UPDATED SUNDAY - APRIL 6, 2008
Isaiah Chapter 17
|א מַשָּׂא, דַּמָּשֶׂק: הִנֵּה דַמֶּשֶׂק מוּסָר מֵעִיר, וְהָיְתָה מְעִי מַפָּלָה.||1 The burden of Damascus. Behold, Damascus is taken away from being a city, and it shall be a ruinous heap.|
Exclusive: Iran, Syria, Lebanon on military alert over US Gulf movements and Israel’s home defense drill
April 6, 2008, 5:36 PM (GMT+02:00)
USS Abraham Lincoln heads to Persian Gulf
According to British media, the US is set to attack Iranian military facilities. DEBKAfile’s military sources add that the USS Abraham Lincoln Strike Force is heading for the Persian Gulf.
War tensions in the Middle East have shot up - not only over the signals flashing between Syria, Lebanon, and Israel, but also on the US-Iranian front in Iraq in the wake of rising in violence around the Basra conflagration.
Tuesday, April 8, US Iraq commander, Gen. David Petraeus and ambassador to Baghdad, Ryan Crocker, will stress in their report to Congress that Iran is waging war on America in Iraq, say sources in Washington, London and Baghdad.
This emerged strongly last week, when US intelligence learned that Iran had intervened directly in the Iraqi government’s crackdown on renegade militias in Basra and southern Iraq, by directing and provisioning those militias through the Revolutionary Guards’ al Qods Brigades.
Official sources in London predict that Iran’s intervention against the American effort to stabilize Iraq may well prompt a US attack on the military installations in Iran which are orchestrating the interference.
Gen. Petraeus is on record as accusing Iran of being the source of the daily rocket bombardment of Baghdad’s Green Zone, seat of government and US diplomatic and military headquarters.
DEBKAfile’s military sources report that Moscow has dropped its two nickels into the rising war alarm. In the last two weeks, Russian military and intelligence officials have been leaking claims of intensified American military movements around Iranian shores.
Iran is certain to come up in Presidents George W. Bush and Vladimir Putin’s farewell talks in the Black Sea resort of Sochi Sunday, along with other controversial business, such as Moscow’s objections to NATO’s eastern expansion and US missile shield in East Europe.
Saturday, US defense secretary Robert Gates turned up in Oman, the site of big American air bases, for talks with Sultan Qaboos. He then flew straight back to Washington. While Gates insisted to correspondents aboard his plane that the US is committed to a diplomatic solution for Iran’s covert nuclear program, the surpise visit struck sparks in the already fraught regional atmosphere, particularly as it followed on the heels of US Vice President Dick Cheney’s talks in Oman two weeks ago.
DEBKAfile’s Middle East sources sum up how Tehran and Damascus read these events and the picture they have built up of Washington’s intentions as combined with Israel’s military steps:
1. US is preparing to attack the Iranian military installations linked to subversion in Iraq. The operation will widen out into strikes on the Islamic Republic’s suspect nuclear sites.
2. Israel will use the chance for a concurrent attack on Syria.
3. Israel will attack Hizballah’s strongholds in Lebanon.
4. A broad, coordinated US-Israeli offensive will be mounted against Iran, Syria and Hizballah.
Iran and Syria view Israel’s four-day home defense exercise against missile attack, conventional or non-conventional, beginning Sunday, as setting the stage for these attacks.
Both believe Washington and Jerusalem are in close military step. Neither is reassured by soothing statements from prime minister Ehud Olmert and defense minister Barak that Israel does not seek violent confrontation - especially when the US administration is withholding all comment. Hence the high state of preparedness ordered by the jittery governments in Tehran, Damascus and Beirut.
Ritter says White House preparing for war in Iran
Scott Ritter, former head of weapons inspection in Iraq who protested there were no weapons of mass destruction to justify an invasion, believes the same is true for Iran.
But there is an 80 percent chance of war with Iran, he told about 200 people Wednesday at Middlebury College as part of a series of talks facilitated by the Vermont Peace and Justice Center.
The pattern of preparations for such a conflict has been steadily developing and involves Congress as well as the Bush-Cheney administration, he said.
