'Hyena Road' tells the war stories of Canadian Forces in Afghanistan - We Are The Mighty
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‘Hyena Road’ tells the war stories of Canadian Forces in Afghanistan

Canadian filmmaker Paul Gross was never a soldier, but he has great respect for them. He comes from a military family; his grandfather and his father both served. Gross ended up in the arts, but he believes that soldiers represent their countries with an enormous amount of dignity and honor and they should be acknowledged for that.


“A soldier signed a piece of paper at one point, saying ‘I am willing to die for my country,'” Gross says. “That’s an extraordinary fucking thing. Did you ever sign such a piece of paper? I know I sure as shit didn’t.”

‘Hyena Road’ tells the war stories of Canadian Forces in Afghanistan

Gross wrote, directed, and stars in Hyena Road, a film about a Canadian Forces effort to build a road into the heart of enemy-held territory in Afghanistan. Gross plays Pete Mitchell, a sage intelligence officer responsible for convincing the local warlords to stop planting improvised explosive devices along the construction path .

“My character is loosely based on this real officer who was my guide,” Gross says. “Through this intelligence guy I started to learn stuff about Afghanistan. Not just the combat, I started to learn about Afghans.”

Mitchell needs to understand Afghan culture as he tries to bring a mysterious former Mujahid known as “the Ghost” to his side of the fight. The Ghost, played by Niamatullah Arghandabi, is a local Afghan elder who has a hidden identity as a legendary warlord who disappeared after the Russians withdrew.

‘Hyena Road’ tells the war stories of Canadian Forces in Afghanistan
Niamatullah Arghandabi with filmmaker Paul Gross. (Photo courtesy of Paul Gross)

Gross made two trips to Afghanistan to visit the Canadian Forces fighting there. The second time, he decided to film everything he could. He didn’t have a story at the time. A lot of that footage wound up in the final cut of Hyena Road. He talked to a lot of soldiers and took a lot of notes. When he returned to Ontario, he wrote a screenplay.

“Everything in the movie is pretty much based on stuff that I either heard or witnessed or was sort of common knowledge,” Gross says. “In other words, I didn’t make up anything.”

The film also features a very non-traditional actor in Arghandabi. He now serves an advisor to the Afghan government, and in 1979 he was a mujahid during the Soviet invasion.

“Since he was a kid, he was fighting Soviets,” the director says. “When he was 16, he was living in a cave coming out with Stinger missiles to knock down helicopters. I dragged him out and made him an actor.”

The director met the Arghandabi at Kandahar Airfield while on a visit there in 2011.

“I sat down with this guy and talked with him through an interpreter for about two and a half hours,” Gross recalls “I thought to myself, ‘I could spend the rest of my life with this guy and I would not understand one thing about him.’ That’s how different our cultures are.”

‘The Ghost’ told Gross of the time he met Osama bin Laden. To him Bin Laden wasn’t a fighter; he was a “clown.”

“It’s the weirdest thing,”Gross remembers of Arghandabi. “Talking to these people who knew all these bad guys. Bin Laden was one of the baddest guys we ever thought of, and [Arghandabi] thought he was a clown.”

Gross wants people to walk away from the film entertained, but also better informed because in his opinion, everyone should understand what it is they’re asking their military forces to do.

“That doesn’t mean you have to be against war,” Gross says. “It’s just that most of us wander around with blinders on. We should know what our neighbors, our cousins, our friends are doing there because we’re the one sending them there.”

Hyena Road is in theaters and on iTunes on March 11th.

 

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Japan’s 5th gen. stealth prototype takes to the skies for the first time

‘Hyena Road’ tells the war stories of Canadian Forces in Afghanistan
JASDF


The Mitsubishi X-2, Japan’s first foray into the world of 5th generation fighter aviation, took to the skies for its maiden flight just yesterday, lifting off with the traditional gear-down configuration from Nagoya Airfield, home of the Mitsubishi Aircraft Corporation. Originally known as the ATD-X, the aircraft has been in development for over seven years, with no less than 220 domestic Japanese companies involved as program subcontractors. The flight lasted a total of 26 minutes, with the launch occurring at 0847 local time from Nagoya, and ending at 0913 local at Japan Air Self-Defense Force Gifu Airbase, escorted along the way by a Mitsubishi F-2 fighter.

The X-2 isn’t actually a fighter, however. Mitsubishi, and the Japan Air Self Defense Force (JASDF), will instead use it as a technology demonstrator and a testbed to develop and mature concepts and hardware which they’ll eventually use on an indigenous 5th generation stealth fighter, presumably also built by Mitsubishi. The design of the aircraft is fairly similar to the broad architectural layout used on the F-22 Raptor and F-35 Lightning II, but lacks the dark gray radar-absorbent coating the latter jets utilize to further diminish their radar cross section (RCS).

The X-2 actually only around 46 feet in length, in comparison to the F-35 which is 51 feet long, and the F-22 which is 62 feet long. It’ll fly, for the moment, with one pilot though there seems to be space for a second cockpit behind the primary. It includes thrust-vectored IHI XF5-1 turbofan engines which use three paddles (per engine), probably to afford it a three-dimensional vectoring ability unlike the F-22’s two-dimensional vectoring capabilities. Mitsubishi will also be testing a “Self Repairing Flight Control Capability”, which will allow the aircraft’s onboard computers to detect malfunctions or damage to flight control surfaces, and accordingly adjust the the aircraft to achieve stabilized flight, at least until the aircraft can return to base.

