WATCH: Tom Hanks takes on soldier in a push up contest at the Oscars Red Carpet - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY MOVIES

WATCH: Tom Hanks takes on soldier in a push up contest at the Oscars Red Carpet

Did you know that Tom Hanks is an honorary inductee to the Army Ranger Hall of Fame? Judging by his push ups on the soaking wet Red Carpet at the 2020 Academy Awards, at age 63, he’s definitely still in fighting shape.


Hanks challenged Army Staff Sergeant Bryan Hudson to drop with him to crank out some push ups. A once in a lifetime opportunity, Hudson looked a little surprised, but quickly got down and made his Army buddies (seen cheering in the background) proud. Hanks and Hudson cranked out seven push ups apiece on TV before the camera cut away for commercial.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8_XHmzDQ0F8

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From another angle, Hanks and Hudson can be seen doing a full 25 push ups, while Hanks can be heard yelling out his count.

Hanks is a huge supporter of the military, participating in charitable giving and honoring service with iconic roles in such movies as Saving Private Ryan and Forest Gump. Hanks also served as Executive Producer alongside Steven Spielberg and Gary Goetzman in the mini-series The Pacific, about World War II.

In their red carpet interview with E! Live, Hanks’ wife, Rita Wilson, discussed her upcoming plans to visit military bases in South Korea.

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Hanks was given an honorary induction to the Army Ranger Hall of Fame in 2006. According to their website, “The Ranger Hall of Fame was formed to honor and preserve the spirit and contributions of America’s most extraordinary Rangers. The members of the Ranger Hall of Fame Selection Board take particular care to ensure that only the most extraordinary Rangers are inducted, a difficult mission given the high caliber of all nominees. Their precepts are impartiality, fairness, and scrutiny. Inductees were selected impartially from Ranger units and associations representing each era or Ranger history. Each nominee was subjected to the scrutiny of the Selection Board to ensure the most extraordinary contributions are acknowledged.”

“Honorary induction may be conferred on individuals who have made extraordinary contributions to Ranger units, the Ranger foundation, or the Ranger community in general, but who do not meet the normal criteria of combat service with a Ranger unit or graduation from the U.S. Army Ranger School.”

Just when we thought we couldn’t love Tom Hanks any more than we already do, he goes and challenges a soldier to push ups. Hooah!

MIGHTY TRENDING

North Korea’s brinkmanship will continue right after the Olympics

The uneasy peace the US, North Korea, and South Korea observed over the course of the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics doesn’t look built to last, as military exercises will begin shortly after the games.


Although the US and South Korea postponed joint military exercises during the Olympics, the drills wil continue “as planned” after the games conclude, the US Forces Korea told NK News on Feb. 20, 2018. The officials declined to comment on exactly when the drills would take place, but said they’d provide an update in late March or April 2018.

The US and South Korea usually hold three major military exercises each year, and they all focus on combatting North Korea while serving as a major irritant in the trilateral relations.

WATCH: Tom Hanks takes on soldier in a push up contest at the Oscars Red Carpet
‘2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games’ Medal. (Image via Republic of Korea Flickr)

Also read: Seven soldiers will compete in 2018 Winter Olympics

North Korea has said the military drills “can never be compatible” with talks between the North and South, but the US has made it clear that it wants denuclearization of the Koreas above all, and will achieve the goal diplomatically or militarily.

North Korea has a history of responding with provocations of their own and likely won’t suffer the military drills in silence. While North Korea’s ballistic missile and nuclear programs have advanced, they have not reached completion.

North Korea still needs to test a missile fired at range and to demonstrate it can build a warhead that can survive the journeys. Media from Pyongyang has previously suggested it might fire missiles at the US military in Guam or detonate a nuclear missile over the Pacific ocean to prove its missile-building prowess.

Related: North and South Korea grow closer at the Winter Games

But even as the countries return to old tricks and what often looks like a spiral of escalation, there’s reason to think it could be different this time around.

Reports from inside and around North Korea indicate the international sanctions campaign pushed by President Donald Trump seems to be working. With less money coming in and broad global support for isolating Pyongyang, the US may see North Korea continue to reach out to the South.

MIGHTY MOVIES

A fanboy just made this ‘John Wick video’ with Nerf guns and it’s awesome

By any measure, the latest installment of the John Wick franchise is a hit. With a $30 million opening and about $158 million in global box office as of mid-March, “John Wick: Chapter 2” is riding high.


