Friday, April 6, 2018

April 6, 2018 -- A Quick Run Around the Web

"The Briefing Room: Take care of your Feet"--Guns & Tactics (9 min.). A word on the necessity of quality socks and footwear. The author recommends wool socks, but I know that some of you may be allergic to wool. Although it is not as durable, socks using bamboo thread have good wicking--in fact, they are probably superior to wool in the summer. The downside, as I noted, is that they don't last as long in my experience. Its not so much that the fabric wears through as that it seems to weaken and tear easily over time. 

  • Greg Ellifritz has this week's Weekend Knowledge Dump available. Lot's of great articles, including on using WD-40 as a gun lubricant (don't!), surviving a mass shooting if you are unarmed, why you should use a revolver in double-action (i.e., don't be trying to cock the hammer for each shot), and whether there is a link between homicide and gun ownership. The article to which Ellifritz links suggests that there is no linkage, and I've said as much in the past. However, as I've looked into the subject more--and as one of my readers pointed out--different countries track and record homicides differently than the U.S. Thus, for instance, the U.K. severely undercounts homicides relative to what the U.S. would consider to be homicides. I've a link to an article below that discusses a different way of viewing the issue of homicides and firearms. Ignored among this is the overall impact on violent crime. For instance, even if the U.K. has an overall lower homicide rate than the U.S. (which is open to debate), it has a higher violent crime rate. So, basically, in the U.S., we have traded dead gang bangers for a lower number of assaults, batteries, rapes, armed robbery, etc., against the public at large. .
  • "Does Gun Control Reduce Murder? Let’s Run The Numbers Across The World"--The Federalist. I've maintained in the past that the real issue people should be asking when it comes to firearms is not so much why the U.S. homicide rate is higher than Western Europe, but, given the number of firearms, why the homicide rate is so low. This author seems to have followed similar reasoning. That is, since the argument of those opposed to self-defense is that reducing the firearms would reduce homicides, this author takes a look at the number of firearms as compared to the number of homicides. The author observed:
       [G]uns in America are very unlikely to be involved in murders. Our ratio of guns to murders is 20,696 guns privately and legally owned for every murder. Not every murder involves a gun. But the gun-control hypothesis suggests guns still make murder easier and more common.
            The murder capital of the world is El Salvador. El Salvador has done a relatively good job rounding up legal guns. There are only 5,800 guns per 100,000 residents (compared to over 101,000 in America), yet El Salvador’s ratio of guns to murders is a staggering 53. Every year, there’s a murder for every 53rd gun in El Salvador.
    He adds:
     When one excludes Iraq and Yemen, not one of the countries on the list of the 10 highest rates of gun ownership also appears on the list of the top ten highest murder rates. In fact, the countries with the highest murder rates have markedly low gun ownership rates.
    • Why do they need weapons of war? "Arizona Police Mount AR-15 Racks on Patrol Motorcycles"--The Firearm Blog. The motorcycle police around here use MP-5 submachine guns as a backup to their side-arm.
    • Timely information: "How to delete everything Facebook knows about you"--CNBC. Please note, however, that this also involves deleting your account. You will not be able to see anything you posted on Facebook, and you won't be able to reactivate your account.
    • "The paring knives, disposable defense knives"--Protegor. This is a French site, so you will need to use Google translate or something similar. Anyway, it briefly discusses how easy it is to obtain one of these knives say, if you are traveling somewhere you can't bring a weapon, and looks at some different models. These are probably not what most of us would associate with a standard paring knife--all of these models feature a bird's beak style blade. But they are cheap enough that you could dispose of them at the end of a trip without any heartache.
    • Another interesting weapon just released: "Voere S16 AR-15 Magazine Fed Bolt Action Rifle"--The Firearm Blog. That fact that this is a bolt action rifle that accepts standard AR magazines is not what makes this unique or interesting, but that the magazine inserts from the side, similar to a Sten submachine gun or the German FG-42. The manufacturer's reasoning was to make it easier to shoot from a prone position. The article doesn't say anything about the rifle being imported into the U.S., so it may only be available in Europe.
    • "Carry choices for rangemaster certified instructors"--Last Stand On Zombie Island. This article links to the results of a survey of Rangemaster Certified instructors asking about their daily carry habits, including type of firearm, how they carry, and so on. Obviously, what works for them may not work for you, so don't take the results as a gospel truth. As might be expected, most (79%) carry a striker fired semi-auto pistol. With Glock and Smith & Wesson (at a distant second) dominating. Most (78%) have modified their pistol, with the most popular modification being the installation of night sights. It is pretty evenly split (43% versus 42%) between full-sized and compact. 72% used a Kydex holster. 98% carried on the waist, and, of those, 49% carried on the strong side behind the hip and 40% carried appendix. All of the survey respondents carried concealed. Anyway, there is a lot more, so check it out.
    • "Gerber Big Rock Knife Review"--Baugo Blades. The author discusses his testing and use of the knife and goes over the pros and cons. His conclusion: "Overall, I like this knife. It’s an excellent value at $30.00 and fills the gap between large thick camp knives and the thin Mora type utility knives."
    • Dreams of empire: "Turkey-Russia ties move beyond tactical"--Hurriyet News. An excerpt:
            The third chapter in Turkey-Russia ties opened through the civil war in Syria, especially after Russian military engagement deepened in late 2015. Russian consent allowed Turkey’s first massive cross border operation into Syria, the Euphrates Shield Operation, in August 2016, while Turkey’s ongoing Operation Olive Branch was again only possible thanks to Moscow’s consent.
