Olympic Games Have Gotten Outrageously Expensive For Host Cities

   For many people, the Olympics is an amazing, magical time. Athletes all over the world train, sacrifice, and push themselves to their limits and beyond as they strive for a chance at Olympic Glory. But it goes beyond sports when you think about it, for nations, including those that are literally at war with each other, gather together for peaceful competition. It’s one of the few times where the world has some form of unity.
   But these days, a major problem is how exorbitantly expensive hosting Olympic Games has become. In Ancient Greece, city-states would send contingents of athletes to compete in the Games every 4 years at a permanent site in the southern part of the country, Olympia. Only men were allowed to compete, and there were also religious celebrations in addition to the athletic competitions. Artists were present looking for patrons and perhaps trying to sell some of their work as well as politicians on site trying to expand their influence. But it stayed peaceful, which was a significant accomplishment considering that the Ancient Greek city-states were often at odds with each other, and open warfare was not uncommon.
   Obviously, much has changed with regards to the Olympics. Thankfully, competition is not restricted to just men now, and the variety of events has vastly expanded. Also, modern Olympics include nations from all around the world as opposed to just the Greek world. Another major change is how the Olympics are held in different cities instead of being in one permanent location as was the case in the Ancient World.
   Having different cities host the Olympics is in many ways a noble idea. It helps uphold the concept that the Olympics are truly international and don’t belong to any one country or place. And while this lofty ideal has its merits, there are serious problems with it as well, one of which being the extreme cost that hosting the Olympics has become. Each time a new city is going to host the Olympics, that place has to build and expand infrastructure in order to meet demands of the Games and International Olympic Committee. This is no small feat considering how vast the Olympic Games have become in terms of numbers of athletes, supporting staffs, the variety of different events (some of which require very specialized facilities), and the growing need for increased security (both physical and cyber). The result is that host cities have to spend billions of dollars and frequently go into massive debt which can take them years, if not decades, to pay off.
   Here are some examples of the costs. According to Forbes.com, the 2016 Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro cost approximately 13.7 billion dollars. The Sochi Winter Games of 2014 cost around 21.9 billion dollars, and the 2012 London Summer Games cost approximately 15 billion dollars. That is vastly expensive for something that will last only a few weeks. Another problem is how some of the facilities that have to be constructed are very specialized and often don’t have any use after the Games are over. There are numerous cases where such sites have literally just been abandoned, or more money needs to be spent revamping them or knocking them down to build something else that would be of use to the community. The result is that fewer cities are interested in hosting modern Olympic Games, and this is especially being seen amongst democratic countries. Fewer cities are competing to become future hosts, and what is likely to occur is that as time goes by, more and more of the host cities are going to be in countries that are run by dictatorships because dictators are less likely to worry about the financial costs. They tend to be more interested in using the Games as a way to try to expand their power and influence over their own people as well as other countries.
   So my thinking is that maybe it’s time to find permanent locations for the Summer and Winter Olympic Games. There could be one permanent site for each or one location that would host both. Countries around the world could contribute financially to building and maintaining the site so that the host doesn’t incur crippling debt. In terms of choosing such a location(s), I would recommend finding a place that is a stable democracy and is also neutral in terms of international affairs. Perhaps Switzerland or somewhere similar. This way, the spirit of the Olympic Games would live on and the financial burden would be lessened. The costs that would occur could be spread throughout the world instead of individual cities having to go into massive debt, debts that can easily take decades to get out of.
   Now, I realize that making this idea a reality would not be easy. There would be fights over where the permanent site(s) should be and battles over who pays what. But if it could be pulled off, I do think it could solve a lot of problems and help the Olympic Games thrive well into the future.
  

https://www.usatoday.com/picture-gallery/sports/olympics/2021/07/22/abandoned-olympic-venues-around-world/8063114002/

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.nbcchicago.com/news/sports/tokyo-summer-olympics/images-show-abandoned-olympic-venues-around-the-world/2563311/%3famp

