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The latest news from Robert Johnson on Business Insider

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    gangAmerica may be getting safer, but gangs are expanding and becoming more violent, posing a growing threat across the country, according to a 2011 FBI report.

    An estimated 1.4 million Americans belong to 33,000 gangs, and together they are responsible for 48% of violent crime in the country.

    Following up on a 2012 article, we have profiled 12 of the gangs mentioned in the report and noted their recent activity.

    The 18th Street gang is a huge transnational gang in Los Angeles.

    One of the most well-known of the "Sureño" gangs in Southern California, the 18th Street Gang is a violent enterprise that was linked last year to a large methamphetamine ring.

    The gang is one of the most rapidly expanding criminal groups in the country, with a reach that extends across 32 states, from Maryland to Hawaii.

    18th Street gangsters have been linked to homicide, extortion, alien smuggling, drug smuggling, auto theft, and running massive document mills in New York City. These "mills" paper the streets with fraudulent government identification allowing anyone to gain fresh lines of credit, government benefits, and driver licenses.



    Florencia 13 nearly turned Los Angeles into a war zone.

    Florencia 13 works closely with the Mexican Mafia and is a rival of the 18th Street gang. Florencia 13 is part of a terrifying gang war scene in Los Angeles, and it also has influence in more rural states like Virginia and Iowa.

    Gang members have been charged with offenses ranging from piracy to conspiracy to selling drugs to murder. In August, three dozen members of Florencia 13 were indicted for racketeering and drugs. At the time, the Los Angeles Times reported that the gang allegedly "controls swaths of Los Angeles County" and had outposts there for drug-dealing and illegal gambling.

     

     



    Barrio Azteca's violence comes straight from the Mexican cartels.

    Originally based out of El Paso, Texas, Los Aztecas are a powerful paramilitary force on both sides of the Mexican border. Many of the gang's members are recruited from Texas prisons, with some of the organization's most notorious activity taking place inside prison walls.

    Los Aztecas work with the Juarez and Los Zetas cartels running drugs and smuggling illegal aliens; gang members also allegedly murdered consulate officials. The gang has a military-like structure that has helped keep rigid order.

    In March 2011, 35 members of the gang were charged with a variety of crimes, including the murder of a U.S. Consulate employee and several family members.

    That trial was still underway in February 2014.

     



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    After Facebook assumed the former Sun Microsystems complex in Palo Alto in 2011, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg set out to find an architect capable of handling a grand design for its main main headquarters building. Zuckerberg chose world famous architect Frank Gehry for the job (amid major concessions to the city of Palo Alto).

    Facebook Gehry

    If he was looking for impact, Zuckerberg could have made no better choice. Gehry's past designs have become renowned tourist attractions, like the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain. They are considered some of the most important works of contemporary architecture on the planet.

    Facebook Gehry

    Photos of the Gehry model that will become Facebook's new HQ have been floating around for a couple of years. But with the building slated for completion next year, Facebook provided these new, exclusive images to Business Insider of what the world can expect from Gehry's latest design:

    Facebook Gehry

    At more than 435,000 square feet, spread across 22 acres, the new building dips and rises from 45 to 73 feet. It is built above a surface-level parking lot with a massive rooftop green space that resembles a park more than a small corporate outdoor garden.

    Facebook's new building is a powerful example of how people create a sense of space and ownership over their environment. Buildings have long been held up as shining example of human innovation. Considering Gehry's new design is just one of many expansive new Silicon Valley projects, it feels as if the whole area is gently reshaping its self image.

    Facebook Gehry

    The roof will support a handful of outdoor cafes, barbecues and work benches beneath full-size trees to complete the park-like effect. One building will be large enough to house 10,000 workers in a single room.

    The building is scheduled to open in the spring of 2015.

    Facebook Gehry

    SEE ALSO: Deciding whether to work at Twitter or Facebook

    Join the conversation about this story »


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    Freemasons' Hall London

    The Freemasons, a fraternal organization developed from the stonemasons, include more than 6 million members worldwide.

