China's supply chain threat to U.S. national security - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY CULTURE

China’s supply chain threat to U.S. national security

“You can’t get a product. You are not going to get a product for months.” That’s what Brian Edwards, a medical supplier in California, has been telling dozens of people per day when they call searching for critical medical supplies that, before this year, they took for granted would be in stock.

The Chinese government’s mismanagement of the novel coronavirus not only spread the virus worldwide, it shut down many supply chains that the U.S. and other countries had become accustomed to; indeed, that the U.S. deeply relied upon. As we consider how our post-pandemic country will look, we should be careful to avoid a repeat of these mistakes.


U.S. dependence on Chinese manufacturing was no accident. The Chinese government’s “Made in China 2025” strategy to consolidate manufacturing supply chains and impose itself as the world’s preeminent source of high-value manufactured goods has been well-known for years. While we have neglected to safeguard our industrial base, Beijing was aggressively subsidizing its country’s manufacturing plants and creating supply chains that maximized its economic and geopolitical leverage.

Some of my colleagues and I have worked the White House and the Department of Defense in the last two years to restrict purchases of Chinese-manufactured critical materials for use in U.S. military systems, and the Federal Communications Commission and other agencies have taken the first steps to stop Huawei and related entities from dominating next-generation communications hardware. But the COVID-19 crisis demonstrates that a broader approach is needed.

The U.S. government should develop better, near-real-time insight into supply chains. Occasional reviews of individual supply chains create blind spots that major crises will reach unexpectedly. With the tools that are out there, it should be easier than ever for the government and its critical suppliers to share data to provide resiliency and security.

The government also needs to take the lead in maintaining and expanding critical American supply capabilities. It will be crucial to prevent the pennies-on-the-dollar purchase of distressed American assets during or immediately after the pandemic by firms linked to the Chinese government. This includes many major Chinese firms (such as Huawei). The country that knowingly took steps that allowed the disease to spread worldwide should not be allowed to financially benefit from those decisions.

At the same time, the government should ensure that American businesses get the liquidity and capital they need to maintain and expand critical supply chains within the United States. This can be done through direct investment into manufacturing plants, but it could also be done by making purchase agreements and building national stockpiles of needed supplies. The much-discussed Defense Production Act allows the federal government to both expand and ensure manufacturing capabilities, and the id=”listicle-2645908630″ billion that Congress provided to the DPA program in the CARES Act should be promptly supplemented with the direction that the government identify gaps and fragile sectors of supply chains and build capacity to bulwark them against future crises.

Though the current focus is, deservedly, on China, we should not think that there are no other foreign countries that seek to identify, develop, and exploit critical gaps in U.S. supply chains. Russia has always been a leader in the production of critical defense materials and a known bad actor on the global stage. Indian companies are routinely cited by U.S. authorities for dumping materials in critical and noncritical sectors of the economy. As we have seen recently with everything from thermometers to toilet paper, though, the supply chains that we rely on for our normal lives can be stressed in any number of ways.

A strong national approach to securing our manufacturing base is a necessary step for security and prosperity. The federal government is the only entity both large enough and focused enough to lead this effort. Congress should, therefore, act quickly, as soon as the next stimulus bill, to establish a supply chain monitoring and investment framework that will get America back to work and provide for a cohesive and united future.

This article originally appeared on Real Clear Defense. Follow @RCDefense on Twitter.

MIGHTY MOVIES

‘Hobbs & Shaw’ dunks on ‘Game of Thrones’ finale

“Hobbs & Shaw,” the Fast & Furious spin-off film starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Jason Statham, came strong out of the gate Aug. 2, 2019, earning $60 million at the box office. The movie was filled with quippy dialogue, badass action, and a few surprise cameos, including Ryan Reynolds playing Locke, a CIA agent who recruits Hobbs (Johnson) to help takedown the semi-superpowered Brixton (Idris Elba). Reynolds’ performance has been met with praise (and a few fan theories), however, a few fans are upset that his character gave a major “Game of Thrones” spoiler at the end of the movie.

Warning: This post obviously features spoilers about “Game of Thrones.”


Throughout the movie, Hobbs is shown discussing “Game of Thrones” with his daughter, including making a reference to the show’s most iconic catchphrase (you know nothing, Jon Snow). Later, in the post-credits scene, Hobbs receives a call from Locke, who ends up spoiling the ending of the show in a very Reynolds-esque way.

Hobbs & Shaw Final Trailer (2019) | Movieclips Trailers

www.youtube.com

“Jon Snow had sex with his aunt and then he killed her!” Locke says.

It’s a throwaway joke but it’s also accurate, as Snow does end up killing Daenarys in the series finale after she unleashes her dragon on civilians. Of course, we live in the age of post-spoilers, so it’s hard to imagine anyone getting too worked up about the show’s ending getting spoiled months after the series finale aired.

Still, if you know someone who has been holding off watching the divisive finale, you may want to give them a heads up before they watch “Hobbs Shaw.” Otherwise, they may end up holding a life-long grudge against Reynolds.

This article originally appeared on Fatherly. Follow @FatherlyHQ on Twitter.

MIGHTY HISTORY

When the Navy sank nuclear waste with machine guns

In the 1950s, nuclear reactors and weapons were all the rage. Bombs were getting bigger, people were hosting nuclear parties, and reactors were enabling the Navy to launch submarines and ships that could go years without refueling.

But all that nuclear activity had a dark consequence — and no, we’re not talking about the fun Super Mutants of Fallout.


China’s supply chain threat to U.S. national security

We love them, too, Vault-Tec boy!

As most everyone knows, using radioactive materials to generate power also creates waste. Triggering the nuclear process in a material (which is what you need to do to create said power) is basically irreversible. Once activated, nuclear material is dangerous for thousands of years.

