Washington DC’s role behind the scenes in Hollywood goes deeper than you think - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY MOVIES

Washington DC’s role behind the scenes in Hollywood goes deeper than you think

The US government and Hollywood have always been close. Washington DC has long been a source of intriguing plots for filmmakers and LA has been a generous provider of glamour and glitz to the political class.

But just how dependant are these two centres of American influence? Scrutiny of previously hidden documents reveals that the answer is: very.

We can now show that the relationship between US national security and Hollywood is much deeper and more political than anyone has ever acknowledged.


It is a matter of public record that the Pentagon has had an Entertainment Liaison Office since 1948. The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) established a similar position in 1996. Although it was known that they sometimes request script changes in exchange for advice, permission to use locations, and equipment like aircraft carriers, each appeared to have passive, and largely apolitical roles.

Files we obtained, mainly through the US Freedom of Information Act, show that between 1911 and 2017, more than 800 feature films received support from the US government’s Department of Defence (DoD), a significantly higher figure than previous estimates indicate. These included blockbuster franchises like Transformers, Iron Man, and The Terminator.

On television, we found over 1,100 titles received Pentagon backing – 900 of them since 2005, from Flight 93 to Ice Road Truckers to Army Wives.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7lxDREJ4vTo
24 Season 1 Trailer

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When we include individual episodes for long running shows like 24, Homeland, and NCIS, as well as the influence of other major organizations like the FBI and White House, we can establish unequivocally for the first time that the national security state has supported thousands of hours of entertainment.

For its part, the CIA has assisted in 60 film and television shows since its formation in 1947. This is a much lower figure than the DoD’s but its role has nonetheless been significant.

The CIA put considerable effort into dissuading representations of its very existence throughout the 1940s and 1950s. This meant it was entirely absent from cinematic and televisual culture until a fleeting image of a partially obscured plaque in Alfred Hitchcock’s North By Northwest in 1959, as historian Simon Willmetts revealed in 2016.

North by Northwest – Original Theatrical Trailer

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The CIA soon endured an erosion of public support, while Hollywood cast the agency as villain in paranoid pictures like Three Days of the Condor and The Parallax View in the 1970s and into the 1980s.

When the CIA established an entertainment liaison office in 1996, it made up for lost time, most emphatically on the Al Pacino film The Recruit and the Osama bin Laden assassination movie Zero Dark Thirty. Leaked private memos published by our colleague Tricia Jenkins in 2016, and other memos published in 2013 by the mainstream media, indicate that each of these productions were heavily influenced by government officials. Both heightened or inflated real-world threats and dampened down government malfeasance.

One of the most surprising alterations, though, we found in an unpublished interview regarding the comedy Meet the Parents. The CIA admitted that it had asked Robert De Niro’s character not possess an intimidating array of agency torture manuals.

Nor should we see the clandestine services as simply passive, naive or ineffectual during the counterculture years or its aftermath. They were still able to derail a Marlon Brando picture about the Iran-Contra scandal (in which the US illegally sold arms to Iran) by establishing a front company run by Colonel Oliver North to outbid Brando for the rights, journalist Nicholas Shou recently claimed.

The (CIA) director’s cut

The national security state has a profound, sometimes petty, impact on what Hollywood conveys politically. On Hulk, the DoD requested “pretty radical” script alterations, according to its script notes we obtained through Freedom of Information. These included disassociating the military from the gruesome laboratories that created “a monster” and changing the codename of the operation to capture the Hulk from “Ranch Hand” to “Angry Man”. Ranch Hand had been the name of a real chemical warfare programme during the Vietnam war.

In making the alien movie Contact, the Pentagon “negotiated civilianization of almost all military parts”, according to the database we acquired. It removed a scene in the original script where the military worries that an alien civilization will destroy Earth with a “doomsday machine”, a view dismissed by Jodie Foster’s character as “paranoia right out of the Cold War”.

Washington DC’s role behind the scenes in Hollywood goes deeper than you think

(Flickr photo by Meredith P.)


The role of the national security state in shaping screen entertainment has been underestimated and its examination long concentrated in remarkably few hands. The trickle of recent books have pushed back but only fractionally and tentatively. An earlier breakthrough occurred at the turn of the century when historians identified successful attempts in the 1950s by a senior individual at the Paramount film studio to promote narratives favorable to a CIA contact known only as “Owen”.

The new FOI documents give a much better sense of the sheer scale of state activities in the entertainment industry, which we present alongside dozens of fresh cases studies. But we still do not know the specific impact of the government on a substantial portion of films and shows. The American Navy’s Marine Corps alone admitted to us that there are 90 boxes of relevant material in its archive. The government has seemed especially careful to avoid writing down details of actual changes made to scripts in the 21st century.

State officials have described Washington DC and Hollywood as being “sprung from the same DNA” and the capital as being “Hollywood for ugly people”. That ugly DNA has embedded far and wide. It seems the two cities on opposite sides of the United States are closer than we ever thought.

This article originally appeared on The Conversation. Follow @ConversationUS on Twitter.

MIGHTY FIT

So your joints ‘creak’ and ‘pop’…big deal

We’re surrounded by machines: computers, cars, HVAC systems, TV’s, lawnmowers, airplanes, etc. It’s not crazy to start viewing our bodies in the same way that we view those machines. Mainly, if there is a noise, a weird vibration, or a “creak,” or “pop” we’ve got a problem.

It turns out, you aren’t a machine, and the research agrees that periodic or even reliable creaks and pops of the joints aren’t death sentences or even guaranteed arthritis waiting to happen.


If your joint make noise… Don’t do this!

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What the pros have found out

Medical personnel have been interested/concerned about the sounds our bodies make since before the invention of the automobile. If that “pop” your knee makes when you fully straighten it is on your mind, rest assured it’s also on the mind of your doctor.

That’s just it though; it may only be in your mind. In this study, researchers asked people with crepitus (that’s the nefarious name given to your body’s “pops” and “creaks”) their perception of what the sound meant.

