AuthorTopic: Knarf's Knewz Channel  (Read 2156852 times)

Offline knarf

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NECROCAPITALISM at http://openmind693.wordpress.com ‘Rolling thunder. Shock. A noble one in fear and dread sets things in order and is watchful.’ I-Ching (Hex.51)

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Disease, the rich-poor gap, climate change and conflicts within and among nations will pose greater challenges in coming decades, with the COVID-19 pandemic already worsening some of those problems, a U.S. intelligence report said on Thursday.

The rivalry between China and a U.S.-led coalition of Western nations likely will intensify, fueled by military power shifts, demographics, technology and “hardening divisions over governance models,” said Global Trends 2040, produced by the U.S. National Intelligence Council (NIC).

Regional powers and non-state actors may exert greater influence, with the likely result “a more conflict-prone and volatile geopolitical environment” and weakened international cooperation, it said.

The report by top U.S. intelligence analysts, which is produced every four years, assessed the political, economic, societal and other trends that likely will shape the national security environment in the next 20 years.

“Our intent is to help policymakers and citizens ... prepare for an array of possible futures,” the authors wrote, noting they make no specific predictions and included input from diverse groups, from American students to African civil society activists.

Challenges like climate change, disease, financial crises and technological disruption “are likely to manifest more frequently and intensely in almost every region and country,” producing “widespread strains on states and societies as well as shocks that could be catastrophic,” the report said.

It said the coronavirus pandemic that has killed more than 3 million people marked the greatest “global disruption” since World War Two, with the consequences likely to last for years.

COVID-19, it said, exposed – and sometimes widened – disparities in healthcare, raised national debts, accelerated nationalism and political polarization, deepened inequality, fueled distrust in government and highlighted failed international cooperation.

In the process, it is slowing – and possibly reversing – progress in fighting poverty, disease and gender inequality.

Many problems caused by the pandemic are forecast by the report to grow by 2040.

“There is a certain set of trends that we’ve identified that seem to be accelerating or made more powerful because of the pandemic,” said an NIC official, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The report posed five scenarios for what the world might look like in 2040.

The most optimistic - a “renaissance of democracies” - found that democratic governments would prove “better able to foster scientific research and technological innovation, catalyzing an economic boom,” enabling them to cope with domestic stresses and to stand up to international rivals.

The most pessimistic scenario - “tragedy and mobilization” – posited how COVID-19 and global warming could devastate global food supplies, leading to riots in Philadelphia that kill “thousands of people.”

https://www.reuters.com/article/usa-intelligence-report/climate-change-rich-poor-gap-conflict-likely-to-grow-us-intelligence-report-idUSL1N2M0396
NECROCAPITALISM at http://openmind693.wordpress.com ‘Rolling thunder. Shock. A noble one in fear and dread sets things in order and is watchful.’ I-Ching (Hex.51)

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We're entombing the Earth in an impenetrable shell of dead satellites
« Reply #18317 on: April 09, 2021, 08:34:29 AM »


The night sky will never be the same.

Sputnik’s successful launch in 1957 marked a milestone in human history as the first time a man-made object had ever orbited the Earth. But little we understood of the space-based SNAFU we were courting with the advent of satellite technology. In the 64 years since, our planet’s night skies have become increasingly congested. Today more than 3,000 satellites circle the Earth and they are joined by millions of pieces of space debris — such as bits of broken satellite, discarded rocket parts and flecks of spacecraft paint. NASA estimates that there’s around 6,000 tonnes of debris in Low Earth Orbit alone.

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This orbital refuse doesn’t just create navigation hazards for astronauts, it also reflects sunlight down to the surface, interfering with ground-based telescope observations. A study recently accepted by Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society: Letters suggests that there is now nowhere on Earth free from the light pollution produced by overhead debris and satellites. Even more concerning, researchers expect the amount of debris in orbit to increase by an order of magnitude over the next decade as mega-constellations of internet-beaming mini-satellites, like SpaceX’s Starlink program, take off.

“Astronomers – and casual viewers of the night sky – must expect a future in which the low Earth orbit population includes tens of thousands of relatively large satellites,” Jonathan McDowell at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics warned in a 2020 study. “The impacts will be significant for certain types of observation, certain observatories and at certain times of year.”

Until a couple years ago, humanity had launched fewer than 10,000 objects into orbit since the start of the Space Age. However, with the advent of low-cost commercial rocket launch technology — which has seen the price per pound of launching cargo fall from $24,800 during the Shuttle era to just $1,240 today — the rate at which we put satellites into orbit is set to increase exponentially.

In total, more than 18,000 satellites are expected to be launched into LEO by 2025 — roughly ten times the total number of satellites active in 2018. SpaceX alone has permission from the US government to launch 12,000 Starlinks into orbit (with plans to have as many as 42,000 of them), while Amazon’s Kuiper project is authorized to send up 3,236 satellites of its own in the coming years. Both of these programs seek to create an orbital network in Low Earth Orbit capable of providing high-bandwidth, low-latency internet connectivity accessible from anywhere on the planet. Though their intentions are noble, the unintended consequences of packing that many spacecraft into our skies could fundamentally change our view of the surrounding solar system.

“If the 100,000 or more LEOsats proposed by many companies and many governments are deployed, no combination of mitigations can fully avoid the impacts of the satellite trails on the science programs of current and planned ground-based optical-NIR astronomy facilities,” a 2020 report from the American Astronomical Society noted.

When the first 360 Starlinks were launched in May of 2019, for example, their presence in the night sky was immediately noticeable. Their highly reflective design made each mini-satellite about 99 percent brighter than surrounding objects during the five months it took them to chug up to their 550 km operating altitude. This effect was especially pronounced at sunrise and sunset when the Sun's rays reflected off the satellites’ solar panels. SpaceX's attempt to reduce that reflectivity using a “darkening treatment” in early 2020 proved only partially successful.

“We’re detecting roughly a 55 percent reduction in the reflective brightness of DarkSat compared to other Starlink satellites,” Jeremy Tregloan-Reed from Chile’s University of Antofagasta, noted in a 2020 study.

A celestial object’s brightness is measured along the scale of stellar magnitude — that is, the brighter an object is, the larger and more negative its corresponding rating will be. For example, the Sun is rated at -26.7 magnitude while the North Star is rated at +2. Any object rated above +6 is effectively invisible to the human eye, though survey telescopes and other sensitive observation systems can spot objects as dim as +8. According to Treglon-Reed’s study, the treated Starlink satellite exhibited a magnitude of +5.33 at its operating altitude, compared to +6.21 for an untreated satellite.

