Category Archives: When Guns Are Outlawed…

When Guns are Outlawed, Only Outlaws will have Sharp Turns

Three years ago, a sharp turn — and, perhaps, the usual Korean slapdash engineering and systems operation — caused an intercity ferry to roll. All ships roll in turns, but Sewol kept rolling, and sort-of-stabilized with a profound list… that guaranteed flooding, more list, and the vessel turning semi-turtle and slipping beneath the waves.

The crew did not cover themselves with glory, or even live up to the ancient honor code of the seaman. They saved themselves, or froze, disbelieving, in place. They ordered the passengers to return to their cabins and await rescue.

Rescue wasn’t coming.

The Republic of Korea did not have sufficient SAR resources for the conditions — naturally, it was dark, and the weather foul — or the sheer number of passengers. Few nations’ coast guards or lifesaving services would; they’re great at lifting a family of four from a dismasted yacht, or plucking the 8-man crew of a modern merchant ship from the sea, but hundreds of people would overwhelm anybody, and the ROKs’ lifesaving resources were overwhelmed.

Over 300 souls, most of them passengers, most of them children on a school trip, were extinguished.

This week, the ship was raised… to renew a disappointingly incomplete investigation (which so far has settled blame on the captain, who most certainly did not go down with his ship, and who has been threatened with the death penalty), and in hopes of recovering the remains of nine who are still missing.

The ferry, Sewol, was structurally unsound, overloaded and travelling too fast on a turn when it capsized and sank during a routine voyage off the southwest coast on April 16, 2014.

Bereaved families have been calling for the ship to be raised and for a more thorough investigation into the disaster. Officials also hope to find the last nine missing bodies.

Salvagers started to bring up the vessel, which has been lying on its side at a depth of 144 feet, late on Wednesday, and worked through the night.

Television pictures taken from the air early on Thursday showed the white 460-feet long hull, coated in mud and sediment, breaking above the surface, flanked by winching barges.

“The work needs to be done very cautiously,” Lee Cheol-jo, an official at the Ministry of Ocean and Fisheries, which is in charge of the operation, told a briefing.

It’s a hell of a thing, both that this is necessary, and that it is possible. A Clive Cussler tale come to life, but with no lost treasure or happy ending. And consider this:

A Chinese salvage company has fitted 33 beams beneath the hull with 66 hydraulic jacks inching the ship up.

via Sewol ferry raised in South Korea after THREE years | World | News | Express.co.uk.

There was a time that your go-to guys for marine salvage would have been British or Dutch. Then, there was a time where the know-how rested unquestionably in American firms.

Now, if you want to raise a ship from the depths and solve a mystery, you look to China. (We can barely build warships, any more, and no US merchant ship is ever built except for some government boondoggle). The raising of Sewol is a true extreme-engineering case, and her Chinese salvors are to be congratulated. (Not that they’re done yet, but they’re on track for mission completion).

There’s a lot to be learned from this accident, but we wonder if the highly politicized environment in the Republic of Korea is conducive to such learning. In our experience, only disinterested and professional investigators have any real hope of getting to the bottom (no pun intended) of such a complex accident. Adversarial proceedings and public hearings are almost certain to be useless, at least in terms of understanding what happened, and preventing next time.

Thereby guaranteeing a next time.

When Guns are Outlawed, Only Outlaws will have a Tea Break

Ah, those Englishmen. Gotta have their tea, even if they just got a call “See the woman, possible suicide.”

After the wild tea parties were over, the woman was found.

Dead.

Worse, the tea came from that suspicious Colonial tea vendor, Mickey D’s. What manner of Londoners were these strange rozzers?

Two police officers who went to McDonald’s to buy a cup of tea before responding to a suicide call have been allowed to keep their jobs.

Well, you really don’t want to have the tea after the call, do you? (And especially the biscuits… especially after some of the riper suicides).

PC Gavin Bateman and Tony Stephenson had received a call, graded ‘significant’ by the Met, shortly after midnight on April 16.

But rather than head straight to the home of a woman in Poplar, east London, deemed vulnerable by the London Ambulance Service, they waited 24 minutes before heading there.

