North and South Korea grow closer at the Winter Games - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY TRENDING

North and South Korea grow closer at the Winter Games

North Korea’s state-sponsored news agency issued a rare press release on Feb. 12, in which the regime’s leader, Kim Jong-un, was said to have “expressed satisfaction” after the country’s delegation arrived back from a trip to the Winter Olympics in South Korea.


Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), the propaganda outlet for the regime, claimed that Kim Jong-un said South Korea’s “specially prioritized” efforts to accommodate North Korea’s delegates were “very impressive,” according to a translation from KCNA Watch.

North Korea sent a delegation that included Kim Jong-un’s sister and head of its propaganda department, Kim Yo-jong, and the nominal head of state, Kim Yong-nam, to South Korea ahead of the Olympic Games in Pyeongchang.

North and South Korea grow closer at the Winter Games
‘2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games’ Medal. (Image Republic of Korea Flickr)

After North Korea agreed in January 2017, it took several steps that, at least on the surface, appeared to be an effort to thaw its relationship with South Korea. The regime sent Kim Yo-jong there, the first time the regime’s ruling family visited the South in decades, as cameras fawned over images of her smiling with South Korean president Moon Jae-in.

During this trip, Kim Yo-jong invited Moon to visit North Korea. A potential visit by Moon would be the first meeting of Korean leaders in Pyongyang since then-South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun met with North Korean leader Kim Jong-il for an inter-Korean summit in 2007.

North Korea’s recent statement and actions are a stark departure from its usual, bellicose rhetoric, and that has prompted White House officials and foreign-policy experts to be cautious about the overtures.

Vice President Mike Pence, who reportedly floated the possibility of diplomatic engagement with North Korea, said on Feb. 12 that President Donald Trump’s campaign of “maximum pressure” would continue.

“Despite potential talks, and irrespective of if they happen w/USA or S. Korea, new strong sanctions are coming very soon and the maximum pressure campaign will only intensify until North Korea abandons its nuclear program,” Pence tweeted. “All our allies agree!”

Also Read: The North Korean cold war will be paused for the Olympics

And despite being seen cheering for the joint-Korean Winter Olympics team and having luncheons with the North Korean delegation, Moon — who has been accused of being swayed by North Korea’s “charm offensive” — has given some indication that he remains wary of North Korea’s motives.

Instead of explicitly agreeing to North Korea’s invitation to Pyongyang, Moon responded by suggesting the two countries “accomplish this by creating the right conditions,” and encouraged the North to “actively pursue” talks with the U.S.

Moon is also believed to have signaled his commitment to exerting pressure on North Korea. According to Pence on Feb. 10, “both of us reiterated to each other tonight that we will continue to stand strong and work in a coordinated way to bring maximum economic and diplomatic pressure to bear on North Korea.”

MIGHTY TRENDING

British Carrier named for the Queen has 6 sailors arrested

Six sailors from HMS Queen Elizabeth, Britain’s largest and most powerful aircraft carrier, were reportedly arrested and taken into custody over drunk and disorderly behavior in Jacksonville, Florida, in September 2018.

The sailors, who were on shore leave, were arrested after locals found them fighting and and urinating in public, the BBC reported.

The incident took place on late Sept. 6, 2018, into early Sept. 7, 2018, according to Jacksonville’s local WJAX-TV station.


Most of them were taken into custody on drunk and disorderly charges, The Florida Times-Union reported.

Three of them were also charged with resisting arrest. One pushed and pulled an officer, one was actively fighting and refused to stop, and another refused to put his hands behind his back and was ultimately stunned by a Taser, according to WJAX-TV.

The group were held overnight before being released back onboard the warship on Sept. 7, 2018, The Sun reported.

HMS Queen Elizabeth arrived in the US in September 2018 after leaving the UK on Aug. 18, 2018. It is on its way to carry out F-35 trials at Naval Air Station Patuxent River in Maryland with US and British pilots late September 2018.

North and South Korea grow closer at the Winter Games

The HMS Queen Elizabeth passes by the Florida coast, where it is stopping to refuel before sailing north to Maryland. Sept. 5, 2018.

(WJXT News / Youtube)

The British navy acknowledged the incident but declined to provide further comment.

A spokesperson for the Royal Navy told Business Insider in a statement:

“We can confirm that a number of naval personnel are assisting US police with their enquiries — it would be inappropriate to comment further at this time.

“The Naval Service places great importance on maintaining the highest possible standards of behaviour from its personnel at all times.”

