MA Recriminalizes Perv Photography, Pervs Hardest Hit

voyeursA while back, the pro-criminal judges on the Massachusetts Supreme Court strove mightily and brought forth a technicality that let them release a perv, Michael Robertson, arrested for taking pictures up a woman’s skirt on the subway. Apparently this is A Thing, enough so that it has its own verb: “to upskirt.” Even the liberal papers in Mass. were a bit taken aback by the ruling and they cracked down with a new law. So as the court says, “comes a defendant” who read all the news stories about the Supreme Court’s pro-perv position, and didn’t catch the legislature’s shamefaced recriminalization of prurient pervert photography. Sucks to be him:

When police arrived they questioned the 26-year-old victim who told officers that while she was standing in the upper busway she felt “something” brush against her knees. When she looked down she saw a man’s hand “between her legs, holding an Apple iPad with the camera on facing up her skirt,” according to police. Joshua Gonsalves pleaded not guilty to violating the “upskirting” law. He was ordered to stay away from buses and trains.

It would have protected the women of the Bay State better not to have released this perv on bail in the first place, but this is Massachusetts we’re talking about here. He’s probably some legislator’s cousin.

The victim provided a detailed description of the suspect, including turning the table on the man by taking photos of him as he walked away, according to a statement from the Suffolk County district attorney’s office.

Good for her! Nobody will always be there to defend you but yourself.

Police found Gonsalves on a bus shortly after and questioned him. He admitted to the deed, according to police, and stated to officers he had previously heard on the news it was not illegal to “take pictures up a girl’s skirt.” Five months ago, Gonsalves would have been right. Criminalizing “upskirting” stemmed from a case against Michael Robertson, 32, who was arrested in 2010 for allegedly taking photos up an undercover officer’s dress, according to court documents. The charges against him were eventually dropped because Massachusetts’ highest court ruled that Robertson did not violate state law when he took photos up the skirt of a woman because she was not nude or partially nude, as stipulated by an old state law against secretive photography. Intense media scrutiny followed and state lawmakers quickly called for a revision to the statute. They passed a bill making “upskirting” illegal and the governor signed it into law on March 7.

via ‘Upskirting’ ban leads to first arrest in Massachusetts – It’s kind of amazing that Massachusetts, the state where a violent rapist was sentenced to house arrest with his victim, the state that was headquarters of NAMBLA, and the state than never did criminalize this kind of prurient photography, finally did so. We’re not sure whether his coming prison sentence pays Gonsalves back for being a perv, or whether it pays him back for being a dumbass that makes decisions based on something he read in a newspaper. Of course, in time he’ll be out, and his parole officer will expect him to look for a job. He’ll wind up at the TSA.

Possible Killshot in the Ventura-Kyle Trial

The Late Chris Kyle with his .338 Lapua Magnum.

The Late Chris Kyle with his .338 Lapua Magnum.

Chris Kyle wrote that “Old Scruff Face,” whom he didn’t then identify by name, bad-mouthed today’s SEALs at an informal frogman wake in 2006, and that Kyle decked him. It was obvious to insiders  that the old frogman he was referring to was SEAL turned pro wrestler turned actor (he’s in Predator, toting an M134), turned maverick politician, turned sometime reality-TV host Jesse Ventura, and Kyle later confirmed this during an appearance on a Los Angeles radio station — during which he also said it wasn’t anything special because the guy was “really old.” (Ventura is 63 now, so he was in his fifties when he and Kyle crossed paths in the bar).

Ventura insists that none of it ever happened: no bad-mouthing, no punch, none of it. Sure, he was at the bar, a SEAL hangout; he had been there as a VIP guest of a fresh graduating class. But he claims that the ridicule resulting from Kyle’s book has sunk his income, once millions a year, to less than what the VA pays people to mismanage vets’ treatment, and estranged him from the SEAL community, of which he was ever a proud member.

Naturally, the lawsuit, and the fact that he persisted in it after Kyle’s unrelated murder, with Kyle’s widow Taya standing in as plaintiff, has further estranged him. His name is mud in the SOF community, for certain values of “mud” that are highly organic in origin.

Everybody seems to have an opinion about the facts in the case, which seemed to be a classic “This guy said this and that guy said that” kind of case, complicated by This Guy being unavailable to testify. But the emergence of an eyewitness in the case, testifying for the Kyles in defense, seems to have shifted the balance of the case considerably. Here’s the St. Paul Pioneer Press on the testimony of Laura deShazo:

DeShazo, the sister of a Navy SEAL and an education specialist for Utah’s public schools, testfied that she was at the bar the night in question for the wake of Michael Monsoor, a slain SEAL.

DeShazo, the first witness called by the defense, said someone pointed out Ventura to her and that she, her sister and another woman posed for a picture with him. Otherwise, she said, she had little interaction with him.

Later that night, deShazo testified, she saw an altercation involving a group of people in the bar. Ventura was involved.

“I saw Mr. Ventura get hit,” she said.

But she didn’t know who hit him. She watched only for a few seconds, she said, before turning away because she wasn’t interested in a bar fight.

