US AIR STRIKES HIT DAMASCUS - Trump announces Syria air strikes in response to chemical attack

President Donald Trump appeared on television tonight to announce that the United States military is now striking 'chemical weapons sites' in Syria by air, with coordination from the military forces of France and Britain.

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This man is capturing the memories of World War II veterans while he still can

The Second World War came to an end 73 years ago. The men and women who served during the war are rapidly succumbing to the ravages of old age. In my lifetime, I know I'll mourn the loss of the last surviving WWII soldier, as I did the loss of Florence Green, the last surviving veteran of the First World War, in 2012. What the veterans of these horrific conflicts saw and in many cases, were forced to do in combat, should never be forgotten: their deeds and memories give color to every discussion we could have about why war should be avoided at all cost. While there's no stopping their deaths, one man has dedicated his life to preserving as many of the life experiences that the veterans of the Second World War lived through as possible.

The CBC recently ran a fascinating profile on Rishi Sharma. He's a 20-year-old man from California that's dedicated years of his life to interviewing the surviving veterans of World War II. According to the CBC, Sharma has conducted over 870 interviews with U.S. veterans in 45 American States. Recently, he made his way to Canada to hear what our old soldiers had to say about their time at war.

From the CBC:

Sharma says he's been interested in the Second World War since he was a child. He'd pore over books, watch the History Channel and once aspired to be a marine. When he realized how easily accessible war veterans are, he began reaching out to them.

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Watch military swarm drones lock on and surround a target

Autonomous weapon bans (previously) are currently being debated, but in the meantime, the US Department of Defense continues work with its Perdix Micro-Drone project. Ostensibly for surveillance, it's clear these could easily be modded with lethal weaponry. Read the rest

Russian nerve agent attack may leave Skripals with 'limited mental capacity'

The military-grade nerve toxin attack on Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia may have left the victims with 'compromised mental capacity,' a British judge said on Thursday. It is unclear whether the former Russian double agent and his adult child will recover from being poisoned with what the UK says was a Russian chemical weapon known as 'Novichok.'

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The last male white rhino in the world has died

The last male white Rhino in the world has died at 45 years of age.

The rhino, named Sudan, had been suffering from age-related ill-health for some time, according to AFP.

During the 1970s and 1980s the white rhino was damn near wiped out in Africa, thanks to the high demand of its horn for use in dagger handles in parts of Yemen and as a medicinal ingredient in China. Sudan's death all but cinches the death of the white rhino sub-species. Early in the new millennium, the species was nearly obliterated in the wild, as the few remaining white rhinos, numbering perhaps 20 to 30, were killed in the crossfire of the First Congo War, among other conflicts, in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda.

With Sudan's passing, you'd think that the fate of the white rhino would be cinched. And you'd be right--theoretically.

While there are no more male specimens of the species, thanks to us, a few females remain. It's hoped that it may still be possible to use Sudan's genetic material to keep the species going:

"Sudan was the last northern white rhino that was born in the wild. His death is a cruel symbol of human disregard for nature and it saddened everyone who knew him," said Jan Stejskal, Director of International Projects at the Dvur Kralove Zoo.

"But we should not give up. We must take advantage of the unique situation in which cellular technologies are utilized for conservation of critically endangered species.

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Trump's military parade planned for Veterans' Day. No tanks. And, no thanks.

President Donald Trump's fantasy war parade will come to life on Veterans Day, and you're paying for it.

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U.S. Army war dogs deserve better than to be neglected or put down after their tour of duty is finished

A war hero who saved American lives under fire deserves the best care our government can muster. It's the very least they deserve for bravely serving overseas. Unfortunately, not all soldiers returning from active duty have been paid this respect. Nor have the canine soldiers in their ranks.

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American fighting ISIS returns home to have gunshot wound patched up in Chicago

We don't hear as much about ISIS as we used to, but the fight against their particular brand on evil is still being waged.

In Syria, for example, a Kurdish militia group called YPG is still waging war on the terrorist group. The YPG is composed of volunteers, drawn largely from areas around and in Syria, but also from countries as far away as the United States. As the militia is currently backed by the United States, it's not a crime for American citizens to find their way to groups like the YPG, get trained up and then deploy to the front lines. Caleb Stevens, a 23 year old from Illinois, felt that he wanted to make a direct impact in the world by standing against those who would do harm to unarmed civilians. After talking to YPG representatives online, he made his way overseas and boned up on the use of Soviet-era small arms before heading to the front lines with his unit in Syria. Caleb took the fight to ISIS, fending them off from civilians for months before he was shot in the calf, bringing his war, at least for the time being, to an end.

In the wake of being wounded, he sought out treatment, first at hospitals in Syria, Baghdad and Jordan, before walking into a hospital emergency room in Chicago to be properly patched up.