The Republican Party Has Gone Dangerously Off The Rails

7-20-21
   It’s really scary how off the rails so much of the Republican Party has become.
   Think about it. Really think about what’s going on.
   The Republican party in many ways is now controlled by one person, Donald Trump. That in itself undermines democracy and what democracy is supposed to be about. What makes it even worse in this case is how twisted, disturbed, and authoritarian Trump’s outrageous behavior is. He lies on a colossal scale which is made even more dangerous by the way his blind followers go right along with with these lies without question. They let him get away with it, which in turn encourages his terrible behavior even more.
   Let’s look at one example: the 2020 election. This election was free and fair. There was no widespread fraud. Every single state, including those run by Republican officials, certified the election because it was free and fair. International observers from multiple countries were present monitoring the election, and they stated the election was free and fair. There were Republican, Democrat, and Independent observers in all the ballot counting rooms in every state. Add to all this the fact that Trump and his people went to court over 60 times trying to push their outrageous false claims of widespread fraud and lost. And many of the judges who ruled against Trump had been appointed by Republicans themselves. The reason Trump and his people lost over 60 court cases in connection to the election is because they have no case. They have no evidence that would stand up in a court of law. It is very clear that Trump lost the election fair and square. But Trump doesn’t like to lose and wants power, so he has continued making his false, dangerous claims about the election even though they are flat out lies. And despite the fact that his claims are totally false, his followers blindly go along with them spreading these dangerous falsehoods.  And we all saw how on January 6th, all these false claims about the election led to a mob of extremist Trump supporters assaulting United States Capitol Building in an attempt to stop Congress from certifying this free and fair election. And yet despite all this, Trump and his supporters continue pushing their dangerous, undemocratic false claims about the election.
   This brings us to Republicans in elected positions, the majority of whom are bowing to Trump’s authoritarian leadership over the party. Some of these officials are blind followers of Trump themselves while others secretly may not like Trump but continue to bow to him because they are afraid of losing future primary elections. In other words, this latter group is putting their own desire for political power over American democracy. In Washington DC, only a few Congressional Republicans are willing to speak out against Trump.
   This state of affairs is quite scary and truly is dangerous to our democracy. We need to be aware of what is happening and stand up for our democratic values and speak out against authoritarianism in all its forms. We need to put pressure on more Republicans to break away from Trump’s extremist, undemocratic authoritarianism. And in future elections, we need to vote in people who stand for true democracy. Considering how much of the Republican Party is currently under the sway of Trump, in the next few elections, we need to vote in Democrats as much as possible in order to ensure our democracy endures. And I say this as an Independent (I’m not a Democrat). Right now, with so much of the Republican Party following an authoritarian leader, which is what Trump is, the Republican Party cannot be trusted with majority control over the government.

What Happened to Civil Debate, Open-mindedness, the Ability to Compromise, and Getting Things Done in US Politics?

