Sunday, June 17, 2018

Happy Father's Day!

Happy Father's Day to all you fathers out there. As is my wont, I am reprinting something I had written back in February 2012 entitled "The Worth Of Fathers" and that I have reposted on several subsequent Father's Days.

* * * * *
         One of the most insidious results of the welfare state and the feminist movement is the loss of respect for fathers, or even the belief that fathers are needed in a home. We are surrounded with ads and TV shows that show fathers as clueless idiots--essentially just another child for the mother to care for and look after. The legal system bases custody on "the best interests of the children" which has merely become a code phrase for "fathers not needed." Even my church, sad to say, while emphasizing the importance of motherhood, significantly downplays the importance of fathers.

       I was reminded of the importance of fathers today when reading this article concerning on how New Jersey's court system has usurped the powers and authority of the legislature in important areas, including education. It noted:
The court also seemed oblivious to the fact that, no matter how much money the state spent, educational “adequacy” in the Abbott districts would remain a casualty of widespread family breakdown. In Newark and Camden, about 70 percent of children grow up in homes without fathers—which, research shows, frequently leads to dismal academic performance and high drop-out rates. “While many of the mothers and grandmothers were making a tremendous effort with their children, the consequences for most of the fatherless kids were devastating,” wrote Saul Cooperman, the state’s former education commissioner, in a 2002 op-ed. Assessing the likely effectiveness of the supreme court’s education mandates, Cooperman was blunt: “Until dramatically more fathers as well as mothers raise their children in our cities, we may be disappointed with the results.”
       Why are fathers so important? It is because fathers inculcate skills and discipline in their children that mothers, single or not, don't.
As noted sociologist David Popenoe explains,
Fathers are far more than just ‘second adults’ in the home. Involved fathers – especially biological fathers – bring positive benefits to their children that no other person is as likely to bring.
Fathers bring good, essential things to the lives of children. Children are impoverished developmentally when they are deprived of their father’s love.
The Review of General Psychology concludes:
Many studies conclude that children with highly involved fathers, in relation to children with less involved fathers, tend to be more cognitively and socially competent, less inclined toward gender stereotyping, more empathetic, and psychologically better adjusted.
(Footnotes omitted). (See also this article). And, from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services:
         Even from birth, children who have an involved father are more likely to be emotionally secure, be confident to explore their surroundings, and, as they grow older, have better social connections with peers. These children also are less likely to get in trouble at home, school, or in the neighborhood. Infants who receive high levels of affection from their fathers (e.g., babies whose fathers respond quickly to their cries and who play together) are more securely attached; that is, they can explore their environment comfortably when a parent is nearby and can readily accept comfort from their parent after a brief separation. A number of studies suggest they also are more sociable and popular with other children throughout early childhood.

           The way fathers play with their children also has an important impact on a child's emotional and social development. Fathers spend a much higher percentage of their one-on-one interaction with infants and preschoolers in stimulating, playful activity than do mothers. From these interactions, children learn how to regulate their feelings and behavior. Rough-housing with dad, for example, can teach children how to deal with aggressive impulses and physical contact without losing control of their emotions. Generally speaking, fathers also tend to promote independence and an orientation to the outside world. Fathers often push achievement while mothers stress nurturing, both of which are important to healthy development. As a result, children who grow up with involved fathers are more comfortable exploring the world around them and more likely to exhibit self-control and pro-social behavior.

          One study of school-aged children found that children with good relationships with their fathers were less likely to experience depression, to exhibit disruptive behavior, or to lie and were more likely to exhibit pro-social behavior. This same study found that boys with involved fathers had fewer school behavior problems and that girls had stronger self-esteem. In addition, numerous studies have found that children who live with their fathers are more likely to have good physical and emotional health, to achieve academically, and to avoid drugs, violence, and delinquent behavior.

          In short, fathers have a powerful and positive impact upon the development and health of children. A caseworker who understands the important contributions fathers make to their children's development and how to effectively involve fathers in the case planning process will find additional and valuable allies in the mission to create a permanent and safe environment for children.
(Footnotes omitted).

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Voodoo Tactical Cheek Rest for Savage Mk. II FV-SR

       The Savage Mark II FV-SR .22 rifle is an excellent little rifle, but it suffers from one distinct problem: although it is set up to use telescopic sights (in fact, there is no provision for installing iron sights), Savage put a drop comb stock on it. The consequence is that it is impossible to get a good cheek weld because you have to hold your head higher to see through an optic. Reading about the issue on various boards and forums, a lot of people choose to purchase a new stock from Boyd's. Others have recommended using a cheek riser.

       I opted for the latter route, and after looking around a bit, settled on the Voodoo Tactical Cheek Rest for fixed stock rifles. As a bonus, the cheek rests are offered in various colors, so I was able to get one that was a good match for the color of the stock. Here it is installed:

      The cheek rest is actually designed so that all three straps fit ahead of the sling attachment, and then a fourth strap fits over the butt to keep it from slipping forward on the stock. The Mark II has a short stock, and I didn't like it so far forward--it interfered with my shooting hand. As you can see, I instead installed it so the rearmost strap was behind the sling attachment. This seems to hold it in place well enough that I don't need the strap across the butt.

       The cheek rest makes extensive use of velcro, and the riser pad actually attaches to a velcro panel. The pad is 1/4-inch thick, and, together with the rest of the unit, gives about a 1/2-inch rise. I would have liked a pad just a bit thicker--perhaps another 1/8 inch--but when shooting it in the field, I really don't notice that small of a difference. Of course, because it folds over the top of the stock, it also means that you are adding about an inch to the thickness of the stock. But it is a lot better ergonomics than was the bare, drop comb stock. The cheek rest retails for about $15, so it is a simple and inexpensive upgrade.

Friday, June 15, 2018

IEEE Spectrum: "Can A Robot Be Divine?"

       The aforementioned article looks at the use of robots as a useful part of religious worship. From the article:
       We’ve seen a few examples of robots assisting in religious tasks, but what if robots could take things a step farther, and become sacred objects, embodying divinity within a robot itself? 
        At the ACM/IEEE International Conference on Human Robot Interaction (HRI) in March, Gabriele Trovato from Waseda University in Japan (with colleagues from Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú) presented a paper taking a look at whether divine robots might be possible, and why it could be useful to develop such robots in the first place. ...
The author of the article wants to make clear, however, that we understand that Trovato's paper is theoretical and only "attempts to develop guidelines for the design of robots with a religious aspect to them." However, it is interesting to look at what he believes are the advantages of a religious robot:
The appeal of a theomorphic robot, the researchers hypothesize, is as follows:
  • Accepted favourably, because of its familiar appearance associated to the user’s background culture and religion
  • Recognized as a protector, supposedly having superior cognitive and perceptual capabilities
  • Held in high regard, in the same way a sacred object is treated with higher regard than a common object 
There is some existing precedent for theomorphic robots, which goes back to early examples of automation applied to religious ceremonies. More recently, there have been attempts at using robots in religious contexts, like Pepper assisting in Buddhist funerals or Xian’er, a robotic Buddhist monk. Both of these robots, though, are more like assistants, and they themselves are not inherently theomorphic: A theomorphic robot is more of a representation of the divine, which implies “a connection with a deity, be[ing] a messenger of the deity, or be[ing] possessed by it, or carry[ing] a divine essence.”
(Brackets in original). Trovato makes some suggestions as to how to make such a robot,  with the first rule being that "[t]heomorphic robots shouldn’t try to fool anyone about what they are—they’re tools or intermediaries."