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That’s better but not good enough, Treglon-Reed told Forbes last March. “It’s still way too bright,” he said. “More still needs to be done. The idea is to get these numbers out to the policymakers [and astronomical societies] who are in talks with SpaceX [and mega constellation companies] and then try and improve this further.”

The overall impact these satellites will have depends on a number of factors including the type of telescope being used, the time of day and season the observations are being made, and the height of the satellite constellation. Wide area surveys in both the visible and infrared spectrums (like those conducted by the Vera C. Rubin Observatory in Chile) are especially vulnerable to this interference, as are those conducted during twilight hours. And while constellations orbiting in LEO generally go dark once they pass into the Earth’s shadow, those in geosynchronous orbit at 750 miles and further — such as the short-lived OneWeb program — would "be visible all night during summer and significant fractions of the night during winter, fall and spring, and will have negative impacts on nearly all observational programs," according to the AAS.

“Higher-altitude satellites must be inherently less reflective than lower-altitude satellites to leave a comparable streak [in professional detectors]. This is due to two factors: orbital speed (lower altitude satellites move faster so spend less time on each pixel) and focus (lower altitude satellites are less in-focus, so the streak is wider but has a lower peak brightness,” University of Washington astronomer Dr. Meredith Rawls told Forbes.

In response to the growing problem, astronomers from around the world, as part of the National Science Foundation’s SATCON-1 workshop last July, have assembled a list of potential corrective actions and policies. These include limiting constellations to a maximum altitude of 550 - 600 km, requiring individual satellites to have a stellar magnitude of +7 or higher, and sharing orbital information regarding these constellations with the research community so that astronomers can avoid those areas of the sky.

“SpaceX has shown that operators can reduce reflected sunlight through satellite body orientation, Sun shielding and surface darkening,” the SATCON-1 workshop found. “A joint effort to obtain higher accuracy public data on predicted locations of individual satellites (or ephemerides) could enable some pointing avoidance and mid-exposure shuttering during satellite passage.” Alternatively, operators could design their satellites to actively deorbit when they reach the end of their service life span — as Starlink’s satellites do — or they could just launch fewer constellations in general. Whether national or international regulators will actually adopt these recommendations remains to be seen.

But even if satellite operators do manage to turn down the brightness of their constellations, we are still faced with an increasingly dense orbital “graveyard” of broken satellites and overhead space junk. NASA’s Orbital Space Debris Office estimates that there are half a million marble-sized bits of junk zipping around LEO at 22,300 mph — fast enough to chip even the ISS’s heavily reinforced windows upon impact — and as many as 100 million pieces measuring a millimeter or less.

NASA became the first national space agency to develop a comprehensive space debris mitigation plan in 1995. Those guidelines were later adapted by the 10-nation Inter-Agency Space Debris Coordination Committee (IADC) and eventually adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2007. The US government also established its Orbital Debris Mitigation Standard Practices (ODMSP) in 2001, in a renewed effort to “limit the generation of new, long-lived debris by the control of debris released during normal operations, minimizing debris generated by accidental explosions, the selection of safe flight profile and operational configuration to minimize accidental collisions, and post-mission disposal of space structures.” Additionally, the Department of Defense operates the Space Surveillance Network, which is charged with cataloging and tracking objects between 0.12 and 4 inches in diameter using a combination of ground-based visual telescopes and radar arrays.

Tracking this debris is only the first step. A number of space agencies are in the process of developing systems to actively capture and dispose of orbital refuse. JAXA, for example, is considering a 2,300-yard long “electrodynamic tether” which, when deployed, would smash passing debris back towards the planet where it would burn up during atmospheric reentry. In 2018, a consortium led by the UK’s Surrey Space Centre successfully demonstrated its RemoveDebris device — essentially a huge space net designed to capture dead satellites and rogue spacejunk up to 10 meters in length.

Come 2025, the ESA hopes to launch its ClearSpace-1 mission wherein a four-pronged capture device will attempt to snatch space debris like an oversized claw game prize, then dispose of itself and its derelict bounty in the Earth’s atmosphere.

“Space debris is a global problem as it affects all nations,” Airbus mission systems engineer Xander Hall told CNN in 2018. “Each piece of junk in space is owned by the original operators and orbital debris is not addressed explicitly in current international law. An international effort must be made to claim ownership of the debris and help fund its safe removal.”

https://www.engadget.com/were-entombing-the-earth-in-an-impenetrable-shell-of-dead-satellites-163002560.html
NECROCAPITALISM at http://openmind693.wordpress.com ‘Rolling thunder. Shock. A noble one in fear and dread sets things in order and is watchful.’ I-Ching (Hex.51)

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McConnell Wants Corporations Out of Politics Unless He Benefits
« Reply #18318 on: April 09, 2021, 08:37:29 AM »
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NECROCAPITALISM at http://openmind693.wordpress.com ‘Rolling thunder. Shock. A noble one in fear and dread sets things in order and is watchful.’ I-Ching (Hex.51)

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In his 1973 book The Inevitability of Patriarchy, the sociologist Steven Goldberg described sex as “the single most decisive determinant of personal identity.” Today, one wonders if such a book could even be published. Even if it were, it would certainly face a massive assault by the scholarly establishment, the “news” media, and much of the rest of elite culture, including that of many self-styled conservatives. The state of accepted pedagogy on this matter in our nation’s schools, including our universities, is now nearly the opposite of Goldberg’s argument that intrinsic biological differences irreducible to socialization exist between man and woman, differences that make the radical feminist dream of a society where men and women are functionally indistinguishable impossible to achieve. Increasingly, many in authority now take it as a matter of doxa—beyond any possible argument or demonstration of contradicting data—that sex is not a binary with two categories but a spectrum with many, and that gender is completely disconnected from sex, defined only by the whim of the individual.

