Monthly Archives: March 2014

Tour d’Horizon — French for “too many links”

Guns

  • A bizarre scandal is weighing anchor and setting sail in the Navy. Basic facts: high-ranking intelligence officers in charge of special-access programs (SAPs) arranged to buy suppressors from one of the officers’ brothers, a hot-rod mechanic in California. One of the officials, Lee Hall, is now indicted. (SAPs are very tightly-held classified projects, programs or operations. They have a history of doing amazing things; they also have a history of being exploited by dishonest individuals). And there appear to have been kickbacks all round.
  • Mauser-PeriscopeHere’s a Mauser with periscope, now in the collection of the Guardia Civil of Spain. Miguel tags it as a WWI gun, but it looks like a Spanish Mauser to us. Lots of these kinds of guns were used in WWI, and the Springfield Armory Museum has a few examples which also let the gunner operate the bolt and trigger from under cover. It looks awkward as all hell. This one looks like the hanging string might have operated a bellcrank or something to fire the trigger, at least, so perhaps it’s not complete. In any event, the Sopanish Civil War had its share of sieges and trench warfare.
  • Gift for the man who has everything? He probably doesn’t have a 12″ barreled Saiga shotgun with a supprCadiz Saigaessor. From Cadiz Gun Works. Blackwater alumni (from before the idea of “let’s drop the standards to meet the available volunteers” that killed the company) may remember Tom and Vicki Jo Cole and Cole Gun Works. Their company, now in Ohio under a new name, continues to specialize in the Saiga, including radical customs like an 8″ AOW version and this beautifully nasty piece of work.  (Yeah, the picture embiggens).

Unconventional Warfare & Terrorism

  • Looks like the fix is in for the FBI agent that blew away one of Speedbump’s Chechen-immigrant pals. The bureau is leaking that their guy has been exonerated by the usual whitewash. The fatal shot was to the back of the suspect’s head, in a second group of four, with all the shots beginning after the recorder a Mass. State Police officer was using was turned off.  The agent’s story, put on a polished 302 much later, was that the guy was attacking him on his hands and knees after eating the first four rounds, so he needed four more. Given the suspect’s history (he was a notably violent boxer, and had just implicated himself in a multiple homicide other than the Marathon bombing), the official story is certainly possible.

Update: Here is the letter exonerating the FBI agent by State Attorney Jeffery Ashton. Here’s the background with redacted statements by the officers. The death scene sketch is posted below. Note the Sword (a martial arts sword which was moved by one of the officers to be out of Todashev’s reach at the very outset of the interview) and the Pole (with which Todashev reportedly charged the officers).

OrlandoDiagram_chgs_DOJ5_verC

  • ACU contrastThe Army continues to flail on adoption of a working camouflage pattern, instead keeping the troops in the day-glo ACUs. Apparently the sticking problem with Crye MultiCam (currently in use as OCP) is that Crye wants to be paid a licensing fee, and the Army would rather not pay the $24.8 million. (Bear in mind, the useless UCP on the ACU, and the interim replacement of it in the combat theater as OCP, have together cost the Army about $12 Billion. 
  • Line dogs in the CIA, and overseers in Congress, are less than thrilled about the CIA’s “imvestigation” of the Benghazi disaster, which, depending on who you ask, is a slow-walk, a whitewash, or no investigation at all. (The CIA IG definitely conducted no investigation, although their reasons for not doing so have not been well articulated).
  • Turkey, still the Sick Man of Europe centuries later, is conducting sham local “elections” in a week or so, which are designed to produce a landslide for Erdogan’s Al-Q-lite Islamist party. Keeping a promise to his supporters, he shut down Twitter across Turkey last Friday. Erdogan is angry at the internet platform because users have been Tweeting links to audio recordings of Erdogan and his son discussing laundering bribe money.  So why is this creep our ally? Basically, because they’ve built such a platform of Islamic hate in their country that whatever replaces him has strong odds of being worse.
  • Now that Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is repealed, all is proceeding as we have foreseen. Next step? Lesbians who now want to be men think the Army should indulge them. Sure, why not, it gives a whole new meaning to doing the Duffle Bag Drag. Still, we think we are Napoleon, why don’t we get indulged like that?
  • We’ve discussed the hazards of ancient UXO before. With the 100th anniversary of the Great War coming up, 2 Belgian workers have been killed and 2 wounded by UXO in Ypres, one of those resonant place names from that period. Belgian EOD renders hundreds, sometimes more than 1000, WWI projectiles and weapons safe every year, but they didn’t find this one, construction workers apparently did.

Tales of the Po-Po

One hopes we’ll find some good to put in here, but unfortunately decent and upright cops bagging bad guys whilst upholding the constitution are an everyday reality, not “news.” Please bear that in mind as you read the following tales which tend to the “Cops behaving badly” trend.

