Monday, June 30, 2014

ISIS and the Black Flag

Given ISIS's announcement of a new Caliphate, and its pointed hoisting of the flag on the Turkish border with Syria, I thought that I would re-post something from an old article on the meaning of the black flag in Islam:

The black flag has special significance in Islam. As Joel Richardson explains in his book, Antichrist: Islam's Awaited Messiah:
In Islam there are two flags. One is white and one is black. Written across both flags in Arabic are the words, "There is no God but Allah and Muhammad is his Messenger." The white flag is called Al-Liwaa and serves as the sign for the leader of the Muslim army and is the flag of the Islamic State. The black flag is called Ar-Raya and is used by the Muslim army. It is also called the flag of jihad, and is carried into battle. One flag is governmental and the other is a military flag. 
 * * * 
Islamic tradition pictures the Mahdi [the Islamic messiah] as joining with teh army of Muslim warriors carrying black flags. The Madhi will then lead this army to Israel and re-conquer it for Islam. The Jews will be slaughtered until very few remain and Jerusalem will become the location of the Mahdi's rule over the Earth.
(pp. 45-46). 

Never Resist a Criminal? Bad Advice

Greg Ellifritz notes that while many police agencies advise that victims should not resist a criminal attack, the statistics do not back it up. Interestingly, he observes that most criminals are not armed when they commit a crime (and, thus, you shouldn't assume they are armed unless you actually see a weapon). More amazingly, even if they have a "firearm," odds are that the firearm is either a fake (a toy or a BB gun) or inoperable. However, the rape statistics are probably the most convincing: among other statistics, Ellifritz reports that rape victims that plead with their attacker are raped 96% of the time, but victims that resisted with a knife or gun were only raped 1% of the time. Anyway, read the whole thing--it is worth your time.

There is a flip side to this, however. If a criminal's are generally unarmed, it suggests that you will likely not be justified in shooting someone merely because they are committing a criminal act. Obviously, I can't give you specific advice on the laws of your jurisdiction. But I can't think of any place that won't apply a reasonable force standard. For lethal force, you will have to be able to demonstrate that you reasonably believed you were at risk of imminent (i.e., going to happen right then and there) serious bodily harm or death (most jurisdictions allow you to protect another person, but not all!). Each jurisdiction will have its own formulation of this standard, but the important point is that it is an objective standard, not a subjective standard. That is, the question is not whether YOU felt threatened, but whether a jury would believe you acted as would a mythical "reasonable person."

However, the lack of armament is not permission to let your guard down. An unarmed, healthy young male (the typical perpetrator), or a few of them, can easily pummel you causing serious injury or death.


An article about the FLIR One thermal imaging camera for the iPhone, at Popular Mechanics. (h/t Instapundit).

Abandoned Places

Smithsonian Magazine has an on-line slide show of 17 abandoned places.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Record Antarctic Sea Ice

More evidence of global cooling. From Newsmax:
The sea ice coverage around Antarctica over the weekend marked a record high, with the ice surrounding the continent measuring at 2.07 million square kilometers, according to an environmentalist and author who says the ice there has actually been increasing since 1979 despite continued warnings of global warming. 
The new record was posted for the first time by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s online record, The Cryosphere Today, early Sunday morning. 
It's not apparent if the record actually occurred on Friday or Saturday, says Harold Ambler on his blog, Talking About the Weather.
Ambler is a journalist and author of the book "Don't Sell Your Coat: Surprising Truths About Climate Change."

"The previous record anomaly for Southern Hemisphere sea ice area was 1.840 million square kilometers and occurred on December 20, 2007," said Ambler. Meanwhile, he pointed out, global sea ice area on Sunday was standing at 0.991 million square kilometers above average, a figure he arrived at by adding anomalies for the North and South hemispheres.
While early models predicted the sea ice would decrease because of global warming, other models are showing that the opposite is happening around Antarctica, where sea ice growth is increasing. 
. . . In addition, Ambler said, the South Pole's temperature has been dropping over the past 40 years.

ISIS Declares New Caliphate

The Black Flag

Wow. That was fast. It was only on June 17 that I said that I thought the new Caliphate would become reality, and here we are. From CBS News:
The al Qaeda breakaway group that has seized much of northern Syria and huge tracks of neighboring Iraq formally declared the creation of an Islamic state on Sunday in the territory under its control. 
The spokesman for the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS), Abu Mohammed al-Adnani, made the announcement in an audio statement posted online. Islamic extremists have long dreamed of recreating the Islamic state, or caliphate, that ruled over the Middle East for hundreds of years. 
Abu Mohammed al-Adnani said the group's chief, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, is the new leader, or caliph, of the Islamic state. He called on those living in the areas under the organization's control to swear allegiance to al-Baghdadi and support him. 
"The legality of all emirates, groups, states and organizations becomes null by the expansion of the caliph's authority and the arrival of its troops to their areas," al-Adnani said.
USA Today reports:
An al-Qaeda breakaway group that seized large swaths of Iraq in recent weeks declared Sunday the creation of a new religious state in Iraq and Syria, as it continued to repel government forces in Tikrit, the hometown of former dictator Saddam Hussein. 
The militant group called the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant announced it will now be known as The Islamic State. 
A spokesman for the new entity, Abu Mohammed al-Adnani, said the group's chief, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, remains its leader, and called on residents in areas under its control to swear allegiance to al-Baghdadi and support him. 
The announcement could force other jihadist groups to either join or fight the group, which lays claim to billions of dollars in assets, scores of communities and operations that extend into Turkey and Lebanon, said Charles Lister, an analyst at the Brookings Doha Center, a think tank. 
"The Islamic State's announcement made it clear that it would perceive any group that failed to pledge allegiance an enemy of Islam," Lister said. "Already, this new Islamic State has received statements of support and opposition from jihadist factions in Syria." 
The group, which was disowned this year by al-Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahri, has developed an elaborate bureaucracy and an efficient model of governance, providing modern social services together with medieval justice. And it has supporters in Jordan, Gaza, the Sinai Peninsula, Indonesia and Saudi Arabia, Lister said. 
"This could well be the birth of a totally new era of transnational jihadism," he said.
See also this article at RT. Meanwhile, the Iraqi military has failed in its attempt to retake Tikrit, and withdrawn its troops. However, Russia has delivered new fighter jets to Iraq, which Iraq hopes to use against ISIS.(More evidence of the collapse of U.S. influence in the region).

Last September, I linked to a Wall Street Journal article discussing ISIS's goal to create a new Caliphate.

The declaration of a new Caliphate is significant in Islamic eschatology. That is why Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states are so frightened of this announcement. Joel Richardson notes in his book, AntiChrist--Islam's Awaited Messiah that the Mahdi (a messianic figure in Islam) will lead a Caliphate, and lead an army waving black flags, to attack all non-believers, including Israel. According to Islamic tradition, this army will originate from the direction of Khorasan (Iran). The appearance of this army is supposed to signal the imminent appearance of the Mahdi. By declaring a new Caliphate, ISIS has potentially seized the moral high ground (from a Muslim perspective).

The Gulf royalty and the financial elite that have been backing radical Islam should be afraid. They have empowered a beast that may turn on them and destroy them. See Chapter 17 of Revelations.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

"How to Open a Padlock with a Coke Can"

A video made by ITS Tactical:

"As It Was In The Days of Noah...."

Noah and His Ark by Charles Willson Peale
Our Lord is quoted in Matthew 24:37 as stating: "But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be." Similarly, in Luke 17:26, the Lord says: "And as it was in the days of Noe, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man." 

