As mankind turns their eyes back to space and technology edges us ever closer to a life outside of the atmosphere, there must also be contingency plans established in case the worst happens to astronauts. To date, there is no defined protocol for returning remains back to Earth. This will need to change as more and more astronauts take to the skies.
There have been eighteen deaths during spaceflight. The three deaths to occur in space (above 100 km elevation) were also the only remains properly recovered. The crew of the Soyuz 11 perished on June 29th, 1971 while they were preparing for re-entry. Their names are Georgy Dobrovolsky, Vladislav Volkov, and Viktor Patsayev. Their remains were recovered at the intended landing site — an autopsy ruled the cause of death a capsule-decompression failure — and the astronauts were properly laid to rest. They may be the first and only astronauts to be given this respect.
If an astronaut were to die on a spacewalk and his or her body went unrecovered, they would float lifelessly until caught in the atmosphere, at which point they’d burn in the reentry process. Until then, no bacteria could survive to decompose the body, so it would remain frozen as the days passed.
However, due to the UN’s strict “no littering” policy in space, the family and nation of the astronaut would be required to recover the remains and lay them rest with dignity. A space free-float wouldn’t happen.
This also rules out all possible funerals, like the one given to Spock. (Paramount Pictures’ Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan)
According to Col. Chris Hadfield in his book, An Astronaut’s Guide to Earth, today’s astronauts conduct simulations for onboard deaths, but taking care of the body is tricky and very unpleasant. The remains are placed inside of a GoreTex bodybag. Then, it is isolated immediately in the airlock to avoid contamination to the air supply.
The funeral rites are then given to the deceased. This would include speeches by world leaders, the deceased’s family, and the crew. The body is then exposed to space to freeze. A robotic arm then takes the corpse and vibrates it outside of the spacecraft until the body breaks down into a powder, which is then released into space. As morbid as it is, it saves valuable room in the spacecraft and keeps the other astronauts safe. In a way, the astronaut becomes a part of space.
The powder that remains in the bag is then given to the family on the next return voyage, allowing them to pay the proper respects.
Simo Häyhä, also known as “The White Death,” was a Finnish sniper who is credited with killing more than 500 enemy troops within 100 days during the Winter War against the Soviet Union between 1939 and 1940.
Häyhä accomplished this incredible feat with a Russian-made Mosin-Nagant M91 rifle and iron sights. He preferred the iron sights as opposed to the scope because it allowed him to shoot from a lower, less visible position. The sights also didn’t fog up in the cold or glare in the sun, which could give away his position, according to Special Forces Sniper Skills by Robert Stirling.
His career ended when he was shot in the face, blowing off part of his cheek and lower jaw. He survived the shot, becoming one of Finland’s most legendary heroes. He died in 2002 of natural causes.
From “Top Gun” to “Commando” to “Navy SEALs” and everything in between, the 1980s had a plenty of classic military movies. There were so many to love, but more often than not, cheesy special effects, “unlimited ammo,” and technical errors made these also quite funny for real service-members to watch.
In a video put together by BuzzFeed Video, Ranger Up‘s Nick Palmisciano and Article 15 Clothing‘s Mat Best and Jarred Taylor watched some military movies and offered colorful commentary. As you would expect, it’s pretty hilarious.
In Iraq, IEDs quickly became the deadliest weapon U.S. troops faced. But not all IEDs were created equal. In 2006, Iranian collaborators from the Quds force were accused of providing devices and knowledge to Iraqi insurgents to make the bombs even more deadly.
Sean Naylor, a contributing editor at Foreign Policy, writes in a new book that Army Delta Force operators countered by creating a bomb of their own, dubbed “XBox,” to take out the top Iraqi bomb makers and possibly their Iranian collaborators.
The IEDs were carefully crafted to look and perform exactly like the bombs used by insurgents — except they were triggered by Delta Force operators instead of the bad guys.
According to Naylor, the operators would stake out a target for days to learn the bomb maker’s patterns and then plant an IED in the target’s vehicle, detonating it when the target was in an isolated area away from civilians and U.S. personnel.
ISIS does not operate like a typical terrorist group. Unlike Al-Qaeda or the Taliban with a loosely connected network of terrorist cells, ISIS operates like a country with a conventional army.
