Category Archives: Uncategorized

Breaking: Scruff Face Wins

When he was clean-shaven, and had a career (>30 years ago)

When he was clean-shaven, and had a career (30 years ago).

We didn’t see this coming…

Although verdicts in such cases are customarily unanimous, both sides agreed to a split verdict. The verdict of 8 to 2 was reached after more than a week of deliberations. Jurors awarded Mr. Ventura $500,000 for defamation and $1.3 million for what was termed the author’s unjust enrichment.

via Jesse Ventura Wins Defamation Case – NYTimes.com.

We hope he enjoys the money.

Does he think his reputation was worth it? Because that’s taken a bigger Streisand Effect hit from the suit than it did from the story in American Sniper – and both of those clobberin’s are bigger than the belt he took (or didn’t) to the jaw.

World War 100

World War I began 100 years ago today, July 28, when the Austro-Hungarian Empire declared war upon the Kingdom of Serbia. That wasn’t the first event that set things in motion (that was, of course, the assassination of Franz Ferdinand and Sophie), but it was a very important link in the chain.

The events it sent in train were unknown to any of the players at the time.

Would they have done what they did if they knew that both of their nations would be among the casualties?

Would they have done what they did if they thought they were unleashing trench warfare, chemical warfare, and all the other grim updates to the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse?

Would they have done what they did if they knew their actions were a link in the chain that would lead directly to millions of deaths, and leave a Europe so unstable than an even more destructive war would follow, soon?

Sargent,_John_Singer_(RA)_-_Gassed

We’ll never know. They did what they thought best, and opened the Gates of Hell.

The Clandestine Rifle Range

Sitting with a series of sketches of a possible indoor and outdoor range, something that’s badly needed in our area, and talking about noise control, the subject turned to clandestine ranges used by guerrilla movements, and the techniques they used to keep noise down.

Urban guerrillas have always had problems conducting basic firearms and operational training. Gunshots have a distinct sound signature, and by harnessing modern technology, or good old-fashioned networks of snitches (these being far more effective than the new technology, whose only design objective was to separate flush public agencies from some of that cash), counterinsurgents can vector in on firearms training and disrupt the training or capture or neutralize the trainees, and more critically, the instructors.

Alternatively, underground operators can receive mechanical and dry-fire training only, and then their introduction to combat (against a trained enemy, mind you) is also their introduction to the sensations of live fire. Some guerrilla elements have been forced to operate that way, notably the Jewish underground in the Warsaw Ghetto (although their primary reason was want of ammunition).

Over the years, such underground groups have developed methods for training without exposing themselves. Certainly use of air weapons and small-caliber weapons can help, but in long-running insurgencies like the now-defunct Sendero Luminoso urban guerrilla arm in Peru, and the Irish Republican Army terrorist group and its offshoots, clandestine sound-deadening ranges have been developed.

The three principal approaches are:

  1. To put the range underground, in a tunnel or basement or bunker;
  2. To put the range inside a building;
  3. To use sound-deadening methods, like the tire-and-steel-drum trap that some people use on a private range out of neighborliness, or the Swiss Schallschutztunnel (noise-protective tunnel). Here’s a sketch of a tire and drum trap:

non_portable_noise_reduction

The first two have the effect of shortening the range. All three have distinctive appearances, and police or military authorities who find them will know exactly what they have found. As is often the case in guerrilla war, all possible courses of action come with non-zero risks.

The IRA as Example

In 1997, an IRA firing range was found concealed in a stand of forest in County Monaghan, Irish Republic. An overheated story in the Daily Mirror (archived link) had some details amid all the excitement.

Two firing ranges, one of them underground, were found littered with thousands of spent cartridges.

Also found nearby was a stock of 500 live cartridges for the deadly Kalashnikov AK47 rifle – the “Widow Maker” which is the terrorists’ favourite assault weapon.

The walls of the underground firing range were sound-proofed with car tyres.

The 30ft overground firing range had a look-out where IRA overlords could watch as the Provo cadets practiced with the AK47 and the handguns favoured for close-range assassination attempts and attacks on security force bases and patrols.

Gardai and Army officers believe the spent cartridges are evidence that the “murder school” had been open for its deadly business until recently.

The camp is hidden away in a dense 7,000 square acre forest.

The nearest house is five miles away and the nearest passable road – a crumbling, narrow dirt-track – is half-a-mile from the base.

