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October 2017


Tonight begins the Jewish Holiday of Sukkot- The feast of the Tabernacles. As Yoram Ettinger explains:

The Book of Ecclesiastes, written by King Solomon accentuates Solomon’s philosophy of the importance of humility, morality, patience, learning from past mistakes, commemoration and historical perspective, family, friendship, long-term thinking, proper timing, realism and knowledge. The Hebrew name of Ecclesiastes is Kohelet, (), which is similar to the Biblical commandment to celebrate the community-oriented Sukkot holiday – Hakhel (), which means “to assemble,” as well as “public” () and “community” (). Solomon’s call for the realization of human fallibility, vulnerabilities and limitations is consistent with a central message of Sukkot: a seven day relocation from one’s permanent residence to the temporary, humble, wooden Sukkah (booth).

3. The temporary structure of the Sukkah highlights the historical significance of the permanent Jewish State in the Land of Israel – which must not be taken for granted – while commemorating the fragile and vulnerable nature of Jewish sovereignty and the Jewish people: the destruction of the two Temples (586 BCE and 70 CE), the ensuing exiles, the expulsion of Jews from England (1290), Venice (1421), Koln (1424), Milan (1489) and Spain (1492) and the Holocaust.

It is an important and joyous holiday. rsk

Peter Murphy: Two Incommensurable Americas

America is an exception among countries. It is a philosophical republic and a creedal nation. As Margaret Thatcher put it, while Europe was born from history, America was born out of ideas.[1] At its very core was the idea of limited government. That precept persisted almost universally until 1932. It did so through war and peace, prosperity and recession. It applied across all political parties and geographical regions. Then a breach occurred. A new politics emerged. It did not replace the Founders’ philosophical politics of principle. But it began to compete seriously with it.

This new politics was the politics of group identity. It started with Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal-era Democratic Party coalition of industrial workers, farmers, southern whites, northern immigrants and Catholics. Roosevelt’s forging of interest-group politics did not occur readily or easily. Historically some of the greatest supporters of limited government in America had been Democrats. They ranged from the remarkable Grover Cleveland to FDR’s nemesis Al Smith.

Roosevelt’s coalition lasted till the 1960s. Then it began to shrink as American manufacturing started to automate. Post-industrialism grew as classic industrialism declined. Public spending ballooned. New public-sector interest groups emerged. From the late 1960s onwards, the Democrats created a coalition of public-sector unions, government employees, African-Americans, the urban poor, liberal intellectuals, unmarried women and Hispanic immigrants. As this occurred, the Republican Party evolved as a philosophical party built on the abstract values of small government and cultural traditionalism.

The result today is that there are two Americas. One is committed to philosophical principle; the other to big-spending government programs. At a national level the two are pretty much evenly balanced. At the state level the differences are starker. In some parts of America, notably the Western Mountain states and Great Plains states, philosophical principle still rules.[2] Elsewhere government spending rules. The difference is not neatly defined by the difference between red states and blue states, or between coastal America and fly-over country. Philosophical America leans heavily Republican. But not all Republican-leaning states are low-tax, low-spending, limited governments. Some, though, are and in interesting ways.

The ‘middle’ ground of US policy and perspectives is a mess of graceless, cumbersome, knotty and embarrassing jerry-built legislation claiming to bridge what is an unbridgeable chasm. The conflicting truths of American life as seen by Left and Right cannot be reconciled. There is no meaningful in-between

The Complacent Class: The Self-Defeating Quest for the American Dream
by Tyler Cowen
St. Martin’s Press, 2017, 256 pages, $44.99

Asymmetric Politics: Ideological Republicans and Group Interest Democrats
by Matt Grossman and David A. Hopkins
Oxford University Press, 2016, 416 pages, $33.95

The Fractured Republic: Renewing America’s Social Contract in the Age of Individualism
by Yuval Levin
Basic Books, 2016, 272 pages, $35.99

