Monday, September 30, 2013

10 Economic Trends

The Atlantic has identified ten trends (actually, reverses in trends) that it believes to be unusually significant. It terms them "stealth" trends, but for those who dig behind the headlines, there are no real shockers. Some of the trends: the rise of cheap solar power; the decline of immigrants from Mexico; the Chinese population bust; and the stagnating value of a college education.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Storm Warning for Oregon Coast

Record rainfall hit the Oregon Coast Sunday, causing downed trees and debris to fill the road. 
On Sunday the National Weather Service also issued a flood advisory and a high-wind warning — with wind gusts from 65 mph to 80 mph. Waves along the Oregon Coast are expected to reach nearly 30 feet.

Muslim Terrorists Kill At Least 40 in Nigerian Attack

Islamic terrorists dressed in Nigerian military uniforms assaulted a college inside the country Sunday, gunning down dozens of students as they slept in their dorms and shot others trying to flee, witnesses say. 
"They started gathering students into groups outside, then they opened fire and killed one group and then moved onto the next group and killed them. It was so terrible," one surviving student, who would only give his first name of Idris, told Reuters. 
As many as 50 students may have been killed in the attack, which began at about 1 a.m. in rural Gujba, Provost Molima Idi Mato of Yobe State College of Agriculture, told The Associated Press.

Uses for Overripe Fruit

Whether you grow your own fruit or buy from the market, there is always the potential that you won't eat, or can't can, freeze, or otherwise process all your fruit fast enough before it becomes overripe, and less palatable. However, here are a couple of articles that discuss how you can put that fruit to good use rather than throwing it away:

From the Kitchn, the Top 10 Ways to Use Up Overripe Fruit:
1. Make Quick Bread: Of course, we all know brown bananas are great forbanana bread. But peaches, nectarines, and strawberries are also great in breads, muffins, and scones, where the chopped or mashed fruit bakes into jammy little pockets. [I would also note that zucchini--I know, not technically a fruit--can be grated and used to make zucchini bread which is similar to banana bread], 
2. Make Jam: Dana gave us a great strawberry refrigerator jam a while back. This quick jam is a great way to use overripe strawberries — or any other fruits that need using up! 
3. Make a Crumble, Cobbler, or Pie: The best solution for fruits that are no longer quite so plump and pretty is to wrap them in some pastry! Use our templates for making Fruit Crumble or Fruit Pie, and sub in whatever fruit needs using up.  
4. Make Smoothies: Smoothies are always a good standby for using up fruit! It doesn't matter how pretty they are as long as they still taste good. I even find that the concentrated flavor of over-ripe fruit makes especially tasty smoothies. 
5. Make a Chunky Sauce for Pancakes or Sundaes: Give those syrupy, ripe fruits a rough chop — or even a smash with a potato masher — and you have an instant topping for pancakes or sundaes. Even better, fold the fruit right into the batter for fruit-filled pancakes. 
6. Make a Sauce for Meat. Overripe fruit, if it hasn't lost all of its juice, can still impart some good flavor to a sauce. Chop it into small bits (or whiz it in a blender) and add it to some chicken stock and balsamic vinegar to make a glaze or sauce for meat. You could even substituted it for the jam in our Chicken with Shallot-Apricot Sauce. 
7. Make a Salad Dressing: If your fruit isn't pretty enough to chop on top of your salad, put it in a blender with some olive oil, vinegar, herbs, and seasonings. It can make a fantastic, slightly sweet dressing for a salad, especially when you add some salty nuts or cheese. 
8. Make Juice: If you have a juicer, your fruits can go right on in. If you don't, try pureeing the fruit in a blender or food processor and straining it. The solids are great on top of yogurt and the juice can be drunk on its own or added to glasses of sparkling water. [And you can use the juice to make jellies].
9. Make Fruit Leather: This is especially good for fruits that have passed the squishy stage and gone to the wizened stage. Blend up the fruit and spread it in a thin layer on a Silpat or dehydrator rack — you can bake it at very low temperature in the oven until it's leather-like or dehydrate it in a dehydrator. 
10. Make Popsicles: Last but not least, we can make popsicles — one of my favorite afternoon snacks on a hot summer day. You can juice the fruit first and strain out the solids, but I love leaving some of the fruit a little chunky so that there are pieces to nibble.
 ThriftyFun has some additional suggestions.

While I'm thinking about it, if you like berry jams, but don't like the little seeds, try juicing the berries and make jelly. We did that this year with our raspberries, and have absolutely loved it.

The End of the Strategic Helium Reserve

From the Economist (h/t Instapundit):

Helium does not just fill balloons and render voices squeaky. In gaseous form the inert, lighter-than-air gas is used in a range of applications from welding and fibre-optic technology to deep-sea diving. Super-cold liquid helium is essential to making and running the superconducting magnets for MRI scanners and to manufacturing electronic devices from TVs to phones. The world stands on the edge of a “helium cliff” precisely because the gas has always proved so useful. 
Unless American politicians can come to an agreement by October 7th, supplies could face a sudden and dramatic shortfall. A third of the world’s helium comes from an underground reservoir in Texas built up under government auspices and run by the Bureau of Land Management. ... 
... Relief for the helium market seems destined to come from Russia, long a minor producer. The country has the wherewithal to create a reserve of its own. Gazprom appears to be gearing up to become a big supplier by 2018, just as America’s reserve is set to run dry (if it secures the cash to continue past October). Not everyone will be pleased that an arm of the Russian state may in future hold sway over their medical treatment and their children’s parties.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Tell Us How You Really Feel...

Max Velocity recently posted:

... although the use of .22 LR is good in theory, and I will continue to allow it so students can save money on ammo, the Ruger 10/22 is outright BANNED on my ranges. I have seen nothing but trouble and malfunctions from students using that rifle, whether the cause is the rifle itself, the larger capacity after-market magazines or the ammunition. Go on, try me - show up with one: visualize me smashing the butt of the wooden rifle on a rock until it shatters, that's how strongly I feel about that. ;-)
(H/t Woodpile Report)

Silver Can Assist Antibiotics

... Silver’s infection-fighting abilities have been recognised since at least 400 BC, when Hippocrates was using it to help wounds to heal faster. James Collins at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute in Boston, US, and colleagues have now shown that silver can help overcome modern drug-resistant bacteria, including certain antibiotic-resistant E. coli strains.
The researchers made their discovery while investigating just how silver exerts its effects. Despite centuries of use, silver’s microbe-killing mode of action was still unclear, says Jose Ruben Morones-Ramirez, a member of Collins’ team. The team found that silver ions tip the bacteria’s cellular chemistry out of balance, killing the cells by generating deadly levels of highly destructive molecules called reactive oxygen species (ROS). The ions also degrade the bacteria’s outer membrane. 
As some antibiotics also kill bacteria through ROS generation, the researchers decided to test whether teaming these drugs with silver ions would create a more powerful medicine. The results were dramatic. The two treatments worked synergistically, the combination therapy up to 10,000 times more powerful than the antibiotic alone.
The article goes on to note that very tiny amounts of silver ions can cheaply purify water.

Not a Comforting Thought....

The average derivative/asset ratio at the top 3 banks (JPM, Citi, BofA) as of Q1 stands at 37.6x. This is higher than the average leverage ratio (32x) of Lehman, Bear Stearns and Merrill Lynch leading up to the 2008-09 recession. The average exposure of these 3 banks to interest rate contracts (% of total derivatives) is 78.7%. A mere 0.1% loss on interest rate derivative contracts would send these banks reeling, a 3.5% loss would wipe out all of their assets, and a 10% loss would exceed all US Commercial Bank Assets combined. 
Eric Pomboy, Meridian Macro Research via 
(via the Woodpile Report).

