This vet and real-life Santa makes wooden toys for kids every year - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY CULTURE

This vet and real-life Santa makes wooden toys for kids every year

Where the Marine Corps has its Toys for Tots, the Army can count on its elderly retirees – at least one of them, anyway. As of Christmas, 2019, Army veteran Jim Annis turned 80 years old. For the past 50 Christmas seasons, the former soldier spent months creating hundreds of wooden toys for children who otherwise might not have anything to open on Christmas morning. When the Salvation Army comes through for these families, Annis comes rolling along right behind them.


Annis spends hundreds of dollars from his own pocket every year to make wooden toys for needy children. The one-man Santa’s Workshop spends much of his free time throughout the year crafting and painting these toys in preparation for Christmastime. By the time he’s ready to donate the pieces to the Salvation Army, Annis has created as many as 300 toys, finished and ready to hand out to the little ones.

“When the Salvation Army gives out the food and clothes to people in this area, I give out my toys,” Annis told Raleigh-Durham’s ABC-11 affiliate. “It feels like you’re sort of forgotten about at Christmas time.”

In case you’re bad at math, creating 300 toys per year for the past 50 years, makes for about 15,000 toys total. But for Annis, it’s not about the money. He was one of those needy children during his childhood. He came from a working family with five children to take care for.

This vet and real-life Santa makes wooden toys for kids every year

Jim Annis, a one-man Santa’s Workshop.

(WTVD ABC-11)

Annis gets wooden scraps for free from homeowners and pays only for the tools of production and the acrylic paint for the toys. His costs run about id=”listicle-2641673298″,000 but his return on investment is the smiles of young kids who will get a toy for Christmas this year. Kids can get an array of cool, handmade toys, from fire trucks and dolls to piggy banks. Jim Annis will also make special gifts for American veterans and their loved ones.

“I have to sort of feel right in here,” Annis told North Carolina’s Spectrum News. “That’s the joy I know I’m giving some of the kids, I’m giving them something that I didn’t have a whole lot at Christmas time.”

If you want to donate to materials to this vet’s Christmastime cause, you can call Jim Annis at 919-842-5445.

Articles

Iran commands a secret 25,000-man ‘foreign legion’ in Syria

Iran commands a 25,000-man army fighting in support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, according to the head of Israel’s foreign affairs and defense committees.


Avi Dichter, who formerly served as Israel’s domestic intelligence chief, warned visiting Swiss parliamentary members that the massive army is purposely targeting the Syrian rebel opposition, as opposed to the Islamic State.

Also read: US General thinks Iran is behind the missile attacks on US Navy near Yemen

“This is a foreign legion of some 25,000 militants, most of whom have come from Afghanistan and Pakistan,” Dichter told the delegation Wednesday, as reported by Reuters. “They are fighting in Syria only against the rebels and not against ISIS.”

Dichter did not disclose his sources, but he does receive regular intelligence briefings in his role.

This vet and real-life Santa makes wooden toys for kids every year
The Iranian army marches in parade | Wiki Commons

Iran’s role in the Syrian conflict is as substantial as Russia’s, albeit much more covert. In lieu of massive bombing campaigns, Iran has recruited a large army comprised of mostly Afghan refugees.

The Hazara community is a small Shia Muslim sect in Afghanistan’s predominantly Sunni population. ISIS and Taliban attacks against the Hazaras forced many to flee to Iran, which also practices Shia Islam. Instead of welcoming the Hazaras, Iran converted them into an army, known as the Fatemiyoun division.

Typically, the Qods Force, a branch within Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), is responsible for foreign cover operations. Iran’s government recognized at the start of the Syrian conflict that a war in Syria would likely be unpopular. The Hazaras served as a convenient proxy.

Iran also utilizes Lebanon’s Hezbollah terrorist militias as a proxy for Assad. The Iran-Hezbollah relationship goes back decades, and the terrorist group is far better suited for counter-insurgency operations in Syria than the more conventional Iranian forces.

“The Iranians enlisted Hezbollah … to fight in Syria because the Iranian army is better suited to fight as an army against another army, while the Hezbollah militants are adept at fighting against terror groups,” said Dichter.

Dichter noted approximately 1,600 Hezbollah fighters have been killed fighting in Syria. The terrorist group is an arch-enemy of Israel, but that does not mean he is happy to see them dying on the battlefield.

“The fighting had made [Hezbollah] a better fighting force and more adept in conventional military warfare,” said Dichter.

This vet and real-life Santa makes wooden toys for kids every year

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Articles

NATO debts anger Trump

US President Donald Trump has launched an extraordinary broadside at allies for failing to pay their fair share of the defense bill.


The billionaire leader used the highest possible profile platform of his first summit in Brussels to accuse members of the alliance of owing “massive amounts of money”.

This vet and real-life Santa makes wooden toys for kids every year
(Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

Unveiling a memorial to the 9/11 attacks at NATO’s new headquarters, Trump also urged the alliance to get tougher on tackling terrorism and immigration in the wake of the Manchester attack.

Allies who had hoped to hear Trump publicly declare his commitment to NATO’s Article 5 collective defense guarantee were left disappointed as he made no mention of it and instead castigated them on their home turf.

“Twenty-three of the 28 member nations are still not paying what they should be paying and what they’re supposed to be paying for their defense,” the president said as fellow leaders looked on grim faced.

