Reigniting The Meaning Of Citizenship Through National Service

It’s been a long time since a common rite of passage among our nation’s men was to put on a uniform and defend your nation, community, and family. Yet at a time of increasing hyperpolarization in our country, as well as the deteriorating state of our nation’s youth in mind, body, and soul, national military service may be an idea worth considering once again.

National service has been ever-present in our country’s history. From militias in the Revolutionary War era to the wartime drafts in the Civil War, World War I, World War II, Korea, and Vietnam, to peacetime drafts through various parts of our nation’s past.

The legacy from those eras of conscription still remain in the form of the Selective Service system, which many of us remember being notified that we needed to register for upon reaching age 18.

The Selective Service system also has been the subject of debate in recent years, as many persons have considered whether women should register for it as well – such as during the 2016 Presidential election when Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton called for such.

Among other republics and democracies in the world national service is relatively common, from the nations of Europe to Africa, from the Middle East to Asia to South America. Conscription began falling out of favor since the end of the Cold War, as the general state of worry over military conflict faded.

Yet in recent years conscription has made a comeback. French President Macron has been trying to reintroduce military conscription in order to “foster patriotism and heal social divisions.” Norway recently expanded its military conscription in 2016 to include women, as Sweden has now re-introduced conscription as well.

Perhaps the most noted military conscription program is that of Israel, which requires all men and women to serve about two years in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), with few exceptions. While brought about by military necessity, it has also cultivated an Israeli citizenry that has the character, grit, and sense of duty to keep their nation thriving.

It used to be that way in America, as serving in the military was a relatively common experience. In 1980, veterans totaled 18% of adults in the United States. In contrast, by 2016 that number had fallen to 7%.

At a time when our nation is reeling from divisions along seemingly every line possible, it is worth considering a common and shared experience as national service to reconnect our country together. The benefits are very clear in other nations, as despite often no overt military conflict conscription still provides a variety of security and social benefits to the country.

Undoubtedly the implementation of a conscription program, not seen in our nation for almost half a century, would be difficult initially. Not only have the times and culture changed, but so has the very nature of our armed forces.

Our military nowadays is an extremely high-tech organization and finding how to best utilize the massive manpower from our almost 330 million person nation would require careful delineation.

Furthermore, many of our nation’s youth, estimated currently at 71% of those between the ages of 17 and 24, are grossly unfit for military service. Creating a new conscript category and integrating them usefully into the nation’s military would be challenging, but given how seemingly every other nation is able to do it effectively we undoubtedly can find a way to as well.

The idea of national service would undoubtedly require a significant period of pilot programs and testing. The idea has been proposed frequently in the national discourse throughout the years and particularly during the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars. It is a big, nation-changing policy that certainly, if it gets further traction and consideration, would be a serious national debate.

National service is a very realistic program that could do a lot in solving many of our nation’s otherwise seemingly unsolvable problems, as well as reigniting reflection on the meaning of citizenry in a republic.

I think it is worth considering at our present time, as, although it seems a big change, nonetheless could revive our American spirit and heal our nation in an extraordinary way.

 

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Calling all hunters: Everglades National Park wants you to kill its Burmese pythons

Faced with an unrelenting spread of invasive Burmese pythons that have mostly wiped out marsh rabbits, bobcats and other small mammals, Everglades National Park is doing something for the first time in its 70-year history: opening park borders to paid hunters.

On Thursday, Superintendent Pedro Ramos announced plans to team up with state wildlife officers who last year began hiring hunters to kill the voracious snakes.

“We’ve been chasing this problem trying to find a solution and frankly we ran up against a wall over and over again,” he told the Miami Herald. “That history requires us to be open-minded and flexible.”

Adding the park to territory already being patrolled by Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and South Florida Water Management District hunters will open up the epicenter of the python invasion to hunters’ cross-hairs more than two decades after they first appeared.

But the move is not without controversy.

In 2015 when Ramos agreed to allow volunteer hunters into the park for the state’s popular Python Challenge, backlash from an environmental group prompted him to scale back participation to all but a few permitted trappers.

The National Park Service bans sport hunting in parks, but not managed removal of unwanted wildlife. Rock Creek Park, north of downtown Washington, has been holding a contentious hunt to cull deer since 2013 to save the park’s native plants. About 75 areas managed by the National Park Service covering more than 50 million acres allow hunting, which sometimes causes confusion over rules in parks.

The park has also allowed the Swamp Apes, a volunteer group of military vets, to trap snakes for about a decade.

