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The latest news from Robert Johnson on Business Insider

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    Anyone familiar with military programs has heard of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter: a political and technological effort with aerial prowess matched only by its beleaguered and costly production.

    The F-35 is also a fifth-generation plane, which means it's using brand new, multiple technologies, all at once while strapped to an engine required to do things no engine has done before.

    None of that is easy and building fifth-generation engines is especially difficult, even for the U.S., which has been refining jet aircraft for over 70 years. The list of engine issues surrounding the F-35 is long and varied, but included the simple problem of failing to design and get them running right as of just last year.

    The F-35 is only one fifth-generation fighter project underway in the world right now. The others are Russia's PAK FA T-50, China's J-20 and, really America's F-22 that's still falling from the sky and unable to fly combat missions.

    Though Russia stands the greatest chance of 5th-gen success outside the U.S., enjoying a thriving arms business and great success with its Sukoi jets, it's struggling to get its T-50 working right. Hampered by engine problems as well, Russia entered into an agreement with India to cooperate on the T-50s engine in October 2012.

    If perfecting these type of engines, made of unique composites and running to entirely new standards is challenging for longtime Russian and American experts, the hurdles facing China are even more imposing. Until now, China's chances of perfecting the J-20 technology seemed far in the distance and dependent on how much tech they could copy from Russian designs they already had, or lift from Lockheed databases.


    That could be about to change according to Wendell Minnick at Defense News who reports Russia looks like it's going ahead with its sale of 24 Su-35 fighters to the People's Republic.

    Why this matters a great deal to China's J-20 program is mildly technical, but the Su-35 runs a Saturn AL-117S engine that was also used in the original T-50, it's that powerful. Refining that AL-117S engine has been a key part of moving the T-50 along and its new engine is a modified 117S called simply 117.

    China wanted 48 Su-35s (with the 117S) but after allegedly stealing their aircraft technology in the past Russia refused to sell, and the Su-35 remained un-marketed to any outside country. But the T-50 program is expensive, and if it stalls it will seriously hamper Russian aerospace efforts, a cash infusion would go a long way — so a new deal with the Chinese is being inked — for 24 Su-35s with 48 brand new 117S engines. 

    The engine is so modifiable that the tweaks it received before going into the Su-37 rated that plane a 4+++ generation status. Nudging it up to the simple 177 designation used in the fifth-gen T-50 will at least require boosting thrust, and cutting weight, and doing that will require test engines. We'll look to see how many spare 117S engines Beijing requests with its order. J-20

    Russia's Saturn engine designer in charge of the 177, Eugeny Marchuk, says it's "[A] fundamentally new engine." But it's not, not really, it's a two-year-old engine with some fundamental changes and if all that's between the Chinese and those modifications is a bit of determination and technical prowess, it doesn't seem unlikely they'll somehow figure them out. 

    What that means to the U.S. as it leverages more assets to the Pacific depends on who you ask, as the J-20's abilities aren't entirely certain. Some reports claim the J20's stealth tech is similar to the F-22, better than the F-35 and the T-50, and its range will allow it to bomb Guam and the Philippines.

    Of course, all of that is only a theory. China may just be looking to bolster its fleet of trouble-ridden Su-27 clones and want nothing to do with the 117 engine.

    Who knows at this point, but a battle-ready J-20 seems a reasonable goal since projecting Chinese military might to that "second island chain" has been a goal of the PLA for generations.

    In the meantime we'll look for covert photos slipped from China on the J-20's development, and continue to be surprised at how fast the project's advancing.

    This single-seat J-20 is powered by dual Saturn AL-31FN engines used in China's J-10 and they're woefully inadequate

    Russia claims China 'Shamelessly' stole the Su-27 technology — including the 2002 AL-31FN engine seen here

    Requiring more from its engines and unable to buy from Russia — China developed their own WS-10G turbofan to power second generation J-20 prototypes

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Site 911

    Leave it to legendary Walter Pincus from the Washington Post to flesh out a Request for Proposal construction project planned for Israel called Site 911.

    The oddly named project will cost up to $100 million, take more than two years to complete, and can only be built by workers from specific countries with proper security clearances. Palestinians need not apply.

    When complete the well-guarded compound will have five levels buried underground and six additional outbuildings on the above grounds, within the perimeter. At about 127,000 square feet, the first three floors will house classrooms, an auditorium, and a laboratory — all wedged behind shock resistant doors — with radiation protection and massive security.

    Only one gate will allow workers entrance and exit during the project and that will be guarded by only Israelis.

    The bottom two floors are smaller, according to the full line of schematics uploaded to the Army's Acquisition Business Web Site, and possibly used for equipment and storage.

    As impressive as the American design features already are, Ada Karmi-Melamede Architects will decorate the entire site with rocks it chooses, but are paid for by the contractor, and provide three outdoor picnic tables.

    Pincus also found this detailed description of the mezuzahs that will adorn every door in the facility:

    These mezuzas, notes the [US Army] Corps, “shall be written in inerasable ink, on . . . uncoated leather parchment” and be handwritten by a scribe “holding a written authorization according to Jewish law.” The writing may be “Ashkenazik or Sepharadik” but “not a mixture” and “must be uniform.”