In January 2014, the secret files of Samir Abd Muhammad al-Khilawi – best-known as Haji Bakr – were obtained after being killed in a firefight. Haji Bakr was a former colonel in the intelligence service of Saddam Hussein’s air defense force who later became ISIS’ head strategist. He’s been secretly pulling the strings at ISIS for years, according to a report by Spiegel.
When he died, he left the blueprint for the Islamic State. These documents show the structure of the Islamic State from top to bottom. This TestTube News video explains how ISIS’ chain of command is broken down according to Haji Bakr.
Once a war kicks off, it’s generally easy to recognize. But war planners want to know about these things ahead of time so they predict what might be coming. While moves like large military exercises on a border are a dead giveaway that an invasion might be imminent, smaller things can give intel analysts a clue as well.
Here are 6 surprisingly minor things that can predict a major conflict:
1. Industrial diamonds and mineral prices
Who knew diamonds could predict wars? Back when World War II was just a fight between Germany and Poland about whether Poland got to keep being a country, Hitler was promising everyone that it was a limited, one-time thing. But the other countries knew he was full of it because, among other things, diamond prices were climbing.
Industrial diamonds are ugly things used in heavy duty drills, grinders, and other machinery. They’re essential to properly machining large weapons of war and the price was high because Germany was buying a lot of them plus tons of metals, like enough to create a blitzkrieg-capable army. A short time later, that army was rolling across Dutch fields.
David E. Walker wrote “Adventure in Diamonds” about the rush by British and Japanese teams to secure Amsterdam’s diamond stocks during the German invasion.
2. Missing uniforms and other supplies
Another thing the Dutch found suspicious ahead of the Nazi invasion was a higher than normal disappearance rate of uniforms and other supplies. Some items always go missing and sometimes things really do fall off of trucks, but a sudden jump should get analysts worried.
When German paratroopers started landing in the Netherlands, some of them were wearing Dutch uniforms that had gone missing. Wearing an enemy’s uniform is a war crime, but that only matters if the side guilty parties are on loses. If your uniform is missing, it may be forgetfulness, or it may predict something scarier.
3. Suspicious demonstrations
One of the things Ukraine noticed before of the shadow invasion of the Donbas region was a sudden increase in Pro-Moscow agitation in the east of the country and apparent ties between the agitators and Russian propaganda outlets.
Russian special operators and soldiers now cross into the area from time-to-time to make sure separatists forces are able to resist Kiev’s military, keeping the nation off-balance and allowing Russia a generally free hand.
4. Increased tourism
A spike in tourism is usually just a good sign for the economy, but combined with any other indicators that a war is looming, it’s a decent bet that some of those tourists are spies.
When it comes to local conflicts, warlords and smaller armies are sometimes equipping their forces right before the fight. This drives up the costs of weapons, especially AK-47s. Intel analysts and concerned citizens can watch those prices and see if a brush fire war or uprising is likely.
For larger nations, observers watch the overall size of the arsenal. If Russia starts producing more cruise missiles than normal, they’re probably going to be firing some soon.
6. Computer activity
In the modern day, hacking is a tool of war that is sometimes used on its own or in conjunction with a kinetic attack. Either way, the cyber assault is usually preceded by the tests of cyber defenses and the collecting of information on targets.
Nuclear energy is clean and efficient when everything works. The U.S. powers aircraft carriers, submarines, and even cities with it, but there are obvious down sides: Disasters can lead to death, destruction, and poisonous radiation.
Nuclear accidents are graded from zero to seven, zero being no safety issues and seven being extremely hazardous to health and the environment. Two examples of major nuclear incidents include the 1986 disaster in Chernobyl, Ukraine and Fukushima, Japan in 2011.
Although no occurrence of this magnitude has happened in the United States, the Department of Energy has been tasked with cleaning up over 100 nuclear sites within its borders, according to this TestTube video.
Apple’s biggest smartphone competitor also makes tanks, self-propelled howitzers, and jet engines.
Billed as promoting peace and stability, Samsung Techwin is the South Korean manufacturer’s defense branch. It makes surveillance, aeronautics, automation, and weapons technology. Since its launch into the defense industry in 1983, Samsung Techwin has developed and produced artillery systems like the 155mm self-propelled Howitzer M109A2, K9 Thunder, K10 ammunition resupply vehicle, fire directions center vehicles, amphibious assault vehicles and other weapons, according to Samsung.