The Working Class Republican: Ronald Reagan and the Return of Blue-Collar Conservatism
by Henry Olsen
HarperCollins, 2017, 368 pages, $49.99

The Vanishing American Adult: Our Coming-of-Age Crisis—and How to Rebuild a Culture of Self-Reliance
by Ben Sasse
St Martin’s Press, 2017, 320 pages, $55.99

White Working Class: Overcoming Class Cluelessness in America
by Joan C. Williams
Harvard Business Review, 2017, 192 pages, $34.99

Susan Stryker and “Transgender Studies” The identity-studies swamp grows deeper. Bruce Bawer

In 2010, as part of my research for The Victims’ Revolution, a book about the parlous and ever-proliferating phenomenon of identity studies in universities, I attended a Queer Studies conference at Humboldt University in Berlin. One of the stars of the event was Susan Stryker, a male-to-female transsexual who was born in 1961, raised in Oklahoma, received a Ph.D. in history at Berkeley, and at the time of the Berlin event was a high-profile professor at Indiana University, to which she commuted regularly from her home in San Francisco. At her session in Berlin, the deep-voiced, broad-shouldered, square-jawed Stryker spent the first few minutes serving up a jumble of standard-issue leftist comments about various aspects of postwar America; she then settled down, for a while anyway, on a single topic: the Tea Party, which she described as fascist and racist, but nonetheless saw as promising because it at least represented a “non-elite” reaction to America’s “neo-liberal” capitalist establishment.

As I pointed out in my book, Stryker’s open contempt for liberal democracy and jejune enthusiasm for a movement she claimed to consider totalitarian came off as thoughtless and insensitive, especially given that we were in a lecture hall overlooking the Unter den Linden in what had once been a part of Communist East Berlin, and, before that, a part of the capital of Hitler’s Third Reich. When an audience member stood up and confessed that Stryker’s admiration for “right-wing populist racists” made him uneasy as a German, Stryker, obviously not grasping his point (and not really pausing, I think, to take it in), obtusely reiterated that any resistance to capitalism – even if it took the form of fascism – filled her with hope.

The other day, contemplating the recent rise of Antifa, Black Lives Matter, and other violent forms of anti-democratic fascism in the guise of anti-fascism, I wondered what Stryker was up to these days. First I looked at her Facebook feed, from which I could see at once that she’s still engaged in “resistance.” Indeed, you might say that “resistance” is her mantra. I perused her Facebook postings going as far back as the morning of November 9, 2016, when she described Donald Trump’s election victory the night before as a “nightmare” and a “disaster” and declared that she had always known “never to underestimate the power of white settler economic grievances, or of fragile white masculinity, when it is channeled into racism and xenophobia.” Trump’s victory, she maintained, clearly marked the start of an era of hate and oppression, and while “I fully expect some of that hate and oppression to fall on me as a white queer/trans person,” she wrote, “my heart is truly broken for my friends in this country who are Muslim and Latinx [sic: the point of the “x” is to indicate that one is including both Latinos and Latinas], who are brown and black, who are immigrants, who speak English with an accent. Already today I am hearing from friends who are afraid to go to work or even to go outside.” In the midst of this political cataclysm, Stryker found consolation in one thing and one thing alone: the act of “contemplating the possible shape of the new resistance movements.”

Resistance! “The current state of affairs,” she has since written, in reference to the Trump presidency, “calls for many forms of resistance.” On January 13, she referred to herself on Facebook as following a “’daily act of resistance regimen.” After pondering many other names for the resistance movement against Trump, she decided that the best option was “The Resistance.” In late January, she took part in the mass act of resistance that effectively shut down San Francisco International Airport to protest Trump’s temporary immigration restrictions. On January 30, she wrote: “There are so many individual battles to fight, why not just one big collective ‘no’ to the new regime? Sooner rather than later while we have momentum from the Women’s Marches and airport occupations? What if millions of people took to the streets and demanded a new government that reflects the ideals of the majority?”

