Ghost Gunner Update

You guys may remember the Ghost Gunner, the open-source CNC mill that we ordered a couple of months ago. According to the makers, the initial units should be shipping RSN1. Cody Wilson hasn’t been on the blog since November, but we didn’t share that update with you guys yet.

The first news is that the machine itself has been tweaked since it was announced.

Ghost Gunner Mk III

Improvements in our Mark III design:

* Single piece powder coated 1018 steel exoskeleton to improve rigidity per unit weight
*Reinforced A36 steel end plates to further improve rigidity
*A new open source GrBLDC brushless motor controller shield for Arduino.
*Oversized 125W NEMA 23 BLDC motor, electronically throttled to 72W.
*Spindle incorporation of industry standard ER11 collet system, supporting tools up to 5/16”

Those are all good improvements, although the steel exoskeleton looks like a manufacturing twofer that saves weight and reduces cost, with no net change to rigidity over the original design. Hey, if it can make the specs he claims, we’re all for it. But the ER11 collet is a big improvement over any proprietary system, as quality ER toolholders are readily available.

The ER system was developed by the Swiss company Fritz Weber Maschinenbau AG (now Rego-Fix) in 1972 and has become a standard. It allows a range of tools to be held in a single holder, which is nice; there are several ER sizes (larger number is larger) and ER11 handles a tool shank to 1/4″ / 6.5mm or so (Wilson says 5/16″). For a ½” shank, you’d need ER-20s. It is not a quick change tool holder, but the holders can be changed in the collet fairly quickly. This thread on Practical Machinist has some details (they’ve had some good luck with import tool holders, and discuss how to check them for run-out).

Back to GhostGunner, here’s what’s up:

For the rest of November we are setting up our work shifts and finishing our packaging. We begin assembly the first week of December and are still on pace for our Holiday fulfillment. Not too shabby, eh?

As for new orders, we’re thinking we will open them again in January. But you can always reserve a spot for the next round of machines on our waitlist.

This has been really fun. Ghost Gunner is still an open source project, and we will be releasing the designs and software as soon as possible. Stay tuned, ghost gunners.

via Ghost Gunner.

We’re a little concerned that we haven’t been contacted, because their lame order page ate the Address 1 line for Hog Manor (& Rong Brothers Aeroplane Works), and replaced it with the digit “4”, and we’ve been unable to reach anybody to make a correction. A bit discouraging, but it’ll work out.

They had no problem charging our credit card the same day, that’s for damn sure. Since it’s Wilson, we’re just glad we didn’t have to pay him in Bitcoin.

Still and all, we are in (IIRC) the third hundred or so — the $1299 batch.

Ghost Gunner Mk III w gun

What excites us about Ghost Gunner is not routing out AR lowers, the one canned application that comes with it, but the potential of using it to automate other small manufacturing gigs. We’re already thinking about setups for engraving and for modifying an A2 forging receiver to A1 profile. We’re going to need Wilson to fulfill his promises of open-source file formats, etc. A .dd format is a useless thing if it’s not documented and there’s no software that writes it. We’d feel a little more comfortable if the machine would take GCode.

But then again, it seems to be all open-source built, Arduino, GRBL, etc., so it probably can.

It may wind up being an expensive toy that gets used as a sweater rack, like a fat guy’s treadmill (wait… we just described our exercise room right now. And us). It wouldn’t be the first.

If there are developments from GhostGunner, they’ll probably be tweeted by the Defense Distributed or Cody Wilson accounts:

https://twitter.com/DefDist

https://twitter.com/Radomysisky

The FOSSCAD channel is unrelated, but also worth watching. Apparently the real goings-on go in in IRC, and only announcements pass in Twitter.

https://twitter.com/fosscad

Notes

1. RSN – Silicon Valley/Startup Culture acronym for “Real Soon Now.” Sometimes serious, sometimes ironic. Here, we’re not sure. They seemed to be on track in November, so we think maybe serious.

Tank Turret Rotation in WWII

a rollin foxholeLet’s adumbrate about tanks again. Fascinating things, although we always took Willie and Joe’s words to heart: a movin’ foxhole attracks th’ eye. (Alas, the only version of that classic we could find does not embiggen). Anyway, our interest has been more, shall we say, historical curiosity than professional.

To put it another way, we’re all about studying them, but we’re just as glad we spent our career under the sky and stars rather than under some inches of cold-rolled.

The nature of tank war is the nature of all war, in general, with some specialized details particularly adapted to the idea of fighting a mobile machine, and units of these mobile machines.

