An Eagle Scout became the kingpin of a drug empire - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY TRENDING

An Eagle Scout became the kingpin of a drug empire

Aaron Shamo went from being a clean-cut Eagle Scout and deacon in the Mormon church to a clean-cut but alleged fentanyl drug lord on the darknet. When police raided his home in 2016, they found $1.2 million, another $2.2 million worth of product – some 95,000 pills.


Shamo was just 26-years-old, living in a quiet, affluent suburb in Utah when police took him into custody. He was playing his Xbox like any other twenty-something when DEA agents and a SWAT team kicked in his door.

An Eagle Scout became the kingpin of a drug empire

Shamo grew up like most kids in Suburban Utah, a member of the church of Latter-Day Saints, and a pretty normal kid by his sister’s account. He may not have been good at sports and didn’t excel at his studies, but he wasn’t in any serious trouble as a teen, either. His parents still thought he was headed down a bad path because he rebelled against their authority, skipped school and church, and began smoking marijuana, so they sent him to a “lockdown facility” in La Verkin, Utah. That’s where Aaron graduated from high school and earned his Eagle Scout status.

He seemed to have changed, no longer had a temper, and was even pleasant to be around. He soon went to college, but that wasn’t for him. He would much rather spend time outdoors than going to class. His parents soon stopped paying his tuition. It was in college he got interested in Bitcoin, the popular cryptocurrency. He thought he could make real money in Bitcoin. But he went a different route.

An Eagle Scout became the kingpin of a drug empire

A Dark web drugstore similar to the one Aaron Shamo ran as “Pharm-Master.”

Shortly after his interest in Bitcoin grew, around 2014, he and a partner ordered latex gloves, postage, bubble wrap and gelatin capsules – everything needed to set up a pill press. His skills using the dark web for Bitcoin also provided an area of exchange to ship those pills. Aaron Shamo was now Pharma-Master on AlphaBay, the biggest darknet market. He was ordering his product from China and having it delivered to the homes of nearby friends and was the only bulk distributor around.

Pharma-Master offered anything from valium, Xanax, oxycodone, and MDMA, to Viagra and fentanyl powder. His wealth surged during this time, and everyone thought it was solely due to Bitcoin. Because few people truly understand how Bitcoin works, that was usually as far as the questioning went. Not for U.S. Customs or the Drug Enforcement Agency, however.

An Eagle Scout became the kingpin of a drug empire

Pure fentanyl is so powerful, it can cause an overdose with direct skin contact. Officers wore HAZMAT suits to raid Shamo’s house.

The Feds began seizing his shipments in June 2016, but that didn’t stop Shamo from conducting business as usual. His longtime partner became less involved with the business. Shamo began to feel like he was being followed, and he was right. Homeland Security flipped a number of confidential informants who spilled the beans on his whole operation. Shamo was shipping fentanyl labeled as oxycodone around the country, significantly contributing to the nationwide opioid crisis and causing potential overdoses everywhere he shipped.

On Aug. 30, 2019, Shamo was convicted by a federal jury in Salt Lake City of organizing and directing a drug trafficking organization that imported fentanyl and alprazolam from China and used the drugs to manufacture fake oxycodone pills made with fentanyl and counterfeit Xanax tablets.

“The opioid crisis has devastated individuals, families, and entire communities across the nation. Aaron Shamo controlled and led a highly profitable organization that delivered fentanyl-laced counterfeit pills to every state in the union. Though his customers remained faceless on the dark web, their despair was real. Shamo profited off that despair and a jury of his peers has held him accountable,” U.S. Attorney John W. Huber said.

Shamo will be sentenced on Dec. 3, 2019. Prosecutors want him to spend the rest of his life in prison.

MIGHTY TRENDING

The logic behind decapitating terrorist groups

Disrupting terrorist networks is inherently difficult, and success is difficult to measure. Clandestine by nature, these groups generally hide their internal functions, institutions, and various chains of command. While a potentially vast cadre of fighters, sympathizers, and suppliers wait in the wings, the outside world only glimpses a few leaders, who often serve as figureheads for their organizations.

With little else to go on, states often make targeting these leaders a key priority. From the Shining Path in Peru to ISIL in Syria and Iraq, security forces carry out operations to capture or kill mid- and upper-level leaders in the hopes that their absence will be the knockout blow necessary to defeat a terrorist organization. Recent attention has turned to ISIL leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, who is rumored to be still alive. Intelligence gathering and planning is likely underway in multiple countries to capture or kill the man who continues to lead one of the world’s deadliest terror groups. But is leadership decapitation, as this strategy is known, effective?


Leadership decapitation rests on a simple principle: taking out a key player in a terrorist group in the hope that his or her absence destroys morale and slows the group’s operational tempo. Such strategies can target both leaders – who may hold symbolic and strategic importance – and tactical experts who might be hard to replace, like bomb makers. The policy has played an important role in U.S. counterterrorism policy since 9/11, recently receiving praise from Secretary of Defense James Mattis.

While the logic is clear, the strategy’s results are mixed and depend on the terrorist group’s internal dynamics. Smaller, younger groups – variously defined – are more susceptible to the effects of leadership decapitation, as are groups without an established bureaucracy. Group type is thought to play a role as well, with religiously-oriented groups being better able to withstand the loss of a leader. Most vulnerable are groups that lean heavily on a single, charismatic leader who plays a central role in the organization.

An Eagle Scout became the kingpin of a drug empire

Secretary of Defense James Mattis.

Leadership decapitation has ended some groups. The capture of Abimael Guzman and 14 other leaders of the Shining Path in 1992 quickly reduced the group to a shadow of its former self. The group struggled to recover after the capture of Guzman, who exercised near-total control. After the assassination of Fathi Shaqaqi in 1995, Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) struggled to find a capable successor and only recovered years later.

