Turkey held a flamboyant and bizarre ceremony to celebrate its first F-35 Lightning II joint strike fighters, but if the US Senate has its way, those two fighters will be the only ones they get.
Turkey, as well as a host of other US allies, are awaiting the F-35 to replace aging fleets of Cold War-era warplanes and bring them into a networked, futuristic style of aerial combat.
Upon receiving its first-ever F-35s from the US, Turkey held a memorable celebration that gave viewers a “taste of Turkey’s rich heritage and diverse culture,” with a long intro song that depicted skydivers, birds, and ended with a man dressed as a bird or plane doing an aviation-themed dance.
But after the curtain rolled back on Turkey’s single F-35, and Turkey’s military leaders expressed hope for a powerful and networked new air force, a major question remains: Will Turkey even get its promised 100 F-35s?
Turkey took part in building the F-35, as did many countries. It’s an important NATO ally positioned as a bridge between east and west. The US bases airmen and nuclear weapons in Turkey, but lately, the relationship has soured.
(U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Joely Santiago)
There’s deep concerns in the US over Turkey’s human rights record, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan authoritarian regime, and Turkey’s recent interest in Russian missile defenses.
Turkey is on track to buy Russia’s S-400 missile defense system.
If Turkey owned the F-35 and the S-400, it would give Russia a window into NATO’s missile defense network and the F-35’s next-generation capabilities. Basically, as NATO is an alliance formed to counter Russia, letting Russia patch in would defeat the purpose and possibly blunt the military edge of the most expensive weapons system ever built.
For that reason, and human rights concerns, the US Senate wrote into its Fiscal Year 2019 National Defense Authorization Act that it wanted Turkey’s F-35s held back.
Lockheed Martin officials said they still expected the sale to go through and the planes to be delivered, but if the House backs up the Senate, and Trump approves, Turkey could be stuck with only two F-35s for a long time.
Potentially, Turkey may be persuaded by the US to give up on its S-400 purchase from Russia, but it’s also possible that a scorned Turkey will go through with the purchase and have a single US-made stealth jet networked into Russian technology.
This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.
Army Veteran Kolan Glass is not a doctor or a nurse. Still, in the battle against COVID-19, he is one of the most critical employees at North Las Vegas VAMC. Glass is the primary housekeeper in the emergency department. After a Veteran has been released, Glass ensures the room is sanitized and prepared for the next patient.
“I clean every room as I would want it if I was the next patient to be staying in it,” says Glass. “I sanitize each room with my full attention.”
North Las Vegas VA housekeeper and Army Veteran Kolan Glass sanitizes the emergency department.
Using technology to ensure safety
Glass and his fellow housekeepers employ the latest technology to prevent infection. This includes a remote-controlled system that uses ultraviolet light to purify equipment, room surfaces and objects.
“Probably about 90 percent of us [housekeepers] are Vets,” he says. “That means we talk and we don’t panic. Sure, we’re dealing with a pandemic, but we still have to get the job done and keep everybody safe.”
Glass experienced first-hand how a viral outbreak can test the emergency department. In March, Glass came in contact with a COVID-19-positive patient. He and other employees were placed on a 14-day quarantine.
“I didn’t get nervous,” Glass says. “I understood it was a precautionary measure, but I was ready to get back to work.”
Glass’s supervisor recognizes his dedication and leadership.
“Even after he had to self-isolate from his family, and with the stress of waiting for testing results, he immediately picked up right where he left off,” says Jesse Diaz. Diaz is chief of environmental management safety (EMS) at North Las Vegas VAMC. “He’s been very vocal in educating the staff and his housekeeping peers in his area. He wants to develop a partnership with the clinical staff and EMS to help reduce the chances of COVID-19 infecting or impacting others.”
A common debate among veterans and gun enthusiasts revolves around why the United States chose to implement the 5.56mm N.A.T.O. round into service instead of the 7.62mm.
Size, versatility, lethality, and a plethora of other semantics are usually quoted in bars across the nation. The answer to this question does not lie in the science between these two instruments of warfare but in the politics of the world stage.
Behind closed doors, world leaders are not as concerned with the penetration of a round or the distance between troops and their targets, but whether they have enough weaponry in their depots, enough money in their treasuries, and the commitment of their allies to come to their aid.
