New Videos: The Pope, Drones, Military Waste, Hidden Guns, and Droughts

If you like these videos, please go to https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCD1JHmhlKpgGHiPv85nKhNQ and follow my channel so that you will be informed of any new videos as soon as they are posted.

Pope Francis is a remarkably progressive pope on a number of very important issues, ranging all across the political/social spectrum–to name a few such areas, Francis is critical of unconstrained capitalism, compassionate with the poor, vocal against economic inequality and trickle down economics, unwilling to be judgmental against gays and open to the idea that atheists will be allowed into heaven if they are moral.

In short, I find it remarkable that a pope is in office who sounds more like Jesus than he does an entitled and judgmental monarch who sits on a throne with the belief that he speaks for god.

While I have serious problems with the traditional positions of the Vatican, this new pope is, as far as I can tell, a very good man and a political progressive who I can find high levels of commonality with. It is my hope that the pope can sway right wing Catholics away from the Christian right (in the USA and, to a larger degree, abroad) and towards a message of economic equality and social tolerance.

The United States military and intelligence infrastructure are currently engaged in a long-term campaign of drone strikes in several Middle Eastern countries. Ostensibly, this campaign is aimed at killing terrorists, but, in reality, it is far more effective in creating them.

Bombarding civilian areas with missiles and killing civilians is not acceptable and the USA needs to stop immediately. People are naturally angry when confronted with the ongoing threat of death due to a foreign enemy, thus the US drone program is actually chasing many people into the arms of the terrorists–they want revenge and are willing to team up with anybody who is willing to support them.

Here is a link to the report mentioned in the video: http://www.latimes.com/world/la-fg-afghanistan-drones-20131201,0,2828417.story#axzz2mZfNs0oR

According to a report by Reuters, the US military has nearly $8.5 trillion dollars in funds that are currently unaccounted for–this isn’t to say that the money is stolen or not spent, merely that nobody knows exactly where it went or which projects it was used to pay for.

Here is a link to the story: http://www.reuters.com/investigates/pentagon/#article/part2

In short, our military is gigantic, bloated and this unaccounted for $8.5 trillion is just quantitative proof of our worse assumptions. If an entity is large and disorganized enough to lose track of trillions of dollars, it needs to be audited and likely cut. Fiscally responsible politicians need to immediately start cutting the military waste in order to eliminate waste and divert cuts which are currently sighted in on vital social programs.

The re-authorization of the 1988 Undetectable Firearms Act–the federal law which bans guns that are not metallic enough to be detectable by metal detectors–in the House is a very good thing, but it does have a hidden side.

If plastic 3-d printed guns become more advanced (and they will) and are not restricted under the law, the American public will be flooded with untraceable, undetectable, cheap and disposable weapons–in short, the perfect weapons for criminals. At the same time, the fact that anybody can print these guns undercuts the gun manufacturers and harms their profits by flooding the market with weapons that they don’t profit from.

Because they fear this competition, the gun lobby (NRA) has refused to grade this re-authorization as gun control and has given cover to its political allies to vote for this law without worry of being seen as anti-gun.

It is a good thing that the undetectable gun ban is re-authorized, but there is a danger that the gun nuts will use this “concession” on their part to deflect future efforts to limit metallic guns. If the gun lobby is smart, they will point to this law as an example of them giving some ground towards a compromise and will argue that they shouldn’t have to give any more ground. This argument is disingenuous, but it would allow the gun lobby to use the government to kill a major competitor while using the elimination to insulate themselves from regulations on their business.

Last May, when it was announced that the first 3-d gun had been fired, I predicted this choice by the NRA to tacitly support bans on plastic guns–here is a link to the article that I wrote for Salon.com on this subject: http://www.salon.com/2013/05/30/how_the_nras_true_motives_will_soon_be_exposed/

Hopefully, I am wrong on my prediction of the gun lobby’s next step, but I think that they will see the same tactical advantage that I do in this situation. Only time will tell, but we must be ready to debunk this gun lobby talking point if and when it emerges.