Patients often felt that they were weaker in that specific joint or capable of less activity. BUT, when actually tested for strength and range of motion, researchers found no difference between those with the “condition” and people who reported no “creaks” or “pops.”

Washington DC’s role behind the scenes in Hollywood goes deeper than you think

All that kneeling may not be as bad for your knees as you think. Take a knee and listen up.

(U.S. Army photo by SFC Claudio Tejada/Released)

In this other study, when researchers looked at individual’s perceptions on their joint noise, they found that people often thought the noise meant that they were:

  • Getting old
  • Falling apart
  • On the verge of a serious medical condition

The great news is that you aren’t alone. If you have a “creak” or “pop” that keeps you awake at night, the sound isn’t uncommon. 99% of all people evaluated in this study, whether they thought they had crepitus or not, had an audible noise in one of their joints.

You read that last one right: 99% of people have a noisy joint.
Washington DC’s role behind the scenes in Hollywood goes deeper than you think

“It’s a boy!”….ummm I think that’s a knee.

(U.S. Navy photo by Jacob Sippel, Naval Hospital Jacksonville/Released)

How perceptions form

We don’t catastrophize on our own. We get these dreadful, anxiety-inducing fears about how our bodies are going to let us down from the world we live in. Particularly two places.

Doctors: There are two scenarios that tend to happen in the doctor’s office that leads people to believe that their joint is going to explode.

In scenario A, your doctor says something like: “Hmmm, that’s not normal.” or, even worse, “Aren’t you in a lot of pain?”

In scenario B, the exact opposite happens, but it results in the same outcome. Your doctor may say something like, “That’s nothing; don’t worry about it.” If you aren’t a fan of your doctor, though, or if they’ve been wrong before you will just assume that he/she is just stupid or lazy and in fact you are doomed!

REMEMBER: Your doctor, although a trained professional, is human. Everything they say or do may not be a direct reflection on you. He/she might just be having a bad day. Go into every visit open-minded but skeptical and get a second opinion before you decide to label yourself as broken.

Family and friends: Just because Aunt Becky has bad knees doesn’t mean your elbow “pop” is the first stage of osteoarthritis.

I’ll leave this one at that.

Gather your own information, experiment on yourself, and measure your performance in the gym. Those are the only ways you’ll be able to make the best decision for your body.

Aunt Becky is a pessimist anyway. Don’t paint yourself into the same sh*t-colored corner she’s been in for the last 47 years.

WHY YOUR KNEES CRACK | Joint Crepitations

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Don’t stop training

The one thing that is for sure when it comes to a potential chronic joint or bone issue is that if you stop training, you are more likely to have a negative outcome.

We damage our muscles when we lift. They grow back stronger each time.

Higher impact activities like running send a signal to our bones that they need to stay strong and dense to keep us survivable.

When you stop training your muscles and bones think they can become weak and flimsy. They need constant daily stimulation to stay at their strongest.

That’s how we’re different from machines.

Parts of your car have a certain number of repetitions or miles traveled that they are guaranteed to work before they fail. Our body parts don’t have a terminal date.

Of course, you can overwork certain joints, but that’s a conversation for a different time.

Think about your training like a Momma bear, Poppa bear, Baby bear situation.

Too little is bad.

Too much can also be bad.

But, there’s a sweet spot right in the middle that will promote a long and high-quality life.

Washington DC’s role behind the scenes in Hollywood goes deeper than you think
MIGHTY MOVIES

5 ‘Game of Thrones’ spin-offs we want to see next

As the dust settles on Game of Thrones, and the wheel is broken with the new king unable to sire any children, the four remaining Stark siblings went their separate ways. Arya, Sansa, Jon, and Bran moved decisively toward the future, with Arya traveling to the edge of the universe, Sansa becoming the queen of an independent north, and Jon traveling beyond the wall, likely to never return to Westeros. The Stark siblings arguably had the most satisfying narrative arcs in the entire show, and so be it, considering the first season they lost most of their living family and were separated and scattered across Westeros itself. So, now that they are going their separate ways, it’s easy to want to stay with them forever. Here are the spin-off shows we want to see the most.


Washington DC’s role behind the scenes in Hollywood goes deeper than you think

(HBO)

1. The Arya Stark Road Show

Arya Stark’s final scene of the series is her facing the great unknown as she looks towards new adventures and a new life. Wouldn’t it be great to follow her into worlds unknown, and to see what wacky adventures she gets into? Would she ever do some more face-swapping? Would she become a freedom-loving pirate? Would she find love, or would Gendry come after her, renouncing Westerosi culture and choosing to be her adventurous life partner? We’d love to watch it and find out.

Washington DC’s role behind the scenes in Hollywood goes deeper than you think
(HBO)

2. Sansa Stark the Queen

It’s arguable that Sansa Stark won the Game of Thrones. After all, her major motivation for the past two seasons, ever since being free of the shackles of Ramsay Bolton, was to secure a free and independent Winterfell and north kingdom for her people. Now that she’s done it and is officially a Queen — maybe even the Queen that Cersei was warned about in Maggy’s prophecy. What wacky hijinks will she get up to in the North? Will she find a stable romance? Will she secure grain for Winter?

Washington DC’s role behind the scenes in Hollywood goes deeper than you think
(HBO)

3. Jon Snow Goes Solo

Jon Snow’s punishment for murdering his girlfriend and Queen Daenerys was to be returned to Castle Black to serve out his life on the Night’s Watch. Although there may not be a reason for Castle Black anymore given that the wildlings can more or less move freely throughout the North and beyond the wall, and the threat of the wights and White Walkers is exterminated, Jon’s return to where he began the show is a sort of divine justice, and may have actually been what he wanted. After all, his final scene in the series shows him smiling just a little bit as he rides his horse out beyond the wall with Ghost, his beloved direwolf, his best friend Tormund, and a group of wildlings that he helped save from the Long Night. Seeing him beyond the wall for the next decade or so would be really thrilling stuff. Will he find someone to talk to about all of his girlfriends dying in his arms? Will he find love again, or will Ghost find someone to make babies with? Will he and Tormund star in their own buddy comedy?