       Notwithstanding the supposed theoretical nature of his paper, the article notes that Trovato has created a couple prototypes: "a Christian Catholic robot with the appearance of a saint, which will be used for catechesis under the guidance of the Catholic Church, and ... a robot with the appearance of a traditional Japanese Daruma doll, designed to keep company and monitor the health of Japanese elders."

       Of course, all of this brings to mind Revelation 13:15, which relates:
And he [the false prophet] had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed.

June 15, 2018 -- A Quick Run Around The Web

"Bersa Thunder .380"--Personal Defense Net (1-1/2 min.). 
Just a quick look at this popular handgun.

  • TGIF: Active Response Training's Weekend Knowledge Dump for this week. Greg Ellifritz went above and beyond this week with a long and excellent list of articles and videos for self-defense, firearms, and better living. Links to articles on body language and what it communicates to criminals, better training, shooting steel, why you should answer but not open the door for strangers, push button locks, and a whole bunch more. Definitely check it out!
  • "Skill Set: A Confident Mindset"--Tactical Wire. Not just confidence achieved through developing your skills, but also faith:
Faith is another important component.  Having faith in your skills and abilities is important, but it’s nothing compared to the confidence created through a solid religious foundation.  I have faith that I will win.  I don’t have to fret over the outcome of the battle.  If it is my Lord’s will that I should personally be defeated then I am assured it’s still a victory - towards a greater glory.  I cannot lose.  Faith creates confidence.
I was watching a documentary last night on the P-51 Mustang, which included interviews of pilots that had flown the plane in WWII, and they said much of the same thing: you had to go into a fight believing you would win, seeking and taking the initiative, or, otherwise, you would lose.
What matters most, and what someone will invariably bring up in any discussion of stopping power, is placement. A hit to the correct spot works faster, and a hit to a non-correct spot works slower, if at all. There’s a classic cartoon on this from the cartoonist Gary Larson, in one of his The Far Side cartoons. The scene: a mammoth, on its back, all four feet in the air, with an arrow sticking out of it. One caveman says to the other, “We should write down that spot.”
  • "Farm Rifles Rimfires Rule" by Dave Anderson at Guns Magazine. The author notes that most of the pest control on a farm will be small critters such as gophers or rabbits, that are easily dispatched with .22 caliber rifles. However, because there will generally only be one shot, after which the weapon must be made safe, he recommends a bolt action .22 with a detachable box magazine over other types for this chore. 
       The only time I want my firearms loaded is when they are under my direct control — in my hands, in a holster, or slung over my shoulder. If I’m working outdoors and a gopher pops up in the garden, I want to be able to pick up the rifle, load it with a magazine from a pocket, fire a shot, then unload, hang up the rifle and go back to work.
          Semi-auto .22s are great for plinking and hunting, but the convenience aspect makes them less attractive as a farm rifle. After firing a shot I have to remove the magazine, clear the chamber, find the ejected round on the ground if I dropped it (which happens a lot), then reload it into the magazine.
             Rifles with tubular magazines are likewise inconvenient. Unless you want to use them as a single-shot, it takes time to load cartridges into the magazine tube, and to unload unfired cartridges. It can work if you’re comfortable having the chamber empty and magazine tube loaded all the time, I’d just rather not.
               What I like is a rifle with a manually operated action and a detachable box or rotary magazine. 
          When people in the Civilian Survivalist/LEO/Mil arena think about redundancy, it’s usually tied to the phrase “Two is one, one is none.” There’s a lot to be said for that mindset, but taken to the extreme, it will do nothing but add extra crap (that you don’t need readily available), and probably slow you down in the process, due to the extra weight it adds to your gear. Whether you are a Civilian, LEO, NPT (Neighborhood Protection Team) member, or member of the Military, understanding the need for redundancy in you essential gear, and how to prioritize it is essential to giving yourself the best chance at survival in a non-permissive environment. First we will talk about prioritization of gear that needs redundancy, then we will talk about a method to use when looking for redundant gear options.
          • Stupid is as stupid does: "The Gospel Humanity of MS-13"--Chronicles Magazine. The author takes issue with Trump's reference to members of MS-13 as animals, and suggests that we need to embrace them as follow humans. From the article:
            As a gospel community, we Christians should always strive to love the unlovable, to lift up the marginalized, and to bring near the outcast. We are to shower people with our gospel love. This is why we vehemently take issue with President Trump’s dehumanization of MS-13. We fully concede that these image-bearers mutilate their enemies’ children and sell young girls into prostitution, but they nevertheless possess inviolable, infinite dignity—a spark of divinity is in every person. No matter how irrational they might be, no matter how lacking in reason and judgment, no matter how devoid of natural human affection, no matter how unfit they are for human civil society, no matter how far they go in extinguishing in themselves the fundamental principles of human relations—they remain fully human. Indeed, they are just as human as you and me, and only by the grace of God are we not one of them.
              No, no, and no. It is not by the grace of God that were are not one of them. It takes a whole level of evil above and beyond a typical person to rape children and hack people apart over gang disputes. At some point, they made a conscious decision to be evil--they didn't just stumble into it--and the worst of them lack the divine spark of which you speak. They have snuffed it out. Is it possible for a gang member to reform? Yes, in theory. But the Lord doesn't call on us to be stupid and just accept anyone into our congregations or homes. First comes repentance, then baptism. And when the Lord says that the wages of sin is death, sometimes it necessarily is a physical death.
                      Thousands of workers are fleeing Venezuela’s state-owned oil company, abandoning once-coveted jobs made worthless by the worst inflation in the world. And now the hemorrhaging is threatening the nation’s chances of overcoming its long economic collapse, union leaders, oil executives and workers say.
                       Desperate oil workers and criminals are also stripping the oil company of vital equipment, vehicles, pumps and copper wiring, carrying off whatever they can to make money. The double drain — of people and hardware — is further crippling a company that has been teetering for years yet remains the country’s most important source of income.

                Book Review: "Prepper Guns" by Bryce M. Towsley

                Book: Prepper Guns: Firearms, Ammo, Tools, and Techniques You Will Need to Survive the Coming Collapse by Bryce M. Towsley (2016; 272 pages).

                       Just to be upfront about this, I was disappointed in this book. It isn't that its a bad book, per se. But I had downloaded Amazon's free preview before deciding to purchase it, and both the forward and the author's introduction clearly were marketing this book as the modern, updated, equivalent of Mel Tappen's Survival Guns. And, at about half the length of Tappen's book, it most definitely was not.