  • A Border Patrol agent kidnapped, restrained, and raped three illegal-alien women. Two of them got away and told local authorities; as the cops closed in this embarrassment to the CBP capped himself in his home and improvised dungeon in Mission, TX. The cops freed the third woman, alive, thank God.
  • handcuffs_1Here’s a story with a happy ending, except for a fugitive murderer who stayed on the run for almost 40 years. Did you know the US Marshals Service has deployed facial recognition technology? Neither did Bruce Walter Keith, whose real name is James Robert Jones and who escaped from the US Disciplinary Barracks at Leavenworth, where he was serving a court-martial sentence for a 1974 murder. Funny: if he’d just done his time, he’d have been out by 1997 or so.
  • A Sheriff’s deputy canned by King County, Washington last summer for stealing drugs out of evidence, has been busted again for going completely over to the far side: he had tried to remake himself as a master dealer, or drug kingpin. His products? He wasn’t particular: meth, heroin, and cocaine, you name it. His dealers? A gang of strippers. This has movie of the week written all over it. He had been out on bail on the stealing-from-seizures case. In one of many ironies in this one, he seems to have acquired his taste for stealing and dealing whilst seconded to a DEA Task Force and dual-hatted as a Fed DTF cop.
  • An anti-gun cop in Kelso, Missouri, Lt. Jerry Bledsoe, was caught on video trying to shake down a citizen for his guns; then, when the young man, Jordan Klaffer, posted criticism of Bledsoe online, got an order restraining Klaffer from critisism of Bledsoe. The ACLU (!) has come to Klaffer’s defense on the ridiculous restraining order. (We can hear the faint voice of Ken White calling Bledsoe a “censorious %$#^!,” to censor one of the net’s more consistent foes of censorship). We watched the video Klaffer posted, and Bledsoe actually seems remarkably calm and rational then. Dunno what turned him into a ensorious %$#^! later.
  • All that massive surveillance, interaction, and bugging data the cops can’t keep in one place? The Navy’s got it. Oh, that makes us feel so much better. (Naval Intelligence in the mid-1990s built an enormous small-arms registration database as a favor for ATF, which is forbidden to keep such records. Dunno if this single-purpose database in Newport, RI, is the forerunner of the LINX domestic-spying network).
  • And then there’s this South African cop, who apparently was sleeping during the introduction to gun safety. Lord love a duck.

South African cop fail

 

We just hope he cleaned the shotgun before passing it on to the next fellow.

When guns are outlawed

  • Only outlaws will have knives and tell cops, “Honestly, I just felt like killing.” (Victim? His 12-year-old half-brother).
  • Only outlaws will have heroin. (These losers actually survived, thanks to the intervention of people better than they are).
  • Only outlaws will have tables. (Hey, the case filing says it’s a “deadly weapon.” But the victim isn’t dead, fortunately).
  • Only outlaws will dress like Rambo. (True, this asshat had a gun, but two bar patrons took it away from him and evidently, by the mugshots, beat the snot out of him, which makes the story entertaining even if it doesn’t fit the category well). Moral of story, sometimes clothes don’t make the man, especially if they’re Rambo togs.
  • Only outlaws will have fires. And then lie about their “heroism” in fighting them.
  • Only outlaws will have sodium azide. Suicide. (Warning at link: Undertone malware). It’s usually an ingredient in airbag propellants; mix it with water and it produces a toxic gas.
  • Only outlaws will have vaseline. Accidental self-destruction through amateur breast enhancement.
  • Only outlaws will have teeth. This monster bit the nose off an infant. Off his own son. Because the baby was crying.  (Pro tip: babies do that). That’s not all he did as the poor kid also had a skull fracture and brain hemmorhage. May Hell prepare for him a dwelling place.
  • Only outlaws will lay waste to all Europa, in a German-language blog that reports on murders done, mostly in Germany, without the use of a legally-possessed firearm. (Wouldn’t that be just about all of them? Same as here?)

Gun Policy, Laws and Boring crap like that.

  • Here’s an attempt to catalog the crimes of Bloomberg’s Illegal Mayors group. It falls far short, as the the group has had dozens (no exaggeration) of mayors broomed for crimes, ranging from the usual for mayors (bribe-taking) to the unusual, except among Bloomberg mayors: attempted gay rape at gunpoint.
  • The Telegraph (UK) asked its readers what sort of bill a Member of Parliament should put forward. Then it took a poll among the most popular six. The winner? Repeal the ban on handguns — by a landslide. We assess the odds of the cousins actually doing this to be approximately zero, but one can hope. Maybe they’re still waiting for the bloodbath the antis promised when Florida and Texas liberalized gun laws in the 1980s and 90s — 20-35 years ago.

Unit War Diaries of the Great War

This year brings the centenary of the War to End All Wars (well, it was a hearwarming concept, if imperfectly executed), and the Allied Powers are celebrating the centenary with events ranging from the silly to the significant to the solemn. We’d put into the “significant” bin the UK National Archives’ plans to release the digitzed (or “digitised,” for the cousins) War Diaries of the British units participating in the war online.

They began, for some reason, with cavalry units.

We have digitised around 1.5 million pages of war diaries so far, and will be releasing them throughout this year as part of First World War 100, our centenary programme. Digitising the most popular segment of one of most popular record series will allow researchers around the world to access the diaries, and has given us the opportunity to embark on a hugely exciting crowdsourcing project, Operation War Diary.

What’s available in the first batch

This first batch of unit war diaries reveals the real-time account of the first three cavalry (WO 95/1096 to WO 95/1156) and the first seven infantry divisions (WO 95/1227 to WO 95/1670) who were part of the first wave of British army troops deployed in France and Flanders. They cover the entire period of the units’ involvement in the war, from their arrival on the front to their departure at the end of the war.

via Unit war diaries | The National Archives.