The Navy was still in the process of learning that fact in the 1950s as they tried to decide what to do with a newfound problem: dealing with nuclear waste.

Their initial solution, unsurprisingly, was similar to how they dealt with chemical waste and other debris at the time. They dumped it — usually in 6,000 to 12,000 feet of water.

At this point, Godzilla is your best-case scenario.

www.youtube.com

Sailors like George Albernaz, assigned to the USS Calhoun County in the ’50s, were left to decide how they’d go about their job dumping the materials, typically low-level nuclear waste.

They would take about 300 barrels per trip out into the ocean from docks on the Atlantic Coast and roll them to the edge of the ship. When the ship tipped just right on the waves, they would push the barrels over.

Most of them, filled with dense metals, salts, and tools encased in concrete inside the barrel, would sink right away. Barrels that bobbed back up were shot with a rifle by a man standing on the end of the ship, which usually sent it directly to the bottom of the sea.

But the rifle fire wasn’t always enough.

China’s supply chain threat to U.S. national security

Navy aircraft take off after during operations in 1957.

(US Navy)

In July 1957, two barrels bobbed back up during a dumping mission and simply would not sink. So, the Navy sent two aircraft to fire on them with machine guns until they finally sank to Poseidon’s depths.

While shooting radioactive barrels actually sounds sort-of fun, the sailors involved said that the Navy failed to properly inform them of the dangers of working with radiation, took shortcuts on safety and detection procedures, and failed to provide necessary safety gear.

That left men like Albernaz susceptible to a number of diseases and conditions associated with radiation, including cancer and other lifelong ailments.

A 1992 article in the New York Times detailed other shortcomings of the Navy’s programs, including instances where dumps occurred mere miles from major ports, like Boston, in only a few hundred feet of water, increasing the chances that radioactive particles could make their way into civilian population centers.

These days, Navy nuclear waste is taken to be stored on land, but the U.S. still lacks permanent storage for high-level nuclear waste. Instead, nearly all high-level nuclear waste in the U.S. is stored in temporary storage, often on the grounds of nuclear power generation facilities.

It’s not ideal, and a number of potential permanent sites have been proposed and debated, but at least barrels probably won’t come bobbing back up.

If they do, well, even the F-35 could probably sink them.

MIGHTY CULTURE

American’s favorite snacks invented by the military

Snack time is the best time. At least, that’s how it is around here. From sweet treats to crunchy mid-afternoon nosh sessions, America’s obsession with snacks is as old as America itself. Well, not quite. But many of our favorite snacks did get their start in the military as food for deployed service members.

You might already be familiar with plenty of these snacks if you’ve ever found yourself at ten till nine in the morning in line at the shoppette grabbing breakfast because once again, you’re running a little late. Or maybe your idea of comfort food involves a fresh piece of supermarket, pre-sliced bread to make into a grilled cheese. No matter your go-to snack, we’re sure you’ll find some of your favorite in this list of snacks invented by the military.


Picking up breakfast 

You already know that coffee is the number two beverage among service members (ranked after water and beer, respectively), but did you know that the U.S. military helped herald in the age of instant coffee? During WWI, Big Military saw the need to keep service members caffeinated on the go, so they invested heavily in purchasing lots of powdered instant coffee – to the tune of 37,000 pounds of it by the war’s end. Before instant and pre-ground coffee came to market, folks would have to grind beans by hand and then set them to boil in water. After the inclusion of coffee in the earliest MREs, not only did the military embrace the need for caffeine, but so did the rest of America. By the end of WWII, drip coffee was as ubiquitous to American meals as ever.

Chef Boyardee

Pre-made kinds of pasta got their start as lunch items for the American military. During WWII, Big Military tapped a restaurant in Cleveland to produce their canned food as part of military rations, which helped launch what we now know as Chef Boyardee.

Cheetos

As you’re enjoying your pre-made pasta, why not add some Cheetos and Pringles to round out your snack and make it really decadent? Cheetos, America’s favorite bright orange corn-puffed snack, got their start during WWI when culinary industrialists figured out how to make shelf-stable, dehydrated cheese dust. Kraft Foods then sold the product to the Army, who used it on just about everything – pasta, sandwiches, eggs and yes, even potatoes.

Pringles

The crunchy texture of Cheetos is addictive, for sure, but so too are Pringles. Pringles were born from a project between the Quartermaster Corps and the USDA to develop dehydrated potato flakes. The entire goal of Pringles was to find a way to dehydrate the flakes and then, later on, form them into chips.

Speaking of lunch, what’s a sandwich without sliced bread? Thanks again to a partnership between the Quartermaster Corps and Kansas State, now we no longer have to worry about bakery bread going stale before we can enjoy it. Supermarket bread stays fresh because of bacterial enzymes that tolerate the heat of baking and can live for weeks, helping to keep bread fresh and soft.

Dinners and Sweet Treats

Bomber crews on long overseas flights during WWII needed something to eat, so an Army contractor invented the earliest iteration of what we now know as TV dinners. These nascent iterations were pretty basic and didn’t have much flavor, but they kept the bomber crews from going hungry.

After that TV dinner, why not enjoy a handful of MMs? These candy-coated chocolates were first introduced in WWII, so service members could carry chocolate with them during warmer weather.

These snacks might not be on your go-to meal list for every meal, but it’s still an amazing bit of culinary history to know that many of the snacks we love today got their start as rations for the military.

MIGHTY CULTURE

The Wild Gang is a group of seven fiancées who have lost their military partners, and they’re fighting for more awareness

Kathleen Bourque’s life with her fiancée Marine 1st Lt. Conor McDowell, was cut tragically short following a vehicle rollover accident that killed McDowell. Now, Bourque is channeling her grief into awareness about military vehicle rollovers.  

In May 2019, Bourque’s fiancée was killed in a military training accident, days after being promoted, and just three months before their planned September wedding. Her life with her intended was cut tragically short after the accident that happened at Camp Pendleton. 