Soon afterward, she promoted the idea of a nationwide general strike to be held on February 17, writing: “C’mon all you pink pussy hat ladies, airport occupiers, taxi drivers, bodega owners, and Yiannapoulos speaking-event distruptors [sic] – let’s shut this country down for a day. Gather your tribes and posses and family members and get everybody to call in sick, not go to class, and not buy stuff. Do nonviolent civil disobedience by occupying a federal building. Hold a sanctuary campus rally at your school. Use the day to make calls jamming the phone lines in elected officials offices letting them know you oppose whatever outrage the Trump regime will be perpetrating in two weeks. Make Pennsylvania Avenue impassible [sic].”

The Civil Rights Movement: RIP The movement’s latest epitaph. Bruce Thornton

The Civil Rights movement is dead. This noble effort to align the nation’s laws with the belief that “all men are created equal” and “endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights,” was a time when brave black men and women, most of them Christians armed only with the power of faith and principle, endured violence and invective with dignity and grace. Now the Movement is nothing other than a wholly owned subsidiary of Progressivism Inc., a special interest outfit shilling for divisive identity politics that benefits only well-heeled black activists, professors, pundits, Congressmen, government workers, athletes, rap stars, and actors who all live with more privilege and wealth than most of America’s “privileged” whites.

The latest epitaph for the Movement is the spectacle of cheap moral preening by NFL players. Most of them multimillionaires, they have taken up the cause of the racist group Black Lives Matter, and now are disrespecting the flag by kneeling during the national anthem. BLM, of course, is predicated on a lie easily disproven that America’s police are targeting black males for extra-legal execution, and that persistent racism and “white privilege” are holding back millions of black people.

No matter that since 1968, police shootings of blacks have declined nearly 75%. That police are statistically more likely to shoot unarmed whites. That most of the quick-drawing police are blacks and Hispanics. Or that a black male is many times more likely to die at the hands of another black male: almost 8,000 black men died in 2016, 90% killed by other black men. For rich and privileged athletes and actors, honoring this blatant lie is a way to assert their racial solidarity with a demographic they have no intention of spending more than five minutes, if any, being around.

Meanwhile, black rates of intact marriages, homicide, unemployment, college attendance and graduation, drug use, and poverty continue to be terrible, despite trillions spent on Great Society programs, a Black Congressional Congress, and eight years of a black president who left office with all these indicators of black well-being worse than when he entered.

So what happened?

Short answer: the Sixties happened. Way back in 1993 Myron Magnet in The Dream and the Nightmare laid out the reasons, building on Patrick Moynihan’s prescient and reviled 1965 report “The Negro Family: The Case for National Action.” As Magnet explains, the woes of the black underclass reflected the dysfunctional cultural effects afflicting the poor both white and black: these “Have-nots”

Lack the inner resources to seize the chance, and they pass on to their children a self-defeating set of values and attitudes, along with an impoverished intellectual and emotional development, that generally imprisons them in failure as well. Three, sometimes four generations have made the pathology that locks them in­­––school-leaving, nonwork, welfare dependency, crime, drug abuse and the like.

Berkeley Students Now Protesting Exams By Tom Knighton

Students at the University of California, Berkeley have been getting a lot of practice at protesting lately. Apparently, some of them think they’re not getting enough practice though, so they decided to look for other reasons to demonstrate. At least that’s the only real reason I’ve come up with for their latest nonsense.

From Campus Reform:

Leftist students at the University of California, Berkeley recently attempted to shut down their own mid-term exam, demanding a take-home exam in its place.

As seen in a video posted on YouTube, four students demanded a “take-home essay with significant time to prepare” instead of the scheduled in-class exam, though Professor Harley Shaiken adamantly refused their request.

“This is a campus that is truly related throughout Latin America to the notion of free speech,” Shaiken said, followed by laughter from the protesters, who went on to claim that their “well-beings are being put on the line because of the emotional, mental, and physical stress that this university is compounding with what is already going on in [their] everyday lives.”

