Monday, 12 September 2011
Friday, 09 September 2011
Thursday, 08 September 2011
- "Street Markets and Shantytowns Forge the World's Urban Future."
- BerkShares. Alternative currency in MA. "The BerkShares are highlighting that we can survive by producing things locally."
- A Norton study calculates the cost of global cybercrime at $114 billion annually. Fuzzy math shows $271 billion more in lost time.
- String from recycled PET bottles in Brazil. Video.
- The Center. A 20 square mile model of a U.S. city to be built in New Mexico to "test everything from renewable energy innovations to intelligent traffic systems, next-generation wireless networks and smart-grid cyber security systems."
Soldiers who fly hand-launched drone scouts to spot enemies on the battlefield may soon get a deadly robotic device capable of also delivering a knockout blow. The U.S. Army has ordered its first batch of small suicide drones that are capable of launching from a small tube, loitering in the sky and then diving at a target upon command.The backpack-size "Switchblade" drone and its launch tube give individual soldiers a new level of precise control over an explosive weapon. Rather than calling in supporting artillery fire or airstrikes, soldiers can simply launch the Switchblade from out of sight, confirm a target on a live video feed from the drone, and then command the robotic device to arm itself and fly into the target at high speed.
"The unique capabilities provided by the Switchblade agile munition for standoff engagement, accuracy and controlled effects make it an ideal weapon for today's fight and for U.S. military forces of the future," said Bill Nichols, deputy product director at the Army's Close Combat Weapons Systems project office.
Operators can even call off strikes at the last second after arming the Switchblade. That kind of control allows soldiers to retarget in case an enemy moves out of sight, or avoid collateral damage if a civilian wanders too close.
The drone, created by AeroVironment, is able to fly in both autonomous robot mode or as a remotely piloted air vehicle. Either way, its small size and quiet electric motor allow it to approach targets without warning. It can even switch off its motor and glide in for a stealthy attack.
"Just as our small unmanned aircraft systems provide game-changing reconnaissance capabilities to ground forces, Switchblade provides a revolutionary rapid strike capability to protect our troops and give them a valuable new advantage on the battlefield," said Tom Herring, AeroVironment senior vice president and general manager of Unmanned Aircraft Systems.
AeroVironment received a $4.9 million contract from the Army's Close Combat Weapons Systems on June 29. The company publicly announced the deal on Sept. 1.
Like this can't be duplicated by radio controlled airplane and chemistry enthusiasts....
Two documentaries released in the last year convey the nature of modern combat and illustrate how the U.S. and NATO mission in Afghanistan differs from previous wars. The first is Restrepo, directed by Sebastian Junger, a journalist and author, and Tim Hetherington, a photojournalist who was killed in Libya in April. The film follows a U.S. Army platoon as it holds an outpost in the Korengal Valley, in northeastern Afghanistan, near the Pakistan border. The second is Armadillo, directed and shot, respectively, by two Danish filmmakers, Janus Metz and Lars Skree; it features a Danish army platoon in an outpost in the farmlands of southern Afghanistan. Both films concentrate on battle and the attitudes of the platoons, showing Western soldiers confronting a wily enemy.
Taken together, the films show how advanced technology and scholarly thinking do not always translate into victory on the battlefield. U.S. and NATO soldiers have access to precision firepower and astonishing technologies that can track anyone moving. They are akin to starship troopers set down on an alien planet where the tribes are a thousand years less advanced. At the beginning of the documentaries, the soldiers dutifully proclaim a counterinsurgency strategy that emphasizes winning the commitment of local tribes. Yet in practice, the films show the reality of grim daily patrols focused on confronting an invisible enemy, while the villagers stand on the sidelines. Neither documentary suggests that such U.S. and NATO patrols, as the fulcrum for counterinsurgency, result in any tribal support for the Afghan government in Kabul.
DOMINANCE ≠ INVINCIBILITY
Restrepo and Armadillo are named, respectively, after the two outposts where the films' action takes place -- two small, isolated bases representative of many others. Bristling with machine guns and mortars, these forts are virtually impregnable. Any sprinkling of enemy fire invites devastating counterbarrages, especially in Restrepo, in which hostile fire is met by heavy U.S. air and artillery attacks, with white phosphorous shells setting fire to the hillsides. From their remote bases, U.S. and NATO soldiers live in siege-like conditions, with Taliban fighters prowling within sight of the forts. The soldiers know the enemy is watching, and local villagers are standoffish and unhelpful. Mines lurk underfoot; an air of incipient danger surrounds every patrol. Near the start of Armadillo, a Danish soldier warns a group of newly arrived troops, "Ten Taliban might attack 40 of you; they're not afraid."
