Saturday, September 30, 2017

September 30, 2017 -- A Quick Run Around the Web


           The commander of Program Executive Soldier today refuted recent media reports that the Army’s senior leadership has not killed a requirement to field a new 7.62mm Interim Service Combat Rifle capable of defeating enemy body armor.
             “It is not dead. The decision has not been made,” Brig. Gen. Brian Cummings (P) told Military.com.
      • "Scopes For Beginners: Parallax Adjustment"--The Truth About Guns. The author writes: "The — and I mean THE — purpose of a riflescope‘s parallax adjustment is to put the reticle on the same focal plane as the target. The result of doing this correctly is that, should your eye move around in relation to the scope, the reticle doesn’t move around on the target." The author cautions that most scopes with parallax adjustments may not be quite accurate as to the range for a particular adjustment, and you will need to experiment to find the proper setting for you.
      • "Firearm Records"--Blue Collar Prepping. An article on the importance of documenting your firearms in case of theft or other type of loss. The author recommends not just recording the make, model and serial number, but also have a photograph or two to show the firearm, and to keep multiple copies of the records in order to provide information to police and/or your insurer. Although not noted in the article, I would remind readers that while most home insurance will cover the loss of a firearms, they general fall within a category of personal property (such as jewelry and antiques) where coverage is limited to a rather modest amount ($2,500 or $5,000 are common limits) unless you purchase a special rider that increases coverage. 
      • "How to grow garlic"--Backwoods Home Magazine. An article on planting, harvesting, and using garlic. If you purchase starts, fall may be a good time to plant garlic.
      • "Lessons learned from Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria"--Bayou Renaissance Man. The lessons are broken down into 6 categories: storage of emergency supplies; using transport or trailers for bugging out; cash is king; security and looting; generator issues; and a variety of miscellaneous points. I recommend that you read the article because he raises a lot of good points. A few highlights, however:
      • Put your supplies in plastic totes both to protect against breakage, but to make it easier to move or recover the supplies.
      • Use an indelible pen to mark cans with their contents, because the paper label might be torn off.
      • Don't try evacuating using an RV or travel trailer in high winds.
      • Generators will attract the attention of your neighbors, both from the noise and the use of lights. Early requests to recharge a cell phone or tablet will soon escalate to more forceful demands to share electricity even as your fuel supply starts to run out. Thus, he advises limiting the use of a generator.
      • He also has a couple more warnings about preppers. First, he notes reports of preppers that have deliberately taunted neighbors with preps, such as cooking and eating stored food on front porches and otherwise rubbing in the fact that they were prepared and their neighbors were not. Also, he notes that when relief supplies have shown up, people have become angry at their neighbors who have prepped believing that the preppers already have their fair share of food and water.
               If you are an iPhone user, go to Settings >> Facebook >> Settings >> slide the Microphone switch to the left so it turns from green to white. That turns it off. Alternatively, you can go to Settings >> Privacy >> Microphone >> look for Facebook then do the same. Note that you can toggle the mic on and off for other apps, too.

                  For Android users: Try Settings >> Applications >> Application Manager >> look for Facebook >> Permissions >> Turn off the mic.
                   The swelling population of illegal immigrants and their kids is costing American taxpayers $135 billion a year, the highest ever, driven by free medical care, education and a huge law enforcement bill, according to the the most authoritative report on the issue yet.
                      And despite claims from pro-illegal immigration advocates that the aliens pay significant off-setting taxes back to federal, state and local treasuries, the Federation for American Immigration Reform report tallied just $19 billion, making the final hit to taxpayers about $116 billion.
                         State and local governments are getting ravaged by the costs, at over $88 billion. The federal government, by comparison, is getting off easy at $45 billion in costs for illegals.
                          When hundreds of Brazilian soldiers battled heavily armed drug traffickers in Rocinha last week, anxiety flared not only in Rio's biggest favela but also in chic neighborhoods just down the road.
                            Residents in the swanky areas of Gavea and Sao Conrado, just a stone's throw -- or a bullet -- away, comtemplate the occasional spike in violence with a mixture of worry and resignation.
                            From the 1970s, the island has been implicated in a number of sinister incidents. In 1971, a young scientist fell ill after a research vessel, the Lev Berg, strayed into a brownish haze. Days later, she was diagnosed with smallpox. Mysteriously, she had already been vaccinated against the disease. Though she recovered, the outbreak went on to infect a further nine people back in her hometown, three of whom died. One of these was her younger brother. 

