
[In fact, current theories on the Big Bang and the early universe require space to have expanded much faster than light speed following the Big Bang]. "However, space-time is really stiff, so to create the expansion and contraction effect in a useful manner in order for us to reach interstellar destinations in reasonable time periods would require a lot of energy."
And indeed, early assessments published in the ensuing scientific literature suggested horrific amounts of energy — basically equal to the mass-energy of the planet Jupiter (what is 1.9 × 1027 kilograms or 317 Earth masses). As a result, the idea was brushed aside as being far too impractical. Even though nature allowed for a warp drive, it looked like we would never be able to build one ourselves.
"However," said White, "based on the analysis I did the last 18 months, there may be hope." The key, says White, may be in altering the geometry of the warp drive itself.
... "I suddenly realized that if you made the thickness of the negative vacuum energy ring larger — like shifting from a belt shape to a donut shape — and oscillate the warp bubble, you can greatly reduce the energy required — perhaps making the idea plausible." White had adjusted the shape of Alcubierre's ring which surrounded the spheroid from something that was a flat halo to something that was thicker and curvier.

... And in fact, White says that the warp drive could be powered by a mass that's even less than that of the Voyager 1 spacecraft.
That's a significant change in calculations to say the least. The reduction in mass from a Jupiter-sized planet to an object that weighs a mere 1,600 pounds has completely reset White's sense of plausibility — and NASA's.
Read the whole thing. See also this article at the Atlantic.

I always figured that there had to be a way to travel faster than light because God necessarily must be able to do so. The theory set out above may not work, but it at least gives me hope that FTL travel may be possible someday, and hints at some of the marvels we will have during the Millennium.

The Rise of Mexico

It is always interesting to me that, notwithstanding the rhetoric to the contrary, it is the nations with a strong or growing manufacturing section, rather than so-called "post industrial" economies, that seem to have strong, growing economies. There must be something magical about making things, rather than just moving money around ....

China is the obvious example, but the Economist notes that Mexico looks to be heading toward middle-class prosperity as well:

Yet Americans are gloomy about Mexico, and so is their government: three years ago Pentagon analysts warned that Mexico risked becoming a “failed state”. As our special report in this issue explains, that is wildly wrong. In fact, Mexico’s economy and society are doing pretty well. Even the violence, concentrated in a few areas, looks as if it is starting to abate.
The first place where Americans will notice these changes is in their shopping malls. China (with more than 60 mentions in the presidential debates) is by far the biggest source of America’s imports. But wages in Chinese factories have quintupled in the past ten years and the oil price has trebled, inducing manufacturers focused on the American market to set up closer to home. Mexico is already the world’s biggest exporter of flat-screen televisions, BlackBerrys and fridge-freezers, and is climbing up the rankings in cars, aerospace and more. On present trends, by 2018 America will import more from Mexico than from any other country. “Made in China” is giving way to “Hecho en México”.
The article also indicates that the immigration trend may be turning:
The doorway for those imports is a 2,000-mile border, the world’s busiest. Yet some American politicians are doing their best to block it, out of fear of being swamped by immigrants. They could hardly be more wrong. Fewer Mexicans now move to the United States than come back south. America’s fragile economy (with an unemployment rate nearly twice as high as Mexico’s) has dampened arrivals and hastened departures. Meanwhile, the make-up of Mexican migration is changing. North of the border, legal Mexican residents probably now outnumber undocumented ones. The human tide may turn along with the American economy, but the supply of potential border-hoppers has plunged: whereas in the 1960s the average Mexican woman had seven children, she now has two. Within a decade Mexico’s fertility rate will fall below America’s.
Although the article tries to put a positive spin on this, it is significant that, according to the article, nearly 10% of Mexico's citizens live in the United States.

The Economist discusses the security situation, but is optimistic that even the drug cartels will be tamed. However, the Economist focuses on the traditional cartel model, where the cartels acted simply as conduits of drugs into the United States. As a Stratfor article (which I posted about recently) indicated, the situation is more complex, and less amiable to successful government action. In fact, as the cartels move into "traditional" organized crime, they serve to dampen economic growth, effectively taxing business and industry directly through shake-downs, and indirectly through higher costs for security and theft.

America, the Divided


This op-ed from the Telegraph says that the U.S. has become like many European nations:
The United States is now officially one of us: an Old World country complete with class hatred, ethnic Balkanisation, bourgeois guilt and a paternalist ruling elite. And it is locked into the same death spiral of high public spending and self-defeating wealth redistribution as we are. Welcome to the future, and the beginning of what may turn out to be the terminal decline of the West.
However, it also has one of the clearest insights into why so many misjudged the outcome of the election.
It has become clear why it was so easy to misjudge the significance of the apparently lacklustre Obama campaign – the drastically reduced crowds at his events; his underwhelming, peevish performances in the debates, and his failure to produce any substantive plan for a second term – as signs of how the election would go. Mitt Romney may have pulled far larger and more enthusiastic audiences for his stump speeches but this contest was not, in the end, going to be about speeches or arguments. The reason that so many of those who would vote for the incumbent president did not bother to turn out to see him as he toured the country was that they were largely untouched by the campaign: their voting allegiance was always a certainty. It was not about political ideas at all. It was about identity: about who and what you were in the most visceral and personal sense – about race, about class, about being the kind of person you believed it was necessary to be.
(Underline added). The article goes on to discuss how Obama has actually been very divisive, with his class war rhetoric and identity politics, and the corrupting influence of a permanent ruling class.


Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Book Review: Founders by James Wesley Rawles



Book: Founders--A novel of the coming collapse by James Wesley Rawles (320 pages; 2012) (Amazon link here).

