It has been said that all men are created equal. If you have spent any time in uniform, then you know that just simply isn’t true. Some of us are just better, faster, smarter, stronger individuals.
Such is the case with August O’Neil. Not only is he one of the world’s elite as an Air Force Pararescueman, he has multiple gold medals from multiple international events that he won after he lost a limb in Afghanistan.
His life is the stuff that movies are made about, literally. Here are the top five reasons you should know August O’Neil.
August O’Neil joined the Air Force in 2005 and graduated from his pipeline training in 2008. If you aren’t aware of the level of elite physical ability and mental capacity you need to become a PJ, here’s a quick rundown:
First, you have to pass what was once known as the Indoctrination Course. Indoc alone has a fail rate north of 80% and that is just the door to get through to more training. That ‘more training’ equates to literal years spent learning the job.
4. First amputee to return to USAF
After suffering such an injury, many of us would go to some dark places. O’Neil has made it his complete life’s mission to get back to his team.
As of late 2017, he was medically cleared and re-certified on many of his required tasks. O’Neil will likely be the first amputee ever to return to active duty in the Air Force.
Yes, that’s correct. With one functional leg and the other having been through 20 surgeries, he won five different medals.
For added sh*ts and giggles, O’Neil also won gold for Kayaking at the Valor Games in 2013.
2. Invictus Games
The Invictus games are right up there with the Paralympic Games and were created by Prince Harry. They are coming up on their third games this year and you can be certain that amazing things will happen there, too.
The games are aimed directly at the global injured veteran community, so it should be no surprise that O’Neil participates.
A feature film, That Others May Live, about O’Neil’s life from the moment he was injured to the present, has begun to gain some real traction. It is currently in pre-production with Paramount Pictures attached.
For decades, when moviegoers sit down to watch an action flick, they usually get exactly what they expect: masculine men punching and kicking the sh*t out of one another. Unfortunately, the woman featured in those films rarely get a chance to flex their fighting chops.
Thankfully, in a few cases, the writers and directors behind Hollywood blockbusters manage to bring in a strong cast of female characters to duke it out on the silver screen. These scenes are entertaining as hell to watch and, in our opinion, movie producers don’t give women enough opportunities to show just how strong and fierce they can be.
So, we decided to make a list of badass heroines who don’t hesitate to showcase their mettle.
When you think about the best duels featuring a strong female combatant, you probably didn’t expect to see Scary Movie 2 make the list, did you? Fans of comedy laughed uncontrollably when Cindy Campbell got embroiled in a no-holds-barred fistfight against a cat in the 2001 comedy.
This epic duel contains deadly weapons, tricky moves, and some hilarious sh*t-talking.
In 1990, Total Recall showed audiences why you should never push someone to their breaking point without expecting a fight. In this action-packed scene, two strong, female characters go head-to-head in a well-choreographed, sci-fi showdown.
Charlie’s Angels scrap Madison Lee in ‘Charlie’s Angels 2: Full Throttle’
In 2003’s Charlie’s Angels 2: Full Throttle, three beautiful private investigators do everything in their power to take down a rogue agent. This intense fight scene transitions between rooftop hand-to-hand combat and a crazy car chase without skipping a beat.
What happens when you put an MMA fighter up against a tough-talking street racer? You get one of the most badass, all-female battles of the Fast and the Furious franchise. These on-screen fighters make battling it out in tailored dresses look easy.
Black Mamba battles Copperhead ‘Kill Bill: Volume 1’
In this famous scene, our heroine goes up against an old adversary. The two meet and immediately draw steel. Black Mamba (as played by Uma Thurman) and Copperhead (Vivica A. Fox) put on an incredible showcase of acrobatic stunts and precise choreography.
When moviegoers show up to watch a Tarantino film, they expect to get some vivid imagery and a whole lot of F-bombs, but they didn’t expect a duel to the death through a suburban home.
If this list has you convinced that fighting a badass woman is tough, try fighting the queen of the xenomorphs. In 1986, director James Cameron brought this idea to the big screen as Ripley went toe-to-toe with a nasty, double-mouthed, overly-spitty alien in the climax of Aliens.
Thousands of flights around the world were canceled or rerouted when Pakistan closed its airspace amid flaring tensions between it and nuclear rival India.
Authorities in Pakistan closed the entire country’s air space after a confrontation between it and India over the contested Kashmir region, in which Pakistan says it shot down two Indian military planes.
The closure had a massive effect on the aviation industry, given Pakistan’s pivotal position between Asia and the Middle East.
