Saturday, August 30, 2014

Record Growth of Sea Ice

I've noted before that there is evidence we are entering a new cooling period--mini-ice age, if you will. The latest evidence is the record growth of Arctic sea ice. From the Daily Mail:

The speech by former US Vice-President Al Gore was apocalyptic. ‘The North Polar ice cap is falling off a cliff,’ he said. ‘It could be completely gone in summer in as little as seven years. Seven years from now.’
 
Those comments came in 2007 as Mr Gore accepted the Nobel Peace Prize for his campaigning on climate change. 
But seven years after his warning, The Mail on Sunday can reveal that, far from vanishing, the Arctic ice cap has expanded for the second year in succession – with a surge, depending on how you measure it, of between 43 and 63 per cent since 2012.

To put it another way, an area the size of Alaska, America’s biggest state, was open water two years ago, but is again now covered by ice.
 
The most widely used measurements of Arctic ice extent are the daily satellite readings issued by the US National Snow and Ice Data Center, which is co-funded by Nasa. These reveal that – while the long-term trend still shows a decline – last Monday, August 25, the area of the Arctic Ocean with at least 15 per cent ice cover was 5.62 million square kilometres. 
This was the highest level recorded on that date since 2006 (see graph, right), and represents an increase of 1.71 million square kilometres over the past two years – an impressive 43 per cent. 
Other figures from the Danish Meteorological Institute suggest that the growth has been even more dramatic. Using a different measure, the area with at least 30 per cent ice cover, these reveal a 63 per cent rise – from 2.7 million to 4.4 million square kilometres.

The satellite images published here are taken from a further authoritative source, the University of Illinois’s Cryosphere project.
 
They show that as well as becoming more extensive, the ice has grown more concentrated, with the purple areas – denoting regions where the ice pack is most dense – increasing markedly. 
Crucially, the ice is also thicker, and therefore more resilient to future melting. Professor Andrew Shepherd, of Leeds University, an expert in climate satellite monitoring, said yesterday: ‘It is clear from the measurements we have collected that the Arctic sea ice has experienced a significant recovery in thickness over the past year.

Blinded By Political Correctness, Our Government Has Led Us To The Valley of Death

By now, most of you probably have heard of the news stories coming out of England, where law enforcement and other public officials turned a blind eye to widespread rape and child molestation (over 1,400 victims) committed by Muslims, because they wanted to avoid stereotyping Muslims. Allison Pearson writes at The Telegraph:
Men of Pakistani heritage treated white girls like toilet paper. They picked children up from schools and care homes and trafficked them across northern cities for other men to join in the fun. They doused a 15-year-old in petrol and threatened to set her alight should she dare to report them. They menaced entire families and made young girls watch as they raped other children. 
... The living dolls of Rotherham were bent and twisted to their masters’ will. There was no escape. As the sterling Professor Jay observes, South Yorkshire Police “regarded many child victims with contempt”. 
One 11-year-old known as Child H told police that she and another girl had been sexually assaulted by grown men. Nothing was done. When she was 12, Child H was found in the back of a taxi with a man who had indecent pictures of her on his phone. Despite the full co-operation of her father, who insisted his daughter was being abused, police failed to act. Four months later, Child H was found in a house alone with a group of Pakistani men. What did the police do? They arrested the child for being drunk and disorderly and ignored her abusers.
... Front-line youth workers who submitted reports in 2002, 2003 and 2006 expressing their alarm at the scale of the child sex-offending say the town hall told them to keep quiet about the ethnicity of the perpetrators in the interests of “community cohesion”. 
Fear of appearing racist trumped fears of more children being abused. Not only were negligent officials not prosecuted, they prospered. ... 
These same officials which turned a blind eye to the Muslim rape gangs were willing to take children away from a family who supported the UKip political party and, therefore, were opposed to multiculturalism. 

Although there is, to my knowledge, no similar incident of a cover up of Muslim rapes in the United States, we are actually seeing a more insidious and dangerous tactic by government officials--turning a blind eye on Muslim domestic terrorism to focus on the less likely "right wing" terrorist threat. The Washington Free Beacon reports:
The FBI’s most recent national threat assessment for domestic terrorism makes no reference to Islamist terror threats, despite last year’s Boston Marathon bombing and the 2009 Fort Hood shooting—both carried out by radical Muslim Americans. 
Instead, the internal FBI intelligence report concluded in its 2013 assessment published this month that the threat to U.S. internal security from extremists is limited to attacks and activities by eight types of domestic extremist movements—none motivated by radical Islam. 
They include anti-government militia groups and white supremacy extremists, along with “sovereign citizen” nationalists, and anarchists. Other domestic threat groups outlined by the FBI assessment include violent animal rights and environmentalist extremists, black separatists, anti- and pro-abortion activists, and Puerto Rican nationalists.
This is no real surprise. The Obama Administration has been denying a link between Islam and domestic terrorism threats for years. Officials called the Ft. Hood shooting "workplace violence." Even now, Obama can't bring himself to acknowledge that ISIS is directed in its actions by tenets of Islam.

The flip side is that government officials focus on so-called "right wing" groups, and unfairly malign conservatives or groups that tend toward being conservative. There was, of course, the 2009 Department of Homeland of Security memorandum warning of "right wing extremists" which included veterans, supporters of libertarian candidates, or pretty much anyone opposed to administration policies on firearms, abortion, or immigration. (See also, here and here).Then in 2013, it was discovered that the military was teaching that white Christian heterosexual men had unfair advantages, and labeling "evangelical Christians, Catholics and a number of high-profile Christian ministries as domestic hate groups."  Part of the problem is that the government seems to rely on the Southern Poverty Law Center for its list of domestic extremist and hate groups, although the SPLC itself ignores Islam and has crossed the line to simply vilifying conservative groups generally. (See also here and here).

There are several consequences to this willful blindness by the government. First, it creates a security state inimical to our form of government. Second, it is a breach of the social contract between government and citizen, that encourages the citizen to take matters into his own hands. As Glenn Reynolds commented about the U.K. scandal:
The legal system is, ultimately, an ancient bargain: Renounce your mob violence and blood feuds and we will provide you with justice. It could be argued that such a default as this calls the whole bargain into question, and justifies self-help along ancient lines.
Finally, as happened in the U.K., it distracts the government from solving problems. Thus, due to political correctness, we cannot take the necessary steps to destroy ISIS ("to kill the spirit as well as the body of the enemy, so terribly as to make sure that it will not rise again, and that nobody will want to imitate it."), lest we injure their civilian supporters. Even though ISIS examines deadlier weapons to use against us, the Administration does all it can to aid and abet illegal border crossings. The Administration has no strategy--or a failed one--with dealing with the real terrorists. We walk along the precipice of destruction, and we have leaders that have deliberately worn blindfolds.

Using Changes to Diet to Deal with Chronic Health Problems

An interesting article at the Daily Mail on using changes to diet to deal with certain chronic conditions that can cause fatigue.

"An Argument Against Ankle Holsters"

The Firearms Blog has another interesting post from "Claymore"--someone with a significant background in military and law enforcement. This article is about an incident that confirmed to him why carrying your primary concealed carry weapon in an ankle holster. It is an interesting story, and well worth the read. The gist of it, though, is that he was working on gathering intelligence on terrorist groups in Puerto Rico at a large protest, which involved mingling undercover with the crowd and taking pictures of the people attending. As his "cover officer"--essentially backup in case of trouble--he was assigned someone brand new from the U.S. Marshal's who insisted on carrying his weapon in an ankle holster. After they had finished taking pictures and were leaving the demonstration area, they were surrounded by the leader and henchmen from one of the groups...
I have always appendix carried my Browning BDA-380 when undercover just the the right of my belt buckle and had put on rubber Pachmayr grips that work perfectly to prevent the firearm from slipping down from the belt. 
The big dudes were kicking us in the achilles tendon, and calves, while wearing heavy work boots, and pinching the back of our arms. Let me tell you when a large full grown man pinches your muscles it hurts like hell. 
We were in deep deep shit but fortunately we had stopped right before the May 19th lady and I quickly got my firearm out because I could still move my forearms and it was a simple matter to just move my hand to my belt buckle area to draw. Danny on the other hand had seen me going for my weapon but when he bent over to get to his ankle mounted weapon they “bucked” up against his extended rear end preventing him from bending over and when he tried to lift his leg to get to it they jostled him so he couldn’t stand on one leg. 
HE COULD NOT GET TO HIS WEAPON TO SAVE HIS LIFE. 
I took my weapon out from under my shirt with just and inch or so of the barrel showing, so the rest of the crowd couldn’t see it, and told the May19th lady “I know who you are and you know who I am. Look down (she did) and in three seconds I’m going to start shooting, starting with you right in the stomach if you don’t get your goons off us” I told her “we are leaving so just get them off us and we are out of here” All this time they keep up the pinching and kicking and I could see Danny was having a hard time of it.
Claymore's conclusion was that ankle holsters are okay for a backup gun, but not your primary weapon. As I said above, read the whole thing--it is an interesting story.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Ebola Virus Has Mutated

Article at the Washington Post reporting that scientists have confirmed that the Ebola virus has mutated in this outbreak. I'm not surprised since this outbreak has been less lethal than prior outbreaks. Unfortunately, that also means that the virus is capable of spreading further and for a longer period before burning out.