In armored warfare as in any other, the ability to fire the first shot is the guarantor of life. The ways you can get the first shot include:

  1. Seeing the enemy first. This has some impact on tank equipment as well as tactics. Some tanks are ill-equipped for observation in a 360º plane, making them very vulnerable for an off-axis attack. Of course, the crews train to fight the tank they have, and will develop methods to minimize this weakness.

    M26_Fireball

    T26 Pershing named “Fireball”. The 88mm mantlet penetration killed the tank and two of the five crew. Germany, 1945. They probably did not see the Tiger 100m ahead that hit them, but they were backlit by a fire. The Tiger also hit their muzzle brake with another shot.

  2. Concealment and firing from ambush. As many an infantry school instructor has crowed to students at once excited and aghast: “Ambush is murder and murder is fun!” This rewards a tank that can fire from concealment, without making a lot of noise that alerts the enemy’s dismounted scouts, without a lot of movement to betray the position. In addition, there are great advantages in the defense to be able to fire from a hull-down position. (And to a small turret, which complicates the enemy’s target solution).
  3. Outranging the enemy through superior accuracy or terminal ballistics. The components of accuracy are optic, gunner, gun, and integration. While it’s obviously important to hit the enemy first, it’s also important not to hit the enemy at a range beyond that where you can kill him. Otherwise, you’ve exposed yourself and blown your first-shot advantage for nothing.
  4. Getting on target faster. Here optics — including a good field of view for the gunner — and superior speed and control of main gun aim are the objective. If your turret slews very fast, that’s good, but not if the fast slew can’t produce fine control.
  5. Having more tanks, so that the enemy was servicing another target when your first shot kills him. This is a production and reliability play, but also rewards commanders for ingenuity in bringing their forces to bear in greater numbers at a decisive point.

The next best way to win the fight was having the first effective shot because your tank was harder to hit (or, harder to kill). This is clearly a less desirable position to be in than the one where you drop your tungsten calling card into the enemy’s brisket when he still was unaware you were there.

By World War II (and still today, apart from some unusual vehicles in both cases) the design of a tank was stabilized as a rear-engine vehicle with a rotating armored turret carrying primary and (most) secondary armament. The gun was placed on target in elevation by the gunner raising or lowering the barrel, and in azimuth by the gunner (with direction and sometimes assistance from the commander) slewing the turret.

Caught in the open: fate of many a tank and crew.

Caught in the open: fate of many a tank and crew.

In a textbook illustration of the principle of convergent evolution, WWII tanks of all nations were more alike than they were different. But different nations’ main battle tanks rotated their turrets differently — and some were effective despite a much slower rotation than their peers, which seems illogical.

  • British and Russian tanks rotated electrically. If you ever owned a ’60s British car, you have to have some sympathy for the grimy crews and mechanics struggling to keep the ancestor of Lucas electrics humming. British tanks used spade grips for the controls to rotate the turret. The British had a mode switch which let the gunner control traverse on a “coarse” or “fine” setting. The T-34 used electric for coarse and manual for fine traverse. The T-34/76 used separate wheels for electric and manual, attached to the same traversing gear. In the T-34/85, though, the same handle was used as a lever for electrical control and a crank for manual — ingenious! Rather than explain a T-34’s system, which used the same controls for manual and electric traverse, we’ll let the Military Veterans Museum show you in this 1-minute video:

  • Germans used a hydraulic system, driven by power take-off from the main engine. This was a mechanically simple and reliable system, but it had a key deficiency, as we’ll see. The Germans used foot pedals to slew the turret — left pedal went left, right pedal, obviously, right. The gun was then laid with final precision using a manual handwheel.
  • American tanks used a hydraulic system, but drove it electrically. Instead of a PTO from the main powerplant, like a tractor, the hydraulic system was energized by a pump driven by an electrical motor. Also, only the Americans applied stabilization gyroscopes to tank main armament, beginning with the M4 Sherman (on the early Sherman, in elevation only). This gave the tank a rudimentary shoot-on-the-move capability, and perhaps more usefully in tank fighting, reduced the amount of displacement needed to get on target after moving. When hydraulic system production threatened to constrain tank production, some American tanks were fitted with an electrical system also. The electrical substitute system was designed to have similar performance. American tanks used hand controls to slew the turret, and a foot pedal to fire the armament.
  • Most Japanese tanks had manual traverse only. Indeed, some light tanks and tankettes simply had a machine gun turret where the gunner moved the turret by leaning on the machine gun! While Japanese artillery and naval guns often featured bicycle pedals for traverse, the larger tanks had crank wheels to traverse the turret for coarse position. For fine position, the gun itself usually had a few degrees of traverse, and separate hand wheels. While Japanese naval optics led the world, their tank and AT optics lagged, as did most other aspects of tank development. Late in the war, electric traverse was incorporated in the Chi-Ha and Chi-Nu tanks; early Chi-Has, the bulk of those encountered by the Allies, were manually operated.
  • Some early and light tanks of many nations had manual rotation, and almost all power-rotating turrets had manual as a back-up. For example, the Panther had not only the gunner’s fine-tuning handwheel, required because of the lack of precision in the hydraulic system, but also a hand-lever for the gunner and a separate wheel for the loader. Having backups like this was important, because reliability of the systems on WWII tanks was not all that great. Engines, which were often modified or derived from aviation engines, lasted a few hundred hours before an overhaul was required, and hydraulic or electric motors were scarcely more durable. The tanks used at the peak of the war in Europe were war babies, designed once combat was underway and designed and manufactured with all due haste. They hadn’t had a long debugging cycle. Wartime memoirs are full of tales of operating with one or more systems degraded.

