Foreign intelligence operatives are reportedly using online platforms and video-conferencing apps like Zoom to spy on Americans - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY SURVIVAL

Foreign intelligence operatives are reportedly using online platforms and video-conferencing apps like Zoom to spy on Americans

Foreign intelligence agents are using online platforms and videoconferencing apps to spy on Americans, TIME reported, citing several US intelligence officials.

Chinese spies, in particular, have exploited the coronavirus pandemic to get information about American companies as they take their operations digital and offices across the US shut down amid stay-at-home orders.


The video conferencing app Zoom has proven particularly susceptible to cyber intrusions because of its popularity — Zoom’s CEO said the number of people using the app jumped from 10 million in December to 200 million in March — and lack of encryption.

Hackers targeting the platform, dubbed “Zoombombers,” have disrupted events like doctoral dissertations, Sunday school, city council meetings, online classes at universities, and Alcoholics Anonymous meetings.

Even the FBI weighed in on the matter, warning schools, in particular, to be wary of hackers infiltrating online meetings and calls to post pornographic imagery and hate speech.

Foreign intelligence operatives are reportedly using online platforms and video-conferencing apps like Zoom to spy on Americans

Now, TIME reported, Zoom is becoming a playground for foreign spies, as operatives from countries like Russia, China, Iran, and North Korea target Americans’ video chats.

“More than anyone else, the Chinese are interested in what American companies are doing,” one official told the outlet.

Zoom, moreover, is more vulnerable to intrusion by Chinese cyberspies because some of its encryption keys are routed through Chinese servers, according to a report this month from The Citizen Lab, a research group at the University of Toronto.

The report also found that Zoom owns three companies in China, at which at least 700 employees are paid to develop Zoom’s software.

“This arrangement is ostensibly an effort at labor arbitrage: Zoom can avoid paying US wages while selling to US customers, thus increasing their profit margin. However, this arrangement may make Zoom responsive to pressure from Chinese authorities,” the report said.

Indeed, the coronavirus pandemic is a blessing in disguise for intelligence agencies in China, Russia, Iran, North Korea, and other rogue regimes, many of whom have adapted to using cyberwarfare to carry out their objectives.

As people across the world are forced to stay home and work remotely, they’re increasingly vulnerable to cyberattacks and disinformation — two tools that are more useful than ever to foreign spies.

These methods are also cheaper to employ and require less financial investment than traditional methods of intelligence gathering, giving countries like China and Russia a leg-up as they compete against more financially stable countries like the US.

Zoom, for its part, has said it will work to enhance its security over the coming months.

“For the past several weeks, supporting this influx of users has been a tremendous undertaking and our sole focus,” Zoom’s CEO, Eric Yuan, wrote in a blog post. “However, we recognize that we have fallen short of the community’s — and our own — privacy and security expectations.”

Foreign intelligence operatives are reportedly using online platforms and video-conferencing apps like Zoom to spy on Americans

Yuan announced that the company will freeze its feature updates for 90 days while it addresses privacy and security issues. He said Zoom will also conduct a “comprehensive review with third-party experts” to ensure it’s taking the necessary steps to protect user privacy.

In the meanwhile, several US lawmakers have called for investigations into Zoom’s security, and some state attorneys general are examining the matter as well.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

The wounded North Korean defector is infected by an unknown parasite

South Korean surgeons operating on a North Korean defector who ran across the Demilitarized Zone between the two countries under a hail of gunfire on November 13, 2017, have found a parasite in the man’s stomach unlike any other they had seen.


The defector, who was shot five times, remained in critical condition after hours in two rounds of surgery, said an article in the Korea Biomedical Review published Nov. 15.

“We are struggling with treatment as we found a large number of parasites in the soldier’s stomach, invading and eating into the wounded areas,” Lee Guk-jong, the physician who treated him, told the Review.

Foreign intelligence operatives are reportedly using online platforms and video-conferencing apps like Zoom to spy on Americans

“We have also discovered a parasite never seen in Koreans before,” Lee said. “It is making the situation worse and causing tremendous complications.”

It’s unclear whether the parasite has been seen in other parts of the world.

A professor at a medical school told the Review that North Korean defectors would often come to South Korea riddled with parasites, with one patient having more than 30 types of roundworms in her body. The problem is common among defectors, the professor said, but may not be reflective of the North Korean population.

Read More: North Korean troops fired 40 rounds at the defector in the DMZ

But the case of this defector stands above the others — his small intestine is ruptured, contaminated with fecal matter, and infected with parasites, Lee told the Review.

“He has everything that he could have,” Lee said. “It is very likely that the prognosis will be worse than other general trauma patients as he has been in a state of shock induced by heavy bleeding and we expect to deal with many complications.”

MIGHTY TRENDING

China’s communist party might be cracking under trade pressure

The intensifying trade war between China and the US has caused a massive rift between the countries, but sources say tension is also rising internally among elite members of the Communist Party of China.

Over the past decade, President Xi Jinping has worked diligently to consolidate power and cement his rule over China, claiming control over the country’ military and government and cracking down on all forms of political dissent.