The Pioneer Press notes that some details of her recollection of the fight don’t gibe with Kyle’s (do Read The Whole Thing™; it also has some detail on Ventura’s finances). But deShazo’s description of the SEAL that punched Ventura does match Chris Kyle, according to a report at Fox News:

DeShazo said she later saw Ventura getting a scuffle with other people at the bar and saw a man punch Ventura. She said she doesn’t know who threw the punch but gave a description that was consistent with Kyle.

Reportedly, the defense team has other witnesses ready to testify they saw the big-mouthed former entertainer take one on the chin, but given that deShazo’s testimony was not perfect for the defense, and they led with her, the other testimony is probably weak. Still, the jury now has to disregard Kyle’s deposition and deShazo’s corroborating testimony, and accept Ventura’s testimony instead (he didn’t present on-scene eyewitnesses to his story). This seems unlikely, and the probable outcome is that the lawsuit will attaint Ventura’s reputation more than the bar fight story did.

You have to wonder why this wound up in the courts in the first place. It is nothing but a mess, and reflects badly on the SEALs in general and these two SEALs (yeah, technically Ventura was a UDT guy, but that hair-splitting distinction is of no consequence here) in particular. It’s unseemly.

Frankly, if Ventura really said the stuff Kyle wrote that he did, especially in that environment, he had the punch coming.

Of course, not everybody agrees with us. The Minnesota Post’s Jim Walsh clearly wishes the badmouthing was true, and wants Ventura to take it further:

[W]alk away… from the military industrial complex that brainwashed you into believing in fight not flight. Take those boxes of SEAL shirts and torch them in a massive purifying ceremony….

…true freedom, the kind that has nothing to do with America or the military’s narrow definition of it…

…Have a good cry … and become Jesse Ventura, new age man and leader of the feMENist movement who strikes a blow for compassion above all else.

Uh, not too likely. Walsh also describes both Ventura and Kyle as members of “Douchebag Nation.” Well, all we want to know is, as King of that dominion, did Walsh sign their passports?



Since this post was drafted (and not published) on 15 July, the trial has continued, and a parade of witnesses who were at the informal “wake” for SEAL Michael Monsoor MOH have followed deShazo — and their testimony has further damaged Governor Ventura’s case. They include:

  1. Rosemary deShazo, Laura’s sister, who testified that she heard Ventura say a disparaging remark about fallen SEALs: “They probably deserved it, they die all the time.” She admits she’s paraphrasing, but the statement is close to what Kyle recounted in the book, and like Kyle, she was angered and offended by it. 
  2. Former SEAL Jeremiah Dinnell remembers both Ventura saying that SEALs “deserved to lose a few in Iraq,” and Kyle immediately thereafter punching Ventura. That’s exactly the way Kyle told the story in the book and on KFI Radio in LA.
  3. Gold Star Mother (of SEAL Marc Lee) Debbie Lee, who found that instead of sympathizing with her (or the Monsoors’) loss, he wanted to brag himself up. She “lost all respect for the man.” Kyle admitted to her that he punched Ventura.
  4. Former SEAL Guy Budinscak saw something, although he did not testify it was the punch, but “a commotion,” saw Ventura depart looking like he’d been in a fight, and heard that same night that Kyle punched Ventura. He also remembers Ventura rudely dismissing wounded SEAL Ryan Job, and spouting 9/11 conspiracy theories.
  5. Job himself formed an opinion of Ventura from their brief meeting: “Fuck that guy,” he said, according to his friend SEAL Kevin Lacz (via video deposition). Job died from complications of his wounds in 2009. Lacz’s recollections otherwise support Kyle’s version of the story.
  6. SEAL SO1C John Kelly III didn’t see Kyle punch Ventura, but he did see Ventura down and apparently out, and then later, with blood on his lips. Kelly had initially admired Ventura, until the conversation turned political and Ventura began bashing both Bush and servicemen. The suggestion that SEALs like Kelly were in Iraq “killing women and children” stuck in his craw.
  7. Former SEAL Lt. Cmdr. Andrew Paul also did not see the punch, but saw Ventura down, and then come up threatening to kill Kyle. Kyle later admitted to Paul that he punched Ventura. He also remembers Ventura ranting about “very bizarre” 9/11 conspiracy theories.
  8. Former SEAL Bobby Gassoff saw “a commotion” and later that night “was told” that Kyle hit Ventura.

Kyle himself, appearing from beyond the grave by video deposition, expressed surprise that, of all the things in the book American Sniper, the three pages describing his encounter with Scruff Face were the part that went viral.


However this case ends — we all know that random stuff occurs in American courts all the time — Chris Kyle deserves to be remembered.


Minneapolis Red Star Tribune

St. Paul Pioneer Press.

Portland Oregonian (AP wire story).

