Here's why Zippos are the unofficial lighter of the military - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY CULTURE

Here’s why Zippos are the unofficial lighter of the military

Zippos and American warfighters go hand-in-hand.

If you watch a movie and see troops lighting up a cigarette, you’ll probably notice that Zippo in their hand. Search-and-destroy missions in the Vietnam War were often referred to as “Zippo missions.” There’s simply no denying the fact that American troops have long had an intimate relationship with Zippos.

Here’s why:


Troops are always searching for reliable gear as, oftentimes, the stuff we’re issued is absolute trash. That’s where Zippos come in. They’re reliable and compact, two criteria that “military-grade” items tend not to satisfy. But it’s not just that they work well — they’ve had a long history with troops.

Here’s why Zippos are the unofficial lighter of the military

Zippos during WWII were primarily used to light cigarettes. Vietnam, however, was another story.

(U.S. Marine Corps)

The American Zippo Manufacturing Company was founded in the 1930s, but when World War II started, the company ceased all production for consumer markets altogether and instead manufactured lighters exclusively for troops being sent to war. Millions of them were carried by troops and, no matter what, they knew they could rely on their trusty, metal lighter to spark their cigarette during a long day of ass-kicking.

Here’s why Zippos are the unofficial lighter of the military

Some units who performed these Zippo missions were referred to as “Zippo Squads.”

(U.S. Army)

Zippos took on a different function during the Vietnam War. Aside from reliably lighting cigarettes, they were used to light flamethrower tanks when the built-in, electrical igniter didn’t work. They were also used as mirrors to shave, to heat up popcorn, and the list goes on.

In fact, Zippos became synonymous with Vietnam War operations as troops would raze villages with lighters on seek-and-destroy missions. But Zippos weren’t just for burning things down — they actually became a kind of cultural timepiece.

Here’s why Zippos are the unofficial lighter of the military

Some of the best pieces of military history.

(Photo by Joe Haupt)

In Vietnam, troops began engraving designs onto the sides of the hardy, metal lighters as a way to pass the time. By looking at those engravings, we’ve been able to glean some insight into the mindset of troops from the era. It might have been just an idle habit at the time, but such historical artifacts are invaluable for future generations.

The practice of engraving Zippos is one that carries over to modern-day service members. It may not be as popular as it once was, but troops all over still use the iconic lighter to spark up cigarettes or even burn frayed paracord.

Regardless, one thing is for sure — Zippos remain one of the most iconic pieces of unofficial military gear.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

SpaceX Starlink satellites are already messing with astronomical research

Elon Musk’s plan to station thousands of satellites above the Earth is already starting to annoy astronomers.

Starlink is the project launched by Elon Musk’s space exploration company SpaceX which aims to put up to 42,000 satellites in orbit with the aim of bringing high-speed internet to even the most remote corners of the globe.

Though only 120 of the satellites are up and running, they’re already wreaking havoc with astronomical research.

The brightness of the satellites mean that when they cross a piece of sky being watched by a telescope, they leave bright streaks that obscure stars and other celestial objects.


Last week astronomer Clarae Martínez-Vázquez of the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory (CTIO) in Chile tweeted that 19 Starlink satellites crossed the sky and disrupted the work of the observatory because they were so bright they affected its exposure. “Rather depressing… This is not cool,” she added.

Dr Dave Clements of Imperial College London told Business Insider that SpaceX is applying a typically Silicon Valley approach to Starlink, rushing it through without fully thinking through the consequences.

“I’m very concerned about the impact of SpaceX’s Starlink constellation on all aspects of astronomy,” he said.

“Move fast and break things might be workable when you’re breaking a competitor’s business model or the outdated assumptions of an industry, but in this case Musk is breaking the night sky for personal profit. That is unacceptable, and is not something you can fix when you’re out of beta. The launches should stop until a solution is agreed with astronomers, professional and amateur.”

Clements added that the Starlink satellites also interfere with radio astronomy.

“They transmit in bands used by radio astronomers, especially at high frequencies. While these bands are used by other transmitters on the ground, we cope with that by having radio silent preserves around the telescopes. This won’t work when the Sky is full of bright satellite transmitters so Musk might be ruining several kinds of astronomy at once,” he said.

Here’s why Zippos are the unofficial lighter of the military

View of Starlink satellites.

(Public domain)

Researchers working on a new state-of-the-art observatory due to open next year told the Guardian that private satellites launched by SpaceX, Amazon, and other private firms threaten to jeopardise their work.

Astronomers at the yet-to-open Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST) ran simulations which suggested the vast majority of images taken by the telescope could be ruined by bright private satellites passing by.

The disruption caused by Starlink has not come as a surprise to the scientific community.

When SpaceX launched its last batch of 60 satellites earlier this month James Lowenthal, Professor of Astronomy at Smith College told the New York Times the project could majorly complicate astronomical research. “It potentially threatens the science of astronomy itself,” he said.

SpaceX was not immediately available for comment when contacted by Business Insider.

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

Military Life

Why airmen call Chief Master Sergeant Wright ‘Enlisted Jesus’

Kaleth Wright is the incumbent Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force. He is the 18th CMSAF and only the second person of color to hold the rank. In the 27 years preceding his appointment, Chief Master Sgt. Wright (obviously) lead an illustrious career. But in late November of 2016, something miraculous happened.