Sergeant Larry Smith of the Jacksonville Beach Police Department also confirmed that all the arrests were related to alcohol, but that they were “a case of good people making bad decisions.”

Smith told the Sun:

“Our officers went down to the ship to speak to their commanders, and while they were still out on the town on Thursday night, there were no more problems from the sailors.

“It was a case of good people making bad decisions, they got drunk and they fought among themselves.

“It happens. They seem to beat the mess out of each other and knock their teeth out, but once they pick up their teeth off the ground they hug and then are best friends again.”

HMS Queen Elizabeth is the largest and most powerful aircraft carrier in British history. It took eight years to build and cost the Royal Navy £3.5 billion (.6 billion).

It is home to 900 people — 700 Royal Navy members and 200 industry personnel.

The deployment to the US is significant because it will mark the first fighter jet landing on a British aircraft carrier in eight years, since the decommissioning of HMS Ark Royal.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

China looks on as Trump and Kim decide to meet

China is voicing support for the possible U.S.-North Korea summit, despite concerns that it will be left out of talks that could dramatically alter regional security and political dynamics.


U.S. President Donald Trump surprised the world when he agreed to accept North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s offer to meet about ending Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons program.

Also read: South Korea’s plan to convince President Trump to visit North Korea

The rapid turn toward diplomacy could defuse building tensions over the North’s accelerated testing of missile and nuclear devices to develop a nuclear-armed long- range missile that can target the U.S. mainland.

The Trump administration has led a “maximum pressure” campaign that imposed tough sanctions on Pyongyang, and planned for possible military action, if needed, to force the Kim government to give up its nuclear program.

 

Chinese support

Chinese President Xi Jinping said he was delighted with the progress being made to reduce regional tensions and facilitate direct talks between Trump and Kim.

The Chinese leadership has closely consulted the U.S. and South Korea on the prospects of talks. Lu Chao, a North Korea expert at the Liaoning Academy of Social Science in China said Beijing has nothing to fear from being left on the sidelines of the upcoming summit between Washington and its ally in Pyongyang.

More: North Korea is so short on cash it’s selling electricity to China

“Beijing’s role will not be diminished. Neither will China’s interests be compromised if the U.S. engages in direct talks with the North Koreans,” said Lu.

The Global Times, China’s Communist Party newspaper, also reacted to the prospect of a Trump/Kim summit by urging the Chinese people to “avoid the mentality that China is being marginalized.”

Also anxiety

Yet other China scholars in the region worry that Trump’s diplomatic initiative could undermine Beijing’s influence and further strain already tense relaxations between Xi and Kim.

“There is evidently anxiety on the progress being made in the absence of its [China’s] influence all of a sudden,” said Seo Jeong-kyung, a professor with the Sungkyun Institute of China Studies in Seoul.

North Korea has still not reacted to Trump’s response, nor confirmed the offer for a summit that was communicated though a South Korean envoy that met with Kim in Pyongyang.

North and South Korea grow closer at the Winter Games
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un shakes hands with Chung Eui-yong, who led a special delegation of South Korea’s president. (Photo released by KCNA)

If the summit does happen, Trump would be the first head of state who Kim Jong Un will meet since he came to power in 2012. The North Korean leader has yet to meet with Chinese President Xi.

Even though North Korea is dependent on China for over 90 percent of its trade, relations between the two allies has been strained over Pyongyang’s nuclear program. The young leader of North Korea has also not cultivated friendly ties with China, and has repeatedly ignored Beijing’s calls for Pyongyang to refrain from provocative missile and nuclear tests.

Related: Analysts say that despite North Korean missile test, Kim Jong-un is likely years away from an ICBM

In contrast, Kim Jong Il, the father of the current North Korean leader, often visited with the leaders in Beijing, despite his own disagreement with China over nuclear weapons. In the 2000s China led six party talks – that included the U.S., North Korea, South Korea, Japan, and Russia — to reach a denuclearization deal. But in 2009 Kim Jong Il walked away from these talks to resume his country’s nuclear development program.

President Xi’s frustration with past failure and with the young North Korea leader may also be part the reason why Beijing is willing to sit out the denuclearization talks this time.

“China wants to play some role, but the greatest obstacle is Kim Jong Un’s hostility against China,” said Shi Yinhong, a political science professor at Renmin University in Beijing.

Improving U.S.-North Korea relations could further estrange Kim from Xi. With a nuclear deal in place, the Trump administration would no longer need Beijing’s support on sanctions and could take a more confrontational approach to deal with Chinese trade issues and to counter Chinese aggression in the South China Sea.

