Afghanistan is producing record numbers of opium - We Are The Mighty
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Afghanistan is producing record numbers of opium

Afghanistan set new records for opium production in 2016 despite an $8.5 billion USD counternarcotics campaign investment by U.S agencies, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction’s (SIGAR) stated in its latest quarterly report to Congress.


The report said that opium production increased 43 percent in 2016, while poppy eradication hit a 10-year low and was “nearly imperceptible.”

It said that the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC) conduct an annual survey with financial contributions from the United States and other donors.

UNODC estimated that the potential gross value of opiates was $1.56 billion USD — or the equivalent of about 7.4 percent of Afghanistan’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) — in 2015.

Afghanistan is producing record numbers of opium
Afghan contractors unload bags of fertilizer at the Nawa district government building compound in the Helmand province of Afghanistan Oct. 13, 2009. The Afghan government is distributing the fertilizer to residents to support alternatives to poppy. (DoD photo by Lance Cpl. Jeremy Harris, U.S. Marine Corps)

“The latest 2016 UNODC country survey estimates opium cultivation increased 10 percent, to 201,000 hectares, from the previous year,” the report said adding that “the southern region, which includes Helmand, Kandahar, Uruzgan, Zabul, and Daykundi provinces, accounted for 59 percent of total cultivation. Helmand remained the country’s largest poppy-cultivating province, followed by Badghis and Kandahar.”

“Deteriorating security conditions, a lack of political will, and the Afghan Ministry of Counter Narcotics’ ineffective management all contributed to the paltry eradication results in 2016,” the report said.

Poppy “cultivation remained near historically high levels compared with the past several decades.”

Meanwhile, Afghanistan’s “narcotics industry — coupled with rampant corruption and fraud — is a major source of illicit revenue,” the report said.

The “opium trade provides about 60 percent of the Taliban’s funding.”

“Since the collapse of the Taliban government, the opium trade has grown significantly and enabled the funding of insurgency operations. Taliban commanders collect extortion fees for running heroin refineries, growing poppy, and other smuggling schemes,” according to the report.

“Powerful drug networks, mainly run by close-knit families and tribes, bankroll the insurgency and launder money. There have been media reports and allegations of corrupt government officials participating in the drug trade,” it said.

Afghanistan is producing record numbers of opium

The Taliban is an Islamic extremist group that ruled Afghanistan until the U.S military intervention following the Sept. 11, 2001, al Qaeda attack in New York and Washington, D.C. that killed more than 3,000 people. The Taliban allowed al Qaeda to use Afghanistan as its training base for attacks against the U.S. and other western nations.

“Traffickers provide weapons, funding, and material support to the insurgency in exchange for protection, while insurgent leaders traffic drugs to finance their operations,” the report said.

Afghanistan “remains the world’s largest opium producer and exporter — producing an estimated 80 percent of the world’s heroin.”

John Sopko, head of SIGAR, recommended that President Donald Trump establish “a U.S counternarcotics strategy, now years overdue, to reduce the illicit commerce that provides the Taliban with the bulk of their revenue.”

MIGHTY MILSPOUSE

French officer is accused of giving NATO documents to Russian intelligence

Russian intelligence agents appear to have corrupted another Western military officer. The latest incident came at a North Atlantic Treaty Organization base in Italy where French officials accused one of France’s senior military officials there of passing sensitive documents to the Russians.

A French lieutenant colonel was arrested during a vacation in his native country.


“What I can confirm is that a senior officer is facing legal proceedings for a security breach,” French Defense Minister Florence Parly told European news agencies. The minister also said that French military forces have taken the necessary precautions in the wake of the information leak.

The alliance has been on high alert since Russian troops intervened in Ukraine in 2014, reports Deutsche Welle.

Tensions between east and west have flared since 2014 when Russia annexed the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine. Ukraine had been part of the Soviet Union until its fall in 1991 and had been trying to join NATO and the European Union (a process that is ongoing). Russia, not wanting to lose its influence in Ukraine, annexed the Russian-speaking Crimea and supported an insurgency in the Russian speaking eastern part of Ukraine.

Since then, NATO and the EU have slapped Russia with sanctions. Until the Russian intervention in Syria, Ukraine was the main focal point for NATO-Russian tensions.