Trump said that even if they met the commitment they made in 2014 to allocate two percent of GDP to defense, it would still not be enough to meet the challenges NATO faces.

“This is not fair to the people and taxpayers of the United States. Many of these nations owe massive amounts of money from past years,” Trump added.

This vet and real-life Santa makes wooden toys for kids every year
NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg (DoD Photo by Tech. Sgt. Brigitte Brantley)

The diatribe stirred memories of his campaign trail comments branding NATO “obsolete” and threatening that states that did not pay their way would not necessarily be defended, which deeply alarmed allies.

NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg was repeatedly asked at a closing news conference about Trump’s comments but insisted that while the president might have been “blunt” his message was unchanged — the allies had to do more.

In dedicating the 9/11 Article 5 memorial, the president was “sending a strong signal” of his commitment to NATO, Stoltenberg said.

“And it is not possible to be committed to NATO without being committed to Article 5.”

Trump said the bombing of a pop concert in the British city of Manchester on May 22nd, claimed by the Islamic State group, showed that “terrorism must be stopped in its tracks”.

“The NATO of the future must include a great focus on terrorism and immigration as well as threats from Russia and NATO’s eastern and southern borders,” the president said.

This vet and real-life Santa makes wooden toys for kids every year
NATO Headquarters in Brussels (DoD Photo by Sgt. James McCann)

The surprising focus on immigration echoed another key feature of Trump’s campaign, which included a vow to build a border wall with Mexico, a measure derided in Europe.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel struck an entirely different note as she unveiled a memorial made up of a section of the Berlin Wall to mark the end of the Cold War.

“Germany will not forget the contribution NATO made in order to reunify our country. This is why we will indeed make our contribution to security and solidarity in the common alliance,” she said.

Trump’s rebuke came despite NATO saying it would formally join the US-led coalition against IS at the summit, despite reservations in France and Germany about getting involved in another conflict.

Article 5 has been invoked only once in NATO’s six-decade history — after the September 11, 2001 attacks on New York and Washington.

Analyst Thomas Wright of the Washington-based Brookings Institution said Trump’s failure to publicly declare this was “shocking and damaging”.

This vet and real-life Santa makes wooden toys for kids every year
Trump has stated that many UN member nations aren’t paying their share for defense. (Photo by MadGeographer.)

Brussels presented Trump with the first problems of a landmark foreign trip, including tense moments with the head of the European Union and with key ally Britain.

Trump announced a review of “deeply troubling” US intelligence leaks over the Manchester bombing, in which 22 people died, and warned that those responsible could face prosecution, the White House said.

Related: Mattis tells NATO to pay its fair share

He later discussed the row with Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May, who had condemned the leaks that left British authorities infuriated with their US counterparts.

A meeting with European Council chief Donald Tusk and European Commission head Jean-Claude Juncker did not go smoothly either, despite hopes it could clear the bad blood caused by Trump backing Britain’s Brexit vote.

During his meeting with the two top EU officials, Trump launched a salvo against Germany and its car sales in the United States, Der Spiegel reported.

“The Germans are bad, very bad,” he said, according to the German weekly’s online edition.

“See the millions of cars they are selling in the US. Terrible. We will stop this,” he reportedly said.

Tusk had earlier said there were differences on climate change and trade but above all Russia.

This vet and real-life Santa makes wooden toys for kids every year

“I’m not 100 percent sure that we can say today — ‘we’ means Mr. President and myself — that we have a common position, common opinion about Russia,” said Tusk, a former Polish premier who grew up protesting against Soviet domination of his country.

Trump on the campaign trail made restoring relations with Russia a key promise but he has faced bitter opposition in Washington and has since become embroiled in a scandal over alleged links to Moscow.

Trump also held talks with new French President Emmanuel Macron, with the pair appearing to engage in a brief yet bizarre battle to see who could shake hands the hardest.

Trump came to Brussels direct from a “fantastic” meeting with Pope Francis at the Vatican, after visiting Saudi Arabia, Israel, and the Palestinian Territories.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

The American howitzer you never heard much about

Some artillery pieces become very famous. Some of the most notable are the French 75 of World War I, or the Napoleons used during the Civil War, or the German 88. But some are less well-known, but packed a big punch – or long range – of their own.


One such artillery piece is the M107 self-propelled howitzer. This 175mm artillery piece entered service in 1962, alongside the M110, an eight-inch self-propelled howitzer. It could fire shells as far as 25 miles away – and this long range proved very handy during the Vietnam War.

This vet and real-life Santa makes wooden toys for kids every year
SGT Max Cones (gunner) fires a M107, 175mm self-propelled gun, Btry C, 1st Bn, 83rd Arty, 54th Arty Group, Vietnam, 1968. (US Army photo)

The M107 is not like the M109 self-propelled howitzer in that it is open, and lacks both a turret and on-board ammunition storage. As such, it needed its ammo vehicles nearby to provide shells. The M107 was fast for an armored vehicle, with a top speed of 50 miles per hour, and could go almost 450 miles on a single tank of fuel.

The M107s used the same chassis as the M110s. In fact, Olive-Drab.com reported that the two self-propelled howitzers could exchange guns, thus a M107 could become a M110, and vice versa. This was used to good effect in Vietnam, where the barrels could be swapped as needed at firebases. Israel also used the M017 for decisive effect in the 1973 Yom Kippur War, destroying a number of Syrian and Egyptian surface-to-air missile batteries, and even shelling Damascus.