It's one hell of a story, it's covered, in detail, over at the Chicago Tribune.

Image: Nûçe Ciwan - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U5jA7EiXQsc, CC BY 3.0, Link Read the rest

Bomb shuts down London City Airport

All flights today at London City Airport were cancelled after a bomb was found in the River Thames. The bomb is actually a German 500kg fused device that's been sitting in the Thames since the Germans dropped it during World War II. The unexploded ordnance was discovered during work on a dock near the airport. The Royal Navy is working to remove the bomb. From NPR:

The discovery of World War II era bombs in London is not particularly rare, as NPR's Ari Shapiro has reported. "During the Blitz, German planes dropped nearly 30,000 bombs on London in just three months," he notes.

In 2015, a German bomb of about the same size was discovered in an east London neighborhood, prompting an evacuation.

At that time, Matt Brosnan, a historian at the Imperial War Museum, told the BBC that we don't know exactly how many of the bombs dropped could still be hidden.

"Clearly not all of those would have exploded, because of defects or other reasons, and they could have buried themselves tens of feet below the surface so we simply don't know where they are," he told the broadcaster.

"World War Two ordnance found in the Thames" (Metropolitan Police) Read the rest

Saga Volume 8: the best space opera in comics tackles abortion, gender identity, and vengeance

Saga is the best space opera in comics, a masterpiece of serial storytelling from Fiona Staples and Brian K Vaughan, whose character designs -- a cross between Vaughn Bode and the Mos Eisley Cantina -- and fearless war-scenes combine with masterful cliff-hanger storytelling to weave a tale that hurts even as it makes you bellow with laughter. The eighth collection in the series ships today and the story shows no sign of slowing down.

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory releases 62 declassified videos of nuclear weapons tests

It's eschatology in motion: 62 tests carried out between 1945 and 1962, of detonations filmed from up to 50 angles. A total of 210 tests were carried out and this tranche is a good slice of them. Read the rest

Company's dystopian promotional video for drone armed with machine gun

What a time to be alive.

Duke Robotics brings a fully robotic weaponry system to an airborne platform. TIKAD, which is a proprietary development of Duke, uses the delivery of a unique suppression firing and stabilization solution. TIKAD allows governments to utilize completely new capabilities against terrorist groups and reduce the number of deployed ground troops, and therefore, the number of casualties.

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Listen: 'Nuclear War,' Sun Ra (1982)

Listen: 'Nuclear War,' by space prophet Sun Ra and his mighty arkestra.

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Blackwater founder and DeVos war-criminal sibling Trump should install merc-backed viceroy in Afghanistan

Erik Prince is the creepy-rich war criminal/ex-CIA agent who founded Blackwater and put John Ashcroft in charge of its ethics department (no, seriously), whose rap-sheet includes reckless, corrupt, murderous, genocidal violence, conducted with near-total impunity. Read the rest

Conflict photographer risked his life in Mosul, then shared all his pics for free

Kainoa Little spent April and May documenting the harrowing battle of ISIS-held Mosul, and when no one wanted to buy his photos, he published them free of charge. His reasons were particularly cool: Read the rest

NRA calls for clenched fist in response to the "violence of lies"

America's right, the source of most terrorist acts in the country, loves to see violence from the left because it justifies its thirst for more. This instinct is on full show in this NRA recruitment ad, where spokesperson Dana Loesch seethes at political protesters and promises a "clenched fist of truth" for people screaming about "racism and sexism and xenophobia and homophobia."

Hey, at least the NRA has a clear idea of its base, something you can't say about, say, the Democratic Party.

What strikes me, though, is a shibboleth of the NRA's totalitarian character, one usually associated with the academic left: the idea that speech is violence ("the violence of lies") as a justification for silencing it. (Some differences remain: the left's weapon of choice is, per the NRA, "political correctness," whereas the NRA's weapon of choice is rifles.)

As Black Lives Matter's Deray McKesson writes: "If I made a video like this, I'd be in jail."

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Photographers captured shots of mortar exploding in the instant before their deaths

A mortar shell exploded during a training exercise in Afghanistan in July 2013, killing four Afghan soldiers and a U.S. Army photographer, Specialist Hilda Clayton. Clayton was training one of them in photojournalism, and both were shooting as the shell exploded.

The photos were released by the U.S. Army today. Clayton's is below, the unnamed student's above.

The photos were published with the permission of the Clayton family.

The Army said that "not only did Clayton help document activities aimed at shaping and strengthening the [US-Afghan] partnership but she also shared in the risk by participating in the effort."

The visual information specialist, who was from the US state of Georgia, has had a photography award named in her honour by the Department of Defense.

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