US diplomats in China suffer strange sudden brain injuries - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY TRENDING

US diplomats in China suffer strange sudden brain injuries

No one knows exactly what caused 24 US diplomats and their families in Cuba to fall ill and in many cases show signs of brain injuries after they reported hearing strange noises.

But whatever is causing these mysterious illnesses, it seems to now be happening in China too.

On May 23, 2018, the US State Department announced that one embassy worker in Guangzhou experienced “subtle and vague, but abnormal, sensations of sound and pressure” before being diagnosed with symptoms similar to those found in the diplomatic personnel that were in Cuba, including mild traumatic brain injury.


The New York Times reported June 6, 2018, that at least two more Americans in Guangzhou have experienced similar phenomena and also fallen ill. One of those embassy workers told the Times that he and his wife had heard mysterious sounds and experienced strange headaches and sleeplessness while in their apartment.

After the evacuation of the first diplomatic employee from Guangzhou was announced, the State Department issued a health alert via the US Consulate in Guangzhou telling people that “if you experience any unusual acute auditory or sensory phenomena accompanied by unusual sounds or piercing noises, do not attempt to locate their source. Instead, move to a location where the sounds are not present.”

On June 5, 2018, the office of US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the establishment of a task force meant to respond to these mysterious incidents, which some have called “sonic attacks.”

US diplomats in China suffer strange sudden brain injuries
Mike Pompeo
(Photo by Gage Skidmore)

“U.S. government personnel and family members at affected locations have been directed to alert their mission’s medical unit if they note new onset of symptoms that may have begun in association with experiencing unidentified auditory sensations,” the State Department announcement said. “Reported symptoms have included dizziness, headaches, tinnitus, fatigue, cognitive issues, visual problems, ear complaints and hearing loss, and difficulty sleeping.”

A mysterious problem that began in Cuba

The saga began in late 2016, when American diplomatic staff (and some Canadians) that had been in Cuba began to report odd physical and mental symptoms. Some individuals could no longer remember words, while others had hearing loss, speech problems, balance issues, nervous-system damage, headaches, ringing in the ears, and nausea.

Some even showed signs of brain swelling or concussions — mild traumatic brain injuries.

A study of those victims suggested a disconcerting possibility: some unknown force projected in the direction of the patients could have somehow injured their brains.

“The unique circumstances of these patients and the consistency of the clinical manifestations raised concern for a novel mechanism of a possible acquired brain injury,” the study’s authors wrote.

Many of the victims remembered strange occurrences before the symptoms appeared, though others didn’t hear or feel anything. One diplomat reported hearing a “blaring, grinding noise” that woke him from his bed in a Havana hotel, according to the Associated Press. The AP also reported that some heard a “loud ringing or a high-pitch chirping similar to crickets or cicadas” in short bursts at night, while others said they could walk “in” and “out” of blaring noises that were audible only in certain spots.

The US State Department eventually determined that the incidents were “specific attacks” and moved to cut its Cuban embassy staff by 60%.

US diplomats in China suffer strange sudden brain injuries
The U.S. embassy in Cuba.

The recent State Department announcement said there have been at least 24 victims of these attacks. Of those, 21 were studied by a team of researchers from the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Brain Injury and Repair. More than 80% reported hearing a sound that had a “directional” source — it seemed to come from somewhere.

After three months, 81% still had cognitive issues, 71% had balance problems, 86% had vision issues, and about 70% still reported hearing problems and headaches.

The fact that a number of these symptoms could be subjective has raised questions about the possibility that this group of people is suffering from some sort of collective delusion, according to the study authors. But they say that mass delusion is unlikely, since affected individuals were all highly motivated and of a broad age distribution, factors that don’t normally correspond with mass psychogenic illness. Plus, objective tests of ears and eye motion all revealed real clinical abnormalities.

The symptoms seem consistent with some form of mild brain trauma, according to the researchers. But these symptoms persisted far longer than most concussion symptoms do, and were not associated with blunt head trauma.

“These individuals appeared to have sustained injury to widespread brain networks without an associated history of head trauma,” the study authors wrote.

An unknown cause

Despite having identified common symptoms and clinical evidence of some sort of injury, researchers are still at a loss about what happened to these diplomats.

If there is some kind of weapon involved, no one knows what kind it was or who would have used it. The Cuban government denied any connection and investigators hadn’t found a link to Russia, which intelligence analysts have speculated might have the means and motivation to carry out such an attack.

Now that there are cases in China, the mystery is even deeper.

The reported presence of strange audio and of the feeling of changes in air pressure have led to speculation about some kind of sonic or audio-based weapon. But although sonic weapons exist, they’re very visible and easy to avoid, according to Seth Horowitz, a neuroscientist who wrote the book “The Universal Sense: How Hearing Shapes the Mind. Plus, the specific symptoms make a sonic weapon unlikely.

