A new patent granted to aircraft, defense and security company Boeing is taking its cues from science fiction. Just like the glowing energy shields seen protecting troops, machines and even spacecraft in Star Wars and Star Trek, the design – named “Method and system for shockwave attenuation via electromagnetic arc” – uses energy to deflect potential damage.
As it is described, the system is not designed to prevent direct impact from shells or shrapnel; rather, it is designed to protect a target – such as a vehicle or building – from the damaging effects of shockwaves from a nearby impact.
The patent is for a shockwave attenuation system, which consists of a sensor capable of detecting a shockwave-generating explosion and an arc generator that receives the signal from the sensor to ionise a small region, producing a plasma field between the target and the explosion using lasers, electricity and microwaves.
This small plasma field would differ from the surrounding environment in temperature, density and/or composition. This would provide a buffer between the target and the explosion that would hinder the shockwaves from reaching and damaging the target.
“Such embodiments as described above may reduce the energy density of the shockwave by creating a second medium in the path of the advancing shockwave that reflects, refracts, absorbs and deflects at least a portion of the shockwave,” the patent reads.
Because this system heats and ionises the air, it is eminently unsuitable for enveloping a target and being held in place for any length of time. That kind of force field is technically feasible – physics students last year determined that an electromagnetic field could by used to hold a plasma shield in place – but it would likely also deflect light, leaving anyone inside blind as a bat.
You can read the full specs included in Boeing’s patent on the USPTO website.
President Barack Obama enjoyed NCAA women’s college basketball tournament action on Saturday as approximately U.S. 100 troops evacuated a rapidly deteriorating and chaotic situation near the southern Yemen city of al-Houta.
The soldiers – many of them elite special forces commandos – had been stationed at al-Anad air base in the war-torn Arab country, reports BBC News.
The proximate cause of the hasty Saturday exit was a Friday attack on the city of al-Houta by al-Qaida fighters. A quick counter-attack by the Yemeni army has since reportedly minimized al-Qaida gains.
Friday also saw a suicide bomb attack in Sana’a, the capital of Yemen. At least 137 people died in the bombing, for which Islamic State-associated combatants have claimed credit.
Obama sat in a prime seat at the first-round NCAA tournament game at XFINITY Center in College Park, Md. He was surrounded by a group of fans festooned in orange and black — the colors of fancypants Princeton University.
Obama’s niece, Leslie Robinson, plays on the Princeton women’s team, which is currently undefeated for the season.
Princeton, a #8 seed, beat the University of Wisconsin–Green Bay, a #9 seed, by a score of 80-70 on Saturday afternoon.
Fans at the game chanted “four more years,” notes Yahoo! News.
In the fall of 2014, Obama touted Yemen as a War on Terror success story.
Yemen is currently undergoing what amounts to a civil war involving several armed and vigorous elements including al-Qaida and ISIS.
A number of weeks ago, U.S. Marines allegedly destroyed their weapons or simply left them to Yemeni factions before leaving in the midst of an Iran-backed coup.
Iran’s Supreme leader Ali Khamenei called for “Death to America” on Saturday, a day after President Barack Obama appealed to Iran to seize a “historic opportunity” for a nuclear deal and a better future, and as U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry claimed substantial progress toward an accord.
Khamenei told a crowd in Tehran that Iran would not capitulate to Western demands. When the crowd started shouting, “Death to America,” the ayatollah responded: “Of course yes, death to America, because America is the original source of this pressure.
“They insist on putting pressure on our dear people’s economy,” he said, referring to economic sanctions aimed at halting Iran’s nuclear program. “What is their goal? Their goal is to put the people against the system,” he said. “The politics of America is to create insecurity,” he added, referring both to US pressure on Iran and elsewhere in the region.
Khamenei’s comments contrasted with those of Iranian President Hassan Rohani, who said “achieving a deal is possible” by the March 31 target date for a preliminary accord.