However, not all groups fall into these categories. With its deep roots in a conflict that extends back decades, raids and airstrikes have killed a number of Al-Shabaab leaders, yet it continues to carry out deadly attacks, including an October 2017 truck bombing that killed more than 500 Somalis. Al-Qaeda has suffered the loss of a number of key leaders, including founder Osama Bin Laden and leaders of its Yemeni and Syrian branches. Despite these losses from 2011 to 2015, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) managed to hang on and even expand its operations in Yemen until coordinated US-UAE operations in 2016 forced the group to engage in direct combat, which reduced – but did not eliminate – the threat posed by the group in Yemen.

Perhaps no group is more emblematic of resilience in the face of leadership decapitation than ISIL itself. Airstrikes, battles, and military operations have killed many of the group’s leaders within Syria and Iraq and its numerous regional affiliates. Despite this, the group has proven capable of finding replacements. When ISIL’s chief strategist and number two, Mohammed al-Adnani, was killed in late August 2016, the group announced his replacement about two months later. ISIL continues to maintain the ability to launch deadly attacks via its worldwide cells and those inspired by its calls to violence, from Afghanistan to Indonesia to Egypt.

As evidenced above, ISIL does not fit the profile of terrorist groups vulnerable to the effects of leadership decapitation. Its well-known penchant for bureaucracy has allowed slain leaders to be quickly replaced. While the loss of ISIL leaders has likely impacted the organization, it arguably has been affected to a greater degree by the overwhelming firepower directed at the organization from every level, not just its leaders. US strikes have pounded the group’s military positions, financial stores, and its fighters at every level, not just its leader. The redundancy within ISIL’s organization and the lack of a single, charismatic leader mean that finding competent replacements is not a life or death decision for the terror group.

An Eagle Scout became the kingpin of a drug empire

Lt. Col. Rod Coffey and the insurgent flag his unit captured in Diyala Province, Iraq, in 2008. The same banner would eventually be used by the Islamic State.

(U.S. Army photo)

The most frightening aspect of ISIL’s lethality comes from the cells and sympathizers strewn across the world. Central leadership can plan and order these attacks, but cells with organic roots in localized conflicts can also plan and influence their own operations. While ISIL has been reduced to a sliver of its former territory in Iraq and Syria, the threat posed by its worldwide affiliates is unlikely to disappear with Baghdadi.

To be fair, the choice to pursue terrorist leaders is not a purely strategic calculation. Arguments about the effects of leadership on terrorists’ operational capacity mean little to those who have lost loved ones or live in fear because of terrorist attacks. And when dealing with groups that have almost no public presence, targeting leaders is often one of the only options available. It would be unwise to dismiss these other considerations for pursuing a decapitation strike out of hand, just as it would be unwise to assume that killing Baghdadi or any other leader is necessarily a knockout blow.

There is little doubt that ISIL, while still dangerous, is a weakened organization. Recent success in pushing back the group – a refreshing change from 2014 and 2015, when it appeared ready to roll over much of Syria and Iraq – is owed to several factors. A growing international recognition of the threat posed by ISIL, a crackdown on those traveling to and from Syria and Iraq, and overwhelming firepower directed against the group in Syria, Egypt, Iraq and elsewhere have all played a role in reducing the threat. However, there is little reason to believe that what threat remains of ISIL would disappear with Baghdadi, especially in light of the group’s demonstrated resilience and commitment to terror.

This article originally appeared on Real Clear Defense. Follow @RCDefense on Twitter.

MIGHTY CULTURE

New study suggests Loch Ness Monster may actually be a giant eel

The first recorded sighting of the Loch Ness Monster dates all the way back to 565 A.D. when a writer named Adomnan recounted a tale about Saint Columba coming upon local residents burying a man near River Ness. According to the tale Adomnan recounted, the man had died as a result of being attacked by a “water beast” from the loch. Later, in the 1870s, the first modern sighting of the Loch Ness Monster was reported by a man named D. Mackenzie, though his report wouldn’t see publication until decades later.


The Loch Ness Monster really grew to fame in the 1930s, with multiple sightings popping up throughout the decade, culminating in what is perhaps the most famous image of the supposed monster to date, the famed “Surgeon’s Photograph.”

This image was taken by Robert Kenneth Wilson (who was actually a gynecologist, but newspapers probably didn’t want to print a “Gynecologist’s Photograph”). For decades, the image served as proof of “Nessie’s” existence, that is, until the mid-1990s when analysis of the image all but confirmed that it was a fake.

An Eagle Scout became the kingpin of a drug empire

Robert Kenneth Wilson’s 1934 photograph fooled the world for decades.

(WikiMedia Commons)

Despite the most famous bit of evidence likely being a forgery, there have still been countless sightings of what locals believe could be a living dinosaur in their loch, and the waterway’s size and extreme depth would allow for a population of aquatic wildlife to go largely unseen. But a dinosaur?

That’s what a new team of scientists and researchers hoped to find out over this past year, combing the loch for traces of hair, feces, scales, and anything else they could gather for DNA analysis. Their intent was to find evidence of an as-yet-unidentified species of animal living in the area, and in a strange twist, that may be exactly what they found. It just wasn’t the monster most people were looking for.

“There is a very significant amount of eel DNA,” Professor Neil Gemmell, a geneticist at the University of Otago in New Zealand, said in a press release. “Our data doesn’t reveal their size, but the sheer quantity of the material says that we can’t discount the possibility that there may be giant eels in Loch Ness.”

An Eagle Scout became the kingpin of a drug empire

There may also be a Photoshop monster lurking beneath those waves.