This vet and real-life Santa makes wooden toys for kids every year
A gun crew member from 1st Battalion, 83rd Arty, takes a short break on top of the loading mechanism of his self-propelled 175 while waiting for further instructions. (US Army photo)

According to GlobalSecurity.org, the M107 fired only one type of conventional round, the M347 high-explosive round. The gun didn’t see service long past the Vietnam War. The M107 had a long reach, but it was not accurate – rounds like the laser-guided Copperhead or the GPS-guided Excalibur had not been developed yet.

An extended barrel for the M110 was developed, and in the late 1970s many M107s were converted to the M110A2 standard. The M110s eventually were replaced by the M207 MLRS.

MIGHTY CULTURE

The world’s 7 goofiest-looking military uniforms

Not all uniforms are created equal. If you need any proof of that, just look at an American airman standing next to a United States Marine while both are in their dress blues. Or check out the Navy’s old “blueberries.” Hey, we all make mistakes, but the important thing is that we handle it and fix what we need to. Some militaries don’t. This is about the ones who don’t.


To be perfectly clear, winning a war isn’t about the coolest or sharpest uniform. But respecting an adversary might help prevent a war, and wearing a uniform that looks like Willy Wonka designed it isn’t going to earn respect. For the record, I fully acknowledge all of these guys are badass and would easily murder me in any altercation.

They’re probably on their way to my house now.

This vet and real-life Santa makes wooden toys for kids every year

All I want is gin.

British Beefeaters

While the Beefeaters are a real military unit (and can probably totally kill me with a matchstick if they wanted to), I still have to question their use of the throwback jersey. The Yeomen Warders of Her Majesty’s Royal Palace and Fortress the Tower of London, and Members of the Sovereign’s Body Guard of the Yeoman Guard Extraordinary (their full name) is comprised completely of British soldiers who have at least 22 years of service under their belt but there is nothing utilitarian about their choice of dress. Is that guy going to impale someone with the replica of a palace?

This vet and real-life Santa makes wooden toys for kids every year

Greek Evzones guarding the Ministry of Funny Walks.

Greek Presidential Guard

I question any uniform that has little balls on the toes. The Greek Presidential Guard – also known as the Evzones – still wear the uniform of an elite Greek soldier from yesteryear. And while I praise other units who do this, like U.S. Marines, and the French Foreign Legion, the outfit’s foustanella (the skirt-like item) has 400 folds, one for each year of Turkish occupation. I genuinely question any uniform that has their undying grudge sewn into it. Also, I have to say if you’re going to wear a 100-year-old-plus military uniform, it’s weird to carry an M1 Garand rifle.

This vet and real-life Santa makes wooden toys for kids every year

Italian Carabinieri

Italy’s Carabinieri police force are totally awesome crime fighters who are now part of the country’s official armed forces. Although that’s a relatively new development, the Carabinieri have been around since the mid-1800s. They look like they should be the captains of wooden sailing ships back then.

This vet and real-life Santa makes wooden toys for kids every year

Ugandan People’s Defense Forces Air Force

Uganda’s air force work uniform looks like they couldn’t decide if they wanted to blend in with the ground or with the water and decided not to make a choice. To make it worse, the dress uniform looks like it hasn’t changed much since the days of Idi Amin.

This vet and real-life Santa makes wooden toys for kids every year

Malaysian Guards

While I totally respect traditions, I will always question the efficiency of wearing two uniforms at the same time. I don’t mind the look of a skirt-like uniform, but when the wearer is already wearing pants, I begin to question how this uniform came to pass.

This vet and real-life Santa makes wooden toys for kids every year

The Spanish Legion

I genuinely love the history of the Spanish Legion, but their dress uniforms make them look like a cheap male stripper who came to Kathy the secretary’s bachelorette party or someone’s mother accidentally shrank the entire unit’s shirts while doing laundry this week.

This vet and real-life Santa makes wooden toys for kids every year

North Korea

North Korean dress uniforms are what people who steal valor think dress uniforms are supposed to look like. I can only think of two countries North Korea has fired shots at since Kim Il-Sung was born from a star’s vagina or whatever they say his origin was, and most of the North Korean soldiers who fought in the Korean War were killed in it. What the hell are all these medals and orders for? Fewest calories consumed?

MIGHTY TRENDING

Special operators may lean harder on conventional forces

The nominee to lead U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) told lawmakers Dec. 4, 2018, that the unrelenting pace of operations may force the elite organization to pass some missions off to conventional combat units.

Army Lt. Gen. Richard Clarke, testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee as part of his nomination process to assume command of SOCOM, said he believes it has an “adequate” number of personnel but needs to avoid taking on missions that conventional forces are capable of handling.


“Special Operations Command should only do those missions that are suited for Special Operations Command, and those missions that can be adjusted to conventional forces should go to those conventional forces,” he said.

Currently, special operations forces are responsible for conducting U.S. counter-terrorism missions in Afghanistan and elsewhere and handling missions such as combating weapons of mass destruction.

This vet and real-life Santa makes wooden toys for kids every year

A U.S. Army Special Forces Soldier, from Special Operations Task Force-East, watches Afghan Commandos, from 2nd Commando Kandak, while patrolling a village in Dand Patan district during an operation.

