May 04

It may have seemed like just another improbable scene from a Hollywood sci-fi flick – Tom Cruise battling against an army of robotic spiders intent on hunting him down.

But the storyline from Minority Report may not be quite as far fetched as it sounds.

British defence giant BAE Systems is creating a series of tiny electronic spiders, insects and snakes that could become the eyes and ears of soldiers on the battlefield, helping to save thousands of lives.

Prototypes could be on the front line by the end of the year, scuttling into potential danger areas such as booby-trapped buildings or enemy hideouts to relay images back to troops safely positioned nearby.

Soldiers will carry the robots into combat and use a small tracked vehicle to transport them closer to their targets.

Then they would swarm into the building and relay images back to the soldiers’ hand-held or wrist-mounted computers, warning them of any threats inside.

BAE Systems has just signed a £19million contract to develop the robots for the US Army.

Plans for a creature that can crawl like a spider are said to be well developed, and researchers eventually hope to be able to create creatures that can slither like a snake or fly like a dragonfly.

While some of the creatures will be fitted with small cameras, others will be equipped with sensors that will be able to detect the presence of chemical, biological or radioactive weapons. Continue reading »

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Apr 29

RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany – The Pentagon will have its first specially trained task force designed to rapidly respond to a catastrophic attack against the United States ready by this fall, a top military commander said last week.

Gen. Victor “Gene” Renuart, chief of the U.S. Northern Command, said the brigade-sized unit will consist of military personnel who are trained to help local authorities respond to a chemical, biological or nuclear incident. The unit will have between 4,000 and 4,500 people and come from various bases and specialties across the country. When disaster strikes, those dedicated to the task force will come together to form the unit.

“Today we pull that together very quickly to respond,” Renuart said Thursday. “This unit will be trained to react in a very short period of time.”

Renuart, the top commander in charge of defending the homeland, is traveling through Europe this month to exchange information with NATO leaders on how military forces can fight homeland terrorism and respond to national disasters.

U.S. Northern Command, called NORTHCOM for short, was created in 2002 to oversee the Pentagon’s homeland defense efforts and support civil authorities. The creation of the rapid-response team comes after congressional leaders questioned heavily the military’s ability to react to a major attack against the United States. Continue reading »

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Mar 31

 Global Research reports:

A dangerous new fungus with the ability to destroy entire wheat fields has been detected in Iran, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) reported today.

The wheat stem rust, whose spores are carried by wind across continents, was previously found in East Africa and Yemen and has moved to Iran, which said that laboratory tests have confirmed its presence in some localities in Broujerd and Hamedan in the country’s west.

Up to 80 per cent of all Asian and African wheat varieties are susceptible to the fungus, and major wheat-producing nations to Iran’s east – such as Afghanistan, India, Pakistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan – should be on high alert, FAO warned.

“The fungus is spreading rapidly and could seriously lower wheat production in countries at direct risk,” said Shivaji Pandey, Director of FAO’s Plant Production and Protection Division.

He urged the control of the rust’s spread to lower the risk to countries already impacted by high food prices.

Iran has said that it will bolster its research capacity to tackle the new fungus and develop wheat varieties that are rust-resistant.

Called Ug99, the disease first surfaced in Uganda and subsequently spread to Kenya and Ethiopia, with both countries experiencing serious crop yield losses due to a serious rust epidemic last year. Also in 2007, FAO confirmed that a more virulent strain was found in Yemen.

Sure, maybe it was carried by the wind — and maybe the fungus was introduced by man. Not so much a conspiracy theory when history is taken into account. For instance, back in 1977, the San Francisco Chronicle reported the CIA dispatched “anti-Castro terrorists” to introduce “African swine fever virus into Cuba in 1971…. Six weeks later an outbreak of the disease forced the slaughter of 500,000 pigs to prevent a nationwide animal epidemic.” It was so scary that the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization labeled the outbreak the “most alarming event” of 1971. Continue reading »

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