The flick is packed with action, badassery and edge-of-your-seat thrills. But what really stands out about the movie — and what might give it its 90 percent Rotten Tomatoes rating — is the Delta Force-esque gunplay.

The leaked video of “John Wick: Chapter 2” lead man Keanu Reeves punching some paper with tactical training guru Taran Butler in the lead up to the release of the film only helped illustrate how Wick’s got a little Ninja in his blood.

So how do you make the job harder for the assassin of assassins? Ditch the irons and replace them with Nerfs — then see how he does.

Well a YouTube team attempted just that, providing a stand in for Wick and bedecking him with an arsenal of foam and plastic. And what this Nerf John Wick was able to accomplish against 14 assassins will blow your mind.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Check out this crazy double-barreled bolt action rifle

In 1989, Joseph Szecsei was charged by three elephants at the same time. He survived, but afterward, he decided the usual weapons for defense against giant animal attacks just weren’t sufficient. Szecsei sought out to make the perfect large-game animal stopper: The Szecsei & Fuchs “Mokume” bolt action double rifle.


WATCH: Tom Hanks takes on soldier in a push up contest at the Oscars Red Carpet

Of course, Szecsei had a lot of firearm types and designs to choose from in creating the show-stopper. He could have chosen a larger round to shoot from a regular bolt action rifle. He could have created a semi-automatic rifle. There were a few factors (other than how to kill a large animal running at him at full speed) to consider.

First, he couldn’t create a semi-automatic weapon because they’re actually illegal in many of the places in which one might safari or otherwise hunt. Africa isn’t a completely lawless land of civil wars and corruption, no matter what television and movies would have you believe. Secondly, he needed a weapon that wouldn’t jam up at the crucial moment. Defense is the entire reason for the weapon, after all. So a bolt-action was necessary, but Szecsei still wanted the extra oomph of another shot.

Another shot of a round that could stop a charging elephant, that is. And large-caliber rounds just aren’t something a semi-automatic can do for a civilian. Taking a .50-cal out on safari might be frowned upon by the locals, so Szecsei returned to the idea of a large-caliber double-barrel bolt action rifle. And the Szecsei Fuchs “Mokume” rifle was born out of that idea.

The weapon is made of titanium to keep the weight down, along with titanium for its unique double magazine. The weapon fires anything from a .470-caliber round to the U.S. 30.06 – a rifle you can buy for whatever animal might be ready to gore down on your guts. It has two triggers, one for each barrel. With just one movement of the bolt, both rounds are expelled, and new ones are loaded into the chamber.

Necessity is the mother of invention, and the next three elephants to come for Joseph Szecsei are in for a huge surprise. Please don’t hunt the most dangerous game with this rifle.

Articles

Navy SEAL vet looks to break wing suit distance record

WATCH: Tom Hanks takes on soldier in a push up contest at the Oscars Red Carpet


Andy Stumpf is a former Navy SEAL who hasn’t lost one iota of his drive since he took off the uniform. The same motivation that took him to harm’s way and back is now pushing him to break the wing suit overland distance record of 17.83 miles. At the same time he’s putting it all on the line to accomplish an even more important feat: raising $1 million for the Navy SEAL Foundation, a non-profit that supports the families of fallen SEALs.

You can help Andy raise 1$ million for the Navy SEAL Foundation by donating to his GoFundMe page.

Andy will attempt the jump on November 1.

Here’s an infographic of Andy’s (planned) profile:

WATCH: Tom Hanks takes on soldier in a push up contest at the Oscars Red Carpet

And check out this video about Andy’s motivation and the jump:

MIGHTY TRENDING

Soldiers share marksmanship tips with Iraqi forces

For soldiers worldwide, rifle marksmanship is one of the most basic skills each and every soldier must possess.

Iraqi soldiers are learning how tedious the training can be and what it takes to become an expert marksman.

Mississippi Guard members of Task Force India Bravo instructed Iraqi army soldiers assigned to the Supply and Transportation Regiment on basic marksmanship in a weeklong primary marksmanship instruction class.


The Iraqi soldiers were fully engaged with the essential training.

“Training like this is going to give knowledge to the soldiers. In this way he can know everything he needs and that will make him a better soldier,” said one Iraqi company commander with the Supply and Transportation Regiment.

Though the soldiers may not be infantry, marksmanship skills are important to them.