Rimfire Challenge Ammo Guaranteed by ATK

ATK, a major defense and ammunition firm, likes to support the NSSF and the shooting sports. When they heard that the ongoing tightness of rimfire ammo supply was threatening Rimfire Challenge matches, they acted in the way you might expect, knowing the above, and that they’re the largest rimfire ammo manufacturer, under their CCI brand:

Adding to its Platinum-level support for the NSSF Rimfire Challenge program, ATK Sporting also will participate in the Rimfire Challenge Ammo Roundup, which will help ensure the program’s target shooters have a reliable source of ammunition.

The Rimfire Challenge Ammo Roundup will serve as a fulfillment center for match directors to purchase ammunition for events.

The company will provide 600,000 rounds of CCI rimfire ammunition to the Ammo Roundup program.

“Action rimfire sports like the NSSF Rimfire Challenge are paving the way for a whole new generation of shooters,” said Ryan Bronson, Senior Manager of Conservation and Public Policy at ATK Sporting Group. “We are happy to provide CCI ammunition to help support a program that is promoting exciting and safe trigger time for both the new shooters and folks that have been shooting for years.”

The Rimfire Challenge was the Ruger Rimfire Challenge until Ruger bowed out, claiming it had gotten to big to handle, and risking the future of the matches — sponsorless, they couldn’t survive. NSSF stepped in and the Challenge continued seamlessly.

The Rimfire Challenge combines .22 rifles and pistols, new shooters, and steel-plate targets to make appealing and fun matches. Here’s an FAQ in .pdf form. Here’s a schematic of a typical stage:


The shooter and’s with a firearm loaded, aimed at the start steak. On audible signal here she begins to engage the plates, usually in any order, except for the stoplight. The stop plate is engaged last. (If you shoot it first, “stage over” and you’re going to do lousy on points). The scoring is based on the time to hit all the targets plus any penalties (penalties are assessed for each miss, encouraging accuracy).

The stages are relatively easy and that, and the audible clang of slug on steel, makes them rewarding for a new shooter. It would have been a shame if they ran out of ammo. Well done, ATK!

Breaking: Civil Airliner Downed by Russian Missile

Two flags, one nation; we tried that 1860-65, didn't work.

Two flags, one nation; we tried that 1860-65, didn’t work.

This story is still breaking and developing, and it’s not good any way you slice it. Initial reports were that 279 are dead aboard the Malaysian airliner, and 29 of them American citizens; later media reports raised the death toll to 295, and said none were Americans.

The missiles were fired either by the Russian military or by Russian-controlled ethnic-Russian separatists in the so-called “Republic of Donetsk.” Russia’s cat’s paw in the region, a sheep-dipped GRU officer, initially claimed the shootdown then rapidly backed away and is disclaiming not only the now deleted tweet but the entire social-media account in question. The Ukrainians report that they have communications intercepts of both ethnic Russians involved in the shootdown and the commander they report to, a serving Russian Army officer.

Igor Strelkov, figurehead of the Donetsk Republic, in his best Hitler pose. Strelkov is a serving officer in the GRU.

Igor Strelkov, figurehead of the Donetsk Republic, in his best Hitler pose. “Strelkov” is Igor Girkin, a serving officer in the GRU. Far from being Ukrainian, he’s a Muscovite. He was caught on the audio track of a video celebrating the shootdown. Other serving Russian officers who participated in the mass murder include Igor Bezler and Vassiliy Geranin. 

Whether the shootdown was deliberate or accidental, it looks bad for Russia either way: if it was deliberate,  300 people have been murdered in cold blood, something redolent of Soviet days; if it was accidental, 300 people have died due to criminal negligence, something equally redolent of Soviet days. Likewise, whether the mongs at the switches of the system were actual Russian PVO members, or whether they were some kind of irregulars, it’s bad for Russia either way: on one side, their military looks incompetent and leaderless, and on the other, they’ve armed a lawless guerilla group, who promptly used their shiny new Made In Russia toy to commit a bestial mass murder. They’ve either misused missiles under their control, or they’ve put missiles into the hands of nut jobs they don’t control — making the Russians look teenage-arsonist irresponsible at best.

It’s not the first time this issue has come up. Consider this passage from a book on the history of the major organization that coordinates world airspace and airlines (ICAO: A History of the International Civil Aviation Organization by David MacKenzie). This passage, from p. 304, refers to the US reaction to the screwed-up shootdown of KAL Flight 007:

The incident also made the Americans uneasy in other ways. If the Soviets knowingly shot down a civil airliner then all the criticism was justified; but if the aircraft drifted in Soviet space for two hours without the Soviets knowing about it; and if it took them hours to track it down; and if they shot it down not knowing it was a civil airliner, then what did this say about the state of Soviet defences or their ability to act responsibly as a nuclear power? If this kind of mistake can happen, Reagan asked, “what kind of imagination did it take to think of the Soviet military man with his finger close to a nuclear button making an even more tragic mistake? If mistakes could be made by a fighter pilot, what about a similar miscalculation by the commander of missile launch crew?”

MacKenzie notes that the decision of both parties was to submit it to the toothless ICAO for investigation; as an international agency with no subpoena or enforcement powers, it was guaranteed to take months to produce an empty result. But in the meantime, “the main protagonists could… be seen to be doing something” and this would let the parties “avoid applying sanctions and provid[e]…. an opportunity for both sides to cool off.”