                       Tappen's book was written in the early 1980s, and reflected the survivalist mindset at that period, which was pretty much the "Rawlsian" theory of complete social and political collapse (although it was John Rawls who was a disciple of Tappen and not the other way around). Thus, Tappen's approach to the book and his advice was that the reader would be living on a survival retreat in an isolated location, and homesteading (i.e., operating a small farm, ranch, what-have-you). He felt that a survivalist in that situation would need both firearms as tools ("working guns") for hunting, controlling animal predators, putting down a lame sheep or horse, etc. He also saw the need for combat style weapons. So, he discussed weapons, ammunition, and so on, suitable for each task based on what was available at the time. I have taken issue with his total armament approach of a different firearm (and caliber) for each particular job because it can easily wind up being a couple of dozen different firearms per person if you fully followed his advice. However, one thing I could not take issue with was his description of the firearms, their strengths and foibles, and the discussion about the ammunition. For each he gave you at least the basic ballistics information, and generally a bit more, including in many cases his favorite handloads. He also discussed principles of shooting and some tips on practical shooting. And he has an outstanding chapter on alternate ranged weapons such as bows, crossbows, airguns, slings, and so on. So that gives you a brief run-down of the book against which I am comparing Towsley's book.

                The Good...

                       First, the good about Towsley's book: it sort of comes off like standing around the counter at a gun store listening to someone shoot the breeze. Towsley has a folksy way of explaining things, using a mix of stories and anecdotes, as well as outright excerpts from articles he's written and a post-Apocalypse novel, that make for an easy, entertaining read. He takes you through the ins-and-outs of the AR system, both the AR-15 and AR-10 systems (the latter of which he terms the AR-L, for long) and the different caliber choices. He does the same for long-range, precision rifles, pistol caliber carbines, and, to a lessor extent, for shotguns and handguns. He definitely has his favorites, and will, metaphorically speaking, talk your ear off about the Glock handguns, the Remington 870, and certain other favorites.

                       Towsley gives a pretty decent background of the development of the lever-action rifle, and provides some good tips on modern lever actions. And I agree with him that "[t]he .357 and .44 Magnums are the best choices as they will offer the most options for functional ammo designed for self-defense." They provide the optimal balance between magazine capacity and performance.

                       I also thought his coverage of compact and smaller handguns to be quite good. He spends two chapters on these topics, covering most of the common models of small handguns. These chapters are probably the result of Towsley's experience with these pistols while reviewing them as a gun writer.

                      Towsley has a pretty good section on shotguns, and, particularly, discussing some of the newer semi-auto gas systems. His experience in 3-gun shows up here with tips and tricks for loading shotguns, reviews of what shotguns work and which don't in high volume shooting environments (here's looking at you, Saiga). And if you are interested in it, he devotes an entire chapter to the history of the Remington 870.

                       And even though I think the concept is obsolete and misguided, Towsley has a very good chapter on the scout rifle concept advanced by Cooper. Towsley just briefly touches on whether modern sporting rifles have superseded the scout rifle concept (which, in my opinion, they have), but unfortunately does not pursue the topic.

                       So, in short, Towsley covers a lot of topics, some in quite detail. I have to agree with other reviews that if you are a firearm novice, or have only limited experience and want to expand your horizons, Towsley's book is a good book to start you on your path. And, even for the more experienced shooter, it is an easy and entertaining read.

                The Bad...

                        The bad part about Towsley's book is that it comes off like standing around the counter at a gun store listening to someone shoot the breeze. This shows up in many different ways, but primarily on how the author jumps around on topics, touching or visiting a topic in one chapter, coming back to it later, and maybe even making a third try.

                        For instance, early in his book, Towsley discusses different types of ammunition, then moves to the AR platform, then onto the AUG bullpup rifle, and then back to discussing the AR platform (but in the larger AR-10 style, which he terms the AR-L, for long) and its most popular calibers, then goes into a whole chapter discussing the issue of whether you should just stick to the .308 in your AR rifle, going, yet again, over the .308 versus 7.62x39 versus 5.56 argument that he raised in earlier chapters. I feel this could have been organized better, rather than hopping back and forth.

                       Later, Towsley spends a chapter on sniper rifles; then a chapter on precision rifles (for sniping), again getting into a discussion of the different calibers, many of which had already been discussed earlier in the book; then a chapter on long-range rifles (for sniping) where he discusses specific models of rifles, but again returns to discussing some of the caliber/cartridges for long range shooting that he covered in earlier chapters! Then, towards the end of the book, when his is discussing "bug-out guns," he again revisits topics discussed earlier in the book.

                       It also shows up on the author's biases. For instance, Towsley is a big fan of the .40 S&W, and spends a great deal of space arguing why you should carry that round, or at least the .45 ACP, over the 9 mm (he makes a similar argument for .40 or larger calibers in his section on revolvers).

                       He devotes a lot of space to his favorite weapons (the AR, the Glock, and the 1911), but gives short shrift to other weapons, or completely skips over them. One of these is the AK rifles. Although Towsley has an entire chapter on the AK, it is mostly to relate his visit with Mikhail Kalashnikov rather than discussing the operation or other characteristics of the AK system. And, despite the past importation of rifles based on the HK G-3, and continued sales of similar weapons through PTR and Century, when I was looking back through the book for this review, I couldn't find any mention of those rifles. The same goes for the SKS: he references it a few times in relation how the 7.62x39 became popular in the U.S., but otherwise ignores it. He discusses the Mini-14 and -30, the SCAR, the AUG, and, very briefly, the FAL, and that seems about it. Similarly, although he has an otherwise excellent discussion of pistol caliber carbines, he omits the Hi-Point Carbine which is one of most popular pistol caliber carbines on the market.

                      Another issue I had with Towsley's book is that he glosses over or omits some information; for instance, we rarely hear anything negative about a particular weapon or design.  He seems to find a reason to like every gun he discusses because the reader might just need it, or you never know what type (caliber) of ammunition you might come across. So, just to be ready, he seems to contend that you need one of everything under the sun.

                The Ugly...

                      The ugly part about Towsley's book is that it comes off like standing around the counter at a gun store listening to someone shoot the breeze without checking any facts or figures, or descending into pure hyperbole. For instance, he has a chapter on handgun stopping power, but doesn't actually look at the results of ballistic testing or studies on the effectiveness of certain rounds. It is just a simplistic, "a carry gun caliber must start with 4".

                       Some stuff is just wrong (like his history of the development of the AK-47). Some of his comments are just silly. For instance, he writes:
                If we find our country under terrorist attack from radical Islamic forces, odds are they will have AK-47 rifles and I highly advise taking all the ammo your can find off their dead bodies.
                As if these terrorists are going to import everything they need from the Middle-East, and that we are going to be in any position to strip the bodies. "Excuse Mr. FBI man, I need to get to those terrorists so I can scavenge their left over ammo....." And some comments are so ignorant they make me cringe:
                Finally, a bolt-action rifle is very reliable, can function under conditions that will stall a semiauto and will run poor ammo that a semiauto won't tolerate.
                He obviously needs to watch some of the mud and dust tests on YouTube, or try using Tula ammo in his favorite bolt action hunting rifle.