Thousands of flights regional flights, as well as flight to Europe and Canada, were cancelled or rerouted to avoid Pakistani airspace.
Here are some of the airlines and routes affected by the closure across Feb. 27 and 28, 2019:
Air Canada warned of delays of flights to Bombay and New Delhi on Feb. 27 and 28, 2019, because of airspace closures “due to political activity.”
Qatar Airways said that flights to Peshawar, Faisalabad, Islamabad, Karachi, Lahore, Multan and Sialkot were delayed or suspended until further notice.
Singapore Airlines said on Feb. 27, 2019, that a number of flights to Europe would be rerouted so they could stop to refuel en route to their destination.
British Airways was forced to reroute an unspecified number of flights, Reuters reported.
As of Feb. 28, 2019, Pakistan’s Civil Aviation Authority’s website said that most flights scheduled to arrive in all of Pakistan’s airports are cancelled.
Flight tracking website Flightradar 24 shared an image of what it said was “the most extreme example yet of the circuitous routing required due to the closure of Pakistani airspace” on Feb. 28, 2019. The Uzbekistan Airways flight was from Uzbekistan to India.
Flightradar 24 also shared a map comparing airspace above Pakistan when the closure was made, versus a month before:
Pakistan’s Civil Aviation Authority told passengers to contact their airlines for updates on their flights to and from Pakistan.
Tension has increased between two rival nuclear powers
Pakistan’s military on Feb. 27, 2019, said it had shot down two Indian aircraft that crossed into Pakistan’s side of the disputed Kashmir region, while India said that it had shot down one Pakistan Air Force plane.
Pakistan has one Indian pilot in custody, identified as Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman.
General Vijay Kumar Singh, the Indian Minister of State for External Affairs, described the pilot as “embodiment of a mentally tough, selfless courageous soldier” and called for his safe return.
“During these testing times the country stands, as one, behind him his family. Our efforts are on under the #GenevaConvention we hope that the brave pilot would return home soon,” he said.
Pakistan released a video of the detained pilot, which India called a “vulgar display” and an “unprovoked act of aggression.”
Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan said at a press conference on Feb. 27, 2019, that the two countries “should sit down and talk.” He urged “better sense to prevail.”
Khan said that given the two nations’ nuclear arsenals, “My question is that given the weapons we have can we afford miscalculation.”
Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan addressed the nation on Wednesday and said India and Pakistan should sit down and talk.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Feb. 28, 2019, that “the entire country is one and is standing with our soldiers.”
He did not specifically mention Pakistan, but said “When our enemy tries to destabilize the country, when terrorists attack – one of their goals is that our progress should stop, our country should stop moving ahead,” CNN reported.
This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.
About 60,000 US soldiers will have their monthly Basic Allowance for Housing payments revoked if they don’t update their personnel files with documents proving they qualify for the benefit.
The mandate to update the documents, first reported Aug. 30 by the site US Army WTF Moments, will be released in an official message “soon,” Army officials said.
That message will direct soldiers to update their documentation in the interactive Personnel Electronic Records Management System, service officials told Military.com on Aug. 31.
“An ALARACT addressing the required documentation that should be loaded into iPERMS for BAH and the timeline for required actions is being drafted,” Army Lt. Col. Randy Taylor, an Army manpower and reserve affairs spokesman, said in an email to Military.com.
“Currently, we have around 60,000 soldiers who are missing documentation in iPERMS,” he added.
Whether a service member qualifies for BAH is based on paygrade and if he or she has dependents.
For those who qualify to live outside the barracks, the allowance amount is based on paygrade, dependents, and duty station zip code.
Dual military couples are both given a BAH payment at the “without dependents rate,” unless they have children. In that case, one of the members receives the “with dependents rate,” while the other does not.
Documents that show eligibility and should be in iPERMS can include birth, adoption, and marriage certificates.
Soldiers will be given 60 days from the release of the ALARACT message to upload their missing documentation, Taylor said.
After the 60 days, their with-dependents rate BAH payments will be reduced or, in the case of soldiers who do not otherwise qualify for BAH, eliminated.
They will be notified of the need to update by both email and by their unit, he said.
If soldiers still have not updated their documents within 90 days of the initial deadline, they will be referred to the Army Criminal Investigation Division (CID) under suspicion of BAH fraud, USAWTFM reported.
Taylor, whose initial response didn’t mention such a referral, said the iPERMS document requirement has been in place since 2013.
“Since 2013, there has been a Secretary of the Army directive mandating that key supporting documents are to be stored in the interactive Personnel Electronic Records Management System (iPERMS),” he said in the email.