                           A year later, the corpses of two missing fishermen were found nearby, drifting in their boat. It’s thought that they had caught the plague. Not long afterwards, locals started landing whole nets of dead fish. No one knows why. Then in May 1988, 50,000 saiga antelope which had been grazing on a nearby steppe dropped dead – in the space of an hour.

                    Tuesday, September 26, 2017

                    Video: "The Collapse of South Africa | Dan Roodt and Stefan Molyneux"

                    ~ 1 hour (Link)

                              Although this video is long, it offers up some interesting history as to the end of Apartheid in South Africa. Of course, in hindsight, Frederik Willem de Klerk's deal with the African National Congress (ANC) looks to have been a deal with the devil. However, the interesting point to me is that the Soviets had little interest in funding the ANC, and it nearly went under, when Sweden came to the rescue and infused it with the necessary funds and provided other support. It seems to have been a precursor to Sweden's current betrayal of Europe and its own people by support of for mass immigration. In World War II, Italy was often referred to as the soft underbelly of Europe. It appears that Sweden represents the soft head of Europe.

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

                    "'CO2 Overestimated 50%' | The Authors Respond"--Suspicious Observers (4-1/2 min.). More discussion on the top climate scientists having overestimated the impact of CO2.


                              Technically, the traditional white potato contains all the essential amino acids you need to build proteins, repair cells, and fight diseases. And eating just five of them a day would get you there. However, if you sustained on white potatoes alone, you would eventually run into vitamin and mineral deficiencies. That's where sweet potatoes come in. Including these orangey ones in the mix—technically, they belong to a different taxonomic family than white potatoes—increases the likelihood that the potato consumer will get their recommended daily dose of Vitamin A, the organic compound in carrots that your mom told you could make you see in the dark, and Vitamin E. No one on a diet of sweet potatoes and white potatoes would get scurvy, a famously horrible disease that happens due to a lack of Vitamin C and causes the victim’s teeth to fall out.
                                Even with this combo, you'll still need to eat a lot of spuds before you intake the right levels of everything. Consuming five potatoes would give you all the essential amino acids you need to build proteins, repair cells, and fight diseases. But unless you ate 34 sweet potatoes a day, or 84 white potatoes, you would eventually run into a calcium deficiency. You would also need 25 white potatoes a day to get the recommended amount of protein. Soybeans have more protein and calcium—but they don’t have any Vitamin E or beta-carotene.
                        Also:
                                 For all of 2016, Andrew Taylor ate only potatoes. There were a few caveats: He ate both white potatoes and sweet ones, and sometimes mixed in soymilk, tomato sauce, salt and herbs. He also took B12 supplements. 
                            Throw in some eggs (including grinding the shells up to consume for calcium) and you might have everything you need.
                            • "What’s the difference between AKs produced in different countries?"--The Firearms Blog. Kalashnikov Concern answers a few questions about its licensing and what it means as far as quality and meeting specifications.
                            • "Your survival depends on water"--Backwoods Home Magazine. Discussion of water, including problems in a grid-down/post-disaster situation, treating water, and ideas on conserving water. The author also gives some instructions on using bleach to disinfect water (note that this doesn't remove chemicals or minerals that might be in the water):
                              Amounts of bleach for different containers:
                              • quart bottle: 4 drops of bleach
                              • 2-liter soda bottle: 10 drops of bleach
                              • 1-gallon jug: 16 drops of bleach (... tsp.)
                              • 2-gallon cooler: 32 drops of bleach (¼ tsp.)
                              • 5-gallon bottle: 1 teaspoon of bleach
                                Unlike old-time iodine water purification (tasted awful and didn’t kill some organisms), chlorine dioxide tablets and water treatment drops effectively remove the worst viruses and bacteria without leaving an unpleasant aftertaste. Chlorine dioxide tablets and liquid drops are highly effective and affordable " on average, they cost between 50 and 75 cents. Vacuum-sealed tablets are shelf-stable for four years, making them an excellent choice for emergency storage. Chlorine dioxide kills giardia in 30 minutes and the more stubborn cryptosporidium in four hours. Potable Aqua, Aquamira, and Katadyn MicroPur are a few of brands that manufacture water purification tablets and chlorine dioxide drops. One pack of 30 tablets usually costs less than $15.