                     So, recommendation wise, what do I think? This book is a mixed bag. If you like reading books about guns, I think you would like this book as it is an entertaining and easy read. For the prepper who wants an introduction to firearms, or to broaden your ideas about firearms, I think the book does a good job of exposing you to different firearms, even if it could have been better organized. If you are someone experienced with firearms, you may find the book entertaining, but probably aren't going to find anything new that you haven't read or heard before. As I noted throughout my review, Towsley's book sort of comes off like standing around the counter at a gun store listening to someone shoot the breeze, disjointed, full of interesting anecdotes and good advice here and there, but lacking in hard information. And since Towsley invited the comparison, I have to say that Towsley's book falls short of Tappan's Survival Guns.

                Thursday, June 14, 2018

                June 14, 2018 -- A Quick Run Around the Web

                "3 Common GUN CONTROL MYTHS Debunked"--The Philosopher (8 min.)

                • Grant Cunningham's "Hump-Day Reading List" for this week.
                • "Gay Americans are arming themselves to stay alive"--The New York Post. The Pulse Nightclub shooting really has them spooked--at least, that is what is referred to as a motivator in this article. And homosexuals should be spooked. Conservative Christians may look upon homosexuality as a sin, but it is the Muslims that are throwing homosexuals off roofs, shooting them, etc.
                • The left is getting more emboldened in its threats of physical violence: "Threats of violence against conservatives, from President Trump to me"--Ronald R. Cherry at American Thinker. The author has had his property vandalized, including killing and cutting down trees, and even had the head (just the head) of a skunk left on his front porch.
                • "How Long Will Your Handloads Survive?"--Shooting Times. A long time if stored in a dry environment. I have handloads given me by my father-in-law, which were loaded by his father sometime back in the 1950s which still shoot fine. I have mil-surplus ammunition loaded decades ago that shoot just fine. Similarly, I have powder and primers that I inherited from my father that are still good to use even after 20 or more years. And that is what the author of this article reports from his experience. 
                • "Hunting Your Best When Weather Is At It’s Worst: Tips for Success"--Guns America Blog. The author offers 7 tips. The first two are related directly to hunting success: having scope covers to protect lenses from getting wet, and having cleaning cloths to clean wet lenses on scopes or binoculars. The other points mostly have to do with keeping yourself warm and comfortable.
                • "Crank it: Freeplay Indigo Plus"--Dreaming of Sunsets Over Ochre Dunes. A review of the Freeplay Indigo lantern, which has a solar panel and crank charging capabilities. It can also be charged via a micro-USB connection, although the author says that it takes about 8 hours to fully charge the lantern. The lantern, in turn, can be used to charge other small electronic devices.
                • "Spray and Pray, Revolvers and the mighty M1 Garand"--Total Survivalist Blog. Apparently there is a segment of the survivalist/prepping community that believes that clip fed magazine rifles are superior to those that use detachable box magazines, based on the theory that the lower magazine capacity and slower reload will encourage the user to be more careful in their shooting and refrain from "spray and pray." The author of this post attempts to disabuse people of that notion. I have to agree with many of his points. The author also notes:
                There is also a layer of economic resentment or jealousy in any of these discussions. The economic classism in American society does not vanish in gun/ preparedness culture. Some folks feel compelled to say their choice, made mostly for economic reasons, is better to feel good about it. Instead of saying "I know its not ideal but its what I can afford" guys have to somehow try to justify it being a better choice. 
                I agree. The SKS, for example, is a viable option, especially in a jurisdiction that restricts the use of detachable magazines and/or limits magazine capacity. Even at prices greatly inflated over what they were originally selling for, it is cheaper than other semi-automatic defensive rifles. But being viable is not the same as being optimal. 
                       In the end, though, most defensive shootings are not going to come down to the largest magazines or how quickly a reload can be performed. 
                As a final thought despite spending however many words and an hour or so of my time guns really don't matter that much. If you look at realistic defensive shootings guns don't matter that much. It matters that a person has a loaded gun, can get that gun into play and shoot it accurately in a timely manner. Somewhere after that it matters what kind of gun the person has. 
                Other Stuff:
                • Juxtaposition this!
                       A 29-year-old Tunisian, identified only as Sief Allah H, was arrested on Wednesday before a search took place in his apartment in Cologne.
                         Investigators say he started procuring material online including seeds needed for the creation of ricin in mid-May. They said he succeeded in creating the toxin this month and investigators found it in the search of his flat. 
                            They are still investigating how the suspect planned to use the toxin, but said he was working on an attack in Germany. 
                             ... IQs have in risen in every decade since World War II, but have now begun to fall again. I have to say the trends started by those born after 1975 is worrying, and of course, they come up with all kinds of reasons and yet the word immigration is never mentioned, but here's what is kind of shocking. The level, the extent to which they calculate is this fall in IQ equates to about seven points per generation!
                                 Okay this is bordering on the catastrophic. If US IQs have fallen seven points per generation since 1975, we've got nearly two generations there so instead of a five-point decline we are talking about a decline of as much as fourteen points! And you know, this is a catastrophe! This is why you're seeing a decline in the basic functionality of United States society and of a number of the European societies,  because people simply are not fundamentally as able to to function in a modern society. They simply can't do the basic tasks that their fathers and their great-grandfathers did, and so you know, this is what you are going to experience and you can't get away from it. You cannot escape it.
                        • SJW's destroy everything: "No, 'Star Wars' Isn't Failing Because Of Hateful Trolls. It's Failing Because Kathleen Kennedy Has Done A Garbage Job."--Daily Wire. The media narrative explaining the failure of the Solo movie has been "Star Wars fatigue"--that the most recent movies were released too closely together. Never mind that the Marvel movies have been released even closer together without any sign of viewer "fatigue." But what is good for the masses isn't necessarily good enough for those that have been following the issue more closely. Thus, an alternative narrative has started to circulate blaming "toxic fans" for the problems rather than the people that actually produced the films. But as the author of this article points out, "Calling your audience a bunch of deplorables didn’t work well for Hillary Clinton; it’s not going to work well for Disney, either." The author continues:
                          Why all this effort to blame the fans for the series’ troubles? Because we must never – ever, under any circumstances – blame Kathleen Kennedy. Kennedy, you see, is woke. The Lucasfilm story group is entirely female. Their goal, according to The New York Times: “They wanted to tell beautiful stories, fulfill the expectations of loyal fans and create meaningful female characters.” The Times gushes, “Today, the Lucasfilm story group is a diverse outlier in Hollywood: five of its members are people of color, and the team includes four women and seven men. … A new, unpublished analysis of Star Wars films shows striking progress in their representation of gender and race.”
                            Thus, the fan favorite characters not only had to be killed off, but their legacy destroyed as well.