The book that most fully demonstrates the radical angle of attack on Goldberg’s scientific view is one that might have had the most influence on elite thinking about gender and sex: Judith Butler’s Gender Trouble (1990). The Berkeley professor’s book celebrated drag as a culturally revolutionary act that reveals what she asserts is the fact of gender’s unreality. Gender, Butler claims, is no more than a performance, and drag is a form of radical action against the illegitimate patriarchal system of power. Through this deviant practice, individuals can create alternative identities and subvert heterosexual power. If a biological man can lay claim to the female gender simply by changing clothing, applying some makeup, and altering his speech or mannerisms, the link of gender to anything biologically real is broken and we are in a (liberating) world of mirrors and drama.

Butler’s anarchist attack on “the compulsory order of sex/gender/desire,” that is, the cultural enforcement of the sex and gender binary, is consistent with the French poststructuralism of especially Michel Foucault, who saw society as a set of controls  to prevent the free expression of sexuality. This high priest for the sex/gender radicals died of AIDS after having almost certainly contracted the disease frequenting bath houses in the San Francisco area during the 1970s and 1980s. Here, Foucault tested his philosophical principles of sexual freedom in acts of anonymous, sado-masochistic, unprotected carnality with many other men.

Gender Trouble revealed what radical gender subjectivism was just becoming in the late 1980s. Butler’s book is often incoherent—even the reader who knows the intellectual sources on which she is drawing will find much of it impenetrable—but the claims that can be discerned are bold. “’Female’ no longer appears to be a stable notion,” Butler solemnly intones, “its meaning as troubled and unfixed as ‘woman.’” The truth is that, while gender does depend on cultural variation, it is also closely linked to the nature of the sex difference. In every human culture about which we know anything substantive, there exists a binary gender system that maps on to the sex binary, and the two poles of gender are quite consistent in their characteristics across cultures. There are minor variations, of course, as human cultures are complex things, but in every society we know, the overwhelming majority of people fit into one of two gender categories, and the characteristics assigned to those categories are remarkably uniform. Males are everywhere more prone to physical aggression and violence, and women are everywhere more innately attracted to and interested in babies. This is not true because of human injustice but because of natural order, an order Butler and her heirs hope to overthrow in the name of human justice.

The Fruits of Deconstruction

But human and nature cannot so easily be pried apart. The evidence of the biological reality of the sex difference—not just in gonads and sex cells, but in personality characteristics and behavioral profiles, on average—is overwhelming, and science is daily producing more. Male and female brains are structurally different in ways that map on to the emerging neuroscientific knowledge on how brain structure affects behavior and capabilities. The feminist claim that these differences are wholly a product of socialization becomes more implausible the more we know. In societies where egalitarian gender ideology is arguably most widespread, such as in Northern Europe, there has been no disappearance of traditional sex differences in choices concerning careers. Men are still overrepresented in fields that focus on systems and objects, and women are still the overwhelming majority in fields dedicated to extensive human interaction and social services.

The radical spirit of ‘90s feminism represented by Gender Trouble did not stop at “deconstructing” gender in the effort to move toward a world in which gender roles are divorced from biological sex. Sex too had to be subjected to such “problematization.” Radicals used the writing of Anne Fausto-Sterling, a biologist who admitted her work was fundamentally shaped by her “1960s street-activist heart,” to suggest that the sex binary was also an oversimplified social construction. Fausto-Sterling insisted there are at least five sexes: males, females, “true hermaphrodites” with one testis and one ovary, male pseudohermaphrodites with testes and “some aspects of female genitalia” but no ovaries, and female pseudohermaphrodites with ovaries and “some aspects of male genitalia” but no testes. Perhaps, she asserted, several of every hundred people might be in one of the three intersex categories, with—the clincher—an “infinitely malleable continuum” between them.

It was quickly pointed out that Fausto-Sterling had been deceptive in her estimate of the frequency of intersexuality. Leonard Sax, in the Journal of Sex Research, noted that she had counted phenomena such as Klinefelter’s Syndrome (biological males with an extra X chromosome), Turner’s Syndrome (biological females with only one X chromosome), and several other conditions typically not recognized as intersex. One of these alone—late-onset congenital adrenal hyperplasia (LOCAH), which involves the overproduction of adrenal androgens—accounts for 90 percent of Fausto-Sterling’s claimed figure of 1.7 percent of the population that is intersex. But LOCAH is not an intersex phenomenon. Many individuals who have it are never diagnosed because the symptoms are so mild, and all who have it are born with typical male or female genitalia that correspond to the male and female genotypes. Nearly all such individuals go through puberty with the typical sexual development for their genotype, as the condition generally does not manifest in women until the early 20s and in men much later. The true estimate of intersex individuals, Sax argued, is roughly 0.018%, about 100 times lower than Fausto-Sterling’s estimate. That is, more than 99.98% of humans are clearly either male or female in terms of biological sex.

But the attack on “standard sex difference science” was undeterred by this decimation of Fausto-Sterling’s case. In Gender Trouble, Butler criticized the work of an MIT group that had just discovered the region on the Y chromosome responsible for sex differentiation, claiming these scientists ultimately had to invoke cultural symbols of patriarchy to legitimate their explanations. In her view, this betrayed the very notion of an objective science of sex difference. We are always trapped in culture, she wrote, which means we are always trapped in patriarchy. A science of sex is impossible. Radical sex/gender ideology attacked science as male knowledge and elevated female knowledge as superior on the basis that women as a class were treated as inferior. Like blacks and other powerless groups, women—at least, women with a feminist outlook—could critically understand the point of view of men and supplement its lacunae with the fuller vision of the female perspective. Marx made similar claims about the superiority of working-class consciousness, though he did not attempt to cast the very notion of science as a tool of oppression.

The MIT group’s finding that what we now know as the SRY gene determines sex is universally accepted science today, and Butler’s ideological criticism has aged poorly in scientifically literate circles. So has her wild overestimation that perhaps one in ten people is outside the normal sex binary.

Revolutionary Science

In the ‘90s, radicals assumed the culture would quickly follow them in rejecting science as a patriarchal way of knowing and embracing radical relativist subjectivism, but that has not happened yet. The heady moment of relativism represented by Butler’s book gave way to the recognition that claims about what is real or true, especially such claims that invoke science, still have great rhetorical power for the average member of the public who is insufficiently grounded in poststructuralist theory. The gender/sex radicals therefore retooled. Instead of rejecting all science in blanket fashion as hopelessly patriarchal, they now claim that scientific knowledge is on the side of their political project and fervently denounce “sex traditionalists” as benighted and anti-scientific. Thanks to the success of the ‘60s call to bore inside the institutions, they can rely on an ever-growing body of radicalized scientists to produce pronouncements on gender and sex that support their political agenda.