Instead, the pair drove to the local fast food restaurant to pick up some refreshments and complete ‘administrative tasks’ before continuing with the call, a misconduct panel heard.

But by the time they reached the woman’s house, almost 40 minutes after a friend had called 999 when she received a suicidal text from the woman, the 22-year-old was found dead.

Yet today a Metropolitan Police disciplinary hearing gave the two police officers written warnings after they admitted misconduct but denied gross misconduct.

Amy Clarke, representing the Met, told the hearing: ‘The call was graded ‘S’, meaning significant, the more significant grading is ‘I’ which means the officer has to attend immediately.

‘PC Stephenson confirmed to the contact centre that they had accepted that call and that they were en route, that was at 00.03.

‘The CAD (dispatch system) went through to the vehicle so the officers could read the details which said ‘police requested for psychotic illness, significant risk to herself or others.

OK, so we get this deep in the story before we learn the two accused cops weren’t told it was an explicit suicide threat, but rather that it was a Crazy Lady call.

Anyone who has ever dealt with a Crazy Lady, copper or not, ought to know that fortifying oneself with the caffeinated beverage of choice beforehand is probably a good idea, and in most cases you will be facing an unpleasant but not life-consequential experience.

‘The officers decided not to proceed straight to the address and went to a nearby McDonald’s where they purchased refreshments before driving to a roundabout where they drank their drinks.

‘At 12.37 the officer’s left and went to [the woman’s] address.

via Police officers stopped at McDonald’s instead of helping suicidal woman | Metro News.

Let’s not lose sight of the fact that the officers didn’t kill her. Loon killed her self. It is quite difficult to keep a determined suicide from whacking him- or herself; it’s still worth trying, but the failure here is not the officers’. We think the verdict of “negligence deserving reprimand, not gross neg demanding firing” is just about right.

One last thing: if you get a text from a suicidal friend, maybe you’d better not count on Teh Authoritah to go to the friend’s aid.

When Guns are Outlawed, Only Outlaws will have Bullhorns

Nope, not the kind that Snowflakes use to protest everyday life on today’s learning-free college campuses. More the kind that come attached to bulls.

Angry bulls. Bulls that you just stuck a little cocktail skewer into, and now are a mite peeved. And are looking to take out their rage on something human and dressed in red.

One is put in mind of all the old British jokes about the sexual orientation of Spanish Bullfighters. Only for the guy who received a near-foot-long bull horn enema, it was more like getting you-know-what without getting kissed.

Antonio Romero was horrifically gored during a bout with the furious beast in Mexico City on Monday.

The matador ended up with the bull’s horn some 11 inches up his rectum, causing “severe” injuries.

The stomach-churning clip shows Romero seemingly in control as he goads the animal with a red cloth, called a muleta. But something goes wrong as he tries to get the bull to pivot around him. The angry beast rears up, catching him on the arm and knocking him off balance.

As Romero stumbles back in an effort to avoid the bull’s deadly horns, the animal throws off the muleta and homes in on its helpless target. Now, with its tormentor in its sights, the bull takes its terrible revenge.

via Bull gores 11-inch horn up matador’s butt | New York Post.

Here’s the video, but as usual with a goring (“cornada” en español), the action is over in a few seconds. (Quick work by the assistant bullfighters — forget what they’re called — in distracting the beast).

 It was probably a bullfighter who first coined the smart-aleck comeback, “If it was up your [you-know-what] you’d know.” Well, now, Antonio Romero knows. He’s in hospital and will need more surgery than what the bull did to him.

It could really mess up his sex life.

When Guns are Outlawed, Only Outlaws will have E-Cigarettes

An e-cigarette exploded and burst an entire bedroom into flames. Eight firefighters were sent to the two-storey semi-detached house in Oldbury, West Mids, after the e-cigarette exploded at around 1.40pm Nobody was injured in the blaze which charred the rooms wooden furniture and dangerously melted an extension cable. Pictures show the major fire damage in the front bedroom on the first floor caused by the e-cigarette

Hey, there’s another way that e-cigarettes can cure your addiction: by blowing you to bits.

Dramatic images show the devastating after effect of the blaze, which took place at around 1.40pm today.