Overview: This is the third in a series of books by Rawles set in a United States overcome by an economic and monetary crash that leaves the country in chaos, until U.N. forces attempt to impose their rule over the United States. Rawles first novel was Patriots, followed by Survivors. Founders takes place concurrent with the events in the other pages, but focuses on the story of different characters--some that only played a tertiary role in the other two books, and few new characters thrown in. 

Impression: It has been a while since I read Patriots, and I never got around to buying or borrowing Survivors because of some philosophical differences with how Rawles seemed to suggest we should deal with interlopers, and some other issues I had with the book. However, when a friend of mine received a copy of Founders and read it and recommended it, I decided to give it a try. I was pleasantly surprised. Mr. Rawles writing style had matured, making it easier to read the book as a story rather than an instruction book--pacing seemed better, although his character development is still a little shallow. However, I found myself drawn into the book--far more than when I read Patriots. I generally consider it to be a good book when I have a hard time putting it down, and Rawles succeeded this time.

Notable Points: If you have read Patriots, you know that it focused on a group of survivors that holed up in a retreat in the Palouse area of north-central Idaho. The group was mostly composed of youngish couples, who mostly lived in other places and had planned to "bug out" to the North Idaho retreat. You'll also remember that one of the couples, Ken and Terry Layton, were in Chicago, and were unfortunately forced to evacuate on foot, and it ended up being a couple years before they were able to link up with the rest of their survival group. Founders is mostly the story of the Laytons' travel across the the plains and into northern Utah, where they are finally able to get word to their friends and arrange to be picked up. The book follows other characters through "the Crunch" and during the next few years until the U.N.'s puppet government is overthrown.

Although Founders is written as a guide about what (and sometimes, what not) to do in survival situation, it has more story and less instruction than Patriots. However, it gives some examples of good equipment, resupplies, how bartering and cash might work, and some techniques for setting up armor and barriers to protect fixed positions.

Of course, the main FUBAR in the book is the Layton's attempt to bug out. What they did was so wrong on so many levels. First, and foremost, they expected that they would be able to bug out and travel close to 2000 miles to reach their retreat location. Even if their plan had gone as they wanted, they would have been exposed and vulnerable to attack for several days or weeks while they drove across the mid-west.

Second, they took too long to pack. Rather than have everything planned before hand, they had to pack and make adjustments, and it took several hours to pack their vehicles. 

Third, they left at the wrong time of day. Although the book did not mention it, there presumably would have been a curfew in place, with roadblocks manned by police or national guard. The time to leave would have been in the early morning, just after the curfew was lifted, but before the traffic got heavy.   Instead, they left late at night (cutting down on their visibility) and took a route that had not been carefully scouted. As a result, they were caught in an ambush.

Fourth, they didn't practice any type of defensive driving, such as travelling by bounds, so one vehicle could overwatch the other as it traveled. They also didn't move with deliberate speed through the areas they were traversing, which would have made it more difficult for the vehicles to be hit.

Once they came under fire, they abandoned the vehicles for better positions of cover and concealment, that also allowed a follow up attack on the ambushers, killing several of them. If I were in their place, I may have attempted to approach the vehicles either to recover additional gear or burn the supplies, but that is just me.

In any event, the Laytons next decided to, literally, go underground using storm drain tunnels. In theory, this sounds like a great idea. In practice, it is more problematic. In large cities, the tunnels can be mazes that are hard to get around in even with maps. They may have standing water, and poisonous or noxious gases. There may be areas with significant build up of methane. Gangs or bums may hang out in some of the larger tunnels, and other people may have the same idea you have. If you decide to create a "covert bug-out plan" that includes using storm tunnels, at least practice going down into some to get a feel for the environment.

As the Layton's travel, they are dressed in military fatigues (British DPM if I remember correctly) with military packs and carrying military style weapons. Frankly, I would expect that people slipping around in camouflage would be viewed with deep suspicion--maybe even shot on sight.  Anyway, the Laytons are able to obtain employment providing security and helping out with general farm chores. The only serious attack they have to repel is a bunch of idiots that drive up to the gate to the farm, and pile out expecting to make a frontal assault. None of the raiders they encounter use sophisticated tactics or equipment, and apparently all lack military training. Unlike in a real situation, where a large city would probably send units of police or military trained individuals to go on patrols to "liberate" food from "hoarders", the Laytons were never confronted by a serious group of scavengers.  Even a modicum of reconnaissance by a small group would have quickly shown the routine and number of persons at the farm, allowing a successful multi-prong attack.

The final chapter bothered me for some reason. It takes place decades after the rebuilding of the America, but it sounds like one of the primary jobs is prospecting for scrap metal. Rawles has bought into the whole peak oil, and it shows in a future America where the population is maintained at the carrying capacity of 50,000,000 and oil is used sparingly to make lubricants, but never for fuel. The technology used by the people is basically that available now, indicating that technology has stagnated. Basically, a dystopia.  

"When Work is Punished"

Zero Hedge has an article that is a must-read about how the welfare state is rapidly overtaking the private sector. The gist of the article is that in many cases, a person is better off economically (i.e., measuring disposable income) to work at a lower paying job and take welfare, than work at a higher paying job. More alarming to me, though, is that for every 1.65 employed persons in the private sector, 1 person receives welfare assistance; and for every 1.25 employed persons in the private sector, 1 person receives welfare assistance or works for the government. In other words, "110 million privately employed workers; 88 million welfare recipients and government workers and rising rapidly."

I don't know how "welfare" is defined in the article. For instance, if you work, but your child qualifies for special education benefits, is that considered welfare? Or if you worked your whole life, paying into Social Security, and you are now retired and drawing Social Security, is that considered welfare? What is the overlap between "privately employed workers" and "welfare recipients"? What is the number of "privately employed workers" who work for government contractors and thus, in actuality, work for the government?

