U.S. threatens to expand sanctions on Nord Stream 2 as Russia moves to complete pipeline - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY TRENDING

U.S. threatens to expand sanctions on Nord Stream 2 as Russia moves to complete pipeline

WASHINGTON — The United States has threatened to sanction any individual or company helping Russia build a controversial natural gas pipeline to Germany as the Kremlin moves to complete the last kilometers of the nearly $11 billion project.

“Get out now — or risk the consequences,” U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said July 15 during a press conference in Washington announcing the new sanction guidelines for the Nord Stream 2 pipeline.


The State Department essentially removed language that excluded the pipeline from the powerful Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), which was passed in 2017.

Unable to use CAATSA, the United States in December passed legislation to sanction any vessel laying underwater pipes for the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, forcing Swiss-based Allseas to quit the project with just about 160 kilometers remaining.

The pipeline, which consists of two parallel lines running under the Baltic Sea, is a combined 1,230 kilometers in length.

Russia is now trying to use its own vessels to finish Nord Stream 2 after receiving permission from Denmark earlier this month. The unfinished portion of the pipeline lies in Denmark’s economic waters.

However, the Russian ship would still need to use the services of Western companies, such as port facilities and insurance, giving the United States the potential to hamper their efforts.

CAATSA allowed Congress to sanction Russian energy export pipelines but contained guidance put in by Pompeo’s predecessor, Rex Tillerson, that grandfathered in Nord Stream 2 and the second leg of TurkStream, which runs under the Black Sea to Turkey.

Pompeo said the State Department is updating the public guidance for CAATSA authorities to include the two Russian-led projects, which he described as “Kremlin tools” to expand European dependence on Russian energy supplies and undermine Ukraine.

Pompeo is set to visit Denmark on July 22 to discuss the pipeline, among other issues.

Nord Stream 2 would pump up to 55 billion cubic meters of natural gas to Germany annually upon its completion, doubling the European nation’s import of Russian gas.

The project enables Moscow to significantly reduce natural gas shipments through Ukraine, which currently earns billions of dollars annually in transit fees.

“They are winding up and laying the ground for the imposition of additional sanctions if Russia attempts to deploy its pipe-laying vessels,” said Dan Vajdic, an adviser to Ukraine’s state-owned energy firm Naftogaz, which lobbied Washington to impose more sanctions.

The United States is seeking to export more natural gas to Europe while helping Eastern and Central Europe develop the necessary infrastructure to reduce their dependence on Russian oil and gas.

Congress last year approved up to id=”listicle-2646417365″ billion in financing for energy infrastructure projects in the region.

James Carafano, a national security and foreign policy fellow at The Heritage Foundation, told a congressional hearing on July 14 that the completion of Nord Stream 2 would destroy the economic rationale for such U.S.-backed projects.

The State Department has denied that the threat of new sanctions against Nord Stream 2 and TurkStream are designed to help U.S. exporters of natural gas.

The State Department has denied that the threat of new sanctions against Nord Stream 2 and TurkStream are designed to help U.S. exporters of natural gas.

Nonetheless, State Department Spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus told RFE/RL in an interview that Russia and Gazprom are in a “difficult position” to be able to finish Nord Stream 2.

“Companies basically have to choose – you can do business with the Russians and Gazprom or you can do business with the United States. We think that companies will make the decision that it is more lucrative to do business with the United States,” she said.

Senator Ted Cruz (Republican-Texas) urged Congress to give the White House more firepower to stop Nord Stream 2 by passing legislation that would impose more sanctions on the pipeline, including on insurance and certification companies.

“The Kremlin will no doubt continue its frantic efforts to circumvent American sanctions, and so it is imperative that Congress provide the administration the broadest possible authorities to counter these ever-changing attempts at evasion,” he said in a statement.

Cruz’s home state of Texas is the largest producer of natural gas in the United States and a key energy exporter.

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

popular

That time Patton denied the guy who saved his life in WWI

Joe Angelo was a World War I veteran who served in the Army during the Meuse-Argonne offensive. This is where he would unknowingly make a significant contribution to World War II.


That’s not a typo.

Angelo was an orderly to the 304th Tank Brigade commander, Capt. George S. Patton. As Patton maneuvered on the battlefield, he learned that many of his men were dead and thus unavailable to clear machine gun nests. He and Angelo were about to charge the nests themselves when Patton was exposed to machine gun fire that critically wounded him.

His orderly – Angelo – pulled him to safety.

U.S. threatens to expand sanctions on Nord Stream 2 as Russia moves to complete pipeline
Angelo with the Distinguished Service Cross Patton awarded to him. (U.S. Army)

 

He then dressed Patton’s wounds in a shell crater. Angelo was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for his actions. Patton told newspapers Angelo was “without doubt the bravest man in the American Army. I have never seen his equal.”

The young orderly took the praise reluctantly and when the war ended, he went back to work as a civilian. Patton, of course, continued his military career.

Then the Great Depression hit.

 

U.S. threatens to expand sanctions on Nord Stream 2 as Russia moves to complete pipeline
Bonus marcher, 1932 (National Records and Archives)

 

Angelo soon found himself unemployed along with 25 percent of the country. The Depression hit Great War veterans especially hard. As soldiers, they made much less than the average factory worker at the time. So in 1924, Congress voted to give them an adjusted wage – called a “Bonus” by the plan’s critics – $1.25 for every day overseas and $1.00 for every day in the States.