NATO was formed in 1949, following the end of the Second World War as a check on the growing power and influence of the Soviet Union in Europe and elsewhere around the world. It was a means for the Western powers – the United States, Canada and much of Western Europe – to ensure the freedoms of their democratic societies.

A few years later, in 1955, the Soviet Union and other Eastern European countries formed their own alliance, under the Warsaw Pact. For the duration of the Cold War, the two alliances fought each other in clandestine and diplomatic struggles. Outside of Europe, each side undermined the other in conflicts around the world.

In the years following the fall of the USSR, membership in the western treaty organization grew from its original 11 members to include more countries, many of which were once dominated by the Soviet Union and were members of the Warsaw Pact, including Albania, Romania and Poland.

It isn’t apparent what information was leaked by the French officer to Russian officials, but other Russian-NATO hotspots include encounters between allied naval forces and the Russians in the Black Sea, the alleged bounties paid to Taliban fighters for killing Americans in Afghanistan, and the ongoing series of “dangerous aircraft intercepts” along Russian and American airspace.

Articles

Commandant: Dropping ratings would create ‘chaos’ in Coast Guard

With the Navy‘s decision to phase out ratings in favor of an alphanumeric job code system to create more career flexibility, the Coast Guard is the only service to continue using traditional ratings.


Don’t expect that to change anytime soon, Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Paul Zukunft said.

Also read: These are the Coast Guard’s special operations forces

Speaking to reporters following an address at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, Zukunft said the Navy’s change had prompted a brief internal evaluation for the Coast Guard — and one with a definite conclusion.

“With the Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard [Steven Cantrell], we said, ‘What would the workforce think about this,’ and it would cause chaos,” Zukunft said. “I cannot afford chaos when every person in the Coast Guard has a 24-by-7 job to do.”

Afghanistan is producing record numbers of opium
The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter George Cobb stand ready for a uniform inspection prior to the cutter’s change of command ceremony held at Coast Guard Base Los Angeles-Long Beach on June 16, 2016. | U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Andrea Anderson

The Coast Guard, the smallest of the branches, has an active-duty force of about 40,000, compared to the Navy’s nearly 324,000. It also has a smaller ratings system, with fewer than two dozen separate ratings compared with 89 for the Navy.

The Navy and Coast Guard use the same naval rank system, which is different from that used by the Army, Air Force and Marine Corps.

Coast Guardsmen are “very proud of the rating badge that they wear on their sleeve,” Zukunft said, “so I’ve listened to my master chief and he’s provided me the best advice. So that was a very easy question for me to say ‘no’ to.”

The Navy has also had to contend with pushback from sailors and Navy veterans who have strong attachments to the 241-year-old ratings system, with culture and community built around certain titles.

Afghanistan is producing record numbers of opium
Adm. Paul F. Zukunft | U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Patrick Kelley

A WhiteHouse.gov petition to reverse the decision reached 100,000 signatures within a month, prompting a member of the White House staff to issue a response backing the overhaul and promoting the Navy’s goals of creating additional opportunities and career paths for sailors and a more straightforward transition to jobs matching their skills as they enter the civilian sector.

The chief of naval personnel, Vice Adm. Robert Burke, has engaged in a number of efforts to sell the concept to sailors, writing opinion pieces and essays addressing the fleet and traveling to the Middle East to participate in town hall meetings with some 9,000 sailors at the end of October and beginning of November.

Navy officials say the full transition to the new system will take time and be done in stages. Key decisions have yet to be detailed, including the future of Navy ratings badges.

Burke published a timeline in October indicating plans to update uniform insignia in keeping with the new job title system, but it remains possible that the badges will be redesigned rather than eliminated.

“Did we choose an easy path forward? Absolutely not,” Burke wrote in an op-ed published by Military.com on Nov. 20. “But I believe this change needs to occur, and now is the right time to do so.”

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Special Forces medic will receive Medal of Honor

A former medic with the 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne) that heroically fought his way up a mountain to render aid to his Special Forces teammates and their Afghan commando counterparts will receive the Medal of Honor.

The White House announced Sept. 21, 2018, that former Staff Sgt. Ronald J. Shurer II went above and beyond the call of duty April 6, 2008, while assigned to Special Operations Task Force – 33 in Afghanistan during Operation Enduring Freedom. He will receive the highest military award for valor at a White House ceremony, Oct. 1, 2018.