WATCH: Tom Hanks takes on soldier in a push up contest at the Oscars Red Carpet

U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Michael Garner, right, security forces platoon sergeant assigned to Task Force India Bravo, teaches an Iraqi army primary marksmanship instruction course at Camp Taji, Iraq, Dec.19, 2018.

(Photo by Spc. Jovi Prevot)

“Each and every soldier is supposed to know how to be a soldier first, so anything that he could learn is important,” he said. “When we do our jobs we face many things, mechanical problems, casualties, and even death. If we can prepare our soldiers for this, they will be better.”

WATCH: Tom Hanks takes on soldier in a push up contest at the Oscars Red Carpet

U.S. Army Spc. Matthew Driskill, left, a cavalry scout assigned to Task Force India Bravo, assists an Iraqi soldier with a dime/washer drill as part of a primary marksmanship instruction course at Camp Taji, Iraq, Dec.19, 2018.

(Photo by Spc. Jovi Prevot)

Though marksmanship is a basic skill universal to all services, the evaluation of marksmanship skill varies.

“Their weapons qualification is completely different than ours, but that doesn’t matter when we teach basic marksmanship fundamentals — it is universal,” said U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Michael Garner, security forces platoon sergeant assigned to Task Force India Bravo.

WATCH: Tom Hanks takes on soldier in a push up contest at the Oscars Red Carpet

U.S. Army Spc. Matthew Driskill, left, a cavalry scout assigned to Task Force India Bravo, assists an Iraqi soldier with a dime/washer drill as part of a primary marksmanship instruction course at Camp Taji, Iraq, Dec.19, 2018.

(Photo by Spc. Jovi Prevot)

The training was tailored to the needs of the Iraqi soldiers.

“Prior to beginning training we assessed them on their skills, then we developed our training course based on a NATO Primary Method of Instruction,” he said.

The course layout mirrored the way the U.S. Army trains its soldiers.

WATCH: Tom Hanks takes on soldier in a push up contest at the Oscars Red Carpet

An Iraqi soldier conducts a dime/washer drill as part of a primary marksmanship instruction course at Camp Taji, Iraq, Dec.19, 2018.

(Photo by Spc. Jovi Prevot)

“We taught a course including both classroom and practical exercises and we went from less than 10 percent to more than 75 percent being able to demonstrate weapons proficiency,” said Garner.

WATCH: Tom Hanks takes on soldier in a push up contest at the Oscars Red Carpet

An Iraqi soldier conducts a dime/washer drill as part of a primary marksmanship instruction course held at Camp Taji, Iraq, Dec.19, 2018.

(Photo by Spc. Jovi Prevot)

“We saw a drastic change in their accuracy of their marksmanship, after teaching the class,” he said. “There was a 75 percent improvement from pre- to post-assessment.”

“To date we have trained approximately 500 soldiers,” said Garner. “In the near future we will teach courses on advanced marksmanship techniques.”

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

Articles

This is how many of some of the most heroic WW2 planes are left

According to a 2014 report by USA Today, 413 World War II vets die each day on average. However, the men (and women) who served in uniform are not the only things vanishing with time.


Many of the planes flown in World War II are also departing one by one from the skies.

In one sense, it may not be surprising – after all, World War II has been over for 72 years. But here are the production totals of some of the most famous planes: There were 20,351 Spitfires produced in World War II. Prior to a crash at a French air show near Verdun in June, there were only 54 flying. That’s less than .3 percent of all the Spitfires ever built.

WATCH: Tom Hanks takes on soldier in a push up contest at the Oscars Red Carpet
Spitfire LF Mk IX, MH434 being flown by Ray Hanna in 2005. The Spitfire served with the USAAF in the Mediterranean Theater from 1942-1944. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

Of the over 15,000 US P-51 Mustangs built, less than 200 are still flyable – about one percent of the production run. Of 12,571 F4U Corsairs built, roughly 50 are airworthy. Of 3,970 B-29 Superfortresses built, only two are flying today.

Much of this is due to the ravages of time or accidents. The planes get older, the metal gets fatigued, or a pilot makes a mistake, or something unexpected happens, and there is a crash.

WATCH: Tom Hanks takes on soldier in a push up contest at the Oscars Red Carpet
Fifi, one of only two flying Boeing B-29 Superfortresses. (Photo by Ilikerio via Wikimedia Commons)

Finding the spare parts to repair the planes also becomes harder – and more expensive – as time passes. A 2016 Air Force release noted that it took 17 years to get the B-29 bomber nicknamed “Doc” flyable. Kansas.com reported that over 350,000 volunteer hours were spent restoring that B-29.