In the process, Chinese propaganda has pushed hard on the portrayal of China as a strong, nationalistic country, with Xi at its core.

Several sources close to the government told Reuters that this aggressive branding had backfired, further provoking the US as it ramps up tariffs in one of the largest trade wars in economic history.

An anonymous government-policy adviser told Reuters of a growing concern among leadership that China’s economic outlook had “become grim” as its relationship with the US deteriorated over trade.

“The evolution from a trade conflict to trade war has made people rethink things,” the policy adviser said.

Foreign intelligence operatives are reportedly using online platforms and video-conferencing apps like Zoom to spy on Americans

Chinese President Xi Jinping.

“This is seen as being related to the exaggeration of China’s strength by some Chinese institutions and scholars that have influenced the US perceptions and even domestic views.”

Two additional sources told Reuters that disapproval was being felt among senior government members and that backlash might hit the close Xi aide and chief ideological strategist Wang Huning, who has been widely credited for crafting Xi’s strongman image.

“He’s in trouble for mishandling the propaganda and hyping up China too much,” a source tied to China’s leadership and propaganda system said.

And discontent has echoed through the ranks of China’s Communist veterans.

Sources told the Japanese daily Sankei Shimbun that several party elders including former President Hu Jintao and former Premier Wen Jiabao sent a letter in July 2018 to Communist leadership urging a review of economic and diplomatic policy and noting the party’s tendency toward personality-cult leadership.

A veteran member of the Communist Party who was said to be close to Hu told Sankei Shimbun that signs of waning support for Xi’s “dictatorial regime” had been emerging since June 2018, as Xi’s prominent presence in state propaganda was beginning to diminish. In July 2018, Xi’s name was noticeably absent from the front pages of the state mouthpiece People’s Daily — twice in one week.

July 2018, Xi swiftly called for a meeting with the powerful Politburo decision-making body, made up of the party’s 25 most senior members, reportedly outlining plans to stabilize the economy hit hard by US tariffs.

Xi was most likely gearing up for the annual Communist summit at the resort of Beidaihe, where top party leaders gather to discuss party policy behind closed doors.

The retreat, which is often kept secret, is said to be underway, and Xi’s leadership and US-China trade are likely to be high on the agenda, according to Taiwan News.

China and the US have kicked their trade war into high gear, as the US announced it would impose 25% tariffs on billion worth of Chinese goods starting August 23, 2018.

In response, China announced 25% tariffs on billion worth of US goods meant to take effect the same day — though critics have suggested China is running out of cards to play as the US imports more Chinese goods than the reverse and can deal far deadlier blows to China’s economy.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

These are the weapons the US would use in war with North Korea

The United States has substantial air, land, and sea forces stationed in South Korea


As well as several units based in Japan and the western Pacific earmarked for a Korean contingency. Together, these forces far exceed the firepower of North Korea’s armed forces and represent a powerful deterrent not just against Pyongyang but any potential adversary in the region.

Foreign intelligence operatives are reportedly using online platforms and video-conferencing apps like Zoom to spy on Americans
A U.S. Army M109A6 Paladin deployed in support of Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve. (Photo: U.S. Army Spc. Christopher Brecht)

The first U.S. forces that would be involved in a North-South Korean conflict are those currently based in South Korea. On the ground, the U.S. Army rotates a new armored brigade into South Korea every nine months — currently the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division. Each brigade is manned by 3,500 soldiers and consists of three combined arms battalions, one cavalry (reconnaissance) battalion, one artillery battalion, one engineer and one brigade support battalion. Armored brigade combat teams typically consist of approximately 100 M1A2 Abrams tanks, 100 M2A3 Bradley infantry fighting vehicles and eighteen M109-series self-propelled howitzers.

Also Read: North and South Korea just took an enormous step back from war

The army in South Korea also maintains the 2nd Infantry Division’s Combat Aviation Brigade, equipped with approximately sixty Apache attack helicopters, Blackhawk, and Chinook transports. The 210th Artillery Brigade, equipped with M270 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems provides long-range artillery fire, while the 35th Air Defense Artillery Brigade provide Patriot missile coverage of Osan and Suwon Air Force Bases. The 35th Brigade also operates the AN/TPY-2 missile defense radar and six Theater High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) launch vehicles recently sent to the country to beef up anti-missile defenses.

The other major component of American power in Korea is U.S. tactical aviation. The U.S. Air Force maintains the 51st Fighter Wing at Osan Air Base, consisting of the 25th Fighter Squadron at equipped with A-10C Thunderbolt II ground attack jets and the 36th Fighter Squadron with F-16C/D Fighting Falcon fighters (about forty-eight aircraft in all). The 8th (“Wolfpack”) Fighter Wing at Kunsan Air Base consists of the 35th and 80th Fighter Squadrons, which fly a total of forty-five F-16C/Ds. The A-10Cs have the mission of close air support, while the F-16C/Ds are responsible for air interdiction, close air support, and counter-air.