In April 2008, Shurer was assigned to support Special Forces operators working to take out high-value targets of the Hezeb Islami al Gulbadin in Shok Valley.

As the team navigated through the valley, a firefight quickly erupted, and a series of insurgent sniper fire, rocket-propelled grenades, and small arms and machine gun fire forced the unit into a defensive fighting position.

Afghanistan is producing record numbers of opium

Staff Sgt. Ronald Shurer II graphic.

Around that time, Shurer received word that their forward assault element was also pinned down at another location, and the forward team had sustained multiple casualties.

With disregard for his safety, Shurer moved quickly through a hail of bullets toward the base of the mountain to reach the pinned-down forward element. While on the move, Shurer stopped to treat a wounded teammate’s neck injury caused by shrapnel from a recent RPG blast.

Afghanistan is producing record numbers of opium

Staff Sgt. Ronald J. Shurer II.

After providing aid, Shurer spent the next hour fighting across several hundred meters and killing multiple insurgents. Eventually, Shurer arrived to support the pinned down element and immediately rendered aid to four critically wounded U.S. units and 10 injured commandos until teammates arrived.

Soon after their arrival, Shurer and his team sergeant were shot at the same time. The medic ran 15 meters through a barrage of gunfire to help his sergeant. Despite a bullet hitting his helmet and a gunshot wound to his arm, Shurer pulled his teammate to cover and rendered care.

Afghanistan is producing record numbers of opium

Medal of Honor.

(US Army photo.)

Moments later, Shurer moved back through heavy gunfire to help sustain another teammate that suffered a traumatic amputation to his right leg.

For the next several hours, Shurer helped keep the large insurgent force at bay while simultaneously providing care to his wounded teammates. Shurer’s actions helped save the lives of all wounded casualties under his care.

Shurer also helped evacuate three critically wounded, non-ambulatory, teammates down a near-vertical 60-foot cliff, all while avoiding rounds of enemy gunfire and falling debris caused by numerous air strikes.

Further, Shurer found a run of nylon webbing and used it to lower casualties while he physically shielded them from falling debris.

Shurer’s Medal of Honor was upgraded from a Silver Star upon review.

This article originally appeared on the United States Army. Follow @USArmy on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Oldest World War II veteran buried at historic cemetery

Richard Overton, a 112-year-old World War II veteran who lived to be the oldest American man, was laid to rest Jan. 12, 2019, at a historic cemetery in his hometown of Austin following days of tributes.

The grandson of slaves, Overton volunteered to join the Army in his 30s and served in the 1887th Engineer Aviation Battalion, an all-African American unit. He deployed to the Pacific Theater from 1942-45 with stops in Guam, Palau, and Iwo Jima.


Overton left the Army in 1945 at the rank of corporal. He went on to work in furniture sales and later in the state treasurer’s office when future Texas Gov. Ann Richards headed the agency, according to a Stars and Stripes article.

He will be buried at the Texas State Cemetery, the final resting place for many notable Texans, including Richards.

Afghanistan is producing record numbers of opium

Richard Overton, a World War II veteran who lived to be the oldest American man, presents the game ball before the U.S. Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio, Texas, Jan. 9, 2016.

(Photo by Sgt. Bethany L. Huff)

Before his death on Dec. 27, 2018, Overton was believed to be the second oldest living man in the world at 112 years and 280 days old, according to data by the Gerontology Research Group.

On Jan. 9, 2019, both U.S. senators from Texas introduced a Senate resolution to honor Overton.

In it, the resolution called Overton “an American hero that exemplified strength, sacrifice, and service to the United States of America.”

In recent years, the supercentenarian was honored at several ceremonies and sporting events.

He visited the White House multiple times and, in 2013, then-President Barack Obama spoke of him during a Veterans Day ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery.

“When [WWII] ended, Richard headed home to Texas, to a nation bitterly divided by race,” Obama said in his speech. “And his service on the battlefield was not always matched by the respect that he deserved at home. But this veteran held his head high.”

Afghanistan is producing record numbers of opium

Richard Overton, a World War II veteran who lived to be the oldest American man, meets with President Barack Obama before a Veterans Day ceremony Nov. 11, 2013.