The ultimate goal of the X-2 program is to develop a fighter that can best anything China has to throw at it, including the country’s new J-31 and J-20 fighter aircraft, which are supposedly on the same playing field as other fifth generation fighters in development today. The X-2 actually has the F-22 Raptor to thank for its origin, as the program began when Japan’s attempts to buy the Raptor for the JASDF were shot down by the US government, with a formal prohibition on foreign sales of the F-22. Japan plans on procuring the F-35 Lightning II for the JASDF as well.

 

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Military officers in WWI were the masters of the word ‘f**k’

There are a lot of words that carry a certain weight when said by the right person at the right time.


And you’ll be sure to remember it if it’s dirty enough.

‘Hyena Road’ tells the war stories of Canadian Forces in Afghanistan
As proven by John Oliver on HBO’s Last Week Tonight.

American troops are no exception. The only problem is that from the moment we join the service, we get indoctrinated into a world of shouting and expletives.

‘Hyena Road’ tells the war stories of Canadian Forces in Afghanistan
We should all get service-connected for hearing loss. Seriously. (U.S. Marine Corps photo)

 

It turns out World War I was no different, and it wasn’t even the beginning.

Etymologists – people who study the history of languages and trace word meanings – found it difficult to follow the lineage of the word “f**k” for a long time. The word itself is so taboo in the English language that no one would ever write it down — even for historical documentation.

 

‘Hyena Road’ tells the war stories of Canadian Forces in Afghanistan
And they all have Inigo Montoya tattoos. (MGM/20th Century Fox)

Luckily for us, the Oxford English Dictionary started following it in 1897, just in time for the First World War.

The OED only followed the word’s history but never included it in its dictionary – it was illegal to print in publications by the Comstock Act of 1873. The law stopped absolutely no one from using it in everyday speech, least of all the military troops in the trenches.

Some of the OED’s research includes this line from John Brophy’s “Songs and Slang of the British Soldier: 1914-1918.”

“It became so common that an effective way for the soldier to express this emotion was to omit this word. Thus if a sergeant said, ‘Get your f—ing rifles!’ it was understood as a matter of routine. But if he said ‘Get your rifles!’ there was an immediate implication of urgency and danger.”

Sometimes what you don’t say really is as important as what you do.

‘Hyena Road’ tells the war stories of Canadian Forces in Afghanistan
Somewhere out there, there’s a smug First Sergeant, nodding their head.

The definition of the word itself survived intact from its initial meaning, “to have sexual intercourse with,” and has been similarly pronounced and spelled since its first appearances in the 16th century.

OED found mention of the word as “fuccant” in a “scurrilous” Latin-Middle English hybrid poem, called “Flen Flyys,” about what local monks did with the wives of the nearby town of Ely, and thus why they did not get into heaven.

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One CA county goes nuclear with this post apocalyptic PSA

Earlier this week, an analysis from US intelligence officials revealed that North Korea has figured out how to fit nuclear warheads on missiles, and that the country may have up to 60 nuclear weapons. (Some independent experts estimate the figure is much smaller).


On August 7, North Korea issued a stark warning to the US: If you attack us, we will retaliate with nuclear weapons.

‘Hyena Road’ tells the war stories of Canadian Forces in Afghanistan
Photo from North Korean State Media.

Several American cities, including New York, San Francisco, and Honolulu, have response plans for terrorist attacks, including so-called “dirty bombs” containing radioactive material. But few have publicized plans to deal with a real nuclear explosion.

One exception is Ventura County, a suburb about 60 miles northwest of Los Angeles. In 2003, the local government launched a PSA campaign called “Ready” that aims to educate Americans how to survive a nuclear attack. The goal, according to the campaign site, is to “increase the level of basic preparedness across the nation.”

One of the more recent PSA videos is the one below, published in 2014. It opens with a short message from Ventura County public health officer Dr. Robert Levin, then cuts to a little girl with an ominous expression around the one-minute mark.

“Mom, I know you care about me,” she says. “When I was five, you taught me how to stop, drop, and roll … But what if something bigger happens?” The video then flashes to the girl walking down empty streets alone.

 

(Ventura Country Health Care Agency | YouTube) 

The Ventura County Health Care Agency has published several guides on what to do in the event of a nuclear bomb hitting the area. As the girl says in the video above, the agency’s focus is to “go in, stay in, tune in.”

The scenario assumes a terrorist-caused nuclear blast of about 10 kilotons’ worth of TNT or less. Few people would survive within the immediate damage zone, which may extend up to one or two miles wide, but those outside would have a chance.

Brooke Buddemeier, a health physicist and radiation expert at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, previously told Business Insider that he likes Ventura County’s PSAs because they’re simple and easy to remember. “There is a ton of guidance and information out there,” he said, but “it’s kind of too hard to digest quickly.”

‘Hyena Road’ tells the war stories of Canadian Forces in Afghanistan

Buddemeier said you’d have about 15 minutes — maybe a little bit longer, depending on how far away you are from the blast site — to get to the center of a building to avoid devastating exposure to radioactive fallout. Going below-ground is even better.

“Stay in, 12 to 24 hours, and tune in — try to use whatever communication tools you have. We’re getting better about being able to broadcast messages to cell phones, certainly the hand-cranked radio is a good idea — your car radio, if you’re in a parking garage with your car,” he said.

Buddemeier adds, however, that you shouldn’t try to drive away or stay in your car for very long, because it can’t really protect you. Today’s vehicles are made of glass and very light metals, and offer almost no shielding from damaging radiation.

‘Hyena Road’ tells the war stories of Canadian Forces in Afghanistan
The protection factor that various buildings, and locations within them, offer from the radioactive fallout of a nuclear blast. The higher the number, the greater the protection. Brooke Buddemeier/Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

In large cities, hundreds of thousands of people would be at risk of potentially deadly exposure. But fallout casualties are preventable, Buddemeier said.

