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The latest news from Robert Johnson on Business Insider

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    For more than four centuries firearm manufacturers have done everything they could to make their products deadlier and more accurate. Given metallurgical advancements and chemical work in composites, the styles and weight of rifles has changed dramatically, but they've remained only as effective as  the person firing them. Until now.

    Normally, producing a sniper level rifleman in the U.S. military requires 21 weeks minimum. Nearly half a year, to complete 14 weeks of Basic Training, and another seven weeks at Sniper School. 

    Achieving that level of skill remained the privilege of a few, but not anymore.

    Tracking Point has released its Precision Guided Firearms with jet fighter "lock and launch" technology allowing "anyone regardless of skill level to hit moving targets at extended range."

    The rifle claims to magnify human ability using precision ammunition, a network tracking scope, a guided trigger and a heads up display. It allows an average shooter to bring down targets at over 1,200 yards. More than half a mile in the distance.

    The fighter jet technology eliminates mis-aiming, trigger jerk, and general miscalculations. It's even wireless and has voice, data, and video connectivity to digital displays.

    The rifles range from $17,5000 to $25,500 and can be seen in the Tracking Point Video below that does have an HD setting.

    SEE ALSO: The Military & Defense Facebook page for updates

    SEE ALSO: The face of salvation when you're outgunned in the US Army

    SEE ALSO: How Israel's Security Iron Dome System Works

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    Chinese CaptainWithin hours of Japan's announcement that Chinese ships had locked fire-control radar on Tokyo forces last month, Beijing denied the event occurred at all.

    The New York Times Friday ran China's denial:

     ... the Defense Ministry Web site said that the naval vessels’ radar had “maintained normal observational alertness, and there was no use of fire-control radar.” It did not explain what it meant by “normal observational alertness,” though the ministry added that the Japanese claims were “out of step with the facts.”

    Denny Roy, a senior fellow at the East-West Center in Honolulu who researches security issues says. “I think it’s a positive development that the Chinese would deny doing this, as opposed to saying, ‘Yes we did it, and we’ll do it again,.'"“For the Chinese to not want to be portrayed as an aggressor, I think, is a good sign.”

    Others don't agree and see the confrontation, then backing away, as part of China's design to snare Japan into open conflict. Either way, Japan says the debate on whether it happened may be put to rest with the release of its radar documentation.

    From the BBC:

    Tokyo said it might release the data after Beijing rejected accusations it had targeted the destroyer last month. 

    "The government is considering the extent of what can be disclosed," Kyodo news agency quoted Japanese Defence Minister Itsunori Onodera as saying.

    The Chinese Foreign Ministry originally responded to the allegations by saying it hadn't heard about the engagements until word of the events appeared on international news. It has since said the event didn't happen and is a total Japanese fabrication. Whether it's true or not, China is using Japan's claim as evidence Tokyo is preparing for war.

    If Chinese ships did engage their fire-control radar, it may be in Beijing's interest to deny it because either it approved the maneuver or the ship's captains acted independently—and both scenarios offer a long list of concerns that would be easiest for China to address if avoided entirely.

    Japan continues pressing the issue and yesterday announced that the use of fire-control radar against its ships is an "act of force" and a direct UN charter violation."

    So if Tokyo releases this data, then it may be the the first official skirmish between the two countries as they feud over islands in the East China Sea.

    SEE ALSO: How Israel's Iron Dome really works >

    SEE ALSO: The military vehicle that drives through major IED blasts unscathed

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    Snowstorm February 2013 Manhattan NY UWS

    Here in New York we've gotten spoiled by a mild winter without any snow.  But we're learning to brace for powerful storms.

    Swinging into town Friday night, the blizzard known as Nemo was taken seriously enough that my local movie theater on the Upper West side shut down early.

    Up and down the coast hundreds of thousands lost power, 5,000 flights were cancelled, and the storm pushed all the way into Canada. The Telegraph reports Saturday's 70 mph winds will do nothing to help cleanup efforts and offers more storm details here.

    Meanwhile in the middle of Manhattan we were met with a respectable covering of snow and headed out as the sun rose to see what was what.

    The city's first snowstorm of the season had locals out and about enjoying the generous layer of powder up and down the streets.

    Some had been up in the night having a bit of fun while everyone else slept

    Around 7 a.m. people were mostly taking care of shoveling.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Iran Drone CloneIn the first week of December 2012, Iran announced the capture of a U.S. Navy Scan Eagle drone and plans to learn its secrets.


    Having been off the coast of Iran last fall and seen the number of Scan Eagles surveilling the region it always seemed reasonable to me that Iran had captured one. We posted images of Iran's model and the Scan Eagle I had personally taken pictures of in the Gulf.