(US Army photo)

The elite, multi-service SOCOM, made up of about 70,000 service members, also is slated to play a significant role in the Pentagon’s new defense strategy, which focuses on near-peer adversaries such as Russia and China.

Sen. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, asked Clarke whether there is a clear delineation within the Defense Department between SOCOM and conventional missions.

Clarke said Defense Secretary Jim Mattis “has been very clear … that SOCOM should be specific to SOCOM missions, so I don’t think there is any issue of delineation within the Department of Defense with that.”

Hirono then asked whether the U.S. military needs to do a better job adhering to the policy of assigning SOCOM-specific and conventional missions.

“The publishing of the National Defense Strategy and relooking at the prioritization of the force has given us a very good opportunity to relook at all of our deployments, look where the forces are and make sure that SOCOM forces are, in fact, dedicated to the missions that are most important and are specific to special operations forces,” Clarke said.

Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Arkansas, said recent proposals to leave SOCOM out of the proposed 5 percent cut to the DoD’s budget would not guarantee that the command would not suffer.

This vet and real-life Santa makes wooden toys for kids every year

A Special Forces Operation Detachment-Alpha Soldier scans the area as Afghan National Army Commandos, 2nd Company, 3rd Special Operations Kandak conduct clearance of Mandozai village, Maiwand district, Kandahar province, Afghanistan.

“At a time of tight budgets, when some in the administration are already talking about cutting 5 percent from the Department of Defense budget, many people say, ‘But that’s OK, because since the Special Operations Command is bearing so much of the fight, it will be fully funded,’ ” he said. “Can you talk about your dependence on the rest of the conventional military and how our special operations forces fight with them, and why stable, predictable and increasing funding for those conventional forces is so important for Special Operations Command?”

Clarke replied that SOCOM relies heavily on conventional forces from every branch of service.

“Especially for longer-term operations, we need the support of the services,” he said. ” … Special Operations Command is made up of the services. Much of the recruitment, much of the force, is actually started in the conventional force and actually came up through the ranks, and they were identified as some of the best of breed in that particular service in which they served, and they raised their hand and volunteered for special operations.”

The Army’s conventional forces have taken responsibility for training and advising conventional forces, standing up six Security Force Assistance Brigades to help establish, instruct, and enable conventional forces in countries like Afghanistan and elsewhere.

In the past, the mission to train foreign militaries fell to Army Special Forces. Special Forces units now focus on training foreign commando units.

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

MIGHTY MILSPOUSE

Report: Two Russian Mig-29s may have been shot down over Libya

According to reports, two Russian Mig-29 Fulcrums have been shot down over Libya throughout the recent months of fighting, though the Russian government has yet to acknowledge these losses.

In May, Sandboxx News covered the presence of 14 Russian military aircraft deployed to Libya in support of Russian-backed mercenaries fighting on behalf of General Khalifa Haftar. Haftar’s forces, alongside Russia’s state-sponsored mercenaries, have been engaged in a civil war with Libya’s formally recognized Government of National Accord, led by Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj.


This vet and real-life Santa makes wooden toys for kids every year

Russian fighter jets were recently deployed to Libya in order to support Russian state-sponsored private military contractors (PMCs) operating on the ground there. (U.S. Africa Command)

The Kremlin denied transferring any aircraft to Libya in support of the Wagner Group or General Khalifa Haftar, and rumors were floated online that maybe Libya had simply managed to repair and refit a group of older jet platforms. Those rumors, however, seem to have been intentional misinformation.

“Libyans never had MiG-29s or Su-24s in their inventory, so anyone who says they ‘fixed their old planes’ is not representing the facts.”
-Col. Chris Karns, U.S. Africa Command’s (AFRICOM) Director of Public Affairs

Russia has opted to utilize the Wagner Group in Libya just as they have in other war-torn regions like Syria. By utilizing mercenary forces, the Russian government is able to stay one step removed from having to take responsibility for the actions of their troops on foreign soil.

When Russian mercenaries from the same Wagner Group engaged a group of around 40 American Special Forces troops alongside Syrian Democratic Forces in Syria in 2018, the Russians suffered brutal losses, with the mercenaries eventually having to retreat under American air strikes only to return to collect their dead later. No Americans were injured in the battle, but estimates of Russian mercenaries killed reach as high as 400. After the incident, the Russian government claimed no knowledge or affiliation with the Russian forces that took part in the attack, claiming they were all there independently in support of Bashar al Assad’s Syrian regime.

Now, reports are beginning to emerge that indicate not one, but two Russian Mig-29s have been shot down in the months since we first discussed their arrival in Libya, and in keeping with the Kremlin’s policy of pretending they aren’t involved, the Russian government has yet to acknowledge these incidents, despite details finding their way onto social media.

Twitter

twitter.com

On September 7, a video was uploaded to YouTube apparently showing a Russian-speaking Fulcrum pilot who was forced to eject from his aircraft and was then awaiting rescue.

What do you know about simple human happiness? (warning! this training courses! )

www.youtube.com

The video does not indicated what type of aircraft the pilot ejected from, nor does it offer any clues as to what forced his ejection. The aircraft may have been shot down by Government of National Accord forces, or the Soviet-era aircraft may have suffered a mechanical failure. Because we know that the Wagner Group brought in both Mig-29s and Su-24s, it seems likely that this pilot ejected from one of those platforms, and because the Su-24 is a two-seater and there are no other personnel present, it seems likely that this footage was captured by a Mig-29 pilot.