Aligned benefits

North and South Korea grow closer at the Winter Games
Sino-Korea Friendship Bridge, linking Dandong with North Korea.

For China, there are clear benefits to a North Korea nuclear deal. It would reduce the potential for conflict in the region and restore expanding cross border economic activity.

Rather than lead to confrontation with the U.S. on other issues, there is also speculation that Beijing could leverage its support of U.S. led sanctions to end Washington’s objections to China’s claims in the South China Sea, or to the “One China Principle” on Taiwan.

“There have been discussions about trying to obtain the cooperation of the U.S. to unify Taiwan into China, after securing a good deal with the U.S. on the North Korea issue,” said Seo Jeong-kyung, with the Sungkyun Institute of China Studies.

A nuclear deal would also increase pressure on the United States and South Korea to reduce their military presence and remove the THAAD missile defense shield that was deployed on South Korea in 2017.

MIGHTY HISTORY

The body of the first female veteran of the Revolutionary War is now missing

Remains believed to be of a Revolutionary War hero buried at West Point don’t belong to a woman known as “Captain Molly” after all, but to an unknown man.


The U.S. Military Academy said Dec. 5 the discovery stems from a study of skeletal remains conducted after Margaret Corbin’s grave was accidentally disturbed last year by excavators building a retaining wall by her monument in the West Point Cemetery. Tests by a forensic anthropologist revealed the remains were likely those of a middle-aged man who lived between the Colonial period and 19th century.

Corbin was known for bravely stepping in to fire a cannon in 1776 during a battle in New York City after her husband was killed. She was severely wounded during the Battle of Fort Washington, but lived another 24 years. She became the nation’s first woman to receive a pension for military service.

North and South Korea grow closer at the Winter Games

The location of Corbin’s remains is a mystery. Ground-penetrating radar around the gravesite failed to turn up any signs.

The Daughters of the American Revolution received approval in 1926 to move Corbin’s remains from nearby Highland Falls to the hallowed ground of West Point’s cemetery. The leafy lot near the Hudson River is the resting place for thousands, including Gulf War commander Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf, U.S. commander in Vietnam Gen. William Westmoreland, and Lt. Col. George Custer.

The DAR used records and local accounts from the community to locate the remains believed to be Corbin, according to the Army.

“The remains were verified back in 1926. And you have to consider the gap between 1926 and today. Technology has changed tremendously,” said Col.Madalyn Gainey, spokeswoman for Army National Military Cemeteries.

Read More: Meet the badass Revolutionary War heroine who mowed down Redcoats with a cannon

The remains of the unknown man were reinterred at West Point’s cemetery. A re-dedication ceremony for the Corbin monument at the cemetery is scheduled for May.

“Nearly 250 years after the Battle of Fort Washington, her bravery and legacy to American history as one of the first women to serve in combat in the defense of our nation continues to transcend and inspire women in military service today,” said ANMC Executive Director Karen Durham-Aguilera.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Check out video of US camp in Syria taken over by Russian mercenaries

A video shows the inside of a US military camp overtaken by Russian mercenaries working with Syrian forces, shortly after American troops abandoned it.

US forces left the Manbij camp in northern Syria early Oct. 15, 2019, following an Oct. 6, 2019, directive from President Donald Trump to leave a coalition with the Syrian Democratic Forces fighting the terrorist group ISIS. A spokesman for the US operation confirmed the departure on Oct. 15, 2019.


The US’s decision to pull out gave Turkish forces the green light to invade Syria on Oct. 9, 2019, and drive out the SDF, which contains Kurdish fighters. Turkey considers the Kurds terrorists and has long vowed to destroy them. Over the weekend, the SDF allied with Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government to fight the Turkish offensive.

Here’s a video of the abandoned camp:

The man in the video was identified by the Times of London reporter Tom Parfitt as Oleg Blokhin, a Russian war correspondent known to be following the Wagner Group, a Russian private military organization that supports Syrian military operations, in northeastern Syria.

US troops formerly based at the camp willingly left it to Russian mercenaries from the Wagner Group, an SDF official near Manbij told Business Insider’s Mitch Prothero.

The broader Manbij area is under the control of Assad’s troops, who await an assault from Turkish troops from the north.

The video was first posted on Twitter by a defense blogger known as MrRevinsky. The SDF official confirmed its accuracy to Business Insider.