The Clinton campaign summarized the couple's earnings as follows:
CUMULATIVE TOTAL(GROSS) INCOME: $109,175,175
Including, among other items:
Senator Clinton's Senate Salary: $1,051,606
President Clinton's Presidential Pension: $1,217,250
Senator Clinton's Book Income: $10,457,083
President Clinton's Book Income: $29,580,525
President Clinton's Speech Income: $51,855,599
That summary leaves about $18 million unaccounted for, as Politico's Ben Smith notes.
Confidential document said to warn of conflict or revolution ahead for America
April 3, 2008 -
WMR has learned from knowledgeable sources within the US financial community that an alarming confidential and limited distribution document is circulating among senior members of Congress and their senior staff members that is warning of a bleak future for the United States if it does not quickly get its financial house in order
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is among those who have reportedly read the document
The document is being called the "C & R" document because it reportedly states that if the United States defaults on loans and debt underwriting from China, Japan, and Russia, all of which are propping up the United States government financially, and the United States unilaterally cancels the debts, America can expect a war that will have disastrous results for the United States and the world
"Conflict" is the "C word" in the document
The other scenario is that the federal government will be forced to drastically raise taxes in order to pay off debts to foreign countries to the point that the American people will react with a popular revolution against the government.
"Revolution" is the document's "R word"
The origin of the document is not known, however, its alarming content matches up with previous warnings from former Comptroller General David Walker who abruptly resigned as head of the Government Accountability Office (GAO) in February of this year after repeatedly publicly warning of a "financial meltdown" disaster if America's $9 trillion debt was not addressed quickly. Financial experts have warned that the national debt, corrected for inflation, could reach $46 trillion in the next 20 years. A month earlier, Walker warned the Senate Banking Committee about the reaction of creditor nations in Asia and Europe if the U.S. did not address its debt problem
Setting Up the Hi Power for Defense
By Stephen Camp
As much I as I like these handsome pistols for informal target work, small game hunting, or just knocking around in the woods, their original purpose was for "serious" matters in one area of the self-defense arena, military service. Like its Browning-born predecessor, the 1911, the single-action Hi Power's initial reason for existence was as a military sidearm and not individual civilian self-protection. It is nice that both readily lend themselves to this, however.
In most cases, the military requirements for a sidearm differ from that of the private citizen's. With the soldier, the pistol is usually a secondary weapon if he has one at all. The private citizen will be using it as the primary and possibly only weapon at his disposal in "the dark place." While both the soldier and the private citizen might be attacked without any warning, the citizen will usually be at arm's length or so from his aggressor while the soldier's enemy might be a hundred yards distant. To me, this suggests that in most cases, the citizen's response must be quicker and at least initially without taking cover if unexpectedly subject to violent attack.
The military pistol need only feed ball or FMJ rounds (unless one is being used by certain SOG's in situations against people not deemed "soldiers") while the citizen's pistol will be expected to work reliably with about any kind of ammo the guy can buy. The soldier's sidearm need not be concealed in most cases while exactly the opposite remains true for the civilian carrier. Again, we're fortunate that the Hi Power can be pretty easily concealed for the size handgun it is.
Neither needs to be capable of formal competition accuracy, but both do need to be "accurate enough for their intended mission" as has often been stated. I'm glad that in good examples, the Hi Power is usually capable of better accuracy than most shooters can wring out of it. Both must be reliable and the Hi Power is…with one caveat.
The older "classic" Hi Powers were intended to work with FMJ ammunition as used by their first "employers," the military. These pistols are the ones made prior to the FN Mk II pistols and have the "humped" feed ramps that worked great with ball, but so-so with some JHP's and no-no with others!
Hi Powers made from the Mk II forward work fine with most JHP ammunition that I've tried that weighs from 115 to 124 grains and while my testing is limited with the heavier bullets, the guns have worked just fine with the 147-gr. slugs. If your Hi Power is pre-Mk II, you may have feeding problems with some of the blunter, shorter JHP ammo used today. You can either use ammunition having a rounded bullet profile as exhibited by Federal's 115-grain JHP, both standard and +P version, or Remington's 115-grain JHP, also available in standard pressure and +P. If you want to use something else, but the reliability is just not there, you can have a competent gunsmith "throat" the feed ramp on your Hi Power. This is not difficult, but must be done right.