Review: Life Proof Cell Phone Cases

Life Proof makes what they claim to be waterproof cases for the IPhone.  Obviously, the protective features of the cases are big plus, and overall, we had been pleased with the cases. We have not been pleased with the durability of the product.

My wife and I both purchased IPhone 4/4s cases. She has had hers about 2 and 1/2 years. She dropped her phone about two weeks ago, and cracked the door covering the charging port. It is supposed to withstand drops of 6.5 feet, but didn't at less than 1/2 that distance. 

I have had mine for little over a year and a half.Today, I discovered that one of the buttons on mine (they are a soft plastic material) had split--even though the phone spends most of its time in a pocket or sitting on a side table.

For the price, and based on the hype, I would have expected these cases to last longer.

Battle Rifle Review

Randy Harris at Taipan Magazine (formerly Warrior Talk News) discusses the primary battle rifles. By "battle rifle," the author means rifles in .30 caliber or larger such as the .30-06, 7.62 NATO, and 7.62x54R. The four the author compares are the M-14 (and the M1A civilian counterpart), the FAL, L1A1 (the British version of the FAL), and the G-3 (and the PTR91 civilian version).

After discussing a bit of the history of each firearm, Harris gets into some of the issues for the prepper.
So what is available today and why would you want one? 
We will start with the “why”. Simply put 7.62x51 (or .308Win) makes concealment out of things that .223 and 7.62x39 still thinks are cover. The battle rifle is simply built to shoot through things. A friend asked me what the underlying logic was for a civilian owning an iron sighted .30 caliber battle rifle. My immediate answer? Vehicles. In a Hurricane Katrina or other natural disaster situation or civil unrest where looters (or worse) might try to enter a neighborhood and bust through a neighbor hood roadblock, a 7.62x51 rifle can disable a car a lot faster and while expending far less rounds than any .223 or 5.56x45. Also when out in the great outdoors if you take a rifle with you a .308 can simply do more (engage at longer distance and shoot through things better than .223 or 7.62x39. While I’m not saying you should sell all your ARs or AKs and roll with just battle rifles, I am saying a battle rifle is never a bad thing to have on hand in case of civil unrest or natural (or man made) disaster.
The author has a few complaints about the rifles, which I won't repeat here; suffice it to say, though, that he does not think highly of the M14 and civilian variants based on its design features (including the wood stock), and that it is not very reliable when run dry (you need to keep the gun greased). The FAL and L1A1 seems acceptable to the author, except for its reputation for being a little finicky with ammo (I would also note that the Israelis had problems with its reliability in desert conditions). He likes the G3/PTR91 the best (although, I would note that his employer sells them, so there may be some bias). One concern he mentions is that models available for civilian sale are all clones in some way--they all had to be modified to some extent or another to allow sales in the U.S.--and that the mil-spec parts for these rifles have largely dried up. Part of the reason that he favors the PTR91 is because PTR had imported manufacturing equipment from HK, so their rifles are the closest to mil-spec as you can get. Harris was also conscious of magazine prices for the various rifles, with magazines for the M14 at about $50, the FAL at $20, and the HK for $7 (although, I think you can still find deals where you can pick them up for a few dollars each).

Although I have shot the M1 Garand and the Mini-14, I don't have any experience with the M-14/M1A myself. I agree that the design is old. I know that the Garand needs to be greased. On the other hand, the Mini 14 is the probably the most reliable rifle I've ever shot, and doesn't require any special lubrication. Maybe Ruger improved the design--I don't know. Harris doesn't like the safety on the trigger guard. I actually think it is a great location for the safety because it is truly ambidextrous and doesn't require you to break your hold or grip (such as lifting your thumb) to operate the safety. Plus, as soon as you try to put your finger in the trigger, you know the safety is on. The location would be a downside for a select fire weapon, but for a semi-auto, it is superior. The downside to the design is that it is not amenable to adding optics, and the bolt is completely exposed to the elements.

The FAL easily has one of the best triggers of any combat/self-defense rifle I've shot, and is very accurate. The cocking handle is on the left, and easily reached. Ergonomically, it is also a very good design. There is a reason is was so widely adopted. As I mentioned above, the Israelis had problems with the rifles in the sand and dust of the Sinai and Golan heights. Otherwise, it seems to have been reliable enough for anywhere it served.

I've also shot the PTR91 and CETME, and find the design to be ergonomically acceptable. When correctly put together, the rifle is extremely reliable, but I have heard of some manufacturing issues with some of the U.S. made clones at different times. It seems to work fine in the desert environments (and was widely adopted throughout the Middle-East), but I've heard that the roller-block system doesn't like the high humidity of jungles and so on. So, about the opposite of the FAL in that regard. I think its sights are the worst of the lot, but since you probably would be putting some sort of optical sight, that probably is not as important as it would have been. As noted above, one of the primary advantages is that magazines are easily found, and cheap.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Remington is collaborating with Tracking Point... (Updated and bumped)

... to make digital scopes for hunters. From the Firearms Blog:

The Remington 2020 is similar, both in software and hardware, to the Tracking Point system, but one major different is that the Remington 2020 is not connected to the trigger. Instead of releasing/unlocking the trigger at the exact moment the shot should be taken, the Remington 2020 simply gives the shooter a visual alert to pull the trigger. While the Tracking Point system has a range of 1,200 yards, the Remington 2020 can only provide targeting assistance out to 500 yards (although it should be noted that the laser range finding functionality will work out to 750 yards). The scope has a 3-21x magnification.
Remington's website for the scope is here. Like the Tracking Point, it requires the scope be matched to specific rifles and ammunition. (See here for the rifles; and here for the ammo). I couldn't find pricing information. So, although I was tempted to call it a "poor man's Tracking Point," I suspect that it is actually a matter of "if you have to ask how much it costs, you can't afford it." However, it demonstrates that the technology is there and, if not killed off by the government, hopefully will come down in price, while increasing in flexibility, in the future.

Update (9/27/2013): The Truth About Guns reports that the prices for the rifle and scope packages will be $5,000 to $6,000.

Walnut Thieves....

And we are not just talking chipmunks. Thieves in Stockton are stealing walnuts from farmers--like bins and semi-trailer fulls--and getting more brazen about the robberies.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Spread of Cartels Into the Southwest

Another warning sign of the spread of the cartels:
A former police chief in a New Mexico border town collected more than $2,000 a month from the notorious Juarez Cartel in exchange for protection and help with smuggling drugs and guns, a former town official testified on Wednesday. 
Blas 'Woody' Gutierrez, the former Columbus village trustee, told a federal court that former Police Chief Angelo Vega also received $1,500 each time he allowed cartel members to use village vehicles, including police cruisers, for the syndicate's various operations. 
That testimony came in a trial involving Danny Burnett, a former school superintendent who is charged with leaking information about a federal wiretap investigation into a Columbus gun and drug smuggling ring.

Another Reason to Prohibit "Gun Free" Zones (Update)

Reports are beginning to filter out of what the terrorists behind the Nairobi attack did to their prisoners:
Soldiers told of the horrific torture meted out by terrorists in the Nairobi mall massacre yesterday with claims hostages were dismembered, had their eyes gouged out and were left hanging from hooks in the ceiling. 
Men were said to have been castrated and had fingers removed with pliers before being blinded and hanged.  
Children were found dead in the food court fridges with knives still embedded in their bodies, it was claimed.
... Yesterday, soldiers and doctors who were among the first people into the mall after it was reclaimed on Tuesday, spoke of the horrifying scenes inside. 
‘You find people with hooks hanging from the roof,’ said one Kenyan doctor, who asked not to be named. 
‘They removed eyes, ears, nose. They get your hand and sharpen it like a pencil then they tell you to write your name with the blood.  
‘They drive knives inside a child’s body.  
'Actually if you look at all the bodies, unless those ones that were escaping, fingers are cut by pliers, the noses are ripped by pliers. Here it was pain.’
... During the firefight, hostages reportedly had their throats slashed from ear to ear and were thrown screaming from third-floor balconies as the siege came to a bloody end.
(Update: 9/27/2013): Infowars is reporting that some of the bodies have signs of being raped.

