Military transgender ban blocked by federal appeals court - We Are The Mighty
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Military transgender ban blocked by federal appeals court

The new rules would allow Defense Secretary James Mattis to retain troops who had been serving openly

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Peter Everest Air Force Test Pilot

General Frank “Pete” Everest was a record-setting U.S. Air Force Test pilot. As a fighter pilot in World War II he flew over 150 combat missions. He then went on to lead the Air Force flight test program, flying with other legendary pilots like Chuck Yeager and George Welch.

From 1950 to 1956 he flew an average of eight newly designed aircraft a month, setting records like taking the Bell X-1 to an altitude of 73,000 feet and the X-2 to a speed of over 1900 miles per hour, making him the “fastest man alive” at the time. In this episode Pete Everest tells stories of those pioneering days of experimental aircraft and daring test pilots.

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Romania’s navy is getting a complete overhaul

Romania has been a bit of an odd duck historically. It has the dubious honor of being home to Vlad the Impaler (the inspiration for Dracula) and, under the Ceausescu regime, went its own way at times while nominally a member of the Warsaw Pact, even going as far as buying French equipment during the Cold War (which it refused to let the Soviets examine).


Now a NATO ally, Romania has been making do with a lot of ships that use old Soviet technology. Their most modern vessels are two heavily-modified British Type 22 Batch 2 frigates that have had their Sea Wolf surface-to-air missiles removed. Their most powerful ship is the 33-year-old destroyer Marasesti, armed with eight SS-N-2 Styx anti-ship missiles, two triple 533mm torpedo tube mounts, four AK-630 Gatling guns, and two twin 76.2mm AK-726 dual-purpose guns.

Military transgender ban blocked by federal appeals court
Regele Ferdinand, one of two modified Type 22 frigates acquired by Romania. (Wikimedia Commons photo by MAPN)

That could be changing soon, however, according to a report by DefenseNews.com. Romania is now seeking to buy three submarines to replace its lone Kilo-class vessel, the Delfinul, and four new surface ships. While Romania has made no decision on which submarine design it will buy, it did, at one point, plan to buy four Sigma-class corvettes from the Netherlands.

The previous purchases indicate that the Romanian Navy may be looking to replace their Tetal-class corvettes. The corvettes, three of which were built in the 1980s, are armed with one or two twin AK-726 mounts, two twin 533mm torpedo tube mounts, and 30mm cannon, among other systems. Two of the Tetal-class corvettes can operate helicopters off decks.

Military transgender ban blocked by federal appeals court
One of four Tetal-class corvettes in the Romanian Navy. The aft AK-726 mount marks this as a Tetal I variant. (Wikimedia Commons photo by MAPN)

Romania has also ordered 227 Piranha V infantry fighting vehicles. These eight-wheeled vehicles are comparable to the M1126 Stryker, with a crew of three and the ability to haul eight infantrymen.

Though it’s impossible to say exactly which upgrades Romania is to acquire, modernization seems to be an inevitability.

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Intelligence Officer Fighting in Europe

Walter Bodlander was a military intelligence officer for the US Army during WWII.  He was born in Germany in 1920. As a Jew, he knew he had to flea Hitler’s regime. He eventually made his way to the United States and volunteered to join the Army to fight the Nazis.  Military Intelligence wanted to use his fluency in German to interrogate Nazi prisoners on the front lines.  Walter was soon dispatched to England to join the D-Day invasion and the march into Germany.

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Military transgender ban blocked by federal appeals court

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The mystery behind potential sonic weapons in Cuba is getting weirder

There must be an answer.


Whatever is harming US diplomats in Havana, it has eluded the doctors, scientists, and intelligence analysts scouring for answers. Investigators have chased many theories, including a sonic attack, electromagnetic weapon, or flawed spying device.

Each explanation seems to fit parts of what’s happened, conflicting with others.

The United States doesn’t even know what to call it. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson used the phrase “health attacks.” The State Department prefers “incidents.”

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Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. Photo from US Embassy Consulate in Korea.

Either way, suspicion has fallen on Cuba. But investigators also are examining whether a rogue faction of its security services, another country such as Russia, or some combination is to blame, more than a dozen US officials familiar with the investigation told The Associated Press.

Those officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to publicly discuss the investigation. The AP also talked to scientists, physicians, acoustics and weapons experts, and others about the theories being pursued.