Washington DC’s role behind the scenes in Hollywood goes deeper than you think

(HBO)

4. Drogon 24/7

Poor Drogon. All he’s known is a life of pain and war. When he was born to his mother, he had two siblings, Rhaegal and Viserion, and both of them die within a few months of one another. He also has to deal with the fact that he’s a weapon of war and, given the fact that he is deeply intelligent, might have known the destruction he was razing on a city of half a million Westerosi citizens. That must have hurt. To top it off, all that sacrifice and his mom dies like five minutes after the battle? Let’s see a spin-off of wherever the hell Drogon goes with his mom’s body after her death. Is it to Valyria? Does he return to his birthplace? Does he take her body to dragonstone? Even King Bran wants to know! And that’s why we deserve a spin-off!

Washington DC’s role behind the scenes in Hollywood goes deeper than you think

(HBO)

5. Grey Worm Relaxes

Grey Worm reveals in his last scene of the series that he is going to liberate Naath with the Unsullied. Naath is the place that he and Missandei discussed going to after their less-than-friendly reception upon their arrival to Winterfell. The beaches, Missandei said, were what she missed the most. That he and the Unsullied are going there is a fitting end to his character arc, but most importantly, it’s a new land to explore and it would be great to see Grey Worm find happiness after being trained from birth to be a soldier and then finding love and a purpose and losing them both in about one week. He deserves better! Will he finally put his toes in the sand? Will he get to relax and take off the armor? We’ll never know, but it would be nice too!

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

MIGHTY FIT

Here’s what happened when these bodybuilders went vegan for a month


Following the debut of the documentary “The Game Changers” on Netflix, which aims to debunk the myth that vegan athletes struggle to get enough fuel and protein, athletes and recreational exercisers have contemplated trying out a plant-based diet.

Fitness influencer brothers Hudson and Brandon White, known for their YouTube Channel “Buff Dudes”with over 2 million subscribers, tried the vegan diet for 30 days and recounted their experience in a video watched more than 600,000 times.

The pair has tried other month-long challenges like keto and intermittent fasting. As first-time vegans, they take viewers step-by-step through their journey into plant-based eating, including shopping for veggies, meal prepping, and hitting the gym.


The Buff Dudes focus on incorporating simple, whole-food options like broccoli, spinach, and asparagus, as well as complex carbs like sweet potatoes and oatmeal. They also eat plenty of healthy plant-based fats like nuts and seeds, along with protein sources like quinoa and beans.

WE TRIED VEGAN for 30 Days, Here’s What Happened

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Although the brothers find it surprisingly easy to stick to a vegan diet, especially with the help of meal prepping, they find it has a unfortunate downside — gastrointestinal distress.

Switching to a plant-based diet can cause more flatulence a

It’s true that going vegan might lead to an initial gassy phase. That’s because plant-based foods are high in fiber, a type of carbohydrate that the body can’t digest, according to the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health.

While fiber is linked to health benefits like lower cancer risk, stable blood sugar, satiety, and weight loss, it can also make you gassy because bacteria in your gut produce gas as a byproduct of processing fiber.

Certain types of veggies and grains can exacerbate the situation. Broccoli, for instance, is high in complex sugars, which take longer to break down in the digestive tract and produce more gas along the way.

However, research suggests that a plant-based diet can actual change the gut microbiome, promoting the growth of different beneficial bacteria that thrive on a high-fiber, plant-rich diet. This means that the body can adapt over time, eventually helping you get past the gassy phase.

Meantime, drinking plenty of water, especially with meals, can help ease symptoms, according to the T. Colin Campbell School of Nutrition Studies. Eating more slowly can also help. And, particularly for people transitioning from a diet high in processed foods, taking probiotics can also speed the growth of a healthy microbiome for better digestive health.

Washington DC’s role behind the scenes in Hollywood goes deeper than you think

(Photo by Ella Olsson)

Finally, transitioning to a plant-based plan, rather than making an abrupt change, can be gentler on your digestive tract. “It’s really important to pay attention to your body, what it needs, and how you’re feeling” when making any major diet change, Robin Foroutan, a registered dietitian nutritionist and representative for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, previously told Insider.

Plant-based meals can keep you full and energized 

The upside of all that fiber, and all those complex carbohydrates, is that they can help keep you feeling full and energized while eating meat-free meals.

“I’m pretty happy so far,” Hudson said on the video. “I think having a little bit of additional carbs has really helped me. I feel fuller, very pumped … I feel bigger after every workout, and my strength levels really haven’t decreased, which is great.”

Both the Buff Dudes found a vegan diet helped them felt good, including during their workouts, and was able to meet their nutritional needs, especially with a little bit of planning. Although neither of them decided to stick to the diet, opting to add in eggs, yogurt, and other animal products back in, they recommend giving it a try.

“No matter what kind of lifestyle you choose, you’re going to have something available to you to make sure you’re happy, content, satiated and buff,” Brandon said.

This article originally appeared on Insider. Follow @thisisinsider on Twitter.

Read more:


MIGHTY TACTICAL

Mount a Vulcan cannon to a Prius in 15 easy steps

Black Rifle Coffee Company’s Richard Ryan, who you may know from the popular YouTube channel FullMag, got the chance to fulfill a dream he’s had for over a decade: mounting an M61 Vulcan cannon to the top of a Toyota Prius.

Everyone knows what a Prius is, but the uninitiated may not be familiar with the beastly, Gatling-style M61 Vulcan. The Federation of American Scientists defines the M61 Vulcan as “a hydraulically driven, 6 barreled, rotary action, air cooled, electrically fired weapon, with selectable rates of fire of either 4000 or 6000 rounds per minute.” With that kind of incredible firepower, this angel of death has graced a variety of U.S. jet fighters since the 1950s, as well as the AC-130 gunship — it even felled 39 Soviet-made MiG’s during the Vietnam War.


The Prius Vulcan

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To pull off this ridiculously awesome feat, Ryan partnered with companies like Hamilton Sons, known for their involvement in restorations of large weapons and historical recreations, and Battlefield Vegas, which acquires rare equipment for the everyday bro or broette to use. Between Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) licenses and the actual manufacturing and acquiring of weapons, the logistics for a video of this scale is neither inexpensive nor easy, so great sponsors were key.

