Link to the interactive map
Thus far an official ongoing investigation by Lebanese authorities into the cause of Tuesday’s Beirut port blast, now considered the largest non-military munitions explosion in history, has dubbed it severe “negligence”.
It’s now well known that over 2,500 tons of ammonium nitrate, an ultra-combustible chemical compound utilized in fertilizers and production of explosives, was allowed to sit at the port in a warehouse going back seven years.
Specifically, President Michel Aoun identified that it was no less than 2,750 metric tons of ammonium nitrate that detonated as it was “stored unsafely” — though port officials reportedly attempted to warn the government for years that it must be moved. A number of port officials have been placed under house arrest pending the investigation.
Customs chief Badri Daher has told international media that his agency pleaded with Lebanese courts and high officials to order the chemical removed. Daher says the request for urgent removal was made six times to the judiciary over the years, all denied.
“This did not happen,” he said. The end result after the dangerous chemical — which is the same use in the deadly 1995 Oklahoma City bombing — was stored there since 2013 (also in undiluted form), was the most destructive blast in Lebanese history, killing over 135 people and injuring more than 5,000 – not to mention an estimated three billion dollars in damage.
“Legal documents, court correspondence and statements by public officials now trying to pass the buck shed light on the operations of the port, which has been dogged by allegations of widespread bribery and controlled in large measure by the militant Hezbollah group,” The Washington Post reports.
And the almost unbelievable story of how the explosive substance got there has emerged. It’s centered on a derelict and leaking vessel leased by a Russian businessman living in Cyprus. In 2013 the man identified as Igor Grechushkin, was paid $1 million to transport the high-density ammonium nitrate to the port of Beira in Mozambique. That’s when the ship, named the Rhosus, left the Black Sea port of Batumi, in Georgia.
But amid mutiny by an unpaid crew, a hole in the ship’s hull, and constant legal troubles, the ship never made it. Instead, it entered the port of Beirut where it was impounded by Lebanese authorities over severe safety issues, during which time the ammonium nitrate was transferred off, and the largely Ukrainian crew was prevented from disembarking, leading to a brief international crisis among countries as Kiev sought the safe return of its nationals.
Meanwhile, Igor Grechushkin – believed to still be living in Cyprus – reportedly simply abandoned the dangerously subpar vessel he leased, as well as its crew, never to be heard from again.
According to a damning legal briefing at the time:
“…the vessel was abandoned by her owners after charterers and cargo concern lost interest in the cargo. The vessel quickly ran out of stores, bunker and provisions.”
The ammonium nitrate was supposed to be auctioned off, but this never happened. Apparently exasperated customs and dock officials even suggested Lebanese farmers could simply spread it across their fields for a good crop yield. But not even this simple solution was heeded, nor proposals to give it to the Lebanese Army.
Via The Siberian Times: “The crew – eight Ukrainian and two Russian men – was forced to stay on board of the vessel while the owner Grechushkin declared himself bankrupt and ‘abandoned the ship’. Lebanese authorities agreed to let six out of ten sailors to leave the country, others were left stranded on the ship for almost a year.
Instead the deadly substance languished at port, and the Rhosus sank in the harbor years later. The last crew members weren’t allowed to leave the ship and return home until August 2014. Grechushkin may have paid for their return tickets at that time.
“Owing to the risks associated with retaining the Ammonium Nitrate on board the vessel, the port authorities discharged the cargo onto the port’s warehouses,” lawyers acting on behalf of creditors wrote in 2015. “The vessel and cargo remain to date in port awaiting auctioning and/or proper disposal,” it added.
And then later, more warnings, which apparently are in writing in legal documents:
“In view of the serious danger posed by keeping this shipment in the warehouses in an inappropriate climate,” Shafik Marei, the director of Lebanese customs, wrote in May 2016, “we repeat our request to demand the maritime agency to re-export the materials immediately.”
Astoundingly, even lawyers which had represented the effectively abandoned crew of the ship (which Ukrainian media at the time said were “hostages” of the Lebanese government) while it had been detained at port warned Lebanese government officials that the sensitive cargo was in danger “of sinking or blowing up at any moment”.