“All of those hundreds of thousands of people could prevent that exposure that would make them sick by sheltering. So, this has a huge impact: Knowing what to do after an event like this can literally save hundreds of thousands of people from radiation illness or fatalities,” he said.

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The first US troops to fight for America did it on this day in 1775

There has long been a dispute between the towns of Lexington and Concord over which fight sparked the Revolution, but the first shots were fired at Lexington, which was less of a battle and more of a massacre. The debate was so fierce that President Ulysses Grant almost avoided the centennial celebrations there to avoid the issue. Taken together, however, there is little doubt that the spark of the Revolution started on this day in April, 1775.


‘Hyena Road’ tells the war stories of Canadian Forces in Afghanistan

The Battles of Lexington and Concord were the first military engagements of the American Revolution, pitting members of the Massachusetts Bay Colony militia against British regular army forces. The militia was not under the royal governor, but controlled by the rebel Massachusetts Provincial Congress.

Seven hundred British troops were dispatched from Tory-held Boston to capture and destroy rebel arsenals at Concord, Mass. The rebels knew the British would come and had already moved the weapons and supplies. The British force moved through Lexington on the way to Concord.

At first light on April 19, 1775, the Redcoats met some 70 colonial militiamen moving into ranks on the local common. They were vastly outnumbered. Their commander, John Parker, was not willing to risk his men at such odds, and so placed them in formation, but not blocking the road to Concord. He ordered his men not to fire unless fired upon.

Rather than just march on to Concord, a British Marine lieutenant led his men onto Lexington Common to disarm the militia. Instead of disarming, the colonists moved to disperse. That’s when a shot rang out from an unknown source. Before this encounter, there was no war declared in the colonies. The British had come and gone to seize arms and supplies many times, retreating back to the major cities each time. This time was different.

‘Hyena Road’ tells the war stories of Canadian Forces in Afghanistan

The idea of Americans in open rebellion against the British Crown was likely a shock to the subject of the British Empire. At the time of the Battles of Lexington and Concord, the British controlled territory on every inhabitable continent across the globe. Down on Lexington Common, however, those opening salvos left eight Americans dead and an equal number injured, along with one injured British regular. The engagement soured the chances of reconciliation between the colonies and the Crown.

The British would continue to Concord, where the Battle of North Bridge in Concord would kill two colonists and three Redcoats. The British retreated all the way back to Boston and were harassed by colonial militias the entire way home.

‘Hyena Road’ tells the war stories of Canadian Forces in Afghanistan

Poet Ralph Waldo Emerson composed the “Concord Hymn” in 1837, immortalizing the two events for the unveiling of a battle monument at Concord’s North Bridge.

“By the rude bridge that arched the flood/Their flag to April’s breeze unfurled/Here once the embattled farmers stood/And fired the shot heard round the world.”

This story would one day lead to the defeat of the British at the hands of a Franco-American force, the birth of America, and eventually, School House Rock.

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Here’s how a war with Iran would go

Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei released an incendiary video this week, describing the “humiliation” the U.S. would experience if it were to invade Iran. The video reminds the viewer of the protracted American wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and of Hezbollah’s perceived “victory” over Israel in 2006.


The video is as meaningful as any propaganda produced by any government – dubious at best. Iran has never started a war in the modern era. Its standing orders are to never launch a first strike and the success of the Iranian nuclear deal means we will likely not go to war with Iran anytime soon.

That does not keep Iran from trolling the United States more than any country, group, or individual (and we tend to remember that kind of sh*t talk).

‘Hyena Road’ tells the war stories of Canadian Forces in Afghanistan
Also, that hostage crisis. Old habits die hard.

Iran is the industrial, military, and economic Shia counterweight to Saudi Arabia, the preeminent Sunni monarchy in the Middle East. Iran considers the Middle East their backyard: sending money, weapons, and supplies to Shia Islamic groups in neighboring countries in an attempt to destabilize or undermine the Sunni (or secular) leadership there.

The Islamic Republic is currently projecting power all over the region, well beyond the borders of the old Persian Empire: they assist Houthi rebels in Yemen, fund and supply paramilitary organizations like Muqtada al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army in Iraq and Hezbollah in Syria and Lebanon as well as others, all fighting Sunni paramilitary organizations funded by members of the Gulf Cooperation Council, such as the al-Nusra Front. These Iranian-funded and Saudi-funded groups both fought U.S. troops during the Iraq War (though likely not side-by-side). The goal is to keep the fighting there, and not in Iran.

Those are the bare basics of the Sunni-Shia religious civil war everyone is always talking about. The promise of military support from the United States is one of the pillars of Saudi (and global oil market) security. Israel is the U.S.’ eternal ally. America has made promises in to fight ISIS in the region, alongside (but not with) Iranian-backed Iraqi militias, Syrian rebels, and Sunni-funded al-Qaeda groups. Now the Russians are sending more advisors and weapons to the Asad regime (which is also an Iranian client state). All this means we could be right back to where we started.

‘Hyena Road’ tells the war stories of Canadian Forces in Afghanistan
This really isn’t that far off.

The nuclear deal also doesn’t rule out a military strike from Israel. Israel has long depended on security and defense guarantees from the United States and is not averse to starting wars with countries it deems a threat to their long-term survival. As an added bonus, Israel already has nuclear weapons.

Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition government depends on a motley mixture of right-wing political parties and ultra-orthodox Jewish parties, who are convinced Iranian leaders want to wipe Israel off the face of the Earth, despite the fact that this phrase is a misquote from a bad translation.

And a surprise from Israel is not unheard of.