Samsung Techwin’s flagship K9 is currently used by Poland, Turkey, and South Korea. Watch its impressive agility at 3:40 in the video below. The K9 becomes even more impressive when combined with the K10 ammunition resupply vehicle (5:00). The K10 pulls up behind the K9 and automatically feeds more ammunition into the K9, eliminating the need of resupplying the vehicle by hand, which minimizes the risk of troop exposure. Together they create an automated weapons system for the field.
Samsung Techwin is just one subsidiary of the 80 businesses the tech giant is involved in.
Here’s a video of Samsung Techwin’s defense program:
Violent jihadism as a governing ideology has been a significant feature of the global scene for nearly two decades.
There are certainly differences between say, the nature Al Shabaab’s control over Somalia in the early 2010s, the Taliban state’s governance of Afghanistan from 1996 until the US-led invasion in 2001, and ISIS’s “caliphate” in the present day.
But militant groups spurred by a combination of religious radicalism, violent disenchantment with the existing state system, revisionist philosophies of Islamic history, and a rejection of secularism and Enlightenment value systems have morphed into territorial political units with alarming frequency in recent years.
One such instance was in Mali in early 2012, when jihadists piggybacked on a long-simmering Tuareg autonomy movement — itself empowered by the collapse of Mali’s government in the wake of a shocking military coup — in order to take control of several population centers in Mali’s desert north. Among them was Timbuktu, a legendary center of trade and Islamic scholarship.
The jihadist occupation of Timbuktu was brutal but thankfully brief: In early 2013, a French-led coalition liberated the city after 10 months of militant control. Now, the rule of Al Qaeda-allied militants over the city is the topic of what might be the important movie of the past year.
The hypnotic and visually overwhelming “Timbuktu,” the work of Mauritanian director Abderrahmane Sissako and an Oscar nominee for best foreign language film, is an intimate and terrifying inquiry into one of the defining authoritarian ideologies of the 21st century, as told from the perspective of the people who are actually suffering under its yoke. (The film is currently playing in New York and LA and will open in various other US cities in February and March.)
US movie audiences have usually met jihadists through the lenses of American sniper rifles, or lying prone in front of CIA interrogators. “Timbuktu” is hardly the only movie that’s portrayed them as political and social actors. “Osama,” a multi-national production about a girl living in Taliban-ruled Afghanistan that won the 2004 Golden Globe award for best foreign-language film, and Iranian director Moshen Makhmalbaf’s highly regarded “Kandahar,” about a Afghan woman who sneaks into Taliban Afghanistan to try to stop her sister from committing suicide, succeed in giving viewers a first-hand look at the societies that jihadists create and the horrors this visits upon the people trapped in them.
In the wake of ISIS’s takeover of a Belgium-sized slice of the Middle East, “Timbuktu” has more immediate resonance than either of those films. The movie opens with a pickup truck of fighters flying a black flag nearly identical to ISIS’s. As the opening credits roll, the fighters eviscerate a row of traditional figurines in a hail of machine-gun fire.
But the firmest sign that jihadist rule is something external, alien, and deeply unwanted comes in the next scene, when gun-toting fighters enter a mud-brick mosque without taking their shoes off. They tell the imam that they have come to wage jihad. The imam replies that in Timbuktu, people wage jihad (which has the double meaning of spiritual reflection and self-purification, in addition to earthly holy war) with their minds and not with guns.
The next hour and a half is a grisly survey of what happened when this 1400-year-old precedent was inverted.
The jihadists ban music — one of the most celebrated aspects of Malian culture — and then whip violators in public. They ban soccer, and then break up a group of children miming a game in silent protest. The jihadists speak a smattering of local languages and broken Arabic; their leader bans smoking only to sneak cigarettes under the cover of the town’s surrounding sand dunes.
In one of the more illustrative scenes, a female fish seller is told by one jihadist that women can no longer appear in public without wearing gloves. She explains to him that she can’t work unless she’s barehanded and then dares the fighter to cut her hands off on the spot.
In “Timbuktu,” the jihadists are power-tripping, thuggish and hypocritical. They are in the city to create a totally new kind of society and revel in their own insensitivity to local concerns.