Immediately after World War II, tensions began to rise between the east and west over liberated territories and how they would be governed. An arms race of atomic proportions had begun. War-torn Europe faced the problem of depleted weapon stores and the financial inability to repulse the expansion of Soviet Communism.
In the wake of World War II, the United States of America commanded over 30,000 overseas bases, marshaled over half of the world’s manufacturing capacity, and owned two thirds of the world’s gold stock. In 1949, the Greatest Generation proposed a strategic solution: The North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
N.A.T.O. was created in response to failing relations between the U.S. and the Soviet Union, especially in the case of the reconstruction of Germany. The countries of Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Great Britain, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, and Portugal banded together with the United States as its chief architect.
Article 5 of the 14 Articles of the ‘N.A.T.O. Treaty of April 4th, 1949’ most clearly defines the intent of the Organization:
“…an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or shall be considered an attack against them all; and consequently they agree that, if such an armed attack occurs, each o them, in exercise of the right of individual or collective self-defense recognized by Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations, will assist the Party or Parties so attacked by taking forthwith, individually and in concert with the other Parties, such action as it deems necessary, including the use of armed force, to restore and maintain the security of the North Atlantic area.” – Lillian Goldman Law Library, Yale Law School.
Under the persuasive guidance of the United States, N.A.T.O. slowly standardized armaments best suited for American designs than those resembling the Soviet 7.62mm. Who else could argue the case to finance, produce, and export on a scale to rival the Russians? By the 1980s, the 5.56x45mm was adopted as the standard.
From the sands of the Middle East to the deep jungles of South America, the 5.56mm played an integral role in shaping modern warfare. Decades of proxy wars and economic down turn brought the Soviet Union to its knees. Mikhail Gorbachev, President and leader of the Soviet Union, resigned and declared his office extinct on Dec. 25, 1991.
The 5.56mm never got the chance to sing in the halls of the Kremlin, but it was the round that destroyed an empire.
Currently, the United States stands as one of the top weapons suppliers around the world. Its sales include, but are not limited to, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Turkey, South Korea, Australia, Taiwan, India, Singapore, Iraq, and Egypt.
Our allies could always borrow our rounds in an emergency because they already own the same model guns. That is why the U.S. uses the 5.56mm: it’s a tool to be used to enforce our political intentions — one way or another.
Featured image courtesy of Lexington Herald Leader (kentucky.com)
The people of Letcher County, Kentucky are currently raising money to build a bronze statue of one of their most iconic civil war veterans, Martin Van Buren Bates. This statue is meant to celebrate more than just his military service, however. It is celebrating his international celebrity status as an actual giant.
Martin Van Buren Bates came from a well-known family in Letcher County. According to historical records, he was born in 1837, and by the age of 13, would weigh 300 pounds. Bates would continue to grow until he was 28 years old, measuring an astounding 7-foot-11 inches tall and weighing 500 pounds. The Guinness Book of World Records lists Bates at 7-foot-9 inches tall.
The point is he was a huge guy. Records of Bates, held at the Letcher County clerk’s office, claim that one of his boots could hold a half bushel of shelled corn—28 pounds of corn.
Bates began his career as a school teacher, but upon the outbreak of the Civil War joined the Confederacy fighting with the 5th Kentucky Infantry. He ascended to the rank of Captain due to his bravery and leadership on the battlefield.
Eventually, he was severely wounded in combat in the Cumberland Gap area, where he was captured and imprisoned at Camp Chase in Ohio.
After the war he briefly returned to Kentucky, before leaving due to violence between former Union and Confederate soldiers. He headed to Cincinnati, where he would join the circus. While on tour with the circus in Nova Scotia, Bates met Anna Swan, who just so happened to be 7-foot-11 inches tall. The two fell in love and got married while on tour with the circus in Europe.
The wedding was a bit of a spectacle with thousands attending. England’s Queen Victoria even gave the couple diamond-studded gold watches as wedding presents. The couple moved to Seville, Ohio, where they purchased a farm and hoped to settle down after their lives in the circus. The couple had a son who only survived for 11 hours, but weighed 23 pounds 12 ounces, and a daughter who weighed 18 pounds, but also died at birth.