With all that hard work in the rear view, Ryan took some time to explain to Coffee, or Die Magazine exactly how his grand plan came to fruition:

Step 1: Watch “Predator” a lot as a kid and develop a deep appreciation for Jesse Ventura’s Old Painless minigun; fire an even bigger minigun as an adult and find it still isn’t satisfying enough.

Predator (1987) – Old Painless Is Waiting Scene (1/5) | Movieclips

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Step 2: Get tricked by clickbait YouTube videos that claim to have close-up or slo-mo footage of an M61 Vulcan but don’t. Vow to make your own video someday because fuck those posers!

Step 3: Drink a cup of strong coffee and devise an absurd plan — like mounting a Vulcan to a milquetoast hybrid vehicle instead of a fighter jet or tank (boring!). “I wanted that counterculture of the Prius. Mounting it to one of those would be epic.”

Washington DC’s role behind the scenes in Hollywood goes deeper than you think

(Photo courtesy of Black Rifle Coffee Company)

Step 4: Wait. Drink coffee. Wait some more. For eons. Due to the National Firearms Act, machine guns manufactured before 1986 are extraordinarily expensive, and something as rare as a Vulcan cannon is essentially priceless.

Step 5: Six years later, become friends with awesome people, the kind of people who can get their hands on a Vulcan stripped off a demilitarized F-16. Thanks, Battlefield Vegas!

Washington DC’s role behind the scenes in Hollywood goes deeper than you think

(Photo courtesy of Black Rifle Coffee Company)

Step 6: Bring all the pieces together to modify the gun and the car. Replace the gun’s hydraulic-fed system with an electrical-fed system, as well as electrical primers and new motors. At the same time, strip the entire interior of the car to handle the amount of kinetic energy put out by the weapon: new floor pan, roll cage, and mounting system for the roof, accidentally making the first Prius that someone might actually call “bad ass” in the process.

Step 7: Make sure you’re dressed appropriately for the job.

Washington DC’s role behind the scenes in Hollywood goes deeper than you think

(Photo courtesy of Black Rifle Coffee Company)

Step 8: Get a quote from General Dynamics for the ammunition. It costs per round, meaning the gun will blow through 0,000 for one minute of sustained fire. Have small heart attack. Drink more coffee.

Step 9: Test everything. Go through six months of meticulous steps, not knowing if everything is going to work. “We were tiptoeing through, shooting five rounds here, three rounds there.”

Washington DC’s role behind the scenes in Hollywood goes deeper than you think

(Photo courtesy of Black Rifle Coffee Company)

Step 10: Completely blow out the windshield due to overpressure. #mybad

Step 11: “Borrow” about 15 feet of leftover gym flooring from Mat Best’s new gym to roll up and put under the gun so you don’t blow out the windshield again. “I don’t want to Mad Max the vehicle; I want it to be street legal because I think that’s funnier.”

Washington DC’s role behind the scenes in Hollywood goes deeper than you think

(Photo courtesy of Black Rifle Coffee Company)

Step 11.5: Take time to think about how awesome it is that it’s even possible for a Vulcan-mounted Prius to be street legal.

Step 12: Wait for monsoon season so that you don’t contribute to any forest fires.

Step 13: Look the happiest anyone has ever looked driving a Prius.

Washington DC’s role behind the scenes in Hollywood goes deeper than you think

(Photo courtesy of Black Rifle Coffee Company)

Step 14: Finally achieve your dream of showing those YouTube weaponry rickrollers that anything can be done with a good cup of coffee and a can-do attitude.

Washington DC’s role behind the scenes in Hollywood goes deeper than you think

(Photo courtesy of Black Rifle Coffee Company)

Step 15: Share. Let everyone who worked on the project have a turn to shoot because you’re a generous gun god — but also because part of you feels safer standing at a distance.

We Put a Vulcan Cannon On a Prius.

www.youtube.com

This article originally appeared on Coffee or Die. Follow @CoffeeOrDieMag on Twitter.

MIGHTY CULTURE

These troops are slowly being poisoned by lead in their bones

A number of U.S. troops with unexplained symptoms such as impaired concentration, anger, irritability and impulsivity, as well as physical problems such as high blood pressure, peripheral neuropathy and low sex drive, have chronic lead poisoning, according to a report Wednesday in The New York Times Magazine’s At War Blog.

Thirty-eight troops — mostly from Special Forces units — have gone to Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York for a special test that measures the level of lead in one’s tibia bone. Of those, a dozen registered bone lead levels higher than normal, with four having roughly twice the expected amount.


Washington DC’s role behind the scenes in Hollywood goes deeper than you think

Two-ton “Super sacks” like this one contain lead bullets removed during a reclamation project at a former firing range at Camp Withycombe, Ore. Approximately 300,000 thousand pounds of bullets were removed from the soil in an effort to return the land to its original condition.

Dozens of other service members sought treatment at the Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Functional Medicine for lead and other metal poisoning, including those tested at Mount Sinai.

While the numbers are small compared with the 1.3 million active-duty personnel currently serving, the diagnosis is significant for these troops, who have wrestled for years with symptoms that mimic traumatic brain injury or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) but who also have physical manifestations.

One of the those diagnosed, Steve Hopkins, a former Special Forces major who is now retired, called receiving the test results “a big deal.” After bouncing from doctor to doctor and being told by Army physicians that he likely had depression or PTSD — or was malingering — Hopkins was grateful to put a name to his debilitating illness.

“It was a big weight off my shoulders and off my family,” he said. “I mean, we were in crisis.”

Washington DC’s role behind the scenes in Hollywood goes deeper than you think

Soldiers of the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, demonstrate how to operate a M-4 carbine during a training exercise with troops from the 341st Romanian Infantry battalion during a cross-training event at the Bardia Firing Range near COB Adder, Iraq.