Perhaps the biggest mystery is why the symptoms, sounds, and sensations vary so dramatically from person to person.

Of the 21 medically confirmed US victims, some have permanent hearing loss or concussions, while others suffered nausea, headaches, and ear-ringing. Some are struggling with concentration or common word recall, the AP has reported. Some felt vibrations or heard loud sounds mysteriously audible in only parts of rooms, and others heard nothing.

Military transgender ban blocked by federal appeals court
Ambassador Jeffrey DeLaurentis, Chargé d’Affaires at US Embassy Havana. Photo from US State Department.

“These are very nonspecific symptoms. That’s why it’s difficult to tell what’s going on,” said Dr. H. Jeffrey Kim, a specialist on ear disorders at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital, who isn’t involved with the investigation.

To solve the puzzle, investigators are sorting symptoms into categories, such as auditory and neurological, according to individuals briefed on the probe.

There can be a lag before victims discover or report symptoms, some of which are hard to diagnose. So investigators are charting the timeline of reported incidents to identify “clusters” to help solve the when, where, and how of the Havana whodunit.

While Cuba has been surprisingly cooperative, even inviting the FBI to fly down to Havana, it’s not the same as an investigation with the US government in full control.

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Photo courtesy of the FBI.

“You’re on foreign soil,” said David Rubincam, a former FBI agent who served in Moscow. “The quality of the information and evidence you collect is limited to what the host government will allow you to see and hear and touch and do.”

Especially when you don’t even know what you’re looking for.

Sonic Device

The first signs pointed to a sonic attack. But what kind?

Some victims heard things — signs that the sounds were in the audible spectrum. Loud noise can harm hearing, especially high-decibel sounds that can trigger ear-ringing tinnitus, ruptured ear drums, even permanent hearing loss.

But others heard nothing, and still became ill. So investigators considered inaudible sound: infrasound, too low for humans to hear, and ultrasound, too high.

Infrasound often is experienced as vibration, like standing near a subwoofer. Some victims reported feeling vibrations.

And it’s not impossible that infrasound could explain some of what diplomats thought they heard.

Though infrasound is usually inaudible, some people can detect it if the waves are powerful enough. For example, individuals living near infrasound-generating wind turbines have described pulsating hums that have left them dizzy, nauseous, or with interrupted sleep. Such effects have prompted fierce scientific debate.

The balance problems reported in Havana? Possibly explained by infrasound, which may stimulate cells in the ear’s vestibular system that controls balance, scientists say.

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The anatomy of the inner ear. The vestibular system helps regulate balance. Diagram from Wikimedia Commons.

But there’s little evidence infrasound can cause lasting damage once the sound stops.

And the pinpointed focus of the sound, reported by some? Infrasound waves travel everywhere, making them difficult to aim with precision.

“There’s no efficient way to focus infrasound to make it into a usable weapon,” said Mario Svirsky, an expert on ear disorders and neuroscience at New York University School of Medicine.

If not infrasound, maybe ultrasound?

At high-intensity, ultrasound can damage human tissue. That’s why doctors use it to destroy uterine fibroids and some tumors.

But ultrasound damage requires close contact between the device and the body. “You cannot sense ultrasound from long distances,” Svirsky said. No victim said they saw a weird contraption nearby.

None of these sound waves seems to explain the concussions. Usually, those follow a blow to the head or proximity to something like a bomb blast.

Military transgender ban blocked by federal appeals court

“I know of no acoustic effect or device that could produce traumatic brain injury or concussion-like symptoms,” said Juergen Altmann, an acoustic weapons expert and physicist at Germany’s Technische Universitaet Dortmund.

Electromagnetic Weapon

It may sound like Star Wars fantasy, but electromagnetic weapons have been around for years. They generally harm electronics, not humans.

The electromagnetic spectrum includes waves like the ones used by your cellphone, microwave, and light bulbs.

And they can be easily pinpointed. Think lasers. Such waves can also travel through walls, so an electromagnetic attack could be plausibly concealed from afar.

There’s precedent. For more than a decade ending in the 1970s, the former Soviet Union bombarded the US Embassy in Moscow with microwaves. The exact purpose was never clear.

What about the sounds people heard?