The Russians know their best bet is to brazen it out, hence the belligerent statements we’ve seen from Vladimir Vladimirovich. Plus, in 1983 a bold Reagan faced a weak, sick Brezhnev. In 2014, a weak, vacillating and disengaged Obama faces a strong, bold Putin — whose help he perseverates in seeking on such issues as Syria and Iran. Russian forces have reportedly stolen the flight data recorder and cockpit voice recorder from the crash site, and spirited them off to Moscow — just as they did in 1983, and for the same reason: guilty knowledge.

Enough about the geopolitics, what about the missile?

SA-11 System: Clockwise from top, "Snow Drift" surveillance radar, TELAR, Command Post vehicle, TEL.

SA-11 System: Clockwise from top, “Snow Drift” surveillance radar, TELAR, 9S470 “Ranzhir” Command Post vehicle, TEL.

However evil or stupid the hand that set them into motion in Ukraine this week, the the missiles in question are a highly developed product of Russian technology, and of nearly 70 years of Russian experience with guided missiles.

The system is known as “Бук” or “Beech” in Russian and as 9K37 in the Russian “Главное ракетно-артиллерийское управление” or GRAU, essentially Main Ordnance Directorate, nomenclature, but over the years system improvements have caused its DOD/NATO code designation and name to change from SA-11 Gadfly to SA-17 Grizzly. The system has largely replaced the SA-6 Gainful (2K12 Kub) in Russian service, but is also widely distributed worldwide, to Russian allies and rogue states alike.

The system has been used by Russians and Georgians against each other (both effectively) in 2008, and by these same Russians and/or Russian-controlled separatists to shoot down an Sukhoi Su-25 attack plane and an unarmed, but military, Antonov An-26 transport in Ukraine.  The system has been generally ineffective in Syrian hands, and a Russo-Syrian attempt to deliver Buk systems to Hezbollah ended in the destruction of the systems by Israeli air power in 2013.

It is extremely unlikely that the system was operated without support and control from Russia. It is even more unlikely that the shoot-down of an international airliner was anything but an error. Certainly we’ve seen these errors before, when Israel shot down a Libyan airliner in 1973, when Soviet jets shot down off-course Korean airliners that had flown over Soviet airspace in 1978 and again in 1983 (the KAL 007 downing), and in 1988 when an American ship shot down an Iranian airliner.

And the one that seems most interesting, under the circumstances: in 2001, a Russian airliner was shot down into the Black Sea, in a screwup committed by a Ukrainian military unit. Then-President of Ukraine Leonid Kuchma apologized, and some air defense officers were sacked.

There are some differences in these cases. In at least one case, the Soviet pilot knew the plane was civil, but didn’t care: he was ordered to shoot it down, and a civil plane could certainly have been spying, so he did, no more a human in the loop than the Buk missile has. In the case of the USS Vincennes and Iran Air Flight 655, the American crew clearly lost situational awareness and panicked, mistaking the harmless civil jet for an attacking Iranian F-14; it was a shameful day for the US Navy.

The Ukrainian 2001 incident has never been clearly explained, but appears to have been a case of a missile preferring the jetliner to an intended drone target — a Range Control no-go event.

What seems to have happened in the Ukraine this time, is that the GRU/rebels weren’t deconflicting their radar tracking with civilian airliner flight plans and whoever the controller is for the area (Eurocontrol? Roscontrol?). So, after two successful shoot-downs of Ukrainian military aircraft, they were fangs-out for God and Vladimir Vladimirovich.

The Ukrainians know they can count on the EU. Not.

The Ukrainians know they can count on the EU. Not.

Now comes a Cold War replay of finger pointing, and evidence shifting and/or destruction. (In 1983, the Soviets clandestinely recovered the flight recorders of KAL 007, then hid them and destroyed the tapes when they found that they fit the American propaganda line, not the Soviet one. After the fall of the USSR only Russian translations of transcripts were found. They also conducted a false search and recovery effort miles from the wreckage, and made no attempt at search and recovery at the actual crash site). The area where the Malaysia Airlines jet came down is under Russian GRU control, so evidence hiding will probably take priority over investigation. (In 1983, the Soviets deliberately avoided recovering human remains).

In 1984, in its final response to the KAL 007 mass murder, the ICAO Council called on the contracting States to “abstain from the use of armed force on civil aircraft”. Two council members voted no: Russia and the then-puppet Czechoslovak Socialist Republic.

Shannon Richardson gets 18 Years

shannon-richardson-MugshotRemember the gal who thought she’d strike a blow for gun control, and launch a divorce with a pre-emptive strike by framing her husband for trying to kill the President and a couple of his minions? Remember how the media were all over it, especially because her husband was one of those Scary Army Vets™.  Sure you do! Which brings us to another question:

What does a couple decades away from the screen do for an already overaged ingenue?