(White House photo by Lawrence Jackson)

Earlier that year, Obama said the veteran visited Washington, D.C., for the first time as part of an honor flight. During the trip, he paid his respects at the WWII Memorial. He also saw the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial.

“As Richard sat in a wheelchair beneath that great marble statue, he wept,” Obama said. “The crowd that gathered around him wept, too — to see one of the oldest living veterans of World War II bear witness to a day, to the progress of a nation he thought might never come.”

On Jan. 3, 2015, Overton represented the Greatest Generation at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio, Texas, where he presented the game ball before the annual high school football all-star game.

Then on March 23, 2017, the San Antonio Spurs brought a 110-year-old Overton down to the basketball court during one of its NBA games and gave him a personalized jersey with “110” on it.

In 2017, the City of Austin also officially renamed the street where Overton lived to “Richard Overton Avenue.”

While in his 100s, Overton was still known to drive his own car and mow his lawn. In a 2013 interview with CNN, he credited God for living such a long life that included a few vices.

“I drink whiskey in my coffee. Sometimes I drink it straight,” he said at the age of 107. “I smoke my cigars; blow the smoke out. I don’t swallow it.”

This article originally appeared on the United States Army. Follow @USArmy on Twitter.

Articles

Oliver Stone thinks Edward Snowden is a hero

Afghanistan is producing record numbers of opium
Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays Edward Snowdon in Oliver Stone’s new movie coming out in September. (Photo: Open Road Films)


In the first full trailer for Snowden, Oliver Stone’s biopic of the NSA contractor who leaked classified documents to the media in 2013, the director makes clear that he thinks Edward Snowden is an American hero.

 

The movie version of Snowden (played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is a good soldier who trains on broken legs without complaint for two weeks, aspired to serve in special forces and wants to join the CIA to serve his country. He is shocked by what he sees at the NSA and wants the rest of America to make an informed decision in the privacy versus security debate.

All of this matches up perfectly with Vietnam veteran Stone’s long-time movie obsessions with shadowy government figures and national security. After getting delayed twice, the movie finally opens in theaters on September 16.

Articles

This is why the first combat submarine was a death trap

For decades, submarines have been patrolling and protecting America’s ships with honor as they operate deep down below the sea’s surface. Functioning as the “Silent Service,” these vessels have come a long way with their vast array of technological advances and undersea stealth.


But the concept goes back as far as the Revolutionary War, though how it got to the level of today’s technology is a wonder given the dangers of plying the ocean’s depths.

The “Drebbel,” the “Turtle,” and the “Nautilus” were all early versions of submarine technology that never quite got underway. But it wouldn’t be until Confederate Naval Secretary Stephen Mallory authorized the construction of the CSS H.L. Hunley to break the blockade of their southern ports that sub-surface warfare really came into its own.

Related: This is how German submarines changed the world during World War I

After completion, the Hunley measured 40-feet long, 4-feet high, and 42-inches wide tightly housing a crew of eight men who had to power the vessel by hand cranking the propeller and steer through the ocean’s dark waters.

Afghanistan is producing record numbers of opium
This photo showcases the eight men it took to operate and propel the CSS Hunley through the water. (Source: Wikipedia Commons)

During its first testing phase in the fall of 1863, the CSS Hunley failed and sunk killing five crew members. The sub was recovered, but sank again and killed all eight crew, including co-inventor Horace Hunley, later that same year.

Although considered a dud, the Hunley’s commanders still believed in its worth and resurrected the sub from the water for the second time.

It wouldn’t be until Feb. 17, 1864, where the Hunley sank the USS Housatonic and soon after plunged toward the ocean’s floor for a third time killing all of its crew — a real death trap.

In 2000, the Hunley was raised from the depths, restored and put on display at the Warren Lasch Conservation Center in North Charleston, South Carolina.

Also Read: This legendary Navy skipper sank 19 enemy ships

Check out the HISTORY channel’s video for the Hunley’s sub-legendary history and ingenuity.

(HISTORY, YouTube)Fun fact: Theodore Roosevelt was the first American president to make an undersea dive in the USS Plunger, in 1905.
MIGHTY TRENDING

Why the Army is trying to stop this St. Patrick’s day tradition

St. Patrick’s Day has an entirely different meaning in the United States than it does in elsewhere in the world. The actual Irish hold a solemn, religious holiday, while the diaspora of those of Irish descent take the time to celebrate their heritage. Non-Irish Americans celebrate the day for good luck and use it as a perfect excuse to go drinking with the guys.