(Update: 9/29/2013): USA Today also reporting.

Global Warming As A False God

The Washington Examiner looks at the impact of the soon to be release U.N. report on global warming, which now has to try and explain 15 years without any warming. But it also notes how global warming has become less of a science, and more of a religion:

The religious analogy is appropriate because belief in global warming has taken on the trappings of traditional religion. 
Alarmists like to say the science is settled — which is nonsense, since science is a series of theories that can be tested by observations. When Einstein presented his theory of relativity he showed how it could be tested during astronomical events in the next decade. The theory passed. 
Saying the science is settled is demanding what religions demand, that you have faith.
Religion has ritual. Global warming alarmism has recycling and Earth Day celebrations.
Some religions persecute heretics. Some global warming alarmists identify “denialists” and liken them to Holocaust deniers.
Religions build grand places of worship. Global warming alarmists promote the construction of windmills and solar farms that produce uneconomic and intermittent electricity. 
Global warming alarmism even has indulgences like the ones Martin Luther protested. You can buy carbon offsets to gain forgiveness for travel on carbon-emitting private jet aircraft. 
Some religions ban vulgar pleasures, like the New England Puritan sumptuary laws banning luxuries. Some global warming alarmists want to force most Americans out of big-lawn suburbs into high-rise apartments clustered around mass transit stations. 
This last element seems to be dominant among many global warming alarmists. Stop the vulgar masses from living their tacky lifestyles driving those horrid SUVs. They must be made to repent, conform and be saved.
 And let me add another aspect, that is common to false religions and cults--preaching for sake of power and gain.

Where Is Obama In His Negotiations With Iran?

From the Debka File:

1. Iran’s nuclear capabilities will be preserved in their present state. Tehran has already pocketed respect for its right to enrich uranium and keep back in the country all accumulated stocks, including the quantities enriched to the 20 percent level (a short hop to weaponised grade). 
2. Tehran accepts a cap on the number of centrifuges enriching uranium at the Natanz facility. The exact number has not been decided. 
The number of machines for enriching uranium to 5 percent is still at issue. There are no restrictions on centrifuges generating a lower level of purity.  
Discussions on this point have not been finalized, since Washington wants to limit the number of advanced IR2 and IR1 centrifuges in operation and Tehran is holding out against this, 
3. Iran will sign the Additional Protocol of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty-NPT, which allows International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors to make unannounced visits outside declared nuclear sites, when they are suspected of carrying out banned operations.
It will also allow the IAEA to install cameras in the chambers where the centrifuges are spinning and not just the areas where the enriched uranium is deposited.
Here too, it is not clear whether Tehran will also stipulated that Israel sign the same article and permit inspections of its reputed nuclear sites. 
4.  The US and European Union will gradually lift all sanctions. 
The linkage President Obama made between the Iranian and Palestinian negotiating tracks is puzzling: 
Does it imply that the more land Israel gives up on the West Bank for a Palestinian state, the more heavily he will lean on Iran to give up its nuclear weapons program? 
Was the president suggesting that if Israel is ready to evacuate settlements and reach a land swap deal with the Palestinians, he will be all the more ready to use force to preempt a nuclear-armed Iran? 
If that is the president’s thinking, he is giving the Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, by accepting or rejecting the extent of Israeli concessions, the power to determine the endgame of US nuclear negotiations with Iran. 
Does that make sense?

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Gang War Warning for L.A.

The Daily Mail reports on mass arrests of the Mexican Mafia gang in Orange County:
More than 120 people linked to street gangs that claim allegiance to the Mexican Mafia - who control most of the drug trade in California - have been indicted on various racketeering, weapons and narcotics charges as authorities attempt to cripple the notorious prison gang's Orange County wing. 
Hundreds of law enforcement officers fanned out across Southern California on Tuesday, making arrests as part of a two-year investigation dubbed, 'Operation Smokin' Aces'
A total of 129 people have been indicted by county and federal grand juries alleging crimes including murder, drug trafficking and extortion.
The Mexican Mafia, which controls most of the organized crime around LA, San Diego and parts of Arizona sought and received payments from gangs in Orange County in exchange for freely committing crimes in primarily Latino neighborhoods, according to court documents.  
Those who refused were put on lists that often resulted in violent retribution. 
... The indictments are designed to cripple the 1,000 strong gang which operates in the heart of Orange County and across Southern California.
1,000 members isn't very large for a street gang controlling much of Southern California. What is important to remember is that the Mexican Mafia is primarily a prison gang--it gets its control because members of other gangs will, at one time or another, be imprisoned and at the mercy of the gang. Thus, arresting and throwing members in prison may not do much to weaken the gang.

It may be worse, though, if it did weaken the gang because of the resulting power vacuum and turf wars that could erupt, similar to the collapse of the Guadalajara Cartel after the arrest of top leaders spawned the various cartels now in existence in Mexico. The best case scenario is that local gangs step into the fray, because they will likely maintain the status quo as far as the type and distribution of violence ; worst case, the Mexican cartels push aggressively to assert control over the drug distribution in Southern California, and import the violence and tactics employed in Mexico.

A Powerful Earthquake in Pakistan... (Updated and bumped)

... kills 327 people and creates a new island.
The 7.7-magnitude quake hit in the Awaran district of Baluchistan province on Tuesday afternoon, destroying scores of mud-built houses and prompting a new island to rise from the sea just off the country's southern coast. The earthquake was so powerful that it caused the seabed to rise and create a small, mountain-like island about 600 meters (yards) off Pakistan's Gwadar coastline in the Arabian Sea.
Update: The Daily Mail reports:
 The Pakistani military said it was rushing troops and helicopters to Awaran district in Baluchistan province where the magnitude 7.7 quake struck on Tuesday afternoon. 
The quake was felt as far away as New Delhi, the Indian capital, some 1,200 kilometers (about 740 miles) away, but no damage or injuries were immediately reported there.
As for the new island:

Pakistani officials were investigating a small island that appeared off the coast of Pakistan after the quake, apparently the result of earth and mud pushed to the surface by the quake.  
The head of the Geological Survey of Pakistan confirmed that the mass was created by the quake and said scientists were trying to determine how it happened.  
Zahid Rafi said such masses are sometimes created by the movement of gases locked in the earth under the sea, pushing mud and earth up to the surface in something akin to a mud volcano.  
'When such a strong earthquake builds pressure, there is the likelihood of such islands emerging,' he said. 'That big shock beneath the earth causes a lot of disturbance.' 
To get a better idea of what the island is made of and how permanent it is, scientists will have to get samples of the material to see if it's mostly soft mud or rocks and harder material. 

He said these types of islands can remain for a long time or eventually subside back into the ocean, depending on their makeup.
Locals have apparently already been visiting the island, and report that there are flammable gas seeps. More on the island and photos here.

Our prayers go out for the victims and their families.

Update on Nairobi Terrorist Attack

The Daily Mail reports that the current death toll is at 72, with an additional 175 injured. Also this:

The news comes as it was claimed today that the Islamic militants who stormed the mall rented a shop inside the complex apparently to store a cache of guns and explosives before the attack.
The Kenyan Interior Ministry said the terror group may have had control of the store for three months leading up to the siege. 
Law enforcement officials believe the arsenal of weapons used in the atrocity were smuggled in, which suggests they may have been kept inside the shop during that time.

The Fed's Hidden Agenda?

