No, there have not been hundreds of "mass shootings" -- unless you redefine the term

Mother Jones's reporting on guns and violence is often inaccurate. Even here MJ editor Mark Follman repeats the invalid complaint that Congress has prevented the CDC from researching gun violence -- criminal violence is the domain of criminologists, not disease experts. (The problem is that criminologists keep saying gun prohibition laws don't prevent violence, and so prohibitionists try to misapply methods from other domains to get the answer they want.) But he is spot on in this analysis of the problematic redefinition of "mass shooting".

How Many Mass Shootings Are There, Really? (www.nytimes.com)

On Wednesday, a Washington Post article announced that “The San Bernardino shooting is the second mass shooting today and the 35Or that a late-night shooting on a street in Savannah, Ga., yesterday that injured three and killed one is in the same category as the madness that just played out in Southern California.5th this year.” Vox, MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, this newspaper and others reported similar statistics...[Y]ou could be forgiven for wondering how you missed more than 300 other such attacks in 2015.

At Mother Jones, where I work as an editor, we have compiled an in-depth, open-source database covering more than three decades of public mass shootings. By our measure, there have been four “mass shootings” this year, including the one in San Bernardino, and at least 73 such attacks since 1982.

What explains the vastly different count? The answer is that there is no official definition for “mass shooting.” Almost all of the gun crimes behind the much larger statistic are less lethal and bear little relevance to the type of public mass murder we have just witnessed again. Including them in the same breath suggests that a 1 a.m. gang fight in a Sacramento restaurant, in which two were killed and two injured, is the same kind of event as a deranged man walking into a community college classroom and massacring nine and injuring nine others....

While all the victims are important, conflating those many other crimes with indiscriminate slaughter in public venues obscures our understanding of this complicated and growing problem. Everyone is desperate to know why these attacks happen and how we might stop them — and we can’t know, unless we collect and focus on useful data that filter out the noise.

Islamophobia is letting the terrorists win

Naval Reserve officer and Naval War College instructor Haider Ali Hussein on how to deny victory to DAESH:

Don’t Make San Bernardino a Victory for ISIS (www.nytimes.com)

If we don’t want to play into the hands of Islamic State propaganda that America is at war with Islam, we must stand up against Islamophobia.

...
In the latest edition of the Islamic State magazine Dabiq, which glorifies the Paris attacks, a recruiter makes a telling pitch. He writes that a Muslim in the West is “a stranger amongst Christians and liberals … fornicators and sodomites … drunkards and druggies,” and must come to the Islamic State to avoid sleeping “every night with a knife or pistol … fearing an overnight or early morning raid on his home.”

The Islamic State wants every American Muslim to feel alienated. Its false utopia rests on the warped dream that the estimated three million American Muslims will believe they can no longer live, thrive and worship in peace in America. We must not let that happen, even while we remain vigilant about the few American Muslims who wish us harm.

Gun laws only disarm the disempowered

When you try to disarm the populace, you don't disarm the privileged; not only do they have state guns to call upon, they get themselves exempted from the prohibitions. (See, e.g., how Trump and Feinstein have CCW permits despite living in restrictive states.) And you don't disarm determined criminals; guns will never be harder to get than heroin is, and anyone with a couple of bucks and a willingness to break the law can get that.

You disarm those in need of protection, those who don't get police protection.

If you don't know about the key role guns played in the American struggle for civil rights, how black people engaged in justified armed self-defence against violent racists , you don't have an informed opinion about either gun rights or racial equality. You can fix that by reading Cobb's book.

And if you think that the need for citizens to have access to the means to resist violence -- either freelance violence or state violence -- ended with the 1960s, you're not well-acquainted with the world.

This nonviolent stuff’ll get you killed (Washington Post)

Armed self-defense (or, to use a term preferred by some, “armed resistance”) as part of black struggle began not in the 1960s with angry “militant” and “radical” young Afro-Americans, but in the earliest years of the United States as one of African people’s responses to oppression. This tradition, which culminates with the civil rights struggles and achievements of the mid-1960s, cannot be understood independently or outside its broader historical context. In every decade of the nation’s history, brave and determined black men and women picked up guns to defend themselves and their communities.

Mass murder and the original meaning of "running amok"

In the context of the recent uptick in public mass attacks in the U.S., it's interesting to consider the original meaning of "running amok". Violence is a cultural phenomenon with a spiritual dimension (by which I mean matters of transpersonal relationship, not anything supernatural), not a matter of the tools available to people.