A remarkable example of the new radical sex/gender politics can be seen in the 2018 Nature magazine announcement on the Trump administration’s proposal to classify sex according to biological (genital) and genetic data. The Nature writers mimic the ‘90s radical criticism of sexual categories, reiterating the false claim that those unclassifiable by the traditional binary system might make up as much as 1 percent of the population. But the rhetorical value of science as a way of knowing is not rejected here, as it is in Gender Trouble and ‘90s radical gender/sex thinking. Indeed, the very fact that the piece appeared in Nature, a preeminent public science publication, demonstrates this change. Science, or at least a cleverly masked politicized usage of the term, is an effective weapon in the current culture wars.

Debates about the nature of transgenderism are now the epicenter of this long-term movement to undermine the biological science of sex and gender while inaccurately invoking science for its strategic value. Claims are made constantly in public science media about the indisputable, biologically rooted truth of every individual claim to be transgendered. Yet transgenderism is heavily concentrated in younger cohorts, who are still developing a permanent sense of identity, and it is undeniable that many young people who self-identify as trans at some time eventually revert to the gender identity that aligns with their biological sex. This inconvenient fact is seldom mentioned by the radical gender/sex scientists and their allies in popular media.

Recently, a major study in the American Journal of Psychiatry purporting to show that transgender individuals who underwent sex-reassignment surgery achieved improvements in mental health had to be corrected, as the researchers revealed—after letters critical of the design of their study prompted them to reanalyze their data—that their initial analyses were flawed. The subjects of the study had experienced no improvement in their likelihood to seek medical interventions for anxiety and require prescriptions or hospitalization in the wake of attempted suicides. Few mainstream media sources reported the correction, though many had eagerly trumpeted the original, incorrect findings.

The radical anti-science sex/gender subjectivists have not yet all disappeared, and the spectacle of their taming by the new radical gender/sex “science” is laden with glaring contradiction. Butler now finds herself in the impossible position of being at once the author of a book purporting that no gender claims can have any basis whatever in biology and a staunch, outraged defender of the current dogma that transgender claims must be accepted as fully and firmly rooted in the “lived reality” of those making them.

It behooves us to be attentive to the contradictions and shifting terms in the arguments of advocates of the radical dissolution of gender and sex as categories. History, common sense, and science are on the side of the traditional understanding that there are two biological sexes; that gender identity, while not rigid, is generally in accord with sex; and that adolescent confusion is a normal part of growing up and not an indication that a child has been born into the “wrong” body. We must not give in to the advocates’ cynical use of the rhetoric of civil rights as they attempt to squeeze a new class of victims into existence but remain vigilant and willing to call out their demented arguments whenever possible.

https://americanmind.org/salvo/the-war-on-sex/
NECROCAPITALISM at http://openmind693.wordpress.com ‘Rolling thunder. Shock. A noble one in fear and dread sets things in order and is watchful.’ I-Ching (Hex.51)

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The Four Aspects of The Force (& What They Mean)
« Reply #18320 on: April 10, 2021, 06:25:14 AM »
The Force is the key mystical power in the Star Wars universe. Used by Jedi, Sith and other groups, it encompasses all living beings and gives special abilities to those who master it. And mastering it is not an easy task. Though some folks are naturally gifted with Force-sensitivity, even those with the highest midi-chlorian count must practice and study it. In Star Wars Legends, when the Force was initially discovered, it was quite difficult to learn being that no one had ever practiced it before. In order to learn its ways, scholars broke it down into The Four Aspects of the Force: the Living Force, the Unifying Force, the Cosmic Force and the Physical Force. These Four Aspects not only allowed a student to better grasp this elaborate concept, it also influenced the way a person would use the Force, depending on if they ascribed to one aspect over the other.

The Living Force

The Living Force encouraged its users to let go of emotions and embrace a "live in the moment" attitude. The Living Force represents the idea that the Force is here and now, and the present must be embraced. Too much focus on the future creates turmoil. Encompassing all life forms, the Living Force also represents the tangible Force that can be felt in other individuals. Qui-Gon Jinn was the biggest proponent of this practice.

The Unifying Force

The Unifying Force unifies the universe as a whole, somewhat similar to the Living Force, but in actuality the practice is quite different. Those who practice the Unifying Force believe that there is neither a Light Side nor Dark Side. Rather, the Force treats everyone as equal and nothing is all good or all bad.

In stark contrast to the ways of the Living Force, which embraces the idea of the present, followers of the Unifying Force look towards the future. They focus on destiny rather than the here and now. Therefore, visions are commonplace for those who practice it. Yoda was the most prominent follower of the Unifying Force.

The Cosmic Force

Becoming one with the Force is a common goal among its users in Star Wars. This is where the practice of the Cosmic Force is most helpful. The Cosmic Force is the energy that connects a being to the Force. Through it, a Jedi can learn to become a Force ghost.

In Season 6 of Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Qui-Gon explains to Yoda that it is through this practice that he can appear to the Jedi Master after death. "I am a manifestation of the Force, a Force that consists of two parts. Living beings generate the Living Force, which in turn powers the wellspring that is the Cosmic Force." He continues, "All energy from the Living Force from all things that have ever lived, feeds into the Cosmic Force, binding everything and communicating to us through the midi-chlorians. Because of this I can speak to you now."

The Physical Force

Force push. Force lightning. Force dyad. Force telepathy. These are just a few of the many Force abilities utilized in Star Wars. They are also examples of the Physical Force. The Physical Force is what allows one to use the power in a physical manner.

While all of the Four Aspects of the Force are different, they complement one another. Obi-Wan put it best in A New Hope when he tells Luke, "It’s an energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us and penetrates us; it binds the galaxy together.”

https://www.cbr.com/star-wars-the-four-aspects-of-the-force-what-they-mean/
NECROCAPITALISM at http://openmind693.wordpress.com ‘Rolling thunder. Shock. A noble one in fear and dread sets things in order and is watchful.’ I-Ching (Hex.51)

Offline knarf

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A new 20-year-forecast for the world: increasingly fragmented and turbulent.
« Reply #18321 on: April 10, 2021, 06:32:29 AM »
The big picture: A major report put out this week by the National Intelligence Council reflects a present rocked by the COVID-19 pandemic. How the next two decades will unfold depends largely on whether new technologies will ultimately unite us — or continue to divide us.