Advocates for the statue hope to place a bronze statue in a local park to commemorate Bates. The cost of the statue is an estimated ,000, but advocates argue it is important to remember the county’s history before it is forgotten.
The Army has a saying, “Ain’t no use in looking down, ain’t no discharge on the ground.” But for some old sailors, looking down would have revealed a DD-214, just not the kind of DD-214 that are discharge papers.
That’s because the USS Tracy — a destroyer and minesweeper — was commissioned as the DD-214, the Navy’s 208th destroyer (DD-200 through DD-205 were canceled).
The Tracy was laid down in 1919 and commissioned in 1920 before serving on cruises around the world prior to World War II. It was at Pearl Harbor undergoing a massive overhaul when the Japanese attacked in 1941.
The Tracy’s gun batteries, boilers, ammunition, and most of her crew had been removed during the overhaul but that didn’t stop the skeleton crew on the ship from taking action that December morning.
The duty watch kept a log of all their actions, including dispatching fire and damage control crews to other ships and setting up machine guns with borrowed ammunition to fire on Japanese planes attacking the nearby USS Cummings and USS Pennsylvania. The Tracy suffered one man killed and two lost during the battle.
The crew of the Tracy got it back in fighting shape quickly and the ship took part in minelaying activities in March 1942. A few months later, the Tracy joined Task Force 62 for the assault on Guadalcanal.
The Tracy then supported the American-Australian offensive at Bougainville Island before heading back north to take part in the Okinawa invasion, rescuing survivors of a ship hit by a suicide boat attack.
The war ended a short time later and Tracy emerged from the conflict nearly unscathed with seven battle stars.
While it’s great to imagine an entire generation of sailors that had to serve on the DD-214 while dreaming of their DD-214 papers, no old seamen were that unlucky. The DD-214 discharge form wasn’t introduced until 1950, four years after the Tracy was decommissioned and sold for scrap.
The Chinese government blasted President Donald Trump’s announcement on March 22, 2018, that the US will impose new tariffs on imports from China and said they would introduce their own trade barriers in response.
Trump’s tariffs, which act as a tax on imports, will apply to goods worth about $50 billion annually and hit industries from aerospace to pharmaceuticals. Additionally, the crackdown will limit certain types of Chinese investment into the US.
In response, China is reportedly set to impose new a tariffs ranging from 15% to 25% on 128 different US goods, including fresh fruit, wine, modified ethanol, steel pipe, and more.
According to a statement from the government, the tariffs would apply to about $3 billion of goods annually.
Additionally, the government argued that the Trump administration’s use of national security as the basis for tariffs on steel and aluminum was a smokescreen and the restrictions were economic-based. Thus, under World Trade Organization rules China’s retaliation is legal.
The government also criticized the use of the national security rationale and said it destabilizes international order.
“The United States’ practice of restricting the import of products based on ‘national security’ has severely damaged the multilateral trade system represented by the WTO and seriously interfered with the normal international trade order,” the statement said.
The move significantly raises the possibility of increased trade tensions between the US and China. During the press conference to announce the new tariffs on March 22, 2018, Trump warned that the move was “the first of many.”
In a statement on March 22, 2018, the Chinese Embassy in the US also warned that the country is not afraid of a trade war.
“China does not want a trade war with anyone,” the Chinese embassy in Washington DC said. “But China is not afraid of and will not recoil from a trade war. China is confident and capable of facing any challenge. If a trade war were initiated by the U.S., China would fight to the end to defend its own legitimate interests with all necessary measures.”
Trump justified the move as a response to the theft of US companies’ intellectual property by the Chinese government. The report announcing the tariffs cited instances of US companies being forced to move patents to China or partner with a Chinese firm in order to do business in the country.
Hua Chunying, a spokesperson for China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, also took a tough stance on a possibility of a trade war.
“We want no trade war with anyone, but if our hands are forced, we will not quail nor recoil from it. Therefore, if the day did come when the U.S. took measures to hurt our interests, we will definitely take firm and necessary countermeasures to safeguard our legitimate interests.”
Trump told reporters during the announcement of the tariffs that China and other countries had taken advantage of the US for too long and the president’s goal was to reduce the $375 billion trade deficit with the country.
