This Morning in Domestic Terrorism

The Pittsburgh Police Department has responded to an active shooter in the Squirrel Hill area of Pittsburgh near one of the synagogues.

The local CBS News affiliate, KDKA News, is reporting that at least eight people have been killed, three police officers wounded, and that the shooter who is wounded and has now surrendered, was barricaded on the third floor of the synagogue.

Here’s the quick briefing the police commander on the scene provided:

It is important to remember that almost no Jews who are observing the sabbath this morning at synagogue will actually know about them because they’re in services,

Mara Gay, of The New York Times editorial board, has this exactly right:

I’d go further. Every one of the President’s most retrogade, most revanchist, neo-nationalist, neo-fascist, and/or neo-NAZI supporters know exactly what it means when he bad mouths the globalists or when he declares himself a nationalist. Despite his disingenuous statements the day after calling himself a nationalist, the President clearly knows what it means as well, which is why he said “we’re not supposed to use the word”.

MSNBC is reporting that the shooter was screaming anti-Semitic slurs during the attack and that the police are checking a suspicious package to ensure it isn’t an improvised explosive device. So the message that the President, his enablers, and his fellow travelers are transmitting is being received.

I understand that the President is, at best, oblivious to anyone who isn’t him or isn’t doing something he perceives as in his interest in any moment. He appears to be inherently and innately transactional. However, his inherent racism, anti-Semitism, and xenophobia, whether rooted in his transactional nature or something else, is a continuing clear and present danger to American citizens, those non-citizens legally residing in the US, and those visiting the US. If he is unable or unwilling to bring himself to publicly address the country, denounce this in no uncertain terms, then it is further evidence he is unfit for the office that he currently occupies. And if no other elite or notable Republican officials or former officials will do so for fear of crossing their base, who are the President’s most fervent supporters, or for fear of receiving a mean tweet, they too are unfit. They are unfit for the offices they hold or have held and their are unfit to claim the mantle American.

This will be a fast moving story and new information will be coming out over the next 24 to 48 hours, but the real worry right now is for copycats. Given that services will be ending soon on the east coast, the threat shifts to the intermountain west and west coasts. Churches whose congregants are predominantly people of color or LBTQ need to lay on extra security for tomorrow. Especially for those churches doing souls to the polls early voting!

I leave the final words to President Washington, which should be the template for how elected officials in the US speak on these matters:

If we have wisdom to make the best use of the advantages with which we are now favored, we cannot fail, under the just administration of a good government, to become a great and happy people.

The citizens of the United States of America have a right to applaud themselves for having given to mankind examples of an enlarged and liberal policy—a policy worthy of imitation. All possess alike liberty of conscience and immunities of citizenship.

It is now no more that toleration is spoken of as if it were the indulgence of one class of people that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent natural rights, for, happily, the Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance, requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens in giving it on all occasions their effectual support.

It would be inconsistent with the frankness of my character not to avow that I am pleased with your favorable opinion of my administration and fervent wishes for my felicity.

May the children of the stock of Abraham who dwell in this land continue to merit and enjoy the good will of the other inhabitants—while every one shall sit in safety under his own vine and fig tree and there shall be none to make him afraid.

May the father of all mercies scatter light, and not darkness, upon our paths, and make us all in our several vocations useful here, and in His own due time and way everlastingly happy.

G. Washington

Update at 12:40 PM EDT

They have identified the domestic terrorist who attacked the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, PA this morning.

From KDKA:

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Police say a gunman opened fire at a Pittsburgh Synagogue yelling “All Jews must die.”

KDKA-TV sources say the shooting suspect is Robert Bowers.

Eight people have been killed and a number of others injured after the shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Squirrel Hill on Saturday.

Bowers is described as a white male, heavy set, with a beard. He surrendered to police after opening fire on police officers. Police say he was injured and crawling when he was taken into custody.

Three police officers were also shot, their conditions are not currently known.

When officers arrived, the gunman reportedly shot at them, forcing officers to use their vehicles as a shield.

