Friday, January 30, 2015

Active Response Training Discusses What to Look for in an IWB Holster

File:Taurus Fobus Paddle Holster.jpg
Fobus Paddle Holster for Taurus

Greg Ellifritz describes looking at the new Fobus IWB holster at the Shot Show, and thinking about what a terrible holster it was, which, of course, also led him to reminisce about why he doesn't like Fobus holsters generally, and, more importantly, what features to look for in a good inside the waistband holster. If you have been thinking about IWB holsters, read his article--now!--and then come back to my comments if you have the time (they will make more sense, I promise).

I've never had a problem with a firearm melting to a kydex holster. It probably means that I don't practice enough. However, kydex holsters have their place, albeit perhaps more limited than hyped. For instance, I have a Fobus paddle holster for my .38 snubby because it is easy to take off or put on, and reasonably comfortable to wear. I doubt that I will ever fire the small revolver enough to melt the plastic holster. But Mr. Ellifritz is correct--the holster is connected to the paddle by three small rivets and would be easy for a determined opponent to rip off. I've worried about it ripping loose when I've caught it against the edge of a desk or a door. Also, and this is true of many concealed carry holsters, they have poor retention of the weapon; meaning that most anyone could pull the weapon from your holster if they knew it was there and wanted it.

I had once used a Fobus holster with a Sig 226. Like many of the kydex designs, the center of weight of the firearm in a semi-auto (particularly a full-size service pistol) is generally at or above the belt line, which makes the holster want to twist around the belt; i.e., the grips tend to hang away from the body, which is especially pronounced in a steel framed pistol. So, while I like my Fobus with my small revolver, I probably wouldn't use a Fobus or kydex holster with anything else. Instead, I use a leather pancake holster for my 1911, which hugs the weapon close to the body. Since the belt fits through slots in the leather, you can't just pull the holster off. It uses a thumb-break retention strap which is probably enough for retention purposes. I have two holsters for my 4" service revolver (a Ruger Security-Six). One is a kydex shell with leather interior that I recently acquired for competition or casual shooting. The other is a police holster that not only has a thumb-break strap, but also needs to be rocked forward before it can be withdrawn from the holster.

Of course, if you have a crappy belt, it may not matter how good of holster you have chosen. Plain leather belts, unless it is some super thick or dense leather, tends to stretch during wear, so the holster that fit tight and comfortable at the beginning of the day may be hanging sort of loose by day's end. The problem is exacerbated by a narrow (dress) belt because they will easily twist. I've been using a shooting belt for the last couple of months on weekends and the evening, and have to say that it is an immense improvement. But, that is a review for another day....

The Most Dangerous Counties in the United States...

... from a disaster standpoint. An interactive map at Time. (H/t Fer Fal).

Just a Reminder....

If you post a comment and it doesn't get published right away, it may have been caught in Blogger's spam filter. I don't check the spam filter very often, so if there is a hang-up on your comment, shoot me an email.

I Weep Because of Our Public Educational System

At lunch, I overheard an argument between three young people (late teens) over whether there were 50 or 51 states.

ISIS Smuggling Terrorists Into Europe

From BuzzFeed:
An ISIS operative traveled across the Syrian border late last year, settled in a Turkish port city, and began work on a mission to sneak jihadis into Europe. It has been successful, he said, in an interview near the Turkey-Syria border: “Just wait.” 
The operative, a Syrian in his thirties with a close-cropped black beard, said ISIS is sending covert fighters to Europe — as did two smugglers who said they have helped. He smuggles them from Turkey in small groups, he said, hidden in cargo ships filled with hundreds of refugees. He said the fighters intend to fulfill ISIS’s threat to stage attacks in the West. He views this as retaliation for U.S.-led airstrikes against the group that began in Iraq last summer and Syria last fall. “If someone attacks me,” he said, speaking with BuzzFeed News on condition of anonymity, “then for sure I will attack them back.”
Read the whole thing.

The Financial Elite's Boltholes

Convenient: Your own personal airstrip means you can fly in, or out, with the minimum of fuss - and all for just $NZ850,000, about £410,000

Earlier this week, I cited to an article claiming that super-rich hedge fund managers were buying up "bolt holes" in New Zealand in the event of social disorder. New Zealand is rated as the world's third safest country after Iceland and Denmark. The Daily Mail takes a look at some of these "bolt holes" that are for sale, including lots of photos, of course. The article relates:
New Zealand, which is about the size of the UK, but has a population of just 4.4million, offers them all the modern luxuries they have come to expect - but miles from any country which may implode into chaos. 
The country is 11,658 miles away from the UK, while its closest neighbour is Fiji - 1,612 miles away, more than double the distance between Lands End and John O'Groats.  
Homes at the top end of the market come with tennis courts, swimming pools and media rooms - and some even boast their own personal jetties where a family can moor their boat.
The article also reports:
Already, several billionaires have bought themselves homes in New Zealand. 
Russian industrial magnate Alexander Abramov, who lives in Moscow, has transformed a farm in Helena Bay, two-and-a-half hours north of Auckland, sparing no expense to build five homes on the land.   
The entire project - which included a warren of underground passages, to be used by staff, and its own power station in case of cuts - is thought to have cost £24million, according the New Zealand Herald. 
But he isn't planning on living there full time. Instead, two of the homes will be used as a luxury resort, with visitors about to travel to it by helicopter. 
American billionaire William Foley is one of several who have snapped up vineyards, buying Te Kairanga, in Martinborough, in 2011. 
Paypal co-founder Peter Thiel also has property in the country, as does Tony Malkin, whose family's property portfolio includes the Empire State Building.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

The Tea Leaves of California

Tea leaf reading.jpg
Reading Tea Leaves (Source)
I haven't been by Fred Reed's site for a few weeks. But he has a couple of recent columns discussing multiculturalism that are worth reading--preferably in reverse order of when they were published. 

So, first up, though the second published, is "The Birth of Three Nations," wherein he discusses what led France to its recent unpleasantness--the cult of diversity. Reed observes, correctly, that no matter what the international elites preach, no one really likes diversity. It results in societal friction, at a minimum, and bloodshed, generally.
Those among us who prefer hope to observation invariably insist that dislike springs from some defect in the character of those doing the disliking. If only those awful bigots would learn tolerance. If only we indoctrinated children enough in the schools, surely…. If only we made enough laws, or prosecuted hate crimes, or showed enough harmonious togetherness in movies, surely…. 
In support of this delusion, they often point out that the Irish and Italians no longer suffer discrimination in America. See? Diversity is no problem. Yet this was not a triumph of toleration, but of assimilation: they stopped being  Irish and Italian, and assimilated to the dominant culture. 
But assimilation becomes less likely and more difficult as the numbers and concentration of a group increase. Immigrants in small numbers, especially if dispersed, have to live in accord with the dominant culture. They will be seen as interesting rather than as invaders. Nobody hated Mexicans when they were few. 
* * * 
In America today we see huge homogeneous pools of Negro and Hispanic population and culture. Tthe inhabitants of the massive black ghettoes have virtually no exposure to white America except via television, which means that assimilation is not going to happen. Further, as usually occurs with dense concentrations of a culture, they do not want to assimilate. They have their own music, modes of dress, variant of English, and non-standard names intended to emphasize their distance from whites. 
The same to a lesser degree is true of Hispanics. It is also true of American expats, who tend to clump together and have no desire for assimilation. Human nature is human nature. 
Aggravating the problem is that the United States no longer has a dominant culture, or at any rate no culture willing to be dominant. This has proved to be a recipe for unending and apparently unendable confrontation with blacks. 
Will Hispanics follow the same pattern? They may well. Their numbers and concentration are great enough, they begin to have real political power, and will eventually have a voting majority in the Southwest. They know they are disliked by much of America. Hispanics are more assimilable than blacks; the question is whether they are assimilable enough. If the almost invisible differences between two flavors or Christianity or of Islam can lead to warfare, so may those between Latino and white. And trouble already brews between black and brown. 
Diversity. It offers to divide America into three countries, self-aware and, may God preserve us, mutually hostile. We can talk forever about what ought to be. We can leap from a tall building, insisting that we are birds. Yet we live in what is. We are not birds. Reality eventually takes hold. Aye, there’s the rub.
Turning from the general to the specific, he offers an update on California from the point of view of a law enforcement friend of his that lives there. The basic gist is that Hispanics are gaining political power and street power, primarily at the expense of blacks. Hispanics are driving blacks out of traditional black neighborhoods. More ominously, Reed's source indicates that, whereas in the past the Mexican cartels simply contracted with gangs in California to distribute drugs, merchandise is now being directed to Hispanic gangs and there is increasing direction and control by the cartels.

