Navy’s Robo-Craft has NO crew and one big machine gun


MCSpl3 Rebekah M. Rinckey

One of the most important but generally overlooked missions of the U.S. Navy is port security. While incidents in peacetime are generally rare, the 2000 terrorist attack on the destroyer USS Cole remains a real danger. Now the Navy is experimenting with using one of its newest unmanned boats as a way to protect warships sitting pierside from attack.

Since the attack on the Cole, the Navy has gotten a lot more serious about port security. Now the service is testing the Common Unmanned Surface Vehicle (CUSV) as an unmanned, autonomous sentry capable of protecting much bigger ships from interlopers. The service is testing CUSV at Norfolk Naval Base, where it simulated patrolling near the guided-missile destroyer Arleigh Burke and the aircraft carrier John C. Stennis.

CUSV is a small, unmanned boat developed by Textron Systems. CUSV is also modular and can be adapted to many different roles. For the harbor security role, the Navy added electro-optical cameras, loudspeakers, and a remote-controlled .50-caliber machine gun. While CUSV has the ability to conduct many tasks autonomously, such as patrolling a set geographic area, only a human monitoring the situation remotely can fire the weapon.

Anyone out there who DOESN’T know any geeks/gamers/hackers who’d love to play with this [guaranteed to be] overpriced toy?

Nature strikes back at urbanization

A postmaster seems dumbfounded in a 911 call he made to get help for a New Jersey letter carrier who was trapped inside his truck by several wild turkeys.

The incident played out Tuesday in Hillsdale, New Jersey. The audio was released Wednesday.

The postmaster initially tells police “you’re not going to believe this” before providing details about the attack, noting similar events have happened before. The police officer who took the call sounds equally amazed.

Authorities say about seven turkeys accosted the letter carrier, but he wasn’t injured.

Two officers scared off the turkeys so the letter carrier could continue his route.

Wild turkeys can be pretty scary. Too bad Ben Franklin didn’t win his campaign to make them the national bird. More character than most of their peers.

Public opinion grows against Syrian assault

John loves john

President Obama faces an uphill battle in making the case for U.S. military action in Syria. By a 48% to 29% margin, more Americans oppose than support conducting military airstrikes against Syria in response to reports that the Syrian government used chemical weapons.

The new national survey by the Pew Research Center, conducted Aug. 29-Sept. 1 among 1,000 adults, finds that Obama has significant ground to make up in his own party. Just 29% of Democrats favor conducting airstrikes against Syria while 48% are opposed. Opinion among independents is similar (29% favor, 50% oppose). Republicans are more divided, with 35% favoring airstrikes and 40% opposed…

Republicans still own that portion of America that generally wishes death and destruction on furriners.

Three-quarters (74%) believe that U.S. airstrikes in Syria are likely to create a backlash against the United States and its allies in the region and 61% think it would be likely to lead to a long-term U.S. military commitment there. Meanwhile, just 33% believe airstrikes are likely to be effective in discouraging the use of chemical weapons; roughly half (51%) think they are not likely to achieve this goal…

I still think they should break out the polling structure into well-informed, casual TV news-watchers and committed lifetime idjits. We all know where the last-named quality votes; but, it might be interesting to examine the first two in light of our government’s agitprop supporting another attack upon a foreign land.

30 years of US military attacks on other nations

A look at major U.S. military strikes as ordered by the last five U.S. presidents and the degree of international support behind the actions.

There are pages of our peace-loving nation, politicians and pundits rubber-stamping more imperial wars per year than Caesar ever dreamt of. I’ll limit this post to the list. Click through at the link for more detail.

RONALD REAGAN

—Beirut (1982-83): U.S. troops deployed to Lebanon as part of a three-nation peacekeeping force. Reagan ordered limited airstrikes, with France…

—Grenada (1983): Invasion by an estimated 7,000 U.S. troops and 300 OAS troops…

—Libya (1986): Airstrikes to punish leader Moammar Gadhafi’s regime for a Berlin disco explosion…

GEORGE H.W. BUSH

—Panama (1989): Invasion by more than 26,000 troops…

—Iraq (1991): Invasion of Iraq with troops from 33 other countries…

—Somalia (1992): Deployed troops for peacekeeping and humanitarian aid…

BILL CLINTON

—Iraq (1993): Launched cruise missiles into Baghdad…

—Somalia (1993): Increased troop deployment…

—Haiti (1994) Deployed troops for peacekeeping and nation-building…

—Bosnia (1994-96): Launched airstrikes with NATO allies over 18 months…

—Iraq (1996): Launched cruise missiles at targets in southern Iraq…

—Sudan, Afghanistan (1998): Launched cruise missiles at terrorist training camps in Sudan and Afghanistan…

—Iraq (1998): Launched cruise missiles and airstrikes on a number of Baghdad targets…

—Kosovo: (1999): Launched airstrikes and cruise missiles over more than three months…

GEORGE W. BUSH

—Afghanistan (2001): Invaded as part of NATO mission…

—Iraq (2003): Invaded with ‘‘coalition of the willing’’…

BARACK OBAMA

—Libya (2011): Launched cruise missiles and commanded initial international military operation…

—Osama bin Laden (2011): While not an attack on a foreign nation, the raid that killed the al-Qaida leader is considered one of the Obama administration’s top military and intelligence successes…

ALSO NOTED:

Hundreds of deadly drone strikes have been carried out on al-Qaida targets during the Obama and the George W. Bush presidencies. The vast majority of them have been in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Yemen…

Imagine how many people we might kill if we weren’t a peace-loving nation.