This is the Browning Mk II 9mm pistol. It is the first commercially available Hi Power to be sold having extended ambidextrous thumb safety levers and is quickly identified by its narrow "rib" running the full length of the slide. The front sight is not serrated from the factory and is integral to the rib. Though still somewhat small, the fixed sights on this version are more usable at speed than those on earlier Hi Powers.
These guns are the first I'm aware of that came with the non-humped feed ramps straight from the factory.
As has been the case with the Mk III Hi Power, these pistols have proven extremely reliable with a very wide array of JHP ammunition.
Taken from Browning's site, this is the Mk III pistol and there are differences between it and the classic Hi Power and the Mk II. Note that the fixed sights are larger and that both are dovetailed to the slide. The ejection port has been enlarged, but is actually beefed up a bit at the lower rear to prevent slides cracking when used heavily. Like the Mk II and the classics made in the '70's, it has the spur hammer. The Mk III pistols sold in the US have internal firing pin safeties not present on the classics or the early Mk II pistols.
For lots of shooting or defensive use, the Mk III is my first choice.
Even though my eyes are not what they used to be, I find that the sights on the Mk II or Mk III pistols work fine and I have no trouble with them when practicing quick, defensive types of shooting. I do find the older Hi Power's fixed sights to be a bit lacking although OK for slow deliberate fire. I find that I do no better or worse with the very popular Novak fixed sights when compared to the factory Mk III sights in slow or rapid fire work. While the defensive Hi Power does require "good" sights in my opinion, I find that the factory sights are plenty "good" enough. On the other hand, there is utterly nothing wrong with having a set of Novak or Heine sights installed on your Hi Power. Just be sure that they are "on" for you. Though I've not yet tried them, Novak's new adjustable rear sight looks to be a very viable option for the Hi Power shooter preferring to be able to change his sights to exactly match various loads. Of the adjustable sights I've tried, those from MMC are likely the strongest, but I've seen Bomars used on a couple of 1911s under other than range conditions and they held up fine. In general though, fixed sights are the most popular for defense guns, including the Hi Power.
What I'm getting at is that the defensive Hi Power requires sights that can be seen at speed. I do not care for the "express" sights that have some following these days. I personally found them no faster than conventional high-visibility sights and more difficult to get precise hits with. This might be of no import if on a derringer or even a small snub where most expectations are only for close, coarse accuracy, but the Hi Power is capable of so much more that I do not recommend the use of "express" sights. I have been asked about rear sights having the large "ghost ring" aperture, but have not tried it so I cannot comment. If you opt for night sights, you'll get no argument from me. I still prefer plain black on black sights, but if shooting in extremely dim light, the night sights do make getting good hits easier. If you opt to use them, understand that their life span is about 12 years or so.
This Mk III 9mm has Novak fixed sights. They are visible at speed and these are plain black sights. They are available in night sight versions, as are those from other makers. This pistol has had other modifications as well. I do no better with these sights than with the fixed sights that came on it. If you have a Mk III, you decide what is right for you. If you have an older Hi Power, a change to higher visibility fixed sights is a necessary upgrade in my opinion.
I find the extended thumb safety necessary on the Hi Power, but do not on the 1911. The small classic thumb safety lever is just too small for best work at speed in my experience and some are pretty stiff as well. I prefer the FN factory extended thumb safety to the others I've tried, but don't care for ambidextrous safeties on the Hi Power. The reason is simple. I have large hands and have on occasion accidentally engaged the safety in the middle of a rapid-fire string! Other folks report no such problems, but be aware that it can happen and determine if you're prone to it or not. I remove the right-side thumb safety lever and reshape the shaft it was mounted on. Cylinder & Slide does offer extended ambidextrous and single-side safeties for folks not liking the factory version. Any should fit any version of the Hi Power as well as the clones, but it will probably need to be fitted by a gunsmith.
Probably the most controversial issue in the defensive Hi Power modifications is removal of the magazine disconnect. Sometimes called "magazine safety," this device prevents the firing of a chambered round if the magazine is removed. In short, the pistol cannot be fired with the magazine removed. (Actually, it can if you apply pressure to the trigger sufficient to keep the lifter firmly against the sear lever before dropping the magazine, but this is too risky to recommend under the stress of a life or death situation.) The magazine disconnect is pushed into a hole in the rear of the trigger when the magazine is inserted and the pad area of the "safety" actually moves upward against the front of the magazine when the trigger's being pressed. It contributes to a poor trigger in most cases and one that's heavier than the same pistol without it.
