The Wide World of Unregistered Firearms

By Clint Sharp | United States

In a world where the right of the individual to own firearms — especially ones deemed “assault-style” rifles– is constantly being threatened, people are turning to less orthodox means of obtaining guns that bypass the over-the-counter registration process. These firearms are known by most as “ghost guns” as they are 100% unregistered, virtually untraceable, and as far as the State knows, nonexistent. While this seems too good to be true, it isn’t. Not only are these invisible guns cheap and easy to obtain, but they are also completely legal.

Image result for 80 percent lower

One notable company on the frontier of this industry is Ghost Gunner. Ghost Gunner specializes in manufacturing and selling “80% lowers”. An 80% lower is the lower receiver of a firearm and makes up around 80% of the completed receiver, hence the name. The lower receiver of a firearm is perhaps the most important part for two reasons. For one, it is the part of the gun where the bullets are fed into the chamber and the part that actually fires the round toward its designated target.

The other important aspect is that this is the part of firearms that is registered by both the seller and by the government. It is where that you will find the name of whatever brand of gun that you have, i.e Colt or Smith&Wesson, as well as the unique serial number used to identify the weapon. That is what sets the the Ghost Gunner receivers apart from the rest. They do not have the registered serial number that the other guns have. After you have your receiver, all that’s left is assembling the other 20% of the gun, which includes the stock and the barrel.

Ghost Gunner even sells entire CNC milling machines so that you can make the 80% lowers in the comfort of your own home. What’s great about that is that you do not have to be a certified machinist or gun expert to do this. All you have to do is pop in a block of aluminum, do a little clicking, and the machine mills out your receiver, completely free from the prying eyes of Uncle Sam. In addition to their original AR-15 lower, Ghost Gunner also provides receivers and software for MP5, AK-47, and M1911 lowers.


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CBD is Helping Texans, But the State Wants to Take it Away

By Mason Mohon | @mohonofficial

In 2015, Texas passed the Compassionate Use Act, which allowed for the limited sale of CBD products for medical uses. CBD is a product of marijuana, and while it does not have the same psychoactive properties of THC, is has been used effectively in treating pain and epilepsy.

Such was the case for a six-year-old girl back in February. Cansortium Texas, a division of Florida-based Cansortium Holdings, delivered the treatment to a young girl who suffered from a rare form of epilepsy. The treatment was effective, showing just another instance of successful medical marijuana treatment.

The permitting legislation didn’t actually go into effect until February of 2018, but when it did numerous CBD products populated the shelves of various Texas stores. In turn, Officials with the Texas Department of State Health Services are warning business owners that this is not legal under state law.

They are now considering a proposal that would give inspectors authority to seize unauthorized sale of CBD in Texas stores. An agency spokesperson made the claim that they are just trying to comply with federal law.

One may think: At least the Compassionate Use Act is in place, and that’s helping enough, isn’t it?

The problem is that the CUA is not doing enough. It applies too much red tape to the world of health and keeps Texans from getting what they need.

Under the Compassionate Use program, Texans can only get access to CBD products for medical use when they have tried two other FDA-approved drugs that have proven ineffective. They also need to get recommended for CBD from an approved doctor. There are only twenty approved to recommend CBD in the state of Texas.

At the same time, only three dispensaries in the entire state have gotten approval for production of CBD products. Morris Denton, the CEO for the distributor Compassionate Cultivation, is not happy about the current laws surrounding the issue.

It’s troubling to me that a great percentage of Texans will no longer be able to achieve that benefit. If you are just taking a product away from people that has helped them, but not giving them a legal solution, then I think that is a step back.

The Compassionate Use Act is a move by the state government that is lacking in many ways. It forces sick people to endure an arduous process before they can try a drug that will probably be effective in their treatment. Texas (and Americans as a whole) have the right to try drugs that may help. It is not moral for the state government to get in the way of their potential healing.

If the Department of State Health Services gets its way, there will be less access to a product that will assist the health of many Texans. The proposal that would authorize the seizures of CBD products is both an assault on the property of business owners and the well-being of many Texans.


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Walt Whitman Understood Identity. We no Longer Do

By Craig Axford | United States

This article needs to open with a warning. For the first few paragraphs at least, it’s going to ask that you remain open to the possibility that two very different and rather controversial men have a pretty good understanding of our current conception of identity. I’m referring here to Bill Maher and Donald Trump. The first rightly finds our present focus on identity problematic while the second exploits his understanding of it for political gain.

After briefly dealing with the comedian and the president, I will be turning to a less polarizing figure whose primary sin is being born a nineteenth century white male. That accident of birth aside, Walt Whitman was, I think you’ll agree, no Bill Maher or Donald Trump. As such, he offers us a way out of our current weaponized view of the self that I don’t really hear anyone else offering, including identity politics most articulate critics.