‘Hyena Road’ tells the war stories of Canadian Forces in Afghanistan

Much of Iran’s military hardware predates the 1979 Islamic Revolution and the resulting arms embargo. Because of that embargo, a lot of the Iranian defense industry is homegrown, which means the Iranians are not limited to arms deals with foreign powers.

They can build their own tanks, fighters, and subs. Anything not built in Iran or coming from Russia is likely aging very poorly. Overall defense spending is relatively minuscule, especially in comparison to the GCC.

‘Hyena Road’ tells the war stories of Canadian Forces in Afghanistan

Keep in mind, U.S. defense spending wouldn’t even fit on the scale above.

Iran has about a half million troops on active duty, not including the 125,000 in the Revolutionary Guard Corps. As the name suggests, the IRGC are the most devoted members of the Iranian military. All Iranian forces take men as young as 18, but the Basij Forces (meaning “Mobilization of the Oppressed”) will take a male as young as 15.

The Basij mainly acted as human minesweepers and led human wave attacks to great effect during the Iran-Iraq War.

‘Hyena Road’ tells the war stories of Canadian Forces in Afghanistan
Yep. Pretty Much.

The Iranian conventional forces have 4 branches: The Islamic Republic of Iran Army (IRIA), Navy (IRIN), Air Force (IRIAF), and Air Defense Force (IRIADF). Iran’s conventional military are considered “severely limited, relying heavily on obsolescent and low quality weaponry.”

The IRIA has a large tank force of over 1600 but as with other materiel, it’s aging rapidly. They are able to make their own tanks (the most recent based on the design of the M47M Patton), but not in significant numbers and the U.S. has effective anti-armor tactics.

‘Hyena Road’ tells the war stories of Canadian Forces in Afghanistan
You all know what I’m talking about.

The Iranian Air Force is currently inconsequential. 60 percent of it was purchased by the Shah before he was forced into exile in 1979 and then augmented by Iraqi fighter pilots fleeing to Iran during Desert Storm. It’s a mess, a mishmash of American, Russian, and Chinese planes with some homemade ones thrown in the mix.

The lack of spare parts for these planes caused the development of a robust aerospace industry in Iran, along with their own fighter planes, which the Iranians say can evade radar (good thing the U.S. Air Force created the ultimate dogfighter). With the sanctions being lifted, the government is already putting feelers out to modernize their aging air forces.

The Iranian Navy and Missile forces are the most important branches in its arsenal. If a war ever did break out, Iran’s first tactic would likely be to attempt to close the Strait of Hormuz in an attempt to wreak havoc on the world economy.

The Air Defense Forces consists of ground-based air defenses, using American, Italian, and Chinese surface-to-air missiles, built on Chinese Radar and electronic warfare technology. The deployment and number of Iranian SAM and other Air Defense forces is not entirely known, but reports range from porous to a “significant issue.”

The Iranian Navy is traditionally the smallest branch, numbering some 18,000, including some 2,600 naval Marines, and 2,600 naval aviation forces (but has not carriers) and boasts naval elements from China, North Korea, the former Soviet Union. It has no capital ships and the bulk of its warships are corvettes and destroyers, all heavily armed with anti-ship missiles.

They dp have home-built frigates, however, with up-to-date radar systems, arms, and electronic warfare equipment as well as many helicopters, either Italian, French, or Russian built. They even have some captured from the United States after the failure of Operation Eagle Claw.

The IRIN is augmented with Chinese fast attack ships, Russian Kilo submarines, some home-grown midget submarines which act as torpedo ships and mine layers. The Iranian fleets of patrol boats, missile ships, and mine layers could close the Strait of Hormuz for up to ten days under full attack by the U.S. military.

Much of Iranian military spending is on thousands of missiles for air defense or for attacking ships in neighboring waters. The Iranian surface-to-air missile defense system is also a mixture of American, Russian, and Chinese weapons systems. The SAM system is considered “unlikely to pose a significant threat to American or Israeli aircraft as a long-range air-denial weapon.” The entire system is vulnerable to Stealth-equipped aircraft and would need to be advanced ballistic missile systems like the Russian S-300 (which Iran claims to have).

Here are the four weapons that would cause the most trouble for the U.S. military:

1. Ghadir Midget Submarines

Built with North Korean designs, the oldest finished in 2007, the Ghadir submarine fleet was designed to be sonar evading and carry a heavy load of torpedoes and Shkval rocket torpedoes, which travel through the water at more than 370 mph. The Ghadir submarines are produced by Iran in Iran and are unaffected by the arms embargoes. The Ghadir class can also fire anti-ship missiles at the same time.

2. Sejjil Missiles

Sejil missiles are a homemade, two-stage missile, capable of hitting targets from 2,000 km (almost 1,250 miles). No one knows the exact humber of missiles in the Iranian arsenal, but numbers are estimated in the hundreds and thousands.

‘Hyena Road’ tells the war stories of Canadian Forces in Afghanistan

The Sejil is another weapon the Iranians produce in Iran which is unlikely to be affected by sanctions or arms embargoes. The solid fuel allows a shorter prep time prior to launch and since they are launched from mobile units, a massive first strike from an attacking country is unlikely to neutralize the Sejil threat.

3. Khalij-e Fars Anti-Ship Ballistic Missile

This is also a self-produced weapon of Iranian design. The Khalij-e Fars Missile has a 350 kilometer range and delivers a payload similar to that of the Sejil missile. The homemade mobile missile also features the quickness of a solid fuel missile on a mobile launch system, but has the added benefit of being able to hit a maneuvering target (such as an aircraft carrier) within ten meters.

Uzi Rubin, the designer of the Israel’s Arrow missile defense system calls this Iranian missile “a total game changer.”

