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Saturday, August 30, 2014

Walking Blindfolded Along the Precipice

By now, most of you probably have heard of the news stories coming out of England, where law enforcement and other public officials turned a blind eye to widespread rape and child molestation (over 1,400 victims) committed by Muslims, because they wanted to avoid stereotyping Muslims. Allison Pearson writes at The Telegraph:
Men of Pakistani heritage treated white girls like toilet paper. They picked children up from schools and care homes and trafficked them across northern cities for other men to join in the fun. They doused a 15-year-old in petrol and threatened to set her alight should she dare to report them. They menaced entire families and made young girls watch as they raped other children. 
... The living dolls of Rotherham were bent and twisted to their masters’ will. There was no escape. As the sterling Professor Jay observes, South Yorkshire Police “regarded many child victims with contempt”. 
One 11-year-old known as Child H told police that she and another girl had been sexually assaulted by grown men. Nothing was done. When she was 12, Child H was found in the back of a taxi with a man who had indecent pictures of her on his phone. Despite the full co-operation of her father, who insisted his daughter was being abused, police failed to act. Four months later, Child H was found in a house alone with a group of Pakistani men. What did the police do? They arrested the child for being drunk and disorderly and ignored her abusers.
... Front-line youth workers who submitted reports in 2002, 2003 and 2006 expressing their alarm at the scale of the child sex-offending say the town hall told them to keep quiet about the ethnicity of the perpetrators in the interests of “community cohesion”. 
Fear of appearing racist trumped fears of more children being abused. Not only were negligent officials not prosecuted, they prospered. ... 
These same officials which turned a blind eye to the Muslim rape gangs were willing to take children away from a family who supported the UKip political party and, therefore, were opposed to multiculturalism. 

Although there is, to my knowledge, no similar incident of a cover up of Muslim rapes in the United States, we are actually seeing a more insidious and dangerous tactic by government officials--turning a blind eye on Muslim domestic terrorism to focus on the less likely "right wing" terrorist threat. The Washington Free Beacon reports:
The FBI’s most recent national threat assessment for domestic terrorism makes no reference to Islamist terror threats, despite last year’s Boston Marathon bombing and the 2009 Fort Hood shooting—both carried out by radical Muslim Americans. 
Instead, the internal FBI intelligence report concluded in its 2013 assessment published this month that the threat to U.S. internal security from extremists is limited to attacks and activities by eight types of domestic extremist movements—none motivated by radical Islam. 
They include anti-government militia groups and white supremacy extremists, along with “sovereign citizen” nationalists, and anarchists. Other domestic threat groups outlined by the FBI assessment include violent animal rights and environmentalist extremists, black separatists, anti- and pro-abortion activists, and Puerto Rican nationalists.
This is no real surprise. The Obama Administration has been denying a link between Islam and domestic terrorism threats for yearsOfficials called the Ft. Hood shooting "workplace violence." Even now, Obama can't bring himself to acknowledge that ISIS is directed in its actions by tenets of Islam.

The flip side is that government officials focus on so-called "right wing" groups, and unfairly malign conservatives or groups that tend toward being conservative. There was, of course, the 2009 Department of Homeland of Security memorandum warning of "right wing extremists" which included veterans, supporters of libertarian candidates, or pretty much anyone opposed to administration policies on firearms, abortion, or immigration. (See also, here and here).Then in 2013, it was discovered that the military was teaching that white Christian heterosexual men had unfair advantages, and labeling "evangelical Christians, Catholics and a number of high-profile Christian ministries as domestic hate groups."  Part of the problem is that the government seems to rely on the Southern Poverty Law Center for its list of domestic extremist and hate groups, although the SPLC itself ignores Islam and has crossed the line to simply vilifying conservative groups generally. (See also here and here).

There are several consequences to this willful blindness by the government. First, it creates a security state inimical to our form of government. Second, it is a breach of the social contract between government and citizen, that encourages the citizen to take matters into his own hands. As Glenn Reynolds commented about the U.K. scandal:
The legal system is, ultimately, an ancient bargain: Renounce your mob violence and blood feuds and we will provide you with justice. It could be argued that such a default as this calls the whole bargain into question, and justifies self-help along ancient lines.
Finally, as happened in the U.K., it distracts the government from solving problems. Thus, due to political correctness, we cannot take the necessary steps to destroy ISIS ("to kill the spirit as well as the body of the enemy, so terribly as to make sure that it will not rise again, and that nobody will want to imitate it."), lest we injure their civilian supporters. Even though ISIS examines deadlier weapons to use against us, the Administration does all it can to aid and abet illegal border crossings. The Administration has no strategy--or a failed one--with dealing with the real terrorists. We walk along the precipice of destruction, and we have leaders that have deliberately worn blindfolds.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Upholding Thuggery

Eugene Volokh, writing at the Washington Post, has some thoughts regarding the decision in Bible Believers v. Wayne County (6th Cir. Aug. 27, 2014). That case involved Christians suing law enforcement for threatening them with arrest for disturbing the peace if they did not cease efforts to preach at a Muslim street festival in Dearborn, Mich. Because the festival was held on public streets and walkways, not private property or public property leased expressly for the festival, the location was a public forum. Nevertheless, the majority upheld the officers' actions because the crowd was reacting violently to the Christians. (And, based on the facts recited in the article, the preachers were deliberately attempting to be provocative in their speech). However, as Prof. Volokh points out:
Behavior that gets rewarded gets repeated. People who are willing to use violence to suppress speech will learn that such behavior is effective, at least when the police don’t come down particularly hard on the thuggery. Indeed, they may find at times that even merely threatening violence might suffice to suppress speech they dislike. And of course this message will be easily learned by the potentially violent of all religious and political stripes (again, so long as they suspect that the police won’t make the thuggery too costly).
This behavior is part and parcel of the growing hostility toward Christians in the United States. The same reasoning could be applied to counter-protests regarding homosexuality, abortions, etc. It could even be extended to non-religious protests/demonstrations/rallys, such as on immigration, taxing/spending, etc.  Even if you do not participate in such protests, you have reason to be concerned because this decision will serve to further ratchet up the possibility of a protest/demonstration/rally turning violent.

(H/t Instapundit)

Ebola Virus Has Mutated

Article at the Washington Post reporting that scientists have confirmed that the Ebola virus has mutated in this outbreak. I'm not surprised since this outbreak has been less lethal than prior outbreaks. Unfortunately, that also means that the virus is capable of spreading further and for a longer period before burning out.

Judge Overturns Utah's Anti-Polygamy Laws

The Daily Mail reports that a federal judge has overturned Utah's laws outlawing polygamy. Utah's laws are the nation's strictest, according to the article, prohibiting not only obtaining more than one marriage license, but also prohibiting a person from co-habitation with multiple people publicly represented as spouses.

The article states that the judge's reasoning was based on violations of the plaintiffs' right to free exercise of religion. Interestingly, this same basic argument had been rejected by the United States Supreme Court in Davis v. Beason, 133 U.S. 333 (1890), which also involved a challenge to Utah's anti-polygamy laws. I haven't read the judge's decision in this modern case, but it should be interesting to see how he reasons around the Supreme Court precedent.

In any event, given the protection afforded to sexual relationships outside of marriage, and the reasoning for overruling gay marriage, it was inevitable that anti-polygamy laws would also fail. Although this decision only addresses criminal statutes, I would expect to see challenges over the issuance of marriage licenses.

Related Posts: "Freedom of Religion is Very Limited", "An Argument for Legalizing Polygamy" and "The Gay Marriage Slippery Slope."

Related Articles: "Monogamy and the Uniqueness of European Civilization"

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Accidental Deaths

The Telegraph makes much of the fact that approximately 100 children died from gun related accidents in 2013--about two every week. Nothing, though, about the 390 kids (i.e., 14 and under) that drown in swimming pools or spas every year (that is, more than one per day!). Or the 20 that die each year drowning in buckets. Or the more than 9,000 that die in automobile accidents. Or the 293 kids (less than 9 years old) killed by tipping or falling furniture between 2000 and 2011--62% of which were killed by a falling television. How about the 3.5 million children (14 and younger) injured each year playing sports.

In 2000, there were 3,326 deaths attributable to sports (not including professional teams). Only 3 were incurred in firearm related sports, while over 3,000 were due to drowning.

