Force Structure – Tech Com Forces Tue, 21 Jun 2022 15:05:55 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Force Structure – Tech Com Forces 32 32 Durham City Council reviews study into Duke shooting victims Tue, 21 Jun 2022 13:59:00 +0000

Dr Henry Rice said he was tired of firing bullets at children in Durham.

“I don’t want to do it anymore,” he told Durham City Council this month.

In December, six young people were killed by a cold on Monday morning. Rice, a pediatric surgeon at Duke University Hospital, cared for the four survivors.

“I was almost struck by how routine these events had become in our community, across the country and around the world,” he said. “We just aren’t doing enough.”

At the June 9 council meeting, Rice and the co-chairs of Durham’s Community Safety and Wellbeing Task Force asked city leaders to commit just over $100,000 to an initiative that would question survivors of gun violence.

The study could lead to the creation of a local office to serve survivors of violent crime, part of the task force’s mission to find solutions to violent crime that do not involve the police or the criminal justice system. .

Council members liked the idea, but many had concerns, primarily about the amount of work the study might create for the city’s new Community Safety Department. The department is already launching several pilot programs related to responding to 911 calls.

Some council members also want Duke and County Durham to contribute more to the project.

“All partners who have a pocket book need to put money into it, not just the city,” said Mayor Elaine O’Neal.

“Repair instructions”

The co-chairs asked the board for approximately $112,000 to fund a public-private partnership that would also include $35,000 from Duke University’s Institute for Health Innovations.

The “Prescriptions for Repair” study would be administered by the Department of Community Safety and an “advisory circle” of volunteers including Duke Hospital’s violence intervention program director, Rice and others.

Listening to the stories of survivors would reframe the community response to gun violence to center the experience and needs of those harmed, the proposal states.

“We’re doing a good job at Duke Hospital stopping the bleeding and stitching up the holes and getting people out of the hospital,” Rice said. “We’re not doing a very good job of meeting their needs during their recovery period.”

What officials learn could shape a Durham Survivor Care Office, which should be part of the task force’s full recommendations next year.

Xavier Cason and Marcia Owen co-chair the working group. Owen was executive director of the Religious Coalition for a Nonviolent Durham for years and helped found Restorative Justice Durham, where she continues to play a volunteer leadership role.

When the task force was created, Mayor Steve Schewel told it to bring up urgent needs, Cason said.

Owen said the study would help fill a gap that has bothered her for years. Some local programs directly address the harm caused by gun violence, but no program “listens to what survivors identify as the needs created by the violence,” a report on the proposal says.

The program would connect 40 survivors of gun violence with 20 facilitators in structured confidential listening sessions. Participants would be paid $25 per hour.

Each participant would be offered at least eight hours of listening sessions, during which they would discuss what happened and “what needs to be done to make things as good as possible,” the proposal says.

The names of the participants would not appear in the report that would follow.

53% increase in gunshot victims

Over the past two years, Duke’s emergency room has seen a 53% increase in gunshot victims, according to the proposal.

Dr. Henry Rice is a pediatric surgeon at Duke Health. Butch Usery Duke Photography

The 2021 financial year brought 393 gunshot victims to hospital, compared to 280 in 2020 and 215 the previous year. Most were black men between the ages of 16 and 29.

The city’s request for funds comes halfway through the Community Safety and Wellbeing Task Force’s two-year mission to recommend public safety alternatives.

Durham Beyond Policing, a community coalition, lobbied for the task force instead of hiring more police in 2019.

In 2020, the city council earmarked $1 million for it, with Schewel calling the unprecedented funding for a task force in the city a “down payment.”

City Council will still need to approve any expenditure over $50,000.

So far, the task force has only spent $23,000 on translation and other needs, Owen said.

A change to Durham City Council

The 15-member task force was launched in 2021.

Board members Mark-Anthony Middleton and DeDreana Freeman opposed funding the task force in a then-familiar 4-2 board split.

Middleton and Freeman supported police alternatives. But they also backed a 2019 request by the police chief for 18 other officers which the majority of the council – including Jillian Johnson, Javiera Caballero and Charlie Reece – rejected.

This dynamic, however, changed after the November elections.

Voters elected O’Neal and now Councilman Leonardo Williams. Schewel did not seek re-election.

After the new council took office in December, Johnson’s interim mayoral status was transferred to Middleton.

Additionally, Reece resigned from the board in March and Monique Holsey-Hyman was appointed.

Comments from Durham City Council

At the June 9 council meeting, Johnson and Caballero supported the study and urged it to be reviewed and moved forward.

“I think it’s an incredible project. I think that’s exactly why we put money aside for this task force,” Caballero said.

The study is an important piece of the safety and well-being puzzle, Johnson said.

Holsey-Hyman cautioned against raising the expectations of study participants.

“They want solutions,” she said. “They just don’t want it to be [another study] in someone’s library.

Middleton expressed concern that the new department is taking on more responsibilities at this time.

“It’s a bandwidth issue,” he said, explaining that he didn’t want the task force to create programs that drained its budget or added work to other departments.

“I thought that millions [dollars] would serve the work of the working group”, would not change the organization organizational chart or structure of the city, he says.

The Durham Report

Calling Bull City readers! We have launched The Durham Report, a free weekly digest of some of the best stories for and about Durham published in The News & Observer and The Herald-Sun. Get your newsletter straight to your inbox every Thursday at 11am with links to articles from our local reporters. Sign up for our newsletter here. For even more Durham-focused news and conversations, join our ‘My Street Story’ Facebook group.

This story was originally published June 21, 2022 9:59 a.m.

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]]> The 10 Best Film Noir Movies, Ranked According to Letterboxd Sun, 19 Jun 2022 20:30:00 +0000

Releases like Guillermo del Toro’s lush remake alley of nightmares and the return of Adrian Lyne after 20 years of absence, deep waters, remind us that film noir is alive and well. The most enduring images and memories of black often evoke the 1940s and 1950s, fedoras, satin dresses and endless clouds of cigarette smoke. However, style (rather than “genre”, since it can’t be so easily classified) has come a long way from there.

Letterboxd users have noticed this, and the top-rated film noir on the site is a wide selection of must-haves, both classic and modern, pure black or variations thereof.


ten Remembrance (2000) – 4.1/5

Leonard Shelby in remembrance

Nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Screenplay and two Oscars, Memento noir redefined for the new millennium, as it suggests that the process of hero disintegration could go beyond the already exploited moral degradation in favor of psychological decomposition. The film’s protagonist (played by Guy Pearce) suffers from anterograde amnesia and must rely on photographs, notes and tattoos all over his body to piece together the murder of his wife and carry out his revenge.