Peter J. Tanous writes, at CNBC, regarding his theory on why the Federal Reserve has continued with quantitative easing, even though the Fed has already bought up $3.6 trillion of U.S. Treasury bonds.  I figured that it was something mundane like keeping the financial markets artificially inflated, but he thinks it may have something to do with maintaining social order. He writes:

I believe that one of the most important reasons the Fed is determined to keep interest rates low is one that is rarely talked about, and which comprises a dark economic foreboding that should frighten us all. 
Let me start with a question: How would you feel if you knew that almost all of the money you pay in personal income tax went to pay just one bill, the interest on the debt? Chances are, you and millions of Americans would find that completely unacceptable and indeed they should. 
But that is where we may be heading. 
Thanks to the Fed, the interest rate paid on our national debt is at an historic low of 2.4 percent, according to the Congressional Budget Office. 
Given the U.S.'s huge accumulated deficit, this low interest rate is important to keep debt servicing costs down.

Tanous then notes that the average bond rates during the last 20 years was 5.7%, and in 2020, it is estimated that government debt will $16.6 trillion. At 5.7%, the cost of servicing the debt in 2020 would be $930 billion--85% of the $1.1 trillion that the Federal government collected in personal income tax last year. He also notes that many economists believe that quantitative easing will lead to inflation, which will cause interest rates on T-bills to go even higher.

One thing is clear: Based on CBO projections, if interest rates just rise to their 20-year average, we will have an untenable, unacceptable interest rate bill whose beneficiaries are China, Japan, and others who own our bonds. 
And if Americans find out that the lion's share of their income tax payments are going to service the debt, prepare for a new American revolution. 

Another Canary in the Coal Mine...

Drudge linked to this article on Moody's downgrading Costa Rica's outlook to negative. The primary reason?

Large fiscal deficits and a rising debt burden remain Costa Rica’s main medium-term credit risk and ratings constraint. The government debt burden remains lower than the average for its rating peers, but has increased in recent years. Moody’s estimates 2013’s debt to GDP will reach 37%, similar to the Baa median of 38%, but higher than 2008, when it was 25% of GDP.
The key reason behind the increase in debt metrics has been a jump in the fiscal deficit. The central government financial balance, which averaged a 1% of GDP deficit in the period 2004 to 2008, will rise to a 4.4% of GDP average from 2009 to 2013. The government has repeatedly attempted to approve legislation to deal with the rising deficits, but so far has not succeeded. The current goal is to approve fiscal reform before the next administration assumes power in May 2014.

Looting Post Colorado Floods

CBS Denver reports:
As Colorado rebuilds from the floods some survivors are being victimized again — this time by thieves. Now there’s an army of agencies helping protect what little some people have left. 
The Colorado National Guard will keep watch on damaged neighborhoods in Longmont and Lyons indefinitely. 
Given the scope of the flooding, the number of reports of looting is really quite low, but in one Milliken mobile home park alone there were three residences that were burglarized. It’s a lot like kicking someone when they’re down.
The reports are expected to increase as more people begin returning to their homes and discover items missing.

In this situation, there is probably little the average person could do to prevent looters from accessing the homes--after all, the owners are absent from the homes, and probably prevented by authorities from returning to the area. (Obviously, the criminal element is not too concerned about obtaining official approval). Securing valuables in safes and lock boxes that make it more difficult for the looters to remove items is probably the only reasonable method.

Of more use is to keep records of your valuables in a secure water and fire-proof container, and make sure you have adequate home-owners insurance to cover your property. Standard policies generally limit coverage for valuables (such as firearms, antiques, jewelry, etc.), but there may also be limitations or exclusions on the type of hazards that are insured (e.g., no coverage for flood damage).

Hollywood Goes for Armored Cars

Drudge had a link to this article on the increasing popularity of armored cars among the Hollywood elite. What I thought was interesting was this little bit on why the popularity:
Texas Armoring executive vp Jason Forston says the company has seen demand in the U.S. soar the past five years. "A large part of it is celebrities, pro athletes and rock stars," Forston says. "You even have a lot of Hollywood executives, studio heads, people not in the spotlight." Forston credits the "climate of fear right now -- the growing gap between the haves and the have-nots" -- for the surge in sales.
(Underline added). I wasn't aware that there was a climate of fear right now, so I'm curious what the Hollywood elites are hearing that we are not.

TTAG Weighs in on the AK-12

I've posted a few times about the AK-12, and now Nick Leghorn, at The Truth About Guns, gives his opinion on the rifle (albeit, apparently based on photos of an earlier prototype). Obviously, he has not tested the rifle. His opinion is summarized in one sentence: "There are some differences and improvements, but in general they will be doing what every pimply faced first-time gun owner does to their milsurp rifles to make them 'tactical:' slap rails on every imaginable surface . . ."

Sort of like the conversion from the M16 to the M4....

Actually, there are quite a few improvements, but the basic design of the AK is so robust there is little need to change anything there. Obviously, there is now a selector lever in what appears to be a more ergonomic position. Since the biggest improvements in rifles during the last 40 years has been materials (e.g., use of plastics) and rails, it appears most of the changes have been made in that area: a redesign of the top cover to allow mounting of optics, other rails for flashlights, etc., and an adjustable stock (with no buffer tube, so it can fold as well).

Leghorn apparently doesn't like the trigger pull on the AK. Admittedly, I use an Arsenal trigger group, but it is a lot smoother than most AR triggers, and a heck-of-a-lot simpler mechanism.

I can't tell from the photo if there are tiny springs waiting to get lost if you tear the rifle down, so it may not be as advanced a design as the AR in that respect....

Monday, September 23, 2013

Explosions and Fire at Nairobi Mall

The Daily Mail is reporting:

Kenyan special forces were today locked in a fight to the death with Islamic terrorists who have been barricaded inside a Nairobi mall with up to 40 hostages since Saturday. 
Witnesses described hearing four large explosions at the Westgate Shopping Centre followed by the sight of thick plumes of smoke and the sounds of fierce gunfire after the military tried to break the three day siege by gaining access from the roof. 
It is feared that some of the gunmen, who are from Al Qaeda affiliated group Al Shabaab, may have blown themselves up, though a Kenyan government minister said that militants had set fire to some mattresses in a supermarket as a decoy. 
Interior Minister Joseph Ole Lenku said that two of the terrorists had been killed and that most hostages were now free. All of the militants were men, he added, although some were dressed as women. 'We think the operation will come to an end soon', he said. 'We are in control of all the floors, the terrorists are running and hiding in some stores... there is no room for escape'. 
The Red Cross has put the death toll at 62 - including four Britons - and say 63 are still missing. At least 175 were injured, including children.

It Is Almost Like the Administration Wants a Civil War....

A new House Oversight and Government Reform Committee “interim memo” on the IRS scandal suggests that media coverage of the tea party movement as “dangerous” and full of “rage” pushed IRS agents to scrutinize conservative groups unfairly. 
But could such collusion to target groups with the words “tea party” or “constitution” in their names – a program that the IRS acknowledges was a mistake – have chilled political speech to such an extent that it cleared the way for President Obama’s victory? 
As it was, Obama won the popular vote by 5 million votes in 2012 over challenger Mitt Romney, while carrying 332 Electoral College votes to Mr. Romney’s 206. 
But what has become clear to many conservatives is that federal agencies going back to 2010 appeared to openly champion liberal causes by, for example, putting on special conferences to show black churches how to express political opinions without losing their tax-exempt status, all the while stonewalling tea party groups with questions ranging from queries about religion to personal relationships. 
At the very least, writes the Wall Street Journal’s James Taranto this week, “Barack Obama’s reelection deserves to be listed with an asterisk in the record books. We know only that he did win with the help of a corrupt IRS. And if indeed the election was stolen, many in the media were complicit in its theft.”
The RHINOs are not likely to care, as they have the attitude that it is better to rule in Hell than serve in Heaven. Some, like McCain, actually rely on the Republicans being a minority in order to enjoy some power and influence as "moderates" able to "reach across the aisle"--influence that would largely evaporate if Republicans held clear majorities in both houses of Congress.