But competition with paid programs for hunters appears to be driving down participation: In the last year just 70 or so snakes were caught inside the park compared to about 200 snakes during each of the previous two years, said chief biologist Tylan Dean.

After years of failed efforts — including snake-sniffing dogs and tagged Judas snakes — Ramos said it’s time for more aggressive tactics.

“This to us is clearly not hunting in a national park. This is a serious effort to bring people who want to help us with this problem get these things out of the park,” he said. “It is a program aimed at removing an exotic species that is having some very deep negative impacts on this landscape.”

It’s also an attempt to learn more about their habits, he said, and slow a spread that in 2016 reached the northern Florida Keys for the first time. The snakes are so difficult to detect, and marshes so impenetrable, that even determining their numbers remains difficult, said Kristin Sommers, the state’s exotic species coordinator.

“The low range would be tens of hundreds and the high range would be hundreds of thousands,” she said.

South Florida may never be free of the snakes, but managed hunts in recent years have shown promise. Last year, the wildlife commission and the University of Florida brought snake hunters from India for a month-long pilot project that bagged 14 pythons in two weeks, including a 16-foot female carrying dozens of eggs. The water management district’s paid hunt topped 1,000 last week.

Authorized hunters will be vetted by the Fish and Wildlife Commission and need to meet a handful of qualifications including proof that they’ve legally bagged at least three pythons. Hunters will also earn the same rate paid to district hunters: minimum wage plus $50 for every four-foot snake and $25 for each additional foot.

They will be given access to almost every corner of the park at all hours, but will not be allowed near visitors including the Coe Visitor Center and Anhinga Trail, while the park is open.

The park hopes to get hunters started as early as July and eventually have up to 120, which would triple the number of volunteers now trapping snakes.

“Using current technology to eliminate pythons is impossible, so we’ll try to eliminate as many as we can,” Ramos said. “Maybe some day we’ll find a way to really get the upper hand.”

———

© 2018 Miami Herald

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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National American University Holdings, Inc. Receives An F

National American University is bleeding money from lower enrollments … % and they have been climbing significantly in recent years. NAU had an official cohort default rate of 20.6% in 2012 and that climbed to 23.4% in 2013. NAUH states in their …

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Texas governor’s school safety talks to tackle gun control

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s meetings on school violence and safety have promised to wade into the thorny issue of gun control with the next round. The Republican has been a staunch supporter of gun rights and worked to expand them in the state in recent years.

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What is net neutrality? Arguments for and against

The phrase ‘net neutrality’ has exploded in usage in recent years with fierce arguments for and against the principle making headlines. The term – coined by Columbia University professor Tim Wu in 2003 – refers to the concept that internet service …

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Here’s what the new Civic Center may look like

Today, a San Francisco Planning Commission hearing will consider three potential redesigns of the city’s Civic Center; however, no the final decision about what the overhaul of our storied but beleaguered public space will look like is far to come. Thursday’s meeting is another small step in a long process that may yield a new look and function for the area immediately east of City Hall, which the city has turned a critical eye on in recent years.

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Do Gun Buyers Really Want Innovation?

The Grand Power K100 MK12 has an outstanding design, why aren’t there more out there?

U.S.A.-(Ammoland.com)- In recent years there has been this massive cry for innovation from the shooting community but when something that might qualify as innovative hits the market it often seems to be ignored.

Author’s note: Since I am a heavy handgun shooter, this article is centered on handguns, not rifles. 

When I was writing the review on the Grand Power K100 MK12 I got to thinking about how pistols like the Grand Power are ignored by most gun buyers and Glock remains one of the best selling pistols on the market. There seems to be no real rhyme or reason for the abandonment of firearms that are outside the norm other than people being reasonably ingrained in their ways.

You see the same when it comes to accessories that enhance a pistol’s capabilities. All too often things like high output weapon lights and red dot sights are ignored for whatever reason. You will hear objections to these performance enhancing accessories like “Anymore than 200 lumens will blind you if you shine it on a wall” or “The batteries will die and I might get kilt in the streets.”

Funny enough the same objections were made when red dots on rifles started becoming commonplace, I don’t hear any of the same objections when it comes to long gun red dots or high output lights on a rifle. I guess the shooting community just needs to warm up to the idea of innovative accessories that enhance the performance of your gun.

Tell me what your thoughts are on the aforementioned pistol mounted red dots and 600 to 1,000-lumen pistol lights? What are your concerns?

