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The Big Yoink: A Smol Detective Story, Chapter 13

Standard Disclaimer: I do not take credit for the setting, this story is set in the They Are Smol universe, written by our very own u/tinyprancinghorse.
TPH has a Website, a Patreon, and also a Discord if you need more smol shenanigans.
The first Smol Detective story can be read starting Here.
There will be some spoilers/references of the first SD story in this one, so consider yourself duly warned.
First Chapter
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In the previous chapter:
Bgrarh gets some Contraband.
Oscar has a Nice Suit.
Two words: Conga Line.
In this chapter:
Resh'skk does some Acting.
Sssnnathor serves up some Snacks.
The Silken Feather does a Clever Girl.
The shuttle was due to depart in [six hours], which should give Bgrarh-of-Arhraz plenty of time. He checked for the hundredth time that his lab door was securely locked, then pulled out the unassigned terminal he'd managed to snag for this. The latter was just in case anyone tried to check the logs on his own 'official' machine. What he was doing was not strictly forbidden by the Inquisition, but it would be considered impolite and cause for censure.
If he got caught, Bgrarh figured he could spin a story of finding the media 'somewhere' and examining it merely to see if he could determine its origin. They wouldn't believe him, but they'd probably let his possession slide...especially if he let the hypothetical Inquisitor watch over his shoulder.
He took a steadying breath and popped in the first chip, then selected "Doctor No". Within a few scenes he'd gotten the gist of this [James Bond] character in spite of the poor quality and terrible dubbing. The Dorarizin had a similar fictional character, namely one Inquisitor Hrnarah. She traveled the galaxy with a blaster at her hip, ready to mete out justice and bed any comely males she came across.
But Hrnarah was also, well, a she. This [Sean Connery] person was as adorable as any [human], but he was also quite clearly male. And even though [Connery] walked with the standard wobbly, about-to-fall-over gait of a [human], there was a relentlessness to the way he moved that drew the eye.
The movie ended, and Bgrarh chose another at random. This had a different actor playing Bond, one who was less imposing but more debonair. The movie followed much the same formula as the first, which was something that [Bond] also had in common with Inquisitor Hrnarah.
As the movie played on, Bgrarh began to pick up on why [Oscar] suggested [Bond]. Whenever the man entered a room, whether it be a casino, a denpile, or a prison cell, [Bond] acted as if he owned that room.
Bgrarh stood and began walking about, picturing himself as a well-dressed secret agent who'd entered a dance competition as cover for some covert assignment...which honestly wasn't that far from the truth. As he did so, his nervousness about the upcoming performance began to fade and he knew he'd found the right personality to emulate.
Of course, there were certain things that Bgrarh was not going to emulate. He wasn't an expert on [human] mating customs, but he was pretty sure it wasn't proper to kiss [human] women without their consent.
Bgrarh chuckled. If he tried kissing the Captain without permission she'd bite his head off. Although now that he thought about it, the idea of kissing her with permission was very appealing. She was quite a handsome woman, after all. Yes, she was the pack leader and thus couldn't play favorites...but she was also a Dorarizin with needs.
Besides, Bgrarh knew his time of 'season' was approaching. Maybe this what the [humans] called a golden opportunity?
In one corner of the hangar deck, two long and sinewy bodies coiled about each other. Each of them held a long needle-like sword in one hand, with the other clamped to their opponent's weapon-arm. There was much pained grunting as each strained to be the first to stab. Finally one of them managed to wrest her sword-arm free with a triumphant shout.
With that line Hrathra'sstah lunged forward as her prop sword did its job and buried its holographic blade deep into Resh'skk's chest. The ex-soldier clutched at the sword-hilt sticking out of his chest (which kept it from falling off), then groaned and toppled backward. His own weapon fell to the deck with a clatter.
"" he gasped in mock agony. ""
With a wordless scream, Hrathra leaped onto him and pushed with both her hands at the pommel of the fake sword hilt, acting as if she was driving the nonexistent blade deeper into his chest. At that cue Resh'skk bit down on the capsule hidden in his cheek, then let a little emerald-hued stage blood trickle out of the corner of his mouth.
He gave another groan of pain. "" he said in a stage whisper. Then Resh'skk slumped flat on the deck, staring off sightlessly into space.
After a beat, there was the sound of two small pairs of hands slapping together. It was a gesture of appreciation that Jornissians performed as well, and the sound made Resh'skk feel better about this whole nonsense.
"[Bravo!]" called [Maria].
"[Yeah, that was awesome!]" added [Oscar].
Resh'skk stopped playing dead and picked his hood up off of the deck. ""
"" said Hrathra'sstah. She still lay sprawled on top of him in a position that he would have enjoyed in other circumstances.
Hrathra'sstah pressed a finger to his lips. ""
"[And the villain always has to give a big monologue when they die!]" said [Maria]. "[It's a tradition even in [human] drama.]"
"" Resh'skk made as if to get up, but Hrathra didn't budge from her perch on top of him. He felt her tail-tip coil about his own. Ordinarily, Jornissians were a little less fussy about touching tails; it was just a consequence of their body type. But this was a more familiar gesture, one that close friends engaged in.
He glanced over and saw the two humans bumbling off. [Maria] had her hand on [Oscar's] arm as she steered him away from the Jornissians. His [human] friend had clearly picked up on the opportunity and was giving him the private space.
Resh'skk turned his head back to look up into Hrathra's red, gleaming eyes. His old fears returned. How could someone so smart and capable find anything of value in a broken down ex-thug like himself? But he had to try. He'd faced down pirates trying to carve out his intestines, he could face down this.
She raised one corner of her hood. "" But she did pick herself up off of him. Resh'skk rose, coiling his lower half below him in the Jornissian version of parade rest. He clasped his hands before him, while Hrathra'sstah folded her arms.
"" she asked.
Her arms dropped to her sides as she stared at him in shock. ""
Resh'ssk nodded. ""
Her next words struck him to the heart, an icy feeling far crueler than any stab.
Not a trace of his inner pain showed on his face as his clasped hands clenched ever so slightly tighter. ""
Hrathra cut him off with waving hands. "" She slithered back and forth in front of him as her gesticulating grew ever more dramatic. ""
Now it was his turn to interrupt her with a gentle finger to her lips. ""
There was one long moment of mutual staring, then she lunged for him again in an attack that he accepted with literal open arms.
What with their long and muscled bodies, Jornissians are the gold-medal winners of the four Senate species when it comes to dealing out hugs. With these two Jornissians doing their very best to embrace each other, and on top of that doing their very best to kiss each other into oblivion, the resulting tangle was something that would make even Escher throw up his hands.
In the middle of Resh'ssk's bliss, he heard again the sound of a human applauding. He peered to the side and saw [Maria's] grinning face. The [human] stood just out of easy tail-slap range.
After a little bit of complicated tongue-de-tangling, Hrathra'sstah turned her head as well to regard her protege. "<[Maria]?>"
"[Yeah, boss?]"
"[You got it, boss.]" [Maria] gave a wink to Resh'skk before strolling away. At any other time he would have found the little alien's cockiness infuriating, but right now he was too happy to be angry. He clasped Hrathra anew to himself and kissed her snout.
"" he asked.
Hrathra'sstah rubbed her hood against his neck. "" She grinned up at him. ""
The sunlight fell like a velvet hammer onto Oscar as he stepped down from the shuttle. He felt sweat begin to pop out on his forehead, and wondered if his furred crewmates would suffer even more. He supposed that the heat made sense, given that a Jornissian owned this planet.
In front of the shuttle was a wedge-shaped formation of Dorarizin wearing full armor. Oscar had seen the pictures during the one time any Dorarizin set foot on Earth. Princess Gwe-Zgranzre-of-Ngrul's honor guard had been almost as armored-up as these guys. But where their armor had been brightly colored and ornate, this armor was sleek and functional.
The armor's visual effect was to turn the already-impressive figure of your average Dorarizin into what looked like a walking tank. The sleek, ovoid, and featureless chrome helmets of the retinue tilted down as one while they regarded Oscar. After a moment, the lead Dorarizin's helmet hinged up to reveal a white-furred face with deep purple eyes. He looked at Oscar for a few seconds, then over at the sphere of Junior which hovered next to the human's shoulder.
Oscar heard the noise behind him as the rest of the crew disembarked from the shuttle. He smiled as he tried his best to keep his heartrate down. Myyreh was at his back, but asking her to take out a werewolf in power armor would be too much even for her.
"Howdy, folks!" Oscar pointed at the lead Dorarizin's armored chest. "Um, are you expecting trouble?"
The lead Dorarizin smiled in response, showing a lot more teeth. "[Not at all. I know it looks like [overkill], but we have certain security protocols that have to be followed for all visitors. I'm Nerlharg-of-Aergh.]"
Oscar settled for a bow in lieu of shaking hands. "Oliver Ward, pleased to meetcha."
"[Likewise.]" Nerlharg looked up at the others. "[I bid you all welcome. Please, follow me. His Excellency was very insistent that he meet your group right away.]"
Oscar slung his bag over his shoulder. The concrete of the landing pad let to a loose gravel pathway lined with tall greenery which was nothing like trees. There was a clear lack of bark, plus the leaves had an odd earth-brown tinge to them. The plants did provide a good amount of shade, however, which gave Oscar some relief from the heat. Further inspection revealed a few tall rod-like structures scattered here and there among the growth; these rods emitted a fine mist of water which drifted over the pathway and provided further cooling.
Nerlharg noticed Oscar's inspection. "[His Excellency's species is better built to withstand heat, but he provides for his subjects.]"
"He sure does," replied Oscar. "I already get enough grief from my non-human comrades about my water usage, so I don't want to be sweating more than I need to."
Nerlharg gave his species' bone-buzzsaw version of a chuckle, but didn't otherwise comment.
The procession crested a rise, and Oscar saw a few buildings ahead. The architecture gave the impression of a high-tech Aztec city, with multiple stepped pyramids situated along either side of the central promenade. A profusion of more greenery overhung each 'step' on the buildings. Oscar wondered if this was proper Jornissian architecture or if Sssnnathor just had a thing for pyramids.
The prominade led forward to the largest pyramid by far, a huge building that rivaled that of any Egyptian tomb. A sloping ramp led up to an entrance that one could sling a starship through. The scale was such that even the giants around him looked small as they passed underneath that over-sized arch.
Oscar wondered about the point of such overkill. Was it to show off Ssssnnathor's wealth and power? The entire planet was proof of that. Perhaps it was more of a subtle warning to any who entered, a way to say 'however big you think you are, you're in the house of someone far more important'.
Whatever the reason for the grand entryway, the pyramid's interior space was even more grand. The walls were clad in white marble with gold trim; they followed the slope of the exterior, with a spiral ramp leading up towards the apex far above. More green vines hung from the edges of the ramp, giving the whole space the air of a slightly less tacky Las Vegas casino. Three large snake-like figures waited in the center of the space in front of a long table piled high with various dishes.
The middle Jornissian could only be Sssnnathor. Oscar half expected him to be clad in some sort of outrageous Ming-The-Merciless getup, but instead he wore a sober-looking 'suit' the hue of sun-bleached bone. The white color contrasted well with his black-and-blue scale pattern.
Sssnnathor's face was split in a wide smile, and he had his arms outstretched in welcome. The guards on either side, however, looked much less friendly, what with their armor. A normal Jornissian 'exo-suit' made them look like a long dakimakura-style pillow. But these guys were all hard edges and armor plating, fitting well with the look of the crew's Dorarizin escort.