Global climate change is causing shifts in weather patterns which result in devastating storms for some, but droughts for others. According to a NOAA CIRES report, 11 major American cities will be facing severe lacks of water in the coming years, risking many lives. In addition to the dangers of dehydration and sun-stroke in populations during a drought, wildfires are more likely to spring up in the southwestern cities mentioned in the report (hotter weather leads to a drying of the brush and an increased likelihood of forest fire)

http://www.colorado.edu/news/releases/2013/09/18/today%E2%80%99s-worst-watershed-stresses-may-become-new-normal-study-finds

These droughts are going to be immensely damaging and are as real a threat to our country as any external enemy–we need to take action, both in mitigating global climate change and finding ways to get water back into these affected areas at a price that everybody can afford.

7 thoughts on “New Videos: The Pope, Drones, Military Waste, Hidden Guns, and Droughts

  1. I actually support the idea of making guns that can’t be detected illegal. The people that would want them would most likely be criminals or terrorists. The only legitimate purpose for them would be for use by special government agencies such as the CIA for agents working undercover in foreign countries perhaps. In reality, a gun that is TOTALLY undetectable is not feasible. Guns must have some metallic parts to function and don’t forget that the ammunition must have metallic components as well. An inexpensive bullet (just the projectile) that is comprised of nothing but soft lead might be undetectable if a plastic casing and primer could be developed. However, a firearm constructed completely of plastic would be unsafe to use as it would likely explode after the first shot and would not be very accurate. Special low power loads could be made that might extend the life of the gun. However, by doing this you sacrifice range, accuracy and penetration A bullet made entirely of plastic would not be heavy enough to travel very far and would only be lethal at a short almost point blank range. Furthermore, the heat generated by each discharge would quickly warp even the strongest of polymers and damage the barrel.

    Guns such as these would not be at the top of the wish list of any serious, law abiding Second Amendment supporter and would not pose any significant threat to the legitimate firearms industry. However, making them illegal will not make them disappear. It will just drive the manufacture of them underground. Guns such as these could be made easily and smuggled even more easily. Just like ALL other existing and proposed gun laws, making these guns illegal would not keep criminals from obtaining them. However, supporting laws to make them illegal would be a good public relations move for the NRA. As more and more criminals are arrested and found to be in possession of these guns, the media will of course make sure that the public is kept in fear of them which will likely cause even more law abiding citizens to purchase quality firearms for self defense and to obtain their concealed carry permits. This may lead to lobbying that would result in concealed carry rights to be expanded and allow concealed carry in even more places except of course federal buildings and correctional facilities. Due to the possibility of an inmate’s friend or family bringing a plastic gun into a jail or prison while visiting, it may eventually become necessary to strip search ALL visitors. This would discourage visits which would lead to a decrease in other contraband items such as drugs being brought in to inmates as well. Now THAT is a silver lining.

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    • A glaser safety slug is a specialty hollow-point that is capable of passing through most metal detectors due to the fact that it is composed of a durable polymer and compact bird-shot (it also comes in the .380 round that would fit a modern printed gun). This type of slug is “safe” because it doesn’t pass through walls (it was designed for air marshals originally), but it causes unbelievable tissue damage due to its super-frangible nature.

      When loaded with Glaser rounds and not containing the optional metal plate, even current 3-d printed guns would be essentially undetectable (there is more metal is some peoples’ fillings) and highly lethal for at least a dozen shots. Put simply, that is all that would be needed in most cases.

      I agree with you that 3-d printed guns are a nightmare to ban, but disagree that they will lead to decreased gun control. If 3-d printed guns become more common, the gun manufacturers will start losing money and will no longer be able to fund their lobbying efforts as much–this reduction in their funding, combined with the fact that households with guns are becoming a smaller portion of the population (fewer people have more guns, thus the total numbers remain high) and the fact that the spread of 3-d guns into criminal populations will breed fear, will likely allow groups like Bloomberg’s to reverse the tide of the gun deregulation.

      In short, this event is a turning point, where the gun lobby could very well be entering it’s downward spiral. Here is my article from Salon on this subject: http://www.salon.com/2013/05/30/how_the_nras_true_motives_will_soon_be_exposed/

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      • These 3D guns are flimsy and unappealing and look like Lego toys. Legitimate gun owners will not want them, only criminals. Don’t forget, you need a special printer and supplies to create one. The firearms industry WILL NOT go bankrupt. Manufacturers may actually start using more polymers wherever possible which would result in lower prices that could make quality firearms available for those law abiding citizens on a budget.