7-9-21
   You know what, democracy can be messy. It sure can. When you look at history, there are plenty of examples of that. A democracy is made up of plethora of different people and viewpoints so that everyone’s not going to agree on everything. There will be disagreements. Political parties push their agendas and vie for more power. At times, arguments can get passionate and quite heated. Again, if you look at the past, there are plenty of examples. The problem these days is that divisions and severe partisanship have gotten dangerously extreme.
   If you look back at the 1980s and 1990s in Washington DC politics, sure, there were plenty of disagreements and battles in Congress. But there was also compromise and bipartisanship as well. Republicans and Democrats in Congress could sit down and hash out compromises to get things done. Senator Ted Kennedy for example was very liberal and quite passionate about his views, yet he could also sit down with Republicans and hammer out a deal to get legislation passed. While neither side got everything they wanted, in the end, they would get legislation passed for the good of the American people. Sure, it wasn’t perfect. But they were able to get things done much better than today.
   Even before Donald Trump took office, political divisions were getting pretty severe, and then when Trump took office, they got much worse since he made a point to encourage and exacerbate divisiveness. We’re seeing political extremes who don’t want to compromise, and while both parties have been guilty of this lately, the Republicans have gotten much worse about it. A disturbing example of this is the statement by Texas Republican Chip Roy when he said that he would “oppose almost everything that Congress does.” He clearly means that he intends to try to stop any significant legislation that is proposed by the Democratic majority in large part to try to increase the chances of Republicans gaining seats in the 2022 midterm elections. And Roy is not the only one guilty of this. Mitch McConnell for some years now has been going out of his way to obstruct and stop legislation proposed by Democrats in his obsession to try to gain and hold a Republican majority in the Senate. Since he is the Republican leader in the Senate, he is essentially trying to gain and hold as much power as he can in that chamber.
   It seems that too many people in Congress are showing more loyalty to their party than to the United States Constitution and the American people as a whole. And in the Republicans’ case, too many are bowing to the authoritarian style whims and demands of Donald Trump as well. This goes against what Democracy is supposed to be about.
   I’m not one of those people that glorifies the old days so to speak. While I think history is fascinating, it is important to be honest about the past and try to understand the good, the bad and the in-between. But one thing I will say is that we need to regain the ability to talk to one another, to listen to one another, to be open minded, to compromise, and to get things done. Both Democrats and Republicans need to do better in this regard. Furthermore, in the Republican Party’s case, they need to separate themselves from Donald Trump and his dangerously authoritarian tendencies and lies. Democracy frequently requires compromise because of the diversity of society. Everyone needs to remember that it’s more important to stand up for the United States Constitution, the American people, and Democracy than be blindly loyal and follow a particular political party or individual. Too many people these days are essentially being more loyal to their political party (and in many Republicans’ case, to Donald Trump) than to the United States Constitution. This trend is not only disturbing, it’s dangerous because history is full of examples of things like this and how they can lead to authoritarianism and dictatorship.
  

Majority of DC Republicans Continue Opposing a Congressional Investigation of the Jan 6th Events

7-1-21
   Well, the dangerous dark path that the Republican Party is going down appears to be continuing which is frankly scary for our democracy.
   Now let’s get one thing perfectly clear here: the 2020 election was free and fair. Donald Trump lost. There was no widespread fraud. Every single state, including those run by Republicans, certified the election because it was fair. They were Republican, Democrat, and Independent observers in all the ballot counting rooms. They were international observers from multiple countries monitoring the election as well. The FBI and even William Barr, Donald Trump’s Attorney General during that time, found no evidence of widespread fraud. Add to that how the Trump campaign lost over 60 court cases where they were making their baseless claims about the election, and it is abundantly clear that the election was free and fair.
   Yet Donald Trump and numerous other Republicans spread false allegations and flat out lies about the 2020 election. And we all saw, along with the entire world, how extremist Trump supporters stormed the United States Capitol Building on January 6th in an effort to try to stop Congress from certifying the election. The events that day were horrendous, cost human lives, and went against the very essence of our democratic values.
   It is clear that the United States Congress must investigate what happened on January 6th in order to understand what occurred, how it occurred, and why it occurred so that hopefully it will never happen again. A bipartisan 9/11 style Commission is clearly the preference, but Republicans disgracefully killed that idea. As a result, Speaker the House Nancy Pelosi was left with the options of doing nothing or putting together a select committee. She has decided to do the latter, and of course the Republicans are attacking this. They had their chance of a bipartisan Commission which is what most Americans wanted, but it is the Republicans who killed that possibility. So it is beyond hypocritical for them to attack the select committee. The select committee is better than nothing at all.
   The fact that the majority of Republicans in Congress continue to oppose investigating January 6th reveals how dark and dangerous a path the Republican Party is venturing down. In the history of this nation, we have never seen anything like what happened on January 6th. If you’d told people hypothetically 20 or 30 years ago that Americans might storm the US Capitol Building to try to prevent an election from being certified, the vast majority wouldn’t believe you. And if you then added that a political party would oppose Congress’s investigating the event, people would be dumbfounded in shock. Yet here we are. The majority of the Republican Party in DC is opposing any real Congressional investigation into one of the most important events in modern history. Only a handful of Republicans in Congress have shown any courage in wanting to get the bottom of the January 6th events. Republican Representative Liz Cheney is one of those few and has agreed to be a part of the select committee. While I may disagree with her on many policy issues, I have great respect for her courage in joining the committee. It’s sad and dangerous that so many other Republicans won’t show her bravery too. Instead, they seem to either actively support the terrible lies being spread by Trump and others or they choose to stay silent. But the thing is, there are times when partisan politics should be laid aside and doing what’s best for the country should take precedence. This is one of those times, and Liz Cheney is one of the few Republicans who is rising to the occasion. The vast majority of others are not. Instead, they are going along with Trump’s authoritarian tendencies and lies about the election.
   These are disturbingly scary times indeed.
   It reminds us how fragile democracy is and how we must stay vigilant and defend it because those who may try to undermine it, or even destroy it, can come from the outside or from within.
   In this case, they have come from within.