Foreign intelligence operatives are reportedly using online platforms and video-conferencing apps like Zoom to spy on Americans
The Carl Vinson Carrier Strike Group, including the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70), Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 2, the guided-missile cruiser USS Lake Champlain (CG 57) and the guided-missile destroyers USS Wayne E. Meyer (DDG 108) and USS Michael Murphy (DDG 112), operate with the Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group including, USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76), CVW-5, USS Shiloh (CG 67), USS Barry (DDG 52), USS McCampbell (DDG 85), USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) and USS Mustin (DDG 89), and the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force ships (JS) Hyuga (DDH 181) and JS Ashigara (DDG 178) in the western Pacific region. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Z.A. Landers)

Beyond the Korean Peninsula, the United States maintains an array of forces ready to intervene. U.S. military forces in Japan include the forward-deployed aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan, two guided missile cruisers and seven guided missile destroyers. Many of the cruisers and destroyers have ballistic missile defense capability although two of the destroyers, Fitzgerald and McCain, are out of action due to collisions with civilian merchantmen. The Reagan and surface warships are all based at Yokosuka, Japan.

Further south, Sasebo, Japan is the home of the amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard and the ships of its amphibious task force. Together, this amphibious force can lift a marine infantry battalion reinforced with armor, artillery and aviation assets collectively known as Marine Expeditionary Unit. Sasebo is also the home of the 7th Fleet’s four minesweepers. The result is a well-balanced force that can execute a wide variety of missions, from ballistic missile defense to an amphibious assault.

Farther north in Japan, the U.S. Air Force’s 35th Fighter Wing is located at Misawa, Japan. The 35th Wing specializes in suppressing enemy air defenses (SEAD) and is trained to destroy enemy radars, missile systems, and guns to allow other friendly aircraft a freer hand in flying over the battlefield. The wing flies approximately forty-eight F-16C/Ds split among the 13th and 14th Fight Squadrons. Near Tokyo, the USAF’s 374th Airlift Wing at Yokota Air Base flies C-130 Hercules, C-130J Super Hercules, UH-1N Huey and C-12J Huron aircraft.

Foreign intelligence operatives are reportedly using online platforms and video-conferencing apps like Zoom to spy on Americans
Four U.S. Air Force MC-130J Commando IIs from the 17th Special Operations Squadron break out of a formation June 22, 2017 off the coast of Okinawa, Japan, during a mass launch training mission. Airmen from the 17th SOS conduct training operations often to ensure they are always ready to perform a variety of high-priority, low-visibility missions throughout the Indo-Asia-Pacific-Region. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman John Linzmeier)

Marine Corps units are spread out across Japan, with Marine fixed-wing aviation, including a squadron of F-35B Joint Strike Fighters, tankers, and logistics aircraft stationed at MCAS Iwakuni, the only Marine Corps air station on mainland Japan. Three squadrons of Marine helicopter units are stationed at MCAS Futenma on the Japanese island of Okinawa. Marine ground forces include the 4th Marines, a marine infantry regiment with three battalions, and the 12th Marines, an artillery regiment with two battalions of artillery.

Also on Okinawa is the sprawling Kadena Air Base, home of the 44th and 67th fighter squadrons, both of which fly the F-15C/D Eagle fighter. Kadena is also home to a squadron of K-135 Stratotanker aerial refueling aircraft, a squadron of E-3 Sentry airborne early warning and control (AWACS) aircraft, and two rescue squadrons. Farther from a potential Korean battlefield (but still in missile range) Kadena would act as a regional support hub for American airpower, with AWACS aircraft monitoring the skies and controlling aircraft missions while tankers refueled bombers, transports, and aircraft on long-range missions.

The next major American outpost in the Pacific, Guam, is home to Submarine Squadron 15, four forward-deployed nuclear attack submarines supported by the permanently moored submarine tender USS Frank Cable. Naval special warfare units are also based on the island. An army THAAD unit was deployed to the island in 2013 to protect against North Korean intermediate range ballistic missiles.

Foreign intelligence operatives are reportedly using online platforms and video-conferencing apps like Zoom to spy on Americans
Four B-1B Lancers assigned to the 9th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron, deployed from Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, arrive Feb. 6, 2017, at Andersen AFB, Guam. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Richard P. Ebensberger)

Guam is also home to Andersen Air Force Base. Andersen typically hosts a variety of heavy aircraft, including B-1B Lancer strategic bombers from Pacific Command’s Continuous Bomber Presence Mission, KC-135 tankers and RQ-4 Global Hawk drones. Andersen served as a jumping off point for bomber raids against North Vietnam and today would see a surge of B-1B, B-2A and B-52H bombers from the continental United States in the event of a flare-up in Korea.

U.S. forces in the northwest Pacific are considerable, amounting to two ground combat brigades, approximately seven wings of fighters and attack aircraft, a handful of strategic bombers, an aircraft carrier, submarines, hundreds of cruise missiles and an amphibious assault task force. That already formidable force can be swiftly augmented by even more combat forces from Hawaii, Alaska, and the continental United States, including F-22A Raptors, airborne troops, and more aircraft carriers, submarines, and bombers. It is a robust, formidable, adaptable force capable of taking on a variety of tasks, from disaster relief to war.

