When guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have bottles

People's Republic of MassachusettsMassachusetts, where crime does pay, winds up with more of it than the three Northern New England states put together, for some strange reason. But if you just stay out of the state and read the papers from time to time, it’s hell for entertaining. QED:

DUDLEY — A Massachusetts woman is accused of yanking the false teeth out of another woman’s mouth and throwing a beer bottle at her.
Caterina Froio-Chaput, of Oxford, was released on $100 bail after pleading not guilty Thursday to assault and battery and assault and battery with a dangerous weapon.

Ah, yeah, a good hyphenated progressivette. We have observed the species in its Bay State habitat. It sometimes feigns amiability, but that is only to draw prey within range.

The “dangerous weapon” is the beer bottle. She could argue that her motive in snatching the dental plates was purely defensive, but that would require her to change her story, as we’ll see.

Police say Froio-Chaput was refused a drink Wednesday at an American Legion and told to leave. They say she started hitting the bartender in the face, then pulled the false teeth from her mouth before hitting her in the chest with the bottle.

To clarify, because it’s kind of unclear, Frodo-Putput, or whatever her name is, snatched the bartender’s false teeth. Wish we’d been there to see it — must have been a truly epic catfight.

The Telegram & Gazette reports Froio-Chaput told police she confronted the bartender who she believed was having an affair with her estranged husband.

Hm. Would the husband be Frodo, or Putput? What an achievement, to have these two women gumming each other’s throats over you. He, too, must be a real specimen.

Of course, Frodo-Putput denies everything, admits nothing, and makes counteraccusations. Her story?

When police found the teeth in her pocket, she said they had been planted there.

Yeah, right.


via Police: Woman pulled dentures from bartender’s mouth – News – MetroWest Daily News, Framingham, MA – Framingham, MA.

This is why there is an AOD in your rig

AOD is an automatic opening device, and these jumpers, who look like beginners at relative work, give theirs the acid test.

Only two of the three jumpers, a base guy and a camera guy, join up. The smiling base guy is by convention supposed to be the one watching altitude, but he doesn’t look at his altimeter as the two struggle to get together. As far as the camera guy goes, you can see his altimeter, first barely in the red arc of the altimeter (you can guess what that means) and then you get a glimpse of it buried in the middle of the red.

These guys come that close to making the sickening sound that no one ever forgets if they’ve heard it once. They are saved because their AODs fire. (Both divers had the Cypres AOD, we think the Cypres 2).

The AOD works by electronically monitoring the speed of the fall versus the altitude. Older models were mechanical and worked off barometric pressure. Early SF freefallers used the Czech made Mikrotechnika KAP-3, an exported version of one designed in Russia. You had to wind it like a watch!

Years ago, skydivers were macho about AODs and didn’t use them; the military made them mandatory decades before skydive businesses started doing it, except with beginners. (At least they did it for beginners, but on some level they know that killing beginners is bad for business).

This double save shows how easy it is to get task saturated with a mission task even when you’re doing something that needs a very large part of your full attention, like falling straight down at 120 miles per hour. The first AODs were brilliant solutions to that problem of task saturation.

It’s not just jumpers that do it… we’d guess that every air force in the world has lost a fighter bomber whose pilot was so target fixated he followed his rounds or bombs on to it. We always wonder about guys who are credited for ramming enemy ships or forts or airplanes with their own plane — was it intentional, kamikaze-style, or did they just get task saturated?

Programmable software creates the opportunity to make AOD-like advances in some other operational areas. Food for thought.

And in the meantime, the Cypres is there to save you, if your forget to save yourself like these two very, very lucky fellows.

What’s the Difference Between Moscow and Washington?

Hint: only one lets you carry a gun in self-defense. And it’s not the one you might think. Russian state-controlled media outlet Russia Today:

Until now Russian gun enthusiasts were only permitted to carry firearms for hunting or target shooting after obtaining a license through the Interior Ministry. Russian gun licenses are to be renewed every five years, and applicants face strict background checks and are required to take gun safety courses.

The addendum to the law now lists self-defense as a legally acceptable reason for carrying a weapon.