The Threat Of Cyber Attacks Is Greater Than Ever

6-22-21
   The threat of cyber attacks is greater than ever these days as the hacking of the Colonial Pipeline and resulting chaos exemplifies. And the thing is: it could have been so much worse than it was.
   So much worse.
   Technology is amazing. It is! It makes our lives so much easier and allows humanity to accomplish achievements never before seen in the history of our species. Think about it. There are multiple probes and rovers operating on Mars right now, including the first helicopter flown on another world. We can video chat with people on the other side of our planet and watch movies on our smartphones.
   Computerization is also integral in the infrastructure of modern life. The power grid, water systems, air traffic control, the internet, financial institutions, the healthcare system, and national defense are just a few examples in which technology and computers are absolutely vital for safe and proper operations.
   Now imagine the potential devastating impacts that could occur from a severe enough cyber attack on any of these systems.
   Think about it for a minute
   Imagine hackers shutting down air traffic control operations at a major international airport, or even region of the country. Consider what that could entail. Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport saw an average of 300,000 people passing through every day in 2018. At the very least, you’d have the chaos of massive flight cancellations and interruptions of people’s travels, and at the worst, you could have horrible plane crashes with terrible loss of life.
   Another frightening possibility would be hackers taking control of a major hydroelectric dam’s computer systems so that they could shut down its power generation and worse, potentially create a devastating flood that could kill hundreds if not thousands of innocent people living downstream.
   Or consider this terrifying scenario: what if hackers seized the computer controls of a nuclear power plant.
   Cyber attacks are perpetrated by individuals, criminal organizations, terror groups, and other countries. The damage they can incur is downright scary.
   We as a society need to take this threat much more seriously than many have been so far. Improving cyber security is no easy matter especially when you consider that different people, companies, organizations, and governments vary as to how seriously they take it and what measures they may be implementing to protect themselves. And being a democracy, there are limitations in what the government can do because while we need better cyber security, we also must maintain people’s rights and freedoms. It can be a delicate balancing act with no easy answers.
   But seeing that we are facing serious cyber threats, like it or not, will have to grapple with finding better ways to protect ourselves while also maintaining our cherished way of life.
  

https://www.usatoday.com/in-depth/news/2021/06/22/colonial-pipeline-jbs-ransomware-attacks-cybersecurity-fears/7547655002/