Driving the news: Many, if not most, of those trends identified in the new report from the U.S. government are trending negative.

    "Shared global challenges — including climate change, disease, financial crises, and technology disruptions — are likely to manifest more frequently and intensely in almost every region and country," the report's authors write.
    They predict that those intensifying challenges will collide with a geopolitical structure that will become increasingly fragmented and fragile, as the U.S. competes with China for global leadership while citizens of both democracies and autocracies grow more dissatisfied with their leaders.

How it works: The Global Trends Report, which is compiled every four years, is an example of strategic foresight, the science — and art — of using past and present trends to produce different scenarios about the medium- and longer-term future.

    Rather than attempting to outright predict where we'll be in 20 years — which is all but impossible without an extremely accurate crystal ball — such efforts are meant to present policymakers with possibilities about where the world might be headed and information about the major trends that will shape the future.

Details: The clearest trend lines are in demographics: Over the next 20 years, richer countries will grow older and in some cases even begin to shrink, while whatever slowing population growth exists will be concentrated in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.

    That will produce "extensive strains on infrastructure, education, and healthcare" in megacities that aren't prepared for it, the report's authors write.
    Another fairly certain trend line is intensifying climate change, which my Axios colleague Andrew Freedman reports "will lead to a less secure, more crisis-prone world that will strain global institutions."

The social responses to these trends are less certain, but they'll play an even more important role in what the world will look like in 2040.

    The scarcest resource in the decades ahead won't be oil or rare earth metals, but social trust.
    According to the 2020 Edelman Trust Barometer, the majority of respondents in more than half of the countries polled are pessimistic that they and their families will be better off in five years — an increase of 5% from the previous year.
    Even more worrying are the growing social divisions within trust, which has been exacerbated by the deeply unequal experience of the pandemic.
    While trust in institutions has risen over the past 20 years among the more educated and wealthy portions of the population, more than half of the rest of the public during the past decade has said the "system" is failing them.

By the numbers: There is real fear that decades of global progress against extreme poverty and disease may be petering out and even reversing. About 150 million people fell out of the global middle class last year, the first time that demographic shrank since the 1990s.

    Raised expectations suddenly dashed by the reversal of growth is a recipe for pessimism, anger and social fragmentation — all of which could be further stoked by the spread of the internet.

What's next: The report lays out five scenarios for the future, ranging from a democratic renaissance led by a stronger and more united America to a chaotic world where no country is powerful enough to counter the challenges we face.

    Which future we get will depend in large part on technology — AI and automation, clean energy, gene editing and more.
    If technological progress can jump-start economic growth for all while forestalling the worst effects of climate change, the world in 2040 will be a much easier place to navigate.
    If it can't, we may look back on 2020 as the good old days.

What to watch: Unexpected X-factors.

    Should we experience something truly world-changing — a Chinese invasion of Taiwan, a pandemic much more severe than COVID-19, a leap forward to true artificial general intelligence — all bets for the future are off.

https://www.axios.com/global-trends-report-future-2040-f2d496d3-b393-4269-8756-5477379cdacb.html
NECROCAPITALISM at http://openmind693.wordpress.com ‘Rolling thunder. Shock. A noble one in fear and dread sets things in order and is watchful.’ I-Ching (Hex.51)

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BorgWarner’s P2 hybrid module on display at the Automotive World 2018 forum in Tokyo, Japan.

For all the hard-charging talk about electric cars, you might think that they were taking over the U.S. market. In fact, they’re expected to hit only about a 3.5% market share this year, up from 2.5% last year, according to researcher IHS Markit. So why do auto stocks seem to be rising in proportion to companies’ plug-in announcements?

Look to Europe for clues. Electric cars there are suddenly 14% of the market, or 23% if we count plug-in hybrids that burn fossil fuel for backup. Tax incentives help explain the uptake. France offers 7,000 euros (about $8,300) toward EVs, plus €5,000 for trading in clunkers. Germany has €9,000 subsidies, exemptions from yearly car taxes, local parking perks, and more.

In the U.S., meanwhile, a $7,500 credit for every electric vehicle phases out after companies sell 200,000 of them, so Tesla (ticker: TSLA) and General Motors (GM), the biggest EV players, no longer benefit. There is talk of lifting the cap, raising the dollar amount, and multiplying the number of charging stations as part of an infrastructure deal. Politicians will call that either a needed boost toward modernity or an unaffordable sop, depending on which you ask. But if it happens, the effect will be “a significant bullish catalyst for EV sales domestically over the coming years,” according to Wedbush Securities analyst Daniel Ives.

Tax perks aside, vehicle selection could also explain why the U.S. has been slow to go electric, but could catch up soon. Many Americans are light-truck drivers. They will have their choice of six electric trucks this year and 30 electric vehicles overall, up from zero trucks and 17 vehicles last year, according to Edmunds, the car reviewer.

“That acceleration that we see now, you will see it on the street three to five years from now, because then the cars are going to be ready for sale,” BorgWarner CEO Frédéric Lissalde told me about electric vehicles this past week.

Bear in mind that he is largely in the business of selling clutches and turbochargers to improve fuel efficiency in conventional cars and trucks. EVs don’t need clutches, which are used to change gears, because they don’t need multiple gears. And they don’t need turbochargers, which aid combustion in cylinders the way a bellows aids a fire, because electric vehicles have no cylinders, and no combustion.

BorgWarner (BWA) has prepared for this moment gradually over the past eight or so years by designing components like electric drive modules. Last year, it bought Delphi Technologies, which adds power electronics to make plug-in cars more efficient.

“Some people think that efficiency of the powertrain doesn’t apply to battery-electric because we don’t have fuel efficiency, so who cares, right?” Lissalde says. “That’s absolutely wrong. Efficiency in the battery-electric vehicle is as, or more, important than fuel efficiency [in conventional cars] because it touches the range or the cost of the vehicle with the size of the battery pack.”

Lissalde’s view of customer orders gives him as good an insight as anyone into long-term EV adoption. He says that by 2030, about one out of three cars produced will be battery-only, and another one out of three will be hybrid. By then, EVs will bring in 45% of BorgWarner’s revenue, he predicted at an investor presentation last month.