Zhang Xiangchen, China’s ambassador to the World Trade Organization, told Reuters on March 22, 2018, that China is preparing action against the US in response to the new tariffs and other tariffs Trump recently put in place.
“My colleagues in the capital have been preparing those options and this response,” he said. “We still cherish the multilateral trading system very much, although there’s a flavor of trade war in the air.”
Two Air Force vets made a breakthrough in gun safety. They created an accessory that keeps pistols from firing in the wrong hands.
Dubbed the “Guardian,” it uses fingerprint technology to unlock a gun’s trigger by the owner. It attaches to most pistols without modifying the weapon and remains in place during use, making it quick and convenient to handle while serving its purpose.
It’s similar to unlocking your mobile phone. After authentication via fingerprint, the Guardian unlocks allowing the slide to snap forward granting access to the handgun trigger:
Skylar Gerrond and Matt Barido set out to solve two problems with the Guardian: safety and immediate protection. The best practice with children at home requires firearms be locked away with bullets stored in a different location. But this could defeat the purpose of having a firearm ready at a moment’s notice. To remedy this problem, some owners hide the weapon in an easy to access location, which can jeopardize safety. The Guardian solves both problems.
“That’s the dilemma that drives people to taking the worse course of action — a loaded handgun, not secured at all, in a ‘safe place’ where [they think the] kids doesn’t know about it,” said Gerrond in an interview with The Blaze. “We wanted something that never actually left the handgun. The slide retracts forward in front of trigger guard, allowing access for you to physically insert finger into trigger well.”
The Guardian’s target price will be $199 when it becomes available. The creators are still in the prototype phase and are using Indiegogo to fund its development.
The U.S. Army will take a hard look at Basic Combat Training to see if it’s producing soldiers that are disciplined enough for the operational force.
“In October, we are doing a complete review of the Basic Combat Training period of instruction, what we train in the 10-week red, white and blue phase,” Maj. Gen. Malcolm Frost, commanding general of the U.S. Army Center of Initial Military Training, told Military.com on Thursday.
“Are we doing things in the right sequence? Are we doing things we don’t need to be doing? Should we have more redundancy in some of the basic things the operational force expects?”
The top two things commanders in the operational force want to see in new soldiers is discipline and physical fitness, Frost said.
“Quite frankly, the operational force says ‘give me a physically fit — grounded in the basics of weapons proficiency, fitness, etc. — and a disciplined soldier and we’ll train the rest,” Frost said.
The review will focus on weapons proficiency, physical fitness, communications proficiency and medical proficiency.
“We are going to look at this from the foundation of shoot, move, communicate, treat … the basic four things every soldier needs,” Frost said, adding that discipline, warrior ethos, ethics, values and teamwork will also be of key importance.
As far as other training goes “we have to ask ourselves why are we doing this if it is not creating that foundational soldier … that is fit that is proficient with their weapon, can communicate with communications gear and have some basic medical proficiency,” Frost said.
For instance, Frost said, right now for weapons proficiency and marksmanship the graduation standard is for soldiers to understand how to zero and qualify with the Close Combat Optic.
“Is that really right or should a soldier be able to zero and qualify on iron sights? Because you don’t know what type of optic they are going to get.”
Maj. Gen. Pete Johnson who commands the Army Training Center at Fort Jackson, South Carolina, will lead the review.
“He is the only two-star that is the closest to soldiers every day in this environment,” Frost said. “He is there at Fort Jackson with two brigades and their entire mission is Basic Combat Training.”
The findings of the review will have to go up the chain of command before anything is approved, Frost said.
“We want to make sure that they are grounded in those basics,” Frost said, emphasizing the basics of shoot, move, communicate and perform basic first aid.
“If they can do those things, then that is what we want to deliver to the operational force and that is what they are asking for.”
South Korean lawmaker Lee Cheol-hee said that North Korean hackers have stolen classified military documents, including the US and South Korea’s most current war plans and plans to kill Kim Jong Un, the Financial Times reports.
Lee said that defense officials revealed to him that 235 gigabytes of data had been stolen, 80% of which has yet to be identified.
But Lee said the theft included Operational Plan 5015, the US and South Korea’s current plan for war with North Korea.