June 6th, 1944 Is A Day That Should Be Remembered

   June 6th, 1944.
   This is a monumentally important date in history, for on this day, forces of the Western Allies under the command of General Dwight D Eisenhower stormed beaches in Normandy, France.
   The liberation of Western Europe from Nazi occupation had begun.
   It was a massive operation that had been in the works for months. It took time for troops to be gathered in Britain and then properly trained for the attack. Another big problem was that the Germans knew an invasion of some kind was coming, but the German High Command didn’t know for sure exactly when or where it was going to strike. So the Allies conducted massive deception operations to try to the confuse the Germans. These included creating a phantom army with fake tanks and aircraft, fraudulent radio transmissions, and the use of double agents. The purpose of all this was to hopefully fool the Germans into thinking that the main attack was going to occur at Pas de Calais, which is the narrowest point between Britain and France. The deception operations also tried to mislead the Germans into thinking there were other possible targets such as Norway.
   Another issue facing the Allies was about when atmospheric conditions would be optimal for an invasion. Planners had a set of criteria that they wanted met for an attack to take place.  One example was going in under a full moon. You must remember that in those days, they didn’t have modern night vision goggles like today, so a full moon was important for the pilots, airborne/glider troops, and navy personnel who would be operating the night before soldiers would be storming the beaches. They also wanted the landings to occur at or just before dawn between low and high tides with the tide going in. Part of this was so that attacking forces could see some of the obstacles that the Germans had set up, but at the same time they didn’t want soldiers to be too far out since they would have to run across the open beaches under fire. Hitting at dawn also allowed the ships to get closer, hopefully undetected by the Germans. The result of all this was that there were only a few days each month that would work for the invasion. And the more postponements that occurred, the greater the chances that the Germans would see through the deception operations that were going on and realize the attack was going to be at Normandy. If that had happened, it would have been a disaster because German forces could have focused on the Normandy beaches and then badly outnumbered Allied troops trying to come ashore.
   General Eisenhower and the High Command were initially going to invade June 5th, but it was postponed because meteorologists were predicting really bad weather that day. As a matter of fact, when word came of the postponement, some ships had already set sail so that they had to turn around and return. On the 5th, meteorologists predicted that there would be a window of better weather for June 6th, but as we all know, meteorology is not an exact science and there was always a chance they would be wrong. Trying to land troops in stormy seas would likely have been disastrous, but the longer the Allies waited, the greater the chances the Germans would see through the ongoing deception operations. So the decision of go or no go on June 6th must have been agonizing. But General Eisenhower and the High Command made it.
   June 6th was set for D-Day.
   Just after midnight, approximately 23,000 British and American airborne and glider troops began landing behind German lines. Their job was to sabotage targets like bridges and railway lines, seize important points, and create general confusion.
   An armada of over 5000 landing craft and other ships had crossed the English Channel and at or around 6:30 a.m. begin landing troops on five different beaches. British and Canadian forces attacked three that had been codenamed Gold, Sword, and Juno while American forces attacked Utah and Omaha. Soldiers landed on the beaches, which held various obstacles designed to damage landing craft or tanks that got in too close, barbed wire, and mines (many of these were attached to the obstacles). Allied troops had to get through this in the open while under bullet, grenade, and artillery fire from German troops who were fighting from entrenched and fortified positions.
   On that first day, progress had gone fairly well at Gold, Sword, Juno, and Utah beaches, but Omaha was another matter. The American forces who hit Omaha took heavy casualties. Germans had strong entrenchments and fortifications on the bluffs above and rained terrible fire upon the soldiers who were trying to cross the open beach below. Another complication for the Americans at Omaha was that of the 29 specially designed amphibious tanks, 27 sank in the choppy waters and never made it to the beach. And of the other tanks that had been taken to the beach on landing craft, many were knocked out. So it was pretty much up to infantry. They had to work their way across the open beach with little or no cover and deal with barbed wire while under withering fire and then battle their way up the bluffs to take out German soldiers who were fighting from entrenchments, bunkers, and pill boxes.
   By the end of the day, Allied forces had established beachheads at all five sectors and had landed over 156,000 troops in France. But it came at a price. Allied casualties are estimated to have been over 10,000 on that day. Of those, 4400 were killed in action.
   The liberation of Western Europe had begun.

