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unhappycamper's Journal
unhappycamper's Journal
November 28, 2012

How 'Revolutionary' Is CHAMP, New Air Force Microwave Weapon?


How 'Revolutionary' Is CHAMP, New Air Force Microwave Weapon?
By David Axe
Published: November 28, 2012

The targets were buildings packed with humming computers. A missile streaked overhead and, at preset coordinates, it fired concentrated beams of energy. Computers short-circuited, the lights flickered out and even cameras monitoring the rooms shut off. The missile had turned off all the power in the targeted buildings.

This first successful test of the three-year, $40-million Counter-electronics High-powered Microwave Advanced Missile Project (CHAMP) at a Utah test range on Oct. 16 marked a big step forward for technology that has been in development for more than four decades.

The potential of CHAMP and other so-called Electro-Magnetic Pulse (EMP) weapons is enormous, in theory. They could allow an army to bloodlessly disable select portions of an enemy's military capabilities, potentially winning a fight without a lethal shot being fired.

But CHAMP itself, a collaboration between the Air Force Research Laboratory, defense giants Boeing and Raytheon plus Ktech, a small company Raytheon acquired last year, does not necessarily herald "a new era in modern-day warfare," as Keith Coleman, the CHAMP program manager at Boeing Phantom Works, claimed in a press release. Boeing declined to comment for this story.
November 28, 2012

What’s it like to pilot a drone? A lot like 'Call of Duty'


Creech AFB predator pilots

What’s it like to pilot a drone? A lot like 'Call of Duty'
By John Brandon
Published November 26, 2012

Teenagers raised on "Call of Duty" and "Halo" might relish flying a massive Predator drone -- a surprisingly similar activity.

Pilots of unmanned military aircraft use a joystick to swoop down into the battlefield, spot enemy troop movements, and snap photos of terror suspects, explained John Hamby, a former military commander who led surveillance missions during the Iraq War.

“You’re always maneuvering the airplane to get a closer look,” Hamby told FoxNews.com. “You’re constantly searching for the bad guys and targets of interest. When you do find something that is actionable, you’re a hero.”

Yet a new study at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) found real-life drone operators can become easily bored. Only one participant paid attention during an entire test session, while even top performers spent a third of the time checking a cellphone or catching up on the latest novel.
November 28, 2012

New drone is loaded on aircraft carrier for next phase of testing


New drone is loaded on aircraft carrier for next phase of testing
By W.J. Hennigan, Los Angeles Times
November 28, 2012

The U.S. Navy's new bat-winged experimental drone has been delivered to an aircraft carrier to undergo handling tests aboard the ship.

The Navy said that sailors aboard the aircraft carrier Harry S. Truman took delivery of the drone Monday from Naval Air Station Patuxent River in Maryland, where it had been undergoing tests.

Truman is the first aircraft carrier to conduct test operations for an unmanned aircraft.

The drone, named the X-47B, is designed to perform one of aviation's most difficult maneuvers: landing on the deck of an aircraft carrier. What's even more remarkable is that it will do that not only without a pilot in the cockpit, but without a pilot at all.
November 28, 2012

In suicide epidemic, military wrestles with prosecuting troops who attempt it


In suicide epidemic, military wrestles with prosecuting troops who attempt it
Tuesday, Nov. 27, 2012
By Michael Doyle - McClatchy Newspapers

WASHINGTON — Marine Corps Pvt. Lazzaric T. Caldwell slit his wrists and spurred a legal debate that’s consuming the Pentagon, as well as the nation’s top military appeals court.

On Tuesday, the court wrestled with the wisdom of prosecuting Caldwell after his January 2010 suicide attempt. Though Caldwell pleaded guilty, he and his attorneys now question his original plea and the broader military law that makes “self-injury” a potential criminal offense.


“If suicide is indeed the worst enemy the armed forces have,” Senior Judge Walter T. Cox III said, “then why should we criminalize it when it fails?”