The Mikoyan MiG-29 (NATO designator Fulcrum) is a single seat, twin engine air superiority fighter developed by the Soviet Union in the late 1970s to serve as a direct competitor to America’s premier intercept fighter at the time, the F-15 Eagle. In the years since, Mig-29s have been updated to serve as highly capable fourth generation multi-role fighters capable of engaging ground targets and serving in an air support role.

This vet and real-life Santa makes wooden toys for kids every year

Mig-29 (WikiMedia Commons)

It’s believed that these aircraft are not being piloted by active Russian military pilots, but rather by Wagner Group personnel, which has prompted serious concerns that these fighters will not be beholden to international law.

“USAFRICOM stated in the press release that ‘there is concern that these Russian aircraft are being flown by inexperienced, non-state [Wagner Group] mercenaries who will not adhere to international law; namely, they are not bound by the traditional laws of armed conflict.'”
-Lead Inspector General for East Africa And North And West Africa Counterterrorism Operations report.

While it isn’t yet clear if either of these Mig-29s were shot down, it’s certainly possible. While the Mig-29 is a fast and fairly acrobatic Cold War fighter, it lacks any stealth capability and is likely being used in a close air support role in Libya. That means these aircraft are likely flying low, and if the Wagner pilots aren’t particularly well trained, they would have difficulty dodging anti-aircraft or surface to air missile fire.

This article originally appeared on Sandboxx. Follow Sandboxx on Facebook.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Here’s why the numbers don’t tell the real story of the coronavirus pandemic

The figures are frightening.

Across the globe, the number of reported confirmed cases of the coronavirus is always higher than the day before, topping 1 million as of April 2.

But what if the true numbers are actually even higher?

Experts say data — and how it is reported, or not reported — can give us an incomplete portrait of the problem.


This vet and real-life Santa makes wooden toys for kids every year

Testing, Testing, 1, 2, 3

Testing, or lack thereof, is one of the main reasons the true scale of the pandemic is unknown. And that may not be the fault of governments. Many of those infected show no symptoms and thus are not candidates for testing.

But there may be other problems with the data — namely, that some governments may be distorting figures to understate the scale of the problem in their respective countries.

U.S. media reported on April 1 that U.S. officials believe China has concealed the extent of the coronavirus outbreak in its country, with officials calling China’s numbers “fake.”

Like China, Iran has been hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic. And like Beijing, Tehran is also suspected of tampering with its numbers to distort the situation there.

Questions have also been raised by Russia’s relatively low numbers as well.

While some governments minimize the problem at home, they may be behind efforts to maximize the scale of the pandemic elsewhere.

An EU watchdog tracking fake news said on April 1 that pro-Kremlin sources on social media were promoting a narrative that the European Union is failing to deal with the pandemic and is on the verge of collapse.

The more testing, the more likely countries will be able to curb the pandemic, according to the World Health Organization.

Data from the United States shows the number of confirmed coronavirus cases rising sharply as testing has improved.

But does that mean infections are rising? Not necessarily. Experts say more testing could explain, at least in part, the higher number.

As The Atlantic magazine put it in an article published on March 26:

“Is the U.S. currently experiencing rapid growth in coronavirus cases, or rapid growth in coronavirus testing, or both? The answer should sound familiar: We don’t know yet, and it will be a while before we do.”

While the United States has ramped up testing, India has taken a different tack.

New Delhi has refused to expand coronavirus testing, despite criticism that limited testing could leave COVID-19 cases undetected in the world’s second-most populous country.

As Al-Jazeera reported on March 18, Indian officials have said the WHO guidance on more testing didn’t apply in India because the spread of the virus was less severe there than elsewhere.

Balaram Bharghava, who heads the Indian Council of Medical Research, said more testing would only create “more fear, more paranoia, and more hype.”

As of April 3, India — a country of nearly 1.4 billion people — had just over 2,500 reported confirmed coronavirus cases and 72 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center.

This vet and real-life Santa makes wooden toys for kids every year

Silent Spreaders

But even if governments have the means and are eager to test, it may not always be clear whom should be tested.

That’s because not everyone reacts the same way to the coronavirus.

Jarmila Razova, the Czech Republic’s head hygienist, told Czech media on April 2 that up to 40 percent of people infected with the coronavirus may show no symptoms at all.

These so-called silent spreaders are feared to be fueling the coronavirus pandemic.

“Stealth transmission” is not only real but a “major driver” of the epidemic, said Columbia University infectious diseases researcher Jeffrey Shaman, who led a study published on March 16 in the journal Science. Its contribution to the virus’s spread “is substantially undetected, and it’s flying below the radar.”

But even when the data may be as close as possible to giving a true picture of the coronavirus problem, some governments may be opting to distort it.

China, where the outbreak began in late December, has reported only about 82,000 cases and 3,300 deaths as of April 3, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

By comparison, the United States has reported more than 245,000 cases and more than 6,000 deaths as of April 3.

Doubts that the Chinese numbers are accurate have been fueled in part by stacks of thousands of urns outside funeral homes in Hubei Province, where the coronavirus was first detected.