    Despite nearing 300 years of activity, the Freemasons remain mysterious, with many of their records destroyed naturally by time. But a few member lists survived — and they name some of the most influential people throughout history.

    Click here to meet the Masons »

    Anyone can petition to become a member, but prospects must put their faith in a Supreme Being. The members believe in "truth, tolerance, respect, and freedom." Once limited to white men, now any nationality or race can join. However,African-American freemaons have split into their own sect called the Prince Hall Freemasons. And women technically still can't join, but many modern lodges allow them.

    Although somewhat secret, most scholars agree the hierarchy of Freemasonry includes 33 degrees. Freemasons begin as Entered Apprentices and can work their way all the way to Sovereign Grand Inspector General.

    We listed 17 members, living and dead, who took the solemn vow.

    Eric Goldschein contributed research to this article.

    Benjamin Franklin — Saint John's Lodge, Philadelphia; 1730

    Benjamin Franklin became a member of Saint John's Lodge in Philadelphia in 1730, a few years after starting his own society, the Leather Apron Club.

    He remained active in the group for more than 50 years, serving as Grand Master of Pennsylvania in 1734. He also printed the first Masonic publication, "The Constitutions of the Free-Masons," in the colonies. The book remains one of the rarest in the world, with only 20 verified copies currently. 

    While in Paris during the American Revolution, Franklin served as Venerable Master from 1779 to 1781. His membership in the order didn't interfere with his role as a Founding Father and American inventor.



    George Washington — Fredericksburg Lodge, Virginia; 1752

    Initiated in 1752 at the Fredericksburg Lodge in Virginia, the first President of the United States had a strong relationship with the Masons.Washington performed Masonic rites at the laying of the U.S. Capitol's cornerstone on September 18, 1793.

    He remained a member until death and recieved a masonic funeral at the request of his widow. Over the years, many Masons, as well as members of the Knights Templar, have taken pilgrimages to Mount Vernon, the location of Washington's tomb.

    A statue of Washington commissioned by the state of Virginia greets visitors at the Scottish Rite Museum and Library in Lexington, Mass.



    Paul Revere — St. Andrew's Lodge, Massachusetts, 1760

    After his initiation in 1760, Paul Revere served as Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts from 1795 to 1797.

    He contributed to the creation of many lodges within his home state and instituted new positions and traditions. His son also became a Freemason.

    To this day, no one really knows who started the Boston Tea Party, but many historians speculate early members of the colonial Freemasons may have contributed.

     



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Headed off to college, alone for the first time and able to eat pretty much anything they please, anytime they want, students often gain a bit of weight. The "Freshman 15" is a bit of indulgence many of us remember fondly, if not a bit self-consciously.

    To that end, and to rekindle some of the youthful abandon and excitement of arriving somewhere great — like college — for the first time in years, Facebook offers an array of goods and services to its employees many of us would find equally inviting. When Business Insider visited Facebook's Menlo Park, Calif., campus in early March, we saw perks that make the standard office-kitchen coffee bar look feeble.

    When a coffee shop opened to the right of this path (below), people cut across the grass to get there. To solve the problem Facebook installed a yellow-brick road from one walkway to the other, complete with Dorothy's house.

    Facebook Headquarters Burger Shack (1 of 1) 3

    Facebook's Hacker Square, the center of its campus, feels like a city center. A replica of downtown Palo Alto unfolds on every side. Across from a styling salon is a homemade ice cream shop, adjacent to the Mexican restaurant, the sushi joint, and an open pit BBQ outside one of the gourmet cafeterias. Burgers are just one option for lunch:

    Facebook Headquarters Burger Shack (1 of 1)

    There is a transportation hub on one corner of the square offering bicycles so workers can span the sprawl of campus, but no amount of pedaling can burn off the calories offered here.

    Aside from a couple of locally owned restaurants Facebook wanted on campus from Palo Alto, all of the meals, desserts, drinks — whatever strikes your fancy — are free of charge. It's one thing to know this going in, but it's something else to see it. Harvest is the place to go for healthy options:

    Facebook Headquarters Harvest (1 of 1) 2

    Groups of people cluster together laughing, working, laughing and even skipping. And it smells good. Food odors came across in various clouds as Jackie Rooney, a spokeswoman for Facebook, gave us the nickel tour.