"Will You Die Getting To Your Bug Out Location?"

An article at Underground Medic suggesting tactics for bugging out under social upheaval or violence. The article leads off:
I am frequently surprised by the approach many Preppers take to their Bug-Out plans, especially those who expect to drive to their retreat location.  Many seem to feel that this will be no different than driving out of their home area for a vacation, which is beyond my comprehension.  I say that because if things are bad enough that Preppers are headed for their retreat locations one would think that travel could be difficult if not impossible.
This is in line with my recent comment that if you can't safely follow your bug-out route now, you cannot reasonably expect to do so when disaster strikes.

However, there is another point that needs to be addressed. The foregoing article and many other authors and commentators assume, by default, that traveling to a retreat will require using the same tactics as military forces moving through or advancing into enemy territory. My question is: Why?

What are the reasons you will be bugging out? A nearby chemical spill, hurricane, flood or wildfire threatening to overrun your home may require you to "bug out." But, in that case, your concern is not hostile forces, but simply evacuating the area as rapidly as possible. An earthquake may require you to relocate but, again, your concern will probably simply be getting to a new location. Unless there is significant looting or rioting, you will not be traversing "enemy territory."

The only time I could see having to bug out through hostile territory would be in the case of war, where enemy forces have surrounded your city, or some sudden, widespread civil unrest. Even in these cases, moving out at a high speed--similar to the procedure for executive protection--would probably be more effective than the slower overwatch or bounding overwatch methods of movement. Particularly if you are in a small group, such as a family unit, your safety is going to be proportional to your distance from a threat. You want to put as many miles as you can, as quickly as you can, between you and that army or mob.

The article mentions putting together convoys of multiple vehicles and having security elements. That presumes a fairly large number of adults evacuating together. Is that realistic for you? If you have the resources (vehicles, people, equipment) to conduct a counter-ambush drill or have separate security elements, great! If it is just dad, mom, two kids and a dog, it isn't going to work. If you are going to convoy with other families or groups, I have to question whether the time to meet and organize such a convoy would have been better spent "bugging out."

I guess my point is that "bugging out" is not a time to unnecessarily play at being a soldier. In most cases, you will not be facing any violent threats--your concern is timely evacuation. Even if you have to "bug out" through enemy territory, you may not have the resources to put together a military style convoy. You may be better off adopting the tactics of a small executive security detail over that of a military column. Some good articles on the topic can be found at the Straight Forward in a Crooked World blog, such as the this article on "Flight Plan," "Drive Like You Mean It," and "Break on Through to the Other Side."

Upholding Thuggery

Eugene Volokh, writing at the Washington Post, has some thoughts regarding the decision in Bible Believers v. Wayne County (6th Cir. Aug. 27, 2014). That case involved Christians suing law enforcement for threatening them with arrest for disturbing the peace if they did not cease efforts to preach at a Muslim street festival in Dearborn, Mich. Because the festival was held on public streets and walkways, not private property or public property leased expressly for the festival, the location was a public forum. Nevertheless, the majority upheld the officers' actions because the crowd was reacting violently to the Christians. (And, based on the facts recited in the article, the preachers were deliberately attempting to be provocative in their speech). However, as Prof. Volokh points out:
Behavior that gets rewarded gets repeated. People who are willing to use violence to suppress speech will learn that such behavior is effective, at least when the police don’t come down particularly hard on the thuggery. Indeed, they may find at times that even merely threatening violence might suffice to suppress speech they dislike. And of course this message will be easily learned by the potentially violent of all religious and political stripes (again, so long as they suspect that the police won’t make the thuggery too costly).
This behavior is part and parcel of the growing hostility toward Christians in the United States. The same reasoning could be applied to counter-protests regarding homosexuality, abortions, etc. It could even be extended to non-religious protests/demonstrations/rallys, such as on immigration, taxing/spending, etc.  Even if you do not participate in such protests, you have reason to be concerned because this decision will serve to further ratchet up the possibility of a protest/demonstration/rally turning violent.

(H/t Instapundit)

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

"U.S. Recon Team Assaults Taliban Position Under Fire"


The Politics of Saturated Fat (Updated)

Wait! I though the science was settled! The Independent reports:
Challenging any of the conventional  wisdom on dietary fat has long been a form of professional suicide for nutrition experts. And saturated fats, especially, are the third rail. But Krauss persevered and concluded in 2010, after reviewing all the scientific literature, that saturated fats could not be said to cause heart disease. In March, another group of  scientists, including faculty from Cambridge and Harvard, came to the same conclusion after conducting a similar “meta-analysis”. These were stunning results. It seemed that saturated fat, our principal dietary culprit for decades, had been unfairly convicted. 
Yet the truth is there never has been solid evidence that these fats cause disease. We only believe this to be true because nutrition policy was derailed over the past half-century by personal ambition, bad science, politics, and bias.
 Our fear of saturated fats began in the 1950s when Ancel Keys, a pathologist at the University of Minnesota, first proposed that they raised cholesterol and therefore caused heart disease. Keys was an aggressive, outsized personality with a talent for persuasion. He found a receptive audience for his “diet-heart hypothesis” among public-health experts who faced a growing emergency: heart disease, a relative rarity three decades earlier, had skyrocketed to be a leading cause of death. Keys managed to implant his idea into the American Heart Association and, in 1961, the group published the first-ever guidelines calling for Americans to cut back on saturated fats, as the best way to fight heart disease. The US government adopted this view in 1977 and the rest of the world followed. But the evidence backing these guidelines was weak. ...
What the article describes is that the evidence was not just weak. It was the result of bad science, predetermined outcomes, and contradicted by the evidence from cultures that ate significant quantities of meats and fats.
Rolling over the opposition by sheer force of will was typical of Keys and his acolytes in defending their saturated-fat hypothesis. Keys was “tough and ruthless and would argue any point”, Oliver, a prominent opponent, said. Since Keys’s allies controlled so many top government health posts, critics were denied research grants and key posts on expert panels. As retribution for defending the healthiness of eggs, despite their cholesterol content, Oliver was publicly branded by two of Keys’s main allies as a “notorious type” and a “scoundrel” because “he opposed us on everything”. 
In the end, Keys and his colleagues prevailed. Despite contrary observations from India to the Arctic, too much institutional energy and research money had already been spent trying to prove Keys’s hypothesis. The bias in its favour had grown so strong that the idea just started to seem like common sense.
 Instead, it is the low-fat, high grain diets supported by the American Heart Association that are dangerous. The article continues:
The problem, as researchers have suggested since the 1950s, is that carbohydrates are uniquely fattening. Whenever they’re eaten, the body is stimulated to release insulin, which turns out to be fantastically efficient at storing away fat. Meanwhile, fructose, the main sugar in fruit, causes the liver to generate triglycerides and other lipids in the blood that are altogether bad news. Excessive carbohydrates lead not only to obesity but also, over time, to Type 2 diabetes and, very likely, heart disease. 
The best possible science from the past decade now indicates that too many carbs overall – even of the supposedly healthy, whole-grain kind – increase the risk of these diseases compared with a diet low in carbohydrates. In other words, too much whole-grain cereal for breakfast and whole-grain pasta for dinner, with fruit snacks in between, add up to a less healthy diet than one of eggs and sausage, followed by fish.
 We now have an obesity epidemic caused largely in part by this officious meddling. This should be a warning to those that have embraced Global Warming. In fact, this should be a cautionary tale about how science is actually made in a modern world where the government approves and funds what it considers to be the scientific "truth" and what is not.