There are 10.3 million swimming pools in the United States. In 1996, there were 242 million firearms in the United States. More recent estimates place the number north of 310 million. Thus, crunching the numbers, it appears that a swimming pool is 117 times (or 11,700%) more dangerous than a firearm to children.

The Politics of Saturated Fat

Wait! I though the science was settled! The Independent reports:
Challenging any of the conventional  wisdom on dietary fat has long been a form of professional suicide for nutrition experts. And saturated fats, especially, are the third rail. But Krauss persevered and concluded in 2010, after reviewing all the scientific literature, that saturated fats could not be said to cause heart disease. In March, another group of  scientists, including faculty from Cambridge and Harvard, came to the same conclusion after conducting a similar “meta-analysis”. These were stunning results. It seemed that saturated fat, our principal dietary culprit for decades, had been unfairly convicted. 
Yet the truth is there never has been solid evidence that these fats cause disease. We only believe this to be true because nutrition policy was derailed over the past half-century by personal ambition, bad science, politics, and bias.
 Our fear of saturated fats began in the 1950s when Ancel Keys, a pathologist at the University of Minnesota, first proposed that they raised cholesterol and therefore caused heart disease. Keys was an aggressive, outsized personality with a talent for persuasion. He found a receptive audience for his “diet-heart hypothesis” among public-health experts who faced a growing emergency: heart disease, a relative rarity three decades earlier, had skyrocketed to be a leading cause of death. Keys managed to implant his idea into the American Heart Association and, in 1961, the group published the first-ever guidelines calling for Americans to cut back on saturated fats, as the best way to fight heart disease. The US government adopted this view in 1977 and the rest of the world followed. But the evidence backing these guidelines was weak. ...
What the article describes is that the evidence was not just weak. It was the result of bad science, predetermined outcomes, and contradicted by the evidence from cultures that ate significant quantities of meats and fats.
Rolling over the opposition by sheer force of will was typical of Keys and his acolytes in defending their saturated-fat hypothesis. Keys was “tough and ruthless and would argue any point”, Oliver, a prominent opponent, said. Since Keys’s allies controlled so many top government health posts, critics were denied research grants and key posts on expert panels. As retribution for defending the healthiness of eggs, despite their cholesterol content, Oliver was publicly branded by two of Keys’s main allies as a “notorious type” and a “scoundrel” because “he opposed us on everything”. 
In the end, Keys and his colleagues prevailed. Despite contrary observations from India to the Arctic, too much institutional energy and research money had already been spent trying to prove Keys’s hypothesis. The bias in its favour had grown so strong that the idea just started to seem like common sense.
 Instead, it is the low-fat, high grain diets supported by the American Heart Association that are dangerous. The article continues:
The problem, as researchers have suggested since the 1950s, is that carbohydrates are uniquely fattening. Whenever they’re eaten, the body is stimulated to release insulin, which turns out to be fantastically efficient at storing away fat. Meanwhile, fructose, the main sugar in fruit, causes the liver to generate triglycerides and other lipids in the blood that are altogether bad news. Excessive carbohydrates lead not only to obesity but also, over time, to Type 2 diabetes and, very likely, heart disease. 
The best possible science from the past decade now indicates that too many carbs overall – even of the supposedly healthy, whole-grain kind – increase the risk of these diseases compared with a diet low in carbohydrates. In other words, too much whole-grain cereal for breakfast and whole-grain pasta for dinner, with fruit snacks in between, add up to a less healthy diet than one of eggs and sausage, followed by fish.
 We now have an obesity epidemic caused largely in part by this officious meddling. This should be a warning to those that have embraced Global Warming. In fact, this should be a cautionary tale about how science is actually made in a modern world where the government approves and funds what it considers to be the scientific "truth" and what is not.

Related Posts: "Government Health Guidelines are Wrong"; "13 Nutritional Lies That Are Killing Us"; and "Dunce Cap Award: Benjamin Keys and the American Heart Association"

The U.S. Victory Revolver

C+Rsenal has posted an interesting article on the development and history of the Victory Revolver--a .38 caliber revolver used by some American troops and auxiliaries during WWII. It piggybacked off the .38/200 (i.e., .38 S&W caliber) revolvers made for the British and Commonwealth countries.

(H/t The Firearms Blog)

Public Executions Are Weekly Ritual in Islamic State

The Daily Mail reports that "[p]ublic executions, amputations, lashings and mock crucifixion have become a regular Friday fixture in jihadist-controlled areas of Syria, according to a UN human rights investigation." According to the article, the IS is forcing people--including children--to turn out to witness the executions. It also states that the bodies are placed on display for several days in order to terrorize the population.

Sounds like it is time for a counter-terror campaign against ISIS. I'm sure that enterprising Syrians--modern day Ḥashshāshīn, so to speak--could find ways to make ISIS fighters or leaders disappear one or two at time, with heads or other parts showing up at inopportune times and places.

When Political Party Is More Important Than Constituents

Just a couple articles that need to be viewed in juxtaposition: (1) California Governor Jerry Brown publicly welcomed illegal immigrants to California; (2) a recent Pew survey in Mexico showed that "the percentage of Mexicans who are inclined to move to the U.S. remains steady at roughly a third (34%). People who want to migrate north are split between those who would move without authorization (17%) and those who would move only with legal authority (17%)."

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Aussie Bureau of Meteorology Caught Manipulating Temps

Breitbart reports:
The Australian Bureau of Meteorology has been caught red-handed manipulating temperature data to show "global warming" where none actually exists. 
At Amberley, Queensland, for example, the data at a weather station showing 1 degree Celsius cooling per century was "homogenized" (adjusted) by the Bureau so that it instead showed a 2.5 degrees warming per century. 
At Rutherglen, Victoria, a cooling trend of -0.35 degrees C per century was magically transformed at the stroke of an Australian meteorologist's pen into a warming trend of 1.73 degrees C per century.
... This is a global problem. Earlier this year, Breitbart reported that similarly dishonest adjustments had been made to temperature records by NASA and NOAA. Similarly implicated are the UK temperature records of the Met Office Hadley Centre and at Phil "Climategate" Jones's disgraced Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia.

Monday, August 25, 2014

"Ferguson and the Real Race War"

Bill Whittle has a new Afterburner video. (Video and transcript here). Mr. Whittle observes:
Spokesmen for the protestors rioting in Ferguson and St. Louis – and, in fact, a large percentage of the general population -- claim that there is an epidemic of white on black crime, of white cops shooting unarmed black teens. Is that, in fact, happening? 
According to the FBI, there were 408,217 robberies in 2009. That’s about 1100 a day, or in round numbers, about once a minute, 24 hours a day. That means a thousand times a day the police are called, a thousand times a day arrests are made and in general terms the events leading up to the shots being fired in Ferguson Missouri happen about one thousand times PER DAY.  
So if there’s this epidemic of white policemen executing innocent black males, why do we only hear about a case like this every few years? And why do most of those cases – like this one – seem to end up with extenuating circumstances? And why do the few cases that don’t have extenuating circumstances end up with the offending officers in jail? If this is an epidemic – where’s the epidemic? 30,000 commercial flights land safely each day in America. They don’t make the news either.  
So. Is there an epidemic of racial violence loose in America today?  
There is. 
According to the National Crime Victimization Survey, in 2010, 62,593 blacks were the victims of white violence. During that same year, 320,082 whites were the victims of black violence. That’s five times as many violent attacks, but that number is misleading, since the black and white populations are not the same size. When 38 million black Americans commit five times as many violent crimes on 197 million whites as they receive, what you discover is that black perpetrators violently assault White victims TWENTY-FIVE times more frequently. When it comes to a specific kind of violent crime -- aggravated assault -- the number of black on white crimes is TWO HUNDRED TIMES HIGHER than white on black crimes. Oh, there’s an epidemic of racial violence in America, all right. 
I don't think this is the type of conversation on race that Democrats really want us to be having.