Extrapolating from the article, the near future in California will likely see a spike in gang warfare along racial lines--i.e., black versus white--unless blacks are simply willing to move out of Southern California. There will also be a spike in gang warfare because of the narcos moving more of their conflicts north of the border.

Anyway, read both of the articles and see what you think.

Surveillance Nation

Yesterday, it was reported that the DEA had abandoned a proposal to use surveillance cameras for photographing vehicle license plates near gun shows to investigate gun-trafficking. The DEA claimed that the plan was merely a "proposal" that was never implemented. Interestingly, the article also notes that the BATF had not authorized or approved the plan--suggesting to me that there were issues of a turf battle. 

However, there is a more salient reason for abandoning such a plan. It is not needed. The DEA has instead opted for a nationwide plan to track anyone, anywhere:
The Drug Enforcement Administration has been busy implementing a nationwide license plate reader and real-time tracking program, the American Civil Liberties Union said Monday. 
The program was designed to fight drug trafficking near the U.S.-Mexico border - to assist in the seizure of cars, money and other drug trafficking assets, reported The Wall Street Journal. 
However, the program has been quickly expanded across the nation, and the DEA previously suggested that "other sources" would even be able to contribute data to the database, the ACLU said. 
While the documents obtained by the ACLU through a Freedom of Information Act request were heavily redacted and thus their usefulness limited, the group was able to get a clearer picture of the program's expansion. 
High-tech cameras located on major highways track vehicles in real-time, collecting information on vehicle movements including location and direction of travel, and many of the cameras are capable of capturing images of drivers and passengers, the WSJ reported.
To be clear, this has little or nothing to do with disrupting the flow of drugs, but with adding additional streams of revenue via asset forfeiture programs, especially now that federal agencies are prohibited from sharing in assets seized by local law enforcement (although even that limitation is more show than substance).

North Korea ...

... appears to be restarting its Yongbyon nuclear reactor, which can produce enough plutonium each year to make a bomb.

Ebola Virus Mutating

The Daily Mail:
Scientists tracking the spread of the Ebola in West Africa have warned the virus is showing signs of mutating, and could become more contagious. 
It was a team of researchers from the Institut Pasteur in France who first identified the outbreak in Guinea, in March last year. 
Patient zero - the first person to be infected - has been identified as two-year-old Emile Ouamouno from the rural village of Meliandou. 
He died four days after he fell ill with a sky-high fever and vomiting in December 2013.
Just weeks later his sister succumbed to the disease, followed by their mother and grandmother.
From there the virus spread, before the scientists at Institut Pasteur identified it as Ebola three months later after it was reported to the health authorities. 
The team have since been tracing the virus' spread through Guinea, to establish if the disease could become more contagious.   

They have started the process of examining hundreds of blood samples from Ebola patients in the West African nation where the first cases struck in December 2013.
Human geneticist Dr Anavaj Sakuntabhai, told the BBC: 'We know the virus is changing quite a lot. 
'That's important for diagnosing and for treatment. We need to know how the virus (is changing) to keep up with our enemy.' 
He told Radio 4's Today programme viruses have to 'fight a balance' between infecting people and spreading. 
'We have seen several cases that don't have any symptoms at all when infected,' he said. 
'These people may be the ones who could spread the virus better, we do not know yet. 
 'A virus can change from more deadly into less deadly but more contagious and that is something we are afraid of.'
 (Underline added). The underlined portion is what I've been worried about since this epidemic began. In fact, it is probably due to such mutations that this epidemic spread so far, instead of burning out quickly as did prior Ebola outbreaks.

Why the Attempts to Bring Democracy to Middle-East Will Fail

I read recently (and, unfortunately, don't remember where) someone describe the basic hubris or conceit of Western intellectuals and politicians, including our last several presidents, as to foreign policy is the belief that everyone wants the same things we want, including freedom and democracy. Except it isn't true. From an article at The Independent:
A man was held down and beheaded for “insulting Allah” in the middle of a Syrian town by Isis fighters as he screamed for help from the silent crowd. 
Footage reportedly taken on Monday in the town of Al-Shadadi is the terror group’s latest show of brutality in its territories stretching from the Turkish border in Syria to northern Iraq. 
Details of the man’s crime were unknown but his death was staged for maximum exposure in a public square. 
A militant addressed the large crowd, which included children, as the man was restrained behind him claiming to carry out the “law of Allah” by executing him for allegedly insulting God. 
* * * 
One militant dropped his Kalashnikov as the man fought his captors for several minutes, eventually being pinned down by four men including one sitting on his back and pinning his arms behind him. 
When the executioner finally beheaded him with one blow of a sword, a roar went up from the crowd as militants chanted “Allahu akbar” (God is great) [sic].

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

How to Survive an Avalanche

The Art of Manliness has an article and illustrations about not only what you can do to prepare or avoid an avalanche, but what to do if you are caught in an avalanche, or if you are in a position to rescue someone else that was caught in an avalanche--it is not as simple as just digging a hole at their last position.

TTAG and Dan Baum

TTAG has posted a new article written by Dan Baum entitled "Question of the Day: How Can Gun Owners Lead by Moral Example?" Baum is the author of Gun Guys: A Road Trip, but has written various pieces in the past attacking private gun ownership for various magazines and newspapers, although he appears to have toned down his articles in the last couple years. He portrays himself as an anti-gun liberal who has converted to liking firearms. However, I first came across his name several years ago when he was trolling gun and survival boards trying to find gun owners to interview about caching weapons

