Wednesday, September 21, 2016

September 21, 2016 -- A Quick Run Around the Web

Source: "The buildings reclaimed by nature: Abandoned locations around the world which have now been completely overgrown"--Daily Mail.

  • Blacks riot in Charlotte, N.C., after a police shooting of a black man. Some of the headlines:
  • "US cities are becoming much more dangerous places"--Bayou Renaissance Man.  The author indicates that this is so because of (1) increased risks of terrorism, (2) the Ferguson effect (i.e., the de facto ceding of control of certain areas to urban gangs), and (3) "growing criminal violence, in terms of both inter-gang conflict and attempts to make certain areas 'no-go zones' to both rival gangs and the authorities." As to the latter point, Grant writes that the philosophy behind it is being imported from Latin America. He explains:
The great danger, one that too many Americans don't yet recognize, is that people who've grown up with such gang violence and criminal terror are now present in this country in large numbers. The activities of the MS-13 gang are relatively well-known, but it's only one gang. There are many others, some of them even more violent. Criminals from almost every country in South America have crossed our borders with impunity, and set up operations here. Cartel hit-men have been active in Phoenix, Arizona and elsewhere. Hispanic gangs - both home-grown, and infused by 'talent' from south of the border - are trying to drive out black residents from areas in Los Angeles they consider 'theirs'. Conflict between hispanic and black communities in general, and criminal gangs in particular, has been growing for a long time.

I'm waiting for the 'example' of BLM (which has almost certainly been inspired by the success of gangs in South America at making certain areas of cities 'ungovernable' by the authorities) to motivate such gangs to do likewise in their areas. It's a common progression all around the world. I saw it in South Africa during the years of the struggle against apartheid, where gangs of one political persuasion or another would seek to make a particular township 'theirs' and exclude all other shades of opinion. With certain suburbs now seemingly being downgraded by police, thanks to the 'Ferguson Effect', how long can it be before the same thing happens in some US cities?
Grant also recommends that readers also consider a 2007 Vanity Fair article entitled "City of Fear" describing how gangs were nearly successful in obtaining complete control over São Paulo, Brazil, through a concerted attack on police and other government installations. As I've noted before, I foresee a convergence between terrorism and organized criminal gangs that will overshadow anything that has come before.
  • "An Ode to… GUNS: Russian marksmen plays Beethoven classics (and even Old McDonald Had a Farm) on a pair of pistols"--Daily Mail. The marksman is Vitaly Kryuchin, who is the head of the Russian Practical Shooting Federation. Video at the link.
  • "Ruger DISCONTINUING 77-Series of Bolt-Action Rifles"--The Firearms Blog. The 77-series of rifles are predominantly offered in rim-fired calibers, as well as .357 Magnum and .44 Magnum. The article makes it sound as though the end of production could be temporary, but I doubt it. The rifles are priced at right around $1,000 to $1,100, which is pretty steep price for a bolt-action (but not target grade) rim-fire rifle, especially when other manufacturers and, even, Ruger itself (in its American Rifle line) offer bolt-action rim-fires for much less.
  • "Fate or Fashion: Why Some Calibers Live Forever"--The Truth About Guns. The author muses about what makes a caliber popular and widely adopted, versus others that may pop-up, experience a short term interest or popularity, and then fade into obscurity or oblivion. 
Of course, one the factors seems to be whether a cartridge was a military cartridge since this leads to not only many men becoming familiar with the weapon through their military service, but also the availability of abundant, cheap surplus rifles and ammunition. (Of course, this factor cannot be all to it: rifles from Axis powers were inexpensive and widely available in the United States following WWII, yet, with the possible exception of the German 8 mm which has a small following, the military calibers from Japan and Italy are difficult to find and never achieved any lasting popularity. So this cannot be all there is to it. 
The author suggests the other factor is more of culture and fashion. As an example, the author points to the .300 AAC Blackout as a cartridge that is popular because of it possessing both the attributes of being .30 caliber (an American favorite) and designed to be used in the AR-15 platform (currently America's favorite rifle), even though the round is ballistically substandard. The author also, for this reason, predicts that the current interest in 6.5 cartridges, including the Grendel, will fade. 
I suspect a lot of the popularity of the .300 AAC is due to its ability to be used with a silencer, rather than the fact that it is .30 caliber. From my observations and reading, it seems that more Americans are participating and more interested in practical long range and precision shooting sports than previously, and, for that reason, I believe that the 6.5 calibers are here to stay.
  • "Review: Remington R-51 Gen 2 1000 Round Test"--The Firearms Blog. It passed with flying colors (other than not liking the Tula steel cased ammunition). However, the comments are still filled with those who apparently will never be willing to forgive Remington for the problems with the R51 when it was first released (although I doubt that these commentators would have bought one in any event). Glock has had its share of recalls; and I've never owned a pistol (and I've at one time or another owned copies of most of the popular police and military pistols used during the past few decades) that would reliably feed and shoot anything and everything I gave it. That is why you should test all new (or new to you) handguns out with your defensive ammunition before trusting you life to it.
  • Venezuela is having quite the run of "bad luck": "Oil Workers Starve as Venezuela’s Crude Output Collapses"--American Interest. Things are so bad that Venezuela is having to buy oil from the United States. The article also mentions:
Two years ago it was reported that Venezuela needed oil prices to reach $120 per barrel in order to balance its budget. At ~$45 per barrel, oil prices a far cry from that so-called breakeven level, and bargain crude is sending the petrostate’s economy into a death spiral. Power shortages are forcing producers to cut output and oil services companies are refusing to cooperate with country’s state-owned oil company because they aren’t being paid for their work. Crises beget crises, and it’s going to get a lot worse before it gets any better.
The U.N. high commissioner for human rights has acknowledged the horror. A 2014 report from that office says that inside of North Korea "crimes against humanity" have been committed as a result of the state's policy. These include "extermination, murder, enslavement, torture, imprisonment, rape, forced abortions and other sexual violence, persecution on political, religious, racial and gender grounds, the forcible transfer of populations, the enforced disappearance of persons and the inhumane act of knowingly causing prolonged starvation."