Each Jornissian bodyguard cradled a massive rifle casually in one hand; Oscar figured he just might be able to pick one of them up if he used both hands and all his strength.
Sssnnathor's purr-hiss boomed over them all. "[Welcome! You are a pleasant surprise.]" He slithered forward, his silver eyes fixed on Oscar. The tyrant glanced over at Junior as he approached, and stopped at a respectful distance as he lowered himself to look the human in the eye.
"[I apologize for staring, but this is my first time seeing one of your kind,]" said Sssnnathor.
"No problem, Mr. Snape. I'm Oliver Ward." There was no way in hell Oscar was going to get anywhere near the strangled hiss-purr of Sssnnathor's true name. He hoped that the translator matrix was doing its job.
After another moment of fascinated staring, Sssnnathor nodded and rose higher. He gestured towards the table behind him. "[Please, eat and be welcome.]"
After the (fake-name) introductions and hand-shaking, Captain Rgrarshok found herself munching on a bit of grilled glrnada while inside she wondered if this had been the right course of action. Her unease wasn't helped by the fact that Sssnnathor was parked at her right elbow with a calculating smile.
"[It's always nice to have new entertainment, Captain Rgratz,]" said the tyrant. "[But I can't help but wonder why you chose to bless us with your presence. With two [humans] in your company you would have the pick of engagements, yet you come to an out-of-Senate-space backwater like this.]"
Rgrarshok swallowed her mouthful as she prepped the cover story they'd cooked up. "{This is hardly a backwater, but it's true we could name our price. If I'm honest, Excellency, we're not exactly welcome in Senate space at the moment. And it has to do with the [humans].}"
Sssnnathor tilted his hood in curiosity. "[Oh, really?]" He turned to regard the two [humans], who naturally tended to stick together and now conversed in low tones while getting covertly studied by every other person in the pyramid. "[You didn't kidnap them, I hope?]"
Rgrarshok laughed. "{Far from it. Their placement on our crew was done through legal channels...except for the fact that we submitted two applications, under two different names. My XO cooked up the scheme, and I agreed. We thought it would give us a better chance of success.}"
Sssnnathor hissed a laugh of his own. "[I suppose it makes sense from a mathematical viewpoint. After all, the odds of getting a [human] are astronomical enough as it is. Let me guess...both applications were awarded?]"
The Captain gave a weary nod and a sigh. "{The first one was a moment of utter joy for us. [Oliver] was a wonderful addition to our crew, we were so happy...and then we got word of [Masie] coming to join us. I can't tell you how much dancing we had to do so that the auditors never caught the scent that we already had another [human] on board. But we managed it, somehow. Only then to realize we were faced with quite a conundrum.}"
"[Namely, if you performed in Senate space the odds were good that the placement program auditors would find out about your [double-dipping]. Hmm, well I suppose your embarrassment of riches is also our good fortune. Otherwise it might have been centuries before my poor little planet was able to host a [human].]"
Rgrarshok performed a slight bow. "{With your kind permission, we plan to perform many times on your planet. Of course, we'll also provide you with a free private performance if desired.}"
Sssnnathor tapped a finger against his chin. "[Hmm, I don't think a private performance is necessary. I do have a gala planned in three [days] time, one where I will show off my latest acquisition. Would you do me the honor of performing there?]"
"{We'd be happy to.}"
Ngralh-of-Arzgar strolled through the sunlit bazaar. He had his paws clasped behind his back in a casual manner, but his eyes never stopped moving. Ngralh was enough of a student of history to know of the primitive conditions his species had once lived under, that era far back in the mists of time when they'd been bound to one planet.
His surroundings were not that primitive, but this was about as 'squalid' as one could get in a star-spanning civlization. The booths around him were formed of cheap and flimsy plastic, tinted with a hodgepodge of colors that stated louder than words that they'd been formed from castoff pieces. The wares emphasized hand-made tools and clothing, things that were just a little nicer than what one could get while on the dole.
The air was filled with the scent of grilling meat, something else that one couldn't get while on basic income. While the smell made his mouth water a little, he was going to have to give the food-sellers a pass. Dorarizin had pretty hardy metabolisms, but there was no need to risk food poisoning.
Due to the meeting with Sssnnathor, their investigation was now two-fold. First was the hunt for the 'Silken Feather', as they'd planned. But second was an attempt to find out exactly what the tyrant's 'latest acquisition' really was. Had the thief gone ahead and sold the Claw to him?
Either way, his job was to work towards the former goal. To that end, he was looking for someone to press ever-so-gently for information.
"[A pretty scarf for your lady friend, good sir?]" The chirping voice came from a hunched-over Karnakian who presided over a rainbow-colored waterfall of fabric. Ngralh gave her a cordial nod as he stopped strolling to look over her selection. Hmmm, that purple number might look good on Egwreh.
"{How much for this one?}" In the haggling that followed he allowed the seller to get a better deal than usual, figuring that this would put her in a better frame of mind for questioning.
"[Would there be anything else, sir?]" asked the Karnakian after he'd bought two.
"{Is this the only market around? I have some colleagues who might be interested in larger items.}"
"[This is the largest market in the capital, sir.]" She leaned forward as her crest rose. "[You're with the entertainers who just arrived, yes? The ones with the [humans]?]"
"{That's right. I'm surprised word's spread this fast.}"
"[There's always interest when [humans] are involved, good sir.]"
"{I understand. Do you get many off-world visitors? We're trying to determine how much new audience turnover we can expect.}"
"[A few every [month] or so. This planet is very welcoming to all, no matter their past.]"
Ngralh gave an embarrassed click. "{How, er, segregated is it around here? I only ask because some multi-species colonies can be rough; the locals can take it the wrong way if one goes walking through another species' section of town.}"
The seller waved one casual wing-arm. "[Oh, there's no such problems around here but I would be careful, since do have some minor criminals wandering about. The various races tend to cluster together to take advantage of any species-specific infrastructure such as plumbing requirements.]"
He smiled at her and gave a bob of his head to simulate a Karnakian farewell. "[Thanks, you've been very kind.]"
Thanks to a few more generous purchases and pointed questions, Ngralh found the Karnakian portion of town. If the "Silken Feather" was in civilization, chances are it was somewhere around here. It would be far easier for her to keep track of incoming and outgoing ships, plus she'd have a handy population of raptors to get lost in.
For sure she'd be wearing a disguise. Instead of scanning each individual Karnakian that passed, Ngralh set his implant to ping him if it detected anyone matching the body proportions of their quarry.
He spent another hour walking among the Karnakians, trying to look like nothing more than a ship-bound crew member anxious to stretch his legs. His scans of the crowd turned up empty, and after a while he started to wish somebody would try to mug him. At least it would break up the monotony.
Ngralh turned down a narrow and deserted alley with walls formed of the same cheap plastic sheeting used for the market booths. He'd made it halfway down when two feathered forms suddenly blocked the far end. He stopped and glanced over his shoulder...sure enough, two more blocked the way he'd came.
The front and rear pairs of Karnakians began to close in with slow menace towards him.
"[Four against one, furball,]" said one of them. "[Not good odds. Now why don't you just hand over everything in your pockets and we'll call it good, eh?]"
Ngralh shifted his weight so that he was balanced on his toes, then extended his claws. While he might not be death-on-foot like Myyreh, he was still an experienced peace officer. That fact evened the odds more than they realized. Once he'd given these guys a good thrashing, he could lean on them for some more detailed information. His ears swiveled back as he tracked the sounds of the two behind him. They'd probably rush him first, and so he kept his back invitingly open...
A strangled chirp-roar sounded from behind him. He spun himself sideways, careful to keep the front two in his peripheral vision. Both of the Karnakians behind him sprawled twitching on the ground, each wreathed in blue electric sparks. As he took in the sight there was a blur of motion behind to the other two...
They didn't even manage a sound before they too were down and out of any possible fight. Ngralh turned carefully back to face his would-be rescuer, a green-feathered Karnakian with a yellow band around her neck.
The Silken Feather.
She stood just out of easy leaping range. The thief had never laid eyes on Ngralh during her call to the Furious Call of Inquiry, so he figured he'd play ignorant and try to lure her closer. "{You have my thanks, friend. I don't have any money on me, but if you'll follow me back to my ship I'm sure my Captain would be happy to reward you.}"
The thief snorted. "[No games, friend. You know who I am and I know who you are. A mixed-race crew who also happen to have [humans] on board, showing up in a conveniently quick manner after I placed that call? The odds of that are astronomical. I guess you tracked me after all.]"
Ngralh took in a deep, irritated breath and then relaxed. "{All right.}" He glanced again at the sprawled, shuddering bodies around him. "{You still have my thanks.}"
"[Oh, it's my pleasure I assure you. I can't allow any of our brave Senate investigators to get hurt in the line of duty, now can I?]"
The XO chuckled. "{I wasn't in that much danger. So. How easy do you want to make this? I can tell you right now the Captain is not going to allow any sale.]"
"[I would reply that it's not up to her, is it? I think the Matriarchs' opinions would carry greater weight in this case. In any case, just know that I know that you're here and that I'm watching you. I'll be in contact soon to set up the sale. Do you still have that Galnet node of mine?]"
"{Of course. It's evidence.}"
She grinned wide. "[Of course. You police must always play by the rules, eh? I'm rather surprised you don't try to tackle me right here and now.]"
Ngralh tapped the side of his nose. "{It wouldn't do any good. I smell nothing but these four bozos, which tells me I'm talking to a hard-light hologram.}"
The Silken Feather bowed her head. "[Excellent, it's always a pleasure to deal with competent adversaries. I bid you a good day, sir.]"
The green-and-yellow Karnakian vanished, leaving a small metal sphere hovering in the alleyway. The drone fizzed while its internals fried, then fell to the ground with a small thud.
Ngralh blew out a breath that any onlooker would have taken as one of frustration. But then he smiled and touched his ear. "{Egwreh, Myyreh, you're up.}"
The Silken Feather maneuvered down a neighboring alley, looking behind her constantly. It had been a risk to expose herself, but the chance to show these silly police that she was on top of things was too delicious to pass up. The following negotiations would have to be done with great delicacy; she had to conceal the fact that she no longer had the Claw, while keeping in reserve her knowledge of Sssnnathor's covert activities. The latter should act as insurance in the case that she wasn't able to retrieve the Claw.
And she would retrieve that which she'd rightfully stolen. Sssnnathor was not omnipotent, and her audacity would act as a shield. The aged fool would never imagine that she'd be bold enough to try breaking into his main palace. As her mind whirled, she peered around the corner and scanned her surroundings on instinct. She saw nothing, and so she continued on her way.
The Silken Feather trotted along while plotting and was still feeling quite pleased with herself when Myrreh-of-Relgreh's fist came out of thin air and connected solidly with her jaw.
The Silken Feather came to and almost on reflex reached out mentally with her implant to trigger the protective mode of her clothing. All she received was the lurch of an unsuccessful connection, which then made her realize she wasn't wearing her own clothes anymore. All she had was a simple shift made of plain fabric to protect her modesty. Locked tight around her feathered body was a cage of hard-light which allowed her to breathe comfortably...and that was about it for any movement she could perform.
As the Silken Feather blinked and shook her snout, a warbling voice intruded into her aching head.
