Tuesday, February 02, 2010

MI5 hunting breast implants of death

MI5 hunting breast implants of death

Women suicide bombers recruited by al-Qaida are known to have had the explosives inserted in their breasts under techniques similar to breast enhancing surgery. The lethal explosives – usually PETN (pentaerythritol Tetrabitrate) – are inserted during the operation inside the plastic shapes. The breast is then sewn up.

Similar surgery has been performed on male suicide bombers. In their cases, the explosives are inserted in the appendix area or in a buttock. Both are parts of the body that diabetics use to inject themselves with their prescribed drugs

[snip]

"Properly inserted the implant would be virtually impossible to detect by the usual airport scanningmachines. You would need to subject a suspect to a sophisticated X-ray. Given that the explosive would be inserted in a sealed plastic sachet, and would be a small amount, would make it all the more impossible to spot it with the usual body scanner."

Explosive experts at Britain's Porton Down biological and chemical warfare research center told MI5 that a sachet containing as little as five ounces of PETN when activated would blow "a considerable hole" in an airline's skin which would guarantee it would crash.

This ... sounds ominous. And serious. No, really!

Okay, so maybe not.

I've been wondering about "The Shoe Bomber" and "The Jock-Strap Bomber", and even "The Liquid Explosive Bombers". How can a tiny amount of explosives detonated within the passenger compartment of an airplane "guarantee it would crash"?

Sure, I can see it if the explosion occurred in an area where it would disrupt avionics or control runs (cables to ailerons? Do they work by cables in the 767?) or some other method caused the pilot to lose control of the airplane. And I understand how a hole in the skin may cause a huge rip, and passengers may be sucked out of the plane at 30,000 feet altitude.

But blowing "... a considerable hole in an airline's skin ... would guarantee it to crash"?

I'm not convinced of the inevitability of the disaster, and here's why.

According to sky-brary

On 28 April 1988, a Boeing 737-200, operated by Aloha Airlines experienced an explosive depressurisation and structural failure at FL 240. Approximately 5.5 metres (or 18 feet) of cabin covering and structure was detached from the aircraft during flight. As result of the depressurisation, a member of the cabin crew was fatally injured. The flight crew performed an emergency descent, landing at Kahului Airport on the Island of Maui, Hawaii.

Here's a picture depicting the extend of aircraft skin which was found to be missing when the plane landed (safely!)

As you can see, about 1/3 of the overhead skin of the passenger compartment was ripped off.
But was the plane "guaranteed to crash"?

Apparently, the guarantee was null and void.

The full story of Aloha Airlines Flight 243 can be read here.

And yes, people were injured. One stewardess was killed.

At least one study suggests that a 'small hole' in the skin (16 inches?) caused an overpressure within the passenger compartment, sucking the stewardess against the skin. The impact of her skull against the skin caused the much greater rupture, which exaggerated the damage and caused many more injuries among the passengers.

The cause was eventually attributed to structural damage caused by corrosion.

The New York Times has a less technical, more human-event oriented story about the blowout at 24,000 feet. Officials originally suspected sabotage (yes, even 13 years before the 911 disaster which awakened the world to the threat of terrorism).

In 1989:
United Airlines Flight 811 experienced a cargo door failure in flight on Friday, February 24, 1989, after its last stopover at Honolulu International Airport, Hawaii. The resulting decompression blew out several rows of seats, killing 9 passengers. United Airlines Flight 811, a Boeing 747-122 (registration number N4713U), took off from Honolulu International Airport bound for Auckland, New Zealand with 3 flight crew, 15 flight attendants, and 337 passengers ...
This plane, too, managed to land safely despite the dreadful damage to the plane and the tragic loss of nine passengers.


As recently as July 2009, a passenger plane lost a significant amount of 'skin', in a hole above a passenger sheet. Again, structural damage caused by corrosion.

The point is that a hole in the skin in a plane, or the sudden and dramatic loss of hull integrity even extending to the loss of a cargo door (a hole much bigger than 16") may cause injury and death to individual passengers, but need not necessarily cause the plan to crash.

