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Why the Air Force Thinks It Can Turn Gamers Into Its Next Top Guns

In late May, the U.S. Air Force announced its intention to release an advanced video game simulation. The theory is that the game, if successful, will be an effective recruitment tool among high school students.

If this sounds familiar, it’s because the U.S. Army already did the exact same thing with a game called “America’s Army,” launched in 2002. That one was for a while relatively popular, but as a recruitment tool there’s little doubt it failed. Indeed, it was panned early and often for claiming to offer a realistic soldiering experience while glamorizing it as an exciting and largely consequence-free adventure. The game, of course, never showed the tedium or the dark side of military service in conflict—but what proper recruitment propaganda ever does?

Not content to merely copy a failed program, the so-far untitled Air Force game seeks to combine the allure of video games with the Orwellian realities of modern “big data” applications that the government is so fond of. In this case, officials have suggested they are literally going to monitor players to spot particularly talented ones they can recruit.

Call it recruitment recon.

As an example, imagine that the Air Force identifies a player who is particularly good at controlling the game’s simulated planes, so they offer him/her a $100,000 signing bonus to sign up for the real thing. But isn’t it possible that video game talent might not translate into real-life skills in combat? Incredibly, that seems to have been lost on the USAF.

Which is why this could be an even bigger disaster than the “America’s Army” folly—and much more expensive, too. While the Army’s gambit cost millions to design, it at least had a limited return on investment. The Air Force is prepared to throw major bonuses at good video game players on the notion that, like the 1984 movie The Last Starfighter, that’s where you’re going to find real talent.

The reason this makes sense to the Air Force (but nobody else) is because, with the advent of drone operations (i.e. remote control targeting), a number of people actually are employed in joystick-based warfare. It’s not clear whether the game will feature a drone operator mode (based in some outpost in the Nevada desert), as it seems to be focused on advanced warplanes in the heat of battle, not blowing up Pakistani wedding parties from thousands of miles away. This should come as no surprise because the life of an actual drone operator is reportedly pretty miserable, and the point of the Air Force’s game is to get kids to play so you can collect all sorts of data from them.

So far, Air Force officials aren’t providing a lot of specifics, just ambitions. They’ve also avoided estimating what the program will cost. Creating a game advanced enough to reliably attract an audience gets more expensive every year. At this point just developing a game can be counted on to cost a minimum of $100 million, to say nothing of all of the server and metadata processing costs, and the costs associated with marketing the game.

This is precisely why high-end video games don’t attempt to survive as advertising platforms. The cost of developing games has grown precipitously over the years, and players are focused on playing. They don’t want to be sold anything—not by companies, not by Uncle Sam.

This is why using a war simulation video game as a marketing tool is a terrible idea. Even in the highly unlikely event that the U.S. Air Force actually does make a popular video game, that doesn’t mean its fan base is going to be inclined toward military service, let alone suited to it. This is what happens when you combine lofty recruitment goals with a bottomless pit of taxpayer money: the military is encouraged to make reckless attempts to engage the public. The Air Force now appears to be lining up one of the most reckless of blunders yet.

Jason Ditz is news editor at Antiwar.com, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the cause of non-interventionism. His work has appeared in Forbes, the Toronto Star, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, the Providence Journal, the Daily Caller, the American Conservative, the Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.

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Connecticut Bans ‘Rate Of Fire Enhancements’ On Firearms

Ways to shoot your gun faster have been around for ages now. They’re nothing new, and prior to Las Vegas, they were almost never used in a crime of any sort, so far as I’ve been able to tell. They were toys slapped onto guns to amuse people as they wasted ammo at a range day and not much else.

In Connecticut, though, they’re now history.

Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy, a Democrat with a long history of advocating gun control measures, signed a law on Thursday outlawing a variety of firearm accessories.

The proposal, HB 5542, creates a new felony for the sale and possession of a “rate of fire enhancement” as defined under the new law. It was approved last month in the state House 114-35 and the Senate 26-10, with Dems pushing hard for the bill.

“This should be the law throughout the entire country,” said Malloy during a press conference that included gun control advocates, high school students and lawmakers. “There is no reason why anyone needs to own a device that can fire 90 bullets every 10 seconds but for the mass killing of people.”

I’m going to interrupt here and mention that my initial reactions to Malloy’s comments are, well, unprintable. I’m a professional, and I try not to use that kind of language when I’m working. I’m sure you can imagine.