Anyway, read the whole thing.

Iran Building Atomic Bomb (Updated)

Completely unbelievable, I know, but Iran apparently had been lying when they said their nuclear program was peaceful. And our own dear leader, Obama, likely knew about this and didn't bother to inform the public of the truth. From Israel National News (via Drudge):
Iran is planning to build a nuclear bomb with at least triple the force of the bomb that destroyed Hiroshima in World War II, diagrams obtained by the Associated Press indicates. According to AP, the diagrams were first discovered by International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) scientists after an inspection of an Iranian nuclear facility. The document was published by the AP Tuesday after, the news agency said, it was leaked by officials critical of the way the West has been handling the Iran issue.

The diagrams discovered by the IAEA show Iranian scientists calculating the desired "nuclear explosive yield" in a device they were apparently working on. IAEA inspectors described the diagrams in a report, and a senior official who is working with the Geneva-based UN organization confirmed that the diagrams obtained by AP were the same ones mentioned in the report.

The diagrams showed a scientific calculation of the expected yield of a nuclear device, with a maximum force of 50 kilotons, experts who saw the AP diagrams said. There was no possibility that the diagrams referred to a process other than construction of a nuclear weapon, the experts said.
Was the Administration going to just sit on this information until Iran detonated a test device?

Update (Dec. 17, 2012): The Asia Times reports that the diagram discussed above may have been a fake, copied from an open source scientific journal, and provided to the IAEA. The author of the Asia Times article suggests that Israel may have been behind providing the document to the IAEA. The only issue I have with this, however, is that the AP article discussed above indicates that the IAEA discovered the document during an inspection, not that it was provided to the IAEA by a foreign intelligence agency.

Catalonia Tilts Towards Independence

Some of the news reports make it sound as though pro-separatists parties lost the elections in the Catalonian region of Spain. However, as Via Meadia points out, this is media spin. While the main pro-separatist party lost seats, it lost those seats to other parties that are even more strongly in favor of independence. In other words, pro-independence parties won.

California Flood Threat

While it is not an ARkstorm, California will be falling victim to an "atmospheric river" which is expected to cause extensive flooding this week. From Weather.com:
Meteorologists use the term "atmospheric river" to describe a long, narrow plume piping deep moisture from the tropics into the mid-latitudes. . . .

Amazingly, according to NOAA's Earth System Research Laboratory (ESRL), a strong AR can transport as water vapor up to 15 times the average flow of liquid water at the mouth of the Mississippi River!

Suffice to say, if an AR stalls over a particular area, significant flooding can be the result. . . . 

. . . The soaking starts Wednesday as the initial frontal system sweeps into the West Coast.

This first system should be a quick mover. While rain and high-mountain snow is forecast primarily for California, but also into western Oregon and parts of western Washington, precipitation amounts Wednesday should be relatively "routine", for a Pacific frontal system in the wet season.

Then, the "atmospheric river" makes landfall.

Beginning Thursday, the upper-level pattern will begin to tap into an atmospheric river of moisture extending from just north and west of Hawaii to the West Coast.

Most importantly, that plume of moisture won't move appreciably for a couple of days, perhaps through Sunday, aiming its firehose of moisture at northern California and, perhaps, southwest Oregon.

Therefore, some locations, particularly in the coastal ranges of northwest California and the Sierra foothills, will likely pick up over 10 inches of total rainfall through this weekend, leading to flash flooding, river flooding and, in recent burn areas, debris flows.

Argentina Headed Toward Default

The Telegraph reports that Fitch has downgraded Argentina's bond ratings to "CC" for long-term debt, and "C" for short term debt, and predicts that Argentina will default. At one time, Argentina was a wealthy, Western country. And then it adopted socialistic economic principles. It is Detroit writ large, and a sober reminder of where the U.S. is headed.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The White House is Cracking Down on Whistleblowers

The National Insider Threat Memorandum that everyone is talking about. (Link here). So you don't have to go to the White House website if you don't want, I have posted the text below. As you can see, it is pretty short, and that is because it is just a cover sheet. The actual "National Insider Threat Policy" and "Minimum Standards" are obviously separate documents.

* * * * *


MEMORANDUM FOR THE HEADS OF EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENTS AND AGENCIES

SUBJECT: National Insider Threat Policy and Minimum Standards for Executive Branch Insider Threat Programs

This Presidential Memorandum transmits the National Insider Threat Policy and Minimum Standards for Executive Branch Insider Threat Programs (Minimum Standards) to provide direction and guidance to promote the development of effective insider threat programs within departments and agencies to deter, detect, and mitigate actions by employees who may represent a threat to national security. These threats encompass potential espionage, violent acts against the Government or the Nation, and unauthorized disclosure of classified information, including the vast amounts of classified data available on interconnected United States Government computer networks and systems.

The Minimum Standards provide departments and agencies with the minimum elements necessary to establish effective insider threat programs. These elements include the capability to gather, integrate, and centrally analyze and respond to key threat-related information; monitor employee use of classified networks; provide the workforce with insider threat awareness training; and protect the civil liberties and privacy of all personnel.

The resulting insider threat capabilities will strengthen the protection of classified information across the executive branch and reinforce our defenses against both adversaries and insiders who misuse their access and endanger our national security.

