Friday, August 30, 2019

Must See TV: "CLIMATE FORCING | Our Future is Cold"

"CLIMATE FORCING | Our Future is Cold"--Suspicious Observers (60 min.)
A look at the various ways that the Sun and cosmic rays can affect the climate, including that we are coming out of a period of a grand solar maximum, which will result in cooler weather long term.

August 30, 2019 -- A Quick Run Around the Web


"Stun Gun Test with Untrained Female | Sabre vs. Vipertek Stun Gun/Flashlight Review"--Hard2Hurt (11 min.). The basic setup here is that the narrator attacks a woman armed with a stun gun to see how effective it can be in fights. They tried it both with her starting with the stun gun in her purse and in her hand. The takeaway is that the woman was better off just using her fighting skills than trying to bring the stun gun into play.

  • TGIF: "Weekend Knowledge Dump- August 30, 2019"--Active Response Training. Lots of good stuff, so check it out.
  • Nice to know: "More Guns, Less Crime: Concealed-carry Permit Holders More Law-abiding Than Police"--New American
  • For you firearms history buffs: "Remington Model 7188"--Loose Rounds. A full auto version of the Remington 1100 built for SEALs in Vietnam. And the perennial problem with a shotgun in combat: "Like most people, it didn’t take long for the end users to stop being impressed with the amount of lead that could be slung compared to the amount of time it took to reload the shotgun once fired empty." 
  • "Starting From Scratch: A Budget Load Out"--The New Rifleman. As the author notes, we are constantly bombarded with advertising and review articles/videos showing the latest and greatest equipment ... which also happens to also be expensive. So the author is starting a series on more economical load outs for people on actual budgets. And his recommendation, after getting a rifle, as the most basic load out is the MOLLE II Bandoleer 6 magazine ammo pouch or similar which can be found for under $10. I started out with something similar. One thing to keep in mind (and the author notes this as well) is that these older mag pouches will not work with PMag magazines because they are thicker. So if you go this route, you should use metal mags, such as the standard GI, or, as I did, a quality aftermarket version. I decided to go with the C-Products stainless steel magazines. In any event, the author continues:
I chose to outfit this bandoleer with four magazines and a basic first aid kit. With this setup, you will have 150 rounds on tap (assuming loaded rifle) with a TQ for any limb injuries that could occur. The kit is basic, but by simply bringing this to the range with you, you are likely more prepared than 99% of gun owners. That’s kinda sad, but it’s reality.
Dry fire training can help you learn your gun’s operation, understand your trigger pull, learn your sights, and even help eliminate your flinch reaction–a pretty good deal for just a few minutes of training a day and no ammo expenses.
The bulk of the article deals with safety issues, specific exercises or drills, and the best time to dry fire (right after a session of live fire practice). While most firearms can be safely used for dry fire practice, the authors note (as you probably already know) that most rim-fire weapons should not be dry-fired, and:
    Other firearms that may not be safe to dry fire include older guns, such as revolvers without a transfer bar or some older semi-automatics. Without a primer or a transfer bar in place, the firing pin can over travel and strike the sides of the firing pin channel.
      Of course, even with such firearms, you can use snap caps. The author finishes up the article with a look at some dry-fire accessories out there.
      •  Mason Dixon Tactical has a few articles on SHTF firearms:
      • "Firearms For Freedom And Forage-Part 1, Long Guns For Defense." The author seems to prefer the .308 to 5.56, with his favorite being an M1A SOCOM. Just keep in mind that if you are using full metal jacket rounds, the 5.56 will be more effective than the 7.62/.308 within 150 yards because of its greater propensity to yaw or fragment with it strikes a target. But, since you are not military, you are not limited to FMJ....  The author also notes one of the downsides to the AR platform:
               From a maintenance perspective, the AR platform is in “Armorer Speak” a “Depot Whore”. By this I mean it is very high on the preventative maintenance needs/parts replacement scale. As long as you replace certain parts regularly, you should have no issues with it’s reliability. Lacking those extra parts for the regular PMCS needed, will give you a rifle that could fail you at any moment in TEOTWAWKISTAN.
               I definitely will recommend the AR to individuals and groups. That being said, it’s always with the caveat that you better have someone who knows how to work on the weapon (in perspective, it is a pretty easy system to work on) and have a ton of extra parts for the long term. BTW, I will not recommend the AR-10 systems to anyone, considering the number of military Armorers and “End Users” I’ve spoken with, concerning the AR-10/M110’s lack of reliability in the field. Also, given the lack of standardized design across the civilian industry in the AR-10 type rifle designs, it takes away from the reason many want an AR type rifle to begin with, which is “Commonality”.
          Most people who’ve read my posts know I’m a .45ACP fan for a Survivalist’s defensive pistols. My reasoning is simple. The .45ACP cartridge is the best auto pistol round made if you are forced to use the least effective bullet design, which is the the round nose lead or jacketed bullet. Without expansion, it is already almost half an inch in diameter.
          He continues by discussing specific handguns that he likes.
          • "Shot in the Back! How does it happen?"--Active Response Training. The author notes certain factors that could lead to a perpetrator being shot in the back: a second officer coming to the assistance of an officer grappling with the perp; or a pursuing officer shooting to stop an armed and dangerous criminal. But there are some physiological and perceptive reasons as well: (i) moving targets (e.g., a criminal turning to shoot at an officer in pursuit); (ii) reaction time; and (iii) suspect movements. 
                 I mentioned the issue of reaction time a bit with Michael Drejka and why he might have fired at his attacker even though his attacker had started to step away from him. Ellifritz explains this important issue:
                   It takes time for the brain to process information and make a decision.  The more complex the situation, the longer it takes to make the decision.  Here are some statistics:
              – On average it takes .25 seconds to react to a threat cue and begin to act.
                – If that reaction to a threat cue involves a decision (i.e. “Is the thing in his hand a gun or a cell phone?”) the reaction time time is increased to an average of .56 seconds.
                  – The average officer takes  .35 seconds to process the fact that a threat no longer exists and to stop shooting.
                    – The average officer fires one bullet every .25 seconds after he begins to fire