Anyway, Baum's article at TTAG is a typical 5th column attack on private gun ownership. It starts out with a seemingly reasonable question: how to gain the moral high ground in the public debate over gun rights. Baum is no idiot: he recognizes that merely because something is a "natural right" or "God given right," it is not safe from a government attempting to curtail it. He then writes:
All guns start as the legal purchases of law-abiding people, who then lose control of them. When a child finds a loaded gun and kills herself or a playmate, it’s because a law-abiding gun owner let it happen. When a teenager gets ahold of a gun and commits suicide or worse, a law-abiding gun owner let it happen. Most guns used in violent crime are stolen, usually from law-abiding people who leave them unsecured. The majority is not wrong for wanting this nonsense to stop. 
The truth is that while each of us individually may believe he’s careful, as a community we are fatally sloppy. We have been so focused on bleating about our rights, that we have lifted our eye from our responsibilities. It is only by rediscovering, as a community, our commitment to the awesome responsibility of owning something as lethal as a firearm that we will ultimately secure our rights. 
We need to take the lead on reducing firearm accidents, suicides, and homicides away from Shannon Watts and Michael Bloomberg and the Brady Center — who don’t understand firearms at all — and reclaim that leadership for ourselves, who do. We need to demonstrate to the majority, by our moral example, that our right to keep and bear arms is not a zero-sum game — we win and you lose, or vice versa — but that an armed citizenry is good for everybody, gun owner and non-gun owner alike.
The flaw with Baum's argument is that it requires gun-owners to concede something that is not true--that gun owners are careless, and that this carelessness leads to gun deaths. John Lott looked into this issue in an article entitled "Children and Guns: The Fear and the Reality." He observed:
The CDC reports that for 2010 (the latest year available), one single six-year old died from a gunshot. For all children younger than 10, there were 36 accidental gun deaths, and that is out of 41 million children. Perhaps most important, about two-thirds of these accidental gun deaths involving young children are not shots fired by other little kids but rather by adult males with criminal backgrounds. In other words, unless you send your child to play at a criminal’s home, she is exceedingly unlikely to get shot. 
Indeed, if you are going to worry about your child’s safety you should check into other, perhaps less obvious dangers lurking in the playmate’s house: swimming pools, bathtubs, water buckets, bicycles, and chemicals and medications that can cause fatal poisoning. Drownings alone claimed 609 deaths; fires, 262 lives; poisonings, 54 lives. And don’t forget to ask about the playmate’s parents’ car and their driving records if your child will ride with them: After all, motor-vehicle accidents killed 923 children younger than 10.
It seems to me that I did some rough calculations as to the danger posed by swimming pools, and based on the number of swimming pools versus the number of deaths by drowning, a swimming pool was some 10,000 times more dangerous to a child than a firearm. Lott also noted that laws requiring owners to lock up firearms were less than useless:
My research on juvenile accidental gun deaths for all U.S. states shows that mandates that guns be locked up had no impact. What did happen in states with such mandates, however, was that criminals attacked more people in their homes and crimes were more successful: 300 more total murders and 4,000 more rapes occurred each year in these states.
Moreover, there is no correlation between homicide rates and gun ownership.  As even the highly biased Guardian notes:
From an international perspective, the US clearly has a problem - despite having less than 5% of the world's population, it has roughly 35-50% of the world's civilian-owned guns. [ed. And that's bad how?].

The United States has 88 firearms per 100 people. Yemen, the second highest gun ownership country in the world has 54.8. The third and fourth biggest countries may also come as a surprise - Switzerland (45.7) and Finland (45.3).

As a percentage of all murders, firearms are the most deadly in places like Puerto Rico and Sierra Leone where they account for 95% and 88% of homicides. The US also slides down the global rankings when homicide by firearm victims are looked at per 100,000 of the population - the figure is 2.97 for the United States, in stark contrast to Jamaica's 39.4 per 100,000 or Honduras's 68.43.
As Daniel Greenfield discusses in this December 2012 article at Front Page magazine, most of the murders in the U.S. occur in the large, Democratically controlled cities--that have strict gun control. That is, the U.S. has a gang problem, not a gun problem.
Chicago’s murder numbers have hit that magic 500. Baltimore’s murder toll has passed 200. In Philly, it’s up to 324, the highest since 2007. In Detroit, it’s approaching 400, another record. In New Orleans, it’s almost at 200. New York City is down to 414 from 508. In Los Angeles, it’s over 500. In St. Louis it’s 113 and 130 in Oakland. It’s 121 in Memphis and 76 in Birmingham.

Washington, D.C., home of the boys and girls who can solve it all, is nearing its own big 100.

Those 12 cities alone account for nearly 3,200 dead and nearly a quarter of all murders in the United States. And we haven’t even visited sunny Atlanta or chilly Cleveland.
 He also explains:
A breakdown of the Chicago killing fields shows that 83% of those murdered in Chicago last year had criminal records. In Philly, it’s 75%. In Milwaukee it’s 77% percent. In New Orleans, it’s 64%. In Baltimore, it’s 91%. Many were felons who had served time. And as many as 80% of the homicides were gang related.

Chicago’s problem isn’t guns; it’s gangs. Gun control efforts in Chicago or any other major city are doomed because gangs represent organized crime networks which stretch down to Mexico, and trying to cut off their gun supply will be as effective as trying to cut off their drug supply.

America’s murder rate isn’t the work of the suburban and rural homeowners who shop for guns at sporting goods stores and at gun shows, and whom news shows profile after every shooting, but by the gangs embedded in the urban areas controlled by the Democratic machine. The gangs who drive up America’s murder rate look nothing like the occasional mentally ill suburban white kid who goes off his medication and decides to shoot up a school. Lanza, like most serial killers, is a media aberration, not the norm.

National murder statistics show that blacks are far more likely to be killers than whites and they are also far more likely to be killed. The single largest cause of homicides is the argument. 4th on the list is juvenile gang activity with 676 murders, which combined with various flavors of gangland killings takes us nearly to the 1,000 mark. America has more gangland murders than Sierra Leone, Eritrea and Puerto Rico have murders.

Our national murder rate is not some incomprehensible mystery that can only be attributed to the inanimate tools, the steel, brass and wood that do the work. It is largely the work of adult males from age 18 to 39 with criminal records killing other males of that same age and criminal past.
(See also here). So basically, even with gang related deaths, the U.S. has a low murder rate; and without them, the U.S. is comparable to Western Europe. (See also this article at U.S. Conservatives).

So, no, gun owners should not concede that they have a problem with carelessness with firearms.

C&R Trigger Test

The Firearms Blog has conducted a test of the trigger weight of some 17 C&R military rifles (including the SKS, Garand, Mauser K98, and Mosin Nagant), plus a few automatic weapons. Median trigger pull was in the 6 to 7 lbs. range. Anyway, check it out.

The Decline of Civilization--Part I

Oswald Spengler (1930)
Oswald Spengler

        We've looked at several books and articles discussing the decline and collapse of civilizations, and attempting to predict where we are, and where we are going. In this article, I want to bring some of these ideas together.

          It is generally best to start at the beginning, and the same is true in this case. Accordingly, I want to revisit some of the basic scholarship on the decline and collapse of civilizations that I have found worthwhile.

Oswald Spengler and The Decline of the West

          Oswald Spengler provided one of the earliest and, still, one of the best reviews of the common patterns between the growth, maturity, and eventual death of civilizations in his magnum opus, The Decline of the West. (As a side note, for those interested in reading Spengler, I would warn you that I have yet to see an electronic version of his book that is worthwhile--his books are replete with footnotes, and include many terms in German or Greek, which have not converted well to an e-book format. I had to suffer through an e-book version for Volume 1 of his work, but was fortunate enough to stumble across a copy of his Volume 2 at a used book store). I've referred to Spengler's writings numerous times in this blog, but never provided an in-depth review. Thus, I want to spend some time laying out Spengler's main ideas.

         I suppose if I were to attempt to sum up Spengler's ideas in a single sentence, it would be that once a society cuts its ties with its root culture, it becomes increasingly empty, sclerotic and nihilistic. But while that is the essence of his theory, it lacks the necessary meat or body necessary for understanding. Spengler saw societies developing along the lines of an organism's life. Beginning with a vital culture as its root stock, a society matures into a civilization which, even upon reaching civilization, has in fact begun to die. Although the civilization continues to grow and appears stronger, it, in fact, loses its vitality. In Spengler's mind, this is demonstrated through the decline of art. A civilization may become more technically proficient, from a scientific or engineering standpoint, but its art has reached its apogee and declines into recycled and degenerate forms that are increasingly designed to titillate rather than inspire, appealing to only a declining minority of specialists. Along the way, the sanctity of home and hearth is abandoned. Power and government is concentration in a world city (or cities), feminism appears, birthrates decline, and the highest virtue of the civilization comes to be attacking the culture that forms the root of the civilization. The world cities have not only forgone the native culture but, as Spengler theory states, have lost even their national identities, with little or no interest in the rural population.