A second video posted by MrRevinsky appeared to show Blokhin raising and lowering a mechanical checkpoint barrier at the camp.

Trump’s withdrawal of troops from Syria, and Turkey’s subsequent incursion, has unleashed chaos in the region and displaced thousands of Kurds. Dozens of “high value” ISIS prisoners have escaped from detention, something that experts say could help the terrorist organization regroup.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

Here’s what it’s like to be a military family quarantined in Italy

When the first reports of Coronavirus, COVID-19, made the news in late January for cases outside China, Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte assured residents, “The system of prevention put into place by Italy is the most rigorous in Europe.”

But then cases popped up across the country. Ten towns within the regions of Lombardy and Veneto were quarantined, and local lockdowns were put into place, but as a whole, the country was operating as usual.


That all changed on March 9, 2020, when the entirety of Italy was ordered into full quarantine, impacting more than sixty million people across twenty regions.

On March 10, 2020, COVID-19 was responsible for killing 168 people in Italy, the highest death toll in a single day since the outbreak began in the country.

Katie, a travel writer and military spouse currently under mandatory quarantine in Vicenza, agreed to speak candidly to ‘We Are The Mighty’ about what it’s really like to be a military family stationed in Italy right now.

When you first started hearing about Coronavirus were you worried? Did people seem panicked?

I first heard about Coronavirus when it began circulating in the news probably around the same time most of us heard about it. This was when it was mainly affecting areas in China.

To be honest, I wasn’t worried and didn’t pay too much attention to it, because I was ignorant as to how fast and wide it would spread.

I was still traveling during this time, and I didn’t notice anyone seeming panicked or worried, it all seemed like business as usual at airports and tourist sites.

North and South Korea grow closer at the Winter Games

What has the shift in your life looked like — what was a normal day versus now?

The situation has been developing in a way that has meant the changes to daily life have been incremental, which, in a way, is helpful because everything didn’t change at once.

During the first week, the gyms were closed and that was a big change to my daily life as I had just recently begun a new program to focus on some fitness goals. In the second week, I had a trip to Romania planned, which I had to cancel. The next big change was when the quarantine zones began, and that has had the biggest impact to daily life now that I can only leave the house for necessities.

Normally, I work from home anyway, so I’m fortunate that it’s not dramatically different from a regular day.

How do you think this will impact life over the next 30 days? How will it impact the Italian economy?

Everything has been changing so quickly that I have no idea what will happen in the next 30 days. I certainly hope that some of the restrictions are lifted by then, but it’s hard to know what will be happening tomorrow, let alone next month.

I think it will be tough on the Italian economy and, for that reason, I think it’s very important for us to help mitigate it as much as possible by supporting local businesses here when we can.

One thing I will say is that it has been inspiring to see businesses in the area adapting to the new quarantine restrictions with a resilient and positive attitude. A local winery just began a delivery service since we can no longer drive to them, and tonight I was able to buy dinner and a few bottles of wine which was not only a great treat for me, but a nice way to support them as well.

Are you worried about your military spouse?

Not at all. He is actually away and has been since before the Coronavirus started impacting daily life here in Italy. I’m confident that he is in good hands and busy with his training.

What self-care measures or safety precautions are you taking?

It can be stressful at times keeping up with all the changes, so for self-care, I have been making sure I have something in each day to simply relax, whether that is a face mask, reading, cuddling my dog, or watching a little WWE wrestling (it’s my favorite).

As for safety precautions, my biggest precaution has been to follow the official channels to stay up to date with any changes. Then, I simply follow the guidance given with each update. The precautions are things like washing hands regularly, keeping a distance from other people when in public, and not traveling.

North and South Korea grow closer at the Winter Games

What else would you like people to know?

The only other thing I’d like people to know is how inspiring it is to see Italian people respond to this in such a community-focused way. Generally speaking, it seems that, although inconvenienced as all of us are, Italian people around me have a focus on doing what’s best for the collective, and it’s heartwarming to see.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Russia might allow U.K investigators to question alleged spies

The Kremlin says it will study any British request to question the two men London suspects of trying to murder a former spy, in strict accordance with Russian law.

But spokesman Dmitry Peskov said no such request has been received so far.

Britain has charged two men, Ruslan Boshirov and Aleksandr Petrov, with attempting to murder former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia.

British authorities accuse them of spraying a military-grade nerve agent, Novichok, on Skripal’s front door in Salisbury in March 2018.


Peskov on Septe. 14, 2018, reiterated that the Kremlin denied any Russian state involvement in the poisoning.