Related: 10 Most Memorable 2000s Movie Opening Shots

Director Christopher Nolan finds in the very substance of the story the basis for a sophisticated narrative entanglement. Two parallel timelines, one backwards (in color) and one forwards (in black and white), force the viewer to become extremely involved in the mystery since the first riddle to be solved is the premise of the film itself- same.

9 In a Lonely Place (1950) – 4.1/5

This movie offers a rare chance to see Humphrey Bogart break away from his usual roles as a heartless detective or badass. Dixon Steele is a famous screenwriter with a bad temper who becomes the number one suspect in a murder investigation. Although his neighbor speaks to clear his name, she slowly begins to doubt his innocence as she gets closer to him.

The best word to sum up In a lonely place is “suspense”, and it is truly one of the most suspenseful films of its time. With a slowly rising level of tension, the film manages to keep the audience on the edge of their seat as the plot twists and turns to darker places. What ultimately holds the experience together is Humphrey Bogart’s terrific, jaw-dropping performance as Steele.

8 Double Indemnity (1944) – 4.2/5

Top-notch names have helmed this indisputable classic. Raymond Chandler and Billy Wilder are writing a screenplay based on a novel by James M. Cain, with Fred MacMurray, who never falls into the cliché thanks to his acting background, Barbara Stanwyck in the best role of his career, and Edward G. Robinson, who is impeccable as usual. To top it off, an exceptional score by Miklos Rozsa.

The film was released in a crucial year for film noir, along with other classics such as Laura Where The woman at the window. Its plot would be rehashed multiple times (a femme fatale convinces an oblivious insurance salesman to kill her husband), and its long flashback structure is delightful. His visuals, inspired by German expressionism and the raw criminal news of the time, helped shape a style.

seven The Departed (2006) – 4.2/5

An image of Billy shocked in The Departed

Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon and Jack Nicholson, the film focuses on two parallel stories of undercover cops: first, rookie soldier Billy (DiCaprio), who infiltrates the heart of the Irish mob in Boston, under dangerous boss Frank Costello (Nicholson); and on the other, Colin (Damon), a young spy inside the Massachusetts State Police…where he was planted by Costello himself.

The frenetic pace of the film makes its two and a half hour runtime go by in the blink of an eye. Fifteen years after the redesign Cape fear and a decade before giving chinmoku the same treatment with its The silenceMartin Scorsese brought this 21st-century epic from Hong Kong, with fast-paced editing techniques and world-class performances, which ranks among Scorsese’s finest gangster titles.

6 Vertigo (1958) – 4.2/5

James Stewart plays Scottie Fergusson, a San Francisco detective who suffers from a fear of heights. Gavin Elster (played by Tom Helmore), an old school friend, hires him for a seemingly simple matter: to watch over his wife Madeleine (Kim Novak), a beautiful woman obsessed with her past.

Despite less than favorable reviews and box office numbers upon release, this Hitchcock thriller still holds up today, due to its beauty, mystery and obsessive attention to detail. The camera, like a fly on the wall, manages to capture the magic of James Stewart’s gestures, Kim Novak’s lips and Barbara Bel Geddes’ tears. The result? A biting philosophical exercise on love and self-deception. Everything is carefully calculated to convey an atmosphere of mystery and symbolism.

5 The Third Man (1949) – 4.2/5

The best of the Carol Reed/Graham Greene collaborations deserves to be on this list because of its brilliance staging. In 1947, a writer arrives in Vienna in search of his friend, but the latter is killed by a car. According to the police, two men intervened to help, but a witness speaks of a third.

Related: 6 Film Noir Tropes In The Big Lebowski (And How The Cohens Put A Comedic Edge To Them)

Greene adapts his own short story and pulls the right strings to respect its spirit. The oppressive atmosphere of post-war Vienna, shot by Robert Krasker with a strong expressionist influence, gives a surreal touch to the film. Although less sordid than other black masterpieces, the nihilistic tone, as well as themes of unresolved sexual tension and betrayal are present here. Icing on the cake, the excellent performances of Joseph Cotten and Orson Welles in support.

4 Chinatown (1974) – 4.2/5

Jack Nicolson and Faye Dunaway in Chinatown

The most representative neo-noir film ever made follows Jack Nicholson as an unlucky detective investigating an extramarital affair for Faye Dunaway which, in turn, evokes the classic fatal Woman archetype. Soon the case will become more twisted, with local political ramifications.

Without renouncing the oppressive and sullen black atmosphere, Chinese district skilfully plays the color card, swapping shaded alleys for semi-deserted spaces under a blazing sun, while retaining the moral chiaroscuro of the early years. Chinese district is so large that, without losing its classic status, it updates the concerns of the time: while the noir of the 40s and 50s reflected the tension of the post-war period, in the 70s Roman Polanski made a film dripping with post-Vietnam and post-Watergate desperation, despite being set in 1930s Los Angeles.

3 Fargo (1996) – 4.2/5

Marge Gunderson outside looking away in Fargo

In this indisputable classic, Frances McDormand plays police chief Marge Gunderson, who must solve a crime stemming from a staged kidnapping that didn’t go as planned. This instantly iconic character, seven months pregnant, follows a trail of violence through the snowy landscapes of Minnesota with charming glee and a quirky sense of humor. However, what many people don’t know is that much of that snow, which becomes a character itself, was man-made as location shoots in the US and Canada suffered this winter- there temperatures higher than usual.

McDormand won her first Best Actress Oscar for this role, which is arguably the most memorable of her career. It was just one of seven Oscars the film was nominated for, also winning Best Screenplay for brothers Joel and Ethan Coen.

2 Rear window (1954) – 4.3/5

James Stewart seated in a wheelchair with Grace Kelly lying in front of him in the rear window

Alfred Hitchcock directed what is considered the quintessential voyeur film, and he does it with a narrative style as ingenious and fast-paced as only a genius could. Likewise, only James Stewart could have played Jeff, a professional photographer whose world consists of staring at the building opposite through a pair of binoculars while recovering from an accident. That is until he begins to suspect one of his neighbors, played by Raymond Burr, of having done something horrible.

Related: 8 Best Hitchcock References In The Simpsons

Stewart is accompanied by Grace Kelly and Thelma Ritter as girlfriend and nurse, respectively. Hitchcock’s directing relies heavily on Stewart’s facial expressions and reactions in an impeccable exercise in suspense. In fact, Hitchcock himself described rear window as his “most cinematic” film as much of the story was told visually. Pure cinema.