While in theory any system can be engineered to give you any rate of rotation, the German approach of shaft-driven hydraulics had a weakness: the turret could only power-traverse if the main engine was running. For the fuel-critical Germans, this was always a problem. This approach also meant that the speed of rotation depended on engine speed. You only got full-speed rotation at full throttle; at anything less, it was degraded.

How fast could turrets rotate?

The vaunted Panther tank had, in its first iteration (Panther Ausführung D), one of the slowest-turning turrets in the war, taking a full minute to traverse 360º. The gearing on the turret was changed in the Ausf. A, the next version, and all subsequent Panthers, giving the tank a competitive 15-second full-circle. But that didn’t last; a November, 1943 decision to govern the engine to a lower max RPM reduced slew rate to 18 seconds on Panthers from that point forward — if the crews didn’t learn about and adjust the governors. This was done to try to increase engine reliability: more Panthers were being lost to breakdowns than to Allied gunfire.

What’s interesting is that even though the early Panther turret was quite slow, it was still fast enough to track all but the fastest-moving tanks. All greater speed than a circle-a-minute buys, then, is ability to change targets, or get on a sighted target, faster.

The American system spun a Sherman turret 360º in fifteen seconds, too. The system in the M36 tank destroyer had the same performance, also. (Not surprising as the automotive  gear in the tank destroyers was lifted from the Shermans).

The undisputed slewing champ of WWII tanks was the Russian T-34, which could bring its turret all the way around in 12 seconds.

We couldn’t find any credible information on the slew or traverse rate of Japanese tanks.

The final lesson in all of this brings us back to convergent evolution: despite the different approaches taken by the major tank producers of the era, their performance was roughly similar (excluding the lagging Japanese, who deemphasized tank development and production because of their limited production capacity, and overwhelming naval requirements).

Sources

Directorate of the Armored Forces of the Red Army. T-34 Tank Service Manual. Translator unknown. Retrieved from: http://www.allworldwars.com/T-34%20Tank%20Service%20Manual.html

Green & Green, Panther: Germany’s Quest for Combat Dominance. pp. 107-120.

Military Intelligence Division. Japanese Tank and Anti-Tank Warfare. Washington: War Department,  1 Aug 1945. Retrieved from: http://usacac.army.mil/cac2/cgsc/carl/wwiispec/number34.pdf (bear in mind that as a wartime intelligence document, this is not fully-processed history!)

Zaloga, Steven J. Japanese Tanks 1939-45. Oxford, England: Osprey, 2011.

Zaloga, Steven J. M4 Sherman vs. Type 97 Chi-Ha. Oxford, England: Osprey, 2012.

Even the “Safe” Jobs in the Military Aren’t Always

We’ve been sitting on this one for a while. It’s a reminder that even a safe job, in the military, may not be, 100% of the time. The US Air Force continues to rely on KC-135 tanker jets as the backbone of its ability to project global airpower. The KC-135 was, and is, a brilliant airplane, but the very newest one in the Air Force inventory dates to 52 years ago, which is a very, very long time for something made by the lowest bidder, especially something made of fatigue-prone aluminum.

kc-135

It’s a good plane, and a beautiful plane, but it’s an old plane. How old? The KC-135, after successful flight and acceptance by the Air Force, was developed into the long-retired Boeing 707, the jet that’s often remembered mistakenly as the first jet airliner. (It was #2, behind the DeHavilland Comet).