Peskov’s comments come a day after the two men appeared in an interview on Kremlin-funded RT television station to proclaim their innocence.

The two denied they were agents of the military intelligence service widely known as the GRU and said they were merely tourists in the city southwest of London.

“Our friends had been suggesting for quite a long time that we visit this wonderful city,” Petrov said in the interview.

“They have a famous cathedral there,” Boshirov said, adding: “It is famous for its 123-meter spire.”

James Slack, spokesman for British Prime Minister Theresa May, derided their claims as “lies and blatant fabrications.

“More importantly, they are deeply offensive to the victims and loved ones of this horrific attack,” he said.

British officials have accused the suspects of smuggling Novichok into Britain in a fake perfume bottle and smearing some of it on the front door of Skripal’s home in Salisbury, where the former intelligence officer settled after being sent to the West in a Cold War-style spy swap in 2010.

The attack left Skripal, 67, and his daughter Yulia, 34, in critical condition, but both have recovered after weeks in the hospital.

The men interviewed by RT denied carrying the fake women’s perfume bottle with them.

“Isn’t it silly for decent lads to have women’s perfume?” one of the two men was quoted as saying by the Kremlin-funded RT.

“The customs are checking everything.They would have questions as to why men have women’s perfume in their luggage. We didn’t have it.”

They also said they stayed less than one hour in Salisbury due to poor weather.

“We went there to see Stonehenge, Old Sarum, but we couldn’t do it because there was muddy slush everywhere,” one of the two men said, referring to local landmarks.

In a statement, the British government said the interview reflected more “obfuscation and lies” by Moscow.

“The government is clear these men are officers of the Russian military intelligence service — the GRU — who used a devastatingly toxic, illegal chemical weapon on the streets of our country,” it said.

“We have repeatedly asked Russia to account for what happened in Salisbury in March,” the statement also said. “Today — just as we have seen throughout — they have responded with obfuscation and lies.”

The RT interview was aired a day after Russian President Vladimir Putin said his country had identified the men Britain suspects of poisoning Skripal and his daughter, but claimed they were civilians.

“They are civilians, of course,” Putin said on Sept. 12, 2018.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

Footage shows Russian ammo depot explosion that launched debris 9 miles

An ammo depot in the Krasnoyarsk region of Siberia has been the scene of a series of large explosions over the past two weeks, killing one Russian soldier and injuring at least 32 other people thus far.

The first massive explosion occurred last Monday, killing one and injuring at least ten others. Then, two more large explosions tore through the facility on Friday, reportedly as a result of lightning due to the facility’s lightning management apparatus being destroyed in the previous explosions. Multiple smaller explosions have also been reported at the facility during the intervening days, resulting in more than 16,000 people being evacuated from nearby communities.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=61eQmFBLjdc
MASSIVE Explosions at Ammunition Depot – Achinsk, Russia – Aug. 5, 2019

youtu.be

Soldiers assigned to Russia’s “74008 military unit,” as officials called them, were ordered to take cover in bomb shelters until the explosions stopped.

According to Russian state media, the facility housed thousands of artillery shells and propellant bags filled with explosive material used to launch the artillery. While Russian authorities have not offered any detailed explanation as to what may have caused the incident, at least one Russian Defense Ministry official cited “human error” as the preliminary cause of the first explosion, pending a more thorough investigation.

The local governor’s office offered only slightly more detail, explaining that the first explosion took place during “shell clearing” operations. That, combined with reports of two “disposal sights” that are still burning, suggests that the munitions involved in the explosion may have been old and awaiting disposal. This possibility is bolstered by the fact that the site of the explosion is among Russia’s oldest existing munition storage and logistic sites, dating back to its use by the Soviet Union. The entire facility is slated for demolition in 2022.

North and South Korea grow closer at the Winter Games

Russia’s Uran-14 Robot can supposedly fight fires and clear mines. Two have been deployed to Achinsk.

(Russian Ministry of Defense via WikiMedia Commons)

Russian firefighting efforts, which are already largely taxed by a series of large wildfires in the Siberian forest, are reportedly being bolstered by Uran-14 firefighting robots that, according to Russian state media, can spray water a distance of up to 180 feet and move up to ten tons of debris.

These claims, however, should be taken with a grain of salt, as Russia also once claimed their Uran-6 infantry robot had successfully participated in combat operations in Syria, only for it to be revealed months later that the robot had actually been a dismal failure.