"[Ah, you're finally awake! Sorry about taking liberties with your person, but you had way too many little goodies hidden in your clothes. We couldn't let you keep them.]"
The voice came from a small figure standing in front of her. Behind that alien was a much bigger form that she recognized as Captain Rgrarshok. The huge Dorarizin stood with folded arms and a steady, unblinking expression that was somehow more fearsome than a snarl.
The Silken Feather focused all four eyes on the small alien in front of her. It was the first time she'd laid eyes on a [human], and for a moment she stared in wonder. As all the reports said, the little-needs-protecting had a soul filled with starlight, almost like a hatchling's but much more complex.
Then her discipline reasserted itself as she took quick stock of her surroundings. She was pinned in the middle of what looked like a hangar deck of some sort. That meant she was in space and surrounded by enemies. Not to mention tied up and completely unarmed. It was a bad situation, but she'd been in worse. The most important thing for now was to appear as if she'd given up.
The Silken Feather smiled ruefully. "|I congratulate you on your plan. It was masterfully done.|"
The [human] shrugged. "[We got lucky. We didn't know if you'd realize that we were the Senate team, but we had [Ngralh] followed just in case you followed him. You didn't just follow, you actually made contact. [Ngralh] sends his regards, by the way, and thanks you again for your help.]"
The thief slumped in her bonds. "|It was my pleasure.|" She stared up at the Captain. "|Shall we make a deal, or are you just going to skip right to the torturing?|"
Rgrarshok grinned. "[Your interrogation will begin now. Go ahead, [Oscar].]"
The computer-generated cage around The Silken Feather shifted, moving her arms apart and exposing more of her keeled chest. She felt a moment of panic as the [human] wobbled towards her. Was he going to pull out a knife and start cutting on her?
The Silken Feather's shift didn't quite cover the front fluff of her chest, and as he reached her [Oscar] pushed aside some of the fabric to expose more feathers. The somewhat intimate act shocked her. She'd heard that [humans] would mate with just about anything, but surely he wouldn't resort to...that against her will?
Without a word, [Oscar] smashed himself face-first into her fluff like a nestling seeking warmth. The sensation created an automatic maternal response in The Silken Feather, causing her feathers to expand out.
"[Where's the Claw?]" asked Rgrarshok.
The thief tried to focus, but it was hard with a soft and warm little sapient doing his best to make a bed out of her chest fluff. "|Eh? Oh, that old thing? Who knows? Maybe I know, maybe I don't. You'll have to...oh...make it worth my while to...care...|"
"[Ah, you're expecting to make a deal with us?]"
The Silken Feather tried to focus, but [Oscar] was still squirming around against her chest. Her bound arms twitched...she wanted to hold the little alien in the worst way...
"|Wouldn't you, in my situation?|" she responded. "|After all, the [Claw's] location is the only bargaining chip I have right now. You must be mad if you think I'll give that up without at least an offer of amnesty.|"
{Oscar] let out a little warbling hum and reached out with both tiny hands to get a good grip on her chest fluff.
The act almost made The Silken Feather miss the Captain's next statement. "[And you must be mad if you think we'll let you go without having the Claw safe in our possession.]"
Any further strategy fled right out of her head. What was wrong with her? She was a ghost, a free soul, she was afraid of no one and wanted nothing more than lots of covert bank accounts stuffed full of credits. Now all that she could think of was the need to grasp this little being close to her, to build a nest and keep him safe and warm. The feeling was worse than any pain or injury.
"|I...well, that is...|" She shook herself and glared up at Rgrarshok. "|I have rights under Senate law! This treatment can't be legal!|"
Rgrarshok unsheathed a claw and held it up to her face. She inspected it closely as she spoke. "[What would you have to complain about? True, we have you bound at the moment but that is merely for our protection. Are we mistreating you in any way?]"
"|You know damn well what I mean...erg...can you tell him to stop squirming?|"
"[Tell him yourself.]"
The Silken Feather looked down at the little creature moving against her. "|I know what you're trying to do. It won't work.|"
"[What do you mean?]" asked [Oscar]. "[I'm tired and need a nap.]"
"|I just...please...|"
Rgrarshok chuckled. "[You know, if you wish to claim rights as a Senate citizen you'll need to tell us who you really are. It seems you've done quite an admirable job in throwing us off of your true scent.]"
The Silken Feather gritted her teeth. "|I will never tell you!|"
Rgrarshok waved her hand in a 'there it is' gesture. "[Then I guess you'll have to put up with [human] interaction. [Oscar], give me a call when you wake up and we'll continue.]" She started to lope away, only to be stopped by the Silken Feather's plea.
"|Please, no. I'll propose a deal. You release me and then I'll tell you where the Claw is.|"
"[You tell us where the Claw is and then we'll release you,]" replied the Captain.
The Silken Feather shook her crest. "|No. You can put an implant in me to track me if you like, but I won't tell you a thing until I'm out of your custody.|" She knew she was technically savvy enough to defeat any possible tracking they'd put in her, since they'd certainly try to capture her again after finding out the Claw was now in Sssnnathor's possession. After her release, she could then steal the Claw back from Sssnnathor as she'd planned. True, having the Senate team breathing on her tail would put a bit of a time constraint on things, but she was capable enough to pull it off.
[Oscar] abruptly let go of her floof and wobbled away back towards the Captain. "[She doesn't have the Claw. Not anymore.]"
Rgrarshok stroked a thoughtful claw along her chin. "[Agreed. She gave in far too easily.]"
"|What nonsense is this? Of course I have it! Not on me, obviously, but I have it stashed in a very safe location! One that you'll never discover unless I tell you. Release me and you can go get it yourself.|"
The pair of peace officers stared back at The Silken Feather for a moment.
"[If she'd sold it to [Sssnnathor], she would've been long gone with her money,]" said [Oscar].
"[True,]" replied Rgrarshok. "[So he must have found out somehow that she was here. The fact that she's alive means that he didn't get his claws on her directly. However he found out, the Claw is now in his custody.]" Her purple eyes stared steadily at The Silken Feather. [Isn't that right?]"
"|I'm not saying anything further,|" replied The Silken Feather. "|You may as well go ahead and torture me. Or whatever that was your [human] was doing.|"
[Oscar] gasped in mock horror. "[Me? Torture? No, I wouldn't dream of harming a single feather on your crest. But there are a few [Karnakians] on board whom you've wronged either directly or indirectly. I'm sure they'd be eager to...discuss...their grievances with you at great length.]"
"[Or we could just leave her tied up somewhere on the planet,]" said Rgarshok. "[Perhaps we should drop an anonymous note to [Sssnnathor] telling her where she is? Only in the interest of making sure she doesn't come to harm, of course.]"
"[Of course!]" said [Oscar].
The Silken Feather sagged once more, this time in real defeat. She had but one bit of leverage left to play. "|We can still make a deal for my release,|" she said.
"[With what information?]" asked Rgrarshok. "[If [Sssnnathor] has the Claw I'm sure you have no idea where he's hidden it. That's something we'll have to figure out.]" The Captain sighed. "[I'll bet this party of his is for showing off the Claw.]"
"[I'm not taking that bet,]" said [Oscar].
The thief shook her crest. "|I'm not talking about the Claw's location. I'm talking about [Sssnnathor] himself. He's up to something. Whatever it is involving cloning.|"
Rgrarshok placed a paw over her eyes. "[Of course he is. By the First Pack, I need a vacation.]"
submitted by Frank_Leroux to HFY [link] [comments]

Civ 6 Style SMAC Factions!

I was just messing around today and had a few fun thoughts about Alpha Centauri factions and how they might work in Civ 6. Dove into it and ended up writing up ideas for all seven of the original factions. NO IDEA if these are balanced well (probably not!) or particularly interesting to people, but I figured I'd throw them up here for feedback and commentary!
Beware, long post follows!
Chairman Sheng-ji Yang!
Sheng-ji Yang: Ethics for Tomorrow
Units gain +5 combat strength and cities gain +1 Amenity with a garrisoned unit while government type is Autocracy, Monarchy, Communism or Synthetic Technocracy. +1 economic policy slot for Autocracy and Monarchy; +1 military policy slot for Communism and Synthetic Technocracy. Cities with a garrisoned unit ignore 50% of loyalty generated from other civilizations, and enemy Spies cannot Recruit Partisans or Foment Unrest in garrisoned cities. Whenever other players gain Grievances against Yang they gain +50% Grievances.
The Human Hive: Hive-Cities
City centers gain +2 production if founded on Hills, and +1 production from every two adjacent Hills. Industrial Zones gain a minor adjacency bonus from Hills and a standard adjacency bonus from Encampments and Harbors. Gain a free Defensive Perimeter in every city after discovering Masonry.
UB: Defensive Perimeter
Replaces Ancient Walls. Automatically repairs outer defense strength by 20 every turn while the city is not under siege. +4 Ranged combat strength to ranged units in this city's City Center and Encampment, so long as the district still has outer defense strength.
UU: Hive Serf
Replaces Military Engineer. Can perform all actions of both Military Engineers and Builders. Begins with 5 charges, but does not benefit from any effect that gives extra charges to Builders.
Agenda: Police State
Maintains high loyalty and a large military, and always uses his preferred government types (Autocracy, Monarchy, Communism or Synthetic Technocracy). Likes those who maintain high loyalty by utilizing his preferred governments. Dislikes those with low loyalty or a small military, and greatly dislikes those not utilizing one of his preferred government types.
Start Bias: Hills (strong)
Lady Diedre Skye!
Dierdre Skye: Our Secret War
Gain a free Spy and an extra Spy capacity at Civil Service. Spies stationed in another civilization's City Center can perform the Subvert Defenses mission; all military units gain +7 combat strength against that City Center while the mission is running (including units of other Civilizations or City-States). +5% Tourism to each Civilization for each offensive Spy mission successfully completed against that civilization (up to a maximum of +100%).
Gaia's Stepdaughters: White Pines
All unimproved Forests and Rainforests give +1 Faith and +1 Food. After discovering Conservation, these bonuses also apply to improved Forests and Rainforests. All renewable sources of power give +2 power. -1 Amenity in every cith when Global Warming reaches stage 3, and.-1 Amenity for every two stages of Global Warming afterwards.
UB: Hybrid Forest
Replaces the Zoo. Zero maintenence cost; all cities within 6 tiles gain an additional amenity if they have at least one old-growth Forest in their territory, and all old-growth Forests within 6 tiles and inside of Gaian territory gain +2 Culture. +1 Science to each Forest tile in this city (in addition to the +1 Science to Rainforest and Marsh tiles). This district no longer blocks placement of National Parks.
UU: Mind Worm Boil
Land melee unit with a unique promotion tree and three base movement, unlocked at Mysticism. Mind Worm Boil base Combat Strength is always equal to the base Combat Strength of the unit they are in combat with, with +2 Combat Strength for every promotion the Mind Worm Boil has and -2 Combat Strength for every promotion the targeted unit has. -4 Combat Strength when defending. Mind Worm Boils may only be purchased with faith.
Mind Worm Boil promotions:
1A: Fungal Blooms - This unit heals an extra +10 HP per turn when healing in Forest or Rainforest tiles.
1B: Psychic Terror - +4 Combat Strength when attacking a damaged unit.
2A: Burrowing - This unit can only be seen by adjacent enemy units.
2B: Writhing Mass - This unit ignores City Center and Encampment Outer Defenses.