One day, in a manger, a legend was born. It was nearly Thanksgiving in the cold, far-away land of the District of Columbia when the story of the man who come to be known as “Enlisted Jesus” first took root. On the following Valentine’s Day, Chief Master Sgt. Wright took the helm and, almost instantly, began to rain down blessings upon the world’s greatest airpower.

There are countless reasons airmen shower Enlisted Jesus in praise, but here are three very real, very specific justifications for his quickly-spreading moniker.


Here’s why Zippos are the unofficial lighter of the military

Come o’ ye little children

Enlisted Professional Military Education overhaul

Rumor has it that one of the first items on the agenda of Enlisted Jesus was to free up the time and energy of his airmen so that they could better serve this great nation. His first, well-known, crack at freeing up that time? EPME 21.

The new system did not get rid of the requirement, but it did get rid of the Time-in-Service bit that automatically signed up service members according to how long they’ve been in uniform, regardless of rank, and too often stripped them of the chance to attend EPME courses in-resident.

Here’s why Zippos are the unofficial lighter of the military

Have you heard of his goodness?

(Air Force Nation)

EPR? Not for E-3 and below!

One of the most dreaded moments in many an airman’s career is Enlisted Performance Review time! Even if you’ve been blessed with a sharp supervisor and have recorded all of your accomplishments meticulously, it’s still going to give you a spike in cortisol. They get easier to do as time goes along, but those first few can be downright scary.

For the supervisor — especially the young supervisor — this time is a fiery trial of skill and fortitude. You have your supervisor, who is getting sh*t from their supervisor, who is getting sh*t from their supervisor, who’s getting sh*t from the 1st Sgt, up your ass to get this done on time, even if you’re early.

Now put together a new supervisor and a green troop. What does this combination yield come EPR? A stressed out, ineffective set of airmen.

Enlisted Jesus decided to kill that noise by removing the requirement for anyone who is promotion-eligible.

Here’s why Zippos are the unofficial lighter of the military

But first, let us take a selfie

(Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force’s Instagram)

OCPs

No, Enlisted Jesus likely didn’t make the call to bring the OCP and move away from that sage grey, tiger stripe getup so many of us loathe. Hell, he probably didn’t even have too much of say in that decision at all.

He has, however, been very vocal in support of them and is largely seen as the face and force behind them finally becoming the official duty uniform of the Air Force.

Military Life

7 tips on how to get selected by MARSOC instructors

So, you want to be a United States Marine Corps Critical Skills Operator? Well, that’s really great to hear, but a word of warning to all you would-be Raiders out there: To start this journey, you must go through MARSOC Assessment and Selection.


MARSOC is one of our nation’s most elite fighting forces; its members are ready to respond to any crisis, anywhere.

These small but well-trained Marine units embrace the unknown and are prepared to face any challenge. To earn a position on a MARSOC team takes a superhuman effort and the willingness to go above and beyond.

On the long road between you and life as a Raider lies a 23-day training evaluation designed to test Marines’ mental and physical limits in order to reveal the true nature of a candidate’s character.

Related: 5 things infantrymen love about the woobie

Check out these seven tips on how to get selected by MARSOC instructors:

7. Be physically fit.

This tip is so obvious it almost goes without saying, but don’t be fooled by the 225 physical fitness test score required to qualify — this is very misleading. If you want to be competitive and have a real shot at being selected, a score of 285 or higher is recommended.

Here’s why Zippos are the unofficial lighter of the military
Semper Fitness. (Image from USMC)

6. Semper Gumby — always be flexible.

Without getting into any specific details, selection creates a dynamic environment replicating austere scenarios that require ingenuity and out-of-the-box problem-solving skills. There is no manual for chaos and chaos is exactly what you will be expected to deal with if you become an operator.

Here’s why Zippos are the unofficial lighter of the military
Drown proofed! (Image from USMC)

 

5. Know your knots.

Bowline, around the body bowline, double fisherman’s knot — believe it or not, knowing these knots is an invaluable skill. It’ll save you much pain and aggravation if you learn basic knots before selection. The granny knot is important, too, but you probably already know that one.

4. Be cool; it matters.

Selection is looking for the best, however, all the physical capabilities in the world amount to nothing if you can’t work as a team. Peer evaluation is a major part of selection. Whether you can get along with others has a substantial impact on reaching phase two.

3. Learn land navigation.

Learn how to read a map, orient yourself with a compass, shoot an azimuth, plot points, make intelligent route selections, and understand terrain association. Master these baiscs and always remember: get high, stay high. A straight line is not always the fastest route.

2. Take care of your feet.

You’ll be moving an impressive amount of gear and water across substantial distances for an unknown amount of time. This will take a toll on your feet. Your feet are your life in many situations, so take care of them accordingly. Seek out a doc and get up to speed on basic maintenance, put together a foot-care kit (gauze, bandages, moleskin, etc.), and use it.

Also Read: 5 ways Marines are like ancient Spartans

1. Never even think of quitting.

Quitting is the surefire way of never being anything you want to be or do anything you want to do. Quitting is a poison that infects all other aspects of your life. If you start quitting now, it can easily become a habit. It is the exact opposite of what MARSOC is looking for and there is no room for quitters on these teams.

Here’s why Zippos are the unofficial lighter of the military
The badass MARSOC insignia pin. (Image from VanguardMil.com)

MIGHTY TRENDING

This airman gave his life to protect his daughter

As a tornado demolished Master Sgt. Dan Wassom’s house, he and his wife, Suzanne, tried to protect their 5- and 7-year-old daughters by using their own bodies as shields.  It worked.  Their children survived, but Dan didn’t make it.