    Also, “The Mezuzahs shall be proof-read by a computer at an authorized institution for Mezuzah inspection, as well as manually proof-read for the form of the letters by a proof-reader authorized by the Chief Rabbinate.” The mezuza shall be supplied with an aluminum housing with holes so it can be connected to the door frame or opening. Finally, “All Mezuzahs for the facility shall be affixed by the Base’s Rabbi or his appointed representative and not by the contractor staff.”

    Along with this request is another called 911 Phase 2.

    Also in the $100 million range, Pincus finds the “complex facility with site development challenges” requiring services that include “electrical, communication, mechanical/ HVAC [heating, ventilation, air conditioning] and plumbing” requirements telling; and along with the fact that the contractor must posses a U.S. or Israeli Secret Security Clearance, he believes this phase to be a secure command center.

    Pulitzer Prize winning, Yale grad, born in 1932 whose worked intelligence and media in D.C. since 1955 closes his piece with these shadowy words.

    "The purpose of Site 911 is [un] clear."

    SEE ALSO: The military secrets Russia is about to give China >

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    50 Cal Sniper Rifle Onlineq

    The idea of 3-D printing and the possibility to 'print' fully functioning weapons has our tech team abuzz and yesterday, taking it to extremes like tech writers are oft to do, asked us if it were legal to own a sniper rifle.

    "Hell yes," we told them while asking for another can of Budweiser. You can buy a sniper rifle online by following a few simple rules.

    You have to pass that background check, you know, no convictions for crazy or criminal acts. Aside from that it only comes down to the rifle being legal in the state you're planning to keep it and legal in the state you bought it.

    Once you order the rifle, you call up your local gun shop that has a Federal Firearms License (FFL) to tell them they'll be receiving the weapon on your behalf. The dealer will then gather some information from you, and have the paperwork ready once the weapon arrives.

    "Strawman" purchases — giving the money to someone who qualifies because you don't — are illegal, and will most likely be investigated by the bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms (ATF).

    Sniper rifles are not legal in New York State. So including the Empire State, sniper and assault rifles are a no-go in New Jersey, Massachusetts, Maryland, Connecticut and California with most cities in all states having serious limits on the ordnance visitors and residents can tote around.

    Aside from that, the array of guns available to U.S. consumers is nearly as vast as the places available to own them. 

    Now back to the sniper rifle. There's no point in getting one if it's not a good one so we told tech go with a .50 caliber Barretts, which are not cheap, and be sure to locate a range before any cash gets exchanged.

    A basic rule of thumb has it that a .50 cal rifle range must be at least 1,000 meters, more than half-a-mile. There's no official listing of long-distance ranges, so calling around or google searching is the best bet.

    NOW SEE: This Firefight Shows What Happens When A US Soldier Is Outnumbered >

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    Iran Naval Show

    Teal: It's not the manliest color.

    Still, the Ghadir class submarines Iran recently put into the water have some scary little attributes. It also isn't the only vessel Iran has under construction.

    Their Naval Show Nov. 28 celebrated the completion of two of those Teal Ghadirs and another two of their killer-cool hovercrafts. They also noted the completion of one stage of their guided missile frigate the "Jamaran," which was built organically within Iran.

    The Ghadir class midget sub is torpedo equipped, diesel fueled and considered 'sonar silent.' It's also small enough to maneuver in shallow water.

    The 'Tondar' or Thunder hovercraft is missile ready as well as capable of launching surveillance drones.

    This 'Jamaran' guided missile destroyer reached a new stage of construction. It will be the first organically built frigate in Iran's Navy.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    This cool infographic details the lifespan of the world's first nuclear powered aircraft carrier, the USS Enterprise. There are two notable firsts in her life, the first nuclear carrier in service, and the first to retire.

    Check it out:

    Infographic USS Enterprise

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    As Iraq buys up foreign arms and aircraft one man in a province northeast of Baghdad has taken an alternative approach to the billion dollar deals.

    The Associated Press reports Hatim Kadim Salman is building the first Iraqi handmade helicopter to patrol the  country's borders and he's doing it for just $24,000.

    Salman is from Muqdadiyah, about 60 miles from Baghdad and the backyard helo effort is taking place in hat Foreign Policy and Army officials have called the "Nastiest town in Iraq".

    From Foreign Policy:

    Some soulless men celebrated the end of Ramadan by beheading a Sunni cleric in the Iraqi town of Muqdadiyah, and then setting the corpse on fire. His offense was that he had medical skills and had treated some of the guys in the Awakening/Sons of Iraq movement.

    I remember a few years ago, a colonel in Iraq telling me that Muqdadiyah, in Diyala province, northeast of Baghdad, was the nastiest place he'd ever operated. I actually thought the group of towns just southwest of the capital along the Euphrates that U.S. troops called "the iyas" were the worst, but I am beginning to suspect the colonel might have been right.

    The Daily Mail wrote up the news comparing the low cost effort to the $20 million Apache and points out there is no word yet on whether the aircraft will actually fly. 

    Iraq Helicopter

    Iraq Helicopter

    Iraq Helicopter

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    Looking much like the U.S. X-47B currently on the USS Truman awaiting carrier trials, France's Dassault Aviation launched the nEUROn Saturday.

    The prototype stealth drone flew for 25 minutes and reports the craft outlines technology for a pilotless fighter plane expected in European air forces around 2030.


    "It inaugurates the next generation of combat aircraft, whether piloted or not, with the ambition of preserving European autonomy in this field," the French defence ministry said in a statement.
    "It's a major accomplishment on both the technological and industrial levels," it added. The aircraft, which has no vertical tail in order to make it as furtive as possible ... a prototype, or model serving to test and develop technologies that could be used one day in a pilotless fighter plane which would equip European air forces.