Update (9/3/2014): From the New York Times:
People who avoid carbohydrates and eat more fat, even saturated fat, lose more body fat and have fewer cardiovascular risks than people who follow the low-fat diet that health authorities have favored for decades, a major new study shows.

Solar Tactical AK47 Enhanced Mag Funnel

The Firearms Blog discusses a new product from Solar Tactical called the AK47 MFER enhanced mag funnel. TFB describes the product thus:
The Solar Tactical MFER essentually adds something the AK doesn’t have, a magwell. They work just like the flared mag wells you see on competition Glocks out at the range by helping the user guide the magazine into place during reloads. They’re designed to drop right in with no mods needed to most AKM and AK-47 variant rifles as well as 7.62 Saigas. Modifications will be needed with Chinese, Yugo, WASR 10 rifles and AK-74s. These won’t fit milled AK rifles or drum mags however.  

Power Blackouts Possible This Winter in Midwest

The Washington Examiner reports (note: the video at the link begins to automatically play):
A repeat of last winter's deep freeze could lead to electricity blackouts in a clutch of states spanning the Midwest to the Mid-Atlantic as proposed environmental regulations propel a switch toward natural gas-fired power. 
PJM Interconnection, a regional grid operator, proposed new measures aimed at ensuring it doesn't again flirt with losing 22 percent of its electricity capacity as it did during the "polar vortex" in early January. Echoing the concerns of Republicans and some centrist Democrats who have admonished the Obama administration for rules that would restrain the use of coal-fired power, PJM noted the situation could become more dire under a "rapid transition" from coal to natural gas.
 "Last winter’s generator performance — when up to 22 percent of PJM capacity was unavailable due to cold weather-related problems — highlighted a potentially significant reliability issue," it said. "PJM’s analysis shows that a comparable rate of generator outages in the winter of 2015/2016, coupled with extremely cold temperatures and expected coal retirements, would likely prevent PJM from meeting its peak load requirements."
 Note that this is not a problem due to natural disaster, or crumbling infrastructure, but one solely created by government regulations. In other words, a perfect example of the decline of a complex society by decreasing or negative marginal returns on increased complexity.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Keep It Legal--Its Hard to Prep in Prison

The Tampa Bay Times reports about a plea deal reached between federal authorities and Martin Howard Winters over weapons charges. Winters plea deal will still net him 10 years in prison. The article describes Winters as the leader of "a group known as the River Otter Preppers, which advocated survival preparations in advance of an end-times event foretold in the Bible's Book of Revelation, court records state."


Escaping New York

Live Science has a semi-serious article on New York City preppers, even though it takes the time to bash preppers and survivalists in general. It reads to me as an assignment undertaken with the intent to ridicule prepping, but the reporter discovered that maybe these people weren't so stupid after all. 

Amazingly, for preppers living in NYC:
Urban preppers usually don't own guns, their political views are all over the map, and they are often people of color, Bounds said. Many have seen firsthand, in disasters such as Hurricane Katrina, how long it can take for local and federal government agencies to restore order, she said. 
Urban survivalist culture also overlaps with sustainability and homesteading culture. Many preppers are interested in organic and local foods, farmers' markets and the reduction of toxic chemicals. Some meetings, for instance, have focused on such things  as how to make deodorant and laundry detergent at home, she said.
Not like us ignorant hicks in flyover country (sarc.).

The article suggests that there is a basic difference in strategy between the urban preppers and their suburban/rural counterparts:
Few New Yorkers are going to cram their fifth-floor walkup with 500 pounds (227 kilograms) of food (one estimate of how much food a person would need to eat for a year). So survivalists focus on getting out of the city fast. 
Bounds, a sociologist at CUNY who started studying a group called NYC Preppers after Hurricane Sandy, noted a key problem facing many New Yorkers:
Manhattan is an island with just nine bridges and four tunnels off the island, and a workday population of more than 3.1 million, which means there could be several chokepoints in the event of a disaster, she said. Some people even have inflatable kayaks on hand just in case. The best escape routes will depend on someone's origin and destination, but preppers often talk about the Catskills or even Upstate New York as potential safe havens, Bounds said. 
You just have to make it off Manhattan, through the Bronx, and continue due north.... Simple, really.

I wonder if anyone in the group has actually practiced their bug-out plan--especially those planning on evacuating on foot. For those with the kayak--have they kayaked across the East River, the Harlem River, or the Hudson? For the people on foot, have they walked over the bridges into the Bronx or Queens? Have any then walked through the Bronx or Queens to where ever they plan to rest overnight? I would suggest that if you cannot safely follow your bug-out route right now, you cannot reasonably expect to safely follow that route when a major disaster strikes. I would also suggest that anyone that has practiced their bug out plan would likely reconsider whether they want to store food in their walk up apartment.

I'm reminded of an early episode of Doomsday Preppers where a young woman had planned on evacuating  on foot from a city (Austin, TX, if my memory serves me). She had never practiced her bug out plan previously. She physically was unable to make the trip carrying her bug-out bag--I think she made it halfway within the allotted time. Also, she was alone and her plan was to make the trip at night. Watching the episode, I wondered what would have happened to her if she hadn't had a camera crew tagging along. Would she have been assaulted? Anyone's guess.

Also, I wonder about the people that only have half a bug out plan. That is, they have a plan for getting out of their city or town, but they don't have any definitive location to go. Trudging out of "Dodge" simply to become a refugee is a hell of a plan.

Related Links: Another article concerning Bounds and urban preppers at TechWorld.

"The Islamic Jihad Conquest Formula"

Matthew Bracken summarizes the aims and ambitions of jihad.

New Woodpile Report

Just a reminder that there is a new Woodpile Report. One of the articles to which Ol' Remus has linked, which I think is worth particular consideration, is this from VOA News on whether North Korea has the ability to launch an EMP attack against the U.S. From the article:
Peter Vincent Pry told VOA he believes North Korea is ready to attempt a strike on the U.S. electric grid using an Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP). Pry said North Korea practiced an EMP strike against the U.S. last year when it orbited a satellite at the optimal altitude and trajectory to carry out such an attack. 
... Pry was a member of the former Commission to Assess the Threat to the United States from Electromagnetic Pulse Attack (2001-2008). He also is executive director of the Task Force on National and Homeland Security, a congressional advisory board dedicated to achieving protection of the United States from electromagnetic pulse and other threats.
At the end of the article, it mentions Pry's claims that the Soviets had produced a "super-EMP" weapon and some of the scientists had gone to North Korea following the collapse of communism.

Burning Ceder Fence Board

My son has been helping my father-in-law take down an old ceder privacy fence over the last week or so. We are also helping with hauling the old wood away. Since it is tremendous amount of old ceder boards, and we had not gotten around to getting firewood for this winter, I took the old ceder wood to use for firewood. However, knowing that painted or treated wood (especially old pressure treated wood) contain dangerous chemicals, including lead, copper and/or arsenic, I wanted to check on burning the old ceder boards.

I have to say that the information is mostly all over the place. Unfortunately, there was little authoritative information I was able to find in a quick search. Mostly it was questions to various forums. Some answers were that it is okay to burn ceder; other warned against burning ceder or any machine cut lumber because you don't know if it has been treated or painted; others dismissed treatment of ceder being a problem, but warned against using it because it contains high levels of creosote, creates a hot fire, and/or pops when burned.

Here seems to be the best (i.e., most authoritative information I could find): The University of Tennessee Forest Products Extension generally warns about burning treated woods, but then adds:
 Some wood species such as cedar, redwood, cypress and black locust are used outside because they naturally contain chemicals which protect them from insect and fungal attack. It is perfectly safe to burn these woods.
(This site, however, warns against burning old ceder shingles because they have been chemically treated). I also found a site that discusses the advantages and disadvantages to burning ceder.

The popping doesn't bother me--we are not using an open fireplace, and the most commonly available firewood in this area is pine, which presents most of the same problems. If anyone has thoughts on the matter, I would appreciate the input.