    Although the U.S. denied the event, Tehran may have proof that it really did capture a drone.

    Iran's state-run FARS news agency released news this weekend of of a Scan Eagle production line.

    FARS claims the drones are well past production and already in service within Tehran's armed forces.

    From FARS

    ScanEagle had been in our possession before and we have even copied it in production," Hajizadeh underscored at the time.  On December 4, Commander of the Islamic Revolution Guard Corps (IRGC) Navy Rear Admiral Ali Fadavi announced that his forces hunted a US Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) over the Persian Gulf after the drone violated the country's airspace. 

    ScanEagle is a small, low-cost, long-endurance unmanned aerial vehicle built by Insitu, a subsidiary of Boeing.  As standard payload ScanEagle carries either an inertially stabilized electro-optical or an infrared camera. The gimbaled camera allows the operator to easily track both stationary and moving targets, providing real-time intelligence.  Capable of flying above 16,000 feet, the UAV has also demonstrated the ability to provide persistent low-altitude reconnaissance.  

    The development came exactly a year after Iran announced on December 4, 2011 that its defense forces had downed a US RQ-170 drone through a sophisticated cyber attack. The RQ-170 has special coatings and a bat-wing shape designed to help it penetrate other nations' air defenses undetected. 

    The RQ-170 data was released out of Iran last week and lent a lot of credibility to various Iranian claims in the months since the RQ-170 disappeared.  That suggests Iran was able to breach a secure data line and pull out all data intact for review. No small feat when dealing with hardwrae employed by the CIA.

    Whether the Scan Eagle is cloned and in production, or if Tehran hacked the RQ-170 last year and escorted it down or not, one thing is certain: It's time the U.S. started taking its longtime enemy a bit more seriously.

    And perhaps deliver a bit more honesty to the world, especially if Iran will just follow up with the truth only months later.

    SEE ALSO: How Israel's Iron Dome really works >

    SEE ALSO: The military vehicle that drives through major IED blasts unscathed >

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    SEAL Night VisionAn article published by the Center For Investigative Reporting in conjunction with Esquire today details the most intimate picture we have of the man who shot Bin Laden.

    And it's pretty shocking.

    "The Shooter," as he's called throughout the lengthy Phil Bronstein piece, is exiting the service after 16 years with plenty of scar tissue, and no retirement pay.

    From the piece:

    What is much harder to understand is that a man with hundreds of successful war missions, one of the most decorated combat veterans of our age, who capped his career by terminating bin Laden, has no landing pad in civilian life.

    Nothing. No pension, no health care, and no protection for himself or his family.

    Now the medical bills are piling up, and the Shooter is without a job.

    If he had stayed in the service another four years, then he would be eligible for a half-base-pay pension. If he had stayed for another 14 years then he would be eligible for full pay. Anyway it's hardly enough to survive on with a family, unless the Shooter wore a few stars on his shoulders by retirement.

    A couple nuggets from the lengthy piece: 

    The writer watched "Zero Dark Thirty" with the Shooter. He had no major complaints, but said the guy who breached the door would never have yelled, merely tapped his helmet, tattoos were different, helicopters turned the wrong way into the compound, and overall the tactics "sucked".

    Shooter said the female character Maya was "Awesome. They made her a tough woman, which she is."

    The piece concludes with Shooter's understanding that one final line from the movie will define his remaining days. A CIA station chief remarks on the dedicated vengeance of jihadists. "Once you're on their list," he says, "you never get off." Meaning the Shooter, and every other servicemember who fought against insurgents well enough to earn recognition, will never stop being a target for revenge.

    Meanwhile he, like Matt Bissonnette, may suffer the consequences of talking about a Top Secret mission, as the Navy could level charges on him for conducting an unsanctioned interview.

    The Shooter and Bissonnette are so far the only two members of SEAL Team 6 to divulge elements of the raid to the press. Both prior servicemembers risk prosecution from the U.S. government for divulging classified information, and risking jihadists tracking down their locations to exact revenge for the historical mission that took out al Qaeda's most famous leader.

    Needless to say, the piece illuminates the man behind the scope in the single greatest military raid in history, and we encourage everyone to read the whole story here.

    Now Watch: Here's How Israel's Defense Iron Dome System Works


    SEE ALSO: The 16 most fascinating details about "The Shooter" write up >

    SEE ALSO: The 18 things Navy SEALs never leave home without >

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    Un Breakfast ClubIt appears North Korea may have detonated a nuclear device last night.