1 Sunset Boulevard (1950) – 4.4/5

sunset boulevard

Depressed screenwriter Joe Gillis (played by William Holden) recounts, following the classic structure of flashback and voiceover, the events that lead to his body appearing floating in a swimming pool. Death and oblivion are fundamental themes here. Including faces from the silent film era such as Buster Keaton, Cecil B. de Mille, Hedda Hopper, Erich von Stroheim and Gloria Swanson (Norma Desmond) is a great way to remind audiences of the fleeting nature of fame. .

With co-screenwriters Charles Brackett and DM Marshman, Billy Wilder has penned an Oscar-winning screenplay that shifts traditional film noir codes toward drama. This memorable hybrid critiques and pays homage to early Hollywood and its cruel treatment of aging stars.

Next: 10 Best Dark Tropes In The Batman

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]]> The MAFFS retarding system will be available for the C-27J Fri, 17 Jun 2022 22:03:08 +0000
Artist’s conception of a C-27J, equipped with a MAFFS, fall retarder.

Leonardo arranged for a roll-on, roll-off retarder delivery system to be installed as required in its twin-engine C-27J aircraft.

It will be manufactured by MAFFS corp/United Aeronautical, the company that now owns the intellectual property for both generations of the 3,000-gallon mobile airborne firefighting systems (MAFFS and MAFFS II) that can be slipped into a C-130. The company also owns the intellectual property for the second-generation retardant air delivery system, RADS2, a gravity-assisted, constant-flow retardant tank system that has been used successfully in the P-3, C-130 and d other air tankers.

The new scaled-down version of the MAFFS will have a tank capacity of 2,000 US gallons (7,520 liters) and will have a selectable ground coverage level of 1 to 8 gallons per 100 square feet. The retarder is expelled from the tank by compressed air. Like the MAFFS II, it will have an emergency drop capability, or it can dump the entire load to cover level 8 in two seconds. The 2,000 gallons can be released in one or a series of two drops. Similar to the previous MAFFS, the retarder will exit the aircraft through the left paratrooper’s “stubby” door and will have a foam concentrate tank that can be used to improve plain water firefighting effectiveness if the self-timer is not available. No major structural modification is required for the cell.

Leonardo says that with roll-on, roll-off capability, four workers can install it on a C-27J in 90 minutes using the rear loading ramp.

The MAFFS II has two compressed air tanks, one on each side of the 3,000 gallon retarder tank, which forces the retarder out of the tank. A drawing of the new 2,000 gallon version shows what appears to be a single compressed air tank, on the left side.

The MAFFS II has two air compressors which are sometimes in working order and which can be used to fill the air tanks. But most of the time the air tanks are filled on the ground from a very large air compressor while the aircraft is refilled with retardant.

The new scaled down MAFFS, we’ll call it a Mini-MAFFS for now, will not have a permanently installed air compressor. Leonardo’s Ignazio Castrogiovanni told Fire Aviation that specially configured ground support equipment (GSE) will travel with the plane to be unloaded at the airport where the plane will return to reload with retarder or water. The GSE’s air compressor will fill an air tank on the GSE with compressed air. When the aircraft returns to be refueled, this air is transferred to the MAFFS air tank, a faster process than filling an empty tank with air directly from an air compressor.

Rome-based Leonardo says the C-27J has a maximum cruise speed of 374 mph and a maximum service ceiling of 30,000 feet. It is powered by two Rolls-Royce AE 2100-D2A engines.

The Forest Service commissioned a study of how the C-27J might be used by the agency if the Air Force gave them seven as they expected. The $54,000 study was kept secret until publication in mid-2013; Fire Aviation covered it in July of this year.

Here is some of what we wrote at the time:

The report concluded that the C-27J could carry 1,850 gallons of retardant if 3,200 pounds of unnecessary equipment were removed, including cockpit armor (about 1,100 pounds), miscellaneous mission equipment such as stanchions , lashing chains, ladders, etc. (approximately 1000 lbs) and the cargo loading system (approximately 1200 lbs).

If a mini-MAFFS skid retarder system were designed for the C-27J cargo space, which is smaller than a C-130, it would hold approximately 1,100 gallons if the same excess equipment was removed. A MAFFS2 has a maximum capacity of 3,000 gallons, but often carries less depending on density altitude and fuel load. The mini-MAFFS would not have an air compressor, which would force the aircraft to rely on pre-positioned air compressors at tanker bases. The USFS has six mobile air compressor systems that were built to support the original MAFFS, but the latest generation, MAFFS2, has an on-board air compressor.

[With the retardant system removed] smokejumpers could exit the C-27J through the two side doors or the rear ramp. Depending on the configuration of the aircraft, it could carry between 24 and 46 jumpers.

[If used to transport firefighters] according to the report, the aircraft configuration can be modified and fitted with standard outboard and center seats to accommodate 68 passengers with limited personal equipment plus 2 loadmasters.

The aircraft could carry between 12,222 and 25,353 pounds of cargo.

We asked Mr. Castrogiovanni how their C-27J firefighter is able to carry 2,000 gallons in a MAFFS-like system when the Forest Service study indicated it could only carry about 1,100 gallons. He explained that there were several differences between the US Air Force C-27J of ten years ago and the version produced now called C-27J Next Generation:

  • The Next Gen has significant changes in terms of avionics, aerodynamics and structure. In addition, the basic configuration of the aircraft “does not include the peculiarities of the USAF version, which implies weight savings and an increase in payload”. Some of the new avionics are lighter.
  • New winglets reduced drag while improving the aircraft’s overall performance.
  • The structural modifications increased the aircraft’s zero-fuel mass and consequently its payload.

The U.S. Forest Service researched multipurpose C-27Js

In 2012, a move for the US Forest Service to acquire C-27Js as general-purpose aircraft began to catch fire. Three U.S. senators have introduced a bill that would transfer 14 surplus Air Force C-27J Spartan planes to the U.S. Forest Service for use as air tankers and other purposes. Senators John McCain (R-AZ), Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) and Senator Diane Feinstein (D-CA) introduced a bill known as Forest Fire Suppression Aircraft Transfer Act 2012 (S. 3441) “to help replenish the agency’s aging fleet of air tankers”.

The idea was “to modernize the air tanker fleet,” said Senator McCain. “We have the opportunity to take the C-27J, an aircraft the Pentagon no longer wants, and give it to the Forest Service to improve aircraft safety and reduce existing maintenance costs. The C-27J should be kept in service to the American people to aid our brave fire crews, rather than sitting in an aircraft graveyard.

The bill died, but the concept lasted a while.

C-27Js in Mansfield, Ohio, Feb. 13, 2013. U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Joseph Harwood

In late 2013, the Air Force began to retire its C-27Js and move them to Davis-Monthan Air Force Base Aircraft Graveyard in Arizona.