              Dialogue between Erdoğan and Putin also paved the way for the establishment of the Astana and Sochi processes, with the participation of Iran, which aim to provide a ceasefire in the war-torn country and launch a platform for a political settlement.
                This dialogue has had three main results so far: First, Turkey has had to accept the remaining of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in power, prompting a radical change in its policy. Ankara has also had to acknowledge that both Iran and Russia have put down their roots in Syria for a very long time, both politically and militarily.
                 Second, Turkey’s alignment with the Russia-Iran duo in Syria has led to a further souring of its ties with its traditional Western allies, namely the United States. Moscow’s permission for Turkey’s fight against the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) in Afrin worsened a crisis between Ankara and Washington, whose ties were already strained over several other sources of tension. Strong-worded criticisms also came from European powers, which have questioned the real motives of the Turkish military campaign in Syria. Despite these reactions, Turkey now feels freer to launch new operations in eastern Syria at the expense of further risking its ties with NATO partners. Turkey’s plans to procure S-400 anti-ballistic missile systems from Russia should also be evaluated with this in mind.
                    Thirdly, cooperation with Russia paved the way for Turkey to become a hard power in its region. Turkish troops are currently in the Idlib, Afrin and al-Bab regions of northwestern Syria, with the government vowing that the next targets will be east of the Euphrates and even northern Iraq. It is a fact Turkey’s military vows are now taken much more seriously by world powers and regional countries. Erdoğan has repeatedly stated that this ensures Turkey’s place at the table when it comes to making decisions about the future of Syria.
                      Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau signalled Thursday he saw a strong chance of reaching a deal with the US and Mexico to revamp the North American Free Trade Agreement.
                       "We have a high chance of reaching a win-win-win deal for Canada, the United States and Mexico," Trudeau told reporters.
                         "With the pressures of the elections in Mexico, and the US elections, if we could announce something at the Summit of the Americas, that would be great," he added, in reference to the April 13-14 gathering of regional leaders in Peru.
                            Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland headed to Washington to meet with her counterpart, US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, who on Wednesday met with Mexican Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo, to try to reach an agreement in principle on NAFTA.
                             The Trump administration seems to be leaning towards allying with the oil refining industry in its fight against Big Corn and federal rules requiring the use of corn ethanol.
                                Reuters reports that the U.S. EPA apparently granted an exemption to Andeavor, a large oil refiner, from having to comply with blending requirements as part of the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) last month. The RFS requires refiners to blend biofuels, such as corn ethanol, into their refined fuels. If they can’t or find it too costly, they are required to purchase credits.
                                 The law dates back to 2007 under the George W. Bush administration, and is intended to cut crude oil demand and improve U.S. energy security. It has brought a windfall to corn country, although the environmental benefits have always been suspect.
                            I'm not going to shed a tear over this. Ethanol has made fuel more expensive, it is harder on engines, it reduced the overall power available from a given unit of gasoline, and it resulted in higher food prices because farmers switched to growing non-food corn instead of food crops or animal feed. 
                                      A Chicago-based private equity real estate firm is offering as much as $2 billion to purchase office buildings, health-care facilities, transit-related properties and whatever the governments think they can sell, so long as the buyer gets a 7.25 percent initial return, plus annual rent hikes of 1.5 percent. The offer by Oak Street Real Estate Capital LLC, detailed in letters of intent delivered Wednesday, leaves the choice of what properties to include up to the governments.
                                        Connecticut and its distressed capital city surely could use the money. The state’s government has been wrestling with an underfunded pension system and chronic budget deficits, in part because the national economic recovery has passed much of Connecticut by, leaving it with fewer jobs than it had a decade ago. Hartford is even worse: The capital avoided bankruptcy last year only because of a bailout by the state.
                                • Some things never change: "Is Russia arming the Afghan Taliban?"--BBC. This was the British Empire's constant fear during the 19th and early 20th Centuries as well. "The Great Game," they called it. The difference is that the British Empire was protecting its crown jewel--India--from falling under Russian influence. What, exactly, are we protecting?
                                • Since we are on the topic of the British Empire, what else could be more appropriate: "What would Sherlock Holmes EDC?"--The Truth About Knives. The article goes into detail on what is described in the Sherlock Holmes stories, and provides some additional details as to what is being described. However, the author also notes that the items carried by Sherlock fall into some general categories which would be of use to the modern man:
                                • Something to write with
                                • Something to write on
                                • A light source with a beam
                                • A way to make fire
                                • A versatile blade
                                • A pocket tool set

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