McDowell and his crew set out on a route reconnaissance exercise with an order to recon Canyon Road at Camp Pendleton in preparation for a division-sized movement. Then McDowell made the decision to move the LAV off-road and drive it into tall vegetation, which isn’t unusual for cover and concealment. Light armored recon Marines are routinely taught that roads are dangerous and should be avoided to eliminate dust signatures. 

The LAV that McDowell and his crew were operating crept slowly into six-foot-tall vegetation, which obstructed the driver’s vision. A corporal stood up and yelled for the driver to halt, but it was too late. The Marines inside never saw the ditch. The LAV plummeted down a 15-foot washout and rolled upside down. A command investigation obtained by the Marine Corps Times detailed that McDowell used his last moments alive to alert his crew that the vehicle was about to roll, actions that might’ve spared others more serious injury. Several of McDowell’s crew were injured. 

The couple met in 2018 after connecting on a dating app, Hinge. McDowell had just graduated from the Marine Corps Infantry Officer Course in Virginia and was headed to Camp Pendleton for his next assignment. But before heading out west, McDowell took an 800-mile detour and went to visit Bourque in her North Carolina home. They spent just four days together before making the decision that Bourque would move with McDowell to California. Friends and family balked at the choice, but the couple was steadfast that it was the right thing to do.

The couple settled into life as much as they could. As a military girlfriend, Bourque had limited access to on-base resources. She couldn’t shop at the commissary, access fitness facilities, go to the MCX or check out books in the library. In the military, you’re either married or you’re single – there is no in-between. So when McDowell died, Bourque found herself and her status in limbo. She had to fight with McDowell’s chain of command to have her dead fiancé’s things shipped back across the country because she wasn’t listed as the next of kin on McDowell’s paperwork. At his funeral at Arlington National Cemetery, Bourque was told to “stand back” because she wasn’t considered, in the eyes of the military, “immediate family.”

Now she’s banded together with six other military fiancés who have lost their partners to military accidents, and she’s lobbying for change. As a group, they fight for their relationships to be considered valid in the eyes of the military. Because none of the Wild Gang was married, they don’t receive any Gold Star benefits and are largely forgotten by the larger military community.

Bourque thinks the accident should never have happened and has been reaching out to lawmakers on Capitol Hill to act on military vehicle rollover accidents. McDowell was one of four marines who died in a military vehicle rollover during training exercises in 2019. His death represents a slight uptick in non-combat-related tactical vehicle deaths for the Marine Corps. However, data from the Naval Safety Center shows that Marine tactical vehicle mishaps are at a ten-year low.

That disconnect is part of what Bourque is fighting for. Recognition as a military widow and the fact that some vehicle deaths might go unreported keeps her fighting for McDowell’s memory. She maintains that widows, no matter their official marriage status, should be treated unequivocally with the same level of respect across all branches of the military.

MIGHTY HISTORY

Howard Hughes’ Spruce Goose was actually a marvel of engineering

It was a cool California November afternoon in 1947 when the HK-4 Hercules, also known as the Spruce Goose, finally flew. It was supposed to be a simple taxi test, nothing more than motoring through the water of Long Beach Harbor to show off its speed and test out the plane in open water. But having endured years of people mocking the project and himself for trying to build a plane so massive it had no hope of flying, Howard Hughes decided to take the opportunity to extend his middle finger at them all in the most poignant way he could.

No doubt with a twinkle in his eye as the Hercules cruised through the water, Hughes turned to the 30 year old hydraulic engineer, David Grant, who he had chosen as his co-pilot that day despite him not actually being a pilot, and unexpectedly told him to “lower the flaps to 15 degrees” — the take off position.


Not long after, the massive, few hundred thousand pound (250K lb / 113K kg empty, 400K lb / 181K kg gross), 218 ft (67 m) long aircraft with a still record holding wingspan of just shy of 321 feet (98 m) was out of the water. It was airborne for under a minute, went less than a mile, and only about 70 feet in the air, but it had done the impossible — the Spruce Goose flew.

Given the rather innovative use of a hydraulic system, landing was a bit abnormal for planes of the age in that the plane had to be landed under power, as Grant would instruct Hughes to “fly it into the water.”

When it finally settled back down in the water, Grant stated, “It was ecstasy all the way. It was like walking on air. It wasn’t underpowered at all, and it performed exactly like it was designed to.”

China’s supply chain threat to U.S. national security
Internal view of the Hughes H-4 Hercules fuselage.

As to why Hughes didn’t fly it further, besides elements of the aircraft still needing tweaked and the potential danger of taking media aboard a test flight in which even the pilot wasn’t quite sure how the plane would handle, they’d been taxiing around for some time at this point and the plane hadn’t been fueled much to begin with. As such, Hughes didn’t want to risk running out of fuel in open ocean before he’d have a chance to circle back around and land.

Now, the original plan for this aircraft was a lot more grandiose than a brief publicity flight. In 1942, the United States — along with much of the rest of the world — was in the midst of WWII. Being across an ocean from where the fighting was taking place was a problem when transporting supplies, weapons, and soldiers en masse.

At the time, efforts on this front weren’t going well. German U-boats were patrolling Atlantic waters and torpedoing anything that was perceived to be helping the Allied war effort. According to one estimate, between January 1942 and August 1942 alone, German U-boats had sunk 233 ships and killed more than 5,000 Americans. It was clear that a better way was needed for transporting things safely across the Big Blue.

It was Henry J. Kaiser who first proposed an idea of an airboat. Running one of the most important construction companies in modern American history, Kaiser was responsible for building quite a lot of the infrastructure of the American west at the time (including the Hoover Dam). He also created a system for fast, high-quality shipbuilding during World War II that became world renownd.