Microwave pulses — short, intense blasts — can cause people to “hear” clicking sounds. According to a two-decade-old US Air Force patent, the American military has researched whether those blasts could be manipulated to “beam” voices or other sounds to someone’s head.

But when electromagnetic waves cause physical damage, it usually results from body tissue being heated. The diplomats in Cuba haven’t been reporting burning sensations.

Something Else

The stress and anxiety about the disturbing incidents could be complicating the situation. Diplomats may be taking a closer look at mild symptoms they’d otherwise ignored.

After all, once symptoms emerged, the US Embassy encouraged employees to report anything suspicious. Many of these symptoms can be caused by a lot of different things.

Military transgender ban blocked by federal appeals court
John Kerry delivers remarks at the flag-raising ceremony at the newly re-opened US Embassy in Havana, Cuba, on August 14, 2015. Photo from US State Department.

At least one other country, France, tested embassy staffers after an employee reported symptoms. The French then ruled out sonic-induced damage, the AP reported .

Not knowing what’s causing the crisis in Cuba has made it harder to find the culprit. If there is one at all.

The Cuba Theory

It was only natural that American suspicion started with Cuba.

The attacks happened on Cuban soil. The two countries routinely harassed each other’s diplomats over a half-century of enmity. Despite eased tensions over the past couple of years, distrust lingers.

Diplomats reported incidents in their homes and in hotels. Cuban authorities would know who is staying in each.

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US Marines stand ready to raise the flag during ceremony at the Ambassador’s residence in Havana, Cuba. Photo from US State Department.

But what’s the motive?

When symptoms emerged last November, Cuba was working feverishly with the US to make progress on everything from internet access to immigration rules before President Barack Obama’s term ended. Officials still don’t understand why Havana would at the same time perpetrate attacks that could destroy its new relationship with Washington entirely.

Cuban President Raul Castro’s reaction deepened investigators’ skepticism, according to officials briefed on a rare, face-to-face discussion he had on the matter with America’s top envoy in Havana.

Predictably, Castro denied responsibility. But US officials were surprised that Castro seemed genuinely rattled, and that Cuba offered to let the FBI come investigate.

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Cuban President Raúl Castro (left) shakes hands with former US President Barack Obama, 2015. Photo courtesy of the White House.

Then, Canadians got ill. Why them?

The warm, long-standing ties between Cuba and Canada made it seem even less logical that Castro’s government was the culprit.

The Rogues

If not Castro, could elements of Cuba’s vast intelligence apparatus be to blame? Investigators haven’t ruled out that possibility, several US officials said.

It’s no secret that some within Cuba’s government are uneasy about Raul Castro’s opening with Washington.

“It’s entirely possible that hard-line elements acted,” said Michael Parmly, who headed the US mission in Havana until 2008.

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Photo from Public Domain.

But mounting unauthorized attacks, tantamount to aggression against a foreign power, would be a risky act of defiance in a country noted for its strong central control.

Cuba’s surveillance of US diplomats in Havana is intense. The government tracks US diplomats’ movements and conversations.

So at a minimum, if Americans were being attacked, it’s difficult to imagine Cuba’s spies being left in the dark.

The Outsiders

Who else would dare?

US investigators have focused on a small group of usual suspects: Russia, Iran, North Korea, China, Venezuela.

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Cuban President Raúl Castro (left) and Russian President Vladimir Putin. Photo from Moscow Kremlin.

Russia, in particular, has harassed American diplomats aggressively in recent years.

Moscow even has a plausible motive: driving a wedge between the communist island and “the West” — nations such as the United States and Canada. Russia also has advanced, hard-to-detect weaponry that much of the world lacks and might not even know about.

None of the officials interviewed for this story pointed to any evidence, however, linking Russia to the illnesses. The same goes for the other countries.

Spying Gone Awry?

Maybe no one tried to hurt the Americans at all.

Several US officials have emphasized the possibility the culprit merely surveilled the US diplomats using some new, untested technology that caused unintended harm.

You might think eavesdropping devices simply receive signals. But the world of espionage is full of strange tales.

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Embassy of the United States in Moscow. Photo from Wikimedia Commons user NVO.

During the Cold War, the US Embassy in Moscow discovered Russia listening to conversations through a wooden plaque that the American ambassador received as a gift. The plaque had a tiny “microphone” and antenna embedded, but no power source, making it hard to detect even when the room was swept for bugs.