The good news is a lot of information is there, and they have crowdsourced the analysis of these diaries to some extent (volunteers can participate at a link from the page linked above).

The bad news is that, if there is a more difficult to navigate site than the British National Archives’, we haven’t found it. And worse, over the year it has aperiodically changed from one kind of usability hellhole to another, so that if you do torture yourself into learning where they stash some detail or other, and then return for it two years later, it will be gone, cunningly concealed Christ-knows-where by some Archives bureaucrat for whom that exact obfuscation is sworn duty.

Yee-Haw. Haw-haw-haw-haw.

The forgotten TV show Hee-Haw was a Hollywood idea of the entertainment country hayseeds might like, and its symbol was a braying jackass. “Yee-Haw” is what we call all the schadenfreude about the indictment of San Francisco anti-gun extremist, and simultaneously, wannabe gun-runner Leland Y. Yee. There’s this, from Yee’s onetime punchbag, the CalGuns Foundation:

Yee-Hah-ha

Heh. And then there’s the mock business card that’s going around:

Yee-Hah-ha2

The funniest bit of that: it’s all basically true, at least if we believe the 137-page criminal complaint. There are some gems in there, too.

One of the Chinese Tongs with which Yee appears to be associated is named… Hop Sing. We are not making this up, it’s on page 4 of the complaint. There’s also a Hop Sing gang with some 300 members which is different from the Hop Sing Tong, which is different from the Triads, but the Venn diagrams seem to overlap a lot. Reading this stuff is like being ripped out of one’s comfortable country life and deposited into the middle of a Hong Kong Kung-fu movie. Hiiyaaah! (Whack!)

Yee’s money launderer in the conspiracy, one Kevin Siu aka Dragon Tin Loong Siu, has a criminal record — for prostitution. Well, it is San Francisco. Our take: he’ll be the guy who flips and cooperated. After all, it’s not very far from selling his @$$ to make money for Yee to selling out Yee to save his @$$.

What’s with the Dragon thing anyway? Is it a Bruce Lee thing, or a throwback to the KKK?

While some of the charged conspirators, like Yee, had no priors, quite a number of them have long records, and several are now charged as felons in possesson of firearms.

One of the charged individuals, Raymond Chow, admitted to shipping military-grade tungsten from the US to China, in addition to all the weapons-smuggling (most of which was promises to get military weapons from overseas for Domestic moslem terrorists) and money-laundering.

 

 

 

Bradley Manning is Appealing

Bradley Manning Support NetworkNo, not as a guy dressed in drag. (The mistaken pronouns in the excerpt from Politico hack Tal Kopan below have been corrected; as long as he’s got a Y Chromosome, let along male reproductive tackle, he’s a guy, and Leavenworth isn’t going to schedule his whackadickoffomy any time soon). He’s appealing his conviction, because he’s all confused and suchlike.

Other than that, he’s enjoying life in prison. Some places, a guy who wants to be a girl is guaranteed a certain popularity.

The inept Kopan, who seems not to have registered the outcome of the trial and the terms of Manning’s sentence, also refers to the prisoner as PFC Manning, although he, she or it (Kopan, whose sex we don’t know) gets his, her or its (Manning’s, whose sex we know but Manning doesn’t) abbreviation as well as rank wrong. For you see, Manning is not a PFC, having been reduced to the lowest enlisted grade as a result of his court-martial conviction and sentence. This is an important distinction, for a Private First Class (Lance Corporal to you Marines) is a private who has served sufficiently honorably to be advanced a couple of times. Still a pawn, perhaps, but a pawn at K4 now. And that is not Manning, who once made the exalted grade of Specialist 4th Class (Sp/4; the grade is an artifact of the 1960s and there is no other class of specialist) before persistent and durative misconduct plucked his small achievements away and landed him where he belongs, in prison, penniless except for the donations of useful idiots.

"Position of humility, march!"

“Position of humility, march!”

Writing a message to supporters from prison, Pfc. [sic] Bradley Manning announced a new team of lawyers for his appeals process, saying they are prepared to take his case to the Supreme Court if necessary.

The email, dated March 17 and distributed by the Pvt. Manning Support Network, includes a number of fundraising appeals alongside the personal message signed by Bradley Manning.

Manning said he has hired Nancy Hollander and Vincent Ward of the law firm Freedman Boyd Hollander Goldberg Urias & Ward of Albuquerque, N.M., in preparation for an appeals process, with help from the Courage to Resist and the Bradley Manning Support Network.

“I’ve spoken a few times with both Ms. Hollander and Mr. Ward over the phone and I met them in person last month. I feel they are a perfect fit for doing this case, and we’re all excited about working together,” Manning wrote. “Both Ms. Hollander and Mr. Ward have achieved successes in complex, high profile, civil and criminal cases in the past, fighting to protect the U.S. Constitution, civil liberties, and social justice through work on Guantanamo, the Gulf Coast Oil Spill, and more. They are eager to represent me before the military court, federal court, and perhaps even the Supreme Court.”

Sure, because freedom for traitors is an important part of social justice. And lawyers are just selfless, noble social justicitians, not parasitical termites gnawing at the very joists and uprights of society, right?

Is there anybody who does not hear “social justice” and reach for a revolver? Well, us, but that’s just because we have an AR-10 handy.