The city of Savannah, Georgia, however, holds their own St. Patrick’s Day celebrations. The river turns green, everyone wears green, and civilian women show their love to the boys in green. Soldiers from nearby Army installations join in on the city’s parade and, traditionally, women jump into the formations and kiss on the cheeks of a handsome soldier — leaving a huge, red lipstick mark.

On March 8, 2018, official spokesmen from Fort Stewart and parade chief organizers put an end to the kisses.

Afghanistan is producing record numbers of opium
Troops from all branches march and get kissed. Which just means the Soldiers will be the only ones left out. (Photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Sean La Marr)

Savannah is an Army town with Hunter Army Airfield, Fort Stewart, Fort Jackson, and Fort Gordon all within a relatively short distance’s drive. This is perhaps one of the few times where volunteering for parade duty is worth it. The marching soldiers must keep their composure and remain as stoic as possible while beautiful women kiss them.

The reasons given for ending the tradition are that the “soldiers need to look professional” and that “red lipstick is not part of the uniform.” So far, there’s been no word on if the green beads the soldiers are given are also too unprofessional.

Afghanistan is producing record numbers of opium
When was the last time you saw an entire company of highly trained warfighters blush? (Photo by Sgt. William Begley)

Another (more genuine) reason for prohibiting the kisses is safety. Many security concerns are raised in allowing countless spectators to jump the barricades and run up on the troops, even if it’s done with literally the best intentions.

A silver lining is that no defined punishment has been set. If a soldier just happens to be marching and a woman just happens to kiss him, the punishment is likely going to simply involve push-ups.

That doesn’t sound that bad. You’re about to see the happiest any troop has ever been while getting the sh*t smoked out of them.

popular

9 reasons mortarmen are so deadly

Mortars used to be considered artillery weapons because they lob hot metal shells, sometimes filled with explosives, down on the enemy’s heads.


But the mortar migrated to the infantry branch, and the frontline soldiers who crew the weapon maneuver into close ranges with the enemy and then rain hell down upon them. Here’s what makes the mortarman so lethal:

1. Mortarmen can emplace their system and fire it quickly

 

Afghanistan is producing record numbers of opium
Mortars are basically a tube, a site, and a baseplate, so they can be assembled at the front and placed into operation quickly. In some situations, the tube can even be sighted by hand and fired without the baseplate, though both of these things reduce the accuracy. (Photo: U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Sarah N. Petrock)

2. Mortars can maintain a relatively high rate of fire

Afghanistan is producing record numbers of opium
Because mortar rounds move at a lower rate than howitzer rounds, they require less propellant and generate less heat. This allows them to be fired more quickly. For instance, the M120 120mm mortar system can fire 16 rounds in its first minute and can sustain four rounds per minute. The M1911 howitzer can fire 12 rounds in two minutes and sustain three rounds per minute. (Photo: U.S. Army Spc. Patrick Kirby)

3. The mortar crew is located near the front, so it can observe and direct its own fire

Afghanistan is producing record numbers of opium
Mortars generally maneuver forward with the other infantrymen, meaning that they can see where their targets are and where they land. If necessary, the mortar can still fire from out of sight if a forward observer or other soldier provides targeting adjustments. (Photo: U.S. Army Spc. Joshua Petke)

4. Mortars are often in direct communication with battlefield leaders, allowing them to quickly react to changes in the combat situation

Afghanistan is producing record numbers of opium
Since the mortars are moving with the maneuver element, they can see friendly forces and are often within yelling distance of the battlefield leadership. This allows them to shift fire as friendly troops advance and hit changing target priorities in real time. (Photo: U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Danny Gonzalez)

5. Mortars can be equipped with different fuzes, allowing the weapon’s effects to be tailored to different situations

Afghanistan is producing record numbers of opium
A 120mm mortar shell airbursts. Mortars can be set to detonate a certain distance from the ground, after a certain time of flight, upon hitting the surface, or a certain amount of time after hitting the surface. It all depends on what fuzes are equipped and how they are set. (Photo: U.S. Army Sgt. Gustavo Olgiati)