U.S. intelligence concluded in a classified report that was handed over to the White house that China covered up the true extent of the coronavirus outbreak, officials said on April 1.

U.S. officials refused to disclose details of the report, saying only, according to a Bloomberg report, that “China’s public reporting on cases and deaths is intentionally incomplete.”

In the Middle East, no country has been harder hit than Iran. The Islamic republic has reported more than 50,000 cases and more than 3,100 deaths as of April 3, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. However, many suspect the numbers being reported by Iran, notorious for its censorship and lack of transparency, are low.

Since the start of the crisis, members of parliament and local officials in some of the major centers of the coronavirus in the country have said the real number of dead and those infected is being grossly understated by the clerical regime that rules Iran.

Satellite images from mid-March appeared to show mass graves being dug in the area around the city of Qom, where the country’s outbreak is believed to have begun.

This vet and real-life Santa makes wooden toys for kids every year

Faulty Russian Testing Tool?

With a population of over 144 million, Russia has reported some 3,500 confirmed cases and just 30 deaths, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

While Russia has been lauded for carrying out testing early and on a relatively large scale, some experts say the low numbers may be explained in part by the testing tool developed by a state-funded laboratory in the Siberian city of Novosibirsk, known by its shorthand name Vektor.

A Russian science blog called PCR News, which said it had reviewed the specific protocols of the lab’s test, said it only detects the virus if it is over a certain threshold in a sample. The test also appeared to give a higher than expected number of “false positives.”

On March 23, Moscow’s coronavirus task force said the testing protocol would be changed, but it is unclear if the move will win over skeptics.

Within Russia itself, the Kremlin has moved to shut down domestic naysayers, accusing them of spreading disinformation on social media.

In early March, Russia’s Federal Security Service and Internet watchdog moved to take down a viral post claiming the real number of coronavirus cases had reached 20,000 and that the Russian government was covering it up.

Shortly after the move, Facebook and Instagram users in Russia started to see coronavirus awareness alerts linking to Rospotrebnadzor’s official website.

While the Kremlin has been quick to downplay crisis at home, it appears eager to promote it abroad.

According to an analysis released on April 1 by the EU’s East StratCom Task Force, “claims that the EU is disintegrating in the face of COVID-19 are trending on social media in all analyzed regions,” including EU states and Eastern Europe.

It also said RT and Sputnik — Kremlin-funded media — were peddling conspiracy theories that the virus was man-made or intentionally spread, while portraying Russia and China as “responsible powers.”

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

Military Life

6 things that annoy Marines on Navy ships

The Marine Corps is a department of the Navy, there’s no question about it. But when Marines go on ship, it can be a frustrating time for them. Being separated from the rest of the world, getting sea sick, or just wasting time on your command’s idea to make itself look good in front of the Navy makes the experience horrendous.


Some Marines might actually like the idea of going on ship. It gives you the chance to experience the world in a way not many others will be able to. What usually ends up killing the enthusiasm, however, is what ends up happening on ship. It usually causes Marines to hate their lives even more than they already do.

Here are just a few of those things.

This vet and real-life Santa makes wooden toys for kids every year

You’ll just have to find the time.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Jasmine Price)

Gym hours

It’s important to note that larger ships will have plenty more gyms but on smaller ships, the options are extremely limited. Given the fact that you’ll be at sea for a long periods at a time, exercise is crucial. While the option to do cardio-based workouts exists, the ability to lift weights is one that many Marines choose to supplement the other options.

What trips you up is that the Navy sets specific time frames to allow Marines the chance to get their work-out in. The problem is that they take it upon themselves to take the best hours and give Marines the time slots where they’ll likely be working. What’s worse is you’ll find sailors working out during “green side” hours but Lord help you if you get caught during “blue side” hours.

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You will end up paying at some point.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Immanuel Johnson)

Ship tax

We get it. Every unit on ship MUST give up a few bodies to assist in day-to-day tasks but it doesn’t change the fact that Marines get annoyed over having to go sort the trash.

Rude higher ranks

Before you go on ship, your First Sergeant will hammer you with learning Navy rank structure so you can give the proper greeting to whomever rates it. But you’ll find gradually that you won’t get the greeting back. Now, a Navy Chief isn’t required to return your “good morning” but it’s usually just common courtesy. This is what separates Marines from Sailors.

If you tell a Marine Staff Sergeant “good morning” they’ll return it happily, usually with a “good morning to you, devil dog,” but on ship, Sailors will just kind of scoff and keep walking. But rest assured, if you don’t give a proper greeting, your First Sergeant will hear about it.

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The solution is simple: tell the other platoons to get off their asses and do some work.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Juan A. Soto-Delgado)

Breakouts

“Breakouts” are when the mess deck needs to get food out of storage so they’ll set up a line of Marines and Sailors from one place to another to pass the supplies along in the easiest way possible. The annoying part actually comes at the fault of other Marines. A problem you’ll likely face is having to be the on-call Marine for every ship duty, every day.

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You still have to show some respect, though.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Angel D. Travis)

Lack of respect

If you’re a Marine grunt on a Navy ship, don’t hold your breath waiting for respect from Naval officers because you’ll rarely get it, if at all. They’ll act like that snobby rich kid you knew in high school whose parents bought them everything and who never had to worry about any real problems, and they’ll treat you like the dirty trailer park kid who wears clothes from the second-hand store.