With winds reaching nearly 200 miles per hour, the devastating EF-4 tornado smashed into Vilonia, Arkansas, April 27, 2014, killing 16 people.  The twister demolished 50 of 56 homes in the Wassom’s subdivision, as well as nearly half the businesses in the town of 3,800.  Known as “Bud” to his family and close friends, 31-year-old Wassom died while hovering over his 5-year-old daughter, Lorelai.

Also Read: This Airman and his wife rushed to help wildfire victims

Wassom was a C-130 Hercules loadmaster evaluator with the Air National Guard’s 189th Airlift Wing at Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas. Joining the Air Force as a patriotic calling shortly after the terrorist attacks of 9/11, he followed in his dad’s footsteps. The senior Dan Wassom was a C-130 Hercules maintenance crew chief at Little Rock AFB before retiring from active duty.  He still works at the base as a civilian in the 19th Maintenance Group, just minutes from his son’s unit.

A decorated Airman, Wassom earned an Air Medal during his deployment to Kuwait – a combat tour he volunteered to do.  He was supporting Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom in 2010.  According to his award citation, Wassom flew 16 successful combat missions — conducted day and night under the threat of enemy anti-aircraft artillery and surface-to-air missiles — over the war-torn countries of Iraq and Afghanistan, executing multiple, flawless contingency airdrops.

According to his parents, the only thing Wassom treasured more than his Air Force career was his family.  So while his death came as a shock to those who knew and loved him, the way he died – protecting his family – surprised no one.

Wassom’s wife told his parents that he remained calm, cool and collected even as the monster twister began to consume their 2,300-square-foot home.  As Wassom bent his 6-foot-2 frame over his youngest daughter, forming a semi-protective cocoon over her, a heavy structural beam struck the back of his neck and a one-by-four impaled his chest. Lorelai lost a toe on her left foot and suffered a serious injury to her right shoulder, but she, along with her mother and sister, Sydney, survived.

Wassom’s last mission … accomplished.

Here’s why Zippos are the unofficial lighter of the military
Master Sgt. Daniel Wassom, a 189th Airlift Wing evaluator loadmaster killed in a recent tornado, will be remembered with a 5K run in his honor. Wassom served in the 189th for 12 years. (189th Airlift Wing courtesy photo)

“He was the best daddy I’d ever seen, and he loved his wife with all his heart,” said his mom, Pam Wassom, who along with Dan Sr. resides in Cabot, Arkansas, only 20 minutes from where their son’s home used to stand before being reduced to a pile of rubble.

“He took to parenthood as naturally as breathing air,” she said. “He was involved in every aspect of those girls’ lives.  He was their hero, and he proved it with his last breath.”

Wassom was posthumously awarded the Airman’s Medal, along with a Meritorious Service Medal and the Arkansas Distinguished Service Medal from the governor of Arkansas.  Additionally, a Little Rock AFB street now bears his name. — MSGT DAN WASSOM ROAD.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

A UK firm is developing an insane missileer drone

The Brimstone missile is Europe’s equivalent of the Hellfire missile. Like the Hellfire, it’s designed to take out tanks and other armored targets, it can be fired with different seeker and warheads, and it’s battle-tested, especially in the Middle East. Now, its manufacturer has packed an insane number of them into small, all-terrain drones that could break apart Russian armor formations.


First, a quick background on the threat. While the U.S. is torn between competing threats in the Middle East, China, and Russia, Europe has a clear top priority in Russia. Europe gets a ton of energy from Russia, but the relationship is tense.

Russia has already invaded Ukraine twice, and it’s still supporting separatists in the Donbas region of that country. It has also allegedly violated the territorial sovereignty of Estonia by kidnapping an intelligence officer. (Russia claims the capture happened on their side of the border, Estonia disagrees, and U.S. and NATO intelligence backs Estonia.)

And Russia rattles its sabers every time a Baltic state or Eastern European country makes stronger ties with the U.S. or NATO. So if you were a small European country, especially one north of the Suwalki Gap, where Russia can amputate part of Europe with a 60-mile armored thrust, countering Russian forces is a major part of your defense needs.

Russia still has the largest fleet of armored land vehicles in the world, with an estimated 22,000 combat tanks, according to GlobalFirepower.com. The largest European armored fleet in NATO comes from Turkey with about 3,200 tanks, and it’s moving into a Russian orbit. The total tank force of European NATO countries only totals a little over 11,000. Adding the U.S. and Canadian armored fleets only gets NATO to about 18,000 tanks.

So, yeah, Russia’s massive armored forces could cause legitimate heartburn in the rest of Europe. No one wants to be the next Ukraine or the next Georgia. (Russia successfully annexed a portion of Georgia in a 2008 invasion.)

But how do you brush back Russia without an armored corps, a massive attack helicopter fleet, or some other costly investment?

THeMIS UGV with the PROTECTOR RWS

youtu.be

Well, if you need to intimidate an armored corps and can’t afford hundreds of attack helicopters with air-to-ground anti-tank missiles, maybe you could just put those missiles on a small drone on the ground.

“This cassette magazine, with its high weapon loadout, is optimised to counter mass armour,” said Andy Allen, MBDA U.K. Head of Land Domain Sales and Business Development. “Pairing the combat-proven MBDA Brimstone missile with a flexible and mission deployed UGV such as the Milrem Robotics’ THeMIS provides the tactical commander with the capability to rapidly and remotely deliver high volumes of precision anti-armour effects, importantly in all weathers, against all known DAS and at extended ranges.”