BARACK OBAMA

Why Mexico's New President Won't Be Able to Stop Cartel Violence

Stratfor has offered an explanation of why there is little that the Mexican government can do to reduce drug cartel violence, even if stops all enforcement action against the cartels. It has to do with economics; specifically, markets, competition, and manufacturing. From the Stratfor article:


... Due to enforcement efforts by the U.S. government, the routes through the Caribbean have been largely curtailed, shifting the flow increasingly toward Mexico. At the same time, the Colombian and U.S. authorities have made considerable headway in their campaign to dismantle the largest of the Colombian cartels. This has resulted in the Mexican cartels becoming increasingly powerful. In fact, Mexican cartels have expanded their control over the global cocaine trade and now control a good deal of the cocaine trafficking to Europe and Australia.

While the Mexican cartels have always been involved in the smuggling of Marijuana to the United States, in recent years they have also increased their involvement in the manufacturing of methamphetamine and black-tar heroin for U.S. sale while increasing their involvement in the trafficking of prescription medications like oxycodone. While the cocaine market in the United States has declined slightly in recent years, use of these other drugs has increased, creating a lucrative profit pool for the Mexican cartels. Unlike cocaine, which the Mexicans have to buy from South American producers, the Mexican cartels can exact greater profit margins from the narcotics they produce themselves.

This change in drug routes and the type of drugs moved means that the smuggling routes through Mexico have become more lucrative then ever, and the increased value of these corridors has increased the competition to control them. This inter-cartel competition has translated into significant violence, not only in cities that directly border on the United States like Juarez or Nuevo Laredo but also in port cities like Veracruz and Acapulco and regional transportation hubs like Guadalajara and Monterrey.

... The nature of the Mexican cartels themselves has also changed. Gone are the days when a powerful individual such as Miguel Angel Felix Gallardo could preside over a single powerful organization like the Guadalajara cartel that could control most of the drug trafficking through Mexico and resolve disputes between subordinate trafficking organizations. The post-Guadalajara cartel climate in Mexico has been one of vicious competition between competing cartels -- competition that has become increasingly militarized as cartel groups recruited first former police officers and then former special operations soldiers into their enforcer units. Today's Mexican cartels commonly engage in armed confrontations with rival cartels and the government using military ordnance, such as automatic weapons, hand grenades and rocket-propelled grenades.

It is also important to realize that government operations are not the main cause of violence in Mexico today. Rather, the primary cause of the death and mayhem in Mexico is cartel-on-cartel violence. ...

... One other way that the cartels have changed is that many of them are now allied with local street gangs and pay their gang allies with product -- meaning that street-level sales and drug abuse are increasing in Mexico. ... This increase in local distribution has brought with it a second tier of violence as street gangs fight over retail distribution turf in Mexican cities.

Finally, most of the cartels have branched out into other criminal endeavors, such as kidnapping, extortion, alien smuggling and cargo theft, in addition to narcotics smuggling. ... This change has been reflected in law enforcement acronyms. They are no longer referred to as DTOs -- drug trafficking organizations -- but rather TCOs -- transnational criminal organizations.

China's Achilles Heel

China's Achilles heel may be food. From Via Meadia:
Though China is geographically larger than the United States, it has far less arable land per capita available: 0.08 hectares per person versus 0.53 per person here. And the arable land available in China is shrinking, mostly because of extreme desertification.

So China imports food to help feed its huge and growing population. But its imports vastly outweigh its exports in agricultural products (see the chart below, courtesy Zero Hedge & FAO). And that deficit is going to grow: There will be lots more mouths to feed in the future, and as more and more Chinese enter the middle class, appetites evolve. As the Zero Hedge post notes: “high-income countries consume about 30% more calories than low income nations, but the difference in value is about eight times.” This means importing food is going to get a lot more expensive and difficult for the Chinese authorities to manage.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Why the Egyptian Military Won't Stop Morsi

From Barry Rubin at PJ Media:

Partly under international pressure, it [Egypt's military] gave power to an elected president without securing a single one of its demands. So much for the tyrannical generals. Scores of top officers resigned and they are now being replaced by the choices of one man, the president.
Who is Mursi going to appoint to head the new Egyptian army? Given the lack of Islamist sympathizers at the top — there is much debate over how many there are among more junior officers — he needs to put in place opportunists. These would be men who in exchange for their rank and privileges will do his bidding. That is what’s happening now; the Islamist high command should come later.
Lacking any ideological orientation against revolutionary Islamism; without charismatic leadership; not at all united, and in a sense fat and greedy; without any foreign encouragement; and not wanting to shoot down its own people and set off a civil war, the Egyptian army is not a bulwark against the country becoming an Islamist dictatorship. If the Islamists could overcome a far more coherent and ideologically anti-Islamist military in Turkey so easily, there’s no reason to think a similar process won’t happen in Egypt, too.
What are the red lines for the army? First and foremost that nobody touch their economic empire and cut their budget. Mursi isn’t stupid enough to get into trouble on that issue.
Second, those who attack the military with guns must be dealt with harshly. Mursi is willing to crack down on those extremely radical Salafist groups — notably in the Sinai — who shoot Egyptian soldiers rather than just restricting themselves to attacks on Israel.
Third, the preservation of U.S. military aid. No worries there; it would take a lot for the Obama administration to cut off this assistance. The regime can go far toward suppressing women and Christians, making clear it is helping the forces seeking to wipe Israel off the map, subverting other Arabic-speaking countries, and setting up a dictatorship without having to worry about losing the aid.
Finally, will the Egyptian military constantly refuse to take steps that might entangle it in a war with Israel? Here is the most likely hope of restraint though Mursi isn’t eager for such a direct conflict either. The danger, however, is not so much an executive decision to go to war but a slow slide into conflict. Along the way, Egypt can be permissive toward those staging cross-border attacks on Israel; allow Egyptian volunteers in large numbers to go to the Gaza Strip to fight; and allow lots of weapons in the Gaza Strip. Small-scale border clashes or a future Israel-Hamas war could move things in that direction.
For the time being, however, as indicated by the ceasefire, Egypt’s new regime doesn’t want a conflict either. Consolidating its power within the country and creating a new order that will last for decades is a big task. All the institutions must be transformed, a constitution finalized and adopted, billions of dollars of foreign aid begged, oppositions tamed. As an indication, the radical nationalist regime in the 1950s spent three years at that task before turning toward an attempt to dominate the region.