(WikiMedia Commons)

The idea that the Loch Ness Monster may, in fact, be a giant eel has been proposed repeatedly over the years, with some suggesting that it was feasible as far back as the 1930s. To date, no giant eels have been caught in the loch, making them something of a mystery themselves, but despite the lack of official confirmation, Loch Ness has also been the sight of many eel sightings.

“Divers have claimed that they’ve seen eels as thick as their legs in the loch,” Gemmell pointed out before adding that an eel that thick would likely be in the neighborhood of 13 feet long — longer than giant eels are supposed to be able to get.

Many of the sightings and pictures of the Loch Ness Monster do look as though they could be the result of a large eel. The supposed long neck of the monster could actually be the eel’s body, and because giant eels aren’t known to live in the loch, it wouldn’t be hard to mistake a 15-foot eel for a sea monster. In fact, that’s exactly what such an eel really would be.

An Eagle Scout became the kingpin of a drug empire

It can be easy to see how an eel could be mistaken for the neck of a plesiosaur.

(Michael Hicks on Flickr)

This study doesn’t definitely close the case, of course. Despite an abundance of eel DNA found in many of the 250 studied samples, no giant eels have been caught or even cleanly observed in the area. Until giant eels are confirmed to reside in Loch Ness, believers will undoubtedly keep looking for the long neck of a plesiosaur peeking out of the dark waters of the loch.

“Is it a giant eel? I don’t know, but it is something that we can test further,” Gemmell concluded.

Articles

Veterans (and the VA) are playing a key role in the war against cancer

Veterans are likely to play a significant part in what has been called “the Moon shot” in cancer research — the plan announced by President Barack Obama last week for a cancer fight effort to equal the country’s determination to put a man on the moon during the 1960s.


Fittingly, the veterans’ role in the cancer Moon shot, as well as in scores of other research projects into illnesses that impact vets and non-vets alike, will be doing something they were prepared to do back in their active duty days: shed some blood.

“When they realize that this could help other veterans most of them volunteer right away” when asked, VA Secretary Bob McDonald said during a visit to the VA Medical Center in Boston on Friday, when he toured the lab and growing biorepository.

An Eagle Scout became the kingpin of a drug empire
Photographer’s Mate 3rd Class Jeremy L. Grisham | U.S. Navy

The VA project, called the Million Veterans Program, predates the cancer Moon shot by six years. Its goal is to collect blood samples — and with it the DNA — of at least a million veterans, and use it to research illnesses, including at the genetic level.

“This is fascinating what they’re doing here,” McDonald said. “The whole role of genomics will be huge in, and that’s one of the reasons we wanted you to see this, because I think the work of the Million Veteran Project underscores the importance of genomics in the Moon Shot in eradicating cancer.”

It is veteran-centric, for sure, and already is being used in alpha and beta projects that focus on veteran issues, according to the VA.

The veterans’ blood samples, informed by medical health records that, depending on the veteran, may go back 20 or more years, could hold the key to understanding causes and discovering treatments and cures for myriad illnesses. The VA is looking at some 750,000 genetic markers that medical researchers believe could be linked to illnesses that plague veterans, ranging from cancers to heart disease, kidney disease to post-traumatic stress disorder.

To date, the effort has collected close to 445,000 vials of blood, each one spun in a centrifuge prior to storing to divide red cells, white cells and plasma. The vials are kept in an oversized refrigeration unit within a lab at the hospital.

Although the project name suggests it will store a million samples, it will continue to grow the biorepository as long as there is funding support and vets who volunteer.  There is storage space for several million samples. During a tour of the lab, McDonald climbed a ladder to look into the storage site, where a robotic arm, kept at minus 20 degrees Celsius, plucked newly deposited vials one at a time from small containers and moved them into trays that were then automatically transferred into the unit and stored at minus 80 degrees Celsius.

“When I do my recruiting speech to try to attract people to VA, this is exactly the issue — come be on the cutting edge, the tip of the spear [in medical research] that can make a difference in so many people’s lives,” McDonald said.

The department has spent about $130 million on the program since it began laying the foundation for it in 2010. Its nearly 445,000 samples have come from nearly 245,000 veterans. It currently is getting in about 100,000 samples per year, which means it will hit the million mark around 2022.

They hope the speed that up by opening the program to active-duty personnel. The VA estimates that would add an additional 25,000 samples a year to the collection and perhaps allow them to reach one million by 2020, said Dr. Mary Brophy, director of the biorepository.

Because the donations are for research purposes, neither the VA nor the Defense Department can simply request use of a veteran’s or service member’s blood for the project.

Donors — strictly veterans right now — may volunteer for the project at a number of VA sites across the country. In signing up, they are told their blood and medical information will be shared with researchers and that they may not benefit directly or immediately from any of the research.

But their identities are masked on the samples, so that researchers do not know whose blood or DNA they are working with. For its part, the VA does retain a link between the sample code and the veteran so that changes in health or long-term effects of drugs and medications can be incorporated into the veteran’s research profile.

While Britain began building its own biorepository before the U.S. and currently has more samples –about 500,000 — the VA is quickly catching up and will pass that number.

It’s not only because the veterans have volunteered in such large numbers, but because VA has been able to build the computing capacity to handle the data.

“It’s not just the samples, it’s the informatics platform. The reason VA can do that better than anyone … is that we have an electronic health record,” she said. “We have the health record already in a data base, and it’s been around for 20-30 years.”

The British Health System — it does not have a separate system for veterans – is largely decentralized, with many medical records still in paper form and residing in doctor’s offices across the country.

Not only has an existing data base of electronic records and a willing veteran population allowed VA to rapidly build its biorepository, it has already provided the VA enough samples and data to launch several research studies of benefit to veterans.

The projects include cardiovascular risk factors among African American and Hispanic Americans, to determine how genes influence obesity and lipid levels affect the heart; an examination of genetic risk from chronic use of alcohol, tobacco and opioids; and a study into how genes affect the risk and progression of kidney disease — a major risk factor for veterans, according to researchers.