Unfortunately for the Russian military, these explosions are not the highest-profile incident to occur last week, with another explosion at a missile test site that seems to have involved Russia’s much-touted nuclear-powered cruise missile claiming the lives of at least five and injuring a number of others.

MIGHTY CULTURE

The 13 funniest military memes for the week of August 10th

In case you haven’t heard yet, six Marine Corps lieutenants are facing separation after they were allegedly caught cheating on a land-nav course. That’s right — this isn’t something you’re reading on Duffel Blog. This actually happened, and it’s being reported on by the Marine Corps Times.

Now, I understand the whole “if you’re not cheating, you’re not trying” mentality of the military (I, too, was once in the E-4 Mafia), but come on! If you know that whatever you’re about to do might forever get you forever laughed at while reinforcing stereotypes that have existed since the military first gave a lieutenant a compass, you might want to think twice.

Now, these memes may not be as funny as that, but they’ll elicit a chuckle or two.


North and South Korea grow closer at the Winter Games

(Meme via Air Force Nation Humor)

North and South Korea grow closer at the Winter Games

(Meme via The Salty Soldier)

North and South Korea grow closer at the Winter Games

(Meme via Untied Status Marin Crops)

North and South Korea grow closer at the Winter Games

(Meme via Military World)

North and South Korea grow closer at the Winter Games

(Meme via Private News Network)

North and South Korea grow closer at the Winter Games

(Meme via r/oldschoolcool)

North and South Korea grow closer at the Winter Games

(Meme via Ranger Up)

North and South Korea grow closer at the Winter Games

(Meme via ASMDSS)

North and South Korea grow closer at the Winter Games

(Meme via Sh*t My LPO Says)

North and South Korea grow closer at the Winter Games

(Meme via Valhalla Wear)

North and South Korea grow closer at the Winter Games

(Meme via The Salty Soldier)

North and South Korea grow closer at the Winter Games

(Meme via Decelerate Your Life)

North and South Korea grow closer at the Winter Games

(Meme by WATM)

MIGHTY HISTORY

A brief, deadly history of chemical weapons

On April 22, 1915, a stiff wind outside of Ypres helped loose the first systematic poison-gas attack in history.

On a sunny afternoon in April 1915, outside the Belgian city of Ypres, the wind began blowing in the direction the German troops wanted – toward the French lines. German soldiers set up over 5,000 barrels of chlorine gas along their position, and let loose a rolling cloud of thick, yellow death. More than 6,000 French troops died in what was the first systematic use of poison gas on the battlefield. Its effectiveness caught even the Germans off guard. Willi Siebert, a German soldier, noted in his diary, “When we got to the French lines, the trenches were empty, but in a half mile the bodies of French soldiers were everywhere. It was unbelievable.” Just over 99 years later, on June 17, 2014, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons confirmed chlorine gas was used by the Syrian government in an attack on its own people.


Origins and evolution

In 1918, a German chemist named Fritz Haber won the Nobel Prize in chemistry for a method of extracting ammonia from the nitrogen in the atmosphere. The process made ammonia abundant and easily available. Haber’s discovery revolutionized agriculture, with some calling it the most significant technological discovery of the 20th century – supporting half of the world’s food base.

North and South Korea grow closer at the Winter Games
German chemistu00a0Fritz Haber.

Haber was also a staunch German patriot who quickly joined the war effort at the outbreak of World War I. He was insistent on using weaponized gases, despite objections from some army commanders about their brutality, and treaties prohibiting their use. He personally oversaw the first use of chlorine gas at the front lines at Ypres. The next morning, he set out for the eastern front to deploy gas against the Russian army.

Chemical weapons quickly became a mainstay of warfare, public condemnation notwithstanding. They were employed by the militaries of Italy, Russia, Spain, and Japan, among others.

Timeline: chemical weapons use

North and South Korea grow closer at the Winter Games

During the Cold War, the United States and the U.S.S.R. made major advances in chemical-weapons technology. Their breakthroughs were accompanied by innovations in nuclear-weapons technology. It was during this period that the third generation of chemical weapons was invented: nerve agents.

Within a century of their devastating debut at Ypres, chemical weapons have increased in lethality a thousandfold.