                                           On the grand Spenglerian curve of civilizations, Trump is not our analogue for Augustus (all of the interenet’s talk of “the God-Emperor” aside). He is not our Julius Caesar. He is unlikely to be our Sulla. But (whether or not he ends up being physically assassinated), he just might be our Gracchae – the first of a series of populist reformers who take on a powerful and entrenched system, with both sides using increasing levels of force, until finally that system topples, keeping Plato’s perfect record of being right on these matters intact. This toppling of the system may come in the form of a single authoritarian figure taking power in Washington, or in the breakup of the republic into smaller entities that will have mixed fates (some will find good authoritarian leaders and survive; others will collapse), but either way, inevitability is catching up to the current system.
                                               It is worth here noting that the Spenglerian curve that the West is on has always run more quickly than that which the Greco-Roman civilization traveled, meaning that what took a hundred years to happen for them may take a considerably shorter time for us. So if you haven’t bought one of those AR-15s already, now might be a good time. I don’t know when you might need it, but I now believe that day will come a lot sooner than I believed it would back in 1994.
                                      On the other hand, as I've noted before, Spengler believed that the West would reach the age of Caesarism about the year 2000. 
                                                Several of North Korea’s most important nuclear weapons development sites and ballistic missile test facilities are located in its northeastern quadrant. Aircraft flying east of North Korea and north of the DMZ could quickly strike those facilities.
                                                  The flight path [of the September 23 show of force] was the key diplomatic message. The U.S. and its allies have weapons that can approach and attack those facilities from any direction (examples include cruise missiles and drone-delivered munitions). However, the facilities in the northeast are definitely vulnerable to an attack from the sea, particularly with air and sea delivered stand-off weapons.
                                            He goes on to note:
                                                      North Korea’s nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs may have advanced beyond the point where economic strangulation can halt them, no matter how total the embargo.
                                                        If that’s the case, then the Obama administration’s policy of “strategic patience” failed utterly, and Bill Clinton’s 1994 Agreed Framework was its hideous forerunner.
                                                          If North Korea’s weapons programs are beyond the reach of economic strangulation, then it is possible the Kim regime believes it has outfoxed Beijing as well as Washington. Beijing has stepped into a war trap. Keep paying us off, China, Kim Jong Un says, or I’ll start The Big One.
                                                    But, as Bay continues, the show of force has rattled Kim Jong Un enough that he has threatened to shoot down U.S. aircraft outside North Korean airspace, which would be an act of war. Bay believes a rattled Kim Jong Un is a weak Kim Jong Un, which may encourage more moderate elements in North Korea to intervene. I would note, however, that North Korea has attacked South Korean ships in the past, and shelled South Korean villages, without any significant reprisal, so Kim may be under the impression that he could get away with doing the same against an American aircraft.
                                                               Almost 620,000 gay and bisexual men in the United States were living with HIV in 2014, and 100,000 of these men were not even aware of their infection. 
                                                                  These men are 100 times more likely to have anal cancer than HIV-negative men who exclusively have sex with women. 

                                                        Monday, September 25, 2017

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

                                                        "The Top Priority in Combat"--Roland Warzecha (10 min.). Staying alive.