These verses have sparked some interesting debate and speculation. Many interpret these verses as saying that conditions prior to the Second Coming will be like those of the days of Noah, and then look at scriptures concerning that time. That is all well and good, to a certain extent, because we read about those times: "And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually." (Genesis 6:5). Certainly we live in a time of unparalleled evil.

We also read:
 11 The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence. 
 12 And God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth. 
 13 And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth.
(Genesis 6:11-13). Is that really true of today? Many believe that we live in the most violent time in history. Although I questioned it at the time, in November 2012, I noted two studies that showed that there was less violence today than at anytime in history. The book War Before Civilization also makes clear that there is far less violence today, than among tribal societies, ancient or modern. (Of course, peace now is not a guarantee of peace in the future, and one of the reasons to read War Before Civilization is to get an idea of how violence increases in the absence of civilization, such as we may see in a partial or total collapse. And let's be honest, places like Detroit and East St. Louis represent a partial collapse or where the veneer of civilization is very thin). But although there seems to be a surfeit of war, we also live in a time of falling crime rates and lengthy periods without major conflicts between major powers. This will undoubtedly end--for instance, we know from scripture that Jerusalem will again be besieged, and great armies will fight over it.

But this is not as far as people go in their interpretation. Many look at Genesis 6:1-2, which read:
 1 And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them, 
 2 That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose.
And put it together with Genesis 6:4: "There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown." This has led to a lot of theorizing about what "the sons of God" and "daughters of men" and "giants" mean, and if there is some connection. One of the versions of the Septuagint (but only one!) translates "sons of God" as "Angels" which, combined with Jude 1:6, has resulted in some commentators theorizing that fallen angels had mated with earthly women to form "human-hybrids" which was the intent of the flood to destroy. Many of these same commentators believe that, accordingly, in these last days we will see human "mutants" or alien-human hybrids (see also here).

I would suggest that in the foregoing, the commentators have missed the mark. If you read the verses from Matthew and Luke in context with the surrounding passages, you get a very different interpretation. First, from Matthew:
 36 ¶But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only. 
 37 But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. 
 38 For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, 
 39 And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. 
 40 Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. 
 41 Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left. 
 42 ¶Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come. 
 43 But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up. 
 44 Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.
Similarly, in Luke:
26 And as it was in the days of Noe, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man. 
 27 They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all. 
 28 Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded; 
 29 But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all. 
 30 Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed. 
 31 In that day, he which shall be upon the housetop, and his stuff in the house, let him not come down to take it away: and he that is in the field, let him likewise not return back. 
 32 Remember Lot’s wife. 
 33 Whosoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it; and whosoever shall lose his life shall preserve it. 
 34 I tell you, in that night there shall be two men in one bed; the one shall be taken, and the other shall be left. 
 35 Two women shall be grinding together; the one shall be taken, and the other left. 
 36 Two men shall be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left.
In context, these are not warnings of "giants" or "angel/human hybrids." The Lord is explaining, by example, that the events of the Second Coming will be sudden, taking people unaware. The days of Noah refers to the fact that the people in Noah's day ignored Noah and continued in their daily activities without a care to the future when--BAM!--the fountains opened and the rain fell, and it was too late. He is warning us to be prepared and to not physically or spiritually "look back" or hesitate.

This is a theme that is repeated many times through the gospels. For instance, in the parable of the ten virgins, the virgins (who represent the church) know the general time of the grooms (i.e., Christ's) coming, but not the precise time. Five of the virgins are ill-prepared and leave to buy oil and, when while they are gone, the groom arrives and the five that left were not later admitted to the wedding. The final verse of the parable concludes: "Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh."

Post-SHTF Hunting/Fishing

If you want to know how to efficiently take game or fish post-SHTF, pick up a copy of your state's hunting and fishing regulations, and read all the the techniques and practices that are prohibited.

Border Crises

A couple stories I saw on Drudge that were notable to me:

First, as many of you probably have heard, a Mexican military helicopter recently crossed into the U.S. and open fire on Border Patrol agents. However, this recent report indicates that the Mexican government is now denying that any shots were fired or that the helicopter crossed the border.
Border Patrol agents in Arizona were reportedly fired upon by a Mexican military helicopter that traveled across the border. 
Mexican authorities were conducting a drug interdiction operation when the incident happened early Thursday morning on the Tohono O’odham Indian Nation. The Mexican chopper fired at the agents and then flew back into Mexico. 
However, Mexican authorities have denied shooting at agents and say they were under attack during a mission to find smugglers on the border. 
Tomás Zerón, the director of the Mexican attorney general’s office investigative office, said that Mexican military and federal police who were conducting an operation on a ranch in Altar, Sonora, were shot at by criminals. Mexican authorities never fired any weapons and in fact never crossed into the U.S. side of the border, he said.
This isn't the first incursion of Mexican military across the border, and it won't be the last.

The second story is from Investors Business Daily:
 But while the political debate has focused on U.S. immigration enforcement, a key economic factor has been lost in the clamor. Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras, which are supplying three-quarters of the latest cross-border flood, are bucking a trend in Latin America toward stronger local economies based on sound reforms and security. 
Those three Central American countries are dependent on their diaspora to prop up their own woeful economies. Immigrants send back billions of dollars to their families. 
Remittances have risen to 16.5% of El Salvador's GDP, 15.7% of Honduras' and 10% of Guatemala's, according to World Bank data. Nicaragua, the Dominican Republic and Bolivia rely on remittances for 4.1% to 9.7% of GDP. 
But the figure drops precipitously for every other country in Latin America.
Not mentioned is that the U.S. soaks up a significant portion of the "surplus" population of those countries, reducing social welfare spending and increasing political stability. Yes, illegal immigration is just another form of "international aid."

J.R. Nyquist has some thoughts on the border crises at his blog:
It appears we are witnessing a diversionary operation targetting the U.S. border with Mexico (flooding it with people). Anyone with strategic sense should be alarmed at the way this is progressing. It is an objective fact, like it or not, that somebody has gone to a lot of expense to mess with our border. And now the border patrol has to switch personnel from Arizona to Texas. But the main drug pathways into the U.S. come through Arizona. And as we know all too well, these are the same pathways marked out by Moscow for smuggling WMDs past our security services. So there is reason for concern, especially as Russia has resumed its heightened state of alert, with further troop mobilizations and exercises. At the same time, Iraq is being lost to some kind of terrorist blitzkrieg. It is all very disconcerting, though Washington continues with its usual silliness. While the enemy maneuvers on every front, our leaders in Washington are like blind kittens -- helpless and doomed. They do not know what they are doing, failing to recognize the leathal threat that is building.
 Read the whole thing.

Review of a Couple Neck Knives...

... at Advanced Survival Guide. The knives are the M-Tech USA  MT-513 and the Schrade Xtreme Survival SCHF5N.

Long time readers of this blog may remember my post bemoaning losing my Benchmade AFCK while hunting several years ago. My solution was two fold--a brightly colored pocket knife (so I could find it if dropped) or using my old Gerber Gator which fit into a nylon sheath, depending on how active. However, I've long thought a lanyard attachment would probably work best. I just don't like the long idea of the lanyard at belt level where it will get caught in brush or whatnot. A neck knife may just be the thing.

In any event, they have photos and their impressions at the link. Check it out.

Friday, June 27, 2014

"Ruins of Detroit" Slide Show...

... at ABC News.

