Tag Archives: aviation

‘Nintendo Medal’ for Military Drone Pilots

6 Mar

by Russ McSpadden / Earth First! News

[The text of this work is free to share and distribute under the following Creative Commons License CC-BY-ND 3.0]

Department of Defense

Department of Defense

The U.S. has a growing corps of cyber-warriors and drone pilots who target human populations with bomb strapped drones. Now  the Pentagon is commending their all-too-real virtual combat with a new medal.

Last month, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta approved the military’s first new combat medal in nearly a century. The Distinguished Warfare Medal is bestowed to  individuals in recognition of “extraordinary contributions” to combat operations conducted from afar.

In the military hierarchy of honor, the new ‘lethal gamer’ medal is the eighth highest award behind the Medal of Honor.

Some are calling it the “Chair-borne Medal,” “the Nintendo Medal,” “the Purple Buttocks,” and the “Distant Warfare Medal,” demeaning the computer-based iWarriors because they are not exposed to imminent mortal danger like traditional combat soldiers. A growing alliance of veterans groups and politicians are lobbying the Pentagon and President Obama to downgrade the award, which is ahead of the Bronze Star and Purple Heart in terms of distinction.

Regardless of the kerfuffle over the proper accolades for the military’s deadly computer nerd-core, little argument has been put forward questioning the ethics of bestowing an honorary trinket on a group of techno-assassins that spy on and bomb suspected terrorists, American citizens, wedding parties and children from the comfort of a computer screen.

Read more on techno-monstrosities in McSpadden’s “The Early History of the Robot Wars” Part 1 and Part 2

62 Year Old Wild Albatross Hatches 35th Chick, Travels 3 Million Miles

8 Feb

by George Dvorsky / IO9original

Tracked by scientists since 1956, a Laysan albatross dubbed “Widsom” has hatched a healthy chick at the tender age of 62. The (apparently) elderly bird has now successfully given birth for the sixth consecutive year and is assumed to have parented at least 35 chicks over the course of her preternaturally long lifetime. And what might be even more impressive is the fact that Wisdom has flown an awe inspiring three million miles (4.8 million kilometers) since she was first branded.

The hatching was documented by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologist Pete Leary who is working at Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge. Over the course of her life, Wisdom has worn out five bird bands since being tagged by the U.S. Geological Survey’s Chandler Robbins in 1956. Continue reading

‘Idle No More’ Cree Youth In 900 Mile Frozen Solidarity Trek to Ottawa

25 Jan

by David P. Ball / Indian Country Today

 Cree youth journey 900 miles by snowshoe from Hudson Bay to Ottawa in support of Idle No More. [Photo from Facebook]

Cree youth journey 900 miles by snowshoe from Hudson Bay to Ottawa in support of Idle No More. [Photo from Facebook]

Through stinging temperatures far below freezing—plummeting down to -53F with windchill—six young men and a guide are snowshoeing on a historic two-month, more than 900-mile journey south to Ottawa as part of the Idle No More movement.

Embarking with a prayer ceremony and the blessing of their chief, the youth, aged 16 to 21, and their 42-year old guide embarked on what they’re calling the Quest of Wisjinichu-Nishiyuu (Quest For Unity).

The youth are from Whapmagoostui First Nation, a fly-in-only community in far northern Quebec, on Hudson Bay. Without any roads to their almost entirely Cree-speaking community, the seven trekkers are nearing the only road south, in the Cree community of Chisasibi roughly 150 miles away.

Their journey is in support of the Idle No More movement, “to show the strength of Cree culture,” and in solidarity with Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence, who has ended her 44-day liquids-only fast as of January 24.

“The journey is a quest,” the band’s Chief Stanley George told CKLB Radio. “They want to send a message to everyone. The Cree nations of Quebec, like other nations, are keepers of our language; we use it every day, at work, school, wherever we are. We still hunt and practice the traditional way of life every chance we have. Our community supports Theresa Spence in her hunger strike, and the Idle No More movement.” Continue reading

Drones Over Disney World

14 Jan

by Russ McSpadden / Earth First! News

[The text of this work is free to share and distribute under the following Creative Commons License CC-BY-ND 3.0]

Sleeper cells, domestic terrorists and the Seven Dwarfs had better beware: Florida’s Orange County Sherriff’s office is getting hyped to unleash unmanned drones over Orlando skies this summer.

