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Author: Subject: Police Seize Huge Cache Of Explosives From Colorado Home
Sauron
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[*] posted on 27-6-2007 at 20:46


I daresay, that if the president of Dupont or of Hercules Powder, started setting off charges at 3 a.m. in HIS driveway, mayhaps the local constabulary might sit up and take notice.

It's just wildly inappropriate.

You are quite correct about the Dudley Do-rights and the crawling things of the media - no question.

But Swerlein effectively was wearing a sandwich board that read:

DON'T BOTHER ME, I'M AN ECCENTRIC EXPLOSIVES NUT AT WORK!

The lesson to be learned is: if you have a home lab, make friends with your neighbors, invite them over when you barbecue, make sure your wife has coffee with their wives, and goes to their Tupperwear parties. In short try to fit in. That way if they do see anything odd, the thought going through their heads will be "It's just good ole boy Fred across the street" and NOT "What's that weird-o over there up to? Must be no good! Dial 911."

That's proactive self defense against this sort of police and media bullshit.

Never ever do anything to actively antagonize the neighborhoos against you.

0-dark-thirty explosions
Horrible smeels (use an oversize fucking caustic scrubber just like industry does)
Wearing your lab coat in plain sight
Novelty latex catsuits and fetish heels (just kidding!)
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MadHatter
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[*] posted on 28-6-2007 at 05:59
Neighbors


I make a point of helping out my neighbors whenever possible. My next door neighbor
works for the landlord. Some people have accused this guy of dealing drugs but the reality
is he smokes weed on occasion. I cut his lawn when I cut mine and ditto for the neighbor
on the other side of me. Illegal fireworks and loud explosions, probably illegal salutes,
are used here often but nobody calls the police because most of us are into it ! :D
On the Fourth Of July, this is one of the most lit up areas in the neigborhood and the cops
never come.

Sauron, you're right. Get to know your neigbors. The neigbors won't call the police
if they know you're just having some fun and not disturbing their sleep. Two nights ago a
guy setoff some roman candles but this was at 9:00 PM, not 3:00 AM. No cops came.




Power comes from the barrel of a gun !
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Winter
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[*] posted on 28-6-2007 at 06:48


Here's the latest out of Colorado:

*** QUOTE ***

Police confronted Ronald Swerlein about neighborhood complaints of loud noises coming from his house for the first time last year, seven months before he was arrested on suspicion of making explosives.

The Nov. 16 police visit to Swerlein's home preceded another call two weeks ago, which prompted detectives to raid his house June 15 and make an arrest.

Investigators credited neighborhood tips for leading them to Swerlein, 50, a retired electrical engineer.

And yesterday — during a second community meeting since police found a cache of chemicals, weapons and ammunition in Swerlein's home at 2404 Sunset Drive — officers encouraged the public to continue being their eyes and ears.

*** END Q ***

and there's more <a href="http://www.rockymountainnews.com/drmn/local/article/0,1299,DRMN_15_5606635,00.html">here</a>

[Edited on 28-6-2007 by Winter]

[Edited on 28-6-2007 by Winter]
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Eclectic
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[*] posted on 28-6-2007 at 06:54


They will NEVER admit that their response may have been disproportionate.



[Edited on 6-28-2007 by Eclectic]
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Winter
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[*] posted on 28-6-2007 at 07:06


"well we evacuated the neighborhood before we started firing tear gas into that couple's house"

"and we gave him a hospital gown to wear while we searched his shorts"

"and we trashed his chemistry set but we didn't burn down his house"

"and he's free on bail so what else do you want??"
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Taaie-Neuskoek
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[*] posted on 28-6-2007 at 12:57


Ok, right- the guy sounds a bit like a nutter, setting of explosives in such a way that there's scrapnel in the walls of your house doesn't sound good to be honest. IF you make HE's, you should not store them, or at least in a form where they can't do any serious harm (small portions, under water, in loose powder, etc).
Storing +200 ml of pure nitroglycerine is just plain wrong.

However, these links with terrorism are something I get increasingly tired off, a home chemist who bothers to collect +200 chemicals is very very most likely not to be a terrorist, even if he/she makes explosives them.

In all honesty do I not believe that this guy was a rocketeer, and that he did make HE's. However, I don't think he was a terrorist, and don't think he had any intentions either.

