New YouTube video from the Syrian battlefield shows rebels firing the same high-powered sniper rifle favored by U.S. Navy SEALs, leaving some experts wondering who the ragtag army of insurgents might train the guns on in the future.
The British-made AS-50, accurate from a distance of 20 football fields, is made for British Special Forces and Navy SEALs. Video showing Syrian rebels, who are aligned with Al Qaeda, firing the guns and shouting “Alahu akbar,” has also raised questions about who is supplying such devastating hardware.
“The video, showing jihadist rebels of the ‘Descendents of the Prophet Brigade’ firing one of the world’s most effective sniper rifles, should be cause for alarm,” said David Reaboi, of the Washington-based Center for Security Policy. “We don’t know who has been supplying this group (or the myriad others) with these weapons but, given the jihadist ideology of these groups, it’s only a matter of time until they’re turned on Americans or our allies and interests.”
The gun set a world record when a member of the British Household Cavalry in Afghanistan’s Helmand province killed two members of the Taliban with successive bullets over a recorded distance of more than 1.5 miles.
The Free Syrian Army has been receiving weapons from Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey - all close allies of the U.S. But the U.S. has repeatedly stated that it has sent no weapons to the opposition forces.
Amusing and useful illustrated book showing how to throw playing cards better - subtitled “A Treatise on the art of throwing, scaling, juggling, boomeranging and manipulating ordinary playing cards with particular emphasis on impressing one’s friends and providing a deadly yet inexpensive means of self-defence”. The book, a perennial Ebay special and Library sale ‘sleeper’, is now being seen as a self help book that ‘changes lives’ - several comments at Amazon, not entirely tongue in cheek, attest to this.
VALUE? Copies show up a bit creased at around $200 and twice that for fine copies. Signed should show up as Jay is pretty approachable and was often seen at book fairs etc., being a serious book collector. God bless him. Magicians are often pretty serious book collectors - at one time one heard quite a bit about the highly acquisitive David Copperfield and his awesome collection. It is worth noting that there is also a hardback of the book that is much prized and dealers (who are not mad) sometimes ask $1000 or more for it, although a cautious punter could probably pick one up in the $600 to $800 range - in a jacket.
Guess who has two thumbs and scored a copy of the paperback for $35?
Also, the book has photos of a nekkid woman demonstrating card-throwing techniques.
It reads a lot like The Areas of My Expertise, by John Hodgman, and How to Sharpen Pencils: A Practical and Theoretical Treatise on the Artisanal Craft of Pencil Sharpening, by David Rees.
But it was written in 1977!
Ricky Jay, always ahead of the curve!
The investigation into Schmidt was conducted by a FBI Joint terrorism Task Force whose agents said they discovered he was tracking African American and Jewish leaders in the Detroit area.
Schmidt, 47, is a convicted felon who spent 13 years in Ohio state prison for a homicide after being convicted of killing a man and wounding two others in a shooting during a traffic stop, according to state prison records. Under federal law, Schmidt, who was released on parole in 2003, is barred from possessing any firearms.
Yet when FBI agents last December searched his home and store, they discovered a cache of 18 weapons that included AR-15 assault rifles, 9 mm Ruger and Sig Sauer pistols, shotguns, high-capacity magazines and more than 40,000 rounds of ammunition. Schmidt was originally reported to have been arrested on charges of trafficking in counterfeit goods, but was indicted last month on four federal charges —including possessing illegal weapons, body armor and ammunition. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges.
“As a matter of policy, I don’t comment on pending cases,” his lawyer, Andy Hart, a federal public defender in Toledo, said when reached by telephone.
Dettelbach, who is overseeing the case, said that federal agents have been unable to determine how and where Schmidt obtained his weapons, prompting officials to conclude he likely acquired them at gun shows or through private sales — where under federal law no background checks are required. .
“It’s scary,” he said about Schmidt’s arsenal of weapons. “It’s not … that I won’t say” where Schmidt got his guns. “It’s that sitting here today as a senior federal law enforcement official in northern Ohio, I can’t say.”
Trotter told the dramatic story of an 18-year-old mother named Sarah McKinley who killed an intruder with a shotgun when he tried to break into her home where she was with her infant son. Though Trotter’ story about McKinley is very true - she failed to mention that the young mother shot and killed the intruder with a Remington 870 Express rifle-a gun that would not be banned under the proposed assault weapons statute. This lead to a contentious exchange with Rhode Island Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, and later in the day, a challenge from MSNBC host Lawrence O’Donnell.
MSNBC’s The Last Word reached out to Sarah McKinley to get her thoughts on Trotter’s testimony and whether she thinks an assault weapons ban would in fact put women at risk of not being able to defend themselves from an attack or home invasion. In a phone conversation Thursday, McKinley made it clear that she was not in favor of any gun control. But she said of assault rifles that she “personally has no use for one and doesn’t own one.” She also supports background checks on gun sales. McKinley, who will not be charged in the New Year’s Eve shooting at her home, had no problem with Trotter’s use of her story, although she didn’t know ahead of time that her experience would be discussed.
In this town where tragedy relaunched the nation’s debate over gun violence, people on all sides of the political divide expressed support Wednesday for President Obama’s proposals to ban assault weapons and establish tighter background checks for gun buyers.
“It shouldn’t be a Democratic or a Republican issue,” said Marsha Moskowitz, a Democrat who supports the president’s proposals. “It’s a human issue. It’s about humanity.”
First Selectman Pat Llodra, a Republican who is Newtown’s chief executive, said she supports them, too.
Llodra, who attended Obama’s announcement, was in Washington meeting with mayors who support efforts to reduce gun violence, improve mental health policies and address school safety needs
“We are past the time for political ideology or rhetoric — this is the time for change,” Llodra said in a written statement to USA TODAY. “It should not be an issue of Democrats or Republicans — the I-say-yes, so-you-say-no nonsense we have all witnessed the past few years.”
