Female Fighters of Kurdistan

Friday, July 27th, 2012

Vice magazine visits Kurdistan — and meets some its infamous female “freedom” fighters:

Armed Resistance

Thursday, July 26th, 2012

Journalists rarely report armed resistance:

The first incident began on the morning of October 1, 1997 when Luke Woodham fatally stabbed and bludgeoned his sleeping mother, Mary Woodham. At his trial, Woodham claimed that he could not remember killing his mother.

Woodham drove his mother’s car to Pearl High School [Pearl, Mississippi]. Wearing an orange jumpsuit and a trenchcoat, he made no attempt to hide his rifle. When he entered the school, he fatally shot Lydia Kaye Dew and Christina Menefee, his former girlfriend. Pearl High School assistant band director, Jeff Cannon, was standing five feet away from Dew when she was fatally shot. Woodham went on to wound seven others before leaving, intending to drive off campus and conduct another shooting at the nearby Pearl Junior High School. However, assistant principal Joel Myrick had retrieved a .45 pistol from the glove compartment of his truck and subdued Woodham inside his mother’s car. Then Myrick demanded “Why did you shoot my kids?” to which Woodham replied, “Life has wronged me, sir”. There would be no further victims that day, thanks to armed resistance.

James Eaves-Johnson wrote that there were “687 articles on the school shooting in Pearl, Miss. and of those, only 19 mentioned that ”Myrick had used a gun to stop Woodham“, four-and-a-half minutes before police arrived”,

The Parker Middle School dance shooting was an incident that occurred on April 24, 1998 at a restaurant in Edinboro, Pennsylvania. 14-year-old Andrew Jerome Wurst fatally shot 48-year-old John Gillette, and wounded another teacher and two students at Nick’s Place (a nearby restaurant) during an 8th grade graduation dance.

Prior to the shooting, Andrew Wurst was described as an average student, and somewhat of a loner. One student noticed that he had become curt and unfriendly prior to the shooting, and had told others that he wanted to “kill people and commit suicide”. He had no history of mental illness prior to the shooting.

Wurst showed up late to the dance, with his father’s .25-caliber pistol in a holster belt under his jacket. He had previously left a suicide note under his pillow, and stated to investigators that he planned to go to the dance and kill only himself. The shooting began on an outdoor patio, about 20 minutes before the dance was scheduled to end, around 9:40. He shot John Gillette after he asked Wurst to come inside. Wurst proceeded to enter Nick’s Place, where the dance had been held, and subsequently fired and wounded Edrye Boraten, a teacher and two students, Jacob Tury and Justin Fletcher. The shooting ended when the owner of Nick’s Place, James Strand, intervened and confronted Wurst with his shotgun, ordering him to drop his weapon and later holding him at bay for eleven minutes. Strand later got Wurst on the ground and searched him for weapons, finding a dinner fork in his sock. There would be no further victims that day, thanks to armed resistance.

On January 16, 2002 a student with a grudge, 43-year-old Nigerian Peter Odighizuwa arrived on the Appalachian School of Law campus in Virginia with a handgun. Odighizuwa first discussed his academic problems with professor Dale Rubin, where he reportedly told Rubin to pray for him. Odighizuwa returned to the school around 1:00 p.m and proceeded to the offices of Dean Anthony Sutin and Professor Thomas Blackwell, where he opened fire with the handgun. According to a county coroner, powder burns indicated that both victims were shot at point blank range. Also killed was student Angela Dales, three other students were wounded, one in the chest, one in the stomach and one in the throat.

Many students heard the shots. Two who did were Mikael Gross and Tracy Bridges. Mikael was outside the school having just returned to campus from lunch when he heard the shots, Tracy was inside attending class. Both immediately ran to their cars as each had a handgun locked in the vehicle.

Bridges pulled a .357 Magnum pistol and he later said he was prepared to shoot to kill if necessary. He and Gross both approached Odighizuwa at the same time from different directions, both were pointing their weapons at Odighizuwa. Bridges yelled for Odighizuwa to drop his weapon and when the shooter realized they had him cornered he threw his weapon down. A third student, unarmed, Ted Besen, approached the killer and was physically attacked by Odighizuwa, but together the three students were able to restrain him and held him for the police. Odighizuwa is now in prison for the murders he committed receiving three life sentences plus 28 years, his killing spree ended when he faced two students with weapons. There would be no further victims that day, thanks to armed resistance.