(U.S. Army photo by Pfc. Terence Ewings)

Hopkins was diagnosed in 2012 after falling severely ill and traveling to Walter Reed National Naval Medical Center, Maryland, where he was seen by NavyCapt. Kevin Dorrance, also now retired. Like Hopkins’ physicians at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, Dorrance originally thought Hopkins’ issues were mental health-related. But he noticed that one medical test, an erythrocyte porphyrin test, consistently came back as elevated.

He consulted with a colleague at the Uniformed Services University for the Health Sciences who, according to Dorrance, immediately suspected lead exposure. Dorrance then sent Hopkins to Mount Sinai for the K X-ray fluorescence, or KXRF, test to measure his bone lead levels.

Hopkins, then 42, had levels two-and-a-half times what is typical in a man his age.

Washington DC’s role behind the scenes in Hollywood goes deeper than you think

Spc. Justin Dreyer from the Special Troops Battalion, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, is instructed how to fire a rocket-propelled grenade launcher by a Soldier in the 341st Romanian Infantry Battalion at the Bardia Firing Range near COB Adder, Iraq.

(U.S. Army photo by Pfc. Terence Ewings)

Other service members followed Hopkins to Mount Sinai, including Master Sgt. Geoff Dardia, a Special Forces training instructor who has deployed to combat zones seven times. Dardia’s results were 30 percent higher than normal.

Lead exposure in the U.S. military can occur on firing ranges, during military operations and while working and living in environments where lead is common — on military bases in cases of lead abatement and repair work and in countries such as Afghanistan and Iraq, which continue to use leaded gasoline.

Troops can inhale lead or ingest it by firing weapons or eating, drinking, smoking or chewing tobacco on ranges. If lead is absorbed, it is present in the bloodstream for up to a month, where it can be detected by a blood test, and it remains in soft tissue for up to 90 days.

It is then absorbed into the bones, where levels can increase with additional exposure. But the medical community and government agencies that study environmental exposures say once it is in the bone, it leaches back into the bloodstream only under certain medical conditions, such as a broken bone, pregnancy, osteoporosis or kidney disease.

Affected veterans, along with Dorrance and Dr. Mark Hyman, director of the Center for Functional Medicine at the Cleveland Clinic, say this isn’t correct — and they’d like to see more physicians considering the possibility of chronic lead exposure in cases of unexplained symptoms in troops, rather than dismissing their patients as mental health cases.

“The fact that we have a lack of intellectual curiosity about a condition that likely is pervasive in the U.S. military is criminal,” Hopkins said.

“Here you are dealing with a group of men, highly trained, highly skilled, emotionally stable individuals who want to work. These are not wackadoodles,” Hyman said.

Dorrance, Hopkins and others want to call attention to the issue of lead poisoning in the U.S. military and have pressed the Defense Department for broader testing and treatment — for acute and long-term exposure. They want the Pentagon to purchase a KXRF machine and conduct mandatory baseline screening and ongoing testing for troops who work in environments where they face chronic exposure.

They also would like to see more acceptance in the medical community for diagnosing and treating lead in bones. Chelation is an FDA-approved outpatient treatment for acute lead exposure, but both Hopkins, who took an oral chelation medication, and Dardia, who used both oral and intravenous chelation agents, say it worked in their cases.

They say troops deserve to have the general medical community understand what a handful of physicians — those who treat civilian workers often exposed to lead in jobs such as smelting, soldering, bridge repair, and foundry work — understand. That chronic lead exposure can make a person sick.

“The fact that we have a lack of intellectual curiosity about a condition that likely is pervasive in the U.S. military is criminal,” Hopkins said.

“The reason it’s being sidelined is it’s not understood,” added Dorrance. “There’s this discomfort with not knowing that’s the problem with doctors.”

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

Afghan leaders say voter turnout rejected the Taliban

Senior Afghan officials have praised voters who cast ballots in parliamentary elections that were plagued by violence and organizational problems, saying the turnout shows that Afghans are rejecting the ideology of Taliban militants.

“The Taliban wanted to build a stream of blood, but the Taliban was defeated and the Taliban’s thoughts and ideas were rejected,” Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah told a cabinet meeting on Oct. 22, 2018.


Washington DC’s role behind the scenes in Hollywood goes deeper than you think

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah.

(US Department of State)

Around 4 million out of 8.8 million registered voters in a country of more than 30 million cast their ballots over the two-day voting at more than 4,500 polling centers across the country, according to election authorities, despite deadly militant attacks in which dozens of people were killed and delays caused by technical and organizational problems.

The Taliban had issued several warnings in the days leading up to the poll demanding the more than 2,500 candidates for the lower house of parliament withdraw from the race and for voters to stay home.

Washington DC’s role behind the scenes in Hollywood goes deeper than you think

(US Department of State)

Preliminary results of the parliamentary elections, which were seen as a key test of the government’s ability to provide security across the country, were expected to be released on Nov. 10, 2018, at the earliest. Final results will likely be out sometime in December 2018, an election commission spokesman has said.

Originally scheduled for 2015, the vote was delayed for three years amid disputes over electoral reforms and because of the instability following NATO’s handover of security responsibilities to Afghan forces at the end of 2014.

“The Afghan people want a system based on the people’s vote, and in fact, we have witnessed a historical moment,” said Abdullah, who also admitted there were shortcomings during the vote.

Voting was extended to a second day on Oct. 21, 2018, after hundreds of polling stations were closed on the first day of voting due to technical and security issues.

But only 253 of the 401 polling centers that were scheduled to be open on Oct. 21, 2018 were operational, with the remainder closed for security reasons, election authorities said.

Washington DC’s role behind the scenes in Hollywood goes deeper than you think

An Afghan man prepares to vote in a villiage near Kabul, Afghanistan Sept. 18, 2010

(Photo by Tech. Sgt. Gloria Wilson)

At some of the centers that opened for voting, there were insufficient ballot papers and voter rolls were “either incomplete or nonexistent,” Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC) spokesman Ali Reza Rohani said, adding, “most of the problems we had yesterday still exist today.”

The ECC said it had received more than 5,000 complaints of irregularities from voters and candidates, and the Interior Ministry said 44 people had been charged with “illegal interference in the election and fraud.”