The Impact of California's Drought

Megan McArdle writes concerning the drought:
California is suffering an epic drought. It’s not the worst drought the state has ever had, but it’s certainly the worst drought the state has ever had while housing tens of millions of residents and containing a significant fraction of U.S. agricultural production. And there’s some suggestion that this may be the new normal -- not just because of global warming, as you’ve probably already read, but also because California’s natural condition is “extra dry.” An expert interviewed by Tom Philpott of Mother Jones says that the 20th century, which saw California’s rise as an agricultural powerhouse, was an unusually wet period for the state. Merely reverting to "normal" would mean having about 15 percent less water -- and the state is still growing. 
That does not mean that California will become an uninhabited desert, scattered with wind-scoured ruins providing a silent and reproachful testimony to Man’s hubris. California has enough water to support quite a lot of population growth -- if it cuts out a lot of that agriculture. It may even be able to support most of the agriculture -- if people start leaving. The problem is, it may not be able to manage both unless the rains return or it finds some clever way to reclaim low-cost potable water from the sea.
She thinks (probably rightly so) that agriculture will lose out to the cities. And why not? Agriculture has already lost out to the environmentalists that live in those cities. Only the wealthy and their golf courses seem exempt from the water restrictions. If I were a betting man, I would bet that the water situation in California will become even worse. Not because of less rain or snow fall, but because environmentalists will push to destroy more dams, just as they hope to do in Northern California.

Before I get further off track, back to McArdle's article. She predicts the following result as far as food prices and availability:
If California’s agriculture has to scale back, the first and most obvious effect is that the quality of food would decline to something closer to, though still at least somewhat better than, what you get in a major urban area in the Mid-Atlantic states. The second and almost as obvious effect would be on the rest of us: Much of the produce in your supermarket would become dramatically more expensive, especially in the winter. The Midwest could basically take over the job in the summer, and imports from South America could probably make up some of the remaining difference, but most of us would be relying a lot more on frozen fruit and vegetables, and a lot less on fresh.
(H/t Instapundit).

Friday, August 22, 2014

Lego Thefts on the Rise

The Daily Mail warns that thefts of Lego sets has been growing, driven by high demand for the product, and the ease with which they can be sold online.

Are We Becoming Less Intelligent?

The Daily Mail reports:
An IQ test used to determine whether Danish men are fit to serve in the military has revealed scores have fallen by 1.5 points since 1998.  
And standard tests issued in the UK and Australia echo the results, according to journalist Bob Holmes, writing in New Scientist. 
The most pessimistic explanation as to why humans seem to be becoming less intelligent is that we have effectively reached our intellectual peak. 
 Between the 1930s and 1980s, the average IQ score in the US rose by three points and in post-war Japan and Denmark, test scores also increased significantly - a trend known as the ‘Flynn effect’. 
This increase in intelligence was due to improved nutrition and living conditions - as well as better education - says James Flynn of the University of Otago, after whom the effect is named.  
Now some experts believe we are starting to see the end of the Flynn effect in developed countries – and that IQ scores are not just levelling out, but declining.  
Scientists including Dr Flynn think better education can reverse the trend and point out  the perceived decline could just be a blip. However, other scientists are not so optimistic.
It would be interesting to see if immigration played a part in the claimed decline. But, putting that aside, there is the more basic issue of the dumbing down of education. Jerry Pournelle recently republished a California Sixth Grade Reader to emphasize how debased our current curriculum has become. Not that this is a new phenomena, as this 1988 editorial to the LA Times illustrates. Glenn Reynolds noticed this as to his text books in the 1970s being written at a lower level than those in the 50s. Of course it is not just limited to reading. This article from the American Conservative discusses the dumbing down of history. I would be remiss if I did not add my own anecdote--taking a high school physics class that had smiley faces on the atoms in its illustrations of molecules! Bill Whittle describes the problem well in the following video:


The dumbing down of textbooks is only part of the problem. The other problem is that instead of being taught how to think or engage in analysis, our children's minds are being filled with "feel good", politically correct dogma. Children are not only illiterate in the sense that they no longer are required to read great thoughts, but they are brainwashed into not having great thoughts.

Some may believe that the basic vocabulary and wording of today's books is better because it more easily exposes children to great ideas. Not so. Part of understanding great ideas is having to struggle to obtain the insight or understanding of an idea. Moreover, it takes a vocabulary to think and comprehend those great ideas. Our thinking is formed and channeled by our vocabulary. A reduced vocabulary--or a bland one--rob us of the ability to think great thoughts.

Consider the parallel to mathematics. The equivalent of basic vocabulary would be arithmetic. Arithmetic is useful, just as a 7th grade reading comprehension is useful. Many of us will be able to get through our lives with only using arithmetic, just has many will get by in our lives using only a 7th grade vocabulary or reading comprehension. But arithmetic, by itself, cannot reveal the laws of physics, the calculus, relativity, or even how to navigate the globe. Similarly, a 7th grade reading level may be sufficient for a grocery list or instructions on how to use a lamp, but it will not convey the sublime beauty of a sonnet, the great thoughts of a Voltaire or John Locke, or the nuances of a Shakespearean play.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

The Squeaky Wheel Gets the Grease...

While Ferguson, MO, has become an international spectacle, for what increasingly appears to have been a justified shooting, violence against whites goes without notice. A few cases in point:

*  American Thinker describes the tragic death of two college students beaten to death by black teenagers outside a McDonalds--apparently just because they were white. And the media and police conspired to cover up the race of the attackers.

*  Hate based race crimes skyrocketed in Washington, D.C.--against whites.

*  And don't forget this brutal rape and killing of a white couple by a black gang in Knoxville.

Of course, there are numerous other crimes--murders, rapes, "knock-out game" attacks, and so on. Armed and Dangerous notes that although young black men represent somewhere between 1 to 2% of the population, they are responsible for 52% of homicides in the country.

When places like New York have effective measures to combat crime, but they are watered down or abandoned because they are termed "racist," perhaps the victims of black crime should be the squeaky wheel.

This Is Why Hillary Clinton Is NOT The One To Call At 3 AM

Liberals such as Hillary Clinton and John McCain have argued that ISIS is the result of too little U.S. support of Syrian rebels. I've contended that ISIS is the natural result of hamstringing Assad's attempts to put down the rebels. I think this supports my contention. The International Business Times reports:
According to Syrian sources who have worked previously to locate and rescue kidnapped journalists in Syria, American journalist James Foley, who was beheaded by Islamic State in a video the militant group made public on Tuesday, was most likely used by another guerrilla group as a token of allegiance to ISIS.  
According to those sources, Foley was in the hands of the Dawood Bridgade, a group that was originally aligned with relatively moderate opposition groups such as the Free Syrian Army, but recently pledged allegiance to ISIS.
Why would a group aligned with the Free Syrian Army kidnap an American journalist if they were such buddies with the U.S.? The answer is that we have never been in a position to trust the Syrian rebels (speaking of the groups and not necessarily specific individuals).

(H/t Weasel Zippers).

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

High School Student Suspended for Saying "Bless You"

From the CBS station in Charlotte, NC:
A high school student was allegedly suspended after breaking a class rule of saying “bless you” after a classmate sneezed. 
Kendra Turner, a senior at Dyer County High School, said bless you to her classmate who sneezed and the teacher told her that the term was for church. 
“She said that we’re not going to have godly speaking in her class and that’s when I said we have a constitutional right,” Turner told WMC. 
When she defended her actions, the teacher told Turner to see an administrator. The student said that she had to finish the class period in in-school suspension.
As someone that has defended school districts in civil rights actions, I am constantly amazed at the number of personnel and administrators that don't understand how the establishment clause actually works; and that they cannot discriminate against students because of the student's religions. Hope the District has turned this over to their insurance carrier.

A Fair Investigation Of Ferguson Officer (Wink, Wink, Nudge, Nudge)


Missouri Governor Jay Nixon (D), has "called upon Attorney-General Eric Holder and St Louis county prosecutor Bob McCulloch to 'meet expectations' by finding justice for Michael Brown and his family 'thoroughly, promptly and correctly'. " Holder has publicly indicated that the Justice Department investigation will be fair and thorough, but has privately assured black leaders that the DOJ "is determined to see justice achieved." However, like the Trayvon Martin shooting, it appears that their case is already falling apart. Fox News reports:
Darren Wilson, the Ferguson, Mo., police officer whose fatal shooting of Michael Brown touched off more than a week of demonstrations, suffered severe facial injuries, including an orbital (eye socket) fracture, and was nearly beaten unconscious by Brown moments before firing his gun, ... 
(Updated 8/21/2014): The Washington Post quotes Holder as saying at a news conference:
“This attorney general and this Department of Justice stands for the people of Ferguson,” Holder said in a news conference in Washington. 
Holder met with Ferguson officials, community leaders, and Brown’s family. He said it was apparent that residents took great pride in their town. He told them that he “personally” understood their mistrust of law enforcement.