At least that’s the logic behind the pairing of the Brimstone missile and the MILREM Robotics THeMIS unmanned ground vehicle. The resulting product looks a bit like WALL-E if you switched out the cute eyes and body for a six-pack of abs missiles.

The THeMIS UGV is an unmanned infantry support vehicle, and MILREM Robotics sells it in a number of configurations, from transport to remote weapon platform to explosive ordnance disposal. But the most robust anti-tank version on MILREM’s website has a single Javelin missile. MBDA’s proposal would pack six Brimstones instead.

This could be especially potent when MILREM finishes the “swarming” control protocol that’s currently in development.

And Europe might invest in the solution. Europe is already heavily invested in Brimstone, and some countries already own a few THeMIS, so a paired solution shouldn’t be an insanely hard sell. So, hey, next time you head to Europe for an exercise, you might see a European soldier with a loyal attack robot following him. An attack robot with six tank-killing missiles.

MIGHTY TRENDING

The US calls for Russian withdrawal from Georgia after 10 years

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has called for Russia to withdraw its troops from breakaway regions in Georgia while also pledging deeper security and economic support for Tbilisi.

“The United States unequivocally condemns Russia’s occupation on Georgian soil,” Pompeo said in opening remarks to the annual U.S.-Georgian Strategic Partnership in Washington on May 21, 2018. “Russia’s forcible invasion of Georgia is a clear violation of international peace and security.”


Russia has troops stationed in Georgia’s Abkhazia and South Ossetia regions that remained after a 2008 war in South Ossetia between Russian and Georgian troops.

Moscow and a few other nations have recognized the two separatist regions as independent countries.

Pompeo also repeated U.S. policy that Washington supports Georgia’s eventual membership in NATO.

Here’s why Zippos are the unofficial lighter of the military
Georgian Prime Ministeru00a0Giorgi Kvirikashvili andu00a0U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo

Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili said after a meeting with Pompeo that U.S. support for a peaceful resolution to Russian troops in Georgia “is of highest importance to our country and regional stability.”

Kvirikashvili added that Georgia’s membership in the military alliance would be a “clear added value for Euro-Atlantic security.”

NATO promised Georgia eventual membership in 2008.

Kvirikashvili said U.S. involvement in infrastructure projects in Georgia, like the Anaklia deep-sea port on the Black Sea coast, would help attract economic interest to the area.

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

Peter W. Singer and August Cole’s latest book Burn-In has everything you need to pass the pandemic time a little quicker

Their last book, Ghost Fleet, had parts that rang truer than others, but I really enjoyed it. Ghost Fleet’s portrayal of US Marines liberating a US state from foreign occupation added up. As a former grunt, I could absolutely see a senior leader eating an Osprey ramp under full combat load on insert, breaking his nose and getting stuck fighting that way for days.

On the other hand, the war widow turned murder-hooker or the grizzled Navy Chief’s love story seemed harder to buy (everybody knows Chiefs don’t have hearts). Basically, you read Ghost Fleet for the rail guns not the feels. So you can imagine my surprise when I picked up Burn-In and found the storyline of the Marine war-bot wrangler turned FBI agent’s disaster of a homelife just as compelling as the high stakes domestic terrorist hunt she was leading. It might be the pandemic talking, but the upside-down outside world following the characters home and wreaking havoc on their relationships will be equal parts release and escape for anybody who’s spent a little too much time at home over the past several months.


Big tech offers a utopian view of our connected future but Burn-In plays trends forward and explores the dystopian outcomes lurking around the corner. Ever feel a pang of guilt when you hand over your biometric data without reading the terms and conditions or connect your new toaster to the cloud? Burn-In will make you painfully aware of what all that data can do in the wrong hands.

The book is extensively researched and footnoted so the reader can link the real world to the future storyline. Did I mention there’s a ninja robot, plagues visited on DC, and elite hostage rescue FBI agents fighting in exoskeletons?

Burn-In hits the e-shelves today and We Are The Mighty recently caught up with Peter Singer to talk about the coming technological revolution, the future of terrorism, and tactical robots.

Here’s why Zippos are the unofficial lighter of the military

WATM: The characters in Burn-In are living through a technological revolution not that dissimilar from the pandemic-induced disruption we’re all living through. The economic upheaval follows the characters home, straining their relationships, upending their careers and even changing their identities. How did you paint this picture so accurately?

Singer: A lot of the trends that the book explores in this future that’s a mix of fiction and nonfiction are at play in the pandemic—from the move toward AI and automation, to the challenges of greater amounts of distrust in our politics and our society, to critical infrastructure and public services that are more brittle than we ever wanted to admit—and coronavirus has drastically accelerated them. Much of the population has been rapidly thrown into distance learning, remote work or unemployment.

Telemedicine is now used at a level that no one anticipated would happen for at least a decade. Robots are policing curfews and cleaning subways and hospitals. AI and data tracking implementations are rolling out that go beyond even the most wild science fiction. It’s guaranteed that we’re not going to go back to the way it was before, so all of the tough social, political, legal, moral, security issues that our character wrestles with in this future are going to come faster for us in the real world.

WATM: The term sabotage was coined when workers fought back against technology in the Industrial Revolution. What will be the first flashpoints between workers and robots?