“There isn’t an acoustic phenomenon in the world that would cause those type of symptoms,” Horowitz said.

He speculated that perhaps some sort of mysterious pathogen or other phenomenon could have caused the symptoms, but the authors of the study on the victims from Cuba reported found no signs of infection (like fever). They determined that it was unlikely a chemical agent caused these effects, since it would have damaged other organs, too.

In an editorial published alongside that study, two doctors wrote that without more information and more data on the patients before they reported feeling ill, they couldn’t definitively figure out what went wrong.

“At this point, a unifying explanation for the symptoms experienced by the US government officials described in this case series remains elusive and the effect of possible exposure to audible phenomena is unclear,” the editorial’s authors wrote. “Going forward, it would be helpful for government employees traveling to Cuba to undergo baseline testing prior to deployment to allow for a more informed interpretation of abnormalities that might later be detected after a potential exposure.”

Now, employees headed to China may have to consider similar testing.

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

Articles

’22 Pushup Challenge’ official calls Air Force ban ‘disgraceful’

You’d think Air Force brass, who struggle with suicides and overweight airmen, would welcome any incentive its troops could have to raise morale and get in a few extra pushups for their fellow veterans.


Not so.

The service warned airmen against joining hundreds of other service members and veterans in 22Kill’s 22 Pushup Challenge while in uniform or on duty. That didn’t sit well with Matthew Nelson, the Executive Director of 22Kill’s Boston office.

“I think it’s disgraceful,” said Nelson. “Heaven forbid you get some extra PT in raising awareness for an issue that affects the warrior class of society. The Air Force has a history of this weak-minded mentality.”

22Kill is intended to raise awareness for veteran mental health issues — including the infamous 22-per-day-suicide rate — as well as post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injury issues.

 

The challenge is to do 22 pushups in honor of a person or for a cause and to upload a video of you doing it to social media. Airmen from Edwards Air Force Base, California, to Patrick Air Force Base in Florida are uploading photos and videos doing their part for the cause.

Even soldiers from the UK are showing their support.

US diplomats in China suffer strange sudden brain injuries
Airmen from Schriever Air Force Base in Colorado participate in 22Kill’s 22 Pushup Challenge. (U.S. Air Force photo)

The Air Force, however, doesn’t want troops to make it seem like the service is endorsing one private charity over another, officials say.

“Airmen may participate in non-profit organizations, including fundraising for non-profits, so long as they do so in their personal capacity, not in uniform,” Air Force spokesman Maj. Bryan Lewis told WATM.

“That is a passive cop out and they know it,” says Nelson.

The Air Force, with its high ops tempo and historically low manpower, struggles with an airman suicide rate that it can’t control.

“We just don’t have a good track record with it,” Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force James Cody said at last year’s Air Force Association Air and Space Conference. “What we have is a track record of pushing people beyond what’s reasonable and sustainable. We’re going to lose our best people if we don’t get this right.”

Air Force spokesman Lewis reinforced the service’s dedication to suicide prevention, mentioning Air Force participation in the DoD’s own #BeThere campaign.

“It is commendable that Airmen desire to participate in, and support, organizations to raise awareness or funding for suicide prevention in their personal capacity,” said Lewis. “We just want to make sure airmen are aware of what they can and can’t do in uniform according to established regulations.”

Meanwhile, a recent Military Times story called the Air Force out as a “close second” to being the most overweight service in the U.S. military, with the Army taking the top slot, according to data the paper obtained during an investigation.

While the Army doesn’t allow soldiers to participate in the Pushup Challenge, it told Air Force Times it never felt the need to issue a statement on the issue. The Navy and Marines have not issued a statement either.

 

“All DoD employees must abide by the Joint Ethics Regulation, which is clear concerning such activities,” Navy spokesman Ensign Marc Rockwellpate told Air Force Times. The Navy hasn’t specifically advised sailors as the Air Force has, but Rockwellpate mentioned that sailors are required to abide by Joint Ethics Regulation 3-209, which says:

“Endorsement of a non-federal entity, event, product, service, or enterprise may be neither stated nor implied by DoD or DoD employees in their official capacities. [T]itles, positions, or organization names may not be used to suggest official endorsement or preferential treatment of any non-federal entity except those specifically listed.”

US diplomats in China suffer strange sudden brain injuries
Chiefs and chief selects do pushups for the 22Kill Challenge aboard the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77). 22Kill is a veterans’ advocacy group that brings awareness to the daily veterans’ suicide rate. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Tristan Lotz)

Endorsement or fundraising is not the intent of the 22Kill effort, Nelson said. The original intent was a combined effort to pushup 22 million times “to raise awareness to veteran suicide prevention through education and empowerment,” according to 22Kill’s pushup page.