                            Wednesday, June 13, 2018

                            June 13, 2018 -- A Quick Run Around the Web

                            "Is CHINA Using SOUND WEAPONS Against the US?"--China Uncensored (7 min.). According to this video, probably not. Rather, what is suggested is that the Chinese are employing ultrasonic surveillance equipment, and people are having side effects from exposure to that equipment--perhaps multiple devices interacting at certain nodes.

                            • "Shoot/Don’t Shoot"--Active Response Training. Greg Ellifritz reminds us that just because we may find an intruder in our home doesn't mean that we need to, or would be justified in, shooting him or her. He gives a recent example where he had to apprehend a goth girl that had a psychotic break and literally didn't know what she was doing. She was non-violent, but had attempted to enter a random house. I would also remind readers of the incident in Washington where the home owner shot someone in his home, taking a shower. Apparently taking a shower was not justification for shooting the intruder, and the home owner is being prosecuted for murder (I can't find anything about a jury verdict, and his trial was postponed several times, so he may not have been tried).
                            • "Guerrilla Gardening: Our Successes and Failures"--Baugo Blades. The author reports:
                            This experiment was mostly a failure. We ran into every type of problem that could be imagined. Typically the plants would be devastated by insects but we had other problems such as seeds not germinating or the other wildlife would get to what little produce that did manage to grow. Over a period of 3 years we attempted to get a regular vegetable to grow in a wild environment. It was frustrating to say the least. The closest we came to a harvest at all was a collection of “Three Sisters” plantings that were placed on the northwest slope of a retention pond. The plants grew well but were absolutely recognizable from a distance. As the sweet corn was nearing full size, the stalks were knocked down by raccoons and the ears were eaten.
                                   "Prepping," or getting ready to live without societal support, is apparently a largely American activity, and a recent one. Companies that cater to people who want to be self-reliant for food, water, and power have grown their revenue by about 700 percent over the last decade, and prepper products are now offered in places like Costco, Kmart, and Bed Bath & Beyond.
                                     But it's not at all clear what's driving this growth—why are more people getting ready for society's collapse? Some explanations focus on a tendency toward paranoia in American society or fears of terrorism or natural disaster. But actual evidence that directly supports any of these ideas as the main reason is pretty sparse.
                                      So Michael Mills at the UK's University of Kent decided to correct this gap in our knowledge. Mills went on an American road trip, spending time talking to (and butchering animals with) 39 preppers in 18 different US states. Rather than rampant paranoia, Mills suggests, preppers are motivated by non stop media coverage of natural disasters, as well as a government that encourages them to prepare for the worst.
                                          Triggering mechanics are very important to good groups. Without good technique and, mostly an awareness of technique, sight movement, which of course is also rifle movement, can be introduced. Better control comes when only the first pad of the index finger touches the trigger face. Of massive importance is that the trigger finger touches nothing else! Don’t let it push in on the pistol grip. Because of the relatively very short distance from trigger face to the leading edge of the pistol grip, it’s a challenge for those with even mid-size hands to get handhold position. Most find they have better command when they have to “reach” their finger a little to engage the trigger––thicker front to back pistol grips help.

                                           Press the trigger using only pressure from the finger, and move the trigger straight back. It’s a completely isolated movement when done right. Watch for movement or tension in the first finger joint (the one nearest the hand). This first joint should be dead still. If you dry fire a rested rifle and watch sight movement, this should teach you all you need to know. Make adjustments in technique until it quiets down. Watch especially for side to side or tilting—or both—sight movement, usually caused by either the trigger finger pressing against the pistol grip, or first-joint finger movement or having the finger too far “across” the trigger face.
                                    • This article was linked to in yesterday's Woodpile Report. If you haven't read it, you should: "The Coming Civil War (United States), Cool Maps, and Uncomfortable Truths"--Wilder, Wealthy & Wise. The author references a map from Colin Woodward and Tufts University, and Brian Stauffer, depicting the 11 cultures that they contend make up the United States, and compares it to a map showing the Trump/Clinton results (on a county level), and how well they correspond. He also writes:
                                             So, we have a civil war.  What’s the end look like?
                                                  I don’t think that the things that have held us together as a nation will continue to hold us together.  What values do we have in common anymore?  It seems like . . . none. 

                                          Other Stuff:
                                          Eventually, probably sooner rather than later, Christians (and Jews and everyone else who holds to the biblical view of sexuality and marriage) will be asked to cheer for the cultural revolution—with gusto. And for many, their enthusiasm (or lack of it) will determine whether they'll be able to keep their job. How will you choose? Will you obey God rather than men? If you choose to be obedient to God, there will be a price to pay for your faithfulness.
                                          • Related: A comment at Vox Day's blog on this issue: "The sodomites moved from 'gay marriage won't affect you!' to 'celebrate us or we'll destroy your livelihood!' faster than tuberculosis in an AIDS-ravaged immune system."
                                          • Undermining the Constitution: "National Popular Vote Movement Continues to Quietly Neutralize the Electoral College"--PJ Media. Progressives, including some nominally on the right, want to further diminish the role of states and the protections for less populous states enshrined in the Constitution, and instead base presidential elections on the national popular vote. Of course, it would take a Constitutional amendment to get rid of the Electoral College. In an attempt at an end run around it, the movement has been seeking to get states to voluntarily assign their electoral votes according to the national popular vote, regardless of the outcome in the particular state. So far 10 states plus the District of Columbia have agreed to such a compact, with Connecticut the latest state to sign up. This is how you get civil war.
                                          • A plan to turn California into three "blue" states: "Plan to divide California into THREE states will be put to voters in November after billionaire's petition gains more than 400,000 signatures"--Daily Mail. If you look at the map, the northern proposed state would be dominated by San Francisco and Oakland, thus rendering it a democratic stronghold. The proposed coastal state is essentially L.A. and its environs, and would also be blue. The third state, comprising the interior and southern part of California, would be dominated by San Diego. So, in reality, this is merely an attempt to boost the number of electoral votes that California would have in Presidential elections, while making sure that those votes still go to the Democratic candidate.
                                          • "A Modest Observation About Suicide"--Andrew Klavan at PJ Media. Suicide rates have climbed over the last few decades, even as anti-depressants are being prescribed in record amounts. Klavan writes:
                                          This is what I believe. The over-prescription of anti-depressants represents a trend in scientific thinking away from a true understanding of human life as a spiritual matter, and toward the idea that we are walking chemistry sets that can be adjusted to taste. I think this trend is utterly mistaken, the idea completely wrong.
                                                 Attacks of this sort [the "knockout game"] have been rampant in St. Louis. But they have also occurred in Massachusetts, Wisconsin and elsewhere. In Illinois the game has often been called “Polar Bear Hunting” by the young thugs, presumably because the targets are white.
                                                   The main reason for many people’s surprise is that the mainstream media have usually suppressed news about the “knockout game” or about other and larger forms of similar orchestrated racial violence in dozens of cities in every region of the country. Sometimes the attacks are reported, but only as isolated attacks by unspecified “teens” or “young people” against unspecified victims, without any reference to the racial makeup of the attackers or the victims — and with no mention of racial epithets by the young hoodlums exulting in their own “achievement.”
                                                     Despite such pious phrases as “troubled youths,” the attackers are often in a merry, festive mood. In a sustained mass attack in Milwaukee, going far beyond the dimensions of a passing “knockout game,” the attackers were laughing and eating chips, as if it were a picnic. One of them observed casually, “white girl bleed a lot.”