Egypt and UAE Carried Out Air Strikes on Libyan Islamists

Stories at Zero Hedge and New York Times. From the Times article:
Twice in the last seven days, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates have secretly teamed up to launch airstrikes against Islamist-allied militias battling for control of Tripoli, Libya, four senior American officials said, in a major escalation between the supporters and opponents of political Islam. 
The United States, the officials said, was caught by surprise: Egypt and the Emirates, both close allies and military partners, acted without informing Washington or seeking its consent, leaving the Obama administration on the sidelines. Egyptian officials explicitly denied the operation to American diplomats, the officials said.
State Department officials were concerned that the attacks would destabilize the country further.

Bill Whittle: "Ferguson and the Real Race War"

Bill Whittle has a new Afterburner video. (Video and transcript here). Mr. Whittle observes:
Spokesmen for the protestors rioting in Ferguson and St. Louis – and, in fact, a large percentage of the general population -- claim that there is an epidemic of white on black crime, of white cops shooting unarmed black teens. Is that, in fact, happening? 
According to the FBI, there were 408,217 robberies in 2009. That’s about 1100 a day, or in round numbers, about once a minute, 24 hours a day. That means a thousand times a day the police are called, a thousand times a day arrests are made and in general terms the events leading up to the shots being fired in Ferguson Missouri happen about one thousand times PER DAY.  
So if there’s this epidemic of white policemen executing innocent black males, why do we only hear about a case like this every few years? And why do most of those cases – like this one – seem to end up with extenuating circumstances? And why do the few cases that don’t have extenuating circumstances end up with the offending officers in jail? If this is an epidemic – where’s the epidemic? 30,000 commercial flights land safely each day in America. They don’t make the news either.  
So. Is there an epidemic of racial violence loose in America today?  
There is. 
According to the National Crime Victimization Survey, in 2010, 62,593 blacks were the victims of white violence. During that same year, 320,082 whites were the victims of black violence. That’s five times as many violent attacks, but that number is misleading, since the black and white populations are not the same size. When 38 million black Americans commit five times as many violent crimes on 197 million whites as they receive, what you discover is that black perpetrators violently assault White victims TWENTY-FIVE times more frequently. When it comes to a specific kind of violent crime -- aggravated assault -- the number of black on white crimes is TWO HUNDRED TIMES HIGHER than white on black crimes. Oh, there’s an epidemic of racial violence in America, all right. 
I don't think this is the type of conversation on race that Democrats really want us to be having.

Monday, August 25, 2014

"A Subtle Message to ISIS"

For the few that haven't seen this yet. From Warfighter:
As I sit here constantly hearing and watching you execute innocent men, women and children in the Middle East I chuckle. Why do I chuckle you may ask? Well let me explain something to you cowardice fools who think you are so tough behind all your propaganda videos. You are scaring a population that doesn’t know how to fight, you’re bullying the weak. ... But keep in mind, what did Saddam’s troops do when we came rolling into town? They surrendered, twice… So all your empty threats of coming to America and raising your flag over the White House amuse me more than any of you sick, sadistic bastards could ever imagine or comprehend. In 2012 there was about 21.2 million veterans in the United States. Do you understand what that means?
Read the whole thing.

Lights and Lasers

Gun Nuts Media is running a series on using lights and lasers with handguns. Parts One, Two, and Three. Unfortunately, while they discuss the philosophy (the why) of having a flashlight, these articles don't get into the how, other than recommending a rail attachment.

Here are some articles that illustrate different methods of using a flashlight with a handgun when you don't have a rail mounted light.

*  "Handgun Flashlight Techniques" from I Will Not Be A Victim.

*  Flashlight shooting techniques at USA Carry.

*  Using a tactical flashlight from FloridaCarry.com.

* "Shooting with Flashlights" at SPWenger's Defensive Use of Firearms.

A good book on defensive pistol shooting should also cover these topics. Some techniques will work better with certain types of flashlights than others, or work better with the way you move or hold a firearm. So, just because someone recommends a certain technique doesn't mean it is necessarily the best for you.

Army Sandbagged Carbine Tests?

The Washington Times (h/t The Firearms Blog) reports:
A competing rifle outperformed the Army’s favored M4A1 carbine in key firings during a competition last year before the service abruptly called off the tests and stuck with its gun, according to a new confidential report. 
The report also says the Army changed the ammunition midstream to a round “tailored” for the M4A1 rifle. It quoted competing companies as saying the switch was unfair because they did not have enough time to fire the new ammo and redesign their rifles before the tests began. 
Exactly how the eight challengers — and the M4 — performed in a shootout to replace the M4, a soldier’s most important personal defense, has been shrouded in secrecy.
But an “official use only report” by the Center for Naval Analyses shows that one of the eight unidentified weapons outperformed the M4 on reliability and on the number of rounds fired before the most common type of failures, or stoppages, occurred, according to data obtained by The Washington Times.
This is not the first time the Army has done something like this. There were irregularities with the competition that chose the M-14 over the FAL, and it was clear that Army Ordinance played shenanigans when considering the AR-10. (Both incidences are described in more detail in Alexander Rose's American Rifle: A Biography). Some people think that Army Ordinance also was attempting to sabotage the M-16 by ordering changes to the rifle and ammunition that made it less effective and less reliable when issued to troops in Vietnam. It is typical bureaucratic infighting.

On a related note, The Firearms Blog also has an article today on the 2007 dust tests. You may also want to check out this 2012 article at Rifle Shooter Magazine on "The Rise, Fall and Rise of the M14."

Photos of the Damage After the Napa Earthquake

The Daily Mail has a story on the Napa Valley earthquake with lots of photos of the damage. You will notice that most of the damaged structures were old masonry buildings--brick, primarily, with some stone. Brick buildings and facades are particularly susceptible to damage in an earthquake. The greatest danger, however, was probably unsecured shelves and unsecured bottles on those shelves.

Not Good for Our European Friends

Myles Udland says in his article "Unemployment in Europe is a Disaster" that "[b]asically, if you’ve attained a minimum level of education, or you’re working in the industrial or construction sectors, you’ve been totally hosed since the sovereign debt crisis." Although unemployment in the United States peaked due to the financial crises, it has been steadily declining since 2011, while European unemployment continues to grow.

On a related note, Fraser Nelson observes at The Spectator that if the U.K. were made part of the United States, it would be the second poorest state (per capita)--only Mississippi would rank lower.


The Impact of California's Drought (Updated)

Megan McArdle writes concerning the drought:
California is suffering an epic drought. It’s not the worst drought the state has ever had, but it’s certainly the worst drought the state has ever had while housing tens of millions of residents and containing a significant fraction of U.S. agricultural production. And there’s some suggestion that this may be the new normal -- not just because of global warming, as you’ve probably already read, but also because California’s natural condition is “extra dry.” An expert interviewed by Tom Philpott of Mother Jones says that the 20th century, which saw California’s rise as an agricultural powerhouse, was an unusually wet period for the state. Merely reverting to "normal" would mean having about 15 percent less water -- and the state is still growing. 
That does not mean that California will become an uninhabited desert, scattered with wind-scoured ruins providing a silent and reproachful testimony to Man’s hubris. California has enough water to support quite a lot of population growth -- if it cuts out a lot of that agriculture. It may even be able to support most of the agriculture -- if people start leaving. The problem is, it may not be able to manage both unless the rains return or it finds some clever way to reclaim low-cost potable water from the sea.
She thinks (probably rightly so) that agriculture will lose out to the cities. And why not? Agriculture has already lost out to the environmentalists that live in those cities. Only the wealthy and their golf courses seem exempt from the water restrictions. (See, e.g., this story about Oprah Winfrey using water tankers to keep her lawn green). If I were a betting man, I would bet that the water situation in California will become even worse. Not because of less rain or snow fall, but because environmentalists will push to destroy more dams, just as they hope to do in Northern California.

Before I get further off track, back to McArdle's article. She predicts the following result as far as food prices and availability:
If California’s agriculture has to scale back, the first and most obvious effect is that the quality of food would decline to something closer to, though still at least somewhat better than, what you get in a major urban area in the Mid-Atlantic states. The second and almost as obvious effect would be on the rest of us: Much of the produce in your supermarket would become dramatically more expensive, especially in the winter. The Midwest could basically take over the job in the summer, and imports from South America could probably make up some of the remaining difference, but most of us would be relying a lot more on frozen fruit and vegetables, and a lot less on fresh.
(H/t Instapundit).