“Have you ever checked ‘unlisted’ or ‘undocumented immigrant’? I don’t think so!” one protester shouted at Shaiken, who wrote about and advocated for improved workers’ rights in Mexico, specializes in labor issues, and was presented in 1991 with the Outstanding Teaching Award at the University of California, San Diego.

Yet the protesters claim that he is unqualified to teach a class on labor issues in America and Mexico because he’s a white man, and went on to ask Shaiken to check his privilege.

In short, a white professor wants them to take their midterms in the same manner as practically every other professor in the nation wants, and thus he’s wrong because he’s “white.”

Frankly, Shaiken was right to refuse their demands.

If these students are taking a class on labor issues in the U.S. and Mexico, it means this probably isn’t their first college class. By now they know that midterms are the norm in many classes throughout the college. They know how this works.

Instead, they’re trying to bully him because he’s a white man teaching on a somewhat ethnic topic. They’re demanding he “check his privilege” because they expect the white man to capitulate to their insane demands, and the fact that he won’t is taken as proof of his racism. His credentials are irrelevant to the social justice jihadi. All that matters is that he’s white and therefore wrong.

And these are the same people trying to understand the rise in racism?

Why the Climate Alarmist Claims About 2017 Hurricanes Are Nonsense By Tom Harris and Dr. Madhav Khandekar

The 2017 North Atlantic hurricane season has the climate change alarmists out in full force.

These activists claim that man-made global warming has made the Gulf of Mexico warmer and the air more humid, thereby making tropical cyclones — called hurricanes in the North Atlantic — more frequent and more intense. They demand we reduce our carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions to lessen the “increasing” hurricane threat.

Even scientists who should know better are promoting the hurricane/global warming connection. Dr. Gregory Flato — a Canadian government scientist who is vice chair of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change working group that reports on the causes of climate change — maintains:

There’s also an expectation that as the sea surface temperatures increase, that the intensity of very intense hurricanes will become larger.

Dr. Michael Mann of Pennsylvania State University has made similar claims, asserting that the potential intensity of hurricanes and other large storms has risen as a result of climate change.

But basic observations and meteorological science do not support their claims.

Meteorologist Dr. Roy Spencer, a principal research scientist at the University of Alabama in Huntsville and an expert on tropical cyclones, explains:

[M]ajor hurricanes don’t really care whether the Gulf [of Mexico] is above average or below average in temperature.

Similarly, in a research paper published in March 2017, M. Mohapatra and V. Vijay Kumar, both of the India Meteorological Department, state:

[T]here is a decreasing trend in the tropical cyclone number over the North Indian Ocean in recent years, though there is an increasing trend in the sea surface temperature.

That ocean temperature rise in the Gulf of Mexico will not increase hurricane frequency has been part of fundamental meteorology since the 1970s. America’s “hurricane guru,” the late Dr. Bill Gray — emeritus professor of atmospheric science at Colorado State University (CSU) and the head of the Tropical Meteorology Project at CSU’s Department of Atmospheric Sciences — showed in peer-reviewed research that the seasonal hurricane frequency is determined by six climatological factors:

1. The rotational tendency, or vorticity, already present in the atmosphere. Low vorticity lessens the likelihood of a hurricane forming.

2. Pressure gradients determined by latitude. Low pressure gradients lessen the likelihood of a hurricane forming. Within 4 to 5 degrees of the equator, pressure gradients are too weak for hurricanes to form.

3. Wind shear, the changes in wind speed and direction that occur between layers in the atmosphere. Low wind shear allows the whole system in a growing hurricane, from sea level up to around 15,000 meters, to turn together. This helps to keep the storm intact and strengthening. High wind shear essentially cuts the top off a cyclone before it can become a hurricane.

4. Ocean thermal energy as indicated by temperatures to a depth of 60 meters. Temperatures in the Gulf and other hurricane formation regions are always above the critical value of 26.7 degrees Celsius necessary to spawn hurricanes at this time of year. Therefore, like trying to put more water into a full bucket, higher ocean temperatures have relatively little effect on the frequency or intensity of hurricanes.

