Friday, April 1, 2016

April 1, 2016 -- A Quick Run Around The Web

  • The Weekend Knowledge Dump from Active Response Training.
  • "Fears guns at sea could end up with terrorists"--The Ferret. Basically, because most countries do not allow ships to be armed while in their territorial waters, security companies would set up floating armories in international waters where ships traversing pirate infested seas would stop and pick up an armed team to guard the ship until they had made it through the dangerous portion of the trip. However, piracy has dropped considerably (with no reported attacks on ships during the first 6 months of 2015), with the result that some private maritime security companies are beginning to go bankrupt. There is a concern, now, that the weapons sold to these security firms could end up on the black market.
  • "Russian SF equipment, in the wild"--The Firearms Blog. "Armament Research Services has a post on their blog, The Hoplite, that is showing a recent video released by the terrorist group Daesh, in which they display the equipment from a fallen Russian Special Operations advisor to the Syrian Army." The TFB article has photos of the kit spread out so you can see what was being carried. The rifle appears to be an AK-74M, albeit fitted with updated forearm and butt stock and sporting optical sights. 
The Apocalypse (North Korea Edition):
  • "North Korea Tells Citizens to Prepare Themselves for Famine"--Time. (Video and article; video starts automatically).
  • "Korea: Big Brother Gets Very Angry"--Strategy Page. China has started enforcing international sanctions against North Korea, and stopped North Korea's exports of coal and ore, one of North Korea's key sources of foreign currency. The move is seen as an expression of China's displeasure with North Korea's continued nuclear weapons development plan.
The Apocalypse (Venezuela Edition):
Over the past three years, Venezuelans have seen shortages of food, water, toilet paper and medicine. In some areas of the country, electricity has been curtailed.
    Now, the lights may go out in the nation’s capital.
      A prolonged drought blamed on the El Nino weather system has dropped water levels to a critical threshold at the Guri Dam, the hydroelectric plant that supplies Caracas with most of its electricity. Without rain, there could be rolling blackouts in Venezuela’s largest city by the end of April, said Cesar Cardozo, a retired engineer who managed turbines at the facility in the 1980s.
        If so, it could further erode confidence in the three-year-old government of President Nicolas Maduro, according to the Eurasia Group, a global research and consulting firm. In 2015, the country’s economy -- largely dependent on the sale of oil -- contracted by 10 percent and is expected to shrink by an additional 6 percent this year. The currency has lost 98 percent of its value on the black market since Maduro took office in 2013.
        The Apocalypse (Middle-East/Europe Edition):
        Rising tensions in France, especially in Paris following a series of Islamist terrorist attacks in 2015, have spurred an exodus of its super-wealthy citizens, a new report on migration trends of millionaires and high-net worth individuals across the world reveals. The report warns that other European countries, including the UK, Belgium, Germany and Sweden "where religious tensions are starting to emerge", will also see similar trends.
        ... And naturally there is no dearth of warnings that we must not “politically misuse” the attacks — must stay calm. As if dozens of dead were no reason to get excited. In contrast to the superficial speeches about solidarity, in fact, such advice reveals more than anything else a lack of solidarity and empathy. What some may call a “cool head” is actually the “cold heart” of a land that has thus far been spared these attacks.
        China Facing a Tough Row to Hoe:
        • "Global elderly population expected to more than double by 2050"--Economic Times. "If the trend continues nearly 17 percent of the global population, or 1.6 billion people, will be in the 65-and-over age bracket by 2050."
        • "Report: Immigrant population over 15% in record 16 states, over 25% in 6"--The Washington Times. "According to ... CIS, there were no states in 1970 that recorded immigrant populations over 15 percent. Today one third of the nation's states register over 15 percent immigrant: California, Nevada, Texas, Florida, New York, New Jersey, Washington, Arizona, Illinois, Maryland, Georgia, Virginia, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Delaware, and Oregon."
        Other Stuff:
        In a provocative Brookings essay, Jonathan Rothwell challenges standard assumptions about economic inequality on the left (which tends to assume that markets inherently lead to exploitation of workers by capitalists) and right (which often assumes that the existing wealth distribution is a fair reflection of workers’ talents and abilities). A major source of growing inequality, he says, is not an excess of capitalism, but the distortion of it: The force of market competition has been concentrated on workers and small businesses, while elite professionals and financiers (who encompass the lion’s share of the 1%) have managed to engineer protectionist rackets.
          Daniel Whitmire's research suggests 'Planet X' triggers comet showers linked to mass extinctions on Earth.
            As Planet X orbits the sun, its tilted orbit slowly rotates and Planet X passes through the Kuiper belt of comets every 27 million years. 
              This orbit causes comets to be knocked into the inner solar system. 
                Whitmire and his colleague, John Matese, first published research on the connection between Planet X and mass extinctions in the journal Nature in 1985 while working at the University of Louisiana.
                  At the time there were three explanations proposed to explain the regular comet showers. 
                    These included the presence of a mystery planet on the outskirts of our solar system, dubbed Planet X, the existence of a sister star to the sun, and vertical oscillations of the sun as it orbits the galaxy.
                      The last two ideas have subsequently been ruled out as inconsistent with the paleontological record.

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