Small Virginia Retailer Corners the Market on Fashionable Bulletproof Suits
Bullet proof armor is life saving, incredibly important to security forces of any kind, but usually quite ugly, bulky, and heavy. A smaller men's suiting retailer in Virginia decided to take it upon themselves to great bullet proof suits worthy of James Bond.
Bulletproof armor is life saving and incredibly important to security forces of any kind, but usually quite ugly, bulky, and heavy. Even bulletproof vests that can be worn under clothing are a bit clunky and weighty. A smaller men's suiting retailer in Virginia decided to take it upon themselves to make bulletproof suits worthy of James Bond.
Aspetto: I [Abbas] started a clothing company freshman year of college. It was dress shirts, suits. The company was starting to grow a little. I had an international marketing class. The idea was to take a product from the U.S. to overseas. We wanted to take something to the Middle East. We were thinking of bombs, bullets, things blowing up. We think we can integrate armor into the suits. There was a local company, Renegade Armor. They said one of the [federal] agencies about a year ago was requesting bulletproof suits, but they couldn't do it, because they didn't know anything about suits. Before we could present our product to the class, we were talking to one of the agencies.
The Wire: So you were already in the suiting business. How did that affect your bulletproof designs?
Aspetto: Everything we do here is custom. That really impacts how well the bulletproof suits fit, and how well they work. Custom is "better," because it'll be a product used specifically. With our regular suits, not bulletproof, you can see a gentleman walking down the street and see the suit is custom. It's just for him, it fits right. When you add the bulletproof side of it, it not only has that look, but it has a functionality. Each panel is designed to cover them, if they have a broader chest or narrower waist. That way, it fits more appropriately and better.
The Wire: Do you make any non-custom suits?
Aspetto: We are starting to do work for overseas governments, which won't be custom. One of the agencies in the U.S. wanted to find out if we can do standard, but custom is better.
The Wire: What's the design process like for the bulletproof suits?
Aspetto: A lot of research and development went into slimming down these suits and making them covert. It makes them not appear to be bulky, not look the way you would think. The ballistic material within the suit is not only thin, but also lighter weight. We don't necessarily want the heavier product because we wanted it to be comfortable when worn. On average, our bullet resistant suits weigh 6 to 7 pounds, give or take on the size of the person. A regular suit weighs roughly 3 pounds. The fit is determined by our patent-pending technology.
The Wire: What are some of your most popular products?
Aspetto: We are starting to get into tactical gear, what you see military and police wearing. That's always going to be needed. One of the popular things we do is an undershirt, you wear it under a dress shirt. Bullet resistance, bomb frag resistance and fire retardant, and there's a concealed carry pocket.
The Wire: Any weird product requests?
Aspetto: We made a bulletproof kids' backpack. It was pink. It was right after the Newtown shooting. We had a lot of inquiries about the protection of kids. The backpack was the most common solution for that. It was really sad.
The Wire: How are your prices?
Aspetto: Depending on the level of protection, it'll be between $3,500 to $5,000. A non-bulletproof suit, made with an average fabric, it would be around $600-$1000.
The Wire: How do you determine your fabric and materials are bulletproof?
Aspetto: We try to stick with 100 percent wool for the exterior. One of the big things is we want to make sure when you're wearing bullet resistance, it'll be robust, but also professional. So it'll look nice. That is one of the considerations we have with the external fabric.
As for the bullet proof material, we go through the National Institute of Justice. It has a certification to approve ballistics. When we have our bullet resistant packages, they can be certified to stop a certain point of threat levels. We gather our bullet resistant materials from our partner. They provide us with materials only certified by NIJ. Level 3a; that is what we handle, that's the highest in soft armor. Level 3a will stop any handgun or shotgun. Most local law enforcements wear Level 2a, so we are a step above that.
A lot of things can stop a bullet, but it's also what happens after the bullet stops. We call it back face. So it's not just stopping the bullet, it's making sure nothing is ruptured after, that the heart isn't affected. That's what our materials can do, that's what they are certified to do.
The Wire: There's a company in Colombia that also makes bulletproof clothing. The owner insists on shooting his employees (and himself) in the clothes before he sells them. Do you guys do that?
Aspetto: The way we see it — and why neither of us have gotten shot — we see that as reckless. If we are going to be working with government agencies, go into their shoes. If this person is shooting himself, or his employee, yes, he is confident in his product, but is that something we want to be a part of? We don't see it as necessary because we have ballistics that have gone through the testing, that will stop threat levels. We don't care to partake in an idea of that sort. We do put our suits on a mannequin and shoot at them.