Kerry was more circumspect, as he spoke to reporters after six days of negotiations in the Swiss city of Lausanne. The talks, made “substantial progress,” he said, but “important gaps remain.
“We have an opportunity to get this right,” Kerry said, as he urged Iran to make “fundamental decisions” that prove to the world it has no interest in atomic weapons.
But Khamenei warned against expectations that even a done deal would mend the more than three-decade freeze between the two nations in place since the Iranian revolution and siege of the American Embassy, proclaiming that Washington and Tehran remained on opposite sides on most issues.
“Negotiations with America are solely on the nuclear issue and nothing else. Everyone has to know that,” Khamenei said.
In a reflection of the delicate state of negotiations, other officials differed on how close the sides were to a deal.
Top Russian negotiator Sergey Ryabkov and Iran’s atomic energy chief Ali Akbar Salehi said in recent days that technical work was nearly done. But French officials insisted the sides were far from any agreement.
Kerry was departing later Saturday to meet with European allies in London, in part to ensure unity, before returning to Washington. Kerry said the U.S. and its five negotiating partners – Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia – are “united in our goal, our approach, our resolve and our determination.”
But France, which raised last minute objections to an interim agreement reached with Iran in 2013, could threaten a deal again. It is particularly opposed to providing Iran with quick relief from international sanctions and wants a longer timeframe for restrictions on Iran’s nuclear activity.
“France wants an agreement, but a robust agreement,” French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told French radio. “That is to say, an accord that really guarantees that Iran can obviously have access to the civil nuclear (program).”
“But to the atomic bomb? No.”
France indicated Saturday that it would push for an agreement with Iran that guarantees Tehran cannot build a nuclear bomb in the future, and that it opposed a phased easing of sanctions before an accord is reached.
On Twitter on Friday, France’s ambassador to the U.S. called talk about needing a deal by March 31 a “bad tactic” that is “counterproductive and dangerous.” Gerard Araud called it an “artificial deadline” and said negotiators should focus instead on the next phase – reaching a complete agreement by the end of June.
In the round of talks in Switzerland this weekend, cut short Friday because of the death of Rouhani’s mother, Fabius called the French delegation to make sure no more concessions were made, according to Reuters.
French diplomats have been pressing their counterparts not to give in on key elements, such as the easing of sanctions before serious progress is made, and arguing that the upcoming deadline was an “artificial” date, the Wall Street Journal reported. The P5+1, France argues, should be willing to press Tehran for a better deal and wait, if necessary.
Kerry said the U.S. wasn’t rushing into a pact, stressing that the latest stab at a diplomatic settlement with Iran has gone on for 2 ½ years. “We don’t want just any deal,” he said. “If we had, we could have announced something a long time ago.”
But, he added, decisions “don’t get any easier as time goes by.”
“It’s time to make hard decisions,” Kerry said. “We want the right deal that would make the world, including the United States and our closest allies and partners, safer and more secure. And that is our test.”
One encouraging sign is the apparent narrowing of differences on Iran’s uranium enrichment program. Tehran insists it wants to enrich only for energy, medical and research purposes, but much of the world fears it could turn the process toward making the fissile core of a nuclear warhead.
As the current round wound down this week, officials told The Associated Press that the United States and Iran are drafting elements of a deal that commits the Iranians to a 40 percent cut in the number of machines they use to enrich. The Obama administration is seeking a deal that stretches the time Tehran would need to make a nuclear weapon from the present two to three months to at least a year.
For Washington, the stakes are high if the talks miss the March deadline. The Obama administration has warned that a diplomatic failure could lead to an ever tougher dilemma: Whether to launch a military attack on Iran or allow it to reach nuclear weapons capacity.
A more immediate challenge may be intervention from Congress. If American lawmakers pass new economic sanctions on Iran, the Islamic Republic could respond by busting through the interim limits on its nuclear program it agreed to 16 months ago. Thus far, it has stuck to that agreement.
The negotiations are to resume on Wednesday, leaving the two sides with just one week to meet the March 31 deadline for agreeing on the outlines of a nuclear deal they hope will end a 12-year deadlock.