Manning also thanked supporters for their attention and fundraising efforts, updating them on his life behind bars. The Army private, who was sentenced to 35 years in prison by a military judge last summer for leaking thousands of pages of government documents to WikiLeaks, said the he is spending most of his time exercising and doing legal research.

via Under the Radar Blog: Josh Gerstein on the Courts, Transparency, & More – POLITICO.com.

So in 34 years or so we can expect a bulked-up and haggard middle-aged Manning to emerge from the pokey, in pink makeup, a little black dress, and stiletto heels. Still with outie rather than innie genitals and that intractable Y Chromosome, although, who knows what’ll be medically possible by 2048? And his prison pen pals will be waiting for him, probably in an old Chrysler.

And in the meantime, hippies, dopers, no-hopers and the sexually confounded can sink their disposable funds into his legal assistance fund, thereby squandering money they might actually have done some ill with. So there’s a silver lining in the cloud, just not for Bradley.

Sorry about that.

BASE Jumping the Freedom Tower

This is an excellent video of three BASE jumpers who sneaked into the Freedom Tower (the asymmetrical architectural abortion that is replacing the Twin Towers at the glacial pace of Bloomberg-era NYC) and parachuted off September 30th. We’ve cued up the video to two minutes in, so you’ll miss most of the nerving-up phase and only see the last half minute and the actual jumps.

The jumps were seen by Port Authority brass as deeply insulting, but Port Authority police, who failed to secure the site — the jumpers came through a hole in the fence that had been plugged for weeks by a loose canvas tarp — didn’t have the investigative ability to determine who the jumpers were. The case was assigned to the NYPD, and New York police and prosecutors dropped dozens of violent-crime investigations cold in a Javertesque quest to nail the jumpers.

In the end, pervasive surveillance and unlimited police manpower bagged the jumpers, when the identity of every car moving in the area that night was investigated, uncovering the jumpers’ pick-up ride.

Once the three jumpers and their lookout arrested this week and charged with multiple felonies each, two of them posted videos. Here’s the second one, which is only 43 second long and just shows the jump (we think it’s the first jumper, chronologically, but we’re not sure). 

The videos are fascinating, and we watched them over and over. You can hear the signals of apprehension, or at least heightened awareness, in the respiration and voice pitch of the jumpers. One jumper seems to open while facing towards the building, but quickly turns away. As you can imagine, an opening while your canopy is aimed towards a building (or cliff face) is a Very Bad Thing in BASE jumping, and often figures in reports of fatalities. (BASE jumping is arguably the most deadly of all sports).

These young men had a great deal of nerve to do this thing, and they don’t deserve to go to prison or be branded felons for it. Just as no one in Port Authority security was held responsible or suffered a career setback for the 1993 or 9/11 attacks, and the PA cop who was dozing when a youth slipped past and explored the building recently wasn’t held accountable, it’s a safe bet that no one will be held accountable for the lax security that let the harmless jumpers into the site last September.

And no one will be held accountable for the next security breach that the sleeping PA Police permit. And absolutely no one will be held accountable for the murders, rapes and robberies to be committed by those felons the NYPD wasn’t seeking while they were committing all resources to breaking the Case of the Three Jumpers.

Hat tip, Donald Douglas’s American Power blog. Some more information at the New York Daily News.

Gun-banning, murderer-releasing pol charged with gun trafficking

01senator-leland-yee.preview

He isn’t smiling now, even though he got a bail deal that an ordinary citizen would never see.

Gun trafficking, and corruption. You couldn’t make this stuff up.

[California State Senator Leland] Yee was shackled at the ankles when he appeared in court Wednesday afternoon with 19 other defendants. His demeanor was downcast, and he looked nervously into the packed gallery.

Awwww. Sucks to be him, right?

Yee was charged with six counts of depriving the public of honest services and one count of conspiracy to traffic in guns without a license. If convicted on all the counts, he faces up to 125 years in prison.

The gun charges alone are good for 20 years — longer than Yee believes murderers should do. (We’re seeing a glimmer of rationality in his inmate advocady over the years). The trafficking charges involve guns, yes, but Yee was ready to deal in heavier stuff:

Investigators said Yee discussed helping the agent get weapons worth $500,000 to $2.5 million, including shoulder-fired missiles, and explained the entire process of acquiring them from a Muslim separatist group in the Philippines to bringing them to the U.S., according to an affidavit by FBI agent Emmanuel V. Pascua.

The conspiracy is larger and deeper than that, too.  

According to court documents, Yee performed “official acts” in exchange for donations from undercover FBI agents, as he sought to dig himself out of a $70,000 debt incurred during a failed San Francisco mayoral bid in 2011.

Yee is also accused of accepting $10,000 in January 2013 from an undercover FBI agent in exchange for making a call to the California Department of Public Health in support of a contract it was considering.

The agent who discussed arms with Yee presented himself as a member of Ghee Kung Tong, a fraternal organization in San Francisco’s Chinatown that Chow headed. It was among the sites searched Wednesday.

Firefighters were seen going inside with a circular saw and later said they had cracked a safe. FBI agents exited with boxes and trash bags full of evidence that they loaded into an SUV.

Chow is accused of money laundering, conspiracy to receive and transport stolen property, and conspiracy to traffic contraband cigarettes.

He was denied bail because he was deemed a flight risk and a danger to the public. The Department of Homeland Security has been trying to deport Chow, who is not a U.S. citizen, since he was released from prison in 2005.