The biorepository is essentially one-stop shopping for a specific patient cohort and control group for any research institution wanting to investigate an illness or try out a new drug, according to Brophy.

“If I want to do a study in Gulf War Illness, before I would have to go out and find all these patients with Gulf War Illness, do it myself, Then get the samples, store it and send it out” to research lab, she said. The biorepository eliminates those time-consuming steps, she said, by making VA the go-to place for medical researchers.

Now, she said, if a research lab needs 5,000 patients with Gulf War Illness, it can get that cohort from the VA, as well as a control group without Gulf War Illness.

“The infrastructure is there to do key PTSD research, Gulf War Illness research. The hard work of getting people together, knowing who has Gulf War Illness [is done],” she said.

MIGHTY MILSPOUSE

Marines drop photo requirements for promotion, selection process

The Marine Corps is the latest service branch to announce a policy removing official photos from promotion considerations.

The directive states “photographs are not authorized information for promotion boards and selection processes pertaining to assignment, training, education, and command,” according to MARADMIN 491/20. It takes effect Tuesday.

The Army implemented a similar policy in August.

For those Marines who have already submitted promotion packages or have included recently-updated selection photos to their Official Military Personnel File (OMPF), those photos will not be considered by the board when selecting candidates for promotion, assignment, training, education, or command.


The move is in response to a larger effort to address diversity in the military, which includes the establishment of a Department of Defense Board on Diversity and Inclusion by Secretary Dr. Mark Esper.

Esper released a memorandum in mid-summer calling for “immediate actions to address diversity, inclusion, and equal opportunity in the military services.” The document outlines several tasks on how the different branches are to address these issues within the services including updating the department’s equal opportunity and diversity inclusion policies, increasing training regarding diversity, racial bias, and equal opportunity, updating policies on grooming with regards to racial differences and removing photographs from promotion boards and selection processes.

Read the full memo here: Immediate Actions to Address Diversity, Inclusion, and Equal Opportunity in the Military Services

Though photographs will be removed from OMPFs, additional guidance is expected that includes “provisions for establishing diverse selection panels and the removal of all references to race, ethnicity, and gender in personnel packets reviewed by panel members.” These processes will help to ensure that promotion boards and selection processes “enable equal opportunity for all service members, promote diversity … and are free from bias based on race, ethnicity, gender or national origin.” The USD(PR) has until the end of September to provide this additional guidance to all branches.

The Council of Foreign Relations examined diversity rates across all branches of the military. For the Marine Corps, about 90% of male enlisted recruits and 70% of female enlisted recruits are white. Only 15% of male and female enlisted recruits are Black, and Asians only represent about 5% of the enlisted recruit population. However, the Marine Corps has a higher rate of Hispanics than any other branch — outweighing the civilian workforce — with about 30% male and almost 40% of female recruits being of Hispanic ethnicity.

CFR also found that racial diversity decreases at the upper ranks with data showing generals to be disproportionately white. Complete findings can be found at Demographics of the U.S. Military.

This article originally appeared on Military Families Magazine. Follow @MilFamiliesMag on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Belgian F-16s intercept 2 Russian nuclear-capable supersonic bombers

Belgian Air Force F-16s scrambled to intercept two Russian Tu-160 Blackjack supersonic, nuclear-capable bombers, accompanied by two Sukhoi Su-27 Flanker fighters over the Baltic Sea on Sept. 17, 2019.

The Belgian Air Force has been guarding the Baltic airspace since Sept. 3, 2019, when it took over the police mission from fellow NATO member Hungary, which was supported by Spain and the UK in its mission. Four Belgian F-16s and at least 60 soldiers have been deployed to protect Baltic airspace from unwelcome incursions, according to the Belgian Ministry of Defense.

Sept. 17, 2019’s interception was Belgium’s first since it began its rotation over Baltic airspace, and seemingly at very close range.


Russian aircraft have engaged in several provocative actions over NATO airspace this year. In June 2019, British Typhoon fighter jets scrambled to intercept Russian Su-30 Flanker fighters twice in two days.

An Eagle Scout became the kingpin of a drug empire

An British air force Typhoon fighter jet, foreground, with a Russian fighter over the Baltics.

(UK mInistry of Defence/Twitter)

But NATO countries aren’t merely reacting to Russian aggression. In August 2019 alone, US and UK aircraft sent clear messages to Russia:

  • US B-2 Spirit stealth bombers flew with UK F-35s, the B-2’s first time flying with non-US F-35s.
  • B-2 Spirit bombers landed in Iceland for the first time. The B-2, which operates from Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri, Andersen Air Force Base on Guam, Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean, and Royal Air Force Fairford in the UK, needs specific conditions to support its stealth capabilities.
  • B-2 bombers flew their first extended sorties over the Norwegian Sea earlier in September 2019 — right in Russia’s backyard.
An Eagle Scout became the kingpin of a drug empire

Two US Air Force B-2 Spirit stealth bombers, currently deployed to RAF Fairford in Gloucestershire, fly alongside two Royal Air Force F-35B Lightning aircraft from RAF Marham near the White Cliffs of Dover, England, Aug. 29, 2019.

(US Air Force/UK Ministry of Defense)

NATO countries share the mission of protecting Baltic airspace, as the Baltic countries — Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania — don’t have the infrastructure to protect their own airspace and are considered at risk of destabilization or invasion by Russia.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

Fears of a US missile strike forced Russia’s navy to leave Syria

President Donald Trump’s threat to bomb Syria despite Russia’s ally ship and protection of Syrian forces has yielded an immediate and tangible result — Russian warships docked in Syria have left port for fear for their safety.

“This is normal practice” when there is the threat of an attack, Vladimir Shamanov, the head of Russia’s defense committee in its lower house of parliament, told Russian media.


