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US saw 204 mass shootings in 2015: Report

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Washington:  As yet another mass shooting in the US put the spotlight back on the contentious issue of gun control, media reports said that there have been 204 mass shootings in as many days in 2015 so far. President_Obama_Speaks_on_the_Shooting_in_Connecticut_(2012-12-14)

Thursday night’s shooting by a white man at a Lafayette, Louisiana, movie theatre showing the comedy “Trainwreck”, that left two women killed and nine injured was the third deadly mass shooting in six weeks.

The alleged shooter John Russell “Rusty” Houser, 59, using a handgun he legally purchased from an Alabama pawn shop methodically shot 11 people by firing off one 10-round clip, according to Lafayette Police Chief Jim Craig.

“This was slow and methodical,” as the State’s Indian-American Governor Bobby Jindal put it. “This was not a single burst.”

The Mass Shooting Tracker, a crowd-sourced project of the anti-gun folks at the Guns Are Cool subreddit, according to the Washington Post, had listed 203 mass shooting events so far in 2015 before the Louisiana movie theatre shooting.

This year there were 18 mass shootings in April, 39 in May, 41 in June, and 34 so far in July, the Post said.

The theatre shooting was Louisiana’s eighth this year. There have been 10 in Ohio, 14 in California and 16 in New York.

“Will anything change?” the Post asked and itself answered “Probably not” noting the reaction to the shooting in Charleston, South Carolina, where a white young man shot and killed nine black worshipers at a historic church.

It “did produce a fruitful national conversation — not on guns, but on the symbolism of the Confederate flag, which the shooter adopted as a banner of his racist beliefs,” the Post noted.

“The morning after the third deadly mass shooting in six weeks, the presidential candidates acted as though they hadn’t seen the news,” the New York Times suggested looking at their reactions.

Though most denounced the shootings and called for prayers for the victims, “none of the presidential contenders offered policy solutions to address gun violence”, it noted describing it as a “reflection of the fact that gun laws are politically radioactive”.

Even “Jindal, who is mounting a long-shot candidacy for the Republican nomination, completely deflected questions on tougher gun laws, saying he would talk about ‘policy and politics’ another time”, Times said.

The leading Republican presidential candidates are overwhelmingly opposed to any effort to restrict access to guns, it noted.

The Democratic hopefuls have proposed gun control measures, but they too have been generally more focused on issues of economics, race and gender than gun violence, according to the Times.

Although President Barack Obama said this week that the failure to convince Congress to pass “commonsense gun safety laws” was one of the great regrets of his presidency, Times said “Congress is unlikely to close any of the loopholes in federal gun laws exposed by the recent shootings”.

(IANS)

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US Planning For Space Force To Stay Ahead in War

The general says his team is already writing government proposals to make space resupply a certainty for future military mobility

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Space Force
Air Force Gen. Carlton D. Everhart, the Commander of Air Mobility Command, left, holds a binder with a photograph of Air Force One on the cover as he speaks to Navy Adm. Bill Moran, Vice Chief of Naval Operations, second from left, while arriving with other generals and admirals for a meeting with President-elect Donald Trump at Mar-a-Lago, in Palm Beach, Fla., Dec. 21, 2016. (VOA)

It might sound like science fiction, but the general in charge of the U.S. military’s air transports across the globe says refueling and resupplying the military may soon be a job that’s literally out of this world.

“If I can resupply from space I can go across globe in about 30 minutes,” Air Force General Carlton Everhart, the head of Air Mobility Command, told VOA. “I do truly believe that is the next step. We can really make inroads.”

Everhart says the time gained by using hypersonic craft in space could keep him ahead in “the speed of war,” where competitors China and Russia have been trying to make gains.

The idea of using space deliveries isn’t as far out as it may seem. In fact, industry leaders, companies Everhart hopes to partner with, are already working on this type of technology.

Launch vehicles from companies like SpaceX, Sierra Nevada, and even foreign ventures could “provide tremendous strategic advantage to the U.S. government,” according to Eric Stallmer, the president of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation.

But it’s an advantage that would come with an astronomical price tag of thousands of dollars per kilo.

Experts say the need to transport via space must outweigh these costs, perhaps only being used during the most important of missions.

Todd Harrison, a space and defense expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, points to the 2012 attack in Benghazi, Libya, which killed U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans, as a situation where time necessities could overpower cost concerns.

“Imagine if we had been able to launch a SEAL team and put them right down in that compound within 45 minutes of knowing that it was under attack. It could have made the difference,” he said.

The general is not just focused on launching from one point on Earth to another, Everhart also wants to use satellites to preposition cargo in space.

Stallmer said a lot of spaceflight companies are looking at this idea of space refueling depots, including plans to convert those refueling vehicles to habitats within space once they’ve been used.

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The future is full of possibilities, but it is unclear when these technologies will be fully developed. Experts give estimates ranging from a couple of years to more than a decade, but that doesn’t stop Everhart from dreaming.

“The train is leaving the station and we’re going to be on it. And I’m not going to be on the caboose. I want to be in front of, I’m going to be in the front,” he said.

The general says his team is already writing government proposals to make space resupply a certainty for future military mobility. (VOA)