Thursday, February 09, 2006

Rising from the dead

It seems that Ithaca may be returning to life. The company has new owners, a new web site and has moved to a new location. So far, they're committing to new production of the Model 37 shotgun in three versions, and they're providing service and parts for existing firearms.

Good luck, guys.

Remember Richmond and the ATF?

(Via The High Road)

The gunnies among us remember last year's little go-round at the Richmond Showmaster's gun show (Lord knows I blogged about it enough.) It seems that ATF is going to have an opportunity to answer a few questions for the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security.

I hope this isn't another Washington whitewash job. If you'd like to watch and see for yourself, the hearing is on 2/15/2006 at 4:30. It may be on CSPAN, but I think you might be able to watch it live on the web here.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Coming soon to a backyard near you?

Big White Guy reports that Hong Kong is going to eliminate the ownership of private poultry (more or less) as a way of stopping avian influenza.

The Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation department will send out "“patrol teams",— a euphemism for "death squads", to all 750 villages in Hong Kong.

Now, compare this to the NAIS (National Animal Identification System), which some say will lead to the eventual mandatory registration of every domesticated animal in the US--including, perhaps, our pets.

The water is getting warmer, Froggy me boy.

Arbeit Mach Frei

(Via No Quarters)

" Arbeit Mach Frei"

Translation: "Work will set you free". These were the words the Nazis posted in iron at Dachau, where 30,000 were executed and an unknown number died of disease, malnourishment and abuse.

Now, fast forward a few years to 2006:

The Army Corps of Engineers has awarded a contract worth up to $385 million for building temporary immigration detention centers to Kellogg Brown & Root, the Halliburton subsidiary that has been criticized for overcharging the Pentagon for its work in Iraq.

KBR would build the centers for the Homeland Security Department for an unexpected influx of immigrants, to house people in the event of a natural disaster or for new programs that require additional detention space, company executives said. KBR, which announced the contract last month, had a similar contract with immigration agencies from 2000 to last year.

(This is from the NY Times; you'll need BugMeNot.)

Now certain Congresscreatures are up in arms over the Halliburton, with its sterling reputation of scrupulously charging only for work actually done, is getting the contract. That's all fine and dandy, but they're sort of missing the point. Let me draw your attention to this phrase:

...or for new programs that require additional detention space...

Now of course, these new programs are absolutely undefined. They could be anything. However, the size and location of these detention centers is fairly well defined:

A spokesman for the corps, Clayton Church, said that the centers could be at unused military sites or temporary structures and that each one would hold up to 5,000 people.

Now, in fairness, I should note that the camps will not be built until needed, and that a similar contract has been in place since 2000. But that contract was apparently only with agencies charged with immigration activities (although it was used to build temporary facilities for people displaced by Hurricane Katrina)--the new one is with Homeland Security, that lovely government entity comprised of the following old government entities:
  • US Customs Service
  • Immigration and Naturalization Service
  • Federal Protective Service
  • Federal Law Enforcement Training Center
  • parts of the Animal and Plan Health Inspection Service
  • Federal Emergency Management Agency (good ol' FEMA)
  • Strategic National Stockpile
  • National Disaster Medical System
  • Domestic Emergency Support Teams
  • National Domestic Preparedness Office
  • CBRN (Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear) Countermeasures Programs
  • Environmental Measurements Laboratory
  • National BW (Biological Warfare) Analysis Center
  • Plum Island Animal Disease Center
  • Federal Computer Incident Response Center
  • National Communications Defense System
  • Energy Security and Assurance Program
and a new agency:
  • Transportation Security Administration
(By the way, all this is from DHS's web site. Fun place.)

Now I don't even recognize some of those names, but with the size of our Federal government these days, that doesn't surprise or concern me. What does concern me is what some of these agencies are tasked with, and the idea that one or more of them could have some new program that would involve mass detentions. As a pretty far out example, let's use the Federal Computer Incident Response Center. Can you picture them having camps built to house a sudden influx of script kiddies, porn downloaders, spammers and assorted other computer-related ner-do-wells?

Well, guess what--it could happen. All of those activities are illegal in whole or part, and all it would take is the President ordering a crackdown. "The Internet is in grave danger, and it's too big a part of our New Economy for us to take this danger laying down. A preemptive strike is in order before we wake up and find the Internet in smoking ruins. We must have a War on Script Kiddies, and I hereby order the Department of Homeland Security to strictly enforce our existing laws."