This isn’t the case for every officer on ship; some will be pretty down-to-Earth, but plenty will just look at you like a peasant and avoid you like the plague. At the end of the day, though, their job exists to support yours.

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This makes you wonder what the hell happened and it adds to an already growing disdain toward the Navy.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Juan A. Soto-Delgado)

Replenishment at sea

A RAS is where another ship pulls up next to yours to send supplies so you don’t find yourself starving or throwing a mutiny aboard the USS whatever. This usually comes just at the right time and you’ll be able to buy chips or whatever at the store. It’s a few hours of work but it’s well worth it.

Where the problem lies is that the ship will call upon every available person to line up and help with the effort and the Navy will send people to help but, over time, you’ll notice the Sailors have disappeared and only Marines are left.

MIGHTY MOVIES

5 more military myths that Hollywood swears are true

Movies are badass! That’s why producers spend millions of dollars making them. Sometimes the films we watch are so freaking compelling audience members forget they watching a movie and believe everything they see.


We’re all guilty of falling for it.

Many moviegoers get sold on the narrative as the story unfolds across the big screen — even to the point where the performances feel real, and the delicate line between truth and fiction becomes too thin to spot.

Related: 5 epic military movie mistakes

We’re here to make sure you don’t fall for these 5 military myths.

1. Firing “the big guns” from the hip

We get that filmmakers want to make movie characters appear tough and strong, but the fact is movies can go way overboard.

It’s practically impossible to fire a mini-gun that weighs in around 85 pounds from the hip. Typically, this weapon system is fired from a fixed and controlled position.

Nice try, Hollywood.

2. Silencers turn rifles into a mouse farts

You know that soft “pew” sound Hollywood sniper rifles make? Yeah, they aren’t as quiet as movies would have you believe.

What they really sound like.

Notice this guy’s neighbor calls out hearing the shot from way off camera.

(Jay Philip Williams, YouTube)

3. Wearing dogs tags outside of your shirt is okay…especially in PT gear.

As much as we love the film “Black Hawk Down,” Sgt. Eversmann is technically out of military reg for wearing his ID tag that way.

Shame on you for setting a bad example.

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(Source: Sony)

4. “Military grade” crap doesn’t freakin’ exist.

Hollywood and commercial marketing love to use this term to make products sound more durable and reliable. The truth is, the techy term sounds super authentic, but unfortunately everything we use in the military can break under certain conditions.

Like they say, “You take care of your gear, your gear will take care of you.” Write that down.

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Also Read: 7 epic ‘gearing up’ montages from action movies you love

5. It’s okay to be the wild cowboy in the unit.

We’re not saying troops don’t take life and death chances while in battle — they risk their lives all the time. But when someone consistently puts himself or others at risk, it’s time to get rid of them.

You have no idea what the hell they’re planning on doing when the bullets start flying — not someone you want to ride into battle with.

Can you think of any others? Comment below.
MIGHTY TACTICAL

This speedy missile gave bombers a lot of punch

In the late 1960s, the cancellation of the B-70 Valkyrie program and the retirement of the B-58 Hustler meant that the United States Air Force was likely to struggle with bypassing Soviet defenses. The FB-111 Switchblade was coming online to help address this gap in capabilities, but the plane’s production run was cut down to 76 airframes (from an originally planned 263) in 1969.

The US Air Force needed an answer — a fast one.


That answer came in the form of the AGM-69 Short-Range Attack Missile, or SRAM. The “short range” bit in the name, in this case, was relative. The AGM-69 SRAM had a maximum range of 100 miles. That’s considered “short” when compared with something like the AGM-28 Hound Dog (which had a 700-mile range). In theory, this weapon allowed B-52s or FB-111s to take on enemy air-defense sites.

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A training version of the AGM-69 Short-Range Attack Missile is loaded onto a B-1B Lancer. The B-1 could carry two dozen of these missiles.

(USAF photo by Technical Sgt. Kit Thompson)

Any air-defense site that drew the ire of a B-52 or FB-111 enough to require the use of a SRAM was in for some hurt. The SRAM packed a W69 thermonuclear warhead with a yield of 200 kilotons. A single AGM-69 sounds painful enough — the FB-111 could carry as many as six of these missiles. The B-52 could carry an even 20. By comparison, the legendary BUFF could only carry two AGM-28 Hound Dog cruise missiles.

The AGM-69 entered service in 1972 and was widely deployed among Strategic Air Command units. This missile had a top speed of Mach 3 and weighed just under 2,300 pounds. The missile was 14-feet long and 17-and-a-half inches wide. Over 1,500 SRAMs were built.

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The AGM-69 could be carried in a rotary launcher inside the bomb bay of bombers like the B-52, or on pylons on the wings.

(USAF)

The missile served until 1990. It was retired after the fall of the Berlin Wall. The planned successor, the AGM-131 SRAM II, which would have had longer range (250 miles) and smaller size (under ten-and-a-half feet long and a little more than 15 inches across) was cancelled the following year.

Learn more about this essential, Cold War-era missile in the video below!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yUfEYhODsjg

www.youtube.com

MIGHTY CULTURE

What’s up with fashion’s awkward adaptation of military threads?

