Nun faces 30 years in prison for exposing security lapses in nuclear weapons program


Mike from Mother Jones sez, "Josh Harkinson writes about the upcoming sentencing of Megan Rice, an elderly nun and Plowshares activist who broke into the Y-12 enriched uranium facility with two fellow aging activists. The incident, which exposed glaring security flaws and was deeply embarrassing to the feds, could get the trio a maximum 30 years in federal prison. Harkinson writes:"

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UK Ministry of Defense can arrest you without warrant for taking pictures, grazing animals near NSA and drone outposts

The UK Ministry of Defense has introduced by-laws in the vicinity of bases in the UK, making it a detainable offense to take pictures or make any image of any person or thing; to graze livestock; or to fail to clean up your dog's turds. The rules also allow the MoD to put you in jail "without warrant" for setting up protest camps on MoD property.

These rules come into effect just as a recent Snowden leak revealed that one of the bases in the UK was used by the NSA and GCHQ to spy on Oxfam, Medecins Sans Frontiers, as well as Angela Merkel. Another one of the affected bases is reportedly used to pilot drones deployed in Yemen.

All in all, the rules effect 150 bases around the UK. The MoD the second-largest landowner in the UK.

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Spooks and American Exceptionalism

Ex-CIA agent Philip Giraldi takes a stab at explaining how his fellow retired spooks -- Democrat and Republican -- can be so comfortable with a president who has given himself the power to order assassinations and a regime where the constitution has been effectively suspended. It's all down to American Exceptionalism: "It's OK when we do it, because we're the good guys." Cory 34

US Department of Defense's public domain archive to be privatized, locked up for ten years


Archivist Rick Prelinger sez, "The U.S. Department of Defense has entered into a contract with T3 Media to get its gigantic still and moving image collection digitized at no cost to the government. In exchange, T3 Media will become the exclusive public outlet for millions of images and videos for ten years. Unlike most other developed nations, the U.S. Government does not claim copyright on video, film, photographs and other media produced by its workers. The immense number of works in the U.S. public domain have enabled countless researchers, makers and citizens to read, view and make many new works. True, those wishing to use modern military materials (1940s-present) in DoD's archives often need to negotiate their release with military public affairs, but these materials have traditionally been available for just the cost of duplication. This is soon to change."

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Getting your head around the Pentagon's titanic, enormous, unauditably large budget


A long, infographic-laden Mother Jones explainer tries to make sense of the US's insanely gigantic military budget, which dwarfs all US spending save Social Security. America's military owns more than 170 golf courses and manages enough land to host 93 Los Angeleses, and the Afghan/Iraq invasions have no meaningful peace dividend -- they're a permanent upward ratchet on the military budget.

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DIY Drone Shadow Handbook: how to create accurate drone-shadow street art


James Bridle has released a CC-licensed DIY Drone Shadows handbook (PDF), which explains, in detail, how to make accurate drone-shadow street art in your town/neighborhood. It's part of a larger project around Dirty Wars, a documentary on drone warfare currently touring the UK.

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Why haunted houses have suits of armor


Over on Long Forgotten (a Haunted Mansion blog that is so fantastically great that every post is a cause for celebration), there's a new post about suits of armor and haunted houses that reveals (among other things) that the helmet of the famous armor by the Haunted Mansion's infinite corridor was originally an ornamental piece worn by Martin Luther's archenemy Albrecht von Brandenburg, the indulgence-flogging Archbishop of Mainz. What's more, there's a damned good reason why they only used the helmet (click through to find out why).

For me, though, the highlight of the piece was this excellent description of why suits are armor are inherently spooky:

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Inspiration for Kelly McGillis's Top Gun character now Pentagon #2

Christine fox

Christine Fox, the former mathematician at the Marine Corps Air Station Miramar who inspired Kelly McGillis's character in Top Gun, has become the first female Deputy Secretary of Defense, the number two role at the Pentagon. Fox will serve in an "acting capacity" until a permanent person is confirmed for the job by the Senate. (CNN)

Rooster-faced warriors of 16th century Germany


16th century German soldiery sure understood how to strike terror into their enemies' hearts: the rooster-headed armored visor (ca 1530) must have been a sight to behold. Now on display at the Met in NYC (Bashford Dean Memorial Collection, Bequest of Bashford Dean, 1928)

Close Helmet with Mask Visor (via Neatorama)

Video of the Maui Space Surveillance Complex

From the US Air Force's Airman magazine:

The Maui Space Surveillance Complex is located on Mount Haleakala, a dormant volcano on the island of Maui in Hawaii. It’s one of three sites Air Force Space Command operates that makes up the Ground-based Electro-Optical Deep-Space Surveillance network, which tracks man-made objects orbiting the Earth.
"Capturing Space"

Doctors were compelled by US military and CIA to harm detainees, report says


A guard walks through a cellblock inside Camp V, a prison used to house detainees at Guantanamo Bay U.S. Naval Base, March 5, 2013. Photo: Reuters.

Post-9/11 detainee interrogration policies of the US Defense Department and CIA forced medical professionals to abandon the ethical obligation to "do no harm" to the humans in their care, and engage in prohibited practices such as force-feeding of hunger strikers, according to a report out this week. "Ethics Abandoned: Medical Professionalism and Detainee Abuse in the War on Terror" [PDF Link] was produced by 19-member task force of Columbia University's Institute on Medicine as a Profession and the Open Society Foundations. The LA Times has a summary here.

Smoking is good for you, under very limited circumstances


Behold, the Craven A tin that saved the life of Royal Flying Corpsman Arthur Mann, who was shot down by the Red Baron himself. In a later battle, this tin stopped a bullet and saved his life.

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Wildcat: galloping 16mph robot

Wildcat is a fast-sprinting, 16MPH Boston Dynamics robot whose gallop is a precision joy to behold.

Boston Dynamics is often featured here for its amazing robots: the humanoid Petman; the zippy Cheetah; the high-jumping Urban Hopper; the pole-climbing Rise; and the pack-slinging BigDog.

Introducing WildCat (via JWZ)

F-16 fighter jet converted into drone

Planeeeee

Boeing and the US Air Force have converted retired F-16 fighter jets into drones, designated as QF-16s. According to Boeing, "While in the air, the QF-16 mission included a series of simulated maneuvers, reaching supersonic speeds, returning to base and landing, all without a pilot in the cockpit." The military claims that they will use the drones for dogfight training. Video of the first pilotless test flight below. (Thanks, David Steinberg!)

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How The Cleveland Press broke the story of Los Alamos a year-and-a-half before Hiroshima

The Manhattan Project was a secret, but it wasn't as secret a secret as you've been lead to believe, writes Rebecca Rosen at The Atlantic. Not only was the construction of an atomic weapon a topic of Washington gossip, but the entire "secret city in the desert" thing got blown open in 1944 when a columnist for a Midwestern newspaper ran across Los Alamos while on vacation. In light of our current debates about state secrets and security, it's probably less interesting that columnist Jack Raper found Los Alamos, and more interesting that he, and his paper, chose to buck the self-enforced system of silence that characterized World War II media.