5. The rate of change of temperature with altitude. High rates of change encourage hurricane formation.

6. Relative humidity in the mid-troposphere, a layer centered at about 5 km above the surface.

Of these six factors, only wind shear has been exceptional this year in the Gulf of Mexico.

It was very low wind shear, not temperature, vorticity, humidity, or anything else, that is therefore the main cause of the high activity in this year’s hurricane season. And wind shear is a natural phenomenon that varies across the globe and is determined by a host of meteorological factors, none of which are under human control.

The global warming/hurricane connection completely falls apart when one looks at the observational data.

For example, during the 1945-1977 cooling period, when ocean temperatures worldwide were undoubtedly lower than today, we witnessed stronger hurricanes than now. Hurricane Camille, the second-most intense tropical cyclone to strike the U.S. on record, slammed into Mississippi as a category 5 (the strongest) hurricane on August 18, 1969, producing a storm surge of 7.3 meters. Hurricane Flora struck in September 1963, killing over 6,000 people. This was the highest number of fatalities for a tropical cyclone in the Atlantic Basin since the 1900 Galveston Hurricane, which may have claimed as many as 12,000 lives.

The strongest tropical cyclone on record worldwide was not recent, either. It was the 2,200 km-wide “Super Typhoon” Tip which made landfall in southern Japan on October 19, 1979, immediately following the global cooling period (by contrast, Irma was about 680 km in diameter; Harvey about 400 km).

The biggest storm surges worldwide were 14.5 meters in Australia in 1899 and 13.6 meters in Bangladesh in 1876. During the warmer 21st century, no tropical cyclone was strong enough to generate a surge greater than 10 meters.

The fact that hurricanes and other tropical cyclones are not caused by — or even significantly enhanced by — man does not give us an excuse to do nothing about them, however. CONTINUE AT SITE

The Bells of Barcelona Toll for Europe By David P. Goldman

President Trump got bad advice about the secession crisis in Catalonia. When Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy visited the White House last week, he said that Spain’s northeastern region would be “foolish to secede.” On the contrary, the gutsy Catalans are the world’s poster-boy for populism. Their independence movement is a real revolution. America shouldn’t meddle in Spain’s internal affairs, to be sure, but we ought to recognize a kindred political movement when we see it. Ultimately, the Catalan independence movement is a response to Europe’s demographic cataclysm.

Here’s what I wrote in Asia Times today:

Political analysts are blinking in disbelief at yesterday’s events in Catalonia, trying to recognize the political phenomenon that took the world by surprise over the weekend. For the first time since the end of the Second World War, a revolutionary movement has asserted its power over an important European region. The conduct of the Catalan independence referendum was a thoroughly organized insurgency involving the whole of civil society, from the region’s Catholic Church to the organs of public safety. Unlike the failed independence movements of Quebec or Scotland, it was not a top-down affair promoted by a small political elite with the sentimental support of a popular minority. Unlike Italy’s Lega Lombarda, it was not a regional lobby fighting for more control of tax revenues. Catalan’s independence movement is the genuine article.

Never in postwar European history have tens of thousands of citizens collaborated in a campaign of civil disobedience so well planned that it successfully countered the mass deployment of national police and the paramilitary Civil Guard, and with sufficient grit to take nearly 1,000 injuries requiring medical treatment. The Catalans kept more than 2,000 voting stations open and saved their ballots from seizure, allowing more than 2.4 million of the region’s 7 million residents to vote. Ninety percent of them supported the establishment of an independent Catalan republic.

