Category: Military

VA health care wait times getting better – unless you live in the South

The chronic delays plaguing the Veterans Affairs health system are concentrated in a fraction of its hospitals and clinics – many of them in the South – that have done far worse than others in delivering prompt care, according to government data reviewed by The Associated Press.

A year after Americans recoiled at revelations that sick veterans were getting sicker while languishing on waiting lists, VA statistics show that the number of patients facing long waits has not declined, even after Congress gave the department an extra $16.3 billion last summer to shorten waits for care.

Nearly 894,000 appointments completed at VA medical facilities from Aug. 1 to Feb. 28 failed to meet the health system’s timeliness goal, which calls for patients to be seen within 30 days. More than a quarter of those appointments involved a delay of longer than 60 days.

Since the summer, the number of vets waiting more than 30 or 60 days for non-emergency care has largely stayed flat. The number of medical appointments that take longer than 90 days to complete has nearly doubled.

Those delays were not spread evenly throughout the VA’s vast network of hospitals and clinics.

Many occurred in a handful of Southern states, often in areas with a strong military presence, a rural population and patient growth that has outpaced the VA’s sluggish planning process.

47 clinics and hospitals represent just a fraction of the more than 1,000 VA facilities nationwide, but they were responsible for more than one in five of the appointments that took longer than 60 days to complete

The AP examined six months of appointment data at 940 individual VA facilities to gauge changes since a scandal over delays led to the resignation of the VA’s secretary and prompted lawmakers in August to give the VA an additional $16.3 billion to hire doctors, open more clinics and build the new Choice program that allows patients facing long delays to get private-sector care…The analysis reveals stark differences between the haves and have-nots.

In the Northeast, Midwest and Pacific Coast states, few VA sites reported having significant delays. A little less than half of all VA hospitals and clinics reported averaging fewer than two appointments per month that involved a wait of more than 60 days.

But at the VA’s outpatient clinic in Jacksonville, Florida, 7,117 appointments completed between Sept. 1 and Feb. 28 involved a wait of more than 60 days. There were more vets experiencing extended delays there than in the entire states of New York and Pennsylvania combined.

RTFA if you want more examples, lots of statistics illustrating regional distortions beyond comprehension. I haven’t been in a VA hospital for years and most of those I ever visited were in New England where they take care of business pretty well. At least since Reagan left office.

You’d think that with all the agitprop our politicians spew on a regular basis about our holy wars and even-holier warriors they might want competent oversight of the buck$ we regularly throw at problems like this.

Or not.

Army investigating ‘racial Thursday’

The U.S. Army is investigating claims Fort Wainwright soldiers have free reign to use racial slurs every Thursday as a way to encourage camaraderie.

Dubbed “racial Thursday,” soldiers in the 2nd Platoon, C Company, 3rd Battalion, 21st Infantry Regiment say they are allowed to use racial slurs and make racist comments with impunity, the Army Times reported. Two anonymous soldiers told the Army Times the event is a tradition and, although officially forbidden, it is ongoing.

U.S. Army Alaska spokesman Lt. Col. Alan Brown confirmed an investigation was launched into the allegation.

The unit under investigation is part of a company embroiled in the controversial 2011 suicide of Pvt. Danny Chen, who was subjected to racially motivated hazing before he died.

Eight soldiers were court-martialed in that case.

I can hear the discussion in the bar where losers get together on payday and swap war stories. “This is supposed to be a free country. Whatever happened to Free Speech? That’s what we fought for.”

It ain’t good enough to fight for Free Speech if you don’t fight for standards, as well. The Free Speech part protects the rights of bigots and fools as well as everyone else. Standards demonstrates to everyone around you what kind of a person you are.

Hopefully, not a bigot or a fool.

There’s a detailed report over at the Army TIMES.

This ship cost you and me $15 million – US Navy is selling it for $180K


Click to enlarge

Any millionaire can buy themselves a fancy yacht, but if you want a conversation piece … well, it helps if it has a story behind it, and the Lockheed Martin-built Sea Slice certainly does. Launched in 1996 by the US Navy as a military support vessel, the experimental watercraft features a unique hull design that reportedly allows it to remain as stable as a conventional ship three times its size. It cost $15 million to design and build, but you can have it now for the low, low price of just $180,000…

A regular SWATH boat has two hulls, kind of like a catamaran. Whereas a catamaran’s hulls resemble skinnier versions of a conventional single hull, however, a SWATH’s are more like cylindrical pontoons that sit completely below the surface. The struts that connect those hulls to the rest of the boat are quite narrow, thus minimizing volume at the sea’s surface, where all the wave energy is located. Because the hulls themselves sit deeper in the water, they’re not affected much by the waves.

In the case of the Sea Slice, there are four shorter teardrop-shaped hulls – two on each side, one behind the other. Apparently this modification reduces waves caused by the boat, along with hydrodynamic drag. That drag reduction allows it to travel at higher speeds for a given amount of horsepower, as compared to other SWATH boats of a similar size and displacement.