China’s supply chain threat to U.S. national security
Henry J. Kaiser

Kaiser thought that a massive airboat packed to the gills with supplies and troops that could fly over German U-boats was the answer to the problem. However, he was a shipbuilder and not an expert on airplanes… But he knew someone who was.

By 1942, Hughes was already a famed figure in America. Exceedingly wealthy, he first gained widespread fame as a Hollywood producer who was most prominently known for producing and directing Hell’s Angels, a World War I epic about aerial combat that was (at the time) the most expensive movie ever made.

In 1934, he formed the Hughes Aircraft Company. A year later, he helped design and build the H-1, or as he liked to call it, the “Racer.” In September 1935, he broke the world land speed record in it with an average of 352.322 mph. In sort of a precursor of the future, during the flight the plane ran out of gas — something Hughes didn’t anticipate — forcing him to crash in a beet field, narrowly avoiding serious injury.

He broke another land speed record when he flew to New York from Los Angeles in a mere 7 hours, 28 minutes, and 25 seconds (averaging 332 mph). In 1938, he shattered the world record for quickest time flying around the globe, needing just 3 days, 19 hours, 14 minutes, and 10 seconds, almost 4 days quicker than the previous world record set in 1933 by Wiley Post.

His prowess as an aviation engineer and pilot quickly earned him a reputation as one of the most innovative aviators in the world- someone that Kaiser thought would help the Allies win the war.

Together, Kaiser and Hughes convinced the War Production Board to finance the construction of 500 flying boats, a project that was deemed in the press as the “most ambitious flying aviation program in the history of the world.”

For months, the old-school industrialist and the new-age aviator worked together to put together plans that would wow.

In late August, they submitted to the government blueprints for a seaplane with eight engines, a wingspan longer than a football field, and a hull taller than a five-story building.

Beyond being the largest plane ever built by far at the time, it would be able to transport 750 troops or two M2 Sherman tanks. It had a gross weight of about two hundred tons, which was nearly three times heavier than any other airplane ever built. And, due to wartime metal restrictions, it was to be built nearly entirely of wood. Hughes and Kaiser called it the HK-1, naturally named after themselves.

China’s supply chain threat to U.S. national security

While hesitant at first, the federal government gave the pair $18 million (about $250 million today) to develop and build a prototype.

It didn’t go well from the very beginning. The Hughes Aircraft Company was not a big company in 1942 and struggled with staffing, expenses, and deadlines. Hughes himself was unfocused, taking on too many projects while underestimating how much attention was needed to build a plane that would eclipse anything anyone had ever attempted to make fly. Four months in and the best thing that could be said was that they built a 750-foot long hanger, also made out of wood.

By mid-1943, construction had begun on the plane itself, but it was incredibly slow-moving. Working with wood proved to be an enormous issue, presenting a variety of challenges that had to be overcome to make a reliable sea-plane. Beyond the aforementioned then innovative hydraulic system for manipulating the control surfaces, each piece of wood (which was mostly birch, not spruce, owing to birch being quite resistant to dry rot) had to be weighed and analyzed for quality assurance before being used.

In addition, each sheet had to be laminated with a waterproof glue in order to prevent it from being damaged by water, heat, and fungus. Along the way, besides needing to purchase the rights to the Duramold laminating process, which in a nutshell involved stacking shapable ultra-thin strips of wood and applying a glue, Hughes and his teem also had to develop a variation of the process for their particular application.

As late 1943 approached, the first prototype was due to the government but it was clear that wasn’t going to happen. What’s more, they had spent nearly half of the budget on “engineering re-tooling” and rumors were swirling that the first plane wasn’t going to be done until 1945. It turned out to be much worse than that.

At this point, Kaiser had had enough and bailed out of the project. Several times, the feds threatened to shut the whole thing down, willing to cut their losses. The contract that had originally been given to Hughes and Kaiser went from 500 planes to 3 planes to, finally, just one for the original $18 million.

By 1944, $13 million of that money was spent and, yet, the plane was less than half done. Then the war ended and any hope that the now-called H-4 Hercules (renamed after Kaiser left the project) was ever going to help the war effort was gone.

The contract with the federal government was swiftly canceled, but Hughes was determined to finish the plane. As he stated before the Senate War Investigating Committee in 1947 during an inquiry on whether he’d mismanaged tax payer dollars during the project,

The Hercules was a monumental undertaking. It is the largest aircraft ever built. It is over five stories tall with a wingspan longer than a football field. That’s more than a city block. Now, I put the sweat of my life into this thing. I have my reputation all rolled up in it and I have stated several times that if it’s a failure, I’ll probably leave this country and never come back. And I mean it.

And so it was that he paid for the project’s completion himself. The H-4 Hercules was finally finished in June of 1946 with $22 million of the government’s money and, while figures vary from otherwise reputable sources, according to Boeing, $18 million of Hughes own personal wealth chipped in, for a grand total of $40 million (about $450 million today). It should also be noted here that, subtracting initial research and development costs, had they decided to build a second plane, it probably would have only cost about $2.5 million (about $28 million today).

It took a little over a year more for Hughes to it fly. At this point given the massive scale of the plane, the incredible weight, the fact that it was made of wood, and the perpetual delays, the media had taken to mocking the plane, calling it the Spruce Goose — a nickname that Hughes and his team hated owing to it demeaning what was otherwise a marvel of engineering.

But on that fateful November day, the Hercules finally did what it was intended, proving many a critic wrong.

In the aftermath, there was some wrangling over who actually owned the plane given how much money Hughes himself had sunk into the project. But the U.S. government eventually gave up its rights to it in exchange for the Smithsonian Institute’s National Air and Space Museum getting the Hughes’ H-1 Racer plane and a portion of the Spruce Goose’s wing, as well as in exchange for a relatively small payment of $700,000 (about $3 million today).