Bartering in Rural Kenya

The Christian Science Monitor reports on bartering in rural Kenya. Basically, the story reports that poor farmers benefit from bartering rather than using cash, because they can get more value for their products than selling the products to middle-men.


19 Bodies Found in Mass Grave in Mexico

Sadly, this is not as shocking as it should be. From the Daily Mail:
Nineteen bodies have been discovered in Mexico's northern border state of Chihuahua after gruesomely tortured and buried some for years in mass graves near Texas' border.

Eleven found in Ejido Jesus Carranza were recognized as having been dead for at least two years while eight others had been tortured and killed in recent days, the state prosecutor's office for missing people said on Sunday.
Ejido Jesus Carranza, near the U.S. border, is about 25 miles (40 kilometers) southeast of Ciudad Juarez and is a popular spot for picnickers from Juarez - across the border from El Paso, Texas.

. . . The men had been shot in the head after being tortured according to the agency’s report. Some had been burned, beaten and had eyes carved out.
The violence has already seeped across the border, and I predict it won't be long before we start seeing the same type of mass graves here in the U.S.

In the Country, No One Can Hear You Scream (Updated)

Repeating a comment from a reader on an earlier post, "in the country, no one can hear you scream." As many of you already know, an unprecedented wave of violence has swept over South Africa where bandits have targeted and killed numerous white farmers. It probably should be termed genocide. While generally ignored by the media at large, the Daily Mail had this report today:
A British engineer was murdered and his wife brutally beaten at their remote South African farm by robbers who took just £210 cash and a mobile phone.
Chris Preece, 54, who made his home there after ‘falling in love with the country’ was hacked to death in his kitchen by a gang with machetes.

His wife Felicity, 56, was stabbed and hit with a pole, fracturing her skull.
She survived a 12-hour wait for help by treating her own wounds.

The murder, on Saturday evening, is the latest in a spate of violent robberies in South Africa targeting relatively wealthy white farmers.

Mr Preece, originally from Southgate, north London, was attacked at about 7pm as he went to take his seven dogs for a walk at his farm near Ficksburg, on the Lesotho border.
The gang killed him, then attacked his wife.

‘Because the gang had cut the telephone wires and there is no mobile phone reception, she couldn’t get help,’ said friend and neighbour Gavin Hoole.

‘It was only the next morning, at around 7am, that anyone realised something was wrong.’

... Jeanne Preece, who is married to their son, said the couple, who have two daughters, were unaware there had been a murder and four robberies on local farms in the past month.

... Mr Preece's death is the latest in an alarming trend of brutal murders on remote farmsteads in post apartheid South Africa.
Since the country's first fully democratic elections in 1994, more than 3,000 white, mainly Afrikaans, farmers have been killed in their homes.
The so-called 'farm attacks' are part of the wave of criminality that has engulfed the country in recent years, something criminologist blame of a number of factors, including inept policing and widening social inequality.
But in the case of 'farm attacks' - which occur far from the crime-ravaged townships - academics also blame a breakdown in the traditional social contract between employer and employee.
Police research shows that the murders are normally carried out by drug-addicted, unemployed black men. Often they have some connection with the targeted farmstead.
Local police said the attack at Mr Preece's farm - called Fleur de Lys - is the fifth such attack, and the second murder, in the district over the past month.
While there are probably numerous security precautions that the Preeces could have taken but didn't, the fact is that living a normal life, you can't have your guard up all of the time. Particularly, if as suggested in the article, the attackers were familiar with the farm and, probably, the Preeces' schedule. I just want to note a few facts. First, isolation didn't save him. It could have cost his wife her life. It was 12 hours before anyone responded. Second, having dogs didn't save him. We don't know from the story if the dogs alerted the Preeces, but it was too late; or if the dogs failed to sense the intruders, or something else. It is possible that if the bandits were familiar with the farm, the dogs didn't recognize them as intruders.

Update: Some additional information on the attack from the Guardian:
Chris Preece, 54, stepped outside to investigate a power cut when he was attacked by three men with machetes. "Preece fled to the house, but the attackers chased after him and continued the assault," said police spokesman Phumelelo Dhlamini.
...  Preece's guard dogs are believed to have been poisoned after he took them out on Saturday night, according to the Volksblad newspaper. Preece became concerned when they did not return and was attacked soon after. His 56-year-old wife, Felicity, was stabbed several times and suffered a fractured skull. She is said to be in a stable condition in hospital.


A Damning Op-Ed from Pravda

Putin in 2009 outlined his strategy for economic success. Alas, poor Obama did the opposite but nevertheless was re-elected. Bye, bye Miss American Pie. The Communists have won in America with Obama but failed miserably in Russia with Zyuganov who only received 17% of the vote. Vladimir Putin was re-elected as President keeping the NWO order out of Russia while America continues to repeat the Soviet mistake.

After Obama was elected in his first term as president the then Prime Minister of Russia, Vladimir Putin gave a speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland in January of 2009. Ignored by the West as usual, Putin gave insightful and helpful advice to help the world economy and saying the world should avoid the Soviet mistake.

Recently, Obama has been re-elected for a 2nd term by an illiterate society and he is ready to continue his lies of less taxes while he raises them. He gives speeches of peace and love in the world while he promotes wars as he did in Egypt, Libya and Syria. He plans his next war is with Iran as he fires or demotes his generals who get in the way.