Visitors would have had to leave the track and complete their journey to the camp over soft bogland on foot.

The base is thought to be one of several used by the IRA to give new volunteers the chance to practice their murder methods before being unleashed in Northern Ireland and England. An acknowledged weapons expert from within the Provo ranks – usually an experienced killer with a record of successful “hits” – will assess the apprentice marksmen while they pump high-velocity bullets into targets on the firing ranges.

It’s notable that this range had decent security in terms of its remoteness and sound-deadening equipment. The operators could have assisted in masking the range by being selective about the times and weather conditions of operation. Sound carries at night, and sound reflects in a cloud-ground wave when there’s an overcast; conversely, sound is lost in the rain. The booming basso profundo of large center-fire rounds and short-barreled pistols are heavy in the low frequencies down below 1 KHz where sound isn’t attenuated as much by distance (think of what you hear when some rap fan goes by, generously sharing his “music” with everyone within a mile).

It was simply careless of them not to remove and dispose of their brass (given that these were AK rounds sourced through the IRA’s favorite sugar daddy, Colonel Qaddhafi, probably really “steel”) remotely from the range. It’s bad operational security because the authorities can determine how many AKs fired at that range, and put each one’s firing pin and ejector signatures in the national ballistic network.

Of course, in a police state that bans even empty casings (like Washington, DC, for example), transporting the empties is itself fraught with risk.

In 1999, the Garda (the Irish police) caught 12 terrorists of the “Real IRA” splinter group at a firing range in a converted wine cellar. The Grauniad’s report:

The leader of the Real IRA, the dissident republican group behind the Omagh bombing, had a narrow escape last week. He was drinking in the Huntsman Inn with another leading hardliner as armed gardai raided the outfit’s training camp two miles away in Co. Meath. Had they known, Irish police would have waited. They now believe that he was about to head to the underground firing range, where recruits as young as 14 where being drilled.
But detectives still believe their dramatic operation on Wednesday last week has put paid to the Real IRA’s immediate plans to return to violence. The group called a ceasefire soon after killing 29 people at Omagh, but the RUC and Garda were fearing an imminent attack on security forces in Northern Ireland.

As well as arresting 10 people at the recently converted wine cellar, police recovered three guns.

Seven people were charged with weapons offences. They were remanded in custody at the special criminal court in Dublin on Wednesday, the first time tighter legislation on bail has been applied in the Irish Republic.

The director of public prosecutions is considering files on the three others. They include the 14-year-old.

 

That Garda operation was enabled by classical COIN counterintelligence and surveillance, the basic blocking and tackling of clandestine warfare. There was also a little signal of the futility of conventional gun control, which is very tight in both the Irish Republic and the adjacent British territory of Northern Ireland:

The Real IRA leader slipped out of the Irish Republic this year, bound for eastern Europe. The reason is now clear.

Two of the seized guns were Czech made. The other was an AK-47 from Yugoslavia. They also found a Russian-made RPG 18 rocket-launcher, six ready-to-use bombs, also from Russia, and 36 detonators, often the most difficult component of a bomb to source.

One of the largely untold stories of the Cold War is the extent to which the USSR supported terrorists worldwide, in a nihilistic attempt to undermine non-communist (and even communist but China-oriented or independent governments) worldwide.

The discovery proves that the Real IRA leader, a former quartermaster of the IRA, has opened up a new source of supply. And, despite heavy surveillance, he was able to ensure the weapons came into the Irish Republic.

Geez, did it ever occur to you that the guy you had under heavy surveillance was drawing off your surveillants from the guy you didn’t have eyes on — the one who was actually moving the weapons?

Intelligence sources believe the Real IRA leader has also successfully imported a heavy duty machinegun capable of bringing down an army helicopter.

Reporters! Anything is capable of bringing down an army helicopter, including dumb luck, the pilot, and the natural entropy that’s always at work in these complex flying machines. The miracle is that any of them stay up all the way to the intended LZ.

Although the Real IRA leader knows where the IRA arms dumps are, there is no evidence yet he has tried to take guns from them. The IRA’s AK-47s are Rumanian or Russian-made.

But Gardai seized 2lbs of Semtex from the Real IRA in Co. Wexford earlier this month. They think it came from an IRA dump.