How a Country Dies

For those interested, signs or symptoms precede death for a country often as they do for a person. There is a pattern that involves the following: 
1. The Economy 
Economically, people become poorer. It becomes harder to feed a family. Economic growth stalls and then reverses. Work opportunities decline. Disincentives to work rise as government tries to ease the burden on the unemployed and lower skilled. These efforts require more revenues which means higher taxes or debt financing. Disincentives to create jobs are magnified by attempts to address the problem. Higher taxes and other burdens are imposed on the productive making work less attractive. 
The response should not be surprising. Capital flees first. It goes to areas where adequate returns are still available. Jobs are created but not in the host country. Finally a “brain drain” begins. ... 
These conditions characterize the beginnings of the decline. As the decline continues, things get much worse. 
2. The State 
The State is threatened by a decline. Generally it moves into full pretend mode. Three behavioral traits characterize its behavior. The State must convince citizens:
things are not as bad as they seem.
the State is not responsible for the situation.
 the State must do more (grow bigger) in order to solve the problems.
Statistics issued by the State are fudged to convey a false image of well-being. Government spending soars in an effort to juice reported economic activity. Much of the spending is unproductive in terms of providing things that would have otherwise been bought. It is also counterproductive to a proper functioning economy as price discovery is disrupted and consumer and investment decisions are based on false signals.
Incentives are  provided to encourage people to live beyond their means.  Debt appears nearly free and readily available. Bubbles occur and then burst. New bubbles are necessary to replace old bubbles. People and businesses are encouraged to make imprudent decisions, all in the attempt to make the economy appear better.
The State has one objective and that is to remain in power. Laws and regulations  multiply at ever faster rates. Tyrannical rules and legislation are passed under the pretense of protecting the people against some threat. In reality, these laws are passed to protect the leaders against the public when they finally understand what has been done to them. 
“Bread and circuses” increase to divert peoples attention from the developing problems. Dependency increases reflecting an attempt to placate the masses. A “wag the dog” war or crisis is often used as a means to rally the public against some phony enemy. 
3. Society 
Society becomes coarsens as this process progresses. People increasingly are unable to provide properly for their families. Some desperately turn to unethical behavior, even criminal acts.   Common decency declines. 
... how you must live is increasingly determined. 
Free markets are slowly replaced by a command and control ordering of society. 
Coercion displaces freedom as the coordinating force for society. People increasingly do what they must rather than what they want.
... Society becomes increasingly divided in terms of the “makers” and the “takers.”  As the takers grow in numbers, the makers shrink in numbers. Soon the parasites overwhelm the productive. Society collapses at that point.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Rock the Casbah

This seems to be an appropriate song given the current situation in Iraq. And the party is just getting started. The Telegraph reports that there are 25,000 Indian Muslims willing to go to Iraq to fight to protect Shia holy sites. They had better hurry, though. Breitbart reports:
While Iraqi government officials continue to claim that they are making advances in defeating the jihadist group Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), Kurdish forces on the ground report that ISIS has begun to slowly isolate Baghdad, targeting cities in the Sunni north as well as Shi'ite south. 
An extensive McClatchy report quotes several Kurdish military leaders who are significantly concerned that Baghdad could fall to ISIS. At least two critical towns that hold a supply route to Baghdad have been captured, they reported, and ISIS appeared to be traveling south to capture routes on the other side of the capital. 
Jabbar Yawar, the spokesman for the Kurdish peshmerga militia, told McClatchy that ISIS was reportedly six miles from Baghdad at times. “This area controls access to southern Iraq, and it appears as if they might try to push into Baghdad or even south towards the city of Hilla,” he stated. 
ISIS moving south of Baghdad is significant because of strongholds they already possess in Anbar province, to the west, and their initiatives to control the north. They have also been moving ISIS jihadists east to attempt to cut off the remaining roads to the city.
Meanwhile, Turkey is making sure that NATO will defend it.

Turkey raised fears on June 25 over potential spillover from turmoil in neighbouring Iraq, as NATO promised not to hesitate to defend its ally from the widening conflict.    
"I can assure you that NATO allies stand together in solidarity and unity and we are focused on providing effective defence and protection of all our allies including Turkey," NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen said in talks with foreign ministers of the 28-nation alliance. 
"We will not hesitate to take the necessary steps to ensure such effective defence protection of Turkey," he added, confirming Ankara had raised concerns about Iraq.      

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

The Soldier's Load

Tom Kratman writes about weight and mobility at Every Joe. After discussing the weight soldiers in historic armies were expected to carry, he turns to the U.S. soldier and the Taliban fighter. Kratman calculates that a Taliban fighter probably carries no more than 25 lbs., including clothing, food, gear, weapon and ammo. On the other hand:
The American soldier in Afghanistan can’t count on resting before battle if he’s had a long foot march under a heavy load. The enemy attacks when he feels like it. He defends when he feels like it. We may be, and are, bigger, stronger, healthier, better trained, better educated, all too lavishly equipped.

The initiative is still mostly his
[i.e., the Afghan].

And a good chunk of the reason for that – not the totality, no, but a good chunk – is the loads we inflict on our infantry. Here are some figures extracted from a 2003 report for the loads carried by our men in Afghanistan. The percent is the average percent of body weight.
Kratman's table is based on data from 2003, showing that the Emergency Approach Load of an American soldier is between 120 and 140 lbs, depending on his duty position. Even a bare-bones fighting load was 62 to 80 lbs.! Kratman also notes that with newer body armor, the amount of weight is probably 7 pounds more. From Kratman's perspective, our soldiers literally are too laden down to effectively fight.

As preppers, we may face a similar problem of being too laden down to effectively move, whether bugging out on foot, or in a vehicle. (If you haven't been stuck behind a truck hauling a heavy camper on a steep winding mountain pass, you've missed one of the great frustrations in life). Ol' Remus wrote about this issue recently:
Mike Tyson said, "everybody's got a plan until they get punched in the face." So it is with survival gear. Some stuff seems absolutely essential until you schlepp it a couple dozen miles through tough going. The next time it gets demoted it to "nice to have, but." For example, veteran long-distance hikers have often gone from gotta-have rocket stoves to bare bones stoves to no stove at all, perhaps a little grill and maybe not even that. Less gear and more improvising is the "fast packer" way to move further faster. A reasonable goal is 20 pounds or less, including the weight of the pack itself.
He has some thoughts about minimalist hiking/backwoods gear. Read it and ponder.

Gabe Suarez Has His Blog Back Up...

... with some new content and it looks like some articles from the old Warrior Talk News site. Link is here.

Illegal Aliens Becoming More Aggressive

Drudge linked to an article at the National Review on the uptick of crime committed by illegals on the borders:
Ronnie Osburn was preparing to talk to National Review Online Thursday about lawlessness in his border community when his home was broken into. 
Osburn, a rancher who lives just south of a Border Patrol checkpoint in Brooks County, Texas, says he stepped away for about 45 minutes, and when he returned somebody had trashed his house. The trespassers shattered his gun case, leaving a trail of blood throughout the house, but dropped the guns near the kitchen before scattering out the back door. They had searched through the house, opened drawers, and even left a heap of uncooked bacon in a frying pan on the stove. 
Ranchers in South Texas say they are seeing a greater criminal element among illegal immigrants trespassing through their property. U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers responded to the situation. Although no arrests have been made, a Brooks County sheriff’s deputy tells National Review Online the break-in involved “undocumented crossers.” At one point a Border Patrol agent said he thought the trespassers had been spotted about a half-mile north of the ranch, headed in the same direction as the Border Patrol checkpoint near Falfurrias. 
Border Patrol agents carrying AR-15s and 12-gauge pumps searched the property with Osburn, who also had an AR-15, looking for any sign of the trespassers. After scanning his backyard, Osburn discovered three shoes left behind, and Border Patrol agents said they expected the burglars were less than a mile away. 
“Welcome to South Texas,” Osburn tells me while extending his hand.   
“This is not the first time this has happened,” he says. “I have Border Patrol in here every day chasing groups, just about.”
The author stated in the article that other ranchers reported an increased element of violence from illegal aliens crossing the border, including characterizing the illegal aliens as "ready to fight."