                             Do you see the problem?  Let’s say the bad guy is facing the officer and begins shooting.  The officer starts shooting back and hits the bad guy.  Bad guy drops the gun and spins away as the bullets hit him.  It takes the officer .35 seconds to recognize that the bad guy is no longer a threat.  He is firing a bullet every .25 seconds.  That means the officer will generally fire one to two rounds AFTER making the decision to stop shooting.   It’s very easy for those bullets to end up in the criminal’s back.
                             This is the BEST possible case scenario.  Other factors can slow reaction time even more. ...
                          Similar delays can result if the suspect moves. For instance, he might fire and turn to run, before your brain has processed the information and you have already begun to fire. Read the whole thing.
                                   What is the number one thing that comes up in all survival fiction? What are the characters always searching for, working on or struggling with when it comes to SHTF entertainment? 
                                   It’s food. It’s always food. 
                              • Current events: "Florida Residents Stocking Up On Supplies Ahead Of Hurricane Dorian’s Arrival"--CBS Miami. The article links to other resources for hurricane preparedness, including the stations own preparedness guide (PDF) with tips, emergency numbers, and sources of information for southern Florida.
                              • "Vanilla is so Expensive – Make your Own!"--Apartment Prepper. Vanilla extract is expensive, but surprisingly, vanilla beans can be fairly reasonably priced. And making vanilla is easy: essentially you just put the vanilla bean in alcohol and allow it to steep for a period of time (generally the longer, the better, but it probably will take at least a few weeks--you can tell by the color of the tincture). The author if this article recommends using vodka, but "choose a decent brand; not the most expensive, but not the cheap stuff either." My wife and I have made our own vanilla extract for years. Although we started out using vodka, we switched to using Everclear grain alcohol, and specifically the 151 or 190 proof. We found that the higher alcohol content extracted the vanilla more quickly than vodka, and, being a straight grain alcohol, there was better flavor. Note that Everclear is not legal to purchase in several states, and the proof may vary based on state law. For instance, we cannot find it where we live in Idaho, and have discovered that the proof offered in Nevada is different from Oregon.
                              • "OPED: Ham radios as emergency backup communications in Rio Blanco County"--Herald Times. An interesting discussion of one man's work at expanding HAM in the area he lives, including setting up a repeater. As for testing for your first license, he writes:
                                So what does it take to become an amateur radio operator? The licensing process has been established by the FCC however, the testing process is managed by fellow hams who volunteer to be test proctors through an organization called the Amateur Radio Relay League (ARRL). The multiple-choice test is not difficult and with a little study, pretty much anyone can pass it. Contrary to popular belief, there is no longer a requirement to learn Morse Code for the test. It’s just a written test now. As mentioned above, the technician class license is all that is required to use the 2-meter band. One test and you’re good for 10 years. 
                                • "33 Prepper Uses for Aluminum Foil"--Urban Survival Site. A few of the ideas are a little silly, but most are useful. At the minimum, it is a good exercise for figuring out other uses for items that you might have in your cupboards or drawers.
                                • "The Survival e-Reader"--Blue Collar Prepping. The biggest advantage to using an e-reader is that you can store an incredible number of books in a small volume. The author has some suggestions as to readers and some accessories.
                                • "Prepping Around the World (How and Why Countries Are Prepping)"--The Survivalist Blog. I have frequently come across articles or comments from "preppers" in other countries that really don't like visiting prepper blogs in the United States because, they believe, we place too much emphasis on firearms. Well, that's because (a) we are generally free to purchase firearms, (b) they are a lot of fun, and (c) armed conflict seems more likely when you live in a society as diverse as in America. In any event, this is an interesting article providing a quick look at prepping trends in different countries around the world.
                                • "Are We Rome?" by Lawrence W. Reed. Free PDF download at the link, plus links to various articles and videos.
                                • "American Civil War: Four Fates, From Freedom to Soviet Tyranny"--Wilder Wealthy and Wise. Wilder continues his series on Civil War 2, moving from possible causes of conflict, to possible outcomes. He begins by noting where we are, which is not a very good place: the left has co-opted nearly every organization of importance in the United States.
                                         In almost any context, these organizations reflect the values of the Left, not of the Right.  I specifically don’t use the label conservative here – the conservative movement has utterly failed in the United States (to quote absolutely everyone) to conserve anything.  We live a country where adults telling four year old boys that being a girl is okie-dokie (and vice-versa) aren’t thrown directly in prison for a decade or more (after a trial, of course) for child abuse.  The goals of the above organizations would be cause for mass revolt if they had been publicized in 1990, but now, despite no vote, no public acceptance, each point of the Left has been accepted as the new normal.
                                         And telling a boy that he’s a girl?  Oh, wait, that’s brave.  Sorry.
                                           Despite all of that, this is not a post about giving up.  Screw that.  Each day makes me more independent, not less, more wanting to tell the truth.
                                             And if you’re reading this, no one is done here.  Freedom is always the underdog.  I really wish we’d just stop waiting until 2:00 in the fourth quarter to start playing.
                                          Unfortunately, to restore the United States that true conservatives would like would require "the bloodiest war in the history of the country." Other options might be returning to a true federation of independent states, instead of the centralized government we now have. About as likely as winning the lottery in my opinion. A third option is secession. However, this didn't work out very well the first time it was tried. My own opinion is that this will only come at the cost of a war and/or economic collapse (e.g., the Soviet Union). The final outcome that the author sees is to go the way we are going, and eventually see new populations force old populations into gulags, reservations, or forced labor camps, or whatever you want to call it.