MIGHTY MILSPOUSE

Watch this soldier pull off the ultimate homecoming surprise at the State of the Union

We’ve all seen the surprise homecomings at baseball games, school gymnasiums and countless other places. But never before have we seen one like this: a Fort Bragg soldier surprised his family at the State of the Union address, and President Trump was in on it.


President Trump remarked, “War places a heavy burden on our Nation’s extraordinary military families, especially spouses like Amy Williams from Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and her two children: 6-year-old Elliana and 3-year-old Rowan.” Amy, seated next to First Lady Melania Trump, stood up with her kids to be recognized as President Trump continued.

“Amy works full time and volunteers countless hours helping other military families,” he explained. “For the past seven months, she has done it all while her husband, Sgt. 1st Class Townsend Williams, is in Afghanistan on his fourth deployment to the Middle East.”

“Amy’s kids haven’t seen their father’s face in many months. Amy, your family’s sacrifice makes it possible for all of our families to live in safety and in peace and we want to thank you. Thank you, Amy.”

Amy was immediately given a standing ovation while she looked as though she was simply trying to hold it all together. And just when you thought it couldn’t get any better, President Trump said, “But Amy, there is one more thing.”

Watch the ultimate homecoming surprise:

www.youtube.com

MIGHTY CULTURE

The ‘Waffle House Index’ tells FEMA how to worry about storms

No one endures a national state of emergency like the Waffle House. For those who don’t live near the 2,000-plus locations spread out across 25 states, a Waffle House is a restaurant that harnesses the enduring image of the all-night truck stop greasy spoon. The most outstanding thing about the food at a Waffle House is that it’s always available 24-7, rain or hurricane.

But when your local Waffle House is suddenly not open, you know it’s time to head for the hills.


Waffle Houses have a loyal following in the areas where they operate, and it’s not just truckers and the late night, post-drinking crowd. A good slice of Americans would tell you that Waffle House produces the kind of food they love.

Foreign intelligence operatives are reportedly using online platforms and video-conferencing apps like Zoom to spy on Americans
And heroes. Waffle House produces goddamn heroes.

The restaurant chain is so reliable during disasters that FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, actually closely monitors the activities of local Waffle House restaurants to prepare for potential economic damage and make risk-management decisions. They call it the “Waffle House Index,” and it’s not just a measure of the danger of a storm, it’s a barometer for economic recovery.

The Waffle House Index has three levels of severity. Green means a Waffle House is open and serving a full menu, yellow means the menu is limited to just a few options, and red indicates the Waffle House was forced to close, its crew has skipped town, and you probably should, too.

The reason is that Waffle House operates a huge number of stores in the American South and Southeast. Their properties and supply chain are always vulnerable to extreme weather conditions faced on the U.S. coasts. In the event of an emergency, the chain is able to quickly inform employees and move supplies to secure warehouses. Once the crisis has passed, the Waffle House is usually the first business open in the aftermath.

It’s not only in the public’s (and FEMA’s) best interest to monitor dangerous storms. For Waffle House, who maintains a storm watch center, it keeps the company’s product and supply chain intact and ready to re-open for business. Food, after all, is not a product that stands the test of time. The company has generators, supplies, and staff ready to go as soon as the all clear is given.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew, it wasn’t just fry cooks and waitresses that flocked back to North Carolina after the storm. Waffle House sent in construction teams and IT personnel, all lead by the company’s CEO. The supply staging strategy used by Waffle House is the same method used by the U.S. Military and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in case of a national crisis or theater-level operation.

Foreign intelligence operatives are reportedly using online platforms and video-conferencing apps like Zoom to spy on Americans

Waffle House Restaurant torn apart by Hurricane Katrina on the Biloxi, Mississippi, coast.

(Library of Congress)

While the Waffle House Index is a decent risk indicator, it’s not always 100-percent perfect. Waffle Houses closed in the wakes of Hurricanes Katrina, Matthew, and Harvey. The Waffle House in Joplin, Mo. remained open during the devastating tornado that hit the town in 2011. The Waffle House survived, but much of the rest of the town did not.

Articles

A-10s blast ISIS as Syrian ceasefire takes effect

Foreign intelligence operatives are reportedly using online platforms and video-conferencing apps like Zoom to spy on Americans


A ceasefire between U.S.-backed rebels and Russian-backed Syrian forces went into effect in Syria on Feb. 27 — the first major respite in five years of warfare that has claimed hundreds of thousands of lives. The volunteer rescuers from the Syrian White Helmets group reported the ceasefire “holding in the main.”

“Today very quiet,” the group tweeted. “Long may it last.”

But the ceasefire doesn’t apply to Islamic State, of course — nor to Syrian, Russian, American and rebel attacks on the militant group. The Pentagon reported that its allies in the “New Syrian Forces” repulsed Islamic State attacks along the Mar’a Line in northern Syria while U.S.-vetted rebels in the Syrian Democratic Forces group gained control of the Tishreen Dam east of Aleppo as well as Shaddadi, a strategic logistical hub for militants in the northeastern part of the country.