Continue reading “June 6th, 1944 Is A Day That Should Be Remembered”

Pride Is Here

6-2-21
   Well Pride has arrived. A time for LGBTQ+ people to be proud and celebrate who we are. Many cities and communities have a variety of celebrations, although the COVID pandemic has changed some of how it is celebrated. In normal times, there are festivals, parades, declarations by local governments, and so on. Rainbow flags as well as the flags of a variety of LGBTQ+ groups are more prevalent, and on social media, LGBTQ+ people will say Happy Pride and put various LGBTQ+ symbols and colors on their profiles. For many, it’s a time to be proud who they are, to celebrate, and help spread the word and educate others.
   But for many LGBTQ+ individuals, Pride is not so happy. It can be a tough time for quite a few people. The reasons for this are quite varied. There are many LGBTQ+ still suffering in the closet, surrounded by prejudiced family members, coworkers, and others who create such a toxic environment that the LGBTQ+ person is too afraid to come out. There are others who have suffered personal setbacks or tragedies that have tarnished their feelings about Pride. In addition to these are numerous LGBTQ+ people who don’t feel much sense of community because of intolerance and lack of understanding coming from too many members of the straight and gay / lesbian communities. Examples of people who often feel this way are those who are bi+ (bisexual, pansexual, fluid), genderfluid, genderqueer, non-binary, transgender, asexual, and intersex. Too many of us feel like we don’t really belong anywhere. And I said “us” on purpose because I’m bi+ and genderfluid myself.
   So for a variety of reasons, Pride can be a difficult time for many LGBTQ+ people. So, to those for whom Pride is an amazing time, try to be considerate and understanding of those for whom this month is difficult. Take a moment to educate yourself and learn about the reasons why some people are hurting right now. Perhaps open your mind a little bit with regards to those who are bi+, genderfluid, genderqueer, non-binary, transgender, asexual, and so on.
   And to those for whom Pride is not so happy, be strong and hang in there. It’s okay. I understand because Pride is a difficult time for me as well. Believe in yourself and never give up.
   Remember:
   Believe in yourself and never give up!

Republicans’ Killing A Bipartisan Congressional Jan 6th Commission Undermines US Democracy

5-18-21
   Well, the Republicans did it. They killed any hope that a bipartisan Congressional Commission will investigate the January 6th assault on the United States Capitol Building.
   Think about that. What happened on January 6th has never happened before in American history. We’ve never had an angry mob of American citizens storm the Capitol Building like that with the intent of interfering with a legitimate national election. What occurred on that day was of major significance, and as such, a bipartisan Congressional Commission is not only recommended, frankly, it’s essential to make it clear to the entire world that US Democracy will continue to stand and thrive into the future.
   But instead, Republicans killed any hopes of a Commission.
   The fact that the Republicans did this is beyond disturbing and sickening. It’s dangerous. There are times when issues arise which are so vitally important that partisan politics should be put aside. Frankly, it should be a no-brainer that a bipartisan Commission is entirely in order here.  And the proposed Commission would have been based on the 9/11 Commission with an equal number of Republicans and Democrats on it and both sides having subpoena power. Democrats also agreed to the Republican demand that the Commission wrap up by the end of 2021 so that it didn’t push into midterm elections.
   What is going on?
   In my opinion, it’s a symptom of the dangerous path the Republican Party has been going down of late. Most Republicans are bowing to Donald Trump’s whims and demands no matter how outrageous or incorrect those demands may be. Some may be doing this because they’re true believers while others may be doing it out of fear, fear that Donald Trump will speak out against them so that they may lose their future reelections, and many Republicans are especially worried about the midterm elections. They appear to be putting party loyalty and a tendency to blindly follow an authoritarian wannabe, Donald Trump, over standing up for American Democracy and the United States Constitution.
   It’s obvious why Trump doesn’t want a January 6th Commission. Trump’s outrageous rhetoric and lies about the election clearly instigated the mob who then stormed the US Capitol Building. So Trump is afraid that he’s going to be made to look bad by a Commission, and there are other Republicans who fear that as well because they were parroting Donald Trump’s lies too.
   But it’s also extremely troubling the way there are Republicans such as Mitch McConnell who, while they may have laid the blame on Trump immediately after the January 6th events, have since changed their tune so that they no longer appear to hold Trump responsible to any significant degree. Many Republicans started downplaying the assault with one even referring to the mob as “tourists.” Tourists?! Are you kidding me?! They literally assaulted the United States Capitol Building on live TV. The entire world saw it happen! Those were not tourists.
   This is so dangerous to our democracy. We have a major political party, the Republicans, that is bowing to the disturbing will of one person, Donald Trump, despite the fact that that person has been spreading outrageous rhetoric and flat out lies. Instead of learning about what happened in a bipartisan way for the good of country, the majority of the Republican Party want to sweep the Jan 6th assault under the rug because of Trump’s outrageous demands and the Republicans’ desire to try to gain more power in the midterm elections. This further undermines American democracy.
   People need to open their eyes about what is going on these days because our democratic values are under threat. Remember the Republican Senators and Representatives who voted against the January 6th Commission and vote them out of office when they come up for reelection. Speak out against them. Make your voices heard.
   Demand democracy!
   Democracy is precious and should not be taken for granted. We must all stay vigilant to ensure our democratic values survive and thrive into the future.
  