We keep hearing these melodramatic stories about terrorists who plan to bring down airplanes by blowing a hole in the skin of the plane, or even blow a hole in the floor of the passenger compartment, and our shocked reaction should be (we are told) to assume that this will bring down an airplane.

Not to downplay the threat of suicidal terrorists, but it ain't necessarily so. Sudden and rapid decompression of the passenger compartment, even to the extend that 1/3 of the overhead being ripped from an airplane, does not inevitably cause the pilots to lose control or the airplane to lose its ability to fly.

We're getting hammered so often by threats to passenger airplanes that we begin to see the threat of major disasters every week. We need to step away from the rhetoric and take a critical look at the sensational news reports.

After all, last year in Texas a single man with a pistol and an ideology killed more people than all three of these "airplane disasters" put together. And the 'experts' are still trying to find the root cause of that disaster.

And now we're to be frightened about Boob Bombs? Exploding tits?

Spare me, please.

Obama bows Part III ... to ... Tampa Mayor ?

U.S. President Barack Obama bows to Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio at ... - Yahoo! News Photos
On a January 28, 2010, trip to Tampa, Florida, President Obama met several local notables, including Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio. Apparently he was as impressed by Ms Iorio as he was with the Empress Michiko & Emperor Akihito last November (*see "Obama Bows Part II") and King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia six months earlier ... because he brought out his patented Obama-Bow.



You may be forgiven for expecting that Obama would have learned his lesson after the nation-wide outrage about his incessant submissiveness to Foreign Leaders. Perhaps he did. Maybe he figured he wouldn't mind so much if he just bowed to American Leaders. You know, like the Mayor of Tampa


Who's next? Barbra Streisand?

On the other hand, perhaps Obama wasn't being submissive to Iorio. Maybe, just maybe, he was apologizing for his recent decisions to cut future funding to NASA ... especially the budget item which would have extended the Space Shuttle project which is scheduled to terminate in 2011, and to cancel the Moon Program launched by G.W. Bush in 2004.

According to the St. Petersburg Times (Feb. 01, 2010), the close of the shuttle program will cost some NASA 7,000 jobs. This has ... disappointed some Florida Leaders.
"The president's proposal lacks a bold vision for space exploration and begs for the type of leadership that he has described as critical for inspiring innovation for the 21st century," said Rep. Suzanne Komas, D-New Smyrna Beach.
We beg for leadership, while Obama begs forgiveness?

How's that "Hopey - Changey" thing working for you today, America?

Monday, February 01, 2010

Bullets by Mail

A recent flurry of activity on The Unofficial IPSC List (mail group) was started today when Mark H.* sent the following message:

With the low cost of the priority mail shipment, I've started getting bullets shipped by USPS. As a result, I've gotten to talk to the manager of the local post office twice, as well as 2 local postal inspectors.

Has anyone else gotten the opportunity to chat with their postal inspectors over this?

I didn't understand what the original post was talking about until I found the follow-up response from Bruce G.*
I haven't had to talk with a postal inspector.

I have received a notice that my packages were "undeliverable", and had to go to the USPS distribution center to pick them up. Interestingly, I *asked* to have a chat with the manager about that and the next time, my local carrier actually did manage to deliver them.

So at least two USPSA members, in separate states, have had United States Postal Service local deliveries refused by the delivery trucks.

Further elucidation was offered by Ira W.*:
I guess "if it fits, it ships" is not actually the truth... Perhaps there is some fine print we are missing.

Yes I have had to go to the local post office. The last time the postal worker was dragging the boxes across the floor until she gave up and asked me to come back and get them! I don't think this is normal but I obliged!!! They did offer me a hand truck!

Keith L.* offers some commentary:
I have received bullets from at least two, if not three, different manufacturers by USPS flat-rate shipments. ALL were delivered directly to my house; NONE required any chats with USPS employees. Nor should they.

IF the packages are competently shipped, they are at or under the weight restrictions. There is nothing flammable, liquid, explosive or otherwise prohibited; meaning there is NO reason for any interaction w/the USPS other than it DELIVERING it and you taking the carton off your steps and into your house.

There is NO reason to discuss the contents w/the USPS. Period.