Singer: Science fiction is starting to come true but the reality is very different from the familiar story lines. The word ‘robot’ was coined a hundred years ago and there’s an early 1920s sci-fi play that’s informed our fears of robot overlords since. In the play mechanical servants wised up and rose up—it’s always been a story of robot rebellion. Instead, what’s happening is that we’re going through an Industrial Revolution. Revolutions have a good and a bad side. The Industrial Revolution gave us mass consumer goods and modern concepts of rights but it also gave birth to climate change and new political ideologies like fascism and communism that we spend the next 100 years working our way through.

We’re entering a technological revolution with three key trends. The first is job replacement and displacement and it won’t be just a matter of changing the tool in someone’s hand in an early factory. This is a tool that takes on the job of the people, whether they’re lawyers or soldiers. A McKinsey study argues that AI and automation will replace over 40% of current occupations in the next 20 years.

Second are the new ethical, legal, moral questions that always accompany new technology but go further this time because they’re now about machine permissibility and machine accountability. What do you allow the machine to do on its own and who’s in control? These questions impact everything from combat to your kids getting to soccer practice and there are already real world examples such as the fatal Tesla wreck. Who was responsible? The human driver that wasn’t driving? The municipality that allowed it to be deployed before there were good laws? The software programmer?

The third set of issues involve new kinds of security vulnerabilities. We’ve mostly thought about cyber security as information theft: stealing a jet fighter design or stealing credit card information. Instead as we move into this new world cyber means will be used to cause kinetic damage like any other kind of weapon. There will be new kinds of attacks and crimes such as a murder conducted via a smartphone hack or the ability to hold all of Washingtion DC hostage through critical infrastructure control (DC has flooded before). A country that’s divided politically, socially, economically is less able to weather that kind of change.

The Industrial Revolution was rife with outbreaks of extremism and worker protests that morphed into what we’d now call insurgency and terrorism. In 1814 more British soldiers were fighting Luddites at home than were deployed in the War of 1812. Luddites were craftsmen who were put out of work by the early factories and in turn, they assassinated factory owners and orchestrated street violence to try and check technological progress. What does it look like when a modern Luddite doesn’t have a hammer and a musket but a drone, an AR-15 and malware?

WATM: The book takes place decades from now but the social media landscape is recognizable. Users provide their data freely and live in a completely connected world. Events trend in real time and the characters have to navigate the consequences of the culture of influence during a terror attack. Is social media as we’ve come to know it inevitable?

Singer: There’s a lot of action in the book but the scariest scene to me is when Lara Keegan, the protagonist, takes her little girl to the Starbucks of the future and the staff greets them by name. Lara has an internal dialogue asking herself if they know her by name because she’s been coming there for years or because of face recognition technology and a record of her visits in the past. Is there a human connection or not? We’re always going to be trading back and forth between privacy, security and convenience and that balancing act is something that will touch every aspect of our lives: how we interact with government and businesses, who we are politically, and what happens at home.

Who is going to own the information and who is going to be able to access it? The individual, the private sector, or the government? We talk about this with Twitter and FaceBook now but there will soon be other dimensions including the camera on the street and the delivery robot. An observer will not only be able to know what you’re doing right now, but could access all of your life’s history, and shape the decisions you make in the future. You will not always be conscious of this shaping. What can we do? We have to understand the ecosystem—if you’re ignorant of it you’re just a target.

The next step is implementing things that support the better and limit the bad. How do we protect privacy and limit malicious influence? Deepfakes are in the book and they’re also being used to misinform during the pandemic. The Belgian premier was just targeted with a deepfake. The book explores virtual watermarks and that type of verification is possibly the policy path out of deepfakes and malicious disinformation.

If you’re stuck at home, it might as well be with a great book. Pick up Burn-In and you’ll find that your quarantine just got a whole lot more interesting.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Former nuclear research site is consumed by wildfires

The Woolsey Fire outside Los Angeles has burned part of a former nuclear research site.

On Nov. 9, 2018, the California Department of Toxic Substances Control said the fire had burned through part of the Santa Susana Field Laboratory but had since moved away from it.

State and federal officials believe the Woolsey Fire, which forced the entire city of Malibu to evacuate, has not caused any radioactive materials to be released from the research facility. But some activists say toxic chemicals from Santa Susana likely contaminated the surrounding smoke and ash.


In the 1940s, the US government began using Santa Susana to test nuclear weapons and rockets. The facility spans more than 2,800 acres on the border of Los Angeles and Ventura Counties. A partial nuclear meltdown in 1959 caused radioactive material and carcinogens to contaminate the surrounding soil and groundwater, and some reports say the meltdown released more radioactive material than any other nuclear accident in US history.

In a statement, the Department of Toxic Substances Control said its scientists and toxicologists “reviewed information about the fire’s location and do not believe the fire has caused any releases of hazardous materials that would pose a risk to people exposed to the smoke.”

Here’s why Zippos are the unofficial lighter of the military

Aerial view of the Santa Susana Field Laboratory in the Simi Hills. The Energy Technology Engineering Center site is in the lower left, with the Rocket Test Field Laboratory sites in the hills at the center.

A follow-up statement released Nov. 13, 2018, said staff members had tested the site over the weekend and did not find elevated levels of radiation. The department said it would conduct more air and soil testing over the next several days.

A group of physicians says the damage to Santa Susana could affect residents’ health

Some activists are concerned that the area surrounding Santa Susana may not be not safe for residents. Physicians for Social Responsibility Los Angeles, a group that advocates for the elimination of nuclear and environmental threats, says the fire likely released toxins into the air.