To frustrate the Madrid government’s attempt to suppress the referendum, the independence movement coordinated the occupation of hundreds of polling stations by ordinary citizens, including families with children. It persuaded the regional police, the Mossos d’Esquadra, to stand off the Civil Guard and National Police, as in this video published by the Catholic-Monarchist newspaper ABC:

It organized the fire brigades of Catalan towns to form human shields between the polling stations and the Civil Guard. It established mechanisms to hide the ballot-boxes from the national police and transport them to a secret site for counting. Where the national police forces broke through, ordinary citizens defended the vote with their bodies, resulting in nearly 1,000 injuries, against roughly a dozen injuries for police, in a display of determined but non-violent resistance.

The Catalans did so with the explicit support of their Church, 400 of whose clerics signed an independence manifesto last week, including some bishops. Unlike the anti-clerical left-wing movements of the past, the Catalan revolutionaries evinced thoroughly bourgeois goals. As a revolutionary movement, the Catalans better resemble the Americans of 1776 than the French of 1789, the Russians of 1917, or the Catalan revolutionary government of the late 1930s that ultimately was crushed by Francisco Franco. They are tired of subsidizing the backward money-sinks of Spain’s southern provinces; they are hard-working and productive, and want to separate from the economically irreparable parts of Spain.
In retrospect, the panic on the part of Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy is easier to understand. Universally condemned for overreacting to the Catalan independence movement, Rajoy had few choices. He knew that he was dealing not with a few grandstanding politicians but with a movement that reached into the capillaries of civil society. If he failed to kill it in its cradle, he would not have another opportunity to stop it. Thanks to the thorough organization and grit of ordinary citizens, Rajoy failed miserably. His statement yesterday that “there was no referendum” rings hollow. It recalls the famous deathbed statement of the mid-19 th-century Spanish prime minister, the Duke of Valencia; asked if he wanted to forgive his enemies, he said, “I have no enemies. I killed them all.”

Vegas Gunman’s Girlfriend Back in U.S.; Sheriff Predicts ‘Substantial Info’ Soon By Bridget Johnson

The live-in girlfriend of the Las Vegas shooter has landed in Los Angeles hours after the sheriff said that among the questions investigators are probing is “did this person get radicalized unbeknownst to us, and we want to identify that source.”

At an afternoon press conference, Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department Sheriff Joe Lombardo said of Stephen Paddock’s companion Marilou Danley, “Investigation with her is ongoing and we anticipate some information from her here shortly.”

He confirmed that she was in the Philippines. According to ABS-CBN News there, Danley flew from Manila to Hong Kong on Sept. 22, then returned to Manila on Sept. 25. There was no information on when, and from where, she had originally gone to Manila. Paddock reportedly wired $100,000 to an account in the Philippines last week.

“Currently, she is a person of interest,” Lombardo said. She was later met at the airport by FBI agents.

Lombardo said the department was making “progress” on a motive though he didn’t have any answers yet. “I anticipate a substantial amount of information to come in in the next 48 hours,” he said.

The sheriff said an internal investigation has been launched into the leaking of photos from Paddock’s hotel room, showing an arsenal of weapons, stacks of magazines and part of the shooter’s body, that were published in the Daily Mail.

Paddock fired at a “progressive, successive rate” for 9 minutes. The pattern of gunfire was wide, he said, striking some victims outside of the concert grounds.

The shooter had placed cameras outside and inside of the room; Lombardo said the FBI was evaluating all electronic equipment seized, but he was “not aware” of any transmission of video as Paddock conducted the mass shooting. One camera was on a hallway cart holding the dishes from room service that the gunman had earlier ordered.

The sheriff wouldn’t comment on a report that Paddock may have intended to target another, larger music festival, possibly renting several condo units overlooking the three-day Life is Beautiful pop-rap festival held Sept. 22-24.

ISIS persisted in its full-court press effort to claim responsibility for the attack, with its Amaq news agency, official Nashir channel and affiliated al-Batar Media Foundation all insisting Paddock acted on behalf of the terror group.

At a later news conference, Special Agent in Charge Jill Snider of ATF’s San Francisco Field Division said 47 firearms have been recovered from the hotel room and Paddock’s residences in Verdi and Mesquite, Nev.