Now, they’re not relaxing laws totally in the Wild East. There are still some restrictions, ones that will sound familiar to many licensed carriers in the what Vladimir Vladimirovich learned to call the Glavni Vrag in his days as an intelligence officer:

The government’s press service underscored that carrying a weapon will remain prohibited at educational institutions, establishments which operate at night and serve alcohol, and mass public gatherings such as street demonstrations or protests. The legislation also forbids carrying a weapon while under the influence of alcohol.

For many years, pistols were forbidden to ordinary citizens in Russia. But that was then, and this is now:

The law broadly defines self-defense weapons, including smoothbore long barrelled guns, pistols, revolvers, and other firearms, as well as Tasers, and devices equipped with teargas. Long barrelled fire arms and edged weapons are, however, forbidden by the law.

(We suspect that the last sentence means that carrying a rifle or knife for defense is unlawful, but we’re not lawyers, and we’re definitely not Russian lawyers, and taking Russian legal advice from us is a good way to find out how much more pleasant Lefortovo Prison is now than it was in Solzhenitsyn’s day).

RT illustrated their piece with a picture of a display of, mostly, flare and gas guns, a unique Russian adaptation to an earlier, more restrictive law.  You can see them here and here for instance. (In English — Googlish anyway — here and here).

In addition, the amendment softened requirements for foreigners bringing arms into the Russian Federation or purchasing arms on Russian territory. The grace period for foreigners awaiting a license from the Interior Ministry for firearms has been increased from 5 to 10 days.

via ​Russians can now carry guns for ‘self-defense’ — RT News.

A Library of Congress analysis that’s about a year old notes the previous restrictions led to a low level of legal, and a much higher level of black-market, firearms use. There are less than a million rifles in civilian hands legally, then, and no pistols. Restrictions included a first issue of a permit for smooth-bore weapons only; after five years with no incidents, a permit holder could ask for rifle-bore privileges.

Self-defense was already legal under Russian law, what this modification does is liberalize the way in which people are licensed to be armed. As recently as 2012, then-PM Medvedev (generally considered a mouthpiece for Putin) opposed such liberalization.

Meanwhile, in the Land of the Free…

Then, there’s Washington, DC that is. And before we tell the story of Washington’s shiny new pistol permit law, we’re going to tell you the story of the Literacy Test in Beauregard County (with apologies to John Ross, from whom we’re pretty sure this example’s stolen).

Well, it was 1952, and there was an election, and  Joe came to the polling place, and got in line behind Ted. Now, Ted was white and Joe was black, which ought not to make a difference to the law, and it sort-of didn’t. But there was a Literacy Test that every voter had to take to ensure that only literate people voted. It was not racist, they pinky-swore, it was just good government.

Who could be against good government? Certainly not Sheriff Buford F. Cruelty, who was the law in Beauregard County personified. The Sheriff handed Ted a newspaper. “Literacy test, sir. Read the headline.”

Ted: “Why, it says, ‘Election Today,’ Sheriff.”

“That it does, sir. Now, you, boy” — he addressed Joe — “Read the headline.”

“But Sheriff, sir! This newspaper is Chinese.

“I didn’t ask you where it was from boy, I said read it. Now what do that headline say?”

“It says, there’s no colored folks voting in Beauregard County today.”

What the Washington Police Department under Chief Cathy Lanier has done is the gun-licensing equivalent of that clown sheriff’s literacy test. No-one not “connected” can succeed.

The way this is done is by requiring training by a Washington Police Department-licensed trainer, and then, by not licensing any trainers. There is only one catch, but it’s Catch-22. Emily Miller explains:


(Hat tip, John Richardson).

Lanier, by the way, devotes much of her limited energy to fighting gun rights in her jurisdiction. She has no discernible interest in closing the city’s thousands of cold homicides (including most of this year’s, of course).

There are so many unsolved murders, and the police department is so incompetent, that they’re not at all sure they list them all, and they appeal to the public to remind them of the murderers their dozing detectives forgot:

The MPD is working to update the Unsolved Murders web page. If your loved one was murdered in DC and their picture does not appear on this web page, please either email us at  unsolved.murder@dc.gov…. Please provide the name of your loved one and the year they were murdered. If a photo is mailed in, please let us know if we need to return it and include a return address.

