Category: Military

Tribes honor 2 Anglos who wouldn’t take part in Sand Creek massacre

Tribal members marked the 150th anniversary of one of the worst massacres in American history Wednesday by paying tribute at an old Denver cemetery to two U.S. Army officers who refused to participate in it.

On Nov. 29, 1864, Capt. Silas Soule and Lt. Joseph Cramer declined orders to open fire on an encampment of Cheyenne and Arapahoe men, women and children in southeast Colorado.

About 200 people were killed in a dry riverbed that cold morning in what became known as the Sand Creek massacre.

On Wednesday, about 70 tribal members took part in a sunrise blessing at Riverside Cemetery before completing an annual healing run to the state Capitol, where Gov. John Hickenlooper apologized on behalf of the state for the massacre.

Some descendants of Sand Creek survivors credit Soule and Cramer with preventing even more bloodshed…

Cramer and Soule’s courage in speaking out against their commander helped the nation finally come to terms with what happened at Sand Creek.

Both came to Colorado seeking gold and enlisted in the army to fight in the Civil War. They likely fought under Col. John Chivington, who would lead the Sand Creek raid, in a battle that helped turn back an attempted Confederate incursion into Colorado’s gold country.

Both also attended peace conferences with the Arapaho and Cheyenne earlier in 1864, and they witnessed U.S. military commanders assuring chiefs they would be kept safe…

With tension on all sides, Chivington, a Civil War hero and Methodist minister, led troops from Denver to the outskirts of the camp of about 700 Arapaho and Cheyenne. The Indians believed they were safe after making peace with the commander of nearby Fort Lyon. They even flew a U.S. flag at the camp.

The soldiers opened fire, and some later brought victims’ body parts back to Denver. Chivington originally was hailed as a hero.

Cramer and Soule were part of Chivington’s forces but refused to order their own units to open fire. They later reported what happened, prompting a federal investigation that ultimately contributed to the resignation of territorial Gov. John Evans for failing to work for peace with tribes.

Soule was later murdered in Denver. The soldiers who killed him were never arrested or indicted. But, then, you wouldn’t expect that, would you?

“This invisible shield” protects against a radiation belt


This image shows a colour-coded representation of ultra-relativistic electron fluxes

High above Earth’s atmosphere, electrons whiz past at close to the speed of light. Such ultrarelativistic electrons, which make up the outer band of the Van Allen radiation belt, can streak around the planet in a mere five minutes, bombarding anything in their path. Exposure to such high-energy radiation can wreak havoc on satellite electronics, and pose serious health risks to astronauts.

Now researchers at MIT, the University of Colorado, and elsewhere have found there’s a hard limit to how close ultrarelativistic electrons can get to the Earth. The team found that no matter where these electrons are circling around the planet’s equator, they can get no further than about 11,000 kilometres (6,800 miles) from the Earth’s surface – despite their intense energy.

What’s keeping this high-energy radiation at bay seems to be neither the Earth’s magnetic field nor long-range radio waves, but rather a phenomenon termed “plasmaspheric hiss” – very low-frequency electromagnetic waves in the Earth’s upper atmosphere that, when played through a speaker, resemble static, or white noise…

The team’s results are based on data collected by NASA’s Van Allen probes – twin crafts that are orbiting within the harsh environments of the Van Allen radiation belts. Each probe is designed to withstand constant radiation bombardment in order to measure the behaviour of high-energy electrons in space…

Instead, the group found that the natural barrier may be due to a balance between the electrons’ slow, earthward motion, and plasmaspheric hiss. This conclusion was based on the Van Allen probes’ measurement of electrons’ pitch angle – the degree to which an electron’s motion is parallel or perpendicular to the Earth’s magnetic field. The researchers found that plasmaspheric hiss acts slowly to rotate electrons’ paths, causing them to fall, parallel to a magnetic field line, into Earth’s upper atmosphere, where they are likely to collide with neutral atoms and disappear.

Useful for anyone up for near-Earth space research. One of the crappiest military/political notes in the research is a discussion of nuclear warheads that US military detonated in space to play with using artificially-created radiation belts to blind other nation’s satellites.