“While [airmen] are allowed to participate in activities to honor fallen airmen or bring awareness to issues like suicide, if these activities are associated with any type of nonprofit, non-federal entity, or fundraising or membership campaign, it cannot be done in an official capacity,” the Air Force said without mentioning the 22Kill program by name.

US diplomats in China suffer strange sudden brain injuries
Celebrities like John Krasinski, Candace Cameron Bure, Chris Pratt and Anna Faris, and The Rock also participated in the challenge.

“The military is synonymous with pushups and the challenge is to spread the word about our organization,” 22Kill’s Nelson says. “22Kill helps our warrior class through camaraderie, support, empowerment, and brings light to the small amount of people that defend this nation.”

The counter currently reads 227,880,412 pushups.

“Maybe whoever made that decision should spend some more time in Arlington,” Nelson says, “thinking about what’s important, what is petty, and what causes harm or discriminates against another.”

MIGHTY TRENDING

This soldier caught her second wind as a model/actress after battling cancer

Mylee Cardenas had a plan: stay in the Army until they told her to leave. But her dreams of becoming a career soldier were derailed by cancer. Instead, she found her second wind in life as a model and actress.


Without any money in the family to afford college, Mylee had intended to use the military to become a doctor, joining at seventeen as soon as she finished high school. Once she was in, however, her plan quickly changed to be a career soldier. She deployed to Northern Afghanistan, where her unit was responsible for all nine provinces in the region. However, while she was there, things changed.

When she was diagnosed with Stage III breast cancer, she had every intention of defeating it and throwing herself straight back into the fight. The medical board reviewing her case had other ideas. After a lengthy process, she was declared unfit for duty, and retired due to both the breast cancer and severe combat-related PTSD.

She lost her uniform, which she considered her shield and strength overnight, but she gained so many new opportunities. Through motivational speaking, she was able to inspire people, especially veterans, around the country with her story. She now models, acts, and is a fitness coach on the side while she goes to school in the hopes of becoming a physical therapist.

Although she still comes home with the muscle memory of waiting for a phone call telling her she can return to duty, she now has other plans in place. While her circumstances of leaving the military were sad, she also came out with the feeling of suddenly being free.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Navy sacks 2 more officers over USS McCain crash

The commanding officer and the executive officer of the guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain were relieved of duty and reassigned to different posts for “loss of confidence,” according to a US Navy statement on October 11.


Commanding officer Cmdr. Alfredo Sanchez and executive officer Cmdr. Jessie Sanchez came under scrutiny after the McCain’s collision with an oil tanker in Southeast Asian waters in August. Ten sailors died and five were injured.

The collision tore a hole in the destroyer’s left rear hull, where several sailors were inside sealed compartments on the vessel, the Associated Press reported at the time.

US diplomats in China suffer strange sudden brain injuries
USS John McCain confronts Chinese ships in South China Sea. (Dept. of Defense photo)

Although the investigation is ongoing, the Navy called the collision preventable and said “the commanding officer exercised poor judgment, and the executive officer exercised poor leadership of the ship’s training program.” The Navy’s strict adherence to customs and traditions dictate that commanders be relieved of duty when superiors lose confidence in their leadership.

The McCain incident followed another collision between the USS Fitzgerald and a commercial container ship in June, which killed seven sailors. The Fitzgerald’s executive officer and senior enlisted sailor were also dismissed in that case.

US Navy Vice Adm. Joseph Aucoin, the three-star commander of the US 7th Fleet in Yokosuka, Japan, whose command oversaw the USS McCain and Fitzgerald, was also relieved of duty in August following the series of deadly ship collisions. Four accidents involving ships have occurred in the western Pacific since February, according to The New York Times.

MIGHTY TRENDING

North Korea may have actually increased nuclear production

As President Donald Trump touted a new era of diplomacy with the North Korean regime, a classified intelligence assessment appeared to tell a different story, according to several US intelligence officials.

The assessment revealed that, in recent months, North Korea had upped its production of fuel for nuclear weapons at several secret sites, according to over a dozen intelligence officials cited in an NBC News report published June 29, 2018. The officials said they believe North Korean leader Kim Jong Un may be trying to conceal the secret facilities from the US.


“Work is ongoing to deceive us on the number of facilities, the number of weapons, the number of missiles,” one senior US intelligence official said to NBC News. “We are watching closely.”

According to five US officials cited by NBC News, the North Korean regime was increasing production of enriched uranium, even as relations with the US improved following the 2018 Winter Olympics. And since the leaders of both countries held a summit in Singapore in mid-June, 2018, the Trump administration has already delivered some concessions to the North.

US diplomats in China suffer strange sudden brain injuries
United Statesu00a0President Donald Trump

Trump halted Ulchi Freedom Guardian, a major joint military drill with South Korea that was scheduled for August 2018. The military exercises have been a point of contention for North Korea, which sees them as a direct threat. The US and South Korea treat the drills as defensive measures.