Lord love a duck. So she’s not really on top of the unsolved-murder thing, or of pursuing the teeming throngs of violent criminals in certain parts of the city,  but she’s always up for a press conference when the violence spills out of the ghettoes and claims a foreign tourist.

Speaking of which, one more difference between Moscow and Washington: until this law change, only Russian citizens could have guns in Russia… the RT report is unclear but there seem to be some provisions for foreigners to be armed for lawful purposes.

Meanwhile, in the US, this kind of intransigence by bad cops just brings the date of national reciprocity closer. And it might be a century off, but we could see international reciprocity coming in the very long term.

“We support the homeless, just not here.”

The New York Times is distressed that the city is suffering a plague of threatening bums:

…a growing number of homeless encampments in the city’s parks, traffic squares and plazas. The attendant behavior — like public urination, sleeping on benches and violating the blanket 1 a.m. parks curfew — has led to tensions with neighboring communities.

We confess we only skimmed the article, but for years the Times attributed all the phenomena of urban homeless to the administration of George W. Bush. If they’re still doing that, like some others seem to do for their problems, we missed it in this one.

But they go to great lengths not to tie any of the trouble to the city’s bum-friendly government, which the Times itself pulled out all stops to help elect.

Over all, the city’s homeless population is at a record high, with 57,676 people living in shelters as of early November, in addition to the growing numbers on the streets. In the past month, Mayor Bill de Blasio’s office has convened an interagency task force to address the issue. As part of that effort, the city has identified 25 sites where the street homeless are congregating in large numbers. The sites include parks, private buildings, vacant lots and bridges, which have become priorities for the outreach teams who fan out across the city’s five boroughs daily to engage people living on the streets.

“We go out and talk to the homeless and ask them what they wanted because we assumed that if they were avoiding the shelter system then that wasn’t an attractive option,” said Jody Rudin, the deputy commissioner for adult services for the Department of Homeless Services.

That is so Manhattan. “Yes, Chauncey, we went to have a dialogue with the indigent-Americans in the Hooverville in the park. We were going to lay some of that good old New York Times patent Tikkun Olam on them. But we couldn’t make hide nor hair of what those gentlemen were saying.”

We’d just like to observe, from our lowly station in life, marked as it is by the absence of even a single Ivy League degree, that expecting to get rational responses from insane people is a suboptimal course of action, rather unlikely to be crowned by success.

In the past year, about a dozen parks seem to have become magnets for homeless people. Sometimes, it is because of their proximity to refuges that suddenly became off-limits, as was the case when the George Washington Bridge Bus Station in Upper Manhattan, closed in August for renovations.

Suddenly, neighborhood residents noticed an influx of homeless men and women into Juan Pablo Duarte Square, a sliver of green several blocks south of the station. People chained their shopping carts to the wrought-iron fencing in the square and slept in cardboard boxes there.

via Tensions Over Park Behavior as Homelessness Rises in New York City – NYTimes.com.

“Their” shopping carts? We’re not sure the expropriated markets would agree, the filthy capitalist pigs. Power to the people, right on! But we digress.

We’re sure this flowering of the fragrant ones had nothing to do with the instructions that went out to police to stop enforcing laws against petty crimes. That certainly would not encourage petty criminals, sane or insane.

Then there’s that guy, who (emphasis ours) may explain why some people fear the homeless, and why the rational approach is one that these New Yorkers have never seemed to consider, locking the beggars up. Charles Cephus is that guy:

“The parks offer solace for me,” said Charles Cephus, 41, who was walking through Harlem River Park on a recent evening.

Mr. Cephus, who said he had served 21 years in prison for second-degree murder, is now living in a shelter on Wards Island and trying to put his plumbing skills to use. Earlier in the day, he had taken a nap on a bench in Marcus Garvey Park, also in Harlem. “No one bothers me in the parks,” he said.