However, President Ashraf Ghani said in a televised address to the nation after polls closed on Oct. 21, 2018, that the election turnout showed that voters “have the power and will to defeat their enemies.”

Ghani also challenged the Taliban to “show if your way or the way of democracy is preferred by the people.”

In a tweet on Oct. 21, 2018, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg commended “the millions of Afghan men women who have exercised their democratic right to vote the Afghan security forces who have provided security for the elections despite great challenges.”

The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) said in a statement released on Oct. 20, 2018, that it was “encouraged by the high numbers” of Afghans who braved security threats and waited long hours to cast their votes.

UNAMA said the elections, which it described as “the first completely run by Afghan authorities since 2001,” were an “important milestone in Afghanistan’s transition to self-reliance.”

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

The ISIS vs Taliban war in Afghanistan is heating up

Northern Afghanistan is at risk of falling to the Islamic State. Their latest attack in Sar-e Pul Province killed 15 Taliban fighters at prayer, but it’s just the latest in a series of ongoing conflicts that have seen hundred killed on both sides. The ISIS stronghold in Nangarhar Province is pushing westward in an effort to undermine the al-Qaeda-affiliated Taliban there.

All the groups involved in the fighting, including those who support the Ghani government in Kabul, are having the same logistical and intelligence problems faced by anyone fighting in the mountainous country — fighters and civilians switch their allegiances as often as their clothes.

The two terrorist groups are vying for power in the country’s eastern and northern regions. The Taliban want to push the Islamic State out of the country before it can establish a clear footprint. In June 2018, the Taliban launched two sweeping offensives in Kunar and Laghman. ISIS, for its part, did not observe the recent three-day ceasefire for the Eid al-Fitr holiday observed by government and Taliban troops.


Related: Afghanistan just called a temporary ceasefire with the Taliban

Washington DC’s role behind the scenes in Hollywood goes deeper than you think

The black represents ISIS support as of December 2015.

(Institute for the Study of War)

It was during that holiday, the holiest of days for the world’s Muslim population, that ISIS killed 25 in a suicide car bomb attack in Nangarhar. According to The National, a newspaper based in the United Arab Emirates, ISIS sources say the recent Taliban advances were effective and that the Islamic State is experiencing “setbacks” in the rocky provinces of Kunar.

Fighters from Islamic State arrived in force in Afghanistan in 2015, just as ISIS fortunes in Iraq and Syria started to turn sour. The strength the group projected outside the country in recent years invited many defections from other terrorists groups and militias, especially from the Pakistani Taliban. The Afghan Taliban and ISIS have been butting heads ever since.

The Taliban dislikes the Islamic State’s brand of Islamic fundamentalism.

Washington DC’s role behind the scenes in Hollywood goes deeper than you think

A lot. A whole lot.

ISIS hates that the Taliban draws its legitimacy through ethnic and nationalistic foundations, not Islamic jurisprudence like the kind declared by the Islamic State. To ISIS, Afghanistan is a province they call “Khorasan” and subject to the rule of their self-proclaimed caliphate. The Afghan Taliban’s alliances with Pakistan’s intelligence services and even Shia Muslims are just a few more reasons ISIS declares the Taliban to be non-Muslim nationalists.

There will be no possibility for peaceful resolution between the two.

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What happens when you try Russian parenting on American kids

“Look, there’s the big dipper!” my oldest son said pointing to a constellation brightening a gathering dark over our campsite.

“You’re right!” I said, genuinely impressed. I didn’t know he could spot constellations. We don’t hang out much at night. I’m not a night owl and he’s seven years old.

Why were we outside at 10:30 p.m. on a weeknight, beside a crackling campfire, still talking long after our fellow campers had gone to bed? Because I’d made a decision and the only way to figure out whether it was going to prove disastrous was to watch. So, I watched my 7-year-old pull his knees up to his chest in a folding camp chair and stare, glassy-eyed at the flickering flames. I watched his 5-year-old brother sing softly to himself in the nearby tent. I watched fireflies and reflected on the fact that I could count on my fingers how many times I’d been outside with my boys in the dark of the night. I liked it a bit.


I got the idea to let bedtimes slide and embrace the dark from, well, Russia. Russian parents have a notoriously lax approach to bedtimes and, in very Russian style, embrace parenting in the dark. This intrigued me not only because I work when it’s light out but also because it feels weird to enforce a sort of separation between children and the night. There’s nothing, after all, wrong with the night. Perhaps, I thought, Russian parents knew something I did not.

Again, there was only one way to find out.

Washington DC’s role behind the scenes in Hollywood goes deeper than you think
(Photo by Csaba Berze)

My family had long adhered to strict and largely immoveable bedtimes. Our bedtime routine began at 7:30 p.m. and our children were under the covers by 8:00 p.m. every night without fail. Admittedly, the inflexibility injected a certain amount of stress into our evenings. That stress would inevitably lead to my wife and I getting loud and our children dragging their feet and doing everything in their power to avoid having to lay down. It was not ideal and, yes, the Russian experiment may have been at least in part an act of avoidance.

If so, it wasn’t the first. We’d recently decided to remove some of the stress by making a rule our kids could stay up as long as they wanted, provided they were in their bed. The rule allowed my wife and I to stop yelling “go to sleep,” but it did nothing to solve the stress of getting to the bedroom in the first place. I wanted to know how things would change if we simply let our children stay up, out of bed, like a Russian kid.

We decided to start our experiment on a camping trip. It made sense, in a way. After all, it was nearly the summer solstice and neither my wife nor I were particularly interested in forcing our children into a tent to sleep while the sky was still blue. Besides, it meant we could make s’mores and tell stories, which is exactly what we did.

But at some point, the situation felt increasingly ridiculous. I did have to tell my child to go to bed at some point, right? The only other option was they would eventually pass out where they stood. At least, that’s how it seemed to me. So, as it approached 11 p.m., my wife and I guided the 7-year-old to the tent. Very soon, they were both quiet.