    The programme, launched by France in 2003 with support from Italy, Sweden, Spain, Switzerland and Greece, cost 406 million euros ($527 million), of which France contributed about half. Drones currently in service are used as surveillance planes or in surgical strike missions, but none rival the tasks performed by combat aircraft.

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    Caddy One President

    At a cost of over $300,000 and enough armor to stop an RPG, the President's ground vehicle is a very resilient ride.

    It looks like a Caddy STS on the outside, but on the inside it has everything the Secret Service needs to protect their boss from threats he may face on the road.

    It's so up-armored and filled with gear, agents call it The Beast.

    On the road it's surrounded by a motorcade of up to 30 other vehicles, including local police, The Beast's decoy, a mobile communications center, press, and other armed vehicles.

    In the Service's early days, the presidential vehicle wasn't exactly secure — the carriage was open, and horses can only gallop so fast.

    The invention of the car was a huge step, but the desire to be close to their constituents kept presidents in danger

    After President John F. Kennedy's death, the Secret Service gave itself a top-to-bottom policy overhaul, and open cars got the boot.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Despite U.S. Navy claims to the contrary, Iran claims to have brought down another American drone much like it did this time last year with the RQ-170 debacle.

    This time, Tehran claims they've capture a ScanEagle drone that slipped into Iranian airspace and was brought down presumably the same way as last year's RQ-170.

    The U.S. Navy says it has lost ScanEagles in the past, but not recently.

    Iran has released video to back up its claims. The video is titled "How to hunt UAV 'ScanEagle' by American Revolutionary Guard and" offers a close up video inspection of what by all rights appears to be an American ScanEagle drone.

    The video is below: 

    The website shown in the video belongs to the Young Journalists Club (YJC) and the headline on that site in choppy translation says: "American rapist hunt second UAV Iranian Revolutionary Guards + Video".

    I have seen the ScanEagle up close and in action over the Persian Gulf, and it appears to me that  the drone in the video is genuine. Some of my photos of the drone are included below.

    What is unclear is when the video was made and if it was made by the Iranians. It's not that they would not have the opportunity to find or at least try to capture one.

    The ScanEagle is used extensively in the Persian Gulf to monitor area of operations around 5th Fleet. Currently having only one carrier in the area, there's no reason to believe the Navy wouldn't be relying on the ScanEagle more now, and at greater distance than it would with a full carrier group.


    The ScanEagle does not land in the traditional sense but is guided in on GPS coordinates into one of two metal cables strung perpendicular to the deck of a ship or the ground. Small reinforced hooks on the wings grab the cable and spiral the bird down to the ground where an operator plucks it from the line and places it back in its case. That hook seen below can also be seen in the Iranian video.


    The drone can be equipped with nighttime thermal cameras or traditional lenses and can zoom in to facial level from several thousand feet in the air. Aboard the USS PONCE, the Navy's first forward operating base located in the Persian Gulf not far from Iran, the ScanEagle relay goes to the operations/flight office on deck and to the captain's office.

    Here is what the ScanEagle sees with its wide angle camera during normal surveillance:


    And with a call to the flight center from the captain, the ScanEagle zoomed in to this within a matter of seconds. It was clear what everyone on the 14-foot inflatable was doing and what they looked like.


    The ScanEagle is launched by compressed air and we were told it could spend half a day in the air on about a gallon of gas. If the Iranians did capture one, they've got themselves another nice piece of American technology.

    SEE ALSO: How the US Navy showed Iran who really controls the Strait of Hormuz

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    Iran today claimed to have captured another U.S. drone. Whether or not that's accurate remains to be seen, but what is true is that the ScanEagle drone was originally designed to help fisherman look for fish. It's low cost, portable, long-endurance, and very effective for maritime surveillance.

    Able to fly over 20 hours on about one gallon of fuel, the ScanEagle is a key reconnaissance tool for U.S. naval forces in the Persian Gulf.

    When Business Insider was aboard the USS Ponce off the coast of Iran in September for the international mine clearing exercises, the ship deployed a ScanEagle each morning and allowed us to document the process.

    If Iran's claims today are true and it did capture a ScanEagle, it might be most interested in its new cameras and video system that allow the drone to relay what it sees in vivid detail.

    Here on the USS Ponce not far from the coast of Iran, the ScanEagle gets set up very early every day

    The drone's 'SuperWedge' launcher is powered by pressurized air and faces off the deck toward shore — into the wind

    While waiting for the winds to shift the system powers up enough pressure to launch

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    With the global population at more than 7 billion people and growing by the second, we thought we'd take another look at what the world could look like in the coming years.

    Though most of us won't be around to see it, the United Nations has projected that our incredible population growth will level off at around 10 billion people by the year 2100.

    Already, at 7 billion, we are experiencing severe poverty, hunger, a shortage of resources, increased urbanization and climate change issues.

    Will we be doomed by 2100, or can we make it work? Since we've only got one planet (so far), let's hope for the latter.

    By 2100, 80 percent of the world's populations will live in cities

    Increased urbanization will be one of the main ways the planet will sustain 10 billion people. There will be a lot of new cities, and mega-cities (cities with a population of over 20 million) will become more common.

    Possible candidates for mega-city status include: Beijing, Delhi, Jakarta, Mexico City, Mumbai, São Paulo, and Shanghai.