Yet these series of warnings went unheeded for years amid a notoriously corrupt and inept Lebanese system.
Meanwhile, the fate of the man originally at the center of the saga, whose decision to simply abandon the leaky ammonium nitrate laden ship in the first place, remains somewhat of a mystery and is now largely being overlooked in international media reports. Strangely, it doesn’t even appear that Lebanese law enforcement is eager to talk to him just yet.
Cypriot media is saying Igor Grechushkin is not a Cypriot passport holder but is indeed residing in the EU country. Local authorities have indicated they are ready to bring him in for questioning, but they haven’t received a request from either Lebanese authorities or Interpol. Cypriot police spokesman Christos Andreou announced Thursday: “We have already contacted Interpol Beirut and expressed our readiness to provide them with any assistance they need, if and when our assistance is requested.”
Read the rest at the link below
Youths being held in the Franklin County Juvenile Detention Center are seen as poor candidates for release while their cases are pending. “youths”
Kim A. Browne, administrative judge of Franklin County Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court, said as much in early April. She expressed hesitation about releasing anyone during the coronavirus pandemic, calling those detained in the facility “very, very high safety concerns.” Yes sounds reasonable and sane so far…
But after an outbreak of COVID-19 cases in the detention center in early May, Browne ordered the release of eight youths on house arrest with electronic monitoring devices to reduce the detention center population.
By late June, two of the teens had been accused of violent gun crimes:
Kenyion L. Hairston, 15, charged with delinquency murder for a shooting on a South Linden street in which a 14-year-old boy died, and delinquency aggravated burglary for a University District break-in during which an accomplice reportedly brandished a handgun.
Victor J. Bivens Jr., 15, charged with delinquency aggravated robbery for allegedly knocking an 88-year-old woman to the floor and robbing her at gunpoint in her East Side home, and delinquency felonious assault for a shooting in which a friend was wounded on the East Side.
Oh wait. I see now. These are Yutes. Not “youths” and there is a difference.
None of the eight released by Browne obeyed the judge’s order to stay home, a Dispatch review of Juvenile Court records shows. What!!!? You have to be shitting me! Convicted felons ignore the law? This is preposterous!
Each one eventually removed or disabled his ankle monitor and went AWOL.
Two hadn’t been found as of Wednesday and were the subject of active warrants
“I’m not surprised at all,” Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O’Brien said of the results of the releases, each of which drew objections from his office. No one but a card carrying leftist idiot is surprised Ronnie.
“This kind of behavior was predictable, given their history, which is why we opposed their release,” he said.
Browne declined to answer a series of questions from The Dispatch about the decision-making process or comment on the outcome of the releases. Another non-surprise.
“The rules governing judicial conduct specifically prohibit judges from addressing any of these questions,” Browne responded in an email. “Judges may not say anything about cases on their dockets that might jeopardize their ability/duty to remain impartial.”
Lemme translate that. ” I am ruling class in black robes so I don’t have to answer to you plebes. I’m better than you in every way.”
Of the eight released, Bivens and one other are on Browne’s docket.
WHAAAAMP WHAAAMP Sad Trombone Noises
By Luis Valdes
In 1975, a company in my ancestral home of España (Spain) released to the shooting community what was then one of the most desired handguns in the world. A compact, lightweight aluminium framed, .45 ACP pistol styled after the 1911. That company was Star Bonifacio Echeverria, S.A. and the pistol was the Star PD 45.
Star Bonifacio Echeverria started making guns in 1905 and sadly went out of business in 1997 with the end of the Cold War and the downturn in the European arms market. But from 1975 to 1990, Star turned out the estimable PD 45, a fantastic little gem of a pistol.
A Colt commander-size 1911 and a compact Star PD 45
Weighing in at 25oz and having a capacity of 6+1, the Star PD was advanced for its era. It sported adjustable rear sights, a polished feed ramp and a fantastic trigger. The layout and ergonomics of the gun scream 1911 but the field stripping and design are more reminiscent of the Browning Hi-Power.