“They were purchased in Nevada, Utah, California, and Texas. The gunman purchased rifles, shotguns and pistols. At this time, none of the guns recovered appear to be homemade. There were 12 bump fire stocks identified on the firearms in the hotel room,” she said. “…It is still being determined which firearms were used in the shooting. All of the firearms have been traced. We are still awaiting results from some of the firearms that were located at the Mesquite residence.”

The death toll was adjusted from 59 down to 58, not counting the shooter who died at his own hand. CONTINUE AT SITE


As often in America, it was met with a great deal of heroism by ordinary men and women rising to the occasion: There was, for example, an Englishwoman in a wheelchair who’d been seated on a raised platform so she could get a better view of the concert. If it were every man for himself, it would have been easy to leave her there, trapped on the dais, exposed to the gunman. Instead, as everyone fled, those around her nevertheless carried her to safety and raised her wheelchair over the fence they scrambled over. There were many stories like that throughout the day, far outweighing the grotesque Tweets glorying in the slaughter of presumed Trump voters. Twitter is an idiotic medium, but not, happily, a representative one.

I had thought by last night we would know more about Stephen Craig Paddock. By now the usual social-media non-paper trail and petty-crime police records and mental-health issues have emerged. Instead, nothing has – except some bizarrely distinctive details: He wasn’t a loner, but lived with his girlfriend – an Australian citizen currently in Japan, but planning to return to the US today. He was not the usual loser, but a multi-millionaire. He had no apparent interest in guns and no military training, but he demonstrated remarkably lethal proficiency, either with semi-automatics he modified or with a genuine automatic he somehow acquired, a weapon that has been used in precisely three crimes in America since 1934. He didn’t “snap”, but instead calmly planned his act, identifying and securing the perfect corner suite in a massive hotel and then discreetly moving in dozens of weapons over four days and constructing platforms in front of those two windows.

Some of these quirks do not appear to be particularly consistent, and the Aussie in the adjoining room, for one, says there were “multiple shooters” and “they killed a security guard on my floor”. On the face of it, “multiple shooters” would seem more plausible than Isis’ claim that Mr Paddock had converted to Islam and changed his name to “Abu Abd Abdulbar al-Ameriki”. But, pending any further revelations, it may well be that a wealthy retiree with no interest in guns got sufficiently interested sufficiently quickly to pull off America’s all-time deadliest single-shooter massacre: An old dog taught himself a new trick, on a spectacular scale.

As I said on stage at the Guthrie Theatre, I had intended to talk about other matters – about the weekend’s latest “vehicle attack” in Edmonton, Alberta, by a Somali immigrant (with an Isis flag on the seat of his car), who stabbed one policeman and ran over four people at Commonwealth Stadium; and about the two young women fatally stabbed (one with her throat slit) at the main rail station in Marseilles, by an illegal immigrant from the Maghreb; and the seventeen-year-old from the northern Caucasus who’s just gone on trial in Oslo after being found with a bomb the day after the Stockholm jihad-motorist struck. But all these events, by fiercely committed ideologues in multiple jurisdictions in service of a global civilizational struggle, were all but forgotten, banished to the in-brief sidebars at the foot of page 37 by one apparently non-ideological American retiree who, unlike the aforementioned, was extremely good at killing large numbers of people.

I confess to a certain resentment at this. I regard the Albertan, French and Norwegian stories as far more relevant to where our world is heading. It is not a small thing when a young Frenchwoman can have her throat slit in broad daylight at a major public venue in a European metropolis, notwithstanding that the Mayor of London and others tell us we have to accept that it’s now part and parcel of life in a big city. Yet in a certain sense these events are ineffectual – as the corpse count of a Stephen Paddock reminds us. And every Stephen Paddock makes it easier for all those who want to brush off Islamic supremacism and retreat to all those lame-o lines about how you’ve got more chance of being killed by a toppling household appliance than by a terrorist, and anyway, even when the shooting starts, half-a-dozen Isis cells can’t match one white-male gun nut. Why didn’t the Somali guy, the North African, the Caucasian jihadist figure out what one 64-year-old from a Nevada retirement community did? That all over the map there are soft targets with large numbers of people penned into small, tight, open-air spaces – and right across the street tall hotels whose upper floors offer easy opportunities for a bloodbath.