For 40 minutes Tuesday morning, Cox and the four other members of the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces sounded deeply ambivalent about the complexities involved in prosecuting members of the military who try to kill themselves. While several judges sounded skeptical about the government’s claim that Caldwell’s actions brought discredit to the Marine Corps, judges also sounded hesitant about ruling out prosecution altogether.
November 28, 2012

The Lies of the Longest War


The Lies of the Longest War


Since the 2001 invasion, 2,158 American troops have been killed, 294 this year alone. Over 18,000 soldiers have been wounded, many with permanent injuries. Thousands of combat veterans are suffering with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injury (TBI). The Veterans Affairs (VA) Department is overwhelmed with returning soldiers in need of mental and other health services. Suicide is at epidemic levels among active-duty personnel and veterans. According to Gen. Raymond Odierno, the Army chief of staff, suicide has surpassed combat deaths and motor vehicle accidents as the most frequent cause of death among Army forces. The suicide rate within the Army doubled from 2004 to 2009. Today, suicide rates are at one a day among active-duty personnel and at 18 a day among veterans.

The war has had a particularly devastating impact on the Afghan civilian population. A New York Times article published in early 2010 reported that in video-conference with troops then senior military commander in Afghanistan Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal admitted, “We have shot an amazing number of people, but to my knowledge, none has ever proven to be a threat.” By most estimates, more than 20,000 Afghan civilians have been killed or injured since the war began.

The financial cost of the war is approaching $600 billion. War spending for Afghanistan in FY2012 alone was $111 billion. This is an amount which, if spent domestically, could have provided low-income health care to 57 million children for one year OR one year’s worth of groceries for an individual to 53 million people.

The war in Afghanistan has produced tens of thousands of veterans in need of assistance to re-integrate into society. Yet, only 5 percent of all federal discretionary spending in the proposed FY2013 budget was dedicated to veterans’ benefits. Military spending, on the other hand, accounts for a whopping 57 percent of this spending. In 2011, only 4.4 cents of every tax dollar went to veterans’ benefits, while 27 cents went to the military. In September 2012, Senate Republicans blocked legislation that would have allocated $1 billion to create new job-training programs for veterans. These actions suggest that Congress is fast to throw money at a bloated military budget, which for FY2011 was almost as large as the next 14 countries’ combined, but considers it acceptable to devote comparatively few dollars to provide adequate care and compensation to veterans.
November 28, 2012

John McCain Says He’s ‘Proud’ Of Ex-Lockheed Martin Lobbyist He Hired As Defense Staffer


John McCain Says He’s ‘Proud’ Of Ex-Lockheed Martin Lobbyist He Hired As Defense Staffer
Posted at 3:48 pm by Zaid Jilani

Earlier this year, we reported that Northrop Grumman gave one of its lobbyists an effective $500,000 bonus when he joined the House Armed Services Committee to make defense policy. It now appears that this isn’t the only pay-out from the industry to a future staffer.

Last week, the Project On Government Oversight (POGO) noted that Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), the ranking Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, hired Ann Elise Sauer, who was a lobbyist for Lockheed Martin last year, as the Republican staff director for the committee in February.

POGO revealed that Sauer received $1.66 million in pay last year and this year from Lockheed, which was described as “RETIRED PAY” in her required personal financial disclosures. This indicates that she received a de facto bonus for leaving lobbying to join government.

In response to the POGO report, McCain spokesman Brian Rogers defended the choice of Sauer, saying, “Senator McCain is very proud of Ms. Sauer’s long, distinguished career working on a range of important defense issues both in Congress and in the private sector.”

November 28, 2012

Why So Secretive? The Trans-Pacific Partnership as Global Coup


A summit with leaders of the member states of the Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership Agreement (TPP) in November, 2010.

Why So Secretive? The Trans-Pacific Partnership as Global Coup
Sunday, 25 November 2012 09:29
By Andrew Gavin Marshall, Occupy.com | News Analysis

The Trans-Pacific Partnership is the most secretive and “least transparent” trade negotiations in history.

Luckily for the populations and societies that will be affected by the agreement, there are public research organizations and alternative media outlets campaigning against it – and they’ve even released several leaks of draft agreement chapters. From these leaks, which are not covered by mainstream corporate-controlled news outlets, we are able to get a better understanding of what the Trans-Pacific Partnership actually encompasses.

For example, public interest groups have been warning that the TPP could result in millions of lost jobs. As a letter from Congress to United States Trade Representative Ron Kirk stated, the TPP “will create binding policies on future Congresses in numerous areas,” including “those related to labor, patent and copyright, land use, food, agriculture and product standards, natural resources, the environment, professional licensing, state-owned enterprises and government procurement policies, as well as financial, healthcare, energy, telecommunications and other service sector regulations.”