On November 4, 2013, the U.S. Forest Service awarded an aeronautical engineering support services contract to Aeronautica. It required the contractor to have engineering experience with the G222, C27A, or C27J. It was also necessary for the contractor to have a designated technical representative on staff who was fluent in Italian. Obviously, the FS was certain that it would get a fleet of C-27J planes from the Air Force.

That same month, Senator McCain, after a seismic shift in his plan to send the C-27Js to the Forest Service, wrote in the National Defense Authorization Act for 2014, that instead:

  • The Coast Guard would get the C-27Js.
  • Seven ex-Coast Guard HC-130H aircraft will be converted to tanker aircraft by the Air Force and then transferred to the Forest Service. (After several years, the FS lost interest in the HC-130H, leading Congress to pass another law to instead give the aircraft to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Suppression. They MAY start seeing actual fire service in 2023, unless there are even more delays.)
  • The Forest Service would also obtain up to 15 Short C-23B+ Sherpa aircraft for use in fire management. Some of them are now used by smokers.

The National Defense Authorization Act 2014 was passed in December 2013.

ASPI report highlights potential funding gap Wed, 15 Jun 2022 20:31:05 +0000

Defense is due to receive a record $48.6 billion in funding this fiscal year, in line with commitments made by the coalition government at the launch of the Defense Strategic Update (DSU) 2020. But this is not may not be enough yet.

In addition, the new Labor government may be tempted to dip into the defense budget to meet other commitments, says Dr Marcus Hellyer, senior analyst at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI).

In this era of growing uncertainty, an increasingly belligerent China, Russian adventurism and domestic economic pressures, the defense budget is fully committed to acquiring new capabilities and expanding the Force. Australian defence, he says in the ASPI Defense Budget Brief for 2022-23.

Addressing issues

Dr Hellyer said the new Labor government will have significant issues to address and perhaps the most important will be the size of the defense budget.

It is already under pressure from inflation, the acquisition of new and larger capabilities, including nuclear submarines, cost understatements and a growing contractor workforce. .

Although Labor has declared its support for the current level of defense funding, it will still have to decide between competing priorities.

“As Australians face rising costs of living, soaring energy prices and overwhelming pressure from housing affordability, it can be tempting to cut defense spending in the face of competing budget priorities “, did he declare.

“However, the government should be aware of the results of such action. The budget is already full, with no pots of unallocated money.

All short-term windfalls resulting from the cancellation of Attack-class submarines and SkyGuardian armed drones have been donated to the Australian Signals Directorate’s REDSPICE cyber program.

Pressures DSU2020

Dr Hellyer said even keeping the defense budget strictly at 2% of GDP would lead to multi-billion dollar cuts to the Memorandum of Understanding funding line, inevitably leading to capacity cuts.

“Furthermore, it is not clear that the DSU funding line is even sufficient to realize the current investment plan,” he said.

“This program includes much larger or more platforms than the ones they replace, as well as entirely new capabilities that all require significantly more manpower.”

Many new features will cost more than expected. New nuclear submarines will cost significantly more than conventional Attack-class submarines.

Dr Hellyer said Labor’s first task should be to understand the affordability of the current plan.

Next, he will have to ensure that the planned force structure is aligned with what the government thinks the ADF should do.

Then there is the issue of people, with the former government proposing an ambitious 20,000 member expansion of the ADF. The average annual growth is about 300.

Dr Hellyer said that in these difficult times, the government must seize every opportunity to increase its capabilities, even if it means canceling the Defense’s long-term vision for the future force.

Invest wisely

It could mean doing more with what we’re already getting. For example, new Arafura-class offshore patrol vessels could be equipped with anti-ship missiles, similar to many similar platforms in service around the world.

Dr Hellyer said there were encouraging signs that Defense was moving more towards cheaper, disposable and highly autonomous systems that could be produced quickly by Australian industry.

“Investing more in such systems is a crucial hedging strategy against the risk inherent in megaprojects,” he said.

“Moreover, such systems will figure prominently in future wars, no matter what happens to the megaprojects.”

The current Defense funding trajectory stems from the 2016 Defense White Paper, when Australia’s strategic circumstances were very different. What might have seemed like a lot of money for future capabilities then, doesn’t seem like it now.

Dr Hellyer said the defense budget was always full. Defense inevitably overscheduled to ensure it could still spend all the money it received from the government. Any extra capacity meant some projects had to be delayed.

But Defense no longer enjoys the luxury of a 10-year warning period in the event of the emergence of a credible threat, a basic element of previous strategic orientations.

“Our warning period has evaporated, so we cannot continue to delay the delivery of new or replacement capabilities to some indefinite point in the future, especially when many key DSU capabilities are already scheduled for completion. 2020s and 2030s,” he said.

Strategic risk

Navy capabilities face substantial risks. Hunter-class frigates won’t be available in useful numbers until the end of the next decade, and new nuclear submarines until the 2040s.

By then the Anzac frigates and Collins submarines will be half a century old.

An immediate increase in capacity could be achieved by upgrading the OPV fleet, outfitting these new 1800 ton vessels which have just entered service with the Naval Strike Missile (NSM).

In addition to megaprojects, Defense should pursue simple technologies that can be acquired quickly and in quantity.

“This includes disposable drones which Australian industry can design and produce on a large scale. This includes guided weapons which will be consumed in large quantities in any future conflict and which Australian industry can produce,” he said. .

“We see signs of this approach with the announcement of the acquisition of sea mines.”

Lessons to be learned

Addressing the 2022 Cost of Defense launch function in Canberra last week, Dr Hellyer said Australia had learned during the Covid pandemic the dangers of relying on global markets for key items and products.

“The MoU was sort of the defense supply chain white paper. As a result, we are spending billions to promote the Australian defense industry, including creating a sovereign guided weapons industry,” he said.

“Yet we still submit to the whims of the international energy market and let it control the price and availability of our own gas and coal resources.”

He said energy security should surely align with national security, with some gas production reserved for consumers.

“How does it make sense to favor the Australian defense industry when we are putting the whole Australian manufacturing sector at risk. The argument seems to be that the world will not see Australia as a reliable supplier if we book some Australian gas to Australians.

Yet, he said, Western Australia reserved 15% of its gas for domestic use and the rest of the world was still lining up to buy the remaining 85%.

“Probably the best thing we can do to improve Australia’s security is to electrify everything as quickly as possible and accelerate the transition to renewable energy. Xi Jinping cannot turn off the sun,” he said.

A full analysis of defense budget pressures by Marcus Hellyer will appear in the June issue of ADM.