Many of the planes built in World War II were either scrapped or sold off – practically given away – when the United States demobilized after that conflict.

WATCH: Tom Hanks takes on soldier in a push up contest at the Oscars Red Carpet
P-47 P-51 — Flying Legends 2012 — Duxford (Photo by Airwolfhound)

As David Campbell said in “The Longest Day” while sitting at the bar, “The thing that’s always worried me about being one of the few is the way we keep on getting fewer.” Below, you can see the crash of the Spitfire at the French air show – and one of the few flyable World War II planes proves how true that statement is beyond the veterans.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Massive cats have invaded these photos. You’re welcome

Man, military photographers take some great photos sometimes. Sand tables, missile launches, rifle ranges. So many great images of American might and military readiness. But they’re always missing something, and the Twitter user Military Giant Cats has figured it out.


Icelandpic.twitter.com/A9KVSCoM7x

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Yeah, the pics were always missing giant cats. Giant, giant cats that welcome Marines home from long ruck marches. Or, maybe the Marines are marching there to attack the cat? Look, the context isn’t clear, but you would definitely buy a ticket if that was a movie, right?

BMD-2pic.twitter.com/zPFrfX9W0A

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Come on, you would follow this cat into battle. You would face the galloping hordes, a hundred bad guys with swords, and send those goons to their lords, if this cat was leading the charge. And he’s so intense about it.

#DSEIpic.twitter.com/gG3JBfFZHZ

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Not all cats take their duties so seriously. Some are plenty patriotic but don’t feel the need to pursue the enemy all the time. They take a little time to relax, to consider their past achievements. And more than likely, to bat around a few of the tiny humans walking around his armor.

HMS Astute (S119)pic.twitter.com/luQway607e

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This cat is willing to brave the perils of the deep for your freedom. He will do battle with the Nautilus, he will spend weeks submerged. And if duty calls, he will claw his way through entire Russian fleets and survive on nothing but kelp to secure the seas for democracy.

BGM-109 Tomahawkpic.twitter.com/CMOU9gNxt3

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These cats are willing to do whatever it takes. When they attacked Syria, they launched Tomahawk Cruise Missiles and didn’t bat a single one out of the sky before it hit regime forces.

T-64BM Bulatpic.twitter.com/3EJGMZoe4r

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And look at how happy they make the troops! Whether they’re chasing giant balls of yarn or drifting tanks during military exercises, the cats know how to put on a show.

SEPECAT Jaguarpic.twitter.com/h7uW37oIaX

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But this one is a horrible pilot.

To see more of these awesome creations, check out the Twitter stream here.

MIGHTY CULTURE

This is what your wardrobe on mandatory fun days says about you

For better or worse, you’re going to find out basically everything about your brothers- and sisters-in-arms. The longer you serve with them — the more field ops, the more deployments, and the more random BS — the more you’re going to learn all the tiny, little details about your fellow troops.

But if you want a crash course on the personal life of any other troop, look no further than how they dress whenever they’re given the option to show up in civvies instead of the uniform. Sometimes it’s at the recall formation at 0200 on Saturday morning and everyone’s just rolled out of bed. But when it’s a “mandatory fun” day with the unit, troops tend to get a bit… uh… creative with their wardrobe selection.

Here’s what your choice of mando-fun outfit says about you.


WATCH: Tom Hanks takes on soldier in a push up contest at the Oscars Red Carpet

Look at them. Being all successful and sh*t.

(U.S. Coast Guard photograph by Aux. Barry Novakoff.)

Average civilian clothes 

Nothing really stands out about this troop. They’re probably the type to stay in, honorably discharge, get into a nice school under the GI Bill, and become a productive member of society. There’s nothing really bad you could say about them but, man, these guys are boring as hell.

They may fit in with world when they’re on leave, but in the unit, they’re the odd one out — because they’re not what society considers odd like the rest of us.

There’s a 50% chance that all of these guys’ military stories are about other (more interesting) people.