Update 8/26/2014: Added link to story on Oprah Winfrey.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Volcanoes and the Beginning of the Little Ice Age

This article was prompted by a comment to my October 2013 article on the 1258 (now believed to be 1257) A.D. Rinjani, Indonesia, volcanic eruption. Robert Nason noted a Zuni myth that supported a link between the Rinjani explosion and the decline of the Anasazi in the American Southwest. 

The Rinjani blast was likely twice as large as the 1815 Mt. Tambora blast, and apparently marks the beginning of the Little Ice Age. More accurate dating places the eruption as actually occurring between May and October of 1257. According to the National Geographic article just cited, "[t]he cataclysm blasted 10 cubic miles (40 cubic kilometers) of debris up to 27 miles (43 kilometers) high into the sky, producing fallout that settled around the world." Moreover:
Though the eruption was equatorial, its impact was felt and noted around the world. "The climate was disturbed for at least two years after the eruption," Lavigne said. Evidence of this was found in studies of tree rings that revealed abnormal growth rates, climate models, and historical records from as far afield as Europe."

Medieval chronicles, for example, describe the summer of 1258 as unseasonably cold, with poor harvests and incessant rains that triggered destructive floods—a "year without a summer." The winter immediately following the eruption was warmer in western Europe, however, as would be expected from high-sulfur eruptions in the tropics. The team cites historical records from Arras (northern France) that speak of a winter so mild "that frost barely lasted for more than two days," and even in January 1258 "violets could be observed, and strawberries and apple trees were in blossom."
Prior to the location of the eruption being pinpointed, Richard B. Stothers penned a paper discussing the impact of the 1257 explosion. (See "Climatic and Demographic Consequences of the Massive Volcanic Eruption of 1258," Climatic Change 45: 361–374, 2000). From his abstract:
Somewhere in the tropics, a volcano exploded violently during the year 1258, producing
a massive stratospheric aerosol veil that eventually blanketed the globe. Arctic and Antarctic ice cores suggest that this was the world’s largest volcanic eruption of the past millennium. According to contemporary chronicles, the stratospheric dry fog possibly manifested itself in Europe as a persistently cloudy aspect of the sky and also through an apparently total darkening of the eclipsed Moon. Based on a sudden temperature drop for several months in England, the eruption’s initiation date can be inferred to have been probably January 1258. The frequent cold and rain that year led to severe crop damage and famine throughout much of Europe. Pestilence repeatedly broke out in 1258 and 1259; it occurred also in the Middle East, reportedly there as plague. Another very cold winter followed in 1260–1261. The troubled period’s wars, famines, pestilences, and  earthquakes appear to have contributed in part to the rise of the European flagellant movement of 1260, one of the most bizarre social phenomena of the Middle Ages. 
Stothers reports that, from the accounts of the time, the initial impact was a "dry fog" that dimmed the sunlight and darkened two eclipses of the moon. This "fog" apparently had disappeared by 1262. Stothers also remarks on the impact on weather. He writes:
[A] long cold spell occurred in England between February and June that year [1258]. The same winter is also reported to have been a severe one at Prague in Bohemia and the springtime was noted as harsh in northern Iceland. 
... After the very rainy autumn of 1258, the following winter in England was unexceptional. Matthew Paris (1259), who regularly reports in detail on the weather near London, indicates nothing unusual for that winter. The Chronicle of Novgorod (1471) mentions an odd frosty day in Russia during April 1259. The summertime afterward was hot and dry in Austria and Germany and hot and stormy in France, while it rained a lot in England. 
Less is known about the weather in the following year, 1260. After a very mild winter, central France experienced severe cold and snow during April. But the summer weather was alternately dry and stormy, with a lot of hail, near Prague and likewise near London. 
It was not until later that year that Europe suffered another very cold winter. The winter of 1260–1261 struck Iceland so severely that people were forced to slaughter many of their livestock (Thórdarson, 1284) and ice formed in the sea all around the island. Very harsh winter conditions are also reported for England and for northwestern Italy. In Alsace, the Ill River froze, but it is not clear whether this happened in the winter of 1260–1261 or of 1261–1262, or in both winters.
(Citations omitted). The weather negatively impacted crops. Stothers indicates:
... The heavy summer and autumn rains in 1257 and 1258 ruined crops throughout England, western Germany, France, and northern Italy. Severe famine is explicitly attested in many localities, and can also be inferred elsewhere from the high prices of staple agricultural commodities. 
England was especially hard hit. Famine in the countryside drove thousands of villagers into London, where many of them perished from hunger. Richard of Cornwall, the king of Germany, was able to ship some grain from Germany and Holland into London to alleviate the distress of the poor who could afford to buy. The price of food throughout England rose, nonetheless, and eventually specie itself became in short supply, having been already depleted by heavy tax exactions at the hands of both the church and state.
(Citations omitted). Apparently, France experienced poor crops and famine as well, while records indicate higher food prices in the Italian states. Finally, contemporary reports record a famine during 1258 in the general region of Iraq, Syria, and southeastern Turkey.

Stothers also writes that the cooler weather contributed to outbreaks of disease. Beyond the expected diseases due to poor or inadequate diet, Stothers observes:
The main scourge of human beings in the period, however, was the great pestilence of April 1259. This epidemic is known to have struck London, other parts of France, Italy, and, probably, Austria. Riccobaldo of Ferrara (1313) also mentions the pestilence, but under the year 1258. The chief symptoms were chilliness and listlessness (frigor) that could linger for several months or else kill rather suddenly. Although an influenza epidemic is a possible explanation, the diagnostic data are too few for us to go beyond this mere speculation. 
In the Middle East, there was also reported a great pestilence in 1258, affecting Iraq, Syria, and southeastern Turkey. It was called ‘plague’by the 14th century Syrian chronicler Ab l-Fid’, and was said to have been especially severe in Damascus; it is also mentioned by the 15th century Egyptian historian al-Maqr z ̄. This pestilence continued until 1260, or perhaps it merely reappeared then, at least in southeastern Turkey. Because the Middle East has been historically prone to epidemics of bubonic plague, possibly that is what it was.
(Citations omitted).

This one volcanic explosion was not solely responsible for creating the Little Ice Age. There were other significant eruptions in the relevant time period. For instance, Stothers mentions that there apparently was a significant eruption about the same time in Mexico. Chaochao Gao, Alan Robock, and Caspar Ammann published a paper in 2008 in  the Journal of Geophysical Research-Atmospheres entitled "Volcanic Forcing of Climate over the Past 1500 Years: An Improved Ice-Core-Based Index for Climate Models," in which they state:
We see that the largest stratospheric sulfate aerosol injection events are the 1259 Unknown [Rinjani], 1453 Kuwae, 1815 Tambora eruptions in tropical regions, and the 1783 Laki eruption at high latitude of the NH [Northern Hemisphere]. The Kuwae sulfate injection was one year later in NH than SH since the peak deposition showed up a year later in Arctic ice cores. We also found a series of moderate to large sulfate injections during the 13th century, in 1228, 1259, 1268, 1275 and 1285 C.E. The cumulative volcanic sulfate flux in the 13th century was two to 10 times larger than that in any other century within the last millennium.
Also in 2008, David P. Schneider, Caspar M. Ammann, Bette L. Otto-Bliesner, and Darrell S. Kaufman published a paper in the Journal of Geophysical Research, entitled "Climate response to large, high-latitude and low-latitude volcanic eruptions in the Community Climate System Model" which correlated four large eruptions in 1257–58, 1269, 1278 and 1286 with the onset of cooling that started the Little Ice Age. Their modeling indicated that large volcanic eruptions in the tropics produce longer lasting climate impact world-wide, including cooler summers and reduced precipitation (up to 20% reduction in some areas). The cooling trend is reinforced by increased sea ice and ice accumulation. 

This article from Science Magazine reports on research by Gifford Miller of the University of Colorado, Boulder, which analyzed ice core samples showing a sudden die off of vegetation on Baffin Island (in the Arctic) between 1275 and 1300. The article notes:
... cooling following even a huge eruption lasts only until the debris falls out of the stratosphere after a few years. 
But Miller and his colleagues did some climate modeling to see what closely spaced eruptions might do to climate. In a climate model that included Arctic sea ice, repeated volcanic cooling sent sea ice southward along the east coast of Greenland. Its melting made surface waters less salty, reducing ocean mixing and thus chilling the waters that return to the Arctic. There the colder water completed a feedback loop by encouraging the formation of more sea ice. In at least some model runs, that feedback loop maintained an icy chill directly upwind of Europe for centuries.