But crucially they are not entirely outsiders, and some of the film’s most affecting scenes involve a Tuareg who joins with the jihadists occupying the town, a reminder that there are local dynamics at play. Just as importantly, the film hints at the context of state collapse and social chaos that allowed the jihadists to take over in the first place.
The movie’s primary narrative follows a Tuareg herder who accidentally kills a fisherman from a different ethnic group during an argument over his cows’ access to drinking water along a disputed riverbank. The film’s central conflict encapsulates the unresolved questions of ethnicity and resources that kept northern Mali in a state of crisis that the jihadists later exploited.
The herder’s treatment at the hands of Timbuktu’s new overlords depicts the imposition of an an outside ideology. But the killing is itself is a pointed example of how social turmoil can feed into a violent, totalitarian mania seemingly without warning. It harkens back to ISIS’s swift takeover of Iraq this past summer, a national-level instance of the dynamics that “Timbuktu” manages to boil down to an intimate, dramatic scale.
“Timbuktu” has a happy ending. Even if it isn’t part of the movie, the city was eventually liberated from jihadist control. The film depicts a now-extinct regime.
But the nightmare of “Timbuktu” is far from over. The liberation of the areas that ISIS rules will come at some indeterminate future date, and parts of Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia, and Nigeria are still under the control of extremists whose ideologies are not categorically different from what appears in the film.
“Timbuktu” is maybe the best cinematic depiction ever made of what millions of people around the world are suffering through.
“They’ve got the wife of a prominent figure in the defense industry — who happens to hold dual Bulgarian-Russian passports — coordinating a bunch of agents herself and she’s on video taking meetings at the embassy and in public with Russian officials,” said a NATO counterintelligence official who works undercover and cannot be named.
“And who is running this woman — again married to one of the top agents — on the Russian side? The top two Russian diplomats at the embassy in Sofia run her themselves to the point they’re caught on video with her,” said the NATO official. “This isn’t a bunch of dumb thugs from the GRU [Russian military intelligence] either, this is the proper SVD [a premier Russian intelligence service previously known as KGB] running operations from an embassy in a NATO capital.”
The counterintelligence official was particularly shocked at both the clumsy nature of the operation and the bizarre lack of language skills of those running it, considering the spies involved would have been elite intelligence officials with extensive language training who were working in Bulgarian, a Slavic language with close ties to Russia. (There is a lengthy Twitter thread discussing details of the failed operation here, by the journalist Christo Grozev of Bellingcat.)
“The tasking memo was pretty amateurish but normal I guess, they wanted as much info on anything related to NATO that wasn’t Bulgarian because they don’t care about Bulgaria they clearly only care about foreign NATO officers. But that it’s in illiterate Bulgarian makes me crazy. An American or French officer with terrible Bulgarian — but good Russian — would make sense but the SVD has no excuse,” the official told Insider.
‘That’s a major mistake to leave all the sub-agents exposed in a single trail’
After months of closely watching the two Russian officers meet the handler and his wife, Bulgarian authorities became convinced that they had the entire cell under surveillance because of the single point of contact between the spies: The woman who was married to the top official involved, nicknamed “The Resident” by Bulgarian officials, a play on an old KGB term for a spy.
“It looks like maybe the Russians recruited this single MOD official, who then expanded the network to include others and it was all run through that central point,” said the NATO official of the spycraft involved.
“That’s a major mistake to leave all the sub-agents exposed in a single trail: In this case [if you] figure out The Resident or his wife then you have caught all the agents, not just one,” said the official. “It can be hard to arrange but this is a valuable agent in a NATO MOD [Ministry of Defence]. They should have taken the time and been more careful to isolate each agent so that they didn’t all end up starring in a YouTube video.”
‘It’s as if they don’t really care’
The NATO official said that Bulgaria’s success in the past at catching Russian agents should have been a warning that the situation posed challenges to spy operations:
In 2020, Bulgaria deported four top Russian diplomats for spying.
In 2019 it banned a former Russian intelligence official from entering Bulgaria over spying claims.