This is like the barbarian hordes that increasingly penetrated into the Roman Empire, first peaceably and then more violently as the Empire weakened.

Mexico is already one of the largest economies in the world, and it will continue to grow and develop. With that growth will be increasing military expenditures. I expect that we will see, at least by the end of this century, a war between Mexico and the United States. Most likely arising out of Mexico supporting the "reintegration" of regions of the South West and Texas to Mexico, or an armed skirmish getting out of hand (e.g., an escalation of something like the recent cross border incursions by Mexican troops).

Recession Ahead

The final figures for the first quarter GDP are in, and it shows that the economy shrunk more than previously calculated (par for the course with the current regime, which always releases fake numbers first). From CNBC:
The U.S. economy contracted at a much steeper pace than previously estimated in the first quarter, but there are indications that growth has since rebounded strongly.

The Commerce Department said on Wednesday gross domestic product fell at a 2.9 percent annual rate, the economy's worst performance in five years, instead of the 1.0 percent pace it had reported last month.

While the economy's woes have been largely blamed on an unusually cold winter, the magnitude of the revisions suggest other factors at play beyond the weather. Growth has now been revised down by a total of 3.0 percentage points since the government's first estimate was published in April, which had the economy expanding at a 0.1 percent rate.

The difference between the second and third estimates was the largest on records going back to 1976, the Commerce Department said. Economists had expected growth to be revised to show it contracting at a 1.7 percent rate. Sharp revisions to GDP numbers are not unusual as the government does not have complete data when it makes its initial and preliminary estimates.
The article discusses mixed signals regarding second quarter growth, then adds:
A separate report showed orders for long-lasting U.S. manufactured goods unexpectedly fell in May, suggesting an anticipated rebound in growth this quarter could fall short of expectations, even as a measure of business capital spending plans rose.

The Commerce Department said durable goods orders declined 1.0 percent as demand for transportation, machinery, computers and electronic products, electrical equipment, appliances and components, and defense capital goods fell.
 Why do I expect a recession? Two primary reasons: First, due to ISIS's continued victories in Iraq, including capture of several small oil fields, oil prices will increase. Historically, increases in oil prices--particularly sharp increases--have led to recessions. Second, there is no hope of any relief in energy prices. The powers that be are planning an end run around Congress to further choke energy production and impose a carbon trading scheme. From the Washington Examiner:
Senior White House officials and Treasury Secretary Jack Lew are set to meet this week with Tom Steyer, an environmental activist pledging to pump up to $100 million into the November midterm elections, as part of a new campaign to promote President Obama's green agenda. 
“On Wednesday, senior White House leadership and Secretary Lew will meet with former Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson, former HUD Secretary Henry Cisneros, Cargill CEO Greg Page, and Tom Steyer [to] discuss the results of their soon-to-be-released Risky Business report -- which assesses the economic risks of climate change,” a White House official said, previewing the meeting.
... According to the White House official, Lew and senior Obama advisers John Podesta and Valerie Jarrett and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Administrator Kathryn Sullivan and Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Craig Fugate will meet Tuesday with insurance industry leaders to discuss the “economic consequences of increasingly frequent and severe extreme weather.”
 From a different Washington Examiner article:
The climate change debate took a sharp left turn on Tuesday when several former cabinet secretaries, former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and a key Wall Street donor to environmental causes said companies that don't buy into global warming should be punished and penalized. 
While the Obama administration has called for polluters to clean up their operations, the former government and business leader said the hammer should come down on business that ignore the potential impact of climate change on their companies and rewards such as greater investment be doled out to those that do. 
"We need to reward people whose behavior reduces climate risk and penalize people who add to it,” said Thomas Steyer, a former hedge fund manager and environmentalist who is a major player and funder of climate change initiatives. “Climate risk should be taken into account by every business and every investor,” he said at a New York press conference to unveil a report on how global warming could cool the U.S. economy. 
He is one of the leaders with Bloomberg, three former Clinton cabinet members and former Bush Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, of the Risky Business Project that released Tuesday's "Risky Business" report. Steyer and members of his group plan to discuss it with White House officials Wednesday. 
Overall, the report said that climate change could cost East Coast business and governments $35 billion a year. In other areas of the nation, said Bloomberg, it will be too hot to work outside. And he also warned of a “really scary” potential that tree-killing bugs might not be limited by cold winters.
 The Power Line blog has more about Steyer here, including the following:
Billionaire hedge fund operator and “green” energy magnate Tom Steyer has pledged $100 million in the 2014 election cycle to help Democratic candidates who oppose the Keystone pipeline and who favor “green” energy over fossil fuels. Steyer claims to be a man of principle who has no financial interest in the causes he supports, but acts only for the public good. That is a ridiculous claim: Steyer is the ultimate rent-seeker who depends on government connections to produce subsidies and mandates that make his “green” energy investments profitable. He also is, or was until recently, a major investor in Kinder Morgan, which is building a competitor to the Keystone pipeline. Go here, here, here, here, here and here for more information about how Steyer uses his political donations and consequent connections to enhance his already vast fortune. 
But Steyer’s hypocrisy goes still deeper. Today, he is a bitter opponent of fossil fuels, especially coal. That fits with his current economic interests: banning coal-fired power plants will boost the value of his solar projects. But it was not always thus. In fact, Steyer owes his fortune in large part to the fact that he has been one of the world’s largest financers of coal projects. Tom Steyer was for coal before he was against it.
 Read the whole thing.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Turkey to Adopt a New Battle Rifle

Jane's reports:
Turkey's Mechanical and Chemical Industry Corporation (Makina ve Kimya Endüstrisi Kurumu - MKEK) has completed deliveries of an initial 200 MPT-76 battle rifles to the Turkish Army for testing and evaluation, the company told IHS Jane's at Eurosatory 2014 in Paris, France, on 17 June. 
The new 7.62 mm chambered rifle is intended to become the Turkish Armed Forces' new standard infantry weapon, and has been developed under contract from the Turkish Undersecretariat for Defence Industries (Savunma Sanayii Müstesarligi - SSM) for the Turkish Army, which favours the 7.62 mm NATO round over the smaller 5.56 mm round.
There is a photo of the weapon at the link, but it clearly is based on or derived from the AR.

Book Review: "The Tiger's Way" (Updated)

Book: The Tiger's Way by H. John Poole.

Overview: This book purports to reveal the training and tactics used by soldiers and warriors in the East to overcome Western armies.

Impressions: When I first started into this book, I had some high hopes based on reviews of this book and others from the same author. What I discovered, though, is the book is full of generalities about why "Eastern" soldiers are better trained and better fighters that "Western" soldiers which basically boils down to two principles: supposedly better fieldcraft and night fighting. Unfortunately, the book is all hype and no substance.

For instance, the book lists certain skills Chinese soldiers are (were?) required to learn to move stealthily. But all that is presented is a list without any explanation of how to accomplish the specific tasks. Move across leaves without making a sound? Would be great to know what technique the soldier supposedly used, but there is nothing. The same applies to the author's descriptions of the supposedly superior abilities of soldiers and fighters from other countries or regions.

Instead, the book seems to be primarily an argument that the Western soldier is poorly trained and lacks necessary skills compared to his "Eastern" opponents. Poole never sets out a good argument to support his thesis. For instance, he argues that the "Eastern" soldiers constantly out performed American troops in WWII, Korea, and Vietnam, but never explains the gross disparity between U.S. troop casualties and those of the Japanese, Chinese and North Vietnamese/Viet Cong forces which the U.S. defeated.