Returning to the original comment that prompted this post, the NOAA makes the following observations about the end of the several cultures in the American Southwest:
... "The decline of Chaco apparently coincided with a prolonged drought in the San Juan Basin between 1130 and 1180. Lack of rainfall combined with an overtaxed environment may have led to food shortages. Even the clever irrigation methods of the Chacoans could not overcome prolonged drought. Under these pressures Chaco and the outliers may have experienced a slow social disintegration. The people began to drift away." 
During the 13th Century, the Ancient Pueblo peoples of Mesa Verde and nearby regions also abandonded their masonry homes. For many decades the conventional wisdom was that severe drought pushed them from the region due to crop failures. Paleo proxy data from tree rings and packrat middens have been used as evidence that a severe drought had hit the region. Analysis of bones from the inhabitants which showed malnutrition seemed to confirm the drought theory. 
The more scientists study the situation, the more complex the problem actually becomes. Yes, there was a drought (see the chart above which is based on tree ring data from Northeast New Mexico collected by Henri Grissino-Mayer, 1996), but was it really severe enough to force the Ancient Pueblos from their homes? Some researchers were skeptical. Evidence of cannibalism and human sacrifice was found in the region, adding new questions to the mix. Were the Ancestral Pueblos pushed out of the region by other tribes, such as the Apache and Navajo, or threatened by bands from the central valley of Mexico intent on human sacrifice? (White, 1992). Or did disease, perhaps something akin to the modern day hanta virus that can be triggered by sudden shifts from dry to wet climates, causing increases in disease carrying deer mice populations, run through the communities? (Martin, 1994) 
Other researchers took another look at climate just to make sure they weren't missing something, and Matthew Salzer (2000) noted there was significant volcanic activity, with one particular event-- likely the largest of the Holocene that occurred in 1259 A.D. -- that may have chilled the atmosphere, thereby shortening the growing season and perhaps disrupting normal rainfall patterns.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

From the Archive: Building an AK

Below I've posted some thoughts and tips I picked up building an AK from a parts kit that I published in January and February 2012. It has been a fun gun to shoot.

* * * * Part 1 * * * *

With the successful resolution of my failure-to-extract issue, I've decided to discuss my thoughts (and lessons learned) on building an AK-74. This is not intended to be a primer (there are several sources of detailed information on builds available on the internet) but just a few pointers, ideas, and what I learned from the project.

Please note that I am not a gun smith, engineer, or machinist. These tips and thoughts are based on my own experience and are for educational use only. You should obtain proper instruction and training before attempting to use any tools or assembling a firearm. If you decide to use or apply these tips and thoughts, you do so at your own risk.

You Will Not Be Saving Any Money

First, and foremost, I want to emphasize that it is no longer economical to attempt to build an AK from a parts kits.Several years ago, you could get a de-milled AK kit (generally a Romanian AKM "G" kits) for around $70 dollars, that included the original barrel already seated in the front trunnion. Other types of kits, such as Polish underfolders, Egyptian made models, etc., were a little more, but included a barrel. The difficult part--seating the barrel and cutting the slots for the pins--was already done. This made it easier, and less expensive, for you--or a gunsmith if you sent the parts off for assembly--to build the rifle.

Then the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, & Firearms (BATF) changed the import rules. The result is that kits are now much more expensive, and do not come with an original barrel (or have a demilled barrel, i.e., a barrel with a several large holes drilled into it rendering it useless and irreparable). When you add the expense of purchasing the barrel to the other 944r parts, it is nearly the same as buying a finished gun from someplace like Century Arms. When you add the costs of a gunsmith to assemble the parts (or the tools, if you are going to do the assembly yourself), you easily could be paying as much or more than you would for a really nice AK from K-VAR. My opinion is that if you are going to build an AK from a kit, it must be because of the joy or interest in the project, to test your skills or learn new skills, and not because you are trying to save a few bucks.

Parts

Obviously, the basic set of parts you will need will be a "parts kit"--generally this will include both the front and rear trunnions, gas tube, front and rear sight assembly, trigger group (the hammer, sear, and trigger unit--typically for select fire, unless from a Romanian "G" model), stock, pistol grip, top cover, recoil spring, bolt, bolt carrier and gas piston, and various springs and pins. Some sellers may include a U.S. made barrel as part of a packaged deal. If not, you will need to purchase a barrel separately.  Sometimes you can find an East Bloc barrel that is mil-spec with a chrome lined bore and barrel. Otherwise, you will need to get a U.S. barrel. To my knowledge, there are no U.S. made barrels that are chrome lined. Sources for barrels, parts kits, or individual parts, include ApexCenterfire SystemsCheaper-Than-DirtCopes DistributingSarco, and RTG Parts. There are plenty of other sources out there as well.

The next "part" is technically the firearm. This is the receiver. This is the part that is registered and bears the serial number. You have two options: (1) buy a fully manufactured receiver through a licensed firearms dealer, or (2) buy a receiver "flat" and manufacture your own receiver. The welding and bending of a "flat" is beyond my skills and ability, so I will not discuss it, but Tapco manufactures flats. There are several manufacturers of AK receivers, but I used one from Nodak Spud. If you have a gun dealer you work through, you can place an order with Nodak, then have the FFL holder fax his license to Nodak. The receiver will be shipped to the FFL holder, where you will complete the paper work for the transfer. Check about the transfer fee charged by the FFL before you order the receiver.

Next, you need to purchase parts to comply with BATF Regulation 944r. I won't go into it in detail, but essentially you need to have a certain number of key parts manufactured in the United States. Tapco has a good overview on their website (link here). Not all guns have the total number of parts in the list. My understanding is that you will need to get at least six (6) U.S. made parts for the AK, but I also recommend that you "overbuild" it with additional parts just to be safe.

The barrel and receiver are each one (1) part, so by this point, you already have two 922r parts.

You will also need to get a different trigger group since you can't use the select-fire/full auto trigger group that came with the kit. A new hammer, trigger and sear all count as a 922r part each, so a complete trigger group is three (3) additional parts. As you can see, just replacing the minimum parts you need already gives you 5 of the 6 required parts. I used an Arsenal Inc. made trigger group (available through Midway or K-VAR), but Tapco's trigger group has also received high marks.

A couple notes as to the trigger group, however. First, there are single-hook and double-hook triggers available. You can read up on the differences on the internet. However, the receiver has a small slot in front of hole for the trigger to accommodate the hook when the trigger is pulled. That means that a single-hook will need one-slot, but a double-hook will need two-slots. Not all receivers are built with two slots. So, unless you fancy yourself cutting a slot into the receiver, check your receiver before you order the trigger group. I used a single-hook so I didn't have to worry about the issue.

Second, you may be tempted to pitch the full-auto trigger group that came with your kit. Don't. There is a small spring that fits between the trigger and the sear that you will need. Take the trigger/sear/rate reducer apart after wrapping in a cloth. The spring will jump out, so the cloth will catch it. (Trust me, the spring is very small and hard to find). After you have removed the spring, then you can throw the old trigger parts away.

The other parts to replace with 922r parts depends on your taste and what you want. If you want to use a non-U.S. stock and/or pistol grip, you may have to get creative. However, the stock is the easiest part to replace. The fore-stock, pistol grip, and butt stock are each one part, so replacing all three would give you a total (with the receiver, barrel, and trigger group) of 8 parts, which is well in excess of what is required under 922r.

Another part that is easily replaced is the flash-hider/muzzle compensator. The gas piston can be replaced, and some people will use U.S. made magazines (three parts--body, floor plate, and follower) or use a U.S. made floor plate or follower on a foreign made magazine body.

I opted for a U.S. made stock set. I chose the set available through K-VAR because it was the only U.S. made synthetic stock set with a heat shield in the forestock. (Note: K-VAR also sells foreign made stock sets, so double-check what you are ordering).