(Continued below the fold....)

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Mene, Mene, Tekel, Upharsin

The Mirror reports:
Super rich hedge fund managers are buying 'secret boltholes' where they can hideout in the event of civil uprising against growing inequality, it has been claimed. 
Nervous financiers from across the globe have begun purchasing landing strips, homes and land in areas such as New Zealand so they can flee should people rise up. 
With growing inequality and riots such as those in London in 2011 and in Ferguson and other parts of the USA last year, many financial leaders fear they could become targets for public fury. 
Robert Johnson, president of the Institute of New Economic Thinking, told people at the World Economic Forum in Davos that many hedge fund managers were already planning their escapes.

The Leatherman Tread (Updated)

The Tread
Leatherman will be releasing a new multi-tool this year called the Tread--a bracelet where each link is a tool. The idea was to create a tool that would be easier to take into paranoid security conscious venues. Leatherman also plans to offer it with a watch.

The EU's Greatest Fear Over A Greek Exit

It appears more and more likely that Greece may exit the European Union--at least to the extent of jettisoning the Euro. However, Daniel Hannan writes that the worst prospect for the EU would be if Greece did so ... and succeeded. Hannan explains:
The past six years have seen a greater depression in Greece than that of 1929 to 1935. Output is down by an almost unbelievable 25 per cent. A quarter of all Greeks – half of all youngsters – are unemployed, and tens of thousands more have emigrated in search of jobs. 
Mr Tsipras talks of the policies that the EU has forced on Athens as ‘fiscal waterboarding’ and you can see his point. 
Middle-class Athenians can be found rummaging in bins. Farmers are bringing supplies to their urban cousins. On cold nights, a pall of woodsmoke rises, because people can no longer pay heating bills. 
* * * 
[A] default and devaluation would offer a fresh start. Although the economy has been pummelled by six years of Euro-austerity, some of the fundamentals have improved. 
The bureaucracy has been slimmed, taxes are now collected and, if debt repayments were taken out of it, the budget would be in balance. In truth, this is what EU leaders fear. Not that Greece will leave the euro and collapse, but that Greece will leave the euro and prosper. 
A competitive Greek economy, exporting its way back to growth, might inspire Spaniards and Italians, who have also been paying the price of the euro, to follow.

Democrat Introduces Bill to Limit Private Ownership of Body Armor and Home Made Firearms

Guns Save Lives reports:
Representative Mike Honda (D-CA) has introduced a bill for consideration of the new Congress which would prohibit the ownership of certain types of body armor for civilians. 
H.R. 378 would make it a crime to own Type III body armor which would be punishable by up to 10 years in prison. 
According to Honda's website, "[t]his bill allows law enforcement to respond to active shooting situations more effectively. The bill prohibits the purchase, sale, or possession of military-grade body armor by anyone except certain authorized users, such as first-responders and law enforcement." The bill apparently also has a grandfathering provision. Apparently it is of no importance that federal law already prohibits felons from owning any type of body armor.

Although the article from Guns Save Lives doesn't mention it, Honda has also introduced a couple other bills that would limit home built firearms. One bill would require a hobbyist building a firearm at home to put a serial number on the firearm. Another one would ban the sale of 80% lowers.

Failing at a Basic Level

William S. Lind has written extensively on 4th Generational Warfare and how it is rooted in a challenge to the legitimacy of the State. That is, although the Peace of Westphalia introduced the modern concept of the State--the Leviathan, as Hobbes termed it--and the first generation of warfare for such states, Lind foresees that the greatest threat to States in the 21st century will come about due to the failure of States to maintain their legitimacy. Lind often focuses on the fact that many individuals and groups will begin to give their primary loyalty to non-state entities or movements. It is the crises of legitimacy that has led, and will continue to lead, to 4th Generation conflict.

However, the flip side of that is States losing or giving up their legitimacy because they cease to perform the basic functions of the State. This can happen in several ways, but two of the most significant are the failure to provide basic services, and, relatedly, ceasing to be a neutral party and pursuing the goals or objectives of a few at a cost to the many. It is interesting to me to see the number of examples of this recently in news articles and commentary.

Global Guerrillas reported this past weekend that "militants" had targeted two (2) electrical transmission pylons in Pakistan, which resulted in a cascade a power failures leaving 140 million without electrical power. The author commented:
Attacks like these can be very damaging.  How so?  People don't blame the attackers for blackouts.  They blame the government.  In fact, the inability of a government to deliver the basics of energy and fuel is more damaging to its legitimacy than problems with security (it routinely led the list of reasons Iraqis were angry at the government).
It would be one thing if this failure to provide basic services was limited to a third world hell hole, but it is not. Moving somewhat closer to home, Theodore Dalrymple recently wrote at Taki Magazine about the lights going out over his bit of Europe--literally. From the article:
Last night the streetlights in my pleasant little English market town were switched off at midnight. In fact they’ve been switching them off at midnight for two months, but I have not been here to notice it. However, in this little development (or is it a reversal of development?) may be seen all the economic troubles of the whole Western world. 
The lights are switched off as a cost-saving measure, not because of the aesthetic and cultural advantages of darkness (which, in my opinion, do actually exist), or because there is anything wrong with the electricity supply. Private houses are unaffected. You can still burn the midnight oil if you want to.  
But why do costs need to be cut? A brief description of some of the town’s finances might be helpful. Its most highly paid official receives in emoluments nearly 20 percent of the town’s income through local taxation. The payment of pensions to past employees, which are completely unfunded and must be found from current income, consume another 20 to 25 percent of that tax revenue. Two years ago a former employee took the council to a labor tribunal for wrongful dismissal, and the council spent 66 percent of its income in that year on legal fees. (The employee’s complaints against the council were not upheld, but that was scarcely of any comfort to the taxpayers, for the costs were not recoverable—even though natural justice required that she should be driven into penury and made homeless for the rest of her life to pay for her legal action, which was both frivolous and dishonest.) 
Even if it provided no services at all, the council would still run at a deficit if it continued only with its essential business, which is to pay the salaries and pensions of those who work in it, and the various parasitical rent-seekers, like employment lawyers, who live at its expense. And so the bureaucracy (and its hangers-on) does not exist to serve the public, but the public exists to serve the bureaucracy. ...
But it is not just the bloated bureaucracy of Europe, but that here in the United States. From a recent article at The Daily Signal:
For “Outrageous Government Scam of 2014,” it’s hard to compete with the news of the supersized public employee pensions in California. If you haven’t already heard: In 2013, an assistant fire chief in Southern California collected a $983,319 pension. A police captain in Los Angeles received nearly $753,861. 
Talk about a golden parachute. And the report on Golden State government pensions contains a list of hundreds of “public servants” who have hit the jackpot with annual pensions of a half million dollars a year. It’s like they’re playing the game “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” with taxpayer money. 
By some estimates, the unfunded public-sector pension liabilities in California have eclipsed $750 billion, which means in a few years residents will be paying their already-highest-in-the-nation income and sales taxes not for roads, bridges, schools and public safety, but for retired employees living like Daddy Warbucks.
... Nationwide, public employee pensions are running $1 trillion to $5 trillion in the red, depending on the rate of return expected on stocks and bonds. This could be the next housing bubble to burst. Some states like Utah have smartly moved to head off this crisis by closing down open-ended pensions and putting public sector union members in 401(k) plans that won’t bankrupt the state or municipalities. The unions are fighting this reform everywhere.
I've cited articles over the last several years concerning the pension crises and cut backs in city services in many different cities. Heck, Detroit essentially cut off large sections of itself from even receiving basic services because of budget woes.