                                              Tuesday, June 12, 2018

                                              June 12, 2018 -- A Quick Run Around the Web

                                              "Inside the ruins of Beatles' producer George Martin's iconic AIR recording studio that once produced big pop hits for Paul McCartney, Sting and Elton John but is now rotting away in the shadow of a volcano"--Daily Mail. The home/studio is on the island of Montserrat. It was abandoned in 1989 after being severely damaged by hurricane Hugo, and has suffered from ash fall from the Soufrière Hills volcano. Other photographs in the article show interior shots, as well as photographs from before its abandonment.  

                                              Tuesday Afternoon Delight:

                                              • "CDC Warns Residents in Eight U.S. States of Cut-Fruit Salmonella Outbreak"--U.S. News & World Report (H/t Instapundit). The fruit are watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew, and mixed fruit containing any of those. "The recalled products were distributed to Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, North Carolina, and Ohio and sold in clear, plastic containers at stores including Costco Wholesale Corp, Kroger Co, Payless, Owen’s, Sprouts, Trader Joe’s, Walgreens, Walmart Inc, and Whole Foods, a unit of Inc."
                                              • "The HK MP5 vs. the Walther MPL – Alternative History"--Guns American Blog. The Walther MPL was the last of the WWII generation of submachine guns, made from stamped parts and shooting from an open bolt. The MP5, of course, represented the post-WWII era of weapons, in that while it used stampings for some parts of the weapon, also used quite of bit of machining, incorporated plastic furniture, and was expected to deliver better accuracy by dint of firing from a closed bolt. Both were used in military operations that seemed to presage the fate of the weapon. The Walther was part of the armaments used by Delta Force in the failed 1980 Operation Eagle Claw intended to rescue American hostages held at the American Embassy in Iran. The weapon faded into relative obscurity with production ending a few years later. The MP5 was prominently used by the British SAS in their storming of the Iranian Embassy, which suddenly made the MP5 a "must have" for SWAT type units all over the world.
                                              • "SALVAGING RECHARGEABLES FOR PROJECTS"--Instructables. Surprisingly, some of the best sources, according to this article, are the battery packs for old laptop computers. The author describes the tools and equipment you will need to recover and test the batteries, sources of batteries, how to remove them from whatever device or packaging they are in, and how to perform the testing.
                                              • "5 Critical Mistakes Made by Defensive Gun Owners"--Sheriff Jim Wilson at Shooting Illustrated opines on what he thinks are five common mistakes: (1) not learning how to use their firearm effectively through practice and familiarity. (2) (Which is related to #1 in my opinion) rotating your concealed carry gun too often. This isn't the fact of carrying different weapons under different circumstances, but changing them just for the sake of changing them. They aren't underwear where you need a fresh pair every day. (3) Not carrying a round in the chamber. Very bad, especially if you can't use both hands. As I've said before, if you are worried about an accidental discharge, then use a double-action revolver. (4) Not having a light for night time use. This doesn't have to be a gun mounted light (although that can be handy). I keep a flashlight on my nightstand--it is the first thing I grab if I'm awoken by a strange noise. 999 times out of 1,000, it has been one of our cats or the dog, or someone else in the household. And (5), not seeking out qualified firearms training. 
                                              • "The .303 British"--Shooting Illustrated. A nice history of the cartridge as well as some information for reloaders. This is an example of learning something new everyday for me. I had always thought that the .303 was developed to make use of smokeless powder, but, according to this article, the cartridge started out as a blackpowder round just before the advent of the British using smokeless powder. 
                                              • "Balanced Recoil Sporting Rifles: A Brief History (SR-1, Saiga 107, AK15, AK 107)"--The Firearms Blog. These are weapons that use a moving counterweight to offset the movement of the bolt carrier. The Russians seem to be the only country trying to develop these weapons, and has certainly come the farthest. 
                                              • "Freedom: The Constant Infant"--Christian Mercenary. The author offers the following analogy:
                                              Freedom must be maintained, it must be protected and defended. It is an infant, a constant infant. Freedom never grows up and is able to fend for itself. It never moves out and walks its own path. Without active and violent defense, it is a meal for the circling wolves of government, of tyrants. That is a distinction without a difference as there is no government without tyranny.
                                                     Rivers and watering holes are drying up, popular mountain recreation spots are closing and water restrictions are in full swing as a persistent drought intensifies its grip on pockets of the American Southwest.
                                                       Climatologists and other experts on Wednesday provided an update on the situation in the Four Corners region — where Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado and Utah meet. They say the area is among the hardest hit and there's little relief expected, and even robust summer rains might not be enough to replenish the soil and ease the fire danger.
                                                         The region is dealing with exceptional drought — the worst category. That has left farmers, ranchers and water planners bracing for a much different situation than just a year ago when only a fraction of the region was experiencing low levels of dryness.
                                                    Something to consider is that California already uses more than its share of water from the Colorado based on prior interstate agreements on divvying up the water. Yet California also receives much greater precipitation than the other Southwest states. But it hasn't (refuses!) to develop the infrastructure, including new dams and reservoirs, to collect and manage the water it receives. At this point, the other Southwest states are essentially subsidizing California's refusal to take responsibility to properly conserve and manage its own state water resources.