“We know what substances are on the site and how hazardous they are,” Dr. Robert Dodge, the organization’s president, said in a statement. “These toxic materials are in SSFL’s soil and vegetation, and when it burns and becomes airborne in smoke and ash, there is real possibility of heightened exposure for area residents.”

A 1997 study found that workers at the Santa Susana site had elevated rates of cancer in connection with nuclear activity at the complex. If radioactive particles were released into the air, it is possible that similar health effects could be observed among nearby residents.

However, Kai Vetter, a professor of nuclear engineering at University of California Berkeley, told the Los Angeles Times that the health effects of smoke inhalation are greater than any potential danger from radioactive particles in the air.

“Although there is a possibility that radioactive materials — accounted for or not — could be dispersed through the fire and the smoke plume, the risk for health effects due to radiation is expected to be small,” Vitter said.

The physicians’ group also criticized the California Department of Toxic Substances Control for having “no public confidence,” and pointed out that state lawmakers commissioned an independent review panel in 2015 to monitor the department’s public outreach, fiscal management, and enforcement of hazardous-waste laws.

The clean-up process at Santa Susana has faced delays

Most of the Santa Susana site is owned by Boeing, though NASA oversees one area and the US Department of Energy leases a portion as well. A Boeing spokeswoman told the Los Angeles Times that more than 50% of the company’s property at Santa Susana burned.

Here’s why Zippos are the unofficial lighter of the military

Satellite image of the Woolsey Fire. The majority of western Malibu is engulfed by smoke and fire at the time of this image.

A 2007 order instructed the three parties to finish cleaning up the site by 2017, but those clean-up efforts have repeatedly hit delays. In August 2018, the Ventura County Star reported another delay: an action plan that was supposed to come out in the first half of 2019 is now behind schedule.

These delays have drawn backlash from local community members. In 2017, a group of parents called for tougher clean-up standards, claiming their children’s cancer diagnoses were linked to the nuclear research site. The group delivered a petition with more than 17,000 signatures to state officials.

Investigators have not yet determined what caused the Woolsey Fire. However, utility company Southern California Edison told state regulators that an outage was reported at one of its substations a few minutes before the fire began. The outage was in the same area where Woolsey broke out; in fact, the substation is located within the Santa Susana complex

Southern California Edison spokesman Steve Conroy told the Los Angeles Times that the company is required to file a report whenever an incident may be connected to another event.

“The report is preliminary,” Conroy said. “We have no other information other than a line went out of service and we don’t know why.”

The Woolsey Fire has killed two people and burned through more than 150 square miles.

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

MIGHTY HISTORY

How a sailor remembered 250 prisoners of war through song

Douglas Hegdahl walked freely around the infamous “Hanoi Hilton” prison camp, one of many American prisoners of war held there in 1967. He was sweeping the courtyards during the prison guards’ afternoon “siesta.” The American sailor that fell into their laps was known to the guards as “The Incredibly Stupid One.” They believed he could neither read nor write and could barely even see. But the “stupid” Seaman Apprentice Hegdahl was slowly collecting intelligence, gathering prisoner data, and even sabotaging the enemy.

He even knew the prison’s location inside Hanoi.


Hegdahl was a South Dakota native who was blown off the deck of the USS Canberra as the ship’s five-inch guns fired on nearby targets of opportunity. Once overboard, he floated in the South China Sea for 12 hours before being picked up by fishermen, who turned him over to the North Vietnamese.

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Hegdahl’s enlistment photo and a photo of the sailor in captivity.

Certain he could be tortured for information, the Communists tried to get Hegdahl to write anti-American and anti-war propaganda. They showed him similar documents that other captives – higher ranking captives – wrote for the North Vietnam. Hegdahl thought about it for a moment, then agreed. The Communists were amazed. No other captured American did this voluntarily. They went off to get ink and paper.

The young sailor was thinking quickly. He figured the officers who wrote the propaganda material were probably coerced into doing it. He decided the best thing he could do was play dumb. He was very, very successful. The North Vietnamese thought Doug Hegdahl was a developmentally challenged “poor peasant” and set out to teach him to read and write. After failing at that, they decided to write a confession for him to sign, which he did:

“Seaman Apprentice Douglas Brent Hegdahl III United States Navy Reserve, Commanding Officer, USS Canberra.”

The sailor was first put into a cell with Air Force officer Joe Crecca, who taught Hegdahl 256 names of other POWs and then taught him how to memorize the information to the tune of “Old McDonald.” After that, Hegdahl was imprisoned with Dick Stratton, who was the ranking officer for a time.

Because they thought Hegdahl so developmentally challenged, the Hỏa Lò Prison guards essentially gave him free reign to do a lot of the cleaning and sweeping around the prison yard. He was even allowed to go and clean up around the front gates of the prison itself. That’s how he was able to later tell U.S. intelligence where the prison could be found within the North Vietnamese capital.

Here’s why Zippos are the unofficial lighter of the military

Hegdahl on sweeping duty at “The Plantation,” Hanoi.

But the sailor didn’t stop there. As the sailor swept the prison grounds, when the single guard assigned to him took his afternoon siesta, Hegdahl would add a little bit of dirt to the gas tank of the nearest truck. Over the course of his captivity, he managed to disable five NVA prison trucks this way.