The next morning the 7-year-old was up with the birds. A few hours later, though, he was a whiny mess. Clearly, he’d not had enough sleep. The 5-year-old, on the other hand, slept until nearly 10 in the morning and popped up refreshed and as rambunctious as ever. It was a disastrous combination. The 5-year-old could sense weakness in his brother and did just about all he could to piss him off. Soon the 7-year-old was in tears. Hikes planned for the day were canceled. We packed up camp and headed home.

But we weren’t giving up on the experiment. That night we watched a couple family movies, staying up until 9:30 p.m. When we noticed the boys were quiet, drowsy, and suggestible, we nudged them towards toothbrushing and bed. They complied easily and went to sleep quickly.

Washington DC’s role behind the scenes in Hollywood goes deeper than you think

The following night was much of the same. The boys appeared to be adjusting well to the new rhythm. And without the stress of hitting a precise mark, my wife and I were calmer. When reading the nightly bedtime stories, our voices now lacked that sharp tone of desperation and frustration, and that made Dr. Seuss sound far more friendly than he had in several months.

But by the middle of the week, it appeared our boys had habituated to the new routine. They were sleeping in more, which meant they had more energy late, which meant that as my wife and I watched TV in our room we could hear the boys down the hall giggling with each other well into the night.

Finally, one evening they continued to play after my wife and I had turned off our lights to sleep. This would not do. Worse, they were failing to sleep in past 8 a.m., which was making everyone tired and cranky. My family, craving structure as they do, blamed the problem on me. To be fair, it was entirely my fault — though my heart was in the right place.

“Can we stop being Russians, now?” my wife asked me with deep exasperation.

“Yes,” I said. And we did.

That’s not to say, however, that I willingly gave up on Russian thinking. I found a lot to like in the flexibility of the approach to bedtime and in exposing our kids to the night, which is a country unto itself. I think that in our zeal for a rigorous sleep schedule, my wife and I had forgotten how much magic the night could hold for a kid awake and ready to explore. Over the week, I’d watched my kid listen for the sounds of the night calling birds and catch fireflies in his hands. I’d watched them play flashlight games in the dark and wonder at the beauty of the stars.

Our bedtimes had also been much less stressful. There was a certain ease in knowing we weren’t racing the clock, which made the nightly routine far more pleasant for everyone. That, in itself, was revelatory.

I understand that when my boys were babies, a strict sleep routine was essential. But the experiment had shown me that everyone had grown up a lot. The ease of bedtime had become more important than the structure of it. While we won’t allow our boys to stay up until midnight anymore, I think we will keep a looser grip on the thing. It is easier, after all, to hit a bigger target.

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

MIGHTY TACTICAL

This Green Beret wants to help you find your personal A-Team

In Army Special Forces parlance, an A-Team is not a fictional squad featuring Mr. T – it’s a real thing. An Operation Detachment-A Team is made of 12 operators, each with a different specialty (but is of course cross-trained to another), to form the core team that makes up the Green Berets.

Greg Stube, a former Green Beret, believes anyone is capable of operating at the Green Berets’ level. His new book shows you how to build an A-Team in your own life to achieve your goals.


Stube enlisted in the Army infantry in 1988. Just four years later, he was reclassing as a Special Force Medical Sergeant. As a Green Beret, his training went much, much further. He learned surgery, dentistry, and veterinary medicine. He also went to dive school and SERE school, and became a master parachutist. Like every Green Beret, he became fluent in a foreign language – his language was Russian.

He was ready to conquer anything. He would have to be in the coming years.

Listen to our interview with Greg Stube on the Mandatory Fun podcast:

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His career spanned 23 years and included the end of the Cold War, the Gulf War, and the start of the Global War on Terror. During Operation Medusa in Afghanistan in 2006, Stube and his Green Beret team were outnumbered in the Battle of Sperwan Ghar – a week-long battle against the Taliban. Stube took a hit from a powerful IED, was shot numerous times, and was even on fire. He suffered wounds to his lower body and even nearly lost a leg. But after 17 surgeries in 18 months, Greg Stube miraculously recovered.

Washington DC’s role behind the scenes in Hollywood goes deeper than you think

In that time, he learned that applying the way Green Berets are taught to accomplish a mission by any means necessary to his personal life he really could overcome any obstacle and any situation. His new book, Conquer Anything: A Green Beret’s Guide to Building Your A-Team, is a leadership book designed to help anyone use that mentality to achieve their personal and professional goals.

Stube’s newest mission is to share what he’s learned and to help make other people’s life a little better through his experiences.

“This is my attempt, from my life and career, to sum up the things I’ve done and witnessed in peace, conflict, and healing,” Stube says. “I just want people to know it’s not reserved for the military or a special forces team. Everything we learn and refine in those desperate situations can be used without all the pressure – without the life and death risk.”

Conquer Anything: A Green Beret’s Guide to Building Your A-Team is available on Amazon and will soon be available as an audiobook download on Audible, read by the author himself.

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MIGHTY HISTORY

This was the fastest manned aircraft ever

The Cold War was a great time for NASA and the U.S. Air Force. It seemed like they were able to do pretty much whatever they wanted in the interest of just seeing if they could do it. But the X-15 was much more than just a power play. Even though the Air Force already had the perfect spy plane, capable of flying across the planet at Mach 3, they still decided to up the game just a little further and came away with some important discoveries, discoveries that led to the creation of the Space Shuttle.

Not to mention the world’s speed record for manned, powered flight – Mach 6.7.


The craft had to be drop launched from the wing of a specially modified B-52 Stratofortress but could reach the very edge of space, setting altitude records for winged aircraft. Once dropped from the wing of the “mother ship” the X-15 launched its XLR-99 rocket engine to propel the craft at hypersonic speeds. It was a unique plane because it was designed to operate in an environment where there was less air than other aircraft.

It was the world’s first spaceplane, thus it used rocket thrusters to control its altitude at times. It could switch back and forth between conventional flight controls as needed for exoatmospheric flight as well as landing the craft.

Washington DC’s role behind the scenes in Hollywood goes deeper than you think

There were three different X-15 airframes. One suffered from a landing accident in 1962 that injured pilot John McKay. As a result of this flight and the damage suffered to the airframe, the fuselage was lengthened, it was given extra drop tanks for fuel beneath the wings and was given an ablative coating to protect its pilot from the heat of hypersonic flight.