In last year’s presidential election, Newtown voted for Republican Mitt Romney. In 2008, Obama won most of the Newtown vote.
A suburban New York newspaper that sparked an uproar among gun enthusiasts by publishing names and addresses of residents holding pistol permits is now planning to publish even more identities of permit-toting locals.
Further names and addresses will be added as they become available to a map originally published on December 24 in the White Plains, New York-based Journal News, the newspaper said.
The original map listed thousands of pistol permit holders in suburban Westchester and Rockland counties just north of New York City.
Along with an article entitled “The gun owner next door: What you don’t know about the weapons in your neighborhood,” the map was compiled in response to the December 14 shooting deaths of 26 children and adults in Newtown, Connecticut, editors of the Gannett Corp.-owned newspaper said.
A meeting in Morocco on December 12 by The Friends of Syria representing 100 countries recognized the opposition National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Force as the sole representative of the Syrian people. The step opens the way for increased humanitarian and military assistance for opposition forces seeking the overthrow of President Bashar al-Assad.
Ukraine will likely be one of the countries seeking to capitalize on this new development and export weapons to Syrian opposition forces through Arab proxies. The former Soviet Union and Ukraine have long-term experience in supplying weapons to the Middle East and Africa.
President Viktor Yanukovych’s administration has been pragmatic about exporting arms to warring parties and states—including to those opposed by Russia (see EDM, April 17, May 15). In particular, Ukrainian-made weapons have been delivered to insurgents in Syria through Saudi Arabian proxies. However, the Ukrainian foreign ministry denies supplying arms to the Syrian rebels (mfa.gov.ua
Ukrainian arms shipments are likely to be part of a covert operation funded by Gulf Sunni supporters of the Syrian rebels. Weapons crates found in the Syrian city of Aleppo showed the arms were delivered from the Ukrainian port of Gostomel and exported by Dastan Engineering from LCW (Luhansk Cartridge Works), a major ammunition manufacturing plant in Luhansk. One of LCW’s main exports is the 7.62-mm cartridge used in AK-47 semi-automatic rifles, employed by both sides of the Syrian conflict (Ukrayinska Pravda, October 9).
The cat’s out of the bag. During Libya’s rebellion, the White House OK’ed the arming of rebels fighting the Gaddafi regime to Arab partners in the Gulf, and rumors have abounded ever since over the identity of some of the recipients of weapons sent by U.S. allies. Now, a story in the Wednesday’s New York Times claims to have confirmed rumors that some of the arms supplied by Qatar and the United Arab Emirates ended up in the hands of Libyan Salafi groups. There’s no evidence these arms were actually used in the attack on the Benghazi consulate on Sept. 11, but the Times report will fuel speculation. It may also help explain why the Obama Administration has been dancing around the Benghazi incident as if were a grenade with the pin pulled.
It seems perfectly possible to me that some weapons sent from the Gulf could have found their way to Ansar al-Sharia, the group currently blamed for the Benghazi attack. That creates a problem for the White House. If such a link surfaces, the Obama Administration may try to blame Gulf Allies. Those countries, in turn, can be expected to say the White House ignored warnings the weapons might fall into the wrong hands.
The intelligence services of the Gulf countries are not capable of directly orchestrating large-scale covert action programs, and in particular, large-scale arms transfers. Because of their limited capacity, they themselves are obliged to outsource the process, which, as it turns out, means handing money and arms to Salafi groups headquartered in the Gulf. Those Salafis are more than happy to take the money, and to use it to arm allied fighters in distant lands.
The key question, though is this: Why did the Administration think that outsourcing covert action to the Gulf Arabs would have a better outcome in the Arab Spring than was the case the last time the United States outsourced covert action to them? That would be when the Reagan Administration armed Afghan jihadists fighting the Russian occupation — most arms and support provided by the Arabs went to Afghan Salafis, not to mention the Arab volunteers who later become the core of al-Qaeda. Are memories truly that short?
Which brings us to Syria.
How should our defense strategy evolve in a world of easily accessible mini-drones, lethal nanobots, and DIY warfare?
You walk into your shower and find a spider. You are not an arachnologist. You do, however, know that one of the following options is possible:
The spider is real and harmless. The spider is real and venomous.
Your next-door neighbor, who dislikes your noisy dog, has turned her personal surveillance spider (purchased from “Drones ‘R Us” for $49.95) loose and is monitoring it on her iPhone from her seat at a sports bar downtown. The pictures of you, undressed, are now being relayed on several screens during the break of an NFL game, to the mirth of the entire neighborhood.
Your business competitor has sent his drone assassin spider, which he purchased from a bankrupt military contractor, to take you out. Upon spotting you with its sensors, and before you have any time to weigh your options, the spider shoots an infinitesimal needle into a vein in your left leg and takes a blood sample.
As you beat a retreat out of the shower, your blood sample is being run on your competitor’s smartphone for a DNA match. The match is made against a DNA sample of you that is already on file at EVER.com (Everything about Everybody), an international DNA database (with access available for $179.99).
The United States and dozens of other countries moved closer on Sunday to direct intervention in the fighting in Syria, with Arab nations pledging $100 million to pay opposition fighters and the Obama administration agreeing to send communications equipment to help rebels organize and evade Syria’s military, according to participants gathered here.
Turkish riot police sprayed tear gas at supporters of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad as they demonstrated outside the conference venue.
The moves reflected a growing consensus, at least among the officials who met here this weekend under the rubric “Friends of Syria,” that mediation efforts by the United Nations peace envoy, Kofi Annan, were failing to halt the violence that is heading into its second year in Syria and that more forceful action was needed.