Will this happen? Probably not--I definitely hope not. But it's now just within the realm of possibility. That's what concerns me.

If you've been around the survivalist community long, you've seen the "black helicopter" and "UN concentration camp" discussions. Somehow, they don't strike me as being quite as funny just now.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Happy Birthday

I didn't know that today is Laura Ingalls Wilder's birthday. Cool.

Theodore Dalrymple, anyone?

I've ran into the name Theodore Dalrymple in several places around the Internet, in particular at City Journal (which, BTW, is a pretty interesting site to visit). I've read a few of his pieces there.

On Fourmilog, I ran into this entry mentioning Mr. Dalrymple, who turns out to be a recently retired British physician/psychiatrist named Anthony Daniels. His essays have been collected into the book Our Culture, What's Left of It. John Walker, the author of Fourmilog, is kind enough to link to several of the City Journal essays in the book.

I suggest you read them all (heck, I suggest you read the book), but read "When Islam Breaks Down" first. Given the furor that some cartoons have caused in the Muslim world (can you imagine Christians rioting and burning embassies over Piss Christ?), this is absolutely mandatory reading.

I won't do the essay justice by trying to summarize it, but just to give you the flavor, Mr. Dalrymple makes the case that Islam (and by extension, most Islamist societies/countries) is fated to be a backwards also ran. This is due to its lack of separation of government and religion, along with various patterns of behavior forced on them by their religious beliefs.

Do yourself a favor and read at least this essay. Then I suggest you sit a bit and think.

GM on the brink?

Those who pay attention to such things have long noted that the US auto industry isn't what it used to be. Foreign competition, poor business decisions, bad timing and legendary quality problems (in fairness, now rectified) have combined to damage the once dominant US auto industry.

Many years ago, the statement was made "What's good for General Motors is good for America." Hyperbole, perhaps, but there was more than a little true in it at the time it was made. Now, GM is in what can be described as desperate straights, and the question has become "Is a failed General Motors good for America?"

The question is more than rhetorical. GM, even in its weakened state, still holds 26% of the US market, employs 324,000 people, and has a market worth of $13 billion. The dissolution of GM would throw not only those 324,000 out of work, but would effect 130,000 GM retirees and their spouses, in terms of retirement income and health care benefits.

The cost to a US economy could be enough to tip things from good to bad. The dollar costs would be hard enough to absorb, but the psychological costs of the failure of the #3 company on the Fortune 500 list may well be catastrophic.

This situation will be one to watch more closely. I remember when Chrysler was bailed out by the Federal government--many said the company was "too big to fail"--in other words, the cost of the failure of Chrysler Corporation was too high to pay. We will deem GM "too big to fail" as well? And if we do, can we afford to save it?

Monday, February 06, 2006

A little chaos at the ATF

(Via WorldNet Daily)

Long-time readers know that the ATF isn't my favorite Federal government agency. It's not that I hate them, per se, I just hate how they act toward law-abiding gun owners in general. (Yes, I'm painting with a broad brush--get over it.)

It would seem that they have other issues besides a demonstrated dislike for the citizenry. A Washington Post report (you may need BugMeNot) is laying a $19 million + cost overrun on their new 438,000 sq. ft. headquarters at the feet of the director, Carl J. Truscott.

They also seem to be having issues relating to a $13 million budget cut last year and some ill-advised hiring decisions. Apparently, there aren't enough new cars (New cars? I drive a 97 and a 98--they need new cars?), enough offices or even enough desks.

The light of publicity is having some effect, since some of the director's requested upgrades (like the $65,000 conference table) have bee trimmed by 50% and some canceled outright.

Pity the poor bureaucrat who has to make to with a $32,500 conference table. How will he ever live it down?

Some good news, for a change

Wired is reporting a possible test for Alzheimer's Disease. While still in it's early stages, the test looks for amyloid plaques in the eye, which the inventor of the test believes show up years before they begin to accumulate in the brain. If it works, those identified can start drug therapy early, and, as inventor Lee Goldstein says "...delay it long enough so that the person would die of something else before the onset of symptoms."

Having seen enough people die of Alzheimer's, I hope this works out, and soon.