Concurrently, governments are continually seeking greater streams of revenue, or even new revenue sources. California, for instance, after years of encouraging people to drive less and use more fuel efficient cars, is now considering a mileage tax as fuel tax revenue declines. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) has been building a database of motorists, which its "main aim was to seize automobiles, money and other assets to fight drug trafficking, reported the Wall Street Journal." President Obama has suggested taxing college savings accounts to fund his new plan to extend high school by two more years (and does anyone question if the government will eventually start looking to go after retirement accounts?).

At the same time that governments are raising taxes and cutting services, the elites are telling us that our lifestyles are too lavish, and our living standards need to be adjusted downward.

This is a recipe for a crises of legitimacy. What use is the State when the State becomes useless--nay, what use is the State when the State ceases to protect and serve the citizens, and instead preys on them?

Stocks Slide

The Dow Jones industrial average dropped nearly 400 points on Tuesday morning after disappointing earnings reports and a surprise drop in orders for durable goods. 
The Dow was off 357 points, or two percent, to 17,321 as of 12 p.m. Eastern time and at one point slid as much as 390 points.  
The Standard & Poor's 500 index shed 30 points, or 1.5 percent, to 2,027. The Nasdaq slid 86 points, or 1.8 percent, to 4,684.
--Daily Mail.

ISIS Attacks Hotel in Tripoli

The Daily Mail reports:
At least eight people, including five foreigners, were killed during an attack by gunmen against a luxury hotel in the Libyan capital of Tripoli on Tuesday, a security official told local television. 
Mahmoud Hamza, director of Libya's special deterrence force, told al-Naba television that five foreigners, including two women, as well as a security officer and two of the gunmen, died in the attack on the Corinthia Hotel in Tripoli. He did not give the nationalities of the foreigners. 
Militants from Isis in Libya claimed responsibility for the attack.
* * *
A hotel staffer said the attack began when five masked gunmen wearing bulletproof vests stormed the hotel after security guards at the hotel's gate tried to stop them. He said they entered the hotel and fired randomly at the staff in the lobby. 
The staffer said the gunmen fired in his direction when he opened his door to look out. He said he joined the rest of the staff and foreign guests fleeing out the hotel's back doors into the parking lot. 
When they got there, he said a car bomb exploded in the parking lot, only a hundred meters away. 
He said this came after a protection force entered the lobby and opened fire on the attackers. He said two guards were immediately killed. 
The article indicated that the Libyan Prime Minister normally resided at the hotel, but was not there at the time of the attack. It wasn't clear from the article, but it sounds as though some of the attackers had taken hostages and were still in the building.

It is apparent from this report and the recent attack in France that the various terrorist franchises (I would be willing to bet that ISIS in Libya has little oversight and control by ISIS) have stepped up their game. Its only taken them 13 years of fighting U.S. forces to learn the value of body armor. And the herding of victims toward a car bomb shows that this was a sophisticated operation by terrorist standards, even if the tactic was an ultimate failure since the bomb was too far from anyone. Of course, the biggest failure of the terrorists (and we saw this in the French attack) is the lack of reconnaissance for tactical intelligence. The terrorists here undoubtedly hoped to catch the Libyan Prime Minister, but completely missed him; in the Paris shooting, the attackers knew which building to attack, but did not even know which specific office to go to, did not know their targets except by name, and could have been potentially foiled by the electronic lock on the doorway.

Nevertheless, this is a great example of 4th Generation Warfare. Although ISIS appears to be pursuing a classic Maoist insurgency strategy of using terrorism in areas it does not control, and military force where it is in control, the conflict is an ideological one that transcends national borders. Whereas Oswald Spengler used art as a tool for determining the inflection point between the death of culture and the rise of civilization, I think 4th Generation Warfare provides a similar measure as to the collapse of nations and civilizations. Chaos is nibbling away at the extreme edges of Western civilization.

Russia to Standardize Around AK-12

Russia had selected two rifles for its military, but has elected to standardize around the AK-12 according to The Firearms Blog.

Monday, January 26, 2015

The Iron Law

Pournelle's Iron Law of Bureaucracy states that in any bureaucratic organization there will be two kinds of people": 
 First, there will be those who are devoted to the goals of the organization. Examples are dedicated classroom teachers in an educational bureaucracy, many of the engineers and launch technicians and scientists at NASA, even some agricultural scientists and advisors in the former Soviet Union collective farming administration. 
Secondly, there will be those dedicated to the organization itself. Examples are many of the administrators in the education system, many professors of education, many teachers union officials, much of the NASA headquarters staff, etc. 
The Iron Law states that in every case the second group will gain and keep control of the organization. It will write the rules, and control promotions within the organization.

Biggest Corporate Layoff Ever?

Reports are circulating that IBM plans on reducing its workforce by 110,000 or by 26%. Although IBM denies that it is laying off 110,000 people, the author of the Forbes piece says that not all will be fired; many are being forced out by being given poor performance ratings, which will then encourage them to retire early or voluntarily leave in order to receive severance packages, others have been transferred to a unit recently sold off so they can be terminated by the new owner, and there will probably be a significant number of contractors let go. Even if the prediction of 26% layoffs is exaggerated, IBM has admitted that at least several thousand will be laid off; and at least one IBM subsidiary in Canada--ISM--is laying off about 10% of its workforce.

A Run Around the Web--Jan. 26, 2015.

Some articles of interest, in no particular order:

Modern Ruins--A Blast from the Past

The Daily Mail reports on an urban explorer that found a house in Ontario, Canada, abandoned by its owners in the 1960s, with furnishing and personal effects in-place.

A shaving kit, once used by the man of the house, remains intact on a dirty dressing table, as well as shoe shine polish and jewelry cleaner

'This family loved music': Dave found it 'unsettling' to see so many personal possessions left behind in the living room. An acoustic guitar remains in its case on the coffee table, several record players sit atop an old lift top record player as well as a stack of vinyl records
Living Room
More photos at the link.

Potential Record Breaking Storm to Hit NY

News reports indicate that New York, the Atlantic coast and parts of New England face a potential record setting blizzard starting today. New York City may receive up to 3 feet of snow. 1,800 flights were cancelled for Monday, and 1,600 for Tuesday. Shoppers have reportedly cleaned out grocery stores as they prepare to hunker down for several days. (Sources: Daily Mail, New York Daily News).

Vortex Introduces $400-ish 1-6X Scope

The Truth About Guns reports that Vortex is introducing a new scope--the Strike Eagle--with 1-6X magnification and illuminated reticle. The author was quoted an MSRP of around $400 (Canadian). If this pans out, it would be great. Currently, similar variable scopes offering a true 1X at the bottom range are fairly expensive--$1,400 or more. The advantage to such scopes is that on the 1X setting, they can be used much like a red-dot sight, but also offer the option to increase magnification when attempting shots at longer ranges.