Satellite images on April 11, 2018, captured 11 ships leaving, including a submarine and some offensive ships, in the immediate aftermath of Trump’s threat. With the ships at sea, and moving, they can better situate themselves to avoid fighting on land, and spread themselves out.

As the ships were in port, a single pass of a few US bombers could have easily decimated the fleet.

Trump’s threat scrambles Russia, Syria’s militaries

An Eagle Scout became the kingpin of a drug empire
Russia announced it will pull the bulk of its troops from Syria starting March 15, in a process that could take up to 5 months.
(Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation photo)

Trump’s promised military strike on Syria has yet to materialize, though the US, its allies, Syria, and Russia all seem to have moved their assets around in preparation for battle.

Syria relocated its air assets to Russian bases, likely to put them under Russian protection, and the US has dispatched an aircraft carrier to the region.

According to Dimitry Gorenburg, a senior research scientist at Harvard’s Davis Center for Russia and Eurasian studies, Russia has also flown in aircraft that specialize in anti-submarine warfare, as speculation that the US or its allies might fire submarine-launched missiles at Syrian targets builds.

While Trump has done nothing militarily to respond to the recent chemical weapons attack the US blames on Syrian forces, the president has rallied US allies and Russia on the defensive by promising action Moscow can’t hope to stop.

“Putin is not interested in a shooting war with the West,” Gorenburg said. Due to the extreme risk of war escalating into a nuclear conflict between the world’s two greatest nuclear powers, and the fact that “the Russian conventional forces just aren’t as strong as the US forces,” such a fight “would not be a good outcome for Russia.”

Trump will reportedly warn Russia before the strike, but does Putin trust him?

An Eagle Scout became the kingpin of a drug empire
U.S. Navy guided-missile destroyer USS Ross (DDG 71) fires a tomahawk land attack missile in Mediterranean Sea which U.S. Defense Department said was a part of cruise missile strike against Syria.
(U.S. Navy photo)

A report from Russian media said that the US had been coordinating with Russia to avoid Russian casualties in a US strike on Syria, and that the US would inform Russia of the targets before the strike. The Kremlin’s spokesperson also said that Russia and the US had actively been using an established hotline to avoid military clashes.

Russia’s move to send their ships from port may reveal that they don’t know really know what’s going on, and either can’t predict or can’t trust how Trump will approach the strike.

Russia “really did not respect Obama and felt that they had not figured out US foreign policy,” Gorenburg said. “From that point of view, dealing with Trump is a little bit more fraught.”

Humor

The 13 funniest memes for the week of Jan. 19th

What a week — just a little bit of snow hits the ground and suddenly everyone starts eating Tide Pods.


Well, whatever your reason for not being at work (or if you’re looking at these from the office latrine — we don’t judge), enjoy these fresh memes!

13. We should probably cut the Hawaiian Missile Defense dude a little bit of slack…

An Eagle Scout became the kingpin of a drug empire
(Image via Know Your Meme)

12. They’re on a mission from DoD.

An Eagle Scout became the kingpin of a drug empire
(Image via Pop Smoke)

11. …but who will play with all the cool sh*t now?

An Eagle Scout became the kingpin of a drug empire
(Meme via Untied Status Marin Crops)

10. I mean, he’s not wrong…

An Eagle Scout became the kingpin of a drug empire
(Meme via Dysfunctional Veterans)

9. Still only getting 10% from the VA.

An Eagle Scout became the kingpin of a drug empire
(Meme via Army as F*ck)

8. Grunts eat MREs for 12 months and expect an Oscar or something.

An Eagle Scout became the kingpin of a drug empire
(Meme via Military Memes)

7. Who needs a chaplain when you have an NCO?

An Eagle Scout became the kingpin of a drug empire
(Meme via Dysfunctional Veterans)

6. Don’t follow the LT. He can’t show you dah way.

An Eagle Scout became the kingpin of a drug empire
(Meme via Untied Status Marin Crops)

5. I bet his recruiter also told him he’d travel the world and get f*cked every day. Technically not a lie.

An Eagle Scout became the kingpin of a drug empire
(Meme via Military Memes)

4. The more the merrier, right?

An Eagle Scout became the kingpin of a drug empire
(Meme via Veteran Humor)

3. There’s the “Good Idea Fairy” and then there’s the “Actual Idea Fairy.”

An Eagle Scout became the kingpin of a drug empire
(Meme via Salty Soldier)

2. We’re also ready to send them a bunch of Vikings Super Bowl LII Champion shirts as well. (Too soon?)

An Eagle Scout became the kingpin of a drug empire
(Meme via USAWTFM)

1. I guess you could say his enlistment was, Gone with the Wind.

An Eagle Scout became the kingpin of a drug empire
(Meme via Pop Smoke)

MIGHTY CULTURE

4 civilian jobs that troops appreciate the most

Sometimes, civilians have a difficult time relating with troops. In many cases, they just don’t know how to talk to them. Realistically, it’s pretty easy. After all, we’re simple creatures; we like a handful of things — alcohol, tattoos, and anything else that’s fun with a dash of self-destruction. We’re, essentially, the kings and queens of counter-culture — “rebels with a cause,” as we were once described by a Marine general.

That being said, there are plenty of civilians out there who fit right in with the troops — usually those who work in a select few professional fields. The following are the civilian professionals that get a ton of love from the troops.


But, before we kick this off, I want to make it clear you don’t have to work in one of these fields for troops to appreciate you. Troops appreciate support of any kind — even if it’s a simple “thank you.”

An Eagle Scout became the kingpin of a drug empire

You should never piss off your bartender, honestly.