You would think that would cheer shareholders. General Motors stock is hitting new highs —new since emerging from bankruptcy in 2009, anyhow—seemingly on its doubling down on EVs. Ford Motor (F) stock is hitting levels not seen in years, for similar reasons.

Yet while BorgWarner shares have bounced back from last year’s market collapse, they’re still below where they were three years ago. It’s not business. Lissalde says demand is strong, and that the main growth constraint in the car industry now is the semiconductor shortage. Wall Street expects BorgWarner to generate nearly $1.1 billion in free cash next year, 10% of the company’s stock market value, and sees that figure rising by about 10% annually over the following three years.

Surely that kind of financial firepower will be useful for funding electric vehicle investments. Anyhow, what happened to the investor rotation into value stocks? BorgWarner is less than half as expensive as the S&P 500 index, relative to earnings.

Count Morgan Stanley analyst Adam Jonas among the bears. Management has done a good job of responding to a once-in-a-generation upheaval in the car business, he wrote after the investor day. Still, the gradual runoff of the company’s products for conventional fuel-burning cars is a sure thing, and the eventual profitability of its newer products for EVs remains to be seen. Plus, car makers could always make more components in-house.

But James Picariello at KeyBanc Capital Markets recommends buying Borg Warner shares. He predicts that the shift to electrification will increase the company’s dollar value of content per vehicle. Earnings estimates look beatable, and free cash flow is more than enough to pay for record research and development outlays, plus electric deal-making. In February, BorgWarner agreed to buy Akasol, a German maker of battery systems for commercial EVs, for $880 million.

Lissalde, who became chief executive in 2018, once managed BorgWarner’s turbo business, and says it still has some oomph left. “With any good hybrid propulsion architecture, it’s usually a turbocharged, downsized gasoline engine,” he says. “So for a lot of our combustion product lines, we still see growth for about the current decade. And then we’re just going to manage a product that is declining and another one that is growing.”

Jonas at Morgan Stanley, however, says that some car makers might shun hybrid architectures and go straight to battery-only vehicles. General Motors, for example, doesn’t make hybrids.

There are clear risks. But BorgWarner’s free cash flow is pegged at $5.7 billion cumulatively through 2025. For an $11 billion component maker, anything close to that figure will offer plenty of paths forward.

https://www.barrons.com/articles/why-borgwarner-stock-is-a-cheap-way-to-bet-on-the-shift-to-electric-vehicles-51618007326
NECROCAPITALISM at http://openmind693.wordpress.com ‘Rolling thunder. Shock. A noble one in fear and dread sets things in order and is watchful.’ I-Ching (Hex.51)

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Caribbean Volcano Saint Vincent Erupts, Spewing Ash and Smoke for Miles.
« Reply #18323 on: April 10, 2021, 06:48:05 AM »
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NECROCAPITALISM at http://openmind693.wordpress.com ‘Rolling thunder. Shock. A noble one in fear and dread sets things in order and is watchful.’ I-Ching (Hex.51)

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Biden has finally found a country the US can rebuild
« Reply #18324 on: April 10, 2021, 06:55:32 AM »

A collapsed freeway overpass near downtown Oakland, California, in 2007.

It doesn't take a genius to know that America's domestic infrastructure is in utter disarray. Travel down I-95 between New York City and Boston, and you will be lucky not to hit a 5-inch-deep pothole in the middle of the lane.

The United States, the most prosperous country in the world, is now 13th in terms of infrastructure quality, below many of its peers in Europe. Over 20% of its roads are in poor condition. About 127,000 bridges across the US are either structurally deficient or need to be replaced. And as the water crisis in Flint, Michigan showed, even clean water supplies aren't a given.

The United States, in other words, is in desperate need of investment at home. The alternative is watching as Americans who live in cities continue to suffer from dilapidated highways while their fellow citizens in rural areas are left searching for a basic broadband connection.

The juxtaposition outside US borders is stunning. Over the last two decades, as US infrastructure was worsening, Washington was busy conducting reconstruction initiatives in nations that to this day remain consumed by conflict and led by unaccountable and corrupt governments.

As of December 2020, the US has spent approximately $143 billion of taxpayer money on reconstruction projects in Afghanistan.

The projects were designed to kickstart the Afghan economy, introduce a degree of self-sufficiency over the long-term, and ensure ordinary Afghans were able to enjoy the kinds of public goods — accessible water supplies, highways, access to hospitals — that are often taken for granted in the West.

Yet the results, to put it generously, have been poor. $1 billion was devoted to schools in Afghanistan that weren't even operating. A $8.5 billion program to wean Afghan farmers away from growing poppy was unsuccessful, evident in Afghanistan's current status as the world's foremost producer of opium.

As Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction John Sopko testified to Congress last month, systemic corruption in Afghanistan undermines US-funded reconstruction initiatives to the point of irrelevancy. Of the $7.8 billion in US reconstruction funds SIGAR investigated, just $1.2 billion — 15% — went to their intended purpose.

Many of the buildings paid for by the US taxpayer were left abandoned. Afghanistan still relies on international donors for 80% of its budget; remains dominated by corruption at all levels of government; and is seemingly incapable of exhibiting the slightest degree of responsibility in how it spends US taxpayer money.

The US experience in Iraq isn't much better. Despite their good intentions, US officials ran into problems on the reconstruction front almost immediately.

After an infusion of $172 million to restore the Baiji power plant after the initial invasion, the plant was only churning out half of its potential output. The United States sunk billions into large and costly projects the Iraqi government was unable to handle or finance.

Schools and prisons funded by Washington were left idle, while water treatment plants in dangerous areas like Fallujah were overbudget and woefully inadequate for the population. Today, Iraq remains a country so riddled with parochialism and multiple power centers that Shia militias are building up their own revenue streams separate from the state.

As US soldiers and aid workers were essentially throwing billions of dollars in the toilet in Afghanistan and Iraq, America's own schools, roads, and bridges were falling apart.

Total spending on US domestic infrastructure fell between 2007-2017. The American Society of Civil Engineers gave the US a "C-" on its infrastructure score and estimated that the US economy could lose $10 trillion in GDP by 2039 if Washington failed to plug the infrastructure spending gap.

The Biden administration, like its predecessors, is hoping to solve (or at least mitigate) America's infrastructure problems with an ambitious $2 trillion proposal that would be paid for over a period of 15 years.

The plan would dump $600 billion into improving and modernizing ports, railways, bridges and highways. $300 billion would be devoted to supporting domestic manufacturing, while an additional $100 billion would be invested into building up an electric grid prone to occasional outages.