Islamic State also attacked Kurdish SDF forces holding Tel Abyad, a Syrian town on the Turkish frontier that was a key border crossing for the militant group before the Kurds liberated it in July 2015. U.S. Air Force A-10 attack jets flying from Incirlik air base in Turkey strafed the militants, apparently drawing heavy ground fire. The distinctive sound of the A-10s’ powerful 30-millimeter cannons — and the chatter of small-caliber guns presumably firing back — is audible in the video below.

Articles

Boko Haram militants nabbed with shopping list of sex, VD drugs

The Nigerian terrorist group Boko Haram has a track record of brutality.


The group is most notorious for its kidnapping of over 200 girls from a school near the town of Chibok and selling many of them into sexual slavery.

Foreign intelligence operatives are reportedly using online platforms and video-conferencing apps like Zoom to spy on Americans
(Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

Let’s put it this way – Boko Haram easily falls into former Gen. Jim Mattis’s “fun to shoot” category (although the use of drones, cruise missiles, artillery and carpet-bombing should not be ruled out).

But what does it take to keep this bunch of scumbags going?

As the old saying goes, amateurs study tactics, professionals study logistics.

Well, some answers emerged recently when two of the terrorists on a supply run were taken out by the Nigerian military. They had two FN FAL rifles and a grand total of 18 rounds of ammo between them. Nigerian troops also recovered a three-page shopping list that would make porn star blush.

According to a report by the Premium Times, the contents of the list included a request for cartons of Viagra and various “libido enhancers.” Among them were a coffee enhancer known as Maxman, Viamax coffee (itself a libido enhancer) and MMC Sex Men.

The men were also supposed to acquire various drugs for the treatment of venereal disease. Capsules for treating gonorrhea were mentioned on the list, but the Boko boys were also seeking various injectable drugs.

The sex-supply run was not a surprise to the Nigerian military, who in 2015 noted that raids on the terrorist group’s camps revealed loads of condoms, libido enhancers and even hard drugs.

Conspicuous by their absence were copies of the Koran, and many of the Boko Haram terrorists captured by the Nigerian military couldn’t recite any portion of that religious text.

Seems like Boko Haram doesn’t recruit holy warriors, they attract sex-crazed crooks.

Breitbart News reported that the debauchery is not just limited to the Nigerian terrorist group, which declared its allegiance to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria in March 2015. Islamic State militants also have engaged in sexual slavery, and doctors forced to work for that group report that many of the fighters they treat demand Viagra.

MIGHTY HISTORY

The Russians had Women’s ‘Battalions of Death’ in World War I

Saying that World War I was really bad for Russia is like saying Hitler was a somewhat unstable veteran of the Great War. While the Tsar fielded the largest army in the world at the time and should have been able to trounce the Germans, years (maybe decades) of neglecting modernization hampered the Russians. Roads were impossible and railways were inadequate. Casualties were heavy and the conditions were deplorable. Even drafting men for the war was difficult. Life in the Russian Empire was so bad, the Tsar would be toppled and replaced by the Soviet Union.

Before the Tsar was forced to abdicate, the Russian Empire tried a last-ditch effort to fill its ranks: hiring women.


Foreign intelligence operatives are reportedly using online platforms and video-conferencing apps like Zoom to spy on Americans

Congrats, you’re hired.

When the Great War first began, Russians were only too happy to serve in their country’s military. It was (on paper, at least) one of the most vaunted fighting forces on Earth at the time. But Tsarist Russia’s poor infrastructure, the indecision of the Russian high command, and the lack of adequate food, supplies, and other war resources soon made life miserable. When word got out about the deteriorating conditions on the front, good men suddenly became hard to find. Women, on the other hand, had been trying to join the regular army since day one. These women soon demanded the government form all-women’s military units.

The Tsarist government, facing an increasing manpower shortage, finally gave in. It formed 15 all-women’s battalions in an effort to replace its missing manpower with womanpower. They included communications battalions, a naval unit, and the aptly-named Women’s Battalion of Death. Of the 5,000 women who served in these units, 300 of them would join the Battalion of Death and march to the front in 1914.

Foreign intelligence operatives are reportedly using online platforms and video-conferencing apps like Zoom to spy on Americans

Maria Bochkareva was awarded multiple medals after stabbing Germans to death in the trenches.

Led by the peasant fighter-turned military leader Maria Bochkareva, the women were highly-trained and tightly-controlled by Bochkareva. While her harsh (sometimes brutal) leadership kept a majority of potential volunteers from joining, the 300 or so who did stay became some of the most hardcore Russian troops of the First World War. They first saw action in the Kerensky Offensive of 1917. It was a terrible loss for the Russians, who lost 60,000 troops in the fighting. But it was a stunning victory for the Women’s Battalion of Death.

When ordered to go over the top and storm the enemy trenches, the women never hesitated, even when the men at their side did. In one instance, the Russian women made it through three trench systems before the lack of reinforcements necessitated their retreat. Bochkareva, though wounded twice, earned three medals for bravery in combat. With the effectiveness of the women in combat proven on the front, other women were deployed back home.