                                            A look at the 1692 earthquake that destroyed Port Royal, Jamaica. A good example of why you don't want to build your house (or bordello for that matter) on sand. And, of course, pirates, because every story is better with pirates.
                                                    Marco Valerio Verni has threatened to display blown-up images of the victim, which left her unrecognizable, “To remind those in power of the catastrophic effects of illegal immigration.”
                                                      The original hearing into Mastropietro’s murder was held behind closed doors because of the extremely gruesome nature of the photos, but now Verni is vowing to go public with the images if Italy’s new government once again approves the arrival of migrant boats arriving at Italian ports.
                                                       “Every day we are bombarded with tearful images of barges loaded with migrants that the Left would like to receive without worrying about the consequences. The same Left that remained silent when Pamela was raped and murdered with unspeakable ferocity,” said Verni.
                                                  DARPA tweeted on Wednesday that within the next 48 hours it must find a “human-made underground environment spanning several city blocks with complex layout & multiple stories, including atriums, tunnels & stairwells. Spaces that are currently closed off from pedestrians or can be temporarily used for testing are of interest.”
                                                         For years, New York City has essentially maintained two parallel public school systems.
                                                          A group of selective schools and programs geared to students labeled gifted and talented is filled mostly with white and Asian children. The rest of the system is open to all students and is predominantly black and Hispanic.
                                                           Now, a high-level panel appointed by Mayor Bill de Blasio is recommending that the city do away with most of these selective programs in an effort to desegregate the system, which has 1.1 million students and is by far the largest in the country.
                                                      Actually, there are three levels: the gifted and talented programs (which are optional for the school district), regular classes, and the special education programs (which are mandatory). 
                                                            A Cameroonian migrant, Esteban Azu, 37, said he paid human smugglers $8,000 to get him into the U.S. He said his journey took him from his home country to Turkey, Ecuador, Colombia, Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala, and finally to Mexico, Animal Politico reported.
                                                              “I arrived in Tapachula a month ago. I left Cameroon and went directly to Ecuador. From there to Colombia. I climbed mountains, walked through the jungle, to find this shit,” Azu expressed. “This shit! They don’t feed me. They don’t give me anything. I am very angry with the government of Mexico. This is not normal. This is bullshit. We need a solution. We just want to get out of here.”
                                                          Just imagine if he had taken that money and used it to start his own business in Cameroon.
                                                          • Related: Building the wall: "CBP Unveils 60 More Miles of Trump's Border Wall"--Neon Nettle. And more is or will soon be under construction: "The agency says it's aiming to complete at least 450 miles of the new border wall by the end of 2020 and has projects underway in Texas, California, Arizona, and New Mexico."
                                                            Armed smugglers allegedly associated with the Gulf Cartel were responsible for the onslaught of automatic fire that endangered the lives a Border Patrol Marine Unit in early August, as it policed the banks for drug smugglers and human traffickers along the Rio Grande Valley River, in Texas.
                                                            • And more war by other means: "China’s Spies Are on the Offensive"--The Atlantic. The article begins by noting three recent cases of CIA and DIA officers (or former officers) that were successfully recruited by Chinese intelligence. It continues:
                                                              These recent cases provide just a small glimpse of the growing intelligence war that is playing out in the shadows of the U.S.-China struggle for global dominance, and of the aggressiveness and skillfulness with which China is waging it. As China advances economically and technologically, its spy services are keeping pace: Their intelligence officers are more sophisticated, the tools at their disposal are more powerful, and they are engaged in what appears to be an intensifying array of espionage operations that have their American counterparts on the defensive. China’s efforts aimed at former U.S. intelligence officers are just one part of a Chinese campaign that U.S. officials say also includes cyberattacks against U.S. government databases and companies, stealing trade secrets from the private sector, using venture-capital investment to acquire sensitive technology, and targeting universities and research institutions.
                                                                Some more:
                                                                        U.S. political and business leaders for decades pushed the idea that embracing trade with China would help to normalize its behavior, but Beijing’s aggressive espionage efforts have fueled an emerging bipartisan consensus in Washington that the hope was misplaced. Since 2017, the DOJ has brought at least a dozen cases against alleged agents and spies for conducting cyber- and economic espionage on behalf of China. “The hope was, as they develop, as they become more wealthy, as they start being a part of the club of developed nations, they’re going to change their behavior—once they get closer to the top, they’re going to operate by our rules,” John Demers told me. “What we’ve seen instead is [China] becoming better resourced and more methodical about the theft of information.”
                                                                          For the past 20 years, America’s intelligence community’s top priority has been counterterrorism. A generation of operations officers and analysts has been geared more toward finding and killing America’s enemies and preventing extremist attacks than toward the more patient and strategic work that comes with peer competition and counterintelligence. If America is indeed entering an era of “great power” conflict with China, then the crux of the struggle will likely take place not on a battlefield, but in the race for information, at least for now. And here China is using an age-old human frailty to gain advantage in the competition with its more powerful adversary: greed. U.S. officials have been warning companies and research institutions not just of the strings that might be attached to Chinese money, but of the danger of corrupted employees turned spies. They are also worried about current and former U.S. officials who have been entrusted with protecting the nation’s secrets.
                                                                      It's worth reading the whole thing. My opinion is that government and business leaders knew the risk and either didn't care, because China offered such a huge potential market, or were paid for their cooperation. We know that the Bush family has had close ties with China, as have the Clintons. And former Vice-President Biden's family members had very lucrative business deals with Chinese entities. It's one of the reasons the media wants to focus on Russia. Distract with one hand, while the other hides the ball.
                                                                               China seems to be playing hardball, trying to wait out the Trump administration in the hopes that a new administration will return to complacency toward China’s rampant trade abuses.  But that’s a long time to endure the pain that Trump’s tariffs are already inflicting on the Chinese economy.
                                                                                For example, the president’s recent delay gives American companies that are in the process of transitioning their manufacturing out of China more time to complete that transition. Big tech companies are already taking their manufacturing out of China.  Retailers are pulling out as well. 
                                                                                  According to the Nikkei Asian Review and The Wall Street Journal, Apple is considering moving 15% to 30% of its  production capacity from China to Southeast Asia as part of “a fundamental restructuring of its supply chain.”  When announcing the recent tariff delay, the president noted that Apple CEO Tim Cook made a “very compelling argument” for delaying the tariffs as they would aid Apple competitors such as Samsung, which manufactures its products in South Korea.  
                                                                                    Once supply chains move out of China, it will be difficult to get them back.  Moving production out of a country can be expensive and time consuming -- as can moving it back. 
                                                                                      This flight out of China presents a severe long-term challenge for its totalitarian government, which relies on rapid economic growth and rising living standards to provide some legitimacy for its dictatorial rule.  But, as the Chinese Communist Party has increasingly scaled back the free market reforms that got its economy going in the first place, it has been forced to prop up its economy with its escalating “techno-nationalism” and outright theft of technology from American companies.
                                                                                        Now, the party is scrambling just to keep the economy from further contracting in the face of tariffs in their largest export market, the United States -- and the longer-term impact of companies moving their supply chains outside of China. Beijing has already been forced to unleash a new round of subsidies in hopes of propping up their deteriorating economy until after the 2020 U.S. presidential election.
                                                                                          Unfortunately for China, that plan is not working. Our decision to finally get tough on trade with China is having far less of a negative impact on the U.S. economy than establishment American commentators and politicians predicted. The American economy remains strong, despite stagnating growth elsewhere in the world.
                                                                                            The yuan also slipped to 7.1487 to the dollar, weeks after the Treasury Department formally designated China a currency manipulator. The Treasury Department said it will work with the International Monetary Fund to try to rectify the “unfair competitive advantage created by China’s latest actions.”
                                                                                              "The gloves are coming off on both sides and as such yuan depreciation is an obvious cushion against US tariffs," Mitul Kotecha, an economist at Toronto-Dominion Bank, told Bloomberg News.
                                                                                               There are several reasons why China's central bank would want to allow the yuan to drop, including to help struggling local exporters who want their products to be less expensive for international purchasers. People’s Bank of China Governor Yi Gang, however, has insisted China does not "engage in competitive devaluation."
                                                                                                    A cohort of hawks, many from China's powerful military-industrial complex, is rising to the fore on the issue. They argue a trade deal is unnecessary, in stark contrast to China's diplomatic and commercial ministries that publicly welcome an agreement.
                                                                                                     "Today, China is fighting two wars on one battlefield with the U.S. — a composite of economic and military conflicts," Dai Xu, a senior colonel in China's air force and an outspoken current affairs commentator, wrote in an online article in May. "Trump will first take China's money and then take our lives," Dai wrote in a commentary in January.
                                                                                                       Dai says Beijing's trade frictions with Washington mark the beginning of a "protracted war," a concept popularized by Chairman Mao Zedong during China's war against Japan and now increasingly used in state media commentaries to describe China's trade negotiation strategy. "Much as in the original 'protracted war,' in this case we can also send the seemingly invincible invaders to a hell for failures," Dai wrote in May.
                                                                                                        Dai and his supporters are calling for a war of attrition, in which China outlasts its rivals, even at the cost of global trade. The idea is attractive among those who believe the country's one-party system and control over its most significant monetary and financial levers would allow it to beat the U.S. in a game of chicken.
                                                                                                           "The result of the trade war between China and the United States is not determined by calculating how many chips the two countries have to play, but by their ability to bear the damage. You may have more chips but your damage tolerance is lower than mine," Shen Yi, an international relations professor at Fudan University in Shanghai, wrote on a state-run news site in June.