Sherman Bishop’s newly released “It Takes Two” is a moving story of faith, family and trust in God’s plan that explores the author’s military career and beyond. Tue, 14 Jun 2022 04:03:29 +0000

“It Takes Two”: a sincere autobiographical work. “It Takes Two” is the creation of published author Sherman Bishop, a loving husband who grew up in Cloverdale, Virginia, a small town northeast of Roanoke in southwestern Virginia. After high school, he joined the Air Force and retired after twenty-two years

Bishop shares, “This story is about Sherman from its beginnings to the present day. It started with his career in the Air Force, his first girlfriend, and then the search for his relationship with God, which structured his life and led him to meet his first wife. It also includes their trips to the military and raising two children. In 1980 Sherman lost his first wife of fourteen. The loss was devastating and nearly cost him his life. After six months, he met his second wife, got married and adopted his two children. As a team, they completed his Air Force career and worked in the ministry while stationed in Austin, Texas. After his retirement, he, his wife and four children returned to San Antonio and started another church work. Through trials and difficult experiences, it would take two committed people with a relationship with God and a dedication to each other to make this journey.

Published by Christian Faith Publishing, Sherman Bishop’s new book explores life’s challenges and victories, from the loss of a beloved wife to rebuilding and the future.

Bishop shares an encouraging message of hope in the pages of this celebration of a life lived in faith.

Consumers can purchase “It Takes Two” at traditional bookstores or online at, Apple iTunes Store or Barnes and Noble.

For more information or inquiries about “It Takes Two,” contact Christian Faith Publishing’s Media Department at 866-554-0919.

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Anniversary of “Gone Girl” – The Washington Post Sun, 12 Jun 2022 14:00:00 +0000
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I couldn’t let go, again.

It’s been 10 years since I first read and commented on “Gone Girl” by Gillian Flynn. At the time, I declared that “it is, quite simply, the thriller of the year”.

In 2017, I blamed “Gone Girl” for starting the “girls, girls, girls” trend in domestic thriller fiction titles: “I joked.

In 2020, I complained that “Gone Girl” started a “fad” for contrived thrillers “that rely on relentless plot inversions.” I said “It’s a fashion whose time has come and should be gone, girl.”

Big luck. The double helix structure of ‘Gone Girl’ – in which husband and wife Nick and Amy Dunne tell twisting, twisting stories that obsessively dramatize and undermine the details of Amy’s disappearance on the fifth wedding anniversary of the couple – has become canonized into a distinct form of domestic suspense. of its own. The 2014 film “Gone Girl,” starring Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike, further extended the novel’s serpentine reach. Not since Italian philosopher and semiotician Umberto Eco wrote the surprise bestseller “The Name of the Rose” in 1980 has an entertaining crime novel been so elegantly lined with a reflection on the instability of truth.

‘The Love of My Life’ is a masterful domestic thriller with a plot doozy

Reviews, like stories, can also be choppy. What I realized after re-reading “Gone Girl” on the 10th anniversary of its publication is that over the years, the distinctive power of Flynn’s blockbuster had faded for me. I had thought of the novel through the gray canvas of its lesser imitators. In truth, my acerbic comments about the literary imitators “Gone Girl” spawned have nothing to do with the original: a macabre, ingenious, and psychologically shrewd cat-and-mouse tour de force of marriage and malevolence. .

Let’s recap: “Gone Girl” tells a story of love gone wrong. (Or, maybe, it was never love in the first place.) Nick and Amy Dunne were once young magazine writers who lived a brilliant life together in a brownstone in Brooklyn Heights. As print journalism slumped in the new millennium, the couple lost their respective jobs. Credit card spending began to spike, so Nick demanded a tight return to his hometown: North Carthage, Mo. Pulling money from Amy’s trust fund (another story in itself), Nick and his twin sister, Go, opened a bar, and Nick retained bits of his professional identity by teaching a journalism course at the local college. Amy sat in their rented house and stewed. (Or, at least, that’s how Nick sees the situation.)

“Gone Girl” opens on the morning of the couple’s fifth wedding anniversary; at that time, a bitterness as thick as Mississippi mud gathered around their relationship. Here’s Nick describing the origins of their annual “treasure hunt”:

“My wife loved games, mainly mind games but also real fun games, and for our anniversary she always had an elaborate treasure hunt, with each clue leading to the hiding place of the next clue until until I reach the end, and my gift. It was what her dad always did for her mom on their birthday. … But I didn’t grow up in Amy’s house, I grew up in mine, and the last gift I remember my dad getting my mom was an iron, sitting on the kitchen counter, with no wrapping paper…. The problem with Amy’s scavenger hunts : I never understood the clues.

Sometime later that day, Amy disappears. The front door of the house is open; the declawed domestic cat roams outside; the living room is messy. (Local police think this scene looks staged.) The novel’s chapters alternate between telling Nick about his frantic search for Amy via the birthday scavenger hunt clues she left behind. her and Amy’s diary entries, beginning with her first desperate encounter. with the dreamer Nick. But cracks soon arise in both of their narratives. Why does Nick have a secret disposable phone? Why would Amy, who was so sweet in her early journal entries, suddenly sneer that she’s entitled to her trust fund because her parents ‘plagiarized my childhood’ for their bestselling children’s books ‘Amazing Amy’ ? This is just the tip of the interpretative iceberg.

8 thrillers and intrigues to read this summer

All mysteries are invitations to close reading; all the great mysteries show us, readers, how deficient our skills in careful reading are. “Gone Girl” bombards us with testimonials, letters, phone calls, treasure hunt clues, and the aforementioned journal entries, urging us to read smarter. (The new special edition, released to mark the novel’s first decade, includes 10 pages of never-before-seen material – mostly diary entries providing a bit more of Amy’s childhood story. They’re not necessary, but they’ll appeal to the novel’s most rabid fans. .)

By the end of the novel, most if not all of us readers will have to face the fact that we’ve failed the grim close reading test offered by “Gone Girl.” I have now failed this test twice – surely proof that “Gone Girl” is and remains a very big mystery.

Maureen Corrigan, book reviewer for NPR’s “Fresh Air” program, teaches literature at Georgetown University.

Gone Girl: Special Anniversary Edition

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]]> The Army will double the size of its cyber corps in active duty Fri, 10 Jun 2022 21:23:15 +0000

Written by Jon Harper

The Army aims to double the size of its active-duty cyber corps by the end of the decade, including bolstering its electronic warfare capability, according to service officials.

The service places greater emphasis on these types of capabilities to compete with advanced adversaries such as China and Russia.