4. Hezbollah

Hezbollah is no longer just a ragtag group of terrorists bent on Israel’s destruction. They are a legitimate political party in Lebanon, with a well-trained, well-equipped and well-funded paramilitary organization. They are trained by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards’ Quds Force, the Islamic Republic’s special operations and unconventional warfare units, operating exclusively outside of Iran’s borders. The Quds Force was responsible for training most Shia militias to fight U.S. forces during the 2003-2011 Iraq War but also helped topple the Taliban government in Afghanistan in the wake of 9/11. They operate from North America to India and Scandinavia to Sub-Saharan Africa and answer directly to the Supreme Leader of Iran.

The United States considers the Quds Force and Hezbollah to be terror organizations. Hezbollah is currently bolstering the government forces of Bashar al-Asad in the ongoing Syrian Civil War. Their primary opponents are ISIS and its affiliates.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BP6lXPBTZMk
Supporting the Asad government means Hezbollah is also fighting the Free Syrian Army, U.S.-backed “moderate” rebel groups, the al-Qaeda-affiliated al-Nusra Front, and the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG). Hezbollah is such a capable force, they are able to project significant strength all the way into Iraq from its power base in Lebanon’s Beqaa Valley.

‘Hyena Road’ tells the war stories of Canadian Forces in Afghanistan

It is important to remember that although the Iranian government’s extraterritorial forces have attacked U.S. forces and U.S. allies in the past, the Iranian state has never started an offensive war. Iranian military strategy is designed mainly for home defense and the direction of Quds Force operation is usually designed to keep potential threats to the Iranian regime fighting those forces as far away from Iran as possible.

Even a surgical strike against Iranian nuclear targets is likely to light the powder keg and trigger a greater regional war. A full-scale invasion of Iran would be necessary to forcefully curb the nuclear program. Iran is larger and more populous than Iraq and may require up to 75,000 troops to invade, could kill up to 15,000 U.S. troops and would cost $5.1 trillion. For the Iranians, troop casualties estimate from 300,000 to a million killed and up to 12 million people displaced. Even Israel’s own defense chiefs recommend against it. Only total war would keep Iran from getting the bomb if they wanted to.

A nuke is not what the Iranians were after. The regime’s best reason to obtain a nuclear weapon is to ensure the survival of the Revolutionary regime, for the government’s longevity to be more akin to North Korea’s rather than Ba’athist Iraq’s in the scope of the “Axis of Evil.” The Iran Deal gives the Ayatollah that longevity (and a lifting of greater sanctions) without having to expend the money and resources to build and secure a nuclear weapon, something it likely didn’t want to do in the first place.

 

NOW: 5 mind blowing facts about the U.S. military

OR: What other countries already have nukes?

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Drug theft rises at VA hospitals

Federal authorities are investigating dozens of new cases of possible opioid and other drug theft by employees at Veterans Affairs hospitals, a sign the problem isn’t going away as more prescriptions disappear.


Data obtained by The Associated Press show 36 criminal investigations opened by the VA inspector general’s office from Oct. 1 through May 19. It brings the total number of open criminal cases to 108 involving theft or unauthorized drug use. Most of those probes typically lead to criminal charges.

The numbers are an increase from a similar period in the previous year. The VA has pledged “zero tolerance” in drug thefts following an AP story in February about a sharp rise in reported cases of stolen or missing drugs at the VA since 2009. Doctors, nurses or pharmacy staff in the VA’s network of more than 160 medical centers and 1,000 clinics are suspected of siphoning away controlled substances for their own use or street sale — sometimes to the harm of patients — or drugs simply vanished without explanation.

Drug thefts are a growing problem at private hospitals as well as the government-run VA as the illegal use of opioids has increased in the United States. But separate data from the Drug Enforcement Administration obtained by the AP under the Freedom of Information Act show the rate of reported missing drugs at VA health facilities was more than double that of the private sector. DEA investigators cited in part a larger quantity of drugs kept in stock at the bigger VA medical centers to treat a higher volume of patients, both outpatient and inpatient, and for distribution of prescriptions by mail.

‘Hyena Road’ tells the war stories of Canadian Forces in Afghanistan
Senator Marco Rubio calls for increased accountability of the VA medical centers to curb prescription drug abuse and theft.

Sen. Marco Rubio, R- Fla., said AP’s findings were “troubling.” He urged Congress to pass bipartisan accountability legislation he was co-sponsoring that would give the agency “the tools needed to dismiss employees engaged in misconduct.” The Senate is set to vote on the bill June 6.

“The theft and misuse of prescription drugs, including opioids, by some VA employees is a good example of why we need greater accountability at the VA,” Rubio said.

In February, the VA announced efforts to combat drug thefts, including employee drug tests and added inspections. Top VA officials in Washington led by VA Secretary David Shulkin pledged to be more active, holding conference calls with health facilities to develop plans and reviewing data to flag problems. The department said it would consider more internal audits.

Criminal investigators said it was hard to say whether new safeguards are helping.

“Prescription drug diversion is a multifaceted, egregious health care issue,” said Jeffrey Hughes, the acting VA assistant inspector general for investigations. “Veterans may be denied necessary medications or their proper dosage and medical records may contain false information to hide the diversion, further putting veterans’ health at risk.”

Responding, the VA said it was working to develop additional policies “to improve drug safety and reduce drug theft and diversion across the entire health care system.”

“We have security protocols in place and will continue to work hard to improve it,” Poonam Alaigh, VA’s acting undersecretary for health, told the AP.

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A Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Augusta, GA

In one case, a registered nurse in the Spinal Cord Injury Ward at the VA medical center in Richmond, Virginia, was recently sentenced after admitting to stealing oxycodone tablets and fentanyl patches from VA medication dispensers. The nurse said she would sometimes shortchange the amount of pain medication prescribed to patients, taking the remainder to satisfy her addiction.