6. Most mortars are relatively light, allowing them to be jumped, driven, or even rucked into combat

Afghanistan is producing record numbers of opium
These paratroopers are carrying the M121 120mm mortar system. Mortars can be airdropped into combat and the mortar ammunition can be jumped to the battlefield in soldiers’ rucks, as bundles dropped from the plane doors, or as pallets from the rear. (Photo: U.S. Air Force Alejandro Pena)

7. This mobility allows them to “shoot and scoot” and to stay at the front as the battle lines shift

Afghanistan is producing record numbers of opium
(Photo: U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Timothy Valero)

 

8. Mortarmen are still infantry, and they can put their rifles into operation at any point

 

Afghanistan is producing record numbers of opium
If a mortar position comes under direct attack or if the battle shifts in a way that makes mortars less useful than rifles, the mortarmen can move into action as riflemen. After all, mortarmen are infantry. (Photo: U.S. Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Tia Nagle)

9. Also, machineguns

Afghanistan is producing record numbers of opium
A U.S. Marine Corps mortarman pulls security during a modern operations in urban terrain exercise. Mortarmen can even be equipped with machineguns, though we don’t envy the guy rucking a mortar baseplate and a machinegun. (Photo: U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Careaf L. Henson)

MIGHTY TRENDING

The Catholic Church is trying to oust an African dictator

Democratic Republic of Congo’s President Joseph Kabila has refused to relinquish power for more than a year, and the Catholic Church has emerged as the leader in the fight against him.


Since December 2017, when Kabila again refused to step down, the church and a spiritual group called the Lay Coordination Committee have organized a handful of protests, all of which have ended violently.

Most recently, anti-government protests in the capital city of Kinshasa on Feb. 25, 2018, left four people dead and two more injured, according to the Associated Press.

Related: These are the living descendants of infamous dictators

Kabila’s refusal to step down has also aggravated violence between government forces and multiple armed groups in other areas of the country. This includes the Kasai and Kivu regions, where mass atrocities have been carried out by both sides, killing and displacing thousands in the last few years.

Here’s what’s going on:

President Joseph Kabila took power of the DRC in 2001 after his father’s assassination.

Afghanistan is producing record numbers of opium
President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Joseph Kabila.

Kabila helped unify the country after the two Congo wars of 1996-97 and 1998-2003, bringing back international business and raising GDP.

But at the same time, his government has been accused of gross incompetence, corruption, and human rights abuses.

Source: AFP

Kabila was supposed to step down after his two-term mandate expired on December 19, 2016, but he stayed on after invoking a controversial law requiring a successor to be elected. This sparked a wave of protests.

Also read: 6 most stubborn world conflicts happening right now

In January 2017, the Catholic Church brokered a deal between Kabila’s People’s Party for Reconstruction and Democracy and opposition parties that elections would be held in December 2017 and that Kabila would step down.

In December 2017, Kabila again refused to step down, saying that an election would have to be held at the end of 2018 because the government didn’t have enough money.

Election officials have even said that, because of continued financial and logistical problems, the election might be even held later than that.

With opposition parties in disarray, the Catholic Church, which had previously tried to stay neutral, organized anti-government protests together with a spiritual group called the Lay Coordination Committee.

Afghanistan is producing record numbers of opium
The Cathedral of Notre Dame, Republic of Congo. (Image via Flickr user David Stanley)

In the first demonstration on Dec. 31, 2017, seven demonstrators were killed by government forces.

On Jan. 21, 2018, another protest was held in which government forces killed 5 more protesters, firing live rounds and tear gas into crowds of demonstrators.

“We were dispersed by tear gas, stun grenades, and live bullets. We have again seen deaths, injuries, priests being arrested, and the theft of citizens’ property,” Cardinal Laurent Monsengwo said after the protests, according to Reuters.

“How can you kill men, women, children, youths, and old people all chanting religious songs, carrying bibles, rosaries, and crucifixes? Are we now living in an open prison?”

Source: Al Jazeera

But the church and the LCC have not stopped.

Related: The 21 most authoritarian regimes in the world

They organized another protest on Feb. 25, 2018, after mass, but government forces surrounded the churches that were planning to participate in the demonstrations before the parishioners could even take to the streets.

As police confined them, many churchgoers prayed and chanted slogans.

But violence soon erupted.