So back to innovation in pistols. I have compiled a short list of firearms that could be considered as innovative that were launched in the last several decades. I tried to limit the time frame to the last several decades and not dive into anything that might be considered historical. Some of the guns on the list are still in production but seem to have rather low sales numbers.

I do want to note that not all of the pistols mentioned below are good firearms, they just had some innovative features.

Steyr M Series:

The Steyr M9-A1

The Styer M series of pistols arguably laid the groundwork for the Sig P320, Beretta APX, Remington RP, and other pistols that have a removable chassis system. While the M series doesn’t reap the benefits of serializing the chassis, it is removable and can be transferred to another firearm.

So why does the M series not get any love? It is a wonderful pistol by all accounts and is just as reliable as you would expect a modern pistol to be. My guess? Steyr failed to market the pistol properly in America when it was launched in the early 2000’s and never was able to recover. The gun is popular with shooters that I might describe as gun hipsters and saw very limited adoption as a service weapon. Unfortunately, the popularity seems to end there as best as I can tell.

Medusa M47:

The Medusa M47 was able to shoot over a hundred different cartridges according to Ian and by that respect was rather innovative. How were they able to get such a wide range of calibers? Phillips & Rogers developed a cylinder with small spring loaded fingers that held the cartridges in place.

Ian even gets into the issue as to why innovative guns fail at the 5:11 mark in the above video. Only about 500 of these innovative guns made it into circulation before Phillips & Rogers closed their doors forever. Sadly no one has revived the design and the innovative cylinder died.

 

Arsenal Firearms Strike One:

The Arsenal Firearms Strike One

While the locking system in the Arsenal Firearms Strike One wasn’t new, it was innovative when applied to a polymer pistol. The unique locking block that was reminiscent of the Bergman action keeps the bore of the pistol extremely low and makes the pistol very flat shooting.

I am not going to harp too much on why the pistol failed on its first go here in the US but will simply say that the importer that had exclusive rights to the Strike One in the USA did an awful job promoting the gun and getting it into gun shops. I have only seen one Strike on in person and that happens to be the gun that I own, that should tell you something.

Now the Strike One design is being revived as the compact Archon Firearms Type B to be released later this year. Archon also plans to offer a full-size gun that is more reminiscent of the original Strike One pistol as a Type A at some point, but no word as to when that might happen.

Heckler Koch VP70:

Photo Credit: Eric Eggly

The Heckler Koch VP70 was the first pistol to use polymer as a frame material, beating the Glock 17 to market by over a decade. For whatever reason, the VP70 just wasn’t appreciated by the shooting public. It was introduced in 1970 so you could argue that the pistol was facing some pretty stiff skepticism as a result of the M16’s abysmal initial performance in Vietnam.

Other than the material used for the frame, there wasn’t much else that was revolutionary about the VP70. Sure, there was a spring-loaded striker, but let’s face it, that has been done before. The stock that turns it into a machine pistol? The Mauser Schnellfeuer 712 already kinda did something similar.

The pistol wasn’t really adopted by anyone and as best as I can tell was largely overlooked in the gun shops during its production run.

Taurus 180 Curve:

The 180 Curve hugs you in ways you have never been before.

The 180 Curve is sort of innovative and sort of not. While the outside shape is different than just about any other gun on the market, it is basically a Taurus TCP shoved in a curved frame. The gun might have been rightfully ignored, but it did take a novel approach to the struggles of trying to hide a gun with tight clothing like yoga pants or something of the like.

CONCLUSION:

While there have been some guns that have changed the market as we know it like the Glock, HK USP, AR-15, the Henry Repeating Rifle, the Gatling Gun, Maxim Gun, etc. The success of the Hudson H9 tells me that there is some hope for innovative design in today’s marketplace, but how much?

Why is it that so many interesting and serviceable firearms are left to rot in the dark corners of the gun case?

Are gun buyers serious about wanting to add guns to their safe that are truly innovative or are they just looking for something to talk about?

Tell me what you think.


About Patrick R.Patrick Roberts

Patrick is a firearms enthusiast that values the quest for not only the best possible gear setup, but also pragmatic ways to improve his shooting skills across a wide range of disciplines. He values truthful, honest information above all else and had committed to cutting through marketing fluff to deliver the truth. You can find the rest of his work on FirearmRack.com as well as on the YouTube channel Firearm Rack or Instagram at @thepatrickroberts.