WATCH: Tom Hanks takes on soldier in a push up contest at the Oscars Red Carpet

They’re probably 98% more likely to also being too lazy to even change from the work day before…

(U.S. Army photo)

Basically the uniform, but with blue jeans and without the top

If this troop has been in any longer than one pay period beyond basic training and still dresses like they’re barely satisfying the minimum requirement to be “out of uniform,” then they’re lazy as f*ck. The longer this troop has been in, the less of an excuse they have — they get a clothing allowance that specifically includes extra cash for civilian clothes.

It’s literally the one time the military gives you money and says, “go buy yourself something nice” and this troop wasted it on booze, video games, or strippers.

These bums have a 98% chance of asking you to spot them until payday, saying they can “totally” get you back (but never will).

WATCH: Tom Hanks takes on soldier in a push up contest at the Oscars Red Carpet

If they do wear a kilt in formation, they have a 100% chance of asking you, “do you know the difference between a kilt and a skirt?” before mooning you.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by SSgt. Marc R. Ayalin)

Over-the-top, ridiculous clothing

This troop has been eagerly awaiting the moment they’re told they can wear civilian clothes. This dude is the platoon’s joker while in uniform, so don’t expect that to change when they’re given the freedom to wear whatever.

You can never really predict what they’re going to show up in. Maybe they’ll wear a Halloween costume in April. Maybe they’ll show up in a fully-traditional kilt. Maybe they’ll just wear that mankini thing from Borat.

These bros also have a 69% chance of repeating a joke if you don’t laugh at it, insisting that you must have missed it the first time two times.

Overtly moto clothes

It’s not entirely uncommon for troops to start up clothing lines when they leave the service. Hell, we even got into the veteran-humor t-shirt game to help pay the bills. Warning: shameless self-promotion here.

But there’s just something odd about troops who wear overly-Hooah, I’m-a-Spartan-sheepdog-who-became-the-Grim-Reaper-for-your-freedoms shirt when everyone in the unit knows you’re a POG who just got to the unit. We’re not knocking the shirt (because that’s something we should probably start selling sooner or later…) but, you’re not fooling anyone.

These boots are 1% likely to actually be a grunt.

WATCH: Tom Hanks takes on soldier in a push up contest at the Oscars Red Carpet

This was your first sergeant ten years ago… and ten days ago…

Same style you had before you enlisted

That moment you enlist is probably the last time you really give a damn about clothing styles. So, your closet is (probably) still full of clothes that you might get around to wearing some day. We get it. But it gets kinda sad the longer you’ve been in the military.

Dressing like a background actor in Avril Lavigne’s “Sk8r Boi” music video may have been cool back in the day, but when you see a salty, old first sergeant try to rock that look it’s… just depressing.

These dudes have a 75% chance of reaching 10 years, saying, “what’s another 10 anyways?” to themselves, and immediately regretting that decision.

WATCH: Tom Hanks takes on soldier in a push up contest at the Oscars Red Carpet

Civilian clothes don’t have a standard, but if they did…

(U.S. Air Force photo by Capt. John Ross)

Business casual with a “high and tight”

When the commander puts out the memo saying troops can wear whatever they want as long as they’re in formation, these guys kind of break down. Freedom of choice is a foreign concept to them.

What they chose to wear is, essentially, another kind of uniform: a muted-color polo tucked into a pair of ironed khakis, a brown belt, and loafers — and maybe a branch hat that they picked up at the PX because they’d have an anxiety attack if the open wind touched their bare head.

This guy has a 99.99% chance of also trying enforce some sort of clothing standard when there isn’t even a need for it.

Articles

Marine faces 12 years for killing a transgender woman

A court in the Philippines found U.S. Marine Joseph Scott Pemberton guilty for killing Jennifer Laude in a hotel room outside of Manila in 2014.


WATCH: Tom Hanks takes on soldier in a push up contest at the Oscars Red Carpet

The Philippine government sought murder charges against Pemberton but the court downgraded his crime to the lesser charge of homicide. The difference between the two charges is the charge of murder requires the killing be “aggravated by treachery, abuse of superior strength and cruelty.”

In Oct. 2014, Pemberton met Laude in a bar while he was on leave. The two checked into a nearby hotel where he attacked the transgendered woman when he found out she was born a male. He admitted to the attack but maintained she was alive when he left the hotel.

Laude was found strangled with her head in the room’s toilet.

The case strained relations between the two countries. The Philippines, a former U.S. territory, will hold Pemberton until the two governments reach a consensus on where he should serve his prison term. There are calls in the Philippine government to end its military relationship with the United States.