China’s supply chain threat to U.S. national security
Howard Hughes

For years afterward, Hughes, now moving on to other projects, kept the plane in the hanger he built specifically for it, seemingly originally with the intent of eventually flying it again. In fact, he kept a full-time crew of, at its peak, hundreds of people on hand to make sure the plane was ready to fly at any given moment, costing him millions of dollars over the years to do that.

Howard Hughes died in 1976 and the Spruce Goose immediately was under threat of being dismantled owing to the cost of maintaining it in its massive hanger. But the Aero Club of Southern California acquired the legendary plane in 1980 and put it in their own hanger next to the Queen Mary in Long Beach, right near where the plane did its maiden and final voyage.

The Walt Disney Company bought the property in 1988 and, after a few tense years, given Disney wanted the plane gone, the Evergreen Aviation Museum in McMinnville, Oregon won the right to acquire the Spruce Goose.

For the last 26 years, that’s where it has remained, meticulously maintained. In fact, it’s generally thought that the maintenance over the years has been so good that, with some upgrades, particularly to the wiring and electronic components as well as going through the engines, it could possibly fly just fine today. Of course, because of its historical significance, nobody has seriously suggested anyone make those upgrades and try.

This article originally appeared on Today I Found Out. Follow @TodayIFoundOut on Twitter.

MIGHTY CULTURE

This insect pain scale will help you test your warrior mettle

The sting of the Warrior Wasp is pure torture, according to entomologist Dr. Justin Schmidt, who was willingly stung by each of the most painful insect stings on Earth to create a scale of pain. He went on to describe it as being chained in the flow of an active volcano. It was the only one that ever made him question why he would endeavor to create such a scale.

Schmidt’s Pain Index covers the stings of Hymenoptera, a class of insect that includes bees, wasps, and ants. On the scale of one to four, with four being the worst pain imaginable, only three insects made the top of the list.


China’s supply chain threat to U.S. national security

Level One: Adorable.

Level one

The first level is short, sharp, but not lasting stings from things like sweat bees and fire ants. The pain from these stings generally last around five minutes or less. There is minimal damage done to the body from the insect venom. Schmidt described the sting of a sweat bee as “light, ephemeral, almost fruity. A tiny spark has singed a single hair on your arm.”

China’s supply chain threat to U.S. national security

Level Two: Been There, Done That.

Level two

Raising the stakes just a little means the next level is still filled with creatures with which most of us are familiar. Level two includes common honeybees, yellow jackets, and hornets. Dr. Schmidt says the vast majority of bees, wasps, and ants will fall into level two, though the sensations of pain are different from creature to creature.

While a yellow jacket can cause a very directed and hot kind of pain, Schmidt describes the sting of a termite-raiding ant as a “migraine contained on the tip of one’s finger.”

China’s supply chain threat to U.S. national security

Level Three: Not Cute.

Level three

This level, though not exclusively filled with wasps, is mostly wasps. The stings of a level three insect can last from anywhere from a few minutes to longer than an hour. Though the ants that do make a level three kind of pain are very painful and memorable.

He described the sting of the Maricopa Harvester Ant as “After eight unrelenting hours of drilling into that ingrown toenail, you find the drill wedged into the toe.”

China’s supply chain threat to U.S. national security

Level Four: Kill It With Fire.

Level four

As previously mentioned, only three insects fall into this level of pain, and Dr. Schmidt has experienced all of them, including that of the bullet ant, long regarded as the most painful insect bite ever felt and lasting for hours. The others include the tarantula hawk, a wasp whose venom is meant to hunt giant tarantulas and the warrior wasp, with a sting that was once clinically described as “traumatic.”

The Amazonian Tribe of the Mawé have a puberty right for males that includes wearing a bullet ant glove. If you experience the worst pain the jungle has to offer, how can you possibly fear anything else?

MIGHTY CULTURE

Taco Bell is opening a Taco Bell-themed hotel

Taco Bell is opening a hotel.

On May 16, 2019, the fast-food chain announced it would open The Bell: A Taco Bell Hotel and Resort in Palm Springs, California, on Aug. 9, 2019.

Taco Bell said the hotel would be fully Taco Bell-themed, with new menu items, a gift shop, and a nail-art, fades, and braid bar inspired by the chain.

And executives want to be clear: This isn’t a stunt, but part of Taco Bell’s wider strategy of moving the brand beyond the traditional fast-food experience.


“This idea of allowing people to kind of fully experience and embrace and immerse themselves in every aspect of the Taco Bell lifestyle led us to the idea of doing a hotel,” Taco Bell’s chief global brand officer, Marisa Thalberg, told Business Insider.

China’s supply chain threat to U.S. national security

The Bell: A Taco Bell Hotel and Resort.

(Taco Bell)

Thalberg said Taco Bell’s experience with hosting weddings in Taco Bell’s Las Vegas Cantina instructed the chain’s thinking around the hotel. Since Taco Bell began hosting weddings there in 2017, more than 165 couples have gotten married at the festive location.

“We’re really just creating experiences that feel like a reflection and extension of the essence of Taco Bell at its very best,” Thalberg said. “Oftentimes they’re born out of real consumer insights or behaviors. And I think that’s what makes them very valid and very legitimate.”

Taco Bell fans can book reservations at the hotel starting in June 2019. Reservations are first come, first served, so be ready to book if you’re looking for a Taco Bell-inspired vacation this August.

While The Bell is set to be open only for a limited time, Thalberg said she would “never say never” to a full-time Taco Bell-themed hotel.

This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Momma works in a prison, pops served overseas

Momma babysits inmates at Arizona State Prison. Dad served as a Marine in the 90s. My little brother drives a 23%-interest, blacked-out Dodge Charger, which means — you guessed it — he is also a Marine. I, on the other hand, chose to study theatre and English.