    The world will have a few hundred languages at the most

    Right now, there are over 7,000 languages spoken. But lesser used languages will fall by the wayside, while English will become the most used form of communication around the world. 

    22.3 percent of people will be at least 65 years old

    That will be a huge increase, up from 7.6 percent in 2010.

    The burden on the youth to carry the old will be greater than ever. 

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Martin RB-57F Canberra

    It's been far too long since we've checked in with our friend David Cenciotti at The Aviationist and we're never disappointed with what his readers send his way.

    The plane in the picture above is a Martin RB-57F Canberra, a design that's been around for about 50 years. The Air Force has handed its Canberra's off to NASA and whether NASA is also using them for weather surveillance remains unclear, but Dave's "Spooky Plane" in the title implies he knows something we don't.

    Since this is as often the case as not with military aircraft, we're going to assume the 57F was up to some clandestine mission shrouded in more secrecy than reassuring details when one of The Aviationist's readers spotted it in England.

    From The Aviationist:

    After completing a BACN deployment at Kandahar Airfield in Afghanistan, one of the NASA’s last two flying WB-57Fs is on its way back to Ellington Field, Texas.

    Wearing the typical white color scheme, used to keep a “low profile” and appear similar to general aviation aircraft during its rather clandestine mission, the highly modified Canberra registered N926NA arrived to RAF Mildenhall, UK, from Souda Bay, Crete, on Dec. 2 and left the British airport to Lajes field, Azores, on Dec. 3.

    The aircraft had deployed to Afghanistan via Lajes on Mar. 5 after performing test activities at Nellis AFB, where the other plane of the same type, NASA 928 has recently conducted some more experimental flights (see below).


    Stripped of all its markings the plane will be in Houston for maintenance until February, before heading back on another deployment. Likely to also be Afghanistan.

    Read more at The Aviationist >

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    Chemical Weapons

    With word out from NBC last night that Syria loaded chemical agents onto bombs, the potential human rights crisis became a bit more grave.

    Of course it was an unnamed source who filled NBC in, but word has it that Syrian troops are simply awaiting word from Al-Assad on when to deploy chemical weapons against the Syrian people.

    While the troubles facing the Syrians can't be neatly summed up, a few details about what these chemicals are and what facing attacks from them is like, might help others understand the horrors they may go through if they're used.

    During the Iraq invasion of 2003 we had chemical weapons training all the time, and given the reason for the invasion, it seemed nearly certain the U.S. Army would fall under attack by Saddam's chemical stockpiles.

    For U.S. troops, gas training meant someone yelling "Gas. Gas. Gas." Lifting their elbows head high and pumping their forearms back-and-forth to their ears. From that moment a very demanding clock began ticking in everyone's mind as we ripped our gas masks from their hip carriers, slapped them to our faces, adjusted the straps, and pulled down the hoods.

    Then we hauled out our thick cotton camo suits from our bags, seconds ticking off in the back of our mind as we staggered into something like a two-piece snow suit filled with activated charcoal (the same stuff in tropical aquarium filters).

    Finally we buttoned the two pieces together at the waist, pulled on some gloves, some unwieldy rubber overboots that buttoned into the pants, and waited, mentally checking to see if any piece of skin or clothing was exposed to the air.

    Mission Oriented Protective Posture (MOPP) training was a way of life.

    We expected to live untold days in these suits in the Iraqi heat and found out only before we deployed that determining if a chemical agent had left an area was no easy task. There were swab kits and air filters, but until someone took that first deep breath and exposed themselves to the air, it was an unknown.

    MOPP 4This is why we were all shown the Army Field manual order stating that the lowest ranking member of the group was to be disarmed when the perceived threat was believed to have ended. Once disarmed that soldier would remove his mask while the rest waited to see how that worked out.

    A little gem they don't tell you about at the recruiting office, I remember thinking.

    In the field, guys in MOPP will have two auto-injectors. One filled with Atropine and one with Diazepam. The latter to help ease the seizures associated with poisonings and the Atropine to guide the nerve agent from passing through a never-ending highway of synapses.

    Atropine was developed for blood agents, not nerve agents, so the sarin or whatever wouldn't go anywhere. We were expected to just keep injecting ourselves if exposed, letting our brain whither, and folding back the spent needles we'd used into our breast pocket.

    That way when the medics found us they'd know what we'd dumped into our systems on top of the chemical attack. All of that did little to help us believe we wouldn't be better off in the initial attack, but it was something, and having something is generally better than having nothing.

    A gas mask will not be enough

    When Middle Eastern children are shown being issued gas masks it's possible to believe there is at least some level of protection there, but not in Syria's case. Syria's stores of sarin, VX, and mustard gas are all nerve and blistering agents that are just as easily absorbed through skin as an airway.

    Without full HazMat suits or MOPP protection described above, a gas mask will do very little for someone touched by the chemical weapons. Delivered by bombs, or planes spraying aerosols, sarin and VX are as nasty as they are effective.

    Sarin is a pesticide 500 times more effective than cyanide and can kill an adult male in one minute. From what I understand sarin perpetually fires nerve impulses throughout the body at a greatly-quickened rate. As the person afflicted loses control of all physiological functions, the body starts breaking down; from runny nose, nausea, and defecating, to twitching and suffocating on the ground within a matter of moments.