    It's not as though Pyongyang didn't warn us, and pull off a nifty rocket launch back in December.

    Just weeks after accepting a new round of sanctions, Pyongyang redoubled  its commitment to perform a third and “higher-level” nuclear test."

    Lest there be any mistake, or nuclear confusion, DPRK's new leader Kim Jong-Un made sure to clarify the latest test would "target" the U.S.

    If the 4.9 level seismic disturbance originating in a tectonically placid region of North Korea last night is in fact the promised detonation, it's time for a bit of reflection.

    A 4.9 inspiring blast on the Richter is nothing to sneeze at, but then it's not exactly mad scientist scale weaponry either. The Soviet Union voluntary banned all nuclear tests registering 4.75 and below in 1960 and make no mistake, the Soviet's made a punchy nuke even back in the day.

    But if Pyongyang thinks the distance between its long-range rocket launch and its possible nuclear test are more than graceful scheduling, it's sadly mistaken. A big boom and a successful rocket launch do not a nuclear missile make.

    But maybe it doesn't really need to. With the region girding up for potential disputes in the South and East China Seas, perhaps Pyongyang just wants to cause enough of a ruckus to be placated. It's list of dwindling necessities is as long as it is diverse, and any assistance would be a mercy.

    It could work, because in the Pacific Rim, Pyongyang's bellicose mini-triumph registered tremors far greater than 4.9 on the Richter scale.

    After imploring the North to hold off on the test, China will be forced to formally respond. Beijing has its plate full taking on Tokyo and pursuing China's claim upon a small string of Islands in the East China Sea. Taiwan also has a hankering for the island's, but how could Beijing focus on that when it has Pyongyang clamoring for attention like a slighted youth?

    Perhaps it's not too much too imagine that if some uniquely spoiled folks tired of not getting the attention they demanded, they might use a little atom splitting in lieu of stomping their feet and screaming for all they're worth?  When it's the gang in North Korea, maybe it's more likely than not.

    Pyongyang's rulers and Kim Jong-Un perhaps in particular are a bit like Judd Nelson's character in "Breakfast Club," John Bender, taking a futile stand against principal Richard Vernon (the U.S.):

    The atomic test goes off without a hitch ... 
    Richard Vernon/The U.S.: What was that? 
    John Bender/North Korea: Eat ... My ... Shorts. 
    Vernon/U.S.: You just bought yourself another Saturday. 
    Bender/North Korea: Ooh, I'm crushed. 
    Vernon/U.S.: You just bought one more. 
    Bender/North Korea: Well I'm free the Saturday after that. Beyond that, I'm going to have to check my calendar. 
    Vernon/U.S.: Good, cause it's going to be filled. We'll keep going. You want another one? Just say the word say it. Instead of going to prison you'll come here. Are you through? 
    Bender/North Korea: No. 
    Vernon/U.S.: I'm doing society a favor. 
    Bender/North Korea: So? 
    Vernon/U.S.: That's another one right now! I've got you for the rest of your natural born life if you don't watch your step. You want another one? 
    Bender/North Korea: Yes. 
    Vernon/U.S.: You got it! You got another one right there! That's another one pal! 
    Claire Standish/Russia: Cut it out! I "decisively condemn" this!
    Vernon/U.S.: You through? 
    Bender/North Korea: Not even close bud! 
    Vernon/U.S.: Good! You got one more right there! 
    Bender/North Korea: You really think I give a shit? 
    Vernon/U.S.: Another! You through? 

    John Bender: How many is that? 

    Vernon/U.S.: Now it's eight.

    That's the last time, Bender. That's the last time you ever make me look bad in front of those kids, you hear me?

    I call for "further swift and credible action by the international community!"

    How many is that for Pyongyang, and what's left? Even John Bender knew detention, or sanctions, held only so much power. What now as Chinese ships paint the Japanese Navy with fire-control radar and South Korean ground troops in the DMZ have standing orders to return fire all day long?

    Pyongyang created a muffled explosion it wants the world to believe was a nuclear test. Ok, so what is the world going to do about it?

    Is anyone over there asking what comes next or are they mindlessly racking up detention days like its 1985? 

    SEE ALSO: Two chilling developments suggest Asia may be one step away from war >

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    hyunmoo korean missile

    North Korea's recent nuclear test incurred the standard international handwringing that follows most of what Pyongyang pulls off in that corner of the world. But once international leaders stepped from the cameras the real exchange began.

    The guided-missile cruiser USS Lake Erie successfully completed a first-of-a-kind missile test about the time Pyongyang was underway with their test.

    The Erie cruised out to the waters off the island of Kauai and waited for the missile range there to launch a medium range ballistic rocket to be brought down by Erie's Aegis system.