“Loading KSD in iPERMS allows the Army to improve on its business processes and ensure all Soldiers are receiving the correct payments for their entitlements to include BAH,” he wrote.
The Pentagon is preparing for its first-ever full financial audit, which is to begin this fall. White House officials hope to have the audit completed by mid-2019.
Meanwhile, BAH payments and rates remain a point of contention on Capitol Hill as some lawmakers look to find cost savings by changing who can qualify for the higher with-dependents rates.
Lawmakers ultimately scrapped a 2016 proposal that would have severely limited the amount of housing allowance available to dual-military married couples and service members sharing off-base housing with other troops.
A proposal in the 2018 authorization bill, which is still under negotiation between the House and Senate, would focus reductions only on dual-military couples, bumping both members down to a “without dependent” housing rate regardless of whether the couple has children.
The European Union and China are teaming up to rewrite global trade rules, their latest move as part of the trade conflict President Donald Trump has launched as part of his “America First” agenda.
The two powers usually find themselves on opposite sides in economic disputes. The EU has long blamed China for flooding its markets with cheap steel and has imposed its own steep tariffs on Beijing.
But on this issue the two have been driven together by Trump’s increasingly aggressive push to levy tariffs both on rival powers — like China — and also on longtime allies like the EU.
The pushback took the form of Brussels and Beijing agreeing to form a group inside the World Trade Organization dedicated to rewriting the global rules on subsidies and tech policy in the light of Trump’s actions.
The two also agreed to uphold the global trading system under the WTO, which Trump has described as “unfair” and bad for the US.
Trump on June 26, 2018, threatened to escalate things further. “They must play fair or they will pay tariffs!” he tweeted.
Speaking in Beijing ahead of an annual EU-China summit, representatives warned against countries’ unilaterally taking dramatic action on trade policy, a barely disguised attack on Trump’s approach.
“Both sides agree to firmly oppose unilateralism and protectionism and prevent such practices from impacting the world economy or even dragging the world economy into recession,” Liu He, the vice premier of China’s State Council, said in a speech quoted by Japan’s Kyodo news agency.
Jyrki Katainen, the EU’s vice president on jobs and economic growth, added that actions like Trump’s unilateral tariff hikes against China showed that WTO rules on global trade had to change, the Associated Press reported.
“We have to reform WTO in order to make multilateralism better functioning in the future. This unites the EU and China and the moment,” he told CNBC.
“I’m not naive. I don’t expect fast delivery on all fronts, but first you have to decide whether you are in favor of unilateralism or multilateralism. If you are in favor of multilateralism, then you have to engage seriously, for instance in reforming the WTO.”
Scott Kennedy, a China economy expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, DC, said the new EU-China partnership was “a big deal” and risked leaving the US isolated.
“It is not in the interests of the United States to just be playing defense and creating a fortress America while the EU, China, and others play offense and attempt to set the rules of the game for the next century,” he told the AP.
The EU wants other governments to join the group, the AP reported Katainen as saying.
The EU has long blamed China for the global overcapacity of steel, and it has imposed steep tariffs on Chinese steel to protect Europe’s domestic metals industry. Katainen urged China to tackle overcapacity in its steel, aluminum, and other sectors including technology, the EU said in a statement.
Separately, France and China also upgraded their bilateral trade relations this week, with Beijing promising to buy more French farm produce and continue talks over the purchase of billions of dollars’ worth of Airbus jets, according to Reuters. President Emmanuel Macron declared China’s interest in buying $18 billion worth of Airbus A320 narrow-body jets but failed to clinch a deal during a state visit in January 2018.
France also expressed support for China’s Belt and Road Initiative, a massive Chinese project to link some 70 countries across Asia, Africa, Europe, and Oceania through land and maritime trade.
This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.
Michael Hayden, who previously served as CIA director and National Security Agency director, was hospitalized after suffering a stroke at his home late November 2018.
Hayden, 73, is “receiving expert medical care,” and his family has requested privacy, according to a Nov. 23, 2018 statement from the Michael V. Hayden Center for Intelligence, Policy, and International Security at George Mason University.
“The General and his family greatly appreciate the warm wishes and prayers of his friends, colleagues, and supporters,” the Hayden Center said.
Hayden achieved the rank of a four-star general in the US Air Force and went on to lead the NSA from 1999 to 2005 for Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush; he led the CIA from 2006 to 2009.
National security experts offered their messages of support.