Military dress and fashion have been linked for a long time. Bomber jackets were used to save pilots’ lives in WWI. Then, in the 1990s, they were used by sitcom bullies on TV shows. US soldiers have been wearing BDU camo pants since the 1980s. Now, Drake wears them in his “In My Feelings” music video.


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Even the camo couldn’t hide him from his son.

Go to a hip coffee spot. Chances are there’s a dude with black-rimmed glasses wearing an army jacket or some form of a “war veteran” hat — basically walking around looking like an extra from Red Dawn.

But it’s always been like this. Hell, as soon as cavemen started battling in decorated loin cloths, I’ll bet their sons started ironically wearing decorated loin cloths to cave-school the next day. “Ug see, Ug do…”

Why are these trends adopted by people who (speaking in generalities here) are admittedly not involved or interested in military life? It’s odd, and, it’s actually getting a bit more extreme — streetwear and “hypebeasts” (someone whose identity is so tied up in what brands they wear that they become a walking billboard) have even started wearing tactical vests.

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Just a “Supreme” sticker away from costing 0.

But nobody is guiltless here; the reverse is arguably just as bad — when military dudes bring a little too much HOOAH into the fashion world.

I mean, look at Grunt Style. Seeing a dude working out at the gym in a Grunt Style shirt is one of the fastest ways to recognize someone who has just enlisted and really wants you to thank them for their service. Don’t get me wrong —patriots should be allowed to express their pride however they want, but rockin’ a shirt that says “Alcohol. Tobacco. Firearms.” is the FNG equivalent of a sorority girl with a “Live. Laugh. Love 3” tattoo on her wrist.

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Oh, by the way — Post Malone was seen, coincidentally enough, wearing that shirt at a concert. Another traditionally military-born fashion piece ironically worn to project some bizarre, label-manufactured street image.

This vet and real-life Santa makes wooden toys for kids every year

Maybe it seems weird because of the odd political and social divide in our country right now. Maybe it seems weird because you don’t need camo when you’re on a giant stage with a spotlight on you. Maybe it seems weird because it’s just plain uninspired. No matter what it “seems” like, the link between fashion and military has always been here and always will be.

MIGHTY MILSPOUSE

Air Force Academy and the experiment of enlisted faculty

Enlisted airmen have been part of the Air Force Academy in both instructor and mentor positions. But now they have a chance to be considered full time accredited faculty teachers.

The Air Force Academy was established in April 1954 after several years of consideration. Long before the Air Force was its own branch of the military, senior leadership argued they needed a school that would be directly focused on the war in the air – they needed a place to train future airmen.


In 1948, a year after the formal establishment of the Air Force, the Stearns-Eisenhower Board was formed to study existing military academies. They concluded that the Air Force absolutely needed its own school and that at least 40 percent of all future officers should be service academy graduates.

It took seven years for leadership to reach a consensus on site location and to receive funding. In 1955, construction began on the Academy in Colorado Springs. That same year, the first class of 306 officers were sworn-in at a temporary site – Lowry Air Force Base in nearby Denver, Colorado. Lt. Gen. Hubert R. Harmon was recalled from retirement by President Eisenhower to become the Academy’s first superintendent.

Women were allowed to enter the Academy beginning in 1975, and the first women cadets graduated in 1980. That flagship-class included the Academy’s first woman, who would later be superintendent, Lt. Gen. Michelle Johnson. To date, the Air Force Academy has graduated more than 50,000 officers.

Since its inception, the Air Force Academy has provided a corps of officers dedicated to upholding the standards of their profession and of the Air Force. In turn, the Academy offers cadets the right kind of access to a diverse and varied faculty. Now that faculty is even more diverse than ever.

After its first year, the Air Force Academy says that having noncommissioned officers serve as faculty shows real promise, but there needs to be further evaluation to decide if it’s worth keeping. The Academy is the first service academy that features enlisted service members as official faculty.

A report issued this summer, written by Chief Master Sgt. Sean Milligan and Senior Master Sgts. Ecaterina Garcia and Gloria Kuzmicki was released a year after the test pilot began. The Air Force reports that it will need several more years to explore the sustainability of the program, but initial findings are very promising – both for cadets and for the current faculty on staff.

The four enlisted Academic instructors, including the Chief mentioned above MSgt. Milligan, Senior MSgt. Garcia and Kuznicki, along with Senior MSgt. William Baez. Milligan manages the enlisted instructors and teaches part-time in the management department. Garcia teaches military strategy studies, Kuzmicki teaches leadership and behavior science, and Baez teaches intro statistics.

In a statement to Air Force Times, Milligan said that the program proves that the Air Force can select and hire appropriately qualified enlisted instructors to help increase faculty diversity. He went on to say that it seems like having an enlisted faculty component helps to have a positive effect on the cadets. The diversified faculty might also help cadets have a more collaborative learning environment, leading to greater career growth – not to mention significant experience with enlisted airmen.

The Air Force Academy created three enlisted teaching positions for the senior noncommissioned officers, all of whom hold advanced degrees.

After being hired, each instructor receives their department assignment and teaches classes relevant to their subjects of expertise. This initiative’s main goal is to provide enlisted airmen who have advanced degrees with a chance to put their education to work while continuing to serve the Air Force.

The report concludes that cadets will ultimately be better served with a more diverse staff. It still remains to be seen how the program will continue to unfold, but it seems clear the Air Force is committed to providing the right proving ground for America’s next generation of Air Force officers.

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