    There have been dozens of successful Aegis tests over the past 10 years, but this was special because the Erie used new off-the-shelf electronics to work with an orbiting tracking system. The space-based system allows the Aegis to take down incoming missiles far sooner and at much greater distances than before.

    Sooner means safer and with incoming ordnance out of the way, offensive strikes can be delivered that much earlier.

    For its part South Korea reminded the North it had a missile that could strike deep into the North and offered video showing the Hyunmoo-3C launched from a submarine and a shipboard system.

    The weapon's current configuration has been in service for almost a year, but now seemed a good time for a South Korean ministry official to announce how accurate the missile actually is.

    "The cruise missile unveiled today is a precision-guided weapon that can identify and strike the office window of the North's command headquarters."

    Not to be outdone, South Korean army Major General Ryu Young-Jeo had this to say: "With this missile, we could hit any facility, equipment or individual target in the North anywhere, at any time of our choosing."

    South Korea's military jumped to high alert following the North's test and remains there now as it puts all plans for missile defense and greater projection into high gear.

    The Aegis intercept video from the Erie is below. The action decidedly picks up at about 1 minute in.

    SEE ALSO: 16 fascinating details about the guy who shot Bin Laden raid >

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    F-22 Raptor

    Captain Jeff Haney was one of the Air Force's best pilots; so when he crashed his F-22 Raptor into the Alaskan countryside in November 2010 it was difficult to believe he was at fault.

    At least it was difficult for everyone except the Air Force, which placed blame squarely on Haney's shoulders in a December 2011 investigation.

    A review of the case this week by the Department of Defense (DOD) inspector general, however, came to a different conclusion. The DOD found insufficient evidence that Haney was at fault and recommended that his case be reviewed.

    It's looking more and more like the crash was due to technical problems with the problem-plagued F-22.

    At 6:17 p.m. on November 16, 2010 Capt. Jeffrey Haney departed Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson near Anchorage, Alaska

    Capt. Haney had been out with two other F-22s on an opposed surface attack tactics (SAT) training mission — a mock bombing run

    The evening was dark, cold, and clear with unlimited visibility and 74 percent moon illumination over snow-covered terrain

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    WATCH: 5 Ways The World Will End 
    (according to the Mayan calendar and any other)

    A meteor scientists believe weighed up to 11 tons streaked through the Russian dawn Friday morning at supersonic speeds. Reports of a 150 mile sonic boom were reported blowing out windows in cars, and houses with glass causing a number of injuries.

    The Russian Academy of Sciences believes the meteor entered the earth's atmosphere over Chelyabinsk at speeds of up to 54,000 miles per hour, before shattering between 18 and 32 miles above the ground.

    The Houston Chronicle has a report from Moscow:

    "There was panic. People had no idea what was happening. Everyone was going around to people's houses to check if they were OK," said Sergey Hametov, a resident of Chelyabinsk, about 1500 kilometers (930 miles) east of Moscow, the biggest city in the affected region.

    "We saw a big burst of light then went outside to see what it was and we heard a really loud thundering sound," he told The Associated Press by telephone. Another Chelyabinsk resident, Valya Kazakov, said some elderly women in his neighborhood started crying out that the world was ending.

    Some fragments fell in a reservoir outside the town of Cherbakul, the regional governor's office said, according to the ITAR-Tass news agency. It was not immediately clear if any people were struck by fragments. The agency also cited military spokesman Yarslavl Roshupkin as saying that a six-meter-wide (20-foot-wide) crater was found in the same area which could be the result of fragments striking the ground.

    Despite assurances by NASA and other officials, The Voice of Russia reports that St. Petersburg astronomers believe this meteor is linked to today's approaching 2012DA14 asteroid.


    Here's what the scene looks like in the aftermath: reports:

    Lifenews tabloid said that at least one piece of the fallen object caused damage on the ground in Chelyabinsk. According to preliminary reports, it crashed into a wall near a zinc factory, disrupting the city's Internet and mobile service.

    Witnesses said the explosion was so loud that it seemed like an earthquake and thunder had struck at the same time, and that there were huge trails of smoke across the sky. Others reported seeing burning objects fall to earth.It made a bright streak through the sky and a huge boom when it exploded. Here's a stunning video of it shining bright as it falls through the atmosphere:

    There's a ton more videos on YouTube. This compilation video is pretty great

    Officials told Reuters that the object exploded at about 32,000 feet above the Earth.

    The BadAstronomer, aka Phil Plait, warns that these things get faked all the time, but he seems convinced that this is for real. We agree, seeing so many different videos of the event that all look the same.