                                                        Firearms/Self-Defense/Prepping:
                                                        • "Back to Basics: Gunpowder"--American Rifleman. A history of gun powder, including the development of smokeless powder, and discussion of when to use fast burning versus slow burning powders.
                                                        So-called faster powders like Hodgdon’s Titewad or Alliant’s Bullseye are fast burning powders with virtually no leftover residue. They achieve their maximum chamber pressure pretty quickly, and it decays just as quickly. These kinds of powders are useful for target shooting in pistols, where light recoil and consistent velocity contribute to accuracy. Moving down the scale to slower powders like Winchester 231, Accurate No. 5 and Ramshot Zip we find powders still useful to the handgunner who is looking for accuracy, perhaps a bit more velocity without undue recoil, as well as the clay bird shotgunner. Moving toward the slower powders Aliant’s Blue Dot, IMR 4227 or Winchester 296 is equally at home in a heavy 12-gauge field load as it is in a .357 Mag. or .44 Mag. revolver. Some of these powders can also be used in small rifle cases like the .22 Hornet or .30 Carbine. For the larger, magnum hunting cartridges, say, .30-06 and above, powders like IMR 4350, H1000 (Hodgdon), Ramshot Big Game or Hodgdon Retumbo is called for. These are among the slowest burning smokeless powders we have. They are designed to spread out the peak chamber pressure over a longer period to allow that pressure to push against the bullet’s base for a longer time and thereby increase its velocity. What I have explained here is the most basic overview of powder burn rates. An exhaustive chart covering some 267 different powders can be found here. 
                                                                Most memory circuits operate according to what are called Hebbian precepts. It is a fancy way of saying most memory circuits get strong with use, and disappear with disuse. So if you exercise the circuit, it upregulates production of all the parts that make it strong, and it builds up like a muscle. Likewise, if you don’t use the circuit, a Hebbian synapse will waste away, and whatever it did will be lost.
                                                                   You see this effect in life. You learn calculus and get great at it by doing it every day. As you do, your calculus neurons grow strong and the synapses connecting the ideas fire off very powerfully. You become a machine at interweaving different equations. You see the graphs overlay and affect each other in your mind, you spot relationships between variables and the equations that relate them, and you can go effortlessly from position to velocity to acceleration all along the way. Integrals, derivatives, limits, it all flows out of your brain immediately as you do it repeatedly and exercise the neurons. Leave the field, and after ten years, you can barely do anything. All of the circuits have wasted away and their connections no longer fire strongly enough to pull out the memories of what to do.
                                                                    Likewise, you meet someone at a party, learn their name, and don’t see them for a few years, and good luck if you run into them on the street. It even manifests in the physical dexterity of musical instruments, and the reaction times of fighters. So the entire rest of the non-amygdala brain, and everything outside the spinal cord, operates based on a rule of use it or lose it.