“Michael Hayden is one of this country’s noblest patriots, dedicating his life to America’s national security,” former CIA director John Brennan said on Twitter. “A man of tremendous integrity, intellect, decency, he has been a role model for countless intelligence professionals over several decades. Speedy recovery, Mike.”
“On behalf of the men women of CIA, I want to wish Gen. Hayden a speedy recovery,” CIA director Gina Haspel said in a statement. “Mike’s long career of public service commitment to national security continue to be an inspiration to all intelligence officers. Our thoughts are with Mike, Jeanine, their family.”
Hayden, who regularly appears on CNN as a national security analyst, has become an outspoken critic of President Donald Trump’s administration. In August 2018, Trump was reportedly weighing the possibility of revoking Hayden’s security clearance in addition to other former White House and Justice Department senior officials who publicly criticized his policies.
This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.
TetraSki, a new technology was integrated into the 33rd National Disabled Veterans Winter Sports Clinic, held in Snowmass Colorado from March 31 to April 5, 2019. The technology was integrated in the clinic for the second year in a row to help promote independence in skiing and life. The Tetradapt Initiative began over 10 years ago when founder and visionary, Jeffrey Rosenbluth, MD, of Tetradapt Community dreamed of helping people living with paralysis.
As a result of this initiative, people who are completely paralyzed can now enjoy downhill skiing and sailing in a new way. The National Disabled Veterans Winter Sports Clinic has grown to assist nearly 400 profoundly disabled veterans. The Clinic has provided Tetradapt Community with a platform to showcase their technology, bringing hope to veterans with traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, orthopedic amputations, visual impairments, certain neurological conditions and other disabilities.
“We are honored to work with the VA. Many people are not involved in adaptive sports as they feel that they can’t get involved. The technology was not available in the past.” said Rosenthal.
“We want to help people with real complex physical disabilities enjoy normal activities.”
Tetra-ski: Advanced Technology at the National Disabled Veterans Winter Sports Clinic
Dr. Rosenthal is currently the Medical Director of the Spinal Cory Injury Acute Rehabilitation program at the University of Utah Health Sciences Center, Salt Lake City, Utah and at South Davis Community Hospital, Bountiful, Utah, where he oversees Sub-acute and long term acute Spinal Cord Injury programs. He became interested in rehabilitation medicine and technology at the very beginning of his career. After graduating from New York Medical College, Valhalla, New York and completing his residency at University California (UC) Davis, Davis, California with a focus on rehabilitation medicine, Dr. Rosenthal landed his first job at the University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah.
His dreams of impacting the lives of those living with paralysis were coming true. He joined the University of Utah’s adaptive sports rehabilitation program and began developing the university’s very own TetraSki equipment.
“I fell in love with rehabilitation technology and what adaptive ski was doing for people. I was given the opportunity to work with veterans after completing my residency at UC Davis. I wanted to continue my work with veterans. Rehabilitation technology amazed me,” said Dr. Rosenthal. “That was the beginning.”
Hitting the slopes
A unique technology and the only one like it in the world, the TetraSki provides independent turning and speed variability through the use of a joystick and/or breath control, using a sip-and-puff technique. The sip-and-puff switch does not require hand availability and activates by simply sipping and puffing breaths of air in and out, causing the chair to be directed in whichever direction it is instructed. The TetraSki is ideal for individuals with the most complex physical abilities.
Vietnam War Veteran Robert Johnson from Hines, Illinois, on TetraSki at Winter Sports Clinic 2019.
For the first time in adaptive sports, skiers can use the joystick and sip-and-puff functionality simultaneously. The feature allows users to enjoy downhill skiing in their own ski chair. A tether-to the instructor is used as an emergency brake but is not used for turning directions.
U.S Army and Vietnam Veteran Robert Johnson of Hines, Illinois experienced the TetraSki first hand at the Winter Sports Clinic, last year in 2018. Mr. Morris is a patient at the David Hines Jr. Veteran Affairs (VA) Hospital, Hines, Illinois and became involved with the hospital’s adaptive sports program 5 years ago. He is an appropriate candidate for Tetra-Ski and considered to be “more involved,” meaning, having more extreme impairment. When asked what he enjoyed most about Tetra-Ski he said,
“The TetraSki is amazing. I like to lean in and out when I ski. Individuals who don’t have as much coordination ability as I do would really love it! The sip-and-puff is very useful for those who are high level quadriplegics. The technology is perfect.”