    He says it's most likely unrelated to the asteroid DA14 that will pass by Earth tomorrow.

    This video shows a shockwave about 20 seconds in, which Plait says is from the meteoroid hitting Earth's atmosphere, not the actual explosion:

    Here's another video with the explosion. Pretty intense!

    The meteor seems to have exploded in the sky, before hitting the Earth:

    And one note for those perusing the YouTube videos. A video of a burning crater is making the rounds, but that's actually from the "Door To Hell" in Turkmenistan. Here's a whole gallery of images of the burning crater. It is totally unrelated to today's meteor.

    It was right about the same time of day 105 years ago near the Tunguska River in Siberia when a 330 foot meteor seared through the sky and leveled 80 million trees over 800 square miles.

    That asteroid was believed to have been 1,000 times more destructive than the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima.


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    Wind River Cemetary

    The Wind River Indian Reservation is not an easy place to get to, but I had to see it for myself.

    Thirty-five-hundred square miles of prairie and mountains in western Wyoming, the reservation is home to bitter ancestral enemies: the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho tribes.

    Even among reservations, it's renowned for brutal crime, widespread drug use, and legal dumping of toxic waste.

    But no matter how much you hear about Wind River, there always seemed to be something unsaid. I spent over a week there and in the nearby towns. It was perhaps the most dramatic and unbalanced place I've ever been.

    In the following slides I document what I saw from my more than week-long stay, in an effort to portray the plight and the perils of these forgotten tribes. 

    The Wind River reservation is located in central Wyoming. The landscape is unlike anything most people have ever seen.

    This craggy honeycombed grotto was unearthly enough to prompt Starship Troopers' director Paul Verhoeven to shoot the 1997 sci-fi flick here.

    This railroad has been hauling goods and people through here since 1885.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Our apologies: We had some trouble with the video, but now it's up and running again. Rest assured, watching this American hotshot is the perfect way to end your week.

    I spent three days last fall on the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower while it performed a never-ending mission off the coast of Iran. From the deck landings, to the flattop during flight ops, to the wooden paneled state room, there was not one moment as much fun as this video.

    Sitting on YouTube and clocking over 300K views, the pilot-shot video is creating a following. The best part, aside from the fact that you'll actually feel like you're in the cockpit, is that it's available in 1080 high-definition.

    So grab your coffee, sit back, and set this to full screen before doing anything more practical with your Friday.


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    Anjem Choudary

    A Muslim preacher has been secretly recorded explaining to followers how to receive government assistance they can use to fund a Muslim holy war.

    Calling it a "Jihadi Allowance," cleric Anjem Choundary, 45, has four kids, brings in £25,000, or just under $39,000 U.S. in benefits himself, and says that this is the way it is supposed to work according to Islamic law.

    Recorded by both the U.K. Sun and Telegraph, Choundary says:

    • "We are on Jihad Seekers Allowance, we take the Jizya (protection money paid to Muslims by non-Muslims) which is ours anyway.
    • "The normal situation is to take money from the [non-Muslims] isn't it? So this is the normal situation."
    • “They give us the money. You work, give us the money. Allah Akbar, we take the money.  Hopefully there is no one from the DSS (Department of Social Security) listening.”
    • “Ah, but you see people will say you are not working. But the normal situation is for you to take money from the Kuffar (non-Muslim) So we take Jihad Seeker’s Allowance.”

    Choudray goes on in a separate videos to mock English workers performing 9 to 5 jobs, and tells followers that some of the most famous Islamic figures worked only one or two days a week.

    “The rest of the year they were busy with jihad [holy war] and things like that,” he says, according to The Telegraph. “People will say, ‘Ah, but you are not working.’"

    “But the normal situation is for you to take money from the kuffar [non-believers].”

    “So we take Jihad Seeker’s Allowance. You need to get support.”

    He the tells a crowd of about 30 followers: “We are going to take England — the Muslims are coming.”

    “These people are like a tsunami going across Europe. And over here we’re just relaxing, taking over Bradford brother. The reality is changing.” Read more at The Telegraph or watch below.

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    NBC 7 San Diego reports that a video of a group of dolphins, called a pod, spanning seven miles of ocean off the coast of San Diego was recorded Thursday from aboard a tour boat. 

    From NBC:

    “When you see something that is honestly truly beyond belief,” the captain said.

    Guests aboard the boat started screaming and pointing when they first saw the school of adult and juvenile common dolphins. Dutra estimated there were about 100,000 dolphins swimming in the area. “They were coming from all directions, you could see them from as far as the eye can see,” he said. “I’ve seen a lot of stuff out here… but this is the biggest I’ve ever seen, ever.”