    VX kills about 75 percent of those it touches within seven to eight hours and had the following effect on testSyria Chemical animals as relayed by an old U.S. soldier:

    [The mice were hit] with VX. He said the spasms in their backs would be so hard they'd pop up a foot in the air. One of the training videos he saw showed an exposed cow, the cow immediately lost control and was flipping out on the ground ... 

    Mustard gas is different. Though it's also invisible, it causes no immediate effects.

    It settles into clothing, painfully ripping portions of life away from its victim for up to weeks at a time before possible death, or long term decline sets in.

    Mustard gas was common during WWI and a British nurse treating soldiers then had this to say:

    They cannot be bandaged or touched. We cover them with a tent of propped-up sheets. Gas burns must be agonizing because usually the other cases do not complain, even with the worst wounds, but gas cases are invariably beyond endurance and they cannot help crying out.

    Climbing into a MOPP suit at every possible attack was trying, but it was nothing compared to suffering conventional attacks already happening in Syria, where residents and rebels now have to contend with the fact that the next bomb could hold invisible and violent chemical death.

    Chemical weapons are ugly for all the reasons listed above, but also for their indiscriminate behavior. The compounds are guided by weather, barometric pressure, and wind. Toxins pool, they coat the surfaces of everything they touch, and they linger.

    Sarin's shelf life — the time it takes to degrade — ranges from several weeks to several months. So once it's out there, it sticks around an awfully long time.

    Casually slipping fingers across an affected patch of dew on a window, a patch of grass, or even opening an infected door handle can all have the same effects as a fresh attack. 

    With U.S. officials claiming Assad has the chemicals loaded into bombs, the psychological toll on Syrian rebels and residents must be immense. Let's hope that's all the damage the crumbling regime is looking to inflict. 

    Assuming the anonymous reports are true at all.

    Iran's at it again SEE ALSO: The ScanEagle Iran claims to have captured >

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    There's something about South Florida that prompts many residents to hone their physique, without buying into that healthy living thing found in places like Southern California.

    I spent some time on Florida's deep West Coast following six years in the Army and the number of guys and girls I saw on steroids was unlike anyplace I'd ever seen.

    It took me a while to find someone who would talk to me about his "juicing" habit, and Joey O only told me his story after he stopped and moved on to raw testosterone administered by a questionable physician's assistant.

    Still, he refused to let me use his real name and asked I call him Joey O. It was just a handful of months since he stopped juicing and gave up the ability to bench 555 pounds at the 190-pound weight class. Nearly three times his body weight, he was ranked 36 in the U.S. The whole thing left him both freakish and awesome in equal measure. 

    Less than a year out of the gym at 42 years old, Joey was a bit softer, but still squat solid, with a mud-thick New Jersey accent, and vaguely thinning slicked-back hair. Not long after we started talking, I asked him about Meatloaf’s affliction from the movie Fight Club: “Bitch tits.”

    It's a famous scene with Edward Norton and a defining trait of the 'Loaf's role in the movie, and Joey O smiled: “Bitch tits, yeah, your nipples get hard, they swell up — they hurt and you take your Nolvadex."

    He stops to grab a rag and wipe down the wooden bar between us before continuing. "Sure, you might lactate a bit, crack and bleed, but you’re ready and you take care of it before you’re needing sports bras and Band-Aids."

    Medically known as gynecomastia, the condition occurs in anabolic steroid users when their bodies compensate for an over-abundance of testosterone and start creating balancing amounts of estrogen.

    Nolvadex is typically used to treat breast cancer, but also does a handy job of keeping the estrogen in check.  A more common option is taking birth control, yet another cycle in the steroid user’s regime.

    In the movie, Meatloaf was undergoing hormone therapy. Joey O had just started the same program: weekly doses of testosterone (“test”) and the option of more frequent human growth hormone (HGH) injections.

    Whether you know him or not, Joey O comes across with a rather sizable chip on his shoulder. I was actively thinking that when I ask him about his balls.

    SteroidsHe doesn’t flinch. “Peanuts,” he says, with a snort. "Yeah, they shrink up to like peanuts."

    Finally, the girl next to us, at the bar where Joey O works, until now silent and delightfully uninvolved, chimes in: “Like a piece of Double-Bubble!” Joey O nods, sanctioning her reply. “Get it? Double-Bubble…” she says, “Get it?”

    Joey O smiles and says: “I started juicing after I got out of the Marines in 1992. Everybody was doing it. I saw a guy at the gym, bigger than he had any right to be, and I asked him what was up. We chat a bit; he takes me out to his car. His dad worked on horses and this guy’s trunk was full of steroids. Full. Everything you’d ever need.”

    Another Fight Club juicer fact: Steroids are used on racehorses. Winstrol (“Winnie”) is a called a “cutting agent.” Those rippling, striated flanks on racehorses? That’s Winnie doing its cutting. The better the cut, the less fat and the more muscle. Winstrol was Joey O’s cutting agent of choice.

 Anadrol (oxymetholone 50 — or “A-Bombs”) became Joey O’s bulking agent of choice.

    Bulking agents are the other half of the steroid equation. You bulk, you cut, you cycle off  — on-and-on until the side effects become too much to ignore. And those effects are bigger than a juicer’s bodybuilding trophies. About another staple steroid, Anadrol: “It’s just like a bullet, right to your fucking liver,” Joey tells me from behind the bar, jabbing his left pointer finger into his lower rib cage.