The 105-ft long, 55-ft wide, 180-ton watercraft features two 3,480 hp diesel engines, two 180-kW Caterpillar diesel electric generators, and (if its specs are still the same as they were when it was first built) a top speed of 30 knots. There’s no word on how many people it can accommodate, although judging by the photos, there are at least six bunks. It also has a full galley, shower-equipped bathroom, plus a washer and dryer.

Anyone vetting prospective buyers to see if they’re fronting for Mexican drug cartels – or worse?

Reichsführer Himmler’s Borghild Project – world’s first sex doll

The world’s first sex doll – or “gynoid” – was built in 1941 by a team of craftsmen from Germany’s Hygiene Museum in Dresden. The project was supervised by the famous preparator and technician Franz Tschakert. The ”Father of the Woman of Glass”, which happened to be the sensation in 1930’s Second International Hygiene Exhibit, used his skills and experience to create a kind of doll the world had never seen before.

The ”field-hygienic project” was an initiative of Reichsführer SS Heinrich Himmler, who regarded the doll as an ” counterbalance” (or regulating effect) for the sexual drive of his storm tropers. In one his letters, dated 20.11.1940 he mentions the ”unnessessarylosses”, the Wehrmacht had suffered in France inflicted by street prostitutes…

The project – called Burghild in the first place – was considered ”Geheime Reichssache” , which was ”more secret than top secret” at the time. Himmler put his commander-in-chief SS-Dr. Joachim Mrurgowsky in charge, the highest ranking officer of Berlins notorious SS-institute…

In July 1941, when Hitler’s army attacked Russia, an unknown but ambitious Danish SS-Doctor called Olen Hannussen took over from Mrurgowsky. Perhaps he was the one who changed Burghild to Borghild, which is nothing more than the Danish equivalent.

Hannussen pushed everybody forward to make the project a success. The ”galvonoplastical dolls” – manufactured in a bronze mold – were meant to follow the Storm troopers in ” desinfections-trailers” into the enemy`s land, in order to stop them visiting ”infection herds” – linke front-brothels and ”loose women”. At least, this was Himmler ‘s plan. A psychiatrist Dr. Rudolf Chargeheimer , befriended with Hannussen and also involved in the project, wrote him a letter to clearify the difficulties…

Between June 1940 – 1941 IG Farben had already developed a number of ”skin-friendly polymers” for the SS. Special characteristics : high tensile strength and elasticity. The cast of a suitable model proved to be more difficult.

Borghild was meant to reflect the beauty-ideal of the Nazis , i. e. white skin, fair hair and blue eyes. Although the team considered a doll with brown hair , the SS- Hygiene-Institute insisted on manufacturing a ”nordish doll”. Tschakert hoped to plastercast from a living model and a number of famous female athletes were invited to come to his studios, among them Wilhelmina von Bremen and Annette Walter…

In Tschakerts view the doll should be nothing more than a” female best form”, a ”perfect automaton of lust”, that would combine ”the best of all possible bodies”. The team agreed on a cheeky and naughty face , a look-a-like of Käthe von Nagy, but the actress politely declined to lend her face to Tschakert’s doll…

After Mrurgowsky’ s exit , Dr. Hannussen rejected the idea to cast a face from a living person. He believed in an ”artifial face of lust”, which would be more attractive to soldiers.

RTFA for all the foibles of Fascist design ideology. Like so many Nazi projects, the only bits that achieved artistry were copied. In this instance, copied from segments of real women.

Improbable Research — jet-powered maple seed drone

In 1992, Litos et al. patented their bio-mimic throw-in-the-air toy called the ‘Autorotative Flyer’. It might not occur to everyone that the passive toy could be updated, and militarized, with the addition of a supersonic jet pack. But occur it did to high-tech weapons manufacturer Lockheed Martin Inc. which has just received a US patent for its Active Maple Seed Flyer.

The flying jet-seed, which can be used for transporting a miniature video camera for remote surveillance purposes, can also eject an (unspecified) ‘payload object’ on demand. The (unspecified) ‘payload object’ carries an adhesive causing it to stick to surfaces when it lands.

The remote-controlled, 10 gram, 3.5 cm long vehicle can fly for 20 minutes or so, and spins 250 times per second thanks to its supersonic jet thruster. Onboard (or offboard) electronics can de-spin the resulting images says the patent. For the convenience of the human-in-the-loop the seeds come in a blister-pack of 5 or more.

Martin Gardiner asks, “Is this the first time that a children’s toy has has been adapted to form a military device – rather than the other way around?”

My guess is probably not. Different age groups is all.

Dumb crooks of the day!

Unexploded military ordnance detonated Saturday afternoon near Chaparral, NM, critically injuring two El Paso, TX, women who were looking for scrap metal…Apparently this was something they tossed into their pickup truck.

The Otero County Sheriff’s Office said the ordnance went off near Landing Stripin Road just west of U.S. Highway 54 about 1 p.m.

The kind of ordnance that exploded was not identified.

The two El Paso women were airlifted to University Medical Center and are in critical condition, hospital officials said.