Doing so invites the attention - and thus the INTERVENTION - of the AG's office when some officious intermeddler babbles about "bullets through the mail." There are already damn few suppliers that still ship to this appalling excuse for a state. Are you TRYING to eliminate them?

If not, don't discuss your business with those who have NO reason to be involved in it. NO good will come of it.

The upshot of it is that, where the USPS (no relation, obviously, to USPSA) is concerned -- sometimes they will, sometimes they won't.

There isn't sufficient traffic on this topic, yet, to draw any less-general conclusions.

I've also received bullet shipments via USPS, and the first time it happened I was very much surprised. I live on a cul de sac in a small liberal college town (but I repeat myself) and our mail deliveries go to a standing mail-box station on the entrance to the street. There are two large 'parcel' bins, plus sufficient individual letter boxes for each address. When a parcel arrives and is found to be too large to stuff in the 'letter' box, it is placed in one of the parcel bins and the key to that bin left by the carrier in the letter box.

Both of my bullet shipments were left on my front porch, which I consider to be entirely safe because the standard shipment of bulk bullets weights 80 pounds. (For 115 grain bullets, that's 4,000 rounds; for 200 grain bullets, that's 2,250 rounds IIRC.)

I'm guessing that the carriers to the addresses which were "undeliverable" make their rounds with a shoulder-strapped mail sack, or perhaps by one of those 3-wheeled 'baby carriage' push-carts. That would make it a huge imposition on the individual carrier, to add another 80 pounds to deliver to one address on those routes.

My own carrier makes his rounds in a USPS truck ... one of those enclosed vehicles which look like a modified golf cart. There's a minimum of lifting involved in heavy-parcel deliveries to my address, since the mail truck can roll to within 10 feet of my front door. (It's probably as easy to drop it at my door as to lift it up to one of the street-corner parcel bins, especially since the box would have to be lifted UP to put it into a bin.)

So my conclusion is that USPS isn't biased against delivering bulk bullets to a street address if it is serviced by a carrier in a truck. But in more urban surroundings, it seems not unreasonable that the postmaster might make a local policy requiring the addressee to pick it up at the post office.

They're not anti-gun; they're just anti-hernia.

[delete some inapplicable babble about shipping combustible/explosive reloading components ... sorry, I digressed]

_________________________________
UPDATE: from Bruce G.
Nope, my carrier drives a "real" postal truck, with a roll-up door in the back, so that wasn't the issue. I think the actual *effort* involved was the issue - he usually doesn't have to do anything but lean out of his window to put things into street-side cluster boxes, so actually getting *out* of his truck seemed to be central to the matter (notably, I chased him down on one occasion when he left a card saying the package was undeliverable. Turned out he didn't even have the box in his truck - he had apparently decided it was "undeliverable" at the distribution center, and left it there...)

And, flat-rate boxes are good for anything that fits, up to a [published] limit of 70 pounds. http://www.usps.com/shipping/prioritymail.htm


Response: Note that the link Bruce cites is for priority mail, so a bulk delivery of bullets weighing X-pounds may not be treated the same as a lighter package. Still, I'm willing to concede that my hypothetical 'conclusion' may not be universally applicable ... which does not obviate the suggestion that local postmasters may be authorized to make deliverability decision based on guidelines, rather than policy established by the Post Master General.

I'm not trying to start an argument here. And I'm not presenting myself as an apologist for the USPS. I'm only saying that I can understand why a carrier may not be required to deliver 65, 70, 80 pound packages to a street address.

Incidentally, I have just looked at the Montana Gold ordering website to determine their weights for "case lots" of bullets.
.40 cal @200 grain includes 2250 bullets, weighing about 65 pounds.
.45 cal @230 grain includes 2000 bullets, weighing about 66 pounds.
So taking Montana Gold as an Industry Standard, a case of bullets seems to be keeping within the 70 pound limit for USPS Priority Shipping.

[delete a lot of inapplicable babble about shipping rates ... sorry, I digressed]

Anybody here work for USPS, and can they provide information about the definition of "undeliverable" mail?
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*NOTE: correspondent names are truncated out of consideration for their privacy.