(U.S. Air Force)

Bartenders

Easily topping this list is your friendly neighborhood beer-slinger. Troops love to drink and, although some troops might find themselves embroiled in “friendly” disagreements with their bartender after kicking back a few, a good service member will always respect the person behind the bar that helps them wind down after a long week.

An Eagle Scout became the kingpin of a drug empire

Tattoo artists are almost always cool with service members.

(William Cho)

Tattoo artists

Troops love tattoos, too. For each new piece, a troop will sit on the chair or bench for hours at a time — so you kind of can’t help but become friends with your tattoo artist. Artists in a military town tend to understand troops because they tattoo a lot of us. They know what we like to talk about and they can probably all draw a perfect eagle, globe, and anchor with their eyes closed.

An Eagle Scout became the kingpin of a drug empire

Okay, okay. The ones from the shop on base aren’t always bad.

(U.S. Navy photo by Chief Photographer’s Mate Chris Desmond)

Barbers

Troops need haircuts and a good barber is hard to find. If you’re lucky, you’ll find that one place off-base that isn’t too expensive and leaves you with a better cut than the clowns on base shop can offer.

An Eagle Scout became the kingpin of a drug empire

A lot of respect goes both ways in this regard.

(U.S. Navy)

Doctors

Life, especially one spent in the armed forces, leaves you with a lot of complications. As warfighters, we spend a lot of time working on our own bodies and training to deliver harm to the enemies’. Although doctors have a much more thorough understanding of human anatomy, troops certainly have a lot of questions.

Doctors specialize in fixing humans and grunts, well, we specialize in the opposite. Plus, grunts have medical professionals embedded with us in the form of medics and corpsman, who are usually the best friends any troop could have. So, we sort of lump all doctors in with them.

Articles

US forces are quickly cutting off ISIS’ only escape route in Syria

The offensive to destroy ISIS in Syria took a big step forward recently with US military advisers, helicopters, and artillery helping position a force of about 500 soldiers near a strategic damn outside of Raqqa, ISIS’s Syrian capital.


The US military, along with Kurdish forces and the multi-ethnic Syrian Democratic Foces rebel group, have moved to put a stranglehold on Raqqa with shelling, air support, and ground forces at the last route in and out of the city, according to a press release.

Related: US asks Europe to deploy more troops for ISIS fight

Operation Inherent Resolve, the 68-nation mission to destroy ISIS, flew in fighters from the Syrian Democratic Forces, a US-backed rebel group, behind enemy lines to a strategic dam.

“It takes a special breed of warrior to pull of an airborne operation or air assault behind enemy lines,” Col. Joe Scrocca, a spokesperson for Operation Inherent Resolve told the Times.

An Eagle Scout became the kingpin of a drug empire
Marines with the 11th MEU train in Djibouti. Leathernecks from the 11th MEU reportedly just deployed to Syria to bolster an assault on Raqqa. | US Marine Corps photo

“Seizing Tabqah Dam will isolate Raqqah from three sides and give the SDF the strategic advantage and launching point needed for the liberation of the city,” said the release. But while the US says they’re mainly backing local forces, they seem poised to take on a more active role with conventional forces fighting ISIS on the ground in Raqqa.

The Pentagon has been considering sending as many as 1,000 ground troops to help take back Raqqa from ISIS, which would signal a reversal of the Obama-era policy to fight ISIS via train and equip methods and airstrikes.

The coalition says they’ve conducted more than 300 airstrikes around Raqqa in the past month.

Raqqa, situated along the Euphrates river in the mostly barren Easter Syria has been ISIS’ main Syrian stronghold since 2014.

The US, Inherent Resolve coalition partners, and local forces have been involved in a massive air and ground campaign to rid the country of the terrorist group while simultaneously carrying out similar operations in neighboring Iraq.

An Eagle Scout became the kingpin of a drug empire
ISW

A spokesman for Operation Inherent Resolve did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

MIGHTY TRENDING

The Air Force just grounded its entire B-1 Bomber fleet

US Air Force Global Strike Command, which oversees the entire Air Force bomber fleet, ordered a safety stand down for its B-1B Lancer bombers on June 7, 2018, following an emergency landing by a Lancer in Texas in May 2018.

“During the safety investigation process following an emergency landing of a B-1B in Midland, Texas, an issue with ejection seat components was discovered that necessitated the stand-down,” the command said in a release. “As issues are resolved aircraft will return to flight.”


A B-1B bomber from Dyess Air Force Base in Texas made an emergency landing at Midland International Airport in western Texas on May 1, 2018, after an in-flight emergency. Emergency responders made it to the runway before the plane landed, and none of the four crew members onboard were injured.

It was not clear what caused the emergency, though fire crews that responded used foam on the plane.

Photos that emerged of the bomber involved showed that at least one of its four cockpit escape hatches had been blown, but the ejection seat did not deploy.

An Eagle Scout became the kingpin of a drug empire
Aircrew members from Ellsworth Air Force Base, South Dakota conduct post-flight checks at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, Aug.u00a06, 2016.
(U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. JT May III)

The B-1’s four-man crew includes a pilot, copilot, and two weapons officers seated behind them. All four sit in ejection seats and each seat has an escape hatch above it, according to Air Force Times. Pulling the ejection handle starts an automatic sequence in which the hatch blows off and a STAPAC rocket motor launches the seats from the aircraft. The entire process takes only seconds.

It was not clear at the time of the incident whether the blown hatch or hatches had been recovered or whether the ejection seats had failed to deploy.

A Safety Investigation Board, a panel made up of experts who investigate incidents and recommend responses, is looking into the incident at Midland, the Global Strike Command release said.

The Global Strike Command stand-down order comes about a month after the Air Force ordered a day-long, fleet-wide stand-down while it conducted a safety review following a series of deadly accidents. At the time, the Air Force said it was seeing fewer accidents but that 18 pilots and crew members had been killed since October 1, 2018.

