Under Trump, immigrants who serve in the armed forces are finding it harder to attain citizenship than those who do not serve

Serving in the US military has long been a path to citizenship for immigrants to the USA, but after a suite of reforms instituted by the Trump regime, immigrants who serve in the US military are less likely to attain citizenship than immigrants who don't serve. Read the rest

Elizabeth Warren calls for a zero-emissions military, serviced by zero-emissions contractors

In her latest detailed policy proposal, would-be 2020 Democratic presidential nominee Elizabeth Warren sets out a Green New Deal for the US military, whose own policy analysts have identified climate change and energy independence as serious risks to US security. Read the rest

Hilarious cockpit transcript of the Navy pilots who drew a giant penis in the sky over Washington

On November 16, 2017, the crew of a Navy EA-18G Growler jet delighted sixth graders, launched a meme, and pissed off prudes everywhere by drawing a penis in the sky with their engine exhaust over the state of Washington. Their prank caused quite a stir in the Navy, even leading to an "official information dispatch" to the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations. It's still unknown how much trouble the pilots got themselves into but the Navy Times has just received a copy of the full report thanks to a Freedom of Information Act request. The cockpit transcripts are fantastic. From the Navy Times:

“You should totally try to draw a penis,” the (pilot's cockpit partner, an electronic warfare office [EWO]) advised.

“I could definitely draw one, that would be easy,” the pilot boasted. “I could basically draw a figure eight and turn around and come back. I’m gonna go down, grab some speed and hopefully get out of the contrail layer so they’re not connected to each other....”

“Balls are going to be a little lopsided,” the pilot advised.

“Balls are complete,” he reported moments later. “I just gotta navigate a little bit over here for the shaft.”

“Which way is the shaft going?” the EWO asked.

“The shaft will go to the left,” the pilot answered.

“It’s gonna be a wide shaft,” the EWO noted.

“I don’t wanna make it just like 3 balls,” the pilot said.

“Let’s do it,” the EWO said. “Oh, the head of that penis is going to be thick.”

Read the rest

John Bolton has always been at war with Iran, soon America will be too

Anyone else getting Iraq déjà vu?

Trump Energy Secretary Rick Perry gave 6 secret authorizations to sell nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia

U.S. Department Of Energy Secretary Rick Perry gave “six secret authorizations by companies to sell nuclear power technology and assistance to Saudi Arabia,” Reuters reports, based on a copy of a document seen by reporters on Wednesday. Read the rest

Pentagon reassures public that its autonomous robotic tank adheres to "legal and ethical standards" for AI-driven killbots

The Pentagon is seeking bids to improve its Advanced Targeting and Lethality Automated System (ATLAS) so that it can "acquire, identify, and engage targets at least 3X faster than the current manual process." Read the rest

Pentagon Inspector General reveals widespread retaliation against whistleblowers with impunity for the retaliators and the wrongdoers

Last November, the Pentagon's Inspector General presented Congress with a "little-noticed" report on whistleblowing in the US military, revealing that those who come forward with claims of misconduct including sexual harassment and safety problems face a "culture of retaliation" including black marks on their service records, demotion, and suspension of security clearance; the IG also reported that in nearly every case, the officers who retaliated against whistleblowers faced no consequences for their actions. Read the rest

US Air Force proposal: pause the Earth's rotation so nukes would miss targets

In 1960, the US Air Force asked the RAND Corporation to evaluate the possibility of using stationary rockets to pause the Earth's rotation in the event of a nuclear attack. Called "Project Retro," the idea was that the "a huge rectangular array of one thousand first-stage Atlas engines... (would) be fastened securely to the earth in a horizontal position." As missiles approached, the rockets would fire, stopping the Earth's rotation just enough for the nukes to overshoot their targets. In the book The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner, Daniel Ellsberg, who assessed the problematic proposal, wrote that everything “that wasn’t nailed down, and most of what was as well, would be gone with the wind, which would itself be flying at super-hurricane force everywhere at once." Not only that, he says, but the plan would actually require one million billion rockets:

If you do the maths, that’s about 2.6 x 1021 kilograms of propellant – or to put it another way, that’s about 500 times the mass of the Earth’s atmosphere.

So even assuming you could build that many engines, once you fired them for the time that was needed to change the Earth’s rotation, you would have put 500 times as much gas into the atmosphere, and this would all be incredibly hot combustion products.

So even if your targets were to survive the nuclear war, everyone would then be incinerated by all the exhaust gases spreading around the planet.

"That Time the U.s. Air Force Proposed Using Rockets to Stop the Earth’s Rotation" (Daily Grail)

The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner by Daniel Ellsberg (Amazon)

For even more on Project Retro and RAND, listen to my old friend Ken Hollings's excellent 2008 BBC radio documentary "RAND: All Your Tomorrows Today"

(image: detail of "Wernher von Braun with the F-1 engines of the Saturn V first stage at the U.S. Read the rest

Predatory lender found to have swindled veterans' pensions for eight years, so Trump's CFPB fined him $1

Mark Corbett has settled with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau -- founded by Elizabeth Warren and then gutted by Trump appointee and awful person Mick Mulvaney, now the White House Chief of Staff -- over the complaints that he ran an illegal loan-sharking operation that swindled veterans out of their pensions for a decade.

He has been fined $1. Read the rest

U.S. Strategic Command tweets nuclear war joke on New Year's Eve

Happy nuke year, everyone! Man, the Trump administration's recklessness really makes people feel like they can just say whatever they want with no consequences. Read the rest

Ukraine asks Canada to continue training troops to oppose Russia's invasive bullshit

Russia is back on its Ukraine bullshit again: last week, the Russian navy boarded and seized a Ukrainian gunboat and a tugboat taking the crews of the vessels prisoner, at least for the time being. NATO is sitting on their hands, just like they did when Putin sent mercenaries and unflagged Russian special forces operators into Ukraine to wrest control of the Crimea peninsula back in 2014. There's a lot of finger wagging and tut-tutting, sure. Trump said that he was calling off his chat with Putin last week as a result of the Russian military's aquatic clusterfuck...but then he met with him anyway.