My brother and I were raised (like nearly all children of military/law enforcement parents) on a diet of heavy structure, logic, toughness, discipline, preparedness, and accountability. He ordered seconds; I drew a pretty picture on the menu with a crayon.


China’s supply chain threat to U.S. national security

From one generation to the next — see the resemblance?

The closest I ever came to military service was yelling, “1, 2” as a toddler in the bath when my dad would call out “sound off” from his living room recliner.

The closest I ever came to being a corrections officer was babysitting an 8-year-old kid obsessed with cramming Cheerios up his nose. He claims his record was 12, but when I told him to prove it, he could only fit, like, 6 or 7. Liar.

I say “corrections officer” because my momma prefers the term “corrections officer.” She thinks the term “prison guard” describes a knuckle-dragging extra in an action movie — who, by the way, always seem to get killed in movies. Like dozens of them just get absolutely mowed down, usually by the GOOD guys, and nobody cares. Nobody! Do you know what it feels like to be in a large room full of people who cheer and clap every time Jason Statham snaps the neck of your could-be mother on-screen? Not super great.

It always occurred to me as odd that I noticed that in movies and my momma never did. But it highlights an important aspect of growing up in that atmosphere — you don’t really talk about how or why you feel a certain way. Which, if you’re coming from a prison system or a military system, is completely understandable. In those worlds it’s all about short, useful information: yes sir, copy, etc.

I think that rigid structure ironically led me to be drawn to things I found subjective and expressive — sort of like Malia Obama smokin’ weed, or Jaden Smith doing, uhhh, whatever it is that he’s doing. However, that made me a sort of black sheep — not really feeling like I belonged on either side of the fence.

Here’s what I mean: I can go out and absolutely slam some brews with my little brother and his military brothers. We can talk about why we think the Raiders can’t seem to win a damn game, we slug each other in the arm, and tell each other truly depraved jokes.

But, I’m still gonna end up hanging on his shoulder, telling him how much I love him, and I’ll inevitably tear up while telling him I cried reading a Wilfred Owen poem that reminded me of him while he was deployed. That’s just who I am. They never really quite feel comfortable in emotional moments. And that’s okay — it’s just a difference — like how my brother looks like a Jason Statham character (it’s a love/hate thing with that guy) when he’s shooting a gun, but I look kinda like Bambi trying to learn how to walk.

Conversely, if I’m out with some of my theatre or comedy buddies, the military/prison differences are highlighted. They are, for instance, fifteen minutes late to everything. I, personally, would rather take a shot of bleach than be late. Sure, they can be comfortable discussing how they feel (maybe even too much) — but they are terrified of any confrontation. I once had an actor sit me down and ask me what being in a fight felt like. Me, the guy who cries at Silver Linings Playbook, was seen as traditionally masculine.

Plus, they’re always excited to hear me suggest a “blanket party” until they find out what it is. Bummer.

China’s supply chain threat to U.S. national security

Everyone’s invited!

So either way, my folks shaped who I am. The military and the prison — they shaped my folks. Those systems; the words, the discipline, the people — it’s impossible to separate them.

Even though I’ve never fastened a utility belt at 5 a.m. and willingly locked myself in a prison with violent offenders, even though I could never imagine what it feels like to tie up your boots and go to war for your family — the lessons they learned while they did those things for me, even if indirectly, shaped who I am.

It is only because my folks got their hands dirty, raised me to embrace who I am — to follow what I believe in — that I have the dear privilege to sit here, criss-cross-applesauce, and type this up while I blow gingerly at a decaf coffee that’s a little too hot for my lips.

MIGHTY SURVIVAL

COVID-19: Russia Reports Largest Daily Increase Of Cases; 10,000 Graves Dug In Tehran

The global death toll from the coronavirus is more than 110,000 with almost 1.8 million infections confirmed, causing mass disruptions as governments continue to try to slow the spread of the new respiratory illness.

Here’s a roundup of COVID-19 developments in RFE/RL’s broadcast regions.



Russia

Russia on April 12 reported the largest daily increase of coronavirus cases since the start of the outbreak, as the authorities announced restrictions on Easter church services in and around Moscow to contain the spread of the disease.

The Russian Orthodox Church, which will observe Easter this year on April 19, ordered churches to close their doors to large groups during the holy week leading up to the holiday.

Meanwhile, Russia’s coronavirus crisis task force reported 2,186 new coronavirus cases in the country, raising the total number to 15,770.

The number of coronavirus-related deaths rose by 24 to 130, it said.

China’s supply chain threat to U.S. national security

The official tally has been doubted by critics in Russia and abroad, who suspect the number is being undercounted by health authorities.

Moscow and many other regions have been in lockdown for nearly two weeks, but Russian officials on April 11 warned of a “huge influx” of new coronavirus infections and said that hospitals in the Moscow area were quickly nearing capacity.

“We are seeing hospitals in Moscow working extremely intensely, in heroic, emergency mode,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said during a television interview.

Peskov described the situation in both Moscow and St. Petersburg as “quite tense because the number of sick people is growing.”

Bulgaria

Authorities and doctors in Bulgaria are urging citizens to stay home and pray in their homes for traditional Palm Sunday and Easter services.

Churches have remained open in Bulgaria despite the coronavirus outbreak. Services at major churches are due to be broadcast live for worshippers.

Prime Minister Boyko Borisov said on April 11 that churches will remain open, saying many people were desperate and in low spirits. He, however, urged Bulgarians to stay home.

“A difficult decision but I am ready to bear the reproaches,” Borisov told reporters.

“The bishops told me that there are many people who are in low spirits, desperate. So I just cannot issue such an order [to close churches],” he added.

Thousands attend Easter church services in the Balkan country.

Bulgaria has been in a state of emergency since March 13. Schools and most shops are closed and there are restrictions on intercity travel and access to parks. All domestic and foreign vacation trips are banned.