Firefighters rushed to the scene in Oldbury, West Midlands, following reports of a first floor fire.

A double bed and wardrobes had caught alight after the device blew up in the two-storey semi-detached house.

Nobody was injured in the blaze which charred the room’s wooden furniture and dangerously melted an extension cable.

Oh, the humanity! A melted extension cable.

A West Midlands Fire Service spokesman said: ‘There was a fire in the first floor front bedroom of a semi-detached house caused by an exploding e-cigarette.

‘Two fire fighters wearing breathing apparatus used a hose reel to extinguish the fire.’

Nobody died this time, but apparently an e-cig can still bring the FOOM.

Last month, a man lost seven teeth and suffered serious facial injuries when an e-cigarette exploded in his mouth.

Andrew Hall from Idaho in the US, was inhaling from the device when the incident happened.

As well as losing several teeth, Hall was left with ‘chunks of plastic’ wedged into his face and second degree burns.

via Entire bedroom destroyed in fire after e-cigarette explodes | Metro News.

One wonders how many of these FOOMed unfortunates are the victims of using the devices within their specifications, and how many of them were trying to abuse them for the delivery of recreational pharmaceuticals.

When Guns are Outlawed… There’s an App For That!

Ah, the gig economy. You can be individual entrepreneurs, arbitraging firearms between South Carolina (where they’re mostly legal) and NYFC (where they’re mostly outlawed), and delivering them via Uber to customers.

But one thing that predates the gig economy: when you’re selling illegal stuff, one of your customers just might be an undercover cop.

And another thing that was here before the gig economy and will continue long after: the government doesn’t care how it spends its money or whether it’s achieving its ostensible ends. While a few gun sales would have been enough to bust these guys, the cop kept buying and buying and buying, ultimately paying them over $100,000 for over 100 guns. The profits they made from running guns to the NYPD were, in part, plowed back into running more guns to more criminals in New York, so NYPD was in effect financing criminals’ ability to gun up in their own five boroughs.

Smart.

Who do they think they are, the ATF? Nobody’s supposed to do gunwalking, but if you have to pick an all time champion gunwalker, it’s hard to compete with ATF. They’ve set the all-time record. We hope.

Anyway, on to these low-rent Merchants of Death, NYC streetcrime variety:

Shavar Stuckey, one of the gunrunners.

Shavar Stuckey, 31, and Levon Jackson, 30, who are half-brothers, are both facing a 203-count indictment that includes charges of fourth-degree conspiracy and first, second and third-degree criminal weapons sales, according to the Manhattan District Attorney’s office.

Is anybody ever more than a half-sibling, in the ghetto? Asking for a friend.

It’s just amazing that these guys’ various baby-daddies didn’t bring ’em up right, isn’t it?

Devon Heatley, 32, and South Carolina residents Troy Allen, 32, Shakial Shephard, 22, and Liq’uel Robinson, 19, are also facing multiple charges for allegedly supplying the firearms for Stuckey and Jackson to sell, said the DA’s office.

The South Carolina men and Heatley would purchase the guns from firearms retailers in the South then bring them to New York City by buses they would take to Chinatown, according to the indictment Stuckey and Jackson would then bring them up to Harlem and the Bronx in cabs and Ubers.

B-b-b-but, Uber bans guns. An Uber vehicle is a gun-free-zone. Unpossible!

Then again, come to think of it, NYFC is a gun-free-zone, but no one seems to have told the guns, especially the ones that are leaping into diverse young hands and urging them to acts of mayhem.

“The South Carolina residents would allegedly transport the guns to Stuckey and Jackson usually via the Chinatown bus lines and in doing so endangering the passengers, the drivers and the residents in Chinatown alike,” said Manhattan district attorney Cyrus Vance. “After they arrived in Lower Manhattan, it’s alleged they would hail an Uber or take a subway uptown to Stuckey and Jackson.”