Veterans who were owed 50 dollars or less were paid immediately. Everyone else was issued a certificate, with four percent interest and an additional 25 percent upon payment. The only problem was that this was to be paid in 1945 and the vets needed the money ASAP.

In response, WWI veterans converged on Washington with their families, setting up in large tent cities. Estimates were that 20,000 veterans were living in the D.C. camp. The media dubbed them “The Bonus Army.” Living among them was Joe Angelo.

Now known as American military legends, the men in charge of carrying out President Hoover’s order for the U.S. Army to clear the camp were Dwight D. Eisenhower, Douglas MacArthur, and George S. Patton.

Patton, now a major, was one of the first officers to arrive in the capital. Patton led federal troops up Pennsylvania Avenue on the way to the Bonus Army camp. Using swords and gas grenades to clear the marchers, his cavalrymen spent the night destroying the veterans camp.

 

U.S. threatens to expand sanctions on Nord Stream 2 as Russia moves to complete pipeline
Members of the Bonus Army camped out on the lawn of the U.S. Capitol building (Library of Congress)

The next morning, Angelo tried to get close to Patton, but his former commander outright rejected the advance. Major Patton told his aides with Angelo in earshot, “I do not know this man. Take him away and under no circumstances permit him to return.”

The New York Times ran a story on the meeting between the two men the very next day, under the headline “A Calvary Major Evicts Veteran Who Saved His Life in Battle.”

In their book on the Bonus Army, “The Bonus Army: An American Epic,” Paul Dickson and Thomas B. Allen, wrote that Patton explained the situation to his fellow officers over coffee right after Angelo was escorted away:

“That man was my orderly during the war. When I was wounded, he dragged me from a shell hole under fire. I got him a decoration for it. Since the war, my mother and I have more than supported him. We have given him money. We have set him up in business several times. Can you imagine the headlines if the papers got word of our meeting here this morning. Of course, we’ll take care of him anyway.”

Patton called it the “most distasteful form of service” and spent the interwar years working on less violent ways the military can clear such uprisings in the future.

MIGHTY CULTURE

2,000 Gold-Star family members go to Disney thanks to Gary Sinise

The Gary Sinise Foundation, a non-profit that focuses on veterans, first responders, and their families, has helped send almost 2,000 people from Gold Star families to Walt Disney World near Orlando, Florida, as part of Snowball Express, a holiday season program that aims to help families of fallen service members.


According to an Instagram post, the foundation is tracking 1,722 participants this year, including hundreds of kids from over 650 families.

Snowball Express started in 2006 and aims to create a five-day experience for the families that is fun, inspiring, and therapeutic. In 2017, Snowball Express became an official Gary Sinise Foundation program.

The program may be young, but through the tireless work of its supporters and members, it has quickly made an impact on participants. A tweet from Fallen Patriots, a non-profit that focuses on helping Gold Star family members get to college, said that participant Dale Mundell now wants to fly for American Air, the airline sponsoring the event, in order to help other family members take part in such events in the future.


I witnessed an international airport come to a complete stop today …

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Airports got in on the festivities as well. The Killeen Airport, a familiar location for any service members who have activated or deployed through Fort Hood, Texas, welcomed Snowball Express participants and a man in a Santa costume met with the families.

In Nashville, other travelers stopped what they were doing and held a rendition of the Star-Spangled Banner. U.S. troops in the terminal stood at attention and saluted as the song was performed, and you can see bystanders drying their eyes in a Facebook video of the event.

Meanwhile, airport employees seem amped about the Snowball Express as well. The National Air Traffic Controllers Association sent tote bags to participants to help them get all their goods from location to location, and the controllers themselves posted photos on social media celebrating as flights took off from airfields under their control.

And around the Disney parks, other park goers and local residents have chimed in on social media as they ran into the crowds of Gold Star family members and were affected by the experience. For some, it was simply a great experience to see all the happy families, but for others, it was also a somber reminder that service members and first responders are still in harm’s way every day.

After all, some participants are as young as 2 or 3 years old, as Snowball Express participant Ramonda Anderson pointed out in a tweet.

If you’re interested in supporting the Gary Sinise Foundation, which also builds adaptive homes for disabled veterans, hosts free theater nights for veterans, and helps pay for training and equipment for first responders, they are always accepting donations on their website and are part of the Combined Federal Campaign. Use CFC number 27963.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Base Exchanges now fight plans to merge with Commissaries

Defense Department officials want Congress to include in its fiscal 2019 defense policy bill new authorities to execute its plan to merge the Defense Commissary Agency with the three military exchange services under a single system of on-base stores to be called the Defense Resale Enterprise.

Resisting that effort out of public view are executives of the exchange services who fear their own success in running base department stores, gas stations and convenience outlets, which generate profits to support on-base morale, and recreational activities, could be put at risk by some of the policy executives they blame for deepening the decline in sales across the commissary system.


In 2016, Congress gave the department authority and new tools to “transform” base grocery stores, which for generations relied on taxpayer dollars to offer a wide array of brand products to military families and retirees at cost.

In addition, shoppers pay a five percent surcharge to fund the modernizing or replacement of aging commissaries.

The goal of recent reforms is to turn commissaries into profit-generating stores, similar to exchanges, thus lowering the $1.3 billion annual subsidy so that money can be diverted to more critical needs for sustaining a ready fighting force.

Congress insisted, however, that overall savings to patrons not drop, even as DeCA phases in more business-like practices. Two big ones are variable pricing of goods to replace the tradition of selling at cost, and adoption of commissary-label goods to compete for patron dollars with a narrowed selection of national brands.