During the US-North Korea summit, the first such meeting between a sitting US president and a North Korean leader, the two men pledged to “work toward complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.” It was a vast departure from 2017 when both Trump and Kim were openly threatening nuclear war. But the broad and nondescript document fell short of a specific plan or goal, and was criticized by foreign-policy experts.

And though North Korea took several steps to indicate it was in the process of dismantling its weapons program, such as blowing up tunnels leading to a nuclear-test site, critics who monitored the development say it may have all been for show.

“There’s no evidence that they are decreasing stockpiles, or that they have stopped their production,” a US official familiar with the intelligence report told NBC. “There is absolutely unequivocal evidence that they are trying to deceive the US.”

“There are lots of things that we know that North Korea has tried to hide from us for a long time,” another intelligence official added.

US diplomats in China suffer strange sudden brain injuries
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un reacts to North Korea’s latest ballistic rocket test-fire through a precision control guidance system.
(KCNA photo)

The intelligence report may also confirm the theory held by many arms experts: that North Korea possesses a second, undisclosed nuclear enrichment facility. In 2008, North Korea signaled it would curb its nuclear program by televising the destruction of a water-cooling tower at a plutonium extraction facility, only to announce that it would “readjust and restart” in 2013.

The report also calls into question Trump’s claim that North Korea no longer poses as a nuclear threat to the US: “There is no longer a Nuclear Threat from North Korea,” Trump tweeted in June, 2018, after returning from his meeting with Kim. “Meeting with Kim Jong Un was an interesting and very positive experience. North Korea has great potential for the future!”

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo downplayed and directly contradicted Trump’s claim.

“I’m confident what [Trump] intended there was, ‘we did reduce the threat,'” Pompeo said during a Senate hearing on June 27, 2018. “I don’t think there’s any doubt about that.”

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

Admiral Ronny Jackson withdraws his bid to be next VA Secretary

Ronny Jackson, the White House physician nominated by President Donald Trump to run the US Department of Veterans Affairs, withdrew his name from consideration for the role on April 26, 2018.

“Unfortunately, because of how Washington works, these false allegations have become a distraction for this president and the important issue we must be addressing — how we give the best care to our nation’s heroes,” Jackson said in a statement.


Jackson found himself in the middle of a runaway scandal this week as multiple accusations of workplace misconduct emerged. Among the claims, which Senate lawmakers were working to verify, Jackson was accused of professional misconduct, including providing “a large supply” of prescription opioids to a White House military officer.

Other as-yet-unverified accounts pointed to “excessive drinking on the job.” That thread preceded a claim detailed by CNN on April 24, 2018, that Jackson drunkenly banged on a female employee’s hotel-room door during an overseas trip in 2015.

Trump came to Jackson’s defense in an interview with “Fox & Friends” on April 26, 2018, saying, “These are false accusations. These are false— They’re trying to destroy a man.”

Trump also said Jackson had an “unblemished” record.

US diplomats in China suffer strange sudden brain injuries
President Donald Trump
(Photo by Michael Vadon)

Jackson met with White House officials on April 25, 2018. As he left, Jackson told reporters, “Look forward to talking to you guys in the next few days,” a CNN White House reporter said. The White House later said the decision on whether to withdraw was Jackson’s to make.

Even before the recent allegations, Jackson was already under scrutiny over his qualifications to run the VA, the second-largest federal agency in the US. The management experience required for the role far exceeds what Jackson has previously undertaken. As the White House physician, Jackson led a medical staff of about two dozen people. The VA is a deeply troubled agency with 375,000 employees.

Jim Messina, previously a deputy chief of staff to President Barack Obama, said that Trump choosing Jackson to run the VA “was the worst choice you could possibly imagine.”

US diplomats in China suffer strange sudden brain injuries
Jim Messina
(White House photo)

“It’s like having your Uber driver park the space shuttle,” Messina said.

Montel Williams, the former TV talk-show host and a US Marine and US Navy veteran, urged Jackson to withdraw. “This is too much, and Donald never should have put him through this on an impulse,” Williams said on Twitter.

The most recent VA secretary, David Shulkin, left the agency in March 2018, amid a scandal of his own.

Separately, the misconduct allegations against Jackson have opened up the Trump administration to new criticism over the process by which it vets appointees. Tobe Berkovitz, a political communications expert at Boston University, told The Hill: “It’s one more bit of proof, as if any were needed, that the Trump White House are not exactly the best vetters in the world when it comes to any kind of position.”

Here’s Jackson’s full statement on withdrawing his name:

One of the greatest honors in my life has been to serve this country as a physician both on the battlefield with United States Marines and as proud member of the United States Navy.

It has been my distinct honor and privilege to work at the White House and serve three Presidents.