Police sources tell KDKA’s Andy Sheehan the gunman walked into the building and yelled, “All Jews Must die.”

Sheehan confirmed that eight people were confirmed dead. Others had been shot but the extent of their injuries in unknown at this time.

The shooting happened during weekly Shabbat services at the conservative Jewish Synagogue, the building was full was full of people for a Saturday service.

The President is also making a brief statement from the tarmac at Joint Base Andrews and has indicated he will make a more significant statement at his scheduled appearance with the Future Farmers of America conference later today.

Of course, the President couldn’t help himself and had to have a Q&A. He’s now blamed the synagogue for this because he says “the temple didn’t have an armed guard inside”. We’re right back to neutralization and drift. He just denied the victimization of the victims. This has to be seen and heard to be believed:

Updated at 1:10 PM EDT

And here’s your social learning link back to the President’s rhetoric:

Stay alert! And vote!

Open thread.

 








The GOP Senate Leadership Is Not Going to Avoid Trapping Themselves In Regard To Dr. Christine Blasey Ford

In the comments to BettyC’s thread about Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s accusation I made the following statement  (emphasis mine):

And before anyone asks, yes, I too believe her. She had nothing to gain and everything to lose, including her life given the political moment we’re living in, to come forward about this.

The New York Times has reported (emphasis mine):

In the letter to the Judiciary Committee on Tuesday evening, Dr. Blasey’s lawyers said that she has been the target of “vicious harassment and even death threats” since her name was made public on Sunday in an interview published in The Washington Post. Her email has been hacked, she has been impersonated online and she and her family have been forced to relocate out of their home, according to the lawyers, Ms. Banks and her partner, Debra S. Katz.

Josh Marshall highlighted a converging of Republican senatorial talking points, including by Senator Collins.

But I want to note what appears to be clearly a unified strategy among Republican Senators to put the onus on Professor Ford personally and blame her if the hearing doesn’t happen. They’ve unilaterally announced a process and are now arguing that Ford is at fault if she doesn’t agree. Look at the specific wording.

Read these quotes, which clearly come from a pre-arranged agreement.

Mitch McConnell said Ford will have “the opportunity to be heard.”

Sen. Grassley’s spokesperson: “Our staff reached out to Dr. Ford’s lawyer with multiple emails yesterday to schedule a similar call and inform her of the upcoming hearing, where she will have the opportunity to share her story with the Committee. Her lawyer has not yet responded.”

Sens Collins and Cornyn are referring to Ford’s non-response so far.

Sen. Collins: “That’s very puzzling to me…I really hope that she doesn’t pass up that opportunity.”

Sen. Cornyn: “That’s pretty telling, she hasn’t responded to the committee’s normal processes and we don’t know if she’s coming or not but this is her chance. This is her one chance. We hope she does.”








3D Printed Guns or Dude Why are These Shards of ABS Plastic Sticking Out of My Hand and Other Parts of My Body?

There’s been some chatter in the comments over the past several days over the DOJ settling with the anarcho-libertarian who set up a company to make the blueprints for 3D printing guns and gun parts readily available and to sell his own CNC machine so that people can machine gun parts at home using the blueprints available from him. Yesterday a Federal judge issued a temporary restraining order on the release of the blueprints by Defense Distributed. The simple truth is the temporary restraining order is pointless. The CAD files are available from download at numerous other sites on the Internet. As all good browncoats know, you can’t stop the signal!

Before anyone starts to freak out because people will be able to 3D print their firearms, you can’t 3D print any form of firearm that is going to do much but blow up in your hands after a few shots. The plastics just can’t take the pressures. So you can get a shot or two plastic zip gun and maybe that’s it. Even the highest end, most advanced 3D printers that can print metal aren’t advanced enough to fabricate a decent firearm that is going to be sturdy enough. If you’re looking to print a new butt stock or the grip module for say a SIG P320 or a Beretta APX – both of which have a removable fire control unit that under Federal law is the serialized gun – then 3D printing is fine. But printing the lower receiver for an AR pattern rifle, which is the serialized part of an AR pattern rifle and therefore technically/legally the gun, is just stupid. All you’re going to do is hurt yourself because the plastic lower receiver can’t take the pressures. And you can’t print barrels out of 3D plastic filament that can handle the pressures either.

