The Royal Navy has a carrier again. HMS Queen Elizabeth, the first of a two-ship class (the second will be HMS Prince of Wales), was commissioned today in a ceremony attended by Queen Elizabeth II and a number of other members of the Royal Family.
Her Majesty The Queen takes the salute at the commissioning of HMS Queen Elizabeth. The Queen spoke at a ceremony in Portsmouth’s Naval base this morning, attended by Her Royal Highness Princess Anne, Prime Minister Theresa May, Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson, military chiefs and former Prime Ministers (Ministry of Defense Photo)
According to a release from the British government, the vessel will conduct helicopter trials early in 2018 before heading off to the United States to carry out trials with the F-35 Lightning. The carrier will be able to perform a number of missions, ranging from high-end warfighting to humanitarian relief.
“The Queen Elizabeth-class carriers will sit at the heart of a modernized and emboldened Royal Navy, capable of projecting power and influence at sea, in the air, over the land and in cyberspace, and offering our nation military and political choice in an uncertain world,” Admiral Sir Philip Jones, First Sea Lord and Chief of Naval Staff, said during the ceremony.
At 64,600 tons, this carrier is the largest ship to ever serve in the Royal Navy. Previously, that title belonged to the battleship HMS Vanguard, which served from 1946 to 1960. In a June 2017 report, The Sun noted that this ship left the builders’ yard in Fife with just 14 inches to spare on either side.
“Our new aircraft carrier is the epitome of British design and dexterity, at the core of our efforts to build an Armed Forces fit for the future. For the next half a century, both carriers will advance our interests around the globe, providing the most visible symbol of our intent and commitment to protect the UK from intensifying threats, wherever they may come from,” Defense Secretary Gavin Williamson said during the ceremony.
We Are the Mighty has partnered with a research firm, Maru/Matchbox, to provide an opportunity for you to share your opinions on how you use and interact with media and technology in your daily life.
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John C. Muir was a decorated combat veteran of the Vietnam War. He hailed from four generations of men and woman who served in distinguished military service. He was also cousin to John Muir the famous naturalist and conservationist who has been called “The Father of America’s National Parks.”
In 1965, Muir volunteered for the US Marine Corps and was sent to Vietnam as a Rifleman. John C. Muir was an excellent storyteller who delivered powerful words about fighting the war and returning home.
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.”
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.
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.
“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.
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.
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.
“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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Who else would dare?
US investigators have focused on a small group of usual suspects: Russia, Iran, North Korea, China, Venezuela.
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.
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.
1994 was the 50th anniversary of D-Day. Throughout that year, The Honor Project sat down with dozens of veterans off the Normandy Invasion to hear their stories and to put these Heroes of Our Nation On Record. O.B. Hill was a member of the 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, one of four regiments of the 82nd Airborne Division. In this Episode, he recounts dramatic stories of his training and combat experiences and he eloquently expresses his thoughts on the nature of war and and how it impacted him and his fellow paratroopers.
For many people, CBD is their bread and butter. It’s the thing that keeps them going as it treats a number of health and wellness issues that include anxiety, pain, inflammation, depression, sleep issues, skin problems, and more.
However, for America’s service men and women, CBD is off the table. The Defense Department has made it very clear that CBD is not to be used by any member of the military. Even broad spectrum CBD capsules, CBD oils, and CBD gummies, which contain no THC, are not allowed.
As you might imagine, this creates a challenge for some military members, but also for those who are managing military members. If you’re involved in the military in any way, it’s vital that you understand CBD and the only legal uses of it in the military.
THC Content Creates a Problem
In the United States, it’s legal to sell CBD online across the United States as long as it contains less than 0.3 percent THC. This tiny trace amount isn’t enough to create any psychoactive effects, and millions enjoy the benefits of CBD without losing their mental clarity.
However, many companies sell CBD products that do not accurately label the THC content on the package. Or, they try to hide it with vague claims and promises of significant benefits.
“The problem is there is no regulatory framework to ensure that the CBD products being sold meet the Farm Act,” Patricia Deuster, director of a laboratory at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Maryland, told Military.com. She added that there is no research, other than studies done on the impact of CBD on seizures, to support many of the claims made by product manufacturers.
“…Don’t believe what [the companies] are telling you,” Deuster said, pointing out that there’s currently no one to regulate the production of CBD products, and people are getting hurt as a result.
Deuster also told Stars and Stripes last year that military bases all over the United States have reported more than 100 cases of military personnel falling ill due to their use of CBD laced with an illegal THC content. They experienced increased hear rates and hallucinations that nodded to a more serious health condition such as a stroke or heart attack.