Manufacturers over have competed through pricing for commissary shelf space. Surviving brands, in turn, often have cut coupon offerings and other promotions to make up for lower pricing, say industry sources.

U.S. threatens to expand sanctions on Nord Stream 2 as Russia moves to complete pipeline
(Photo by Chiara Mattirolo)

Meanwhile, they have complained, it’s unclear whether their reduced profit margins are being passed on to patrons or retained to offset commissary operating costs. So far, critics in industry contend, one clear consequence of commissary reforms has been to accelerate declining sales.

Policy officials implementing the reforms are now seen as doubling down on their bet, insisting that, to survive, military resale stores must consolidate to squeeze out inefficiencies, rescue commissaries and evolve into super retailers to more effectively compete with commercial stores, not only on prices but on providing a more attractive, rewarding, and convenient shopping experience.

Officials are warning Congress, store suppliers and advocates for military shoppers that defending the status quo, amid falling sales, will jeopardize “the department’s ability to ensure the long-term viability” of base stores.

The comment appears in a draft legislative proposal for creating the Defense Resale Enterprise by merging DeCA with the Army & Air Force Exchange Service, Navy Exchange Command and the Marine Corps exchange system.

A merger, the proposal contends, will reduce reliance on appropriated funding; eliminate management redundancies; increase standardization of processes and systems; cut operating costs, and generate greater margins on goods sold “to be reinvested in price reductions, morale, welfare and recreation program funding and capital reinvestment.”

It also contends it “will increase the enterprise’s agility to respond to dynamic mission, industry and patron requirements and trends; and [to] ensure the long-term viability of these services” as benefits of military service.

U.S. threatens to expand sanctions on Nord Stream 2 as Russia moves to complete pipeline
(Photo by Masayuki Kawagishi)

Sources say exchange officials are concerned that the team executing what so far are unproven commissary reforms is directing a merger of all resale operations with misleading claims. They are bristling at briefing materials to explain merger plans that lump exchanges in with DeCA as distressed operations. That’s just wrong, exchange leaders are contending, according to sources.

For example, AAFES touts that it has almost doubled earnings from sales over a recent five-year period, from 3.2 percent in 2012 to 5.9 percent in 2016, despite an 11 percent force drawdown across Army and Air Force in those years. Also, its website business is growing 50 percent annually and AAFES says it consistently has delivered about $375 million annually to support MWR programs.

And yet, sources say, to win support for a merger, Defense officials have portrayed exchanges as part of a failing resale system. The only store system that has been mismanaged, particularly against outside competitors, is DeCA, they insist. One internal communication referred to DeCA “the elephant in the room,” with sales down 20 percent since 2012 and current reforms aggravating patrons rather than turning sales around.

On April 12, 2018, Defense officials briefed some military associations on merger plans, perhaps also learned what sort of resistance to expect. Advocacy groups say they need to learn more.

“We are open to ideas that could make the system more efficient as long as they also preserve the value of the benefit for military families,” said Eileen Huck, deputy director of government relations for National Military Family Association.

Priorities for families are to sustain shopper savings, improve the in-store experience and ensure proper funding of MWR programs, Huck added.

Streamlining of backroom processes across base stores to gain efficiency, without diluting the shopping benefit, “is something we support,” said Brooke Goldberg, director of military family policy for Military Officers Association of America. But how does a full merger of stores benefit the exchanges, she asked.

U.S. threatens to expand sanctions on Nord Stream 2 as Russia moves to complete pipeline
(U.S. Army Corps of Engineers photo by Carol E. Davis)

“We don’t have answers on that,” she said.

“The intriguing part of all this is the untapped potential of commissaries…[T]here are things that should be explored [to] preserve that benefit. But we also want to preserve the exchange benefit,” Goldberg said. “Any change to the commissary that negatively affects the exchange is not something we support.”

Steve Rossetti, director of government affairs for the American Logistics Association, the industry trade group for businesses supporting military resale, cautioned against using exchange earnings to underwrite a wider resale enterprise. The earnings belong to patrons, he said, and have been used for decades to reinvest in exchanges and support MWR to improve base community programs.

Rossetti suggested Defense officials should focus first on reversing the falloff in sales at commissaries before launching a merger with exchanges to try to gain long-term efficiencies, and also that they “take a long hard look before they leap to ensure benefits truly outweigh costs.”

There’s fear a broken commissary system, and the quest to cut taxpayer support of it, could endanger still thriving exchanges if, through merger, their profits are seen as a life raft to save grocery discounts as the law requires.

The draft legislative proposal, however, describes different goals aimed at keeping all base retail operations competitive, for example by allowing exchanges and commissaries to combine into single stores. This could “respond to generational shopping habits” and to market forces “impacting all traditional grocery and retail stores,” it says. “Millennials (ages 22-36), who collectively represent the majority of military shoppers, [are] using technology to shop and save, and are driven by speed, convenience, proximity, variety, (rather than brand) and experiences.”

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

UN wants to know who supplied that massive rifle shipment

UN inspectors are examining more than 2,500 AK-47 rifles and other guns seized by the crew of a U.S. destroyer off the coast of Yemen to determine whether the weapons originated in Iran or Somalia.

U.S. authorities said they invited the UN inspectors on board on Oct. 25, 2018, to determine whether the weapons provide proof that Iran is smuggling arms to allied Shi’ite Huthi rebels that are battling the Yemeni government in a four-year civil war. Iran has denied providing weapons to the Huthis.