Well, she may get a part in a remake of Driving Miss Daisy. Or, she may not. Anti-gun actress Shannon Richardson is about to find out, as her already sputtering career is about to take an 18-year hiatus in Club Fed (the year-plus she’s spent locked up awaiting trial may be applied to her total, meaning she could be trying to renew her Film Actors Guild card as soon as 2030).

Shannon Guess Richardson will have plenty of time to catch up on her correspondence in the next 18 years.

Richardson, an actress who has appeared on “The Walking Dead” and “The Vampire Diaries,” was sentenced to 18 years in prison Wednesday by a federal judge Texas for sending ricin-tainted letters to President Barack Obama and former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, the Associated Press reports.

The 36-year-old actress received the maximum sentence as part of a plea deal, after she pleaded guilty to possessing and producing a biological toxin in December.

Richardson's weapon of choice -- ricin. But the real target was her husband, whom she hoped to frame as the poisoner.

Richardson’s weapon of choice — ricin. But the real target was her husband, whom she hoped to frame as the poisoner.

Think about that for a minute — she copped a plea, and the best she could get was the max. Imagine what would have happened if she’d gone to trial with all the charges, instead of pleading guilty to one — she’d be getting out sometime around when the sun cools to a red dwarf.

“I never intended for anybody to be hurt,” Richardson told the court on Wednesday, saying she thought the letters would be intercepted by security before they were opened.

Richardson was charged in June. According to an arrest affidavit, she sent three letters containing the toxin ricin to President Obama and Bloomberg, as well as Mark Glaze, the former executive director of Bloomberg’s gun-control group

via ‘Walking Dead’ Actress Who Sent Ricin to President Obama Gets 18 Years in Prison – TheWrap.

Her motive was to try to simplify her upcoming divorce by putting her husband — now her ex — behind bars. She wrote letters that she hoped would be attributed to him, full of deliberate spelling errors (yes, the FBI’s experts can tell the difference between a dumb-ass who can’t spell and a smart-ass who’s faking it) and trying to make the attempted poisonings look like the act of a gun owner — specifically, her husband.

She said in court that she didn’t really try to poison anybody, implying that she just tried to frame her husband, and any poisoning was just incidental. She apparently thought that would get her a discount on her sentence; as Lennon and McCartney sang, “The judge did not agree, and he told [her] so, oh, oh, oh!” Richardson’s lawyer told the press that she had been:

… still hopeful for a lighter sentence.

“She was extremely disappointed. She was in shock saying things people normal say in these situations, like, my life is over,” said [lawyer Tonda] Curry.

Well, there’s no parole or significant time off Federal time, kid. You’ve got to do at least 85%, and the average fed con does a few percent more.

Four of her five minor children are with their father or stepfather, the husband she tried to saddle with the long sentence that bounced back on her instead. The fifth, a baby born in prison, is the object of a custody dispute between the two.

For Weaponsman’s previous coverage of the hard-looking and bat-guano crazy Mrs Richardson, see here.

On this Day in 1962: Infantry Nuke Test

The USA fired its last above-ground nuclear test at a test site in Nevada on this day, 17 July, in 1962. The operation was a culmination exercise that brought together nuclear warhead tests (code-named Little Feller, as a nod to the W54 warhead’s light weight and low yield) and nuclear weapons employment maneuvers code-named Ivy Flats.

Screenshot 2014-07-17 12.50.48

The test was a pretty-much full-spectrum test of an actual tactical nuke, and a very unusual one — a nuclear infantry weapon called the Davy Crockett. A lot of tripe is written about the Davy Crockett, including that it could not fire a projectile further than its blast radius, but most of that tripe is written by people who either apply unreasoning fear to all nuclear weapons (something that was encouraged during the Cold War by the Soviet Union and its witting and unwitting agents of influence), or by the sort of uninformed juicebox mafiosi that become “national security” writers for Wired. Even more-respected anti-nuclear campaigners often got it wrong, like some of the details on this basically solid page at the Brookings Institution. In fact, this test demonstrated that the weapon was safe, within its limits, and effective.

After many rehearsals, including a live-fire of an actual warhead suspended three feet above the ground (Test Little Feller II on 7 Jul 62), a Davy Crockett crew fired their weapon at a simulated enemy force 2,852 meters distant. They launched the projectile in front of trench-covered friendlies and — much further back — bleachers full of observers, including such VIPs as Robert F. Kennedy (then Attorney General) and Army Chief of Staff Max Taylor. (This test was Little Feller I, even though it was 10 days after Little Feller II). The weapon functioned flawlessly. Within half an hour, military units advanced through the blast zone. The entrenched troops were 1600m from the detonation; the Army calculated that the low-yield W54 would produce immediate casualties from radiation only within 250m, and delayed casualties only within 350m, of its impact point. These radiation effects were much more long-ranged than the heat and blast effects of the .02 kiloton warhead. A tank 100m from detonation would be usable, apart from the effects of radiation, which would have killed its crew.