The country has so far reported 669 confirmed COVID-19 cases, and 28 deaths.

Iran

Iran’s death toll from COVID-19 has risen by 117 in the past day to 4,474, Health Ministry spokesman Kianush Jahanpur said on April 12.

The country has recorded 71,686 cases of the coronavirus that causes the disease, Jahanpur added. Some 1,657 new cases of coronavirus were confirmed in the past 24 hours, he said.

Iran has been the country hardest hit by the pandemic in the Middle East. Many Iranian and international experts think Iran’s government, which has been criticized for a slow initial response, is intentionally reducing its tally of the pandemic.

China’s supply chain threat to U.S. national security

Ten thousand graves have been dug in a new section of the Behesht Zahra cemetery south of the Iranian capital to deal with coronavirus deaths, an official with Tehran’s municipality was quoted as saying by the official government news agency IRNA on April 12.

Meanwhile, Iranian President Hassan Rohani said that restrictions on travel between cities within each province in the country have been lifted.

He said restrictions on travel between provinces will be lifted on April 20.

In the past days, Tehran has reopened some “low-risk” businesses in most parts of the country with the exception of the capital, Tehran, where they will reopen from April 18, official media have reported.

Iranian authorities have called on citizens to respect health protocols and social-distancing measures as the country struggles to curb the deadly outbreak.

The government is concerned that measures to shut down businesses and halt economic activities to contain the outbreak could wreck an already sanctions-battered economy.

The United States has offered humanitarian aid to Iran, but the country’s leaders have rejected it and demanded that sanctions be lifted.

Pakistan

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan has appealed to international stakeholders for urgent debt relief for Pakistan and other developing countries to help them deal more effectively with the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.

In a video message released by the Foreign Ministry on April 12, Khan said that “highly indebted countries” lack “fiscal space” to spend both on the fight against the virus and on health and social support.

He said he appealed to world leaders, the heads of financial institutions, and the secretary-general of the United Nations to get together to announce a debt relief initiative for developing countries.

Pakistan has recorded 5,232 coronavirus cases, with 91 deaths.

The South Asian nation’s already struggling economy has been hit hard by nationwide lockdowns that have brought economic activity to a halt.

Pakistan is more than 0 billion in debt to foreign lenders and spends the largest chunk of its budget on servicing its debt.

Armenia

In his Easter sermon, the head of the Armenian Apostolic Church, Catholicos Garegin II, urged Armenians to display “national unity” in the face of the coronavirus crisis.

Leading the Mass at an empty St. Gregory the Illuminator Cathedral in Yerevan on April 12, Garegin called on “the sons and daughters of our nation in the homeland and in the diaspora to give a helping hand to our government authorities in their efforts to overcome the difficult situation created by the pandemic.”

He also called for global solidarity to contain the spread of the virus and what he described as even greater “evils,” including “materialism,” poverty, and armed conflicts.

The Mass, broadcast live on national television, was attended by only two dozen clergymen and a smaller-than-usual choir.

[rebelmouse-proxy-image https://media.rbl.ms/image?u=%2Fproxy%2F0j8lmZ30tqvGI7p40mbbeh-iddjMEj_TrxEL8GZ7gUiVA0eMtSMEqbSSLmSGXtl8ujqBcb4lja8uNx2mI3wQp5lUjnstQu-mKTuxKKg44xZITiFrDQk25Ic&ho=https%3A%2F%2Flh3.googleusercontent.com&s=934&h=e9c18fc442a8f5762418e944a3b7ecf0659d777d65b51ee78cc1fdcb9c93d8cf&size=980x&c=4246473462 crop_info=”%7B%22image%22%3A%20%22https%3A//media.rbl.ms/image%3Fu%3D%252Fproxy%252F0j8lmZ30tqvGI7p40mbbeh-iddjMEj_TrxEL8GZ7gUiVA0eMtSMEqbSSLmSGXtl8ujqBcb4lja8uNx2mI3wQp5lUjnstQu-mKTuxKKg44xZITiFrDQk25Ic%26ho%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Flh3.googleusercontent.com%26s%3D934%26h%3De9c18fc442a8f5762418e944a3b7ecf0659d777d65b51ee78cc1fdcb9c93d8cf%26size%3D980x%26c%3D4246473462%22%7D” expand=1]

lh3.googleusercontent.com

After the service, Garegin blessed a small group of believers who had gathered outside Armenia’s largest cathedral.

Sunday services in all churches across Armenia have been held behind closed doors since the government on March 16 declared a state of emergency over the coronavirus outbreak, which has officially infected 1,013 people in the South Caucasus country and killed 13.

The Armenian Apostolic Church has restricted church attendance on weekdays and instructed parish churches to live-stream liturgies online, when possible.

This article originally appeared on Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Follow @RFERL on Twitter.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Air Force dental techs get rare chance to treat adorable canines

Members of the 386th Expeditionary Wing dental team were given a unique opportunity to join forces with the Army veterinary clinic to provide support to the K-9 unit at an undisclosed location in Southwest Asia, Dec. 8, 2018.

In most instances in a deployed environment the medical group supports the vet by providing medications and food related support, but on this day it was to perform a teeth cleaning on Military Working Dog Vviking.

“I am very grateful to do this out here,” said Staff Sgt. Torri Olivieri, 386th Expeditionary Medical Group dental services noncommissioned officer in charge. “Working with a military working dog and supporting the mission in this aspect is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”


In a deployed location, the veterinary clinic leans heavily on the medical group in emergencies to support the K-9 unit if the veterinary clinic is unavailable.