The Russians had developed something novel. They remotely beamed electromagnetic waves to activate the device, which then transmitted sound back via radio frequencies.

Yet if the Cubans or anyone else were equally as innovative, it’s unclear why the incidents would have continued once the United States and Canada complained.

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Jordan’s new Black Hawks will punish terror cells on its border

In the 1960s, ’70s, and ’80s, the utility helicopter almost everyone wanted was the Bell UH-1 Iroquois, best known as the “Huey.” This helicopter became very popular, selling to just about anyone who wasn’t a commie (although the communists did grab a few). Over 16,500 Hueys were purchased.


Today, it’s the UH-60 Black Hawk that is in high demand. Saudi Arabia recently bought 17 for the Saudi Arabian National Guard and the Royal Saudi Land Forces Airborne Special Security Forces. Earlier this year, the Times of Israel reported that the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan recently took delivery on the last two UH-60 Black Hawks of a 12-chopper order.

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A Jordan Armed Forces UH-60 sits on the tarmac. (U.S. State Department photo)

The report quoted a Tweet from the United States Embassy in Jordan noting that these helicopters will help strengthen the Quick Reaction Force of the Jordanian Armed Forces. This special operations unit is composed of three airborne battalions and a squadron of UH-60M helicopters. The UH-60M, according to Lockheed Martin, can hold 11 troops or roughly one squad of infantry.

The Quick Reaction Force also had a separate aviation brigade that is being handed over to the Royal Jordanian Air Force. This unit had UH-60L Black Hawks alongside MD-530F helicopters (roughly equivalent to the MH-6/AH-6 Little Bird helicopters) and CN-235 and C-295M transport planes. The unit also has the 37th Royal Special Forces Group, which has one group responsible for carrying out special operations and another assigned to counter-terrorism missions.

Jordan has been a part of the coalition taking on the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), suffering the loss of a pilot in 2015 after he was burned alive following his capture by the radical Islamic terrorist group. The al-Nusra Front, an affiliate of al-Qaeda, has operated in Syria as well.

Military transgender ban blocked by federal appeals court
UH-60 Black Hawks are on the tarmac while a mix of UH-60s and MD530Fs fly overhead. (U.S. State Department photo)

The new Black Hawks join a mix of S-70, UH-60A, and the aforementioned UH-60Ls currently in service. FlightGlobal.com noted in World Air Forces 2018 that Jordan had 20 Black Hawks of all types on hand and 10 more on order.

One thing for certain is that the helicopter of choice for most special operations units is the Black Hawk.

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Here are the best military photos for the week of May 6

The military has very talented photographers in the ranks, and they constantly attempt to capture what life as a service member is like during training and at war. Here are the best military photos of the week:


Air Force:

An F-35 Lightning II assigned to Hill Air Force Base, Utah, flies alongside a 100th Air Refueling Wing KC-135 Stratotanker during a flight to Estonia on April 25, 2017. The F-35s are participating in their first-ever flying training deployment to Europe. 

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U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Christine Groening)

Airmen conduct a high altitude, low opening jump from a MC-130J Commando II April 24, 2017, above Okinawa, Japan. Kadena Air Base land and water drop zones are suited for multi-pass jump operations which maximize proficiency and limited resources.

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U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman John Linzmeier

Army:

A UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter from A Company, 1/150th Assault Helicopter Battalion, flies over Belize City while transporting Soldiers and Marines on their way back from Dangriga, Belize, April 10, 2017. The 1/150th is providing lift support and medevac, if necessary, for Beyond the Horizon 2017, a U.S. Southern Command-sponsored, Army South-led exercise, designed to provide humanitarian and engineering services to communities in need, demonstrating U.S. support for Belize. 

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U.S. Army Photo by Sgt. Joshua E. Powell

A Best Sapper competitor completes an Australian rappel, April 25, 2017, as part of the 2017 Best Sapper Competition being held at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. 

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U.S. Army photo by Michael Curtis

Navy:

HOMER, Alaska (April 29, 2017) The guided-missile destroyer USS Hopper (DDG 70) prepares to moor in Homer, Alaska, for a scheduled port visit. Hopper is visiting Homer in conjunction with its participation in exercise Northern Edge 2017. The biennial training exercise conducted in the Joint Pacific Alaska Range Complex and includes participation from units assigned to Alaskan Command, U.S. Pacific Fleet, U.S. 3rd Fleet, Marine Corps Forces Pacific, and U.S. Army Pacific.