Hughes cited in particular the risk of patient harm. “Health care providers who divert for personal use may be providing care while under the influence of narcotics,” he said.

AP’s story in February had figures documenting the sharp rise in drug thefts at federal hospitals, most of them VA facilities. Subsequently released DEA data provide more specific details of the problem at the VA. Drug losses or theft increased from 237 in 2009 to 2,844 in 2015, before dipping to 2,397 last year. In only about 3 percent of those cases have doctors, nurses or pharmacy employees been disciplined, according to VA data.

At private hospitals, reported drug losses or theft also rose — from 2,023 in 2009 to 3,185 in 2015, before falling slightly to 3,154 last year. There is a bigger pool of private U.S. hospitals, at least 4,369, according to the American Hospital Association. That means the rate of drug loss or theft is lower than VA’s.

The VA inspector general’s office said it had opened 25 cases in the first half of the budget year that began Oct. 1. That is up from 21 in the same period in 2016.

The IG’s office said the number of newly opened criminal probes had previously been declining since 2014.

Michael Glavin, an IT specialist at the VA, says he’s heard numerous employee complaints of faulty VA technical systems that track drug inventories, leading to errors and months of delays in identifying when drugs go missing. Prescription drug shipments aren’t always fully inventoried when they arrive at a VAfacility, he said, making it difficult to determine if a drug was missing upon arrival or stolen later.

“It’s still the same process,” said Glavin, who heads the local union at the VA medical center in Columbia, Missouri. The union’s attorney, Natalie Khawam, says whistleblowers at other VA hospitals have made similar complaints.

Criminal investigators stressed the need for a continuing drug prevention effort. The VA points to inventory checks every 72 hours and “double lock and key access” to drugs. It attributes many drug loss cases to reasons other than employee theft, such as drugs lost in transit. But the DEA says some of those cases may be wrongly classified.

“Inventories are always an issue as to who’s watching or checking it,” said Tom Prevoznik, a DEA deputy chief of pharmaceutical investigations. “What are the employees doing, and who’s watching them?”

MIGHTY MOVIES

5 confirmed ‘Star Wars’ projects coming after ‘Rise of Skywalker’

“Star Wars” movies are going on hiatus after this year’s Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, but fans can still expect plenty of content to come.

Disney’s upcoming streaming service, Disney Plus, will not only include the entire collection of “Star Wars” movies, but new original titles. The first live-action “Star Wars” TV show, The Mandalorian, will be available at launch on November 12, and more original series will follow.

Disney Plus will have to satisfy fans for the time being, as new “Star Wars” movies won’t make it to theaters for some time. After Solo: A Star Wars Story disappointed at the box office, failing to crack even $400 million worldwide, Disney CEO Bob Iger said to expect a “slowdown.”


Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker – Teaser

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Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker – Teaser

Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy reiterated Iger’s point during “Star Wars” Celebration over the weekend. Kennedy told Entertainment Weekly that the “Star Wars” movies are “going to take a hiatus for a couple of years.”

“We’re not just looking at what the next three movies might be, or talking about this in terms of a trilogy,” Kennedy said. “We’re looking at: What is the next decade of storytelling?”

But Kennedy did confirm that Star Wars: The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson and Game of Thrones showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss are still working on their own sets of films, and even coordinating with each other. We don’t know whether these movies will be released in theaters or head straight to Disney Plus, though.

“As they finish Game of Thrones, they’re going to segue into Star Wars,” Kennedy said of Benioff and Weiss. “They’re working very closely with Rian.”

Below are more details on all the Star Wars projects in the works for after December’s The Rise of Skywalker:

The Mandalorian Panel – Sunday

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“The Mandalorian”

The Mandalorian will be the first live-action “Star Wars” TV series ever, and it will be available to stream on day one when Disney Plus launches November 12.

It stars “Narcos” actor Pedro Pascal as the title character, a lone warrior traveling the galaxy after the fall of the Empire, but before the rise of the First Order. It also stars Carl Weathers and Werner Herzog.

The series is written and produced by Iron Man and The Lion King director Jon Favreau, and directed by Jurassic World actress Bryce Dallas Howard, Thor: Ragnarok director Taika Waititi, and more.

Cassian Andor Live-Action Series Announced! | The Star Wars Show

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Cassian Andor “Rogue One” spin-off series

Diego Luna will reprise his Rogue One: A Star Wars Story role of Cassian Andor for a new prequel series. Alan Tudyk will also reprise his role as the robot K-2SO.

The series has been described as a “rousing spy thriller” that will “explore tales filled with espionage and daring missions to restore hope to a galaxy in the grip of a ruthless Empire.”

Star Wars: The Clone Wars Panel at Star Wars Celebration 2019

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“Star Wars: The Clone Wars” season 7

The animated Star Wars: The Clone Wars series ran on Cartoon Network for six seasons from 2008 to 2014. But it’s being revived for a seventh season on Disney Plus.

Directing The Last Jedi

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Rian Johnson’s film trilogy

Lucasfilm announced in November 2017 that Star Wars: The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson would write and direct a new trilogy of movies separate from the Skywalker saga, which is set to end with the ninth installment, “The Rise of Skywalker,” in December.

After rumors swirled that Johnson was no longer developing the trilogy, he confirmed on Twitter in February that he actually is. Lucasfilm president Kennedy reiterated over the weekend that Johnson is still working on the movies, and collaborating with Game of Thrones showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss on their own series of films.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZQT-3JODB8k
New Star Wars Films Announced! | The Star Wars Show

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David Benioff and D.B. Weiss’ series of films

Lucasfilm announced in February 2018 that Benioff and Weiss, the showrunners of “Game of Thrones,” would write and produce a new series of films that would be separate from Rian Johnson’s planned trilogy and the Skywalker saga.