After four years of putting up with Russian occupation of a chunk of their territory, Ukraine knows better than to leave sorting it out to diplomacy: the seizure of the nation's vessels could well be Putin's way of gauging the west's reaction to a larger action--one that could lead to a large-scale assault on Ukrainian turf.

In response to Putin's dry run, Ukraine has called up its citizen reservists, declared martial law in some parts of the country, and has been toying with the idea of refusing entry to any Russian male of fighting age. Oh, and they've asked Canada to renew the assistance that they've been giving them for the past few years.

From The CBC:

Canada is being asked to renew its military training mission to Ukraine — a proposal that's taking on a whole new level of urgency as border tension ramps up with Russia.

Read the rest

Here's how the Pentagon swindled Congress with $21 trillion worth of undocumented, untraceable, unaccounted for expenditures

Remember when the Department of Defense's own internal auditor revealed that the agency had committed $6.5 trillion in accounting fraud in just one year? Read the rest

Trump spent $200,000,000 on the election stunt of sending 6,000 troops to the border, then withdrew them before the caravan arrived

Trump's "Operation Faithful Patriot" was a $200,000,000 exercise in which 6,000 US troops were deployed within the USA, to the US/Mexico border, nominally to repel the migrant caravan of desperate, poor, terrified asylum seekers. Read the rest

Hiding secret messages in whale song

Most military underwater surveillance systems filter out whale calls along with other ambient ocean noise. This inspired researchers from China's Tianjin University to create a form of "bio-inspired steganography" in which recordings of whale songs can be edited to contain secret messages and then electronically transmitted underwater. From Newsweek:

In research published in IEEE Communication Magazine, the team said there are two ways to hide signals in whale pulses—changing the signal to include encrypted information or making the signal weaker.

The former is problematic because it would stand out from other naturally occurring signals, Jiang told SCMP. However, the second method holds promise. Researchers could build a coding system around the whale sounds. They could then edit whale sounds so they are indistinguishable from other whale calls. When they are received by the coding system, they can be deciphered. The main drawback for this approach is that it would be difficult to send a message over a long distance.

"Bio-Inspired Steganography for Secure Underwater Acoustic Communications" (IEEE Communications)

Image: "A mother sperm whale and her calf off the coast of Mauritius" by Gabriel Barathieu Read the rest

Report: Canada's military unprepared to stop attacks on their assets in space

For a country the size of Canada, we've got a pretty small military budget. In order to secure our borders and work with our NATO pals overseas and in operations on our home turf, The Canadian Forces is often forced to do a lot with very little. Our Army, Navy and Air Force are tightly integrated, making it possible for us to make the most of our military infrastructure, supplies and training. Right now, Canada's military personnel are playing a game of hurry-up-and-wait while long-promised new equipment, upgrades to existing hardware, and better care for current members come into play. Unfortunately, as the Canadian government struggles to keep up with the basics of defining its borders, an internal Department of National Defence report obtained by the Canadian Press warns that the nation's armed forces could be ripe for getting dinged on a largely undefended frontier: space.

From The CBC:

Satellites vital to Canadian military operations are vulnerable to cyberattack or even a direct missile strike — just one example of why the country's defence policy must extend fully into the burgeoning space frontier, an internal Defence Department note warns.

The Canadian military already heavily depends on space-based assets for basic tasks such as navigation, positioning, intelligence-gathering, surveillance and communications. Canada is also working on the next generation of satellites to assist with search-and-rescue and round-the-clock surveillance of maritime approaches to the country, including the Arctic.

Unfortunately, as the hardware and software required to compromise satellite systems has become way less expensive over the past decade, the number of state and non-state actors with access to the gear needed to smoke our space hardware has grown. Read the rest

Little Green Terracotta Army Men

Forget Little Green Army Men in Yoga Poses; they're totally 2016; the contemporary Little Green Army Man is a mashup with the terracotta warriors: they're $41 from Hobbylink Japan. (via Super Punch) Read the rest

This little known government agency is responsible for bringing the remains of missing or captured U.S. soldiers home to rest

Founded after the Joint P.O.W./M.I.A. Accounting Command and the Defense Prisoner of War/Missing Personnel Office were folded into a single agency, the Defense P.O.W./M.I.A. Accounting Agency (D.P.A.A.) is an incredibly important part of the United States military. They're responsible for the locating and identification of the remains of soldiers who were deemed to be Missing in Action or who died as prisoners of war.

Sometimes, the task of identifying and repatriating remains can be conducted with immediacy. In other cases, the realities of war--that a body can be torn asunder, rendering it near unidentifiable--or discovering the remains of skeletal remains of a soldier decades after they died, can slow this process down. In such cases, forensic experts are brought in to assist in identifying the dead.

This past August, the North Korean government allowed the U.S. military to repatriate 55 coffins full of the mixed skeletal remains of American soldiers who died in the Korean War between 1950 and 1953. That nothing's left of these soldiers but bones would make identifying them difficult enough. When the bones are mixed in with one another? That's a puzzle that few people are qualified to deal with. Dr. Paul Emanovsky is one of those few. He's a forensic anthropologist that's worked to bring closure to the lives of the loved ones of missing military personnel since 2002. If you're interested in a fascinating, morbid read, the New York Times recently published an interview with Dr. Emanovsky, where he talks about his work and the recovery projects that the D.P.A.A. Read the rest

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