The United States — in debates at the United Nations — has repeatedly charged Iran with illegally smuggling weapons to the Huthis, in violation of UN resolutions against arming the Huthis.


Yet U.S. forces patrolling the waters around Yemen have managed to seize only a handful of weapons caches like the one seized by the USS Jason Dunham in late August 2018.

“It’s one big traffic corridor,” Vice Admiral Scott Stearney, commander of the U.S. 5th Fleet, told reporters on board the vessel on Oct. 25, 2018, speaking of the Gulf of Aden and other waterways around Yemen.

Stearney declined to say if he thought Iran was responsible for the weapons seized by the Dunham’s crew, but he said the UN inspectors were experts on illicit weapons from Iran, Yemen, and Somalia.

U.S. threatens to expand sanctions on Nord Stream 2 as Russia moves to complete pipeline

The guided-missile destroyer USS Jason Dunham.

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Deven B. King)

The U.S. destroyer’s crew while on patrol in the region in August 2018 noticed large bags being transferred from a dhow about 70 miles off the coast of Yemen into a smaller skiff. A dhow is a traditional ship that commonly sails the waters of the Persian Gulf region.

The Navy ship intercepted the skiff and, after talking to the crew on board, determined they were smuggling weapons.

The rifles, in bundles of four or five, were wrapped in plastic, then wrapped in styrofoam and hidden in green burlap bags, according to Navy Commander John Hamilton, commander of the Dunham.

A small number of reporters on board the ship were allowed to see the assault rifles, which were heavily rusted after nearly two months at sea. The weapons had been unpacked and piled up, and were ready to be inspected by the UN team.

Hamilton said the crew on the dhow told them they were carrying flour and wheat, but he said none of the foodstuffs were found on board.

Navy Captain Adan Cruz, commodore of U.S. Naval Forces Central Command, said the weapons could have been shipped from Somalia rather than Iran. The UN inspectors, he said, will determine the guns’ origin and “see first-hand the weapons flowing into the region.”

UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, in calling for a crackdown on Iran at the UN, has repeatedly accused Iran of supplying the Huthis. in 2017, she displayed the remnants of missiles that the Huthi rebels fired at Saudi Arabia, which is backing the Yemeni government in the civil war, saying they provided “undeniable evidence” that Iran was illegally supplying weapons to its Yemeni allies.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

This is how much of Afghanistan the Taliban reportedly control

Taliban militants now control or contest nearly half of all districts in Afghanistan as the U.S. pours thousands more troops into the country, a new analysis from The Long War Journal reveals.


The insurgent group predominately controls rural districts throughout the country where the Afghan government and national security forces do not have an extended presence. “Rural areas in Afghanistan are essential to the Taliban’s resilience and ability to consistently undermine Afghan security,” the LWJ noted, citing the insurgent groups ability to use rural districts to mount attacks on urban centers.

 

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The large Taliban control of the country comes as the U.S. is sending approximately 3,000 more troops to the country to support the Afghan National Security Forces. This deployment is in tandem from a new declared strategy from the Trump administration which will place an emphasis on cracking down on Pakistani sanctuary for Taliban militants, and making a sustained and prolonged commitment to Afghanistan.

The Obama administration made a point of tying its troop deployments to a declared timeline for withdrawal, something President Donald Trump has explicitly rejected instead embracing a “conditions” based approach.

The conditions however are dire. The Taliban now control more territory than at any time since 2001 and the Afghan National Security Forces’s are suffering historic casualties.

MIGHTY CULTURE

This new series examines what it’s like to serve during peacetime

There is a very robust veteran community within the entertainment industry. Veterans in Media and Entertainment is a nonprofit networking organization that unites current and former members of the military working in the film and television industry. The Writers Guild Foundation has a year-long writing program for veterans. And hey, We Are The Mighty is a company founded on a mission to capture, empower, and celebrate the voice of today’s military community.

The military community makes up a small percentage of Americans, but plays a global — and exceptionally challenging — role. It makes sense that many veterans have stories to tell. Not all of those stories are about their military experiences, but many are. Hollywood loves a good hero story, but there’s more to the military than those few moments of bravery.

The military is a mind f*** unique lifestyle, one that does involve war and sacrifice, but also really weird laws and random adventures — and in a Post-9/11 world, we are now seeing an influx of veterans ready to dissect that world.

Enter Xanthe Pajarillo.


U.S. threatens to expand sanctions on Nord Stream 2 as Russia moves to complete pipeline

Xanthe Pajarillo.

“Veteran narratives are begging for more diversity. When our representation in the media is limited to war heroes or trauma victims, it creates a skewed portrait of who service members are,” said Pajarillo, the creator of Airmen, a web series that explores the dynamics of queerness, romantic/workplace relationships, and being a person of color in the Air Force during peacetime operations. It emphasizes the unshakable bonds and relationships that veterans make during their time in service.

Airmen was awarded an “Honorable Mention” from the Tim Disney Prize for Excellence in the Storytelling Arts in 2017. The prize celebrates the courage and commitment to make the world a better place — and the originality to do it through the unique powers of gifted storytelling.

U.S. threatens to expand sanctions on Nord Stream 2 as Russia moves to complete pipeline

U.S. Marine Corps veteran Chloe Mondesir, who will play Airman 1st Class Mercedes Magat.

It’s important to recognize that there is much more to military service than what is traditionally portrayed in film and television (which tends to be the rare stories of heroism in battle and/or the traumatic effects of war).