The shooting was cited by John Lott and others as an example of the media’s bias against guns, describing how the use of a firearm in a defensive role was not reported in most news stories of the event. James Eaves-Johnson wrote about this fact one week later in The Daily Iowan. He wrote: “A Lexus-Nexis search revealed 88 stories on the topic, of which only two mentioned that either Bridges or Gross was armed.” This 2002 article noted “This was a very public shooting with a lot of media coverage” but the media left out information showing how two students with firearms ended the killing spree.

On February 12, 2007, at 6:44 PM MST, Sulejman Talovi? began a deadly shooting spree in Trolley Square [Salt Lake City, UT] resulting in the deaths of five bystanders, as well as the wounding of at least four others. Talovi? was described as wearing a white shirt, a tan trenchcoat and a mullet. He carried both a shotgun with a pistol grip and a 38-caliber handgun as well as a backpack full of ammunition. The mall was a self-declared “gun free zone” forbidding patrons from carrying weapons.

According to local TV station KTVX, several witnesses reported that most of the shooting took place on the ground floor near the Pottery Barn store, though the majority of the dead were found in Cabin Fever, a card store. One of the victims, having been shot, apparently entered the nearby Hard Rock Cafe and told customers to lock the doors. Several victims were transported to local hospitals, some in critical condition.

One of the victims was a 16-year-old boy, A.J. Walker, found in his car with a wound to the side of his head; another, Cedric Wilson, an employee at Rodizio Grill, was fired at twice but suffered only a graze on his head.

The gunman’s rampage was stopped after trading shots with off-duty police officer Kenneth Hammond of the Ogden City Police Department, who had ignored the signs informing patrons they must be unarmed to enter the mall and Sgt. Andrew Oblad of the Salt Lake City Police Department. The final confrontation, in which Talovi? was killed, occurred in the Pottery Barn Kids home furnishing store. Hammond was at Trolley Square having an early Valentine’s Day dinner with his pregnant wife, 911 dispatcher Sarita Hammond, when they heard gunshots. Sarita Hammond borrowed a waiter’s cell phone to call 911. Talovi? was cornered and was shooting at officers, until an active shooter contact team composed of Salt Lake City PD SWAT team members arrived and shot him. Salt Lake City police officials on February 13, 2007, thanked Hammond as a hero for saving countless lives. There would be no further victims that day, thanks to armed resistance.

Balancing Selection

Thursday, July 26th, 2012

Male homosexuality appears to have a genetic component, despite its obvious evolutionary downsides, leading scientists to suspect that the “gay man gene” makes females more reproductively successful:

Previously, the Italian researchers suggested that the “gay man gene” might simply increase androphilia, or attraction to men, thereby making the males who possess the gene homosexual and the females who possess it more promiscuous. But after investigating the characteristics of 161 female maternal relatives of homosexual and heterosexual men, the researchers have adjusted their hypothesis. Rather than making women more attracted to men, the “gay man gene” appears to make these women more attractive to men.

“High fecundity, that means having more babies, is not about pleasure in sex, nor is it about promiscuity. The androphilic pattern that we found is about females who increase their reproductive value to attract the best males,” Camperio Ciani told Life’s Little Mysteries.

Turns out, the moms and aunts of gay men have an advantage over the moms and aunts of straight men for several reasons: They are more fertile, displaying fewer gynecological disorders or complications during pregnancy; they are more extroverted, as well as funnier, happier and more relaxed; and they have fewer family problems and social anxieties. “In other words, compared to the others, [they are] perfect for a male,” Camperio Ciani said. Attracting and choosing from the best males enables these women to produce more offspring, he noted.

Grimm Hipsters

Thursday, July 26th, 2012

Young, fashionable members of the educated elite have been embracing low culture for a long, long time:

The Grimms grew up in the febrile atmosphere of German Romanticism, which involved intense nationalism and, in support of that, a fascination with the supposedly deep, pre-rational culture of the German peasantry, the Volk. Young men fresh from reading Plutarch at university began sharing stories about what the troll said to the woodcutter, and publishing collections of these Märchen, as folk tales were called. That is the movement that the Grimms joined in their early twenties. They had political reasons, too — above all, Napoleon’s invasion of their beloved Hesse, and the installation of his brother Jérôme as the ruler of the Kingdom of Westphalia, a French vassal state. If ever there was a stimulus to German intellectuals’ belief in a German people that was culturally and racially one, and to the hope of a politically unified Germany, this was it.