Here’s a video of the test. We tried to find the original because this one has too much compression and a lot of video artifacts, but sometimes you have to take what you can get:

The actual burst is at about the half-way point, about nine minutes in. Other reports suggest that its yield was later calculated to be 0.018 kt, a little lighter than the 0.022 produced by the confusingly earlier Little Feller I test. As none of the surviving documentation suggests that this yield variation from the nominal 0,02 kt setting upset anyone at the time, it suggests that variance of plus or minus two-thousandths of a kiloton was considered nominal.

It’s interesting to see the other equipment the troops, from the 4th Infantry Division then at Ft. Lewis, Washington, have: Garand M1 rifles, M48 tanks, a Hiller UH-12 helicopter.

The Davy Crockett was actually an ingenious weapon, and for its time, an effective one, if only psychologically. How effective? Decades after it was retired, it was still taught to Soviet tank officers as a battlefield threat to be feared and targeted. When the weapon was withdrawn (due to further miniaturization allowing longer-range and more-accurate delivery of tactical nukes), the GRU managed to convince itself, and the Soviet General Staff, that the withdrawal was all a ruse by those perfidious Americans.

Here’s how it worked: the DC came in two versions, the M28 and M29. The “light” DC had a 2000 meter range, and the heavy 4000 meters. The caliber of the main recoilless gun was different: 120mm versus 155 mm, and even the caliber of the spotting gun, which was used to check trajectory before firing, differed: the “light” Davy Crockett has a 20mm recoilless spotting gun firing the M101 spotting round, and the “heavy” had a 37mm. Because the gun was recoilless, it and its tripod could be light. Both versions could be carried by Jeep or M113 Armored Personnel Carrier, and the M28 could be broken down into manpack loads (if heavy ones) and carried by its own crew.

davy crockett jeep

When XM101 spotting rounds were found in Hawaii, the media went haywire. Typical of the products of their “layers and layers of editors” was this graphic.

davy crockett

What’s wrong with it? Count the legs on the tripod.

The projectile, the M388, was roughly the size and shape of a prize watermelon, and could contain conventional explosives or a W54. It worked with both guns because it was a “supercaliber” projectile. (Imagine a watermelon-sized rifle grenade). A different piston was used in the smaller and larger guns. They also fire two non-nuclear (or simulated nuclear) Davy Crockett rounds.

A war in which battalion commander had their own nukes would have been… interesting. Army planners expected the US warhead stockpile to grow to over 150,000 warheads to support their Pentomic Division warfighting scheme. (That was about five times its actual 1967 peak).

The dummy version was of the M388 the M421. Almost all surviving documentation shows these weapons as non-type-classified, “XM” weapons (i.e. XM388, XM29, etc).


Authority to deploy the Davy Crockett was devolved almost as low as nuclear weapons commit authority ever got: the battalion commander had full authority to use the weapons as he saw fit, once a general release was granted.

Most Davy Crockett launchers were allocated only one or two warheads, plus several conventional high-explosive ones; this was because the system’s survivability on a tactical nuclear battlefield was somewhat constrained. It had to be fired within field-gun and mortar range of the targeted enemy (4,000m max), it was an unprotected weapons system, and it was

The launch produced a considerable backblast, and would have exposed the firers to enemy retaliation. This gave a small advantage to the light weapon, which was usually fired from its jeep. The heavy weapon had to be dismounted from a charmer personnel carrier or truck and fired from the tripod every time. Then, after exposing its position, it would have to be reloaded before the crew could skedaddle.

The Davy Crockett had a short service life; it was an interim weapon before warheads could be miniaturized into standard gun artillery weapons.

Because the M101 spotting rounds contained depleted uranium, which is now managed as a hazardous material, we’ve learned that 75,318 rounds of spotting M101 were produced. Some 2000 were expended in lot qualification tests at the factory, 44,000 were destroyed by firing into a containment after the weapon was scrapped, and a max of 29,000 were fired from the deployed launchers at a variety of field sites. Apart from the Ivy Flats/Little Feller I test on 17 Jul 62, no Davy Crockett was ever live fired. (There were warhead live tests earlier, during development).

Both versions of the Davy Crockett used the same projectile, the M388.

At the end of FY 62, the USA had 25,540 operational warheads in its stockpile, and growing. About 2,900 of them were Davy Crockett warheads. At the end of 2013, we had 4,804 total warheads, and shrinking. Among the entire classes of nukes that were eliminated were small-yield nukes like the Davy Crockett warhead, and battlefield nukes — like the Davy Crockett warhead.

All Other Options Exhausted, VA Does the Right Thing

So here’s the VA in the news again, and amazingly, they did the right thing.

In the end. Years too late. After getting crucified in public. And then they expected praise.

Michael Sulsona, a Vietnam double-amputee, told his story to the Staten Island (a middle-class New York City borough) newspaper:

Michael Sunsonas chair

In 1971, I stepped on a land mine in Vietnam and lost both legs above the knee.

For the past two years, I have been waiting to receive a new wheelchair from the Veterans Administration. In addition, I have been told that I am not entitled to a spare wheelchair.