(H/t Instapundit)

Somewhat lost ...

... in this weekend's reporting of the terrorist attack in Kenya was this Taliban bombing of a Christian church in Pakistan which killed 78. (Some commentary here).

Poland Seizes Private Pensions

Poland said on Wednesday it will transfer to the state many of the assets held by private pension funds, slashing public debt but putting in doubt the future of the multi-billion-euro funds, many of them foreign-owned. 
The changes went deeper than many in the market expected and could fuel investor concerns that the government is ditching some business-friendly policies to try to improve its flagging popularity with voters. 
The Polish pension funds' organisation said the changes may be unconstitutional because the government is taking private assets away from them without offering any compensation. 
Announcing the long-awaited overhaul of state-guaranteed pensions, Prime Minister Donald Tusk said private funds within the state-guaranteed system would have their bond holdings transferred to a state pension vehicle, but keep their equity holdings. 
He said that what remained in citizens' pension pots in the private funds will be gradually transferred into the state vehicle over the last 10 years before savers hit retirement age.
 Poland is, unfortunately, a demographic disaster with one of the lowest fertility rates in the world. This is inevitable where the government had over-promised benefits, but there aren't enough taxpayers to make good on those promises.

(H/t Instapundit)

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Photos of the AK-12

The Firearms Blog has photos of Pres. Putin inspecting new AK-12, AS-1, and new model AK-74s. Nice photos.

The Collapse of Egypt

Courts of law are a fundamental function of government. Thus, when alternates begin to show up, it indicates that the government is in trouble. From Foreign Policy:
In the Sinai Peninsula, where government buildings and checkpoints have been bombarded by rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs) and car bombs on a near-daily basis in recent weeks, the Egyptian state is losing ground to ultraconservative Islamists with an alternative vision for rule of law. The growing influence of self-taught sharia judges who uphold the Quran over Egyptian law reflects an alarming erosion of state sovereignty in the Sinai Peninsula. In late August, state courts in North Sinai were forced to transfer all of their cases to the comparatively stable jurisdiction of Ismailiya, in the face of escalating attacks by armed extremists targeting government buildings and security personnel. This week, two prominent sharia judges were among 15 hard-line Salafis arrested on charges of inciting terrorist attacks, as the Egyptian government struggles to contain rising extremism. But despite the current crackdown, it is clear that the deeply entrenched sharia courts of North Sinai are here to stay. 
The outsourcing of traditional law enforcement functions to non-state actors is reminiscent of a pattern seen in failed states like Somalia, where powerful Islamic courts with their own private militias and ties to al Qaeda seized control over vast swaths of the country in 2006. While the sharia courts of Sinai are nowhere near as institutionalized as those in Somalia, they similarly aspire to absorb the functions of state institutions that are failing to govern. 
In an unofficial sharia court in the Egyptian governorate of North Sinai, Sheikh Abu Faisal is slowly building the infrastructure of a parallel Islamic state in plain view of a government he regards as illegal and undemocratic. A former agricultural engineer who taught himself sharia jurisprudence in the jail cell where he was detained on charges of involvement in the 2004 bombings at tourist resorts in Sharm al-Sheikh, Abu Faisal has since become one of the most powerful sharia judges in North Sinai, hearing dozens of cases every week at the House of Sharia Judgment in Arish and another court in Sheikh Zuweid -- among at least 14 informal Islamic courts that have been established since the 2011 revolution.
The article goes on to discuss that, for now, most of the sharia judges are distancing themselves from more radical elements (i.e., the terrorists), but that this may be temporary. Israel may come to regret listening to Jimmy Carter and handing the Sinai back to Egypt.

How to Get Rid of Fruit Flies

From Suburban Turmoil, a good idea to get rid of fruit flies:

First, take a wide mouth jar and fill it 1/2 — 3/4 of the way full with apple cider vinegar. (No other vinegar will work, btw. It has to be apple cider vinegar.) 
Add a few drops of dish soap, then fill the rest of the jar with water until the bubbles reach the rim of the jar. 
Finally, in the words of my lovely friend…. WATCH THE CARNAGE. 
If you leave that jar alone for a few hours, the fruit flies will come. TRUST ME. THEY WILL COME.
(H/t Instapundit)

North Korea's Drug Trade

The Daily Mail reports that North Korea has become involved with manufacturing crystal meth, but it may be getting out of control:

A new study reveals vast quantities are being made for export by state-trained scientists in collusion with corrupt officials and criminal gangs in a country desperate for hard currency.
Inevitably, it has ended up creating a catastrophic epidemic back home. In some parts of the country up to 50 per cent of the population are reported to be hooked. 
The study discloses drug abuse has reached ‘remarkable proportions and keeps growing, engulfing new social groups and regions’. 
The inquiry, by two South Korea-based academics, is based on interviews with 21 recent defectors. It confirms earlier evidence from the US and China, where there are soaring levels of crystal meth addiction in border regions with North Korea. 
Perhaps most remarkably, the trade began as a state-sponsored exercise. 
The nation, hit hard by the collapse of the Soviet Union which supported it with aid, began making methamphetamine in large laboratories in its poorer northern regions for export.  
These were scaled down about eight years ago as the drug began flooding back into the country. 
But instead of slowing down production, this sparked explosive growth in crystal meth manufacture.  
Jobless scientists and technicians created their own ‘kitchen labs’, teaming up with smuggling gangs that blossomed during a deadly famine in the Nineties. 
‘They were rather old people and their lives were tough,’ one defector told the report’s authors. ‘Private entrepreneurs began to look for such people and employ them.’ 
Users include soldiers in the world’s most militarised state, women taking it for weight control and sick people unable to access medicines in a country with such chronic healthcare  that doctors use old beer bottles for hospital drips. 
‘People in North Korea do not realise what the side effects will be,’ said  Professor Kim Seok-Hyang, who co-authored the report. ‘They think it is a good thing to relieve their pain. A cure-all medicine.’ 
Parents even offer it to children to help them concentrate – with no inkling of the consequences.
China is surrounding by narco states--I see a huge problem developing for Chinese law enforcement.

"I am not leaving."

The Daily Mail reports:
White supremacists are gathering today in Leith, North Dakota, the tiny town that a neo-Nazi leader hopes to turn into a white-only haven for racism.  
But Leith's only black resident is defiant and say's he's staying put.  
The other residents of the dwindling town of 24 people are planning a counter-protest to oppose the meeting of white supremacists. Leaders from across the state are joining forces in an effort to show the hate groups that they aren't welcome.  
'We are deeply disturbed that one of the residents of our small community has invited hate groups to our town and to the state of North Dakota. One of these hate groups, the National Socialist Movement, is planning to hold a meeting in our city hall on Sunday afternoon, and raise neo Nazi flags on property around our town,' the town of Leith said in a statement.
There are successful methods to deal with this problem, although it may require exercising the Second Amendment.