The answer to this problem, and a very large part of the violent crime problem, is simple, although it’s not easy: reinstitutionalize the mentally ill. Reform involuntary commitment laws, removing some of the unrealistic civil-libertarian obstacles. Develop involuntary outpatient commitment protocols.

Further, one is reminded of this:

And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: “If you don’t work you die.”

And execute the goddamn murderers, or keep them in jail forever. How hard is that? Charles Cephus would not be blighting a park and terrifying citizens if New York had done the right thing in the first place.

Exit comment: this may be news to the New York Times, where household problems are addressed by “call the co-op maintenance office and complain, and complain,” but no one trying to “put his plumbing skills to use,” does it by spending the day napping and loafing on a bench in Marcus Garvey Park.

When guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have bats

Watch out for the one with your name on it.

Watch out for the one with your name on it.

Ah, the dysfuctional lives of Massachusetts liberals.

A Framingham man smashed a romantic rival in the ribs with a baseball bat Friday at a Grant Street apartment, police said.
Police arrested Denis Henriquez, 21, at his home at 6:30 p.m., about 20 minutes after the alleged assault, according to a Framingham Police report filed in Framingham District Court on Monday.
On Friday, the victim told police he was at home with his wife when Henriquez knocked on his door around 6:10 p.m.
“At this point, (the victim ) stated that Denis struck him in the rib cage area (with a bat),” the report said.
The man showed police his chest, and it had a large red mark and he was bleeding, the report said.
The victim’s wife then told police the fight “was her fault.” She said she and her husband have been married for two years, but had lived apart for a period. During that time, she dated Henriquez for seven months. She told police she cares for both men, and that led to the fight.

You just know she is a visual and behavioral no-prize, and these two clowns fighting over her are world-class losers.

Police charged Henriquez, of 67 Cedar St.,  with assault and battery with a bat.

via Romantic rivalry leads to bat assault in Framingham – News – MetroWest Daily News, Framingham, MA – Framingham, MA.

“Battery with a bat.” That’s beautiful.

Vietnam Combat Jumpers to be Honored

For a long time, their exploits were secret. Some of the leaked out. Some of them got written up. There was never any book-length treatment1, nor any official recognition, beyond well-deserved valor awards for some participants, and

The new commander of US Army Special Forces Command aims to fix that:

army_1star_flagBrigadier General Darsie D. Rogers
Commanding General
1st Special Forces Command (Airborne) (Provisional)
cordially invites you to attend a

Recognition Ceremony
to honor
Members of Operations-35
for their
Actions in Combat during the War in Vietnam

on Friday, the fifth of December
at nine o’clock

John F. Kennedy Auditorium
3004 Ardennes Street, Fort Bragg, North Carolina

There were a number of RT jumps. Some static line, some HALO. There is a chapter in Plaster’s SOG that covers them, but we think John would admit, not completely. Teams we know of that made jumps include:

  • RT Asp
  • RT Auger
  • RT Florida, 11/70 (first HALO)
  • RT Alaska, 5/71
  • RT Wisconsin, 10/71

Some of the combat-jump team leaders included Garrett Robb, Babysan Davidson, RJ Graham, and Billy Waugh.

There were also other units that conducted combat jumps, including Marine Reconnaissance units, but they weren’t part of SOG. Some SF combat jumps were not SOG related (for example, jumps by Mike or Mobile Strike Forces).


1. There has also been no treatment of the development of HALO, either, and only a few of the developers (Jim Hauck, who welded up the 1st O2 console and was one of the record-jump jumpers of the early 60s, springs to mind) are still with us and available for interviews.  Mil History Grad Students, need a PhD thesis?

New Halifax Explosion Images

On 6 December 1917 the largest manmade explosion in the history of the earth (to that point) took place, not along the lines of battle, but in a busy Canadian seaport, Halifax, Nova Scotia. The blast came from munitions materials contained in a single average-sized (for 1917) freighter, and have been calculated to have been about equivalent to 2.9kt — larger than some nuclear warheads, and one of the top five known conventional explosions in history. (The Daily Mail has a table of seven big ones).