Obamavilles Spreading in California

In the 1930's, homeless camps were referred to as Hoovervilles in reference to President Herbert Hoover whom many at the time blamed for the Great Depression. Some political commentators, including Glenn Reynolds, have referred to the camps that have sprung up over the last 8 years as Obamavilles. The LA Times reports that more of these camps have appeared in the L.A. basin. From the article:
Over the last two years, street encampments have jumped their historic boundaries in downtown Los Angeles, lining freeways and filling underpasses from Echo Park to South Los Angeles. The Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, a city-county agency, received 767 calls about street encampments in 2014, up 60% from the 479 in 2013. 
Some residents believe the city is exporting its downtown homeless problem to their neighborhoods. But social service agencies and volunteers say it isn't that simple. They say that although downtown development and skid row cleanups are squeezing out some homeless people, many camps are filled with locals. 
Soaring rents, closed shelters and funding cutbacks are pushing residents from neighborhoods such as Highland Park and Boyle Heights into the streets, where they cling to familiar turf. 
"Homeless people, especially the mentally ill, they don't like new," said Senior Lead Officer Gina Chovan of the Los Angeles Police Department's Northeast Division. "They want to stay where they know all the nooks and crannies." 
Bound by court decisions, the city has largely quit breaking up homeless groups and confiscating their trash and belongings, leaving the camps to grow and multiply. 
Whether homeless people are more numerous or simply more visible could be answered by the biennial tally taking place this week.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Lars Andersen: A New Level of Archery

If you have any interest in archery, you should watch these videos. Lars Andersen has researched old documents to learn how archery was used as a dynamic method of combat (as opposed to the static method of target archery that most of us learn today).

Friday, January 23, 2015

Secret Nazi Underground Base Discovered in Austria (Updated and bumped)

It may have been used for research into nuclear weapons. As should be expected, excavations have been stopped until the discoverers obtain a government permit. Apparently you need a permit for everything....

(Originally posted on Dec. 28, 2014)

Update (1/23/2015): I came across another short article about the newly discovered tunnels, although it does not really provide any additional information--apparently further excavation work has not yet occurred.

This article indicates that the film maker, Sulzer, who made the discovery, had previously found evidence of a large octagonal structure underground at the site.  The concentration camp in question is the KZ Gusen II camp. This article indicates that the camp and tunnels were the site of manufacturing for the Me 262 jet-fighter. A Washington Post article from last month hints that the Nazis may have also been using the facility to work on missiles with biological warheads, as Heinrich Himmler, the head of the SS (and who wanted to develop biological weapons) and Hans Kammler, the director of the Nazi's missile program (among other things), were frequent visitors to the facility. (Kammler was apparently responsible for facilities all over Germany). Or, as a comment below (from Chris Berman?) suggests, the facility may have been related to the Nazi Bell.

I love a good mystery, and Kammler's last days offer a great mystery. There is considerable debate on Kammler's death, or whether he died at the end of WWII. Certainly there is evidence that Kammler and his staff were in  Oberammergau, Germany (near the border with Austria) on April 22, 1945, with a "staff" of 600 people. Thus, it is possible that he was able to successfully flee Germany with a considerable number of Nazi scientists and technicians.

Iranian Terror Networks in the Americas

Argentine prosecutor Alberto Nisman was found dead in his home this past weekend. The Atlantic gives a brief rundown of the major facts and inferences surrounding Nisman's death, which was initially reported by Argentine authorities as a suicide:
The initial government reports declaring the death of Alberto Nisman to be a suicide arrived suspiciously fast. 
For starters, Nisman, a high-ranking Argentine prosecutor, had left no suicide note. More curiously, his cause of death--a gunshot to head--had no exit wound, giving rise to the theory that he had been shot from a distance. Next, a forensics analysis of his body determined that there were no traces of gunpowder on Nisman's fingers, constituting yet another red flag. Then, contrary to reports, a locksmith said he had found a hidden service door that had been left open when he was first called to Nisman's apartment.
"I might get out of this dead."
Beyond all this, however, was the fact that Nisman was found dead hours before he was set to deliver damning testimony against the Argentine government. Nisman, who had been tasked with investigating the 1994 attack on a Jewish Community Center in Buenos Aires, said he had definitive proof that the government had tried to negotiate a deal to safeguard Iranian officials from prosecution in the attack in exchange for access to Iran's energy market. 
“The president and her foreign minister took the criminal decision to fabricate Iran’s innocence to sate Argentina’s commercial, political and geopolitical interests,” Nisman told reporters last week. (A number of Argentine officials deny the claims.) Nisman also delivered another noteworthy quote last week: "I might get out of this dead," he told a journalist. 
The 1994 attack against the Asociación Mutual Israelita Argentina in Buenos Aires, a community center belonging to Latin America's largest Jewish population, was shocking not only because it was the worst act of terrorism in Argentina's history, but also because it was one of the deadliest anti-Semitic attacks since the end of World War II. The bombing, which killed 85 people and leveled the seven-story AMIA building, took place less than five miles from where, in 1960, Israeli Mossad agents famously nabbed Adolf Eichmann, Hitler's right-hand man, who had been living comfortably (and unrepentantly) in Buenos Aires for a decade. 
More than 20 years later, the case of the AMIA bombing remains unsolved. While Hezbollah and Iran have been widely implicated and even formally charged in the attack, a string of botched inquiries, along with a benumbing chain of what many believe to be government cover-ups, bribes, and nefarious diplomatic machinations, have kept the attackers safe from justice. 
While Argentina's leadership stood to lose greatly from Nisman's testimony, others yet point out that the direct implication of Iran would also damage the regime. "Twenty-one years after the AMIA bombing, Iran has successfully shed its pariah status while retaining terrorism as an instrument of policy," wrote Armin Rosen at Business Insider. "Nisman's investigation threatened to upset that balance, partly by exposing how Iran managed this feat in the first place." (Nisman's death also came hours after an Israeli strike killed an Iranian general along with six members of Hezbollah in Syria.)
Although admitting that his death was not a suicide, Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner now claims that Nisman's death was an attempt by her political enemies to "smear" her. Another article explains further:
Argentina suspects rogue agents from its own intelligence services were behind the death of a state prosecutor investigating the deadly 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires. 
Alberto Nisman was found dead in his apartment late on Sunday, a gunshot wound to his head and a 22 caliber pistol by his side along with a single shell casing. 
He had been scheduled to appear before Congress on Monday to answer questions about his allegation that President Cristina Fernandez conspired to derail his investigation of the attack. 
His death and a blizzard of conspiracy theories around it have rocked Argentina. 
The government says Nisman's allegations and his death were linked to a power struggle at Argentina's intelligence agency and agents who had recently been fired. 
It says they deliberately misled Nisman and may have had a hand in writing parts of his 350-page complaint. 
"When he was alive they needed him to present the charges against the president. Then, undoubtedly, it was useful to have him dead," the president's chief of staff, Anibal Fernandez, said on Friday.
The "charges" referred to are a secret oil-for-food agreement between Argentina and Iran. As part of the proposed agreement, Argentina was supposed to shield Iranian officials from charges that they orchestrated the AMIA bombing. Mr. Nisman had asserted for years that Iran had helped plan and finance the bombing, and that Hezbollah had carried it out. The deal began to fall apart when Argentina was unable to get Interpol to lift its warrants ("red lists") for Iranian officials implicated in the bombing, which include Iran’s former defense minister Ahmad Vahidi and failed presidential candidate Mohsen Rezai.

But that is not all. Nisman also maintained that "Tehran had established its terror networks for the strategic long term, he said, ready to be used 'whenever it needs them.' In that same call, he warned that terrorist networks first established by Iran in several South American countries in the 1980s and 1990s were still in place."

Food Delivery Trucks Targeted for Robbery in Venezuela

Reuters reports:
Robbers and looters are targeting trucks carrying food across Venezuela in another sign of worsening shortages that have turned basics like flour and chicken into coveted booty. 
Crime has long plagued shops and roads in Venezuela, which has one of the world's highest murder rates. 
But widespread shortages due to a restriction of dollars for imports have worsened since the New Year. 
This has made food delivery increasingly risky even as certain trucks have been fitted with GPS devices and are sometimes protected by private security agents.