3A: Empath Song - +4 Combat Strength to adjacent friendly, non-Mind Worm Boil military units.
3B: Demon Boil - Raises this unit's maximum HP to 150.
4: Locusts of Chiron - All terrain tiles cost 1 movement, and unit may move over water tiles without embarking. Unit ignores enemy Zones of Control.
Agenda: The Tragedy of Earth
Avoids removing Forest and Rainforest where feasable and avoids contributing to Global Warming. Likes those who show respect for the planet, and forgives those who are going through hard times. Dislikes those who contribute to Global Warming, and those who hoard Gold while desecrating the natural landscape.
Start Bias: Forest (strong), Rainforest (weak)
Commissioner Pravin Lal!
Pravin Lal: A Brotherhood of Earth
Successfully voting for a World Congress resolution refunds 50% of the Diplomatic Favor spent on that Resolution. +1 additional Diplomatic Victory point when Lal is awarded Diplomatic Victory points for winning the Diplomatic Victory resolution in the World Congress. +100% Production in all cities and +2 Movement for all units when participating in an Emergency.
The Peacekeeping Forces: Declaration of Rights
+2 Amenities and +4 Housing in the capital city and all cities within 7 tiles. Governors with at least two promotions give +10% Production, +10% Food, and +10% gold to their assigned cities. Units within 10 tiles of the capital city gain +7 combat strength. Government Plaza gives a major (rather than standard) adjacency bonus to all adjacent districts. -2 Amenities in cities more than 15 tiles away from the capital city.
UB: Unity Plaza
Unique tier 3 Government Plaza building that is mutually exclusive with the National History Museum, Royal Society, and War Department. +1 Diplomatic Favor per turn for every two Citizens in this city, and building the Unity Plaza grants six Envoys. Enemy Spies operate as three levels lower when attempting to Fabricate Scandals in city-states this civilization is Suzerain of.
UU: U.N. Peacekeepers
Replaces the Infantry and is cheaper to build. +10 Combat Strength when fighting in the territory of a city that is currently owned by a different Civilization than its founder. This bonus remains even when this unit is upgraded to Mechanized Infantry.
Agenda: Safeguard against Tyranny
Builds up a defensive army, but prefers not to conquer others. Likes those who remain peaceful and avoid tyrannical forms of government (Autocracy, Monarchy, Fascism and Corporate Libertarianism). Dislikes those occupying cities or attacking city-states, and greatly dislikes tyrannical powers.
Start Bias: None
Sister Miriam Godwinson!
Miriam Godwinson: But for the Grace of God
All military units gain +2 Combat Strength when attacking for each Tenet of your Religion, and all Spy offensive missions operate at +2 levels in cities following other Religions. Cities of other civilizations you are at war with take damage each time you add Religious Pressure to them. -5% Science in all cities for each Tenet of your Religion.
The Lord's Believers: The Lord Works
Gain a free Great Prophet when completing your first Holy Site (if there are any Great Prophets remaining).
UI: Bastion of God
Unique improvement unlocked at Divine Right which can only be built within the territory of a civilization you are at war with, and may overwrite pillaged improvements. Occupying Believer units gain +4 Defense Strength and 2 turns of Fortification. Believer Military and Theological units in or adjacent to a Bastion of God heal every turn, even if they take other actions. If the city is conquered by the Lord's Believers, the Bastion of God will automatically become a Monument of Glory. One per city. This improvement is removed completely when pillaged.
UI: Monument of Glory
Unique improvement that cannot be built by builders. +6 faith, and this city ignores passive Religious Pressure from religions not founded by the owner.
UU: Faith Healer
Unique Theological unit that replaces the Guru and is cheaper to purchase. Requires a Holy Site (but no Shrine or Temple) to purchase. May heal Military as well as Theological units. Begins with 4 charges.
Agenda: We Must Dissent
Attempts to spread her religion as widely as possible and to conquer those who do not willingly adopt it, and is deeply distrustful of science. Likes those who actively purchase theological units of her religion and use them to spread that religion. Dislikes those who follow other religions or have high faith generation but don't spread her religion, and greatly dislikes those ahead of her in scientific progress.
Start Bias: None
C.E.O. Nwabudike Morgan!
Nwabudike Morgan: The Ethics of Greed
Units are 20% cheaper to purchase with gold when at war or harboring Grievances toward another civilization, and purchased units may move and attack immediately. Gain the special Philanthropy city project in any city with a Commercial Hub or Harbor; the project reduces the city's gold output by 50% while active, but gives Diplomatic Favor and Tourism and reduces all Grievances against Morgan Industries when completed.
Morgan Industries: Economic Miracles
Harbors, Commercial Hubs, Entertainment Districts and Water Parks gain +1 gold for each adjacent district, increasing to +2 with Mercantilism and +3 with Capitalism. Harbors and harbor buildings give Great Merchant points equal to their Great Admiral points. -1 Amenity and -5% to all yields in cities at or above population 4 that do not have a harbor or a commercial hub; -2 Amenities and -10% to all yields in cities at or above population 10 that are not within the effective range of an Entertainment District or Water Park.
UI: Casino Strip
Replaces the Seaside Resort and is available at Capitalism. Can be built on flat Grassland, Plains, Desert and Tundra, and not adjacent to another Casino Strip. Increases city Power Load by 1. +1 Amenity, +2 Gold, and +1 Great Merchant Point while powered. +1 gold for each adjacent City Center, Commercial Hub, Harbor, Entertainment District, and Water Park while powered. +2 gold for each adjacent Neighborhood with a Shopping Mall building while powered. Generates Tourism equal to its total Gold output.
UU: Morganite Caravan
Unique Trade unit that replaces the Trader. Has a longer effective range than a normal Trader, and moves twice as fast on already-built Roads. +1 gold bonus on trade routes for every unique civilization or city-state's territory passed through. Generates bonus Tourism each turn (equal to gold per turn) in civilizations the trade route passes through when sent from a city with a Casino Strip.
Agenda: Monopoly
Pursues trade deals and trade routes to maximize his gold output. Likes civilizations with cities in trade route range and leaders willing to cut trade deals that give him gold. Dislikes leaders who refuse to trade gold to him, and greatly dislikes civilizations with little gold to trade.
Start Bias: Rivers (strong)
Colonel Corazon Santiago!
Corazon Santiago: New Era of Glory
Gains a free melee unit of the strongest type available each time she recruits a Great General and a free naval melee unit of the strongest type available each time she recruits a Great Admiral.. Each time a unit kills an enemy (non-barbarian) unit with a higher base Combat Strength, gain 1 Era score. +4 Great General and Great Admiral points per turn during Golden Ages.
Spartan Federation: The Council of War
Each Envoy sent to a Militaristic city-state counts as two Envoys. +1 Amenity in every city from each Military City-State the Spartans are Suzerain of. Happy cities gain an additional +5% production and Ecstatic cities an additional +10% when constructing military units, Encampment and Harbor districts and buildings, or defensive structures. Happy and Ecstatic cities get no bonus to yields other than Food and Production.
UB: Command Center
Unique building that replaces the Military Academy. Land units trained in this city gain the Spartan Tactics bonus, giving them +10 combat strength when fighting outnumbered (A single unit fighting a corps or army, or a corps fighting an army).
UB: Maritime Control
Unique building that replaces the Seaport. Naval units trained in this city gain the Spartan Tactics bonus, giving them +10 combat strength when fighting outnumbered (A single unit fighting a fleet or armada, or a fleet fighting an armada).
UU: Shock Troops
Replaces the Infantry and is available at Rifling. Cheaper and weaker than Infantry (380 Production, 65 base Combat Strength), and no Strategic Resource cost or upkeep. +10 Combat Strength and +1 Movement during Golden Ages.
Agenda: Survivalist
Actively seeks to secure her territory and control nearby city-states, and strikes out actively against nearby threats. Likes civilizations that aren't threatening or are distant. Dislikes nearby civs that are building up militarily, or that wrest suzerainity of the city-states near her borders.
Start Bias: None
Academician Prokhor Zakharov!
Academician Prokhor Zakharov: For I Have Tasted the Fruit
University cities ignore passive Religious pressure. Military units may Evict other Civilization's Theological units from University territory. Evicting a unit returns it to its owner's nearest city, and removes 100 Religious Pressure from all nearby University cities. University cities which are not following any Religion gain +10% Science. May not construct Holy Sites or found a Religion.
University of Planet: In the Name of Progress
Building a University in a Campus with at least a +4 Adjacency bonus gives a free Eureka. Gain Great Scientist points each time a Eureka is triggered. Universities gain one Artifact slot, which gives three Science and three Tourism when filled.
UB: Experimental Laboratory
Unique building that replaces the Research Lab. +4 Science, with an additional +8 Science when powered. All Civilian slots in this Campus give +2 Science. -1 Amenity and -5 Loyalty in this city when powered.
UU: Field Researcher
Unique civilian unit available at National History. May be built once in any city with a University. Has one charge for extracting an artifact, which will then be placed in the University of the Field Researcher's origin city. Artifacts gained in this way cannot be swapped or stolen.
Agenda: Intellectual Integrity
Tries to maintain atheist cities and advance his scientific progress as much as possible. Likes other civs that are highly scientific and non-religious. Dislikes civs that have a dominant religion or low science gain, and greatly dislikes civs trying to spread their religion to his cities.
Start Bias: Mountains (strong)
submitted by Dhosmhea to civ [link] [comments]

OP ED: A Socialist View of US Government 'Gun Control' - by Tom Crean (Socialist Alternative) 5 Dec 2017

The horrific Las Vegas massacre at the start of October and the more recent massacre at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas has rekindled the debate about what can be done to prevent the nightmare of recurring mass shootings. There have been renewed calls from liberal politicians for gun control measures. Even the National Rifle Association recently agreed that there should be some limits placed on the availability of “bump stocks” which allowed Stephen Paddock to turn his weapons into killing machines spewing hundreds of rounds of ammunition over the course of a few minutes into the concert crowd across the street from the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino.
But while mass shootings focus public attention, the truth is that they only account for a fraction of the total number of people killed by guns in the U.S. One recent report suggested that more Americans have died due to gun violence since 1968 than in all the wars engaged in by the U.S. in its entire history.
The question we posed in the document is whether the situation where society is awash in weapons in the interests of the working class. We elaborate why, as socialists, we reject both the “gun rights” narrative of the right as well as the liberal gun control narrative.
We must also note though that despite numerous horrific mass shootings, overall support for gun control measures has not grown over the last five years although there are increases in support for some measures in the wake of particularly horrific mass shootings. For example, 64% told Politico/Morning Consult in October that they support tightening gun regulation, a 3% increase. But the picture becomes much less clear when you look at specific measures
The longer term trend over the past 20 years is actually away from support for tougher gun control measures. For example, according to Gallup the support for a ban on assault rifles went down from 46% in December 2012 to 36% in October 2016. In 1996, by contrast, there was 57% support for a ban.
The gun control measure with overwhelming support is universal background checks including for private sales and sales at gun shows. There is also strong support for preventing people with mental health issues and those on government screening lists from buying weapons as well as for a centralized national database for gun sales.
Gun rights have become a key issue in the country’s deepening political polarization. It is also clear that the liberal arguments for more sweeping gun control measures have failed to convince broad swathes of the population. The NRA tragically has clearly had some success arguing in sections of the population that the way to combat gun violence in society is for the “good guys” to be armed to the teeth. This points all the more to the left needing to articulate an independent position on how to address the epidemic levels of violence in our society.