    In the thick of people breaking for lunch, we mention it's hard to imagine which restaurant we'd pick first and Rooney laughs. "Yeah," she says throwing up her hands in mock quotation marks. "The 'Facebook 15' is a real thing."

    SEE ALSO: We went to Twitter and Facebook and it's impossible to decide which place we'd rather work

    Join the conversation about this story »


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    Homeless Silicon Valley San Francisco

    Not everyone is benefiting from Silicon Valley's latest tech boom.

    As rents soar, nearly 55% of Silicon Valley workers do not make the $90,000 necessary to support a family of four in the region. The area has the fifth-largest homeless population in the country, and in the past three years the problem has gotten much worse, according to the latest Silicon Valley Index.

    After reporting on the homelessness crisis last fall, we returned this month to find more people living on the street around San Francisco and a growing and deteriorating homeless camp in San Jose.

    Silicon Valley is booming, with 92,000 new jobs and 46,000 new businesses created in 2012.

    Source: AP, San Jose Mercury News



    The housing market is booming too, with lots of luxury construction like the NEMA residential high-rise in San Francisco's once-crime-filled Tenderloin.



    With shuttle service to suburban corporate campuses, tech stars can happily live in San Francisco and other desirable areas.



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Gap Twitter Homeless Tenderloin san francisco

    When Twitter decided on San Francisco's long depressed Tenderloin district for its new headquarters it implied many things.

    The technology giant made it clear they were committed to San Francisco, and the city made clear it was committed to Twitter by offering tens of millions of dollars in tax breaks.

    The move was intended to revitalize a blighted neighborhood that had not previously been gentrified.

    It looks like the plan may slowly be working. The Tenderloin is still gritty, and overall rents are still lower than the rest of the city, but the place is changing.

    We visited Twitter's HQ and walked the Tenderloin talking to those who seemed affected by it the most.

    There is a neighborhood like San Francisco's Tenderloin district in almost every city in the world.



    The Tenderloin's "Bawdy Houses" have been synonymous with a free wheeling raunchiness and the underbelly of San Francisco for generations.



    But the Tenderloin was also one place that people could land a cheap room without hitting the streets, and the days of that particular safety net are rapidly coming to a close.



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Billionaires Row San Francisco Pacific heights (1 of 1) 17

    When the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and fire wiped the city's slate clean, the wealthy stood around the burned rubble of their Nob Hill homes and took a cool, hard look at San Francisco Bay.

    The best view in the city was in Pacific Heights, and with that swathe of real estate now up for grabs the big money built there and settled in.

    Through the Great Depression and both World Wars, the residents of Pacific Heights built mansions in an ex-frontier town that now sell for nearly $3,280 per square foot.

    Today's buyers, however, have given this slice of San Francisco the name "Billionaire's Row." And those billionaires include a lot of tech names mingling with San Fran's "Old Money" crowd.

    In the 1870s, the highest hills overlooking San Francisco Bay were filled with laborers enjoying a building boom in America's tenth largest city — thousands of miles beyond the frontier.

    Source: ZPub



    The building boom of the 1870s, however, was just a shadow of the rebuilding that took place after the the 1906 'quake.



    In the years after 1906, many of Nob Hill's wealthy residents moved to Pacific Heights and changed it from a place of plain homes built for about $1,000 on small lots, to a place like this:

    Source: StreetAdvisor



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Twitter Headquarters (1 of 1) 9

    Twitter's corporate headquarters are in San Francisco's gritty Tenderloin district.

    It's one of the city's most depressed areas. The hope is that the influx of tech workers there will spur a mini-renaissance of a long-neglected neighborhood.

    We visited Twitter in March and were given a tour. 

    SEE ALSO: Patrick Stewart's Only Rule For Using Twitter

    San Francisco's Tenderloin district remained one of the city's most economically depressed areas for generations.



    This building stood vacant for 50 years before Twitter moved its headquarters here.