This tanker crew was very lucky. Rather than any of its myriad other failure modes, the landing gear on the KC-135 did the very safest failure mode it has, refusing to unlock and retract. (Wild guess: human error either by crew, leaving ground downlocks in place, or by maintenance). Gear stuck up usually means a successful emergency landing, with the crew surviving and the plane probably being scrapped; the hazardous failure modes involve partial retractions or extensions, which risk loss of control in the emergency landing.

But you don’t think of flying one of the nearest things the USAF has to an airliner, the very model of safe reliability, as something that can set your pucker to 11.

PORTSMOUTH — A KC-135 tanker made a “precautionary” landing Friday morning at Portsmouth International Airport at Pease after the landing gear failed to retract on take off.
“It was stuck down in the normal configuration,” said Maj. Nick Alcocer, a spokesman for the 157th Air Refueling Wing. “About 45 minutes later … the plane landed without incident.”
There were no injuries.

The tanker left Pease on a training mission at about 9 a.m. The three-person crew performed troubleshooting while the plane was airborne and determined a faulty electrical switch likely caused the problem, he said. The gear remained in the locked position throughout the flight.
“That could be for any number of reasons: Old age, weather or some other unknown,” he said Friday.

via Tanker makes ‘precautionary’ landing at Pease – News – seacoastonline.com – Portsmouth, NH.

“Old age.” The wing at Pease is hoping to get new tankers. As to why these old carthorses weren’t replaced long ago, it’s hard to blame the Air Force. They’ve run contests to replace the old 135s over and over again, and even supplemented tanker shortfalls with converted airliners in the past (the KC-10). The problem has been Congress.

Congress has been unhappy because the winners of previous contests have been Other Than Boeing, and therefore in the wrong senatorial/congressional districts. So they have been making the USAF do their do-over over, and over again, meanwhile requiring American aircrews to take to the air in machines so old they’re from before the time when cars had seatbelts.

Because nobody in Congress is interested in the survival of American flying men and women;  everybody in Congress is interested in the lobbyists that make them rich.

A flying pit stop

Hey, sorry about that, boom operator. If you bought your Senator and Congresswoman a yacht, or maybe gave them rides in your executive jet, or gave their kid or nephew a no-show job, then they’d be concerned about you. You’ve long ago been bid out of the market, so suck it up.

Why More Guns Survive from the Civil War than Vietnam

It’s this simple:

civil war take home guns June_1965

Source.

So that’s who we have to thank: Brigadier General Dyer, and of course, Secretary of War Stanton.

Of course, in 1865 even the Washington nabobs believed implicitly that free men had a right to own guns. In Reconstruction, that was interpreted to include freed men, as it should have been.

By 1965, the nabobs’ descendants had come to believe that free men with guns were a threat to their safety, and more importantly, for a Washington nabob, their power. And the Washington nabobs’ farm teams in their state capitals had stripped that right from the descendants of the freedmen, on whose behalf the entire Civil War was fought.

(Gun licensing and permitting laws in the United States were, in the South, Jim Crow laws; in the north, as in New York’s Sullivan Law, they were aimed at Irish and Southern European immigrants).

Incidentally, the VA’s Still a Mess

VA-veterans-affairsHere’s a new IG report by the VA IG, following up on a February report where they found the WJB Dorn VA Medical Center, Columbia, SC deficient in 12 major areas.

For the initial hotline report, the OIG visited the facility on six occasions between February and June 2013 to review allegations concerning quality of care, clinical oversight, management controls, and administrative operations in the Surgery Service, as well as facility-level deficiencies in the Infection Control (IC), Quality Management (QM), and Peer Review programs. We substantiated many of the allegations and made 12 recommendations for improvement.

So, in July when they inspected, six months after the February report on a January visit, VA leadership had fixed the problems in the 95-bed facility, right? Most of them?

C’mon, what do you think? Take it away, IG:

We found that the facility had implemented corrective actions in response to the 12 recommendations in our initial report, yet the effectiveness of those actions varied widely. While corrective actions resolved the deficient conditions associated with operating room and reusable medical equipment issues, other actions were less successful, as they were not always implemented timely, were not complete, or were not sustained.

In fact, they found new problems.

In addition, during this visit, we found improper storage of patient information, medical and surgical supplies, medications, grafts, and patches.

So, on six months’ effort, they’ve gone from 12 glaring deficienies to 11 — two steps forward, one step back.