                                                                                                    Thursday, August 29, 2019

                                                                                                    How Convenient ...

                                                                                                    SF Gate reports that "[f]ootage from camera outside Epstein's cell deemed unusable."
                                                                                                           At least one camera in the hallway outside the cell where authorities say registered sex offender Jeffrey Epstein hanged himself earlier this month had footage that is unusable, although other, clearer footage was captured in the area, according to three people briefed on the evidence gathered earlier this month.

                                                                                                           It was not immediately clear why some video footage outside Epstein's cell is too flawed for investigators to use or what is visible in the other, usable footage. The incident is being investigated by the FBI and the Justice Department's inspector general's office, which are attempting to determine what happened and how to assess whether any policies were violated or crimes committed.

                                                                                                          The footage is considered critical to those inquiries, and the revelation of an unusable recording is yet another of the apparent failures inside the Metropolitan Correctional Center, the short-staffed Bureau of Prisons facility in downtown Manhattan that held Epstein.

                                                                                                         It's unclear whether the flaw in the taping affected a limited duration of the footage or whether it was a chronic problem in the beleaguered facility.
                                                                                                    But now Reuters is reporting that there were two malfunctioning cameras outside Epstein's cell, both of which are being examined by the FBI. "The two cameras were within view of the Manhattan jail cell where he was found dead on Aug. 10. A source earlier told Reuters two jail guards failed to follow a procedure overnight to make separate checks on all prisoners every 30 minutes."

                                                                                                          To sum up, Epstein told guards that he was afraid people were trying to kill him, he allegedly attempts a suicide by hanging himself, he is put on suicide watch for a while, but then taken off suicide watch by Management an unnamed psychiatrist, his cell mate was transferred from his cell hours before his death leaving Epstein alone contrary to policy, his guards supposedly fell asleep while guarding him and falsified records to cover it up, there is reported screams or cries from his cell, and at least two security cameras malfunctioned. If someone had submitted a novel based on the same facts to a publisher, it would have been rejected as too unbelievable.

                                                                                                    More on the Church Policy on Firearms

                                                                                                    I noted recently that the LDS ban on firearms had received a lot of attention among gun owners, including an article at The Truth About GunsNow even The Firearm Blog has an article on the new policy against firearms in LDS churches.* But it has also been widely reported on among the main stream media, including articles from the Washington Post, Washington Examiner, The Hill, Fox News, NPR, France24, and many others. It is not some obscure change in policy but has attracted the attention of the media, mostly because it is at odds with the perception of Church members being overwhelmingly conservative.

                                                                                                          First, some more information on the ban. The Salt Lake Tribune reports:
                                                                                                          The handbook update took effect the first week of August, Woodruff said.

                                                                                                          The rules will be formally communicated to local leaders, who in turn will be responsible for sharing them with their members, he said, noting that “lethal weapons include a number of possible items including guns.”

                                                                                                          While this policy applies to the 16.3 million-member worldwide church, Woodruff said, a letter referencing this section of the handbook was specifically sent to Latter-day Saint leaders in Texas. The church asked bishops there to read a statement in sacrament services Sunday as a response to Lone Star State legislation that takes effect Sept. 1.

                                                                                                          Under the new Texas law, it is legal to carry concealed weapons in places of worship. However, churches can bar weapons on religious premises by giving “effective notice" verbally or thorough building signs.

                                                                                                          “The decision has been made not to place written signs on our buildings,” an Aug. 22 letter to leaders in the church’s Southwest area states. Rather, “we are asking all bishops in Texas to read the following statement in the sacrament meetings of all units to give effective oral notice to members of the church and visitors that weapons are not permitted.”

                                                                                                           The announcement "constitutes effective notice that it is not permissible to enter the premises of Latter-day Saint buildings with open or concealed weapons except as permitted by the church’s policy.”

                                                                                                           If those not in attendance Sunday to hear the policy ever show up at church carrying a gun — open or concealed — “the priesthood leader should read the approved statement,” the letter says, “and kindly ask them to comply by removing the firearm from the building.”
                                                                                                    The article also has a copy of the letter issued to local Church authorities in Texas, in case you wanted to read the whole thing.

                                                                                                          Second, let's review some of the reaction to it. It seems from the comments that I've seen that the ban is probably universally disliked among members that have carry concealed. CJ Grisham, who is a Second Amendment advocate in Texas and author of the "A Soldier's Perspective" blog has more thoughts concerning the new policy. One of the key points he raises, however, is that "Yes, our churches are dedicated to worship and are places where we SHOULDN’T have to worry about the cares of the world, but when the cares of the world invade that space, then what? There is no magical shield around LDS meeting houses that protects us from outside’s evil." He has a lot more, so read the whole thing.

                                                                                                          Joshua Gillem, writing at ConcealedCarry.com, observes:
                                                                                                    Whether this church policy is legally enforceable will vary from state to state but at very least this leaves church members who want to follow the policy unable to protect themselves from bad guys intent on killing, who will undoubtedly not follow these policies leaving church members as soft targets unless they're a police officer. And, in fact, the argument can be made that soft targets are more preferred by bad guys who want to do harm, which is why places of worship are being targeted more and more by these sickos.
                                                                                                    A comment to Gillem's article sums it up pretty succinctly: "Why would they publicly announce this? The policy itself is stupid but it is more stupid to announce this to the general public. They might as well say come into our church and shoot us."

                                                                                                          On the other hand, there seems near universal support of the ban among the enemies to the Church because it is a slap in the face of U.S. members of the Church. The Washington Examiner, among other news sites, specifically noted that "Latter-day Saints are among the most politically conservative religious groups in the United States, and close to 70% identify as, or lean, Republican. Over 60% consider themselves conservative." The Huffington Post related:
                                                                                                    Members of the Latter-day Saints church ― whose history is steeped in the culture of the American West with its guns and its hunting ― tend to be politically conservative and share similar views with evangelicals when it comes to gun control. 
                                                                                                    The Hill reported:
                                                                                                           Matthew Bowman, the Howard W. Hunter Chair in Mormon Studies at Claremont Graduate University in California, told the AP the move reflects how the church has changed from its Western roots.

                                                                                                           “It is illustrative of the church’s slow evolution away from being a largely Western rural church which it has been for a long, long time toward a more cosmopolitan, international organization,” he said.