     A similar sighting occurred off of Dana Point, CA — about 65 miles from San Diego — in January. No word yet on whether these two rare events occurring so close together could be related.

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    President Obama's heartfelt State of the Union plea for stronger gun safety laws was still fresh in mind when I received these pictures from a reader.

    The photos show an arsenal of weapons the reader just legally bought including a Russian made Saiga-12 shotgun, an AR-15 assault rifle, a huge cache of ammo, and several accessories.

    The reader bought the shotgun at a gun show where there was no wait or background check. He left with the Saiga, a 30-round drum, a 10-round magazine, and an additional 5-round magazine. On top of that he added night vision, three laser sights, and a tactical light.

    "Please come to my house and take my guns!!!" he taunted the government, when he gleefully sent us the string of pictures below.

    The Saiga is manufactured by the Russian company Izhmash that builds rocket launchers, AK-47s, and all manner of military-grade weaponry.

    In addition the the Saiga, and the .45 caliber and 10mm handguns this reader owns, he's also waiting on an AR-15, which he ordered online. The AR of course is the assault weapon used in the Colorado theater shooting.

    Including the custom modifications, the AR-15 will arrive at his door about three weeks after ordering. With that rifle he ordered a 100-round drum, 3 30-round magazines, and a 10-round drum as well as a tactical night scope that's better than most anything given to U.S. military members. The rifles are harder to get after recent shootings.

    "I paid triple for a gun that was $900 a few months ago," he told me.

    Asked about the shortage and high cost of ammunition, and he said buyers just needed to know when sellers' shipments arrive. "Because they're gone the following day," he said.

    Among the reader's most recent online ammo orders were 2,500 rounds for the Saiga, 500 rounds each for the .45 and the 10mm, along with 1,000 7.62X39mm rounds for the AR-15.

    There are background checks for online gun sales, and by all licensed dealers at gun shows. But not all sellers are licensed.

    Not that a standard background check would have prevented any of these purchases. Our reader, for example, passed his with flying colors.

    And the reader has been in plenty of legal trouble.

    In addition to a restraining order, and time in jail for violating it, the reader was tried for conspiracy to commit murder against his wife.  

    "You can get in all sorts of trouble, but as long as you get out of it you can buy whatever you want," he said Monday morning during a phone call.

    After his acquittal on the conspiracy to commit murder charge, the reader applied for and received a concealed weapon permit as well.

    Here are some pictures of the reader's new arsenal:

    12 Gauge Shotgun

    12 Gauge Laser Sight

    12 Gauge Shotgun12 Gauge Shotgun12 Gauge Shotgun

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    Just the words 'barcodes' or 'QR codes' inspire a certain paranoia among some people. Their uses are many, but until the Center for Land Use Interpretation (CLUI) published a recent report, not many Americans were aware of barcodes on the ground across the country.

    These two-dimensional images were largely painted in the 1950s and '60s for use by the Air Force and NASA to calibrate aerial cameras.

    Still used today, the images are clustered around the Mojave Desert where they were likely employed by the A12, SR-71, and U-2 spy-planes that each used highly sophisticated and powerful cameras to spy on nations across the globe.

    A 21 year veteran of the USMC Flight Test center, and member of Strategic Aeronautics, sent this in to clarify the locations in the following pictures:

    In your article today, the first image is Webster Field in St. Indigoes, Maryland (

    It is an outlying field (OLF) for NAS Patuxent River used for sensors, helicopter, and UAS test & evaluation.

    The panels are used to assess the spatial frequency response of sensor systems (lens, detector, and processor combination).

    Much like the eye chart in the optometrist’s office, sensor systems are evaluated at various ranges and environmental conditions to determine which pattern the user can discern (similar to reading the 20/20 line or just the Big ‘E’) (Ed: Thanks, Jon)

    Check out CLUI's page for greater detail on the mysterious barcodes.


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    The Chinese army appears to be conducting cyberhacking and espionage against large U.S. corporations, according to an extensive report from computer security firm Mandiant.

    The report even identifies the unit and the building behind the cyberwar.

    Beijing has long been suspected of espionage costing global corporations billions of dollars — such as when a hacking incident at Lockheed Martin was followed by the appearance of suspiciously familiar Chinese jets — though it was hard to find evidence.

    Indeed, it makes sense that China, in its breakneck push to become a world power, would use all available technology to catch the west.

    Following Mandiant's 75-page report, however, the cyberwar is all but official. 

    We have distilled the alarming report and posted it below.