    With a market capitalization of $27 billion, Twitter is altering the Tenderloin from inside this 1937 Art Deco building. Here's the soaring lobby.

    Source: Motley Fool



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Facebook Headquarters Palo Alto (1 of 1) 39

    Silicon Valley is awash with extravagant workplaces but Facebook's is low key and village-like.

    The main part of campus was built to resemble downtown Palo Alto. With 1 million-square-feet of space, the campus is spacious, but the number of people walking around make it feel more intimate. It's casual, but well-planned.

    We visited Facebook's Menlo Park, Calif., headquarters in March as the trees were blooming. The following pictures offer a glimpse of what it's like working inside the social network.

    Facebook's new Menlo Park headquarters is a sprawling compound of buildings that once belonged to Sun Microsystems.



    As massive as it is, the campus only supports 3,600 commuting vehicles so the company buses in workers where it can.

    Source: ZDNet



    Employees arrive to work here in a variety of ways.



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    When the U.S. Navy wants to haul a few hundred tons of troops, material, or gear from ship to shore, sailors can use the Landing Craft Air Cushioned (LCAC) vehicle, an astonishing high-tech hovercraft.

    The LCAC is an update to the Landing Craft Utility (LCU), an earlier amphibious transport system. The two systems are vastly different — but they're both capable of serving as the backbone for missions ranging from humanitarian relief to a full-blown beach invasion.

    Business Insider got up close and personal with both crafts and the units that operate them.

    The LCAC Hovercraft

    LCAC Assault Craft Unit Four Above And Beyond Little Creek Norfolk 30The LCAC is a 90-foot hovercraft. It's not easy to drive. The operator has to yoke all four limbs into place while concentrating on two separate foot-operated rudders. The LCAF Craftsman has the same challenge as a helicopter pilot — the vessel effectively operates in six dimensions, careening across water and land like a giant air-hockey puck.

    The LCU Landing Craft

    lcu2

    The LCU is old school in every sense, but its navigation and electronics gear are constantly upgraded. These were the boats dropping off American soldiers on the shores on the Han River in Vietnam in the early 1970s.

    LCUs can discharge 125 tons of cargo and hit the beach at about 14 miles per hour. The LCAC slides in at more than 46 miles per hour, and can carry up to 75 tons.

    It's no wonder the two units, which are right next door to each other at the Joint Expeditionary Base in Little Creek-Fort Story in Norfolk, Virginia, have a bit of a heated rivalry. One LCU Craftsman likened it to Aesop's fable about the tortoise and the hare.

    Chief Petty Officer Bright of LCU Unit 2 told Business Insider, "It may take us a bit longer to get there compared to the LCACs, but you know what happened to the Hare. Slow and easy is best."

    Business Insider visited both units in early July 2013, and went out on the water with an LCAC team over Norfolk Bay. Here's what the day was like and how the U.S. military delivers its troops and goods onto shores around the world.

    Pulling up to the Navy's East Coast Hovercraft Unit in Little Creek, Virgina leaves quite an impression.



    The hovercraft bursts in, carrying 60 tons of material or troops at speeds in excess of 40 miles per hour, straight from the water and onto the beach.



    Assault Craft Unit Four calls itself the East Coast Hoppers.



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Nostradamus Prophecies

    French apothecary and purported prophet Nostradamus may have his skeptics, but you can't deny his ideas have staying power.

    He wrote his first book, "Les Propheties," in 1555, and publishing companies still roll out copies today. There's even a "Nostradamus For Dummies."

    In the text of his book, each four-line block, called a quatrain, attempts to predict the future.

    While logic might suggest Nostradamus' claims could apply to almost any event, some of them come eerily close to reality. In these 11 cases, we couldn't ignore his speculative prowess.

    The Death of Henry II

    Prediction:

    "The young lion will overcome the older one,
    On the field of combat in a single battle;
    He will pierce his eyes through a golden cage,
    Two wounds made one, then he dies a cruel death."

    What happened:

    France's King Henry II lined up to joust Gabriel, comte de Montgomery, seigneur de Lorges, a nobleman six years his junior, in the summer of 1559.