Disney will now be more exciting once blood thirsty drones patrol the skies.

Disney will now be more exciting once blood thirsty drones patrol the skies.

Two drones, similar to those which fly over tribal regions of Central Asia to bomb suspected terrorists, unlucky wedding parties, children and even American citizens, are currently being tested.

However, according to Sheriff’s spokesman Jeff Williamson, Orlando’s drones will not be armed.  The office still needs approval from county officials and the FAA.

Drones are already being used all over the United States, have been recommended for use by wildlife officials to shoot “problem” wolves in the West and are a daily site along the U.S. Mexico border. The Miami-Dade Police Department is also considering their use.

Predator drones used by the military and CIA cost roughly $4 million a pop and are about the size of a two-seater Cessna. Orlando’s drones are a bit smaller and, according to Williams, cost roughly $25,000 apiece.

A map of the rugged Jungle Cruise terrain, home to a  bunch of scary but fake shit.

A map of Disney’s rugged Jungle Cruise terrain, a region known for lawless tribes sympathetic to Al Qaeda.

Williams did not comment in any depth as to exactly how the remote-controlled planes would be used but in an email he noted that they might be deployed to look for explosives, barricaded suspects and to inspect “hostile/inaccessible terrain,” which may refer to Orlando traffic, the regions dwindling swamps, or Disneyland’s sanitized version of a wild Jungle Cruise.

Will the Orange County Sheriff’s drones hunt down Dopey’s dope and Grumpy’s anti-American manifesto before its too late?

Corvids: The Birds Who Think Like Humans

11 Jan

by Annalee Newitz original

Someday I will come up with a good reason why I am friends with the neighborhood crows. For now, I can say that it started when I looked up from my office window to see this big flock of crows hanging out on the roof of an apartment building nearby. I had heard that these creatures, part of a larger family of birds called corvids, were among the smartest animals in the world. If they were that intelligent, I wanted to meet them. How could I get those awesome animals to come visit me? I decided to find out. Continue reading

Wild & Weird: Winged Funerals

28 Dec

by the Center for Biological Diversitywsja3

When western scrub jays spot the lifeless body of another on the ground, they cease their foraging and flight to alert fellow jays. And from great distances the others come, gathering around their dead and singing their cacophonous dirge — what ornithologists call “zeeps,” “scolds” and “zeep-scolds” — to encourage those even farther away to attend.

According to a recent study published in the journal Animal Behaviour, these funerary rites help jays share information about nearby danger. In the study, Western scrub jays reacted differently to a series of objects set out by observers from the University of California, Davis: They attempted to scare off a stuffed predator, scolded a stuffed jay, ignored painted scraps resembling a dead jay, but gathered to better understand the implications of a true death.

Of course, such practical yet metaphysical contemplation isn’t entirely shocking coming from such a smart bird. Recent research also suggests western scrub jays may be among the most intelligent animals, with a brain-to-body-mass ratio that rivals that of chimps and whales and an uncanny ability to plan for the future — long believed a uniquely human trait.

Read more in BBC Nature.

Wild & Weird: Need Green Cleaning Products? Try Flesh-eating Beetles

12 Dec

by the Center for Biological Diversity220px-Human_Skull_being_cleaning_by_Dermestid_Beetles

Looking for Earth-friendly, nontoxic home-care solutions that really work — at least for maintaining your personal collection of display-ready skeletal specimens? The Natural History Museum in London has landed on a great, albeit creepy-crawly, green alternative to peroxide and carbon tetrachloride: hundreds of flesh-eating beetles.

That’s right: Dermestes maculatus, a hairy beetle that lives on every continent except Antarctica, is now a working member of the museum’s preservation department, scurrying and nibbling away at cadavers of animals whose skeletons are destined for study and display. Unlike nasty chemicals, these six-legged solvents — which can consume nearly nine pounds of flesh a week — won’t cause damage to those valuable bones.

Check out this time-lapse video to see the beetles ravage a parrot, owl and pheasant; to see what they’re dining on in real time, check out the Museum’s live flesh-eating beetle cam.