Scratch a Liberal and You Find a Mass Killer Underneath

Richard Dawkins is reported as saying that unborn babies with Down's Syndrome should be aborted and the parents should try again.


Color Photos of WWI

 Front cover of The First World War in Colour, which includes 320 remarkable rare photos in original full-hue brought together from archives in Europe, the United States and Australia
(Book cover)
Rare photographs shot in color. Story and a small selection of photos at the Daily Mail.

Who Will Stand Up For Christians?

Ronald S. Lauder asks in a guest op-ed at the New York Times. He observes:
WHY is the world silent while Christians are being slaughtered in the Middle East and Africa? In Europe and in the United States, we have witnessed demonstrations over the tragic deaths of Palestinians who have been used as human shields by Hamas, the terrorist organization that controls Gaza. The United Nations has held inquiries and focuses its anger on Israel for defending itself against that same terrorist organization. But the barbarous slaughter of thousands upon thousands of Christians is met with relative indifference. 
The Middle East and parts of central Africa are losing entire Christian communities that have lived in peace for centuries. The terrorist group Boko Haram has kidnapped and killed hundreds of Christians this year — ravaging the predominantly Christian town of Gwoza, in Borno State in northeastern Nigeria, two weeks ago. Half a million Christian Arabs have been driven out of Syria during the three-plus years of civil war there. Christians have been persecuted and killed in countries from Lebanon to Sudan. 
Historians may look back at this period and wonder if people had lost their bearings. Few reporters have traveled to Iraq to bear witness to the Nazi-like wave of terror that is rolling across that country. The United Nations has been mostly mum. World leaders seem to be consumed with other matters in this strange summer of 2014. There are no flotillas traveling to Syria or Iraq. And the beautiful celebrities and aging rock stars — why doesn’t the slaughter of Christians seem to activate their social antennas?
... The general indifference to ISIS, with its mass executions of Christians and its deadly preoccupation with Israel, isn’t just wrong; it’s obscene.
The answer is two-fold. Many of our liberal elite would like to see Christians exterminated. As for the rest of the ruling elite, defending Christians isn't politically correct--there is no cachet for upholding Christians or Christianity.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

ISIS Blowhards

ISIS fighters are "brave" (sarc.) when beheading unarmed journalists or little children, but run away when facing a real military force. Spengler is correct--ISIS is overrated.
ISIS by itself is overrated. It is a horde enhanced by captured heavy weapons, but cannot fly warplanes in a region where close air support is the decisive factor in battle. The fighters of the Caliphate cannot hide under the jungle canopy like the North Vietnamese. They occupy terrain where aerial reconnaissance can identify every stray cat. The Saudi and Jordanian air forces are quite capable of defending their borders. Saudi Arabia has over 300 F-15′s and 72 Typhoons, and more than 80 Apache attack helicopters. Jordan has 60 F16′s as well as 25 Cobra attack helicopters. The putative Caliphate can be contained; it cannot break out into Saudi Arabia and Jordan, and it cannot advance far into the core Shia territory of Iraq. It can operate freely in Syria, in a war of attrition with the Iranian backed government army. The grim task of regional security policy is to channel the butchery into areas that do not threaten oil production or transport.
ISIS tactics are no different from that of a mugger. When facing the weak and helpless--attack. When facing the strong and capable--run away and hide behind a tree.

The Sun Can Cause Climate Change

In groundbreaking research (sarc.), Swedish scientists have determined that the Sun's activity can influence the Earth's climate. Of course, the authors apparently go so far as to deny human caused climate change, but they do indicate that climate models must include other factors in order to be more accurate.

Why Militias Pose A Problem At The Border

The AP has a story explaining why militias pose a problem at the border. However, as you dig into the story, the reason apparently is that be using military fatigues and military gear, law enforcement can't distinguish militia from other law enforcement! From the story:
On a recent moonlit night, Border Patrol agents began rounding up eight immigrants hiding in and around a canal near the Rio Grande. A state trooper soon arrived to help. Then out of the darkness emerged seven more armed men in fatigues. 
Agents assumed the camouflaged crew that joined in pulling the immigrants from the canal's milky green waters was a tactical unit from the Texas Department of Public Safety. Only later did they learn that the men belonged to the Texas Militia, a group that dresses like a SWAT team and carries weapons .... (Emphasis added). 
... "How do they identify themselves? Do they have badges? How do we know who they are?" asked J.P. Rodriguez, a spokesman for the Hidalgo County Sheriff's Office. "If they're all just dressed in camos, it's kind of hard to distinguish whether they're law enforcement or not. ... There's a lot of potential for stuff to go wrong." (Emphasis added). 
... Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio warned of "chaos if you're going to have private citizens dressed just like our deputies taking the law into their own hands." (Emphasis added).
Maybe the problem is not the militia. Maybe it is law enforcement dressing up like soldiers. If the law enforcement wore actual police uniforms, they wouldn't have any problems figuring out whether militia were fellow officers or deputies.

White House to Take Executive Action to Help Big Business

Breitbart reports:
After White House officials reportedly met with big-business groups, President Barack Obama is considering executive actions that will give them more guest-worker visas in the high-tech and low-skilled sectors.  
This may come on top of Obama's potential grants of amnesty and work permits to millions of illegal immigrants in the country. ... The White House is reportedly reaching out to big-business groups on guest-worker visas so they can give Obama air cover on his potential executive amnesty. 
According to a Politico report, senior White House aides earlier this month met with "more than a dozen business groups and company officials to discuss potential immigration policy changes they could make." According to the outlet, "Oracle, Cisco, Fwd.US, Microsoft, Accenture, Compete America, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce" were represented at the meeting. 
Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg's FWD.us has poured in millions of dollars to Democrats and Republicans to push for amnesty legislation, specifically an increase in the number of their coveted high-tech guest-worker visas. Cisco recently slashed another 6,000 jobs after pushing for amnesty legislation. Microsoft announced it would lay off 18,000 American workers a week after its former CEO Bill Gates called for an unlimited number of certain guest-worker visas in a New York Times op-ed. And the Chamber of Commerce has vowed to spend $50 million for amnesty legislation and more guest-worker visas. 
In its analysis of the Senate's amnesty bill, the Congressional Budget office determined that an increase in the number of such visas would lower the wages of American workers, and a recent Census report found that "74% of those with a bachelor's degree in these subjects don't work in STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) jobs." Numerous scholars and studies have determined that America does not have a shortage of high-tech workers. And after the Census report, even mainstream media outlets like CBS News concluded that the notion of such a shortage "is largely a myth."
Big tech companies like the H1B visas because it represents a form of indentured servitude.

Islamic State Threatens U.S.

Reuters reports that the Islamic State has released a video threatening to "drown all of you [Americans] in blood." Meanwhile, the Washington Post reports:
Islamic State fighters were on the run in northern Iraq on Sunday after Iraqi and Kurdish forces, backed by U.S. airstrikes, closed in on a strategically vital dam in the most significant attempt yet to reverse the militants’ blitz through Iraq. 
Iraqi and Kurdish commanders claimed to be making swift progress, slicing through a series of villages and then reaching the dam after a wave of U.S. attacks in which fighter jets, drones and bombers pummeled the extremists’ positions.

Monday, August 18, 2014

The Arm-Chair-Quarterback-in-Chief Speaks

Obama interrupted his vacation to discuss matters of state and local business and issues in Ferguson, MO. If he had been a Constitutional scholar, he would know about something called "federalism" and that not everything is subject to federal oversight. If he was smart, he would understand that sometimes it is better to keep one's mouth shut until all the facts are in and not interfere where one is neither wanted nor needed.

Robot Swarm

Harvard University scientists have devised a swarm of 1,024 tiny robots that can work together without any guiding central intelligence. 
Like a mechanical flash mob, these robots can assemble themselves into five-pointed stars, letters of the alphabet and other complex designs. The researchers at Harvard's Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering in Cambridge, Mass., reported their work Thursday in Science. 
... Swarm scientists are inspired by nature's team players—social insects like bees, ants and termites; schools of fish; and flocks of birds. These creatures collaborate in vast numbers to perform complicated tasks, even though no single individual is actually in charge. 
"The beauty of biological systems is that they are elegantly simple and yet, in large numbers, accomplish the seemingly impossible," said Harvard computer scientist Radhika Nagpal.