Yee is the third Democratic state senator in California to face criminal charges this year. Sen. Rod Wright was convicted of perjury and voter fraud for lying about his legal residence in Los Angeles County, and Sen. Ron Calderon has been indicted on federal corruption charges. Wright and Calderon are taking a voluntary leave of absence, with pay, although Republicans have called for them to be suspended or expelled.

Yee, 65, represents western San Francisco and much of San Mateo County. He is best known for his efforts to strengthen open records, government transparency and whistleblower protection laws, including legislation to close a loophole in state public records laws after the CSU Stanislaus Foundation refused to release its $75,000 speaking contract with former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin in 2010.

via California lawmaker faces gun, corruption charges – Washington Times.

The last graf we quoted is nonsense: what Yee is known for is anti-gun extremism, and anti-incarceration activism, whose Senate Bill 9 two years ago shortened the de facto sentence for many of the Golden State’s murderers to 15 years.

Yee got a deal you wouldn’t get, a sweetheart deal from his fellow California state workers, the judges: he’s out on bail. We leave the methods an obscure low-level politician, of demonstrated low integrity, used to secure the half-million for the bail as an exercise for the reader.

Another Yee associate didn’t make bail, as he was also involved in a murder-for-hire scheme.

Bullet Button for AR. This thing disables the mag release, but the inner button (which can be operated with a tool, not by hand) works.

Bullet Button for AR. This thing disables the mag release, but the inner button (which can be operated with a tool, not by hand) works. Yee wanted to ban even ARs so bowdlerized, possibly because of the threat they pose to his fellow criminals.

Yee was in the news in 2012 for an extremist gun control proposal, SB 249. In California, “assault weapons” are already banned, but by replacing a magazine release with a release that requires a tool or the nose of a cartridge to function (a type of release often called a “bullet button” after one of the trade names of such CA-specific gadgets), Golden State inmates can build and own ARs and AKs. This infuriated Yee, who said at the time, “[I]t is a fact that such weapons are more likely to be used to kill an innocent person than used in self-defense. …[T]hese types of gun control laws are effective in preventing gun-related homicides.” Yee ally Darrel Steinberg, who hasn’t yet been indicted in this latest gun-smuggling and corruption scheme, joined him in supporting the bill, saying that “having multiple clips and semi-automatic weapons that can shoot 100 or more bullets” is “a joke,” “ridiculous,” and unnecessary. (Steinberg is crawfishing away from Yee as fast as he can, now). At the time, the Huffington Post said that opposing Yee’s bill was racism, because Yee, who has condemned American gun laws and praises those of “other nations with strict gun access,” presumably including his birthplace, Red China, is asian-American. S. 249 was, in essence, a ban on semi-auto guns with fixed, nondetachable magazines. (It died in committee, even in California, and then was resurrected as a part of a comprehensive gun ban bill that the governor vetoed).

Even the usually somnolent mainstream media noted Yee’s hypocrisy here. A few examples:

  • LA Times: Sen. Yee’s gun control persona clashes with picture in FBI affidavit. A few gems in here. “In 2006, Yee was named to the Gun Violence Prevention Honor Roll by the Brady Campaign.” Compare, from Yee’s bagman Jackson: “Yee fully understood the check being provided to Sen. Yee’s campaign was solely for the purpose of getting an introduction to the arms dealer.”
  • The Sacramento Bee: FBI: California Sen. Leland Yee took bribes, trafficked guns. The Bee actually holds Yee’s party affiliation (the same as the Bee reporters’, naturally) for the third paragraph. The pro-Yee reporters manage to bury his gun control activism much deeper: 13 paragraphs down. That’s doin’ a brother a solid, eh? It’s only in the 17th paragraph, about 15 grafs further than most newspaper readers go, that they submit to the irony with: “The same year the undercover agent got Yee to facilitate the illegal gun transaction, the senator carried a pair of gun control bills.”
  • San Jose Mercury News: State Sen. Leland Yee indicted on arms trafficking, corruption charges (not linked due to presence of Undertone malware). This story noted that among the arms Yee said he could provide from Phillipines-based Chinese arms dealer Wilson Lim were M16 rifles. They did mention him being part of the Senate’s Democratic establishment in the first graf, though.
  • ABC News: California State Sen. Leland Yee Indicted on Weapons Charges, Was Gun Control Crusader. Well, he still is a gun-control crusader; reports indicate he’s refused to resign his seat, or suspend his campaign for statewide office. ABC quotes Alan Gottlieb of the CCRKBA:”If these allegations are true, Sen. Yee is easily the biggest hypocrite on gun control to walk the halls of the capitol in Sacramento, if not the entire United States.”  Actually, he’s pretty typical.
  • Forbes: California Democrat And Gun Control Advocate Charged With Arms Trafficking. This story also notes that Yee wasn’t just opposed to the 2nd Amendment, but also the 1st — he fought for a ban on violent video games. And “Yee and Jackson were involved in the trafficking conspiracy to such a degree that they even discussed the specific details of the types of weapons the undercover agent was interested in buying and importing.” And the interesting fact that Yee is only one of three California Senators indicted this year — all democrats. Forbes also notes what some stories miss, that Yee is specifically charged with dealing in stolen firearms.

conversely, the conservative and gun blogs are exploding in schadenfreude.