However, I will add that “need” is irrelevant when it comes to our rights. There’s no need for Malloy to pontificate on what he thinks the laws in the rest of the country should be, yet there he is anyway. See how that works?

The same is true with “rate of fire enhancements.” I shouldn’t have to illustrate a need to have something.

Schmuck.

Anyway, back to the story.

The new law, now Public Act No. 18-29, defines a “rate of fire enhancement” as any bump stock, binary trigger, trigger crank or similar device and makes it a Class D felony under Connecticut law to manufacture, own, possess, sell or transfer one. Violators could face five years in prison and a fine up to $5,000. There is no route to legal ownership or grandfathering of devices already in circulation in the state, leaving those with one on their hands until October to comply with the law.

It doesn’t appear that shoelaces or rubber bands, both of which can be used for bump fire, are covered under this bill.

Or do those not count because people “need” those?

The truth is, Connecticut and most other states have no issue with these devices. They’ve never seen a problem with them within their borders. The nation has seen precisely one. It was horrific, but these aren’t commonly used for crime, and it’s beyond time to stop pretending anyone is safer from a law like this.

It should be noted that despite the availability of such devices since Las Vegas, not a single other mass shooter using an AR-15 style rifle has used bump fire.

In other words, Malloy and his ilk are doing nothing but waving the flag to their fellow travelers, signaling how they care so hard.

In the meantime, work that went into this could have been devoted to doing something that might actually make life better for Connecticut’s citizens.

The post Connecticut Bans ‘Rate Of Fire Enhancements’ On Firearms appeared first on Bearing Arms.

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Mayor says he was asked to leave gun store after having words with owner. Store says mayor is lying.

Mayor John Ditslear of Noblesville, Indiana — where a seventh-grader opened fire in a classroom last week and injured two people before a teacher tackled him — is a Republican and told WTTV-TV he considers himself “a Second Amendment guy.”

Image source: WTTV-TV video screenshot

But all the same he didn’t like what was happening at a new gun store in town, which held its grand opening the day after the shooting, the station said.

You see, Hoosier Armory also had a National Rifle Association tent set up outside its new store Saturday, and Ditslear thought that was going too far. So he had a little chat with the owner, WTTV reported.

Image source: WTTV-TV video screenshot

“I did approach the owner, and I just told him that, ‘No one expected this, but you’re hurting your business in my opinion, strongly, and you’re hurting our city,’ and I asked them to maybe just think about it and take the tent down,” the mayor told the station.

And then Ditslear added, “I was asked to leave,” WTTV noted.

“The NRA needs to realize that they have a place in this to protect gun owners, but they also have to make sure that gun owners are responsible,” Ditslear added to the station. “I was not happy that I was asked to leave.”

Ditslear told WTTV he hopes Hoosier Armory “learned a lesson” but that he hasn’t “talked to them. Again, I was asked to leave, so I won’t go in there until I’m asked to come back.”

The NRA will hold its 2019 national convention in Indianapolis, WTTV said.

What did the gun store have to say?

Ralph Ripple, Hoosier Armory’s managing partner, said in a statement that the mayor “literally lied” about being asked to leave, the station reported:

Hello everyone. I am a partner at Hoosier Armory. Firearms are our passion and this business lets my partners and I share that passion with fellow shooters.

After the school shooting, my partners and I had a long, heartfelt discussion about what to do about our grand opening on Saturday. If anyone thinks we made the decision to continue with something we had been planning for months without a lot of concern and anxiety, you are mistaken. This was a hard decision for us. We feel horrible for those injured in the shooting. We thank God for the fact that no one was killed. At the same time, we are getting tired of gun owners and the NRA being blamed for every shooting that occurs in this country. For this reason, we decided to continue with our plans.

Some members of the team from the NRA had flown in the night before to attend our grand opening. They had time and money invested in the visit and it had been planned months ago. They offered to stand down but we asked them to set up anyways. They made an offer to not accept new registrations at their booth and to only answer questions about what the NRA does and we accepted that offer. No new NRA members were registered that day.

This has been a painful few days for us here at Hoosier Armory. The mayor of Noblesville literally lied about his visit to the shop. He was never asked to leave and he ended the conversation mid-stream and left without allowing us to plead our case. In other words, he told us his feelings about the situation and then left to join the protesters because the news media had arrived.