"Brave New World" Rewritten By A Horny Teenager

This is the future of feminism according to "The Femitheist" (from Vice Magazine):
The Femitheist is a 22-year-old criminology student with a three-year-old. One angry day in 2012 she took to the Internet to outline the brutal concept of International Castration Day. After posting it on YouTube she stepped out for a coffee. Returning home a few hours later, she found that all gnashing male hell had broken loose. 
Her argument was that only through the reduction of the male population to between 1 and 10 percent of their current number we can approach “true equality”.  
While she now derides International Castration day as silly, the internet had met The Femitheist. Two years later she is an emergent cult leader, a ball-stepping villainess, or clear-thinking realist—depending who you ask. Today she continues to support the reduction of the male population and generally courts outrage and devotion through her website and YouTube channel. She’s also 200 pages into what she’s hoping will be her 700 page manifesto outlining the philosophy of Femitheism. It’s tentatively titled The Ratio.
If she were in charge of the world, genetic engineering and selective births would reduce the number of men. Then, according to her, the few men remaining would essentially be kept in special preserves for stud service. She says:
I believe we must remove men from the community and place them in their own specific sections of society, akin to subsidised or state-funded reservations, so they can be redefined. We can make not only men safer, but women as well. By subsidising said reservations through the state we can provide men with activities, healthcare, entertainment, shelter, protection, and everything that one could ever require in life. This will remove conventional inequality from society. By reducing the number of men to 10 percent of the total population, their socio-biovalue will be raised. They will live out their lives happily and safely, and male disposability will be a thing of the past.
... If technology has not advanced to a point where labour can be done without men, the few men that are necessary for said labour will be allowed to work on the outside of the reservations to complete whatever tasks necessary—if they wish. 
... Not as slaves, simply as workers performing a duty, in the same way workers today do. Only without the need for monetary reimbursement as they would have no need for such a thing. This would be highly monitored and regulated.
However, she denies such a world would be dystopian:
Some would argue it would be a dystopian world because it wouldn't be free in the present conventional sense. However that is misguided. It will be utopian because it will be a world almost without conflict where people cooperate and are treated properly within a well-engineered and long-forged system. If everything is great for almost everyone the point is null. Survival and socio-organic wellbeing are the most important elements in life. Diversity of principles and standards is only necessary in a world of multiple nations, cultures, societies, and religions due to fear of oppression.
Glenn Reynolds has noted that feminism increasingly sounds like something made up by horny teen-age boys. This certainly seems to fit that test.

(H/t Instapundit)

The Facts Start To Come Together on Michael Brown

No surprise, but the statements of Michael Brown's friend insisting that the police in Ferguson shot Brown in the back have turned out to be false. No surprise, I guess, that the friend of a violent criminal would lie. However, with the liberal media spreading the falsehoods as truth until everyone tired of the story, the truth will largely be forgotten.

A couple new points that have arisen. First, some audio in the background of a video filmed shortly after the incident records a bystander discussing the shooting and supports the police officer's account:
Overheard while one man films the gruesome aftermath of Brown's daylight shooting, the barely discernible audio is of one unseen man recounting the alleged version of events that he saw to another man, off camera, while bystanders scream and shout at police to assist the stricken 18-year-old. 
At around the six minute and 30 second mark in the 10 minute long video, one man is just heard over raucous shouting asking another how Brown ended up at least 30-feet away from the police squad car that presumably was being driven by Wilson. 
The first man explains to the second man that Brown was there because he had previously been inside the police car and run, which contradicts what the teens friend, Dorian Johnson, has told police and in interviews. 
Johnson has said that Brown was not ever inside Officer Wilson's police car before the shooting.
 Meanwhile, a second autopsy performed at the behest of Brown's family also contradict Johnson's story:
Baden, 80, a veteran medical examiner who has performed 20,000 autopsies, reviewed the autopsies of John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. and hosted the HBO show “Autopsy,” said the bullets hit Brown in the front, but the absence of gunpowder showed they were not fired at close range. Baden also said nothing indicated Brown had been in an altercation. This seems to contradict the statements of Brown’s friend, Dorian Johnson, who said the officer now identified as Darren Wilson grabbed Brown’s neck with one hand and shot him with the other.
Brown was shot 6-times--all to the front of the body.

Last night saw more looting and protests (photographs and a video).

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Islamic State = Sodom

Two senior United Nations officials today condemned in the strongest terms the “barbaric acts” of sexual violence and “savage rapes” the armed group Islamic State (IS) has perpetrated on minorities in areas under its control. 
In a joint statement from Baghdad, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence (SRSG) in Conflict, Zainab Hawa Bangura and the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Iraq, Nickolay Mladenov urged the immediate protection of civilians.  
"We are gravely concerned by continued reports of acts of violence, including sexual violence against women and teenage girls and boys belonging to Iraqi minorities,” Ms. Bangura and Mr. Mladenov said. 
“Atrocious accounts of abduction and detention of Yazidi, Christian, as well as Turkomen and Shabak women, girls and boys, and reports of savage rapes, are reaching us in an alarming manner," Ms. Bangura and Mr. Mladenov stated, pointing out that some 1,500 Yazidi and Christian persons may have been forced into sexual slavery.
(H/t Front Page Magazine)

You probably remember the Biblical account of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.  To recap, in Genesis 18, God sends three angels that met with Abraham. Two of the angels were tasked to journey to Sodom:
  20 And the Lord said, Because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grievous; 
 21 I will go down now, and see whether they have done altogether according to the cry of it, which is come unto me; and if not, I will know. 
 22 And the men turned their faces from thence, and went toward Sodom: but Abraham stood yet before the Lord.
Abraham then begins a bit of bargaining with the Lord, eventually getting a pledge from the Lord not to destroy the city if 10 righteous people could be found.

Genesis 19 picks up with the two angels reaching Sodom and meeting Lot, who recognizes them as messengers from God. Significantly, Lot's first concern is that the two not spend the night on the street, but come to his (Lot's) house. (vs. 2-3). The reason for Lot's concern is revealed in the next few verses:
4 ¶But before they lay down, the men of the city, even the men of Sodom, compassed the house round, both old and young, all the people from every quarter: 
 5 And they called unto Lot, and said unto him, Where are the men which came in to thee this night? bring them out unto us, that we may know them. 
 6 And Lot went out at the door unto them, and shut the door after him, 
 7 And said, I pray you, brethren, do not so wickedly. 
 8 Behold now, I have two daughters which have not known man; let me, I pray you, bring them out unto you, and do ye to them as is good in your eyes: only unto these men do nothing; for therefore came they under the shadow of my roof.
 9 And they said, Stand back. And they said again, This one fellow came in to sojourn, and he will needs be a judge: now will we deal worse with thee, than with them. And they pressed sore upon the man, even Lot, and came near to break the door.
Lot knew the two men faced the threat of homosexual rape, and that is why he was so concerned about the two angels staying in the streets! In any event, after saving Lot from a mob, the angels have to literally drag Lot and his family from the city (see vs. 16), after which the Lord destroys Sodom and four of its neighboring cities. There are some who suggest that "the sin of Sodom" was not sexual in nature. I do not want to delve into that argument in any great depth. I think it will suffice to refer the doubter to versus 7-8 of the book of Jude (in the New Testament), and this article. Of course, that is not the only sin practiced by the people of Sodom, but it was significant to the decision to destroy the city.

Unfortunately, the behavior reported about ISIS is not limited to just that organization. It seems to be inherent in conservative Islam as espoused by the Wahhabi sect, and practiced by the Taliban, Al Qaeda, ISIS, and other groups. (It is interesting to note that ISIS merely follows in the footsteps of other ultra-violent Wahhabi raiders, such as the Ikhwan).

One of the factors that distinguishes conservative Islam from other religions, such as Christianity, Judaism, or Hinduism, is that not only does conservative Islam condone sexual perversion, it actually encourages it. (See, also, e.g., this article on sex in Islam). We see this in many ways.

The link between Muslim terrorists and pornography has long been noted. The material seized from Bin Laden's compound included a stash of pornography.