The IG inspectors were inclined to cut the hospital’s leadership a lot of slack. There’s a lot of noise in the IG report about process in lieu of progress: the remaining deficient areas are all considered “condition improved” even though the improvements haven’t made it through to the results. Language like this:

  • “National Surgery Office and Veterans Administration Surgical Quality Improvement Program (VASQIP) reports were presented.”
  • “The Surgical Service SharePoint to track and schedule surgical cases was fully implemented in May 2014″
  • “Improved the speed of hire2 measure to 89 percent, which exceeds the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) target of 80 percent.”
  • “Minor modifications have been made to oversight and subordinate committee minutes.”
  • “The local Patient Safety Reporting Program policy is in alignment with national requirements, including defining events that would constitute a “close call” and appropriate processes for reporting.”

What any of these have to do with patient care or patient outcomes is anyone’s guess. Sounds like the VA has baffled its internal watchdog with bullshit.

(Hat tip, Jonah Bennett at the Daily Caller).

 

Afghan M4 Makeover, Step 1: Vintage Stock

We remember seeing the 6921 as it shook out of the box yesterday. It came with a maybe-good-we-dunno Rogers Super-Stoc, which is not what we had in the hills of the Hazarajat.

unbox_20_new_stock

So we needed to go to the parts box for an original Colt Fiberite stock, of which we had a number even before putting in the order for the carbine.

But it turned out, we had a guardian angel looking out for us. One day, while the 6921 sat waiting for the stamp, we got a ring from an old friend who was then still in the old unit.

“What was your rack number?” Easy enough to remember. Jeez, we inventoried the team, and even the unit, weapons often enough. (The Army requires frequent serial number inventories which must be done by two officers or senior NCOs). Normally used and broken weapons parts are turned in, but the unit had a shipment of new SOPMOD stocks, and someone somewhere made a decision that the decade-plus-old, war-weary and well-worn stocks, were dumpster food. It would cost more to collect and ship them to DRMO than they could possibly bring at auction. So they were thrown out.

Needless to say, any of the guys who wanted one, brought one home. And our buddy — God bless him — brought ours home.

unbox_28_revert_to_fiberlite_stock

Dang. A real piece of the exact gun we had in Afghanistan, is the first part of our reproduction of that stalwart companion. Who else can say that?

Now, practically, the stock is inferior to the Rogers stock on several planes. It’s a little looser and shakier on the stock extension. The Rogers has the trick locking lever, which is nifty. Neither one really has a good cheek weld, but the Rogers curved buttplate is a lot more ergonomic.

And, of course, there are other superior stocks out there. But, like the Marine mantra about This is my rifle, “there are many like it, but this one is mine.” Not to go all seagull or anything.

(Note: we were wrong yesterday if we said the initial weight of the 6921 with the Rogers was 6.6 and then we established it was 6.5 after weighing the rifle with the Fiberite stock. As this photo, which we didn’t look at when writing the post, reveals, the second set of weights was 6.6, meaning the 6.5 was the initial weight result).

There’s a long way to go in our M4 Makeover. Next installment? Rails and foregrip.

Fog a Mirror, Get a Ph.D.

It used to be that just applied to the Ed.D, but we just saw the following in a report written by a Ph.D.

Moreover, for the first time in many years, [he statistic we’re measuring] is down by over 4% percent.

Four hundredths of a percent! That’s pretty good. Of course, that’s not what she meant.

Now, this was not in a blog post or some throw-away document. It was in a freaking end-of-year report. With her signature on it: “Cathy Innumerate, Ph.D., Director.” (The name has been changed to protect the guilty).

Sudden Jihad Syndrome Strikes

Or, if you’re an expert on Islam like our Vice President, this is just “workplace violence.” Because Islam is the Religion of Peace™.

And if you dare to say different, they’ll cut your ^$&$&!! head off. Infidel!

Item: Jihad Boy

hudson taylor clarkOr Hudson Taylor Clark, as he was known before his conversion to Islam, alarmed his family with his visits to jihad websites. When county sheriffs did a welfare check on him Friday 5 December, they found him muttering:

Dear God please forgive the disbelievers. Praise be to Allah.

It seemed clear that he was on the cusp of committing some islamic sacraments, but he hadn’t done anything yet, so the coppers could only note that he was alive and declined assistance.

Then, he walked out of his family’s house at about 1400 on Saturday 6 December, telling them he wasn’t coming back.

They called the local (Cañon City, CO) police and officers began looking for Clark.

Meanwhile, Clark found a way to beat Colorado’s new gun laws: he grabbed a handgun from the shelves in Victory Defense, a gun shop, and tucked it in his waist. Clerks saw his clumsy attempt at shoplifting, and followed him; they got the gun back, but he threatened them with a large folding knife.