Another part you may consider, although it is not necessary, is a retaining plate to hold the trigger group pin in place. Tapco builds one (link here).  Here is a different style (a "shepherd's crook") at Brownells. (Link here). You can also modify one of the springs to clip into place. Strangely enough, Tapco has modified spring clips that you can also get (link here). I've had experience with the shepherd's crook style, but made my own spring clip out of a spring. (Some instructions here). It will save you a lot of time and expletives if you use a retaining plate.

Once you have the parts you need, you can ship it off to a gunsmith to assemble. Otherwise, you are ready to start down the hard road of becoming a DIY gunsmith.

Rivets Versus Screws Versus Welding

For the DIY gunsmith, the next issue is deciding the method to assemble the component parts--specifically, attaching the receiver to the front and rear trunnions, as well as attaching the trigger guard and magazine release assembly to the receiver.

The great debate (and it can be contentious) is using rivets versus using screws. You will also find a few people discussing welding. As I noted above, I don't do welding, so I won't discuss that option any further. The people arguing for rivets make two basic arguments: rivets are what the original design called for; and screws are too weak and loose to hold the gun together. Well, there is no doubt about the use of rivets by the Soviets, but in my research, I never came across anyone that actually experienced a failure due to a screw breaking. If there were any problems with screws, it was with the screws backing out, which problem was solved with a bit of Lock-Tite.

I decided on a screw build. My reasoning was that I thought it would be easier than attempting to build with rivets, it would be cheaper, and if I had issues, I could dissemble the parts if I needed. One of the issues that particularly concerned me with a rivet build was the actual process of squeezing the rivets. The professionals that built lots of AKs had special jigs for use with a hydraulic  press, which cost several hundreds of dollars. Other people modified bolt cutters to use to squeeze the rivets.

However, whichever way you go, you will need to get either rivets or screws. Various companies make rivets for assembling an AK. Screw kits were harder to track down. Although Tapco makes a set of screws, you can't purchase directly from Tapco, and there were only a couple of parts dealers that carried the screw sets. Of course, you can also go to your local hardware store for the screws, which is what I did, selecting stainless steel screws. If you do go the screw build route, I would recommend getting two sets of the screws just in case.

Tools

I'm going to assume that anyone getting into a project like this has basic hand tools like a ball-peen hammer, punches, various types of pliers, a vice-grip, etc. I also assume that you have some lubricant for easing the barrel and various pins into place. My focus will be on some of the non-standard tools.

Since you will be seating (pushing) the barrel into the front trunnion, you will want a hydraulic shop press. (Here, for example). This will come in handy for pressing the barrel pin. I suppose that you could use a heavier hammer to hammer the barrel in place, but it is a whole lot easier to have the press.

You will have to cut slots in the barrel for various pins, and you may need to open up some of the holes in the receiver for the screws. For this, you will need a Dremel or similar rotary tool. For the actual cutting, you will want to get 1/8 inch tungsten carbide cutter (Craftsman parts no. 953071) and 5/16 inch diamond point cutter/engraver (Craftsman parts no. 953161). The latter actually comes with two cutters/engravers--you will only need the pointed one; the one with the bulb tip is unnecessary for this project.

Of course, if you decide on a screw build, you will need the appropriate sized and thread tap and a tap wrench.

I discovered that the hole in the front trunnion for the barrel was actually too small. Ideally, you would use a flapper wheel to open it up but keeping it uniform in diameter. However, I couldn't find one that was the right size. I eventually decided on a 1-1/8 inch brake cylinder hone. (See, for example). It was still too big, but by removing one of the stones, I was able to fit it in and broaden the hole. If you have to do this, be very careful--you want the hole to be big enough that you can fit the chamber end of the barrel into the front trunnion, but tight enough that you will have to use the press to seat the barrel. In my case, just a few seconds of use (probably enough to grind off 1/1000 inch of material) was enough.

In my next post on this topic, I will discuss tips and pointers as to the actual assembly process.

* * * * Part 2 * * * *

This is the second part of my post on building an AK74.

Please note that I am not a gun smith, engineer, or machinist. These tips and thoughts are based on my own experience and are for educational use only. You should obtain proper instruction and training before attempting to use any tools or assembling a firearm. If you decide to use or apply these tips and thoughts, you do so at your own risk.

Threading the Trunnions

To do the screw build, you will obviously have to thread the holes in the front and rear trunnions. Remember, use plenty of oil and go slow and easy, backing the tap out often and cleaning and oiling it. I wasn't so careful on the first hole, and ended up breaking off the tap (which was a major task to get out).

Remember that on the back most hole on the rear trunnion, you will actually be threading it to accept a screw from both ends. It's easier to tap from both sides rather than try to run the tap all of the way through.

Prepping the Receiver

Check to make sure that the rivet holes in the receiver are big enough for you to slide the screws through. You don't want the screws threads to catch on the sheet metal of the receiver; instead, you want the screws to pull the metal wall of the receiver tight against the trunnions. The metal for the Nodak receivers have been heat treated, and they will strip the threads off the screws if the holes are not big enough. A quick pass or two with the 1/8 inch cutter should be sufficient to open up the rivet holes.

Seating the Barrel

As I stated above, the hole in the front trunnion for the barrel was too small for my barrel (the barrel was slightly oversized), so I had to "hog out" the trunnion slightly, which I discussed above in the tool section.

Remember to use a coating of lubricant on the barrel as you seat it. If you are using a press, just take it slow. The load pops are disconcerting, but normal.

Preliminary Assembly

At this point, you will need to check the head space, so screw the front and rear trunnions into place. DO NOT use Lock-Tite yet--you may need to remove the front trunnion again.

Headspace

Before you cut the slot for the barrel pin, you need to make sure that the head space is correct. I won't get into detail on the importance of proper head space because there are plenty of articles in gun magazines and on the internet discussing the topic.

The issue we have is measuring head-space. Typically, you would want to check head-space using a "go" and a "no-go" gauge. These gauges mimic a rifle cartridge. The bolt should be able to close all the way on a "go" gauge, but not be able to fully close on the "no-go" gauge.

The problem I had is that there is apparently only one manufacturer of these gauges for 5.45x39 firearms, and the gauges each cost some $30 or $35 dollars, which seemed excessive since I was only going to be building one firearm.

I came across a work around on one of the gun boards. First, you have to fit both trunnions into the receiver, with the barrel pressed in to where you think it should be, and screw the trunnions into place. This should be enough to put the bolt and bolt carrier into place. The trigger assembly and hammer are not yet installed. You will need two cartridges. One, unmodified, will be your "go" gauge. The other will have 3 layers of transparent tape ("Scotch tape") placed over the base and trimmed around the edges. This is the "no go" gauge. I fitted these into place and closed the bolt on each, and they worked--the bolt would close on the "go" cartridge, but not close on the "no-go" cartridge.

I had seated the barrel at the correct depth so I didn't have to mess around with the barrel. However, this is the step where it is useful to have used screws, because you could simply remove the front trunnion/barrel assembly from the receiver if you had to adjust the head space.

Seating and Pinning

The next steps are fitting and pinning the rear site assembly, the gas port, and front site frame. As with the front trunnion, you made need to slightly enlarge the holes on gas port assembly and front sight to get them to fit over the barrel. Again, they should fit over the barrel, but not necessarily be easy to get on--they need to fit tight.

The 1/8 inch cutter can be used to cut the slot for larger barrel pin--just put the cutter into the pin hole and start cutting it out so that the "hole" goes all of the way through. Remember to go in from both sides, and clean out the metal. I used a standard round file to smooth things out. This will take time. I thought I had it "right," then found that the pin wouldn't go in all of the way, had to drive it out, and work some more on enlarging the slot. Sometimes getting the pin out was more challenging than the effort to get it in. It helped, on those cases, to have a block of wood with a hole bored into it. Just rest the weapon over the block so that the pin can be driven into the hole in the block, and use a hammer and punch to push the pin out. (I didn't find the press to be as useful for getting the barrel pin out as for seating it in the first instance).

The other pin slots will need the smaller diamond cutter. For a file, I used a chain saw file. Otherwise, it was the same process.

When using the file, be careful of getting them stuck. Don't twist or screw the file--always use a straight back and forth motion.

Locating the Gas Port Hole

The challenge with pushing the gas port down into position over the barrel is making sure that you have it positioned far enough back to securely hold the gas tube in place, but not so far back that the gas port hole is covered.