American society has placed heroes on a pedestal, which is a very high standard to meet for our troops — and one that often involves a life-threatening circumstance. Not every troop will see combat (this is a good thing… but we don’t always feel that way when other members of our team are shouldering the burdens of war), and even those who do engage in battle but live when others die experience survivor’s guilt and symptoms of trauma.

It’s time to tell the reality of military service: the warrior’s tale, yes, but more importantly, the stories of the humans living their lives while wearing the uniform.

U.S. threatens to expand sanctions on Nord Stream 2 as Russia moves to complete pipeline

“Ultimately, I created Airmen to help bridge the gap between civilians and veterans. The characters are active duty, but their experiences are universal. We are complex individuals with successes, failures, and insecurities just like everyone else. I hope when someone watches the show – civilian or veteran – they’ll feel less alone in the world,” says Pajarillo.

Which is exactly what Airmen is setting out to do — and now the series is ready for the next stage of production, beginning with a campaign at SeedSpark, a platform designed to change the entertainment industry to reflect the world we actually live in.

The campaign will launch on July 16 and run for 30 days to reach a ,750 goal. Contributions will be used towards production and post-production of nine episodes, each running 5-7 minutes long. Upon completion, the episodes will be released weekly and made available to view on a streaming platform, such as Vimeo or YouTube.

The series stars U.S. Marine Corps veteran (and We Are The Mighty favorite) Chloe Mondesir and U.S. Navy veterans Blu Lindsey and Brandon Elonzae, with many other vets in the cast and crew.

The most authentic way to get military stories is from the people who lived them. Check out the series page and consider contributing to their campaign — it’s a perfect way to thank an artist for their service.

MIGHTY GAMING

‘Fortnite’ finally fixed the giant robot that has been terrorizing the game

The creators of “Fortnite” have responded to the pleas of hundreds of players by lowering the firepower of a giant robot that has been terrorizing the game for weeks.

Epic Games added the B.R.U.T.E. mech suit to the game with “Fortnite’s” season 10 update on Aug. 1, 2019. The B.R.U.T.E. is a two-person vehicle that requires one player to pilot while the other player controls a rocket launcher and shotgun. The B.R.U.T.E. can crush players and destroy buildings simply by stomping through them, and its boosters give it tons of mobility compared to players on foot.


The mech has been wreaking havoc in battle royale matches, and some of the most well-known “Fortnite” players started a social media hashtag #RemovetheMech to petition for the B.R.U.T.E. to be removed entirely. Players have specifically complained about their inability to defend themselves against the B.R.U.T.E. during competitive matches.

The game’s developers attempted to defend the B.R.U.T.E.’s strength in an Aug. 15, 2019 blog post, sharing specific stats about how many players were eliminated using the mech in battle royale matches. Epic said the mech was designed to bring “spectacle and entertainment” to the game, and make it easier for players with a lower skill level to win a match.

“The mission of Fortnite is to bring players of all skill levels together to have a fun experience where anyone can win. For example — everyone having a shot at that first elimination or Victory Royale moment and the satisfying feeling that comes with it. Right now, we know there are players out there who have never had that opportunity,” the developers said in the post.

Now, one week later, Epic announced sweeping changes to the B.R.U.T.E., lowering its speed and damage, and making it appear less often overall. The changes are designed to make the mech a defensive tank, rather than an aggressive juggernaut.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=32QZBOe6gHM
Streamers React To The BRUTE Finally Being NERFED & Junk Rifts Being REMOVED!

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“We want to reduce a B.R.U.T.E.’s ability to engage and disengage at long distances to encourage a more strategic approach to an encounter,” the detailed patch notes read. “In general we hope to shift B.R.U.T.E.s away from being highly mobile and put more emphasis on their already defensive nature.”

The B.R.U.T.E. will still be around for the foreseeable future, but it seems that players will have now a better chance to fight back. “Fortnite” regularly cycles through weapons and vehicles, so its possible that the mechs will be a distant memory in a few months, or just replaced with something even more powerful.

“Fortnite” is the most popular game in the world with more than 250 million players, and it’s free to play. The game also supports competitive events that give away millions of dollars in prize money.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

Commissaries now have their own store brand

Introduction of the commissary’s new brands continue to chug along, with 467 different items currently on shelves stateside, officials said.


Eventually, the agency plans to have upwards of 4,000 different in-house brand options on shelves. The products are sold under the Home Base, Freedom’s Choice, and Top Care brands (Do those names make you feel patriotic?).

Also read: Yes, shopping at the Commissary really does save you money

In the next several months, starting March 2018, officials plan to introduce a slew of new products, including more cheese options, dressings, honey, a variety of condiments, pie fillings, baking goods, tea, and creamers.

Items hit stateside stores first, with OCONUS stores getting the items about six weeks later, Defense Commissary Agency.

U.S. threatens to expand sanctions on Nord Stream 2 as Russia moves to complete pipeline
(Photo courtesy of USAF)

Because I live to help you out, I’ve tested many of the commissary’s different products, from trash bags to cheese. And I’ll tell you what: they are pretty much the same as any other products, but typically cheaper. I support things being cheaper, so that makes me happy.

Related: Commissary savings overhaul might cost shoppers extra

And that’s actually the whole point of all of this. The generic products (or what they really want me to call “store brand”) are being produced and stocked under a system that allows the commissary to break from what had been the rule of only selling items at cost plus that nice 5 percent surcharge, and price them above what they are paying for them.

The goal is for the commissary system to make some cash to cover its own costs, instead of requiring an over $1 billion subsidy from taxpayers to stay in business.