Finally, homosexuality and pediphilia is common in the most conservative Islamic regions of the Middle-East. (See, e.g., this article posted at Gates of Vienna). In April 2010, an op-ed published in the Guardian by Shaista Gohir observed:
I recently saw the documentary on the Dancing Boys of Afghanistan. It exposed an ancient custom called "bacha bazi" (boy for play), where rich men buy boys as young as 11 from impoverished families for sexual slavery. The boys are dressed in women's clothes and made to dance and sing at parties, before being carted away by the men for sex. Owning boys is considered a symbol of status and one former warlord boasted of having up to 3,000 boys over a 20-year period, even though he was married, with two sons. The involvement of the police and inaction of the government means this form of child prostitution is widespread. 
The moral hypocrisy is outrageous in a country where homosexuality is not only strictly forbidden but savagely punished, even between two consenting adults. However, men who sodomise young boys are not considered homosexuals or paedophiles. The love of young boys is not a phenomenon restricted to Afghanistan; homosexual pederasty is common in neighbouring Pakistan, too. In my view, repression of sexuality and extreme gender apartheid is to blame. 
And in the Middle East, it's young girls who are considered desirable and men are able to satisfy their lusts legally through child marriages. In Yemen, more than a quarter of girls are married before the age of 15. Cases of girls dying during childbirth are not unusual, and recently, one 12-year-old child bride even died from internal bleeding following sexual intercourse. In another case, a 12-year-old girl was married to an 80-year-old man in Saudi Arabia.
And it is a well known "secret" that the Taliban fighters prefer boys over women. (See also this article from Fox News).

Ignorant or Lying? (Updated and Bumped)

Mark Dunaway, of Garwood, says he's been flying the flag most Fridays and during the holy month of Ramadan for 10 years, since long before ISIS militants adopted the symbol as their own
Hopes to fly it again soon
The Daily Mail reports:
A photo has emerged of the New Jersey man who sparked controversy among his neighbors for flying a flag that is now associated with the jihadist group Islamic State. 
Pictured holding the flag outside his home today, Mark Dunaway, of Garwood, says he's been flying the it most Fridays and during the holy month of Ramadan for 10 years - long before ISIS militants adopted the symbol as their own. 
For Dunaway, the flag — which says in Arabic, 'There is only one god, Allah, and the prophet Muhammad is his messenger' — is just a symbol of his faith. 
'Every Muslim uses that black flag,' Dunway, 44, told NJ.com. 'You'll find it in any mosque in world. 
'I am an American citizen and I love my country,  but I am also a Muslim and I use that flag to say I’m a Muslim.'
Yeah, sure. And neo-Nazis use the swastika because it represents good luck. (Sarc.)

Some of his fellow Muslims want to fly the same flag ... over the White House.

Update 8/16/2014: Well, the question in my title appears to be answered. Via Front Page Magazine:
A Facebook page that appears to be his [Dunaway's] shows that he “liked” Zaid Shakir and Bilal Philips. Both are vile bigots and terrorism supporters. Philips was also named an unindicted co-conspirator in the World Trade Center bombing. 
He also likes Khalid Yassin who called for killing gays and the Wahhabist Abubakar Gumi. Also liked was Abu Mussab Wajdi Akkari and the Islamic Emirate. 
These are the sorts of figures you might like if you’re a convert with Islamist sympathies.
 The Front Page Magazine article goes on to explain:
These are the sorts of Muslim figures that you’re more likely to like if you have a Salafist orientation. These are the sorts of Islamic leaders who are fairly blunt about calling for the full force of Islamic law to come down on anyone and everyone… including the United States.

Sharp Decline in Chinese Power Consumption

Zero Hedge reports a drastic decline in power usage in China (10% in Shanghai and up to 22% elsewhere) compared to the same time last year. Someone is not getting ready for Christmas.

Christians Need to Defend Themselves

Conservative Islam is currently engaged in its last great jihad against the West. While our attention, lately, has been focused on the rapid territorial gains made by ISIS, it is well to remember that Boko Haram is doing in Africa what ISIS has done in Iraq and Syria; and the Taliban will soon be free to retake Afghanistan and move on to Pakistan and, perhaps, start picking away at the westernmost provinces of China. 

In Africa, Christians are being warned to fight back brutally against Boko Haram. From the WND article:
Christians under attack by Muslims terrorists in Nigeria are being warned to defend themselves, because the government won’t do it. 
“Fight them,” said Rachel Ehrenfeld, director of the American Center for Democracy and the Economic Warfare Institute. 
“Unless the non-Muslims in Africa fight the jihadists, they’ll become refugees, enslaved or killed,” she said. 
Her comments came just as Christians in the northern Nigeria town of Gwoza were attacked by the jihadist group Boko Haram, killing 100 people and burning several buildings. 
Ehrenfeld said Christians “have to be able to fend for themselves, because they can’t rely on the government.” 
A former military intelligence officer who served with the Defense Intelligence Agency and the National Security Agency, Paul Hair, agrees. 
Hair told WND Nigerian Christians might have to adopt the tactics of Christians and other non-Muslims in the Central African Republic. 
“They might have to fight back brutally with whatever weapons they have. They’re going to need a high desire to achieve complete victory,” he said.
Some Nigerians have already learned this lesson--as this recent story from the Daily Mail reports, video taken earlier this year shows Nigerian soldiers slitting the throats of captured Boko Haram. I won't condemn the soldiers--they are fighting a cancer, and something that serious doesn't call for half measures. However, I disagree with Hair's choice of words. The word is not "brutally" but "resolutely." Think Sherman's march through the South, or the D-Day invasions. Warfare is brutal of necessity, but brutality should not be a goal in and of itself.

The WND article cited above prompted some thoughts from The Captain's Journal, which discusses why Christians are on the verge of extinction throughout the Middle-East. He writes:
A good summary statement of where the Christians are at the moment might be this: they waited too late to think about self defense.  They waited too late not because of the mistaken notion that the jihadists would have mercy on them, but because there is a basic sickness in the worldwide church.  This sickness, which is the root cause of the problem, is anti-intellectualism and bad hermeneutics. 
Christians justifiably hold high regard for what the Scriptures teach.  But failing proper interpretation and application, unlearned Christians are at the mercy of teachers and pastors who have been brainwashed at liberal seminaries in the art of form, source and redaction criticism, and deconstruction.  Many seminary professors no more believe what the Bible teaches than my dog believes in Newtonian physics. 
The Bible gets (intentionally) conflated with social action and a thousand other things, and one consequence of this, just to bring this around to the main subject, is that Christians the world over are in large part pacifists.  ...
But despite bad hermeneutics, there is no unmitigated promise from God to protect His people without regard to their foolishness, if they will only trust Him for their provisions.  In order to prove this notion false all one must do is find a single example where Christians were killed en masse.  Such an example isn’t hard to find, ...
I am afraid there have been too many centuries of bad teaching endured by the church, but it makes sense to keep trying.  As I’ve explained before, the simplest and most compelling case for self defense lies in the decalogue.  Thou shall not murder means thou shall protect life.
Read the whole thing.

Friday, August 15, 2014

America Was Not Founded On The Principle of Diversity

But the premise of the United States, the really founding principle, was e pluribus unum – that from many peoples we would create one people, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all, and those phrases were not taken lightly. As the late William Buckley observed, you could study and learn to become an American. That wasn’t true of other nations. You could not learn to be Swiss, or a Swede or a German; but you could learn to become an American. 
Diversity was not a goal of this mixture. Certainly you could be an Irish-American, or an Italian-American, and we had parades and lodges to prove it, but you were American first; and while we tolerated various sub-cultures, diversity as such was not a goal. The goal is one people living in harmony. The original civil rights movements understood that: its goal was not a diversity of cultures all to be treated as equally valuable but rather the admission of minorities into the general culture. Some diversities were tolerated – they had to be, given the multiple origins – but nothing like all of them.
Read the whole thing.

Riots in St. Louis, Muslim Terrorists, Mass Shootings by Leftists, ...