Not to rag on SIG Sauer, but SIG just released a brand new subcompact pistol, the P365. It is a similar concept to their P320, which with a couple of modifications, is the new duty side arm for the military the M17 (full size) M18 (compact). The actual firearm for both the P320 and the P365, according to the law, is the removable fire control unit (FCU), which is the serialized part. The slide is machined steel. The FCU, the return spring, the striker, the trigger springs, etc are all machined. Either directly produced or by metal injected molding (MIM). The trigger is plastic and the grip module (frame), is polymer. The magazines are metal. SIG spent significant amounts of money designing, creating a prototype, testing a prototype, etc. In the first several months of the production run they’ve been making rolling adjustments to both the production process and the design of several parts as a small number of problems have been reported. Initially it was barrel peening because of the fit between slide and barrel as it returned to lock up. Then it was a problem with the trigger spring on the FCU, as well as issues with the striker.

This is not surprising. There has not, as far as I know, been a new handgun debuted that hasn’t had production teething issues. Largely because they are mass produced items where the parts have slight variations while still technically being in spec. SIG has this problem with the new P365. They had a different issue that came to light last year with the P320. In fact Springfield Armory, which just rolled out a new variant of their pistol that is a direct competitor to the P365, has also introduced a marketing campaign that takes direct aim at the new competition without naming the competition.

Remington has had significant trigger problems with the triggers on one of their best selling shotguns. There are so many of these shotguns in circulation that it will take them decades, if not hundreds of  years, to replace all the triggers if they do nothing but replace triggers 24/7. GLOCK, known for their GLOCK Perfection advertising campaign, have had several issues as they move from generation to generation or introduce new items within a generation. And these are just ones I can think of off the top of my head. And that’s before we mention that even in a perfected, if you will, firearm, because there are always some variations in production runs of parts, even a largely reliable, trouble free firearm line will produce the occasional lemon.

If the professionals, with professional gunsmiths and hundreds of years of experience among those gunsmiths, have teething issues in their professionally manufactured and assembled firearms, all the 3D printed ones made at home are going to do is get a lot of people self perforating with ABS plastics. Unless and/or until the 3D printing technology, specifically the 3D printing technology for metal, gets a lot more advanced and a lot cheaper for personal purchase and use, all that is going to happen is that people trying to make ghost guns are going to be just as likely to blow their hands up as hit what they might be aiming at with a roll your own gun made of plastic filament. And then the lawsuits for damages will start. The 3D printing manufacturers will claim that injured people need to sue the anarcho-libertarian pushing to publish the plans. And then he’ll be in a lot of legal jeopardy.

Obligatory musical accompaniment:

Open thread!








Breaking News: The Department of Justice Has Arrested Maria Butina

From the Department of Justice:

Department of Justice
Office of Public Affairs

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, July 16, 2018

Russian National Charged in Conspiracy to Act as an Agent of the Russian Federation Within the United States

A criminal complaint was unsealed today in the District of Columbia charging a Russian national with conspiracy to act as an agent of the Russian Federation within the United States without prior notification to the Attorney General.

The announcement was made by Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers, U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia Jessie K. Liu, and Nancy McNamara, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office.

Mariia Butina, 29, a Russian citizen residing in Washington D.C., was arrested on July 15, 2018, in Washington, D.C., and made her initial appearance this afternoon before Magistrate Judge Deborah A. Robinson in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. She was ordered held pending a hearing set for July 18, 2018.

According to the affidavit in support of the complaint, from as early as 2015 and continuing through at least February 2017, Butina worked at the direction of a high-level official in the Russian government who was previously a member of the legislature of the Russian Federation and later became a top official at the Russian Central Bank.  This Russian official was sanctioned by the U.S. Department of the Treasury, Office of Foreign Assets Control in April 2018.