                                                                                                           A majority of the church’s members currently live outside the U.S., many in nations that do not have a culture of gun ownership like the U.S.
                                                                                                    The LA Times added: "The move is likely driven by rising awareness of gun violence in the U.S. Bowman said it also seemed to fit with the church’s attempt to adapt to being a more global religion, representative of cultures other than the American West that is steeped in hunting and guns." Fox News similarly reported that "[s]ome in the church see the move as a push to globalize the religion, which has more than half of its 16 million members outside the United States." Scott Gordon, president of the FairMormon organization, explained the policy change this way:
                                                                                                    "In any organization, you have people who might desire to protect or take the law into their own hands, and I think the church in this policy is saying, 'Please don't. Church is a place of peace,'" Gordon said.
                                                                                                    "Please don't protect yourself." That is a nice sentiment (sarc.).

                                                                                                    “I know your hearts are heavy, as are [wife] Wendy’s and mine, as we contemplate those ruthless killings in Florida last week,” Nelson said. “I think of Alaina Petty, a 14-year-old Latter-day Saint whose life was snuffed out by that sniper’s bullet. It’s natural for you and others to say: How could God allow things like that to happen? Well, God allows us to have our agency, and men have passed laws that allow guns to go to people who shouldn’t have them.”
                                                                                                    Which is an odd thing to say since scripture states that the Lord "established the Constitution of this land, by the hands of wise men whom I raised up unto this very purpose, and redeemed the land by the shedding of blood," and last I checked, the Second Amendment was part of that Constitution. (D&C 101:80). In fact, the Bill of Rights was a key part of the Constitution, inasmuch as "[r]atification probably could not have been secured without a commitment to add a written bill of rights." Joseph Smith's complaints about the Constitution is that it didn't go far enough to protect citizens, writing: “Its sentiments are good, but it provides no means of enforcing them. … Under its provision, a man or a people who are able to protect themselves can get along well enough; but those who have the misfortune to be weak or unpopular are left to the merciless rage of popular fury.” (History of the Church, 6:57).

                                                                                                          I recognize that we must guard against idol worship, including "gods of stone and steel—ships, planes, missiles, fortifications—[upon which we] depend ... for protection and deliverance." But neither does the Lord expect us to lay down our lives needlessly or foolishly.
                                                                                                          
                                                                                                          Cheryll Lynn May noted in a June 1976 Ensign article that members must be active in politics, warning that "[g]uarantees of political freedom maintain their force only if citizens are willing to exercise that freedom in their own behalf." In the same special issue devoted to the Bicentennial, Edwin Brown Firmage wrote:
                                                                                                    The United States Constitution restrains the power that it grants by the application of three tenets: the separation of powers, federalism, and the protection of individual rights. Power at the national level is separated and balanced between three coordinate branches. Power is further checked by dividing its prerogatives among the nation, the state, and the people. Finally, the Bill of Rights and the Fourteenth Amendment protect basic individual rights against violation by any level of government.
                                                                                                          Perhaps this should be a clarion call to action for members that support gun rights to petition the Church about its stance. We have seen others--feminists, ethnic groups, and LGBT activists--at least gain recognition of their concerns, if not some outright concessions. Surely there are a sufficient number of members that support concealed carry that we can make the Church take some notice of us.

                                                                                                    --------------------------
                                                                                                     * I saw in the comments to the TFB article that someone had gone to the Church's website and found that the policy was unchanged. However, I think he must have looked at the PDF of the Handbook 2, which is dated 2010. This new policy is in the May 2019 Handbook 2. Here is the link to the new version of the policy (scroll down to para. 21.2.4).

                                                                                                    Wednesday, August 28, 2019

                                                                                                    Congressman Simpson Is Open To Magazine Limits

                                                                                                          Nate Shelman of KBOI Radio interviewed Rep. Mike Simpson (R) yesterday ("Tackling the Opioid Crises") and as the interview progressed, gun control legislation came up. Simpson seemed to indicate that he would be opposed to "red flag" laws, but said he would not have a problem with banning "high capacity" magazines (he specifically stated 50 or 100 round magazines), and then related how, when hunting as a youth, his father would only give him 2 rounds and told him that if he needed more than that to hit a deer, he needed to go to the range. After a caller pointed out to him that the Second Amendment was intended to allow the people to fight against a tyrannical government, not hunting, he doubled down by indicating that the Second Amendment is not unlimited, and, seriously, used the example that a person can't buy a machine gun (which, of course, is not correct). He also seemed to be open to restricting violent video games.

                                                                                                         I have to admit that I was bothered by him seemingly having no conception of a limited federal government. That is, he seemed to have no comprehension that the Bill of Rights simply placed some subjects outside the purview of federal law. However, I also understand how that concept was undermined by the Civil War and the Fourteenth Amendment, which changed us from a federation of states ("these United States") to a single state under the federal government ("the United States").

                                                                                                    Report: "Lancaster deputy confesses to fabricating sniper shooting, authorities say"

                                                                                                    ABC7 reports:
                                                                                                          A Los Angeles Sheriff's Department deputy who was reported shot in Lancaster this week made up the incident, authorities announced during a rare Saturday night news conference.

                                                                                                          The deputy claimed that he was shot in the shoulder Wednesday, which triggered a massive manhunt and evacuations of an apartment complex next to the agency's Lancaster station, authorities said.

                                                                                                         Deputy Angel Reinosa, 21, had two holes in his shirt the day he claimed to be shot by a sniper.

                                                                                                         He was heard calling in the shooting over emergency radios.

                                                                                                         "I have taken shots from the north of the Lancaster helipad," the deputy is heard saying over the radio. "I think I'm hit in the right shoulder."

                                                                                                          When investigators met with Reinosa on Saturday for follow-up interviews about the incident, they saw no visible injuries on his shoulder. Officials said Reinosa confessed to cutting the holes in his shirt with a knife and that he was never shot.

                                                                                                          "There was no sniper, no shots fired and no gunshot injury sustained to his shoulder. Completely fabricated," said Capt. Kent Wegener with the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.

                                                                                                    Has The Fed Shown It's True Colors?

                                                                                                    Glenn Reynolds has noted an op-ed from the Wall Street Journal that argues that the Fed has joined "the Resistance" against Trump. The op-ed is behind a paywall, but Reynolds has quoted and summarized the key parts of it, writing:
                                                                                                           Perhaps you’ve seen former Chairs of the Federal Reserve defending the central bank’s independence and foreswearing all political intentions. Fair enough. But then what are we to make of former Fed monetary Vice Chair William Dudley ’s marker that the Fed should help defeat President Trump in 2020? That’s the extraordinary message from the former, and perhaps future, Fed grandee in Bloomberg.

                                                                                                           “Officials could state explicitly that the central bank won’t bail out an administration that keeps making bad choices on trade policy, making it abundantly clear that Trump will own the consequences of his actions,” Mr. Dudley asserts. We also think monetary policy should focus on prices rather than trade. But Mr. Dudley seems to be saying the Fed should do nothing to assist the economy even if it heads into recession. Then he goes further and essentially says the Fed should join The Resistance.