A half a billion in US weaponry has fallen into the hands of Islamic extremists in Yemen since the fall of that country’s government. The amount could be considerably higher as the Pentagon and the CIA have covert operations in the country. The number could go much much higher. This is becoming a habit under Obama. In Libya, we had a blockade set up but “somehow” ships got through the greatest Navy on earth and Islamic extremists got themselves half a billion (A coincidence?) dollars worth of weapons.
Those weapons were used in Benghazi, where this administration removed all the security just before the attack. The bad guys got even more weapons meant to go to radical Muslim extremists in Syria. Those weapons went with them to Algeria where they were used in a terror attack there.
Then, while Benjamin Netanyahu was here and Obama was unable to meet him, Obama took a little trip to visit the Emir of Qatar. The Emir is a big time sponsor of terrorism, supporting Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood. They also sponsor this little group in Syria called the Nusra Front. Coincidentally, Obama had sent entire warehouses of weapons to an insurgency group called Harakat Hazm. At about the same time as Obama’s visit to the Emir, Harakat Hazm decided to disband and hand over the warehouses full of US munitions to the Nusra Front.
The Nusra Front has now decided to leave their affiliation with Al Qaeda behind and they intend to become competition for ISIS since they now outgun them.
I’m no military man but I’m not the dumbest person in the world (Mostly because I have a younger sister) but it seems to me if I wanted to provide weapons to a weak government, I would take precautions to make sure they don’t fall into the wrong hands. But hey, that’s just me.
And we are to believe that all of these weapon seizures are coincidences. Frankly, I have my doubts.
Months after the Veterans Administration scandal exploded in the headlines, top officials are still lying and hiding information from Congress, and President Obama is actively trying to roll back the freedom of veterans to seek health care outside of the government system.
That’s the conclusion of Rep. Tim Huelskamp, R-Kan., a member of the House Veterans Affairs Committee.
Last May, the VA was rocked by reports that veterans were forced to wait months for routine medical appointments and that some officials were doctoring hospital and medical records to cover up the failure to provide care. In response, Veterans Affairs Secretary Gen. Eric Shinseki resigned and Congress approved legislation giving future secretaries more freedom to remove ineffective personnel. Former Procter & Gamble Chairman Robert McDonald was eventually confirmed to succeed Shinseki and lead major reform efforts.
Are there signs of improvement?
On Monday evening, the House Veterans Affairs Committee grilled VA General Counsel Leigh Bradley over why more than 100 separate requests for information from the committee have gone unanswered for months and why the information that is given is often found to be false.
“The news only gets worse and worse,” Huelskamp said.
According to Associated Press reports on the hearing, committee chairman Jeff Miller, R-Fla., expressed deep frustration with the VA’s lack of cooperation on key facts, including wait times for veterans at the Phoenix hospital where the scandal began.
“Let there be no mistake or misunderstanding: When this committee requests documents, I expect production to be timely, complete and accurate,” Miller said.
Huelskamp is particularly incensed at the falsehoods coming out of the VA, including one stated by Secretary McDonald on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
“They have falsified information, and it is not just lying to members of Congress; it’s lying to the American people,” he said. “We even had the secretary about a month ago lie on national television and claim that he had fired 60 employees that made up, falsified, cooked the books on wait times for our vulnerable veterans.”
The real number was nowhere near that high.
“He only fired four,” Huelskamp said. “There’s a big difference between four and 60, so there’s a lack of trust there. But this is, more importantly, a lack of trust between veterans who deserve their care and whether they’re getting in on time and whether they’re getting the proper care.”
And the congressman said the lies don’t stop there.
“The VA claimed that at the (Los Angeles) veterans facility, the wait was only four days,” he said. “We found out later, according to a CNN report, that it’s more than 30 days. Who do you believe? Who I believe is the veteran. If the veteran says they’ve been waiting, that’s what happens.”
Huelskamp said when Congress tries to separate fact from fiction, the massive VA bureaucracy grinds investigations to a halt.