                                                            Other Stuff: 
                                                                      Fewer Americans are marrying over all, and whether they do so is more tied to socioeconomic status than ever before. In recent years, marriage has sharply declined among people without college degrees, while staying steady among college graduates with higher incomes.
                                                                         Currently, 26 percent of poor adults, 39 percent of working-class adults and 56 percent of middle- and upper-class adults are married, according to a research brief published today from two think tanks, the American Enterprise Institute and Opportunity America. In 1970, about 82 percent of adults were married, and in 1990, about two-thirds were, with little difference based on class and education.
                                                                           A big reason for the decline: Unemployed men are less likely to be seen as marriage material.
                                                                             “Women don’t want to take a risk on somebody who’s not going to be able to provide anything,” said Sharon Sassler, a sociologist at Cornell who published “Cohabitation Nation: Gender, Class, and the Remaking of Relationships” with Amanda Jayne Miller last month.
                                                                              As marriage has declined, though, childbearing has not, which means that more children are living in families without two parents and the resources they bring.
                                                                                 “The sharpest distinction in American family life is between people with a bachelor’s or not,” said Andrew Cherlin, a sociologist at Johns Hopkins and author of “Labor’s Love Lost: The Rise and Fall of the Working-Class Family in America.”
                                                                                    Just over half of adolescents in poor and working-class homes live with both their biological parents, compared with 77 percent in middle- and upper-class homes, according to the research brief, by W. Bradford Wilcox and Wendy Wang of the Institute for Family Studies. Thirty-six percent of children born to a working-class mother are born out of wedlock, versus 13 percent of those born to middle- and upper-class mothers.
                                                                                     The research brief defined “working class” as adults with an adjusted family income between the 20th and 50th percentiles, with high school diplomas but not bachelor’s degrees. Poor is defined as those below the 20th percentile or without high school diplomas, and the middle and upper class as those above the 50th percentile or with college degrees.
                                                                                         Americans across the income spectrum still highly value marriage, sociologists have found. But while it used to be a marker of adulthood, now it is something more wait to do until the other pieces of adulthood are in place — especially financial stability. For people with less education and lower earnings, that might never happen.
                                                                                          College graduates are more likely to plot their lives methodically — vetting people they date until they’re sure they want to move in with them, and using birth control to delay childbirth until their careers are underway.
                                                                                            Less educated people are more likely to move in with boyfriends or girlfriends in a matter of months, and to get pregnant at a younger age and before marriage. This can make financial and family stability harder to achieve later on.
                                                                                               “It starts with moving in together quickly, for economic exigency reasons as opposed to relationship reasons,” Ms. Sassler said. “Then struggling with making ends meet and trying to manage this with a partner just elevates the challenges.”
                                                                                                 Evidence shows that the struggles of men without college degrees in recent years have led to a decline in marriage. It has been particularly acute in regions where well-paying jobs in male-dominated fields have disappeared because of automation and trade.
                                                                                                  In a working paper published in July, three economists studied how the decline in manufacturing jobs from 1990 to 2014, across industries and regions, “contributed to the rapid, simultaneous decline of traditional household structures.”
                                                                                                   Labor market changes made men less marriageable, they concluded. There were fewer available men, because unemployment was associated with a rise in incarceration or mortality from drugs and alcohol. The men who were left were less desirable, because they lacked income and were more likely to drink to excess or use drugs.
                                                                                                        Researchers found a corresponding increase in births to unmarried mothers. The decline in marriage was not offset by more couples living together.
                                                                                              The article goes on to discuss that fixing the problem would not only requiring bringing back good paying jobs, but also repairing the social/cultural institutions that help support families and which likewise suffer during economic downturns. 

                                                                                              September 24, 2017 -- A Quick Run Around the Web

                                                                                              They've been lying to you: "Climate Change Just Changed"--Suspicious Observers.
                                                                                              The video discusses a new paper--"Emission budgets and pathways consistent with limiting warming to 1.5 °C"--published in Nature Geoscience. In the article, some of the heavy-weights in climate science, whose careers are riding on the scare over man-made global warming, are effectively conceding that the over-estimated the radiative warming effect of CO2 by 50%. The video also notes another article, "Solar forcing for CMIP6," which shows a correlation between solar activity and the warming period claimed to have been produced by human activity.  

                                                                                              Notes from the Range:

                                                                                                      I decided to compare some different ammunition in a couple of different 5.56 mm weapons to get an idea of accuracy and feeding issues. The ammunition was (1) HPR 75 grain Match BTHP, (2) Wolf Polyformance 62 grain HP, (3) PMC X-Tac 62 grain LAP (basically, the green-tip ammo), and (4) my own handloads based on a 50 grain soft-point from Sierra. The weapons were an AR using an Aero Precision complete upper with an 18 inch free-floated barrel, and a 183- series Ruger Mini-14. The Aero Precision had a 3x optic mounted on it, while the Mini-14 had standard iron sights for that model. I shot 10-round groups to get a better idea where the bullets were clustering and make it easier to differentiate flyers from the actual group.

                                                                                                      As an initial note, and as would be expected, all four types of ammunition fed flawlessly through the Mini-14. Likewise, all the brass-cased ammunition fed through the AR without issue. However, I had significant problems with the Wolf ammo: essentially, I was limited to single shots (but I did find out that the forward assist really works for its intended purpose). I decided against shooting more than the 10 rounds allocated, so I didn't really get to test what was the problem. However, based on the misfeeds (a mixture of not picking up a round at all, and the bolt getting stuck midway on the next cartridge), I believe that the bolt-carrier group was short stroking--not being forced all of the way to the rear--so that it was not cleanly picking up the next round.