Foreign intelligence operatives are reportedly using online platforms and video-conferencing apps like Zoom to spy on Americans

Back in St. Petersburg, things weren’t going so well for the Tsar and his government. Another women’s battalion had to be deployed to the Winter Palace to defend government ministries and the people who were running them. This is where history could have been made or turned back. When the Bolshevik fighters attempted to take the city, the women weren’t at the Winter Palace, they abandoned the government ministers to their fate and went to guard the supplies. Eventually, they were overcome by the Bolsheviks and forced to surrender. When the Bolsheviks officially took power, these women’s units were disbanded, with varying success.

Women who wanted to fight the Bolsheviks stayed in their units, joining the White Russian forces in the Russian Civil War. Others went home and became Soviet citizens. Many would live long enough to see women conscripted once more when Russia was again threatened from the outside, taking up arms against the Nazis and forming an essential element to the resistance of the Soviet Union – many of whom would go on to earn the title Hero of the Soviet Union.

Articles

Warrior ethos helped this Airman save his sister

Air Force Staff Sgt. Franciscoadan Orellana, a Gretna, Louisiana, resident assigned to the Louisiana Air National Guard’s 159th Mission Support Group, donated one of his kidneys to his sister, Alejandra Orellana, April 11.


Alejandra’s health issues began 10 years ago when she was pregnant with her son. She suffered from eclampsia, high blood pressure, and gestational diabetes, which caused her son to be born premature at 31 weeks.

Although her son was healthy, the doctors said her veins had collapsed and her organs were shutting down. During the following years she experienced further complications, including being diagnosed with stage four chronic kidney disease.

“The whole family was there for me, but mainly my brother took the role of, ‘What do you need? or What can I do for you?'” she said. “He was really wonderful.”

Foreign intelligence operatives are reportedly using online platforms and video-conferencing apps like Zoom to spy on Americans

Not wanting to continue with hemodialysis because of the stress on veins in her neck and chest, her doctor recommended peritoneal dialysis which uses the lining of the stomach as a natural filter. Ultimately, her kidney disease progressed and her case was presented to the kidney transplant board.

Waiting List

In November 2016, after numerous tests and reviews of her medical history, Alejandra Orellana’s case was accepted and she was placed on a transplant waiting list. That’s when Franciscoadan took action and informed his family that he would donate one of his kidneys.

“I still remember telling my family the good news, and my sister responding, ‘No, I couldn’t live with myself if something were to happen to you,'” Franciscoadan said. “That’s when I told them I wasn’t asking them for permission and immediately started the process of testing to see if we were a match.”

Out of five siblings, Franciscoadan and Alejandra are particularly close. Franciscoadan describes his sister as the backbone of the family, a confidant who is very supportive of his career in the military.

Foreign intelligence operatives are reportedly using online platforms and video-conferencing apps like Zoom to spy on Americans
Louisiana Air National Guardsmen. (Photo by Master Sgt. Toby M. Valadie, 159th Public Affairs Office)

Franciscoadan was determined to donate a kidney to his sister, regardless of personal health risks or career consequences. Knowing that a health issue could potentially have an effect on his military career, he met with his commander and the 159th Medical Group for advice.

“When Staff Sgt. Orellana first told me about his desire to determine his compatibility I was not surprised he was contemplating this,” said Air Force Col. Brian Callahan, the 159th Mission Support Group commander. “When he sees a need, he automatically goes into a ‘fix it’ mode.”

Testing

Over the next few months, Franciscoadan underwent a series of tests and interviews. To ensure he was a match and was healthy enough to donate, he had between 20-30 vials of blood drawn, X-rays, CAT scans, and MRIs.

He also had to meet with social workers, psychologists, financial advisors, and the transplant team to make certain he wasn’t being coerced and to assure he was acting of his own free will.

Foreign intelligence operatives are reportedly using online platforms and video-conferencing apps like Zoom to spy on Americans
Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Patricia F. Moran

“The fact that it was his sister only increased his desire to find a successful outcome. He went through all of the testing and when it was determined he was a match, there was no turning back,” Callahan said. “He went through all of the proper steps to determine if this would impact his military service and, upon hearing there wouldn’t be, he went full speed ahead to help his sister. He attacks his work with that exact fervor.”

Franciscoadan said his military training and mindset is what allowed him to act swiftly and expedite the screening process.

“Warrior ethos came into play. This is a mission,” he said. “It’s a confidence, being in the military. There’s a warrior mind frame and sometimes you don’t get a chance to the think; you just execute.”

The seven-hour surgery was successful, and the siblings were soon on the road to recovery. Overcoming this challenge has strengthened their relationship and allowed them to grow even closer.

“Our relationship is stronger than ever, just like my family’s relationship is stronger than ever,” Franciscoadan said. “It’s humbling to know that you have that support always.”

Foreign intelligence operatives are reportedly using online platforms and video-conferencing apps like Zoom to spy on Americans
Navy photo by Lt. Cmdr. Roy Rice

Post-Surgery

Alejandra’s new kidney took effect immediately. She was retaining fluid before the surgery, but that is now going away and she hopes to soon reach an ideal weight to be eligible for a pancreas transplant as she continues her battle with diabetes.