    According to Mandiant, what China's hacking program coordinators do is seek students with outstanding English skills who are handpicked for "Advanced Persistent Threat" training (APT). The APT teams are broken down into groups and divided among locations in and around Shanghai, universities, commercial corridors, and largely innocuous places.

    Wherever they go, each team is assigned a Military Unit Cover Designator (MUCD). The MUCD is a five-digit number by which the unit, its people, its location, and its work is referred to. The designation makes the teams more difficult to isolate and track.

    MUCDs report all the way up to the Chinese equivalent to the Joint Chiefs of Staff, according to Mandiant. That implies this practice is part of China's overt military policy against foreign nations.

    Mandiant offers an example of the type of expertise required: 

    • Covert communications
    • English linguistics
    • Operating system internals
    • Digital signal processing
    • Network security

    The needs are then broken down further into Profession Codes — such as 080902 for Circuits & Systems — Required Proficiencies — such as 101 for political, 201 for English, etc.

    With hundreds or thousands of these teams lined up, the Chinese start phishing for passwords, according to Mandiant. The teams have refined and perfected dialogue, slang, and responses that appear nearly seamless to the colleagues they're trying to impersonate. In the beginning it all looks just like this:

    Date: Wed, 18 Apr 2012 06:31:41 -0700
    From: Kevin Mandia <>
    Subject: Internal Discussion on the Press Release


    Shall we schedule a time to meet next week

    We need to finalize the press release.

    Details click here.


    Kevin Mandia

    Victims who click that link will download a malicious ZIP file named, which contains a custom APT1 backdoor called WEBC2-TABLE.

    Happening on such a large scale, these attacks presumably have government support. Mandiant writes: "The sheer scale and duration of these sustained attacks leave little doubt about the enterprise scale of the organization behind this campaign."

    Not surprisingly, China is denying the report.

    Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei told reporters on Tuesday:

    "To make groundless accusations based on some rough material is neither responsible nor professional," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei told reporters on Tuesday.

    Mandiant says it felt compelled to expose this hack despite possibly compromising its ability to collect information. Here's why:

    "The decision to publish a significant part of our intelligence about Unit 61398 was a painstaking one. What started as a “what if” discussion about our traditional non-disclosure policy quickly turned into the realization that the positive impact resulting from our decision to expose APT1 outweighed the risk to our ability to collect intelligence on this particular APT group.

    It is time to acknowledge the threat is originating in China, and we wanted to do our part to arm and prepare security professionals to combat that threat effectively. The issue of attribution has always been a missing link in publicly understanding the landscape of APT cyber espionage. Without establishing a solid connection to China, there will always be room for observers to dismiss APT actions as uncoordinated, solely criminal in nature, or peripheral to larger national security and global economic concerns.

    We hope that this report will lead to increased understanding and coordinated action in countering APT network breaches. At the same time, there are downsides to publishing all of this information publicly. Many of the techniques and, technologies described in this report are vastly more effective when attackers are not aware of them.

    Additionally, publishing certain kinds of indicators dramatically shortens their lifespan. When Unit 61398 changes their techniques after reading this report, they will undoubtedly force us to work harder to continue tracking them with such accuracy. It is our sincere hope, however, that this report can temporarily increase the costs of Unit 61398’s operations and impede their progress in a meaningful way. We are acutely aware of the risk this report poses for us. We expect reprisals from China as well as an onslaught of criticism."

    Below this Mandiant APT1 Report are a couple of photos and a list of the hardest hit English-speaking industries.


         APTIAPTI WideIndusries Targeted

    Now Watch: How Syria Might Have Gotten Its Chemical Weapons


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    China lomokr

    Earlier this week, Mandiant, a company hired by The New York Times to track down hackers that invaded the paper's database, unleashed a report blaming China for the invasion.

    The document went on to illustrate a complex military cyber-espionage unit based in Shanghai, that had been busy scouring the networks of more than 140 companies.

    While accusations continue to fly and denials resound, there are now some who believe China may actually have meant to be caught.

    “They're very careful not to cover their tracks very well,” Yael Shahar, an Israeli cybersecurity expert at the International Institute for Counter-Terrorismtold the National Journal. “It's a projection of power; it's not that they're trying to hide it,” adding that it enhanced Chinese self-perceptions of “face” to leave a calling card.

    In other words, the Chinese hackers may have wanted to be exposed as a public demonstration to Washington of Beijing's level of skill and infiltration. 

    The Chinese government denies such claims.  

    CNBC hosted one Chinese ministry spokesman who said Mandiant's claims are "unfounded accusations based on preliminary results," and that "China resolutely opposes hacking actions and has established relevant laws and regulations, and taken strict law enforcement measures to defend against online hacking activities.''