We know we will take a hit on this, our facebook page is already lighting up with bad reviews from people who have never been in the shop and don’t know what we are all about. No news media has mentioned any of our charitable activities involving helping injured police officers and helping with firearm suicide prevention.

I want you all to know, we are devastated every time there is a shooting like the one in Noblesville. My partners have kids and grandkids so we know the concerns of parents everywhere. However, we also see the black eyes given to legal law-abiding gun owners everytime something like this happens, We all know that in reality, gun owners are the most law-abiding group of people out there. We see the NRA villainized for school shootings when they offer more ideas to prevent them than our politicians ever do.

I will say that the majority of gun owners have supported us so far through this. I hope we can count on all of you.

Many thanks and God bless.

What did a protesting student have to say?

Clara Lawson — a junior at Noblesville High School where middle school students were reunited with their parents after the shooting — helped organize a protest outside the Hoosier Armory and spent four hours carrying signs with friends, WTTV said.

Image source: WTTV-TV video screenshot

“We’re not trying to take away your guns. We understand that’s a right, and I understand that, too,” the 17-year-old told the station. “I was protesting the NRA booth, not the Hoosier Armory, because I understand that’s their store, they’re fine if they’re there, that’s their right. But I thought it was really inappropriate that the NRA booth would be there when they saw what had happened the day before — but they still set up, and they continued what they were doing right across the town from a tragedy.”

Image source: WTTV-TV video screenshot

Lawson added to the station the she believes “gun control shouldn’t be a conservative versus liberal idea. I think it’s kind of a common sense thing because it’s all of us. We’re all involved. We can be safe and people can keep their guns.”

(H/T: Bearing Arms)

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Ex-Navy SEAL credited with killing Osama bin Laden has a special request for Memorial Day

Ex-Navy SEAL Robert O’Neill, known for being “the man who killed Osama bin Laden,” has a special request this Memorial Day.

What did he ask?

O’Neill doesn’t want anyone to tell him “happy Memorial Day.”

“Memorial Day is not a celebration,” O’Neill wrote for Fox News, where he is a contributor. “Memorial Day is a time for reflection, pause, remembrance and thanksgiving for patriots who gave up their own lives to protect the lives and freedom of us all – including the freedom of generations long gone and generations yet unborn. We owe the fallen a debt so enormous that it can never be repaid.”

But for many Americans, the day will be spent focused on picnics and family gatherings, and perhaps making plans for the summer season, O’Neill noted. Others will be shopping for deals on cars, furniture and clothes.

As people are celebrating, the grass is growing over the final resting places of those whose lives were cut short defending our country in “Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and other far-off places many Americans have rarely heard of,” he said.

Army Sgt. La David Johnson, Staff Sgt. Bryan Black, Sgt. 1st Class Jeremiah Johnson and Staff Sgt. Dustin Wright were killed last October in an ISIS ambush in Niger, but not many know America even has troops in Niger, O’Neill explained.

“These unknown soldiers lost their lives protecting you – every one of you reading these words,” he stated.

As millions of high school students walk across stages this season to get their diplomas, many will go on to college or jobs. But some will enter the military, “joining the second generation of American warriors fighting in the Global War on Terror – a war that began with the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks that took the lives of almost 3,000 people in our homeland,” O’Neill wrote.

“Most of these new recruits — who were not even born or who were just infants when the 9/11 attacks took place — will make it home just fine. But some will not. I pray that I am wrong, but the sad truth is that the number of American war dead on Memorial Day in 2019 will be higher than it is on this Memorial Day,” he explained.

In May of 2011, headlines announced that a group of elite Navy SEALS were responsible for finding and killing Osama bin Laden, the leader and founder of the Islamist group Al-Qaeda. Bin Laden was also blamed for the attacks on the World Trade Center towers on Sept. 11, 2001.

What is his hope for the future?

O’Neill said he wishes he knew how to prevent more people from dying in wars.

“But battle lines are being drawn and redrawn, and wars and terrorist attacks just keep going on and on. Weapons are getting bigger,” he wrote “Bombs are becoming smarter and more lives are being lost every day all over the world, leading to more death, more anger and more war.”

In war, O’Neill said, anyone can be turned into a memory in a moment.

He asked all Americans to join him in hoping and praying for the day that “war is just a memory – part of our past but not our future.”

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