I routinely remove the magazine disconnect from all of my Hi Power pistols not only to help get a good trigger pull, but also to allow the magazine to drop free when released and to be able to fire the weapon without a magazine in place if necessary. This makes the pistol no more "unsafe" than the slew of 1911's on the market, HK's, Glocks, SIG-Sauers, and so forth. Opponents caution that such a removal of a safety device might be used against you in the inevitable civil suit that follows any shooting, justified or not. So far, I have not seen one documented case of this where the complainant prevailed if the shooting itself was intended and the trigger purposely pressed. I do think it could cost the owner of such a pistol if the shooting was unintentional. An example would be kids getting hold of the pistol and thinking it was safe because they'd removed the magazine and then negligently shooting themselves or another. In any event, there are gunsmiths who can put good trigger pulls on the Hi Power with or without the magazine "safety."
You decide what's best for your own unique situation.
While speaking of trigger pulls, I'd suggest that you stay in the 4.5 to even 5.5-lb. range. A good gunsmith can provide this and I've found that "crisp" and clean breaking is more important than "light" for the defensive handgun and this includes the Hi Power. Like all single-action semiautos, the Hi Power does not "tolerate" improper gun handling and under stress, the errant finger on the trigger might be pressing just a little too hard. You get the idea. My "carry Hi Powers" have triggers of about 4.5-lbs. or so.
The gun should be comfortable and if you have the free choice to choose the Hi Power, you probably already feel that it is. I cannot stand the factory checkered nylon grips with thumbrests that come from the factory on the Mk III pistols. The stocks themselves are fine and provide a secure grip, but I don't find them comfortable. If you do, they're fine. Most people seem to prefer aftermarket grips for their Hi Powers. I cannot tell you which is best for you, as this must be decided by you. I can say that I prefer Craig Spegel's checkered grips to any that I've tried. I also like the much less costly black checkered rubber copies offered by Butler Creek. They are thicker. Having had my Hi Power (and other handguns) out in rain or in extreme heat, I do find that the checkered grips provide a more secure grip when the hand is wet. Pachmayr offers checkered rubber grips for the Hi Power that also provide checkered covering of both the front and rear grip straps and Hogue offers a version that has finger grooves in the front strap area. Probably the thinnest grip on the market is from Navridex, but I've not personally tried them and some people speak highly of grips made by Ahrends. Pick the one that works best for you.
The Mk III on top is wearing Spegel checkered black delrin grips while the lower has the Butler Creek rubber grips. The front strap has also been covered with skateboard tape as an inexpensive way to provide a firm grip under all conditions. Stippling from a gunsmith is a nicer way, but also more expensive.
Also in the area of comfort is the problem of hammer bite. Many of us are smacked by rear of the spur hammer or the bottom rear of the factory ring hammer when firing the Hi Power, especially if we've drawn the gun with a high grip. In the picture above, you can see two solutions that have worked equally well for me. I bobbed the hammer spur of the top pistol at the second lateral serration and fitted the Cylinder & Slide Type I ring hammer on the bottom gun. This solved the problem for me and does for others as well. Other options such as dishing out the shank of the hammer at the back or welding on a tang will probably require the services of a gunsmith. C & S does offer a "no bite" version of the Type I hammer that has the rear of the shank contoured inward to avoid pinching.
I routinely use and recommend 18.5-lb. conventional recoil springs in the Hi Power rather than the 17-lb. factory standard. For me, the heavier spring works just fine with both standard and +P 9mm loads. If you do not have a strong hold for whatever reason, your defensive 9mm Hi Power might be better with the standard 17-lb. spring. The reason is that the heavier the recoil spring, the more firm the grip must be to avoid the gun malfunctioning. There is a minimal level of force required to hold the frame in place so that the recoil spring can be compressed against it. It is possible that one's shooting hand or arm be injured before the need to return fire ceases. I continue to use the 18.5-lb. springs, but this is something you might consider.
Extended slide releases are not needed on the Hi Power in my opinion. It's been my experience that they're prone to be accidentally engaged by the shooting hand, prematurely locking the slide back with rounds left to fire. The consequences in an actual gunfight or deadly force scenario are obvious. If right-handed or inserting the magazine with the left hand the left thumb can disengage the standard slide release lever or the slide itself can be pulled back and released.