In many of those cases, the CBD they took was labeled as a package of gummy bears that could homeopathically help treat anxiety. The label likely didn’t say that it contained THC at the level that it did, since that’s illegal. However, many military personnel are left to suffer the consequences.
Military Heads Struggle to Gain Control
The military heads are working to prevent the use of CBD by demanding more regular drug testing from their constituents. If the THC content in CBD is high enough (like in full-spectrum CBD), it will show up on a drug test.
However, CBD often does not show up in a drug test. Plus, the products are so easily accessible that it’s very difficult to get any kind of control on it.
“It’s a real conundrum, and it’s going to be a major issue for the military because it is available [nearly everywhere]. You go into any store, and you can find gummy bears with a supplement fact panel on it,” said Deuster.
Their current defense against CBD is to court martial any military member who tests positive for THC or who has CBD in their possession. This means that simply misreading the label on a CBD product could mean the end of a career.
CBD Treatment for Seizures Remains Legal
There is one exception to the all-out ban of CBD products in the military, and that’s Epidiolex, the only FDA-approved CBD-based drug on the market. It’s designed to treat seizures in severe forms of epilepsy and has shown incredible results in doing so. Other cannabis-based prescription drugs are also allowable in the military.
That being said, there are few roles for those who experience seizures or other medical problems that cannabis can treat, so the likelihood of a service member taking Epidiolex is very slim.
Still, this shows great promise for the cannabis industry. If the U.S. government recognizes this FDA-tested drug as an acceptable form of treatment in the military, it’s only a matter of time before further research and FDA-involvement creates exceptions for other CBD products prescribed under a doctor’s recommendation.
The Military Demands Regulation
It appears that U.S. military professionals do not have a problem with the best CBD oil as a pure substance to help treat ailments like anxiety, pain, and sleep disorders. Their problem lies in the fact that the CBD industry is simply unregulated and a huge risk.
Every day, new CBD products hit the market. Some are carefully curated and contain exactly the ingredients found on the label. Others are made by sneaky business people trying to cut corners with no regard for the safety of their customers. With no government regulation, they’re simply getting away with it.
“[CBD] is everywhere. We are waiting for the FDA to do something,” Deuster said.
Currently, the only way to ensure that you’re getting a good product with CBD is to do extra research yourself. You must check for third-party lab reports that show the potency and ingredients listed on the bottle are accurate. Sometimes, you have to call the lab to verify that the results are real.
If there was greater regulation in the industry, the military and other organizations would not have to be so strict in banning a substance that can help so many people thrive despite serious health conditions.
The tunnel rats were courageous soldiers who performed underground search and destroy missions during the Vietnam War. American and Australian troops uncovered the enemy’s intricate network of tunnels while conducting larger operations. Tunnel rats were tasked with gathering intelligence within them, and killing or capturing their occupants–often in conditions of close combat. CW Bowman, Gerry Schooler and Art Tejeda spent days maneuvering through the tunnel complexes clearing and destroying lethal booby-traps.
State television CCTV showed armored vehicles moving on a desert track, groups of soldiers firing automatic weapons, and cannon pointing towards the horizon.
Dozens of soldiers have been deployed in temperatures above 40 degrees Celsius “to reinforce their hardiness in combat and their mastery of military techniques,” the report said.
“This is the first time that officers and soldiers stationed in Djibouti have left their camp to conduct live-fire exercises,” Liang Yang, the base commander, told the broadcaster.
It was unclear when the drills took place. China opened its base in Djibouti in early August.
Personnel will mainly focus on supporting UN peacekeeping operations, evacuating Chinese nationals, and providing naval escorts, according to the Ministry of National Defense.
The Chinese navy has since 2008 had a presence off Somalia and the Gulf of Aden as part of international efforts to combat piracy.
“This modest live-fire drill was apparently conducted on a designated firing range in Djibouti, and involved a small-scale force, perhaps just a single platoon or maybe a few platoons,” said James Char, a specialist in the Chinese army at Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University.
It did not mean Chinese forces could be expected to carry out “counter-terrorism or constabulary operations in the manner of the US military anytime soon”.
Djibouti is strategically located on the Strait of Bab-el-Mandeb, controlling access to the Red Sea.
During the Vietnam War, all too often the chaos of battle found Allied forces trapped and facing annihilation in hostile territory. The situation called for courageous men to rise above their fears and carry out some of the deadliest missions in the history of warfare. Forward Observers, often alone, moved ahead of the Allied forces to secure vital vantage points. They served as the eyes of the artillery gunner in delivering rounds on enemy targets. In this episode, Medal of Honor recipients Barney Barnum and Brian Thacker tell their dramatic stories, In Their Own Words.