The court filings detail the Russian official’s and Butina’s efforts for Butina to act as an agent of Russia inside the United States by developing relationships with U.S. persons and infiltrating organizations having influence in American politics, for the purpose of advancing the interests of the Russian Federation. The filings also describe certain actions taken by Butina to further this effort during multiple visits from Russia and, later, when she entered and resided in the United States on a student visa. The filings allege that she undertook her activities without officially disclosing the fact that she was acting as an agent of Russian government, as required by law.

The charges in criminal complaints are merely allegations and every defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. The maximum penalty for conspiracy is five years.  The maximum statutory sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes.  If convicted of any offense, a defendant’s sentence will be determined by the court based on the advisory U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

The investigation into this matter was conducted by the FBI’s Washington Field Office. The case is being prosecuted by the National Security Section of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia and the National Security Division of the U.S. Department of Justice.

Here’s the link to the complaint and to the affidavit.

This is a huge arrest. Butina was a go between for Alexander Torshin on behalf of Putin and the National Rifle Association. As I wrote in December 2017:

In the Russian case a lot of the penetration that is being reported on and made public appears to have been focused solely on more politically, socially, economically, and religiously conservative sectors, groups, and organizations in the US. The Daily Beast first reported on Russia’s connections to the NRA back in February 2017. This was the first of three articles that delineated the creation of a Russian firearms sporting organization partially led by Marina Butina. Specifically:

Two of Butina’s friendships in particular have raised eyebrows. She started a business with Paul Erickson, a decades-long Republican Party activist. And she served as a special assistant to the deputy governor of Russia’s central bank, Alexander Torshin, a former Russian senator belonging to Vladimir Putin’s political party with alleged ties to the Russian mob world.

 As chilled vodka flowed through an ice sculpture—a bottle imprinted with the Soviet hammer and sickle—she took some time to brag. She brazenly claimed that she had been part of the Trump campaign’s communications with Russia, two individuals who were present said. On other occasions, in one of her graduate classes, she repeated this claim.

Erickson and Butina have been seen in public frequently, at the invitation-only Freedom Ball after Trump’s inauguration; and holding court at Russia House, a Russian-themed bar in Washington, D.C.’s Dupont Circle. At one such gathering in the fall of 2016 Erickson bragged that he was advising the Trump transition team, according to two sources who were present; he is also said to have told a story about introducing Mikhail Kalashnikov, inventor of the AK-47, to former NRA president David Keene. (Kalashnikov allegedly inspired the creation of “The Right to Bear Arms,” Butina’s gun rights group.)

The two appear to have gotten close: Erickson formed a limited liability corporation with Butina in February 2016, according to the South Dakota secretary of state. It is unclear what this organization, Bridges, LLC, actually does. (Despite living in Washington, D.C., Butina has a cellphone number with a South Dakota area code.)

In The Daily Beast‘s second report, Tim Mak expands on his reporting from February 2017 by digging into the meeting between members of the NRA and Dmitry Rogozin, one of Putin’s hard line deputies and the head of the Russian Shooting Federation, which would make him either Butina’s partner or boss. The Daily Beast‘s third article on this topic delves even deeper to who was at the meeting with Rogozin. Specifically former Milwaukee County Sheriff, Fox News analyst, extremist anti-US government Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officer Association Sheriff of the Year, campaign proxy and Republican National Convention prime time speaker, and withdrawn nominee for political appointment at the Department of Homeland Security David Clarke. And former NRA President and current board member David Keene.

Here’s Rogozin’s tweet about the event. You’ll notice Clarke’s in the second photo. Keene is in the first standing next to Rogozin.

Butina, and her patron Torshin, were connected to the NRA by long time GOP operative Paul Erickson. Erickson sent the email to Trump campaign official Rick Dearborn, as well as reaching out to now Attorney General Sessions seeking a meeting between then candidate Trump and Torshin at the NRA annual meeting. That meeting was scheduled and then cancelled. Instead Torshin met briefly with Donald Trump Jr at the NRA annual meeting banquet. Erickson set up a LLC in South Dakota to, allegedly, pay for Butina’s doctoral studies in DC.