                                                    Other Stuff:
                                                              An idea in psychology known as affect-as-information theory holds that your mood can temporarily shape how you see the world. In this way, when you’re hungry, you may view things in a more negative light than when you’re not hungry. But here’s the twist.
                                                                People are most likely to be guided by their feelings when they’re not paying attention to them. This suggests that people may become hangry when they aren’t actively focused on their internal feelings, but instead wrapped up in the world around them, such as that terrible driver or that customer’s rude comment.
                                                        • "The Great Mexican Train Robberies"--War Is Boring. The article starts off describing a particular train derailment which is believed to have been the result of sabotage. From there, the article reports:
                                                                 There has been a 476-percent increase of the number of robberies similar to the one that occurred in Orizaba, according to Confederation of the Industrial Chambers, when the first quarter of this year was compared to the first quarter of last year. There were also six previous derailments of trains in April and May 2018.
                                                                   In the first quarter of 2018, there was a robbery of a train every 2.5 hours, according to the Regulatory Agency for Rail Transport. The main products that have been robbed from the thefts of cargo trains have been grain and flour, finished consumer products, auto parts and construction materials.
                                                                      Though it’s not clear if any goods were stolen from the trains that crashed around Orizaba, it is likely this was the motive because of the previous theft of cargo trains in the area and the tactic of sabotage being used prior. There has also been suspicion that the sabotage was in retaliation for the company not paying a “floor payment” that the criminal organization had demanded.
                                                                        The supposed person behind the sabotaging and robberies of the trains in the area is Roberto De Los Santos De Jesus, known as El Bukanans. After the derailment in Orizaba on May 19, 2018, the reward for information that leads to his arrest was increased from one million pesos to five million pesos.
                                                                         His experience is indicative of the criminal organizations and their involvement in criminal enterprises other than drug trafficking. Originally a police officer, he defected in 2012 to join the Zetas. After that organization splintered, he went to join the Zeta Nueva Sangre and then subsequently head the organization. Under his rule, authorities believe, the group began to rob trains.
                                                                  • Related: "Criminals lurk by rail tracks for robbery like the old west"--Borderland Beat. The author of this piece notes: "The theft and derailing of trains is not only an issue of concern about the losses of the companies involved; it is a matter of national security, if there is a chemical spill or collisions among the communities alongside the railway routes."
                                                                  • Related: "The Rocket Man and the Dotard"--Richard Fernandez at PJ Media. Money quote: "Speaking from his hotel suite by Lake Zurich, billionaire patron of liberal causes George Soros lamented the fate of the globalized world. 'Everything that could go wrong has gone wrong,' he said." And, as Fernandez discusses in the rest of the article, it appears that globalization has been set back, and some of the intelligentsia are wondering if it was a big mistake, or even a scam.
                                                                    "Over the past two years, I’ve made significant efforts to change the direction of the channel, change the videos, and to change my own beliefs and views around firearms and firearm ownership," the YouTuber said (emphasis added). "Unfortunately, I’ve failed to bring the channel and the videos to the standard that the police feel is adequate and I only have myself to blame for this."
                                                                      As Glenn Reynolds has remarked about similar behavior in the United States, gun control isn't about crime, but to make sure the peasants know their place.
                                                                               In any event, turning to the article at question, Dreher is aghast at the latest trends among the left to sexualize children: 
                                                                          Now, normalizing drag queens for children is the big woke thing. We’ve had Drag Queen Story Hours in libraries nationwide. Now Netflix is turning drag queens into animated superheroes, and RuPaul’s streaming service is turning drag queens into child superheroes.
                                                                            Dreher is upset not only with Christians that seem to be unaware of what is happening, but also with himself:
                                                                              And what bothers me is … my own increasingly threadbare stance of trying to figure out how to be tolerant in a culture where the people pushing this stuff are crushing people like us and brainwash our children.
                                                                                However, rather than pursue that thought that perhaps it is the tolerance that is the problem, he falls back onto his standby of what he calls the Benedict option--Christians essentially giving up the battlefield and falling back to form their own insular communities (much like Hasidic Jews, I suppose). I've read Dreher's book on The Benedict Option, and while I agree with much of his diagnosis, I don't think he offers a cure. As I've noted before, historically religious communities could follow a "Benedict option" because they could actually retreat to an area where they were "out of sight and out of mind" to the anti-Christians. That is no longer possible, and the near eradication of Christians in the Middle-East over the last century or so should be ample proof of this. The left is not going to let us live in peace, and the whole wedding cake maker incident and similar are proof of that. 
                                                                                         There was also some other disquiet I felt with Dreher's "Benedict option" that I couldn't put a finger on until just recently, as I was rereading Matthew. Dreher is, in essence, telling us that we need to put our candle under a bush to hide it from the world--exactly the opposite of what the Lord teaches. And Christ, while he did not generally seek out conflict with his enemies, certainly didn't shirk from pointing out their flaws and rocking them back on their heels when they confronted him. I feel that the cultural war is intensifying as the left senses victory, and that our withdrawal will assist rather than hurt the left. 
                                                                                           Vox Day has suggested, in response to Dreher's article, that perhaps the correct answer is violence, since peaceful protest has not done anything for the cause. This is a dangerous area, because we are specifically warned in Revelation that those that live by the sword shall die by the sword, and the Lord has reserved vengeance to himself. (I had a professor that joked that the reason for this is that revenge is so sweet, God doesn't want to share it). We can act in self-defense, but going beyond that of our own accord appears to me, at least at this time, as going against the word of the Lord. But we must choose sides, lest we become the tepid water that Christ will spit out. (Rev. 3:16).
                                                                                           However, there are other types of violence--the voting booth for one. Christians, if they united, could form a strong voting bloc that could reverse our fortunes. But we would need a vitality shown by Second Amendment supporters. We also need to engage in tactics of 4th Generation Warfare, including alternate media so that we know that many others agree with us. Contrary to recent Supreme Court decisions, there is no preference cascade in favor of the sexual depravities that are dumped on us day by day, but we need to communicate this to ourselves and the public. And it needs to be proclaimed from the pulpit as well. Our children should not be afraid to say that homosexuality, transgenderism, and similar are wrong.
                                                                                             It is unfortunate that most churches are so caught up with tolerance that they are blinded to their duty to rid themselves of those that will merely mislead others. For instance, we read in Revelation:
                                                                                               And unto the angel of the church in Thyatira write; These things saith the Son of God, who hath his eyes like unto a flame of fire, and his feet are like fine brass;
                                                                                                I know thy works, and charity, and service, and faith, and thy patience, and thy works; and the last to be more than the first.
                                                                                                  Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols.
                                                                                                     And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not.
                                                                                                       Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds.
                                                                                                         And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works.
                                                                                                    (Revelation 2:18-23). This does not speak of tolerance of those that lead members into pathways of sin. We have to understand that many of those that preach tolerance today claim to be speaking for God (i.e., a prophet or prophetess) and want us to partake of fornication and the modern equivalent of "eat[ing] things sacrificed unto idols." This must be forcefully rejected. And, yes, people will become offended and stumble because of this. That fact didn't bother Christ, and we shouldn't let it bother us. Of course we want to reach out to the sinner, but we don't want his or her sins. If they want to be part of the Church, they need to cast their sins aside. The Church may be a hospital for sinners, but it isn't intended as a source of infection.

                                                                                                    Monday, June 11, 2018

                                                                                                    June 11, 2018 -- A Quick Run Around the Web

                                                                                                    So much for the theory that a shotgun won't penetrate interior walls. I will acknowledge that the test may not be as accurate as we like, since there is no insulation in the walls. On the other hand, the test only involves #4 buckshot which the individual pellets of which have less momentum than you would see with a 00 buckshot pellet. Greater momentum generally equates to deeper penetration, so I would expect 00 buckshot to actually penetrate farther than the #4.