                                                                                                           “There’s even an argument that the election itself falls within the Fed’s purview,” Mr. Dudley writes. “After all, Trump’s reelection arguably presents a threat to the U.S. and global economy, to the Fed’s independence and its ability to achieve its employment and inflation objectives. If the goal of monetary policy is to achieve the best long-term economic outcome, then Fed officials should consider how their decisions will affect the political outcome in 2020.”

                                                                                                           Wow. Talk about stripping the veil. These columns wondered if Mr. Dudley was politically motivated while he was at the Fed, favoring bond buying to finance Barack Obama ’s deficit spending, urging the Fed to intervene in markets to boost housing, and keeping interest rates low for as long as possible. And now here Mr. Dudley is confirming that he views the Fed as an agent of the Democratic Party.

                                                                                                    A key lesson of the Trump era is that every single allegedly neutral, nonpartisan, super-professional institution has turned out to be, in fact, a bunch of partisan hacks shilling for the permanent political party. Voters can be forgiven for adopting a “burn it all down” attitude in response.

                                                                                                    Epstein's Temple

                                                                                                    Source: "Why did Jeffrey Epstein build a temple on his private island?"
                                                                                                          Although Epstein owned a house in Manhattan and a ranch in New Mexico, and probably numerous other properties, few have received attention equal to his private island in the U.S. Virgin Islands, Little St. James Island. And, of the structures on that island, one in particular stands out: a blue and white structure that is generally referred to as Epstein's temple. That particular structure was built after he was released from jail in 2009 after serving his 13 month sentence.

                                                                                                         I am sure that the structure was full of symbolism to Epstein. The problem is that we don't know if this symbolism was personal to Epstein, or was drawn from one or more belief systems or mythology.

                                                                                                    The Hammam Yalbugha in Aleppo, Syria, which was built in 1491 (Source: "Jeffrey Epstein: The True Ugly Face of the Occult Elite"--The Vigilant Citizen)
                                                                                                         The structure bears an uncanny resemblance to the Hammam Yalbugha in Aleppo, Syria, pictured above, with similar design motifs and a similar dome. Despite the passing resemblance, Epstein's structure was not a hammam, though. In "The Public Hammam – An Ancient Syrian Tradition," the author describes the hammam (public baths), including some of the more famous or historically significant ones. She explains that the hamman's were a continuation of Roman tradition:
                                                                                                            A bath consisted of several parts: the changing room, the cold bathing area, the warm bathing area and the hot bathing area. Examples of Roman baths can be found in Palmyra, Bosra, Sirjilla and Shahba. The tradition was then continued by the Muslims, who built hammams in all cities with their own architectural and artistic styles. These baths also had a very special social function. There were two types: the public ones, which were run independently, and the ones that were integrated into the palaces and bimaristans (hospitals).

                                                                                                           The Islamic hammam usually consists of four areas, all of which are covered by domes:

                                                                                                            In the so-called ‘outer area’ (al-barrani) people changed their clothes. The hall, which was provided with a central well, was also a place for get-togethers, entertainment and exchange, even business transactions. For ladies it was also a popular place for festive occasions such as marriage and birth. Through this area one reached the next, the middle area (al-wastani). In this area the temperature is mild. The third area is called the ‘interior area’ (al-juwwani). It is the hottest room of the bath. The floor is covered with coloured marble slabs, the small domes that cover the room are interspersed with glass stones. Adjacent to the interior is the place of water heating (al-qamim), from where the water is fed directly into the juwwani. The last room of the hammam is a room for the heater (al-qamimi), who is responsible for constantly supplying the stove with combustible.
                                                                                                     As to the Hammam Yalbugha, the author states:
                                                                                                    Among the Mamluk hammams, the hammam Yalbugha an-Nasiri, which is considered to be one of the most beautiful Islamic hammams of Aleppo, should be mentioned above all. It has an impressive façade with an alternation of yellow and black stones. The high entrance, decorated with Mamluk blasons, is framed on both sides by windows. Like many other Aleppine ‘architectural treasures’, this hammam was largely destroyed during the last war. The Hammam Bahram Basha shows a development of the hammam building of the Ottoman period in Aleppo. Its northern façade opens outwards, also characterized by the typical alternation of yellow and black stones (ablaq).
                                                                                                    (Note: Mamluk blasons, or blazons, were a form of heraldic symbols).

                                                                                                    Another view of the The Hammam Yalbugha (source: "The Public Hammam – An Ancient Syrian Tradition").
                                                                                                         Thus, while the general motif of the Hammam Yalbugha is followed, there are some significant differences, including the use of different colors, and a seemingly different purpose. Epstein's temple is clearly is not a hammam. Workers believed that the building was supposed to be a music room. But it has been noted that the thick wooden door is designed to be barred from the outside, as if to keep someone from leaving the structure, rather than to keep someone from entering. Besides, more recent photographs showed what appeared to be mattresses stacked up in the building.

                                                                                                         One theory I've seen regarding the copying of the Hammam Yulbugha is that it pertains to specifically to it being from the Mameluke period, where the word Mameluke literally translates as slave. However, in the relevant period when the structure was built, the Turkish Mamelukes had effective control of the Caliphate, and could even remove or replace a Caliph. So, perhaps the symbolism is that there is control from behind the throne. Or it could be the reputation that Turkish baths have in Europe and the United States.

                                                                                                         While the Hammam Yalbugha used yellow and black stone to create its pattern, Epstein's temple used blue and white, with a gold dome. Since Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell are both Jewish, I wondered if there was some Jewish significance to the colors chosen.

                                                                                                         Blue and white show up in the Israeli flag, as Hanukkah colors, and on the tallitot, a traditional Jewish prayer shawl worn at synagogue, bar or bat mitzvahs, and Jewish weddings.
                                                                                                           According to the Bible, the Israelites were told to dye a thread on their tassels with tekhelet, a blue ink from a sea snail, "so that they may look upon it, and remember all the commandments of the LORD, and do them."

                                                                                                          In 1864, the Jewish poet Ludwig August Frankl named blue and white "the colours of Judah" in a poem not so surprisingly called "Judah's Colours." An excerpt: "When sublime feelings his heart fill, he is mantled in the colors of his country ... Blue and white are the colours of Judah; white is the radiance of the priesthood, and blue, the splendors of the firmament."

                                                                                                         Blue and white come with universal associations, too. White suggests purity, peace, and light. Blue is associated with the sky, faith, wisdom, and truth. 
                                                                                                    Wikipedia notes that "[b]lue in Judaism is used to symbolise divinity, because blue is the color of the sky and sea. It can also represent equilibrium, since its hue suggests a shade midway between white and black, day and evening," and also notes that while white symbolizes purity and peace, it is also associated with death. And "[g]old was the symbol of the divine or celestial light, the glory of God."

                                                                                                    An aerial view of the Temple (Source).
                                                                                                         Another feature worth commenting on is the red and pink designs outside the temple. Again, returning to Wikipedia, scarlet and crimson "symbolized blood, and thus frequently typified life, although this color often designated sin, as well as joy and happiness."