The news follows a May announcement from South Korea’s defense ministry saying its military network had been breached.
“This is a total failure of management and monitoring [of classified information],” Shin Jong-woo, a researcher at the Korea Defense and Security Forum told the Financial Times of the hacks.
Canada and the United States are not as different as they may seem, at least in the food realm. We have most of the things they have and vice versa and the foods we eat are pretty similar. Even in terms of international cuisine, both countries boast a wide variety of food from all over thanks to robust immigrant populations.
But despite all our similarities, there are still some big differences between the way Americans and Canadians eat, here are the nine biggest ones.
1. Alcohol is not as readily available as it is in some places in the US, but you can drink earlier.
(Photo by Ryan Tir)
While our friends up north definitely enjoy a drink like anyone else, getting it is not as simple as going to a convenience store, or even a grocery store for that matter. Each Canadian province has different liquor laws and regulations stating what type of alcohol can be sold where. In some provinces alcohol is only sold in government-owned liquor stores while in others you can find it in grocery stores and privately owned liquor stores as well.
In Ontario for example, the Liquor Control Board of Ontario, or LCBO, was the only place where liquor could be purchased within the province until it allowed beer to be sold in designated grocery stores in 2015. In Quebec, you can get beer and wine at grocery and corner stores but still have to get spirits at government-run stores.
The drinking age is also not all-encompassing and is decided by each province. In Alberta, Quebec, and Manitoba you can drink as soon as you turn 18. However, In the rest of the provinces you have to wait a whole extra year to be able to legally partake.
2. Milk is consumed from bags, not cartons.
(Photo by Andrea R.)
According to Food Network Canadians traded in milk cartons for bags in the 1970s. When Canadians buy milk, they get a package with three un-resealable bags of milk for a total of 4 liters.
To make it easier to pour, they place it in a milk pitcher, cut off the top, and voila! Our northern neighbors gave both glass bottles, cartons, and plastic jugs a chance but when DuPont, a Canadian packaging company, came out with the much cheaper bag option, many Canadians made the switch. Not only were the bags more effective (glass breaks, people) and cheaper to produce, they were also more easily-adjustable to fit with the metric system which the country had recently converted to from the imperial system.
3. British and French food is a lot more prevalent.
(Photo by Nicole Abalde)
Here’s a little history refresher, Canada was once colonized by both the British and the French. While Canada has been independent of either rule for quite some time now, the colonizers definitely had a lasting influence on the cuisine as well as the availability of European goods.
Many provinces in Canada have touches of French influence in their food but Quebec especially is a hot-spot for both French culture and food. Dishes like tourtiere (a meat pie), poutine (French fries with gravy and cheese curds), pea soup, and Buche de Noel (a rolled Christmas cake) are all French-Canadian delicacies hailing from the Quebec area.
Also prevalent in Canada are English foods and goods. While English pubs are a novelty in the States, they are commonplace throughout Canada making fish and chips and other British staples commonplace. Not only that, but as a part of the British Commonwealth of Nations, Canada has a constant supply of British goods including things like House of Parliament Sauce (a more savory barbecue-like sauce), Maltesers, Smarties, and Cadbury products-galore.
4. Starbucks exists, but it’s all about Tim Hortons.
(Flickr photo by Michael)
Starbucks is definitely a thing up north but Canadian’s devotion to Starbucks doesn’t even compare to their undying love of Tim Hortons. The chain is spread out all across Canada and is so popular that according to its website, every day approximately 15% of all Canadians visit a Tim’s near them.
More Dunkin Donuts than Starbucks, Tim’s main staples are coffee and doughnuts but they also sell a variety of coffee drinks, sandwiches, soups, and pastries. The thing to order however, is a double double, which is a coffee with two creams and two sugars. While the order is not unique to Tim Hortons, it’s strongly associated with the brand and so popular that the phrase was added to the Canadian Oxford Dictionary in 2004.
5. Food portions in restaurants are typically smaller.
While every country has its own claims to fame in the chip aisle, Canadian chips are particularly famous and exclusive. Ketchup chips are especially revered both in Canada and around the globe for their tangy, vinegary, ketchupy-but-not-actually-like ketchup taste. They’re made by a variety of companies including Lay’s, but they’ve yet to make the pilgrimage down south.