On the evening of July 7, my wheelchair fell apart again, while shopping at Lowe’s Home Improvement Center in on Forest Avenue in Mariners Harbor.

Three employees, David, Marcus and Souleyman jumped to my assistance immediately. They placed me in another chair while they went to work.

They took the wheelchair apart and replaced the broken parts and told me, “We’re going to make this chair like new.”

I left 45 minutes after closing hours in my wheelchair that was like new.

I kept thanking them and all they could say was, “It was our honor.”

Now, that was great publicity for Lowe’s, and not such great publicity for the VA. So in the end, they did what they had promised years ago — delivered a new chair to the combat-crippled Marine, and promised to service it, and his old one (the back-up he had wanted!) as necessary.

It wasn’t the first time things improved for Sulsona after turning to the newspaper. In 2012, he got his stolen hand-controllable van back after the paper wrote about how hard loss of the custom transportation had made his life. When police found the van, a cop went out of his way to bring it back to Sulsona instead of following procedure, which would have sent the van to the impound lot, where the vet would have the hassle and expense of getting it back. (That’s not all that surprising. Staten Island is well known as a bedroom community for many of New York’s cops and firefighters, which makes it a pretty safe and communitarian place, as NYC boroughs go).

Was Sulsona bitter at VA? Not entirely, and he was grateful that they finally did bring him the new chair. Here’s what he told the paper about his new chair, which the VA delivered to his home — after national media picked up the Staten Island Advance’s reports:

It’s incredible. It’s like getting into a new car. You feel it — everything is tight and secure.

I’d hate to cheapen what these guys did, but isn’t that their job? I should have had the chair I was entitled to, but because of red tape, I never got a chair until now.

Then, he posed in his new chair with a message for the VA: “Thanks.” (Note that when it works, the vets often like it. If only the executives understood this, they wouldn’t have to cheat the vets to earn their bonuses).

He “didn’t want to point blame at anyone,” but Sulsona couldn’t help comparing the VA’s spotlight-Ranger response to the action of the three Lowe’s workers who pitched in to fix the broken bolt on his original chair:

No one needed permission, there were no forms to fill out, no incident reports — they just saw a guy in trouble and helped. This whole story is based around three good guys. I think it’s really important that we all be like these people who wanted to help me; things would be so much easier.

Despite having at least 64 full-time, highly-compensated ($200k plus including benefits, on average) PR flacks and Lord knows how many contractors and consultants, the VA didn’t respond to the Staten Island Advance’s questions. They had to pick up their VA response from the self-congratulatory statements that the VA sent to inside-the-Beltway publications like BuzzFeed.

Cop Murdered: Family, Press Blame the Dead Cop

Murder victim Perry Renn

Murder victim Perry Renn. This is the guy the perp’s family and WISH-TV blame for his ambush murder.

One thing that’s extremely rare these days, or any other, is criminals engaging police with rifles, especially so-called “assault rifles.” But it does happen. In this case, a career criminal, Major Davis Jr.,  ambushed an Indianapolis police officer with a civilian AK, which was legally purchased by his mother, who lacks the rap sheet that’s the pride of all the men in the family.

It’s not clear whether he was laying for this particular PO, or just any cop in general. He blamed the police for the death of his career criminal father, and the officer he murdered was one of the arresting officers in the incident that ended in his father’s death. Renn, a career cop with a good reputation, and other police officers were responding to a shots fired call.

Most people have no idea what the criminal class is actually like. Fortunately. Here is a glimpse of it; it is one of the more than half of Indianapolis murders this year that a ten-year sentence for murderer’s previous felony would have prevented (or at least, delayed).

Officer Perry Renn, a 22-year veteran who served on IMPD’s North District, died after a shootout with Davis Saturday night.

Probable cause documents show Officer Nicholas Gallico was on patrol in the area of 34th and Forest Manor Avenue around 9:30 p.m. Saturday when a civilian who was riding along in his patrol car noticed Davis appeared to be flagging the officer down. Gallico got out of his car and saw Davis walking toward him, with his hands behind his back. After ordering Davis to show his hands, he replied “no,” and began walking backwards. Two women were at the scene with Davis, one appeared to try to get him to back up, the other told the officer everything was okay.

Renn, 52, arrived at the scene a short time later, on the opposite side of Davis from Gallico on an alley. Gallico said he heard Renn say something to Davis after the suspect raised an AK-47 rifle in Renn’s direction, but could not make out what was said. Gallico told investigators he was sure Davis fired first and that Renn returned fire immediately.

via Murder charge filed against suspect in Ofc. Renn’s shooting deat – 13 WTHR Indianapolis.

That story says that the murderer flagged another cop car down, but the Metro Police statement said they were responding to a shots fired call. As is usual soon after an incident, it will take a while to sort out who said what, and some of the testimony will conflict because (1) human memory is imperfect and (2) a lot of the witnesses appear to be members of the Davis crime family, which guarantees bogus testimony.

