Putin orders most Russian troops out of Syria, citing “overall completion” of military goals

Russian President Vladimir Putin meets Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, March 14, 2016.  REUTERS

Vladimir Putin says Russian troops will begin withdrawing from Syria starting Tuesday, the day which marks 5 years since the start of Syria's bloody civil war. Putin's pledge is a move to help advance U.N.-brokered peace talks that resumed today.

Read the rest

How would you explain the difference between war and terrorism to a space alien?

zz

Author and former CIA officer Barry Eisler spoke at the Association of Former Intelligence Officers opposite ex-CIA and NSA director Michael Hayden on Monday. In front of about a hundred former CIA, FBI, and NSA operatives, Eisler talked about bulk surveillance, whistleblowing, and why intelligence professionals need to take especially great care not to let propaganda pervert their intelligence.

Read the rest

Plummeting oil prices and 13 years of official looting leave Iraq on the brink

maxresdefault (1)

For 13 years, Iraq's post-Saddam elites have run amok, looting the country's riches while creating a pervasive culture of corruption that spreads all the way down -- only the continuous injection of new money from the country's oil-fields kept the whole thing from collapsing. Read the rest

Killing people with drones is working out great for America, says ex CIA chief

Michael Hayden (Larry Downing/Reuters)

Michael Hayden sure does love him some drone-killing.

Read the rest

Guns filled with guts: Anatomy of War

gun4

Noah Scalin's "Anatomy of War" sculptures are polymer clay cutaway guns filled with colorful, wet-looking human viscera. Read the rest

Ancient Greeks used snakes as projectile weapons

Javelin_Sand_Boa_3538928b

People in ancient Greece used snakes as projectile weapons during sea battles, explains Gianni Insacco, a zoologist/paleontologist at Italy's Insacco Museo Civico di Storia Naturale.

Insacco's research team just reported that one of the weaponized species, the Javelin Sand Boa that was likely introduced to Italy by the Greeks during wartime, has survived in Sicily after not having been spotted for nearly 100 years.

Read the rest

Proposal: keep the nuclear launch codes in an innocent volunteer's chest-cavity

knife-157254_960_720.png

In 1981, Harvard law professor Roger Fisher, director of the Harvard Negotiation Project, published a thought experiment in the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists: what if the codes to launch nuclear war were kept inside the chest-cavity of a young volunteer, and the President would have to hack them out of this young man's chest before he could commence armageddon? Read the rest

Army decides to stop putting soldiers' Social Security numbers on their dog tags

dog-tags-600x400

In a major policy change that sounds like a Very Good Idea, the U.S. Army announced today that dog tags will no longer include the Social Security numbers of the soldier wearing them. SSNs have been part of this identification system for over 40 years.

Read the rest

In historic shift, U.S. military to open all combat jobs to women

U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter holds a news conference at the Pentagon.  REUTERS

The Associated Press is reporting today that U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter will soon announce a historic change: The military will open all combat jobs to women.

Read the rest

Molly Crabapple's memoir DRAWING BLOOD: preview and a giveaway

47

Read the rest

Listen to the soldiers' musical soundtrack of the Vietnam War

M0011907677--44515

We Gotta Get Out of This Place: The Soundtrack of the Vietnam War is a new book by veteran Doug Bradley and Craig Werner, professor of Afro-American studies at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, about soldiers' musical memories and the impact of James Brown, Eric Burdon, Country Joe McDonald, and other popular artists on the Vietnam experience and our understanding of it.

At KQED's Next Avenue, Bradley shared the "Top 10 Songs of Vietnam" mentioned by the hundreds soldiers they interviewed for the book. Here are the top three with Bradley's comments on them:

1. We Gotta Get Out of This Place by The Animals

No one saw this coming. Not the writers of the song — the dynamic Brill Building duo of Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil; not the group who recorded it — The Animals and their iconic lead singer, Eric Burdon; not the 3 million soldiers who fought in Vietnam who placed extra importance on the lyrics. But the fact is that We Gotta Get Out of This Place is regarded by most Vietnam vets as our We Shall Overcome, says Bobbie Keith, an Armed Forces Radio DJ in Vietnam from 1967-69. Or as Leroy Tecube, an Apache infantryman stationed south of Chu Lai in 1968, recalls: “When the chorus began, singing ability didn’t matter; drunk or sober, everyone joined in as loud as he could.” No wonder it became the title of our book!