This sort of thing did not stop with the IRA cease-fire, because the IRA insisted on maintaining its arsenal of guns and bombs. Even though Daffy Qaddhafi cut them off in the 1990s, they’re estimated to have at least 650 AKs still in inventory; enough, one expert writes, for them to operate at peak Troubles pace “indefinitely.” And they continue to train clandestinely. The Police Service of Northern Ireland arrested four IRA terrorists in connection with such a range in 2012, and the first, a 48-year-old dole recipient named Sean Kelly, entered guilty pleas last month. The methods PSNI used to detect and locate the range have not been made public.

Another problem with anonymous tips

stop snitchinOne problem with anonymous tips is obvious: the tipster may be Shannon Richardson looking for a blithe exit from a confining marriage to a “gun nut,” or the tipster may be a dope dealer or stick-up artist thinning the competitive herd. Of course, if you’re of the mindset that guns, not criminals, produce crime, paying criminals to snitch on gun owners must look positively brilliant.

Then, there’s the less obvious but always present danger of sliding into a Stasi society. Watch The Lives of Others for a cinematic indication of some of the things wrong with that, or read back numbers of Der Spiegel from the early nineties, when Germany’s main espionage problem was German on German, not red, white and blue.

And finally, there’s the completely non-obvious, except to anyone who has watched governmental organizations at work for any length of time, emergence of the classic Agency Problem (as in someone being the “agent” for a second person, and having misaligned interests; it has nothing to do with government organizations who call themselves “agencies,” except insofar as they, too, are prone to the Agency Problem). This happens when the rewards programs get hijacked by insiders, which always happens sooner or later.

An NYPD detective is jammed up, after having bent a city Gun Snitch program towards his own ends, rather than the citizen disarmament that was and is at the core of Operation Gun Snitch. The New York Times:

Amid the hundreds of tips on illegal guns that flow into the New York Police Department each year, there was something wrong with Tip No. 7590.

It came not from a concerned citizen eager to rid the city of a weapon, investigators found, but from a veteran detective assigned to the program, known as Operation Gun Stop, who fraudulently transformed himself into a tipster in order to collect a reward after a gun arrest had already been made.

The detective, John Malloy, was arraigned on an indictment Thursday in Criminal Court in Manhattan. He is facing six counts of felony forgery and five counts of offering a false instrument, also a felony, in addition to attempted petit larceny and official misconduct.

via New York Police Detective Charged in Scheme to Get Reward for Gun Tip – NYTimes.com.

Operation Gun Snitch rewards snitches, even if they’re crooked cops like Malloy, very well: the program, began in the “what’s so bad about a police state?” mayoralty of Rudolph Guiliani, pumped its rewards up to $1,000 per ratted-out gun under the “criminals aren’t the problem, guns are the problem” regime of Mike Bloomberg. (The data from the “criminals are my constituents, where’s the problem?” regime of Bill DeBlasio are not in yet, but they’re going to be interesting).  Bloomberg also sped up payment of the bounties: 72 hours from tip to cash, tipsters! And he did it all without reaching into his own bulging pockets, thanks to the generosity of the New York taxpayers.

The program also yields a lot of non-gun arrests, and a lot of raids on and hassles of people who presumably weren’t doing anything wrong (because they weren’t arrested). Here are some stats:

NYPD has received 574 tips, resulting in 288 arrests and the recovery of 133 illegal guns.

So, almost exactly half of the tips yield an arrest, but less than half the arrests — 23% of the total tips — yield a gun. Given that all guns in New York are illegal, unless people are calling in tips on the Lower Manhattan nomenklatura and their hired Praetorians, 77% false positives seems like it’s kind of weak. But then, there’s no downside for a false tip, and a potential thousand bucks for every right one. That’s a recipe for lots of calls — and, over time, declining hit percentages.

Higher Education

For this, some parents are paying $40k a year for seven or nine years….

Screenshot 2014-07-19 00.08.36

You got the mistake, right? Sunday is the anniversary of Lance and Buzz walking on the moon.

Wait, what? Lance?

Hat tip, CBS 2 Chicongo.

Anyway, they never would have gotten there without Yogi Gagarin and Sean Glenn.

Reagan on KAL 007

This is the speech Reagan made, about five days after the shootdown of KAL 007:

Quoth Ronaldus Magnus:

Make no mistake about it: this attack was not just against ourselves and the Republic of Korea, this was the Soviet Union against the world and the moral precepts which guide human relations among people everywhere. It was an act of barbarism, borne of a society which wantonly disregards individual rights, and the value of human life, and seeks constantly to expand and dominate other nations.