                                                                                                     Of course, what I was really interested in was any variation in accuracy. First, the results from the AR. To be honest, the Wolf and PMC were about the same, although the PMC struck higher on the target (again suggesting that the Wolf was somewhat under-powered).  But considering that the barrel is supposed to be 1:7, I was shocked to see that my worst group was from the HPR (not much worse than the PMC and Wolf, but enough to be readily seen), while the best (by a significant margin) was from my 50 grain hand loads. It makes me wonder if Aero shipped me an upper with a 1:9 twist.

                                                                                                     Conversely, with the Mini-14, the best group was from the HPR. My hand loads came in a close second. The PMC group opened up quite a bit, and the Wolf looked like just a bunch of random dots scattered over the whole of the target. Given the age of the particular rifle and these results, it may be the version with the 1:7 twist rate.

                                                                                              Firearms/Self-Defense/Prepping:
                                                                                              • A few more articles on the cancellation of the Interim Combat Service Rifle (ICSR) program:
                                                                                              Critics of the ICSR program felt that the Army was jumping the gun and that the threat did not necessitate an entirely new rifle. Plus, using a new rifle in the larger 7.62-millimeter caliber would be heavier, require heavier ammunition, and hold less ammunition than a M4 carbine—three less-than-desirable attributes for infantrymen. The Army had also already said the technology behind its new XM1158 ADVAP armor-piercing round could be adapted to 5.56-millimeter caliber, which made a new rifle in a new caliber pointless.
                                                                                              • "The 7.62mm Intermediate Combat Service Rifle Program Is Dead"--Soldier Systems. This article explains that General Mark Milley started the program after having a "squirrel !" moment: he saw a presentation on the Lightweight Small Arms Technology and its associated Telescoping Case technology, which used telescoping polymer cases with a 7.62 projectile, and just had a knee-jerk reaction that the 7.62 mm part was the solution to penetrating body armor.
                                                                                                      Robert Engle, 22, identified by friends on social media, had ran up to confront Samson and despite being repeatedly pistol-whipped in the head, was able to force Samson to shoot himself in the leg. 
                                                                                                       'There was a significant struggle between the two,' he said. 'During the struggle, the gunman shot himself, probably not intentionally.' 
                                                                                                          Engle then went to his car, grabbed his pistol, and returned to hold the shooter at gunpoint. 
                                                                                                            'This particular church member has a handgun carry permit,' Aaron added. 'The usher went to his vehicle, got his gun, came back inside and made sure the gunman didn't make anymore movements until the police department arrived.'
                                                                                                    Of course, the initial problem you probably identified is that the usher, Engle, did not have his weapon with him. 
                                                                                                            ... We are a nation under Judgement. Don’t focus on the big picture. You can’t fix it. But you can fix your own situation locally. You can meet the good folks next door. You can meet the good folks raising their own food and selling it at the farmer’s market. You can meet the good folks owning the micro brewery and hosting the beer festivals. You can meet the guys testing the handloads at the range and swapping numbers. You can lane coach the couple struggling to zero that new AR while you’re at that range. You can talk to like-minded people on the radiowaves, like I do with my friends. You can go to church, even if it’s not ‘your’ denomination, just to meet people who live and do in your community. It doesn’t do anyone any good to simply read what they want to hear, channeling some useless venom that doesn’t do anything other than cause more of a problem- thus I stay above it, as do the wise. More often than not the stuff is written by people who can’t do, hence why they complain.
                                                                                                               Get out there and do it, whatever it is. Stop making it a hobby and start making it a lifestyle. Take care of home and hearth along with your close ones, and don’t forget those close by. Even if you think they’re a lost cause, people will surprise you, with a lot more folks into this preper thing than you realize- with a lot of folks not calling it that. ...