Nairobi Mall Attack--Standoff Nearing End

A large explosion today rocked the upmarket Kenyan mall where Islamic extremists are holding hostages after launching an attack which left at least 68 people dead. 
Witnesses at the Westgate shopping center in Nairobi said the explosion - which was followed by silence - is by far the largest as the siege nears the 36-hour mark. Up to 15 militant attackers were in the mall on Sunday night holding an unknown number of captives, said Kenyan officials, although estimates have been made at around 30 hostages. More than 175 people have been wounded. 
The Kenyan military stormed the four-story mall and there have been sporadic gun battles with extremists. Kenyan troops were seen carrying in at least two rocket-propelled grenades - and, earlier, military helicopters hovered over the mall. 
It came after the wife of a U.S. embassy worker was identified as one of the dead. Four Americans are among the 175 wounded in the attack by al Qaeda-linked extremists, who opened fire in the mall after reportedly allowing Muslims to flee. 
Reuters had earlier reported that Secretary of State John Kerry said the wife of a U.S. diplomat working for the U.S. Agency for International Development was killed. 
However the State Department said that it was in fact the wife of a national working for the U.S. embassy in Nairobi.
... Five hostages were released on Sunday at around 2am local time. It is thought that Israeli soldiers are assisting with the rescue mission: 'The Israelis have entered and they are rescuing the hostages and the injured,' a source told AFP. 
Two wounded Kenyan security forces officers were carried out of the mall this morning after a barrage of gunfire was heard. 
Two gunmen have been killed by authorities, but as many as eight remain, CNN reported. Is is believed that one of the militant fighters is a woman.  
Jonathan Maungo, a private security guard, told Reuters: 'They entered through blood, that's how they'll leave.'
... Al-Shabaab, also known as Harakat al-Shabaab al-Mujahideen (HSM), claimed responsibility for the atrocity on Twitter.  
The terrorist organization said that it had previously warned the Kenyan government that, if they did not remove military forces from Somalia, there would be 'severe consequences'. 
'For long we have waged war against the Kenyans in our land, now it's time to shift the battleground and take the war to their land,' terrorists tweeted, before launching into a chilling account of the attack as it unfolded.  
The militant group wrote: 'The Mujahideen entered Westgate Mall today at around noon and are still inside the mall, fighting the Kenyan Kuffar inside their own turf.' 
The organization claimed it had killed more than 100 Kenyan 'kuffar', a derogatory term used to describe non-Muslims. 
'Since our last contact, the Mujahideen inside the mall confirmed to @HSM_Press that they killed over 100 Kenyan kiffar & battle is ongoing.' the tweets continued. 
'What Kenyans are witnessing today at #Westgate is retributive justice for crimes committed by their military, albeit largely miniscule in nature,' read the final tweet.
 The BBC similarly reports:

"The gunmen told Muslims to stand up and leave. They were safe, and non-Muslims would be targeted,'' Elijah Kamau told AP. 
British journalist Daniel Howden at Westgate told the BBC that one witness explained how he was released by the attackers after showing his ID with a Muslim-sounding name. 
An Indian man who was standing next to him was asked for the name of the Prophet's mother and when he was unable to answer, he was shot dead, the witness told him.
Some of the attackers were reportedly dressed in hijabs, but it was unclear whether they were men or women.
One man reported seeing a man who spoke Arabic change his clothes then leave the shopping centre amongst other people being rescued.
And then there is this:
Al-Shabaab is claiming that there are American gunmen among those still holed up in the Westgate mall in a standoff with Kenyan and Israeli special forces.

Blogging "65 Signs of the Times Leading Up to the Second Coming" - Part 3.

This is part 3 of my review of David Ridges, 65 Signs of the Times Leading Up to the Second ComingPart 1 is here. Part 2 is here.

Before moving on to Chapter 3, which discusses each of the 65 signs the author has chosen to elucidate, there is another point from Chapter 2 which Ridges raises: that there may be considerable time from when Christ appears to when he comes to reign on Earth. He notes, in that regard, Zech. 14:1-9, describing Christ's appearance to the Jews when the Mount of Olives splits, to Ezekiel 39:8-16, describing that it will take 7 months to "cleanse" the land after the final battle (by burying the dead). Presumably, the Lord will not return until the land has been cleansed. 

In Chapter 3, Ridges discusses (in no particular order I could discern) 65 of what he considers to be signs preceding the second coming. It is important to note that many of the signs have already been fulfilled, or in the process of being fulfilled. My point is not to repeat Ridges book here, but to interject comments or emphasis. Thus, while I will list all the signs, I will not comment on all of them.

(1)  The discovery of America and establishment of the United States -- fulfilled.

(2)  The coming forth of the Book of Mormon -- fulfilled. This is in fulfillment of Ezekiel 37:15-19, where the stick of Judah (the Bible) is to be joined with the stick of Joseph (the Book of Mormon). 

(3)  The restoration of the priesthood and the priesthood keys (i.e., the Aaronic and Melchizedek priesthoods, and the sealing powers)  -- fulfilled. (Malachi 4:4-6, Jeremiah 31:31-33). 

(4)  The restoration of the true church of Jesus Christ -- fulfilled. Ridges obviously cites those scriptures that discuss that there will be a falling away or apostasy from the original church, such as 2 Thessalonians 2:1-3 and Acts 3:19-21. I would also note that the Lord spoke many times of the "first being last and the last first." (e.g., Luke 13:30; Matthew 19:30; Matthew 20:16). Christ, during his ministry, was very clear that His purpose was to go to the Jews first. (See, e.g., Mark 7:24-30). Later, the apostles were commanded to take the Gospel to the Gentiles (essentially the whole theme of the Acts). The restoration of the Church has now made the last first and the first last because the restored Gospel was first made available to the Gentiles, and the Church has agreed with Israel that it will not proselyte to anyone in Israel, such that Israel will truly be the last to receive the Gospel in these latter days.

(5) The Church will be established in the tops of the mountains--fulfilled. (Isaiah 2:2-3). (Note that in much of what is written by Isaiah and the other prophets concerning the last days ("in that day") "Zion" refers to the restored Church while "Jerusalem" refers to Judah (the nation of Israel, and/or the Jews)).

(6) The Church will grow to fill the whole Earth--being fulfilled (Daniel 2:35, 44-45).

(7) Slaves will rise up against their masters--being fulfilled (referring to a portion of the prophecy on wars: D&C 87-4).

(8) A full end of all nations--yet to be fulfilled (D&C 87:6). I would note that this ties together with the prophecy, cited above, from Daniel, to when the stone cut out of the mountain will strike and destroy the figure (representing the great empires).

(9) Scattered Israel will be gathered--being fulfilled (e.g., Isaiah 5:26-30; Ezekiel 28:25). This refers not only to the gathering of the Jews to the Holy Land, but also the gathering of peoples into the Church.

(10) All will hear the Gospel in their own tongue--being fulfilled.

Friday, September 20, 2013

The Great New England Hurricane of 1938

Tomorrow is the 75th anniversary. The Daily Mail has the story and photos:
Approximately 700 people died 75 years ago when the storm known variously as the Great New England Hurricane of 1938 or the Long Island Express began plowing up America's Northeast coastline at 2:45 p.m. on Sept. 21, 1938. 
It slammed into land and rapidly moved north, destroying buildings, altering coastlines, ripping apart forests and shocking a population that had never experienced a hurricane.
A weather station in Massachusetts recorded sustained winds of 121 mph and gusts as high as 186 mph - a major storm by modern standards that dwarfs the land wind speeds recorded in storms Irene and Sandy, which also devastated parts of the Northeast in recent years.
'It was the strongest, the most devastating, the deadliest and the costliest for the region and still is,' says Lourdes Aviles, a Plymouth State University meteorology professor in Plymouth, N.H., who this month published the book Taken by Storm, 1938: A Social and Meteorological History of the Great New England Hurricane. 
The hurricane was the death knell for many mills and factories that had barely survived the Great Depression.  
It stripped 4 million bushels of apples from orchards, killed livestock and felled millions of trees, according to Aviles' research. Bridges and dams were destroyed, and rail travel was halted for weeks.