See ya in 10 to 20, Mr Yee. Yee is (as mentioned above) a Brady Campaign Honor Roll member (you keep using that word, “honor.” It does not mean what you think it means) and as one might expect is rated 0% by the Gun Owners of California, and D by NRA. (Why not F? Because being an incumbent is worth a letter grade or three to the spaghetti-spines at NRA?).

As the story percolated, unindicted Yee associate Steinberg was quoted telling employees of the thoroughly corrupt State Senate to “hold your heads high” and not “feel down about the institution.” Why?

Yee was dealing arms — stolen guns, automatic weapons, shoulder-fired antiaircraft missiles — to undercover agents he thought were terrorists and criminals for at least three years (the FBI’s had wired people talking to him since 2011). While he was pursuing restrictions on California’s much-abused gun owners. While he was pursuing an end to life sentences for young murderers.

Yee’s pro-murderer language:

When a defendant who was under 18 years of age at the time of the commission of the offense for which the defendant was sentenced to imprisonment for life without the possibility of parole has served at least 15 years of that sentence, the defendant may submit to the sentencing court a petition for recall and resentencing.

If you know the Californistan courts, you know that means than no sub-18 murderer (past or present, as the law is retroactive to free currently incarcerated thuggees) will ever get a sentence of more than 15 years again.

Exit question: what’s going to kill more people, your AR-15, or Yee’s murderers? (Yes, Yee’s bill to release violent yout’s at 15 years, when they still have plenty of good killing years ahead of them, passed both houses and was signed by a delighted Governor Moonbeam).

Wearing clothes prisoners made? You Just Might be a Soldier

UNICOR inmates_anm2The Bureau of Prisons does a nice sideline selling uniforms and equipment to the military. Federal Prison Industries actually has its own trademark: UNICOR™. UNICOR made stuff includes Army uniforms, web gear, rucksacks, and various other odds and ends.

The prison administrators say that it not only earns the BOP money, but that inmates who work (for pennies an hour) for FPI/Unicor are less likely to cause trouble in prison, or to bounce back once they get released. (Whether this represents causation, or just that FPI is selective about which prisoners get jobs, can’t be determined).

By statute, FPI is restricted to selling its products to the Federal Government. Its principal customer is the Department of Defense, from which FPI derives approximately 53% of its sales. Other key customers include the Departments of Homeland Security, Justice, Transportation, the Treasury, Agriculture, and Veterans Affairs; the General Services Administration, Social Security Administration, U.S. Postal Service, and the Federal Bureau of Prisons.

via BOP: UNICOR.

They support their products with the wryly-named Escape-Proof Guarantee. And yes, they do make license plates.  And they produce a wide range of targets for the military or law enforcement (which has to be irony-packed in about three different ways), and an MP5 case that’s currently on special. Of course, they only sell to federal agencies (to keep from competing with private businesses using “no-cost” prison labor).

unicor uniformsOur own experience with Unicor-made gear has been less than stellar. The rucksacks in particular have problems ranging from straps sewn on backwards, to things missassembled, to pockets inadvertently sewn shut. The huge delta in quality between the last Lowe pack that SF was allowed to buy (the Lowe Vector 2) and the Vector 2 knock-off that Unicor kind of threw together was really eye-opening. It saved DOD vast sums of money, but only by making the new guys buy their own Vector 2 or other equivalent pack.

A number of SF guys stick with ancient ALICE packs for quality and durability reasons, although they’re frequently so modded and updated that you can barely recognize them. The ALICE has its own deficiencies, and for all we know was built with care by cons, too.

The Genesis of the Volkssturm Carbines. Why?

Nazis: beastly but fascinating. They caused the second most trouble and death of any revolutionaries in history (the Communists have pretty much retired that trophy for all time). They spread their evil ideology from the Pyrenees to the Caucusus. And, what’s probably the biggest source of their appeal, they had spiffy uniforms (with a tip of black hat to Hugo Boss) and terrific Teutonic technology.

Gustloff VG 1-5 - GunLab

But not all their technology was world-class. As the war ground on, the Third Reich’s foothold in Europe contracted under the relentless pressure of the USSR in the East and the US and UK in the West and South, not to mention a wide range of national resistance movements and a bothersome strategic bombing campaign. Hermann Göring had planned that Operation Barbarossa would deliver the machine tools and industrial raw materials of the vast Soviet factories into his hands; instead, the Russians’ rapid dismantling and displacement of industry — tools, fixtures, workers, and all — left him empty-handed. The new war-production overlord, architect Albert Speer, pressed every industry to do more with less. (This didn’t happen only in Germany and Occupied Europe; put a “War Finish” British revolver next to a prewar example, or for that matter, compare the beautiful, polished blue on a 1930s Tokarev pistol to a crude 1944 example).

By 1944, the Germans were running out of small arms, and they couldn’t build them as fast as they were being lost. So they began considering what were the barest minimum features a firearm needed to be militarily useful. They were losing men, as well; and desperate measures were soon in hand for personnel, as well as for armaments.

Many collectors have marveled over the crude arms issued at war’s end to the Deutsche Volkssturm, and wondered what had so depressed the abilities of the Germans, supposedly Europe’s leading technologists. But in 1945 hardened Russian, American and British forces were encountering ill-fed old men and boys armed with the military equivalent of crude zip guns. Many collectors today believe these guns to have been locally ordered and produced. But they hardly made a difference to the outcome of the war.