    The liver is hit so hard by Anadrol that renal failure is more likely than not. Because the liver filters all the body’s fluids and this particular fluid is so poisonous, it can overwhelm the organ completely. The drug is prescribed to late-stage cancer and AIDS patients, as well as those suffering from extreme anemia.

    It wasn’t the health risks that got Joey O to quit juicing, or even the “blowout,” which occurs when a steroid user is so swollen muscularly, so pumped, that his steroid injection site refuses the injection and blows out, pumping body fluids back through the hole created by the needle.

    “The blowout happened in my bedroom one day: blood and steroids squirting everywhere. What a mess. All over my blankets; I had to throw them all out. I didn’t have any napkins or nothin’ and a little cotton ball wasn’t gonna stop it."


What finally did stop Joey O from using steroids was the lifestyle that came with them. “I was headed straight to prison,” he says, smiling again. Joey O left New Jersey before that happened.

    In Florida, he faced the withdrawal symptoms: mood swings, insomnia, restlessness, reduced libido, decreased appetite, and depression, which is known to persist for a year or more. What really depressed Joey was that he no longer enjoyed going to the gym; what depressed him even further was that in Florida simple possession of a steroid got you a felony with up to five years in prison. Steroid use is so widespread in Florida that it has trickled down into high schools. Florida was the third state, along with New Jersey and Texas, to require steroid testing for high school athletes.

    Joey O is smiling now, because he’s back. And this time, he’s 100 percent legit.


    It started the same way. Joey O saw physician’s assistant Doug Saville (not his real name) in the bar where he works and asked where to find something that would get him back to the gym. Saville told him that while he personally wasn’t on steroids, he legally prescribed all the drugs that helped him develop his own massive physique. “I thought he was jerking me off,” Joey O says.

    Saville, 38, a competitive bodybuilder for almost two decades and a Florida state overall champion, met me in his office to talk about his practice and he said 20 percent of his business was weightlifters.

    “I work closely with the trainers from all over and they send their clients in. They see improved muscle tone, weight loss, better definition. Overall, they see dramatic gains,” he told me from behind his desk.

    He shows me a bottle of testosterone and I ask how long the bottle should last. “Well,” he said, “this could last up to 12 weeks. But some of my guys will go through this in five weeks.” Patients were given the option of coming in for their injections or taking the drugs home.

    I asked Saville if this isn’t perhaps skirting the laws laid out to prevent drugs in the marketplace that induce testosterone development. He says: “Not if there is documentation showing that an individual has low levels of testosterone.”

    “And what about the Pill Mill Bill?” I asked, referring to the recently-passed Florida law that regulated how much and how often an individual receives a pharmaceutical drug. Saville said, “I’m not very concerned. The people that make the laws, they’re the ones benefiting most from these drugs."

    I thank Saville for his time, and leave his office thinking about everything he told me.

    While there are documented benefits to treatments like the one he provided, the renowned Mayo Clinic points out risks as well: fluid retention, baldness, sleep apnea, growth of the prostate, prostate cancer, enlarging breasts, testicle shrinkage, and low sperm production.

    And perhaps another risk the renowned hospital doesn’t mention, but one that Joey O shared with me in a follow-up interview. “I got a problem,” he says. “I had a blowout at the gym.”


Blowout. In this new world, I’m thinking injections, blood, steroids. “No,” he says, “my balls blew out. One is like normal; the other is rock hard and grapefruit-size.”

    He must have seen a look on my face because he quickly adds, “Well, like a small grapefruit, maybe an orange. It’s an infection,” he continues, “like a head cold that just went down there, ya’ know?”

    “You don’t think it’s the testosterone injections?” I ask.

    With quick jerking motions, he shakes his head side-to-side: “No. No way, man. It’s just a cold. Definitely.”

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    chinook SEALs Army

    The naming of U.S. military operations can seem arbitrary and obtuse, but there's logic to them.

    Take the quiz >

    In the days following World War I it was all about colors. Think Operation Indigo or Operation Gray.

    In WWII it was about shaping perceptions, sometimes to the point of wishful thinking, as when the Japanese dubbed their failure at Leyte Gulf — Operation Victory.

    During Vietnam names took on a creative appeal designed to boost flagging morale of U.S. troops with names like Operation Killer and Masher.

    That type of PR seemed questionable in the less heady days of the mid 1970s and a computer program called the Code Word, Nickname, and Exercise Term System (NICKA) was given the job of job of assigning mission names.

    NICKA erred on the opposite end, however, such as when it lamely labeled the Panama invasion Operation Blue Spoon (subsequently changed to a better name, as you'll see in the quiz). So a new system was developed.

    To allow for some controlled flair a system was implemented by the Joint Chiefs of Staff where each of the 24 Department of Defense components involved in military operations held unique sets of alphabetic sequences.

    Sounds complicated, but it worked like this: The U.S. Atlantic Command (USACOM) was assigned six two-letter sequences: AG-AL, ES-EZ, JG-JL, QA-QF, SM-SR, and UM-UR. The first word of the two-word military operation name had to begin with one of these pairs. Like Grenada: Urgent Fury (UR).

    Today staff officers have a bit more freedom naming operations and following the PR success of Operation Just Cause, have taken to following these four guidelines.

    Make it meaningful. Target the audience. Be wary of fashions, and Make it memorable.

    The following quiz will help determine how successful military planners have been in that final naming guideline.

    What was the name of the invasion of Iraq?