... and the Department of Homeland Security thinks there will be a rise in anti-government violence from conservatives. This isn't an Intelligence Assessment. It's a liberal fantasy.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

ISIS's Calculated Brutality

The Washington Post recently published this analysis of ISIS's strategy (h/t Pirate's Cove):
Last week, as the forces of the Islamic State crept within 40 miles of Irbil, fear settled over the urbane Kurdish capital. People had heard of the militants’ brutality — of the crucifixions, the beheadings, the mass killings. They were understandably frightened, Kurdish journalist Namo Abdulla told The Washington Post. Some began to flee. Others made for the mountains. The killers were coming. 
In the last week, images of the Islamic State’s savagery have been inescapable. News exploded yesterday of an image of a young boy, the son of an Australian member of the Islamic State, hoisting a severed head beside his proud father. 
... The glorification of extreme violence using social media is one of the defining aspects of the Islamic State. The Sunni militants wield savagery like a tool, analysts say. It’s neither extemporaneous nor undisciplined. It’s concerted. It’s tactical. It’s evil. And that’s the point. 
“There’s a strategic reason behind the executions,” wrote the Washington Institute’s Aaron Zelin. “And the gruesome pictures posted online for all to see.” 
The seeds of today’s brutality were perhaps sown long ago in a 2006 book called “The Management of Savagery,” wrote expert Lawrence Wright in the New Yorker. The book, written by a radical Islamist thinker named Abu Bakr Naji, details patterns of “abominable savagery” witnessed in both the Islamic State and its earlier incarnations. According to this English translation, it calls for an “administration of savagery” and a merciless campaign to polarize the population, attract adherents and establish a pure Sunni caliphate. “We must make this battle very violent, such that death is a heartbeat away, so that the two groups will realize that entering this battle will frequently lead to death,” the book says. 
Long before the Islamic State, such was the vision of a savage killer named Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. The Jordanian, an early rival of Osama bin Laden, wanted war between the two major sects of Islam — Sunnis and Shiites. And “for his purposes,” wrote Wright, “there was no better venue than the fractured state of Iraq, which sits astride the Sunni-Shiite fault line.” 
That agenda, however, clashed with the vision of bin Laden. He eventually brought Zarqawi under his leadership in 2004, giving birth to al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) — a precursor of the Islamic State. It clashed frequently with the al-Qaeda command over its propensity for brutality. A bullet was good enough for killing, said bin Laden’s lieutenant. Why decapitate? 
“What they failed to grasp was that, for Zarqawi and his network, savagery — particularly when directed at other Muslims — was the whole point,” Wright wrote in the New Yorker. “The ideal of this movement, as its theorists saw it, was the establishment of a caliphate that would lead to the purification of the Muslim world.” 
Observers, including British analyst Alastair Crooke, say the “The Management of Savagery” set out the very ideology that the Islamic State has now carried out. Indeed, one of the first steps the book suggests is a “plundering of resources,” which the Islamic State pursued with the same fervency of its violent acts. 
But then, Crooke says, the book calls for “massacring the enemy and making him frightened.”
The article goes on to explain that the brutality was also intended to be polarizing--to assist in obtaining recruits, and increase sectarian tensions and violence. A PDF of the book is apparently available here.

Lawrence Wright's article at the New Yorker concludes:
Naji proposed a campaign of constant harassment of Muslim states that exhausted the states’ will to resist. He suggested concentrating on tourist sites and economic centers. Violent attacks would create a network of “regions of savagery,” which would multiply as the forces of the state wither away, and cause people to submit to the will of the invading Islamist force. Naji believed that a broad civil war within Islam would lead to a fundamentalist Sunni caliphate. 
Zarqawi was killed by an American bomb, in 2006. American forces, along with a movement of Sunni tribes who rejected Al Qaeda, called the Awakening, bottled up his movement in Iraq; but the revolution in Syria created a new opportunity. 
The movement is led now by an elusive figure named Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Reflecting its expanding turf, A.Q.I. changed its name to the Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham. Zawahiri urged ISIS to stay out of Syria, leaving it to the designated Al Qaeda affiliate, Jabhat al-Nusra. Characteristically, ISIS engaged in shocking brutality, even against rival Islamist groups. In 2013, it took over the provincial capital of Raqqah, in northern Syria, on the banks of the Euphrates—the first real victory in the rebellion—and once again drew many foreign jihadists to its cause. Zawahiri couldn’t tolerate the insubordination of Baghdadi’s troops, and in February of this year Zawahiri booted ISIS out of the Al Qaeda consortium. By that time, ISIS had returned to Iraq and taken over Fallujah, the first major city in the country to fall under its rule. 
According to one estimate, in the Long War Journal, ISIS now controls a third of Iraq. The strike has been so sudden and surprising that other forces haven’t yet responded, but they will. And then the long-sought goal of Zarqawi and his progeny—a vast war inside Islam—will become a reality.
We cannot ignore this and hope it goes away. Terresa Monroe-Hamilton writes at the Noisy Room blog:
I am going to take you into hell today… not because I revel in the horror of it all (like you, I would rather turn away), but because I believe you cannot fight true evil unless you know what you are up against. I am going to show you what very few other sites will and it will rock your world — it will make you sick and will bring tears to your eyes. It will anger you beyond belief as well. Welcome to Christian genocide via the brutal Caliphate and ISIS.
President Obama has now ordered limited strikes on the Levant (ISIS) in Iraq after a massive outcry from Christians worldwide screaming for the end of the genocide there. It is said there are over 200,000 Christians in Iraq and most of them are missing. Either they have fled, converted or more likely they have been beheaded or crucified. Crosses are being torn down from churches and homes are being marked for death to those who live there or come back, simply because they are Christian. And in retaliation for Obama calling for strikes last night, ISIS has called for attacks on US interests worldwide. They have also vowed that their evil black flag will fly above the White House[.]
I will warn you that the photos she has posted are NSFW, and not for the weak of stomach.

The lesson here is that surrender is useless, and this evil is not going away.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Can Firearm Competitions Get You Killed in a Gun Fight?

I came across a few articles recently concerning firearms competition and real life that I thought I would mention. Steve Reichart's blog carried an article earlier this year written by Craig “Sawman” Sawyer, who disparages firearm competition, or at least training for the same. He writes:
The main parallels I see between combat shooting and competition shooting are that in each case, you need to be able to put your shots on a given target in a timely manner. Both disciplines can involve shooting, moving, reloading, and problem solving. 
Other than those similarities, the two scenarios are worlds apart.
One factor he uses to distinguish is the absence of stress in competitive shooting. Sawyer states:
One of the main points to consider in combat shooting is that your life is in immediate jeopardy. Someone is trying to kill you. This is simply never the case in civilian competition shooting. In my mind, that’s far and away the largest factor to consider. 
... Over the years, with more and more exposure to violence, I find myself much more calm under these conditions and making much sharper decisions and fighting much more effectively. The same dynamic applies to fighting with weapons as well. 
... Because there is no sudden, inter-human violent confrontation, civilian competition shooting simply is unlikely to present such stress on the shooter. If the shooter experiences this level of stress shooting in a civilian sporting competition, I’d have serious concerns about his ability to perform to any degree, whatsoever, in a real life and death confrontation.
He believes the competitive shooting to be  inferior also because, in his mind, it does not adequately deal with issues of using cover effectively.
The combat shooter must also consider that he is a target and must make effective use of cover and concealment whenever possible. In such an environment, the shooter has to take into account how he is perceived by his opponent(s) as he moves through the fight. If a civilian shooter is not behind a flimsy plywood barricade, there is no harm. If a combat shooter fails to make effective use of actual cover from the specific weapon his opponent is firing at him, he can be injured, killed, or get others in his unit killed. This is a severe penalty that cannot be replicated in the sport of civilian competition.
Sawyer also notes that the combat shooter must be concerned with numerous factors about the mission, equipment, and so on, whereas there is no comparable level of responsibility for the competitive shooter.

Finally Saywer focuses on the handguns--especially concerned with the high-end .45 "race guns" that are used in competition that are, he contends, impractical in the real world. In short, Sawyer thinks that competition engenders habits and practices that can get you killed in a real fight.