Fort Bliss and Department of Defense officials detonated the remaining unexploded ordnance in an area off of the highway around 6:30 p.m. after removing it from a vehicle…

Jethro Armijo, a University Medical Center spokesman, said two women arrived at the hospital at about 2 p.m. Saturday…Armijo did not provide any specifics about the injuries. He said one of the women being treated at the hospital is 50 years old. The age of the other woman is not known, Armijo said…

Officials reopened the highway sometime between 7:30 p.m. and 8 p.m.

“We did close the highway for the general safety of the public because we did have the unexploded ordnance,” Undersheriff Daron Syling said. “For anybody driving past that area we had to respect that blast radius of the potential danger of it. We had to shut it down.”

Officials did not say what kind of ordnance was detonated.

Fort Bliss has had Tank and Artillery battalions stationed there over the years. They could have anything up to and including 155mm howitzer rounds laying around unexploded from training exercises.

You’d think even the dumbest of crooks might recognize something that looks like a helluva big bullet to be dangerous, eh?

Pentagon questions niche vessels — anyone think Congress cares?

The Pentagon’s No. 2 civilian said the U.S. Navy needs more ships with the protection and firepower to survive an advanced adversary, not just “niche platforms,” weeks after she ordered cuts in the $34 billion Littoral Combat Ship program.

Acting Deputy Defense Secretary Christine Fox’s remarks in a San Diego speech…in part reflect Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel’s concerns about the ship designed for shallow coastal waters, said a defense official who asked not to be identified discussing private deliberations at the Pentagon.

Addressing the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association and the Naval Institute, Fox said “the threats to surface combatants continue to grow — not just from advanced military powers, but from the proliferation of more advanced, precise anti-ship munitions around the globe. Clearly, this puts a premium on underseas capabilities — submarines — that can deploy and strike with relative freedom of movement.”

The Littoral Combat Ship, made in two versions by Lockheed Martin Corp. (LMT) and Austal Ltd. (ASB), is a lightly armed vessel intended for roles from submarine-hunting to mine-sweeping. Questions have been raised about its mounting costs and survivability in combat. Last month, Fox directed the Navy to truncate the program to 32 ships after 2019 rather than the 52 previously planned by 2026…

Michael Gilmore, the Pentagon’s director of operational testing, has written that the Littoral Combat Ship “is not expected to be survivable in high-intensity combat” because its designs don’t include features “necessary to conduct sustained combat operations in a major conflict as expected for the Navy’s other surface combatants.” The Navy has acknowledged the vessels are being built to the service’s lowest level of survivability

In other words, don’t send it to refuel in Yemen.

Fox also warned against the “natural tendency to hang on to combat forces at the expense of enablers,” such as electronic warfare and other countermeasures.

“In many respects the U.S. Navy has been so dominant for so long at sea that I worry we never really embraced these solutions,” she said. “The time to start investing in the next generation of electronic warfare is now.”

The average chickenhawk in Congress still thinks they’re watching rerun episodes of “Victory at Sea” with a soundtrack by Richard Rogers. All they care about is how many government jobs end up on their home turf – producing non-consumable goods.

Perish the thought we spend some pile of money on education, infrastructure or healthcare. That would be socialism.

Think anyone other than the USA will build Skynet, Robot Wars against humans?


Mitch McConnell’s new intern

Due to technological revolutions outside its control, the Department of Defense (DoD) anticipates the dawn of a bold new era of automated war within just 15 years. By then, they believe, wars could be fought entirely using intelligent robotic systems armed with advanced weapons.

So, they may as well help it along. Right?

Last week, US defense secretary Chuck Hagel ann​ounced the ‘Defense Innovation Initiative’—a sweeping plan to identify and develop cutting edge technology breakthroughs “over the next three to five years and beyond” to maintain global US “mili​tary-technological superiority.” Areas to be covered by the DoD programme include robotics, autonomous systems, miniaturization, Big Data and advanced manufacturing, including 3D printing…

The Pentagon plans to monopolize imminent “transformational advances” in nanotechnology, robotics, and energy…

Pointing out that “sensitive personal information” can now be easily mined from online sources and social media, they call for policies on “Personally Identifiable Information (PII) to determine the Department’s ability to make use of information from social media in domestic contingencies”—in other words, to determine under what conditions the Pentagon can use private information on American citizens obtained via data-mining of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Flickr and so on.

Just in case the NSA missed anything.

Yet the most direct military application of such technologies, the Pentagon study concludes, will be in “Command-Control-Communications, Computers and Intelligence-Surveillance-Reconnaissance (C4ISR)”—a field led by “world-class organizations such as the National Security Agency (NSA).”

RTFA for lots more scary crap from the government sector responsible for bringing us everything from Agent Orange to Enhanced Interrogation Techniques.

Let me say it once again. Either takeover the Democrats and install a backbone or go the 3rd Party route to twist their arms and inspire the courageous action needed to forestall this version of the future. Because you know we ain’t gonna have any robots big enough to fight back against theirs.