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We’re all going to die. But does it have to be this week?
Hey, it’s a fair question — and it’s why Task & Purpose offers you an at-a-glance Friday roundup of the good, the bad, and the fucked up more than usual in recent military and diplomatic news ... plus a few pop-culture signs of the apocalypse. Maintain your situational awareness and try not to freak out.
- An engine. Fell off. A B-52. From a strategic bombing squadron. In flight. Don’t worry, it had seven more.
- Air Force advisors are exploring the possibility of connecting U.S. nuclear weapons to an integrated electronic network, because no one watches War Games anymore, I guess.
- Kim Jong Un says North Korea will test an ICBM soon, U.S. experts say it could happen, Donald Trump says it won’t, and the Navy says they just moved an E2C early-warning squadron from Virginia to Japan. This feels like a rejected Tom Clancy plot.
U.S. Marines assigned to the Female Engagement Team (FET), 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit practice clearing rooms during an urban operations training exercise at Fort Pickett, Va., Feb. 21, 2016. The FET participated in the training in preparation for a future deployment.U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Koby I. Saunders
- The Marines’ first female 0300s joined their infantry unit, the First Battalion, Eighth Marines, on Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, Thursday. Naysayers doubt women can fully acclimate to life in combat arms, but the service is confident they’ll quickly learn how to grumble about officers and how easy life is for the grunts who enlist after them.
- Remember the offensive to take Mosul from ISIS that experts said would be over by Christmas? No, not Christmas 2015 — that was the old plan. Anyway, the point is, those optimistic observers seem to have misspelled “by next summer, maybe.”
- Half of all the U.S. troop injuries in the fight against ISIS have occurred since that Mosul offensive launched last October. The Pentagon says there are now about 450 American military advisers in Iraq and another 500 in Syria.
- Russian sources say a passenger aircraft on the country’s east coast was recently forced into a steep dive to avoid colliding with a NATO jet. NATO says that’s bogus; the air carrier says the incident never happened and the reports are “complete nonsense.” Which is weird, since Russian reports on air mishaps are normally so accurate.
- Chinese government-controlled media is talking tough about a possible trade war with incoming president Donald Trump. “There are flowers around the gate of China’s Ministry of Commerce,” the Communist Party’s newspaper noted, “but there are also big sticks hidden inside the door -- they both await Americans.” Don’t worry: If we visit, we probably won’t be using the door.
- ISIS now is reportedly using disabled jihadis in wheelchairs to launch suicide bombing attacks, which is pretty much how you’d expect a terrorist group to respond to the rising costs of veteran care.
- Shockingly, President-Elect Donald Trump is still having trouble finding someone willing to be secretary of the VA, which he’s called “the most incompetently run” federal cabinet agency. Why wouldn’t anyone want a thankless job trying to reform a massive, antiquated bureaucracy in which failing is painted as hating the troops?
- A former guard for Queen Elizabeth II claims he almost shot the monarch once, mistaking her for an intruder when she took a midnight stroll on the Buckingham Palace grounds. General Order No. 11 works!
- Duncan Hunter, the vaping Iraq vet and congressman used $600 in campaign funds to fly his pet rabbit on United Airlines. Previously revealed expenses included $1,300 for video games and $300 for food from Jack in the Box (some of which may have been disgusting). Financial impropriety aside, this makes Hunter the most relatable congressman in history.
- Fisher Price just rolled out an exercise bike for 3 to 6-year-olds, because your toddlers are fat sacks of weakness. It’s supposed to be a solution for parents whose kids are glued to their Kindle apps. But throwing little Timmy’s tablet down an elevator shaft is easier, and costs $150 less.
- Also, the Oakland Raiders really could be moving to Las Vegas. Burn it all down.
The White House doctor still under investigation for doling out pills like a ‘candy man’ is now running for Congress
Ronny Jackson, the former White House physician and retired Navy rear admiral who had a short run as the nominee for the Department of Veterans Affairs in 2018, now plans to run for a seat in Congress.
University of Phoenix to pay $191 million for lying to troops about its close ties with major companies
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The University of Phoenix, which is owned by Apollo Education Group, has agreed to pay $191 million to settle charges that it falsely advertised close ties with major U.S. companies that could lead to jobs for students, the Federal Trade Commission said on Tuesday.
The University of Phoenix will pay $50 million to the FTC to return to consumers and cancel $141 million in student debt.
Some of the advertisements targeted military and Hispanic students, the FTC said.
As UCF research associate Shane Reynolds guides his avatar over a virtual minefield using his iPad, small beeps and whistles reveal the location of the scourge of the modern war zone: Improvised Explosive Devices, or IEDs. He must take his time to sweep every last inch of the playing field to make sure his character doesn't miss any of the often-deadly bombs.
Despite his slow pace, Reynolds makes a small misstep and with a kaboom! a bomb blows up his player, graphically scattering body parts.
The Navy has posthumously awarded aviator and aircrewman wings to three sailors killed in last week's shooting at Naval Air Station Pensacola.
"The selfless acts of heroism displayed by these young Sailors the morning of Dec. 6 are nothing short of incredible," Chief of Naval Air Training Rear Adm. Daniel Dwyer said in a statement.