The Wire: What happens after you get shot in a suit?
Aspetto: If you got shot once, you should get a new suit after you've been shot. You can take multiple shots, but still, it's dangerous. We have put 18-to-20 rounds in a suit when we tested a suit.
The Wire: You must get a lot of crazy people calling you.
Aspetto: We have had sketchy phone calls. We do tell the customers that we do background checks. That's for our liability. We try to stick with mostly law enforcement and federal agents. The idea was to protect the people that protect us. We don't want our product ending up in the wrong hands.
The Wire: So do you actually make federal agents look cool under cover?
Aspetto: We do have government contracts, and our suits are definitely really cool. We can't speak about which agencies we work with though.
You can watch Aspetto suits get shot here:
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
Trump is replacing his national-security adviser with John Bolton, a persistent advocate of military intervention.
On Thursday, Donald Trump replaced a man who built the case for war with North Korea as a last resort with a man who just made the case for war with North Korea as more of a first resort. Trump announced that National-Security Adviser H.R. McMaster will be succeeded by John Bolton, the George W. Bush-era United Nations ambassador who has advocated for U.S. military action to prevent Saddam Hussein, Ayatollah Khamenei, and most recently Kim Jong Un from amassing weapons of mass destruction.
North Korea is an “imminent threat” to America because it is only months away from achieving the capacity to deliver nuclear warheads to the U.S. mainland, Bolton wrote in late February in The Wall Street Journal. Therefore “it is perfectly legitimate” for the U.S. to defend itself “by striking [North Korea] first.”
John Dowd is the president’s second personal lawyer to leave the job and it’s the second major change to his legal team this week.
Updated on March 22 at 1:15 p.m.
John Dowd announced he will depart his position as President Trump’s lead personal lawyer in the Russia investigation, the second person to leave that job in less than a year.
Dowd announced his exit late Thursday morning. The specifics of the decision remain obscure—The Washington Post described it, somewhat paradoxically, as “a largely mutual decision”—but the departure comes amid rising frustration from the president with his legal team and frustration from the legal team over Trump’s refusal to follow advice. Dowd had been a particularly strong voice arguing against Trump testifying to Special Counsel Robert Mueller, and over the weekend Dowd called for Mueller’s firing, initially telling The Daily Beast he spoke for the president, then later insisting he spoke only for himself.
Gigantic piles of impounded, abandoned, and broken bicycles have become a familiar sight in many Chinese cities, after a rush to build up its new bike-sharing industry vastly overreached.
Last year, bike sharing took off in China, with dozens of bike-share companies quickly flooding city streets with millions of brightly colored rental bicycles. However, the rapid growth vastly outpaced immediate demand and overwhelmed Chinese cities, where infrastructure and regulations were not prepared to handle a sudden flood of millions of shared bicycles. Riders would park bikes anywhere, or just abandon them, resulting in bicycles piling up and blocking already-crowded streets and pathways. As cities impounded derelict bikes by the thousands, they moved quickly to cap growth and regulate the industry. Vast piles of impounded, abandoned, and broken bicycles have become a familiar sight in many big cities. As some of the companies who jumped in too big and too early have begun to fold, their huge surplus of bicycles can be found collecting dust in vast vacant lots. Bike sharing remains very popular in China, and will likely continue to grow, just probably at a more sustainable rate. Meanwhile, we are left with these images of speculation gone wild—the piles of debris left behind after the bubble bursts.
How sugar daddies and vaginal microbes created the world’s largest HIV epidemic
VULINDLELA, South Africa—Mbali N. was just 17 when a well-dressed man in his 30s spotted her. She was at a mall in a nearby town, alone, when he called out. He might have been captivated by her almond eyes and soaring cheekbones. Or he might have just seen her for what she was: young and poor.
She tried to ignore him, she told me, but he followed her. They exchanged numbers. By the time she got home, he had called her. He said he wasn’t married, and she doesn’t know if that was true. They met at a house in a different township; she doesn’t know if it belonged to him. Mbali, who is now 24, also doesn’t know if he had HIV.
She enjoyed spending time with the man during the day, when they would talk and go to the movies. But she didn’t like it when he called at night and demanded to have sex, which happened about six times a month. When she refused him, he beat her. For her trouble, he gave her a cellphone, sweets, and chocolates.