Suspect sent notebook to psychiatrist before attack

Wednesday, July 25th, 2012

James Holmes mailed a notebook “full of details about how he was going to kill people” to a University of Colorado psychiatrist before the attack — but the parcel sat unopened in the mailroom until Monday, when the psychiatrist called police about a different suspicious package that turned out to be harmless:

“Inside the package was a notebook full of details about how he was going to kill people,” the source told FoxNews.com. “There were drawings of what he was going to do in it — drawings and illustrations of the massacre.”

Among the images shown in the spiral-bound notebook’s pages were gun-wielding stick figures blowing away other stick figures.

I can’t imagine how many students have spiral-bound notebooks full of gun-wielding stick figures blowing away other stick figures.

History Resumes

Wednesday, July 25th, 2012

There is a long history of “cosmopolitan,” universally minded great powers blundering into conflicts in which none of the belligerents feel that there is anything historically doomed or atavistic about fighting in the name of race, ethnicity, religion, confession, or tribe:

In Afghanistan the Soviets thought Pashtun tribal loyalties would be no match for the kind of modernization they had imposed on the Central Asian republics to Afghanistan’s north, although anyone who has spent any time in post-1989 Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, or Kyrgyzstan will know that the sectarianism and tribalism that was quiescent during the Soviet era are back with a vengeance. As for NATO, the alliance went into Kosovo imagining the province to have the potential for the kind of ethnic comity that truly did exist in Bosnian cities like Sarajevo and Tuzla before 1992, when, in fact, Kosovo proved to be a zero-sum game. When the province was ruled from Belgrade, the Serbian minority held sway. When NATO arrived, it was the Albanians’ turn, and while on utilitarian grounds the oppression of a minority is perhaps to be preferred to the oppression of a majority, that was scarcely what NATO intended, or predicted would happen once Yugoslav regulars and Serb militias had been sent packing.

But the textbook example of this amnesia about the importance of sectarianism has been the American involvement in Iraq. The great physicist Max Planck once criticized his colleague James Jeans for refusing to relinquish his theory even in the face of facts that should have caused him to do so. Jeans, Planck wrote to a mutual colleague, “is the very model of a theorist as he should not be, just as Hegel was in philosophy: so much the worse for the facts if they don’t fit.” By analogy, one can say that the people who called for an invasion of Iraq in 2002 and early 2003 — many of whom, lest it be forgotten, were liberal democrats (beyond the usual suspects in Congress, these included the current editor of the New Yorker magazine and the then executive editor of the New York Times, institutions not exactly known for their support of the Bush-Cheney administration) — were the very model of interventionists as they should not be. And, again echoing Planck, it is arguably the current Hegelian consensus that history is an evolutionary progress in a positive direction toward an ideal end state in which some form of liberal, law-based, rights-observing capitalism is, as Francis Fukuyama has put it, history’s culmination, “the only viable alternative for technologically advanced societies,” a conclusion that would almost certainly bring a smile to the lips of the members of the Politburo Standing Committee of the Communist Party of China. But unable to free themselves from the bear trap of one version or another of contemporary Western progress narratives, Fukuyama, his erstwhile neoconservative comrades, and many prominent activists within the largely left-leaning human rights movement, either remain entirely blind to the perdurability of sectarianism, or else imagine that — rather as Marx thought that once communism had been achieved the state would wither away — once prosperity has been achieved sectarianism will also disappear.

Gun Registration and Licensing

Wednesday, July 25th, 2012

The UN Arms Trade Treaty will likely involve registration and licensing of all privately owned firearms — despite the problem with these regulations:

Beginning in 1998, Canadians spent a whopping $2.7 billion on creating and running a registry for long guns — in the US, the same amount per gun owner would come to $67 billion. For all that money, the registry was never credited with solving a single murder. Instead, it became an enormous waste of police officers’ time, diverting their efforts from traditional policing activities.

Gun control advocates have long claimed registration is a safety issue. Their reasoning is straightforward: If a gun is left at a crime scene, and it was registered to the person who committed the crime, the registry will link it back to the criminal.

Unfortunately, it rarely works out this way. Criminals are seldom stupid enough to leave behind crime guns that are registered to themselves.

From 2003 to 2009, there were 4,257 homicides in Canada, 1,314 of which were committed with firearms. Data provided last fall by the Library of Parliament reveal that murder weapons were recovered in less than a third of the homicides with firearms. About three-quarters of the identified weapons were unregistered. Of the weapons that were registered, about half were registered to someone other than the person accused of the homicide.

In only 62 cases — that is, nine per year, or about 1 percent of all homicides in Canada — was the gun registered to the accused. Even in these cases, the registry did not appear to have played an important role in finding the killer. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Chiefs of Police have not yet provided a single example in which tracing was of more than peripheral importance in solving a case.