They deny the deed, but in their conflicting and misleading protestations, the Soviets reveal that, yes, shooting down a plane with hundreds of innocent men, women, children and babies, is a part of their normal procedure….

Well, of course, back then, it was. Of course this happened soon after a German kid flew a Cessna 172 to Moscow and landed it in Red Square, on the most-ill-advised German peace mission since Rudolf Hess hopped a Bf110 to England. Apparently Matthias Rust was a harder target to track than a 747 at altitude.

But we shouldn’t be surprised by such inhuman brutality. Memories come back of Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Poland, the gassing of villages in Afghanistan…. If the massacre, and their subsequent conduct, is intended to intimidate, they have failed in their purpose.

Meanwhile, on the scene of the crash, bodies lie unrecovered 24 hours after the crash, while Russian-sponsored irregulars loot the victims’ bodies and luggage.

Looted luggage from flight MH17

A missile Transporter, Erector, Launcher And Radar unit believed to be the one that fired the fatal shot was hustled across the Russian border into oblivion — the same fate that befell the flight’s data recorders, and suggestive of guilty knowledge in the Kremlin.

murder weapon being hidden - bukThe 2nd missile from the left is missing, and people think they know where it went. We definitely know where the transporter went — deep into Russian territory, hiding from investigators. Compare this rendering (actually a view of the TELAR in transit mode from the right rear quarter, flipped to align with the photo):

SA-11 TEL in transit mode

 

 

Vladimir Vladimirovich has some explaining to do, and so far, all his actions undermine his credibility. He’s much luckier than, say, Brezhnev or Andropov in that he’s facing a much weaker and less able opponent.

This report at the Christian Science Monitor (a Boston-based paper that went web-only some years ago amid declining circulation) quotes several Russian defense experts. The report notes that the Russian media is following Mr Putin’s lead in blaming the Ukraine, but the defense experts are less sanguine.

“The facts will inevitably come in, and if it is shown that Russian-supported rebels did this, the whole conversation about Ukraine will change,” says Alexander Golts, a military expert with the online journal Yezhednevny Zhurnal. “In the eyes of the world there will be no difference between Russia and the rebels. Everyone knows who arms and supports these rebels, and that will be enough for most people to blame Russia.”

Russia could get out in front of this really easily: yank the leash of the rebels.

They did put a choke collar on these guys, before they turned them loose with GRU advisors and modern SAM systems, right? Right?

When the US Committed the Atrocity

Vincennes takes a shot -- in this case, an ASROC, not a Standard, during her sea trials.

Vincennes takes a shot — in this case, an ASROC, not a Standard, during her sea trials.

We have mentioned, and several commenters have gone in-depth into, the US’s shoot-down of a scheduled airliner, Iran Air Flight 655, scheduled service from Bandar Abbas to Dubai, in 1988. While we have more to post on the atrocity in Ukraine, we want to illustrate one of the most horrible atrocities that ever occurred when a military unit engaged an airliner.

Airliners do get shot down from time to time. The Germans shot down a British airliner during the war, which was received in England as “not cricket,” and in Germany as, “what the hell, the passengers were war workers and military officers anyway.” (One of the casualties was actor Leslie Howard). The Russians and their former satellites are the all-time champs; they sometimes thought they were shooting down the American and British spyplanes that regularly flew along (and sometimes, over) Warsaw Pact borders, and sometimes knew the target wasn’t a spyplane, but just didn’t care.

Usually an analysis of an airliner shootdown shows a number of human factors failures, much like any military friendly fire incident. (For example, the US has shot down two of our own helicopters over Iraq, bombed a Canadian unit in Afghanistan, and rained AC-130-delivered death on an SF team and their Afghan troopers, to name just a few we’re familiar with). The Israelis once shot down a Libyan airliner; they assumed it was a terrorist attack, and it was just a pilot failing Navigation 101. The Soviets and Chinese have also scored some “own goals,” in part because they’ve both had very aggressive air defense systems.