Eventually, it came time for the NVA to offer early releases to some of the prisoners of the Hanoi Hilton. Even though there was a strict order among the POWs to not accept any early releases, Hegdahl was ordered to accept an early release — the only Hoa Lo prisoner ever ordered to do so — by his senior officer, Lt. Cmndr. Dick Stratton. He was not only the most junior prisoner in the camp, he also had all the information the U.S. government needed to expedite the release of the POWs — all of them. He didn’t want to, but someone needed to tell the U.S. about the torture they were receiving there.

When he was released, not only did Hegdahl recite the names of the 256 men who were shot down or captured in North Vietnam, he could say their dog’s name, kids’ names, and/or social security numbers. These were the means by which other POWs verified the information given. He picked up all of this information through tap code, deaf spelling code, and secret notes.

Released in 1969, Hegdahl was able to accuse the North Vietnamese of torture and murder of prisoners of war at the Paris Peace Talks in 1970. Flown there by H. Ross Perot, he accused the North Vietnam delegation of murdering Dick Stratton, assuring Lt. Cmndr. Stratton would have to be repatriated alive at the war’s end.

But the prisoners back in Hanoi didn’t have to wait long for treatment to change. Once Hegdahl described the treatment of POWs in public and to the media, the ones he left behind saw their treatment improve, receiving better rations and less brutality in their daily life.

In his memoirs, Stratton wrote of Hegdahl:

“The Incredibly Stupid One,” my personal hero, is the archetype of the innovative, resourceful and courageous American Sailor.
MIGHTY TRENDING

Have Marines gotten bigger? New body scanner will answer so many burning questions

The Marine Corps is in the market for a new body scanner that can help officials equip Marines with the best-fitting body armor and gear — and it will even show how to squeeze leathernecks wearing full battle rattle into tactical vehicles.

The service recently published a solicitation for a full-body high-resolution anthropometry scanner capable of capturing 3D images of individuals, still and in motion, for the purpose of collecting data on what the average Marine looks like.

According to the solicitation, posted June 24, the scanner must be able to capture at least 20 seconds of motion, with at least 10 frames or full scans per second and a minimum of 30 different body measurements.


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

Intel

This is how secure the US Bullion Depository really is

This inconspicuous building just off the Dixie Highway may not seem too tough — until you realize it’s one of the most secure locations in the world. There’s a reason why “Fort Knox” is synonymous with high-end security.

The U.S. Army post around the U.S. Bullion Depository, Fort Knox, isn’t that much different from any other military installation. To gain entry, a civilian can sign onto post at the visitor’s center. But even troops stationed there can’t just casually swing by the depository.

Not much is truly known about the inner-workings of the depository; there certainly are no photographs or schematics available. What is public knowledge is only what’s visible from the outside, interviews resulting from the 1974 tour, and first-hand accounts from the former, extremely-select handful who’ve set foot inside.

Here’s why Zippos are the unofficial lighter of the military
The greatest Bond film of all time, ‘Goldfinger,’ had to make everything up for the movie. But it does serve as the basis for how most people perceive the depository.
(United Artists and Eon Productions)

From the outside, you can see the many fences that lay between the building and the highway. Several of them are said to be electrified. Each corner of the building has a guard tower manned by an unspecified amount of security guards who watch over each sector. The land between the fences is also said to be mined.


Construction on the building itself was completed in December, 1936, and the known building materials include 16,000 cubic feet of granite, 4,200 cubic yards of concrete, 750 tons of reinforced steel, and 670 tons of structural steel. All of this for a 2-story-tall building with a 1-story basement — sounds pretty secure, right?

In addition thousands of pounds of steel and stone, there’s an entire battalion of U.S. Mint Police that cover the place.

Here’s why Zippos are the unofficial lighter of the military
One can also assume you wouldn’t be able to just dig right into it either.
(Warner Bros.)

The politicians and journalists who were granted access to the building in 1974 entered through the 20-ton steel door and got to look into one of the many compartments. That compartment held 36,236 gold bars, stacked from floor to ceiling. At the time, the gold was valued at $42,222 per Troy oz., which meant they got to see $499.8 million of gold.

The rest of the security measures are up for speculation. The Fort is rumored to be outfitted with laser wire and seismographic sensors to ensure no one approached undetected. The corridors can, apparently, be flooded at a moment’s notice. And security measures are constantly re-worked to improve and re-improve before anyone knows better.

There’s one thing we know for sure about the inside: There really is gold in there and it gets audited yearly.

MIGHTY HISTORY

7 awesome heroes of the French Foreign Legion


The French Foreign Legion looks for brave men from around the world to fill their ranks. When you cast a net that wide, you’re bound to catch some pretty awesome soldiers. Here are seven of the most decorated and vaunted members of the Legion:

Here’s why Zippos are the unofficial lighter of the military

French Foreign Legion Capt. Jean Danjou was a veteran of three wars, an amputee, and an all-around pimp when he slapped the crap out of Mexican infantry with his prosthetic hand.

(French Foreign Legion Museum)

Jean Danjou

Capt. Jean Danjou was a French Army officer and veteran of fighting in Algeria when he volunteered for legion duty in 1852. He later fought in the Siege of Sevastopol where he lost his left hand — but his greatest heroism was still before him.