I suspect that the author recognized this weakness, because, to make his point, he expands the definition of "Eastern" so broadly as to be meaningless. Poole eventually compares U.S. troops ("Western") against German troops ("Eastern") in WWII to support his thesis.

Finally, he never explains why, if Western training and tactics are so poor and Eastern so good, all nations employ Western style militaries.

In short, this book has no value to the prepper and, I would suggest, no value to the person interested in military tactics or military history.

Updated 6/28/2014: Some of you may be wondering why I would post a review of a book that I found to be useless or of little regard. My feeling is that not only do I want to inform you of the good/useful books I come across, but also warn you of bad ones so you can avoid wasting your hard earned money.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Kalashnikov Announces New Civilian Weapons

The Firearms Blog notes that Kalashnikov has announced a civilian version of its balanced recoil AK’s in 7.62×39, 5.45×39, and 5.56 NATO; a Saiga 9mm pistol-caliber carbine based off of the Vityaz-SN, and a Saiga 12-gauge shotgun with built-in muzzle brake. Photos and more information at the link.

Purple Mountain Majesty (Updated)

I went camping/hiking this past weekend. Great view:

Update (6/24/2014): This trip was my 11-year old son's first overnight camping trip as a Boy Scout. Although our group camped overnight, additional groups joined us the next day for a field day of hiking and practicing skills. One thing I wanted to comment on was the esprit de corps among my son's troop. And one event stands out in particular. The last hike of the day involved some orienteering work, culminating in a climb straight up a very steep slope to where the camp was located. Since my son has some physical disabilities, this last part was particularly hard for him. However, led by a boy named Colson, the other boys started chanting his name to encourage him and cheered as he made it to the top.  It was very heartwarming.

Further ISIS Victories -- Bug In or Bug Out

USA Today reports:
The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant captured the Turaibil border crossing with Jordan and the al-Walid crossing with Syria, witnesses and Iraqi officials confirmed. They declined to be identified because they were not authorized to discuss the situation. 
The Syrian crossing is particularly problematic as it will allow easier transport of fighters, weaponry and equipment in and out of Syria. ISIL and allies already control the Syrian side of the border crossings.
... ISIL, in addition to the border crossings, seized the towns of Qaim, Rawah, Anah and Rutba in Anbar province over the weekend.

... The towns taken over the past few days give insurgents access to an important dam in the nearby city of Haditha, a cornerstone of Iraq's electricity grid. It also gives them access to key highways to Syria and Jordan.
CNN reports:
ISIS militants advanced toward Baghdad over the weekend from the north and the west. At least 70% of Anbar province is now under the control of ISIS, two security officials in the region told CNN. 
ISIS is on a mission to create an Islamic state across Sunni areas of Iraq and in Syria.
Militants have taken over the Tal Afar airbase in northern Iraq as well as the city of Tal Afar, officials said.

On Monday, Iraqi troops prepared to recapture the airbase, Iraqi Maj. Gen. Abu al-Waleed said. "At least 1,000 Iraqi troops have amassed to the north of Tal Afar and are firing rockets at militants in control of the city," he said.
The fighters also seized the western Anbar town of Rutba, 70 miles (113 kilometers) from the borders of Jordan and Saudi Arabia, security sources in Baghdad and Anbar told CNN on Sunday. 
Then there's Qaim. ISIS captured the city along the Syrian border Saturday, and the militants now enjoy a stronghold and a number of other towns in Anbar province. The fighters have a direct line to the western outskirts of Baghdad.
The article also notes that ISIS is imposing the strictest form of Sharia law in the towns and districts they have captured. And, although not in the body of the article, a video linked on the same page indicated that ISIS had captured chemical weapons.

This conflict again raises the issue of whether to bug-in or bug-out during war time. ISIS is part of the Sunni branch of Islam. Obviously, if you were a Shiite, you are probably better to bug-out to family or friends in friendly areas than risk being killed by the ISIS forces. If you are Kurdish, you similarly would want to seriously consider heading to Kurdish areas. On the other hand, if you are Sunni, the issue becomes more complex. If this is going to degenerate into the war between Sunni and Shiite factions, you might not want to flee to a Shiite dominated area. On the other hand, if you have worked with the government or Americans, it may be more dangerous to stay in a place that is in the path of ISIS forces.

Note that when I'm talking about bugging-out, I'm not talking of moving to a retreat outside of a city. I'm talking about moving to an area where you fit in, hopefully with family and friends (and, in this case, tribal members) in the area to provide the all important social network and assistance you might need as a refugee.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Book Review: "The Prepper Pages" by Dr. Evan Chamberlain

Book: The Prepper Pages: A surgeon's guide to scavenging the necessary items for a medical kit, and putting them to use while bugging out, by Dr. Evan Chamberlain (Amazon link here). Available for Kindle or in paperback.

Overview: The title and subtitle pretty much tell it all. This is a book by a trauma surgeon giving pointers on scavenging medications and medical supplies, suggesting different items to collect before if possible, and then using the items to treat common injuries and illnesses.

Impression: I'm not a doctor, so I can't give you a medical opinion on the information in the book. However, based on my limited knowledge of first aid and what I've seen from other sources, the information looks legitimate. With that caveat, this is a good book to have on hand--in fact, I would probably place it in either the "must have" category or in the "important to have" category.

I own other books suggested for preppers, including Where There is No Doctor. Since a lot of you probably have the latter book, I'm going to compare The Prepper Pages to Where There is No Doctor. The first thing to realize is that the two books compliment each other--one is not a replacement for the other. Nor is The Prepper Pages a replacement for first aid training. Rather, each of these books or training represent different levels of capabilities.

As you know, first aid is intended to maintain life and, hopefully, stabilize an injury until, if necessary, better treatment can be provided. However, for a serious injury, first aid always ends with getting the victim to an EMT, physician, or hospital.

Where There is No Doctor goes beyond simple first aid. The book is intended to provide information to someone working as a village health worker in a third-world country. Thus, it provides more details on diagnosing medical conditions, administering medications, nutrition and health issues, and so on. But, it is still a fairly basic, and on more complex issues, again refers patients to a doctor or hospital.

The Prepper Pages goes to the next step and, assuming you can't get to a physician or hospital, gives instructions on administering medications and performing basic surgical procedures. It is not a replacement for a doctor--but it gives you information you might need in a disaster to save a life, and written for the layman. More importantly, it is also written from the perspective of post-disaster, SHTF. Sure, you may have a military guide showing how to treat gun shot wounds, or a nursing book demonstrating sutures, but are they going to tell the best places, and time, to loot a pharmacy or pet store after TEOTWAWKI?

While the topics build on one another, and may be mixed about, there are four basic categories of information the author provides.

First, he describes the equipment needed for a particular procedure and substitutes if it is not available. Thus, for instance, if you don't have proper suturing material, the author describes using cotton thread. The author also tells you equipment is the best, all-around useful--so you can work on collecting a kit of the most useful gear.

Second, he discusses sources for equipment and medications both pre-collapse and places to scavenge following a disaster; and gives examples what medications, supplements, etc., that he believes will be the most valuable or useful. This includes a discussion on fish and pet antibiotics.

Third, he discussed the specific procedure and why you need to do something a particular way, including tips and rules of thumb he has picked up in his career.

Fourth, he discusses special supplies for common injuries, such as quick clot, mole skin, "Israel" bandages, Steri-Strips.