A second one was lost in 1967, just minutes after its launch. The craft had taken a video of the horizon at the edge of space and began its descent to the world below. As the craft descended, it entered a hypersonic spin. Even though its pilot, Michael J. Adams, was able to recover the plane at 36,000 feet, it then went into an inverted dive at Mach 4.7. The plane broke up under the stress and Adams was killed.

Washington DC’s role behind the scenes in Hollywood goes deeper than you think

Pilots who flew the X-15 to its highest altitudes were eventually given astronaut wings by the U.S. Air Force, considering the craft broke the USAF threshold for the edge of space at 50 miles above the surface of the earth. The craft would also make faster and faster hypersonic flights until Oct.3, 1967 when William J. “Pete” Knight took the craft to its maximum speed of 4,520 miles per hour.

Aside from these two achievements, the X-15 also had a number of notable firsts, including being the first restartable, throttle-controlled and man-rated rocket engine. It also tested the first spaceflight stellar navigation system and advanced pressure suits. The X-15 program was a direct ancestor of the modern Space Shuttle program, and without it, many notable achievements would not have happened.

Articles

That time a soldier used a payphone to call back to the US to get artillery support in Grenada

In October 1983 the Caribbean nation of Grenada experienced a series of bloody coups over the course of a week, threatening U.S. interests as well as U.S. citizens on the island. In a controversial move, President Reagan decided to launch Operation Urgent Fury, an invasion of the island nation (and the first real-world test of the all-volunteer force in combat).


Washington DC’s role behind the scenes in Hollywood goes deeper than you think

The Grenadian forces were bolstered by Communist troops from the Soviet Union, North Korea, Cuba, and Bulgaria. The U.S. rapid deployment force was more or less an all-star team of the 1st and 2nd Ranger Battalions, the 82nd Airborne, U.S. Marines, Delta Force, and Navy SEALs. Despite the strength of the invasion force, planning, intelligence, communication and coordination issues plagued their interoperability (and led to Congress reorganizing the entire Department of Defense). Army helicopters couldn’t refuel on Navy ships. There was zero intelligence information coming from the CIA. Army Rangers were landed on the island in the middle of the day.

The list of Urgent Fury mistakes is a long one, but one snafu was so huge it became legend. The basic story is that a unit on the island was pinned down by Communist forces. Interoperability and communications were so bad, they were unable to call for support from anywhere. A member of the unit pulled out his credit card and made a long-distance call by commercial phone lines to their home base, which patched it through to the Urgent Fury command, who passed the order down to the requested support.

Washington DC’s role behind the scenes in Hollywood goes deeper than you think

The devil is in the details. The Navy SEALs Museum says the caller was from a group of Navy SEALs in the governor’s mansion. He called Fort Bragg for support from an AC-130 gunship overhead. The gunship’s support allowed the SEALs to stay in position until relieved by a force of Recon Marines the next day. Some on the ground with the SEALs in Grenada said it was for naval fire support from nearby ships.

The story is recounted in Mark Adkins’ Urgent Fury: the Battle for Grenada. Another report says it was a U.S. Army “trooper” (presumably meaning “paratrooper”) who called his wife to request air support from the Navy. Screenwriter and Vietnam veteran James Carabatsos incorporated the event into his script for “Heartbreak Ridge” after reading about an account from members of the 82nd Airborne. In that version, paratroopers used a payphone and calling card to call Fort Bragg to request fire support.

In his 2011 memoir, “In My Time: A Personal and Political Memoir,” former Vice President Dick Cheney recalls visiting the island as a congressman and listening to an Army officer tell the story. 

“An army officer who had needed artillery support… could look out to sea and see naval vessels on the horizon, but he had no way to talk to them. So he used his personal credit card in a payphone, placed a call to Fort Bragg, asked Bragg to contact the Pentagon, had the Pentagon contact the Navy, who in turn told the commander off the coast to get this poor guy some artillery support. Clearly a new system was needed.”

The story has a happy ending from an American POV. These days, the U.S. invasion is remembered by the Grenadian people as an overwhelmingly good thing, as bloody Communist revolutions ended with the elections following the invasion. Grenada marks the anniversary of the U.S. intervention with a national holiday, its own Thanksgiving Day.

MIGHTY HISTORY

One pilot, two world wars, and the killing of King Kong

From the time he was a boy, Merian C. Cooper wanted to be an adventurer, a wish that propelled him into journalism, the National Guard, military aviation, two world wars, and the cinematic killing of King Kong. During that time, he took part in historic events, like the hunt for Pancho Villa, and contributed to others, like the Doolittle Raid.


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When he was six, he read a book by a French explorer who traveled Africa, and he was hooked on the idea of adventure. In 1916, that led the journalist and Georgia National Guardsman to Mexico, where he took part in the punitive expedition against Pancho Villa.

That only fueled his desire more, so he got a billet at a military pilot school in Georgia and graduated in time to go to France for World War I. He became a bomber pilot, but was shot down over Germany and declared dead until the American officers learned he had survived and been taken prisoner.

But he wasn’t done with Europe, soon heading to Poland as a captain and taking part in the Polish-Soviet War. He formed a new squadron, the Polish 7th Air Escadrille, with volunteers from France. The men saw protracted combat, and Cooper himself was shot down two times. The second time, he was captured by the Soviets and sent (a second time) to a prisoner of war camp.

After two attempts, he successfully escaped and was rewarded for his wartime service with Poland’s highest decoration for valor.

After returning to a peaceful America, he became a movie producer and writer, working on some cinematic classics, including the game-changing King Kong of 1933. He even played one of the pilots in the film.

But war came knocking again when the U.S. entered World War II. So, Cooper returned to service as a colonel and was sent to India where he served as a logistics expert for the Doolittle Raid, the legendary attack by carrier-based bombers against Tokyo itself in 1942. He was even eventually invited to see Japan’s surrender on the deck of the USS Missouri.

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