“We’ve had, I think, three secretaries of the VA in my four years here,” he said. “For secretary after secretary and undersecretary after undersecretary, I didn’t know that had that many undersecretaries. They always send a new one over, and the answer is always, ‘We’ll get back to you. We’ll get that answer to you.’
“We have documented where they have lied to the committee, where they have falsified information,” he said.
If anything good came out of the VA scandal, Huelskamp believes it is the provision within last year’s reform bill that allows veterans to access care outside of the government system to shorten how long they wait for care. The congressman said expanded choice is working well for veterans and no longer forces many of them to travel hundreds of miles to approved doctors and facilities. He said that change is further proof the less government is involved in our health care, the better that care will be.
“That’s the best government health care you can get, and what we saw in Phoenix and around the country is that it’s been an abysmal failure,” Huelskamp said.
While the expanded health-care choices may be popular with veterans, Huelskamp said the Obama administration is actively trying to eliminate it.
“When the administration came in and asked to end the Veterans Choice Program, that sent shock waves through Congress because most Democrats and Republicans agree we need to improve the system and give veterans more choice in their health care,” he said.
“There’s a pushback from the administration, but the secretary has agreed – maybe not the president but the secretary has agreed – veterans deserve to keep their choice,” he said. “We’re trying to push the VA in a different direction than Obamacare is taking the rest of the health-care system. I think, at the end of the day, the better model is putting Americans in charge of their health care, not Washington, D.C.”
When will Congress get timely answers and the VA operate more efficiently? Huelskamp said a big part of the problem is a massive government bureaucracy that takes a long time to straighten out.
“There’s a culture of non-accountability, a culture of attacks on whistleblowers. That’s been going on for decades. It’s difficult to change that. That takes years,” said Huelskamp, who estimates some 330,000 bureaucrats are involved in VA operations.
“I think many of them do a terrific job, but it’s a system that’s set up based on the 1950s and ’60s, not 2015,” he said. “So it is a cultural shift at the VA, but the president has to provide leadership. I fear in the next two years, he will continue to drift away from any commitments to veterans in terms of reforming the system.”
What about Secretary McDonald? Is he the right man to lead this change?
“We’ll see if the secretary can answer those questions we asked a couple of nights ago,” Huelskamp said. “Some of these questions have been outstanding for months, which will give us insight (into) whether they’re really making the changes that were promised.”
ISIS, a Sunni group, has claimed responsibility for quadruple suicide bombings that have reportedly claimed the lives of 137 muslims in two Shiite mosques in the capital of Yemen. 345 more Muslims were also wounded in this attack that took place during Friday prayers:
AL ARABIYA – The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has claimed responsibility for a Friday suicide bomb attack on two Sanaa mosques, reported Reuters citing a statement from the group.
Suicide bombers targeted two mosques used mainly by the Houthis and their supporters in the Yemeni capital on Friday, killing 137 people and wounding 345 others, the rebel-owned television channel said, in the latest report on casualties
The attacks, in which four bombers wearing explosive belts targeted worshippers in and outside the crowded mosques, happened a day after an unidentified warplane attacked the presidential palace in the southern city of Aden.
Anti-aircraft guns opened fire on planes flying high over the presidential compound in Aden on Friday, government sources and witnesses said.
One witness said he heard two successive blasts at one of the mosques, known as the Badr mosque, in a busy neighborhood in central Sanaa.
“I was going to pray at the mosque then I heard the first explosion, and a second later I heard another one,” the witness told Reuters.
The AP adds a bit more:
A group claiming to be a Yemeni branch of the Islamic State group says it carried out a string of suicide bombings in the Yemeni capital, Sanaa, that killed a total of 137 people and injured 345 others.
The group posted an online statement saying that five suicide bombers carried out what it described as a “blessed operation” against the “dens of the Shiites.” The bombers attacked the Badr and al-Hashoosh mosques, located across town from each other, during midday Friday prayers.