What sets the book apart, though, is its focus on injuries you may suffer in the aftermath of a disaster. It discusses treating lacerations, burns, crushed toes, penetrating wounds (including gunshots), animal bites, and contact with poisonous plants, heat exhaustion and heat stroke, hypothermia and frostbite, gangrene, sprains and strains, broken bones, insect bites, skin infections, snake bites, colds and other infections, food poisoning, and sadness and depression. He also discusses field sterilization and sanitation procedures, and making potable water.

Detailed appendixes assist with providing additional information, useful lists, or examples on certain topics. He also describes using chicken pieces (with the skin) to practice some of the suturing and debridement techniques.

In short, this is a very informative book on advanced medical techniques, written for the layman and the prepper. As such, I believe it is an important book to add to your collection.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Feral Cats and Bed Bugs, Oh My!

The Preparedness Advice Blog has an interesting article on feral cats, with links to other of their articles on other feral animals. I had written recently about the resurgence of bed-bugs, so it was good to see that they also have an article on bed-bugs that you should check out.

Comprehensive Review of Gun Lubricants/Protectants

... at Alaska Outdoors Forum.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

The Coming Ice Age

Greenland Ice Sheet
David Archibald writes at the American Thinker:
... one of the best predictions of climate ever made (weighted for distance and accuracy) was by two Californian researchers, Leona Libby and Louis Pandolfi. In 1979, they used tree ring data from redwoods in Kings Canyon to make a remarkably accurate forecast. From a Los Angeles Times interview of that year,
When she and Pandolfi project their curves into the future, they show lower average temperatures from now through the mid-1980s.  “Then,” Dr. Libby added, “we see a warming trend (by about a quarter of 1 degree Fahrenheit) globally to around the year 2000.  And then it will get really cold—if we believe our projections.  This has to be tested.”  
How cold? “Easily one or two degrees,” she replied, “and maybe even three or four degrees.”
 Recent tree ring data confirms Libby and Pandolft's predictions.
The tree ring readings of the Finnish foresters are predicting a large decline in temperature bottoming out in about 2045. The downturn you see on the right hand side of the graph is as large as any in the last 200 years.
 [And] we now have a way of cross-checking the tree-ring based predictions. A just-released climate model using a notch-delay filter has the promise of providing much higher resolution in climate forecasting. Using historic TSI data, the model can see out to 2025:
... The figure above shows the model output plotted against the UAH temperature record. It shows a very steep decline starting in late 2014 and ending in June 2016. After that it trends sideways for the rest of the decade. The green box shows the expected temperature range in this period. The predicted decline to mid-2016 is 0.6°C. That is not remarkable in itself. There are a few declines of that magnitude in the 34 years of the satellite record. The remarkable thing will be that the temperature will not bounce back. 
We can predict out a further couple of decades using a prediction of Solar Cycle 25 peak amplitude of 7 (Livingstone and Penn) and the Lean 2000 TSI reconstruction back to 1610 as an indication of what TSI will fall to under Dalton/Maunder Minimum-like conditions:
... The figure above plots the notch-delay model output against the Central England Temperature (CET) record. The hindcast match is good. The interesting thing is that the projected temperature decline of 3.0°C is within the historic range of the CET record. The low is reached about 2045, lining up with the projection from the Finnish tree ring study. Maunder and Dalton Minimum-like levels of solar activity will be associated with temperature levels similar to those recorded during these minima.
 Archibald then discusses the impact on agriculture due to temperature declines, and concludes:

All things considered, the production decline for U.S. agriculture could be 8% per 1°C. A fall of 3°C and the United States would be out of export markets for agricultural products, with the same true of most mid-latitude grain exporters. This will have profound geopolitical implications -- namely, starvation and collapse for countries that import food. That’s for next decade. This decade, once the temperature decline is widely apparent, currently importing countries around the world will rush to stockpile, bringing forward the price effect of scarcity. ...
Read the whole thing.

Concern of a new cooling period is not new. From this site on global cooling.
Study of the orbital mechanics of the solar system in the 1970s led Russians to believe the Earth was about to cool and we should prepare quickly because it will be catastrophic. Their arguments were lost in the rush to warming group-think in the 1990s, but the arguments for impending cold are well founded and still believed by many good scientists. As the sun goes even quieter and January, 2008 saw the greatest year to year temperature drop ever (128 years ofNASA GISS data) and thru the end of 2008 remains relatively cool, it is clear cooling needs to be considered as a very plausible future. This is highlighted by 2 papers published in March 2008. Scafetta and West showed that up to 69% of observed warming is from the sun and remind us that the sun is projected to cool andRamanathan and Carmichael show that soot has 60% of the warming power of CO2. Both papers state that these factors are underappreciated by IPCC. The soot may well explain the Arctic melting, as it has recently for Asian glaciers. Many scientists believe the temperature changes are more dependent on the sun than CO2, similar to the relationship in your home with your furnace. With the Sun's face nearly quiet, the monthly patterns over the last 12 months are most similar to those of 1797 preceding the Dalton Minimum of 1798-1823 during the little ice age (Timo Niroma).
The southern hemisphere has been cooling over the last 10 years, just about as much as the north has been warming. There is no proof within observational data of warming outside of natural variation.
When 3 of the highest 5 or 6 years in the temperature record (since 1890) occurred over 70 years ago and 1900 was warmer than recent years in the USA (where the best data are), we are nowhere near statistical proof, nor even evidence of warming. Modelers are still unable to include important variables and no one is able to predict the future. At least Hadley Centre have tried (below). While CO2 continues to rise, the temperature has stabilized at a warm level, but not unusually so. Which way will it go? The world seems to be betting on warming. However, the probability of cooling may be equally valid and we must be prepared for both. Cooling presents the real danger. Things that go up and down only go so high. It has always been this way. Image of current northern sea ice (latest). Check the S. hemisphere sea ice (latest). 
Virtually all scientists agree that the Earth has warmed a small amount since the year 1000 or, if you choose, since 1850, when instrumented temperature records became reasonably accurate and distributed in key areas of the world. An alternative view, is that the Earth has been cooling since the 1930s when we had 3 of the 5 warmest years since 1860 in the US, and probably globally if the world environmental data base were cleaned up as is happening in the US.
Earlier this year, Tom Harris and Dr. Madhav Khandekar warned that we need to prepare for global cooling. The article notes the abundance of extreme cold events in the past few years, and discounts the hypothesis that these cold events are a result of global warming:
A quick look at meteorological history shows that Holdren’s leap in faith is unfounded. A weather phenomenon similar to what happened this winter also occurred during the 1962/1963 winter, when global cooling was underway. Miami experienced −12°C in December 1962, and most of Europe was exceptionally cold, with the average daily temperatures 4°C lower than usual at many weather stations.

Similarly, towards the end of the global cooling period that lasted from 1945 to the mid-‘70s, Time wrote (June 24, 1974):

Scientists have found other indications of global cooling. For one thing there has been a noticeable expansion of the great belt of dry, high-altitude polar winds — the so-called circumpolar vortex — that sweep from west to east around the top and bottom of the world.

Meteorology textbooks show that such cold weather outbreaks happen often due to distortions in the boundaries of the polar vortex — and have nothing to do with global warming, or cooling, however caused.
Also from earlier this year, Michael Barone discussed the threat of global cooling at the Washington Examiner, noting that our current lack of solar activity mirrors that of the Maunder Minimum, or "Little Ice Age."
It has happened before. In his book Global Crisis: War, Climate Change & Catastrophe in the Seventeenth Century, historian Geoffrey Parker writes:

“The development of telescopes as astronomical instruments after 1609 enabled observers to track the number of sunspots with unprecedented accuracy. They noted a ‘maximum’ between 1612 and 1614, followed by a ‘minimum’ with virtually no spots in 1617 and 1618, and markedly weaker maxima in 1625-26 and 1637-9. And then, although astronomers around the world made observations on over 8,000 days between 1645 and 1715, they saw virtually no sunspots: The grand total of sunspots observed in those 70 years scarcely reached 100, fewer than currently [the book was published in 2013] appear in a single year. This striking evidence of absence suggests a reduction in solar energy received on earth.”