Is Gun Control the Solution to Gun Violence? A Socialist Analysis (2012)
Horror in Newtown
The massacre of 20 students and 7 adults in a Newtown, Connecticut school in December 2012 by a mentally disturbed young man has reignited the debate on gun control in the U.S. In mid-January, the Obama administration announced its support for a series of legislative measures that would among other things mandate background checks on all gun sales; ban the sale of “military style” semiautomatic weapons and limit ammunition magazines to a maximum of 10 rounds. This proposal to impose limited measures of gun control at the federal level has led to a furious response from the right, led by the National Rifle Association (NRA). However, polls indicate that there is a significant shift in popular sentiment toward supporting such measures.
Nevertheless the attempt to strengthen gun regulation at the federal level is for now dead in the water after even the background check measure which polls say is supported by nearly 90% of the public failed to get the 60 votes required to prevent a filibuster in the Senate. It should be stressed that this outcome does not mean the debate on gun control is over. Measures have been brought forward at state level and other massacres, unfortunately inevitable, will revive the issue. It is also clear that a significant section of the elite for their own reasons want to bring the gun lobby to heel.
As a Marxist organization with an increasing public profile we need to have a clear position in this public debate. We must look at the historical context of the right to bear arms and gun control both in the U.S. and internationally. We need to analyze the complex causes of the massive level of gun violence that exists in American society and put forward socialist solutions. We must look dispassionately at the real agenda of both the bourgeois forces pushing for gun control and those opposing it.
Perhaps most importantly, we must ask whether the arming of large sections of the American population in the concrete circumstances of the early 21st century and given the reactionary individualist ideology that promotes this is really in the interests of the working class. On the other hand, how do we address the ever increasing powers of the state which clearly do pose a threat to any section of American society that would resist the dictates of the ruling class? These are complex issues which cannot be summarized in a few glib phrases.
Historical Context
The Second Amendment to the Constitution reads as follows: “A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” The context of the amendment in 1791 was the recent Revolutionary War and the belief that the struggle against the British crown was probably not over – this was confirmed by the War of 1812 when the British burned Washington DC to the ground. There was strong opposition to the idea of a standing army based on historical experience in Europe and recent experience with the British Army. Standing armies were correctly seen as the tools of tyrannical regimes.
As a result, in the early American republic, a big section of the white male population was armed for military reasons first and foremost. Of course there was no question, as far as the elite was concerned, of allowing black slaves or even free blacks to have guns. Many states required gun owners to register their weapons and prohibited carrying concealed weapons.
Broadly speaking, the Second Amendment and the Bill of Rights of which it is part, represents part of the progressive legacy of the American Revolution. But as capitalism developed, the issue of weapons and gun control became inseparable from the class struggle between labor and capital and the desire of the ruling class to maintain the subjugation of the African American population.
There have been repeated horrific massacres in U.S. history of working people fighting for their rights. In 1914 during a miners’ strike in Colorado, 21 men, women, and children were killed in Ludlow by machine gun fire from the state militia. In 1937 during a peaceful protest of striking Republic Steel workers and their families in South Chicago, the police opened fire. Ten workers were shot dead and another 40 workers were wounded by gunfire, all of them shot in the back.
On the other side, striking workers resisting attacks from company goons and/or the state during strikes have on numerous occasions armed themselves for self-defense. In the 1880s Chicago’s militant German-centered labor movement went as far as creating a workers’ militia. This is not just a question of the dim and distant past. As recently as the 1970s, some miners pickets armed themselves in self-defense during wildcat UMWA strikes.
Likewise in the mid-1960s during the civil rights movement, the armed Deacons for Defense and Justice were formed by black veterans to protect civil rights activists against attacks by the Klan and state forces. The Deacons were very effective and played an important adjunct role to the mass protests at the heart of that struggle.
The Black Panther Party for Self Defense continued this tradition although their experience also shows the life and death consequences of an “ultra-left” approach to this question. Initially some of the actions the Panthers took were effective in exposing police violence, giving people confidence to stand up and putting a check on the state. On a general political level the Panthers were correct to argue a revolutionary case, i.e. against pacifism, and for the right to self-defense, and indeed to take concrete defensive action that was understandable to broader (not yet revolutionary) layers of the black community and the working class – such as practical measures to defend against violent attacks by racist forces.
However, the brandishing of weapons, while being attractive to a minority of revolutionary black youth, was a serious mistake. It contributed to keeping the Panthers isolated from the broader black working class, which sympathized with them but was not prepared to join an explicitly armed revolutionary organization, and played into the hands of the capitalist state which succeeded in brutally crushing them.
Huey Newton, Bobby Seale, and the Panther leadership eventually recognized this. As Huey Newton says in his book Revolutionary Suicide “We soon discovered that weapons and uniforms set us apart from the community. We were looked upon as an ad hoc military group, acting outside the community fabric and too radical to be a part of it. Perhaps some of our tactics at the time were extreme; perhaps we placed too much emphasis on military action.”
Even in an actual revolutionary situation, the key issue is not military but political mobilization of the working class and the oppressed on the basis of defensive and democratic appeals to oppose and defeat any violent efforts of the small ruling elite to subvert the will of the majority. This was precisely what the Bolsheviks did in October 1917, the most democratic revolution in history in which there was extremely little violence. The Bolsheviks also made a class appeal to the ranks of the Tsarist army thereby largely neutralizing the old state forces as a weapon for the autocratic regime.
Of course history is replete with negative examples where the working class lacked a leadership sufficiently determined to face down the threat of the old order to unleash counterrevolutionary violence. Adventurist attempts by revolutionaries to prematurely “seize power” have also led to bloody defeats for working people.
The ruling class always tries to portray its opponents as violent. It is the task of Marxists to demonstrate to the mass of the population that the central source of violence in modern society is capitalism and the capitalist elite. This is particularly true in the United States whose ruling class has waged and is still waging a whole series of bloody imperialist adventures around the world to defend the rule of profit.
This is the context in which we must look at gun control. Attempts at gun control have been an ongoing feature of U.S. and other capitalist societies. In Europe, the ruling class made concerted efforts to disarm revolutionary and working class forces in the wake of the revolutionary upheavals of 1848. In general, whatever the reasons given at the time, most attempts at gun control have been at least partly motivated by the desire of the ruling class to disarm its potential opponents, first and foremost the working class. For example, the Mulford Act passed by the California legislature in 1967 which banned the public carrying of a loaded firearm was a direct response to the Black Panthers. The federal Gun Control Act of 1968 was also partly motivated by fear of an armed black population especially in the wake of the 1967 urban upheavals.
Marxists have historically opposed such attempts to try to enforce the bourgeoisie’s desire for a monopoly of force. We do not accept the idea that only the state should be armed as a “neutral” arbiter between the classes. All historical experience shows that the state’s armed bodies are not neutral but rather serve the interests of the ruling class.
How the debate on gun rights changed
For much of the 20th century, federal gun control measures had bipartisan support. In the wake of the defeat of the radical wing of the civil rights movement, the collapse of Stalinism, and the drastic weakening of the labor movement and any real internal challenges to the power of U.S. capitalism, the debate on weapons within the ruling class shifted away from trying to disarm its potential adversaries.
This shift could already be seen during the Reagan administration, with the development of the New Right which took the position that any restrictions on the “right to bear arms” were an attack on the Second Amendment. This was part of a broader process underway in the Republican Party with a turn towards populist and religious appeals. The issue of gun ownership was tied to right-wing populism which used coded racism about crime to mobilize sections of the white working and middle class. This was part of providing a broader political and electoral base for an increasingly aggressive neoliberal corporate agenda.
The NRA wielded increasing power. Despite suffering a setback in the banning of the sales of assault rifles from 1994-2004, their influence continued to grow. At state and local level, they have had a string of successful drives to remove restrictions on the “right” to carry concealed weapons. [According to David Frum, writing in The Atlantic, “Since Newtown, more than two dozen states have expanded the right to carry into previously unknown places: bars, churches, schools, college campuses, and so on” (10/3/2017)]. While we would not in general base ourselves on the argument of what the Constitutional “founders” had in mind, let us be clear that the members of Congress who voted for the Bill of Rights in 1789 would not have supported the right to carry concealed weapons into taverns!
What is behind the rise of the NRA and the drive to systematically repeal gun control measures? One part is the NRA’s role as mouthpiece for the incredibly profitable gun industry whose sales in 2012 are estimated to have been $11.7 billion and whose profits amounted to $993 million (Washington Post, 12/19/2012) [by 2015 revenue had reached $13.5 billion and profits stood at $1.5 billion]. In the wake of the Newtown massacre, it was revealed that Cerberus Capital, a major Wall Street private equity firm, owned the Freedom Group, makers of the legally owned Bushmaster AR-15 that was used by Adam Lanza. Those making big money off of the sale of guns are not just the manufacturers but retailers like Walmart which is now the biggest seller of firearms and ammunition in America (The Nation, 1/7-14/2013).
But the NRA is also driven by a right-wing libertarian ideology that promotes a particularly reactionary version of individualism. This point of view overlaps with the idea that an armed (white) citizenry is needed to defend the constitution against a new tyranny. Of course it is true that the state has significantly increased its powers in the past historical period, using first the “war on drugs” and then the “war against terrorism” as excuses for increasing surveillance and largely shredding Fourth Amendment protections against “unreasonable search and seizure.”
It is no accident that gun sales have accelerated since Obama came into office in 2008 and have reportedly skyrocketed since his announcement in the wake of Newtown that he would make gun control a priority. Obama’s reelection margin as we have noted was significant but hardly overwhelming. And within the vote for Romney there is a significant section that has been influenced by the fantasies of the far right, specifically the view that Obama is some sort of anti-American Muslim/socialist tyrant. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, right-wing militia groups and other right wing extremist groups have been growing since 2008 although for the time being none of them has a mass audience. The Tea Party was a vehicle for this development but they were set back after 2011.
In reality one of the main right wing groups with a mass base is the NRA itself – as of 2010 it claimed 4.3 million members [5 million as of 2017]. Currently it is used in the interests of the gun industry and to mobilize for “gun rights” as one of several issues that provide cover for the right wing of corporate America to pursue its anti-working class agenda (along with opposition to abortion, immigration, etc.). But we should be clear that while the NRA and its backers currently promote the idea of individually armed citizens and not militias, at another stage a significant part of their heavily armed base could be turned into an overtly counterrevolutionary force to terrorize left-wing activists, workers in struggle, people of color, immigrants, and LGBT people as an auxiliary force to the capitalist state.
Gun violence in the U.S. today
We also need to look at the specific features and causes of the extremely high level of gun violence in U.S. society.
There are an estimated 300 million privately owned weapons in the U.S. The U.S. is far and away the most violent of the wealthy capitalist societies. In 2004, there were 5.5 homicides for every 100,000 persons, roughly three times as high as Canada (1.9) and six times as high as Germany. To quote Occupy the NRA, an OWS offshoot, “The U.S. has 5% of the world’s population but accounts for half of all firearms worldwide and 80% of gun deaths in the 23 richest countries.”
Nevertheless we also need to recognize that the homicide level declined sharply in the 1990s. As of 2009 the homicide rate was at its lowest level since 1964 and half of what it was at the start of the 1980s. While this is a significant fact, the level of violent death is still staggering. In 2010, there were 14,748 homicides. 67.5% of these killings involved a gun (“Crime in The United States 2010, FBI Statistics” ).