    A: Operation Iraqi Liberation

    B: Operation Sandy Ouster

    C: Operation Iraqi Freedom

    NOTE: Answers are on the next page. Keep track of how many you get right to find out your rank on the last slide.

    And the answer is ...

    C. Operation Iraqi Freedom

    Believe it or not, their first name for the invasion was "Operation Iraqi Liberation."

    Later, realizing those three words made the acronym, spelled "OIL," military planners changed the last word to "Freedom."

    What did planners call the invasion of Afghanistan?

    A: Operation Enduring Freedom

    B: Operation Afghan Liberation

    C: Operation Taliban Fire

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Following public outrage and a lengthy political battle, Canadians have finally said thanks but no thanks to America's F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

    The 5th-generation plane had become a source of controversy after costs soared far beyond the initial estimate from Lockheed Martin and the Pentagon.

    Then last spring Auditor General Michael Ferguson called out a bunch of party conservatives who'd been low-balling the jets costs.


    Last spring, Ferguson ignited a political firestorm when he reported that the top-line cost cited by the Conservatives in the 2011 election campaign – $9-billion for 65 planes, or $15-billion including maintenance and other life-cycle costs – was $10-billion below the Defence department’s internal estimate.

    Even the internal figure of $25.1-billion was suspect, critics said, because it assumed a 20-year life cycle. The longevity of the Lockheed-Martin-built aircraft, according to the Pentagon, is 36 years.

    KPMG’s audit, due out next week, has confirmed the contention, long made by critics such as former assistant deputy minister (materiel) Alan Williams, that the F-35 program’s real cost would be much higher than any previously stated government estimate, sources say.

    Parliamentary Budget Officer Kevin Page predicted a cost of $30 billion over a 30-year life cycle.

    That was pretty much all it took and now, the deal is supposed to be deader than dead leaving our neighbors to the north but a handful of years in aging CF-18s that really won't see much flying at all after the end of the decade.

    With all the money it's saving, Canadian officials are about to go shopping and look for some bargains.

    And let's be honest, pretty much everything else out there is a comparative bargain to the JSF. Acquisition specialists will certainly start with Boeing’s Super Hornet, Dassault’s Rafale, Saab’s Gripen, and the Eurofighter Typhoon to replace the CF-18 fleet.

    Huffington Post Canada points out the representative for the Prime Minister's Office is denying the $40 billion deal is dead, but also points out he's lied about publicly made remarks in the past and his word carries less weight than it could. Check out HuffPo's Canadian Politics section here for further details.

    Canada had been told the F-35 package would run about $9 billion, but aside from delays and excuses that number had seen heights of $40 billion.

    And thanks to my favorite Canadian Mike Pearson for cluing me in to this last night as it was developing up north.

    It seems likely that Lockheed and the Pentagon saw the Canadian writing on the wall, as it were, and perhaps braced themselves for this cancellation. Their concerns would have been heightened because for every partner country that withdraws its purchase order, the remaining countries end up footing more of the bill. With rising costs of the F-35 one of the main program complaints, mitigating this bump may already be on the Pentagon's agenda.

    Reuters reported as early as November 29 that the U.S. Air Force was actively committing once again to its purchase of 1,763 F-35 Joint Strike Fighters for about $400 billion.

    One day after that Reuters went on to report that Lockheed and the Pentagon agreed to a $3.8 billion deal for another 32 F-35s. This second 'batch' of planes runs about half the price of the original run.

    Canada's grumblings have been echoing from the north for some time, but aside from mild concerns in the UK over the F-35 model its chosen, the Short Takeoff and Vertical Landing (STOVL) designation, most member countries seem to be waiting patiently for the JSFs to arrive.

    Lockheed and the Pentagon have massaged these deals endlessly over the years as they fought to get the F-35 rolling and then to keep it alive.

    Incentives like Japan's where F-35 parts will begin to be manufactured under a relaxed arms deal is just one of the 'wink-and-a-handshake' type bonuses designed to keep everyone patient, and from not following Canada's example.

    Now: See life in 'Post-Apocalyptic' Afghanistan >

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    Pearl Harbor

    There are few things spectacular as an early Sunday morning on a South Pacific Island.

    For the boys serving the U.S. fleet at Pearl Harbor December 7, 1941 the sun had a quality like nothing they'd ever seen, big, loose, and orange — but inviting — filling the air with a lurid appeal they just assumed was homesickness.

    See the pictures >

    Not yet 8 a.m. and softball teams were lining up on the beach. Pitchers warmed up their arms, while batting rosters were finalized and the wives and kids came over from seaside church services.

    Stealing a moment to take it all in proved a sight impossible to forget and not a man there who lent himself to the idea, didn't think the same thing. It was perfect.

    Not unfamiliar with the narcotic effects of a tropical Sunday morning or American habits, the Japanese thought the morning perfect as well and for hours had been barreling the better part of their naval fleet and air forces across the Pacific and toward Pearl Harbor.

    There, tied off like a string of pearls, draped gently across the docks and waterfront was the lion's share of America's naval might.

    The still dreamy hour of 8 a.m. local time saw the first wave of Japanese forces bear down and devastate everything in sight.  Amid the carnage, tragedy and loss that came to define the ensuing hours of that day, two things happened.

    First, the United States came together and beat back one of the most evil forces the world had ever seen. The second thing that happened was the country promised itself it would never, ever forget that morning.

    To that end we offer these original photographs from Pearl that morning so that you too can help 'never forget'.