The United States And Guns

   The United States of America has a serious gun problem. One way or another, most people know this, although some are in denial and don’t want to believe it or admit it. But it’s true.
   Too many people are dying every single day tragically and needlessly because of gun violence.
   When the Constitution was created in the 18th century, it was a different time. There were no smartphones, communication was slow, the standing army was tiny, and many people lived in small rural communities or farms that were isolated and far away from help if something occurred. If you lived on a small farm in the 1700s, you couldn’t jump in the car and go to the grocery store. Small farmers frequently had to be much more self-reliant growing a significant amount of their own food and sometimes hunting for meat. Also if a criminal came to the farm, they couldn’t call 911. In many ways, they were on their own because it could take hours or longer to alert the authorities and get help. Something else to consider is that the muskets of the 18th century were much slower to reload and much less accurate than weapons today. Someone with significant practice could get off maybe three shots in a minute, give or take. In real world circumstances, it was likely often less than three a minute. And finally, the United States of the 18th century and early 19th centuries relied heavily on militias for defense because the standing army was tiny.
   In other words, the Second Amendment was written in another time when the circumstances were vastly different than today.
  It’s now the 21st century, and the United States has a large standing military, the National Guard, extensive police and law enforcement agencies, rapid communication, vehicles, planes, trains, grocery stores, and much deadlier guns. It’s definitely a different time.
   Let’s start by comparing assault rifles to muskets. A muzzleloading musket from the 18th century would take around 20 seconds to reload and fire if you were experienced, whereas a semi-automatic assault rifle can fire essentially as fast as your finger can squeeze on top of having high capacity clips. Realistically, someone could fire 60 rounds or more in a minute with a much higher degree of accuracy than the old muzzleloading muskets. The people who wrote the Second Amendment likely had no idea that assault rifles would ever exist or be in the hands of civilians.
   Now, let’s compare gun violence in the United States to that of other countries which have stricter gun control laws. First, death by firearms in 2017 per 100,000 people. According to the statistical site, Our World In Data, the United States rate was 4.63. The United Kingdom’s rate was 0.06, whereas Australia’s was 0.18. Germany’s was 0.1, and Japan’s was 0.03. Think about the vast difference between these countries and the United States.
   Now let’s look at the rate of death by interpersonal violence using any method in 2017 per 100,000 people. In the United States, the rate was 6.1. The UK’s was 0.5, and Australia’s was 1.4. Germany’s rate was 0.8 and Japan’s was 0.6. As you can see, the rates are multiple times lower than that of the United States.
   Take a look at these numbers. Look at the vast difference between United States and these other countries. The UK, Germany, Japan, and Australia have crime like the United States does. Their crime rates overall may be a little less than the United States in some cases, but not that much less.
   So let’s be honest about what’s going on. The major factor that explains the significant difference in murder rates is guns. The other countries listed here have much stricter gun control laws than the United States does. That’s the big difference. And if you compare these rates between the United States and other countries such as Belgium, France, and others, you will find similar results.
   It’s clear as day that the United States has a major gun problem and must enact stricter gun control laws. Gun violence in this country is just plain way out of control, and too many innocent people including children are dying every single day because of it.
   I’m not saying make all guns illegal. But there are practical, common sense gun control laws that would make a difference, especially in the long term. Ideas include banning assault style rifles from private ownership. No civilian needs an assault rifle. Assault rifles were created to kill human beings in times of war. That’s what they were designed for. Not for hunting animals or sport shooting. Restricting the size of clips is another practical idea that could save lives. Again, no one needs clips that hold 30 rounds of ammunition or more. Mandatory training and licensing would be a great idea. In order to drive a vehicle, you have to take a test and get a license, so why not do something similar for guns. Also, more extensive background checks would save a lot of lives as would tighter laws on proper storage of guns and ammunition when not in use. Too many kids die in tragic accidents when they grab their parents’ loaded gun that was sitting below the bed.
   By instituting laws like this nationwide, many lives would be saved, and law-abiding citizens who want to have a gun for hunting or similar would still be able to do so. As a matter of fact, many gun owners support gun control laws like this.
   So it’s definitely time to act. People need to stop automatically opposing gun control legislation ideas. Too many Americans are needlessly dying every single day. It’s time to enact better gun control laws.
   Future innocent lives are literally at stake.