“The growth of active components in the force structure of Cyber ​​Mission Force teams and Electronic Warfare Companies and Platoons will increase the authorized strength of the Cyber ​​Corps by just over 3,000 [personnel] to just over 6,000 inches by 2030, an Army spokesperson told FedScoop in an email Friday. “Growth in Army electronic warfare forces will also create similar, albeit smaller, increases in the Army National Guard.”

The service plans to increase the size of its cyberbranch across all components – active, guard and reserve – from just over 5,000 today to just over 7,000 by 2030, the gatekeeper said. -word.

Lt. Gen. John Morrison, G-6 deputy chief of staff, said the ongoing war between Ukraine and Russia highlights the importance of electronic warfare capabilities.

“All you have to do is read the open-source news and you can see that’s a huge part of what’s going on in Europe right now. So having that ability to be able to defend ourselves inside the electromagnetic spectrum, but also to have the ability to see it, that sensing component, and…that ability to leverage electronic attack capabilities to include cyber-enabled RF, we think that is going to be absolutely critical in a future fight,” he told reporters on a conference call Thursday.

The service has already begun a multi-year expansion of its cyber arm.

The predicted growth of cyberforce can be attributed to two factors, according to Morrison. “One is military-approved growth. And then two is… our electronic warfare professionals used to be a functional area operating in their own right – they’re now part of the cyber branch. And almost all of that growth is in our tactical formations,” he said.

“As we proliferate cyber-electromagnetic activity capabilities – think cyber and integrated electronic warfare – across all of our tactical formations, this growth will continue and even accelerate in [fiscal] ’23. It will be primarily focused on delivering capabilities to our Brigade Combat Teams and then reorganizing the staff planning cells down to the command levels of our Army Service Component,” he said. -he declares.

The military is already a major contributor to U.S. Cyber ​​Command’s Cyber ​​Mission Force, which conducts offensive, defensive and Department of Defense information network operations, he noted.

Cyber ​​capabilities will also be integrated into the Army’s new multi-domain task forces, as well as corps, division and brigade combat teams.

“It’s a pretty big investment on the part of the army. We are on a multi-year growth plan. But we’re in a really good position right now,” Morrison said.

Unions press Biden for bolder approach to student debt relief Mon, 06 Jun 2022 22:30:00 +0000

“We are fighting for economic justice both inside and outside the workplace, and canceling student loan debt is a necessary part of that,” the Starbucks Workers United campaign said in a statement. a statement to POLITICO. “So many young people across the country cannot afford to pay rent and buy groceries in the same week, let alone pay thousands of dollars in student loans.”

Amazon and Starbucks unions are the latest to join a coalition of progressive groups, student debt activists and civil rights organizations like the NAACP that have been trying since the start of Biden’s presidency to win him over. to cancel large amounts of student debt.

Some labor groups, particularly teachers’ unions, were already strong supporters of widespread debt relief. But the issue now draws support from a much wider range of organized workers.

The AFL-CIO last month announced its support for canceling student debt. The same goes for traditional blue-collar unions, such as United Auto Workers, International Brotherhood of Teamsters and United Food & Commercial Workers, all of which signed a letter last month urging Biden to cancel student debt “immediately.” .

Broad union support may provide Biden with some political cover and help counter concerns, even from some Democrats, that student debt cancellation will be viewed as elitist by voters who have never attended college. .

“It’s a workers issue,” AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler said at a town hall meeting with young workers last month. “There’s kind of a stereotype that we’re talking about the Ivy Leaguers who have racked up all this debt. This is absolutely not true.

Biden said in April he was considering canceling “some” of federal student loan debt. White House officials have been focus on a rebate plan of $10,000 per borrower for people earning less than $150,000 per year. But administration officials continue to debate internally the political and economic ramifications of writing off large amounts of debt.

The new effort by organized labor, a powerful force in Democratic politics, is aimed not only at bolstering Biden’s commitment to moving forward with debt relief, but also at influencing how he should structure the details of a loan cancellation program.

Several unions, for example, are urging the White House to drop its plan to limit loan forgiveness based on the borrower’s income, which aims to prevent the highest earners from benefiting from the program. But progressives say the means test will create a bureaucratic mess that will undermine the benefits of loan forgiveness and could leave out some struggling borrowers.

“We call on your administration to enact a strong student loan forgiveness that cannot be means-tested and does not require an opt-in for participation,” said the presidents of five major unions. wrote to Biden last week in a letter obtained by POLITICO. Labor leaders also suggest Biden should go above the $10,000 per borrower he is considering, citing a poll showing majority support for “debt cancellation of at least $20,000 per borrower.”

The letter was signed by the AFL-CIO’s Shuler; Lee Saunders of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees; Randi Weingarten of the American Federation of Teachers; Becky Pringle of the National Education Association; and Mary Henry of the Service Employees International Union.

Several of those executives, including Weingarten, have had calls in recent weeks with Steve Ricchetti, one of Biden’s top advisers, to bolster their calls for loan forgiveness, according to people familiar with the talks.

A White House spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment.

Congressional Republicans, who introduced legislation to block any Biden student debt relief, said student debt forgiveness would be a gift to wealthy doctors, lawyers and other professionals who don’t need help. assistance.

Biden supports some debt relief, but he has expressed reluctance to write off “billions of dollars in debt for people who went to Harvard and Yale and Penn,” as he said at a town hall on CNN in February 2021.

Unions are trying to counter this narrative. Most borrowers did not attend elite schools, and “nearly half of borrowers come from public colleges such as your alma mater,” the five union leaders wrote in their letter to Biden last week. “They find themselves under a mountain of debt not because of financial mismanagement or cavalier behavior on their part, but because of choices at the state level to divest from public higher education and transfer more of the costs to the students.”

Since Monday, more than 70 unions — both local groups and national affiliates — have now signed on to a public campaign to get Biden to forgive student loan debt organized by the Student Borrower Protection Center, an advocacy group.

Student debt “matters to young voters, and young voters matter to Democrats,” said Kate Bronfenbrenner, director of labor education research at Cornell University. “It’s one of the big things that weighs them down, and if the labor movement can help them get rid of it — one of the big burdens — that’s huge.

Some of the union outreach extends beyond the White House. SEIU Local 509, which represents educators and social service workers in Massachusetts, issued its own call last month to Labor Secretary Marty Walsh for Biden to act ‘boldly’ on student debt relief. . In a letter to Walsh, the union said it feared making Biden’s plan “a sweeping win for our communities” and urged the White House to go beyond $10,000 per borrower and provide automatic, universal relief. without any income limit.

A spokesman for the Department of Labor declined to comment.

Union officials and labor experts say Biden’s very public affinity for organized labor has opened the door for them more widely than in previous administrations.