Hezbollah Obtains Assad's Chemical Weapons

The terror group Hezbollah has assumed control of at least a portion of Syria’s chemical weapons cache, according to a Syrian military commander, multiple lawmakers, and rebel leaders. 
A portion of Syrian President Bashar al Assad regime’s chemical weapons supply has fallen into the hands of Hezbollah, which has been fighting on Assad’s behalf, according to these multiple sources. 
The latest confirmation that Hezbollah, which was founded by Iran and receives funding and support from the regime, had gotten ahold of these deadly weapons came earlier this week when a former Syrian army commander claimed that certain chemical weapons shipments had been delivered to Hezbollah. 
“Some of the chemical weapons shipments are already with Hezbollah,” Brig. Gen. Zaher Saket, a defector who was formerly in charge of a unit equipped for chemical warfare, said to The National Online, an Abu Dhabi-based news agency. 
Saket claims that he was ordered on at least three occasions to deploy chemical weapons until he defected and went public with the regime’s crimes. 
It remains unclear what exactly Hezbollah would do with chemical weapons.
Probably use them. Duh.

Islam's Version of Total War

Robert Spencer writes about a particularly nasty side to the way war is waged under Islam:
At the height of the controversy over U.S. military intervention in Syria, as I noted last week, an Iranian official named Alireza Forghani issued a novel threat to the United States: if the U.S. entered Syria, he said, there would be “mass abductions and brutal killings of American citizens around the world and the rape and killing of one of Obama’s daughters should the United States attack Syria.” Forghani said that within two days of the beginning of the military action, a relative of every U.S. cabinet member, ambassador, and military commander around the world would be abducted and mutilated, all to be lavishly depicted in lurid YouTube videos.
... Forghani’s threat illustrated just how much worse it could get. It is not outside the realm of possibility that his threat could come true, and that Islamic jihadis worldwide could begin raping, torturing and murdering Americans in large numbers, and filming the whole thing as they filmed the beheadings of Daniel Pearl, Nicholas Berg, Paul Marshall Johnson, and others. This could conceivably happen in the United States as well. Rape has always been a weapon of war; .... 
But it couldn’t possibly happen here, could it? Well, why not? It is already happening in Britain, where an appallingly large number of Muslim rape gangs have abducted English girls, gang-raped them, forced them into prostitution, and in some cases killed them. These gangs have frequently made statements that indicate that they see their actions as justified because their victims are non-Muslim ....
This is happening because the Qur’an allows Muslim men to have sex with captive slave girls, the “captives of the right hand” (4:3; 4:23-4). ...
Jihadis have used rape as a weapon, according to Islamic tradition, back to the time of Muhammad. ...
Read the whole thing.

Syrian Christians Facing Extermination ...

... writes Raymond Ibrahim at PJ Media.

The Hidden World of Homeschoolers

Four things about home-school culture. Interesting and funny.

Scientists Told to Conceal Lack of Global Warming

From the Daily Mail:
Scientists working on the most authoritative study on climate change were urged to cover up the fact that the world’s temperature hasn’t risen for the last 15 years, it is claimed.
A leaked copy of a United Nations report, compiled by hundreds of scientists, shows politicians in Belgium, Germany, Hungary and the United States raised concerns about the final draft.
Published next week, it is expected to address the fact that 1998 was the hottest year on record and world temperatures have not yet exceeded it, which scientists have so far struggled to explain. 
The report is the result of six years’ work by UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which is seen as the world authority on the extent of climate change and what is causing it – on which governments including Britain’s base their green policies.
But leaked documents seen by the Associated Press, yesterday revealed deep concerns among politicians about a lack of global warming over the past few years.
Germany called for the references to the slowdown in warming to be deleted, saying looking at a time span of just 10 or 15 years was ‘misleading’ and they should focus on decades or centuries. 
Hungary worried the report would provide ammunition for deniers of man-made climate change. 
Belgium objected to using 1998 as a starting year for statistics, as it was exceptionally warm and makes the graph look flat - and suggested using 1999 or 2000 instead to give a more upward-pointing curve. 
The United States delegation even weighed in, urging the authors of the report to explain away the lack of warming using the ‘leading hypothesis’ among scientists that the lower warming is down to more heat being absorbed by the ocean – which has got hotter.
Can't let the truth get in the way of the politician's desire to use global warming as a means to increase their power and control.

Plans for the Caliphate Move Ahead

Across northern and eastern Syria, units of the jihadist group known as ISIS are seizing territory—on the battlefield and behind the front lines—from Western-backed rebels.
Some FSA fighters now consider the extremists to be as big a threat to their survival as the forces of President Bashar al-Assad.
"It's a three-front war," a U.S. official said of the FSA rebels' fight: They face the Assad regime, forces from its Lebanese ally Hezbollah, and now the multinational jihadist ranks of ISIS. 
Brigade leaders of the FSA say that ISIS, an Iraqi al Qaeda outfit whose formal name is the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham, has dragged them into a battle they are ill-equipped to fight. 
Some U.S. officials said they see it as a battle for the FSA's survival. 
In recent months, ISIS has become a magnet for foreign jihadists who view the war in Syria not primarily as a means to overthrow the Assad regime but rather as a historic battleground for a larger Sunni holy war. According to centuries-old Islamic prophecy they espouse, they must establish an Islamic state in Syria as a step to achieving a global one.

... The proliferation of the Sunni jihadists and extremists has brought a new type of terror to the lives of many Syrians who have endured civil war in the north. Summary executions of Alawites and Shiites, who are seen as apostates, attacks on Shiite shrines, and kidnappings and assassinations of pro-Western rebels are on the rise.
 (Underline added).

Review: Polish Radom Magazines (Updated)

Some friends and I had gone into a group purchase of the Polish Radom Circle-11 magazines for the AK-47/AKM style rifles. Aim Surplus had them on sale for $7.95 each.

My initial impression was actually quite good. Although they don't have metal reinforced feed lips, the construction appeared to be sturdy, and the floor plate is steel. The follower is a non-tilt style, and the spring appeared to be strong. In short, clean, well-made, polymer magazines.

The problem I had was that I could not get them to fully lock into place. After checking that the feed lips weren't pushing up against something, I decided it must have to do with the extra plastic right above the locking tab.

My suspicions were confirmed when one of my friends sent me this from the AK Forum gun board: 
“I had a little time today so I did some work on the polish radom 11 mags. Had to file right above the locking tab on all of them and get them to fit all my rifles. 10 seconds per mag took care of it. Actually, I prefer doing this. You can get your mags nice and tight as apposed to having sloppy mags. Anyways, they fit the same with the mags loaded or empty. Tells me there is not that much flex in them. Which is fine and unlike the Korean mags that flex alot.

Asmodeus is correct. These are identical to tapco slabsides. I haven't had any problems with tapco mags in the past so I don't think I will have any with these. I ran 90 rounds through them without any problems.

All in all, would I buy them again? No. They will make good range mags but that's about it. I wouldn't say I would trust my life on them but you get what you pay for.”
Anyway, I will work on filing that portion down a bit to see if I can get it to lock into place, and let you know what I think of the functioning.

Updated (9/29/13): So I took a hand file to the magazines for a few minutes (pausing to check the fit ever little bit). It didn't take too much effort to get it to fit; and only a couple more minutes and I had the magazine fitting to my satisfaction where it was easily inserted, but solid.

With this correction, I have to say that I was impressed that there was no side-to-side movement of the magazine. Now I just need to get some range time....

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Looting in Acapulco

From Yahoo News:
Looting broke out in the flooded Mexican beach resort of Acapulco as the government struggled to reach tens of thousands of people cut off by flooding that had claimed at least 80 lives by Wednesday. 
Stores were ransacked by looters who carried off everything from televisions to Christmas decorations after floodwaters wreaked havoc in the Pacific port that has experienced some of the worst storm damage to hit Mexico in years. 
... Shops were plundered in the city's upscale neighborhood of Diamante, home to luxury hotels and plush apartments, where dozens of cars were ruined by muddy brown floodwaters. Marines were posted outside stores to prevent further theft. 
"Unfortunately, it wasn't looting from need of food. It was stealing for stealing's sake," said Mariberta Medina, head of a local hoteliers' association. "They even stole Halloween and Christmas decorations and an outboard motor."