MIGHTY TRENDING

China’s electric buses kill oil demand as US dependency increases

China’s rapidly growing fleet of electric buses could be the biggest existential threat to oil demand in the future as more and more vehicles shun fossil fuels.

A new report from Bloomberg New Energy Finance suggests that China’s electric-bus revolution could kill off oil demand in the future with 6.4 million barrels a day displaced by electric vehicles by 2040.


By the end of 2019, a cumulative 270,000 barrels a day of diesel demand, predominantly from China, will be removed from the market. China’s revolution in electric vehicles has been astonishing and looks set to continue into the future. For example, in the growing mega city of Shenzen, the entire 16,000 strong fleet of buses run on electric engines and taxis will soon follow suit.

U.S. threatens to expand sanctions on Nord Stream 2 as Russia moves to complete pipeline

Bloomberg estimates that electric buses and cars collectively account for 3% of global oil demand growth since 2011. The market is still small, making up around 0.3% of current consumption, but is set to expand rapidly in the coming years.

Global energy demand is still growing despite the boom in electric vehicles, with the US set to become the world’s largest oil exporter in the coming years.

A number of American cities and universities, such as the University of Utah, have unveiled electric-bus fleets in recent years. And in 2017, 12 major global cities agreed to buy only all-electric buses starting in 2025, according to Electrek.

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

MIGHTY MOVIES

Why it was so important to make ‘The Last Full Measure’

In 1999, writer/director Todd Robinson was at Kirtland Air Force Base to attend a PJ graduation ceremony. In attendance was William F. Pitsenbarger, the father of Airman 1st Class William H. Pitsenbarger, a PJ who was killed in action on April 11, 1966, when he volunteered to stay behind with the soldiers of the Big Red One during Operation Abilene.

During his speech, Mr. Pitsenbarger lamented the things his son, who died at the age of 21, would never do: fall in love and have a son of his own, and in doing so, understand his father’s love for him.

“I was floored,” recalled Robinson, “I remembered my own father’s fear for me during the Vietnam War and I thought about my own son.” He reflected on the brutality of the draft during the Vietnam War and what the experience was like for the veterans who were called to serve — and their families they left behind.

Robinson didn’t know if he wanted to make a war film until that moment. He became committed to the veterans. “If I could make a small contribution by looking into what the personal experiences were like for these men, it would be the least I could do,” he shared.

“I began to interview the veterans of that battle. Their stories were just so tragic, brutal, moving, unrequited…and they were looking for purpose: it was so important to them to see that this man’s valor was recognized before his father passed.”

He spent the next 20 years creating The Last Full Measure, a powerful retelling of the courageous acts of Airman 1st Class Pitsenbarger and the men who fought for his Medal of Honor.
The Last Full Measure – Arrives on Digital 4/7 and on Blu-ray, DVD, and On Demand 4/21

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The Last Full Measure is best described as a military movie made by a director who “gets it” — who understands that war is chaotic and that the complexities of PTSD for combat veterans require a conversation from our society as a whole.

One of the biggest takeaways he gained about the military community through the making and screening of this film was the notion of “service greater than self,” Robinson told WATM. Screening the film for veterans across the country, Robinson saw the spirit of Pitsenbarger’s sacrifice reflected in the men and women in uniform today. When it comes down to the wire, service members are there for the person at their side.

He also noticed that the film triggered a real need to have a conversation about the wellness of veterans — especially combat vets.

“We, as civilians, the people who benefit from the service of these people, don’t understand what they’ve been through. We don’t always embrace our own complicity in sending service members overseas. If you’re a taxpayer or voter, whether you agree with the policy or not, you’re responsible. We’re also responsible for bringing them home. They need to be given more attention than just a pat on the head, a business-class trip home, and some medication from the VA. We need to embrace our military community when they come home. We need to employ them. And we need to say, ‘You’re not alone,'” Robinson affirmed.

Robinson felt like he owed something back and this film was part of what he could give. Of course, it came with many challenges. In his own words, “Making a movie is organized chaos.” Robinson and his producing partner Signey Sherman, noticed a uniform error in one scene and a folded flag that was coming undone in another. They spent ,000 out of pocket to correct the errors in post-production. “It just looked disrespectful to me,” Robinson lamented.

Somehow a bootleg copy was released overseas containing the original errors and viewers complained. “Those kinds of things pop up. I suppose the real challenge is trying to explain to an audience, without feeling too sensitive, that a film is an impression of a story. My job was to identify the metaphor of the story and what we could say about the men who fought in Operation Abilene. It always came back to service before self.”

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Todd Robinson and Ed Harris filming The Last Full Measure, 2017. (Photo by Jackson Davis)

To help accomplish that goal, Robinson hired veterans on and off camera. In the Medal of Honor ceremony scene, real PJs wear their maroon berets while veterans of Charlie Company fill the audience. There that day was retired Air Force Senior Master Sergeant John Pighini, a decorated Vietnam War-era PJ and active member of the Pararescue community.

After that scene, Pighini came on-board as a technical advisor for the shoot on location in Thailand, where Robinson and his cast and crew had six days to shoot the entirety of the Vietnam scenes for the film — no small undertaking.

He had a crew of 300 with battle scenes featuring helicopters and explosions. There was no luxury of time. He gives credit to his editor, Richard Nord, and the expertise of his cast and crew. At the end of the day, the film, decades in the making, wasn’t done for financial profit or gain.

“We made this film for our veteran community. We tried to reflect back and let them know that people see them and we want to be part of the solution to whatever problems they face when they come home.”