Biden's initiative will run into steep opposition due to the cost. But leaving the details aside, one can't help but feel a sense of jubilation that US policymakers are actually showing some interest in investing in America rather than in countries overseas that have proven to be perpetually weak, dysfunctional, and perhaps even immune to US generosity.

Policymakers, lawmakers, and pundits still like to describe the United States as an exceptional nation in a league of its own. But no nation, not even the United States, can thrive if it underinvests in its own communities or takes its eyes of the ball to what is truly important: expanding its own strength domestically.

It's a lesson the old denizens of the Soviet Union learned the hard way — and when they finally appreciated the concept, it was too late.

America's source of power overseas is anchored in its prosperity at home. If the US is so keen on nation-building, it should start and end in its own cities and towns.

https://www.businessinsider.com/biden-infrastructure-us-needs-rebuilding-more-than-other-countries-2021-4
NECROCAPITALISM at http://openmind693.wordpress.com ‘Rolling thunder. Shock. A noble one in fear and dread sets things in order and is watchful.’ I-Ching (Hex.51)

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Russia, China Team Up to Peddle Insane U.S. COVID Lab Theory
« Reply #18325 on: April 10, 2021, 07:12:38 AM »
Russian and Chinese officials are spreading conspiracy theories about alleged bio-labs “under U.S. control” along their borders—implying that COVID is an American-made virus.



The Cold War could be coming back with a vengeance, and the U.S.’s top adversaries are dusting off some old-school Soviet tactics.

Russian and Chinese government officials have recently teamed up to publicly accuse the U.S. of creating biological weapons near their borders and suggesting that Americans are responsible for creating COVID-19.

Speaking to the Russian daily newspaper Kommersant on Thursday, Nikolai Patrushev, Russia’s Security Council secretary, said: “I suggest that you pay attention to the fact that biological laboratories under U.S. control are growing by leaps and bounds all over the world. And—by a strange coincidence—mainly near the Russian and Chinese borders.”

Patrushev, who formerly served as director of the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB)—the main successor organization to the Soviet KGB—added that “outbreaks of diseases uncharacteristic of these regions” have been recorded in areas adjacent to these alleged bio-labs. He then openly accused the U.S. of developing biological weapons in those facilities.

Like clockwork, Russian state media echoed and disseminated Patrushev’s accusations against the U.S. But this time, they were accompanied by an official statement from China’s Foreign Ministry’s spokesman, Lijian Zhao, who tweeted: “The US bio-military activities are not transparent, safe or justified. In Ukraine alone, the US has set up 16 bio-labs. Why does the US need so many labs all over the world? What activities are carried out in those labs, including the one in Fort Detrick?”

Zhao voiced the same accusations during an official press briefing, where he identified Russia as his source on the matter. “I noticed that Russia recently asked the US again about their military and biological activities in Fort Detrick and in Ukraine,” said Zhao. “Other countries also expressed similar concerns.”

The unsubstantiated allegations against the U.S. and Ukraine have come at a particularly convenient time for Putin, who has recently intensified Kremlin efforts to absorb the Donbas region. In February of this year, the Russian president ominously promised that “[The Kremlin] will never turn [its] back on Donbas, no matter what."

Margarita Simonyan, editor-in-chief of the Kremlin-funded RT and Sputnik, doubled down on promoting Russia’s takeover of Eastern Ukraine, with repeated urges for “Mother Russia” to “take Donbas home.” By presenting Ukraine as a national security threat to Russia, and alleging its involvement in the manufacturing of deadly bio-weapons, the Kremlin is able further justify its increasingly aggressive posture towards its highly coveted neighboring territory

Just as Trump had aided an outbreak of violence against Asian-Americans by calling COVID-19 the “China virus” and spreading unsubstantiated claims that the virus was made in a Wuhan lab, opponents of the U.S. have strived to cultivate that type of hostility against America on a global scale. Both Russia and China stand to benefit from pinning the blame for the pandemic on the U.S., and if Ukraine can be theoretically implicated, too—all the better for the Kremlin.

It’s not the first time Russia claims that the U.S. is creating and disseminating deadly diseases around the world. In 1992, Russia perpetuated a KGB disinformation campaign that falsely alleged that the virus that caused AIDS was the product of biological weapons experiments conducted by the U.S. During the 2014-2016 Ebola epidemic in West Africa, Russian propaganda outlets spread conspiracy theories that the virus had been created by the U.S. in collaboration with Great Britain and South Africa.

There is another common denominator to these disinformation tactics: In addition to accusing the U.S. of engaging in worldwide biological warfare, the Kremlin is simultaneously positioning itself as a lone savior.

“[Russia] saved Africa from Ebola,” Olga Skabeeva of Russia’s state-TV’s 60 Minutes proudly declared last month. While attempting to discredit COVID-19 vaccines created by Western countries, Russian state media outlets have frequently praised “Sputnik V” as the world’s best coronavirus vaccine, even as troubling information about the Russian-made vaccine continues to emerge.

To overcome the suspension of disbelief and promote the idea that the U.S. is capable of the worst kind of abuses against humanity, Russian propagandists are now resorting to an all-too-familiar dehumanization tactic: painting America as a super-villain.

“[Americans] don’t even have the word “soulfulness” in the English language,” RT’s Margarita Simonyan recently proclaimed on Russian television. “We’re soulful. They’re not like us.”

https://www.thedailybeast.com/russia-china-team-up-to-peddle-insane-us-covid-lab-theory?ref=scroll
NECROCAPITALISM at http://openmind693.wordpress.com ‘Rolling thunder. Shock. A noble one in fear and dread sets things in order and is watchful.’ I-Ching (Hex.51)

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Earth's most beloved creatures headed toward extinction under current emissions
« Reply #18326 on: April 10, 2021, 07:25:49 AM »

So-called endemic species — plants and animals found only in certain zones — will be hit hardest in a warming world.  Biological Conservation

Snow leopards in the Himalayas, lemurs in Madagascar and elephants in central Africa: Some of Earth's most beloved creatures are on a path to extinction, a new study shows, thanks to current greenhouse gas emissions. Unless humans stop pumping carbon dioxide and methane into the atmosphere, researchers say the planet's biodiversity will suffer devastating consequences.