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U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Joseph Montemarano

SOUTH CHINA SEA (April 30, 2017) Sailors assigned to Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 23 run tests on the the MQ-8B Firescout, an unmanned aerial vehicle, aboard littoral combat ship USS Coronado (LCS 4).

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U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Deven Leigh Ellis

Marine Corps:

Reconnaissance Marines prepare to conduct night time helo-casting training operations during the Reconnaissance Team Leader Course at Marine Corps Base Hawaii, April 24, 2017. The purpose of the Reconnaissance Team Leader Course is to provide the students with the required knowledge and skills needed to perform the duties of a Reconnaissance Team Leader.

Military transgender ban blocked by federal appeals court
U.S. Marine Corps photo by Gunnery Sgt Ezekiel R. Kitandwe

Marines with the Silent Drill Platoon perform during an evening parade at Marine Barracks Washington, Washington, D.C., April 28, 2017. Col. Tyler J. Zagurski, commanding officer of MBW, hosted the parade and Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. Robert B. Neller was the guest of honor.

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U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Samantha K. Braun

Coast Guard:

Crew members from Coast Guard Cutter Tarpon, an 87-foot Coast Patrol Boat homeported in St. Petersburg, Florida, offload 1,735 kilograms of cocaine, an estimated wholesale value of $56 million and transferred custody of eight suspected drug smugglers to partner federal agencies Wednesday, May 3, 2017 at Coast Guard Sector St. Petersburg, Florida. The contraband and suspected smugglers were interdicted during four separate cases supporting Operation Martillo, a joint interagency and multi-national collaborative effort among 14 Western Hemisphere and European nations to stop the flow of illicit cargo by Transnational Criminal Organizations.

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U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Michael De Nyse

A boat crew for the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Legare gets underway between Cuba and Hispaniola during drug interdiction operations in April, 2017. The cutter Legare’s crew completed a 35-day tour of the strait between Cuba and Hispaniola, completing drug interdiction missions, building partnerships with local agencies and aiding local communities.

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U.S. Coast Guard photo courtesy of Coast Guard Cutter Legare

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The dictator of Zimbabwe was ousted in a coup overnight and no one really knows what’s next

After nearly 40 years as Zimbabwe’s leader, President Robert Mugabe appears to have lost his grip on power.


Early Nov. 15, the country’s military drove tanks into the capital, Harare, and seized control of the state broadcaster, ZBC. A senior officer of the Zimbabwe Defense Forces denied that a coup was in progress and said Mugabe, 93, was “safe and sound.”

Later Nov. 15, South African President Jacob Zuma said in a statement that he had spoken to Mugabe and that Mugabe was unharmed and under house arrest. The Guardian’s Jason Burke reported that Mugabe would step down on Nov. 17.

Zimbabwe’s first lady, Grace Mugabe, who was contending for leadership of the ruling ZANU-PF party, has fled to Namibia, The Guardian reported, citing opposition sources. The first lady has long been seen as Robert Mugabe’s chosen successor.

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Robert and Grace Mugabe, 2013, in Harare, Zimbabwe (Photo from Wikimedia Commons user DandjkRoberts)

Mugabe’s reported removal from power is surely welcome news to his critics in a country that saw its economy collapse into a hyperinflationary spell in 2008 as Mugabe implemented price controls and printed large amounts of money, leading to a multibillion-percent inflation rate.

The human-rights group Amnesty International has also accused Mugabe and his government of repressing political expression, arbitrarily arresting activists and others, carrying out “torture and extrajudicial executions,” and fomenting mass political violence.

So what’s next?

The military’s denying a coup implies Zimbabwe’s next leader won’t be a general.

Related: Turkish President Erdogan holds on to power as military coup fails

South Africa’s Independent Online reports that Emmerson Mnangagwa, whom Mugabe dismissed as vice president last week, is en route to Harare to take control of the country’s government.

Mnangagwa has the support of both the military and the wider population, according to BMI Research.