Coming Soon to a Neighborhood Near You

An account from the Daily Mail of a dramatic kidnapping attempt in South Africa. The targets were Chinese. The kidnappers were dressed as police, and pretending to be making an arrest. According to the article, they were also armed with R5 rifles.

A Few More Interesting Products from Shot Show

In looking at some of the Shot Show coverage on the web, I found some more articles/products of interest.

First up, the Remington R51 seems to have been fixed, and the MSRP is expected to stay about $400. But it may not be until summer before they hit the shelves.

EL BE Tac will be distributing MP-44 Sturmgewehr rifles in 8 mm Kurz, and a pistol based on the MP-38 submachine gun. The weapons are made in Germany and should be available shortly. However, at $5,000 for the Stg 44, it will be out of my price-range. (sigh).

Crimson Trace has gone green, announcing more green laser products.

ALG showed off its 6-second Optic mount, which is designed to attach to the accessory rail of a Glock pistol, and allow mounting of an Aimpoint micro-red dot sight or compatible optic. So far, the company only has a mount for the Glock line of pistols. Interestingly, according to the article, "[t]he new ALG mount was developed based on a request by the DoD." Signs of an early favorite for the military pistol trials?

And if you need something to put on your 6-Second Mount (supposing you get one), Holosun (which I had never heard of before) has a couple new products. "The HS403C is a 2MOA LED red dot. It is parallax free and has a run time of 50,000 hours. On top of that the HS403C has a built in solar panel for dual power options. The solar panel will run the optic and auto dim the red dot due to ambient light." The battery is accessible via a side-door, which is nice. It is Aimpoint T1 compatible, but the MSRP is $249.99.

The Game of Thrones?

King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia is dead. He's been having especially severe health problems over the last several weeks, so this is not a surprise. Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud has apparently assumed the throne. From the story:
Salman has been crown prince and defense minister since 2012. He was governor of Riyadh province for five decades before that.  
The new monarch today vowed to maintain the same approach as his predecessors in his first address to the nation since his ascension to the throne. 
In a speech on state television, he said: 'We will remain, with God's support, maintain the straight path that this country has advanced on since its establishment by the late King Abdulaziz.'  
Salman also made an oblique reference to the chaos gripping the greater Middle East, with ISIS now holding a third of both Iraq and Syria, to the north of Saudi Arabia. 
'The Arab and the Islamic nations are in dire need for solidarity and cohesion,' the new king said.   
By immediately appointing Muqrin as his heir, subject to the approval of a family Allegiance Council, Salman has moved to avert widespread speculation about the immediate path of the royal succession in the world's top oil exporter.  
However, King Salman has already had at least one stroke, leading to concerns that his ill-health could mean that he was not a fit candidate for the role. 
Salman - who is now at the head of the world's top oil producing country - had recently taken over the ailing monarch's responsibilities.  
He is a reputed moderate with a deft understanding of the competing demands of conservative clerics, powerful tribes and an increasingly youthful population.  
In a meeting with the U.S. ambassador in March 2007, described in a cable released by WikiLeaks, Salman said the social and cultural reforms instigated by King Abdullah had to move slowly for fear of a conservative backlash. 
He also argued against the introduction of democracy in the kingdom, citing regional and tribal divisions, and told the ambassador that a solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict was necessary for Middle East stability.  
He is described as a physically imposing figure, and controls one of the Arab world's largest media groups.  
King Salman has been part of the ruling clique of princes for decades and is thought likely to continue the main thrusts of Saudi strategic policy, including maintaining the alliance with the United States and working towards energy market stability.  
During his five decades as Riyadh governor he was reputedly adept at managing the delicate balance of clerical, tribal and princely interests that determine Saudi policy, while maintaining good relations with the West. 
The succession will probably go smoothly, but I cited a couple articles earlier this month discussion possible issues with the succession. The issue will not necessarily be with who is king, but who is named the next crown prince and further succession. The Middle East Eye noted that:
Two figures are currently vying for the post of next crown prince, namely, Emir Mutaib - King Abdullah's son and current Republican Guard minister - and Emir Mohamed Bin Naif, the incumbent interior minister.
Abdullah attempted to forestall any such conflict this last year by nominating Emir Muqrin bin Abdel-Aziz, 69, the second deputy prime minister and the king's special envoy, as "deputy crown prince," to replace Salman upon his death. Salman appears to be following this decision--Muqrin has been announced as crown prince--and Salman has named Naif (Nayef), his nephew, as deputy crown prince, making him second in line to the throne behind Muqrin. As interior minister, Naif controls the Kingdom's police forces, and respected by Western officials. According to the Guardian article, "Salman on Friday also appointed his son, Prince Muhammad, as defence minister. The prince, in his 30s, was head of his father’s royal court when Salman was crown prince and is among his most favoured sons."

However, the path forward may not be as smooth as the latter two articles suggest. Salman is 79 years old and reportedly suffering from dementia, according to the Washington Post. The Post article indicates:
“Despite so many people saying it will be a smooth transition, there’s every reason to believe that Saudi Arabia is heading for rough times,” Simon Henderson, an expert on the Saudi succession at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, said in an interview Thursday.

“Having a king with dementia is the last thing they need at this difficult time,” Henderson said. “Yemen is falling apart, ISIS is knocking at the door . . . this is an extraordinarily dangerous Middle East from a Saudi perspective.”
By Saudi tradition, the crown passes down among the sons of national founder King Abdulaziz bin Saud, who died in 1953. Salman would be the sixth son of Abdulaziz to be king, and few of his remaining brothers — out of at least 35 who were alive when Abdulaziz died — are believed to be healthy or qualified to assume the throne. 
In an apparent bid to preempt quarrels about succession — and also secure the line for his own favored branch of the family — Abdullah last year took the unprecedented step of anointing a deputy heir, Prince Muqrin, 71, his youngest brother.

Muqrin is said to be smart and is well-liked by ordinary Saudis; he also has good ties with Saudi Arabia’s most important ally, the United States. But the choice sparked fierce opposition from some of the many excluded princes, who complained that Abdullah was defying a tradition that allows each king to name his own heir. Additionally, Muqrin’s mother was a Yemeni concubine, not a Saudi princess, and some in the family reportedly consider his lineage too impure for him to wear the crown.
* * *
The vast al Saud family is believed to be riven by factions. But historically, the family has managed to come together with the primary goal of preserving their iron rule.
Even if the feuds are contained behind palace doors, though, the squabbles could paralyze decision-making in the kingdom at a critical time.
Henderson said there could be far more maneuvering than the royal family will admit. He said some would privately argue that Salman is not of sound enough mind to run the country, and other factions would push their own favorites. 
“The trick is always to try and understand their logic and not be too confined by our own logic,” he said. “Their logic is different. They hate the idea of public show of disunity. So they’ll try to cover that up completely.” 
Henderson said “Western logic” would suggest that the Saudis would be smarter to pass over Salman in favor of Muqrin or a next-generation king to lead the country at an increasingly complex and violent time. Saudi borders a part of Iraq where the Islamic State is influential, and its southern neighbor, Yemen, is in the midst of a power struggle that Saudis believe will strengthen Iran, its regional rival.
On top of the collapse of the Yemeni government and the U.S. evacuating diplomatic personnel, ISIS, and Iran's attempts to build a nuclear weapon, Saudi Arabia will also face complaints from other OPEC nations on driving down oil prices, and perhaps its own budget problems. "[T]he Saudis need high prices to support their government spending -- the IMF estimates that they require a price of about $90 a barrel just to pay the bills. That means they can't keep up a price war forever." My understanding is that some of the other OPEC nations need even more because of their generous subsidies and welfare.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Firearms History: The Differences Between the VZ-58 and AK

The Firearms History blog describes the major differences between the VZ-58 rifle and the AK series of rifle.

