Selasa, 20 Desember 2011

Santa's Secret Service... with Candy Cane Guns! (VIDEO)

Santa's Secret Service... with Candy Cane Guns! (VIDEO)

Santa's Secret Service... with Candy Cane Guns! (VIDEO)

He may know if you've been naughty, but these guys will curbstomp you if you so much as think about ingressing the perimeter.  The Claus' job is tough but trouble doesn't close in on St. Nick on account of this skilled team of determined, guarded, and well-armed elves.

And now you can get a rare glimpse inside the operations of one of the world's most fine-tuned and focused protective forces: Santa's Little Secret Service.

"Santa Claus prides himself on his ability to move freely about the world to undertake Christmas operations. The most visible symbol of Santa’s Christmas mobility is Sleigh One, his highly advanced personal transport. So it was only fitting that the Santa decided to bring Sleigh One to San Francisco’s Santacon, now in its 17th year of santarchy.

"As soon as the Office of the Santa added Santacon to its pre-Christmas Operational Window tour, Santa’s helpers mobilized to make the trip a safe and successful one. Such high profile visits by the Santa require multiple layers of security, so the elves of the Bureau of Special Christmas Operations, and the fighting reindeer, nutcrackers, and sugar plum fairies of Santa’s Defense Forces formed a joint task force to protect the Santa and Sleigh One. The mission was code-named: Operation Chimney Sweep.


"The goals of Operation Chimney Sweep:

Provide 360 degree protection of Sleigh One and the SantaSweep for enemies of Santa, “Beards” (fake Santas), and suspicious giftsLiaise with the public and local authorities to ensure Christmas cheerGuarantee Christmas certainty at all costs

Santa's Secret Service at City Hall - San Francisco SantaCon 2010

"Sleigh One never travels without an extensive security umbrella and Operation Chimney Sweep was no exception. Santa’s elves fielded two security elements from the Bureau of Special Christmas Operations. Santa’s Little Secret Service deployed a close protection detail of elite elvish bodyguards to protect both the Santa and his sleigh. Santa’s Little Intelligence Support Team (LIST) provided elf operatives trained in naughty/nice interrogation and identification of enemies of Christmas."

Not that they're limited to just the Kringle.  The SLSS guards all of the iconic holiday figures.  Seen here is the SLSS escorting Easter Bunny:

Not only are we treated to the operations of these tireless men and women, but we've been given some insight as to what sort of equipment they use on a daily basis to protect our beloved figures.

"A Fast Action Response Team of agents armed with Hare Armaments DK-97 60mm Assault Daikon were luckily unnecessary, thanks to the extensive preparedness of Santa’s Little Secret Service."

If you're in any way as fascinated by these diligent men and women as we are, people who risk their lives every day to protect the world's iconic figures, you owe it to yourself to learn more about Santa's Little Secret Service.

Bless you all, and godspeed.

Proposal to make Chicago Secede from Illinois Underscores Gun Divide

Proposal to make Chicago Secede from Illinois Underscores Gun Divide

Illinois has some of the toughest gun laws in the country.  And as many of you are aware, it is currently the only state that doesn’t allow some form of concealed carry. 

While this sits well with liberals, progressives, and the pro-gun control crowd in Chicago and Cook County, the rest of the state, the right-leaning “downstaters” as they are known, feel that their well-being and their freedoms are being compromised by a hegemony of left-leaning lawmakers. 

Many feel these downstaters have legitimate gripes.  For example, in addition to concealed carry ban, many argue that the state’s recent income tax hike was foolish given the dubious nature of the economy.  Moreover, the abolishment of the death penalty has irked conservative downstaters who believe the state’s become soft on criminals. 

So, several GOP state representatives have drafted a proposal that calls for the abrupt secession of Chicago and Cook Country from the rest of the state, which would make the Windy City and its surrounding metropolis the 51st state of the U.S. 

"Downstate families are tired of Chicago dictating its views to the rest of us," said state Rep. Bill Mitchell as he and fellow Republican state Rep. Adam Brown announced their proposal with straight faces at a news conference. "The old adage is true: Just outside Chicago there's a place called Illinois."

However, not everyone is taking the proposal seriously.  In fact, it would appear that most view it as political grandstanding, wishful thinking or some kind of ill-wrought joke. 

Charles Wheeler, a savvy Statehouse reporter who teaches journalism at the University of Illinois at Springfield, alluded to another north-south Illinois split – the one between Chicago Cubs fans in the north and St. Louis Cardinals down south – when dismissing the idea to the Associated Press.

"I think it's goofy. It's more likely I'll be the starting first baseman for the Cardinals next April than for this to pass," Wheeler told the AP.

Also, critics of the proposal point to the state’s financials as a way to dismiss the deal.  The AP writes:

Cook County – which with 5 million residents is the nation's second most-populous county – is the state's economic engine and key tax generator, providing substantial contributions to the state's other 101 counties for everything from schools to roads, colleges and universities, and prisons.