If you wonder why the Soviets in the 1950s and 60s built the world’s most comprehensive air defense system (while the US was building a much smaller but more sophisticated air defense system, for which project computer networking was invented), look up the history of the Strategic Air Command. At one point, the US could have put thousands of bombers in the air towards the USSR, all armed with nuclear bombs and many with early cruise missiles. If you knew bombers could come with 10,000 nukes, you’d build radars, missiles, and point-defense interceprors, too. And you’d keep them on high alert, especially in times of international trouble.

USS Vincennes main missile battery -- Standard SM-2 missiles.

USS Vincennes main missile battery — Standard SM-2 missiles.

The Iran Air shootdown took place when an extremely sophisticated (for the day) American warship was put into an environment it wasn’t designed, and moreover, its crew wasn’t trained, for.

Amazing to us today, the way USS Vincennes deconflicted civil aircraft from the bogeys they were tracking on their Aegis radar and UYK-1 computer system was to look up the airline flights in a paper printout they had. That required the lights to be on in the Combat Information Center (the ship’s warfighting nerve center), which they weren’t. Worse, the printout had the flights listed in local time. The problem with that? The Persian Gulf has four different time zones. (Why they didn’t run the printout in Zulu time is anybody’s guess). So the petty officer whose job it was to look up the flights in the printout in the freakin’ dark had to convert times in his head, even as the ship motored around through the various time zones in a running battle with Iranian speedboats.

Well, he missed one. Unfortunately, the ship’s Standard SM-2 missiles didn’t, and 290 absolutely innocent people were killed. There were many more failings than that. This link goes to a .pdf at MIT,  where a couple bright fellows in a Human Factors course, with 15 years’ hindsight and publications on the incident, do a pretty thorough analysis of all the ways the Navy screwed the pooch.

http://ocw.mit.edu/courses/aeronautics-and-astronautics/16-422-human-supervisory-control-of-automated-systems-spring-2004/projects/vincennes.pdf

Here’s an archived case study of the event. It was lifted from a publication (the 1989 Naval Institute’s Proceedings, an important professional magazine, but it also includes a rebuttal letter from a later issue). And it’s very critical of Captain Rogers of Vincennes. 

https://web.archive.org/web/20060527221409/http://dolphin.upenn.edu/~nrotc/ns302/20note.html

It’s also apparently a bad OCR job… “corner” gets printed as “comer” and “Mode III” gets printed as “Mode 111.” (Military, airline and most civil aircraft worldwide carry transponders. These transponders have different modes, but the base Mode III provides an enhanced radar blip, plus altitude information, to air traffic controllers. Military aircraft can squawk Mode III but civil aircraft cannot squawk any of the military transponder modes, which are generally called “IFF” for “Identification, Friend or Foe.” 

You can find other case studies and other notes from the same class by clicking the link at the end of that one.

In Captain Rogers’s rebuttal letter, he recommends this Naval Post Graduate School thesis, a quasi-quantitative analysis of the situation (this is the abstract page. Click the link on that page to get the full text .pdf):

http://oai.dtic.mil/oai/oai?verb=getRecord&metadataPrefix=html&identifier=ADA260260

There are a lot of gray areas and a lot of fine points of dispute about the USS Vincennes’s destruction of Iran Air 655. But all those can do is shift the blame here or there within the US Navy and the US joint warfighting environment. Just like Russia owns the destruction of Flight MH17, the USA owns the destruction of Iran Air 655. It was our failure that killed all those people, and we have to admit that.

USS Vincennes CG-49 to scrap 2005

In the end, Rogers’s career was, for all practical purposes, over. His ship, Vincennes, served on for 17 more years; the above picture shows her ready for the breakers in 2005.

Sic transit gloria mundi.

Applying 21st Century Video Tech to 20th Century Guns

We’re waiting for Ian at Forgotten Weapons to get his new video gear up and running. So far the pièce de resistance is a drone with which he can do some cool stuff.

To us, it was most remarkable how the gyro-stabilized drone subs so very well for a Steadicam, but lets you take shots where even the most callous director wouldn’t send a Steadicam operator: downrange, in front of the muzzle. Downside? Yeah, there is one. The drone is noisy, so any sound has to be dubbed (we doubt you could scrub it with an active filter, it’s too broadband and irregular, but we’ve been away from audio engineering for nearly twenty years, so who knows?).

Ian describes the drone as follows:

This is a DJI Phantom Vision 2+, with GPS placeholding and a 3-axis gimbal stabilized camera.