LeVon Jackson, the other master-mini-mind

A backpack or briefcase full of guns is actually as inert as a bag of hammers, unless a human opens it up and actuates the firearm. So who’s endangered… and who’s grandstanding? Wait… Cyrus Vance… where have we seen that name before? Why, this CV’s dad was the Cyrus Vance who led the Carter Administration to foreign policy victories like the Iranian Islamic Revolution, and the narco-state of Panama. And the incompetent Secretary of State’s dad was the Cyrus Vance who was one of Roosevelt’s (F.D.’s) New Deal technocrats.

Between December of 2015 and March of this year, the pair sold the undercover officer 105 guns – including 75 semi-automatic pistols, 21 revolvers, 5 assault rifles, and 4 shotguns. Most of these sales took place in the detective’s car. The officer paid between $800 and $2,000 for each gun.

“I don’t know what you can say except its incredible that you can find these,” Vance said.

Actually, in the free world they’re common as the above-mentioned hammers. It’s incredible that one could be a law-enforcement official and not know that, but then again, we’re talking about a guy bred to socialism for at least three generations, and whose genes descend from the sort of intellect that thought the US’s best policy move was to encourage Khomeini to take over Iran. It’s a wonder he can use the restroom without a respite care worker.

But hey, all the guns came from gun stores out of state, right?

Of the 105 guns, 20 were reported stolen, Vance said.

via Brothers used Chinatown buses, Uber to smuggle illegal guns | New York Post.

No kidding. From whom? That’s not clear. Bet more than one is an NYPD heater.

Incidentally, what state provides the most guns traced by ATF in New York? (.pdf)  If you guessed SC, or FL, or TX, go soak your head. The right answer is New York, for the last data available (2015), 1,350 of 4,863 total traces (27.8%). South Carolina? 266 (5.5%)

New York State crime is almost entirely urban, and mostly New York City crime. 3,621 of those traces were initiated in New York City. Three-quarters. (Okay, only 74.5%, we rounded up).

While the national average time-to-crime (really, time-to-recovery) of traced firearms was 10.48 years, New York’s was 3 1/2 years higher, 14.11 years. Straw-purchased firearms like the ones discussed in the article would have been traced much less than one year after leaving the retailer.

New York State is 100% effective in hassling peaceable gun owners, but all its gun control laws produce nil effect on local crime. This is predictable by the laws of economics, specifically, how market equilibrium results from natural responses to changes in supply and demand as signaled by price.

A shortage of any good produces rising prices, which stimulates importation, manufacture (including diversion or clandestine manufacture, if legal manufacture for the market is closed off), and substitution, until the market’s equilibrium is restored at the point where the demand curve (which goes down or is “negatively sloped” on a quantity/price graph) intersects the supply curve (which goes up or is “positively sloped” with the graph). In other words, all demands are ultimately met.

When Guns are Outlawed, Only Outlaws will have Skateboards

Jenkins in a family photo — safely not skateboarding.

Just about anything can kill you, but if it has wheels and you’re overconfident on it, your odds of starring in a story like this go way up.

A well-off kid from Rhode Island, dawdling through Swarthmore while checking all the SWPL boxes, skateboarded himself into eternity last weekend.

The sudden death of Sam Jenkins of Wickford, R.I., has hit the close-knit campus hard.

Jenkins, a sophomore at Swarthmore College, died Sunday after a skateboard accident on the campus’ Magill Walk Friday afternoon.

“It’s impossible, particularly in an email, to convey the depth of this loss to Sam’s family and our community,” Swarthmore president Valerie Smith wrote to the Swarthmore staff and students Sunday morning.

And what are the odds that Smith actually knew him before he wound up brain-dead and plugged into machines? Maybe it doesn’t bug other people, but it bugs us when bosses and politicians (and as a college president, Smith is arguably both) try to wrap themselves in the shroud of sorrow that belongs to family and friends.

Do you get to be a college president without learning what a dignified expression of condolence looks like? Apparently not.

Jenkins, she wrote at that time, “is in the process of passing away, which has been prolonged to fulfill Sam’s wish to serve as an organ donor.” He died later that day.

Well, hey, that’s the message of the modern liberal arts college. You’re all assemblies in the machine, and when your service life is up, perhaps a couple of your component levers and sprockets will be recycled.

The college did not provide many details on the accident, except to say that students who saw that Jenkins was hurt immediately called 911 and stayed with him while emergency personnel assisted.