WATCH: Tom Hanks takes on soldier in a push up contest at the Oscars Red Carpet
Laude with her German fiancé, Marc Sueselbeck

The current status of forces agreement between the U.S. and the Philippines allows the Philippines to prosecute members of the U.S. military, but the U.S. government is to hold them until all court proceedings are finished.

Pemberton is also ordered to pay the U.S. equivalent of $95,350 to the family of the victim.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Russia partially releases stranglehold on Ukraine’s ports

Kyiv says Russia has “partially” unblocked Ukrainian ports on the Sea of Azov, allowing Ukrainian ships to pass through the Kerch Strait for the first time since Nov. 25, 2018, when Russian forces seized three Ukrainian Navy vessels and detained 24 crewmen.

“Berdyansk and Mariupol are partially unlocked,” Infrastructure Minister Volodymyr Omelyan said on Dec. 4, 2018, as NATO reiterated its call on Russia to allow “unhindered access” to Ukrainian ports in the Sea of Azov.

“Vessels make their way to the entrance and exit through the Kerch Strait toward Ukrainian ports,” Omelyan said.


The minister said that ships navigating through the Kerch Strait to and from Ukrainian ports “are stopped and inspected by Russia as before, but the traffic has been partially restored.”

Ukraine’s Agriculture Ministry later said that the country had resumed grain shipments from the Sea of Azov.

“Passage of vessels with agricultural products through ports in the Sea of Azov has been unlocked,” the ministry said in a statement.

“The loading of grain to vessels through the ports of Mariupol and Berdyansk is restored and carried out in regular mode,” it added.

WATCH: Tom Hanks takes on soldier in a push up contest at the Oscars Red Carpet

Captured BK-02 Berdyansk with a hole in the pilothouse.

The naval confrontation between Russia and Ukraine topped the agenda of a NATO foreign ministers’ meeting with their Ukrainian counterpart, Pavlo Klimkin, in Brussels.

After the talks, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said the 29 members of the alliance called on Russia to “immediately release the Ukrainian sailors and ships it seized.”

“Russia must allow freedom of navigation and allow unhindered access to Ukrainian ports,” he added.

“In response to Russia’s aggressive actions, NATO has substantially increased its presence in the Black Sea region over the past few years — at sea, in the air, and on the ground,” Stoltenberg also noted.

WATCH: Tom Hanks takes on soldier in a push up contest at the Oscars Red Carpet

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg.

Russia continues to hold 24 Ukrainian sailors detained in the Nov. 25, 2018 incident, despite demands from NATO for their release from detention centers in Moscow.

Moscow Human Rights Commissioner Tatyana Potyayeva was scheduled on Dec. 4, 2018, to visit three Ukrainian sailors who were injured in the Nov. 25, 2018 incident, when Russian forces rammed a Ukrainian Navy tugboat and fired on two other ships before seizing the vessels.

The clash has added to tension over Crimea, which Russia occupied and illegally annexed from Ukraine in March 2014.

It also has raised concerns of a possible flare-up in a simmering war between Kyiv and Russia-backed separatists that has killed more than 10,300 people in eastern Ukraine since April 2014.

The Russia-backed separatists hold parts of the Luhansk and Donetsk regions, including a piece of shoreline that lies between the Russian border and the Ukrainian Sea of Azov port city of Mariupol.

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, on Dec. 3, 2018, said concerns that Moscow could seek to create a “land corridor” linking Russia to Crimea were “absurd.”

At their Brussels meeting, the foreign ministers “restated NATO’s solidarity with Ukraine,” Stoltenberg said.

“We recognize Ukraine’s aspirations to join the alliance, and progress has already been made on reforms. But challenges remain, so we encourage Ukraine to continue on this path of reform. This is crucial for prosperity and peace in Ukraine,” the NATO chief said.

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

popular

Why diplomatic immunity doesn’t work like it does in movies

It’s the perfect scenario for an action film: the villain from a foreign country goes on a crime spree and, because of international law protecting them, there’s nothing anyone but the protagonist can do about it. Except diplomatic immunity does exist.


It treats diplomats (and their families) as an agent of their host country, meaning that if you cite a diplomat for a parking violation, you’re giving their entire host nation a ticket for a parking violation. In an extreme scenario, if a South African diplomat were to be arrested for heading a cocaine smuggling ring in America, then the American diplomat in South Africa would be in danger.