Going into this process, I expected tough questions about how to best care for our veterans, but I did not expect to have to dignify baseless and anonymous attacks on my character and integrity.

The allegations against me are completely false and fabricated. If they had any merit, I would not have been selected, promoted and entrusted to serve in such a sensitive and important role as physician to three presidents over the past 12 years.

In my role as a doctor, I have tirelessly worked to provide excellent care for all my patients. In doing so, I have always adhered to the highest ethical standards.

Unfortunately, because of how Washington works, these false allegations have become a distraction for this President and the important issue we must be addressing – how we give the best care to our nation’s heroes.

While I will forever be grateful for the trust and confidence President Trump has placed in me by giving me this opportunity, I am regretfully withdrawing my nomination to be Secretary for the Department of Veterans Affairs.

I am proud of my service to the country and will always be committed to the brave veterans who volunteer to defend our freedoms.


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


MIGHTY TRENDING

Kim Jong Un is afraid he’ll get assassinated in Singapore

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un reportedly fears being assassinated on his way to Singapore to meet with President Donald Trump, a trip that will take him further outside of his country than he’s been since taking power in 2011.

Kim is “extremely worried about security at the summit and is fearful of assassination attempts,” Bloomberg quoted two sources familiar with the talks as saying.

Kim has long feared assassination, even within his own country. But as the leader of a country that frequently threatens the US with nuclear war, getting on a plane and flying across international airspace to a neutral country provides him even less security.


Even along the DMZ with South Korea, Kim traveled with an impressive security detail.

But North Korea has virtually no air force, and will place its leader on a civilian airliner in a region stacked with surface-to-air threats and a large US military aviation presence. As the downing of flight MH-17 proved, airline crashes can be difficult to attribute, and can be denied.

North Korea maintains that the US has a “hostile policy” towards it and think it would attempt regime change given the chance.

Comments from Trump’s National Security Adviser John Bolton comparing North Korea to Libya, where its leader was killed in a US-backed intervention, may have stoked these fears.

US diplomats in China suffer strange sudden brain injuries
John Bolton
(Photo by Gage Skidmore)

But while Kim’s constant fear of assassination may seem paranoid, it’s not unfounded. China is rumored to have looked into an assassination plot involving Kim’s uncle, whom Kim ended up killing.

Kim’s half brother, Kim Jong Nam, was also assassinated in neighboring Malaysia with a nerve agent that authorities suspect Kim ordered.

Furthermore, Kim is more vulnerable to assassination than his counterpart, Trump. Kim is the patriarch of a dynasty, while Trump is just the president.

If Kim dies without a clear successor, his country could descend into chaos.

If a US president dies, there’s a long-established chain of succession, and if North Korea were involved in the death, there would be hell to pay.

Singapore has taken remarkable measures to guarantee the security of the summit, including blocking off parts of the city and restricting airspace during the summit.

Insiders say Kim is seeking security guarantees from the US in exchange for acts of denuclearization, but Kim’s constant fear of assassination points to the inherent instability of his dictatorial rule.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

For the first time in history, a US military service is working without pay

As Coast Guard paychecks went undelivered Jan. 15, 2019, as the result of an ongoing partial government shutdown, the service’s top officer urged its members to stay the course.

In a public letter published Jan. 15, 2019 on his social media pages, Adm. Karl Schultz said the day’s missed paycheck, to his knowledge, marked the first time in the history of the nation “that service members in a U.S. Armed Force have not been paid during a lapse in government appropriations.”


The Coast Guard, the only military service to fall under the Department of Homeland Security, is also the only service with payroll affected by the shutdown, which began Dec. 22, 2018. The Coast Guard was able to issue final paychecks for the year, but will be unable to distribute further pay until a budget deal is reached or another appropriation agreement is made.

US diplomats in China suffer strange sudden brain injuries

Coast Guard Cutter Munro navigates through the Oakland Estuary en route to the cutter’s homeport of Coast Guard Island in Alameda, California.

(US Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Matthew S. Masaschi)

In all, some 55,000 Coast Guard active-duty, reserve and civilian members are going without pay; the number includes 42,000 active-duty service members.

Coast Guard civilians have been on furlough or working without pay since the shutdown began.

While some government employees affected by the shutdown have been furloughed, the Coast Guard continues to conduct operations around the world.

“Your senior leadership, including [DHS] Secretary [Kirstjen] Nielsen, remains fully engaged and we will maintain a steady flow of communications to keep you updated on developments,” Schultz said in his letter. “I recognize the anxiety and uncertainty this situation places on you and your family, and we are working closely with service organizations on your behalf.”

Schultz added that Coast Guard Mutual Assistance, the service’s official military relief society, received a million donation from USAA to support those in need. The American Red Cross will help distribute the funds, he said.

US diplomats in China suffer strange sudden brain injuries

Petty Officer 2nd Class Jon Adams from Coast Guard Station Venice, Louisiana, tows a vessel that was disabled approximately 25 miles south of Venice.