After three years of development by the University of Utah Rehabilitation Research and Development team, three TetraSkis will be provided to nine national adaptive ski program partners for shared use during the 2018/2019 ski season, and VA is among the lucky group. Tetradapt Community works in coordination with the University of Utah’s best engineering, research, business and medical experts to design manufacture to deliver the state-of-the-art TetraSki equipment.
Money is not the goal
Tetradapt Community is nonprofit and does not plan to sell the TetraSki in the market place. The goal is to expose the technology to the public for fundraising purposes. The technology is leased to VA Adaptive Sports programs and other adaptive sports programs. The company has received funding from VA Adaptive Sports and other private organizations, receiving roughly between ,000.00- 120,000.00 dollars each year in funding.
“We had a good idea and wanted to see it carried out in the market, not for profit but for people to see its commercial potential,” said Dr. Rosenthal.
The National Disabled Sports Clinics empower those with perceived limitations by participating in adaptive sports that improve their overall health and outlook. The clinic is made possible through a longstanding partnership between the Department of Veterans Affairs. Tetradapt Community hopes to continue to its involvement with the winter sports clinics and the VA is excited to create more awareness of the Tetradapt initiative, giving hope back to individuals with physical impairments. The therapy and joy that this technology provides to veterans is immeasurable. When asked what impact he feels the TetraSki will have on our veterans and the future Dr. Rosenthal commented,
“The technology requires a huge cultural and mind shift. “It’s a shockingly independent experience,”
This article originally appeared on VAntage Point. Follow @DeptVetAffairs on Twitter.
For years, there was one benefit the Air Force had over all branches of the military, the one thing you could only get by crossing into the blue: an associate’s degree from the Community College of the Air Force, a two-year, accredited degree program that integrates all your military training with the addition of just a few general courses. You couldn’t get it with the Army or Navy.
Now, members of any branch can start a similar program to earn a degree from Syracuse University – for free.
In an age of skyrocketing tuition that has Presidential candidates debating if colleges and universities have gone too far, Syracuse University is opening its doors to more and more people, especially America’s active duty troops, reservists, National Guard members, and veterans.
With part-time learners like U.S. military members in mind, the school has created a way for the entire armed forces to go Orange. Syracuse University has aligned the part-time tuition rates it charges active duty members enrolled in online classes to match the Department of Defense Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) reimbursement. This means no matter where they’re stationed, if they want a degree from a top-tier four-year university, they can have it without ever touching GI Bill benefits.
The move is part of Syracuse University’s and Chancellor Kent Syverud’s dedication to the U.S. military, its veterans, and their families. Since Syverud took his post in 2014, his administration has taken enormous steps to further serve veteran students and their families. The number of military-connected students at the university has skyrocketed more than 500 percent in five years. The school even employs veteran admissions advisors who help military members transition from the service to student life, assisting with GI Bill and other Veterans Affairs processes. Syracuse even has a number of special programs dedicated to veteran student successes – including veteran-only offices, study areas, advisors, immersion programs, and even legal clinics.
Syracuse has a long history of supporting American veterans. While the school recently established the interdisciplinary Institute for Veterans and Military Families, an on-campus non-profit that works to advance veterans’ post-military lives nationwide (not just at Syracuse), the school’s commitment to vets dates back to the end of World War II, when the school guaranteed admission for all veterans. Its university college for part-time students was initially created for veterans who couldn’t study full-time. Since then, the school has specially trained thousands of the Pentagon’s officers, photojournalists, and other disciplines in the military. Syracuse even allowed Marines deployed to the 1991 Gulf War to continue their studies independently.
Their work continues, with partnerships to train entrepreneurial military spouses backed by Google, conducting studies to tackle veteran unemployment and homelessness, and even testifying before the Senate Veteran Affairs Committee, no one is more dedicated to the post-military success of American veterans. If you’re looking for a powerful, positive community of veterans to join when leaving the military, look no further.
For the first time, U.S. and Libyan officials have confirmed that U.S. Special Operations were on the ground fighting Islamic State militants in Libya.
Due to the fact that the mission was not yet made public, sources that spoke on condition of anonymity told The Washington Post that the roles of these operators were limited in scope to merely assisting Libyan forces by exchanging intelligence information to coordinate American airstrikes.
Stationed with British forces at a joint operations center near the coastal city of Sirte — ISIS’ stronghold in North Africa — these elite servicemembers were also reported to have constructed small outposts in the area to establish friendly relations with the locals.
This decision from the Pentagon comes on the heels of the commencement of airstrikes on ISIS’ position in Sirte. The Washington Postreports that since these airstrikes received approval last week, almost 30 militants have been killed in addition to the destruction of numerous ISIS-owned fighting positions and vehicles.