Another Canadian snack-aisle staple is All-Dressed chips. Putting the exact flavor of All-Dressed into words is a little difficult but to help you imagine it just know that they’re “dressed” in sour cream and onion, barbecue, ketchup, and salt and vinegar flavors — in other words they’re all of your favorite chips combined. Ruffles brought the savory treats Stateside for a limited time but unless you were lucky enough to stock up on them then, the only way you can try them is by booking a ticket to Canada.
7. Maple syrup is seriously abundant.
(Photo by Marten Persson)
There’s a reason why the Canadian flag features a maple leaf prominently in its center and why the Toronto hockey team is called the Toronto Maple Leafs — maple trees, and more importantly, maple syrup, are a big deal in the country. According to Maple from Canada, the country produces 71% of the world’s maple syrup which means there’s a lot of it within the country. Not only do Canadians use the syrup on its own or as a substitute for sugar, it also features prominently in other sweet treats such as maple taffy, cookies, and candy.
8. They eat beaver tails.
(Photo by Elsie Hui)
Ok, so they don’t eat actual beaver tails, but rather a thick, elongated piece of fried dough covered in sweet toppings that is referred to as Beaver Tails. The pastry is reminiscent of something you would get at a state fair and is covered in a variety of toppings including cinnamon sugar, chocolate, apple cinnamon, and of course maple.
9. Their loaded fries are very different from ours.
(Photo by Guillem Vellut)
When you think of loaded fries you probably think of some french fries topped with cheese, bacon, sour cream, and maybe a dash of spring onion. Canadians also have a loaded-fry equivalent but unlike ours they’re made of only three key ingredients, fries, gravy, and cheese curds — the squeakier, the better. Poutine is yet another dish thatoriginated in francophone Quebec, but it is a staple all over Canada. In fact it’s so popular, that you can get quality poutine at none other than McDonald’s.
This article originally appeared on Insider. Follow @thisisInsider on Twitter.
Protection against many common pathogens and environmental stressors is written into our DNA. Our skin responds to sun exposure. Our immune system mounts defenses when we get the flu. Our bodies inherently work to mitigate the potential for harm caused by these health threats. However, these intrinsic responses are not always quick, robust, or appropriate enough to adequately defend us from harm, which is why many people experience sunburn after intense sun exposure or suffer severe symptoms, even death, following exposure to the flu.
Military service members, first responders, and civilian populations face threats far more severe than sunburn and respiratory infections. Pathogens with pandemic potential, toxic chemicals, and radioactive materials can all quickly and powerfully overwhelm the body’s innate defenses. And though significant public and private investment has been focused on the development of traditional medical countermeasures such as drugs, vaccines, and biologics to guard against the worst effects of these health threats, current countermeasures are often limited in their effectiveness and availability during emergencies.
DARPA is looking to make gains beyond the status quo. Inspired by recent advances in understanding of when and how genes express their traits, DARPA’s new PReemptive Expression of Protective Alleles and Response Elements (PREPARE) program will explore ways to better protect against biological, chemical, or radiological threats by temporarily and reversibly tuning gene expression to bolster the body’s defenses against – or directly neutralize – a given threat.
“The human body is amazingly resilient. Every one of our cells already contains genes that encode for some level of resistance to specific health threats, but those built-in defenses can’t always express quickly or robustly enough to be effective,” said Renee Wegrzyn, the PREPARE program manager. “PREPARE will study how to support this innate resistance by giving it a temporary boost, either before or after exposure, without any permanent edits to the genome.”
The program will focus on four key health challenges as proofs of concept for what DARPA ultimately envisions as a generalizable platform that can be rapidly adapted to emerging public health and national security threats: influenza viral infection, opioid overdose, organophosphate poisoning, and exposure to gamma radiation.
“Each of these four threats are major health concerns that would benefit from disruptive approaches,” Wegrzyn said. “Seasonal flu vaccines, for example, are limited in that they try to hit a perpetually moving target, so circulating flu strains are often mismatched to vaccine strains. Programmable modulation of common viral genome sequences could potentially neutralize many more circulating viral strains simultaneously to keep up with moving targets. Combining this strategy with a temporary boost to host protection genes could change how we think about anti-virals.”