(U.S. Coast Guard Photo courtesy of Coast Guard Station Venice)

The Coast Guard Mutual Assistance Board is also offering increased interest-free loans to junior employees and junior enlisted service members.

“I am grateful for the outpouring of support across the country, particularly in local communities, for our men and women,” Schultz said. “It is a direct reflection of the American public’s sentiment towards their United States Coast Guard; they recognize the sacrifice that you and your family make in service to your country.”

The Coast Guard, Schultz said, had already many times proven the ability to rise above adversity.

“Stay the course, stand the watch, and serve with pride,” he wrote. “You are not, and will not, be forgotten.”

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

MIGHTY HISTORY

Hair today, gone tomorrow: 62 years ago, Elvis joined the Army

When Elvis Presley turned 18 years old in 1953, he registered for the draft – just like every other young American male during that time. The rules governing the draft stated that all young men that were in good health were required to serve in the United States military for a minimum of two years. When he signed his name on that line, promising to serve, he had no idea of the superstar fame that would soon be coming his way.


After signing up for the draft, he graduated high school and soon began his entertainment career. Three years later in 1956, he was a film and recording star. Presley was in the middle of filming King Creole when he received his draft notice. He requested a delay so he could finish filming, which he was granted.

US diplomats in China suffer strange sudden brain injuries

On March 24, 1958, with his family and friends by his side, The King reported to the Memphis draft board. Once he was sworn in and processed with others into the Army, he boarded a bus to Arkansas.

He would go on to coin the phrase “hair today, gone tomorrow” after he received his G.I. haircut.

Once Presley finished his basic training, he was on leave and managed to do a concert and recording session in Nashville. He then headed back to Ft. Hood, Texas, to complete his advanced training. His mother became ill during this time and passed away and Presley was granted leave to be with her.

US diplomats in China suffer strange sudden brain injuries

When he returned to Ft. Hood, he was assigned to the Third Armored Spearhead Division. He soon boarded the U.S.S. Randall and sailed for Germany. Upon arrival, he served in Company C, which was a scout platoon. He was declared off limits to the press.

Presley would be right there in the thick of things alongside his unit. He completed all required duties. Some research suggested that he did more than what was required of him because he didn’t want people to assume he got special treatment. He would go on to earn a medal for expert marksmanship and rise to the responsibility of an NCO, all without seeking celebrity treatment.

He was honorably discharged from active duty in 1960.

MIGHTY TRENDING

This is why Coast Guardsmen aren’t getting paid while other troops are

On December 22nd, the United States entered a partial government shutdown due to a failure to get legislation signed that appropriated funds for 2019. All politics firmly set aside for the sake of this discussion, the fact is that about 400,000 of the 2 million civilian federal employees are expected to be furloughed.

Troops in four of the five branches of the Armed Forces will not be affected. Life, for the most part, will continue as it has, with only minor hiccups felt by a few civilian employees. The major exception to this is the roughly 42,000 Coast Guardsmen who currently face uncertainty.


US diplomats in China suffer strange sudden brain injuries

Since Coast Guardsmen are contractually obligated or possibly deployed at this moment, it’s not like they can just work Uber or Lyft until this blows over.

(U.S. Coast Guard photo by Lt. Daniel Lavinder)

To put it simply, the Coast Guard is a part of the United States Armed Forces, but isn’t a part of the Department of Defense. They’re a part of the Department of Homeland Security.

The Department of Defense has many safeguards in place to ensure that troops are taken care of in case of government shutdowns. The budget for Fiscal Year 2019 was determined by the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act for FY19 back in August, and it covers DoD expenses for the year until October, 2019.

Unless this shutdown is an extreme case and lasts until October, the Army, the Navy, the Air Force, and the Marines don’t need to worry. The longest shutdown on record ran for 22 days in 1995, so it’s pretty unlikely.

But even if there were a shutdown around the time an NDAA needed to be completed (as was the case in 2013), paying the Armed Forces is a bipartisan issue and is protected by the Pay Our Military Act of 2013. This solidified the troops, including the Coast Guard, as essential personnel to receive pay and tapped directly into the treasury to ensure that the troops were taken care of in 2013. Unfortunately, that bill only covered Fiscal Year 2014.

Today, the Coast Guardsmen are being left in the dust.

US diplomats in China suffer strange sudden brain injuries

You can keep that promise with one simple email or phone call.

(U.S. Coast Guard photo by Seaman Jennifer Nease.)

Coast Guardsmen are essential employees that are required to work without pay until the government reopens. Thankfully, they did receive pay on December 31st and the 0 million required to properly pay them was given, so the effects aren’t being felt quite yet.

