Chelsea Manning is a free woman

Today, the whistleblower Chelsea Manning stepped out of the Military Corrections Complex at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas, having served the longest sentence in US history for whistleblowing; for the duration of her ongoing appeal, she is on "excess leave in an active-duty status" which entitles her to access to military health-care insurance and other benefits. Read the rest

Gentleman smokes 75-year-old cigarette from military rations

Military ration historian Steve1989 cracked open a real gem: a 1942 World War II K Ration by Doughboy Mills, which contained a package of Chelsea cigarettes. Read the rest

How to defend yourself from hostile consumer drones, US Army Edition

The US Army has released "Counter-Unmanned Aircraft System Techniques," a manual for soldiers and commanders who find themselves in the field fighting forces that use modified consumer drones to gather intelligence and project force against them. Read the rest

Global spy agencies meet for "Five Eyes" intel-sharing network in New Zealand, including U.S. FBI, CIA, NSA

Intelligence officials from the so-called "Five Eyes" network, which includes the United States' FBI, CIA and National Security Agency, are gathering for an annual intelligence-sharing exchange today in New Zealand. Reuters confirmed the get-together, at which spy agency reps from the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand will also gather.

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Apple finally allowed drone strike alert app, then removed it again

Josh Begley doesn't give up easily. After 12 rejections, Apple finally allowed his app Metadata+ to be sold on iTunes. But what the App Store giveth, the App Store taketh away. Read the rest

The Army is using quack "battlefield acupuncture" based on junk science

The exciting field of "battlefield acupuncture" involves training soldiers and medics to perform what amounts to a "theatrical placebo" involving jamming glorified thumbtacks into fellow soldiers' ears and leaving them there until they fall out. Read the rest

Trump's big VA meeting at Mar-a-Lago weirdly canceled at last minute after this awkward moment

Well, that was awkward.

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American Conservative to Trump: before you give billions more to the military, figure out what happened to the $6T we lost in the Middle East

The US lost -- as in, can't account for -- $6 trillion fighting disastrous wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, a fact that Trump was quick to point out during his speech to both houses of Congress, just before announcing that he planned on giving the same government department that literally claims not to know what happened to that money billions more. Read the rest

American airbase personnel sent erroneous "Missile inbound -- seek shelter" warning

Last Tuesday, all wing personnel on the US Spangdahlem Air Base received a warning: "MISSILE INBOUND. SEEK SHELTER IMMEDIATELY!" The warning was recalled eight minutes later. Read the rest

Anti-Trident activists poster London with "Become a Suicide Bomber" spoof naval recruiting ads

Artist Darren Cullen (previously) created the posters, which read, "The crew of our nuclear submarines are on a suicide mission. To launch their missiles means death is certain, not just for them, but for the millions of innocent people those bombs will obliterate, and for the rest of us too." Read the rest

Why the US Navy wanted to communicate using whale language

In the 1960s and 1970s, the US Navy researched whether they could use synthesized whale sounds for submarines to have encoded conversations across long distances underwater. Called Project COMBO, it was a fascinating attempt at biomimicry. The project's culminating experiment even attracted a pod of whales. Alas, Project COMBO ultimately failed, but it makes for a great story. From Cara Giaimo's article in Atlas Obscura:

Positioning themselves off of Catalina Island, 150 feet underwater, they blasted their squeaky, warbly codes through a transmitter. The receiver, placed at varying distances away, plucked the messages out of the noise flawlessly. Another test, in the fall, went deeper down and extended the range. In June of 1974, they sent out a real submarine, the USS Dolphin, which successfully transmitted sounds to a receiving ship—and, in a true vote of confidence, attracted a pod of pilot whales.

After these testing successes, researchers were left with a lot of work to do. Although they had the pilot whale on lock, they wanted to expand their repertoire by inventing “techniques and equipment to synthesize large whale sounds and small whale screams.” They still had to create scalable versions of their tools, including the call generator and the spectrograph-recognizer. Looking ahead, more problems loomed: the researchers figured this was a good enough idea that the Soviets would steal it, at which point American submariners would need to add another skill to their arsenal. “Fleet sonarmen must become more familiar with bioacoustic signals,” they wrote—inspiring thoughts of submarine soldiers, facing long days underwater, taking up sonic seal- and whale-watching.

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The real story of the Nazis' drug use

We've all heard that Nazi soldiers were fueled by methamphetamine. (This isn't uncommon in military history. For example, see the US army's use of "pep bills" in Vietnam.) But new research gets way more specific about the history of drugs in Nazi Germany. From CNN:

Now, meth, cocaine and even opiates have been referenced in association with German soldiers in a new book by German author Norman Ohler, "Blitzed: Drugs in the Third Reich," set to publish in the United States in March, but already released in other parts of the world, including the UK.

"Norman Ohler's Blitzed depicts the pervasive drug culture that allegedly developed in Germany's Third Reich," wrote Paul Weindling, a research professor at Oxford Brookes University, in an article in the journal Nature in October.

"Nazi officials took high-performance drugs such as methamphetamine hydrochloride (crystal meth) and cocaine. German military units and aviators were dosed with the patent methamphetamine-based drug Pervitin (manufactured in Germany from 1937) to improve operational efficiency. And drugs such as Pervitin and metabolic stimulants were tried out on students, military recruits and, eventually, in concentration camps," Weindling wrote. "Questions remain, however, over precisely how the drugs were tested, prescribed, distributed and used."

"What drugs were the Nazis on, anyway?" (CNN) Read the rest

China's Navy just seized a U.S. military drone that was underwater in the South China Sea

The Cold Drone Wars have begun. In a first-of-its-kind military standoff, the Chinese Navy has taken possession of an underwater autonomous drone deployed by a U.S. oceanographic vessel in the South China Sea.

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Want to help Syria war victims in Aleppo? These NGOs and charities need your support now.

As the humanitarian crisis in Aleppo continues to grow, many people are looking for ways to help.

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As Japan's trumpian leader prepares for war, Japanese people march for peace

Shinzō Abe, the xenophobic, autocratic prime minister of Japan, has been dismantling Article 9 of the constitution, which forbids acts of war by Japan. Read the rest

Watch: the Navy Band surprises Zappa with "Joe's Garage" as he deplanes at SFO

Thanks to the archival spelunking of the crowdfunded documentary WHO THE F*@% IS FRANK ZAPPA?, we can now watch this amazing piece of video of Frank Zappa being greeted at SFO by the Navy Band, who played Joe's Garage in his honor (and to his manifest delight). Read the rest

Dr. Seuss, Chuck Jones, and Mel Blanc's US Army cartoon warning against loose lips (1943)

Private Snafu was the US Army's series of instructional cartoons from World War II, written and/or directed by the likes of Theodor "Dr. Seuss" Geisel, Chuck Jones, and PD Eastman. The voice of Private Snafu is performed by Mel Blanc (Buggs Bunny, Daffy Duck, etc.). In this episode, written by Dr. Seuss and titled "Spies," Private Snafu learns a military secret but he can't seem to keep his lips sealed. Note the grossly racist depiction of an Asian man, sadly typical of the era.

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