PREPARE requires that any treatments developed under the program have only temporary and reversible effects. In so doing, PREPARE diverges sharply from recent gene-editing research, which has centered on permanently modifying the genome by cutting DNA and inserting new genes or changing the underlying sequence to change the genetic code. Such approaches may cause long-lasting, off-target effects, and though the tools are improving, the balance of risk versus benefit means that these therapies are reserved for individuals with inherited genetic disorders with few to no other treatment options. In addition, some indications, including treatment of pain, may only require temporary solutions, rather than life-long responses.
The envisioned PREPARE technologies would provide an alternative that preserves the genetic code exactly as it is and only temporarily modulates gene activity via the epigenome and transcriptome, which are the cellular messages that carry out DNA’s genetic instructions inside cells. This would establish the capability to deliver programmable, but transient, gene modulators to confer protection within brief windows of time for meaningful intervention.
“Focusing only on programmable modulation of gene expression enables us to provide specific, robust protection against many threats at once, with an effect that carries less risk, is limited but tunable in duration, and is entirely reversible,” Wegrzyn said.
Success will hinge on developing new tools for targeted modulation of gene expression inside the body. Researchers must identify the specific gene targets that can confer protection, develop in vivo technologies for programmable modulation of those gene targets, and formulate cell- or tissue-specific delivery mechanisms to direct programmable gene modulators to the appropriate places in the body. Although the immediate program goal is to develop defenses against one of the four focus areas determined by DARPA, the ultimate objective of PREPARE is to develop a modular, threat-agnostic platform solution with common components and manufacturing architecture that can be readily adapted to diverse and emerging threats.
Research will be conducted primarily using computer, cell culture, organoid, and animal models to establish proof of concept. However, DARPA’s vision is to generate new medical countermeasures for future use in humans. As such, DARPA is working with independent bioethicists to identify and address potential ethical, legal, and societal issues.
By the end of the four-year program, DARPA aims for each funded team to submit at least one final product to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for regulatory review as an Investigational New Drug or for Emergency Use Authorization. Throughout the program, teams will be required to work closely with the FDA to ensure that the data generated and experimental protocols meet regulatory standards.
Developed by the Germans as early as 1939, night-vision goggles, or NVGs, have been a massive staple in the allied forces’ arsenal, enabling troops to conduct vital missions in the dead of night.
The optic devices produce exceptional images from very low-lit environments by identifying decreased levels of light and amplifying them through a specific set of lenses.
For years, the U.S. has used this sensitive technology to capture and kill enemies after the sun goes down. But, in recent events, Afghan officials have reported that Taliban insurgents have sacked three different checkpoints during a series of nighttime raids in the western province of Farah, killing approximately 20 police officers.
A German soldier holding a “Zielgerät 1229” night-vision scope, attached to his rifle.
Afghan officials have stated that the night-vision goggles the Taliban have been using appear to have Russian markings on them, but that theory has yet to be confirmed. This “evidence” has led Afghan authorities to believe that Russian officials have been arming the Taliban — an accusation the Russians deny.
Although implicated, Russia isn’t the only possible source for the NVGs. Since the Taliban regularly trade through Pakistan, the night-vision goggles may have been obtained there via the black market.
An inside look through a pair of night-vision goggles. (Screenshot from NightVisionGuys YouTube)
Multiple companies sell NVGs to civilians via hunting stores and, in some former Soviet countries, they’re available online. In fact, members of the Taliban terrorist network have been seen, on occasion, using U.S.-manufactured tactical equipment.
Although this isn’t enough information to implicate the Russians in aiding the Taliban, it’s not too far-fetched. Political analysts in Moscow revealed that the Russian government has lost their confidence in the U.S.’s approach to balancing the ongoing Taliban threat. This lack of uncertainty has caused the nation to reach out on its own to other various factions, which may include the Taliban.
The U-2 has wheels aligned like bicycle tires and an 80-ft. wingspan, forcing pilots to carefully guide the plane down the runway just to keep from accidentally banging the tips into the asphalt and ruining the plane.
That’s why it’s so crazy that a group of Air Force and CIA pilots and crew tested the U-2G, a modified version of the spy plane, and certified the Dragon Lady onboard the aircraft carrier USS Ranger.