The firm says there are three possible outcomes that could play out over the coming months:

  1. “Mugabe resigns and is replaced by Mnangagwa before year-end.”
  2. “Mnangagwa selected to run as ZANU-PF party leader in 2018 election.”
  3. “Mnangagwa established as constitutional successor in the event of Mugabe’s death.”

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Robert Mugabe and Grace Mugabe at a Politburo meeting. Grace was previously thought to be the successor to the Presidency. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons user Brainy263)

The economic impact

It is likely to take years to reverse the damage caused by Mugabe’s economic policies.

“It was the 10th-largest economy in the region in the late 1990s,” said William Jackson, the senior emerging-markets economist at Capital Economics. “But its performance has been significantly worse than many of its peers. For example, in 1998, Zimbabwe’s economy was roughly the same size as that of Angola, Tanzania, and Ethiopia. Now, those economies are three to seven times larger than Zimbabwe.”

Additionally, Mugabe’s policies have caused public external debt — most of which is already in arrears — to balloon to more than 40% of gross domestic product, the International Monetary Fund says.

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Zimbabwean inflation ran rampant during the presidency of Robert Mugabe, leading to the printing of a one-hundred trillion ZWD note. (Image from Wikimedia Commons)

It’s unclear what would happen if Zimbabweans fled to other parts of the region.

“There is already a large Zimbabwean diaspora in South Africa — the UN estimates there are around 500,000 Zimbabweans living there, although unofficial estimates suggest that it could be closer to 3 million,” Jackson wrote. “If refugee inflows did pick up again, there would be a fiscal cost to the South African government, and it could lead to social strains in an economy already struggling with very high unemployment.”

Members of the ZANU-PF party and the opposition weren’t immediately available for comment.

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Here are the best military photos for the week of Apr. 22

The military has very talented photographers in the ranks, and they constantly attempt to capture what life as a service member is like during training and at war. Here are the best military photos of the week:


Air Force:

The U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds and Patrouille de France fly together over Death Valley, Calif., April 17, 2017. The Thunderbirds and Patrouille de France are two of the oldest aerial demonstration teams in the world.

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U.S. Air Force Photo by Tech. Sgt. Christopher Boitz

F-35A Lightning II’s from the 34th Fighter Squadron at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, land at Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England, April 15, 2017. The aircraft arrival marks the first F-35A fighter training deployment to the U.S. European Command area of responsibility.

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U.S. Air Force photo byTech. Sgt. Matthew Plew

Army:

U.S. Army Paratroopers assigned to the 4th Battalion, 319th Airborne Field Artillery Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade, drop off their gear at the rally point at the 7th Army Joint Multinational Training Command’s Grafenwoehr Training Area, Germany, April 13, 2017.

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U.S. Army photo by Spc. Javon Spence

U.S. Army Paratroopers assigned to the 1st Battalion, 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division, U.S. Army Alaska, descend over Malamute Drop Zone during airborne training at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, April 13, 2017. The Soldiers of 4/25 belong to the only American airborne brigade in the Pacific and are trained to execute airborne maneuvers in extreme cold weather and high altitude environments in support of combat, partnership and disaster relief operations.

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U.S. Air Force photo by Alejandro Pena

Navy:

ATLANTIC OCEAN (April 9, 2017) An F/A-18E Super Hornet assigned to the Gunslingers of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 105 prepares to make an arrested landing on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) (Ike). Ike and its carrier strike group are underway participating in a sustainment exercise designed to maintain deployment readiness as part of the Optimized Fleet Response Plan (OFRP).

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U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Anderson W. Branch

POHANG, Republic of Korea (April 10, 2017) U.S. Navy, Marine Corps and Army personnel offload equipment from the Military Sealift Command maritime prepositioning force ship USNS Pililaau (T-AK 304).The offload utilized a roll-on, roll-off discharge facility anchored off the coast of Pohang during the Combined Joint Logistics Over the Shore (CJLOTS) exercise. CJLOTS is a biennial exercise conducted by military and civilian personnel from the United States and the Republic of Korea, training to deliver and redeploy military cargo as a part of exercise Foal Eagle 2017.

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U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Joshua Fulton

Marine Corps:

Marines with 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, discuss a plan of action for events the following day with each other at dusk during a Marine Corps Combat Readiness Evaluation at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., March 24 to April 4, 2017. A MCCRE is a large-scale exercise held to test Marines on their ability to complete a set of missions and evaluate how prepared they are for upcoming deployments.

