The US has spent $122B training foreign cops and soldiers in 150+ countries, but isn't sure who

More than 71 US agencies -- mostly under the DoD and State Department -- run expensive, unaudited, chaotic, overlapping military and police training programs in more than 150 countries on every continent except Antarctica, with no real oversight and only pro-forma checks on the recipients of this training to ensure that they aren't human rights abusers or war criminals. Read the rest

Viral Chinese video: "Who cares?"

The day that the Permanent Court of Arbitration ruled that China had been stealing islands in the South China Sea, the Chinese Communist Party Youth League shared this viral video of young Chinese patriots saying "South Sea arbitration, who cares?" Read the rest

Saga Volume 6: Proof that awesome, weird, sexy space-opera can be produced to a schedule

Brian K Vaughan and Fiona Staples' comic Saga blew the lid off comics when they started publishing it with the creator-friendly folks at Image, producing two graphic novels' worth of material in as many years; but then there was the long drought while we waited for book three (spoiler: worth the wait), and since then, they've hit a driving, relentless annual schedule, culminating in the publication, last week, of Volume 6, which is all that we've come to love from the series and then some.

That time London was nearly destroyed by Nazi paleo-drones

The Nazi V-1 "robot bomb" (AKA the "buzz bomb") was a kind of flying landmine that terrorized London during the Blitz, doing incredible damage to the city, sowing disarray and fear, as this Periscope newsreel makes clear. Read the rest

William Gibson's Archangel: intricate military sf, mercilessly optimized for comics

Archangel is a five-part science fiction comic written by William Gibson and Michael St. John Smith and illustrated by Butch Guice; Issue #1 came out last month and sold out immediately, and IDW has only just got its second printing into stores this week, just ahead of the ship-date for #2, which is due next Wednesday. Read the rest

Statement from Chelsea Manning's lawyers on her emergency hospitalization

Further to yesterday's news that US military whistleblower Chelsea Manning had been hospitalized and cut off from her lawyers and family, a statement from her legal team. Read the rest

Obama says US drones strikes have killed up to 116 civilians, watchdogs say real count is higher

The Obama administration today “partially lifted the secrecy that has cloaked one of the United States’s most contentious tactics for fighting terrorists,” as the New York Times puts it, and revealed that it believes U.S. airstrikes conducted outside established war zones like Afghanistan have killed as many as 116 civilian bystanders. The administration says it also killed an additional 2,500 people in those non-war-zones who were members of terrorist groups.

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U.S. military ends trans ban

The Pentagon today ended its ban on transgender people serving in the U.S. military. The historic announcement formally removes some of the risks faced by an estimated thousands of U.S. troops, who could have been expelled from the armed forces because of their gender identity. Trans people who serve in the armed forces still have harassment, sexual violence, physical assault, and prejudice to face, but the hatred and sickness no longer has a Pentagon directive to hid behind.

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US DoD white paper: wearing hijab is "passive terrorism"

Countering Violent Extremism: Scientific Methods & Strategies, a 2011 publication by the Air Force Research Laboratory, was just re-released with a new introduction that touts, "the wisdom contained in this paper collection is more relevant than ever." Read the rest

Angry men stamp their adorable little feet after Marines degender job titles

After allowing women to serve in combat roles, the United States Marines Corps plans to update various specialty titles to be ungendered. Insecure men are angry about this.

Antitank Missilemen, for example, will now be Antitank Gunners instead. Operations Men will henceforth be Operations Chiefs. Most of the changes just replace the word "man" with the world "marine." Where a literary barbarism is unavoidable, gendered titles will be kept. For example, it's still going to be Riflemen, not Rifleperson/Riflemarine. And yet, the rage.

“On one hand, the name changes from ‘man’ to ‘person’ or whatever they want to call it doesn’t really matter. They could call mortarmen bakers for all I care,” said Sgt. Geoff Heath, a Marine rifleman with multiple combat deployments. “But on the other, it’s a direct reflection on society’s crybaby political correctness.”

Marines, though, complain about everything. Infantrymen Basic infantry Marines even more so.

The rage — mostly confined to tweets, Facebook links and comments’ sections — centered on the idea that the Marine Corps was being gutted by political correctness.

Some hover at an epiphany's edge...

“You know, I was going to [complain] about PC crap … but “Infantry Assault Marine” sounds kinda cool …”

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Grunt author Mary Roach quizzes NYC people about military slang

Science book author extraordinaire Mary Roach has a new book out called Grunt: The Curious Science of Humans at War.

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Air Force tried harder, now says that giant database can be recovered

Last week, the Air Force announced that it had lost 12 years' worth of records of whistleblower reports, freedom of information requests, and corruption investigations because of unrecoverable database corruption that not even its contractor, Lockheed-Martin, could unsnarl. Read the rest

How an Army buddy's call for help sent a scientist on a brain injury quest

The first in a series of NPR reports online and on-air about Traumatic Brain Injuries and the military is a must-listen.

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Air Force loses access to database tracking fraud investigations to 2004

The Air Force Inspector General's Automated Case Tracking System (ACTS) is used to track FOIA requests, whistleblower tips, and fraud investigations. It is no more. Read the rest

What the Pentagon learned from Muhammad Ali

Matt Taibbi takes to Rolling Stone to tell us about the lessons that the US military learned from the powerful bruising it received from Muhummad Ali's refusal to fight in Vietnam: namely, that America should fight its wars with all-volunteer armies whose ranks were disproportionately drawn from the poor and desperate, which dissipated the political pressure that arose from drafting the rich, the powerful and the famous to fight. Read the rest

DoD public relations' highest-ranking civilian gets community service for stealing license plates and harassing neighbor's nanny

Bryan Whitman -- familiar to many as the Pentagon's top spokesman during much of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq -- has settled a case with people who live near him in DC, who caught him repeatedly stealing the license plates off their nanny's car using a hidden camera. Read the rest

Pentagon's nuclear missile system is run on 1970s floppy disk tech

In a new report, the U.S. Government Accountability Office reveals that the "Department of Defense uses 8- inch floppy disks in a legacy system that coordinates the operational functions of the nation’s nuclear forces." That floppy format was developed in the late 1960s and was obsolete by the 1980s. I wonder if the DoD saves a few bucks by using a hole punch to make them double sided.

According to the GAO report, "The agency plans to update its data storage solutions, port expansion processors, portable terminals, and desktop terminals by the end of fiscal year 2017."

INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY: Federal Agencies Need to Address Aging Legacy Systems (PDF) Read the rest

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