In a study published Friday in the journal Biological Conservation, scientists warn that some of the richest concentrations of plants and animals on Earth will be "irreversibly ravaged" by global warming unless countries make a real effort toward their goals made under the 2015 Paris climate treaty. They report a high danger for extinction in almost 300 biodiversity "hot spots" if temperatures rise three degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels.

Under the Paris agreement, nations promised to keep warming "well below" two degrees Celsius. Even if these commitments are honored, temperatures are still expected to exceed three degrees Celsius before the end of the century.

So, which species will be hit hardest? Scientists point to endemic species: Plants and animals found exclusively in specific locations, like one country or one island — animals like snow leopards and forest elephants.

They found that endemic land species, specifically in biodiverse hot spots, are nearly three times as likely to suffer losses due to climate change than species that are more widespread, and 10 times more likely than invasive species.

"Climate change threatens areas overflowing with species that cannot be found anywhere else in the world," lead author Stella Manes said in a statement. "The risk for such species to be lost forever increases more than 10-fold if we miss the goals of the Paris Agreement."

Not all species face the same threat. In mountain regions, 84% of endemic species face extinction if Earth warms another two degrees, while that number rises to 100% on islands.

Overall, more than 90% of land-based endemic species and 95% of marine ones will be adversely affected. Mediterranean marine species are particularly vulnerable because they are trapped in an enclosed sea.

"By nature, these species cannot easily move to more favorable environments," explains co-author Mark Costello.

Two out of three species in the tropics could perish due to climate change alone. And safe havens in biodiversity hot spots, which conservationists have worked to establish for years to protect these species, may prove useless in the face of climate change.

"Unfortunately, our study shows that those biodiversity rich-spots will not be able to act as species refugia from climate change," said co-author Mariana Vale.

Scientists say every tenth of a degree matters to avoid the devastating consequences of a mass extinction event. But carbon dioxide and methane levels in the atmosphere continued to rise in 2020, with CO2 level reaching their highest point in 3.6 million years.

"The 2020 increase is likely to remain one of the largest in the entire record." the the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said.

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/animals-plants-biodiversity-extinction-climate-change-greenhouse-gas-emissions/

NECROCAPITALISM at http://openmind693.wordpress.com ‘Rolling thunder. Shock. A noble one in fear and dread sets things in order and is watchful.’ I-Ching (Hex.51)

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Top 55 Corporations Paid ZERO Taxes, Got $3 Billion From Fed Gov In 2020
« Reply #18327 on: April 10, 2021, 08:07:15 AM »
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NECROCAPITALISM at http://openmind693.wordpress.com ‘Rolling thunder. Shock. A noble one in fear and dread sets things in order and is watchful.’ I-Ching (Hex.51)

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The Legal Marijuana Industry Is Rigged
« Reply #18328 on: April 10, 2021, 08:08:51 AM »
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Tragedy and opportunity in everyday America
« Reply #18329 on: April 11, 2021, 05:29:56 AM »
Some things are predictable.

Here’s one: Just as Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott chose to fulminate against President Joe Biden’s mild and common-sense statements about guns and gun violence, there was a mass shooting in the Lone Star State.

A man, it seems, went into the place he worked and shot six people. He killed one of them and left the other five wounded.

As mass shootings in the United States go these days, it wasn’t that bad. If it hadn’t been for Abbott’s obtuse timing and rhetoric, it might not even have made national news. We have so many mass shootings in this country that the smaller ones almost have ceased to register.

But it served to illustrate Biden’s point.

The president said America is experiencing an “epidemic” of gun violence. If anything, Biden understates the problem.

In 2020, more than 40,000 Americans lost their lives to guns. Between two and three times that many were wounded.

As the president said, every day in this country 316 people are shot. More than 100 of them die.

Every day.

Every.

Day.

Japan has a little more than one-third the population of the United States. It’s a horrible year for gun violence in that nation when 10 people die by firearms.

We Americans rack up a body count higher than that in just a little more than two hours.

Great Britain has about a fifth the population of the United States. The Brits record between 100 and 200 deaths by guns per year.

We Americans kill that many in a day—or two days, max.

I could go on — because the list of industrialized countries that have better records of containing gun-related tragedies than we do is long — but I suspect the point has been made.

The opponents of any sort of sane gun policies in the United States say these other nations either have curtailed basic freedoms or oppressed their citizenries. That is why other countries can limit the number of people killed by guns — and we can’t.

Anyone who has traveled to those nations knows that is not true. While their cultures are different than ours — they are, after all, different nations — the Brits and Japanese can move, speak and think freely. They live lives largely unburdened by the heavy hand of oppressive government.

They also live free of the fear that they will be gunned down in the street, in the workplace, in church, at a supermarket or on the roadway. Their children don’t have to practice active-shooter drills in those countries’ classrooms. They don’t have to wonder constantly if a depressed or agitated acquaintance, co-worker or stranger they encounter suddenly will stop being a source of concern and start being a deadly threat.

Because that person has a gun.

Often, that gun isn’t one designed for hunting or even personal protection. It’s a military-style assault weapon that is designed to kill many, many people in a hurry.

These other countries somehow manage to keep their streets, their businesses, their places of worship and their classrooms from becoming free-fire zones.

We Americans should be able to do it, too.

We won’t get any help in this work from those in the thrall of the National Rifle Association and the gun lobby. Their arguments against any rational gun laws will be as inevitable as nightfall — and about as illuminating.

If their primary contention that more guns make us safer were in any way true, we would be the safest nation on earth. After all, we have less than 5% of the world’s population and possess more than half the world’s privately owned guns.

And, because we have let the gun devotees write our firearms laws for the past quarter-century, we now have more than 300 of our fellow citizens being shot every day.

We owe it to them to stop following the people and the organizations that have recorded one failure after another.

Particularly when those failures end in funerals — more than 40,000 of them just last year.

Today is another day.

Another day when 300 people will be shot and more than 100 of them will die.

But it’s also another chance for us to try to solve this problem.

Another chance to try to make things right.

https://www.tribstar.com/opinion/columns/john-krull-tragedy-and-opportunity-in-everyday-america/article_15ff8748-996c-11eb-8bc5-738d3ca9d98b.html
NECROCAPITALISM at http://openmind693.wordpress.com ‘Rolling thunder. Shock. A noble one in fear and dread sets things in order and is watchful.’ I-Ching (Hex.51)