    In their final pass, Montgomery's lance tilted up and splintered into two shards. One went through the king's visor and hit his eye, and the other lodged in his temple. Henry suffered for 10 days before dying in his bed.

    Some reports say their shields displayed lion emblems, though disagreement exists. Skeptics also claim "field of battle" in the quatrain probably shouldn't apply to the friendly jousting match that killed Henry II.



    The Great Fire of London

    Prediction:

    "The blood of the just will be lacking in London,
    Burnt up in the fire of '66:
    The ancient Lady will topple from her high place,
    Many of the same sect will be killed."

    What happened:

    On Sept. 2, 1666, a small fire in Thomas Farriner's bakery on Pudding Lane in London turned into a three-day blaze that consumed the city. It became known as the Great Fire of London.

    Peasant deaths weren't recorded at the time, but many historians claims at least eight people died in the blaze. Thousands of houses and businesses burned, as well. 

    "Blood of the just"might refer to the elimination of millions of flea-carrying rats that spread the Black Death. That deadly plague died out during the Great Fire.



    The French Revolution

    Prediction:

    "Songs, chants, and demands will come from the enslaved
    Held captive by the nobility in their prisons
    At a later date, brainless idiots
    Will take these as divine utterances."

    What happened:

    In 1789, the French people decided they'd had enough of aristocratic rule. They revolted, storming the Bastille, a Paris fortress used as a prison. The fall of the Bastille, which symbolized the monarchy's abuses, marked the height of the French Revolution.

    The peasants quickly took control of Paris and enforced their demands by kidnapping the royals. Some of them were even beheaded.



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    T-50 PAK FA

    Of the jets in production that promise to take military fighters deep into the 21st century and beyond, the U.S. F-35, the Chinese J-20, and the Russian Sukhoi T-50 PAK FA are at the top of the heap.

    The T-50 will be offered to countries — and Russian allies — looking for an alternative to the F-35, Lockheed Martin's long-delayed fifth generation fighter. The Russians expect to sell about 1,000 fighters worldwide.

    See why it won't compete >

    But those countries won't be training pilots any time soon. According to Russia’s Centre for Analysis of World Arms Trade (CAWAT) the delivery schedule could be decades away for some purchasing nations. Malaysia won't get their T-50s until 2035 at the earliest.

    And if Americans thought they were alone in questioning the need for an advanced fighter program in today's drone-filled skies, many Russians are also wondering at the need for their new aircraft.

    "There is no mission and no adversary for such plane," Russian defense analyst Konovalov says. "It would be more expedient to fit modern avionics to older generation jets."

    SEE ALSO: See two T-50s during a weapons integration test

    Military jets are divided into generations. We're now on the 5th generation of fighter planes.



    The only 5th generation fighter currently in operation is the F-22, but the Russians are eager to get the T-50 into service



    With its twin-engine design, the T-50 closely resembles the 20-year-old F-22 Raptor prototype



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    D Day Normandy June 6 1944 27Every war has events where the tide changes, turning points where the conflict's endgame comes into focus.

    That moment for the Second World War's European theater was June 6, 1944 — the day Allied forces crossed the English Channel and began to reclaim the European mainland.

    Tomorrow marks the 70th anniversary of the D-Day invasion.

    Here are images that bring to life one of the most consequential military operations in modern history.

     

    It was overcast and foggy on June 6, 1944, when 160,000 troops landed on this French coastline.



    Beaches along a 50-mile stretch of coastline in Normandy were given five names — Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno, and Sword. German troops heavily defended each of them.



    Cloud cover prevented Allied bombers from accurately targeting the German forces and softening up their defenses.



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Atlantic City New Jersey Revel Casino Resort 1 27

    Really expensive and worryingly empty. That's what we thought about Atlantic City's Revel Casino Hotel when we visited in February 2014. It was not a good combination.

    Now, the megacasino has filed for bankruptcy, the second time it has done so in the past two years.

    Revel is reportedly telling employees it will shut down this summer if it doesn't find a buyer.