And yet from forts such as these across northeastern and southern Afghanistan, coalition patrols are expected to drive back the Taliban -- and thus, in theory, protect the Pashtun population, a fundamental goal of U.S. counterinsurgency strategy. The scenes of fighting in Afghanistan in both films are quick, intense, and, in some ways, opaque. Bullets snap past the camera with no enemy in sight. Soldiers shout, point vaguely, and unleash a torrent of return fire. All seems chaos; then, after a few minutes, the firing ceases. Because Taliban fighters tend to be terrible marksmen, the episodic skirmishes of Restrepo and Armadillo sound and feel like noisy computer war games and appear to inflict no damage. Compared with those of the Vietnam War, the casualties in Afghanistan have been light: over a decade, almost 60,000 U.S. soldiers were killed in Vietnam, whereas the war in Afghanistan, as of June 2011, has left 1,600 dead. The United States and the Taliban are such an extreme mismatch militarily -- U.S. forces possess overwhelmingly devastating firepower and the ability to target enemies both day and night using overhead imagery -- that Taliban fighters shoot only fleetingly. Often, they have little chance to even mount an attack: in Armadillo, video from cameras mounted on NATO drone aircraft shows insurgents taking positions behind compound walls, only to be quickly obliterated by artillery. Airborne surveillance and exact striking power prevent any enemy from sustaining a large presence for more than a few hours; as such, it is hard to envision a terrorist safe haven anywhere inside Afghanistan.
Yet as these films also show, military dominance does not mean invincibility. The viewers of Restrepo and Armadillo know that sooner or later someone will be hit; no infantry platoon emerges unscathed from Afghanistan. In a scene in Restrepo reminiscent of Apache attacks in old Hollywood Westerns, the U.S. platoon climbs a wooded ridgeline, knowing that insurgents lurk nearby. The soldiers listen to intercepts of Taliban radio traffic that suggest the enemy fighters are getting closer. Suddenly, Sergeant Larry Rougle is shot and killed. His assailants dart away before the rest of the platoon can react. The soldiers are stunned. One breaks down in tears, while Dan Kearney, the angry captain, searches for a target to hit. But the wraith-like Taliban have already faded away. Unencumbered by armor, the hardy insurgents trek swiftly along back trails, slipping back and forth from Afghanistan to Pakistan. U.S. forces, with surprisingly few helicopters, lack the mobility to control the mountains.
Throughout history, armies have been brutal in their efforts to pacify those local communities that have resisted foreign occupation. On the American frontier in the nineteenth century, settlers responded to Native American raids by attacking the fighters and their food supplies, tribes, and villages. In the nineteenth century, the British occupying force in Afghanistan retaliated for the occasional killings of their administrators by razing villages along the Afghan-Indian frontier. Today, the goal of the United States and its allies is not to punish but to win over the tribes that support the enemy. In both films, the soldiers' forbearance is shown time and again: thus, in Armadillo, the platoon commander cautions his troops, "We're also here to help these poor people."
Can't win over people by bombing weddings, and raiding homes at 3 in the morning-at least people not broken to it like 'murikans are...
Praxis: The DeLisle Carbine. An Almost Totally Suppressed .45 Caliber Carbine.
The De Lisle carbine or De Lisle Commando carbine was a British carbine used during World War II. The primary feature of the De Lisle was its very effective suppressor which made it extremely quiet in action.
Few were made as their use was limited to special military units.
The designer was William De Lisle. It was based on a Short, Magazine, Lee-Enfield Mk III* converted to .45 ACP by modifying the receiver, altering the bolt/bolthead, replacing the barrel with a modified Thompson submachine gun barrel, and using modified magazines from the M1911 pistol. The primary feature of the De Lisle was its extremely effective suppressor, which made it very quiet in action. So quiet, in fact, that working the bolt to chamber the next round makes a louder noise than firing a round. The single-shot, bolt operation offered an advantage in that the shooter could refrain from chambering the next round if absolute silence was required after shooting. A Semi-automatic weapon would not have offered this option as the cycling of the bolt coupled with rearward escaping propellant gas would produce a noise with each shot.
The De Lisle was made in very limited numbers; 129 were produced during the period of 1942 to 1945 in three variations (Ford Dagenham Prototype, Sterling production and one Airborne prototype). Thompson submachine gun barrels were modified to provide the .45 calibre barrel, which was ported to provide a slow release of high pressure gas.
The suppressor, 2 inches (5.1 cm) in diameter, went all the way from the back of the barrel to well beyond the muzzle (the suppressor makes up half the overall length of the rifle), providing a very large volume of space to contain the gases produced by firing. This large volume was one of the keys to the effectiveness of the suppressor. The Lee-Enfield bolt was modified to feed the .45 ACP rounds, and the Lee-Enfield's magazine assembly was replaced with a new assembly that held a modified M1911 magazine. Because the cartridge was subsonic, the carbine was extremely quiet, possibly one of the quietest firearms ever made.
The De Lisle carbine was used by the British Commandos and other special forces during World War II and the Malayan Emergency. It was accurate to 250 metres (820 ft). -- Wikipedia