North and South Korea grow closer at the Winter Games

Use in Syria’s Civil War

North and South Korea grow closer at the Winter Games

Sources

  • Organization For The Prohibition Of Chemical Weapons (background, locations, types of weapons, stockpiles, number of weapons destroyed)
  • United Nations Human Rights Council (Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic)
  • National Institutes Of Health (effects, history, and lethality)
  • Smithsonian Institute (history)
  • Violations Documentation Center in Syria (fatalities)
  • Human Rights Watch (types of weapons, attack locations)
  • U.S. Defense Department (types of weapons)

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

MIGHTY HISTORY

New details about Israel’s boldest rescue mission of the 1980s

Israeli secret service agents ran an entire fake luxury beach resort in Sudan as a front for its operations in the 1980s, according to a BBC investigation.

A group of Mossad agents were tasked with smuggling thousands of Jewish refugees in Ethiopia, known as Beta Israelis, from Ethiopia to Israel in the late 1970s and early 1980s.


Thousands of Ethiopian Jews were stranded in Sudan, a Muslim-majority nation hostile to Israel. The agents had to smuggle the refugees across Sudan, then sailed across the Red Sea or airlifted to Israel.

And because Sudan and Israel were enemies, both the Ethiopian Jews and Mossad agents had to keep their identifies hidden.

An unidentified senior agent involved in the mission told the BBC:

“A couple of Mossad guys went down to Sudan looking for possible landing beaches. They just stumbled across this deserted village on the coast, in the middle of nowhere.

“For us it was a godsend. If we could get hold of this place and do it up, we could say we’re running a diving village, which would give us a reason for being in Sudan and furthermore for roaming around near the beach.”

Arous tourist village, located on the Sudan’s east coast, consisted of 15 bungalows, a kitchen, and dining room that opened out to a beach and the Red Sea.

The Sudanese International Tourist Corporation built the site in 1972 but never opened it because there was no electricity, water supply, or a road nearby.

North and South Korea grow closer at the Winter Games
Satellite imagery of a plot of land roughly where the Arous resort used to be.

Posing as employees of a Swiss company, Mossad agents rented the site for $320,000 (£225,000) in the late 1970s. They secured deals for water and fuel, and smuggled air-conditioning units and water sports gear into Sudan to build the diving resort.

An undated brochure of the resort boasted of “attractive, air-conditioned bungalows with fully-equipped bathrooms,” “fine meals,” and a variety of water sports gear available to rent.

Mossad agents posed as the resort’s managers, and female agents were put in charge of day-to-day operations to make the hotel look less suspicious. They also hired 15 local staff — none of whom knew the true identities of their managers and colleagues.

Hotel guests included Egyptian soldiers, British SAS troops, foreign diplomats, and Sudanese government officials — none of whom, too, knew of the true identity of their hosts.

Gad Shimron, a Mossad agent who worked at the resort, told the BBC: “We introduced windsurfing to Sudan. The first board was brought in — I knew how to windsurf, so I taught the guests. Other Mossad agents posed as professional diving instructors.”

He added: “By comparison to the rest of Sudan, we offered Hilton-like standards, and it was such a beautiful place, it really looked like something out of the Arabian Nights. It was unbelievable.”

The diving storeroom, which was out of bounds, contained hidden radios that the agents used to keep in contact with their headquarters in Tel Aviv.

North and South Korea grow closer at the Winter Games
The resort was keen to showcase its proximity to the sea and water sports equipment.

The Mossad agents would leave at night for their rescue operations from time to time, telling local staff that they’d be out of town for a few days.

They would then drive to a refugee camp hundreds of miles away where Beta Israelis were waiting, and bring them back to a beach near Arous. They then transferred the refugees to Israeli SEAL teams, who took them to a waiting navy ship, and on to Israeli territory.

After one of the operations almost got busted, Israel decided to send jets to covertly airlift the Ethiopians to Israel instead.

The agents abandoned the resort in 1985 after years of running it. The military junta in charge of country at the time started scouring the country for Israeli spies, and Mossad’s head in Israel ordered the agents to leave.

The Mossad agents evacuated the resort in a hurry, while guests were still staying at the hotel, an unidentified agent told the BBC.

“They would have woken up and found themselves alone in the desert,” they said. “The local staff were there, but no-one else — the diving instructor, the lady manager and so on, all the Caucasians had disappeared.”

The agents transferred at least 7,000 Ethiopians to Israel over the course of their operations at Arous.

Travel writer Paul Clammer wrote in his his 2005 guide to Sudan: “Arous Resort was closed when I visited… Though the colourful, relatively fresh paint gave them a cheerful look, the whole place was in disarray: Beach bungalows had toppled roofs, quads were rusty and jet skis left unattended, all suggesting the place was abandoned in a hurry.”