The homicide rate nearly doubled from the mid 1960s to the late 1970s. In 1980, it peaked at 10.2 per 100,000 population and subsequently fell off to 7.9 per 100,000 in 1984. It rose again in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s to another peak in 1991 of 9.8 per 100,000. From 1992 to 2000, the rate declined sharply. (Bureau of Justice Statistics) [in the past few years, the number of homicides has been creeping upward nationally, and dramatically in some cities like Chicago].
And while homicide levels have declined to the level of the early 1960s, violent crime overall (much of it involving guns) remains at a much higher level than it was 50 years ago (FBI Uniform Crime Reports).
While media attention has focused on massacres from Virginia Tech to Aurora, Colorado, gun violence is concentrated in poor neighborhoods in big cities and most of the victims are poor people of color. Perhaps the most extreme example is New Orleans where the 2004 homicide rate was 52 per 100,000, ten times the national average.
Chicago has recently experienced a spike in gun violence. But as The New York Times noted, more than 80 percent of the Chicago’s 500+ homicides in 2012 took place in only about half of the city’s 23 police districts, largely on the city’s South and West Sides (1/3/2013).
Opponents of gun control will argue that the sharp decline of homicides shows that the prevalence of gun ownership and lack of much regulation does not mean that violence will increase. On the other hand, proponents of gun control like New York City’s former Mayor Mike Bloomberg will cite the fact that homicides in NYC are at a 50 year low [334 in 2016 compared to a high of 2,245 in 1989] as proof of the effectiveness of aggressive policing policies and the drive to get illegal guns off the street. In reality in many big cities there is much tighter gun control than in suburbs and rural areas. Massive police presence in poor communities has undoubtedly had some effect but at the cost of creating mini-police states where the police systematically harass young men and a massive prison gulag.
But there are clearly other reasons for the decline in homicide including the end of the crack epidemic of the 1980s. A more recent factor is the improvement in emergency medicine which improves the survival chances of people who have been shot. A Wall Street Journal (12/8/12) article on this subject is worth quoting at length because of its emphasis on the key point – gun violence and overall violence remain at epidemic levels:
“The number of U.S. homicides has been falling for two decades, but America has become no less violent.
“Crime experts who attribute the drop in killings to better policing or an aging population fail to square the image of a more tranquil nation with this statistic: The reported number of people treated for gunshot attacks from 2001 to 2011 has grown by nearly half. Improved medical care doesn’t account for the entire decline in homicides but experts say it is a major factor.
“Emergency-room physicians who treat victims of gunshot and knife attacks say more people survive because of the spread of hospital trauma centers—which specialize in treating severe injuries—the increased use of helicopters to ferry patients, better training of first-responders and lessons gleaned from the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan.”
Why is American Society So Violent?
There is no single reason for the level of violence in society. Clearly, the fact that the U.S. is one of the most – if not the most – unequal of the Advanced Capitalist Countries (ACCs) is very relevant. For example the U.S. has a higher poverty rate (17.2% in late 2000s) compared with 22 other OECD countries (Economic Policy Institute, based on OECD Stat Extracts). As documented in The Spirit Level: Why Equality is Better for Everyone by Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett, the level of inequality in a society contributes directly to the level of alienation. But of course massive inequality is the result of the particular development of U.S. capitalism. U.S. society has also been steeped in violence from its birth. One element of this historical legacy was that the U.S. was a frontier society where the violent campaign to wrest land from Native Americans lasted well into the 19th century. This involved the arming of a significant section of the population.
Even more important is the legacy of chattel slavery and the ongoing violent repression of African American communities to the present day. The “war on drugs” beginning in the 1970s was an attempt to criminalize and suppress black youth whom the state saw as the most radical section of society, as well as a political/electoral strategy to make a coded appeal to racism under new conditions with the end of legal segregation. This has led the U.S. to have the highest level of incarceration in the world – which in itself is a huge source of violence. Hundreds of thousands of nonviolent drug offenders enter the extremely violent prison system and come out with far fewer rights and far more alienated from society than when they entered.
In many of the most depressed communities in the U.S. there exists a toxic combination of systemic poverty, massive alienation, and ferocious state repression. Violence is the inevitable result. Does the availability of weapons contribute to the level of violence? Undoubtedly but it is not the central cause.
And while the dynamic is not the same in more affluent communities like Newtown, it is undoubtedly the case that stress because of economic uncertainty and general social alienation are pervasive in American society. It can be argued that alienation for some young people in some suburbs may be even worse due to the lack of recreation facilities, areas to socialize, etc. An author of a study of “rampage shootings” points out that “There has been only one example of a rampage school shooting in an urban setting since 1970” (The Nation, 12/19/2012).
Added to this is the severely ineffective mental health system, an inevitable result of for-profit medicine and the cuts in funding for mental health and social services. These factors have all contributed to the spate of massacres.
U.S. imperialism’s willingness to unleash massive violence around the world also directly contributes to the violence within the U.S. itself. In a direct sense it has led to a massive expansion of the state justified by the “war on terror.” Obama and other capitalist politicians repeatedly call to “end the violence” inside America while using drones and state assassination abroad and militarizing the police domestically.
But there are other indirect effects as well. As Marxists point out, cultural production inevitably reflects the dominant (ruling class) values of society. Given the commitment of the U.S. ruling class to endless violence against its perceived enemies it is not surprising to see this reflected in movies, videogames, and music which idealize a macho, gun toting cult of death. The Current Debate on Gun Control
After years in which gun control measures especially at the federal level were seen by liberals as politically unfeasible because of the strength of the NRA, the aftermath of the Newtown massacre caused the issue to return to center stage. Obama decided to make this one of the central issues of his second term alongside immigration reform, fiscal “reform,” and climate change.
The debate on gun control as played out in the capitalist media features only two sides: on the one hand high profile Democrats, big city mayors and a section of the bourgeois who have decided that it is time to take on the NRA and on the other side right wing Republicans, backed up by the NRA who are digging in to oppose almost any gun control measures.
Our starting point in formulating our position should be sympathy with the understandable desire of most ordinary people to do something about gun violence, particularly to stop the horrific string of massacres. We completely rejected the NRA’s proposal that the appropriate response to Newtown was to put an armed police officer in every school in the country – right wingers have even raised the idea of allowing teachers to carry concealed weapons in the classroom and incredibly South Dakota passed a law to allow this! Their argument that the only way to stop “bad guys with guns” is to have more “good guys with guns” on the streets is a recipe for even more violence in society not less.
While we strongly believe in the right of working people, racial minorities, and the oppressed to defend themselves against the violence of the bosses, the state or reactionary groups, the current level of gun violence in the U.S. is actually an obstacle to the development of social struggle. While defending our general theoretical position on the state – and not making any concession to liberal ideas that the state is neutral we need to examine the question concretely under the current conditions, balance of forces, and consciousness. In the situation prevailing in the U.S. today, does the current regime of widespread access to guns actually help strengthen the position of the working class?
The reality is that it does not, and in fact the past 30 years – when the tendency has been for gun control to be relaxed – has seen a major offensive by big business, an undermining of democratic rights, and the strengthening of the repressive powers of the state. The dominant forces arguing against gun control promote a right-wing, individualist, racist, and sexist ideology that weakens the working class.
Furthermore the threat of violence, ranging from the everyday threat of shootings in many communities up to and including the threat of terrorist attacks, has given the state ready-made excuses to ramp up its powers of repression. That does not mean we should adopt the position of the liberal gun-control advocates or echo the view that guns are the main problem in society. We need to put forward an independent, working-class position.
We reject the NRA argument that the type of limited gun control measures proposed by Obama are the beginning of the end of the Second Amendment or the right to bear arms. There is no serious proposal being put forward to try to disarm or partially disarm the population as a whole. The only areas where there are forcible attempts by the police to disarm people are public housing projects in the inner cities.
But opposing the attempt of the NRA to whip up collective paranoia is not sufficient. We also need to be clear that there are many legitimate reasons why people want to own guns. In rural culture, guns are widely used for hunting, dealing with predators, and entertainment. This does not inevitably lead to massive levels of violence. Likewise many suburban and urban dwellers understandably want to own a gun for protection. This is often particularly the case in areas where gun violence is endemic. It is not surprising that many women want to own a gun for self-defense. Socialists are not pacifists and we do not criticize ordinary people for owning a gun or wanting to.
But the question which most ordinary people want answered now is how to significantly reduce the violence. The elite advocates of gun control do not have a serious answer to this question. Even if all the measures proposed by the Obama administration were passed into law the history of recent gun control measures suggests that the extremely powerful gun industry will find ways around them. This is what happened to the 1994 “ban” on assault weapons.
The other fundamental reason that the ruling-class gun-control lobby can’t show a way to seriously reduce violence is that, as has already been pointed out, the central source of violence in society is capitalism itself including the capitalist state.
Serious measures to reduce violence would include ending the “war on drugs” and decriminalizing most or all drugs. (It should be stressed that decriminalization is not the same as legalization. Essentially it means trying to treat drug addiction as a public health problem first and foremost.) Releasing the hundreds of thousands of nonviolent drug offenders from prison and the dismantling of the bloated and racist criminal injustice system would do more to reduce violence than any gun control measure.
We also advocate taking serious measures against the massively profitable gun industry such as banning the sales of weapons by these companies (or the government) to various right-wing regimes around the world. We also are for ending the military adventures of U.S. imperialism abroad and massively reducing the scale of the military and the Pentagon budget. The resources freed up could be used to create jobs and improve education, health care (including mental health), and social services and thereby contribute to reducing violence abroad and at home. Finally we are for repealing the Patriot Act and other legislation that has legalized a massive security state that has done precious little to improve the safety of ordinary people but has certainly contributed to a big increase in state violence.
Simply enacting a massive jobs program, a $15 an hour federal minimum wage and other anti-poverty measures, and a single-payer, socialized health-care system which prioritizes mental health care would be huge steps forward in creating a saner, less violent society. We advocate all measures that would reduce the level of inequality in society and that would dismantle institutional racism, but we stress that only by uprooting capitalism can we create a just, egalitarian society. However, even limited reforms quite quickly come up against the limits of this diseased and decaying system.
Again it should be stressed that these measures we are proposing would be far more effective in reducing gun violence than “gun control” which is likely to be very ineffective. But in the context of our wider aim of strengthening the struggle of working people, we support some gun control measures including mandating background checks on all gun sales, banning the sale of “military style” semi-automatic weapons, and reducing the number of rounds in ammunition magazines on the basis that they would act to reduce the level of violence even if only to a limited degree.
However, we have reservations about how background checks proposals are often written. Banning anyone with a conviction from buying a gun in practice means excluding a significant section of the black working class. At the very least, there should be an appeal process built into background checks.