Sure, making explosives is against the law, and some experiments people do around here are illegal... However do I not think that making small-scale explosives (and hearing of the stories they were gram-scale explosions) is a real danger to society. Maybe he'll blow up his hands, maybe he'll set fire to his home- in no case someone else would get hurt. Making these kinds of things is in terms of risk assesment in the same ball park as cleaning something in-house with white spirit, and not something that 'deserves' this kind of media attention...
That is where I mostly get annoyed by, that people blow stories like this up cause it seems like someone was involved in an extremely dangerous activity, thereby damaging a hell of a lot people who do just innocent experiments.
I'd be pleased if there would appear some more articles about how scientists at home are working in relative safety, and are doing cool things there, trying to make obscure compounds for the sake of it... see Woelen's website for example.
Hope this made at least a little sense, I have a cold, am tired and am under influence of some booze...




Never argue with idiots, they drag you down their level and beat you with experience.
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franklyn
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[*] posted on 29-6-2007 at 10:21
Unless we forget


This is the real , not imagined , threat
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/19495826

Just today in my area a garage containing what is reported as " tons "
of chemicals ( such as potassium nitrate ) that " can be used to make
pyrotechnics " was seized and the surrounding suburban neighborhood
evacuated.
http://abclocal.go.com/wabc/story?section=local&id=54341...
http://www.nydailynews.com/news/2007/06/29/2007-06-29_cops_d...

Who knows , maybe the guy is afflicted with priapism and had on hand
a lifetime supply of saltpeter :P

This is quite a regular occurence everywhere and one only now hears of
the very local incident or else the very large one on national news reports.
Given the current climate of distrust one cannot be too careful.
http://www.nydailynews.com/news/2007/06/29/2007-06-29_britai...

I said it before , you must be sensible and responsible when transacting
with regulated materials.
http://www.sciencemadness.org/talk/viewthread.php?tid=6726&a...

.
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Pyridinium
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[*] posted on 29-6-2007 at 11:16


Quote:
Originally posted by franklyn
Just today in my area a garage containing what is reported as " tons "
of chemicals ( such as potassium nitrate ) that " can be used to make
pyrotechnics " was seized and the surrounding suburban neighborhood
evacuated.
http://abclocal.go.com/wabc/story?section=local&id=54341...
http://www.nydailynews.com/news/2007/06/29/2007-06-29_cops_d...
.


Those are two of the most biased, ignorant "news" articles I have seen lately. We keep encountering this... when are people going to realize: stop calling potassium nitrate "explosive" or "potentially explosive". It just isn't. Even if we count what KNO3 "could" be used for in combination with other things and after a great deal of processing, I'm less than impressed.

Then there's the irrelevant comparison to 9/11, used inappropriately to whip up fear . I don't know about you, but I would have no problems living next to someone with 5000 lbs of KNO3 on their property.

"Scary" indeed. I'd be more worried about a person who carelessly stored oily rags.

The media try their hardest to make a spectacle of every chemistry-related story. They don't realize the irreversible damage they're doing... not just to amateur chemistry, but to the whole science in general.

The public already turn a jaundiced eye toward anything chemical, yet they keep demanding polymers, alloys, fuels, pharmaceuticals, etc., etc. They seem undaunted by the irony.
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[*] posted on 29-6-2007 at 11:23


Quote:
Originally posted by Pyridinium

The public already turn a jaundiced eye toward anything chemical, yet they keep demanding polymers, alloys, fuels, pharmaceuticals, etc., etc. They seem undaunted by the irony.


and this is not the only irony that fails to daunt them :(
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Eclectic
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[*] posted on 29-6-2007 at 12:17


What's next? Are the police going to start seizing anything that COULD be used to commit rape? :mad:
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[*] posted on 29-6-2007 at 12:45


Quote:
Originally posted by Eclectic
What's next? Are the police going to start seizing anything that COULD be used to commit rape? :mad:


that would be ironic indeed :o
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Eclectic
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[*] posted on 29-6-2007 at 12:51


There was NO CRIME, There was NO HAZARD! (other than that created by a profoundly ignorant police department, seizing and storing, or destroying, materials they are not familiar with.)

(I'm talking about the guy with the potassium nitrate, not Mr. Swerlein, although, in spite of the allegation that Mr. Swerlein had nitroglycerine, even in that case, there may be no crime and no PUBLIC hazard, other than that created by law enforcement)

[Edited on 6-29-2007 by Eclectic]
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[*] posted on 29-6-2007 at 13:55


Au contraire, there was a crime. You're not allowed by law to synthesise and own nitroglycerin without the proper permits. And for good reason, What if a jar with the stuff had fallen out of his hands? He would have to have been scraped off the wall by his next of kin and he might have hurt others. You jsut don't make explosives in a residential neighbourhood, personally I think a small amount (at most 25 mL) wouldn't be much of a threat but this guy made half a pound...

And azide can be farking deadly if it's mixed with an acid. It forms hydrazoic acid (HN<sub>3</sub>;) which is pretty nasty stuff!!