Ground zero of the Halifax Explosion. The shattered tug is the former minesweeper Stella Maris; she took the abandoned, burning Mont Blanc under tow. All but five of her crew died. (Old photo. Source).

Ground zero of the Halifax Explosion. Pier 6 was located at this point; it has vanished without a trace. The shattered tug is the former minesweeper Stella Maris; she took the abandoned, burning Mont Blanc under tow. All but five of her 25 officers and men died. (Old photo. Source).

Recently, long-lost images from the aftermath of the explosion that destroyed or seriously damaged nearly 14,000 buildings, leveled the shipyard, and killed perhaps 2,000 people, surfaced in England. Here’s a half-minute look at the devastation on video:

The “new” pictures were taken by Lieutenant Victor Magnus, RN (or RNR/RNVR?), about 27, whose w ship was docked in the port city at the time of the event. The Daily Mail explains how the pictures were recently rediscovered in an old album by the photographer’s daughter, nearly 100 years after they were taken. The Halifax Chronicle-Herald notes that Magnus was standing watch in HMS Changuinolawhose log notes, among many other entries:

Other: 8.50 Explosion in docks followed by fires

Other: 9.15 Cutters away with officers ~~ to help ashore

Changuinola was an “Armed Merchant Cruiser” — a term for merchant ships put to military use in the RN. Specifically, she was a seized German ship pressed into service as a patrol and escort vessel, and apparently also to train RNVR officers or ratings (training these men frequently recurs in the ship’s logs). From her decks, Magnus took pictures like this:

Some of Magnus's photos show the explosion's pillar of smoke.

Some of Magnus’s photos show the explosion’s pillar of smoke. No pictures from so soon after the blast were imagined to exist.

Then he went ashore. There he took more images of the appalling destruction.

Near Ground Zero, Halifax side looking towards Dartmouth side, Magnus photo.

Near Ground Zero, Halifax side looking towards Dartmouth side, Magnus photo.

Magnus was an avid photographer, and worked in maritime insurance before and after the war.

Victor Magnus in his naval uniform.

Victor Magnus in his naval uniform.

Historic Background (and more old photos)

The French ship Mont Blanc had just been loaded with a cargo of high explosive in New York: over five million pounds of explosives and inflammables, most of it highly unstable picric acid (Benzol, an octane booster then used in aviation fuel, and guncotton, a primitive explosive, were also aboard). Mont Blanc intended to join a convoy from Halifax to England, but on its way in to the harbor collided with an empty vessel, Imo, that normally ferried humanitarian aid to Belgium. Imo, with a Norwegian crew, was wrong-side-driving out of the harbor as Mont Blanc stood in, on the normal inbound side of the channel.

SS Imo. The foreground is not only devastated by the blast, but also by tsunami. Source.

SS Imo. The foreground is not only devastated by the blast, but also by tsunami. Old photo. Source. There’s no post-disaster photo of the hazmat ship SS Mont Blanc; pieces of her fittings landed miles away.

The crew and harbor pilot of Mont Blanc abandoned ship and fled when their hazardous cargo took fire; the ship drifted to land, drawing curious onlookers, then exploded. The city was devastated, especially the shoreline, the shipyards and docks, and other ships making ready for the next England convoys on the 7th and 11th (a single convoy would leave on the 11th).


Most of the convoy ships were in Bedford Basin, the most  protected part of the harbor when Mont Blanc blew up in what locals call The Narrows. Fortunately, Mont Blanc was not near any of the other explosives-laden vessels when it went up.

SS Curaca was loading horses. She was thrown across the harbor. Of her 46-man human crew, 45 (and the horses) perished. Source.

SS Curaca was loading horses for the war. She was thrown across the harbor. Of her 46-man crew, 45 humans (and the horses) perished. Old photo. Source.

At least 1,500 hundred lives were snuffed out in the blast and the following tsunami, and hundreds more died in the days ahead. Hundreds of remains were never identified. Some lasting results of the accident were standardization of fire hydrant and hose threads (responding fire departments found that the decimated Halifax department’s hydrants didn’t match their gear), more advance warning required for hazmat transits, and stricter maritime rules of the road in the harbor. There was a long series of saboteur hunts, enquiries, criminal trials, and private lawsuits, but in the end no one was singled out as solely to blame, or punished. It was a terrible accident, but in the end, just an accident.