Lawrence Wilkerson – “It seems like the same thing again”

Lawrence Wilkerson, the man who reviewed the intelligence in Secretary of State Colin Powell’s infamous 2003 pre-Iraq War United Nations presentation said Thursday the Obama administration’s buildup for a strike on Syria “seems like the same thing again.”

“So far all I’ve thought is I’m living through the five days at Langley again, with people telling me Saddam Hussein has weapons of mass destruction with absolutely certainty,” Wilkerson, a retired Army colonel who served as Powell’s chief of staff, said in a phone interview, referring to the Obama administration’s public case for action against Syria in response to a chemical weapons attack…

Powell’s team spent five days at the CIA headquarters in Langley, Va. in 2003, reviewing the evidence that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction. Then he went ahead with a crucial speech at the U.N. in New York, claiming that Iraq was stockpiling weapons of mass destruction. That assertion was false, and Wilkerson later rued his participation in preparing the speech as “probably the biggest mistake of my life.”

It seems like the same thing again,” Wilkerson said. “People have pointed out to me that this is a Democratic president, and I point out to them that Lyndon Johnson was a Democratic president…”

If you’re too young to recall, LBJ used a phony incident in the Gulf of Tonkin to justify a wider war against VietNam.

Anonymous administration officials have admitted to reporters, however, that they have no conclusive evidence whether Syrian President Bashar al-Assad ordered the attack. One intercepted communication raised the possibility that a lower-ranking officer overstepped his bounds in ordering the attack.

Wilkerson said that he, too, has reviewed seemingly conclusive CIA and National Security Agency intelligence intercepts…in 2003, and pointed blame at Hussein.

“Intercepts themselves, unless they’re just incredibly specific and backed up … by some other form of intelligence that independently corroborates them, can be very misleading,” Wilkerson said.

I see no need to waste time psychologizing over Obama’s potential decisions. Whatever the reason or rationale, the United States has a history of acting more like Caesar than the dictator of Imperial Roman ever did. We find it easier to obliterate whole communities in the name of collateral damage than Hitler’s Condors in the Spanish Civil War. Guilt or innocence has nothing to do with how our government wields military power.

It is power for its own sake. It is one nation assuming the right to be judge and jury – and capital punishment is the only choice.

Connecticut seaside town sends out terror attack alert – Oops!

Candidate for head of Homeland Security

Residents of Old Saybrook received quite a shock after hearing the area was under a terrorist attack over the Connecticut town’s public address system on Sunday afternoon.

The Office of Emergency Management said a dispatcher accidentally made a series of errors, which caused the message to play over speakers placed around town. The message also warned residents to seek shelter…

Reverse 911 calls were made through the Everbridge Emergency Notification System apologizing for the error and saying in part, “There is no emergency, and there is no homeland security crisis in or near the Town of Old Saybrook.”

The Office of Emergency Management said it takes the matter very seriously and an internal investigation has begun into that dispatcher’s actions.

The possibility for disruptive errors like this one don’t exist – of course – where the public and politicians alike have decided not to rule their lives by fear and trepidation.

Former investigators break silence about TWA Flight 800 crash

twa

Investigators from the first probe of doomed TWA Flight 800 called Wednesday for a new examination of the tragedy, resurrecting old claims that a missile downed the plane.

A half-dozen people involved in the original inquiry into the July 17, 1996, blast that killed 230 people on a Paris-bound flight out of JFK Airport claimed new evidence supports the oft-suggested missile theory…

The investigators – in a conference call promoting an upcoming documentary, “Flight 800” – charged the original probe ignored testimony from nearly 700 eyewitnesses and included evidence tampering…

New evidence suggests there were more than 100 traces of explosives found in the plane’s wreckage, and internal CIA documents suggest a cover-up, they charge…

And they referenced FAA radar evidence that reportedly pointed to a missile hit – although they declined to speculate if it was a terrorist attack or friendly fire…

Tom Stalcup, joined Wednesday by former NTSB investigator Hank Hughes and former TWA investigator Bob Young, said they had no doubt that a missile was responsible for the plane’s demise…

Skeptics and conspiracy theorists have long argued that TWA 800 was shot down by the U.S. Navy or hit with a terrorist rocket.

It’s easy to understand why these folks didn’t want to be whistleblowers while still collecting paychecks from the NTSB. Folks who expose corruption and lies – corporate or government makes no difference – get next to no protection regardless of the laws on the books.

Mucus harbors a previously unknown human immune system


Click through for press release from SDSU

Though not something people like to ponder, the purpose of mucus as a protective barrier that keeps underlying tissues moist and traps bacteria and other foreign organisms is well known. However, researchers at San Diego State University (SDSU) have now discovered that the surface of mucus is also the site of an independent human immune system that actively protects us from infectious agents in the environment.

Mucus is produced by tissue that lines the inner surfaces of the body which come into contact with the outer environment. The mouth, nose, sinuses, throat, lungs, and gastrointestinal tract all possess mucus-producing tissue. The mucus layer has long been identified as providing protection against the outside world, but in a rather passive manner.

No longer. An SDSU research team led by biology post-doc Jeremy Barr has discovered that a previously unsuspected immune system is active on the surface of the mucus layer. This immune system consists of a layer of bacteria-infecting viruses (bacteriophage), that actively attack and kill infectious (and harmless) bacteria as the viruses multiply…

Many varieties of bacteriophage are collected on the mucus layer of animals from the environment. These take on a role to defend the animal from infection by killing infectious intruders. The bacteriophage find the mucus layer to be a pleasant environment, where they find comfortable living conditions and plenty of food and hosts for replication of the bacteriophage: a win-win situation for all.

“This discovery not only proposes a new immune system but also demonstrates the first symbiotic relationship between phage and animals,” Barr said. “It will have a significant impact across numerous fields.”

RTFA for some of the details.