Putin said regarding the military,

"...instead of solving the problem, militarization pushes it to a deeper level. It draws away from the economy immense financial and material resources, which could have been used much more efficiently elsewhere."

Well, any normal individual understands that as true but liberalism is a psychosis . O'bomber even keeps the war going along the Mexican border with projects like "fast and furious" and there is still no sign of ending it. He is a Communist without question promoting the Communist Manifesto without calling it so. How shrewd he is in America. His cult of personality mesmerizes those who cannot go beyond their ignorance. They will continue to follow him like those fools who still praise Lenin and Stalin in Russia. Obama's fools and Stalin's fools share the same drink of illusion.

Reading Putin's speech without knowing the author, one would think it was written by Reagan or another conservative in America. The speech promotes smaller government and less taxes. ...

... President Vladimir Putin could never have imagined anyone so ignorant or so willing to destroy their people like Obama much less seeing millions vote for someone like Obama. They read history in America don't they? Alas, the schools in the U.S. were conquered by the Communists long ago and history was revised thus paving the way for their Communist presidents. Obama has bailed out those businesses that voted for him and increased the debt to over 16 trillion with an ever increasing unemployment rate especially among blacks and other minorities. All the while promoting his agenda.

. . . The red, white and blue still flies happily but only in Russia. Russia still has St George defeating the Dragon with the symbol of the cross on its' flag. The ACLU and other atheist groups in America would never allow the US flag with such religious symbols. Lawsuits a plenty against religious freedom and expression in the land of the free. Christianity in the U.S. is under attack as it was during the early period of the Soviet Union when religious symbols were against the law.

Let's give American voters the benefit of the doubt and say it was all voter fraud and not ignorance or stupidity in electing a man who does not even know what to do and refuses help from Russia when there was an oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Instead we'll say it's true that the Communists usage of electronic voting was just a plan to manipulate the vote. Soros and his ownership of the company that counts the US votes in Spain helped put their puppet in power in the White House. According to the Huffington Post, residents in all 50 states have filed petitions to secede from the Unites States. We'll say that these Americans are hostages to the Communists in power. How long will their government reign tyranny upon them? Russia lost its' civil war with the Reds and millions suffered torture and death for almost 75 years under the tyranny of the United Soviet Socialist Republic. Russians survived with a new and stronger faith in God and ever growing Christian Church. The question is how long will the once "Land of the Free" remain the United Socialist States of America? Their suffering has only begun.
 There we have it. Those who most truly know what Communism is have branded Obama a communist.

(H/t Weasel Zippers)

Jamie Foxx Calls Obama "Our Lord and Savior" (Updated)

From Newsbusters (h/t Weasel Zippers). Video at the link.

I've never believed that Obama is The Antichrist described in Revelations. However, that does not mean he is not an anti-Christ--someone intending to usurp Christ's role in our faith and belief. We have certainly seen plenty of this in the media, from the endless photos of Obama suggesting a halo (and, in some instances, actually showing a halo), to substituting his name for the Lord's in songs, to his treatment as an American Messiah.

This might not be significant except that, to my knowledge, Obama has never disavowed these characterizations. He seems instead to tacitly support it. He did, after all, claim that his nomination would be the beginning of reducing the sea levels, etc.

This is a dangerous trend, adding a religious fervor to Obama's support. And what happens if Obama's second term ends with his still not having achieved what he wanted? Will this religious fervor result in a push to repeal the two-term limit for presidents?

Updated (Nov. 27, 2012): Another example of the deification of Obama--a painting portraying Obama as the crucified Christ

Drug Resistant Gonorrhea in Europe

The rise in cases of drug resistant gonorrhea in Europe has led to new treatment recommendations that are sure to result in strains even more resistant to antibiotics. From Bloomberg:
... Zithromax or a generic version of the antibiotic pill should be added to the standard treatment for gonorrhea to fight multidrug-resistant strains of the sexually transmitted bacterium, doctors in Europe said.

New European guidelines for sexually transmitted infections recommend giving azithromycin as well as the injected medicine ceftriaxone, which is beginning to lose its potency against gonorrhea. The guidelines also recommend patients be tested after finishing a course of treatment to check they are cured.

... N. gonorrhoeae has developed resistance to all antimicrobial drugs previously used as first-line treatment. The once easily-treated infection is becoming a “major public health challenge,” the World Health Organization said in June. In 2008, the Geneva-based WHO estimated 106 million cases among adults worldwide, including 3.4 million in the agency’s European region.
The wages of sin ....

U.S. Chooses Stability Over Democracy in Egypt

James Brandon writes at the Commentator on how the Obama Administration has decided to back Egyptian President Morsi over democratic reforms in hopes of achieving stability (something they had with Mubarak, I might add). Mr. Brandon writes, in part:
On Thursday, Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood president Mohammed Morsi passed an extraordinary presidential decree. This unilaterally fired the country’s prosecutor-general, banned the judiciary from dissolving the country’s constituent assembly and, conveniently, also declared all the president’s decisions to be irrevocable and immune from any form of judicial challenge or overturn.

Morsi said this would allow him to achieve ‘political and economic stability’ in Egypt and to ‘defend the revolution’: an ominous phrase beloved by every revolutionary-turned-despot from Robespierre to Lenin and Mao.

This momentous step – which one Egyptian legal expert described as ’absolute fascism’ - was almost certainly given the nod by the Obama administration, either implicitly or explicitly. Only a few hours before his announcement, Hillary Clinton had told a press conference in Cairo that:

“Egypt's new government is assuming the responsibility and leadership that has long made this country a cornerstone of regional stability and peace.”