    The complex cost $2.6 billion to build and is New Jersey's second-tallest building. It opened in April 2012, but 11 months later was forced to file for bankruptcy.

    We photographed the beautiful interior of the casino while reflecting on how it and the rest of Atlantic City fell on hard times.

    Pulling into the Revel Casino in Atlantic City, there is a lot of free parking, even for a Saturday afternoon in February.



    The casino's troubles were obvious from early on, such as when Morgan Stanley wrote down a $932 million loss on the project in 2010, well before it opened in 2012.



    The Revel lost more than $70 million during its first two fiscal quarters of 2012 and filed for bankruptcy in February 2013. Now, just over a year later, it has filed for bankruptcy once again.



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    iran military women

    The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant has blitzed across Iraq over the past couple of weeks. The Sunni extremist group threatens the government of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, a Shi'ite and close ally of Iran. 

    The Islamic Republic isn't taking its chances and has already sent two units of the Revolutionary Guards into Iraq. These soldiers come from one of the largest and most capable militaries in the region. 

    Iran's military has 545,000 active personnel and some of the most advanced technology of anyone in their neighborhood. The United States gave them a lot of it.

    Granted, it wasn't the Islamic Republic of Iran that we supplied with some of the hottest tech available at the time. Rather, it was a pre-revolutionary monarchy that was a key ally of the United States in the Middle East — and was overthrown in Iran's Islamic Revolution in 1979. 

    Since then, Iran has managed to develop its own military-industrial complex and upgrade its existing arsenal.

    And they've gotten pretty good at it.

    With Iran's military jumping into the unfurling chaos in Iraq, we looked at some of the military toys that the Iranians are playing with. 

     Walt Hickey contributed to this report.

    The AH-1J SeaCobra

    The United States sold 202 of these helicopters to Iran from 1975-1978. As of right now, only around 50 remain in service.

    Iran used the helicopters with disputed success in the Iran-Iraq War between 1980 and 1988. 

    The AH-1W, a similar aircraft, remains a cornerstone of the U.S. Marine Corps' attack helicopter fleet. 

    The attack helicopter carries a crew of two, reaches a maximum speed of 219 mph, and has a service ceiling of 10,500 feet. It's 53 feet long.

    Iran has also built an upgrade the Panha 2091, from AH-1J aircraft. Their efficacy is unknown. 

     



    The RIM-66 Surface to Air Missile

    The RIM-66 is a naval missile system designed by the United States and exported to multiple nations.

    They entered into service in 1967 and were made by Raytheon. This guided missile system can travel at 3.5 times the speed of sound and has an operational range of up to 90 nautical miles. 

    The Iran Navy has these installed on a number of missile boats and frigates.



    The S-300 missile system

    This one is unconfirmed, but Iran claims that they have them.

    And if they do have the S-300, that's a pretty big deal. Iran has also developed the Bavar 373 system, which it claims has the same capabilities as the S-300. 

    NATO called the S-300 the S-10 Gladiator. The Soviets developed in the 1970s, and it's been continually upgraded until production ceased in 2011.

    It's one of the most potent anti-aircraft missile systems in the field today.

    There are even variations that have been designed to intercept ballistic missiles. The radar system can track 100 targets at once, and can simultaneously engage 12 of them. 

    The 23-foot missiles weigh two tons and have a range of between 56 and 93 miles. They travel at six times the speed of sound. The missile system has never been used in combat as yet, but NATO has trained for that eventuality.



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    F-35

    This was supposed to the be the F-35's big month.

    The troubled next-generation fighter jet was going to make its international debut at the Farnborough Air Show in England. The U.S. and its partners would have something to show for their years of delays, setbacks, and cost overruns.

    They would have nothing less than a functioning version of the most advanced warplane in history.

    This potential breakthrough has hit an all-too-typical stumbling block.

    The Air Force temporarily suspended all F-35 flights after one of the planes caught on fire before takeoff at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida. Even if the plane does debut later this month, it still has some serious issues, and a long way to go before it can be rolled out for combat missions. Already, the plane is expected to be delayed for over a year beyond its projected mid-2015 delivery date.