When Boys Aren't Allowed to Be (Updated and Bumped)

The basic philosophy of feminism is not to support what is unique to women, but to instead tear down men, while forcing its twisted view of masculinity onto women. Feminism seeks to force women to be men, and men to be women.

A couple articles mentioned by Glenn Reynolds on the War on Men.

Sarah Hoyt muses on what happens to boys when you force them to be girls:
... when it comes to the relationship between men and women, it is marked by the fact that they outweigh us, out-lift us and out-run us.  We can outlast them both in effort and in longevity, for what consolation that’s worth.  BUT physically they’re stronger than us, even at the same size.  (I had a moment of shock when my then 11 year old son, who was still shorter and slimmer than I, could easily lift 100 pounds in a dead lift which I couldn’t do.) 
This means in interactions between men and women – as adults and partners – men must modulate their strength and women must find non-physical ways of projecting theirs.  We see women doing this as far back as pre-history.  The wise counselor.  The advisor.  It’s in all our legends and quite a few of our histories.  The man goes home and consults with his wife. 
I’d say our “civilization” – our road to being human – started when hominid males decided to court women rather than simply overpowering them. 
... But… women don’t understand this. 
... there is a group of women, we’ll call them “the sob sisters” who are really really dumb about this.  They either view men as a sort of hairier woman with a penis, or they wish he were so.  ... 
... They don’t understand that the decision to court rather than rape is built in very deeply in a man’s psyche, layered by thousands of years of evolution and – yes – sexual conditioning.  It is a gentleness born of strength.  Men who know themselves to be stronger than any woman they want, discipline themselves to go slowly, to court her.
Even in the most primitive tribes, rituals are instituted to bend men into this civilized mold.  Because when the mold is broken, the result is that men abuse women, women abuse children, and the world goes to hell.
The sob sisters don’t get this.  They are gentle because they’re weak and this forces them into being gentle.  Hell hath no fury and ability to oppress as one of these weak, die-away sisters given some power, but every woman here will know what I’m talking about, because sooner or later you find yourself fin a group where one of these has got the bit between their teeth.  Their power is mostly gossip and back stabbing and unbelievable psychological abuse, but they use it to the hilt. 
Which is why they think that if men aren’t using their superior strength, it must be because they’re weak, and the “solution” to society (they nurse in their black little hearts the hope of not just making women equal but reversing society and having women do all the masculine jobs and men do the feminine ones.  It’s nuttiness) is to raise men to be weak and not to know their own strength.  Hence the entire “rise of the sensitive male.”
The problem is this – you don’t reverse evolution in two generations. ...
... yes, boys can be taught to act weak and much like the sob sisters.  The problem is they aren’t.  Not even when they’re raised to act that way. 
The end result is that they don’t know how to express their strength and they’ve never been taught to modulate it. 
Men who have only been taught to “act sensitive” but have no other discipline, no other moral, no other idea of what it means to be a man, will in fact hoist the pirate flag.
Whenever a memoir surfaces from the sixties, the thing that always strikes me is how these men who were considered champions of women were in fact nasty little petulant creatures, taking advantage as much as possible.  Say, the story of Ayers raping a girl and then making her sleep with someone she had no interest in, by bullying her with the idea that not to do so would be unenlightened.
I often think that the people now controlling education were women who went through this, and therefore want to stop boys from being… well boys.  But what they’re doing in fact is creating more sociopathic males who will act as you want them to, but will take as much advantage as possible.
 Turning to a more specific example, is this interview at the National Review with Christina Hoff Sommers, who comments about how our education system is stacked against boys:

But boys and young men have been massively neglected. Women in the U.S. today earn 62 percent of associate’s degrees, 57 percent of bachelor’s degrees, 60 percent of master’s degrees, and 52 percent of doctorates. When an education-policy analyst looked at current trends in higher education he quipped, only half in jest, “The last male will graduate from college in 2068.” 
Let’s face it, boys are different from girls. As a group, boys are noisy, rowdy, and hard to manage. Many are messy and disorganized, and won’t sit still. They tend to like action, risk, and competition. When researchers asked a sample of boys why they did not spend a lot of time talking about their problems, most of them said it was “weird” and a waste of time. 
Today’s classrooms tend to be feelings-centered, risk-averse, competition-free, and sedentary. As early as pre-school and kindergarten, boys can be punished for behaving like boys. The characteristic play of young males is “rough-and-tumble” play. There is no known society where little boys fail to evince this behavior (girls do it too, but far less). In many schools, rough –and-tumble play is no longer tolerated. Well-meaning but intolerant adults are insisting “tug of war” be changed to “tug of peace”; games such as tag are being replaced with “circle of friends” — in which no one is ever out. Boys as young as five or six can be suspended for playing cops and robbers. Our schools have become hostile environments for most boys.
She also notes that it is unlikely that Congress would do anything to rectify the situation, such as some other countries have begun to do:
A “Success for Boys” campaign would face furious opposition in the U.S. Congress. Legislators would receive an avalanche of protesting faxes, e-mails, petitions, and phone calls from women’s groups accusing them of taking part in a “backlash” maneuver against women and girls.
And so the house of cards will tumble down.

Updated Sept. 9, 2013: An article discussing MSNBC's attack dogs criticizing Ms. Sommers, and an article Ms. Sommers published at the Atlantic.

(h/t Instapundit).

New Madrid Earthquake Caused by Hot Spot

Examining all the data from the Virginia earthquake, Risheng Chu and several of his colleagues at the California Institute of Technology think they’ve identified an interesting feature beneath the seismically active region on the border between Missouri and Tennessee—a trail of hot rock left by a mantle hot spot. 
Mantle hotspots are behind many island chains, like Hawaii, as well as continental volcanism, such as the Snake River Plain leading to Yellowstone. It’s not the hotspots that move. Rather, it’s the tectonic plate that moves over the hotspot, with the resulting linear scar recording past plate motion. 
The New Madrid Seismic Zone is unusual in that it’s far from any plate boundary. While most earthquakes there are small, there have been some massive ones in the past, including several devastating quakes witnessed in 1811-1812. The earthquakes occur along faults created by a failed rift, where volcanic activity nearly split North America apart more than 500 million years ago. 
There are other failed rifts without the same unruly earthquake behavior today, so what’s different here? One idea is that a mantle hotspot could have weakened this rift zone more recently (geologically speaking), creating the conditions for seismic activity. The typical indicators of a hotspot—widespread volcanism and raised surface elevation caused by the buoying effects of hot (and therefore less dense) material—are absent, but that could be due to the thickness of the continental plate.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Understanding the True Nature of God

Joseph Smith taught that "to acquire faith unto salvation one needs a correct idea of God’s character, perfections, and attributes, and that one needs to know that the course of life one is pursuing is according to God’s will." (Source). We have been warned to guard against false prophets and teachers
The Apostle Paul warned of these days: “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; 
“And they shall turn away their ears from the truth” (2 Tim. 4:3–4).
Part of understanding the true nature of God and the members of the Godhead is to understand the life and purpose of Jesus Christ, including why he was persecuted and killed. Thus, it is disturbing to come across comments such as these from Louis Farrakhan asserting that Jesus was a black man killed because of his skin color.

Jesus was Jewish--a descendant of the Davidic line--whose purpose was to serve as the ultimate sin offering and redeemer for mankind. His death had to do with the Jewish leaders of the day rejecting his divinity and its implications in order to preserve their own power and authority that they had been granted by the Roman government (they even went as far as to proclaim that they had no king but Caesar, thus rejecting Jehovah as their king). Skin color had nothing to do with it, and to suggest it did is to lesson and distract from His mission and life.

Wokeness is War

     I post a lot about the decline of our civilization, including topics about declining morality, the war on fathers and the traditional f...