Today, she looks to the future as an advocate for organ donations and plans to speak at schools, businesses, and fundraisers to educate people about the screening process and motivate them to act.

As for Franciscoadan, he wants people to understand that donating a kidney was a privilege and an honor. He has a healthy life, and continues to serve his country, and be an active community volunteer with one kidney. He is scheduled to deploy next year, once he is fully recovered.

“I have noticed that life will put you in situations where all you can do is act. It is at those times when you must stop thinking and simply execute,” Franciscoadan said. “I truly feel God gave me two healthy kidneys knowing that when the time came, I would have the ability to give one up.”
MIGHTY CULTURE

Could Russia invade Eastern Europe and win?

The folks over at The Infographics Show have asked a question that’s come up repeatedly over the last few years: If NATO and Russia actually get into a full-on war, could Russia successfully invade Eastern Europe and hold it for its own use or use it as a bargaining chip for greater power at the peace table?


Can Russia Invade Europe?

www.youtube.com

(Jump to 6:30 in the video to skip the intro and political discussions and go straight to the potential military campaigns.)

For countries that were part of the U.S.S.R., this can be a true, existential threat. Ukraine used the be the heart of Russia’s shipbuilding industry, but most of the country doesn’t want to return to Russian rule. And Estonia first earned its independence in 1918, but then spent decades under Nazi and Soviet rule during and after World War II. It’s not exactly nostalgic for that period.

And with Russia becoming even more aggressive than it was in the already-tense last few years, countries both inside and outside of NATO are looking westward for strength and comfort.

So, if Russia goes from seizing Ukrainian ships on the Sea of Azov to seizing cities in Lithuania and Latvia, what happens next?

Foreign intelligence operatives are reportedly using online platforms and video-conferencing apps like Zoom to spy on Americans

On a rural highway in northern Estonia, a pilot flies an A-10 Thunderbolt II from Lielvarde Air Base, Latvia, while practicing austere landings and take offs during the Exercise Saber Strike 18 on June 7, 2018.

(U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. David Kujawa)

In their video above, The Infographics Show postulates that Russia will attempt to seize Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia before invading Finland, Sweden, and Norway. NATO has openly practiced for just this scenario, but Russia would enjoy large advantages in the early days of such a conflict.

While the U.S. military is much larger and more technologically capable than Russia’s, it would take weeks or months to build sufficient strength in Europe for NATO to seize back the territory if Russia was successful in its early drives. In the meantime, Russia would build up its defenses in seized territory, just like it did when it grabbed Crimea from Ukraine.

The real question at this point becomes one of political will and nuclear brinkmanship. Crimea is part of Ukraine, which is not a member of NATO, so fighting a resurgent Russia for it would’ve required a lot of political will from nations that weren’t obligated to protect it.

Foreign intelligence operatives are reportedly using online platforms and video-conferencing apps like Zoom to spy on Americans

American and European tanks wait for their turn to compete in Operation Iron Tomahawk, a shoot-off between tank crews in Latvia.

(U.S. Army Command Sgt. Maj. Haynes)

Fighting for Estonia, on the other hand, is a requirement for NATO, but it still takes a lot of political will to send American tankers to Europe. And Russia may seek the peace table right as NATO builds sufficient combat power, offering to give back territory in some countries if it can keep what it’s already gained.

See the video above to see how one situation, an invasion of Eastern Europe and the Baltics, in which Russia seeks to gain some territory and then end the fighting.

popular

Why Kosovo and Albania will pay Swiss soccer players’ fines

Leaders of Kosovo and Albania have said they are collecting money to pay fines that two Switzerland soccer players received for making a pro-Kosovo gesture when the celebrated their team’s victory over Serbia in June 2018.

Granit Xhaka and Xherdan Shaqiri trace their roots to Kosovo, a former Serbian province with an ethnic Albanian majority which declared its independence from Belgrade in 2008.


The two players had made double-eagle gestures in celebration, referring to Albania’s national symbol, which is viewed as a symbol of defiance in Serbia. Belgrade has never recognized Pristina’s declaration of independence despite its recognition by 116 other countries.

Foreign intelligence operatives are reportedly using online platforms and video-conferencing apps like Zoom to spy on Americans
Albania Flag

The players’ celebrations caused outrage in Serbia and prompted FIFA, world soccer’s governing body, to fine both players $10,100. FIFA’s rules prohibit displaying political symbols in stadiums.

Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama said on June 26, 2018 that he had opened a bank account to enable his fellow countrymen to help pay the fines, which he called “absurd.”

The account named “Don’t be afraid of the eagle” is a “gesture of gratitude to the two sportsmen,” he said on Facebook.

Kosovo also opened an online fund and only hours afterward had collected nearly $23,000, officials said.

Kosovar Commerce and Industry Minister Bajram Hasani said he had donated the amount of his monthly salary — about 1,500 euros.

“They were punished only because they did not forget their roots, they did not forget where they came from,” Hasani told local media.