                                                                                                    • "A very worthy new Combat Magnum revolver"--Bayou Renaissance Man. A look at S&W's new "Combat Magnum," which is a short barreled version of the Model 69. The Model 69 is a .44 Magnum that uses an L-frame (rather than the larger N-frame), which makes it substantially lighter than S&W's other .44 Magnum offerings. However, the smaller frame also means that the weapon is limited to 5 rounds in the cylinder.
                                                                                                    • Of course, there are other options: "Centimeter Revolver: Ruger 10mm GP100 Part I"--Revolver Guy. The GP100 is roughly the same size as a S&W L-frame. This is a 6-shot revolver. While you can use it without moon-clips, you will in such instances have to eject the spent rounds individually since the star is designed to use with the moonclip and the cases are rimless.
                                                                                                    • Op-Sec lesson: "Your Phone Is Listening and it's Not Paranoia"--Vice. If you use voice activation features on your phone, it is no coincidence that the subjects of your conversations may suddenly appear in the advertisements being offered to you. I would be suspicious of the phone listening, however, even if it has not been voice enabled.
                                                                                                    • "Is the Mouse Gun a Dying Breed?"--American Rifleman. "Mouse gun" is the derogative term used for ultra-small handguns, typically chambered in .22 LR, .25 ACP, .32 ACP, and, occasionally, .380. Since the size and weight is a major factor why people buy these handguns, I would say that there are not going to be disappearing anytime soon. Yes, the availability of larger calibers in smaller packages have undoubtedly cut into the market, in that someone might now pick a small 9 mm like the Glock 43, whereas before he or she might have elected to go with a smaller .380 or .32. Where I think this loss will be most pronounced will be the heavier, all-steel, "mouse guns" such as the Beretta and Taurus models.
                                                                                                            Las Vegas hotels believed to have hired the new teams include Wynn Hotels, Sands Hotels - which owns the Palazzo and the Venetian - and MGM Resorts, which owns the Aria and the site of last year's shooting, Mandalay Bay.
                                                                                                               New hires include former FBI agents, Special Forces operatives and highly-trained embassy guards, as well as Iraq and Afghanistan veterans who have served in dangerous war zones.
                                                                                                                According to security sources with knowledge of the increased security, it's understood the crack squads were assembled before Christmas during a secret recruitment and selection process.
                                                                                                                 It was a gruesome murder: A 14-year-old girl was raped and strangled, her body buried under brushwood in a secluded area near the railway tracks near her hometown in western Germany.
                                                                                                                    But the fact that the chief suspect is an Iraqi asylum seeker has turned a terrible crime into political dynamite.
                                                                                                                     On Friday, the case dominated the German news media and became the latest cudgel for Chancellor Angela Merkel’s opponents and, some predicted, a potential turning point in the migration debate in a country where some 10,000 asylum seekers still enter every month.
                                                                                                                       There is no doubt the murder has given ammunition to those who want to get tougher, led by the far right, who are waging a widening challenge to what they contend is the government’s botched handling of asylum cases.
                                                                                                                         The killing comes on top of a deepening scandal and calls for a full-blown parliamentary investigation over allegations that civil servants may have granted asylum to as many as 1,000 migrants in exchange for money — and that some of those migrants may have been criminals or even terrorism suspects.
                                                                                                                          The murder suspect, identified as Ali Bashar, a 20-year-old Iraqi, arrived in Germany in October 2015, shortly after Ms. Merkel opened the borders to hundreds of thousands of migrants. He was rejected in late 2016, but was allowed to stay in the country while his appeal was pending.
                                                                                                                            “If he had been deported, she would still be alive,” read a headline in the country’s largest tabloid, Bild, which devoted two pages to the case.
                                                                                                                               He came to the attention of the police several times, involving allegations of jostling a police officer, robbing a passer-by and carrying a knife.
                                                                                                                                  Last Saturday, he and seven other members of his family managed to flee the country, boarding a plane in Düsseldorf with papers apparently issued by the Iraqi Consulate but featuring false names, after paying cash for a one-way fare to Istanbul and then on to Iraq, where he has since been arrested.
                                                                                                                            Unmentioned in the NYT article is that the murdered girl was Jewish, which at least should raise the question if it may have played a role in her murder. 
                                                                                                                                    The four most populous states in the union are now natally majority-minority. ...
                                                                                                                                      In Texas, it's one-in-three. The putatively rock-ribbed Republican stronghold is undergoing a demographic transformation that will turn it purple and then blue. Texas is to my knowledge the only state in the country where whites vote more strongly Republican than non-whites vote Democrat. They do so only marginally, though--the white and non-white votes are essentially the inverse of one another. This means when non-whites reach an electoral majority in the lone star state, it'll move to the Democrat column.
                                                                                                                                        The Southwest is lost. It's past time for political dissolution. A decade ago, we were mocked for advocating secession. In a decade, we'll be on the cusp of it.
                                                                                                                                • Herschel Smith responds to a Washington Post op-ed by Michael Gerson calling for gun control, and delivers a warning:
                                                                                                                                         We do not look to the state to provide, protect and give us cradle to grave security like you do Michael.  It might be “scary” to you that we’re armed the way we are.  That’s by intent, for our armaments are not only for our own personal protection, but amelioration of tyranny.  We aren’t “legitimate protectors of your rights,” we are legitimate protectors of our rights.  People like us believe that the Mr. David French you cite is too progressive and we pay little attention to him.  You mustn’t forget the history of gun control, with the Armenian genocide, Pol Pot, Idi Amin, Hitler and The Third Reich, and Stalin, all of whose regimes were preceded by gun confiscations and gun control laws.  Deaths at the hands of tyrants in the last century approached 200 million souls.
                                                                                                                                           So the best and quickest way to ensure the war you apparently fear is to keep pushing government control and disarmament.  Do it at your own peril, Michael.  Your secure home and lifestyle inside the beltway may not be as secure as you think if you can’t control that controller impulse in yourself.
                                                                                                                                  Every peer developed country in the world has the same cultural mixture of mental health issues, aggrieved entitled young white males who believe life has denied them the power, wealth, or influence they believe they’re entitled to (i.e., the profile of almost every single mass shooter in American history, especially in the hundreds of mass shootings in recent decades), violent video games, drugs, pornography, lost jobs, divorces, bullying, and everything else. But this isn’t a problem in a single one of our peer developed countries, where shooting deaths over the last several decades can be counted on one hand compared to our thousands of shooting deaths in a single year.
                                                                                                                                  Well, actually, Mr. Fowles, the mass shooters in our "peer developed countries" are generally Muslim. And as for the United States, the "thousands of shooting deaths" every year of which you write are not committed by "aggrieved entitled young white males," but young black and Hispanic males. And what "hundreds of mass shootings in recent decades"? Not even the most ardent anti-self-defense pundits claim so many. So, you are lying in order to make your argument. "Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them." You, Mr. Fowles, use lies to reach an unrighteous conclusion that innocent people should be disarmed and made helpless in the face of evil. Truly your fruits expose you for who you are.