Matters of Facts, and Opinions: guns, climate and a ferry tale

Far more people die horribly in the world’s benighted places than die by guns in the United States, and yet American gun violence hogs global attention. The reason is simple: the American dream was once the world’s dream of a good life. That’s at least the PR spin: America the great, a beacon of justice and ‘freedom,’ the City on the Hill, self-styled leader of the free world.

Superpower America affects everyone and everything, psychologically and physically. And when the American dream turns to a nightmare, everybody awakes in a cold sweat.

This month Syria suffers, India and England flood, and the world’s fate may hang on a climate summit in terrorized Paris. But it’s the gun violence in the U.S. that obsesses us, from its garden-variety slaughters — like a seven-year-old girl shot dead Dec. 3 by a mentally deranged man — to recent mass killings at an abortion clinic and a Christmas party.

It's up to Americans to protect America. We're just your ordinary American family.-With love & liberty, Michele

“It’s up to Americans to protect America. We’re just your ordinary American family.-With love & liberty, Michele” — the Christmas greeting by Nevada Republican politician Michele Fiore, via Fiore’s Facebook page.

American’s gun fetish is a freak show, perfectly illustrated this week by a Republican politician’s Christmas card, right. And so for our first few items this week F&O provides context:

No safe place left in America — NRA to blame, by Tom Regan, F&O Summoning Orenda column

There are no safe places left in the U.S. Blame the National Rifle Association, gun manufacturers, and unthinking media.

America’s gun cult, Switzerland’s firearms culture, by Jonathan Manthorpe, F&O International Affairs column (archived)

The results of gun violence in the U.S. are in the same order of magnitude as the fruits of terrorism in the entire world.  The Swiss also have firearms readily available, but they do not massacre each other at nearly the same rate as the Americans.

Misunderstanding U.S. Gun Violence by Counting Mass Shootings, by Lois Beckett, ProPublica

Counting mass shootings obscures the broader reality of gun violence in America.

Recommended elsewhere:

A Few Words About ‘Prayer-Shaming,’ by Charles P. Pierce, Esquire, Dec. 4 2015. “If it helps break the stranglehold of the religious right—and the various charlatans and fools that cater to them—on our politics, it will be worth it.
Gun Industry Executives Say Mass Shootings Are Good for Business, the Intercept. “The fear of losing gun rights leads to panic buying, which brings greater profits to gun retailers, gun companies and their investors.”

Moving on:

Visitors and ecological stands are reflected on a giant ball suspended from the roof of the Grand Palais during the Solutions COP21 in Paris, France, December 4, 2015 as the World Climate Change Conference 2015 (COP21) continues at Le Bourget near the French capital. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

Visitors and ecological stands are reflected on a giant ball suspended from the roof of the Grand Palais during the Solutions COP21 in Paris, France, December 4, 2015 as the World Climate Change Conference 2015 (COP21) continues at Le Bourget near the French capital. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

Paris climate talks enter tough new phase. By David Stanway and Richard Valdmanis, Dec., 2015

Global climate change talks in Paris moved into a new, tougher phase as negotiators agreed on a draft accord, albeit one that still leaves hundreds of points of dispute for ministers to resolve.

*Check our Contents page for our coverage of the climate summit as stories roll out.

Fair Maidens, Dragons and Golden Mountains, by Jim McNiven, F&O Thoughtlines column

The future may contain two ‘dragons:’ the known one of inflation and the one known in theory but unknown in combat, that of deflation.

The Sydney ferry Golden Grove (R) moves between the Sydney Opera House and new P&O Cruises ship Pacific Aria in Sydney, Australia, November 25, 2015. Sydney's ferry system has been its lifeblood since the mid 1800s, transporting more than 15 million individual passenger journeys each year, according to the Bureau of Transport Statistics. From fast-food employees to finance industry executives, more than 40,000 trips are taken every day. Picture taken November 25, 2015. REUTERS/Jason Reed

REUTERS/Jason Reed

The most beautiful commute: a ferry tale. Photo-essay by Jason Reed

On the ferries that crisscross Sydney’s harbour, passengers sit inside hunched over their smartphones, often ignoring the gorgeous scenery afforded by what some describe as the world’s most beautiful commute.

In F&O Arts:

What Frankenstein and Krampus tell us. By Natalie Lawrence

Two new monster movies are being released in the lead-up to Christmas: the man-made creation of Victor Frankenstein, and Krampus, the evil counterpart to Father Christmas. The etymology of monstrosity suggests the complex roles that monsters play within society. “Monster” probably derives from the Latin, monstrare, meaning “to demonstrate”, and monere, “to warn”.

Last but not least, a Finding elsewhere:

European Satellites: How Islamic State Takes Its Terror To the Web, By Nicolai Kwasniewski, Der Spiegel

Islamic State is a master at using the Internet to spread propaganda. SPIEGEL ONLINE research indicates European companies may be providing the terrorist organization Internet access by satellite dish. … But how is it able to do so given that the group operates in a region where telecommunications infrastructure has been largely destroyed? The answer to this question is an extremely problematic one for Europe, for it is European companies that provide the terrorists with access to the platforms…

 

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This entry was posted in Current Affairs, Gyroscope.

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