I guess we’re lucky once again to have survived War Department experiments which had a potential failure forecast which might have turned us all into mutants glowing in the dark.

Thanks, Mike

Microsoft campus defended by autonomous robot guards


look, mom – a new kind of Dalek

With proprietary secrets and employees to protect, Microsoft turns to special robot guards to keep its Silicon Valley campus safe…

While it sounds high-tech and interesting, these drones are not reminiscent of RoboCop. They are five feet tall and weigh 300 pounds. Equipment includes cameras, sensors, alarms, and rudimentary artificial intelligence, but no weapons. Their primary function is to patrol large areas like parking lots and alert human security guards to any danger or intrusion.

The system was built and designed by Knightscope, a company located in Mountain View, California. Knightscope markets the robots as data machines that demand to be noticed and yet offer a non-intimidating presence. The company kept the robots in development for several years as engineers perfected a discerning camera.

The resulting high-definition cameras read license plates and distinguish between a harmless employee gathering and something sinister, like an attempted break-in. Other specific equipment includes microphones, weather sensors, loud alarms, and Wi-Fi connectivity to alert human security enforcement. In addition to scanning for intruders, the robots can detect explosives, possible natural disasters, and other emergencies…

As of now, Microsoft has five drones monitoring the campus. Once aware of a possible disturbance, the K5 will either sound its alarm or contact a human. If people attempt to mess with it, it will first sound a warning and then work up to a piercing alarm if the behavior continues…

Purchasing the robots is a cost-savings venture allowing Microsoft to hire fewer security guards. Competitively priced, Knightscope indicates that any company can deploy several robots and make crime prevention much easier.

Still sounds like this is a project designed to evolve into Robocop. Or Daleks.

Thanks, Mike

US spy plane lands after 22 months in space


Click to enlargeCC/U.S. Air Force

The US military has landed its robotic space plane, ending a classified 22-month mission that marked the third in Earth orbit for the experimental programme widely believed to be related to spying.

The X-37B touched down at Vandenberg air force base in California on Friday, bringing to a close the third and longest mission the vehicle has undertaken since its maiden voyage in 2010.

The spacecraft conducted unspecified experiments for 674 days while in orbit. The US air force said the orbiter, built by Boeing, performed “risk reduction, experimentation and concept-of-operations development for reusable space vehicle technologies”, although details of the missions are secret.

In a written release announcing the craft’s return, the air force only said it had been conducting “on-orbit experiments”…

US officials have previously denied the project had anything to do with creating a “space weapon” that could knock down other satellites.

But, our government, our military ain’t about to tell ordinary citizens a damned thing. We just get to pick up the tab.

Thanks, Mike

Air Force turned $500 million of aircraft into $32,000 worth of scrap metal — WTF?


Click to enlarge — In case you wondered what just one Air Force boneyard looks like?

A U.S. government watchdog agency is asking the Air Force to explain why it decided to destroy 16 aircraft initially bought for the Afgan air force and turn them into $32,000 of scrap metal instead of finding other ways to salvage nearly $500 million in U.S. funds spent on the program.

John Sopko, special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction, asked Air Force Secretary Deborah James to document all decisions made about the destruction of the 16 C-27J aircraft that were stored at Kabul International Airport for years, and what the service planned to do with four additional planes now in Germany…

The U.S. government spent $468 million to buy and refurbish 20 older C-27A airplanes from Alenia, a unit of Italy’s Finmeccanica SpA , but later canceled the program because a lack of spare parts was severely limiting their availability for military use.

Instead, the Pentagon decided to buy four larger C-130 planes built by Lockheed Martin Corp to do the work…

In an interview last year with NBC News, Sopko said it was unclear if the incident was criminal fraud or mismanagement, but the waste was not an isolated incident in Afghanistan.

The Pentagon’s inspector general has also investigated the issue, which the non-profit group Project on Government Oversight (POGO) calls “a shining example of the billions wasted in Afghanistan.”

No immediate comment was available from the Air Force or the Pentagon.

You know, the definition of corruption in government isn’t limited to direct theft, stealing from the till – so to speak. When you have a bureaucracy with job descriptions based on interchangeability between the Pentagon and the military-indiustrial complex – there is a whole range of corruption that starts with ordering trials of hardware we don’t need, building the hardware we don’t need and ends with destroying the crap we never needed – instead of at a minimum trying to find other military idiots who will buy this useless crap.