                                                                                                        With this in mind, it seems to me that Epstein saw this building as a place where heaven and earth met or united.

                                                                                                         Finally, there is the statuary. There was, at one time, two statues of owls on the roof of the building, while before the building there was a statute of a man holding a trident (presumably Poseidon or Neptune). (See this article for more detailed photos and video).

                                                                                                         Assuming that the statue on the ground is of Poseidon or Neptune, its choice would make sense. Obviously, given the structure's location on an island and Poseidon's role as the god of seas, a statute of Poseidon would be right at home. However, given what else we know about Epstein, there are other symbolism that could be read into the choice. "Poseidon was said to have had many lovers of both sexes," and frequently resorted to rape. According to another source:
                                                                                                    Poseidon’s trident was the symbolic triple phallus, signifying his function to mate with the triple Goddess. It is also a statement about his sexuality and fertility. The carrier of the trident was expected to be a man who is the husband of the Maiden, Mother and Crone, who coexist in these ways: As her mate for life, he is husband to the maiden he married, then to the mother of his children, and in old age to the wise woman that she becomes.
                                                                                                            Another aspect of Poseidon mythology that impressed me was the following (quoting the Wikipedia article cited above):
                                                                                                    A mortal woman named Cleito once lived on an isolated island; Poseidon fell in love with the human mortal and created a dwelling sanctuary at the top of a hill near the middle of the island and surrounded the dwelling with rings of water and land to protect her. She gave birth to five sets of twin boys; the firstborn, Atlas, became the first ruler of Atlantis.
                                                                                                    Each of the ten sons ruled over a kingdom within the Empire of Atlantis, according to the myths. This was interesting to me because of a New York Times article that "Jeffrey Epstein Hoped to Seed Human Race With His DNA." The article relates:
                                                                                                          Mr. Epstein’s vision reflected his longstanding fascination with what has become known as transhumanism: the science of improving the human population through technologies like genetic engineering and artificial intelligence. Critics have likened transhumanism to a modern-day version of eugenics, the discredited field of improving the human race through controlled breeding.

                                                                                                          Mr. Epstein, who was charged in July with the sexual trafficking of girls as young as 14, was a serial illusionist: He lied about the identities of his clients, his wealth, his financial prowess, his personal achievements. But he managed to use connections and charisma to cultivate valuable relationships with business and political leaders.

                                                                                                          Interviews with more than a dozen of his acquaintances, as well as public documents, show that he used the same tactics to insinuate himself into an elite scientific community, thus allowing him to pursue his interests in eugenics and other fringe fields like cryonics.
                                                                                                    I doubt it will do any good to freeze Epstein's head, but it is possible that he believed himself to be part of a breeding program.

                                                                                                           The iconography of the owl is less clear. In Greek mythology, the owl is associated with Athena (Roman: Minerva), a goddess associated with wisdom, handicraft, and warfare.
                                                                                                    In her aspect of Athena Polias, Athena was venerated as the goddess of the city and the protectress of the citadel. In Athens, the Plynteria, or "Feast of the Bath", was observed every year at the end of the month of Thargelion. The festival lasted for five days. During this period, the priestesses of Athena, or plyntrídes, performed a cleansing ritual within the Erechtheion, a sanctuary devoted to Athena and Poseidon. Here Athena's statue was undressed, her clothes washed, and body purified. Athena was worshipped at festivals such as Chalceia as Athena Ergane, the patroness of various crafts, especially weaving. She was also the patron of metalworkers and was believed to aid in the forging of armor and weapons. During the late fifth century BC, the role of goddess of philosophy became a major aspect of Athena's cult.
                                                                                                    But it is possible that the owl statues have nothing to do with Greek or Roman mythology. Casting our search farther, there is another possibility which I find intriguing, which is the association of the owl with Lilith. This mostly is due to the Burney Relief, which is generally believed to portray the Babylonian demoness Lilith, who herself is winged, and with two owls on either side of her. The sole biblical reference to Lilith is often translated as screech owl or a night creature.
                                                                                                    Burney Relief (Source)

                                                                                                          The Lilith myths date back to the ancient Middle East. As one author writes:
                                                                                                           For 4,000 years Lilith has wandered the earth, figuring in the mythic imaginations of writers, artists and poets. Her dark origins lie in Babylonian demonology, where amulets and incantations were used to counter the sinister powers of this winged spirit who preyed on pregnant women and infants. Lilith next migrated to the world of the ancient Hittites, Egyptians, Israelites and Greeks. She makes a solitary appearance in the Bible, as a wilderness demon shunned by the prophet Isaiah. In the Middle Ages she reappears in Jewish sources as the dreadful first wife of Adam.

                                                                                                           In the Renaissance, Michelangelo portrayed Lilith as a half-woman, half-serpent, coiled around the Tree of Knowledge. Later, her beauty would captivate the English poet Dante Gabriel Rossetti. “Her enchanted hair,” he wrote, “was the first gold.” Irish novelist James Joyce cast her as the “patron of abortions.”

                                                                                                          Modern feminists celebrate her bold struggle for independence from Adam. Her name appears as the title of a Jewish women’s magazine and a national literacy program. An annual music festival that donates its profits to battered women’s shelters and breast cancer research institutes is called the Lilith Fair.

                                                                                                          In most manifestations of her myth, Lilith represents chaos, seduction and ungodliness. 
                                                                                                    From Wikipedia:
                                                                                                    Lilith is often envisioned as a dangerous demon of the night, who is sexually wanton, and who steals babies in the darkness. Lilith may be linked in part to a historically earlier class of female demons (lilītu) in ancient Mesopotamian religion, found in cuneiform texts of Sumer, the Akkadian Empire, Assyria, and Babylonia.
                                                                                                    In Jewish mythology, Lilith was the first wife of Adam, but rebelled against having to submit to Adam and, thus, became a demon (she is now a favorite icon of feminists). Interestingly, several artists in the Middle Ages and Renaissance portrayed the serpent that tempted Eva as a woman, possibly in reference to Lilith. "The only occurrence is in the Book of Isaiah 34:14, describing the desolation of Edom, where the Hebrew word lilit (or lilith) appears in a list of eight unclean animals, some of which may have demonic associations." In the KJV, lilit is translated as "screech owl." However, other English versions have variously used "Lamia," "night hag", "night wraith", or "vampires." She was associated with killing new born children and lust (i.e., in particular seducing men).