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U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Justin Huffty

Marines with Battery B, 1st Battalion, 10th Marine Regiment, fire the M777 towed 155 mm howitzer during the assault support tactics 1 (AST-1) exercise in support of Weapons and Tactics Instructors course (WTI) 2-17 at Fire Base Burt, Calif., April 17, 2017. AST-1 is a battalion reinforced air assault exercise, supported by fixed wing and rotary wing aviation fires, aviation delivered artillery, and mortars.

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U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Clare J. Shaffer

Coast Guard:

A crew from Coast Guard Station Boston conducts a security patrol in Boston Harbor in a 45-foot Response Boat-Medium, Monday, April 17, 2017. The patrol was part of an increased security presence during the Boston Marathon.

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U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Andrew Barresi

U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Morgenthau (WHEC 722) in full dress at the decommissioning ceremony in Honolulu, April 18, 2017. Morgenthau was commissioned in 1969 and has been home to more than 4,000 crewmembers during its 48 years of service.

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U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Amanda Levasseur

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These 8 surprise military marriage proposals will warm your heart

Presented by Shane Co.


Know what’s fun? Troops surprising their families and friends. Know what’s more fun? When they surprise their loved ones with engagement rings. Check out these 8 troops who managed to pull off amazing surprise engagement proposals:

(Use the links embedded in each description to see the full videos.)

1. This sailor asks his pastor for the chance to propose in front of the entire congregation

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GIF: YouTube/Ring On The Finger

This corpsman was going through training, and his entire congregation, including his girlfriend, thought he was still in Cherry Point, North Carolina. The sailor surprised his girlfriend and left her speechless at the altar (in a good way).

2. This lance corporal pulls off a public surprise

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GIF: YouTube/Danny Brandt

This Marine surprised his girl at a Red Wings game and got a standing ovation from the audience before he even dropped to his knee.

3. A soldier photobombs his girlfriend’s Disney photo before proposing

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GIF: YouTube/pered066

This soldier snuck up to where his girlfriend’s family was taking a photo in front of Sleeping Beauty’s castle. Once the photo was taken, he asked if they could take another, and his girl was shocked to hear his voice. She got a larger shock a moment later when he proposed.

4. This Marine make an entrance before proposing in front of a packed house

Military transgender ban blocked by federal appeals court
GIF: YouTube/ZebulonThomasFilms

This Marine got himself and his future fiancee invited into a Christmas show at the mall and surprised her when he stepped out of a box reserved for toy soldiers.

Military transgender ban blocked by federal appeals court
GIF: YouTube/ZebulonThomasFilms

The Marine then got down on his knee in his full dress uniform and proposed in front of three floors filled with spectators.

5. This soldier proposes in the middle of the airport.

Military transgender ban blocked by federal appeals court
GIF: YouTube/Homecoming Heroes

The Army trooper had just made it through the gates when he kissed his girlfriend. After he interrupts the kiss to get down on one knee, she senses what’s up and says, “Shut up, shut up, shut up!” But she eventually says yes (when she gets her voice back).

6. This airman proposes during a “Welcome Home” ceremony

Military transgender ban blocked by federal appeals court
GIF: YouTube/Brock Maze

The airman barely stops walking before he’s on one knee in front of his happy fiancee and presents her with her ring. There is an odd moment when a passing old woman seemingly blesses them with an American flag, but it’s probably a “Congrats and good luck!” kind of thing.

7. This Marine allowes a friend to hide a proposal in her award ceremony

Military transgender ban blocked by federal appeals court
GIF: YouTube/Karin Ramirez

According to the video uploader, Karin Ramirez, the ceremony was supposed to be all about her friend getting promoted to master sergeant. However, right after the promotion ceremony, the master sergeant pulls out a ring for her friend’s boyfriend to propose with. The officer is so surprised she can’t stop laughing.

8. This sailor proposes to a soldier on Independence Day in front of the Lincoln Monument in Washington D.C.

Military transgender ban blocked by federal appeals court
GIF: YouTube/Ring On The Finger

There are quite a few “Merica!” sentences on this website, but this one might take the cake: A sailor went with his soldier girlfriend to the Lincoln Memorial in uniform to stage a special proposal video on Independence Day. The soldier says yes and the crowd congratulates them both.

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