The Cambridge Analytica scandal is drawing attention to malicious data thieves and brokers. But every Facebook app—even the dumb, innocent ones—collected users’ personal data without even trying.
For a spell during 2010 and 2011, I was a virtual rancher of clickable cattle on Facebook.
It feels like a long time ago. Obama was serving his first term as president. Google+ hadn’t arrived, let alone vanished again. Steve Jobs was still alive, as was Kim Jong Il. Facebook’s IPO hadn’t yet taken place, and its service was still fun to use—although it was littered with requests and demands from social games, like FarmVille and Pet Society.
I’d had enough of it—the click-farming games, for one, but also Facebook itself. Already in 2010, it felt like a malicious attention market where people treated friends as latent resources to be optimized. Compulsion rather than choice devoured people’s time. Apps like FarmVille sold relief for the artificial inconveniences they themselves had imposed.
Party leadership is sending an unmistakable signal to voters: So long as Republicans hold the congressional majority, they will not act to meaningfully constrain, or even oversee, the president.
Every time Donald Trump breaks a window, congressional Republicans obediently sweep up the glass.
That’s become one of the most predictable patterns of his turbulent presidency—and a defining dynamic of the approaching midterm elections. Each time they overtly defend his behavior, or implicitly excuse him by failing to object, they bind themselves to him more tightly.
It happened again last weekend when Trump fired off a volley of tweets that, for the first time, attacked Special Counsel Robert Mueller by name. A handful of GOP senators responded with warnings against dismissing Mueller. More congressional Republicans said nothing. Party leaders, such as House Speaker Paul Ryan, tried to downplay the attacks by insisting that Trump would not act on them and fire Mueller, who is investigating Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. Most important, and regardless of their rhetorical posture, Republicans almost universally locked arms to reject legislative action to protect the special counsel.
How evangelicals, once culturally confident, became an anxious minority seeking political protection from the least traditionally religious president in living memory
One of the most extraordinary things about our current politics—really, one of the most extraordinary developments of recent political history—is the loyal adherence of religious conservatives to Donald Trump. The president won four-fifths of the votes of white evangelical Christians. This was a higher level of support than either Ronald Reagan or George W. Bush, an outspoken evangelical himself, ever received.
Trump’s background and beliefs could hardly be more incompatible with traditional Christian models of life and leadership. Trump’s past political stances (he once supported the right to partial-birth abortion), his character (he has bragged about sexually assaulting women), and even his language (he introduced the words pussy and shithole into presidential discourse) would more naturally lead religious conservatives toward exorcism than alliance. This is a man who has cruelly publicized his infidelities, made disturbing sexual comments about his elder daughter, and boasted about the size of his penis on the debate stage. His lawyer reportedly arranged a $130,000 payment to a porn star to dissuade her from disclosing an alleged affair. Yet religious conservatives who once blanched at PG-13 public standards now yawn at such NC-17 maneuvers. We are a long way from The Book of Virtues.
They’re both blamed for predisposing their members to violent acts, but they’ve sparked radically different public-policy responses.
When I thought about locking up with a crew in 1996, I wanted to see a full initiation first, not parts I stumbled upon over the years. My friend Cliff and I arrived at a park not close from my home in Jamaica, Queens. Leaves danced with the wind around our feet, wafting an eerie feeling in my 14-year-old black body. The grounds of the initiation beckoned: a high-rise chain link fence, enclosing two basketball courts.
Through the daylighted chain, I watched scowls and punches and stomps engulf the uninitiated teen—a stoppage, then an awkward transition into hugs, handshakes, and smiles. The striking contrast shot at my core of authenticity, the insincerity of the punch-hug, of the stomp-smile, murdering my thoughts of joining a crew.
FBI employees are required to adhere to an ethical standard that includes an affirmative duty to offer relevant information to internal investigators.
When Attorney General Jeff Sessions fired former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe last week, just hours short of McCabe’s retirement, he cited an internal FBI investigation that concluded McCabe “lacked candor” in his conversations with investigators when asked about disclosures to the media during the 2016 election.
But what does that actually mean?
“Lack of candor is untruthfulness or an attempt to dissemble from the point of view of the investigator,” said Dave Gomez, a former FBI agent and a senior fellow at George Washington University’s Center for Cyber and Homeland Security. “The problem comes when, in answering a question, the person under investigation attempts to spin his answer in order to present his actions in the best possible light. This is normal human behavior, but can be interpreted as a lack of candor by the investigator.”