This arrest and indictment is a very big deal. It, like Friday’s indictments, is further evidence that Special Counsel Mueller’s team has complete visibility on the network around the Russian active measures and cyberwarfare campaign even as this case was brought by the DC office, not the Special Counsel’s. Both the ongoing Russian activities and their involvement in the 2016 campaign. And as was the case with Friday’s indictments. If I was part of the NRA’s leadership or one of the NRA officials who went on the junket to Russia, let alone a host of GOP elected and appointed officials, with ties to Erickson, I’d be very, very nervous right now.

Stay weapons free!

Open thread.








Floriduh! Woman and Man: All That Glitter is not Gold Edition

Miami Herald take it away (emphasis mine)!

Miami-Dade police is on the hook for legal bills after cops illegally seized a cache of guns — and nearly $20,000 in stripper cash.

The department has agreed to pay more than $3,000 to defense lawyers hired by Ras Cates, 33, and his wife, Lizmixell Batista, a 20-year-old stripper at Cheetah Gentleman’s Club in Hallandale Beach.

Presumably, the legal bills won’t be paid in singles.

Back on May 15, an officer pulled over Cates and Batista, his passenger, when their car cut off a patrol car in Miami’s West Little River neighborhood. From the car, patrol officers seized six guns, three of them assault-style rifles, plus the cash, suspected marijuana oil and several bottles of powerful codeine cough syrup without a valid prescription.

Miami-Dade police touted the arrest to a local TV station, showing off photos of the guns. “It’s amazing how something as simple as a traffic stop can lead us to crack a lot of cases,” a police spokesman told WFOR-CBS4. “A lot of serial killers are behind bars because of traffic stops.”

The couple was charged with armed drug dealing, among other felony charges. But defense lawyers immediately challenged the arrest.

“What is most disturbing is that immediately following the arrest, the department went on TV and engaged in incendiary speculation without knowing the facts or even acknowledging the rampant violations of my clients’ constitutional rights,” said defense attorney Jude Faccidomo.

Faced with defense evidence, prosecutors moved quickly to dismiss the case.

Cates told cops he legally owned the weapons, and also had a valid concealed-weapons permit. His story checked out. And body-camera footage showed that an officer, while friendly with Cates, never got permission to search the trunk but instead “commanded defendant to pop the trunk,” prosecutors wrote.

“Search of the trunk was illegal,” prosecutor Johnathan Nobile said in a memo explaining why the state declined to press charges.

Who possessed the drugs or possibly illegal codeine syrup was never clear either, prosecutors said. Neither Cates nor Batista admitted who owned the marijuana. And whether the syrup was actually codeine was also unclear — Miami-Dade police never took the liquid to the forensics lab for testing.

Lawyers for Cates are still trying to get the guns back.

As for the money, the bills were discovered in Batista’s purse. Body-camera footage obtained by the Miami Herald showed she immediately told cops about her cash-only job. “I was supposed to go the bank to deposit the money. We got bills to pay, sweetie,” she told police.

The Miami-Dade police department’s legal bureau, suspecting it was dope money, asked a civil-court judge to allow the department to keep the $19,934 seized in the car. The department said a Miami-Dade police dog, Roxie, alerted that the cash had been “in close proximity” to large amounts of narcotics.

But at the hearing, a fellow stripper named Haley Heath testified that her friend, Batista, earned “significant cash tips” at the Cheetah club.

“I felt that the glitter on the seized cash was compelling evidence, but apparently the police department disagreed,” said defense lawyer Faccidomo.

Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Rodney Smith agreed there was no probable cause for the seizure and ordered the money returning to the couple.

This is my favorite part:

“I felt that the glitter on the seized cash was compelling evidence, but apparently the police department disagreed,” said defense lawyer Faccidomo.

Ya think?

Stay supple!

Open thread.