Most people will do the right thing, if left alone by Authoritah. Ever notice that? There are exceptions, in low-trust communities, but most folks of all kinds are refreshingly humane and decent.

Magill is the main walk up to the college’s primary administration building. Jenkins was transported to Crozer-Chester Medical Center for surgery, and his family had been there with him since Friday, she said.

We’ve all seen kids doing life-threatening stuff on skateboards. Teens, testing their imagined immortality. Every once in a while one tests too hard. Conditions in the area were cold and icy, not good for skateboarding, unless you’re immortal.

Turns out, he wasn’t.

The sense of loss on the campus was palpable, even among students who didn’t know him.

The desire to be part of What’s Happening Now, perhaps.

“Everyone knew someone who did,” said Aru Shiney-Ajay, a freshman from Minnesota.

Okay, now we get it. Grief by proxy! Six Degrees of Dead Guy.

Jenkins was an information technology associate at Swarthmore, helping to staff the college’s Help desk. He described himself as a “designer of meaningful fun” and planned to pursue a special major in video game design, Smith wrote.

via Swarthmore mourns sudden student death.

Well, it’s serious: we’ve lost a key member of the next generation of video game designers!

Wait… is it serious?

Regardless, take care out there and wear your brain bucket, even if what’s in there is already concussed enough to think skateboarding on ice is a good course of action.

When Guns are Outlawed, Only Outlaws will have Farm Implements

Another tale of woe from the fields of India, where having just 1% homicidal nut jobs in the population still means ten million of them are on the loose. In this case, the whacker (mugshot right) seems to have been motivated by his conviction that his wife was carrying on with another fellow. His wife’s head, being detached from her body, is unable to meet the charge with confession or denial, and a lawyer might say that that particular tort, whether it happened or not, is now about as moot as it gets.

Bhubhan Mardi, 38, seized an axe and decapitated his wife Charumani Mardi last Sunday, police said.

They say axe, and there’s a crudely formed axe or hoe or similar thing he turned himself in with, but he also seems to have used this rudely-forged thing, apparently; a farm implement turned murder weapon wielded with sufficient force to bend the iron. Any of you farmers know what this is?

He then put her head in a striped bag along with the murder weapon and carried it to a police station to hand himself in, they said.

Not often the coppers get all the evidence needed for prosecution in one painless deposit like that. I guess you could say those Indian police had all their $#!+ in one bag, that day. Axe and bag:

But police were tipped off about the killing and intercepted and arrested Mardi along the way.

This guy is such a loser that he can’t even turn himself in. That’s pretty bad. And he thought his life was bad at the start of the day, when he was just a cuckold.

He allegedly attacked following a heated argument over her supposed extra-marital relationship.

His wife’s body was found in a paddy field near the couple’s marital home in the Bandhmutu village near Ghatshila in the east Indian state of Jharkhand.

There’s a pixelated-out picture of the headless body in the field at the link, but we’ll spare you that.

Sanjiv Besra, deputy superintendent of police at Ghatshila, said: ‘Mardi was heading to court to surrender.

‘Our team was tipped off about the killing and found the woman’s body in a paddy field near her house. The man was arrested on his way to the court.’

Police are yet to confirm the motive behind the murder.

According to neighbours, the couple had been having frequent quarrels in the past few weeks.

via Jealous husband ‘carried wife’s head in a bag after he decapitated her with an axe’ | Metro News.

We dunno. We’ve had a marital “quarrel” or dozen, but nothing that ever made homicide look like a solution. Old Bhubhan Mardi is about to find that all his fit of temper has done for him is exchange one set of problems for another. Had he reasoned that out, what odds he’d have made the swap?

But he didn’t reason it out, of course. His reasoning was overcome by emotion welling up from the red place where murder brews, and the fact is that a penniless Indian field hand is certainly as capable of murder as any of us with scores or hundreds of firearms, whole display cases of knives, and hundredweights of ammunition.

Because removing any particular “means” from the familiar cop-show equation of “means, motive and opportunity” has zero effect: substitute means are always available, and all means are always available to those without intent. The crime of murder forms, not in emanations or vibrations or witchcraft or toxic radiation from any particular means, but in the formation of intent in the human mind and soul.