If the shutdown lasts 25 days — which would be a new record by 3 days — we’ll be at January 15th. Then, Coast Guardsmen will start feeling the effects of being an entire paycheck behind. The official statement of the Coast Guard says that personnel should, essentially, maintain a stiff upper lip, but contact financial institutions, banks, and creditors in case of the worst. If the shutdown ends or a stop-gap is put in place by January 15th, things will be alright again.

There is one thing that can be done, shy of including the Coast Guard in the NDAA for FY2020, and that’s through the recently proposed “Pay the Coast Guard” Act.

Contact your legislator and tell them that our Coast Guardsmen deserve to be paid.

We, as troops and veterans, may make fun of our little sibling branch for being puddle pirates, but we always look to protect our own. Right now, our brothers- and sisters-in-arms need our help.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Marine Corps faces tough fight to protect desert tortoise

Marine Corps Logistics Base Barstow is an installation focused on refurbishing gear, not training troops for war. Nonetheless, it’s now the site of a pitched and bloody ongoing battle between species, officials say.

The environmental division at the California base is bringing the Marine Corps brand of ingenuity to bear in its fight to protect the desert tortoise, a federally listed endangered species native to the Mojave Desert, from the raven, a natural predator protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

While ravens historically haven’t found much appeal in the region, that changed with the construction of Interstates 15 and 40, which were both built around the 1950s and intersect in Barstow.


“Here in the Mojave Desert, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service noticed that as the desert tortoises were declining — less and less juvenile tortoises were being observed during surveys — there is a direct correlation to an increase in raven population,” Cody Leslie, the logistics base’s natural resource specialist, said in a released statement. “When I say ‘direct correlation,’ I mean that, as the tortoises are decreasing in population, the ravens have increased by as much as 1,500 percent. That’s a huge increase.”

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The desert tortoise, which is listed as vulnerable, can live to be 100. When it was added to the federal register of endangered species in 1990, there were an estimated 100,000 tortoises. But, according to a study published by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service, an assessment of populations at six recovery units in 2014 estimated a population of under 86,000.

It’s been years since Leslie has encountered a juvenile or hatchling tortoise, according to a base news release.

While ravens are known to go after juvenile tortoises, whose shells stay soft for up to the first decade of the animal’s life, conservationists were troubled to discover that the birds will even attack adult reptiles, flipping them and pecking at vulnerable shell access points. A recent experiment by the Superior-Cronese Critical Habitat Unit using dummy tortoises found 43 percent of the dummies were attacked by ravens, according to the release.

“It’s pretty gruesome,” Leslie said in a statement.

Since officials can’t kill the protected ravens, they’ve had to get creative. And like the larger Marine Corps, they’ve found drones to be a force multiplier. The Barstow environmental division has undertaken an effort it calls “Egg Oiling,” according to the release. They send drones out to coat eggs found in raven nests with a silica-based oil, which essentially smothers the young inside the shell, keeping out oxygen needed for development.

US diplomats in China suffer strange sudden brain injuries

Hatching baby desert tortoise.

(Photo by K. Kristina Drake)

“The ravens continue to sit on the eggs for the entire breeding season and do not continue to rebreed,” the release states.

In addition to the drone-aided egg oiling, conservationists are asking base employees and other residents to make sure their trash is disposed of in closed containers and that no food, including pet food, is left accessible to the birds.

Leslie also asked locals to report raven nests and bird activity to the Environmental Division and not to leave any water sources out in the open.

The desert tortoise, which also faces non-raven threats such as viral herpes and Upper Respiratory Tract Disease, has long presented a training challenge for Marines, who also occupy tortoise territory at Marine Corps Air-Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms in the Mojave. Marine officials have relocated gear and altered training plans in order to avoid disturbing the creatures.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

Russia field-tests its armored ‘Terminator’

KYIV, Ukraine — The Russian military is testing its first batch of “Terminator” tank support fighting vehicles.

Built on the chassis of Russia’s T-72 tank, the heavily armored Ramka-99 BMPT-72 tank support combat vehicle — colloquially known as the “Terminator” — is equipped with a lethal suite of weapons capable of destroying tanks, armored fighting vehicles, infantry, helicopters, and some aircraft. It’s also designed to protect its five-man crew from radiation after a nuclear blast.

A video posted by the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation on both Facebook and Twitter on Monday shows several Terminators in a live-fire exercise alongside tanks from the 90th Tank Division in the Chelyabinsk region of the Urals. Under overcast skies, the armored formation advances across a snowy field while intermittently firing various weapons. Infantry are seen moving on foot behind the line of armor.

“Tankers of the Central Military District are mastering the new BMPT ‘Terminator,’ which came to them for a trial operation. They study all the combat capabilities of the combat vehicles and test them in action,” the Russian Ministry of Defense wrote on Facebook.