Unless your pistol just flat won't group, I do not find the fitting of a match barrel to be necessary, but don't argue against it so long as reliability is retained. Most of these will be more tightly chambered than factory barrels so be sure that the Hi Power works reliably with the match barrel before counting on it.
I have no strong opinions on finishes for the defensive Hi Power and normally use plain matte blue, at least for the frame.
I also use recoil buffers in my Hi Powers and have had absolutely no problem with them with any ammunition use. Some folks are concerned that the thing might come apart in their pistol at the most inopportune times. They will if not replaced when heavily used, but an inspection during cleaning will tell you if it is time to change them out or not. On the other hand, a simple solution is to use the buffer at the range and simply remove it when you get home and clean the Hi Power before carrying it for self-protection.
What has been postulated here is that the defensive Hi Power must be reliable, safe, easy to get into action, have sights you can quickly see, and have a decent trigger pull. All of this is for naught if you don't use quality magazines. For carry, I recommend the factory Browning magazines or those by Mec-Gar, who make the factory Browning magazines. Second choice would be good condition Inglis surplus magazines and finally, the KRD 15 and 17 round magazines. I would use the Post-Ban 10-round magazines before I'd use some of the second rate aftermarket Pre-Ban magazines that may or may not be reliable. Even if using high quality magazines, test each and every one in your pistol with the ammunition that you intend to use. If you change ammunition, retest.
The groups shown were fired from a Mk III with standard barrel, Butler Creek grips, and a trigger job. The top two targets were fired slow fire while the larger target consists of 5 sets of controlled pairs. This Hi Power has had minimal custom work done and is plenty capable of handling self-protection needs.
This Mk III has had Novak fixed sights added and the target shown consists of 5 sets of controlled pairs at 10 yards. I see no difference between this and the Mk III using standard sights. On the other hand, there's really nothing "wrong" with having such sights simply if you prefer them for looks or some other reason. Neither pistol has a match barrel. Both shoot tighter groups than most of us are capable of attaining, particularly under the stress of a deadly force scenario.
It remains my opinion that the Hi Power, though now "dated", remains a most viable and world class pistol for not only self-protection, but also just plain fun.
March 31, 2008
Watergate-Era Judiciary Chief of Staff: Hillary Clinton Fired For Lies, Unethical Behavior
As Hillary Clinton came under increasing scrutiny for her story about facing sniper fire in Bosnia, one question that arose was whether she has engaged in a pattern of lying.
The now-retired general counsel and chief of staff of the House Judiciary Committee, who supervised Hillary when she worked on the Watergate investigation, says Hillary’s history of lies and unethical behavior goes back farther – and goes much deeper – than anyone realizes.
Jerry Zeifman, a lifelong Democrat, supervised the work of 27-year-old Hillary Rodham on the committee. Hillary got a job working on the investigation at the behest of her former law professor, Burke Marshall, who was also Sen. Ted Kennedy’s chief counsel in the Chappaquiddick affair. When the investigation was over, Zeifman fired Hillary from the committee staff and refused to give her a letter of recommendation – one of only three people who earned that dubious distinction in Zeifman’s 17-year career.
“Because she was a liar,” Zeifman said in an interview last week. “She was an unethical, dishonest lawyer. She conspired to violate the Constitution, the rules of the House, the rules of the committee and the rules of confidentiality.”
How could a 27-year-old House staff member do all that? She couldn’t do it by herself, but Zeifman said she was one of several individuals – including Marshall, special counsel John Doar and senior associate special counsel (and future Clinton White House Counsel) Bernard Nussbaum – who engaged in a seemingly implausible scheme to deny Richard Nixon the right to counsel during the investigation.
Why would they want to do that? Because, according to Zeifman, they feared putting Watergate break-in mastermind E. Howard Hunt on the stand to be cross-examined by counsel to the president. Hunt, Zeifman said, had the goods on nefarious activities in the Kennedy Administration that would have made Watergate look like a day at the beach – including Kennedy’s purported complicity in the attempted assassination of Fidel Castro.