    Despite this, it's not likely that the F-35 will ever be scrapped. As we reported back in November of 2012, there are simply too many countries that have invested time and money into the program.

    It is, quite literally, an aircraft that is "too big to fail" despite facing lifetime operating costs for the U.S. Fleet of $1 trillion, and cost overruns of $167 billion before a single plane has flown a single mission.

    We've gone back and looked at the biggest problems with the F-35 program, according to an official Pentagon report.

    Developed by Lockheed, the fighter has three variants: the conventional F-35A for the Air Force; the F-35B for the Marine Corps, which can take off and land vertically; and the F-35C for the Navy, a carrier version.



    If all goes to plan, the Pentagon is on track to spend a huge figure of $396 billion on the jets, including R&D. It doesn't help that the cost to build each F-35 has risen to an average of $160 million from $69 million in 2001. The project is an astounding $167 billion over-budget.



    More amazing than the cost of fabricating the F-35s is the expense of operating and supporting them: $1 trillion over the planes' lifetime. Ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Sen. John McCain, described that estimate as “jaw-dropping."



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    During the 2012 escalation between Israel and Hamas, the Palestinian Islamist group fired nearly 180 rockets on Israeli targets every day from the Gaza Strip. Thanks to the Iron Dome system, few of them reached their destination. The missile interceptor destroyed a reported 84 percentof rockets it targeted, protecting Israeli civilians and staving off an even greater escalation between the two sides.

    With Hamas continuing to strike Israeli targets and the Israeli military responding with a limited operation against targets in the Gaza Strip, the Iron Dome is back in action. Hamas fired around 85 rockets on Monday, and set off air-raid sirens in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Already, there are pictures on Twitter of the Iron Dome intercepting missiles over Israeli cities:

    There are a few folks behind the controls, and a few different pieces to the machine. In 2012, Business Insider had this simple explanation of how the Dome works:

     

    Produced by Robert Libetti

     

    SEE ALSO: Israel isn't eager for an escalation in Gaza, but might get one anyway

    Join the conversation about this story »


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    Ekranoplane

    The relationship between the U.S. and Russia is more tense than it's been since the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s.

    American and E.U. sanctions on the Russian government in the wake of Moscow-backed separatists' destruction of a Malaysia Airlines passenger jet has Russian President Vladimir Putin backed into a corner — which, as The New Republic's Julia Ioffe argues, is when he's most dangerous.

    But this isn't the Cold War. There's little actual danger of the Russians attempting to militarily threaten western Europe. Putin's options are dwindling. He's almost certainly more contained — strategically and militarily — than his Soviet predecessors, who had a trans-continental empire and some of the most incredible military technology of the time at their disposal.

    The Lun-class Soviet Ekranoplane is one reminder of the stakes of the Cold War, and the capabilities of the communist bloc. A super-vehicle seemingly purpose-built for a major war with the NATO states, it's a sign of how different Europe, Russia, and the world in general were just a relatively short time ago.

    The Ekranoplane was a marvel of late 20th century technological prowess and the Soviets considered it an integral part of their colossal military machine.

    Equipped with nuclear warheads and capable of blasting across the sea at 340 miles per hour, the Lun-class Ekranoplane was part plane, part boat, and part hovercraft. It took advantage of an aeronautical effect that allowed it to lift off with an immense amount of weight, but limited its flight to 16 feet above the waves — its altitude could never be greater than its wingspan.

    Think of a large seabird, like a pelican, cruising inches from the water and not needing to flap its wings — but loaded with soldiers, missiles, and even nukes.

    Only one of these extraordinary war machines was ever built. The only complete Ekranoplane now sits on the shores of the Caspian Sea, rusting away. 

    Business Insider's Robert Johnson stumbled upon these pictures back in January of 2012, when aviation blogger Igor113 posted them to Live Journal.