In a quote from the article, European Council on Foreign Relations expert Mattia Toaldo explained that the U.S.’s role in Sirte was different than elsewhere in Libya because the numerous political factions wouldn’t mind an intervention against ISIS’ spread.
“As long as they keep this low profile … the risks both for the US and for the Libyan government are quite low,” he stated.
Since their arrival in Libya in 2014, ISIS militants in Africa have imitated their Middle Eastern counterparts through their brutal over-the-top methods of garnering attention. To combat their spread, other NATO nations, such as France, have also been reported to have deployed special forces operators into the region earlier this year.
Western nations have started deploying special operators against ISIS in greater numbers recently. Newly published photographs show British special operators close to the ISIS front lines in Syria, and US special operators have been active working alongside the Kurds in northern Syria.
If there’s anything people know about troops and veterans, it’s that they’re disciplined and more often than not, they plan things very well. It should come as a surprise to no one that the gangster who perfected the bank heist was a soldier who did his due diligence.
It might also surprise no one that the same soldier decided to end it all in a blaze of glory while surrounded by people trying to shoot him.
You can thank former Prussian soldier Herman Lamm for all the great bank robbery movies, gangster shows, and heist flicks you’ve ever seen in your life. The legend of Robin Hood-like, gun-toting gangster robbing banks and speeding away from the cops in a hail of bullets? That’s Lamm too. Machine Gun Kelly, John Dillinger, and Bonnie and Clyde owe their successes to Lamm. Known as the “father of modern bank robbery” Hamm pioneered the idea of conducting the heist in the same style as a military operation.
Lamm was born in the German Empire and later joined the Prussian Army before emigrating to the United States, where he began to rob and steal. Instead of being your average stick-up thief, he adapted the tactics and psychology he was taught by the Prussian Army to his crimes. The effect became legendary.
John Dillinger has Lamm to thank for his bank robbery style.
In what would later be dubbed “the Lamm Technique,” he would watch a bank, its guards, and its employees. People in his gang would map the layouts of the banks in various ways, posing as reporters or other outsider professions. He even meticulously planned his getaways, which cars to use, and cased out what routes to take at which times in the day. For the first time, it seemed, each member of the gang was assigned a specific role in the heist, hiring a race car driver to drive the getaway car.
Most importantly, he drilled his men on the action. He practiced and timed every action with every member of the gang to ensure the most German-level efficiency of the heist.
The movie “Heat” and other heist movies have Lamm to thank for their success.
Lamm was not as flashy as the gangsters of the era who decided to make a show of their heists, so history doesn’t remember him as fondly as his contemporaries. He died in his final bank heist, surrounded by armed cops, all trying to get a piece of history’s most efficient thief. But Lamm didn’t give them the satisfaction, ending his own life instead of getting gunned down by Indiana cops.
Virginia Hall was one of the most successful espionage operatives of World War II, earning not only the contempt of the Gestapo, but also the Distinguished Service Cross — the only civilian woman to be so honored. As a spy, she organized agent networks, recruited the local population of occupied France to run safe houses, and aided in the escape of Allied prisoners of war.
Oh, and she did it all with a wooden leg named ‘Cuthbert.’
Hall’s story is coming to the big screen in the feature film A Call To Spy, written and produced by Sarah Megan Thomas, who also plays “the limping lady” herself alongside Stana Katic (Castle, Absentia) as Vera Atkins and Radhika Apte (Andhadhun) as Noor Inayat Khan.
A Call To Spy features the unsung spies of Winston Churchill’s Secret Army — including their personal sacrifices, particular challenges and dangers, and social barriers that still resonate today.
Watch the trailer right here:
Virginia Hall was recruited by British spymaster Vera Atkins to report on German troop movements and recruit members for the resistance in France. Posturing as an American news reporter, she encoded messages into news broadcasts and passed encrypted missives to her contacts.
She signed up with the U.S. Office of Strategic Service and in 1944 she organized missions to sabotage the Germans. She is credited with more jailbreaks, sabotage missions, and leaks of troop movements than any other spy in France.
In a conversation with Thomas, I asked why she was drawn to tell this particular story. “I loved James Bond. I loved Dunkirk and 1917. But by and large, if a woman is in a military film, the story involves a romance — and I know they have more significant roles than that,” she told me. “I studied World War II spies extensively and finally uncovered the women in Churchill’s Secret Army. For my film, I decided to concentrate on women who were part of the mission before it became a success.”
In studying women’s roles in particular during World War II, Thomas was surprised to discover just how many untold stories there actually are.