Again we are in no way saying that many ordinary people do not have entirely legitimate reasons for owning or wanting to own weapons but we do not see the present situation as being in the interests of the working class. Not all issues have a simple yes or no answer. Our position embodies a certain contradiction but really it is reality which is full of impossible contradictions as long as we continue to operate within a capitalist framework.
submitted by FinnagainsAwake to WorkersVanguard2 [link] [comments]

The Week In Review: Suburban News of the Past Week (4/10/16)

Northwest Indiana community centers offering free diapers to non-nicotine-using mothers (ABC 7)
WBBM-AM 780 news anchor killed in single-vehicle crash on I-65 in Merrillville (Chicago Tribune/Post-Tribune)
Waukegan teen shot by Zion police officer remembered during service, rally (Chicago Tribune/Lake County News-Sun)
Burr Ridge woman wins $1 million in Lotto drawing (Chicago Sun-Times)
West Chicago mayor walking through the city to improve health, encourages residents to join him (Daily Herald)
Accreditation team examining Grayslake Police to have public-information meeting on April 11 (Daily Herald)
Lincolnshire police to host identity theft/fraud-prevention seminar on April 14 (Daily Herald)
DuPage County Sheriff's Office looking for West Chicago man wanted on warrant on robbery charge (CBS 2)
Bike-path plan stuck as Hoffman Estates waits on Canadian National to sign off on trail running through railroad right-of-way (Daily Herald)
Villa Park teacher felled by blood clot is making recovery faster than expected, still plans June wedding (Daily Herald)
Motorcyclist found dead in Lake Villa Township (Daily Herald)
Wheaton-based Franciscans Ministries turns over 11 affordable-housing properties — including complexes in Aurora, Batavia, Carol Stream, Gurnee and Wheaton — to Mercy Housing Inc. (Daily Herald)
Chicago man held on $90,000 bail after Rosemont police charge him with his fourth DUI (Daily Herald)
Work to upgrade Huntley's downtown square under way (Daily Herald)
Elgin Area Unit School District U-46 launches smartphone app that offers lunch menus, district news, school contact information (Daily Herald)
Waukegan police looking for two men in three street robberies that occurred Sunday (Daily Herald)
Barrington Area Unit School District 220 addresses concerns over 'blended' learning that allows students to do work both in school and online (Daily Herald)
Chicago man pleads guilty to 2011 murder of cab driver in Evanston; twin brother awaiting trial on another Evanston killing (Chicago Tribune)
Woman killed, six injured when Yellow Line train strikes vehicle at East Prairie Road in Skokie (Chicago Tribune/Skokie Review)
Waukegan suspends homeless shelter's business license over allegations of panhandling and littering nearby (Chicago Tribune/Lake County News-Sun)
Metropolitan Planning Council urges 30-cent increase in gas tax to pay to maintain state's roads, public transit (Chicago Sun-Times)
Frankfort motorcyclist killed in crash with another motorcycle at Iroquois County rest area (Chicago Sun-Times)
Cubs' Hall-of-Famer Ryne Sandberg buys Lake Bluff house (Crain's Chicago Business)
Three teenage girls arrested following hallway brawl at Evanston Township High School (WBBM AM 780)
Blaze breaks out at Merrillville apartment complex on day of planned fire drill; no injuries reported (CBS 2)
One person dead after crash on westbound I-80 near New Lenox (ABC 7)
Duck rescued in Downers Grove after being struck by car, getting stuck in vehicle's front end; bird apparently uninjured (WGN TV)
One construction worker killed, three injured when steel beam fell from I-90 overpass in Des Plaines (CBS/WBBM AM 780)
Pharmacists to be able to dispense drug-overdose counter-agent Nalaxone without prescription (Chicago Tribune)
North Aurora Village Board hikes garbage-sticker prices under new deal with Waste Management (Daily Herald)
Arlington Heights institutes new ordinance to prevent pets from puppy mills being sold in the village (Daily Herald)
Carpentersville fire union, village at odds over two firefighters being laid off, as village cuts a total of 33 workers to save money (Daily Herald)
Naperville to replace 88-year-old Washington Street bridge downtown; 80 percent of $327,970 cost to be paid by federal funds (Daily Herald)
Des Plaines to have study done for potential pedestrian underpass along Northwest Highway's 'S' curve (Daily Herald)
Man found dead in car parked outside Joliet dollar store (Chicago Sun-Times)
Elgin teen facing drug, weapons charges after traffic stop in St. Charles; suspect reported had green, leafy substance on his sweatshirt (Chicago Sun-Times)
Teenage girl knocked down while getting out of car about 2 p.m. Monday in Hinsdale (Daily Herald)
Police identify 58-year-old Orland Park resident as victim of I-80 crash near New Lenox on Monday (Chicago Sun-Times)
Chicago police identify body in Lake Michigan as missing East Aurora High student (Daily Herald)
Buffalo Grove plans to issue $6.3 million in bonds to pay for street and infrastructure improvements (Daily Herald)
Dundee Township Park District considers 'spray park' as alternative to playground for Huffman Park in West Dundee (Daily Herald)
West Chicago City Museum seeks tales of things 'Made in West Chicago' (Daily Herald)
11-year-old from Vernon Hills wins national Drive, Chip and Putt competition at Augusta National Golf Club (Daily Herald)
Hanover Park hires Glen Ellyn resident, formerly human resources director in Oak Brook (Daily Herald)
Toad the Wet Sprocket, Rusted Root to headline Naperville's Last Fling (Daily Herald)
Northwestern Memorial HealthCare in talks with Crystal Lake-based Centegra for merger in midst of FTC anti-trust investigation against Advocate, North Shore (Chicago Tribune)
Joliet man charged with stabbing ex-girlfriend multiple times (Chicago Sun-Times)
Waukegan police seek two men wanted for armed robbery of store (Chicago Sun-Times)
Warrenville-based EN Engineering leases space in Chicago's Loop, to move 60 workers to new office (Crain's Chicago Business)
Lake County (Ill.) biologist reports re-introduced frog doing well (WBBM AM 780)
Minooka highlighted on Stephen Colbert's 'The Late Show' with guest Nick Offerman (CBS/WBBM AM 780)
Gary man charged with murder of two people he'd been drinking with and smoking pot with earlier (CBS 2)
Arlington Heights Village Board discusses short-, long-term issues, operations, infrastructure during three-hour meeting (Daily Herald)
Palatine trustees OK plans for Aldi store at Deer Crossing Shopping Center (Daily Herald)
Naperville city officials maintain takeover of township roads would save taxpayers money (Daily Herald)
Elgin Fire Department practices water rescues on Fox River (Daily Herald)
Oak Brook teen reels in rare albino swell shark while vacationing in Mexico (Chicago Tribune/The Doings)
Forest Park studio restoring Alexander Hamilton statue in advance of Broadway show 'Hamilton' arrives in Chicago (Chicago Tribune)
Preckwinkle proposes redevelopment of old Cook County Hospital; plan would include apartments, stores, offices, hotel (CBS 2)
Berwyn family recalls dedicated family man killed in I-90 beam collapse (NBC 5)
Round Lake's Pizza Place opens new restaurant after previous building destroyed by 2015 tornado (WGN TV)
Bremen Youth Services loses mental-health/counseling contract from Bremen Township, faces closure (CBS 2)
Former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert cites declining health, seeks probation for conviction on bank fraud (CBS 2)
Greek Orthodox church in Homer Glen to have blessing of bikers, motorcycles on Sunday, April 10 (WBBM AM 780)
Overwhelming response to 'Corgi Huddle' in Deerfield results in event's cancellation (NBC 5)
Skimming device found on Lombard gas pump prompts Bank of America to investigate incidents in Chicago (NBC 5)
Obama, Biden endorse Duckworth in U.S. Senate campaign (ABC 7)
Metra starts on seasonal construction, tabbed at $200 million this year (Daily Herald)
Illinois Community College Board chairman warns of further layoffs, potential closures as state budget battle drags on (Daily Herald)
Lake Zurich distillery moves to make sure it can continue offering live entertainment (Daily Herald)
Rotary Club of Carol Stream to place bags on doorknobs of homes as way of collecting food donations during April; organization hopes to gather 7.5 tons of food (Daily Herald)
U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, Hoffman Estates police to have drug take-back event on April 30 (Daily Herald)
Northwestern senior comes up short on 'Jeopardy!' (Chicago Tribune)
TV home-improvement icon Bob Vila sues Loves Park man, after Burr Ridge-based Brilliant Event Planning and Indiana company use his name, likeness on events not associated with him (Chicago Tribune)
California man charged in 2007 rape of 12-year-old Robbins girl; arrested in Oakland, Calif., on outstanding Cook County warrant (Chicago Sun-Times)
Chicago man wanted for 2014 murder in Crete is arrested in Dallas, Texas (Chicago Sun-Times)
Two Joliet residents arrested for possession of meth after traffic stop in Joliet (Chicago Sun-Times)
Cook County sheriff's officers talk suicidal man out of jumping from overpass in Sauk Village (Chicago Sun-Times)
OSHA cites Lansing company's safety violations in man's death at New Orleans, La., facility; sets fine at $226,000 (Chicago Sun-Times)
Small fire near CTA Yellow Line in Skokie disrupts train service (Chicago Sun-Times)
OSHA fines Bolingbrook metal-stamping company $110,000 over safety violations (Chicago Sun-Times)
Des Plaines may set open-space requirement or require fee to pay for park space nearby for new developments (Daily Herald)
Lake County Forest Preserve District delays opening golf courses as cost-savings measure (Daily Herald)
Kenneth Young Center Resale Shop in Schaumburg closing after 34 years (Daily Herald)
McHenry man charged with murdering ex-girlfriend, leaving her body entombed in his house had battered her before (Chicago Tribune)
Chicago restaurateur opens Mediterranean-American restaurant Citrine Café in Oak Park (Crain's Chicago Business)
Victims' family upset that attorney for murderer David Biro scheduled to speak at New Trier West High School (CBS 2)
Aurora woman combines loves of pets, art to create PawCasso, the art studio for dogs (WGN TV)
Advocate Children's Hospital in Oak Lawn experiencing rise in births of twins (CBS 2)
Two Waukegan residents charged with kidnapping Gurnee woman at knife-point over property they claimed to own (Chicago Tribune/Lake County News-Sun)
24-year-old Palatine man charged with sexually abusing hearing-impaired teen girl (Daily Herald)
Buffalo Grove trustees question what $100,000 will buy them as they plan for development of Lake-Cook corridor (Daily Herald)
Mount Prospect adopts ordinance allowing residents to opt out of automated water-meter reading system, but they will pay for external meters or manual readings (Daily Herald)
Naperville Township makes $50,000 cuts to its budget in order to pay highway commissioner's salary, rather than forcing him to take his salary out of his own budget (Daily Herald)
Vernon Area Public Library in Lincolnshire has interactive comedy display, which started as April Fool's joke, up all month (Daily Herald)
Proposed grading scale at Maine Township High School District 207 would make 43 percent the lowest score possible (Daily Herald)
Play 'Mosque Alert,' set in Naperville, examines suburbanites' tolerance and bigotry; will be staged in Chicago (Daily Herald)
Man wielding metal pipe robs Burbank bank (Chicago Sun-Times)
Des Plaines-based Rivers Casino pays $1.65 million fine after probe into mob ties (Chicago Sun-Times)
IRS announces that U.S. taxpayers can pay taxes at 7-Eleven (Chicago Sun-Times)
Aurora man charged with stabbing another man in January brawl at Aurora restaurant that spilled out into parking lot (Chicago Sun-Times)
45-year-old Barrington man charged with possession of more than 10,000 child-porn videos, images (Chicago Sun-Times)
Principal at Villa Park high school given Golden Apple leadership award (Daily Herald)
10-year-old Aurora girl admits to police to making up attempted-abduction story (Daily Herald)
Resident, firefighter injured, three pets dead in Island Lake house fire (Daily Herald)
Mount Prospect elementary school garners $62,000 furniture grant, making it one of 13 to win out of 800 applicants in U.S. and Canada (Daily Herald)
Residents of Hainsville subdivision plant 18 oak saplings to replace trees knocked down during last year's tornado (Daily Herald)