    Aerial view of Battleship Row in the opening moments of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

    Japanese Navy Type 99 Carrier Bombers prepare to take off from an aircraft carrier during the morning of 7 December 1941.

    Torpedo plane takes off from Shokaku to attack Pearl Harbor.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Canada's plan to consider ditching its order for American F-35 Joint Strike Fighters will have huge military and political repercussions.

    First Canada must choose between the fifth-generation F-35 and various foreign early generation jet fighters to replace its aging CF-18 fleet.

    Canada had narrowed its options down to the Dassault Rafale, British Aerospace Eurofighter, Saab Gripen, and the Boeing F-18 F/A Super Hornet.

    Click here to see the competition >

    Ditching the U.S.model could lead to interoperability issues, however, between Canadian and U.S. forces. Jacob Stokes from the Center for a New American Security told us this ability to communicate over shared platforms aboard the F-35 will have to be accomplished in other ways.

    "Those problems can be overcome later with retrofitting and other interoperability programs, but such retrofits are never going to be as easy as flying the same planes," Stokes says by email. "The question then becomes, is the retrofit cheap enough to justify going with another model, or do you simply bypass the need for high level of interoperability?"

    But those are just military questions. From a political angle, Canada's choice could be even more explosive.

    The U.S. and Canada have done a pretty spectacular job of working together over the years despite a fair share of deep differences, but the news that Canada is looking at non F-35 fighters sent ripples through defense communities in the U.S. and around the world.


    Canada's defense spending has increased from about $13 billion in 1999 to nearly $25 billion in 2012, giving lots of business to Lockheed Martin, Boeing, General Dynamics, and more.

    It's a far cry from the more than  $700 billion spent every year by the U.S., but few Canadians want to compete with the States on that front. 

    Canada's defense spending is about equal to Germany in percentage of its GDP and that makes it the 13th largest military spender in the world and the 6th largest spender in NATO.

    The cost is clearly a concern, but to many Canadians the price comes second to concerns that their country is getting bullied by the U.S. and being forced to share a warmongering path they have no interest in pursuing.

    Canada was given a $9 billion estimate on the batch of F-35 they ordered from Lockheed, which ballooned up to $40 billion over the life of the plane. An amount not exactly twice the country's entire defense budget, but pretty close. If Canada does officially reject the F-35 and the units do not get picked up elsewhere, the plane will become even more costly for every other country signed up to buy them.

    Larry Birns, Director of Washington-based of Council on Hemispheric Affairs says the impact of Canada's potential F-35 refusal is bigger than anyone can actually say at the moment.

    Saab Gripen

    Birns explains, "Canadian politics are much more polarized than U.S. politics — there is a ... movement in Canada and people who belong to that movement who accuse the U.S. of being warmongers, and who don't like deals with the U.S."

    "You have a lot of elements at work here." Birns continued via a phone interview. "It's all part of a push-pull arrangement. Where we are right now the decision has been made to move back the [F-35] commitment and it may even be more drastic than we think."

    How drastic no one can say, but not only will Lockheed Martin and the U.S. have to make the F-35 far more palatable to the majority of Canadian voters, they'll now have to compete with other contractors.

    No doubt sales reps for foreign companies will be doing everything they can to make the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter look even less attractive to Canadian defense officials.

    As Canada weighs its other fighter options, we've analyzed what they're likely looking at to replace the high-profile, high-tech, and highly-expensive F-35.

    The following slides offer a look at the most likely contenders.

    Sweden's Saab Gripen has a top speed of Mach 2 — faster than Lockheed's F-35 top speed of Mach 1.6

    The Gripen also has air refueling capabilities, a must for Canada, and mounts any NATO weapon or piece of electronics

    With increased fuel capacity, a more powerful engine, cutting-edge (AESA) radar, helmet optics and a beefier weapons payload — the Saab is fit to take on the F-35

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    The military has done everything possible to develop a uniform that helps troops blend into whatever environment they might be in, but a Canadian firm may be the one who beat countless development contractors working on hefty tax payer budgets.

    Hyperstealth Biotechnology Corp. has created, tested and given "need-to-know" demonstrations of a hyperstealth material called "Quantum Stealth" that renders its user completely invisible to any visual spectrum, to include IR Scopes and Thermal Optics.

    They're so confident that they claim the only way to find a person hiding beneath the blanket is to literally "trip over them."

    CNN reports that the technology is passive, meaning that it doesn't generate power or an illusion of any sort, whatever the material is, it simply "bends light around a subject."

    Guy Cramer, CEO of the company, created the technology months ago, but told CNN he finally released images of it to the public in order to get an opportunity to show it to military officials.

    "After enough press had been written on the subject, the U.S. Military Command finally asked to see the real material to verify that it worked," he said. "Those meetings took place with very limited “Need to Know” access and the technology is now moving forward."

    On the company website, Cramer goes so far as to say that the technology will in all likelihood remain Top Secret classified until the military deems it safe for commercial markets.

    This definitely looks like something that needs to be seen to be believed.



    SEE ALSO: The camouflage being looked at by the military today >

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    As the fiscal cliff looms and defense threatens countless jobs, CNN correspondent Barbara Starr stumbled upon this holiday decoration inside the the Pentagon and tweeted it out for all of us to enjoy.

    She tagged it #MerryFiscalChristmas and #secretdoor, asking, "Who says there is no holiday spirit at the Pentagon?"


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