The number of films and story details are under wraps, but Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy recently said that they are “working very closely” with Johnson.

“As they finish Game of Thrones, they’re going to segue into Star Wars,” Kennedy said.

Game of Thrones debuted its final season on Sunday.

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

Articles

Move over Amazon, the Army also wants to deliver supplies with drones

At the start of Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, two of the villains were arguing about taking on a high-risk mission.


“Send the droid,” one of them says.

Well, if the Army has its way and a new prototype unmanned plane enters the arsenal, “send in the droid” could have a whole new meaning for todays soldiers and other troops.

Over the last few months, the Army has begun preliminary tests on a new prop-driven drone dubbed the Joint Tactical Aerial Resupply Vehicle, or JTARV at Aberdeen Proving Ground and Picatinny Arsenal.

‘Hyena Road’ tells the war stories of Canadian Forces in Afghanistan
(Photo from Malloy Aerospace)

The service realizes resupply convoys can be vulnerable to attack. An Army Research Laboratory release from earlier this month noted that 60 percent of the combat casualties in 2013 occurred during resupply missions. Yet, the resupply of troops is crucial — especially in the heat of combat.

During the 1993 firefight in Mogadishu, for example, helicopters re-supplied the Rangers who were protecting the crash site of Super Six-One at substantial risk.

Had the JTARV prototypes been available, instead of sending manned choppers, a drone could have delivered 300 pounds of ammo and gear (like night-vision devices, grenades, and MREs) without risking a downed crew.

Time to get the supplies? About a half-hour.

See if Domino’s can beat that!

Improved versions of the JTARV could haul even more supplies – about 800 pounds – and take them further, with a total range of 125 miles. This could be very useful for long-range reconnaissance patrols or for resupplying remote outposts like those once manned by soldiers in the Korengal Valley of Afghanistan.

The JTARV is a combined project from SURVICE Engineering Company and Malloy Aerospace. Malloy is a British company which is best known for making the Hoverbike. The Hoverbike is, in essence, a one-person helicopter that can travel about 92 miles, and looks like a very primitive version of the speeder bikes used in Return of the Jedi.

SURVICE Engineering is a Maryland-based defense contractor that has supported research and development for the Pentagon. Located near Aberdeen Proving Ground, SURVICE Engineering has been involved in supporting the development of technology for land combat forces.

The Marine Corps has already been in the unmanned cargo delivery game for a while. An unmanned version of the Kaman K-Max helicopter was used for re-supply missions from December 2011 to May 2014 during Operation Enduring Freedom. The K-Max has a range of 267 miles and can deliver up to 6,000 pounds of cargo while flying at speeds of up to 115 mph.

Boeing has also been developing the H-6U Unmanned Little Bird for this mission as well, trying to leverage the proven track record of the OH-6 Cayuse scout helicopter and the AH-6/MH-6 Little Bird choppers used by the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (the Nightstalkers) in American military service.

The H-6U’s case is also assisted by the widespread ownership of the MD 500 series of helicopters across the globe for both civilian and military applications. This means that spare parts are readily available (not a small consideration for military operations). The H-6U would be faster with a top speed of 175 miles per hour, but could only haul about 1,500 pounds of cargo over the same 267 mile range.

Things are changing, but the one thing that remains the same is the need for the troops to be resupplied. But instead of asking for volunteers, soon a general’s response may well be, “Send the droid.”

MIGHTY MOVIES

This is what the Navy SEALs from ‘G.I. Jane’ are doing today

In 1997, director Ridley Scott decided to do something no other filmmaker has ever done — send a female into SEAL training and record it.


After a grueling training process, she and her class were diverted to support a satellite recovery mission. They got into a big firefight with the bad guys and she helped save the master chief who gave her shit for weeks.

The class graduated and moved on to become operational, but did you ever wonder what happened to them after that?

Well, we used our (fictional) WATM private investigators to look for the SEALs’ silver screen whereabouts, and here’s what they found.

Related: This is what happened to the soldiers from the ‘Hurt Locker’

FYI: Don’t take this literally.

Master Chief Urgayle

‘Hyena Road’ tells the war stories of Canadian Forces in Afghanistan
(Source: Buena Vista)

After he was wounded and saved by Lt. O’Neill in a cinematic finale, the master chief retired from the SEAL community and moved to a small town with his family — opening up a restaurant.

But his peaceful life didn’t last too long. He became a local hero when he f*cked up two mob guys who caused an excessive amount of commotion in his town.

‘Hyena Road’ tells the war stories of Canadian Forces in Afghanistan

After all the craziness ended, he got covered in tattoos, received a phone call from his Russian mob family and returned home to the motherland. He’s been there ever since.

‘Hyena Road’ tells the war stories of Canadian Forces in Afghanistan

Slovnik

‘Hyena Road’ tells the war stories of Canadian Forces in Afghanistan
(Source: Buena Vista)

Life after the SEAL teams got pretty complication for this sailor; he developed a split personality disorder but picked up a knack for carpentry.

‘Hyena Road’ tells the war stories of Canadian Forces in Afghanistan

Unfortunately, his wood-working career didn’t last very long after he got hated on by a bunch of non-believers.

He managed to rediscover himself and teamed up with a wealthy computer programmer saving lives through AI surveillance that identifies suffering civilians involved with impending crimes.

No one saw that career change coming.

‘Hyena Road’ tells the war stories of Canadian Forces in Afghanistan

McCool

‘Hyena Road’ tells the war stories of Canadian Forces in Afghanistan
(Source: Buena Vista)

This Navy SEAL did a few combat deployments but decided not to make it a career. He was recruited to play professional basketball for the Knights and ended up adopting one of his 14 -year-old orphan teammates who wore some raggedy-ass Michael Jordan shoes.