It seems great, but the lack of interchangeable or zoom lenses are a limitation. Of course, the FAA is doing all it can to impeded the development of this technology, for everyone except government surveillance operators, for whom it throws safety out the window. But then, the largest department of FAA has always been the Office of Aviation Inhibition.

The other really big thing Ian is waiting for is an ultra-high-speed camera. It looks like the gang at the Institute of Military Technology beat him to it, and in this extremely cool promo, a uniformed reenactor live-fires an M2HB from an M3 halftrack — shot at 45,000 frames per second. Eat your heart out, Michael Bay:

The IMT is, as we understand it, the non-profit perpetuity spun off from Reid Knight’s collection and private museum, to ensure the collection continues to advance and educate long after that day, one hopes in the distant future, when Mr Knight is no longer here to guide it himself.

We saw the promo at The Gun Wire, (we always check The Gun Wire and The Gun Feed every day for gunny news) and knew immediately we had to share it with you.

Well, after we watched it about nine times. We’ve fired Ma Deuce a lot but never saw it like this.

We’d really like to see a DShK shot like this. A lot is going on with the grand old Dashka, including a fireball some actual flamethrowers would envy.

It really whets our appetite for what Ian will do when he gets his high-speed (or is that high-speed, low-drag?) camera.

OT: Comcast = Customer Service, Soviet Style

The audio file at this report is a pretty typical example of Comcast’s awful, horrible, very bad, worst-in-class customer service. What’s probably not typical is the extreme patience of the abused customer, former Engadget editior Ryan Block. Block only started the recording ten minutes into the call, when it was clear he was getting nowhere with Comcast’s Soviet-style “service” department.

http://www.wtop.com/1374/3662942/Man-records-nightmarish-attempt-to-cancel-cable-Comcast-apologizes

A few high points from Block:

  • “Are you punking us right now?”
  • “You’re doing an incredibly good job at making your company look bad.”

The Comcast agent persists in a brain-dead, perseverating, autistic hard-sell. Block matches him patience for persistence, and finally wins a claim that the account is disconnected, but the truculent service representative refuses to give him a reference number.

WTOP contacted Comcast, and got a non-apology apology from some classically dishonest (and Comcastically brain-dead) PR dolly named Jenni Moyer. “We are investigating this situation and will take quick action,” Moyer promised, emptily. (Four years ago, Moyer was defending Comcast’s worst-in-all-industries customer service with false claims it was getting better: “our internal metrics… indicate we’re on the right track”).  But the rude hard-sell agent has not been fired, because he was actually delivering the dreadful customer service nightmare experience that every Comcast user gets; and other Comcast agents still do the same unpleasant thing.

So, if Comcast is so bad (to steal a line from Block’s bullying interlocutor), why is it Number One? Because, in a lot of places, it’s a monopoly. That’s why it’s the Moskvitch (or maybe, the Trabant) of cable providers.

Newtown roundup

Newtown Window Shot OutIt’s been over 18 months since the Newtown school shootings, which are an ill wind that has blown some Democrat PR dollies like Shannon Watts some good, but produced political winds that have been a disaster for all concerned. Gun owners have lost in many places, but anti-gun politicians have lost in many more, and they fear a reckoning coming in the fall.

Here are a few things that are still percolating into the news from this aging crime. Much of the news comes from the Hartford Courant, which is interested in the case both because it happened inside their circulation area, and because they expected it would help them promote their gun control agenda, which it has done, locally.

Item: June 23: The FBI put the habeus grabass on a sick puppy from Venezuela. Immediately after the shootings, Wilfrido A. Cardenas Hoffman, 30, of El Hatillo, Venezuela, made 96 random calls to Newtown numbers, claiming to be the dead shooter Adam Lanza, and making threats. He used an internet phone system to try to hide his identity, but was tripped up by the FBI’s warrantless access to NSA surveillance. Even after he was identified and indicted in 2013, he might have stayed free forever, except that he ran into the difficulty anyone has getting from one place to another in Latin America: you always have to change planes in Miami. Lanza escaped justice, but the legal system now has Cardenas as whipping boy. Assuming he did it, couldn’t happen to a nicer guy. 