It feels like the volume of waste, theft and corrupt use of taxpayer dollars didn’t decrease a jot between the neocon thieves in the Bush Administration and the vaguely liberal dunces in the Obama Administration.

Thanks, Mike

Nutball call for armed poll-watchers to confront Democratic voters

Voting-rights advocates have asked Wisconsin’s attorney general to investigate a Facebook group that has been calling for armed individuals to confront voters at the polls in November…

The Politicususa.com site posted an article about the group’s focus on African American voters and included a screen shot of a Twitter conversation between Wisconsin Poll Watcher Militia and a user identified as Patrick Murray.

The Wisconsin Poll Watcher Militias said: “We prefer our people be armed. Some will be heading to some of Milwaukee, Racine and Beloit’s worst areas. We will be armed with a list of people to look for at each location.”

Patrick Murray replied: “Just so you are aware, I will not report Republicans. Only Democrats”.

Wisconsin Poll Watcher Militia said: “We will be targeting heavy Democrat districts, so it is doubtful this will even be an issue…”

Andrea Kaminski, executive director of the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin, told the Guardian that such an exchange constitutes conspiracy to commit a felony – voter intimidation. “They call themselves a militia, although who knows, it could be two guys with nothing better to do sitting in their basement,” Kaminski stated in a phone interview. Still, she said, “whether anybody will go to the polls or not, they’re already committing a crime because conspiring to commit a crime is a felony.”

Idjits are alive and well in Wisconsin – apparently including the most backwards variety of White Citizens Council scum who can’t abide our constitutional right to vote.

Now, the shit-for-brains “independent” who setup the Facebook account says it was just a joke to fool journalists and bloggers. Andrea Kaminski – from the League of Women Voters – original response to the post was, “it could be two guys with nothing better to do sitting in their basement.”

Might turn out to be just one guy. Since he says he’s alone, I guess this is political masturbation he’s practicing.

Map that guided Lawrence of Arabia to victory – up for auction

The only map sketched by Lawrence of Arabia is expected to fetch up to £100,000 when it goes under the hammer in London next month.

The map, on faded yellow paper, shows northern Arabia and was sketched by the famous adventurer and military commander some time between 1918 and 1922 as he described his battle alongside Arab troops.

It records a ‘pivotal moment’ in the Arab Revolt against the Ottoman Empire that led to the capture of the Red Sea port town Aqaba in 1917.

Experts believe it is the only map depicting the journey Lawrence took across the hostile Saudi Arabian desert in 1917, which eventually led to the capture of a major port.

It shows the route he and a group of Arab armies followed after leaving the port of al Wejh, and then reaching the Hejaz railway…

The drawing was done for a well-known cartographer and explorer called Douglas Carruthers who Lawrence befriended towards the end of the war.

Lawrence knew that his travels towards Aqaba were of interest to cartographers and carefully created the map for his friend by carefully plotting the route on a single sheet of paper, signing it and writing the words ‘This is the only drawn copy so please do not lose it prematurely’.

David Lean’s movie got so much right. The focus of the end of his film “Lawrence of Arabia” took the time to record the powers of European colonialism gathered to divide the spoils of war, oil-bearing lands, providing decades of profits and death. Profits for the Oil Kings. Death for nationalists who fought for freedom from Oil kings and Arab kings.

And so it continues…

Thanks, Mike

Elite Israeli veterans refuse to continue serving Apartheid government

boycott

Denouncing Israel’s treatment of Palestinians under occupation, a group of veterans from an elite, secretive military intelligence unit have declared they will no longer “take part in the state’s actions against Palestinians” in required reserve duty because of what they called “our moral duty to act.”

In a letter sent Thursday night to their commanders as well as Israel’s prime minister and army chief, 43 veterans of the clandestine Unit 8200 complained that Israel made “no distinction between Palestinians who are and are not involved in violence” and that information collected “harms innocent people.” Intelligence “is used for political persecution,” they wrote, which “does not allow for people to lead normal lives, and fuels more violence, further distancing us from the end of the conflict.”