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

Is it actually important to stay conscious when injured?


Mandy R. asks: In movies they always act like it’s important for a person to stay conscious when they’ve been seriously injured. Does that really help someone live?

We’ve all seen movie scenes where someone is seriously injured and slowly drifting in and out of consciousness. Someone else there will inevitably yell something like, “Stay with me DAMMIT!!!” It’s even sometimes explicitly stated that it’s important for the person to stay awake to keep the Grim Reaper away. Towards this end, the person with them may even be shown to slap the person in the face and/or shake them in an attempt to keep them conscious. This all brings us to the question of the hour — will staying conscious provide any benefit to someone who is seriously injured as depicted almost universally by Hollywood?

Well, no, not really.

An Eagle Scout became the kingpin of a drug empire

In fact, unconsciousness may even mildly help in some cases. For example, one study, Tightly coupled brain activity and cerebral ATP metabolic rate, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, showed when rats were intentionally knocked out, they produced about 50% fewer ATP molecules. (ATP being the energy that cells use to perform all their vital functions.) The net result of all of this was about a 66% reduction in energy requirements by the brain — potentially a very good thing if your body is already low on the necessary resources to keep on keeping on.

That said, there is one caveat here — being awake while you’re potentially succumbing to your demise can be very helpful for a medical provider in some cases. Namely, if it’s not obvious what’s wrong with you, you being able to communicate the cause of your situation, the specifics of the pain you’re in, or any pertinent history of the problem will help them more easily figuring out the best way to treat you as rapidly as possible, which may make all the difference.

However, other than those benefits, when it comes to staying alive, being conscious isn’t a requirement in any way. Further, your level of consciousness and the change in it actually guides how an emergency provider will treat you, via the Glasgow Coma Scale.

First published by neurosurgery professors Graham Teasdale and Bryan Jennett in 1974 from the University of Glasgow, the scale is used to describe how impaired someone’s consciousness actually is. It assesses a patient according to three general criteria: four parts for eye-opening, five parts for verbal response, and six parts for motor response.

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Giphy

As an example, we have the commonly known phrase in emergency medicine “A GCS less than 8, intubate”. This basically just means that if your score is less than 8, your chance of maintaining your own airway for breathing is so low that it is recommended, and generally an extremely good idea, to stick a tube into the patient’s trachea and take over breathing for them.

Should someone have a score of 14 (confused, but otherwise normal), then all of the sudden have a score of 9 (the level at which Hollywood would have you slapping them incessantly), this would indicate a significant thing just happened and the provider will need to re-evaluate the treatment strategy and confirm or disprove what they think is going on.

Now, given that understanding the vast number of things that can cause someone to become unconscious will only illustrate one of them by putting you all into an incredibly deep sleep, let’s instead just talk about the high level generalities of the two main causes of unconsciousness pertinent to the topic at hand. When someone is potentially dying, it’s because of one of two things — traumatic injury or medical issue.

An Eagle Scout became the kingpin of a drug empire

(Photo by Tomás Del Coro)

Looking at the source of most Hollywood movie plot-line unconsciousness, trauma, the two main things that will make you become unresponsive are exsanguination (bleeding out) and traumatic brain injury.

In the former case, if you were able to stay awake when bleeding to death, you simply would naturally — slapping or shaking not needed, nor beneficial. Why? Anytime you’re seriously injured you’re naturally going to have your sympathetic nervous system releasing epinephrine, nor-epinephrine, and dopamine. These hormones will do things like increase your heart rate and constrict your blood vessels and pupils. This results in the greatest amount of blood flow to your brain possible given the circumstances.

Along with this, whether conscious or not, your baroreceptors also continue doing their thing. Residing in an area of your carotid sinus (the beginning of your internal carotid artery) and in the arch of your aortic artery, these handy little mechanoreceptors sense a change in blood pressure and cause the body to react accordingly. Too high a pressure and it will inhibit your fight or flight nervous system (sympathetic). This allows acetylcholine, the main neurotransmitter for your rest and digest nervous system (parasympathetic) to slow down your body’s heart rate and dilate its blood vessels, thereby decreasing your blood pressure.

On the flip side, if they sense too little pressure, like when your precious blood volume is being spilled onto the ground, it will stimulate your sympathetic nervous system to increase its heart rate and constrict blood vessels, raising your blood pressure.

Thus, slapping that person in the face and yelling at them to “Stay with from the light!!!”, will likely only see the medical professionals who arrive slap you in the face for potentially further injuring someone who is already barely clinging to life. That’s not to mention that while you were doing that, you were not doing what you should have been doing — applying direct pressure on the area of bleeding, which is easier and requires far less pressure than you might think to stop the bleeding, even for arterial bleeds.

An Eagle Scout became the kingpin of a drug empire
Giphy

And it’s not like direct pressure is rocket surgery. It involves simply taking your hand (hopefully gloved, or with some sort of barrier device to prevent the spread of disease) and placing it directly over the wound. Apply enough force to stop the bleeding. Even in the worst types of bleeding, you won’t need more than 3-4 pounds per square inch or about 27 kPa.

You should also have tried to immobilize any body part that looks out of place, so as not to have its movement cause any more damage. Thus, shaking or slapping the individual in a vain attempt to keep them conscious for… reasons we guess… is a bit counterproductive.

Moving on, should the cause of the unconsciousness be a traumatic brain injury (TBI), like a concussion or a bleed in the brain, slapping the person will at best do nothing and may well serve to make the injury worse. Further, shaking or slapping someone with a TBI also comes with the potential risk of damaging their spinal cord.

Moving on to medical reasons for an altered level of consciousness, the causes are vast and can be difficult to nail down. There isn’t always an obvious reason like in trauma where you might see the bullet holes or the bones sticking out of the skin. In fact, there are so many that emergency medical providers use handy little acronyms like AEIOU-TIPS to make sure they’re thinking about all the potential causes when they’re treating you.