“It’s a powerful institutional force that can force Biden to be more aggressive on canceling student debt,” said Patricia Campos-Medina, executive director of Cornell University’s Worker Institute. “The fact that the AFL-CIO and all of these unions are saying this is not a fringe issue … will move the needle.”

Unions have recently started “trying to win things that are broader than typical wages and benefits,” said Gordon Lafer, co-director of the University of Oregon Labor Education and Research Center. Student debt “fits this pattern where it partly benefits union members – and that’s [also] part of a bigger thing to say, ‘We have to make the economy fair.’

Labor organizations have already been successful in pushing Biden for student debt relief over the past year. Unions representing teachers, firefighters, healthcare workers and government employees were one of the driving forces behind the Department for Education’s decision last year to use emergency powers to expand the civil service loan cancellation program.

Since last week, more than 127,000 public service workers have collectively received $7.3 billion in debt relief as part of the Biden administration expansion.

The Fall of the Hurriyat Sun, 05 Jun 2022 06:10:00 +0000

Nearly three decades after its inception, the All Parties Hurriyat Conference finds itself at a crossroads. The reorganization of Jammu and Kashmir into a Union Territory in August 2019, along with the arrest and imprisonment of several Hurriyat leaders who preceded it, has politically marginalized the once powerful umbrella body of the separatists. The chances of a revival seem rather slim, since several of its key members are dead or face long prison sentences.

In the absence of Geelani and Malik, Mirwaiz has the daunting task of reviving the Hurriyat on his own.

The Hurriyat may have lost relevance and influence, but the sentiment it attempts to portray remains prevalent in Kashmir.

The Hurriyat was formed on July 31, 1993 by separatist parties with disparate ideologies. The aim was to create a political platform that would complement the armed struggle that took root in Kashmir in the late 1980s. The Hurriyat is the brainchild of Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, a preacher and guardian of the Jamia Masjid in Srinagar , the most influential mosque in the valley. Mirwaiz was only 19 when he united separatist organizations on a common platform; his father, Mirwaiz Muhammad Farooq, had been shot dead by unidentified gunmen nearly three years earlier.

The Hurriyat was seen as the rebirth of the Muslim Mutahida Mahaz (Muslim United Front, or MUF), a coalition of separatist-leaning parties that challenged the National Conference in the 1987 assembly elections. The ruling NC and Congress coalition had rigged the election, sowing the seeds of militancy in the Valley. After the polls, MUF supporters were among the first to cross the Line of Control for weapons training.

The Hurriyat had a two-tier structure – an executive body of seven members and a general council of almost two dozen members. The executive body – which included Mirwaiz and separatist leaders Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Yasin Malik, Abdul Gani Lone, Professor Abdul Gani Bhat and Sheikh Abdul Aziz – made all decisions after consulting the general council.

The Hurriyat constitution describes it as a union of political, social and religious parties which have waged a “peaceful struggle” to resolve the “Kashmir conflict”, either in accordance with the UN resolution in 1948 (which had recommended that the India holds a plebiscite) or through tripartite talks involving India, Pakistan and the people of Kashmir.

The Hurriyat became a dominant force in the early 1990s, when the insurgency was on the rise and the imposition of presidential rule sidelined the main political parties. It retained its influence even after the 1996 elections, the first in six years after the assembly was dissolved in January 1990.

Differences over the role of armed struggle and the need for peace talks with New Delhi divided the Hurriyat into moderate and extremist factions. The moderates, led by Mirwaiz, Bhat and Lone, supported talks with the Union government. Extremists led by Geelani demanded that the 1948 UN resolution be implemented. As a precondition for peace talks, they insisted that New Delhi accept Kashmir as a dispute involving Pakistan. This position struck a chord with activists and their supporters in Pakistan.

Ties between the two factions soured after Lone was shot dead in Srinagar on May 21, 2002, during a rally held to commemorate the anniversary of Mirwaiz’s father’s death. The split came a year later, when Hurriyat’s chairman rejected Geelani’s request to expel Lone’s son, Sajjad Lone, for fielding proxy candidates in the 2002 elections. Yasin Malik, a prominent member of the tough faction, went its own way after the split. He then became the leader of the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF).

Moderates backed Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf’s four-point formula on Kashmir, which envisioned demilitarization and autonomy on both sides of the Line of Control, free movement across the Line of Control and joint management of areas such as water resources without altering existing international borders. Geelani rejected the plan. On January 22, 2004, Deputy Prime Minister LK Advani hosted Mirwaiz and other moderates in Delhi.

Peace talks with Hizbul Mujahideen, which announced a ceasefire in 2000, continued even after the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance at the Center came to power in 2004. In September 2005 and May 2006, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh met with a delegation of moderates. led by Mirwaiz. The meetings enabled the Center to travel on a passenger bus between Srinagar and Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pak-occupied Kashmir, to rally support for a peace deal. The visit was seen as a success for the separatists, especially the Hurriyat moderates, and a step towards resolving the Kashmir issue. Musharraf’s Kashmir formula, however, stalled after losing power and New Delhi saw a changing of the guard.

Extremists recovered in 2008, launching an agitation against the state government’s decision to allocate land to the Shri Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB) in Ganderbal district. After more than 60 people were killed by fire from security forces, the government canceled the land allocation to defuse the crisis. Masarat Alam Bhat, who led protests against the military for killing three civilians in a fake encounter in Machil in 2010, has come forward as a possible Geelani heir. Alam evaded arrest for four months, undermining the credibility of the ruling NC-Congress alliance and forcing the Center to convene a multi-party meeting on Kashmir in Delhi. In the four months before normalcy returned, more than 100 people were shot dead by security forces.

As the extremists emerged stronger, the moderates faced internal problems. The crisis escalated after Bhat said the 1948 UN resolution was outdated and unworkable, and suggested creating a joint minimum program with the NC and the opposition People’s Democratic Party to settle the issue of the Cashmere. Bhat’s remarks led to a rebellion in the moderate ranks. Disappointed with Mirwaiz’s leadership, many dissidents sided with Geelani.

Despite their differences, Geelani, Mirwaiz and Malik came together to form the Joint Resistance Leadership in 2016, after Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani was killed in an encounter. The consequences left scars in Kashmir. More than 100 people were shot dead and dozens injured by pellets fired by security forces to quell protests. This created a rift in the BJP-PDP coalition, which came to power in 2015. The BJP wanted to act against the separatists, but the PDP feared further damage to its image and refused to cooperate. The BJP gained traction in 2017, when the National Investigation Agency arrested members of the Hurriyat and other separatist groups for “financing terrorism”.