Forward Observer Magazine: Look at the Snoop Snitch

Forward Observer Magazine gives a quick look at the "Snoop Snitch," an Android app designed to warn you of cell interceptor towers.

Update (1/27/2015): It wasn't compatible with my phone because of lack of root access. (Sigh).

Mud Test of M1A, MAS 49/56, and AR15

About a 9 minute video at InRange TV. For those without the time or means of watching the video, the gist is that they take three rifles--the M1A, the MAS 49/56, and an AR15--and crawl through a mud-puddle, making sure to get the firearms thoroughly coated in mud, and then test fire. The first weapon up was the MAS 49/56, an autoloading rifle used by the French through much of the Cold War period. It performed pretty well, having a couple problems toward the end of its feed. The M1A was able to get 2 shots off before completely freezing up--it was a complete failure. The AR 15 did the best, firing 18 out of 20 rounds.

Magpul's AK Furniture

TTAG has photos and a bit more detail about Magpul's furniture for the AK.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

What About Those European No-Go Zones?

Entire neighborhoods of Paris, London, and other European cities have become Muslim-run "no-go zones," off-limits to law enforcement and governed by Islamic sharia law. The story, making the rounds since last week's Paris terror attacks, is shocking—and demonstrably untrue. Yet it continues to spread.
Except that their existence has been carefully documented many times by French media, politicians, and even research reports. From the latter article:
A 120-page research paper entitled "No-Go Zones in the French Republic: Myth or Reality?" documented dozens of French neighborhoods "where police and gendarmerie cannot enforce the Republican order or even enter without risking confrontation, projectiles, or even fatal shootings." 
Some of the most notorious no-go zone areas in France are situated in the department of Seine-Saint-Denis, a northeastern suburb (banlieue) of Paris that has one of the highest concentrations of Muslims in France. The department is home to an estimated 600,000 Muslims (primarily from North and West Africa) out of a total population of 1.4 million.
Seine-Saint-Denis is divided into 40 administrative districts called communes (townships), 36 of which are on the French government's official list of "sensitive urban zones" or ZUS.
Seine-Saint-Denis — also known locally as "ninety-three" or "nine three" after the first two digits of the postal code for this suburb — has one of the highest unemployment rates in France; more than 40% of those under the age of 25 are jobless. The area is plagued with drug dealing and suffers from some of the highest rates of violent crime in France. 
In October 2011, a landmark 2,200-page report, "Banlieue de la République" (Suburbs of the Republic) found that Seine-Saint-Denis and other Parisian suburbs are becoming "separate Islamic societies" cut off from the French state, and where Islamic Sharia law is rapidly displacing French civil law. The report said that Muslim immigrants are increasingly rejecting French values and instead are immersing themselves in radical Islam. 
The report — which was commissioned by the influential French think tank, L'Institut Montaigne — was directed by Gilles Kepel, a highly respected political scientist and specialist in Islam, together with five other French researchers. 
The authors of the report showed that France — which now has 6.5 million Muslims (the largest Muslim population in European Union) — is on the brink of a major social explosion because of the failure of Muslims to integrate into French society. 
The report also showed how the problem is being exacerbated by radical Muslim preachers, who are promoting the social marginalization of Muslim immigrants in order to create a parallel Muslim society in France that is ruled by Sharia law. 
The research was primarily carried out in the Seine-Saint-Denis townships of Clichy-sous-Bois and Montfermeil, two suburbs that were ground zero for Muslim riots in the fall of 2005, when Muslim mobs torched more than 9,000 cars. 
The report described Seine-Saint-Denis as a "wasteland of de-industrialization" and said that in some areas, "a third of the population of the town does not hold French nationality, and many residents are drawn to an Islamic identity." 
Another township of Seine-Saint-Denis is Aubervilliers. Sometimes referred to as one of the "lost territories of the French Republic," it is effectively a Muslim city: more than 70% of the population is Muslim. Three quarters of young people under 18 in the township are foreign or French of foreign origin, mainly from the Maghreb and sub-Saharan Africa. French police are said to rarely venture into some of the most dangerous parts of the township.
 The article provides links to dozens of other statements, news reports, and documentaries concerning the "no-go" zones. Read the whole thing.

The Ticking Time Bomb Beneath Decatur, Illinois

Whats Up With That (WUWT) takes note of a press release from the University of Illinois that "the Illinois Basin – Decatur Project (IBDP) has reached its goal of capturing 1 million metric tons of carbon dioxide and injecting it deep underground in the Mount Simon Sandstone formation beneath Decatur, Illinois." The Project is supposed to be a demonstration project on capturing and storing CO2 to allegedly counteract global warming.

The WUWT author goes on to point out the risk of this or similar projects:
If just one of those proposed sequestration projects suffers a major containment breach, say if an earthquake cracks the geological structure, or if a mistake or greed leads to the reservoir being overloaded, the result could be a disaster. 
In Africa, in 1986, an abrupt release of an estimated 100,000 – 300,000 tons of CO2 killed 2,500 people up to 25km (15.5  miles) from the source of the release. 
A similar release near a major city would kill a sizeable fraction of the city’s population. The region of devestation was comparable to the loss of life which would be caused by a large nuclear explosion – the only reason a lot more people didn’t die, was Lake Nyos is a sparsely inhabited rural region. 
The Lake Nyos CO2 release was so deadly, because CO2 is heavier than air – when the huge CO2 cloud boiled out of lake Nyos, it hugged the ground, displacing all breathable air to an elevation 10s of ft above ground level, suffocating almost everyone in its path.
Its not just people and animals which would be affected – car engines would also stall, as the blanket of CO2 choked off the supply of oxygen.

More On Japan's Demographic Disaster

The Asia Times reports:
Half of Japanese, and 45 per cent of married people, admitted that they had not had sex in the previous month, in findings that have alarming implications for a country facing a longterm demographic crisis. The survey, by the Japan Family Planning Association, attests to the growing number of “herbivorous males”, men who disdain traditional pursuits, such as fast cars, successful careers and girlfriends, in a loss of masculine confidence that mirrors the stagnation of the Japanese economy. 
According to the survey, conducted in September, 18 per cent of men have little or no interest in, or actively hate, sex. Among 25 to 29-year-olds, the figure rises to more than 20 per cent, two and half times higher than in 2008. 
More than 1,100 people, aged 16 to 49, took part. Of them, 49 per cent said that they had not had sex in the previous month, a 5 per cent increase since the question was last posed in 2012. Among married Japanese, 36 per cent of men and 50 per cent of women had been celibate for the same period. 
Among the men, 21 per cent said that they were too tired after work, while 16 per cent said that they stopped having sex after their wives gave birth. Almost a quarter of women said that sex was a “nuisance” and 18 per cent that they were too tired. 
Government figures released this month revealed that Japan’s population shrank by the largest amount ever last year. The 1.27 million people who died in 2014 were offset by just 1.001 million births, a population deficit of 268,000. 
The fertility rate, the number of children that the average woman will bear in a lifetime, is one of the lowest in the world at 1.43, well below the “replacement rate” of 2.1 and is part of a downward trend. 
The result is a demographic crisis in which a growing number of long-lived pensioners depend for their social security on a shrinking population of younger tax payers.

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