    We posted the full report and the findings seem more than preliminary. What's been detailed since Tuesday's report is even more beguiling.

    The Washington Post and the National Journal took time to explore how Mandiant got the break that led them to China's elite cyber-espionage ring. It seems to imply that the hackers did an intentionally "sloppy" hack job.  

    First, it's important to look at how most tech-savvy Chinese military hackers discretely access social networks. The bulk of them set up a Virtual Private Network, or VPN, to get them across the "Great Firewall of China" that blocks much of the Web from general users. Basically, it's how crafty people access the World Wide Web from China.

    Picture a bunch of different doors everywhere, but the footprints across the floor (those hacking via VPN) are all the same. 

    When Mandiant looked around at the "doors" opening from China's network of servers they saw all the VPN footprints. But what caught their attention was a couple of users not using a VPN who were accessing Facebook and Twitter from China.

    Chinese Army Hackers

    Rather than logging out of the "attack infrastructure" and into one of the VPNs, these two Chinese military hackers — "UglyGorilla" and "DOTA"— went straight from their military terminal to social media sites, and to Google.

    This is strange because it means they were not not practicing basic online security. 

    Accusations, denials, outrage, and indignation have been shooting back-and-forth between nations for days and there's the distinct possibility that being exposed is what Beijing had in mind all along.


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    marines out of the assault amphibious vehicle aav

    I remember like it was yesterday, though it was 2003 when I was standing inside the well deck of the USS Essex amphibious assault ship. I was a U.S. Marine, sailing off the coast of Hawaii on a training mission. Now, it was our turn to assault a Hawaiian beach.

    See the pictures >

    But we weren't using rubber boats, or swimming. We were geared up, over 20 of us, in the back of an Assault Amphibious Vehicle (AAV), better known as an "amtrack."

    Before settling into our tight quarters inside the troop carrier, we were briefed by the crew. "When we launch off the back into the ocean, if we don't come up from the water after five seconds, you can panic," one said.

    "Oh sh--," I muttered, just before successfully launching from the rear of the ship along with everyone else in the amtrack.

    Then we headed for the beach to train for what the Marine Corps does best: amphibious operations.

    The bottom or well deck of the amphibious ship is loaded with vehicles. When AAV's launch, they'll partially flood this area with water.

    There's only one way in, one way out. Marines file into the back and up the ramp that will seal behind them.

    It's no pleasure cruise. It's really hot, cramped, and smells of diesel fuel.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Less than a week ago, one reader sent us photos of the assault weapons he had purchased at a gun show without a background check. He then taunted the government to "come take his guns." Today another reader, who spent his Saturday morning fighting the crowds at a Florida gun show, sent us this picture of his purchase.

    The 9mm Uzi, with a fully automatic conversion kit, sold for $1,400. Because the gun was used, there was no background check; the only item required for purchase was a local driver's license. 

    The automatic conversion is simple, though laws vary on how legal the modification is. Once it's converted though, the Uzi 9mm can shoot up to 600 rounds per minute with a range of up to 200 meters, or as far as two football fields.

    "This gun is only meant for killing people," the reader said. "It's just a wall of lead. It's so f--king cool!"

    The Uzi came with two 32 round clips, and he expects to sell it for up to $6,000 if laws are passed limiting such purchases in the future.

    In the meantime, he's headed to the range to have "A helluva lot of fun," he wrote. 

    Update: 1:45 p.m.— The reader's gotten home, unpacked the weapon and sent additional pictures in response to questions about its authenticity. They are below.

    9mm Uzi Florida Gun Show





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    USS Barry CrewWhen we visited the USS Barry, the ship and its crew were feverishly preparing for a huge inspection, and an upcoming overseas deployment.

    Short-staffed and overworked, the crew pulled the 20-year-old ship together beautifully  — but the work it entailed was mindblowing.

    When the Barry sailed for its European deployment earlier this month it was amid rumors it might not go at all, and if not for her crew, that may have been the case.

    As well as they did, unfortunately the crew's workload has just increased dramatically. The major inspections that ships undergo every five years, has just been halved to 30 months. Getting ready for those tests is a lot of work as the following slides show.

    This is a tough time to be a U.S. Navy sailor.

    When I rode out to the USS Barry, everyone was getting ready for a big inspection.

    The annual five-year inspection is called INSURV — Inspection/ Survey — and as the Navy's fleet ages the inspections become more vital and more time-consuming.

    Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyers were expected to serve 20 years. The Barry is 20 now — and keeping her shipshape is no small effort.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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