    Crimes against humanity generally cost a regime its legitimacy, if not its sovereignty. And yet most national security professionals would regard the collapse of the North Korean slave state as a calamity. The reason for this is simple: all the nuclear weapons and material. A 2015 study from the U.S.-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins University's School of Advanced International Studies estimated North Korea possessed 10 to 16 nuclear weapons, and will possess 20 to 100 such weapons by 2020. This says nothing of the highly enriched nuclear fuel the state has produced or the mobile rockets and longer-range missiles to launch the warheads.

      Trying to secure all this after a chaotic collapse or overthrow of the Kim regime would be a nightmare. General Raymond Thomas, who heads U.S. Special Operations Command, called a regime collapse in North Korea a "worst case scenario," at a conference hosted last week by the Institute for the Study of War. "In the event of the implosion of the region, we'd have the loose nuke dilemma on an industrial scale," the general said, describing it as a "vertical track meet between the Chinese and the South Koreans in terms of securing the nukes."
      I'm sure that South Korea, the U.S., and China all have plans about what to do--at least I hope they do. The problem, as I see it, is that as the North Korean regime becomes increasingly unstable, the risk of launching a preemptive strike increases. Unfortunately, the nation in the best position to step in and prevent this is China. This is unfortunate because I don't see China wanting to take a proactive role in this growing mess.
      • "Weaponizing Smallpox"--West Hunter. The author relates that small pox is one of the most potentially effective biological weapons to develop because it is very contagious, yet the country using it can easily immunize its own population against it. However, as vaccinations became widespread in the industrialized world, it value as a weapon declined. The author suggest that now, however, since small pox has long been eradicated and hardly anyone has been vaccinated for it in the past several decades, it is once again a viable biological weapon.

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