Malik was arrested in February 2019 for his alleged involvement in terrorist and secessionist activities. He also faced multiple charges under the strict Unlawful Activities Prevention Act. A month later, Jamaat-e-Islami, Kashmir’s largest socio-religious organization sympathetic to the separatist cause, was banned.

The arrest of Hurriyat leaders and the ensuing communications blackout prevented a public backlash against the removal of Section 370 in August 2019. Geelani, who once warned the government of dire consequences if Section 370 were overturned , said he “distinguishes” himself from the Hurriyat. Weakened by years of confinement at his home, the patriarch of the separatist movement died in Srinagar on September 1, 2021, at the age of 91. His funeral took place under police control to prevent demonstrations.

Malik was convicted on May 19 this year and sentenced to life imprisonment. He is also on trial for his alleged involvement in the 1989 abduction of Rubaiya Sayeed, daughter of former chief minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, and the 1990 murder of four air force personnel. Geelani and Yasin’s sentencing dealt a double blow to the separatists. cause.

In the absence of Geelani and Malik, Mirwaiz has the daunting task of reviving the Hurriyat on his own. He has been under house arrest since August 5, 2019, while his oldest colleagues, Bhat and former Hurriyat chairman Mohammad Abbas Ansari, are in their 80s and not well.

Known for his nuanced opinions, Mirwaiz has been cautious in releasing statements over the past three years. He reacted cautiously to the J&K administration’s decision to ban prayers at the Jamia Masjid for fear of separatist outpourings. The mosque, which also serves as the seat of power for the Mirwaiz family, has only held Friday prayers twice in the past 30 months. On April 9, a day after the last prayer, police arrested 13 people and charged them under the strict Public Security Act (PSA) for allegedly shouting anti-national slogans.

The government has been proactive in marginalizing separatists. He sacked government employees sympathetic to the separatist cause and detained suspects under the PSA. About 500 Kashmiris have been charged under the provisions of the law, and some are interned in Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh as prisons in Jammu and Kashmir are full.

Observers say the Hurriyat’s silence on recent developments shows it has lost its power. “The Hurriyat has become redundant,” said Professor Noor Ahmed Baba, former head of the political science department at the University of Kashmir in Srinagar. “The Hurriyat leaders who are not in prison have not been active. As an organization, the Hurriyat used to connect with people, but that hasn’t been the case for several years.

What are the chances of a revival? “None in the given political context,” Baba said. “That could be unfortunate, because extremists can fill the void.”

A senior JKLF leader and former militant commander said the Hurriyat was at an impasse. He used to attract international attention – he was granted observer status with the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) at the request of Pakistan, and American and European Union diplomats had used to meet regularly with Hurriyat leaders for briefings on Kashmir. However, the situation has changed. “The Kashmir conflict is not about the US and the EU,” the JKLF leader said. “Pakistan has also withdrawn its support. So it became easy for the BJP to come down hard [on the Hurriyat].”

Bhat, however, said the Hurriyat should be understood not as a political structure but as the “manifestation of a collective feeling rooted in the history of the Kashmir conflict”. “Sentiment sometimes takes the form of a structure, like the Hurriyat or the Plebiscite Front,” he said.

This means that the Hurriyat may have lost its relevance and influence, but the sentiment it tries to represent remains prevalent in Kashmir. A new separatist group, modeled on the Hurriyat, may well emerge in the future.

Promising new materials mimic muscle structure and function Fri, 03 Jun 2022 12:30:42 +0000

Differential interference contrast (DIC) images of strain-crystallized fibers that are 1X-5X the original hydrated length. The image indicates that fiber alignment increases along the fiber axis with increasing aspect ratio. Credit: Penn State

Inspired by the structure of muscles, an innovative new strategy to create fiber actuators could lead to advances in robotics, prosthetics and smart wearables, according to a Penn State-led team of scientists who discovered the process.

“Actuators are any material that will change or deform under external stimuli, such as parts of a machine contracting, bending, or expanding,” said Robert Hickey, assistant professor of materials science and engineering at Penn State. “And for technologies like robotics, we need to develop flexible, lightweight versions of these materials that can essentially act like artificial muscles. Our job is really to find a new way to do that.

The team developed a two-step process to fabricate fiber actuators that mimic the structure of muscle fibers and excel in several respects over other current actuators, including efficiency, actuation stress, and mechanical properties. They reported their findings today (June 2) in the journal Nature’s nanotechnology.

“It’s a huge area and there’s a lot of exciting research, but it’s really focused on engineering materials to optimize properties,” Hickey said. “What makes our work exciting is that we really focus on the connection between chemistry, structure and property.”

Hickey previously led a team that produced self-assembled nanostructured hydrogel materials. Hydrogels are networks of polymers that can swell and retain large amounts of water while retaining their structure.

In the new research, scientists have found that fibers made of this hydrogel material can stretch many times their original length when hydrated and harden and lock into the elongated shape when dried. in the extended state. Adding water or heat causes the material to return to its original size, making it promising for use as an actuator, the scientists said.

“We started to recognize that these fibers contracted and displayed some really fascinating properties,” Hickey said. “When we started to characterize the structure, we realized that there were some fundamentally interesting things going on here. And we started to recognize that in many ways the structure of these muscles mimicked or mirrored natural muscle.

The materials consist of highly aligned nanoscale structures with alternating crystalline and amorphous domains, resembling the ordered, striated pattern of mammalian skeletal muscle, the scientists said.

The exceptional stretching properties of hydrogels are the result of the combination of rigid amorphous nanoscale domains and water-filled microscale pores. When the hydrogels are stretched, they retract like a rubber band. If the stretched fibers are dried in the stretched state, the polymer network will crystallize locking the elongated shape of the fibers.

“We believe that one of the fundamental reasons why we have these exceptional properties is that the fibers are organized very precisely at the nanometer scale, similar to the sarcomere of a human muscle,” Hickey said. “What happens is you have an even contraction. These amorphous domains are all precisely organized along the fiber, which means that they contract in only one direction, which gives rise to this ability to return to this original state.

Applying water or heat to stretched materials melts the crystals and allows the material to return to its original shape. When stretched to five times its original length, the material can shrink back to less than 80% of its size and can do so over many cycles without a drop in performance, the scientists said.

“The fact that we can use two different stimuli, heat and water, to trigger actuation opens up double the possibilities for materials made with this method,” Hickey said. “Most actuators are triggered by a single stimulus. Dual stimuli open up the versatility of our materials.

Technique accelerates thermal actuation for soft robotics

More information:

Chao Lang et al, Block Copolymer Nanostructured Muscles, Nature’s nanotechnology (2022). DOI: 10.1038/s41565-022-01133-0

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