https://ourworldindata.org/grapher/homicide-rates-from-firearms

https://ourworldindata.org/grapher/homicide-rate

https://www.numbeo.com/crime/compare_countries_result.jsp?country1=United+States&country2=United+Kingdom

A Bipartisan Congressional Jan 6th Commission Is Desperately Needed Right Now.

5-22-21
   On January 6th 2021, the entire world watched as an angry mob literally assaulted the United States Capitol Building in an effort to try to stop Congress from doing its constitutional duty in certifying the results of the 2020 election. It was sickening, heart-wrenching, and disgusting watching as rioters clambered up walls, busted out windows, broke open doors, and brutally attacked law enforcement officers as they forced their way inside. We heard many of them chanting how they wanted to hang or kill Vice President Pence, Speaker of the House Pelosi, and others.
   The events of that day are things that most people around the world never thought they’d see occur in the United States of America. The peaceful transfer of power has been something that Americans have been proud of since the foundation of the United States Constitution. It was something which America had that many other countries struggled with. Yet here we all watched as an angry mob attempted to stop the election results for being certified by the United States Congress.
   This is huge. We as a country have never seen something like this happen in the United States.
   So it makes sense and frankly is vital that Congress should have a bipartisan commission to investigate the events in order to discover what happened and try to prevent it from ever happening again. All Americans should want this. We’ve had bipartisan Congressional commissions before such as the 9/11 Commission.
   So it’s unfathomably astonishing and disgraceful that most the Republicans in Congress are opposing such a commission. Some things are so vitally important that political bickering and partisanship should be put aside and the greater good of the country placed at the forefront. But instead of doing that, many Republicans appear to be placing their party and the will of Donald Trump ahead of the country and the United States Constitution. This is yet another example of the dangerous, disturbing, undemocratic path that many Republicans are following these days as they blindly obey Donald Trump even when Trump is clearly out of line.
   I hope a January 6th Commission is formed and does a thorough investigation. Our democracy desperately needs this. It’s time for people to put the needs of American democracy and the United States Constitution above petty squabbles, party loyalty, and political maneuvering.