“Don’t touch me or I’ll cut you.” Having recovered the gun, the clerks backed off. Clark did make off with a holster and ammunition, but without the gun they were of no immediate use to him.

And called the cops. Now they had an idea where to find Clark. The Cañon City Daily Record:

Clark then left the scene, [Cañon City Police Department Chief Paul] Schultz said, and was found 10 minutes later … by CCPD Cpl. Andrew Sanders.

“Mr. Clark did not respond to the officer’s commands to stop and talk to him,” [Schultz] said. “Our officer went up, tapped him on the shoulder. He turned around with a eight-inch knife … Then without saying anything, stabbed corporal Sanders under the left arm toward the armpit and then continued to encroach upon him.”

Schultz said the officer told him to stop after he was injured, but he didn’t comply.

“He continued to encroach upon Corporal Sanders with the knife, which was open obviously,” he said. “Corporal Sanders then fired his handgun in self-defense, striking Mr. Clark five times.”

He was shot twice in the left arm, once in the right arm, once in the abdomen and a bullet grazed across his chest, Schultz said.

Clark was shot at while he was somewhere between four and six feet away, he said.

From what we’ve read elsewhere, Sanders nailed Clark with 5 out of 6 shots, after taking a hit from a large knife. It would have been nice if more of them were bang in the boiler room, but it was eminently successful in stopping Clark’s attempts to stab him.

More from Chief Schultz:

The suspect at this point dropped to the ground, never lost consciousness, was bleeding profusely and continued to make comments. Next to him was the Koran, which fell out onto the ground and during this first aid situation at this point, he did ask for his Koran.

Sanders was treated and released; Clark has a long stint in hospital, and a longer stint behind bars, ahead of him. He’s fortunate to be alive. He’ll be back in court for the next legal round on Christmas Eve. Allah that, Jihad Boy.

One hopes they’re serving ham in jail.

In the hospital, he asked police if he’d hit Sanders with his knife thrusts. He was smiling when he said it.  Meanwhile, Sanders didn’t need to ask if he’d hit Jihad Boy.

Item: The Love Sheikh

For a long and involved look at the Sydney cafe hostage situation, which ended with the gunman having put on some weight in 65-grain increments, and the hostages all freed, several of them wounded, the Daily Mail in the UK has excellent coverage. There’s a good infographic showing the escapes of several hostages over time, and good quotes from people on the ground.

The latest update: Along with the Sudden Jihad Syndrome mullah, two of his hostages are dead and four injured or wounded. The 34-year-old man and 38-year-old woman killed, and a woman and a police officer were injured by gunfire. It’s unclear whose fire killed the hostages; the wounded woman appears to have a rifle-caliber wound in the shoulder, and the policeman has shotgun pellet wounds. The hostage-taker carried a shotgun.

For a capsule version, Australian newsman Tim Blair at The Telegraph (OZ) has it covered in his blog here and here, whence we saw this video showing the stack and assault from one angle. It went down shortly after 0200, Sydney time.

Items of note: The Aussie cops are using M4s or equivalent. Good choice. They had various optics — looked like mostly EoTechs in the grainy video — and handguns in drop holsters. Pretty standard kit.

The terrorist attack locked down the central business district of Sydney for two days.

The terrorist attack locked down the central business district of Sydney for two days.

Many are making much of career criminal and Islamic cleric Man Haron Monis aka Sheikh Haron aka Mohammad Hassan Manteghi being a “self-proclaimed” islamic cleric. But all mullahs are, especially in Sunni islam which is non-hierarchical; there’s no Pope or formalities of ordination to advance one over the other. You don’t get a Mad Mullah Matriculation suitable for framing in your mud hut in a Waaziristan training camp.

Monis / Haron / Manteghi called for an ISIL flag, and while waiting for it, displayed the black flag bearing the shahada or Islamic profession of faith, which has come to mean terrorism everywhere.

His past crimes appear to include various rapes and kiddie-diddling (after one woman he “counseled” Guru Pitka-style came forward, there was a flood of them), and the murder of his ex-wife, although police think it was his current girlfriend who committed the actual murder; our sheikh of many names merely set her corpse on fire. He also sent “sympathy cards” to the families of Australian soldiers slain in Afghanistan — sympathizing with their killers. At the time of the attack, he was out on bail for 40-plus rapes, and accessory to murder (bail. Why?).

Nice guy.

This is the latest of several ISIL-inspired lone wolf or small cell attacks Down Under. Meanwhile, a couple of others who were caught in the planning stage were in court.