“In 1941, we were losing the war. Americans hadn’t yet joined the Allies. Women were recruited as an experiment. They were sent in because they were inconspicuous, they were unexpected. And it turned out they were very good spies,” Thomas observed.
“I was also surprised at how different the women were. Their only commonality was that they spoke French — but they came from all walks of life,” she explained. As women are featured more and more in stories previously centered on men, audiences are seeing the spectrum of personalities and strengths they have to offer.
A Call To Spy won the Audience Choice Award at Whistler Film Festival and the ADL Stand Up Award at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival. Thomas’ previous Sony Pictures Classic film Equity, a film about women on Wall Street, premiered at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival. Thomas created the concept, co-wrote the story, produced, and starred in the film alongside Anna Gunn.
“It’s important to tell all stories. It’s important to tell original stories. There are so many interesting stories yet to be told, and with the female lens we’re starting to see change happening. It’s exciting for diverse voices everywhere,” she told me.
A Call To Spy shares the 2020 challenge of being released during the COVID-19 pandemic. For an independent filmmaker, it came with a whole new host of challenges to solve. “We don’t have a $50 million press budget — we need word of mouth,” she explained. The film screened successfully and won awards at festivals before the pandemic, but afterwards Thomas and her team had to pivot.
She’s been following her own advice for emerging filmmakers: “Just do the work. It’s a difficult profession no matter what level you’re at — don’t let that be daunting. The right people will say yes at the right time.” Thomas is currently working on a mini-series that is a spin-off of the film.
“Audiences can expect a thrilling and entertaining spy film, but I also hope after they watch that there’s something to discuss on a personal level. How many people would put their lives on the line with such difficult odds? Right now we’re at a global crossroads — what sacrifices are we willing to make for each other?” she pondered.
The U.S. Army’s new strategy to improve marksmanship will eliminate a shortcut that units use for individual weapon qualification — a long-standing practice that has eroded lethality over the years, infantry officials said.
Army officials at the Infantry School at Fort Benning, Georgia are awaiting final approval of the new marksmanship manual that will prepare the Army for a new, and much more challenging, qualification test.
The new course of fire — which forces soldiers to make faster decisions while firing from new positions — will drastically update the current, Cold War-era rifle qualification course. That course required soldiers to engage a series of pop-up targets at ranges out to 300 meters.
The stricter qualification standards will also do away with the practice of using the Alternate Course of Fire, or Alt. C, to satisfy the annual qualification requirement, Sgt. 1st Class John Rowland, marksmanship program director at Benning’s Infantry School, told Military.com.
Alt. C is an Army-approved 25-meter course in which soldiers shoot at targets scaled down in size to represent actual target sizes out to 300 meters. At that short range, however, the trajectory of the 5.56mm bullet is extremely flat and unaffected by wind, making it easier to score hits, experts say.
Pvt. Bobby Daniels of D Company, 1st Battalion, 50th Infantry Regiment, makes an adjustment to his M-4 rifle during combat familiarization training at Fort Benning.
“It is an approved qualification that largely has been abused, based off of lack of training management and proper planning. And it has come at the cost of lethality,” Rowland said. “That is going to be very impactful for units because they are very used to not being very proactive and not being able to fall back on, ‘well we’ll just do Alt. C.’ And that is no longer going to be the case.”
Army training officials at Benning have been spent the last two years validating the training strategy and course of fire for a new marksmanship qualification standard that is designed to better prepare soldiers for the current operational environment, according to Melody Venable, training and doctrine officer for the Infantry School.
“We have visited various units across the Army, and we have tested and validated parts of it as needed,” Venable said.
Soldiers who have shot the new course “are doing very well at it,” Venable said.
“They appreciate the training that the training strategy provides, and they enjoy the course of fire because it’s more realistic,” she said.
The new qualification course is designed to use the current marksmanship ranges across the Army.
“It’s still 40 targets; it’s still 40 bullets,” Rowland said. “It’s the same targets that people have been shooting at for years.”
But the new course adds the standing position to engage targets on two occasions during the course in addition to the kneeling and prone positions. The course requires soldiers to change magazines on their own and seek cover on their own while they engage multiple targets at the same time, Rowland said. The current course consists mainly of one-at-a-time target exposures.
Sgt. Nicholas Irving, of 3rd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, takes aim during the “Defensive Shoot” event at Wagner Range on Fort Benning.