Running amok - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (en.wikipedia.org)

Amok originated from the Malay/Indonesian word mengamuk, which when roughly defined means “to make a furious and desperate charge”. According to Malay/Indonesian culture, amok was rooted in a deep spiritual belief. They believed that amok was caused by the hantu belian, which was an evil tiger spirit that entered one’s body and caused the heinous act. As a result of the belief, those in Indonesian culture tolerated amok and dealt with the after-effects with no ill will towards the assailant.

Although commonly used in a colloquial and less-violent sense, the phrase is particularly associated with a specific sociopathic culture-bound syndrome in Malaysian culture. In a typical case of running amok, an individual (often male), having shown no previous sign of anger or any inclination to violence, will acquire a weapon (traditionally a sword or dagger, but presently any of a variety of weapons) and in a sudden frenzy, will attempt to kill or seriously injure anyone he encounters and himself. Amok typically takes place in a well populated or crowded area. Amok episodes of this kind normally end with the attacker being killed by bystanders or committing suicide, eliciting theories that amok may be a form of intentional suicide in cultures where suicide is heavily stigmatized. Those who do not commit suicide and are not killed typically lose consciousness, and upon regaining consciousness, claim amnesia.

An early Western description of the practice appears in the journals of Captain James Cook, a British explorer, who encountered amok firsthand in 1770 during a voyage around the world. Cook writes of individuals behaving in a reckless, violent manner, without cause and "indiscriminately killing and maiming villagers and animals in a frenzied attack."

Researchers have specific plans for 139 countries to go 100% renewable energy

It can be done. The question is not one of technology, it's one of political will.

139 Countries Could Get All of their Power from Renewable Sources (www.scientificamerican.com)

Mark Jacobson and Mark Delucchi have done it again. This time they’ve spelled out how 139 countries can each generate all the energy needed for homes, businesses, industry, transportation, agriculture—everything—from wind, solar and water power technologies, by 2050. Their national blueprints, released Nov. 18, follow similar plans they have published in the past few years to run each of the 50 U.S. states on renewables, as well as the entire world. (Have a look for yourself, at your country, using the interactive map below.)

The plans, which list exact numbers of wind turbines, solar farms, hydroelectric dams and such, have been heralded as transformational, and criticized as starry eyed or even nutty.

Determined, Jacobson will take his case to leaders of the 195 nations that will meet at the U.N. climate talks, known as COP 21, which begin in Paris on Nov. 29. His point to them: Although international agreements to reduce carbon dioxide emissions are worthwhile, they would not even be needed if countries switched wholesale to renewable energy...“The people there are just not aware of what’s possible,” says Jacobson, a civil and environmental engineering professor at Stanford University and director of the school’s Atmosphere and Energy Program....

Jacobson thinks the 139 national plans will get traction not only because they offer a path to lower emissions, but because in total, they would create 24 million construction jobs and 26.5 million operational jobs, all spanning 35 years, offsetting 28.4 million jobs lost in the fossil fuel industries. That would leave a net gain of about 22 million jobs. Going 100 percent renewable would also prevent 3.3 to 4.6 million premature deaths a year through 2050 that would have happened because of air pollution from those fossil fuels. “These numbers are what gets people’s attention,” Jacobson says.

Former DAESH captive Nicolas Henin tells how to defeat them

The man who was held captive by Isis for 10 months says how they can be defeated (The Independent)

A French journalist who was held hostage by Isis for 10 months has spoken out against air strikes in Syria, saying they represent “a trap” for Britain and other members of the international community.

...

Mr Henin has previously spoken about how he was held for seven months in Syria itself, and how British national Mohammed Emwazi – known as Jihadi John – was among the jailors who subjected him to physical and psychological torture.

"Strikes on Isis are a trap,” he said.

“The winner of this war will not be the party that has the newest, the most expensive or the most sophisticated weaponry, but the party that manages to win over the people on its side.”

...

Coalition bombing was not hurting the militants, Mr Henin said in the interview before British MPs voted in favour of RAF strikes in Syria, but rather “pushing people into the hands of Isis”.

All Your Kids' Data Are Belong To Google

When your kids' school district mandates "cloud computing", they're mandating that your kids be tracked by a company that profits by exploiting people's data.