The result of the “Maunder Minimum” of sunspots was a so-called Little Ice Age, with significantly colder temperatures in the temperate zones, low crop yields to the point of famine and, Parker writes, “a greater frequency of severe weather events—such as flash floods, freak storms, prolonged drought and abnormal (as well as abnormally long) cold spells.”
From the Daily Mail this January:
The Sun's activity is at its lowest for 100 years, scientists have warned. 
They say the conditions are eerily similar to those before the Maunder Minimum, a time in 1645 when a mini ice age hit, Freezing London's River Thames. 
Researcher believe the solar lull could cause major changes, and say there is a 20% chance it could lead to 'major changes' in temperatures.

'Whatever measure you use, solar peaks are coming down,' Richard Harrison of the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in Oxfordshire told the BBC.
'I've been a solar physicist for 30 years, and I've never seen anything like this.' 
He says the phenomenon could lead to colder winters similar to those during the Maunder Minimum. 
'There were cold winters, almost a mini ice age.

'You had a period when the River Thames froze.'
And from last October, The Daily Caller reports on an interview by the BBC with Professor Mike Lockwood from Reading University, who indicated that, at the current rate of decline in solar activity, there is a risk that Northern Europe could become much colder and enter a new “Little Ice Age.”

Lockwood argues that during the late 20th century, the sun was unusually active, with the so-called “grand maximum” of solar activity occurring around 1985. But solar activity has decreased since then. 
“By looking back at certain isotopes in ice cores, [Lockwood] has been able to determine how active the sun has been over thousands of years,” The BBC reports.” Following analysis of the data, Professor Lockwood believes solar activity is now falling more rapidly than at any time in the last 10,000 years.” 
Based on these findings, Lockwood argues that there is an increased risk of a Maunder minimum; and a repeat of a “Dalton solar minimum,” which occurred in the early 1800s, is “more likely than not” to happen again. 
“He believes that we are already beginning to see a change in our climate — witness the colder winters and poor summers of recent years — and that over the next few decades there could be a slide to a new Maunder minimum,” BBC reports, adding that harsh winters and cooler summers would become more frequent.
(Brackets in original).

So what will be the impact of colder weather. One way to get an idea is to look at prior cool periods. Jeffrey Folks writes at the American Thinker:
For most in America, Europe, and Asia, the winter of 1815-1816 was the coldest in living memory. What followed in the spring and summer of that year was equally disastrous. It was an entire year of cold rains, crop failures, hunger, and economic collapse.

There were multiple causes for the extreme weather of 1816, but all of them were natural, not man-made. Chief among them, according to the Klingamans, was the massive eruption of Tamboro in present-day Indonesia. The force of the explosion was ten times greater than that of Krakatoa, which took place in 1883. Heightened volcanic activity sent ash particles into the atmosphere, blocking sunlight and disrupting the northern hemispheric jet stream. One after another, polar vortexes dropped south, not just in the winter, but throughout 1816, and to a lesser extent for years afterward.

The winter of 2013-14 bears a striking resemblance to that of 1815-16, and there is every reason to believe that what follows will repeat the pattern of earlier periods of extreme cold. The consequences will not be pleasant. As some have begun to realize, periods of extreme cold are far more destructive than periods of warming.

My prediction of a “year without summer” is based partly on the record of 1816 and other years of increased volcanic activity. Like 1815, 2013 saw significant volcanic activity, with major eruptions in Indonesia, Alaska, Italy, Argentina, and Japan. It was inevitable that this "particularly eventful year" of volcanic activity would be followed by a cold winter, just as it is inevitable that more cold will follow.

This prediction is backed up by the National Weather Bureau and other sources that predict an extended period of cold in the northeast and upper Midwest. This cold may have consequences for farm production since it would likely disrupt planting in the crucial corn- and wheat-growing regions.

The effects of a poor harvest would be higher prices for nearly all foods – not just for Americans, but for consumers in the global marketplace. And while affluent consumers in developed countries can accommodate higher prices, however painful that may be, the world’s poor cannot. For billions of human beings, even a slight increase in grain prices results in hunger. And along with hunger comes social unrest – the sort of unrest that helped trigger Egypt’s Arab Spring uprising in 2011.
 He also adds:
Indeed, global warming alarmists display all the symptoms of “recentcy basis.” Relative to 1850, global temperatures have indeed risen by some one degree Celsius, but that calculation compares current temperatures with those at the trough of a four-century cold spell. Relative to longer-term global norms, today’s temperatures are not unusually warm. They are comparable to temperatures that prevailed during the Medieval Climate Optimum of 950 through 1250 AD. During this period, a Norse settlement thrived in Greenland and even reached North America.

Like the Medieval Climate Optimum, the past 150 years of warming has actually been highly beneficial: it is no coincidence that the greatest period of economic improvement in human history has occurred precisely during the period of warming since 1850. The danger is that global temperatures may now be entering a new and ominous period of extended cold.
An article at the New York Times describes the impact of cold weather in the 17th Century:
During the 17th century, longer winters and cooler summers disrupted growing seasons and destroyed harvests across Europe. It was the coldest century in a period of glacial expansion that lasted from the early 14th century until the mid-19th century. The summer of 1641 was the third-coldest recorded over the past six centuries in Europe; the winter of 1641-42 was the coldest ever recorded in Scandinavia. The unusual cold that lasted from the 1620s until the 1690s included ice on both the Bosporus and the Baltic so thick that people could walk from one side to the other.

The deep cold in Europe and extreme weather events elsewhere resulted in a series of droughts, floods and harvest failures that led to forced migrations, wars and revolutions. The fatal synergy between human and natural disasters eradicated perhaps one-third of the human population.

... Earth scientists have discerned three factors at work globally during the 17th century: increased volcanic eruptions, twice as many El Niño episodes (unusually warm ocean conditions along the tropical west coast of South America), and the virtual disappearance of sunspots, reducing solar output to warm the Earth.

The 17th century saw a proliferation of wars, civil wars and rebellions and more cases of state breakdown around the globe than any previous or subsequent age. Just in the year 1648, rebellions paralyzed both Russia (the largest state in the world) and France (the most populous state in Europe); civil wars broke out in Ukraine, England and Scotland; and irate subjects in Istanbul (Europe’s largest city) strangled Sultan Ibrahim.

Climate alone did not cause all the catastrophes of the 17th century, but it exacerbated many of them. Outbreaks of disease, especially smallpox and plague, tended to be more common when harvests were poor or failed. ...

But the cold did take a more direct toll. Western Europe experienced the worst harvest of the century in 1648. Rioting broke out in Sicily, Stockholm and elsewhere when bread prices spiked. In the Alps, poor growing seasons became the norm in the 1640s, and records document the disappearance of fields, farmsteads and even whole villages as glaciers advanced to the farthest extent since the last Ice Age. One consequence of crop failures and food shortages stands out in French military records: Soldiers born in the second half of the 1600s were, on average, an inch shorter than those born after 1700, and those born in the famine years were noticeably shorter than the rest.

Few areas of the world survived the 17th century unscathed by extreme weather. In China, a combination of droughts and disastrous harvests, coupled with rising tax demands and cutbacks in government programs, unleashed a wave of banditry and chaos; starving Manchu clansmen from the north undertook a brutal conquest that lasted a generation. North America and West Africa both experienced famines and savage wars. In India, drought followed by floods killed over a million people in Gujarat between 1627 and 1630. In Japan, a mass rebellion broke out on the island of Kyushu following several poor harvests. Five years later, famine, followed by an unusually severe winter, killed perhaps 500,000 Japanese.
 This is why food stores are important. Not just for survival, but to soften the blow of food shortages and higher prices.