2. I Feel Like I’m Fixin to Die Rag by Country Joe & The Fish

Misunderstood and misinterpreted by most Americans, Country Joe’s iconic song became a flashpoint for disagreements about the war and its politics.

Read the rest

US warplane shot at survivors fleeing Doctors Without Borders hospital bombing, MSF reports

Debris litters the floor in MSF's Kunduz Trauma center. [Photo: MSF]

Doctors Without Borders released an internal report today that claims a U.S. warplane shot at people who were trying to escape the international medical aid group's hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan, after the building was bombed by American forces.

Read the rest

A peek inside Iraq's most notorious weapons market

jp

The fun-loving Chinese journalists in this segment manage to out-VICE VICE. 侣行 On the Road is billed as “a homemade outdoor reality show” featuring an "extreme couple" who love adventure. The pair and their team got some great footage of an open-air weapons market in Sadr City.

Read the rest

Research files on El Salvador stolen from human rights group suing CIA over El Salvador

image: Reuters

Confidential research files on human rights abuses in El Salvador were stolen from a human rights organization in Washington state, just weeks after that same organization sued the CIA for refusing to release documents related to those very same abuses.

Read the rest

That time Dick Cheney complained Donald Rumsfeld drank too much coffee

cheney

Back in 1975, Dick Cheney, the worst person in the world, was Deputy Chief of Staff in Gerald Ford’s White House.

Here's a memo he wrote to Staff Secretary Jim Connor complaining that his boss, Donald Rumsfeld, also the the worst person in the world, was drinking too much coffee in the White House. According to Cheney's memo, Rummy was running up a bill in excess of $100 a month, which is around $450 in today's money.

What was in that coffee? Read the rest

Obama apologizes to aid group for bombing hospital. MSF: Thanks, but we want an investigation

Francoise Saulnier, MSF  legal counsel, next to Joanne Liu, President of MSF International. [REUTERS]

Doctors Without Borders received an apology from President Barack Obama today for the deadly U.S. bombing of its hospital in northern Afghanistan.

The international medical aid organization released a statement today:

"We reiterate our ask that the U.S. government consent to an independent investigation led by the International Humanitarian Fact-Finding Commission to establish what happened in Kunduz, how it happened, and why it happened," said Dr. Joanne Liu, international president of the group, also known as Doctors Without Borders.

MSF headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland October 7, 2015. REUTERS

The aid group, also known also as Medecins Sans Frontieres, or MSF, said the proposed commission would gather evidence from the United States, NATO and Afghanistan. After that, the charity would decide whether to seek criminal charges for loss of life and damage.

“If we let this go, we are basically giving a blank check to any countries at war,” MSF International President Joanne Liu told reporters in Geneva. But she noted there was no commitment yet on official cooperation with an independent investigation.

The U.S. air attack Saturday killed 22 patients and medical staffers, including three children, in the northern Afghanistan city of Kunduz, which had been overrun by Taliban militants. Thirty-seven people were injured, including 19 staff members, the charity said.

Aid group seeks independent probe into U.S. attack on Afghan hospital

Afghan guards stand at the gate of MSF hospital after an air strike in the city of Kunduz. REUTERS Read the rest

The Nazis made this exploding chocolate bar to kill Winston Churchill

image

In World War II, the Nazis made a bunch of different booby trapped items, including thermos flasks, mess tins, motor oil cans, watches, and even a chocolate bar designed to kill Winston Churchill when he bit into it. Fortunately, England's Prime Minister did not sink his teeth into the candy-coated bomb, and the MI5 hired an artist to illustrate it and the other German booby traps it had discovered. These drawings were lost in a drawer for 70 years, but were recently found and have been published by the BBC. Read the rest

More posts