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Shock and thaw: Alaskan sea ice just took a steep, unprecedented dive

AP Photo/Mark Thiessen

AP Photo/Mark Thiessen

April should be prime walrus hunting season for the native villages that dot Alaska’s remote western coast. In years past the winter sea ice where the animals rest would still be abundant, providing prime targets for subsistence hunters. But this year sea-ice coverage as of late April was more like what would be expected for mid-June, well into the melt season. These conditions are the continuation of a winter-long scarcity of sea ice in the Bering Sea—a decline so stark it has stunned researchers who have spent years watching Arctic sea ice dwindle due to climate change.

Winter sea ice cover in the Bering Sea did not just hit a record low in 2018; it was half that of the previous lowest winter on record (2001), says John Walsh, chief scientist of the International Arctic Research Center at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. “There’s never ever been anything remotely like this for sea ice” in the Bering Sea going back more than 160 years, says Rick Thoman, an Alaska-based climatologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

sea ice graph

The record low February sea-ice extent in the Bering Sea, off the coast of Alaska, compared with the 168-year historic record. Credit: Zachary Labe, University of California-Irvine and Heather McFarland, University of Alaska

A confluence of conditions — including warm air and ocean temperatures, along with persistent storms — set the stage for this dramatic downturn in a region that to date has not been one of the main contributors to the overall reduction of Arctic sea ice. Whereas a degree of random weather variability teed up this remarkable winter, the background warming of the Arctic is what provides the “extra kick” to reach such unheard-of extremes, Walsh says.

Sea ice expands outward from the central Arctic Ocean each autumn as the sun dips low in the sky and temperatures drop. In the Chukchi and Bering seas off Alaska, freeze-up used to begin in October. Ice would edge southward and build up throughout the winter until peaking in March when the sun climbs high again, and the ice would then start melting back. But autumn freeze-up in the region has begun steadily later as Arctic temperatures have risen at twice the global rate, fueling a self-perpetuating cycle of ice loss: As it melts it leaves more open water to absorb the sun’s rays in summer, and this further warms the ocean causing more ice to melt, thereby delaying the autumn freeze. In recent years that freeze had moved into November but this year temperatures were so warm the Chukchi Sea still had open ocean in December. “And that,” Walsh says, “hasn’t happened before” in recorded history.

The unusual warmth continued throughout this winter, in part because of an atmospheric pattern that kept warm air and storms periodically sweeping up from the south. One such event in February helped push the monthly temperature over the Bering and Chukchi seas some 18 to 21.5 degrees Fahrenheit (10 to 12 degrees Celsius) above normal. Consequently, the Bering Sea lost half its ice extent at a time when ice should still have been growing. The storms also pushed back against the normal southward flow of ice from the Chukchi Sea into the Bering. Accompanying winds stirred up waves that kept new ice from forming, and broke up what thin ice there was.

Such atmospheric conditions have long been a limiting factor to sea-ice growth in the Bering Sea, Thoman says. But until recently the water there was reliably cold enough in autumn that when winds did blow from the north, sea ice would still spread. The last few years have seen unusually warm ocean waters in the Bering. Research meteorologist Nick Bond and others think this is “a lingering hangover” of a larger marine heat wave — dubbed “The Blob” — that lay off the west coast of the U.S. and Canadian mainland from 2014 to 2016. Bond, who works for NOAA’s Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory, thinks some of those warm waters followed ocean currents up into the Bering and left a deep reservoir of warmth that impeded ice formation, although he has not yet formally studied this.

The occurrence of these unusual conditions off Alaska this past winter can largely be chalked up to the random weather variations in a chaotic climate system, Bond, Walsh and Thoman all say—but they add that global warming likely amped up the severity of the situation. A study Walsh co-authored in the January Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society found that although The Blob was ushered in by natural variations, without climate change it likely would not have been as intense as it was. And whereas the Bering Sea has had plenty of winters as stormy as this one, the underlying warming trend means such winters can have a much bigger impact on sea-ice formation in today’s climate.

The lack of sea ice is not just hitting walrus hunting hard; throughout the winter and spring, coastal communities have seen substantial flooding and erosion during storms without much of the usual sea ice to act as a buffer. What little there is has been very thin stuff local residents call “junk ice,” Thoman says: “It wasn’t very much better than no ice at all.”

At the end of April the Bering Sea was nearly ice-free — four weeks ahead of schedule. With the sun shining on the Arctic again, the open ocean is soaking up heat that could set up another delayed freeze-up again next fall. Because of the role the weather plays, though, “every year is not going to be like this,” Thoman says. “Next year will almost certainly not be this low.” But as temperatures continue to rise, he says, “odds are very strong that we will not go another 160 years before we see something like this” happen again.

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