It’s very rare for a cop to actually be outgunned, but this was one of those cases. Poor Renn was in a rifle fight, armed only with a pistol. Despite that, he put Davis down, dead; unfortunately, paramedics resuscitated Davis. They worked just as hard on Renn (if not harder), but one of the AK rounds had sliced through Renn’s vest and then through his heart. There was no saving the valiant cop.


Murderer Major Davis Jr., a career criminal (this is a mugshot from a previous felony). This is the guy we blame. 

Major Davis Jr. is a career criminal, mostly as a drug dealer, although he’s also been busted with weapons before. Davis Jr. was dealing crack from his car before he even had a driver’s license, and he never in his young life (he’s 25) has gone more than a couple years without a felony. Drugs and crime are the family business; while Jr. only has a couple pages of arrests, his father Major Davis Sr. was lugged 12 times before finally getting vapor lock on his lucky 13th. (Or maybe it was, Indianapolis’s lucky day).

Naturally, Davis’s family were quick to condemn the police for shooting their little bundle of joy (and death), and a local TV reporter, Jessica Smith of WISH-TV, was quick to give them a platform. A Davis relative complained that Davis is “scarred for life.”

“Major is not a bad person, in spite of what happened,” she said, a few bullet holes in a room-temperature cop notwithstanding. “Things happen,” she said, as if the murder of Perry Renn was just some inexplicable burden laid upon the Renn family by cruel and distant pagan gods, or the arbitrary finger of fate.

But things like ambushed cops don’t just happen. People make them happen. Specifically, criminals make them happen. What sort of definition can one possibly have of “a bad person” that cannot be stretched to accommodate Major Davis Jr.?

The one-sided WISH-TV report drew such a barrage of negative comments that News Director Steve Bray prepended a long, self-serving editorial note to the piece, defending the station’s complete impartiality between cops and cop killers, and defending Smith:

We wanted to give insight into the mind of the people/family who were involved so there was some context and exposure for you into this world….. It was difficult for many of us to watch and understand mostly for the reporter who did the story. Her father is a veteran of IMPD.

But that professed above-it-all impartiality manifested itself in sentences like this, which is Smith talking, not some skell from the Davis crime family:

Now, the Davis family is worried about their son’s reputation and again, questioning police tactics.

What reputation? Reputation, my eye. The kid was and is a complete waste of protoplasm. That’s his reputation. That’s the whole freaking family’s reputation.

Smith gets another, “And again, questioning police tactics,” in after that. Her father was a cop on this force? Maybe she has some daddy issues.

Hey, we’re not condemning reporters. Just questioning news tactics.


Editor’s Note: We usually try to start with a weapons technical post before going off on a rant like this. But our tech post today is hanging fire a bit. That’s troublesome, because it’s nuclear (just a little one though). We’re going to give it a few kicks and see if we can get it loose this afternoon, OK? – Ed.

OT: Comcast = Customer Service, Soviet Style

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

A few high points from Block:

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

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

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

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

When guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have swimming pools

Drowning_Man_by_JanooshThis is a sad story from around the start of the month. A young woman took the permanent solution to some temporary problem in her life. As it happens, we know her name but will follow the convention of the local newspaper in not reporting it. She has caused a lot of misery to a lot of other people, in her ill-advised act to put an end to herself.

That is, unfortunately, what suicides do. It’s a narcissistic, selfish act at its core.

Police say they have determined that the woman found floating Saturday morning in a Hampton apartment complex’s pool died due to a suicide.

“We’re confident it was a suicide,” Hampton Deputy Police Chief Rich Sawyer said. “The autopsy determined the cause of death was drowning, but we believe it to be intentionally inflicted by herself.”

A resident at the Olde English Village Apartments called police at about 5:50 a.m. Saturday after finding a woman’s body submerged at the bottom of the 463 Winnacunnet Road complex’s pool.

We look at these because anti-gunners constantly lump gun suicides in as “gun deaths,” in order to inflate numbers. Had this tragic figure chosen a firearm, instead, as her means of self-destruction, Josh Sugarmann, Shannon Watts and Mike Bloomberg of the world would be chortling with glee at their new statistic.

It’s not like people are going to blame a pool for suicide, right?

Sawyer said the woman, a 27-year-old from Peterborough, was temporarily staying there with another individual, which is “how she gained access to the pool.”

The outdoor pool isn’t covered or locked at night.

via Police: Drowning at Hampton pool ruled a suicide |

Lord love a duck. It’s almost as if they’re laying the ground work for pool control. Is your pool locked? Do you carefully unload it of its deadly water before locking it in its pool safe for the night?

Lord love… we already said that. Look, we don’t have the key to the puzzle of suicide. Nobody else does, either. If anyone reading this thinks about doing it, please don’t. There are a million joys that this young lady will never know because of her decision, made perhaps in a moment of rash impulse or under the cloud of undiagnosed depression. We shudder to think of all the joys we’d have lost, the friends we’d not have made, the delights we’d never have laughed out if our sunrises had ended at 27.

The only suicide that ever made sense to us was Adolf Hitler’s. For him, it was probably the best remaining option. For this young lady… it wasn’t. Hitler, she was not.