‘Hyena Road’ tells the war stories of Canadian Forces in Afghanistan

In the offseason, he plays wide-receiver for Boston Rebels football team and even won a Super Bowl. Good for him.

‘Hyena Road’ tells the war stories of Canadian Forces in Afghanistan
(Source: Screenshot from

Also Read: 7 ways to prove your spouse is a spy

Jordan O’Neill

‘Hyena Road’ tells the war stories of Canadian Forces in Afghanistan
(Source: Buena Vista)

After she helped defeat some Syrian bad guys and saved her master chief in battle, Jordan O’Neill eventually earned her SEAL trident — but never went operational.

The Navy found out she had a secret past that slipped through multiple security background checks. Before the Navy, Jordan O’Neill worked as a detective for a billionaire only known as “Charlie,” working as one of his angels. Frustrated, she departed the Navy and went rogue, working to take down the other angels she suspected of ruining her career.

‘Hyena Road’ tells the war stories of Canadian Forces in Afghanistan

After the angels thwarted her quest to bring them down, she changed her name to Kate Jones and used her brilliant manipulation tactics to sell high priced items in a suburban neighborhood — with her fake family.

‘Hyena Road’ tells the war stories of Canadian Forces in Afghanistan

MIGHTY MOVIES

Is Charlize Theron the next James Bond?

There is nothing that the internet loves more than baseless speculation and there are few things the internet loves to baselessly speculate about than who will be taking Daniel Craig’s place as the next James Bond. Countless actors have been tied to the role, most famously Idris Elba, but the newest name being tossed around as Craig’s replacement is none other than Charlize Theron.


Support for Theron first developed during the Oscars, where she and Craig presented Best Supporting Actor and while their time onstage was brief, the interaction was enough to make us wonder what it would be like if the South African actress was chosen as the next James Bond. And it wasn’t just us who were enticed by the idea of Theron carrying on the Bond legacy, as Twitter immediately began campaigning for the Oscar-winning actress.

A few people even had a creative way to keep Craig in the franchise.

While Theron has not been officially connected to the 007 films in any tangible way, she does seem like she would be a good fit for the role. She already proved her action star potential as Furiosa in Mad Max: Fury Road and also demonstrated a little more ass-kicking ability in a Budweiser commercial that aired during the ceremony.

Craig even admitted during their on-stage banter that he was intimidated by his co-presenter.

“Seriously, Charlize Theron could kick my ass,” Craig remarked.

If that’s not an endorsement, we don’t know what is.

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

Articles

Watch the Air Force test fire one of its nuclear doomsday weapons

The US Air Force test launched an unarmed intercontinental ballistic missile on the California coast early August 2, which follows a similar missile test by North Korea.


Vandenberg Air Force Base said the operational test occurred at 2:10 a.m. PDT.

“The seamless partnership of Team V and our Air Force Global Strike Command mission partners has resulted in another safe Minuteman III operational test launch,” U.S. Air Force Col. Michael Hough, the commander of the 30th Space Wing who made the decision to launch, said in a statement. “This combined team of the 90th Missile Wing, 576th Flight Test Squadron and 30th Space Wing is simply outstanding. Their efforts over the past few months show why they are among the most skilled operators in the Air Force.”

The Air Force released a video of the test launch.

The US launch comes after North Korea launched an improved ballistic missile with intercontinental range late last week — Pyongyang’s second missile launch in less than a month.

Last month, North Korea threatened a nuclear strike against the United States.

“Should the U.S. dare to show even the slightest sign of attempt to remove our supreme leadership, we will strike a merciless blow at the heart of the U.S. with our powerful nuclear hammer, honed and hardened over time,” North Korea’s foreign ministry said. “The likes of [CIA Director Mike] Pompeo will bitterly experience the catastrophic and miserable consequences caused by having dared to shake their little fists at the supreme leadership.”

Articles

This is what DARPA thinks will be the power source of the future

‘Hyena Road’ tells the war stories of Canadian Forces in Afghanistan
Youtube


DARPA has found a single, hyper-efficient motor that they think could power large UAVs, electrical generators, and robots. The engines are so small and so efficient, that soldiers could carry powerful generators in their rucksacks.

DARPA signed a contract with LiquidPiston for nearly $1 million to develop an engine that is much lighter than current military generators and that could generate the same amount of electricity for half as much JP-8 fuel.

“Today’s diesel/JP-8 engines and generators are extremely heavy,” Dr. Nikolay Shkolnick, a co-founder of LiquidPiston, said in an press release. “For example, a typical 3kW heavy-fuel generator weighs over 300 pounds, requiring six people to move it around. LiquidPiston’s engine technology may enable a JP-8 generator of similar output weighing less than 30 pounds that could fit in a backpack.”

The engine would get its outstanding efficiency through a patented “High Efficiency Hybrid Cycle,” design that is a large departure from piston engines. LiquidPiston holds the patent for this type of engine. See how it works at 0:40 in the video below.

The design allows the engine to capture much more of the energy in the fuel and reduces the amount of energy lost as heat, noise, and exhaust.

And, with only two moving parts, the engines are much quieter and stealthier than those they would replace.

“Our engine has no vibration at all and it’s a lot quieter,” Alexander Shkolnik, the president of LiquidPiston, told MIT News while discussing LiquidPiston’s smallest engine. “It should be a much nicer user experience all around.”

If everything works out, forward operating bases and UAVs would get much quieter, generators could be delivered to outposts more easily, and the need for convoys in theater would be reduced as fuel requirements dropped.

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