The other writers at The Telegraph have, of course, deeper coverage of the issue, but Blair hits the high points. The Age (Melbourne) has what appears to me to be a leftier viewpoint — a lot of hand-wringing about how people will get the wrong (?) idea about Moslem terrorists.

Item: The Mosque that Ate Santa

The extremist mosques in Cambridge and Boston that radicalized the Boston Marathon have claimed a new casualty in their jihad: Santa Claus. Ever politically-correct, Principal Jennifer Ford of the Andrew Peabody School banned the stout elf after complaints from a radical moslem parent. The “Christmas Concert” which had always featured a St. Nick appearance had long since been renamed a “Winter Concert” in keeping with Ford’s vision of state atheism as established religion.

Even many local Moslems think this is over-the-top, for which they’ll probably be targeted by mosque leadership. Apostates!

The Islamic Society of Boston was founded by an al-Qaeda sheikh now in prison for terrorism (BOP #47042-083), and it shows. It is primarily funded by Saudis.

And There Are Always Those who Miss The Point

Case: Megan Garber of The Atlantic, who complains that car service Uber used surge pricing during the siege. Because whiny urbanites are entitled to transportation, you know.

 

Are Sneakers a Deadly Weapon?

Question before the Court: is this a deadly weapon?

Question before the Court: is this a deadly weapon?

This case is before the Supreme Court, as a small-time criminal unhappy with the way a violent assault landed him in the big time, and an army of pro-criminal lawyers, try to lawyer him out of the pickle a bad temper and bad judgment got him into.

And yes, alcohol was involved; the incident happened at closing time at the city’s notorious bar-cum-fight-club, where a weekend night without flashing blue lights in the street was an occasion worth remarking. The bar has since been closed (after this and many other violent incidents).

PORTSMOUTH — The New Hampshire Supreme Court is deliberating whether a sneaker-clad foot can be a deadly weapon, based on an appeal by Josiah Mayo, who knocked a man to the pavement with a roundhouse kick to the face, outside the now-closed Page Restaurant and Bar.

via Page assault moves to Supreme Court – News – seacoastonline.com – Portsmouth, NH.

During a July 15, 2012 fracas outside The Page, Mayo “turned to wind up, swung his shod foot around in a martial arts-style roundhouse kick and hit the victim’s face with so much force that the victim was immediately knocked unconscious, fell back and fractured his skull,” according to a brief filed with the Supreme Court by Senior Assistant Attorney General Susan McGinnis.

Sounds like deadly force to us.

One of the victim’s friends was punched in the head and kicked in the leg and when he turned around to see who did it, he saw “a bunch of angry faces and people ready to fight,” the attorney general summarized. Mayo and his cousin, Daniel Mayo, both of Portsmouth, started yelling “and racial slurs may have been used” by others in the crowd, the attorney general reports. The victim and his friend “were not arguing, making threats or being aggressive,” McGinnis wrote.

Josiah Mayo

Josiah Mayo, small-time thug unhappy with his lot.

This is the weakest part of the prosecution case: the racial slurs (Mayo and his family are black; the victim and his friends are white) and general nature of the booze-fueled violence that night. Mayo had a case for self-defense, albeit a weak one; he presented it (and testified) in the lower court, but he had a credibility problem, as he’d given contradictory and incriminating statements to the police and the press.

In these days of fraught racial politics, some want to make this a case about race. We’re not seeing this. Unlike some states, New Hampshire has very little black-on-white crime. This is often ascribed by locals to our enlightened ideas about race relations and our abolitionist past, but it may simply be a statistical consequence of having relatively few blacks or other minorities, and having low crime all round. In all the nation, most crime is intra- rather than inter-racial, and with our almost all-white population, violent crime here is usually white-on-white. (There was a Black Lives Matter demo in Portsmouth Friday night, attended by about 80%

Anyway, here’s another description of Mayo’s crime, which we take as coincidentally interracial, but deliberately violent:

At that point, according to the state’s brief, Mayo kicked the victim in the face and “his entire body went rigid, he fell back like a tree and his head hit the pavement with a loud crack.” The victim’s friends said he was bleeding and out cold, according to court testimony.

Again, that sounds like deadly force with a deadly weapon to us, using the Forrest Gump’s Mama’s standard (“Deadly is as deadly does.”) However, as Andrew Branca would teach you if you attended one of his seminars or took one of his webinars, no court in the country uses Forrest’s Mama’s Standard; those hard-headed judges persist in using their own state’s statutes and case law. So there arises what lawyers call “a colorable argument.” Meaning, a question of law and of fact where advocacy for both sides before a neutral tribune is required to make a best resolution of the case.