What I did is use a caliper and put one end over the gas port, and then put a small mark on the opposite side of the barrel with an indelible marker. There is a small hole on the bottom of gas port assembly (i.e., on the bottom side of the barrel) that I believe lines up with the opening for the gas inside the assembly. Anyway, that is the theory. I slid the gas port assembly down over the barrel until I could see the small hole. Then, using a piece of wire that I had fashioned into an L-shape, I felt around inside the assembly until I was able to push the wire through the gas port hole in the barrel. That is how I was able to check the position.

Then, checking and rechecking the fit of the gas tube and using the wire to gauge the position of the gas port hole, I tapped the assembly down until I had it in the proper position--i.e., where the gas tube was secure, but I was not covering the gas port hole.

Special Notes for the Sights

The problem you want to avoid with the sights is having them canted to one side or the other. I used a small level over the rear site assembly to get the main part of the rifle leveled, and then slid the front site assembly on the barrel with just my hand, but enough so that it would stay in place, and used the level until the sight was in place. During the process I would double-check the rear site assembly with the level to make sure I had not disturbed it. Since I had put the rear stock on prior to this, I also put it up to my shoulder just get a visual picture as well. When I thought that the front site assembly was level, I took it out of the cradle so that I could use the hammer and punch to press the front site assembly down over the barrel into its final position.

Trigger Guard

On a screw build, you will use small nuts inside the receiver to hold the screws into place. The back screw is no problem, but for the four (4) screws on the front of the trigger guard/magazine release, I found that I had to grind down the outside edge of the screw heads so they would fit, and also grind off one of the points on the nuts to get them to all fit together as well. Again, don't use Lock-Tite yet, because you may have to take the screws or nuts out to work on them.

Lock-Tite

At this point, I loosened up the screws a bit to apply some Lock-Tite and screwed them back down tight.

Finishing

My next step was applying a spray-on finish to the barrel, receiver, etc. This may take several days to cure, so patience. Make sure you have removed the rear stock if you had previously installed it before applying any finish.

Trigger and Hammer Assembly

Now its time to assemble the guts of the beast. You will first want to use a  soft metal (i.e., brass) cleaning brush with your Dremel to polish the trigger assembly parts--particularly where the parts will be rubbing together. Don't take off the coating, just polish it so its smooth.

I installed the pistol grip before installing the trigger assembly.

Not ever having assembled an AK trigger group before, this was an experience. It took a lot of work and patience to hold all of the parts in place against the force of the springs while sliding a pin into place. I used a small nail punch that I pushed in from one side to hold everything in alignment while I slid the pins in from the other side. (The hammer and trigger pins slide in from left to right; the "pin," rod, or whatever you want to call it for the safety lever is inserted from the right to the left).

I had two primary issues at this point. First, I didn't have enough clearance for the hammer and its spring, and it was binding against the nuts for the screws at the front of the trigger guard. I had to remove the hammer and spring, and grind a little off the top of the nuts.

Second, was fitting the spring-clip in to lock the trigger pin in place. As I noted earlier, just buy a retaining plate and don't bother with using a modified spring. Really. I modified the spring and used it just for the experience, but ....

Stock

The final step is to reattach the rear stock and install the front stock.

Results

The first time I took it out to shoot, I put approximately 100 rounds through it without any mechanical problems. If you have read my prior posts, you know that the next time out shooting, I had a failure to extract which occurred on the first round. After taking care of that issue, I went out again and put another 90 rounds through the rifle without any further issues.

AR 101

A couple beginner's articles at American Rifleman for running the AR family of rifles and carbines by Kyle E. Lamb, author of the excellent Green Eyes Black Rifles.

The first article is "Getting Started" and discusses some basic safety issues, proper loading of the AR, finding the correct length of stock, shooting from the prone position, and how to perform basic maintenance of the weapon.

The second article, in the most recent edition of American Rifleman, is called "Hitting Your Target" and discusses zeroing procedures and ballistics. It then discusses the proper fighting stance using the system, use of the safety, and sight offset at short ranges. Finally, he describes a drill for practicing the use of the rifle.

Cold Winter Ahead

The Farmer's Almanac, which has proven more accurate than the climate models offered by so-called climate scientists, is predicting a colder winter for the eastern two-thirds of the country (the rest will experience slightly warmer weather).

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Burglars and Shooting to Wound

A couple interesting articles from The Truth About Guns for your lunch-time read.

First up, TTAG summarizes research performed by The University of North Carolina at Charlotte Department of Criminal Justice & Criminology on behalf of the Electronic Security Association (an association of alarm manufacturers). The study interviewed a sample of prisoners from three states incarcerated for burglaries. Among the findings is that nearly 10% of the burglars had also been charged with homicide; 88% resorted to burglary to support drug habits and most were using substances when they committed the burglary; and only 1/4 worked alone (i.e., 3/4 worked with someone else). (A PDF of the study is available here).

The second article discusses why it is not only generally impossible to "shoot to wound" by why it is undesirable to do so.

Liberia Enforces Quarantine of Monrovia's West Point District

The Daily Mail reports that enforcement of a quarantine of a slum in Monrovia has become violent. According to the article, there had been opposition to the government opening a clinic in the slum to check for Ebola. The article reports:
Tensions came to a head over the weekend when a mob attacked and looted an Ebola screening centre, accusing officials of bringing sick people from all over Monrovia into their neighbourhood. 
Dozens of people waiting to be screened fled in the chaos. Looters made off with items, including bloody sheets and mattresses that could further spread the virus.
The whole district was then quarantined. Then this:
Liberian soldiers opened fire on residents of a slum in their country's capital city today after it was locked down in an effort to contain the spread of Ebola virus. 
People ran screaming as soldiers from the country's Ebola Task Force brutally enforced a quarantine of Monrovia's West Point district ordered by the country's president last night.
... Earlier today, riot police and soldiers sealed off West Point, a peninsula where the Mesurado River meets the Atlantic Ocean, with makeshift barricades built from piles of wood and barbed wire. 
Few roads go into the area, and a major road runs along the base of the isthmus, serving as a barrier between the neighbourhood and the rest of Monrovia. Ferries to the area have been halted, and a coast guard boat was patrolling the waters around the peninsula. 
At least 50,000 people live on the half-mile-long point, which is one of the poorest and most densely populated neighbourhoods of the capital. 
Sanitation is poor even in the best of times, and defecation in the streets and beaches is a major problem. Mistrust of authorities is rampant and many people live without electricity or access to clean water.
To be fair, when you dig into the story further, it only indicates that the soldiers were firing weapons into the air, and using truncheons to beat back mobs. The article also indicates that doctors were being flown into a remote Congo village to investigate what appears to have been a further spread/additional outbreak of the disease.

"Who Will Stand Up For The Christians"

Ronald S. Lauder asks in a guest op-ed at the New York Times. He observes:
WHY is the world silent while Christians are being slaughtered in the Middle East and Africa? In Europe and in the United States, we have witnessed demonstrations over the tragic deaths of Palestinians who have been used as human shields by Hamas, the terrorist organization that controls Gaza. The United Nations has held inquiries and focuses its anger on Israel for defending itself against that same terrorist organization. But the barbarous slaughter of thousands upon thousands of Christians is met with relative indifference. 
The Middle East and parts of central Africa are losing entire Christian communities that have lived in peace for centuries. The terrorist group Boko Haram has kidnapped and killed hundreds of Christians this year — ravaging the predominantly Christian town of Gwoza, in Borno State in northeastern Nigeria, two weeks ago. Half a million Christian Arabs have been driven out of Syria during the three-plus years of civil war there. Christians have been persecuted and killed in countries from Lebanon to Sudan. 
Historians may look back at this period and wonder if people had lost their bearings. Few reporters have traveled to Iraq to bear witness to the Nazi-like wave of terror that is rolling across that country. The United Nations has been mostly mum. World leaders seem to be consumed with other matters in this strange summer of 2014. There are no flotillas traveling to Syria or Iraq. And the beautiful celebrities and aging rock stars — why doesn’t the slaughter of Christians seem to activate their social antennas?
... The general indifference to ISIS, with its mass executions of Christians and its deadly preoccupation with Israel, isn’t just wrong; it’s obscene.
The answer is two-fold. Many of our liberal elite would like to see Christians exterminated. As for the rest of the ruling elite, defending Christians isn't politically correct--there is no cachet for upholding Christians or Christianity.