Maher and Trump have made it this far because our modern concept of identity is inherently flawed and ultimately unworkable from a classical liberal perspective. Maher makes a pretty good living mocking modern notions of identity and ranting about the consequences, while Trump harnesses the energy of identity’s emotional rollercoaster by dismissing its relevance on the one hand and appealing to a traditional white Christian version of it on the other. The whole fight, however, is largely being fought on the authoritarians’ terms.

Identity politics, however well intentioned some its advocates may be, has made it especially tricky for a white male like myself to use any group other than “my own” as an example of anything without risking being seriously misunderstood. Even then, I run the risk of being accused of portraying a group commonly lumped together as oppressors as victims instead. There’s really no room being made available for nuance here, so I’m not going to waste space trying to create any. I’ll just say that if you think this article is about feeling sorry for white guys, you’re seriously missing the point.

With that disclaimer out of the way, consider the fact that contemporary views of identity practically mandate that white straight men behave like caricatures of white straight men. This is a classic catch-22 because acting like “typical” white straight guys is what usually gets us into trouble.

Take sexuality. A straight male (of any race) that directs too much sensitivity or “inappropriate” emotion in the direction of any other men in his life will be considered sexually repressed or confused, or at least confusing, by both straight and gay men alike. If he should find himself drawn to the clothing, music, or art of a different culture a white European male in particular runs the risk of accusations of “cultural appropriation.” If he sticks to the products of his own European culture he’s just another apologist for Western imperialism.

Yet, if a man expresses sympathy for women who have historically been or are currently the victims of scapegoating and oppression, there’s a reasonable chance he’ll find himself on the receiving end of charges of “virtue signalling” from the other end of the political spectrum. If he doesn’t show some awareness for the suffering women have endured he’s just another insensitive lout. In this environment the only truly safe place for a fella to be is home alone masturbating in the shower. The rest of the day it’s best to dress conservatively in a shirt and tie and keep his mouth shut.

But that’s enough about the “plight” of my particular “tribe” — which, by the way, I didn’t pick and try not to spend too much time thinking about. I’d much prefer passing my days endeavoring to see the human race as my peeps, even if I keep bungling it badly. Unfortunately, neither end of the political spectrum seems willing to leave the question of my identity up to me.

This isn’t just a problem for white folks. Everybody else is now caught in the same identity trap. Pick at least one (but not too many, and please avoid the labels that the unwritten rules don’t allow you to pick): male, female, black, white, indigenous, European, gay, straight, bi, trans, other… the list goes on and on. Each choice on the menu — including the various acceptable if rather limiting combinations — comes with a particular checklist that no one seems to have consciously developed, but which everyone appears to know (or intuit) almost by heart at this point. If you’re X, you’re expected to look and behave the part. If you don’t meet these expectations, you’re either lacking in self awareness or infringing on someone else’s cultural turf. Either way you’re making it more difficult for the rest of us to successfully navigate this increasingly cosmopolitan world of ours, so please shape up and live the identity you’ve chosen the way you’re supposed to.

This brings me to Walt Whitman. “Do I contradict myself?” he famously asked near the conclusion of Song of Myself. “Very well then I contradict myself — (I am large, I contain multitudes).” Indeed.

Song of Myself is, in truth, an ode to the human species. It is identity inverted. Whitman does not have an identity per se. He identifies with humanity as a wholeThat’s certainly not what we’re doing today. We’ve weaponized identity. We’ve sharpened individualism to such a degree that it could keep slicing and dicing inclusive humanistic values until the second coming without ever dimming or dulling.

Walt Whitman can sing about himself for page after eloquent page because there isn’t a race, creed, or culture out there he couldn’t find reflected within. He was the appropriator’s poet laureate. No culture belongs to anyone in particular because every culture belongs to humanity. Mix and match at will. That’s what people do. If you contradict yourself now and then, or just seem to, it’s no big deal. Even those people of which he was not aware or that were yet to come he took to be some part of himself.

It is time to explain myself — let us stand up.

What is known I strip away,
I launch all men and women forward with me into the Unknown.

The clock indicates the moment — but what does eternity
indicate?

We have thus far exhausted trillions of winters and summers,
There are trillions ahead, and trillions ahead of them.

Births have brought us richness and variety,
And other births will bring us richness and variety.

I do not call one greater and one smaller,
That which fills its period and place is equal to any.