        Where are you seeing that households with guns are becoming a smaller portion of the population? When you started this blog, there were an estimated 88 guns per every 100 people in the US. If you would go to http://www.gunpolicy.org, you will see that it is now 101.05 per every 100 people. If there are fewer gun owners, then how do you explain the recent recall efforts of state senators in Colorado? The NRA is not totally funded by gun manufacturers. It also gets money through donations and membership dues.

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      • I agree that current 3-d guns are flimsy and unappealing to look at, but that is not the main purpose of a weapon–the purpose of a gun isn’t to look cool, but to project a small piece of metal at high enough speeds to kill somebody or something. Printed guns do that and have the added benefit of being untraceable. Gun laws are necessary not based upon some theoretical or ideological bias against guns (I am an extremely good shot myself), but upon the need to keep weapons out of the hands of criminals. These laws will necessarily limit moral people as a side effect, but that is simply a trade-off that I am willing to accept if it means that 10,000 Americans don’t get slaughtered every year.

        The “special printers” used to fabricate 3-d printed guns are easily available online for a couple thousand dollars–any of a half-dozen models of printer will work and the raw materials are just as easy to buy (and far cheaper). I have worked with auto-lathes and laser-cutters that use CAD input like these fabricators, and they really aren’t that hard to learn how to use.

        It is undeniable that the number of guns in the USA is growing, but these guns are becoming increasingly centralized in the hands of fewer people. Fewer households own guns than in the past, but the ones that do tend to have more. This decline is well documented and gunpolicy.org has information on this trend: http://www.gunpolicy.org/firearms/citation/quotes/6745

        The NRA has refused to name its donors publicly, but their tax filings and internal ratings programs indicate that gun manufacturers supply over 70% of their operating budget.

        Finally, I actually wrote an article explaining why the NRA was able to recall the CO Dems who opposed them. If you are interested, here it is: https://theprogressivecynic.com/2013/10/28/dont-let-the-gun-extremists-control-our-democracy/

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  2. I think that “10,000 Americans” annually may be a little over optomistic of an estimate. A 3D gun has the advantage of being not only disposable, but easy to destroy. The printers however are a different matter altogether. Criminals would not want that piece of evidence found on their property. Currently, stores that sell drugs like Sudafed are limited in how much they can sell to each customer due to the fact that these drugs can be used to make methamphetamine. The “raw materials” needed to print 3D guns could be regulated in a similar manner.

    The problem with trying prove that fewer American households own guns is that gun owners are not likely to respond to any random telephone call, letter or email from some unknown individual claiming to be conducting a survey on gun ownership and would probably just walk right past any person with a clipboard that approaches them in a grocery store parking lot to question them about what guns they own. Unless of course the person conducting the survey is doing so on behalf of the NRA or a similar organization. People who choose not to own guns would literally be thrilled and delighted to be contacted by someone conducting such a survey. However, I doubt that these people would be willing to put a sign in their front yard advertising that they are unarmed and defenseless.

    I can see how the first recall of two Colorado senators may have caught gun control fanatics by surprise. However, the recent recall effort of Evie Hudak should not have. Hudack supporters had the lessons learned from the first recall and had plenty of time to mobilize. However, Hudak chose not to even try to challenge Second Amendment supporters. The reality just does not support your theory that most Americans allegedly support gun control.

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  3. I don’t believe that you really understand gun owners. I don’t believe you understand criminals either. I agree that the purpose of a gun isn’t to “look cool”, but its looks are a factor. These plastic guns will only appeal to criminals and only a small group of criminals at that. Premeditated murders or planned assassinations would be about the only thing that they would be ideal for although, a desperate criminal will use any weapon. Banning them will not upset the NRA. I think that too much focus is being placed on the lack of metal in these guns. These gun would still be easy to see on an xray and would quickly be found during a frisk search by police.

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  4. Well, its done. Today, Congress voted to extend the current ban on undetectable guns. The NRA was not opposed and no Second Amendment supporters seemed to want to stage any protests to my knowledge. The important thing was that no additional gun control measures were passed as was expected. This does not make “plastic guns” illegal. They are just required to have detectable metal components. It is also important to remember that this will not stop criminals from obtaining undetectable guns. In other words, nothing changed. However, gun control fanatics can’t say that the NRA tried to block banning these guns.

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