“Money cannot buy the joy that Granit Xhaka and Xherdan Shaqiri brought us by celebrating with the eagle sign,” he said.

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

Articles

5 notorious ship grounding incidents the Navy would rather we all forget

The recent grounding incident involving the Ticonderoga-class guided missile cruiser USS Antietam (CG 54) in Tokyo Bay is not the first time a Navy vessel has run aground. But some have been more…notorious than others.


Grounding a ship is not exactly career-enhancing in this day and age (never mind that the Antietam spilled 1,100 gallons of oil in one of Godzilla’s favorite hangout spots). In fact, it usually means the end of one’s advancement in the Navy.

Here are a few notorious groundings over the years to remind the soon-to-be-relieved personnel that it could be worse.

1. USS Guardian (MCM 5)

Foreign intelligence operatives are reportedly using online platforms and video-conferencing apps like Zoom to spy on Americans
The mine countermeasures ship USS Guardian (MCM 5) sits aground on the Tubbataha Reef. Operations to safely recover the ship while minimizing environmental effects are being conducted in close cooperation with allied Philippines Coast Guard and Navy. (U.S. Navy photo by Naval Aircrewman (Tactical Helicopter) 3rd Class Geoffrey Trudell)

The mine counter-measures ship USS Guardian (MCM 5) is the first U.S. Navy ship to be lost since USS Scorpion (SSN 589) in 1968. The vessel ran aground on Jan. 17, 2013 on a reef, and was very thoroughly stuck. So much so that a 2013 Navy release indicated she had to be dismantled on the spot. A sad end to a 23-year career.

2. The Honda Point Disaster

Foreign intelligence operatives are reportedly using online platforms and video-conferencing apps like Zoom to spy on Americans
Aerial view of the disaster area, showing all seven destroyers that ran aground on Honda Point during the night of 8 September 1923. Photographed from a plane assigned to USS Aroostook (CM-3). Ships are: USS Nicholas (DD-311), in the upper left; USS S.P. Lee (DD-310), astern of Nicholas; USS Delphy (DD-261), capsized in the left center; USS Young (DD-312), capsized in the center of the view; USS Chauncey (DD-296), upright ahead of Young; USS Woodbury (DD-309) on the rocks in the center; and USS Fuller (DD-297), in the lower center. The Southern Pacific Railway’s Honda Station is in the upper left. (U.S. Navy photo)

Imagine losing seven warships in a day during peacetime. Yes, that actually happened to the United States Navy. According to the Naval History and Heritage Command website, during the evening of Sept. 8, 1923, a navigational error lead seven destroyers to slam into rocks at Honda Point, California, at a speed of 20 knots. Twenty-three sailors were lost, as were seven Clemson-class destroyers that were about five years old.

3. USS Decatur (DD 5)

Foreign intelligence operatives are reportedly using online platforms and video-conferencing apps like Zoom to spy on Americans
USS Decatur (DD 5) while on sea trials. Then-Ensign Chester W. Nimitz ran her aground in 1908. (U.S. Navy photo)

This one is notable not for any loss of life but for the career it could have derailed. Accoridng to a 2004 article in Military Review, on July 7, 1908, the destroyer USS Decatur (DD 5) ran aground on a mudbank in the Philippines. It was pulled off the next day. The commanding officer was relieved of command, court-martialed, and found guilty of “neglect of duty.”

However, his career didn’t end. That was a good thing for America because that commanding officer was Chester W. Nimitz, who would command the Pacific Fleet in World War II.

4. USS Port Royal (CG 73)

Foreign intelligence operatives are reportedly using online platforms and video-conferencing apps like Zoom to spy on Americans
The Pearl Harbor-based guided-missile cruiser USS Port Royal (CG 73) ran aground Feb. 5, 2009, about a half-mile south of the Honolulu airport while off-loading personnel into a small boat. The salvage ship USNS Salvor (T-ARS 52), which included an embarked detachment of Mobile Diving Salvage Unit (MDSU) 1 personnel, the Motor Vessel Dove, and seven Navy and commercial tugboats freed Port Royal off a shoal on Feb. 9. (U.S. Navy photo)

Now some groundings are just embarrassing. This is one of them. The Ticonderoga-class cruiser USS Port Royal (CG 73) had been on sea trials after about $18 million in repairs. According to a Navy release in 2009, the ship ran aground about a half mile from one of the runways at Honolulu International Airport, providing arriving and departing tourists with an interesting view for a few days.

5. USS Hartford (SSN 768)

Foreign intelligence operatives are reportedly using online platforms and video-conferencing apps like Zoom to spy on Americans
Damage to the submarine USS Hartford’s rudder after its grounding. (US Navy photo)

On Oct. 25, 2003, the attack submarine USS Hartford (SSN 768) ran aground off the island of Sardinia. According to a 2004 Navy release, fixing the damage required assets from Louisiana to Bahrain. It took 213 dives to repair the vessel enough that she could return to Norfolk at half speed. Six years later, the Hartford would collide with the amphibious transport US New Orleans (LPD 18).

Do Not Sell My Personal Information