I, like Whitman, increasingly see myself as containing multitudes. I want to identify with those I meet, not impose some artificial identity of my own upon them. Nor do I concede to anyone the right to impose one upon me. I certainly don’t want to outsource identity to any ideology. I’m interested in the multitudes you contain as much as I am in my own contradictory masses. If there’s a bit of a clash, I’m sure we can reclaim the art of working it out like adults without needing to get defensive.

My belief in the right to marriage has everything to do with human rights and nothing to do with being straight, gay, bi, or trans. My conviction that the workplace should be free from discrimination, harassment, and intimidation has nothing to do with sexual or racial identity and everything to do with the dignity and worth of every single person. Before anything else I identify as a human, because that’s an identity that can’t be weaponized. It also happens to cover any other category we might think up for ourselves or for each other. That keeps things rather simple and straight forward, and we could all use a little more of that these days.

Follow Craig on Twitter or read him on Medium.com

Other stories by Craig that you might enjoy:

Driving Another Nail Into Dualism’s Coffin

While People Are Busy Tearing Down Walls, Some Governments Still Insist On Building Them

At What Point Does A Parent With Alzheimer’s Cease To Be A Parent?


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California’s Solar Panel Mandate Worsens Ongoing Crises

By Indri Schaelicke | United States

The California Energy Commission voted unanimously on Wednesday, May 9th to mandate that all new homes built must have solar power. Those responsible for creation of the policy are hoping that the move will help reduce carbon emissions by switching to a cleaner source of energy. However, they have overlooked several important issues with their solution.

To start, there is no need for increased electricity production in California. The Golden State already produces more solar power than they actually need. To deal with the excess, they have had to export their electricity to neighboring states, as well as prevent energy from solar farms from coming into California. This mandate will only add to the ongoing problem, as large amounts of electricity already flood the market.

Beside the excess amount of electricity California produces, the state is also facing low rates of home ownership. California currently has the third-worst state home ownership rate for millennials, and as the price of houses climbs higher as a result of this policy, that rate will surely continue to drop. Mandating that houses must have solar panels is estimated to raise the price of a new house by about $9,500. Elevated prices will only make it more difficult for first time home buyers to enter into the market, at a time when California is already in the middle of a homelessness crisis. California has the second-most-expensive homes in the nation after Hawaii, and it is dangerous to produce legislation that will raise these prices further.

 

Furthermore, the cost of living in California, which is exorbitantly high already, will only continue to rise. The figure below shows how California has the second highest cost of living for 2017, behind only Hawaii. 

Cost of Living Map

Many people will not be able to afford living in California, causing millions to go into debt or even become homeless. People facing financial difficulty are unable to spend and invest in economies as well as those that are more wealthy. Thus, if fewer people are able to spend large amounts of their income, the economy will not be able to grow well. This could threaten California’s years of strong economic growth.

It is also concerning to see that this policy was created and implemented by a group of unelected politicians – effectively an oligarchy. If the populace does not like the decision, there is little to no way that voters can remove the bureaucrats from office. The creation of this policy is a prime example of how the government seeks to gain control over every aspect of individuals’ lives, by any means necessary. The founding fathers never intended for unelected officials to be able to legislate and create policy that would impact our lives and ability to succeed. The idea of a representative democracy is that we the people are able to elect those we feel will make decisions that we support, and when they cease to do so, remove them from office. It is not possible for the populace to remove a bureaucrat from office.

Therefore, Californians must decry this policy and create a backlash severe enough to convince the Commission to reverse this decision. Otherwise, we can expect considerable hits to the California economy. Scarier still, the state will move towards a reality where bureaucrats commonly make these decisions without accountability.


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Kodak Raising Crypto Funds for Image Copyright Blockchain

Eli Ridder | @EliRidder

Kodak, famed for its photography products, is working with Wenn Digital in raising money for its blockchain image copyright system in a token offering for a partner cryptocurrency. 

On May 21, the Wenn-created KODAKCoin will be offered to the public with the aim of raising $50 million USD and to fund the KODAKOne blockchain that seeks to protect the copyright of image media registered on the platform.

Shares in Kodak bounced upwards to $13.25 in January when the Wenn deal was announced, before dropping to below half that when news of the blockchain’s rollout delay was announced due to regulatory issues.

“We really took a step back and decided that we would ensure that all Ts were crossed and Is dotted before we embark on a public sale,” Cam Chell, chairman and co-founder of KODAKOne, told Reuters news agency in an interview.

“I think $50 million is our sweet spot,” Mr. Chell said.

Blockchain is the digital system behind the likes of Bitcoin, and is a shared database of information that maintained and kept in check by a network of computers connected to the internet.

A similar strategy was utilized by Filecoin in the late summer and early Autumn of last year, and some $200 million was raised by the network that facilitates the storage, retrieval and transmission of data, reported Reuters.


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