The White House and Environmental Protection Agency have spent a month pushing to prevent the release of a sprawling health study detailing the scope of the contaminated water supplies that resulted in cancer and birth defects at nearly 126 military bases across the country — and lawmakers are fucking pissed.
A bipartisan group of U.S. senators on Tuesday demanded the Trump administration release the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) study on the per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) found in firefighting chemicals used by base emergency personnel to put out aircraft fires.
A March DoD report to the House Armed Service Committee revealed that at least 126 U.S. military installations — 50 Air Force, 49 Navy or Marine Corps, 25 Army, and two Defense Logistics Agency facilities — tested at "higher than acceptable levels" of PFAS concentration, Military Times reported in April. An eye-popping 61% of nearby groundwater wells tested by the DoD yielded the same results.
PFAS contamination of water sources can yield, among other horrifying consequences, "developmental delays in fetuses & children; decreased fertility; increased cholesterol; changes to the immune system; increased uric acid levels; changes in liver enzymes; and prostate, kidney, and testicular cancer," per the HASC report. Good thing the DoD's been using those chemicals since the 1970s!
"Given the wide use of PFAS and presence of these chemicals in communities across the U.S., it is critical that this report be released without delay and that EPA act immediately to update its guidelines to ensure Americans are informed of and protected from the danger of exposure to these toxins," the lawmakers wrote in the June 12 letter. "We are especially concerned since PFAS have been discovered in community water systems as well as on multiple Department of Defense installations."
This is all well and good, but it's not like a strongly-worded letter is going all of a sudden induce the DoD to get its contaminated shit together. The Intercept reported in February that while the Pentagon plans on shelling out a hefty $2 billion to address the widespread water contamination, that plan involves replacing "older foam with a newer formulation that contains only slightly tweaked versions of the same problematic compounds" that "pose many of the same dangers."
Every once in a while, we run across a photo in The Times-Picayune archives that's so striking that it begs a simple question: "What in the name of Momus Alexander Morgus is going on in this New Orleans photograph?" When we do, we've decided, we're going to share it — and to attempt to answer that question.
Members of the Syrian Democratic Forces control the monitor of their drone at their advanced position, during the fighting with Islamic State's fighters in Nazlat Shahada, a district of Raqqa. (Reuters/Zohra Bensemra)
MUSCAT (Reuters) - The United States should keep arming and aiding the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) following the planned U.S. withdrawal from Syria, provided the group keeps up the pressure on Islamic State, a senior U.S. general told Reuters on Friday.
Long before Tony Stark took a load of shrapnel to the chest in a distant war zone, science fiction legend Robert Heinlein gave America the most visceral description of powered armor for the warfighter of the future. Forget the spines of extra-lethal weaponry, the heads-up display, and even the augmented strength of an Iron Man suit — the real genius, Heinlein wrote in Starship Troopers, "is that you don't have to control the suit; you just wear it, like your clothes, like skin."
"Any sort of ship you have to learn to pilot; it takes a long time, a new full set of reflexes, a different and artificial way of thinking," explains Johnny Rico. "Spaceships are for acrobats who are also mathematicians. But a suit, you just wear."
First introduced in 2013, U.S. Special Operations Command's Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit (TALOS) purported to offer this capability as America's first stab at militarized powered armor. And while SOCOM initially promised a veritable Iron Man-style tactical armor by 2018, a Navy spokesman told Task & Purpose the much-hyped exoskeleton will likely never get off the launch pad.
"The prototype itself is not currently suitable for operation in a close combat environment," SOCOM spokesman Navy Lt. Phillip Chitty told Task & Purpose, adding that JATF-TALOS has no plans for an external demonstration this year. "There is still no intent to field the TALOS Mk 5 combat suit prototype."