Arous’ website, referenced in some travel guides, is now defunct. Business Insider tried calling two phone numbers linked to the resort on April 19, 2018, but the lines were dead.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

Dozens of new Air Force Academy graduates are heading straight to Space Force

For the first time, the graduating class of the Air Force Academy will have a contingent of cadets who have committed to serve in the newest branch of the military — U.S. Space Force.

“We’re going to commission [88] Air Force Academy cadets directly into the Space Force” from the graduating class of about 1,000, Gen. Jay Raymond, who serves as the first chief of space operations, said Thursday.


“They will take the oath of office and they will be commissioned into the Space Force, so we are really excited to get those cadets onto the team,” Raymond said.

Saturday’s graduation ceremony has been drastically scaled back because of the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Vice President Mike Pence is set to address the graduating class in person at the academy’s Falcon Stadium in Colorado Springs, Colorado, but no family members, spectators or visitors will be allowed to attend. The ceremony has been shortened to 30 minutes, according to academy officials.

North and South Korea grow closer at the Winter Games

To comply with the official guidelines on social distancing, the cadets will march into the stadium eight feet apart and sit six feet apart, but the ceremony will end with a traditional flyover by the Air Force Thunderbirds.

Space Force, which was formally created only four months ago, is facing enormous personnel challenges ahead with decisions to be made during the pandemic.

However, “this is a historic opportunity” and “we get to start from scratch,” Raymond said Thursday in a Facebook town hall with Chief Master Sgt. Roger Towberman, his senior enlisted adviser.

“There is no checklist on how to set up an independent service,” Raymond said, adding he wants to make sure “we don’t have a huge bureaucracy” that would stifle innovation.

Raymond and Towberman said they are sticking with the timetable of a 30-day window, to start May 1, for current Air Force personnel to decide whether they want to switch to Space Force.

“I understand it’s a life-changing decision” and some may need more time, Towberman said. “If you just aren’t sure, I want you to understand we’ve got a service we’ve got to plan for.”

Those from other services can also apply to join the Space Force.

“If you’re interested, we’d love to have you,” Raymond said.

But Towberman cautioned that service members from other branches should check first with their leadership before volunteering.

In the rush to set up the new force, Raymond and Towberman said some of the fundamentals expected by the traditions of service and the culture of the U.S. military have yet to be decided for the Space Force.

Raymond said it’s yet to be decided what a Space Force honor guard would look like, and Towberman said no decisions have been made on what the rank insignia will look like for enlisted personnel, or even what the ranks will be called.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

U.S. reaffirms commitment to South China Sea after clash

The White House responded publicly on Oct. 4, 2018, to a heated confrontation between the Chinese navy and a US destroyer in the South China Sea.

“China wants nothing less than to push the United States of America from the Western Pacific and attempt to prevent us from coming to the aid of our allies,” Vice President Mike Pence said at the Hudson Institute. “They will fail.”


He explained that China prioritizes the erosion of American military power.

“China’s aggression was on display this week,” he said, referring to a dangerous encounter between the People’s Liberation Army Navy destroyer Lanzhou and the US destroyer USS Decatur in the hotly-contested South China Sea Sept. 30, 2018. “A Chinese naval vessel came within 45 yards of the USS Decatur as it conducted freedom-of-navigation operations in the South China Sea, forcing our ship to quickly maneuver to avoid collision.”

“Despite such reckless harassment, the United States Navy will continue to fly, sail and operate wherever international law allows and our national interests demand,” Pence explained. “We will not be intimidated; we will not stand down.”

Highlighting the Trump administration’s focus on renewed great power competition with China and Russia, the vice president insisted that the US will employ “decisive action to respond to China.”

China has accused the US of endangering regional peace and stability.

“The U.S. side has sent warships into waters near China’s islands and reefs in South China Sea time and again, which has posed a grave threat to China’s sovereignty and security, severely damaged the relations between the two militaries, and significantly undermined regional peace and stability,” the Ministry of Defense said in response to the latest clash.

“The Chinese military resolutely opposes such actions,” the ministry added.

The latest incident in the South China Sea comes amid heightened tensions between Washington and Beijing, and the situation could soon worsen, as the US military is reportedly considering a proposal for a major show of force as a warning to the Chinese, which perceive American actions moves to contain Chinese power.

While the vice president stressed the threats posed by China to American interests, he emphasized that the US desires a productive relationship with Beijing. “But be assured, we will not relent until our relationship with China is grounded in fairness, reciprocity, and respect for our sovereignty,” he said.

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

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