And in 2015 Bulgaria saw the first use of the Novichok nerve agent by Russian spies in an attempt to kill a Bulgarian arms dealer who had run afoul of the Kremlin. Novichok was later used in Salisbury in 2018 on a defected Russian spy and his daughter and in 2020 the same substance was used to poison Russian dissident politician Alexei Navalny.
“We end up seeing so many Russian operations because they’re crazy: America isn’t sending a guy to your house to kill you with a hammer, but the Russians will. And if you send a guy to kill someone with a hammer or nerve agents the message you send is that you don’t care if you get caught.”
Relatively little is known about Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the jihadist group Islamic State (also known as ISIS and ISIL). However, newly declassified military documents obtained by Business Insider on Wednesday reveal several new details about the ISIS leader.
The records come from time Baghdadi spent in US Army custody in Iraq. They were released through a Freedom of Information Act request. In these files, Baghdadi was identified by his birth name, Ibrahim Awad Ibrahim Al Badry.
There have been conflicting reports about the time Baghdadi spent as a US detainee. These files identify his “capture date” as Feb. 4, 2004 and the date of his “release in place” as Dec. 8, 2004. According to the records, Baghdadi was captured in Fallujah and held at multiple prison facilities including Camp Bucca and Camp Adder.
In the book “ISIS: Inside The Army of Terror,” Michael Weiss and Hassan Hassan relay an account of Baghdadi’s capture from ISIS expert Dr. Hisham al-Hashimi. In the interview, al-Hashimi said Baghdadi was captured by US military intelligence while visiting a friend in Fallujah named Nessayif Numan Nessayif.
“Baghdadi was not the target — it was Nessayif,” said al-Hashimi, who consults with the Iraqi government and claims to have met the ISIS leader in the 1990s.
Baghdadi’s detainee I.D. card lists him as a “civilian detainee,” which means he was not a member of a foreign armed force or militia, but was still held for security reasons. His “civilian occupation” was identified as “ADMINISTRATIVE WORK (SECRETARY).” As of 2014, he was listed as being 43 years old though his birth date was redacted. Baghdadi’s birthplace was identified as Fallujah.
These records also provide some details about Baghdadi’s family. His file identifies him as married and his next of kin was an uncle. The names of his family members were redacted from the records.
View the Baghdadi files below. According to Army Corrections Command, some of the records requested by Business Insider remain classified. We are working to obtain all possible files from Baghdadi’s detention.
Hosted by Katie Pavlich, “Safe Haven: Gun Free Zones in America” features interviews with a number of experts on self-defense, victims of gun violence, and educators to shine a light on why so-called “gun-free” zones don’t always stay that way.
“It appears that [criminals] are seeking a spot that will keep them from being prevented in accomplishing their mission,” J. Eric Deitz, a homeland security researcher at Purdue University’s College of Technology, says in the documentary. “And if their mission is mass casualties, they’re going to want to be undisturbed in that process until they’ve completed it.”
Deitz provides a computer model that shows the use of armed resource officers along with some citizens with concealed-carry firearms, can often result in fewer people being killed by an active shooter. As others mention in the film, the researcher talks about police response time not being fast enough to stop a shooting in progress.
It’s not just a pool of pro-gun advocates, however. There are some interviewees who think arming people in schools may not be the best approach. Via Guns.com:
The problem with hiring more guards in schools across the country is that “you’re starting to look another $15 billion a year,” said Steven Strauss, a Weinberg/Goldman Sachs visiting professor of public policy at Princeton University.
Strauss said that the amount of school shootings is so small thatthe probability someone’s child will be killed over the course of a year is one in several million.
“Shooting incidents at schools is so low that you run into a real risk that the cure is going to be worse than the disease,” Strauss said.
Although a large part of the documentary focuses on high-profile mass shootings such as in Newtown, Conn. and Aurora, Colo., it also features a heartbreaking interview with Amanda Collins, who recounts being raped while she walked to her car after class at the University of Nevada-Reno.
“My story is not that uncommon,” Colins says. “I could have defended myself.”
Grabbed from behind in a parking garage less than 100 yards from the classroom she just left, Collins didn’t have her licensed firearm at the time because her university was a gun-free zone. She was worried about expulsion from school and jail time, she says, but her rapist did have a gun.
“I’m not saying I could have prevented the rape from starting with the way that I was grabbed,” she says. “But I know that I would have been able to stop it.”