  • A= things like alcohol and acidosis.
  • E=things like epilepsy, electrolyte abnormalities and encephalopathies.
  • I= infection (infection being the #1 cause of altered mental status in the elderly).
  • O=things like overdose or oxygen deficiency.
  • U= things like underdosing of medications or uremia.
  • T=trauma or tumors.
  • I= insulin problems like in the case of diabetes.
  • P= things like poisons or psychosis
  • S= things like stroke or shock.

In any of these cases and so many more, the only thing forcing the person to stay awake will do is allow them to give a better history on what is potentially causing their problem. This can be incredibly helpful at speeding up optimal treatment. But it isn’t specifically going to help reverse the actual issue as is usually depicted in cinema, nor is your shaking or slapping going to aid at keeping them conscious anyway. Just like in trauma, in all of these cases, the body already has compensatory mechanisms in place that will keep the person conscious if it can.

In the end, knowing a person’s body is already doing everything it can to stay away from the light, maybe instead of slapping them, just remember — direct pressure, immobilization, call for emergency medical aid, and, when all else fails, just lean down, smile, and say, “Look at me. We’re gonna be okay. You can rest now…” And maybe throw in a “I love you 3,000” just for good measure. You never know, it might just be your last chance to say it.

This article originally appeared on Today I Found Out. Follow @TodayIFoundOut on Twitter.

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The Army is offering $5K bonuses to join new training brigade

The U.S. Army is authorizing $5,000 bonuses to woo top-performing troops into a new training brigade as the service once famous for shouldering the burden of America’s wars works to meet the growing demand for advisers in places ranging from Iraq and Syria to Afghanistan and Africa.


The plan recognizes the new reality of America at war: Army soldiers are more often training and building local security forces rather than doing the fighting for them on foreign soil. It replaces what has been a hodgepodge of programs over the past dozen years with projections for five new, permanent, fully-trained brigades that can be deployed around the world as professional advisers.

“It’s a recognition that this is an enduring requirement for the conventional Army,” Gen. Robert Abrams, head of U.S. Army Forces Command, told The Associated Press in an interview.

An Eagle Scout became the kingpin of a drug empire
A Marine assigned to Task Force Taqaddum (TF TQ) advises and assists designated Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) in Anbar Province to enable ISF to degrade and defeat Da’esh (an Arabic acronym fro ISIL) and support the Mosul counterattack. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Ethan Hutchinson/Released)

“Most times we’re falling in on existing institutions that are probably failing, and bringing them up to a certain competency level so they can secure themselves. And we’ve got to be able to do that on a large scale.”

The new program and its signing bonuses also illustrate how the Trump administration has endorsed the Obama administration’s emphasis on working “by, with and through” local forces.

That policy emerged from the deadly and tumultuous years after the 2003 Iraq invasion, when as many as 160,000 American troops were on the ground battling insurgents while struggling to transform a rag-tag mix of often ethnically-opposed Iraqi troops into a functioning fighting force.

U.S. troops left Iraq in 2011. Less than three years later, the Iraqi security forces largely collapsed as Islamic State militants seized control of large swaths of territory. U.S. troops then returned to Iraq, training, advising and enabling the Iraqis to oust IS from the country.

Also read: Here’s how the Army is assisting Iraqi forces in the fight for Mosul

The $5,000 bonus got final authorization on May 3 and is expected to be available beginning in June. The Army has chosen a colonel to lead the first training brigade and he will travel to a number of military posts in the coming weeks to recruit soldiers for the unit. Joining is strictly voluntary.

Since it’s a new program, Abrams acknowledged some soldiers may be reluctant to shift away from current career paths by taking a chance on something they fear may fail or lose support over time.

“There is natural apprehension in the field: ‘Is this a flash in the pan?’ It’s not a flash in the pan,” Abrams said. “The chief is committed and the Army senior leadership is committed, I’m committed. This is going to be an enduring capability.”

The challenge, he said, is getting mid-grade non-commissioned officers to sign up. That’s where the bonus will help.

Of the 529 soldiers in the brigade, 360 will be officers who don’t qualify for the bonus. The rest will be enlisted soldiers and non-commissioned officers who can earn the extra money.

The objective is to fix some problems created by the current training programs. In Iraq and Afghanistan, chunks of combat brigades have been deployed to serve as trainers and advisers to local forces, often leaving the remainder of their units back at home. Right now, for example, portions of three brigades are in Afghanistan and Iraq.

An Eagle Scout became the kingpin of a drug empire
U.S. Army and Iraqi soldiers cross an intersection during a routine security patrol in downtown Tal Afar, Iraq (U.S. Navy photo)

“It separates the leaders from those they lead, and it degrades (unit) readiness significantly,” Abrams said, adding that Army leaders have expressed frustrations over breaking units apart to staff the mission.

The plan calls for a military assistance training academy to be created at Fort Benning, Georgia. About 90 civilian and military staff members are being recruited. The first class will begin in October.

Members of what is being called the new Security Force Assistance Brigade will go through a training course of six-to-eight weeks. Almost 200 will receive 16 weeks of intensive language instruction. Others will get an eight-week language course.

More reading: SEAL Team 6 is experimenting with sensory deprivation chambers to learn languages faster

The first brigade could be ready to deploy by the end of 2018, Abrams said, but there has been no decision on where they will go. Iraq and Afghanistan are the most likely locations, he said.

As more brigades are created, they would deploy to other areas of the world. While the Army initially conceived of one base in each geographical military command around the globe, it’s more likely they’ll simply be sent where most needed.

The Army will select soldiers for the second brigade in about a year. All five brigades will be created by 2022.

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