We have been, for the most part, very lucky. The foot-soldiers of the jihad are mostly dimwit Mohammedans: they have youth and energy and ideological fervor, but they are also largely stupid and unimaginative. The old guys are less energetic, but also less stupid: if Isis were right and there really were Islamic Stephen Paddocks – 40-50-60-somethings, worldly and full of low cunning – things would be very different.

Consider this year’s two pop-concert atrocities: at Ariana Grande’s in Manchester, 23 people died – in the cause of the new global caliphate; at Jason Aldean’s in Vegas, 59 died – for no reason at all. It is a glum thought, but Paddock’s all-time record will likely not stand for long. America’s four deadliest single-shooter mass murders occurred in the last decade. Only one of them – the Orlando nightclub massacre – can be said to have a political or ideological component. The rest seem to be a peculiarly contemporary form of narcissism – that, when my life heads south, the only way to give it meaning is to take large numbers of people with me. There is no cause, no fealty, no “Allahu Akbar!” – because pointless slaughter is the supreme triumph of amoral will: Who needs Allah? You’re your own Allah. Unlike Manchester or Nice or Paris or Berlin or Brussels, there is no meaning: Indeed, the only meaning is the meaninglessness; that is the point – the black void at the heart of the act.

Israeli technology saving American lives and equipment By Russ Vaughn

One of the huge problems in fighting asymmetric wars such as America has been doing now for decades is that the advantage a major power has in expensive, sophisticated weaponry can be negated in seconds with an inexpensive, primitive weapon, with the rocket-propelled grenade being the classic example. RPGs have taken out everything from helicopters to heavy tanks. Now, according to Global Security.org, the Army is doing something about it by doing a test refitting its main battle tank, the M1A2 Abrams, with a new advanced Israeli defensive system.

The US military will be installing the Israeli-built Trophy Active Protection System (APS) meant to intercept and destroy incoming missiles or rockets on their M1A2 Abrams tanks. This will make the US military the only other besides the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) to use the defensive system.

The Trophy system consists of a quartet of radar antennae and fire-control radars that detects incoming projectiles, such as anti-tank guided missiles and rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs), and then destroys them with a blast like that from a shotgun.

It is a “hard kill” system, meaning it protects the vehicle by destroying the projectile; this is opposed to a “soft kill” system that interferes with the missile’s guidance and redirects it. Soft kill devices are useless against the simple RPGs popular with militant groups such as Daesh.

Jointly developed by two Israeli-owned state corporations, Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd. and Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), the Trophy is the only combat-proven APS in the world.

The Pentagon made this decision after an “urgent material” request, they said in a press release on Thursday. Each system costs an estimated $350,000, and it will be first deployed to one of the US Army’s 14 Armor Brigade Combat Team’s squadron of 28 M1A2 SEPv2 variants, a nearly $10 million contract. It may then be added to other squadrons later on if it impresses, the Pentagon said.

Anti-materiel weapons such as RPGs have been a perennial thorn in the side of the US military and its allies. A $2,000 RPG launcher firing a $500 grenade can destroy or disable a $9 million Abrams tank. Over the course of 2014, the Iraqi Army lost 100 of the 140 Abrams the Americans had sold them in the fight against Daesh.

That last paragraph explains exactly why this is a good economical move by the Army. Even a disabled tank can cost millions to retrieve from the battle area and return to a maintenance depot capable of making the necessary repairs, so just a few such “saves” can more than justify the cost of this program. Other active protection systems, like the Iron Curtain, are being used to protect other military vehicles. Let us hope more and better protection systems are in the works to protect these vehicles and their crews.