After Morsi’s announcement, the US State Department merely observed that Morsi’s moves “raise concerns for many Egyptians and for the international community”, hardly a resounding US denunciation.

The ‘stability and peace’ trade-off that was reached between Clinton and Morsi in Cairo is clear; in return for Morsi persuading Hamas to agree to a ceasefire with Israel, the US would allow him to seize new ‘temporary’ political powers under the guise of ensuring ‘stability’, both in Egypt and in the region.

This move – the latest instance of the Obama Whitehouse dressing up naivety for hard-nosed realism -- is short-sighted for two main reasons:

Firstly, it grants the Muslim Brotherhood the power to act with minimal checks and balances from Egypt’s judiciary. Now that Egypt’s non-ideological military has realised that it can prosper under an Islamist regime, the judiciary was the last branch of government still acting as a significant brake on Brotherhood ambitions.

For all its faults, this institution is now likely to be purged and silenced, with knock-on effects for Egyptian politics: opposition protesters will face tougher sentences, Brotherhood members – already widely accused of attacks on rival demonstrators and of using sexual assault to intimidate liberal female oppositionists - will be able to act with greater impunity.

Ongoing, politically motivated prosecutions of opposition leaders, on charges from blasphemy to corruption, will also likely increase. Weakening Egypt’s judges will also enable the Brotherhood to move against other sources of opposition formerly protected by the judiciary.

On Friday, Gehad al-Haddad, a senior Brotherhood adviser, tweeted ominously that after the Brotherhood had dealt with the judiciary, ‘the police needs its own cleansing project, which this declaration enabled. Let’s hope it’s swift’.

Secondly, Hillary Clinton’s ‘peace and stability’ trade-off has only granted Israel a short-term reprieve and has in the longer-term stacked the odds against the survival of the Jewish homeland.

Following Clinton’s visit, Mohammed Badie, the Brotherhood’s real leader who was prevented from standing for the presidency on a technicality, publicly reiterated the group’s view on Israel that “jihad was obligatory” on Muslims, his sole proviso being that an armed attack on Israel by Arab states should only be “the last stage”, once the Muslim world had achieved “unity”-- incidentally a word used by Morsi to justify his power-grab.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Armenian Power Plant May Pose Danger

From EurasiaNet:
The Armenian government’s recent decision to prolong the lifespan of the aging Metsamor nuclear power plant– a decision supported by the United States – is provoking a public outcry. But with no replacement energy source in sight, the government maintains it has no choice but to place faith in the facility’s sole functioning reactor.
Metsamor opened in 1976 and sits on earthquake-prone terrain near a residential area about 30 kilometers away from the Armenian capital, Yerevan. The nuclear plant generates almost 40 per cent of Armenia’s electricity. For almost two decades, various international plans have been circulating to either shut the plant down, or keep it on life-support until a new power source can be secured.
Authorities several years ago set 2016 as the target date for Metsamor’s retirement. Then, on November 6, officials announced that, given Metsamor’s favorable results in 2011 stress tests conducted by the International Atomic Energy Agency, the facility’s lifespan would be extended to 2026. 
... Armenian environmentalists worry that the country, for sheer lack of alternatives, has been left strapped to a ticking time bomb. American support for safety measures is meaningless, they say.
“The longer the reactor works, the more fragile it becomes; it loses flexibility, and the accident risk increases,” argued Greens Union of Armenia Chair Hakob Sanasarian, who terms the decision to prolong Metsamor’s life “sabotage against the nation.” Metsamor’s remaining unit should, in fact, have closed by 2006, he added.
Former Prime Minister Hrant Bagratian, who oversaw the start of government attempts in 1995 to increase Metsamor’s operational security, shares that view. “Metsamor … can no longer be operated,” said Bagratian, now an opposition MP for the Armenian National Congress. “The metal of its reactor has already gotten thin, and we’ll face a danger worse than Chernobyl one day.”
“[E]verything has its expiration date,” he continued. “I see the solution in construction of a new unit [with a nuclear reactor]. If there is none, then there is no solution.”
Responding to criticism, Deputy Energy and Natural Resources Minister Aram Simonian on November 6 told parliament that “if we had the least doubts with regard to the reactor’s metal, we would not raise the issue” of prolonging Metsamor’s operating life. He did not elaborate on why construction of the new nuclear reactor has not begun.
The government insists that concerns about Metsamor are overblown, citing the tens of millions of dollars it has allocated since the 1990s on making the power station safer to run. “The demands to shut down the functioning energy block only because it is old are not grounded,” State Nuclear Safety Regulatory Committее Chairperson Ashot Martirosian declared.

Bicycle Repair

As we progress through our economic collapse, I notice more and more people using bicycles. And not the spandex wearing health nuts, but people obviously using bikes to commute or run errands. As fuel prices increase (and they will more than likely increase under the current administration),  more and more of us will be using bikes for short errands.

I recently had a problem with my bike--it developed a grinding noise while peddling. Taking apart the crank mechanism, I discovered that I needed a new one of these:

... a bracket bearing for the crank shaft. There are two--one on each side--one of which had completely burst apart. I had an older bike that I had kept for some spare parts, but it turned out that the parts I needed were incompatible. I bought a couple new bearing brackets, and kept the old one that was still good as a spare. However, it made me realize that there are certain spare parts that I need to set aside for repairing a bike beyond tires and tubes. Some parts will simply have to be scavanged or traded for, such as wheels, because buying extras would be prohibitively expensive. Casting about for advice on bicycling forums, I came across this one that seems to have some good comments as to standard parts to keep on hand.

DIY Geiger Counter

I was browsing through MakeZine's website the other day and came across this post (article, instructions, and video) on building your own Geiger counter. For those worried about nuclear warfare or accidents, and handy with a soldering gun, this may be a good project.