                                                                                                      Other Stuff:
                                                                                                              The defense secretary also said he believed that the United States had found military options to handle the nuclear crisis on the Korean Peninsula that would not put the South Korean capital, Seoul, at grave risk, though he refused to elaborate on what those might be.
                                                                                                                 Most military experts believe that because Seoul is only 35 miles from the demilitarized zone along the border between North and South Korea, the city and its more than 10 million inhabitants would be put in Pyongyang’s immediate cross hairs for retaliation if the United States made a pre-emptive strike on the North. As a first strike would be unlikely to eliminate all of North Korea’s conventional and nuclear weapons — not to mention its chemical or biological ones — American policy makers have traditionally held the view that a pre-emptive strike would likely put an untenable number of civilians at risk.
                                                                                                                     American officials also do not have high confidence that the military could find and destroy North Korea’s entire arsenal of long-range missiles and nuclear warheads. It would then be up to American missile defenses to knock out any that survived and that North Korea might use to attack the United States or its allies.
                                                                                                                       Even a limited strike — on, say, a North Korean missile on its launching pad or a missile in midair — would pose risks that the North’s leader, Kim Jong-un, might retaliate, setting off a spiral of escalation that could plunge the Korean Peninsula into war.
                                                                                                                         Mr. Mattis would not say how the United States might bypass that risk while exercising military options. “I won’t go into detail,” he told reporters at the Pentagon during an unannounced news conference on Monday. He also declined to say specifically whether those options would be “kinetic” — military-speak for lethal force like bombings, airstrikes or ground combat.
                                                                                                                           Military experts said options that might not prompt immediate retaliation against Seoul could include cyberwarfare or even an assassination attempt on Mr. Kim — though such an attempt would have to be successful. Other potential options are a naval blockade of North Korea, or a deployment of additional troops to the region.
                                                                                                                             But signs that the United States is actually preparing a military option in North Korea — like a repositioning of military assets or an evacuation of American citizens in the region — have not appeared so far.
                                                                                                                      Something rather unprecedented just happened in Syria: US backed “good terrorist” forces attempted a surprise attack against Syrian government forces stationed to the north and northeast of the city of Hama. What makes this attack unique is that it took place inside a so-called “de-escalation zone” and that it appears that one of the key goals of the attack was to encircle in a pincer-movement and subsequently capture a platoon of Russian military police officers deployed to monitor and enforce the special status of this zone. The Russian military police forces, composed mainly of soldiers from the Caucasus region, fought against a much larger enemy force and had to call for assistance. For the first time, at least officially, Russian special operations forces were deployed to rescue and extract their comrades. At the same time, the Russians sent in a number of close air support aircraft who reportedly killed several hundred “good” terrorists and beat back the attack (Russian sources speak of the destruction of 850 fighters, 11 tanks, three infantry fighting vehicles, 46 armed pickup trucks, five mortars, 20 freighter trucks and 38 ammo supply points; you can see photos of the destroyed personnel and equipment here). What also makes this event unique is the official reaction of the Russians to this event.
                                                                                                                      It goes to relate that the Russians believe that the United States was behind the attack, and that Russia has stated that it will not tolerate any further attacks, and will respond with force. 
                                                                                                                             EU sources say a fresh plan for the bloc's future being put forward tomorrow by French President Emmanuel Macron could lead to the UK being offered a flexible new membership deal.
                                                                                                                               His blueprint is expected to win the backing of Angela Merkel, who is on course to return as German Chancellor following today's general election.
                                                                                                                                  Tory Eurosceptics are concerned an EU attempts to scupper a full exit from the bloc are accelerating following Theresa May's decision to delay a full break with Brussels for at least another two years.
                                                                                                                                    A senior Conservative MP said last night: "A serious effort to stop Brexit is now underway. I am very worried that we will now never leave the EU."
                                                                                                                              Britain fought two world wars to prevent the formation of a German led European hegemony, and it was all for naught. 

                                                                                                                              Friday, September 22, 2017

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

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


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

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

                                                                                                                                        Thursday, September 21, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

                                                                                                                                                                   But we’re missing the bigger story.

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

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

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

                                                                                                                                                          Wednesday, September 20, 2017

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

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


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


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