Note that the Canadian data provided above cover all guns, including handguns. It isn’t just the long-gun registry — there is also no evidence that Canada’s handgun registry, started in 1934, has ever been important in solving a single homicide.

Gun sales up since tragedy

Tuesday, July 24th, 2012

It comes as no surprise that gun sales are up since the Aurora tragedy:

Background checks for people wanting to buy guns in Colorado jumped more than 41 percent after Friday morning’s shooting at an Aurora movie theater, and firearms instructors say they’re also seeing increased interest in the training required for a concealed-carry permit.

House Bomb

Tuesday, July 24th, 2012

James Holmes turned his apartment into a house bomb:

“This would be one of the first times I think we have ever seen what we can describe as a house bomb in the United States,” retired FBI agent Ray Lopez said on CNN Tuesday morning, a day after Holmes, 24, made his initial appearance in a Colorado court.

“We’ve seen them in places like Iraq and Afghanistan,” said Lopez, who was an explosives expert during his FBI career, which included a stint in Afghanistan. “But this is the first one that I can actually recall ever reading or seeing about in the United States where it was actually set to destroy the home.”

A law enforcement official who was on the scene during the weekend and has expertise in improvised explosives said the assembly of explosives and trip wires was extensive. Inside the apartment they found 30 aerial shells filled with gunpowder, two containers brimming with liquid accelerants and numerous bullets left to explode in the resulting fire.

Lopez said the array in Holmes’ apartment, which police believe was designed to kill first responders, required no special training to set up.

“This kind of information exists on the Internet,” Lopez said. “If you’re looking to wire explosives, it is on the Internet. With a little bit of common sense, and he has quite a bit of that, he’s very intelligent, he just put it all together and had something ready for the apartment.”

I can only imagine how much damage this “evil genius” could have done by using explosives and incendiaries rather than a rifle at that movie theater.

Police and Guns

Tuesday, July 24th, 2012

Mike Riggs shares some facts about police and guns:

  • In 2008, ten times more civilians were killed by cops than cops were killed by perps.
  • In 2011, 72 cops were shot and killed in the entire U.S.; in L.A. County alone, cops shot and killed 54 suspects the same year — 22 percent of those people were unarmed.
  • As Scott Reeder reported at Reason this morning, “Farmers, ranchers, commercial fishermen, loggers, garbage collectors, truck drivers, construction workers, pilots, steel workers, roofers, and others are far more likely to face death on the jobs than police or firefighters, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.”
  • And as Choire Sicha wrote earlier this year, “2008 was the ten-year low for police officers being killed, and 2012 is, so far, year-to-date, down 49% from last year.”

Some of those statements are misleading — it doesn’t say innocent civilians, for instance, but it does imply it — but they should nonetheless put some things in perspective.


Tuesday, July 24th, 2012

Lorenzo Maggiore’s Bug-A-Salt shoots ordinary table salt at flies:

Indoor Noise

Tuesday, July 24th, 2012

The New York Times measured dangerously high noise levels at one-third of the 37 restaurants, bars, stores and gyms across the city it visited:

At the Brooklyn Star in Williamsburg, the volume averaged 94 decibels over an hour and a half — as loud as an electric drill. At the Standard Hotel’s Biergarten in the meatpacking district, where workers can log 10-hour shifts, the noise level averaged 96 decibels. No music was playing: the noise was generated by hundreds of voices bouncing off the metal skeleton of the High Line.

At Beaumarchais, a nightclub-like brasserie on West 13th Street, the music averaged 99 decibels over 20 minutes and reached 102 in its loudest 5 minutes. “It definitely takes a toll,” a waiter said.

Workers at these places said the sound levels, which were recorded over periods as long as an hour and a half, were typical when they were working.

One spin class at a Crunch gym on the Upper West Side averaged 100 decibels over 40 minutes and hit 105 in its loudest 5. At a Crunch gym in Park Slope, Brooklyn, the noise level averaged 91 decibels. At the Fifth Avenue flagship store of Abercrombie & Fitch, which has designed many of its stores to resemble nightclubs, pulsating music hit 88 decibels, just shy of the limit at which workers are required to wear protection if exposed to that volume for eight hours.

By way of comparison, a C train hurtling downtown in Manhattan registered at 84 decibels; normal conversation is from 60 to 65 decibels.

Some research has shown that people drink more when music is loud; one study found that people chewed faster when tempos were sped up. Armed with this knowledge, some bars, retailers and restaurants are finely tuning sound systems, according to audio engineers and restaurant consultants.