The Last Full Measure is available now on Blu-ray/DVD and Digital from Lionsgate and features several special features such as a “Medal of Honor Ceremony Shoot” featurette and “The Others May Live: Remembering Operation Abilene” featurette.


MIGHTY CULTURE

The long-standing relationship between Rolex and the U.S. Navy SEALs

The keen-eyed viewer may have noticed Tyrone “Rone” Woods, played by James Badge Dale, sporting a Rolex Submariner 116610 in Michael Bay’s 2016 film 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi. Some may write this appearance off as a Hollywood product placement by Bay, a known Rolex fan. However, the watch actually shows great attention to detail in Rone’s story and is an integral part of Navy SEAL history.


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Rone’s Submariner is identifiable by its iconic cyclops magnifier (Paramount Pictures)

Rolex introduced the Submariner watch in 1954. While the watch has evolved into a luxury item that broadcasts wealth and success today, it was originally designed as a rugged, no-nonsense tool watch that professional divers could depend on. Its uni-directional rotating bezel allowed them to time their dives, its robust and accurate movement meant that it could keep good time in an age before battery-powered quartz timepieces, and its water-resistance rating of 660 feet meant that it could do all of this at the depths that professional divers operate at.

In 1962, the first two Navy SEAL teams were formed and they quickly adopted the Submariner as their dive watch. Tudor, Rolex’s more affordable sister brand (think Chevrolet to Cadillac), also made Submariners which were issued to the Navy’s elite warriors. By 1967, Rolex had picked up on the professional military application of their watches and utilized it in a magazine advertisement saying, “For years, it’s been standard gear for submariners, frogmen, and all who make their living on the seas.”

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In 1967, a Rolex Submariner cost 0, or about id=”listicle-2648518781″,600 in today’s money (Rolex)

The Submariner, in both its Rolex and Tudor forms, was so ingrained in Navy SEAL culture and essential to their specialized missions, that it became standard issue. One Vietnam veteran recalled in an interview, “During the training in BUD/S we were issued our Tudor watches, black face for enlisted and blue faced for officers, and these went with us to our next duty station.” Indeed, the SEALs took their issued Submariners with them to the jungles of Vietnam. Like other servicemembers who purchased their own Submariners, the SEALs valued the watch for its ruggedness, dependability, and accuracy.

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U.S. Navy SEALs Harry Humphries and Fran Scollise wearing their issued Submariners in Vietnam (Rolex Magazine)

In the decades after Vietnam, the advent of battery-powered dive computers and the evolution of Rolex into an expensive luxury brand caused the Navy to cease its issuance of Submariners to the SEALs. Today, however, some Navy SEALs still maintain the elite organization’s relationship with Rolex on their own dime. While Rone did not wear a Rolex Submariner 116610 as depicted in 13 Hours, he did wear a Rolex Sea-Dweller 16660, a more robust descendant of the Submariner with a greater water-resistance rating.

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Rone wearing his Sea-Dweller (Cheryl Croft Bennett)

Before he joined the CIA’s Global Response Staff in 2010, Rone posted on RolexForums.com looking for a shop in the San Diego area where he could sell his Rolex Sea-Dweller and Panerai Luminor (the Italian Navy’s original issued dive watch). Although his post received no replies, the thread has since become a tribute to the late operator since his death in Benghazi in 2012.

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Rone’s first and only post on the forum (RolexForums)

Though the fate of Rone’s Sea-Dweller is unknown, the fact that he is shown wearing a Rolex in 13 Hours is a testament to the care and attention to detail that Bay put in to depicting him and the other Americans in Benghazi during the 2012 attack.


MIGHTY TRENDING

These are the 7 ways for Congress to deal with North Korea

The Congressional Research Service has prepared a briefing for Congress that reveals the seven US military options for dealing with the growing threat from North Korea.


The options, often hinted at by President Donald Trump and members of his cabinet, represent the full range of US military might and strategy, but sometimes in unexpected ways.

For example, not every option has to do with use of force. In some cases, the US may just continue business as usual. In other cases, the military may withdraw completely from South Korea.

Below, you can see the same information that Congress has on the US’s military options in North Korea.

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North Korea from the DMZ. (Photo: Wikipedia/Henrik Ishihara Globaljuggler)

7. Maintain the status quo

Simply put, the US military could just continue regular activities and military drills while the State Department works on sanctions and diplomatic solutions to the problem.

If this sounds familiar, it’s because former President Barack Obama spent eight years doing it to limited effect.

On the plus side, this course of action presents a lower risk of elevating the tense situation into a full-blown crisis or warfare. Those against this policy of “strategic patience,” as the Obama administration dubbed it, point out that it has failed for years to stop North Korea from gaining a nuclear weapon or creating long-range missiles.

So far, Trump has stuck to the basic principals of strategic patience but supplemented it with more deployments of aircraft carriers and sometimes frightening threats to “totally destroy” the country with “fire and fury.”

Read Also: Those times former US Presidents had to free Americans held by North Korea

6. Arm the region to the teeth and watch North Korea like a hawk

This option takes the status quo and jacks it up with the US’s scariest, most capable platforms coming to the region and closely monitoring North Korea to make it feel its nuclear program is unwise.

US stealth jets and bombers, aircraft carriers, nuclear submarines, guided-missile destroyers, and even tactical nuclear weapons could deploy to South Korea and Japan on a more permanent basis to step up the US presence in the area.

Meanwhile, an increased cyber and naval presence would seek to interdict any shipments to North Korea that could further Pyongyang’s weapons program.