Portsmouth police officer Christopher Worthington responded, kept calling the victim’s name and shining a flashlight in his eyes, but didn’t get a response, the attorney general reports. When an ambulance arrived, the victim regained consciousness and began vomiting blood, according to the attorney general’s brief.

We would describe that as a victim of assault with a deadly weapon. There is absolutely no question that if the victim had expired, which as we’ll see in a moment, he very nearly did, Mayo would have been charged with murder or manslaughter.

The kick was not the only blow landed by Mayo on the victim, but it’s the only one that has had appellate legs. He’s still going to be in prison for assault, regardless of the appeal’s outcome. What the appeal can do for him is pull his release day years closer.

The victim, who had previously worked as a bouncer at The Page, was hospitalized for five days, three of them in intensive care, for a skull fracture and inter-cranial hemorrhage, according to the attorney general. Mayo was identified as the assailant by witnesses, then later by video surveillance images, court records state.

Here we see another clue in the story: the victim was a former bouncer. It would not shock us to  learn he had been a bit forward in helping the current bouncers, probably buddies of his, to push the drunks out at closing time.

Ah yeah. Most choirboys have multiple mugshots of various vintages, right?

Ah yeah. Most choirboys have multiple mugshots of various vintages, right?

Mayo is a career criminal with numerous other convictions, and was on parole at the time, which is one of the subjects of the appeal: his lawyer argues that these facts should not have been used to impeach his credibility, lest they prejudice the jury.

His other two points of appeal are the lack of a self-defense instruction, and that a sneaker can’t be a deadly weapon:

The second part of Mayo’s appeal states that the trial court judge wrongfully failed to dismiss the assault with a deadly weapon charge. Mulvey argues that Mayo’s foot in a high-top sneaker doesn’t fit the definition of a deadly weapon, which is defined by law as “any firearm, knife or other substance or thing which, in the manner it is used, intended to be used or threatened to be used, is known to be capable of producing death or serious bodily injury.”

“The defendant’s foot, in a regular sneaker, used in the manner described above, does not meet the definition of a deadly weapon,” Mayo’s lawyer contends. “The force of the impact of the cobblestone ground caused the skull fracture and not the kick itself.”

For some reason, we hear this legal argument in 1930s comic Brooklyn accents: “Oy! It wasn’t me, Yer Honna. It was th’ skreeet what attackled him!”

One of the issues not before the Supreme Court, but that might help readers in evaluating Mayo’s credibility, is that Mayo fled the scene after assaulting the 32-year-old Maine man. He fled to Maine and was picked up coincidentally there on a probation violation a couple of weeks later, whereupon Maine cops discovered he was wanted in NH.

Nothing good eventuates in the small hours of the clock.

From the Big City Blotter: “Choke me, officer!”

In our neck of the woods, the big city is pop 28k or so. And some of those teeming thousands are a half a bubble or so off plumb.

You can’t make this stuff up. From the blotter, 8 Dec 14:

5:45 a.m.: While transporting a prisoner to the jail, had to pull over and adjust her cuffs. The prisoner also asked the officer to “choke” her.

via Portsmouth police log: Dec. 6-7 – News – seacoastonline.com – Portsmouth, NH.

Maybe she had recently seen the Boys in Company C and the copper reminded her of Gunny Hartman (NSFW, language):

Here are some more typical call-outs from that same link:

2:48 p.m.: Responded to a supermarket for a call about a woman yelling at her children. They were gone when police arrived.

It was undoubtedly an undocumented immigrant from Massachusetts that made that call. It’s a place where those beyond the age of majority (we can’t really call them “adults” or “grown-ups”) never heard a critical word in their childhoods — and it shows.

Meanwhile, as the sun goes down, the pace of calls intensifies:

7:19 p.m.: A staff person from the hospital reported phone harassment.

7:30 p.m.: Responded to a residence following a call from a babysitter about being scared. Police determined it was a dispute about “parenting style.”

8:28 p.m.: Assisted the fire department at a motel where the fire alarm was sounding but there was no fire.

9:14 p.m.: Assisted on Broad Street where someone drove into a tree.

10:17 p.m.: Caller complained that a bar doorman took his ID because he thought it was fake.

There’s a story that Sinbad the Sailor, weary of the sea, walked inland with an oar over his shoulder until people began asking him WTF the funny-shaped stick was for. Then he knew he would truly have nothing to remind him of seafaring days.

Likewise, this is a very good area for a soldier to retire to for some peace and quiet.