Produced by Russia’s largest battle tank manufacturer, UralVagonZavod, the Terminator was primarily designed to destroy enemy forces equipped with anti-tank weapons in an urban environment. Effectively, the Terminator serves as a “guard” for its associated tank unit, according to UralVagonZavod.

“In order to change the perspective on its use, we refer to it more often as a fire support combat vehicle (BMOP) rather than a tank support fighting vehicle (BMPT). That is, it can be used both as part of armored, motorized infantry formations and on its own, which is very important,” UralVagonZavod’s press office said in a release.

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A Russian tank exercise involving the Terminators. Photo by the Russian Ministry of Defense on Facebook via screenshot.

The Terminator appeared in the 2018 “Victory Day” parade on Moscow’s Red Square, and first saw combat in Syria in 2017. That year, at the Hmeymim air base in Syria, Chief of the Russian General Staff Valery Gerasimov demonstrated the fire support combat vehicle to Syrian President Bashar Assad.

According to the Russian news site TASS: “The tank support combat vehicle was created in response to modern battlefield tactics. Local conflicts over the past several decades have demonstrated that a tank needs protection against enemy grenade launchers in urban conditions.”

US diplomats in China suffer strange sudden brain injuries
“Terminator” fire support fighting vehicle. Photo by Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation via Wikimedia Commons.

The Terminator is equipped with multiple weapons, including: four Ataka supersonic anti-tank missiles with a range of more than 3 miles, two 30 mm guns that can fire both armor-piercing and high-explosive fragmentation rounds (effective against infantry forces and helicopters), two grenade launchers with 600 grenades, and a Kalashnikov submachine gun. According to Russian defense officials, the Terminator can simultaneously track three targets.

“One BMPT actually substitutes one motor rifle platoon: six infantry fighting vehicles and 40-strong personnel. It is actually impossible to survive under the Russian vehicle’s fierce precision fire,” UralVagonZavod’s press office said in a release.

The Terminator’s design dates back to 2006 and was first showcased to international arms buyers in September 2013 at the Russia Arms Expo. However, the project stalled for years due to budgetary concerns. The Russian Ministry of Defense finally approved the purchase of its first batch of Terminators in 2017. So far, the Russian army has taken possession of eight of the vehicles, according to news reports.

US diplomats in China suffer strange sudden brain injuries

In addition to its formidable armor, the Terminator is also designed to protect its crew from radiation in the event of a nuclear exchange.

“The Terminator tank support combat vehicle is multipurpose and highly protected, with powerful armament, modern fire control devices and high maneuverability,” the Russian Ministry of Defense wrote on Facebook.

Terminators saw use in the Zapad-2017 military exercise, which comprised forces from Russia and Belarus. According to Russian media reports, Kazakhstan — a former Soviet republic — has purchased an unspecified number of Terminators, marking the only foreign export, to date, of the armored fighting vehicle.

The US Javelin anti-tank missile was introduced in 1996. In 2018 the US delivered its first batch of Javelins, also known as FGM-148s, to Ukraine — a post-Soviet country with which Russia has been engaged in a low-intensity land war since 2014.

To date, Ukraine has not used the Javelins in combat.

Articles

New evidence casts doubt on death of Amelia Earhart

A lost photo may shed new light on the mysterious death of famous aviator Amelia Earhart.


The photo, which will be featured in a new History channel special called “Amelia Earhart: The Lost Evidence,” was discovered in the National Archives more than 80 years after her death. In it, a woman who appears to be Earhart sits on a dock in the Marshall Islands near to a man who resembles her navigator Fred Noonan.

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Photo from US National Archives

After becoming the first female pilot to fly a plane across the Atlantic Ocean, Earhart set off to circumnavigate the globe in July 1937. Her plane vanished without a trace during the flight and, by 1939, both Earhart and Noonan were declared dead.

But the new photo, which shows figures that appear like Earhart and Noonan, could challenge the common theory that the plane crashed somewhere in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

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Photo from US National Archives

Shawn Henry, former executive assistant director for the FBI, told NBC News that he’s confident the photo is legitimate and pictures Earhart sitting on the dock.

“When you pull out, and when you see the analysis that’s been done, I think it leaves no doubt to the viewers that that’s Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan,” said Henry. Her plane appears to be on a barge in the background being towed by a large ship.

US diplomats in China suffer strange sudden brain injuries
Photo from US National Archives

According to NBC News, the team that uncovered the photo believes that the photo demonstrates that Earhart and Noonan were blown off course.  The latest photo could suggest that Earhart was captured by the Japanese military, experts told NBC News.

 

While current Japanese authorities told the news outlet that they had no record of Earhart ever being in their custody, American investigators insisted that the photo strongly suggests that Earhart survived the crash and was taken into captivity.

“We believe that the Koshu took her to Saipan [the Mariana Islands], and that she died there under the custody of the Japanese,” said Gary Tarpinian, the executive producer behind the History project.

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