That being said, bleach can also release copious amounts of chlorine and when you pee on it you can feel the sting of the chloroamines which aren't exactly nice either. Rubbing alcohol can burn violently just like naphta and plain ol' gasoline. Ammonia is another not-so-nice kind of vapour to inhale, and yet, we use it to clean, just like the alcohol, the naphta and the bleach. Let's just be grown-ups and not be scared of every little thing. Is it in vogue in the States to act like a retard about dangerous things? Coffee cups must state that they contain hot contents... I SHOULD HOPE SO!

Concerning his stash of chemicals, there are a lot of amateur chemists (or students) who can't control themselves when they have the chance to buy a reagent. I've bought half a kilo of sodium thiosulphate once only to discover is basically a useless chem if you're not into photography :P The point I'm trying to make is that he might well have a similar interest in chemicals without any deeper meanings. Maybe he wanted to add the NaN<sub>3</sub> to black powder to increase the volume of expelled gas in his propellants, who knows?! Let's just leave amateurs be a little. So long as he stops being an asshole and waking people up at night he should just go ahead.




#261501 +(11351)- [X]

the \"bishop\" came to our church today
he was a fucken impostor
never once moved diagonally

courtesy of bash
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Pyridinium
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[*] posted on 29-6-2007 at 14:05


For visitors from outside sciencemadness, here's a quick recap: Potassium nitrate is not an explosive.

You know, in this age of the internet, they could have checked on the accuracy of their statements. It would have taken all of about 30 seconds. I'd have to say that's a worthwhile effort when their article is going to be read by thousands or millions.

Their continuing to use innacuracies and loaded phrases to promote sensationalism and fear-mongering leads us toward one of perhaps two or three possible conclusions, none of which is encouraging.

EDIT: I know we're jumping back and forth somewhat now between the Swerlein case and this new Serrano case, but I think we all see the commonalities.

I did find the CNN article (re: Serrano) to be a bit less biased than the other ones:
http://www.cnn.com/2007/US/06/29/chemicals.found/index.html

[Edited on 29-6-2007 by Pyridinium]
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Eclectic
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[*] posted on 29-6-2007 at 14:18


Nerro, what law is that? Can you quote it or give a hyperlink to the full text, with annotations and relevant case law?
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[*] posted on 29-6-2007 at 14:25


It's not the journalists, except for their vested interest in sensationalism and lack of time, resources, or desire for fact-finding - it's the police. It is not that the police are ignorant, either. They have a vested interest in fear. It is not an accident that they overrespond to and overplay these things.

There was a recent incident here in town where large amounts of chemicals, fireworks, automatic weapons, "silencers", etc. were found. You can imagine what that stirred up...the police making them look as evil as possible, the sheeple believing whatever they are told to believe and calling for their heads...yet the homeowners were only charged with possession of a destructive device. There is no accountability, never will be.
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Nerro
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[*] posted on 29-6-2007 at 15:13


If there is no law against making sizable amounts of high-explosive in your house but there is a law that states that you can't wear your boots to bed (in Oklahoma) then your country needs to do some serious thinking!

[Edited on 30-6-2007 by Nerro]




#261501 +(11351)- [X]

the \"bishop\" came to our church today
he was a fucken impostor
never once moved diagonally

courtesy of bash
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Eclectic
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[*] posted on 29-6-2007 at 15:49


Here, Here! For more folks in the USA doing some serious thinking!

[Edited on 6-29-2007 by Eclectic]
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[*] posted on 29-6-2007 at 16:30


"Destructive device" is a catch-all term under the Gun Control Act of 1968 that amended the National Firearms Act of 1934. Destructive device means lots of things.

Rifled firearms larger than caliber .50 - this includes antitank rifles like .55 Boys, 20mm Lahti, 14.5mm PTRD and PTRS, 20mm Solothurn etc. that prior to 1968 were not regulated.

Mortars
Mines
Grenades (HE, WP but not pyrotechnics like smoke HC)
Improvised explosive devices
Incendiary devices, including improvised.

And so on. It is rather vague and I have seen some highly IMO abusive prosecutions under this act and parallel state laws. Furthermore there is a gray area concerning dummy (inert) devices (for training or display) as there have been many instances of people reporting to police that someone has "grenades" that turn out to be harmless paperweights but his house gets trashed and he gets hauled in anyway while the boffins sort things out.