Two Cook sheriff's officers, another driver injured in three-vehicle crash on Eisenhower near Forest Park (Chicago Sun-Times)
Traffic to be shifted on Itasca's Prospect Avenue beginning Monday as work on Elgin-O'Hare bridge starts (Chicago Sun-Times)
Texas man who admitted to robbing Glenview bank last year is arrested in Wisconsin (Chicago Sun-Times)
NIU meteorologist: Suburban sprawl responsible for more deaths, damage from tornados (CBS/WBBM AM 780)
Planned projects on Lake-Cook, Weiland roads in Buffalo Grove delayed at least one year, but bridge projects still on schedule (Daily Herald)
DuPage County zoning board opposes proposed self storage along 75th Street in Naperville (Daily Herald)
Deputy chief of support operations appointed Glendale Heights police chief (Daily Herald)
Libertyville Elementary School District 70 to hold focus groups for strategic planning on April 11 and 18 (Daily Herald)
Addison Trail High alumna vying for spot on U.S. Olympic wrestling team (Daily Herald)
Gabutto Burger to bring a Japanese twist to burger fare in Rolling Meadows; Bulldog Ale House, MingHin Cuisine also to open in city (Daily Herald)
Elgin's Messiah Lutheran Church holding final service on Sunday, April 10 (Daily Herald)
Illinois businesses laying off employees, closing doors or merging; at least 900 workers affected (Chicago Tribune)
Lake County, Ind., coroner's office looking for relatives of deceased Lynwood man (Chicago Sun-Times)
Chief judge reinstates lockers at Cook County's Leighton Courthouse a week after they were removed (Chicago Sun-Times)
Streamwood metal distributor evacuated after 'dust explosion,' smoke (Chicago Sun-Times)
Northbrook man charged with multiple felonies after accident, claiming he'd put on someone else's pants (Chicago Sun-Times)
Gary police investigating fire that damaged classroom at West Side High School (Chicago Sun-Times)
Three remaining Caputo & Sons stores to be auctioned off on May 12 (Crain's Chicago Business)
Principal of Blue Island elementary school arrested for sexually assaulting former student (NBC 5)
One man killed, four others injured in 13-vehicle pileup on outbound Eisenhower Expressway near Oak Park/Chicago border (Chicago Tribune)
Rich Township High School District sues former board member who voted in favor of paying $140,000 toward his wife's retirement (Chicago Sun-Times)
South Elgin man charged with shooting another man during a fight at an Elgin bar (Chicago Sun-Times)
Three men arrested in connection with Yorkville burglary in August 2015 (Chicago Sun-Times)
Marengo man sues companies, including Arlington Heights-based Restaurants.com, over unsolicited text messages (Daily Herald)
Police looking for man for carjacking in Waukegan, armed robbery in Gurnee (Daily Herald)
Stevenson High School issues request that students, parents not drive through neighboring subdivisions to avoid traffic on Route 22 (Daily Herald)
Lake Zurich administration fires baseball coach over 'inappropriate comments' during practice (Daily Herald)
Municipalities, residents switching back to ComEd, finding the energy giant cheaper than competitors (CBS 2)
Authorities searching for missing Schaumburg Township man, who left home without his car, phone, keys or wallet (NBC 5)
Large turnout for electronics-recycling event in St. Charles (Daily Herald)
Community turning its back on Dennis Hastert following release of details of sex scandal that happened while he coached wresting at Yorkville High School (Chicago Tribune)
Four people charged in Beach Park burglary (CBS 2)
Family of Joliet woman abandoned at dialysis center sues center, ambulance company and nursing home (WGN TV)
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Some thoughts on THUNDERBALL (1965)

Some random thoughts about the 1965 film...
I don't know if it was intentional or not, but here we get another evil doppelganger for 007. In FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE, there was Donovan Grant, who really was the brutal coldblooded assassin Bond is inaccurately described as being. And in THUNDERBALL, we have Fiona Volpe, agent of SPECTRE who is again a ruthless killer but who also uses her sex appeal as a tool as Bond himself does. In their clash, she gets the upper hand and taunts him how it feels to have failed aginst a mere woman, and our James takes it equably. "Well, you cant win them all." The cat and mouse games between Bond and Fiona, and between her and Largo are fun. They all know perfectly well whats going on, but they go through polite chat with little barbs just under the surface. This is one of the routines in Bond films that is usually entertaining, like a little game of teasing before open hostilities break out and its just warfare.
The conference room where the 00 agents are assembled to learn about SPECTRE'S new scheme has a lot of interesting points. First, does it NEED to be so huge? My God, you could hold a formal ball in there, and the crystal chandelier and immense paintings on the wall add to the feeling that the conference is being held in the wrong room by accident. Why would MI7 even have such a room? It seems to wandered into the build from Buckingham Palace somehow. And Bond arrives (late of course) and takes his place in the seventh of nine highbacked chairs. We only get tiny glimpses of the other 00 agents. The one to Bond's left has a short beard and goatee. I've read in various accounts that one of the 00 agents was a woman, but watching the DVD just now, I don't see any sign of this and I'm curious. Possibly in one of the hundreds of books about the series there has been an identification of the actress on the set. It's a teeny bit of esoteric trivia, but then that's my hobby.
SPECTRE is badly missed by the Bond films. There has been a drought of sinister organizations ever since their disappearance. We have had decades of one lone criminal mastermind after another, and it's just not the same. The recent QUANTUM OF SOLACE did a good job with reintroducing the idea of a vast secret conspiracy that our boy has to tackle and I was glad to see that. But just the name SPECTRE has a little ominous kick to it, and it was Fleming's idea after all. In this film, the hushed meeting room filled with top criminals answering to that concealed figure with the white cat and speaking with the Voice of Doom itself, the quick execution of the embezzling crook... it's just perfect.
I notice Bond is more vulnerable here than he would become. He gets shot in the leg while trying to escape as the Jamaican equivalent of Mardi Gras and has to limp around painfully the rest of the chase. This is reminiscent of Fleming's character being a mortal man rather than the infallible superman he eventually became in the films. Even the fight scenes have a nostalgic quality. The opening fight with Colonel Bouvier and the final brawl on the DISCO VOLANTE where Bond takes on Largo and three henchmen at the same time hsas a hectic, unplanned quality to them. They seem like real struggles between desperate men rather than the elaborate choreography seen in recent films. Maybe it's just me but hand to hand duels in movies have just become completely unbelievable anymore. The stunts involve such split~second precision and control that the fighters seem to have super-powers. Also the amount of punishment that characters simply shrug off has gone way past the point of credibility these days. The fight with Red Grant on the Orient Express in FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE still is gripping and tense, but it doesn't go on for fifteen minutes and end with them hanging on the roof of the train while hitting each other with sledgehammers. I imagine the trend toward longer and longer fights with crazier stunts began with 1970s kung fu movies. I dunno, these seemed more acceptable because of the martial arts involved, which back then had a mysterious almost magical aspect to them.
One aspect of Ian Fleming's formula works well in the first Connery flicks. To succeeed, Bond has to get a woman on his side; she is either in the employ of the mastermind or an outright mistress, and is putting herself in mortal danger by switching sides. But Bond wins her over because he is young, virile and positive while her master is older, unattractive and downright cruel. It's a plot found in romance novels and when its used in thrillers, it usually results in the new pair of lovers conspiring the murder the older husband.
This works so well up to THUNDERBALL because Sean Connery WAS very attractive in his straightforward masculine way, confident and sure of himself. He also had enough money on hand to fit into any situation, including ritzy hotels and casinos, and his clothes and cars added to the impression he was well off. With all this goig for him, when he seduced women left and right, it was entirely believable but as the years went on, the formula was just taken for granted. By the time of Roger Moore, who aged poorly and actually looked haggard by his final film, beautiful young women tumbled for him because the script said so, not because of his charisma. It had no impact, no importance.
It is not mentioned enough, but in three of the Connery films, the woman involved saves the day. In DR NO and THUNDERBALL, she kills the enemy just before Bond would be killed; in GOLDFINGER, she alerts the authorities who stop the Fort Knox robbery and who turn off the nuclear warhead a few seconds before Bond would be vaporized by its explosion. For such an icon of smooth competence and invincibility, it's ironic that in fact James Bond was so often rescued from death by his women. And it's gives the endingsa nice surprise missing from later films.
THUNDERBALL in fact has one of the best oneliners in the entire series because of this. Bond is helpless on his back as Largo takes aim with a pistol and just as he is going to fire, Domino lets her former employelover have it in the back with a speargun. "I'm glad I killed him," she says and Bond replies "YOU'RE glad?"
The theme song is terrific. It's bombastic and melodramatic but Tom Jones sells it perfectly. Like GOLDFINGER with Shirley Basse, he's not embarrassed to belt it out full force. I guess today we are too self-conscious to do a theme like this without having to be ironic and diffident.
Drawbacks. Well, yes. I'm sorry but most of the underwater scenes drag. It's unavoidable, because even with flippers and motorized sleds, people move more slowly underwater. The lack of dialogue and obscured facial expressions don't help. But there it is, this is part of the story and cant be just discarded. I could do without the big climactic underwater duel between SPECTRE goons and American aquatroops. This convention of the Bond films, that there has to be a sprawling brawl between good guy and bad guy armies, is something I can take or leave. I think THUNDERBALL would play better without it. Watching it again, the battle has some clever gags and a few bits of startling violence... at one point, Bond wrests a speargun from an enemy frogman and jabs the points through the visor of the man's goggles to kill him.
submitted by dr_hermes to JamesBond [link] [comments]

Wrest Point - The Story So Far Literally the Worst thing at West Point - YouTube Wrest Point Events - Fuji Xerox Tasmania YouTube Wrest Point Casino, Finally updating their Rooms :) - YouTube Point Revolving Restaurant Hobart A new era for Hobart’s iconic Wrest Point

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Wrest Point - The Story So Far

Enjoy the videos and music that you love, upload original content and share it all with friends, family and the world on YouTube. Seventeen floors above the River Derwent, the revolving restaurant at Wrest Point radiates special occasion. When the doors open and the view unfolds, you’ll understand why The Point has been a ... Harrison Craig Coming to Wrest Point Entertainment - Duration: 0:25. Wrest Point 817 views. 0:25 . Carson Can’t Keep Up with Rodney Dangerfield’s Non-Stop One-Liners (1974) - Duration: 11:51 ... Welcome to my series 7in7 ( Season 2), 7 days in 7 minutes. I create a mini movies telling a 1 minute story of 1 or many activities throughout my week, 1 day... The opening of Australia's first casino at ‪Wrest Point signalled a new era for ‪Tasmania‬. We are proud of our history and excited about our future.. Merry April Fools Entertainment; Show more Show less. Loading... Autoplay When autoplay is enabled, a suggested video will automatically play next. Up next Wrest Point Hotel Casino Hobart Tasmania - Duration: 0:32 ... GTA Online ALL CASINO HEIST CLUES - 6 Access Point Locations & 10 Points of Interest Shark Card Giveawayhttps://twitter.com/Dat_Saintsfan/status/12048589376...