The Chicago area last year generated 81.6 percent of the $652 billion in gross state product, according to Lawrence Msall, president of the Chicago-based Civic Federation, a nonpartisan think tank specializing in tax policy and government research. In 2009, $3.5 billion – some 40 percent – of the $8.7 billion the state collected in income tax was attributable to Cook County, which also was responsible for roughly 36 percent, or $2.2 billion, of the $6.2 billion the state generated in sales taxes, Msall said.

"There's no getting around that Chicago and Cook County are the goose that lays many golden eggs distributed to downstate counties," Jim Nowlan, senior fellow of the University of Illinois' Institute of Government and Public Affairs, told the AP. "Without Chicago and Cook County, the state would be a much poorer entity than it is now."

As tempting as it sounds for downstaters, secession is not a practical solution to the state’s woes.  For one thing, the Democratic governor, Democratic-controlled Legislature and Congress would never support the move. 

And for another, a famous Illinoisan once said, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” 

If one can give any advice to downstaters it would be stick together, continue to try and work out your differences with your neighbors to the north, and stay the course, and good things will happen. 

You may not always agree with your Gov. Pat Quinn, but he's right when he says, "We're all in this together.  The idea of separating out and dividing us is a bum way to go. It's definitely not the Illinois way to go."

Senin, 19 Desember 2011

The Importance of Breath Control to Accurate Shooting

The Importance of Breath Control to Accurate Shooting

To the uninformed, it may sound trivial, but if you work in law enforcement or are a member of the U.S. military, then you learn quickly that breath control is vital for making accurate shots under adverse conditions. I would also hazard a guess that most anyone who enjoys shooting pistols, rifles or shotguns for sport, competition or hunting, understands the need for controlling one’s breathing. The very good shooters also understand when to pull the trigger, how to read one’s heart rate and “feel” the heart beating, and to gently squeeze the trigger through between the heart rhythms while quietly exhaling their breath.

For me, the realization of how important breathing is to shooting came when I was 21 years of age and I had already been in combat. I worked for a police agency in northern Virginia just outside the Beltway of Washington, DC, and near the end of my shift, I got the call that a bank robber had been cornered in a house out in the suburbs.  At the time I was armed with a .38 caliber Colt Police Special revolver. I had two speed loaders on my belt, so I thought I was well prepared (yeah, I was still on that steep of a learning curve!).

Arriving at the scene (and foolishly walking towards the side of the house),  I saw the gentleman in question in the second-floor window. He saw me too.  I knew this because he fired three rounds in rapid succession right at me. My response was instant and took the form of a half-gainer into the weeds then behind a large maple tree for cover.

Taking up my position, I whipped out my Colt and fired all six rounds at that window. At least one of those rounds actually hit and broke some glass, but the other five simply created a strange connect-the-dots image to the left and right below the left corner of the window. It was definitely not one of my finer moments.  Just to put that into some perspective, I had been practicing with handguns and rifles since I was eight years old and, perhaps guilty of being young and cocky, thought at the very least I was bound for the next Olympic Games’ shooting events. So much for that!

I quickly crouched behind that tree and reloaded with one of those speed loaders I carried. My heart felt like it was coming through my chest and my breathing was completely irregular. A look at my finger tips confirmed that even they were shaking. Yes, welcome to the world where your life expectancy is counted by the grains in other guy’s bullets. Anyway, we didn’t have what you would normally call a SWAT team way back then, but instead a bunch of guys willing to put on a varied assortment of camo gear while carrying scoped ex-hunting rifles. That was pretty much it, and I wasn’t part of their team, just an ordinary patrolman.

The department did have a pretty competent negotiator on the team and he arrived on the scene within about 10 minutes. Using a bullhorn, as the department didn’t have those great phones and communication devices they now all have, he negotiated with the idiot, err gentleman who shot at me, for the next seven hours. All the while I was behind that tree and the closest guy to the house. At about midnight, the negotiator had had enough apparently, and I received the go-ahead to take a shot if one presented itself to me. Breath control, breath control, heart rate, slow yourself down, think pretty thoughts, that girl at the beach. No, no, not that! Breath control, thinking of swaying palms in a light breeze, the sun reflecting off the water, take a deep breath …

There was a light on upstairs, the gentleman’s biggest mistake, because about 20 minutes later he walked back to the edge of the window, and with the front sight nestled right in between the two rear sights, I let them blur and clearly saw the guy’s left arm. I then squeezed off a single round which penetrated his arm right above his elbow. He let out an enormous scream and looked like he may have fallen backwards. With that, all hell broke loose downstairs as there were two thunderous percussions from the flash-bang grenades the SWAT guys tossed in. He was down on his face and in handcuffs within about 15 seconds after that.

Well, the moral of the story is this, breath control is something that doesn’t come naturally, it has to be practiced. Feeling one’s heart rhythm is something most people don’t even think about, but something a shooter has to be aware of. Learning how to control one’s breathing while gently squeezing that trigger through in-between those heart rhythms takes time and, again, endless practice. I’m still learning. By the way, I lost that empty speed loader behind that tree someplace, totally forgot about it.

The Most Successful Shooting Platform, the 12 Gauge

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