China’s supply chain threat to U.S. national security

Army Capt. Carolyn Scholl, 719th Medical Detachment Veterinary Services veterinary core officer, prepares to insert a breathing tube in military working dog Vviking’s throat during a routine teeth cleaning at an undisclosed location in Southwest Asia, Dec. 7, 2018.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jeremy L. Mosier)

“I called the dental tech and dentist down here today so they could get hands-on experience with the MWD, because if there is an emergent situation they would be the ones taking care of the dog,” said Army Spc. Caitlin Hinds, 719th Medical Detachment Veterinary Services vet technician.

While the veterinary clinic is a role three facility, which means they are able to support a majority of surgeries, they aren’t specifically trained to perform routine cleanings.

The vet clinic takes the opportunity to invite both medical clinic staff and dog handlers to many routine visits, such as blood draws and check-ups, to ensure they have the knowledge and are comfortable to do these things if they are unavailable, Hinds explained.

China’s supply chain threat to U.S. national security

Air Force military working dog Vviking receives a belly rub from his handler before his teeth cleaning at an undisclosed location in Southwest Asia, Dec. 7, 2018.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jeremy L. Mosier)

Staff Sgt. Angelina Borges, 386th Expeditionary Medical Group military working dog handler, discussed an incident in 2018 when her partner, MWD Vviking, was having issues lying down and sitting and the vet was there to help her every step of the way to help improve his health.

“I am really thankful for the vet clinic here and how they have explained everything to me,” Borges said.

The trust and willingness to accommodate one another has really bolstered the partnership between the Army and Air Force and Hinds looks to keep improving that relationship.

“I can go to the kennel master and medical group and say, ‘I need this,’ and they are more than willing to help,” Hinds explained. “It makes me feel good, because I am building the bonds back.”

The cohesiveness between units at ‘The Rock’ stems from these bonds and has developed with trust and partnership with one goal in mind — to complete the mission.

This article originally appeared on the United States Air Force. Follow @usairforce on Twitter.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Online commissary privileges finally available to newly eligible shoppers

Nearly 4 million veterans and caregivers who were granted privileges to shop at commissaries and exchanges Jan. 1 can finally enjoy access to online features, a Defense Commissary Agency (DeCA) news release said Friday.


However, the new patrons’ access to American Forces Travel (AFT), the official Morale, Welfare and Recreation travel site, is still spotty, according to the latest AFT Facebook post.

China’s supply chain threat to U.S. national security

Purple Heart recipients, former prisoners of war, veterans with any service-connected disability, and caregivers registered with the VA’s Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers program became eligible to shop at commissaries, exchanges and MWR facilities beginning Jan. 1.

Since then, these new shoppers have experienced issues, including not being able to bring guests on base and trouble accessing MyCommissary and AFT online portals.

DeCA officials said they had to work with Defense Manpower Data Center (DMDC), which is used to confirm shopping privileges, to let new patrons register their Commissary Rewards cards online to access coupons and to use, as available, the Click2Go curbside service.

“In the event a new shopper is still receiving an error message when trying to create an account, they should check with the [Department of Veterans Affairs] to ensure their information and privileges are correctly entered into the system,” DeCA system engineer Clayton Nobles said in a statement. “For those receiving a new Veterans Health Identification Card (VHIC), there may be a delay between when the veteran receives the card and when the system allows them access. This delay can take up to 30 days.”

Eligible veterans must have a VHIC to access bases for shopping or MWR use.

Customers who had access before Jan. 1, such as retired service members, Medal of Honor recipients and veterans with a service-related disability rating of 100%, are not affected.

China’s supply chain threat to U.S. national security

images02.military.com

Meanwhile, AFT is still updating its customer database of “millions of records.”

“We have sent examples to DMDC and they were able to see why some patrons are having issues,” AFT said on Facebook, the only place it is providing updates on the issue. “We will let you know when that resolve has been made and then ask you to try logging on again. Records are being updated every hour.”

But some veterans are getting tired of waiting.

“No luck today. Last week they said it would be fixed this week,” one Facebook user wrote. “The week before, it was going to be fixed last week. I sent a private message this afternoon and got an automated response to call the DMDC help desk at 1-800-727-3677. That number is for the Commissary. After 35 minutes, someone answered the phone and said they could not help me to get verified.”

This article originally appeared on Military.com. Follow @militarydotcom on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Kim Jong Un brought his own toilet to the Singapore Summit

Kim Jong Un has arrived in Singapore ahead of a historic summit with US President Donald Trump — and he brought his toilet.

The North Korean leader is said to always travel with several toilets, including one in his Mercedes.

Daily NK, a South Korean website focusing on North Korea news, reported in 2015 that “the restrooms are not only in Kim Jong Un’s personal train but whatever small or midsize cars he is traveling with and even in special vehicles that are designed for mountainous terrain or snow.”


The publication quoted an unnamed source as saying, “It is unthinkable in a Suryeong-based society for him to have to use a public restroom just because he travels around the country.” Suryeong is a Korean term meaning “supreme leader.”

China’s supply chain threat to U.S. national security
Kim’s toilet.
(KCNA photo)

So, why does Kim always travel with several lavatories at his disposal? According to The Chosun Ilbo, a South Korean newspaper, the portable toilets “will deny determined sewer divers insights into to the supreme leader’s stools.”

The secrecy of the North Korean leader’s health is, apparently, paramount.

“Rather than using a public restroom, the leader of North Korea has a personal toilet that follows him around when he travels,” Lee Yun-keol, a former member of a North Korean Guard Command unit who defected, told The Washington Post.

Lee explained, “The leader’s excretions contain information about his health status so they can’t be left behind.”

Kim’s urine and fecal matter are periodically examined to check for illnesses and other health indicators, according to Daily NK.

US-North Korean relations have seemingly come a long way in the past few months — it was only January 2018, when a top authority on North Korea suggested that the US should bomb Kim’s personal toilet to put fear in him.

“It will send an unmistakable message: We can kill you while you are dropping a deuce,” Jeffrey Lewis wrote.

This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.

Do Not Sell My Personal Information