So, why the Volkssturm guns? Why such variety and crudity? And were they centrally planned?

The short answer is this: because they needed them, because no one source could supply enough, and yes.

The Germans were caught flatfooted by their 1943 defeats, and they were desperate to arm a replacement for the armies no longer available to defend the Reich. At the war’s outset, they did not expect or plan for continued losses and resets of small arms, and small arms planners were late to learn of the late 1944 surge plan to create a nationwide militia of 6,000,000 sort-of soldiers – who were minus the 6,000,000 arms they needed to actually be soldiers.

Japan planned from early in the war to fight with limited natural resources. That’s why, for example, Japanese rifles have chrome bores: not for the durability and corrosion-resistance benefits that have made them commonplace on modern military rifles, but because their researchers found it was a less costly substitute for expensive chrome-moly steels in increasing barrel strength. The Germans, on the other hand, did not expect to be resource-constrained. They fought the war, after all, to gain resources, including Lebensraum for the German people. Even when the war began to turn against the Axis, many German managers remained in deepest denial.

But by 1944, even Hitler had a hard time deluding himself about German expansion, and his appointed war production satrap, Albert Speer, was brutally realistic about German war production.

With entire German armies in the bag in Africa and Russia, and ongoing meatgrinders in Russia and Italy, the Germans were running short of manpower even before a second major front opened in June, 1944. The plans for the Deutsche Volkssturm, a mass-levied militia, went forward briskly. While many books seem to imply that the Volkssturm was merely a locally-raised militia beholden to regional Gauleiters, the Gauleiters were responding to a framework that was produced by Speer’s, among others’, central planning.

By November 30, 1944 the Staff Leader of the Deutsche Volkssturm (the German term is Stabsführer) envisioned a force of 6,000,000 men organized in over 10,000 battalions. The units were to be levied in four tranches and armed as shown:
deutsche_volkssturm_plans

There was a slight problem with this, the staff director admitted, after further breaking down the numbers by particular Gau, he found that the Gaus that needed the guns the most urgently – the ones that were already invaded by the Allies, or were about to be, which two unlucky groups he called the “threatened Gaus” — had, on paper, a potential of 1,450 Volkssturm-bataillonen, yet of the needed 871,300 small arms, they had on hand only 9,690 – about two rifles per company, then.

It makes the 1942 Russian forces in Enemy at the Gates look positively lavishly equipped: why, every other or every third man had a rifle! Whether the real situation in Stalingrad got as bad for the Red Army as Enemy at the Gates’s Hollywood version portrays, the situation for the Wehrmacht and especially for the Volkssturm by the late fall of 1944 was substantially worse.

By this point, facing a deliberate attack by an American mechanized battle group or a Soviet motorized infantry battalion was hard enough for fully-equipped, valiantly-led first-line German formations. For second-liners and militiamen, it was the equivalent of suicide-by-cop. But for them to even serve as speedbumps or to fill in inactive sectors of a defensive line the Volkssturm’s old men and boys needed something.

That was the genesis of the Volkssturm arms program: to produce rapidly enough weapons to put one in the hands of each of six million cannon-fodder Volkssturmmänner.

Six German firms responded, offering nine different models, of four general types:

  • Single-shot guns that used the normal German 7.92 x 57mm cartridge. There were four of these, from: Appell; Bergmann; Gustloff-Werke; and, Walther.
  • Repeaters that used the 7.92 x 57mm round. There were two of these: one from Deutsche Industrie-Werke, which used the 10-shot detachable magazine of the K.43, and one from Röchling, which used 5-round stripper clips to reload.
  • Repeaters that used the 7.92 x 33mm short cartridge. Deutsche Industrie-Werke offered two different versions.
  • One semi-auto rifle that used the 7.92mm short cartridge. This came from the Gustloff-Werke, who hedged their bet with the single-shot turnbolt gun mentioned above. This is the famous VG 1-5, whose picture (from GunLab, where reproductions are underway) graces the top of this story.

Every one had a rough-hewn stock and rudimentary, usually fixed, sights. These rifles were demonstrated to Adolf Hitler (or maybe they weren’t, actually) in the first week of November, 1944; and Hitler reportedly made his comments, issued his guidance, and selected the weapons to be produced.

To be continued.

Wednesday Weapons Website of the Week: The Firearm Blog

Screenshot 2014-03-26 21.10.32The Firearm Blog is an excellent place to get gun news, often news that is buried on other sites or that just isn’t found anywhere else. That’s no secret to us: search Google for “the firearm blog” site:weaponsman.com and you’ll get over 100 hits, six or seven pages of them, most of those mentions being where we give Steve Johnson and his gang credit for stories we found there.

Sometimes we pass the story on. Sometimes we develop it further. Sometimes we disagree with what Steve and his writers have written, but those seven pages of Google hits tell us we keep coming back to Steve and his guys (and at least one gal, Annette Wachter).

You should, too.