Item: June 23: A commission set up and staffed by anti-gun governor Dannel Malloy is said to be focusing, in secret, on legislative recommendations about “guns, school safety, and mental health” — in that order. Connecticut already had strict laws, including a state version of the 1994 Federal semi-auto ban. The shooter did not obtain his guns lawfully, but by murdering a legal owner, his mother. We’d like to see the law that will deter someone who wants a gun that badly. Most of the story talks about the mental health issues, without ever facing the real, difficult question: how do you separate the sheep (harmless mentally ill) from the goats (potentially violent ones)? No physican has a reliable protocol, or would be willing to stake his license on one of his predictions. It’s a fuzzy, inexact science at this point. About the most practical thing we can do is spend on basic research and hope they find something. Since that, unlike Dannel Malloy’s Two Minutes Hate directed at the Emannuel Goldstein of the NRA, does not promise instant gratification, the politicians will not do it.

Lisa Long, the lady who, back in February 2014, wrote the moving essay I am Adam Lanza’s Mother about her own struggles with her son’s mental illness, describes progress since then: she finally, after 10 or 11 years of illness, has a diagnosis (bipolar disorder), not that that offers any immediate hope for her kid. She thinks that the “national conversation” ought to be about mental illness, and we think she’s on to something. Long:

We cannot ensure that tragic events like Newtown do not happen again. The world isn’t safe. But one thing we can do is provide better and earlier diagnosis of mental illness for children.

In time, we may have the right hammer to hit this nail. Until then, people like Mrs Long and her mentally ill son will suffer. The world isn’t safe, and it also isn’t fair.

Item: June 26: The Newtown massacre may have been a disaster for family members, but it’s been bonanza for state bureaucrats and various “non-profit” empire builders who are elbowing one another at a Federal trough that’s been sluiced with over $7 million — so far. State Office of Victim’s [sic] Services Executive Director Linda Cimino describes the surviving kids of Newtown as, naturally, helpless and ruined victims. Indeed, to hear her tell it, they’re abused, emotionally disturbed, hypervigilant and underachieving drug users. And the answer, of course, is to give her money. A “non-profit” called the Resiliency Center of Newtown, hastily set up to stake a claim to a hunk of the “free” Federal lucre, wants a half-million to provide good jobs at way-better-than-good wages to its Executive Director and his, her or its retinue. The Newtown-Sandy Hook Foundation has already blown through over $12M in private donations, of which only $7.7M went to the victims (surviving and dead) and their families, and the other near-half seems to have been raked off by the insiders, in addition to a large cut taken by the grossly inefficient United Way for its insiders. The Foundation has earmarked a lot of the money to perpetuate itself for at least 15 years, and it’s getting $173k from the Feds — for its Executive Director and his or her office space. You can’t expect selfless non-profiteers to toil away for mere middle-class wages like the common 99%, can you? On the other hand, Newtown Youth and Family Services has seen the demand for mental health outpatient services increase markedly, and that requires them to hire more people — administrative people. And get them a building. The town itself will get $3.1M from the feds, which will go for a lot of new, hungry mouths to feed, like a $165k Community Outreach Leader, and Project Manager and Child Recovery Leaders also drawing over $100k each. One (legitimately) traumatized student is attending a private special needs school at a cost of about $300k a year including transportation and a minder.

Hey, it’s all free money from the Federal Government, only 40% borrowed for those kids to pay back in reduced income and opportunities for their entire life. Funny how “for the children” always seems to actually manifest itself as “for the second sons of the Political Class”.

Item: June 30: While the .gov money seems to be going predominantly to make rich “facilitators” and “coordinators” richer, the Courant reports that more than a quarter of the $28M raised by private charities went to the families, so far, but that half remains to be distributed, raising the possibility that more than half of the amount will go to the people for whom donors intended the money, rather than typically sticky-fingered non-profit managers.

Of course, the same story also mentions a Nashville charity where runners raised $70k for Newtown — and organizers apparently kept on running with it. There were some bright points of light, though: for example, a Newtown couple, Rob and Debra Accomando, raised $1.6M and paid out every penny of it to victims’ families. One for-profit organization apparently raised $29k and distributed it to the Parks and Rec department of the town for engraved benches dedicated to the 26 victims.

The Courant remains an extremely anti-gun newspaper, and its news pages campaign for the re-election of antigun Governor Dannell Malloy. On July 14th they called for further restriction of Connecticut’s highly restrictive gun permit regime, because a connected criminal got a permit, which he then used to fire up the crowd at a night club (one that features gangster rap music).