When you solve that problem, you solve homicide.

“But…”

Exactly.

When Guns are Outlawed, Only Outlaws will have iPhones

Pictures show Richard Bull always grinning, usually gripping his wife or dog, and often enough a beer. But he was a tough cat, known for being willing and able to play every position on a rugby side; and he liked his fun.

How does a guy like that get killed by a fragile, tiny smartphone? Turns out, the phone had some help — from mains AC current.

 Bull, 32, was discovered by his wife and had such severe burns to his chest, arm and hand she thought he had been attacked.

He is thought to have used an extension cord running into the bathroom from the hallway then rested the phone on his chest.

When it touched the water it electrocuted him, killing him, at his home in Ealing, West London.

Coroner Dr Sean Cummings, who recorded a verdict of accidental death, said: ‘These seem like innocuous devices but can be as dangerous as a hairdryer in a bathroom.

via Man died while charging his iPhone and using it in the bath in Ealing | Metro News.

What Britain, where guns are largely outlawed already, needs is some good common sense phone control safety measures. Not that it will do Bull any good.

Alternatively, we could explore the concept that the deodand is not to blame for the deed. But that’s crazy talk.

When Guns are Outlawed, Only Outlaws will have Exorcism

“She’s a witch! Burn her!”

As it turns out, in some places and times that has been more than just a comedy routine. Like in Salem in 1692 (although, to be a pedant about it, none of those witches were burned, all except one were hanged, and the odd man out was squished with rocks). Or in Managua, Nicaragua… today.

Vilma Trujillo Garcia, 25, suffered burns over 80% of her body during the ritual in Nicaragua’s capital, Managua.

Her husband Reynaldo Peralta Rodriguez said she had been taken to a church last week after she allegedly tried to stab people with a machete.

‘It’s unforgiveable what they did to us. They killed my wife, the mother of my two little ones,’ he said.

‘Now what am I going to tell them?’

Evangelical pastor Juan Gregorio Rocha Romero and four other people have been arrested over her death.

But Romero denied killing the mother-of-two and said Garcia had fell into the fire by herself and no-one pushed her.

He added a demon had left her body when this happened.

Human rights groups have spoken out about the death of Garcia and now want stricter laws for religious organisations in Nicaragua.

via Vilma Trujillo Garcia dies after ‘being stripped naked and thrown into fire during exorcism’ in Nicaragua | Metro News.

What did the good burghers of Managua do to deserve this? First the Somozas, then the Sandinistas, then the Contras, now the Exorcists. Not to mention, the machete-wielding witches that brought the amateur exorcist out.

When Guns are Outlawed, Only Outlaws will have Snow (x3)

Even a unique and special snowflake must obey the laws — of physics.

One Unique and Special Snowflake™ is bad enough, but you should see the mayhem that ensues when they all get together and gang up. And this time, we’re talking about literal snowflakes.

At least four skiers have been killed and four others injured after an avalanche in the Italian Alps, rescuers have said.

The avalanche was triggered at Plan de la Gabba around midday when a group was back-country skiing on new snow, Milan Walter of the national alpine rescue corps said.

It is thought that as many as 20 people, all foreign, may have been swept up in the avalanche and as many as four could still be missing, according to La Repubblica.

Skiers nearby were the first to intervene and raise the alarm, before digging through the snow looking for survivors, Corriere Della Sera said.

Another avalanche is thought to have struck at the same time in Colle San Carlo, involving two skiers, however neither needed rescuing.

via At least four skiers killed after avalanche in the Italian Alps | Metro News.

If you’re reading this, we survived our encounter with snow in the form of the Dread Nor’easter of ’17, and didn’t have The Big One shoveling the jeezly snow.

Which reminds us… why do weathermen and other TV empty suits exhume a lost and archaic Sea Dog accent for this one word, and this one word alone? It’s enough to make you go, “Arrrrr!” and hoist high the Jolly Roger. Really, you can’t get much more northeast than Hog Manor without going Full Downeaster, and even they don’t say Nor’east. Even when they’re fishin’ for lahbstah.