The actions of Hillary and her cohorts went directly against the judgment of top Democrats, up to and including then-House Majority Leader Tip O’Neill, that Nixon clearly had the right to counsel. Zeifman says that Hillary, along with Marshall, Nussbaum and Doar, was determined to gain enough votes on the Judiciary Committee to change House rules and deny counsel to Nixon. And in order to pull this off, Zeifman says Hillary wrote a fraudulent legal brief, and confiscated public documents to hide her deception.
The brief involved precedent for representation by counsel during an impeachment proceeding. When Hillary endeavored to write a legal brief arguing there is no right to representation by counsel during an impeachment proceeding, Zeifman says, he told Hillary about the case of Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas, who faced an impeachment attempt in 1970.
“As soon as the impeachment resolutions were introduced by (then-House Minority Leader Gerald) Ford, and they were referred to the House Judiciary Committee, the first thing Douglas did was hire himself a lawyer,” Zeifman said.
The Judiciary Committee allowed Douglas to keep counsel, thus establishing the precedent. Zeifman says he told Hillary that all the documents establishing this fact were in the Judiciary Committee’s public files. So what did Hillary do?
“Hillary then removed all the Douglas files to the offices where she was located, which at that time was secured and inaccessible to the public,” Zeifman said. Hillary then proceeded to write a legal brief arguing there was no precedent for the right to representation by counsel during an impeachment proceeding – as if the Douglas case had never occurred.
The brief was so fraudulent and ridiculous, Zeifman believes Hillary would have been disbarred if she had submitted it to a judge.
Zeifman says that if Hillary, Marshall, Nussbaum and Doar had succeeded, members of the House Judiciary Committee would have also been denied the right to cross-examine witnesses, and denied the opportunity to even participate in the drafting of articles of impeachment against Nixon.
Of course, Nixon’s resignation rendered the entire issue moot, ending Hillary’s career on the Judiciary Committee staff in a most undistinguished manner. Zeifman says he was urged by top committee members to keep a diary of everything that was happening. He did so, and still has the diary if anyone wants to check the veracity of his story. Certainly, he could not have known in 1974 that diary entries about a young lawyer named Hillary Rodham would be of interest to anyone 34 years later.
But they show that the pattern of lies, deceit, fabrications and unethical behavior was established long ago – long before the Bosnia lie, and indeed, even before cattle futures, Travelgate and Whitewater – for the woman who is still asking us to make her president of the United States.
Palestinian sniper fire injures Israeli minister’s bureau chief outside Gaza
April 4, 2008, 12:33 PM (GMT+02:00)
Avi Dichter, internal security minister
The Palestinian “Army of the Umma” inked to al Qaeda claimed the attack.
Internal security minister Avi Dichter was escorting a group of Canadian Jews on a tour of communities living under Palestinian missile fire outside Gaza Friday, April 4, when a Palestinian marksman opened cross-border fire on his party near Kibbutz Yad Mordecai. His senior aide was injured and taken to hospital.
Israeli troops returned the fire and entered the Gaza Strip to chase the shooters. The party was evacuated to a nearby army base. The shooting began as Dichter took the visitors up to the Mari’i Lookout (named for Col. Nevi Mari'i who was killed in action in Gaza) for a sight of northern Gaza, source of most of the missile attacks.
The minister, who often spends Fridays visiting Sderot and other communities under fire, has been targeted before. Last month, a Katyusha rocket from Gaza hit the home of his next-door neighbor in Ashkelon. Later, one of his bodyguards was injured when he inspected the missile damage at the Sapir College outside Sderot.
Winchester "White Box" ConfusionThis has been making American shooters nuts for a number of years now… particularly in the immediate aftermath of 11 September 2001 when there was a major run on 5.56mm ammunition. Winchester's "generic" or "budget" USA, or "white box," brand of ammunition actually has two different 55-grain FMJ rounds, and one has to look closely at the "small print" to discern the difference.
For openers, in addition to the ATK-operated Lake City plant2, Winchester is also a primary supplier of M193 to the U.S. military. That particular X223R1 round is commercially available in the white USA box product encoded "Q3131." What few realize is that Israeli Military Industries (IMI), the sole supplier of ammo to the Israeli Defense Force (IDF), also supplies their M193 as a subcontractor for Winchester; that round is often made available in the USA white boxes marked "Q3131A." By most reports, qualitatively, it is the same round and performs virtually the same as the home-grown variant.