Colorado Shooting Kit

Monday, July 23rd, 2012

Bryan Black looks at the equipment James Holmes bought for his shooting rampage in Aurora, Colorado:

In looking at what Holmes purchased, it’s somewhat clear that he didn’t have much in the way of training to employ his preferred weapons effectively. Most notable is his choice to run a 100 round drum magazine that was recovered from the scene. Anyone that’s had the opportunity to fire one of these can testify to their poor reliability, at least that’s been my experience.

It’s also come out that Holmes’ AR-15 “jammed” on him, forcing him to discard it and choose another gun. However, photos show an AR-15 near the emergency exit door Holmes used with what looks like a regular AR magazine attached. He could have tried to change mags during the malfunction, not properly knowing how to clear it, then discarded the AR when he couldn’t get it working again.

In a span of two months leading up to the shooting, Holmes obtained his firearms from various retail outlets in Colorado. The first Glock was purchased at the Aurora Gander Mountain on May 22nd, the shotgun from Bass Pro Shops in Denver on May 28th and the AR-15 on June 7th. The other Glock pistol was purchased July 6th back at the Denver Bass Pro Shops.

The total ammunition acquired by Holmes from online retailer bulkammo.com consisted of 3,000 rounds of .223 for the AR, 3,000 .40 cal rounds and 300 rounds of 12 gauge for the shotgun. On July 2nd he shopped at online retailer tacticalgear.com and purchased a Blackhawk Urban Assault Vest (black), Blackhawk Omega Elite Triple Pistol Mag Pouch (black), Blackhawk Omega Elite M16 Mag Pouch (black) and a Blackhawk Be-Wharned Knife (silver). All totaling around $300 with shipping.

If you notice in this video, ABC improperly calls the Blackhawk Assault vest purchased a “bullet proof vest” when the screen clearly shows the make of the assault vest from Blackhawk and even displays “Assault Vest” on the screen. It makes me question whether Holmes was truly wearing body armor or an armored helmet.

As many shooting enthusiasts reading this will agree, the ammunition count is not hard to accumulate if you’re taking your training with firearms seriously and practicing your skill-set. Yet the media is painting this with all their buzz words about being enough ammo to for a small army and sparking their debate for another assault weapons ban.

Ordinary hobbyist shooters routinely order thousands of rounds at a time, when they shop online, in order to reduce shipping charges. Realize that they shoot hundreds of rounds per range visit. The number of rounds needed for one practice session or one competitive match is more than enough for a massacre or two. (I’ve mentioned this elsewhere.)

When I did a quick search on Amazon for body armor and ballistic helmets, I was reminded of just how many cheap lookalike products there are, and I thought, hmm, a shooter could probably look bulletproof easily enough. I guess I was right.

So, shooting in a dark theater full of tear gas wouldn’t be easy, but if you don’t actually need to make an eye-shot to stop the insane killer? It seems doable. Well, for a competitive shooter.

Brain Doherty Discusses Gun Control

Monday, July 23rd, 2012

Brain Doherty discusses gun control on RTAmerica in the wake of the Colorado shooting:

NASA Successfully Tests Hypersonic Inflatable Heat Shield

Monday, July 23rd, 2012

NASA has successfully tested a Hypersonic Inflatable Heat Shield:

IRVE-3, a cone of uninflated high-tech rings covered by a thermal blanket of layers of heat resistant materials, launched from a three-stage Black Brant rocket for its suborbital flight. About 6 minutes into the flight, as planned, the 680-pound inflatable aeroshell, or heat shield, and its payload separated from the launch vehicle’s 22-inch-diameter nose cone about 280 miles over the Atlantic Ocean.

An inflation system pumped nitrogen into the IRVE-3 aeroshell until it expanded to a mushroom shape almost 10 feet in diameter. Then the aeroshell plummeted at hypersonic speeds through Earth’s atmosphere. Engineers in the Wallops control room watched as four onboard cameras confirmed the inflatable shield held its shape despite the force and high heat of reentry. Onboard instruments provided temperature and pressure data. Researchers will study that information to help develop future inflatable heat shield designs.

After its flight, IRVE-3 fell into the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of North Carolina. From launch to splashdown, the flight lasted about 20 minutes. A high-speed U.S. Navy Stiletto boat is in the area with a crew that will attempt to retrieve IRVE-3. The Stiletto is a maritime demonstration craft operated by the Naval Surface Warfare Center Carderock, Combatant Craft Division, and is based at Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Ft Story, Va.