I once was raided at midnight by two ATF agents with Alexandria VA PD backup because a janitor saw what appeared to be a pair of live extended-range 81mm HE and WP mortar bombs in my apartment/office. These had in fact been imported for display at the annual Association of the US Army convention by their manufacturer whose US agent I was. They were totally inert but painted like the live shells, with inert but realistic propellant increments, no charge, no primer, nothing in the detonator cap, etc. The agents wanted to take them anyway, I argued against that because they were my client's property and lawfully imported. I had to repeat that a few times before it sank in. "These were imported on a Form 6?" they asked. I said yes. So off we went to my other office across town (Arlington) and I found the Form 6 copy from ATF's own Imports Branch. I was of course a licensed NFA Class 2 manufacturer and also licensed as manufacturer and exporter of munitions by State Dept.

Finally satisfied, the ATF took me back to my place, dropped me off, and left empty handed.

But that could easily have been a SWAT door kicking exercise with the entire building evacuated, news media on scene and me hauled away in handcuffs, all for no proper reason. If it had been 2007 instead of 1985 maybe that's how it would have played out.

I could tell you lots of second hand tales of woe like this but THIS one happened to ME. It is not second hand.
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[*] posted on 29-6-2007 at 17:06


Speaking of "destructive devices", Derrick Shareef was arrested last December near Chicago and accused of plotting to detonate four grenades in garbage cans in a shopping mall. He was charged under a law that covers conspiracy to obtain and/or use "weapons of mass destruction". The charge sounded ridiculous at first, but when you read the law, it explicitly classifies all sorts of things under the title "weapons of mass destruction", and grenades clearly fall into that category.

I'm not sure how much this adds to the discussion but here's a link to a post that has a lot of other links, in case anyone is interested ...

http://winterpatriot.blogspot.com/2006/12/derrick-shareefs-b...
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Sauron
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[*] posted on 1-7-2007 at 09:31


WMD meand only chemical, biological and nuclear weapons.

Properly used it means military weaponized NBC weapons.

Bear in mind that up till now the sole use of a chemical weapon by a subnational actor was the Tokyo subway attack using Sarin and clearly this was not properly weaponized as it only killed a very small number of people, although sarin certainly is a military grade CW.

Furthermore I do not regard this to have been a terrorist use of a CW as the Aum Shin Rikkyo were religious nutters rather than terrorists per se. I regard their act as criminal mass murder rather than terrorism. Terror is a crime of intent, and the Aum were actually trying to confuse the authorities regarding earlier incidents that are rarely publicized in the Western media.

Anyway whatever law you are talking about sounds like an Illinois state law, rather than a federal law. Please clarify, cite the actual state please.

HE hand grenades are certainly NOT WMDs. Just because some ill advised state legislators deem them so does not make them so in fact.
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[*] posted on 1-7-2007 at 09:50


It is in fact a federal law we're talking about; Shareef was charged under a federal law that makes it a crime to do anything that could interfere with interstate commerce -- and he was supposedly getting ready to attack a mall so there's your interstate commerce. At least half of those stores -- probably more -- have customers and/or vendors outside Illinois. So it's a federal case and in fact Patrick Fitzgerald is the prosecutor.

And here are the laws in question and some excerpts from them as detailed in the post I linked to above

=====================

http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/html/uscode18/usc_sec_18_0...

Weapon Of Mass Destruction

(2) the term “weapon of mass destruction” means—

(A) any destructive device as defined in section 921 of this title [see below];
(B) any weapon that is designed or intended to cause death or serious bodily injury through the release, dissemination, or impact of toxic or poisonous chemicals, or their precursors;
(C) any weapon involving a biological agent, toxin, or vector (as those terms are defined in section 178 of this title); or
(D) any weapon that is designed to release radiation or radioactivity at a level dangerous to human life; and

=====================

http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/html/uscode18/usc_sec_18_0...

Section 921

Destructive Device

(4) The term “destructive device” means—

(A) any explosive, incendiary, or poison gas—
(i) bomb,
(ii) grenade,
(iii) rocket having a propellant charge of more than four ounces,
(iv) missile having an explosive or incendiary charge of more than one-quarter ounce,
(v) mine, or
(vi) device similar to any of the devices described in the preceding clauses;

=====================

http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/html/uscode18/usc_sec_18_0...

Use of weapons of mass destruction

(a) A person who, without lawful authority, uses, threatens, or attempts or conspires to use, a weapon of mass destruction —-
(1) [...]
(2) against any person or property within the United States, and
(A) [...]
(B) such property is used in interstate or foreign commerce or in an activity that affects interstate or foreign commerce;
(C) [...]
(D) the offense, or the results of the offense, affect interstate or foreign commerce, or, in the case of a threat, attempt, or conspiracy, would have affected interstate or foreign commerce;

=====================

it's open and shut -- as far as I can see he has no wiggle room at all

=====================

more to the point, YES! I was surprised to see this law too, but that's what it says!
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