Here’s what’s on there today, just on the front page:

  • A manufacturer’s release of night sights for the compact Glock 42. Tritium is your friend, although these are apparently photoluminescent (i.e., they “recharge” from being in daylight, to illuminate at night). We’ll stick with tritium, but it’s good to see a new gun getting some love from the aftermarket.
  • A report on a factory tour with the controversial Tac-Con company that makes a wildly hyped “ATF legal full auto trigger group.” We’ll probably review one of these very expensive triggers anon.
  • A shooter’s report on his first 2000 rounds through a new (well, it was when he started) FN FNS-9 longslide pistol.
  • More proof that “tactical” has gone mentally nonlinear, the “Deluxe Tactical Beer Koozie” which is a “miniature tactical vest beverage koozie.” Well, it’s meant as a gag. We think.
  • A press release on the Silencer Shop Direct program, which takes much of the NFA hassle off you — if you have a corporation or trust set up.
  • A report (lifted from Jane’s) on a Filipino purchase of $53 million worth of Remington R4s. That gets them 63,000 guns, probably select fire. These will replace the nation’s elderly M16A1s (hmmm… parts kits? We need to overturn the ATF’s barrel ban). It’ll be interesting to see if these R4s (basically, badge-engineered Bushmasters) are produced in Ilion, or if Remington assembles them in their new plant, far from Cuomostan.
  • And one that’s definitely worth linking: in the light of ATF’s shadow war on soi-disant “80% receivers” (technically, in the Bureau’s view, “receiver blanks”) and the customers who buy and complete them, Thomas Gomez of TFB posted (with the permission of Chris Garrison of Billet Rifle Systems), ATF’s Letter Of Determination as issued to Chris and BRS in February, 2013.
  • A Ruger rimfire recall. Not of interest unless you have a Ruger American Rimfire rifle, and if we own anything that ugly, it needs to have a bayonet lug and have been issued in some army. But if you have one of those homely sticks, you might need that recall info.
  • A warning about polymer-cased PCP ammo. Hey, they only tried it in two guns. Of course, it did blow up the guns, so there is that.
  • A promotional video on S&T’s (formerly Daewoo) K14 sniper rifle, a typically modern, modular gun. Here’s the video:

And there’s more stuff besides… and there will be more tomorrow. So, The Firearm Blog is a thoroughly deserving Wednesday Weapons Website of the Week.

Interesting RKBA case in Illinois

Eugene Volokh blogs about an interesting case in Illinois. It is a suit by a couple whose house was invaded in a warrantless raide by the Illinois State Police, and their guns seized (and held for 18 months, until a court in this case forced their return), on the pretext that the husband was “mentally ill” for expressing pro-Second-Amendment ideas. The decision at this point is: can the case go forward, or can the oathbreaker cops (State Police Lieutenant Coffman and Officers Pryor and Summers, and head of the State Police Grau) have it dismissed? The court let the case against the anti-gun officers as individuals go forward, but dismissed the charges against Grau (in his official capacity), and dismissed a challenge to the constitutionality of the law “on its face.”

Here’s the legal opinion (.pdf) and here’s Professor Volokh’s post, which mostly quotes from the opinion except for the very useful reminder, at least to us nonlawyers, that in motion-to-dismiss stage, the court has to assume that the allegations the plaintiffs make are true. (In this case, the allegations are that the raid was warrantless, and that the underlying claim that David Rhein was mentally ill was fabricated by Coffman or his superiors, and that it was done at the behest of a Chicago Combine Junior Varsity politician).

Prof. Volokh is interested in gun law; he’s also interested, as a refugee from the former Soviet Union, in government attempts to use phony mental-illness charges to target politically “out” individuals, something that Coffman, Pryor and Summers seem to have in common with Putin, Andropov and Beria.

Our read of the opinion was enlightening, but always remember that, unlike Volokh, WANAALAAH (We Are Not At All Lawyers Anywhere Around Here™). So we could be completely off-base on this. Still, here’s our take.

  • We can’t know what the final outcome of the case will be. Since we don’t know what evidence there is, or isn’t, for the proposition that Coffman made up (or accepted a politican’s making-up) the accusation that David Rhein was dangerously nuts, nor what evidence exists for the possible defense claim that Rhein really was nuts. On a motion to dismiss, the court has to assume the worst about the side of the case making the motion, which in this case was the defendants (the oathbreaker cops).
  • The claim that the law’s erasure of Illinoisans’ gun rights (in the event of an unsupported allegation of mental illness) was unconstitutional did not go forward. The reason, inasmuch as we can understand the legal issue, is that, according to the plaintiff’s allegations, the state cops didn’t even comply with the law. Therefore, there’s no reason to address whether the law is constitutional or not. This seems illogical to a lay person (if a law’s unconstitutional, why can’t a court proactively bin it?) but the courts need to have a specific complaint against the law for a reason. This is a check on the otherwise mighty power of the Article 3 Courts. (See, it all comes back to the Constitution — which probably makes us nuts in Illinois).
  • The dismissal of the head of the state police seems to have been on a technicality.
  • Judging only from the opinion, the lawyer the Rheins have for this case seems to have covered a number of bases and protected his (or her?) case from dismissal, even as the court zapped a couple of claims. Conversely, the lawyer the state has covering the oathbreaker cops seems to be phoning it in. Now that the motions phase is winding up, the state will probably lose the weak lawyer and bring in the varsity team.
  • As to where they got the weak lawyer, our guess is that one downside of Illinois nepotism is the shift in the balance of the state work force away from competence.

Most likely outcome: the state will now make settlement offers to forestall the possibility of a negative precedent. Can you imagine Illinois without oathbreaking cops? Why, they’d have to fight crime or something, or at least give out speeding tickets.