 

WATCH: Tom Hanks takes on soldier in a push up contest at the Oscars Red Carpet
But it’s still not much of a ‘get out of jail free’ card.

(Courtesy Photo)

Any serious crime committed would require action from the diplomat’s nation. In 1997, a high-ranking Georgian diplomat drove drunk, caused a five-car pileup in Washington D.C., and killed a 16 year-old girl. He was protected under diplomatic immunity when he was pulled over for a previous DUI, but when it happened again and an American girl was killed, the nation of Georgia waived all immunity and he was sentenced to 21 years in prison.

This is because a nation is bound by diplomatic ties to act. Because the diplomat was acting in lieu of the Georgian government, murdering an American fractured American-Georgian relations and could be considered an act of war. Which lead to the waiving of diplomatic immunity, expulsion, and eventual imprisonment of the diplomat.

The benefit of diplomatic immunity that gets used the most is that diplomats don’t need to personally pay fines. If a diplomat were to be pulled over for speeding, as is extremely common in Germany (there actually are speed limits on the Autobahn,) the fine is paid for by the diplomat’s country.

WATCH: Tom Hanks takes on soldier in a push up contest at the Oscars Red Carpet
All foreign diplomats get special license plates that usually stop them from being pulled over anyways.

It also works for other smaller infractions like failure to pay rent. Many officials from Zaire refused to pay in 2002. Their diplomatic immunity prevented them from being evicted and the landlord couldn’t do anything about it. It was after their return home that the country of Zaire paid their debt.

MIGHTY SURVIVAL

11 countries are now using people’s phones to track the coronavirus pandemic, and it heralds a massive increase in surveillance

Governments across the world are galvanizing every surveillance tool at their disposal to help stem the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Countries have been quick to use the one tool almost all of us carry with us — our smartphones.


A new live index of ramped up security measures by Top10VPN details the countries which have already brought in measures to track the phones of coronavirus patients, ranging from anonymized aggregated data to monitor the movement of people more generally, to the tracking of individual suspected patients and their contacts, known as “contact tracing.”

Other countries are likely to follow suit. The US Senate’s trillion economic stimulus bill includes 0 million for the CDC to launch a new “surveillance and data collection system” to monitor the spread of the virus, though it’s not yet clear exactly how this system will work.

Samuel Woodhams, Top10VPN’s Digital Rights Lead who compiled the index, warned that the world could slide into permanently increased surveillance.

“Without adequate tracking, there is a danger that these new, often highly invasive, measures will become the norm around the world,” he told Business Insider. “Although some may appear entirely legitimate, many pose a risk to citizens’ right to privacy and freedom of expression.

“Given how quickly things are changing, documenting the new measures is the first step to challenging potential overreach, providing scrutiny and holding corporations and governments to account.”

While some countries will cap their new emergency measures, otherwise may retain the powers for future use. “There is a risk that many of these new capabilities will continue to be used following the outbreak,” said Woodhams. “This is particularly significant as many of the new measures have avoided public and political scrutiny and do not include sunset clauses.”

Here’s a breakdown of which countries have started tracking phone data, with varying degrees of invasiveness:

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South Korea gives out detailed information about patients’ whereabouts

South Korea has gone a step further than other countries, tracking individuals’ phones and creating a publicly available map to allow other citizens to check whether they may have crossed paths with any coronavirus patients.

The tracking data that goes into the map isn’t limited to mobile phone data, credit card records and even face-to-face interviews with patients are being used to build a retroactive map of where they’ve been.

Not only is the map there for citizens to check, but the South Korean government is using it to proactively send regional text messages warning people they may have come into contact with someone carrying the virus.

The location given can be extremely specific, the Washington Post reported a text went out that said an infected person had been at the “Magic Coin Karaoke in Jayang-dong at midnight on Feb. 20.”

Some texts give out more personal information however. A text reported by The Guardian read: “A woman in her 60s has just tested positive. Click on the link for the places she visited before she was hospitalised.”

The director of the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Jeong Eun-kyeong, acknowledged that the site infringes on civil liberties, saying: “It is true that public interests tend to be emphasized more than human rights of individuals when dealing with diseases that can infect others.”

The map is already interfering with civil liberties, as a South Korean woman told the Washington Post that she had stopped attending a bar popular with lesbians for fear of being outed. “If I unknowingly contract the virus… that record will be released to the whole country,” she said.