The leaked documents revealed that the Obama administration “intends to bestow radical new political powers upon multinational corporations,” as Obama and Kirk have emerged as strong advocates “for policies that environmental activists, financial reform advocates and labor unions have long rejected for eroding key protections currently in domestic laws.”
November 28, 2012

Part 1: How Petraeus Created the Myth of His Success


Maj. Gen. David Petraeus, right, holding a meeting with community leaders in Mosul, Iraq on April 30, 2003.

How Petraeus Created the Myth of His Success
Tuesday, 27 November 2012 17:43
By Gareth Porter, Truthout | Report

The discovery of his affair with Paula Broadwell has ended David Petraeus' career, but the mythology of Petraeus as the greatest US military leader since Eisenhower for having engineered turnarounds in both the Iraq and Afghanistan wars lives on.

A closer examination of his role in those wars reveals a very different picture, however.

As this four-part series will show, Petraeus represents a new type of military commander, whose primary strength lay neither in strategy nor in command of combat, but in the strategic manipulation of information to maintain domestic political support for counterinsurgency wars of choice, while at the time enhancing his own reputation.

The series will show how Petraeus was engaged from the beginning of the Iraq war in creating a myth about himself as a commander with unique ability to defeat insurgents, that he knew he had failed in his first two commands in Iraq and that he did not believe that war was winnable.
November 27, 2012

Audit Says Kabul Bank Began as ‘Ponzi Scheme’


The chief judge in the Kabul Bank case, Shams Rahman Shams, at center behind desk, listened to a defense lawyer during a hearing this month. The United States has pressed for prosecutions.

Audit Says Kabul Bank Began as ‘Ponzi Scheme’
Published: November 26, 2012

KABUL, Afghanistan — Kabul Bank became Afghanistan’s largest financial institution by offering the promise of modern banking to people who had never had a saving or checking account. What it really dealt in was modern theft: “From its very beginning,” according to a confidential forensic audit of Kabul Bank, “the bank was a well-concealed Ponzi scheme.”

Afghan and American officials had for years promoted Kabul Bank as a prime example of how Western-style banking was transforming a war-ravaged economy. But the audit, prepared this year for Afghanistan’s central bank by the Kroll investigative firm, gives new details of how the bank instead was institutionalizing fraud that reached into the hundreds of millions of dollars and obliterated Afghans’ trust after regulators finally seized the bank in August 2010 and the theft was revealed.

Going further than previous reports, the audit asserts that Kabul Bank had little reason to exist other than to allow a narrow clique tied to President Hamid Karzai’s government to siphon riches from depositors, who were the bank’s only substantial source of revenue.

At one point, Kroll’s investigators found 114 rubber stamps for fake companies used to give forged documents a more legitimate look. And the auditing firms used by the bank never took issue with loan books that were “almost entirely fraudulent,” Kroll found, recommending that the Afghan government explore suing the last such auditor, A.F. Ferguson & Co., a private Pakistani firm with a franchise under PricewaterhouseCoopers.

unhappycamper comment: If you were to read the article, you would find out 92% of the bank's funds ($861 million) went to 19 people and companies.
November 27, 2012

Analysis: For Obama, could 10,000 troops in Afghanistan be too many?


Analysis: For Obama, could 10,000 troops in Afghanistan be too many?
By Phil Stewart
WASHINGTON | Mon Nov 26, 2012 6:01pm EST

(Reuters) - President Barack Obama publicly scoffed at the idea of keeping 10,000 troops in Iraq. So could he really be persuaded to keep that many in Afghanistan after the war formally ends in 2014?

The 10,000 figure is well within a preliminary range put forward by the top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan, General John Allen, and which is informing deliberations by the Obama administration, one U.S. official said.

But the optics could be tricky for Obama, who must balance his promise to end the war in Afghanistan in 2014 with the need to keep enough forces there to prevent the destabilization of the country and a return of al Qaeda. He also must get Kabul to agree.

"As long as (U.S. troops) are in a war zone and putting their lives on the line, it's hard for any president to say the war is over," said Juan Zarate, a former counterterrorism adviser to President George W. Bush and a senior adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

unhappycamper comment: If we figure these 10,000 unfortunates cost $1 million a year (fully loaded since we are paying at least 70% of NATO costs and most of the bill for the 100+ thousand contractors currently in Afghanistan), no.

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