Roseville City School District Embraces Chromebooks, But At What Cost? (Electronic Frontier Foundation)

Many people—including Jeff—assumed that the law would prevent Google from collecting data on his daughter for advertising purposes. But the truth is more complicated. While Google is legally forbidden from creating a profile on Katherine when she’s using the school-sanctioned Google Apps for Education tools (which include email and document sharing), it can collect data as soon as she uses other Google services that aren’t part of the student-specific suite—including YouTube.

background on the Freddie Gray trials

What Weekly reminds us what's going on, with a report from Justin Sanders:

Why You Need to Stay Informed About the Freddie Gray Trials – |... (What Weekly)

Baltimore is like every other city in America: its criminal justice system is a corrupt machine used against the people.

That might be distasteful to read, but it’s true.

I can offer you statistics and numbers to prove it to you. I can point you to court cases which state, unequivocally, that the police are under no legal obligation to protect you, thus raising the question: if the police are not for our protection, then what exactly are they for?

...

At the sound of Gray’s name some people in this city cross themselves and pray, “I hope they don’t riot again.” I always wonder why their prayers never go, “I hope the police don’t kill any more people,” or “I hope this is the last time we have to try our police officers for brutality and corruption.” But, it’s always, “I hope they don’t riot again,” which is an infuriating notion—first in how it assumes my community is stalking an opportunity to burn another CVS and break some more windows; second in how it completely absolves the police of any responsibility.

I’m talking with the guys in my barbershop and there’s a theory I hear, it’s one that’s been repeated to me many times while talking to people on the street. The theory goes that Freddie Gray was killed by the cops as a hit because the cops are connected to the drug trade in Baltimore and Gray either saw something or did something—what exactly varies depending on who’s doing the telling—and the cops put out a hit on him to protect their interests. That’s why his back was broken and his larynx crushed, to send a message. This is not a theory I subscribe to, but I do think that the theory is telling of how my community views the police. We don’t view cops as there for our protection. We don’t put it beyond them to murder us in service to their own interests. We know, for a fact, that they allow and profit from the drug deals many of us do just to maintain poverty.

Robber said Freemasons made him do it. Will no one bail out the widow's son?

It's an Illuminati plot, that's what it is.

Christian author claims Freemasons made him rob Hoover movie theater (AL.com)

A Christian author who writes about New World Order and spiritual enlightenment seemingly took a dark turn when he donned a mask and robbed a Hoover movie theater at gunpoint in broad daylight, police said today.

...Hoover police today announced a first-degree robbery charge against 33-year-old Britton Clayton Traylor, who drove to the theater in his Porsche 911 Carerra and claimed he committed the brazen crime as part of his initiation to earn a higher degree as a Freemason.

"We're not really buying that as we've never heard of Masons instructing members to commit criminal acts,'' said Hoover police spokesman Capt. Gregg Rector. "It's really one of the most ridiculous excuses that we've heard lately. He may have achieved a higher level of stupidity, but that's about it."

Fly on, Thunderbird: Mozilla dropping/freeing the e-mail client

Cory Doctorow reports on Mozilla dropping/freeing/spitting off the Thunderbird e-mail client and explains why you should use a stand-alone mail client rather than webmail. (I use Sylpheed, myself, for its support of MH-style folders, I like my mail in a directory tree I can run find and grep over.)

Mozilla will let go of Thunderbird (Boing Boing)

Thunderbird -- which I use for my own email -- is creaky and poorly maintained, something that is tacitly admitted by Mozilla Foundation CEO Mitchell Baker in her memo, where she describes how trying to balance the needs of Thunderbird and those of Firefox often puts the two teams at cross-purposes. Baker doesn't describe exactly how Thunderbird will stand on its own, but I've heard reliable internal rumors that a new nonprofit entity is likely to be stood up to maintain and advance the project.

I live in my email (I hate instant messaging, and relying on platforms like Google or Facebook to maintain your messages is a terrible idea, since both are liable to squeeze their users if it is commercially expedient to do so). As a hardcore Thunderbird user, I'm glad to see something happening with the project. I would contribute to a nonprofit for maintenance and advancement of Thunderbird, and I'm sure I'm not the only one.

There are many good reasons to use standalone email clients, but for Americans one of the most compelling is the absurdly outdated Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986, which treats any file left on a server for more than six months as "abandoned" and accessible to law enforcement without a warrant (no, really!).

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