There are several excellent sites on the blast.

The Technical Side

The manifest of the ill-starred Mont Blanc bares the spoor of the probable cause of the disaster — picric acid. This chemical was the first high explosive; its name comes from the Greek for “bitter.” Discovered and initially developed in the 18th Century, it became a dominant explosive and shell filling in the late 19th, when it was discovered initially by British scientist Sprengel. Picric acid was more powerful than the explosive that would come to replace it in most nations’ armories, TNT. The Japanese developed a picric acid derivative called Shimose, which they credited, in part, for their victories over Russia in naval and siege warfare; an American version was called Dunnite. Other terms for picric acid variants were Mélinite and Lyddite (these were the WWI French and British versions respectively). The Times wrote on 9 September 1898 of the British Army’s first use of Lyddite shells, in the Siege of Omdurman on 2 September:

Through Reuters Agency, Khartoum, September 5.

The breaching power of the Lyddite shells fired from the howitzers at the citadel of Omdurman prove to be enormous. The wall was a solid stone structure, 10 feet high by 4 feet thick, built of material brought from dismantled Khartoum. The accuracy of the howitzer fire is tested by the absolute havoc which was made of the Mahdi’s tomb at great ranges. (Nearly 2 miles).

This was a substantial improvement over the performance of the artillery of previous wars, but it came at the price of handling, storing, and stockpiling shells laden with this first (and fearfully unstable) high explosive.

Because unlike fairly stable TNT, picric acid and its salts — which form spontaneously on contact with common bases — are highly unstable; they tend to detonate when exposed to shock, friction, or flame. Picric acid corrodes metals and becomes more unstable in their presence, making it impossible to contain in metal cans or drums, and requiring special procedures for shell filling.

Before World War I, the German military had begun to shift to TNT. It was made by the same process that yields picric acid, just using a different feedstock; it’s only a little less explosive; and it’s vastly more stable. Over time all armies would follow suit, and fear of a repeat of the Halifax Explosion would be one reason (there were many other industrial and military accidents worldwide with picric acid that soured militaries on the chemical). Later, better HEs would be developed, both from the standpoint of stability and of energy, but it says something that TNT, which the Germans first put into shells in 1902, still is practically useful today.

The reason for going backwards in the power of explosive fillings was safety, and the far more stable TNT would have been unlikely to yield the Halifax Explosion. Even today, found Lyddite or Mélinite shells from WWI pose a threat. Even lab picric acid that dries out (of which more in a minute) requires an EOD call-out (small quantities of the acid are useful in biology).

Compounding the problem was that the material shipped in Mont Blanc was only partially shipped as wet picric acid, in which immersion in water reduces the material’s reactivity. Thousands of pounds were ultra-sensitive dry picric acid (the ship also contained large quantities of shock-sensitive guncotton).

Knowing the properties of their cargo, the actions of the crew of Mont Blanc — taking to the lifeboats, trying to warn everyone away from their burning ship — make a lot of sense. The actions of America, British and French ordnance in persisting in the use of this unstable chemical when stable alternatives were readily available are more puzzling to someone looking back at the destruction of Halifax by an a-bomb sized blast, from a vantage point a century ahead.

Remember Flight MH17?

Russkiy Kultur: looted luggage from Flight MH17.

They call themselves “kulturny”: looted luggage from Flight MH17.

Here’s the latest report by a guy on the scene, who interviews both a Russian Cossack separatist  ataman, and a Ukrainian government official, as well as visits the crash site as locals sheepishly turn in victim IDs (but notably, not valuables), spirited away by looters after the crash.


Follow the link to see the video; there’s no transcript.

The Russian separatists have really bungled their handling of the crash site, insuring that conspiracy theories will go on forever. (This is nothing new or particularly Russian; the FBI did something similar with its mishandling of TWA 800 evidence, dropping a windfall in the laps of conspiratroid nut jobs).