Skeptics of this approach point out that North Korea hates US military deployments to the peninsula and could easily see such a move as further justification to continue its weapons program at any cost.

Furthermore, the US can’t simply place these assets in the region — it needs to credibly threaten using them. What happens if a North Korean ship opens fire on US Navy sailors trying to board and inspect its cargo?

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North Korea’s Hwasong-14 missile. Photo from KCNA

5. Shoot down every medium- to long-range missile North Korea fires to restrict its testing

This approach disregards the long-stated US goal of denuclearizing North Korea and goes straight for a more realistic goal of freezing its nuclear-missile program.

Basically, North Korea has to keep testing its missiles to achieve a credible nuclear threat to the US, but to do so it has to test missiles that fly beyond its borders.

If the US and allies shot down North Korea’s test fires, it would deny Pyongyang the testing data it needs to have confidence in its fleet.

But this would require US ballistic-missile-defense assets, like its Navy destroyers, to constantly commit to the region, limiting resources available elsewhere.

Additionally, North Korea could still test shorter-range missiles that put US forces in the region at risk, and it’s unknown how Pyongyang would respond to having its missiles shot down.

Read Also: U.S. detects, tracks multiple North Korea missile launches

4. Destroy all ICBM sites and missile launch pads

This represents the first massively kinetic military response to North Korea.

With limited airstrikes and likely some Tomahawk missile launches from the US Navy, the US military would look to destroy in one quick pass every single known missile launchpad and ICBM manufacturing site.

But the US doesn’t know the full extent of North Korea’s missile-producing infrastructure, and could easily leave behind some secret or underground sites. And while most North Korean missiles are fired from fixed sites, North Korea has developed solid-fueled missiles that can launch from anywhere at virtually any time.

While this strike could conceivably remove the threat to the US from North Korean ICBMs, Pyongyang may very well see the attack as a larger-scale decapitation attack against the Kim regime.

Therefore, North Korea may unleash its full, massive artillery force against South Korea and the US forces there. It may fire nuclear missiles at Japan and South Korea. Experts assess that an all out war could cost 30,000 to 300,000 lives a day, with many of those coming from the civilian populations of the US’s allies in Asia.

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Center for Strategic and International Studies/Missile Defense Project

3. Complete denuclearization by force

This option stages an even bigger military campaign targeting every known nuclear and missile site across North Korea. Instead of just airstrikes and cruise-missile launches, this type of attack may necessitate US Special Forces pouring over the border to neutralize key North Korean sites.

Because the US does not know the location of every North Korean nuclear and missile site, intense surveillance and guess-and-check work would follow the initial salvo.

This option only increases the already dire risk to the US’s allies.

Also Read: North Korea accuses White House of assassination plot

2. Decapitation of the Kim regime

Although the US military, Secretary of State Tillerson, and Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis all say unequivocally that the US does not want or train for regime-change missions in North Korea, the president and the military have to do what’s best for the country at any cost.

If the US assesses that the Kim regime has bad intentions for the people of the US, regime change by military force could come into play.

But the US couldn’t simply kill Kim Jong Un and have the other 25 million North Koreans surrender. North Korea still technically exists under the “forever leader” of Kim Il Sung, who has been dead for decades. Rank-and-file North Koreans inculcated with propaganda would fight on, perhaps even more savagely, after Kim died.

Therefore the military would have to target “not only nuclear infrastructure but command and control facilities, key leaders, artillery and missile units, chemical and biological weapons facilities, airfields, ports, and other targets deemed critical to regime survival,” according to the report for Congress.

“This operation would be tantamount to pursuing full-scale war on the Korean Peninsula, and risk conflict elsewhere in the region,” the report concludes.

The conflict would have every opportunity to be drawn out and grow every bit as bloody as the Vietnam War or the first Korean conflict, and for that reason it remains unlikely.

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Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and South Korean Minister of Defense Song Young-moo visit the Demilitarized Zone between North and South Korea during a visit to the Joint Security Area in South Korea, Oct. 27, 2017. DoD photo by US Army Sgt. Amber I. Smith.

1. Just walk away

This option represents the polar opposite of all other military possibilities by fundamentally reordering the US’s considerations on North Korea.

Essentially, some believe North Korea pursues nuclear weapons because the US has troops in South Korea and Japan. If the US withdrew those troops, Kim Jong Un wouldn’t feel as pressured and China or the international community could more easily sway him to denuclearize.

But this idea speculates heavily on Kim’s response to a weakened South Korea. Nothing guarantees that Kim would negotiate after gaining the upper hand on South Korea. Additionally, it argues that the US should end its legal troop deployments to Japan and South Korea in hopes that North Korea would end its illegal development of nuclear weapons, which sounds a lot like blackmail.

Additionally, North Korea has long stated one of its goals as reuniting the Korean Peninsula under the Kim dynasty, and if the US ceded to Pyongyang, it just may feel emboldened to do so.

Also Read: Pacific Thunder, aka why North Korea cries, kicks off in South Korea

Conclusion

None of the military options provided to Congress offers a perfect solution, and many offer catastrophic solutions.

In the end, North Korea’s rogue leadership and nuclear pursuits exist as political, not solely military options.

In that respect, while the US and allied militaries could certainly defeat North Korea and crush its nuclear program, it would cost potentially hundreds of thousands of lives and open the world to the possibility of nuclear warfare in the 21st century.

Simply put, military solutions don’t solve political problems, but in case of disaster, the US always has options ready.

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