ISIS Continues Advance

Reports are coming out that ISIS has captured Iraq's largest oil refinery in Baiji (Daily Mail and New York Times). Also, the Wall Street Journal reports that ISIS has seized one of Saddam Hussein's old chemical weapons factories, which may still have stockpiles of chemical weapons (you remember, the WMDs that the Liberals have been telling us never existed). All of this is, of course, emboldening the Taliban in Afghanistan, who have attacked a NATO base.

So where did the U.S. go wrong? (Besides electing to President a man so stupid, he does not dare show his grade reports in public). David Goldman examines this issue in his latest op-ed, entitled "America Wants the Impossible and Gets the Unmentionable." I recommend reading his entire piece. But the gist is that Islam is a civilization in collapse, and the best we can do is attempt to manage its decline. What we cannot do is turn individual Middle-Eastern countries (or any other alien culture) into a Western democracy modeled after the United States.

Goldman explains:
We never nurtured foreign policy elite that views America as radically unique, and other parts of the world as existentially challenged by comparison. 
America has neither the students nor the teachers to fix its problems overseas. There are a few sages still left, notably Angelo Codevilla, who holds up the example of John Quincy Adams against the utopian obsessions of the major schools of foreign policy thinking. 
... Americans seem to think that because they had the good grace to stumble into world history a couple of hundred years ago, everyone else should stop what they are doing and emulate them. That point of view is not as ludicrous as it sounds: no nation has ever been more successful than the United States, which has brought more prosperity and security to more people than any other political experiment in human history. 
America’s genius lies in assimilating individuals of all ethnicities into a state based on a laws rather than race or language, and Americans assume that because Hindus, Muslims, Jews and Christians cohabit peacefully within their borders, they should be able to do so everywhere. That ignores the possibility that those individuals who wanted to [live] peacefully with people of other ethnicities abandoned their home culture, leaving behind those who did not. 
... The radical Protestants who created the American experiment saw their achievement as a universal example but had no expectation that a depraved world would as a general rule choose to emulate it. Most of humanity, they believed, would be damned and forgotten. Today’s mainstream of American Conservatism tends to see America as exceptional only in the sense that it an exceptionally good recipe that every cook ought to be able to master. 
It has become nearly impossible in America to ask the question: Which cultures are viable and which are not? Individuals of all cultures are viable Americans, but that is not necessarily true of the culture they left behind. I have argued for the past dozen years in this space and in my book How Civilizations Die (Regnery 2011) that Muslim civilization will not survive: it passes directly from infancy to senescence. 
That does not impugn the success of Muslim immigrants to America, nor of the hundreds of head-scarf-clad girls one sees at Ariel University in Samaria, but it does mean that Muslim states will be unstable and crisis prone and that Muslim populations will be discontented and prone to extremism for the duration. It is a fool’s errand to stabilize them; the best one can do is to prevent their problems from spilling over onto us.
 Assimilating others based on law, however, seems to be receding into the past. Although Angelo M. Codevilla's March 24, 2014, comments are regarding misuse of power in regard to the IRS scandal, it could just as well apply to the current immigration imbroglio. He writes:
My point was that government officials’ use of unlawful, discretionary power—little different from the Mob’s—is becoming the rule rather than the exception in America. If we don’t like that, we have to learn to shun people who operate this way—especially if they belong to our party. 
Having gotten the reporter’s attention, I then explained that lawless politicians of any party are more dangerous than gangsters. The latter dispose only of private power, while the former have in their hands the enormous powers of modern government. 
Whereas any Albert Anastasia could send a few guys like Tony to “bend” you, any Nixon or Obama has countless minions who can get the IRS to audit you, or to screw you administratively in countless other ways—by writing agency regulations aimed at you, say, or by finding you in violation of regulations you may never have heard of, or by indicting you, or maybe just investigating and ruining you without ever bringing you to trial. Or they can include you in a group to be taxed while granting exemptions to others in the group, leaving you to pay a higher rate. The latter is happening under Obamacare.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

ISIS Closing on Baghdad

The Daily Mail reports fighting between ISIS forces and Iraqi forces for the town of Baqubah--the last major town before reaching Baghdad. ISIS has also capture Tal Afar, a town between Mosul and the Syrian border, which consolidates their hold in that region. The story goes on to indicate that ISIS is receiving support from pro-Saddam Hussein loyalists. It looks like a "caliphate" of "Greater Syria" may become a reality.

Special Ops Mini 14?

Video from Nutnfancy (note, the video is about 50 minutes long):

Video of the Capture of Anas al-Libi

Sort of interesting video of how professionals kidnap someone.

Will it Pass?

The spectacular advances by ISIS forces in Iraq in recent days have been a catastrophe for Iraq and a major setback for American interests but they are not the end of the world. 
ISIS (the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) now holds substantial swathes of territory and may have something like $2 billion in cash, a fleet of armored vehicles and probably more small arms than it knows what to do with. Unusually among jihadist groups, ISIS has focused in Syria on governance beyond just shooting, beheading, and crucifying people it doesn’t like. Presumably it will do the same in Iraq. 
However, this will not last. For an explanation why, we can turn to probably the most brilliant jihadist strategist to have touched a keyboard: Abu Musab al-Suri. He believed that “open fronts,” such as the 1980s jihad against the Soviet Union, efforts intended to liberate and hold territory, are unlikely to succeed. The simple fact is that they cannot stand up to modern military power backed up by modern intelligence. Instead, he recommended a turn toward individual jihad because it avoided the enemies’ strengths. In other words, Al-Suri would say that the more cities ISIS captures, the more money it has to keep track of, the more armored vehicles it acquires, the more social services it has to organize and deliver, the more it is setting itself up for a fall. These things have all sorts of pernicious effects from the point of view of security: they tie ISIS to fixed territory, they create networks that can be mapped and exploited, and they provide targets to airpower and artillery. ...
I'm not sure that ISIS will pass or, even if it does, that things will return to normal.

ISIS has passed the point of merely being a guerrilla movement. It now holds a large enough contiguous territory to be considered a nation-state, with sufficient forces to challenge Iraq's military on equal terms. It has accepted the reigns of government, providing infrastructure and social services generally provided by governments. It has--at least for now--a generally supportive population. The Iraqi government has proven itself incapable of stopping ISIS's advances, and will probably be equally unable to retake substantial territory, unless (as in the surge during the American occupation) ISIS alienates the population. In short, ISIS is at the same point Mao was in China when the tide turned against the Nationalist Chinese.

Even if ISIS is pushed back, though, its actions are a watershed event for Iraq. The Kurds will demand greater independence from Iraq's central government and get it. I suspect that now that they have control of Kirkuk, the Kurds are not going to cede it back. The Kurds are strongly positioned to declare an independent state, which will, more likely than not, lead to armed conflict with Turkey.

Even if ISIS is defeated, it will not end the Sunni/Shiite split in Iraq. The Sunni's will have had a taste of the power they lost upon the U.S. invasion, and will want it back--at least to the extent of having their own autonomous region.

Finally, if ISIS is defeated militarily, they will merely melt back to the stage 1 of revolution, becoming fish in a sea of Sunni supporters.

Docent's Memo (May 16, 2022)

VIDEO: " S&W J Frame Trigger Spring Kit Install " (10 min.) If you want to lighten the trigger pull on a J-frame, this video s...