The most interesting thing, we thought, was the reporter’s suggestion that the Dutch investigators are slow-walking any conclusions, for fear that they’ll lose access to the badly contaminated and unprotected site if those conclusions cut against Russian propaganda themes.

One of the next most interesting things is the suggestion that Ukraine was using movements of civil aircraft to mask their movement of military aircraft. Wouldn’t be the first time such a thing had been done, but the Russian suggestion that this justified targeting MH17 is a bit of a stretch (imagine it with the players reversed).

It’s nice to know that someone is still reporting on this act of barbarism and its aftermath, even after the bulk of the media have rolled on to new amusements. And he’s if anything too even-handed, but you get a sense of how much the propaganda of both sides has muddied the waters here; enough that, whatever the truth was, the true believers on both sides will be comfortable placing all blame on the other guy.

Air Defense screwups (or worse) have been a recurring global problem over the years, with the US Navy inexcusably shooting down an Iranian airliner (1988) and Israelis blasting an off-course Libyan one in 1973, but most of the shootdowns have involved Russians, former Soviets, or former-Soviet-sponsored rebels. For example, Russian-catspaw militia shot down three Georgian airliners in 1993; Soviet-armed-and-trained guerrillas shot down two Rhodesian airliners in 1978-79; the vodka-powered Soviet Russian air defense system shot down a Korean 747 in 1983, and the Ukrainian military (!) shot down a Russian airliner (!) in October, 2001, in a crime the Ukrainians initially tried to brazen out with lies, and later attributed to a training-exercise screwup.

No, Colt Didn’t Default

Colt Defense Roll MarkingThis was reported in the comments to our Colt post, but deserves a post of its own. From Guns.com:

Colt Defense LLC will not default on a major payment since it secured a new $70 million loan, according to Monday’s filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

The iconic Connecticut-based company said it will use the secured term loan from Morgan Stanley Senior Funding Inc. to make the $10.9 million interest payment to bondholders. Although due yesterday, Colt has until Dec. 15 to make the payment in full.

Colt said the new loan “will provide it with the time and flexibility necessary to support its medium and long term objectives.”

The cash injection will also go towards repaying all of the amounts outstanding under Colt’s existing $50 million term loan agreement from July 2013.

via Colt secures $70 million loan to avoid default.

We’ll be speaking to our own Morgan Stanley guy, who’s not involved with the group that did this, but we can’t see them making their money back by 2018 or in 2018 without a plan either to flip the company to a new hedge fund, or to take it public. It will need far better results than it has had to go public; a previous attempt to go public, filed for in 2005, collapsed in 2006, although it doesn’t seem to have been formally withdrawn until 2011.

We did discover that the interest rate on this loan is loanshark high, as you might expect for in extremis financing: 8% cash plus, this was interesting 2% payment-in-kind interest. That’s a 10% compound rate; Tony Soprano was unavailable for comment. And the loan is secured, which is why it is being used first to pay off amounts owed under the technically defaulted ABL Credit Agreement (which is also secured senior credit, “senior” in financing terms meaning it would take priority over other debt in bankruptcy).

One wonders what the payment-in-kind is. Product, at wholesale value, letting the lenders cash in again?

Colt’s extant debt is also at high interest levels. For example, $250 million borrowed in 2011 was borrowed at 8.75% and is due in 2017.

If large amounts of this $70 million just go into the pockets of the hedgies like the previous refinancing proceeds did, the company’s still doomed, in this iteration. But, as Daniel Watters noted in the comments to our previous post, the can’s been kicked down the road, and they buy some time to sell or IPO — or find another expensive loan to pay the previous expensive loan.

This loan does not seem to require interim amortization payments, unlike the facility that just precipitated this default… it just sits accruing interest on paper until Colt pays it, or fails to. This is another indicator that the financiers are seeing an exit some time before the drop-dead date of 2018.

Ironically, the guys that own Colt are personally anti-gun, and big supporters of the ban-happy Senator Charles Schumer, but that’s pretty common in the hedge fund world. You would think that people who oppose guns that much would avoid putting themselves in a position where they need to sell massive quantities of them to break even, but as as we’ve seen, they don’t need to actually make a success of a company to get stupendously rich from it. No more than the tick has the best interests of the dog at heart.