Just like the Hi-Power, the slide is retracted and the safety is engaged in the takedown notch, then the slide stop pin is pushed out. No need to manually line up the slide and awkwardly hold it there as with a 1911. There’s a removable barrel bushing like a 1911 and the PD 45 has no grip safety like a Hi-Power. The recoil spring has a plastic recoil bushing to keep the abuse down on the pistol’s aluminum frame during firing.
And that aluminum frame is the pistol’s one flaw. While the PD 45 is an impressive carry gun, it’s not built for hours and hours of range time and tens of thousands or rounds put through it. Star frames are known to crack if their buffers aren’t replaced regularly. Still, the late great Col. Jeff Cooper loved it for its intended role — combat-capable CCW pistol. But even he knew its limits. The colonel saw the gun for what it is . . .
“A gun to be carried much and fired little” – Col. Jeff Cooper, April 1975 in Guns & Ammo magazine
As a carry piece, though it truly excels. In the late 1970s and 1980s, the Star PD 45 was a very popular piece for plain clothes police work and personal protection. Remember that back then ammunition wasn’t what it is today. Most semi-autos would choke on anything that wasn’t hardball and that meant that the 9mm wasn’t the best choice for law enforcement work.
Hence the popularity of the .45 ACP. My particular Star PD was used as an off duty carry piece back in the late 1970s by my very own father when he was a plain clothes detective in Miami.
Accuracy back then was just as good as it is today.
My father carried the Star PD 45 as his off duty piece during the height of Miami’s cocaine drug wars. As a Homicide Detective who worked cases putting drug dealers away, he wanted something that packed a punch, wouldn’t quit, and could keep his kid safe.
Back then, the drug cartels had no issues going after cops, especially when some of their hit men were dirty cops themselves. But thankfully that era is long gone.
Today my father is retired and the Star PD 45 has also been relegated to the safe. But even in retirement, both my father and the pistol get to relive their glory days occasionally.
Star PD 45 Specifications
Weight: 25 oz
Barrel Length: 3.9inches
Caliber: .45 ACP
A common misconception is that the “PD” in the name stands for “Police Department.” Nope. PD were the initials of Pete Dickey an Interarms employee (the US importer of Star pistols) who submitted the original design idea for the pistol to Star Bonifacio Echeverria, S.A.
Today, these old school classics are gaining popularity again in collector circles. The average price for one is good condition is about $450. Parts are hard to find as are magazines since Star has been gone for 20 years now. But that doesn’t mean you should overlook a PD 45 if you spot one in your local gun store’s case or on a table at a show. If you want a blast from the past don’t let one slip past you.
A total of 1,102 people were denied handguns in Virginia in July, following the implementation of a new law that prohibits more than one pistol purchase per 30 days.
Roughly 59% of Virginia’s 1,877 total firearm denials were attributed to confusion about exactly when the first 30-day period began, according to data obtained by the Richmond Times-Dispatch. The policy, which Democratic Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam signed into law in April along with other gun regulations, took effect on July 1. However, the state had been tracking handgun purchases since June, the Dispatch reported.
“It was confusing,” Town Gun Shop Inc. President Mark Tosh told the local outlet. “I think it caught a lot of people off guard, because everybody thought, okay July 1, and now the clock starts ticking if you buy a handgun. If I buy one July 1, then by Aug. 2, I should be fine [to buy another].”
He continued, “But nobody knew they were going to go back into June. I think that’s why you saw so many denials.”
Other gun control laws pushed by Northam included universal background checks, a red flag confiscation bill and a host of storage laws. The one-per-month regulation is a reinstatement of a former ordinance passed originally in 1993 to prevent firearm stockpiling and dissuade gun trafficking, according to a press release.
The owner of Trader Jerry’s, one of Virginia’s largest federally licensed firearms dealers, Jerry Cochran, alleged the state concealed that the law was “retroactive.”
“They made it retroactive and did not tell us. That’s the deal,” Cochran told the Dispatch. “We had no idea. We could have asked [customers] if they had purchased a gun in June. The law does say 30 days, but everybody would have naturally assumed that it started July 1 — we all did.”
Read the rest at the link below