    The Lun-class Ekranoplane was used by the Soviet Navy starting in 1987, and wasn't retired until the late 1990s, after the Soviet Union's fall



    At nearly 243 feet long — and at almost the size of the Spruce Goose — the Lun is a ground-effect aircraft that can only fly near the surface of the sea



    Eight turbofans producing 28,600 pounds of thrust apiece are mounted at the nose of the vehicle



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    ADAPTIV

    U.S. policymakers are girding the American public for a long fight against ISIS, with Secretary of State John Kerry saying that the jihadists could take several years to defeat.

    ISIS has one of the most extensive arsenals of any non-state armed group in modern history. But even if not all of their weaponry is applicable to the fight against extremists in the Middle East, it's worth remembering that the U.S. and its partners still have the overwhelming advantage in hardware. 

    And it's not just an advantage over non-state groups like ISIS.

    The U.S. possesses a range of weapons that the rest of the world simply doesn't have.

    Weapons like the MQ9 Reaper Drone, the Laser Avenger, and the ADAPTIV cloaking give U.S. troops the a leg-up on any battlefield around the world — including in the ongoing battle against jihadist groups across the Middle East.

    MQ9 Reaper Drone

    Manufactured by: General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (GA-ASI)

    Release date: 2001

    The Reaper has been around for over 10 years, but it was used largely for intelligence and reconnaissance until recently. 

    Today, squadrons of F-16's are being transitioned into fleets of drones.

    The Reaper is the largest of the UAVs in the U.S. arsenal with a wingspan of 84 feet, a takeoff weight of 7,000 pounds, a payload capacity of 3,000 pounds, and a maximum flight time of 36 hours.

    The drone can read a license plate from over two miles away while flying at an altitude of 52,000 feet. Capable of carrying 500-pound bombs, air-to-ground, and air-to-air missiles, the UAV fleet is poised to perform the lion's share of American air support in coming years.

    At the beginning of this decade, the U.S. already had more personnel training to operate its burgeoning drone fleet than for any other weapon system in its arsenal.



    AA12 Atchisson Assault Shotgun

    Manufactured by: Maxwell Atchisson

    Release date: 2005

    The AA12 can fire five 12-gauge shells per second. Because the recoil is engineered at just 10 percent of that of a normal shotgun, it can be fired from the hip with only one hand.

    The Atchisson also fires a high-explosive or fragmentation grenade called a FRAG-12 round up to a distance of 175 meters with equal efficiency.

    Tests have shown the AA12, designed for long-term combat use, can fire up to 9,000 rounds without jamming or having to be cleaned.

    All the user needs to do is hold the trigger down for four seconds to empty the 20-round drum at a target.



    ADAPTIV Tank Invisibility Cloak

    Manufactured by: BAE Systems

    Release date: 2013

    Developed and patented in Sweden, ADAPTIV functions over infrared and other electronic frequencies. It can blend the coated vehicle into the background, making it seem to be invisible — and it can also shape the returning signal to appear like something else entirely.

    A tank, for example, can be made to look like a car. These pictures show both the combat vehicle disappearing and reshaping itself into the outline of an automobile.



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    Secret Service

    They haven't exactly covered themselves in glory lately, but the guys in suits surrounding the President of the United States are still ready to take a bullet to protect the leader of the free world.

    See the Secret Service >

    The Secret Service wasn't always intended to be the president's last, best line of defense. Abraham Lincoln created the United States Secret Service (USSS) to deal with the influx of counterfeit money after the Civil War — a move ironically made just hours before he was assassinated on April 14,1865. Four months later the Service was fully operational.

    In the run-up to the 2004 presidential election George W. Bush spoke at Louisiana State University (LSU), where National Geographic took a closer look at the Secret Service for a documentary called "Inside the US Secret Service." The film follows the president's advance team as it worked with local law enforcement to make sure every conceivable threat to the president addressed before he arrived. 

    National Geographic doesn't spill all the secrets, but what they let us in on is still pretty cool.

    Much of the country's top intelligence work takes place in this unmarked Washington, D.C. building.



    The United States Secret Service can't afford to underestimate the enemy in their mandate to protect the man, protect the symbol and protect the office of the President of the United States.



    Within the Washington HQ is the National Threat Assessment Team, Intelligence Division, Counterfeit Research Unit, Electronic Crime Branch, and Tracking Center.



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