Brandon Wright, writing at Innovative Shooting Concepts reaches a different conclusion. He writes:
All to often on the range, I hear "tactical" guys complaining about how this is all just a game, "this isn't real life," "if bullets were really flying," and you don't use any tactic's. The fact is, competitive shooting drives you to be fast and accurate. What you have to take away from a competitive match is your performance, your manipulations, and how you handle the speed and accuracy. This part of it could in fact, save your life.
He dismisses the naysayers, concluding:
 Finding something that forces you to shoot as fast as you can, as accurate as you can, and under some sort of stress is a positive. If you can improve your skills on the range shooting a match, it will only improve your skills in operations. You have to set your ego aside and work on skills that will improve your handgun skills. Where you place in the match does not matter. Questions you should ask yourself are: 
Did I improve my overall speed, with the same accuracy? 
Did I get in and out of shooting positions fast enough or faster than before? 
What could I improve on? 
Am I happy with MY performance? (Not my performance against everyone else in the match) 
   I have seen some tactical guys make excuses as to why they shot so slow in a match. I hear "this isn't real life,""the targets aren't shooting back,""my gun isn't a race gun." I want to say to them "everything is going to be okay." This is a game and just like all games, there are tricks to it. Until you are shown the tricks and have an understanding of what its all about, you may struggle. The most important thing about it, win or loose, is what did you learn from this experience. Nothing would please me more than to see guys shooting USPSA matches in their "Battle Rattle." The heck with trying to win the match, throw the standing and ranking out the window and go see what you can do in the gear you fight in. Take away from the match what you experienced and how to better YOUR skills for what YOU do.
Okay. Two different positions. However, going on to other opinions, Caleb, at Guns Nuts Media wrote:
 So when you compare the two articles, you’ve got Brandon Wright saying “competition will make you better at shooting” and Sawman saying “competition isn’t a gunfight and 1911s suck.” Which is fair, because some 1911s do suck, and competition isn’t a gunfight. 
But here’s the thing, and it’s something I think Brandon touches on a little bit and I wish he’d fleshed out more: no one is saying that competition shooting will make you better at tactics. We’re just not. We do frequently (and correctly) say that competition shooting will make you better at shooting and gunhandling, but it’s not going to teach you to do a solo room clear or how to negotiate a t-shaped hallway by yourself. 
We’ve reached a point now where tactical training guys have erected this strawman argument that competition will get you killed so many times that other tactical trainers buy into it without bothering to check to see if any competition guys are saying “hey, shooting competitions will make you better at tactical ninja skills.” Which, as I’ve mentioned, we’re not. Personally, if an instructor says “don’t shoot competition” to their students, I’m far less likely to take them seriously on other topics. However, if an instructor says “hey, competition is awesome because it makes you better at shooting, but just be aware it’s not about tactics” – that seems like a reasonable approach for a tactical guy to take.
 Tim at Gun Nuts Media expanded on the issue, writing:
Today I want to focus on the question of whether or not shooting competition is going to cause you to die screaming if you ever need to use a gun for the purposes of self defense. The short version is of course not. Invariably that answer will be challenged by somebody who is super-duper TACTICAL!!!! so let’s take a little stroll back through history. 
That picture is a photograph of the “Columbia Conference”, which may mean very little to the average person but it was basically the foundation of the International Practical Shooting Confederation, probably better known today as IPSC. You may not recognize some of the faces in that picture, but you probably will recognize some of the names. Jeff Cooper. Ken Hackathorn. Mike Harries. There were no sponsorships. There were no multicolored jerseys, no company banners, no red dot sights and compensators. Just a group of serious shooters (including the father of modern pistolcraft) who were keenly interested in improving their skills. Competition shooting, of course, didn’t start with IPSC. IPSC was an attempt to put some structure around something that had been going on for more than a decade before. Col. Cooper started out doing “leather slap” competitions sometime in the 1950′s, in which the object was to draw and make a hit on a target at 7 yards as fast as possible.
Yeah, you heard me…Col. Cooper was a gamer. Col. Cooper and those shooting with him pretty quickly came to the conclusion that point shooting had serious limitations in terms of reliably hitting a target at more than a few feet. That led to new techniques like actually using the sights for a “flash” sight picture. Look at a Colt 1911 of the day and you’ll notice the vestigial nature of the sights. Look at one of Col. Cooper’s customized 1911′s and you’ll notice sights that are bigger and much easier to pick up at speed, aiding in placing a shot accurately in a hurry. 
That’s the important bit…placing a shot accurately in a hurry. See, it turns out that being able to place a bullet exactly where you want it as quickly as possible is a pretty useful combat skill. People like Col. Cooper and Ken Hackathorn figured out that competition, when used properly, helped to develop that skill. Jim Cirillo, who survived 20 gunfights during his time on NYPD’s famed Staekout Squad, wrote in his book that one of the factors which predicted good results in a gunfight was a track record of being able to perform in competitions. Mr. Cirillo himself had been shooting competitively for years prior to getting assigned to the Stakeout Squad. Oh yes, Virginia, the man many called a modern day Bill Hickock was a gamer before he started putting bullets into bad guys. Delf “Jelly” Bryce of FBI fame? Also a competition shooter. 
Starting to notice a pattern, here? Competition shooting didn’t arrive like a bunch of invading Orcs marching from Mordor on an endless quest to spoil our TACTICAL!!!! and get us all killed in gunfights. It has been used all the way back to the days when English peasant conscripts were shooting in archery competitions with their longbows as a means of sharpening important combat skills. Placing something on the line, whether it’s money or fame or a trophy or just plain ol’ pride, and then making people compete against each other tends to sharpen their skills and provide stress innoculation. When you’re shooting someone else’s program in front of an audience and being measured by a timer, it can be stressful. It is by no means gunfight stress, but it’s stressful enough that it impacts your ability to perform and to think. Robb Leatham is widely regarded as one of the coolest customers to ever step up to the line in a match, and yet I distinctly remember a video clip of him in a competition going prone during a stage…only he hadn’t planned on going prone when he walked through the stage earlier. It was easy to tell because after the stage ended he remarked to himself “…and WHY did I go prone?” 
To do well in competition you have to learn to tune out the stress and focus on what you need to do. You have to be able to think on your feet, solving problems that crop up with your gear or with a target’s placement or a swinger’s unlucky swing. This isn’t exactly like problem solving when the bullets are going both ways, but show me someone who has never been exposed to the stress of competition in some fashion or another and I’ll show you somebody who probably won’t be able to hack it in the real thing, either. That’s what Jim Cirillo was getting at with his assesment of competition shooting. The best guys in the Stakeout Squad were all competition shooters or hunters…people who had experience making quick judgment and pulling the trigger when the adrenaline was flowing that proved useful when the stakes were much higher.
Taking a middle of the road position, Nick at Indestructible Training opines:
While I am very much inclined to agree with these guys for a number of reasons, I do think the topic wasn’t 100% fleshed out. 
You can argue that competition could, at least in a small way, get you killed in a street fight. The trainers who support this theory will often cite the fact that competition has specific rules that tend to favor some sort of gaming. Players always adapt to the rules of a game, and it is unlikely for those rules to perfectly mimic the real world. 
Face it… if you focus on competition, some of the habits from that game will follow you into the real world. Not all of those habits will be good ones when viewed through the lens of a real life-or-death struggle. You might have a tendency to forget about follow through with a threat, you might shoot a certain number rounds instead of shooting to stop, or you might have any number of other competition-centric habits.
My thoughts on the matter is that if you can afford the time and cost, competitive shooting is a good training tool, even if it is not perfect or complete. First, like all martial arts, safety concerns have resulted in rules that keep you safe, but don't necessarily reflect a real world environment. For instance, you do not have a 360 degree shooting environment and, in fact, have to adjust posture and how you hold a pistol to keep the muzzle pointed down range. You can't use shoulder holsters or other types of common concealed carry positions. You have the opportunity to familiarize yourself with the location of each of the targets before each stage. Obviously, no one is shooting back, and you are not having to stumble over toys that the kids left on the floor, or a curious cat. Most of the competition matches are outside in bright light. Even the targets are not realistic. (See this article from Tactical Professor on "Why I Hate The -3 Zone").

It also teaches you to go fast, and, since you know where the "bad guy" targets are before starting a stage, you don't need to slow down and identify friend from foe, or evaluate whether you can lawfully use lethal force.

On the other hand, for many people, it may be the only time they can practice firing and moving, especially through an environment where there are "walls" and "corridors"; or shooting around obstacles or from anything other than a standing position. Although the competition may not put the same pressure on you as actual combat, it does create some stress. Mas Ayoob has noted this and recommended some form of competitive shooting to help you learn to shoot under stress. IDPA rules take into consideration cover, and you can be penalized for not using cover or concealment. And it certainly forces you to quickly make reloads.

Obviously there are ways to game the rules to help improve your time and, thus, your score. But you don't have to do so. For instance, in IDPA, you can use your nightstand gun or carry gun rather than a race gun. Even though you know where each of the bad guy targets are, you can still slow down and go through the course as though you are having to peek around corners to search for and identify hostiles. You can mentally note what is supposed to represent cover and what is only concealment.

Finally, Sawyers comments about all the other things combat shooters have to keep in mind that competitive shooters don't seems largely irrelevant in my mind to surviving a gun fight with a criminal. I'm not an operator. I don't go on "missions." My concern is the safety of my family and myself.