Primary Documents

Here are the most recent Colt filings on the SEC’s database:

  • 19 November 2014: 8K Amended Item 5.02: John Magouirk, SVP and COO, 51, is out, with a one-year salary continuation (and non-compete, presumably for that period). Scott Anderson, 52, is in, to that position. He has no firearms industry experience, but is a finance guy who has worked elsewhere in manufacturing. He reports to Dennis Veilleux, CEO, who remains in place.
  • 19 November 2014: 8K Amended Item 9.01 Exhibit 10.1: Magouirk’s separation agreement. He will be paid $7,210 a week for 52 weeks ($374,920) not to come to work. (Not having him around is apparently very valuable). The lettered Exhibits to the document suggest that no one else  is being let go in conjunction with this change.
  • 18 November 2014: 8K Amended Item 1.01: this is where the loan is described. (This is the source for our description of it in the penultimate paragraph before “Primary Documents.”)
  • 18 November 2014: Colt Defense LLC press release. Basically reiterates the facts of the loan as in the 8K 1.01, and includes Colt’s one-paragraph “about Colt Defense LLC” blurb.

Colt Defense LLC has generated a mountain of SEC paperwork over the years. Its most recent financing activities can be found with this SEC “EDGAR” Database search, yielding 53 documents going back to 2011. Note that additional documents can be found by using other Colt firm names over the years, including Colt Finance Corp, the holding company that wraps around Colt Defense LLC.

At least in 2005, the Connecticut Development Authority had significant ownership of Colt (16.2%) and an employee ownership plan had another percent or so.

Wednesday Weapons Website of the Week: ArmsVault

gunvaultThey bill themselves as the “Gateway to Guns.”

Gun owners and supporters of the Second Amendment, you’ve come to the right place! ArmsVault helps you find guns, gun information and gun dealers.
Browsing the ArmsVault gun site is like walking through a mall that was built for gun owners. Before you know it, hours have passed. BUT… before you are hit with a case of gun information overload, be sure to check out the ArmsVault Supporters. They are the ones who make it possible for us to continue bringing you great gun information.

via Gateway to Guns – ArmsVault.

Pretty heavy on the advertisements, which is understandable when you realize that Greg Summers started ArmsVault as a simple list of gun companies. It still has that, but has evolved into providing broader content. It is still primarily focused on what new stuff you can buy, and where you can buy it, so its appeal to the modern gun crowd is strong. It’s a good place to find a website or some information about something new you saw fleetingly but haven’t read the press release yet.

Unlike AmmoLand, once one of our go-to sites for press releases, ArmsVault doesn’t strip a press release of its original links, something which has come to irritate us with AmmoLand. On the other hand, sites like Guns.com and The Firearm Blog tend to have the press releases and much more original content, with a great deal of their content on historical firearms, not just today’s shiny baubles. Horses for courses, right?

One of the features we liked was the book reviews — a bit like one of our capsule reviews, but then the guy lists all the guns that were used in the book! He’s gotta read with a notepad or something. There’s probably a website in that, like the Internet Movie Firearms Database, but for books — IBFDB.org.

Product reviews are also interesting (all reviews are grouped together under a “Reviews” item in a pop-up menu). Like a lot of gun blogs, he seems to reviews freebies he gets sent (permanently or as loaners), which is not the way we do it, but then, we hardly ever publish a review, and their way of doing it is just as honest as ours, since they disclose the source of their review stuff.

We particularly liked a Starlight rifle-case review in which the author describes the process of cutting foam to match his own gun and accessories — including plenty of warnings and advice so that you might do yours better than he did his, and not make the mistakes he made. That kind of humility is rare on the net. You can tell the author wishes his readers well.

So this isn’t an epic W4. It isn’t one of the troves of historical documents we like to find, or some repository of arcane knowledge. It’s just a steady source of what’s-new, run by a guy who gives a damn.  And some Wednesdays, that’s really all we need.