August 13, 1883 -- The Day the Earth Almost Died?

Instapundit linked to an an article from MIT Technology Review from October of last year that suggests that the Earth nearly collided with a large comet in 1883. The article states:
On 12th and 13th August 1883, an astronomer at a small observatory in Zacatecas in Mexico made an extraordinary observation. José Bonilla counted some 450 objects, each surrounded by a kind of mist, passing across the face of the Sun.

Bonilla published his account of this event in a French journal called L'Astronomie in 1886. Unable to account for the phenomenon, the editor of the journal suggested, rather incredulously, that it must have been caused by birds, insects or dust passing front of the Bonilla's telescope. ...

Today, Hector Manterola at the National Autonomous University of Mexico in Mexico City, and a couple of pals, give a different interpretation. They think that Bonilla must have been seeing fragments of a comet that had recently broken up. This explains the 'misty' appearance of the pieces and why they were so close together.

But there's much more that Manterola and co have deduced. They point out that nobody else on the planet seems to have seen this comet passing in front of the Sun, even though the nearest observatories in those days were just a few hundred kilometers away.

That can be explained using parallax. If the fragments were close to Earth, parallax would have ensured that they would not have been in line with the Sun even for observers nearby. And since Mexico is at the same latitude as the Sahara, northern India and south-east Asia, it's not hard to imagine that nobody else was looking.

Manterola and pals have used this to place limits on how close the fragments must have been: between 600 km and 8000 km of Earth. ...

What's more, Manterola and co estimate that these objects must have ranged in size from 50 to 800 metres across and that the parent comet must originally have tipped the scales at a billion tons or more, that's huge, approaching the size of Halley's comet.

... Manterola and co end their paper by spelling out just how close Earth may have come to catastrophe that day. They point out that Bonilla observed these objects for about three and a half hours over two days. This implies an average of 131 objects per hour and a total of 3275 objects in the time between observations.

Each fragment was at least as big as the one thought to have hit Tunguska. Manterola and co end with this: "So if they had collided with Earth we would have had 3275 Tunguska events in two days, probably an extinction event."
However, not everyone is buying into this explanation. The "Bad Astronomy" blog at Discover Magazine had this to say:
Doing some simple math, the authors calculate the comet fragments were no closer than about 500 km (300 miles) from the Earth’s surface, and no farther than about 65,000 km (40,000 miles).
This right there is enough for me to be extremely skeptical of this idea. When a comet breaks up, it spreads out. Even when intact, the material surrounding a comet can be tens or even hundreds of thousands of kilometers across! Claiming that a comet broke apart, yet managed to constrain its pieces to volume of space less than a few thousand kilometers across strains credulity.

Mind you, Bonilla claimed to have seen these objects over the course of two days. That means they would’ve been stretched out along a path that was a million km long at least, yet so narrow that only one observatory on Earth saw them transit the Sun. That is highly unlikely.
Worse, the very fact that no one else saw anything makes this claim even less tenable. A comet, even one that’s broken up, can be very bright, and the closer it is to us the brighter it can be. I have personally seen a comet in broad daylight! Even if this purported comet couldn’t be seen during the day for some reason, at some point in the days or weeks before or after these observations, the comet should have been visible in the evening sky (or at least at dusk or dawn). Yet no one saw anything.
Worse than that, there were no meteor showers reported that day or night. Comets are basically giant snowballs peppered with dust and gravel. Every time they get near the Sun, some of that ice sublimates (turns from a solid into a gas), forming the fuzzy ball we associate with comets, but also releasing some of the embedded rocky material. When the Earth passes through this stuff, we get meteor showers as it burns up in our atmosphere.
A comet passing a few thousand klicks from the Earth would have generated a lot of meteors. It’s practically impossible for me to believe that one could get that close to us and not even be noticed, and not create a meteor shower that would have been practically biblical in size.
It’s not like there wouldn’t have been ammo for such a meteor shower. The authors of the new study calculate the sizes of the fragments given their distance and the size Bonilla reported. They find the fragments would have been a few dozen meters across to as large as a kilometer. If there were hundreds of objects this size, there would’ve been millions as small a few centimeters across. Objects that size make brilliant fireballs as they burn up in our atmosphere, and would’ve been visible during the day, even with the Sun shining. Again, no reports of any meteor storms, despite a comet being a few thousand kilometers away and a million kilometers long.
Also, the Earth is moving, and covers a lot of ground (OK, space) in a day. Having the Earth move at least 2.5 million km during that time, and never getting closer or farther than 500 – 65,000 km is too much to ask.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Building Structures Out of Shipping Containers

A story at the Daily Mail about building homes, apartment buildings, offices, etc., out of old shipping containers. 
With the demand for affordable housing on the rise across the country, some developers in cities like Detroit and Seattle have been using a truly outside-the-box thinking to come up with a solution to the problem: building condominiums out of discarded shipping containers.

About 25 million of these 20-by-40 feet boxes move through U.S. ports every year, hauling everything from children’s toys to computers and chemicals.

In the past, when a container was retired from service in the shipping industry, it would end up discarded in a ship yard to be slowly consumed by rust. But now, the colourful steel boxes get a new lease on life by being transformed into apartments, art studios, office buildings and even restaurants.
HyBrid Architecture, based in Seattle, Washington, has been building housing from containers for nearly 10 years now and is credited with coining the term 'cargotecture' to describe this ‘green’ approach to construction, ABC News reported.

Homes and businesses pieced together out of the multicolored boxes which can be purchased for as little as $2,500 each have been springing up from coast to coast in recent years.
Why would anyone want to spend money to build more housing in Detroit, when they practically have the lowest housing prices in the U.S.?