The system is also throwing up other unexpected challenges. The Guardian reported that one man claiming to be infected threatened various restaurants saying he would visit and hurt their custom unless they gave him money to stay away.

Iran asked citizens to download an invasive app

Vice reported that Iran’s government endorsed a coronavirus diagnosis app that collected users’ real-time location data.

On March 3, a message went out to millions of Iranian citizens telling them to install the app, called AC19, before going to a hospital or health center.

The app claimed to be able to diagnose the user with coronavirus by asking a series of yes or no questions. The app has since been removed from the Google Play store.

Israel passed new laws to spy on its citizens

As part of a broad set of new surveillance measures approved by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on March 17, Israel’s Security Agency will no longer have to obtain a court order to track individuals’ phones. The new law also stipulates all data collected must be deleted after 30 days.

Netanyahu described the new security measures as “invasive” in an address to the nation.

“We’ll deploy measures we’ve only previously deployed against terrorists. Some of these will be invasive and infringe on the privacy of those affected. We must adopt a new routine,” said Netanyahu.

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Singapore has an app which can trace people within 2 meters of infected patients

Singapore’s Government Technology Agency and the Ministry of Health developed an app for contact tracing called TraceTogether which launched on March 20.

Per the Straits Times, the app is used: “to identify people who have been in close proximity — within 2m for at least 30 minutes — to coronavirus patients using wireless Bluetooth technology.”

“No geolocation data or other personal data is collected,” TraceTogether said in an explanatory video.

Taiwan can tell when quarantined people have left the house

Taiwan has activated what it calls an “electronic fence,” which tracks mobile phone data and alerts authorities when someone who is supposed to be quarantined at home is leaving the house.

“The goal is to stop people from running around and spreading the infection,” said Jyan Hong-wei, head of Taiwan’s Department of Cyber Security. Jyan added that local authorities and police should be able to respond to anyone who triggers an alert within 15 minutes.

Even having your phone turned off seems to be enough to warrant a police visit. An American student living in Taiwan wrote in a BBC article that he was visited by two police officers at 8:15 a.m. because his phone had run out of battery at 7:30 a.m. and the government had briefly lost track of him. The student was in quarantine at the time because he had arrived in Taiwan from Europe.

Austria is using anonymized data to map people’s movements

On March 17 Austria’s biggest telecoms network operator Telekom Austria AG announced it was sharing anonymized location data with the government.

The technology being used was developed by a spin-off startup out of the University of Graz, and Telekom Austria said it is usually used to measure footfall in popular tourist sites.

Woodhams told Business Insider that while collecting aggregated data sets is less invasive than other measures, how that data could be used in future should still be cause for concern.

“Much of the data may remain at risk from re-identification, and it still provides governments with the ability to track the movement of large groups of its citizens,” said Woodhams.

Poland is making people send selfies to prove they’re quarantining correctly

On March 20 the Polish government announced the release of a new app called “Home Quarantine.” The point of the app is to make sure people who are supposed to be quarantining themselves for 14 days stay in place.

To use the app first you have to register a selfie, it then sends periodic requests for geo-located selfies. If the user fails to comply within 20 minutes, the police will be alerted.

“People in quarantine have a choice: either receive unexpected visits from the police, or download this app,” a spokesman for Poland’s Digital Ministry said.

The Polish government is automatically generating accounts for suspected quarantine patients, including people returning from abroad.

Belgium is using anonymized data from telcos

The Belgian government gave the go-ahead on March 11 to start using anonymized data from local telecom companies.

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Germany is modeling how people are moving around

Deutsche Telekom announced on March 18 it would be sharing data with the Robert Koch Institute (Germany’s version of the CDC).

“With this we can model how people are moving around nationwide, on a state level, and even on a community level,” a spokesperson for Deutsche Telekom told Die Welt.

Italy has created movement maps

Italy, which has been particularly hard-hit by the coronavirus outbreak, has also signed a deal with telecoms operators to collect anonymized location data.

As of March 18 Italy had charged 40,000 of its citizens with violating its lockdown laws, per The Guardian.

The UK isn’t tracking yet but is considering it

While nothing official has been announced yet, the UK is in talks with major telecoms providers including O2 and EE to provide large sets of anonymized data.

Google has also indicated it is taking part in discussions.

Like other European democracies, the UK doesn’t seem to be exploring the more invasive method of contact tracing. However, it is considering using aggregated data to track the wider pattern of people’s movements.

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

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