Danjou was a staff officer in Mexico in 1863 when he volunteered to lead a guard force of only 65 legionnaires on a convoy deeper into the country. When the unit was ambushed by nearly 2,000 Mexican soldiers, Danjou ordered his men into an abandoned nearby farmhouse where they fought to nearly the last man, inflicting 300 casualties. Danjou was killed, but his prosthetic hand is still kept in reverent storage by the Legion, which parades it on the anniversary of the battle.

Here’s why Zippos are the unofficial lighter of the military

​Sometimes called the “Swallow of Death,” Eugene Bullard distinguished himself as an infantryman, a fighter pilot, and a spy.

(U.S. Air Force)

Eugene Jacques Bullard

After his father was lynched in Georgia in 1903, a young Eugene Bullard decided to move to France. He worked for ten years to earn his passage and made it to France just in time for World War I. He enlisted in the Legion on the day he was of legal age, 19 years old.

He fought on the front lines of France and was twice in units that took so many losses that they had to be combined with other forces. In March, 1916, Bullard was with a group of men hit by an artillery shell, killing four and knocking out most of Bullard’s teeth. He volunteered to keep fighting and was hit by artillery again three days later. This time, a thigh injury ended his service on the ground and in the Legion.

But the young hero wasn’t done. He would go on to become the first Black fighter pilot, netting his first aerial kill in late 1917. When World War II rolled around, Bullard served as a spy until he was injured while resisting the German advance on Orleans in 1940. In 1954, he went to Paris as one of the military heroes invited to relight the Eternal Flame of the Tomb of the Unknown French Soldier at the Arc de Triomphe.

John F. Hasey

Known as the “only American in the Free French Forces,” John F. Hasey served in World War II. He transferred into the Legion from an American ambulance unit that he helped form. He was made an officer and served with distinction at the Battle of Enghiahat, where he took command after his captain and first lieutenant were injured. He “patrolled without stopping” for three days, according to his award citation.

He later led his platoon at Massawa against numerous enemy positions, capturing them and a “large number of prisoners.” He was severely wounded near Damascus by machine gun fire, taking rounds to his hand, chest, arms, and face. Still he worked to get his men a new officer to lead them while heading to the aid station. While recovering, he received a letter from Gen. Charles de Gaulle, telling him that he would be the first American to receive the Croix de la Libération.

Here’s why Zippos are the unofficial lighter of the military

Prince Dmitri Amilakhvari eschewed a comfortable life in the countryside for a tough existence as a legionnairre. He later wrote a book about his service, mostly in Morrocco.

Prince Dmitri Amilakhvari

A Georgian Prince, Dmitri Amilakhvari joined the Legion in 1926 and saw action in South Morocco in 1933 and 1934. When World War II began, he went to Norway and worked with British forces to resist the German invasion there, fighting at Bjervick and Narvik, netting him the Norwegian War Cross with Sword.

After France fell, Amilakharvi reported for duty with the Free French Forces and was deployed to Eritrea and Syria before being named lieutenant colonel and commander of the Legion’s 13th Demi-Brigade. He led that force in Libya as part of the coalition fighting Rommel’s drive towards the ports in 1942. He was awarded the Ordre de la Libération for his actions there, but died later that year at the Battle of El-Alamein. He posthumously received the Chevalier of the Légion d’honneur, the only award higher than his Ordre de la Libération.

Here’s why Zippos are the unofficial lighter of the military

A celebrated football star and coach, Bluenthal volunteered for the ambulance services and the Lafayette Flying Corps before America joined World War I.

(North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources)

Arthur Bluenthal

Arthur Bluenthal was a wealthy son of German immigrants and a successful football coach when he volunteered for ambulance duty in France. He served in Verdun before heading to the Balkans where he earned the Croix de Guerre for his “indefatiguable ardor and ignoring of danger” while driving to and from the front on a road under artillery bombardment.

He later transferred to the Lafayette Flying Corps, an aviation unit in the Legion. He was a bomber pilot cited for bravery. In early 1918, he made the decision to transfer to an American unit as soon as they joined active fighting or his French unit took a break from the front. On June 5, he was killed in French service after four German fighters spotted him and his artillery spotter surveying German positions. He was awarded the Croix de Guerre with Palm.

Alex Rowe

Alex Rowe was a British child when an injury — a detached retina — prevented him from achieving his lifelong dream of joining the British Forces. He tried anyway, but was turned away. He later joined the Foreign Legion with his mother’s blessing. Funnily enough, he was made a sniper.

Rowe was awarded his fifth medal for bravery in 2010, France’s highest military honor, the Légion d’honneur. He has been awarded for shielding a Bosnian mother and child with his body during a gunfight, and was involved in a 360-degree ambush in Afghanistan where U.S. troops and French legionnaires had to fight their way out.

Ferdinand Capdevielle

Ferdinand Capdevielle was a private first class in the Legion when he took part in the charge on Navarin Farm in the Battle of Champagne, fighting that saw two-thirds of his section killed or wounded. Then, he accepted a transfer to the 170th Line Infantry Regiment, a unit that was soon sent to Verdun. Capdevielle was quickly awarded the Croix de Guerre for his coolness under fire while serving as a dispatch-bearer in the Battle of Caillette Wood.

Capdevielle was cited for bravery multiple times in multiple battles over the following year, eventually rising to the rank of second lieutenant. The American Army offered him a commission as a captain, but the legionnaire preferred to stay with French Forces. He led his men during the wildly successful advance on the Marne in July 1917, seizing miles of territory, hundreds of prisoners, and tons of supplies. He was posthumously awarded the Légion d’honneur after his death in October, 1918.