Police again fired live rounds and tear gas into crowds, and even beat, kicked, and arrested priests and protesters who were peacefully marching, which the video below shows.


 

Source: Jason Stearns

The violence reportedly left four dead and 47 more injured.

Source: Associated Press

The political violence unfolding in Kinshasa and other cities has also aggravated conflicts in different regions of the country, namely the regions of Kasai and Kivu.

In Kasai, the Congolose military has been battling a militia group called Kamuina Nsapu since August 2016, and in the Kivu, it has been battling an Islamist group called the Allied Democratic Forces since the 1990s.

Source: US News

The fighting between the two sides in Kasai has left more than 3,300 people dead and 1.4 million displaced since August 2016.

Dozens of mass graves have also been found in the region, which the Congolese military blames on the Kamuina Nsapu militia.

More: 4 of the craziest assassination attempts in U.S. history

But the UN has also hinted that the Congolese military dug the graves after battling the militia.

Meanwhile, in Kivu, the Islamist Allied Democratic Forces killed 15 UN peacekeepers and five Congolese troops in December 2017.

Late February 2018, the Congolese military attacked an ADF base, and gruesomely massacred a number of its fighters.

Between June and November 2017, “at least 526 civilians were killed … at least 1,087 people were abducted or kidnapped for ransom, and there were at least 7 incidents of mass rape,” according to Human Rights Watch.

While Kabila has blamed militia groups for much of the violence, his own troops have been accused of carrying out a bulk of the human rights violations, according to Jason Stearns of the Congo Research Group.

With tensions continuing to rise, and Kabila seemingly intent on holding as long he can, only time will tell what the future holds for the DRC.

Articles

The Coast Guard and Navy just saved real-life castaways from a desert island

It’s not a movie this time.


The U.S. embassy in the Federated States of Micronesia’s city of Kolonia reported via Facebook that two castaways were rescued on the remote Pacific island of East Fayu after being lost at sea for 11 days.

The merchant vessel British Mariner reported seeing a flashlight signal them as they passed the otherwise uninhabited island on August 24.

The U.S. Navy overflew the island the next day in P-8A Poseidon aircraft. The Navy reported seeing a help message from castaways to the U.S. Coast Guard at the Guam Command Center.

Afghanistan is producing record numbers of opium
(U.S. Navy photo)

Navy observers saw “SOS” written in the beach sands by Linus and Sabina Jack, who left nearby Wenu Island on an 18-foot boat with limited supplies and no emergency equipment. They never reached their reported destination.


 

The pair left on August 17th and the Coast Guard began its search two days later when they failed to arrive at Tamtam Island. The multi-agency team searched some 16,571 square miles before the British Mariner saw their flashlight.

A patrol boat picked the castaways up on August 26.

Afghanistan is producing record numbers of opium
(U.S. Navy photo)

The international search for the couple lasted seven days and used a Coast Guard-sponsored ship reporting system designed to assist vessels under these exact conditions. Called AMVER, the Automated Mutual Assistance Vessel Rescue System, the network is voluntary but is used worldwide. With AMVER, users can identify ships in the area of distress and ask them to respond or assist.

Articles

This Marine wants to know what songs you’d put on your ultimate battle playlist

Look. Music is awesome. It can be motivating as hell, it can take you back to an important time in your life, or it can be comforting in dark times.


We made a series of playlists to keep you company during life’s moments and we call them Battle Mixes. In this video, U.S. Marine Weston Scott talks about a few of his favorites.

We love the part when he busts up talking about Chris Stapleton.

Check out the video, and let us know which songs you think we should put on our Ultimate Battle Mix:

MIGHTY TRENDING

Watch an insane video of what it’s like to be on the wrong end of an A-10 BRRRRRT

The U.S. Special Operations Command recently posted a video on Twitter showing what it’s like to be on the “business end” of the A-10 Warthog’s Gatling gun.


We first saw the video at SOFREP. The 137th Special Operations Wing, which shot the footage, captured a rather unique perspective.

The special operations wing put a camera on a training ground before the A-10 performed a strafing run on it.

The A-10’s GAU-8/A Avenger rotary canon fires 3,900 armor-piercing depleted uranium and high explosive incendiary rounds per minute — and you can almost feel it in the video.

Now wait for the “brrrrrrrrt”:

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