The letter, revealed Friday in Israel’s Yediot Aharonot newspaper as well as The Guardian in Britain, echoes similar periodic protests by reservists over the years, including a group of 27 pilots who refused to participate in what Israel calls targeted assassinations, and 13 members of the vaunted commando unit known as Sayeret Matkal, both in 2003. But it is the first public collective refusal by intelligence officers rather that combat troops. Unit 8200 has a special role in Israeli society as a coveted pipeline to its high-technology industry.

“After our service we started seeing a more complex picture of a nondemocratic, oppressive regime that controls the lives of millions of people,” said one of the group’s organizers, a 32-year-old sergeant major who was on active duty from 2001 to 2005. He spoke on the condition of anonymity because the military prohibits Unit 8200 members from being publicly identified.

“There are certain things that we were asked to do that we feel do not deserve the title of self-defense,” he added in a telephone interview. “Some of the things that we did are immoral, and are against the things we believe in, and we’re not willing to do these things anymore.”

The new refuseniks said their group began a year ago and was not motivated by Israel’s battle with Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip this summer, which a member said was “just another chapter in this cycle of violence.”

RTFA. Please. A rare divergence from US/Israel foreign policy. Our own government exhibits no concern whatsoever for the lot of Palestinians living under the heel of brutal colonial repression – in the name of Lebensraum for Israel.

The 80-20 rule persists, whether discussing markets or military. Though the whole of participants may appear to come from a homogeneous population, there generally is a small percentage with perception and the ability to decide to wander away from the herd in search of something better. In this case, honesty, loyalty to a standard of democracy ignored by Israel’s government for decades, ignored by a United States government more than satisfied with a nation of legionnaires prepared to commit any crime to satisfy policies natural only to the greediest of elites.

Of course, as in the US military, fear of political and criminal retaliation reduces that percentage of those willing to act publicly, to speak out as citizens of decency. The pressure to live whatever passes for a normal life is usually sufficient to quiet most dissent. Especially in a time and place that treats dissent as the greatest enemy of governance.

These members of Unit 8200 deserve recognition for their courage.

Thanks, Mike

Air Force now ignores separation of church and state — UPDATED

An airman stationed at Creech Air Force Base in Indian Springs, Nevada, was prohibited from re-enlisting in the U.S. military last month for omitting the words “so help me God” from a service oath he was required to recite and for refusing to sign the oath containing the same words on his enlistment form, according to the American Humanist Association (AHA).

In a letter of complaint sent to the Air Force’s inspector general on Tuesday, the Appignani Humanist Legal Center, the AHA’s legal wing, said the airman — who is an atheist — “was told that his options were to say ‘so help me God’ or to leave the Air Force.’”

The AHA, which describes itself as “advocating values and equality for humanists, atheists and freethinkers,” characterized the ultimatum as a civil rights violation and demanded the Air Force correct the matter.

“Requiring [redacted] to take an oath containing this religious affirmation violates his clearly established constitutional rights under the First Amendment. This letter demands that you immediately allow [redacted] to re-enlist using a secular affirmation,” the letter stated.

“The Air Force cannot compel anyone to swear to God as a condition of enlistment,” AHA attorney Monica Miller said. “Doing so violates the establishment clause and the free exercise clause of the First Amendment.”

“Numerous cases affirm that atheists have the right to omit theistic language from enlistment or re-enlistment contracts,” she added…

…Until October 2013, Air Force Instruction 36-2606, under which the enlistment oath falls, stipulated that “airmen may omit the words ‘so help me God,’ if desired for personal reasons,” The Air Force Times reported.

On Oct. 30, 2013, the Air Force appears to have quietly done away with that option. “The relevant section of that AFI now only lists the active-duty oath of enlistment, without giving airmen any option to choose not to swear an oath to a deity,” the Air Force Times said.

You know, just because George W. Bush is out of office doesn’t mean all the idiots in government – and our military – are out looking for honest jobs. You still have to keep on eye on the clowns who would dilute and destroy what constitutional rights we have – for whatever out-of-date ideology they seem to need as a snuggy-wuggy.

UPDATE: He won!