The next milestone in the effort will come when Brig. Gen. David Hodne, commandant of the Infantry School at Benning’s Maneuver Center of Excellence, signs the new manual that will guide the marksmanship effort so it can be published and sent out to the active force, National Guard and Reserve, Venable said.
Once that happens, leaders throughout the Army will have time to provide feedback on any challenges they might face in putting the new qualification strategy into action.
“Units have 12 months from the time of publication to provide the Infantry School and the MCOE with feedback on their issues with implementation of the training strategy or the course of fire,” Venable said, adding the many of the ranges across the Army are likely to require some updating.
“At this time, we are not there with a hardcore implementation date. … We don’t know all the second- and third-order effects that the changes are going to produce.”
But one of the clearest differences of the new qualification standards is that Alt. C is no longer a valid qualification, Rowland.
“That is going to be a huge change for the Army,” he said.
Army units can still use Alt. C to extend their annual qualification rating by six months if a deployment or high operational tempo prevents them from going to a range and qualifying with the new course of fire, Venable said.
“In areas where they don’t have range access — let’s just say they are downrange and they are 250 miles to a primary range — units can use Alt. C because they can’t get a range. However, they have to have a general officer approve the use of Alt. C,” Venable said. “They still have to come back and shoot the [new] course of fire to qualify.”
Using Alt. C extends a soldier’s current rating of marksman, sharpshooter or expert, but it cannot change it, Rowland said.
“If you are marksman and you conduct a validation event [with Alt. C] and you get a perfect score — you are still a marksman; you are not expert,” Rowland said.
This article originally appeared on Military.com. Follow @militarydotcom on Twitter.
James Lipton, best known for his role in creating and producing Inside the Actors Studio died earlier today from bladder cancer at his home in Manhattan. His wife, Kedaki Turner, told TMZ, “There are so many James Lipton stories but I’m sure he would like to be remembered as someone who loved what he did and had tremendous respect for all the people he worked with.”
While Lipton was known for his conversational style with countless actors during the show’s run from 1994 through his retirement as host in 2018, less is known about his early life. Lipton was born in Detroit on Sept. 19, 1926 to Betty and Louis Lipton. His mother was a teacher and librarian and his father was a columnist and did graphic design for The Jewish Daily Forward. Following high school, Lipton enlisted in the Air Force during World War II.
In an interview with AOPA Pilot, Lipton said, “I always wanted to fly.” Unable to afford lessons he joined the military and qualified as an aviation candidate. When peace broke out—like any performer Lipton doesn’t want to reveal his age, but we’re guessing it was sometime after World War II—pilots were suddenly required to sign on for four years. “I didn’t want to spend the next four years doing that,” he said, so he mustered out and moved to New York to study law. Being in law school he couldn’t afford not to work, so to pay for law school he worked as an actor.
While his career may have had a slow start in the acting business, Lipton went from unknown to iconic with the launch of his project Inside the Actors Studio.
“James Lipton was a titan of the film and entertainment industry and had a profound influence on so many,” Frances Berwick, president of NBCU Lifestyle Networks and home to Bravo, said in a statement on Monday. “I had the pleasure of working with Jim for 20 years on Bravo’s first original series, his pride and joy Inside the Actors Studio. We all enjoyed and respected his fierce passion, contributions to the craft, comprehensive research and his ability to bring the most intimate interviews ever conducted with A-list actors across generations. Bravo and NBCUniversal send our deepest condolences to Jim’s wife, Kedakai, and all of his family.”
Inside the Actors studio was incredibly popular, with such A-list guests as Ben Affleck, Meryl Streep, Brad Pitt, George Clooney, James Cameron; after 22 seasons the list goes on and on. Lipton was always prepared for his interviews and humbled by the show’s continued success.
According to The Daily Mail, one of Lipton’s favorite moments in the show’s history was when a former student returned as a guest.
‘What I’ve waited for is that one of my graduated students has achieved so much that he walks out and sits down on that chair next to me,’ Lipton said.
‘It happened when Bradley Cooper walked out on that stage. We looked at each other and burst into tears. It was one of the greatest nights of my life.’
As Lipton toldTHR‘s Scott Feinberg in June 2016: “If you had put a gun to my head and said, ‘I will pull the trigger unless you predict that in 23 years, Inside the Actors Studio will be viewed in 94 million homes in America on Bravo and in 125 countries around the world, that it will have received 16 Emmy nominations, making it the fifth-most-nominated series in the history of television, that it will have received an Emmy Award for outstanding informational series and that you will have received the Critics’ Choice Award for best reality series host — predict it or die,’ I would have said, ‘Pull the trigger.'”