                                                                                                         As noted, Lilith still has modern relevance. Again, from the article cited above:
                                                                                                    Gerald Gardner asserted that there was continuous historical worship of Lilith to present day, and that her name is sometimes given to the goddess being personified in the coven by the priestess. This idea was further attested by Doreen Valiente, who cited her as a presiding goddess of the Craft: "the personification of erotic dreams, the suppressed desire for delights". In some contemporary concepts, Lilith is viewed as the embodiment of the Goddess, a designation that is thought to be shared with what these faiths believe to be her counterparts: Inanna, Ishtar, Asherah, Anath and Isis. According to one view, Lilith was originally a Sumerian, Babylonian, or Hebrew mother goddess of childbirth, children, women, and sexuality who later became demonized due to the rise of patriarchy.
                                                                                                    Also:
                                                                                                    The western mystery tradition associates Lilith with the Qliphoth of kabbalah. Samael Aun Weor in The Pistis Sophia Unveiled writes that homosexuals are the "henchmen of Lilith". Likewise, women who undergo willful abortion, and those who support this practice are "seen in the sphere of Lilith". Dion Fortune writes, "The Virgin Mary is reflected in Lilith", and that Lilith is the source of "lustful dreams".
                                                                                                    What more appropriate symbol could there be on Epstein's island.

                                                                                                         As a final note, as mentioned earlier, the "temple" was not constructed until after 2009. It was apparently damaged in 2017 by hurricanes Irma and Maria, as the dome was gone  and, it appears, the statues were also missing or removed, and no effort was made to replace or repair the structure. Was this because it's purpose, whatever it was, had been fulfilled?

                                                                                                    Tuesday, August 27, 2019

                                                                                                    Change in Church Policy on "Lethal Weapons"

                                                                                                    One of the recent topics to hit the firearm community is word that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints ("LDS" or "Mormon" Church) has changed its policy on firearms, even rating an article at The Truth About Guns.The TTAG article quotes an AP article stating that the policy was first made known to congregational leaders in Texas, and that "[t]he impetus was a new Texas law that takes effect soon that makes it clearer in state law that licensed handgun holders can carry weapons in churches, synagogues and other houses of worship."

                                                                                                         Per an article from This Week In Mormons, the new policy states:
                                                                                                    Churches are dedicated for the worship of God and as havens from the cares and concerns of the world. With the exception of current law enforcement officers, the carrying of lethal weapons on Church property, concealed or otherwise, is prohibited.
                                                                                                    The old policy (which appears to have been adopted in 1994--about the time Utah adopted "shall issue" concealed carry license laws) read:
                                                                                                    Churches are dedicated for the worship of God and as havens from the cares and concerns of the world. The carrying of lethal weapons, concealed or otherwise, within their walls is inappropriate except as required by officers of the law.
                                                                                                    So, the policy has been strengthened from "inappropriate" to "prohibited," and the law enforcement exception has been tightened to "current law enforcement officers." Which should play havoc with church security teams. For instance, I know that there at least two of the "church security" members in my congregation were retired LEOs.

                                                                                                         In any event, according to the AP article quoted by TTAG, the policy was supposed to be shared with congregations in Texas. Nothing has been announced in my congregation and I wouldn't have even known about this other than these news stories.

                                                                                                         I share some of the same feelings as I've seen expressed online about this policy. It is ironic that Brigham Young, who had lived through the persecution the Church received in Missouri and Illinois, warned members to always have firearms at hand. Whereas, after many decades of peace and prosperity, the current leadership (who are protected by security guards) evidently feels that members need not be prepared for violent attack. However, policy is not doctrine, and changes as needed. This is not really all that different from the policy that food cannot be prepared in church house "kitchens," but only heated up, because health code reasons, I guess.

                                                                                                         I was also irritated because it seems yet another policy that signals a lack of trust for the members. But as I calmed down, I realized that this is probably more of what I've noted before--that much of the Church's policy seems driven by its risk management department. And I suspect that the issue isn't the Texas law per se, but the trend of local leaders establishing security teams. Because that might result in the Church being sued if one of these security team members killed or seriously injured someone. And I'm sure that the crack team of lawyers at the McConkie law firm probably believed this was necessary to also make sure that the Church was absolved of any responsibility if any member carrying a weapon (whether on a security team or not) accidentally killed or injured someone because, after all, the Church has made sure that members know that such carrying is verboten.

                                                                                                         But like I said, policy is not doctrine.

                                                                                                    Monday, August 26, 2019

                                                                                                    A Monday Medley of Videos -- Aug. 26, 2019

                                                                                                    "Galactic Center Update, Earthquake Warning | S0 News Aug.24.2019"--Suspicious Observers (5 min.). The primary point I'm linking to this is the update on the sudden brightening of the galactic center in infrared beginning at 2:20.


                                                                                                    Some recent reports of violent crimes for you to consider what lessons can be taken from them.


                                                                                                    "Camels in Arizona?"--Mysteries of the Superstition Mountains (8 min.)


                                                                                                    The Luftwaffe still doesn't have a plan, and the Chinese Communists attack Japanese invasion and occupation forces.


                                                                                                    This looks cool. "Tactical Repeating Crossbow - Now Taking Orders!"--Joerg Sprave (2 min.)


                                                                                                    "The Great MEME WAR 2.0 Begins"--Black Pigeon Speaks (14 min.)
                                                                                                    Most of the internet voices that supported Trump in the last election have been deplatformed. 


                                                                                                    "'The Rats in the Walls' by H. P. Lovecraft"--A HorrorBabble Production (50 min.)
                                                                                                    A reading of another classic Lovecraft tale.

                                                                                                    The Cognitive Dissonance of Gun Control

                                                                                                    Rick Moran, writing at PJ Media, warns that "Among Democrats, 'Mandatory Gun Buyback' Plan Gains Traction." He writes:
                                                                                                          It's always a challenge to make radical proposals sound reasonable. Both O'Rourke and Swalwell aren't concerned about reasonableness as much as they care about gutting the Second Amendment. In order to make gun ownership illegal, you must first win the point that the subject is open for debate. Gun groups have successfully blocked that notion for years, but it's becoming harder to do so.

                                                                                                          While the gun issue will surely fade into the background before the 2020 election -- as long as there are no more mass shootings -- Democrats appear willing to push programs that will lose them far more votes than they might gain.

                                                                                                         But for Democrats, the risk is worth it.
                                                                                                    But why is the risk worth it? What does it gain Democrats to lose more votes than they gain by pushing gun control? Moran does not answer those questions.

                                                                                                          We know it isn't about saving children. I've written before how the number of children that drown in swimming pools exceed the number killed with firearms; and ditto for children dying from falling furniture or playing sports. Other common dangers kill more children than die from firearm related injuries. Ammo Land recently pointed out that more children die in bicycle accidents than are killed with firearms. In fact, that latter article lists a whole lot of other things that kill more children annually than firearms.

                                                                                                         The focus on so-called "assault rifles" is also very strange, given that "[t]he most recent FBI crime stats show that more people were killed in 2017 with hammers and clubs than were killed with rifles of any kind." Also, "nearly four times as many people were stabbed to death as were killed with any kind of rifle."

                                                                                                          And various studies have shown that either more guns equals less crime or, at worst, there is no correlation between firearm ownership and homicide rates.

                                                                                                         So why is this issue so important to Democrats?