Army ponders replacing thousands of boots on ground with robots

The Squad Mission Support System (SMSS) can carry 544kg of cargo including equipment, food, arms and ammunition.

The Squad Mission Support System (SMSS) can carry 1,200 pounds of cargo including equipment, food, arms and ammunition.

Gen. Bob Cone, the Army’s commander of Training and Doctrine, dropped a metaphorical “bomb” last week, Defense News reports.

The Army is shrinking in numbers, on its way from more than 520,000 down to as few as 420,000 by 2019, according to budget plans.

How to make up for the lost manpower?

“I’ve got clear guidance to think about what if you could robotically perform some of the tasks in terms of maneuverability, in terms of the future of the force,” Cone told the Army Aviation Symposium in Arlington, Va.

That’s right. Robots. Continue reading


Loudest Super Bowl? Yinz can take a bow


Don’t expect the crowds to roar in the stands at the Super Bowl, the New York Times reports.

With the game being held in a neutral city and so few tickets going to hometowns, it can be strangely quiet in the stadium.

Al Michaels, the sportscaster of eight Super Bowls, tells the Times that the loudest Super Bowl was 43 in 2009, when “Pittsburgh fans far outnumbered those of the Arizona Cardinals” in Tampa.

It didn’t hurt that the Steelers had that last-minute touchdown pass.

“Even then, you probably had half the fans there as neutral observers,” Michaels says.


China’s smog reaching West Coast, study finds


We frequently read about dangerous smog hovering over Beijing and other industrial hubs in China. Just last week, air pollution levels were 20 times higher than the safe limit defined by the World Health Organization, the BBC reported.

The smog is so bad that it’s reducing life expectancy by 15 years, according to a study published last month in the British Medical Journal.

Now a research team led by a scientist at Texas A&M has traced sulfate-based air pollution emitted from factories in China to Los Angeles. The study, published today in Nature Communications, examined data from 2006. Continue reading


Gun show: a ‘cannon’ for your backpack?



At the Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade Show, Smith & Wesson made noise with its “backpack cannon” — a .460-caliber revolver.

“A great gun for a back-up gun in the backcountry or even for hunting if you’re going after some pigs or hogs or anything like that,” Paul Pluff, the company’s head of marketing communications, tells

In fact, S&W has been hawking the huge revolver as perfect for a backpack.


FBI backtracks on primary role


After Foreign Policy reported early this month that the FBI made a change to its fact sheet, the news went viral. The agency must have been reading online comments. People had strong reactions to the news that the FBI had shifted its primary function from law enforcement to national security.

Within 48 hours, the FBI reversed course and revised its fact sheet, which now reads:

“The primary functions of the FBI are national security and law enforcement.”

The change was motivated by FP’s post, an official told The Cable blog.

“It’s most accurate to say our primary functions are law enforcement and national security and that’s probably what it should’ve said all along,” FBI spokesman Paul Bresson says“We’ve always been both.”


Young nun gives birth to boy, shocking herself and Italy


“It’s not possible, I’m a nun,” a 31-year-old told doctors on Wednesday after she had been rushed to a hospital with stomach pain only to find out she was about to have a baby.

The news ignited a rush of stories in the Italian press on Friday. Her Catholic superiors in Rieti, a small town in central Italy, seemed to want to wash their hands of the affair and are kicking her out of the convent. Continue reading


Photographer catches illusory 3-headed stag





It’s a photo that will make you look twice, or thrice.

No, that’s not really a three-headed stag, photographer Renatas Jakaitis admits to the Daily Mail.

He spent hours tracking some wild deer in the Penevezys County woods of Lithuania, and then he struck gold.

“I could never have imagined,” Jakaitis says, “that these three deer would all turn at the same time and look at me, and make such a funny image.”


Barbara Bush: I hope Jeb doesn’t run


There’s no question that Jeb Bush is the most qualified candidate for president in 2016, Barbara Bush tells C-Span in an interview that was just released as part of the channel’s first lady series.

With Chris Christie confronted with questions about Bridge-gate/Bridge-ghazi, there has been much speculation of late about how the scandal may clear the way for the former governor of Florida to enter the race for the White House.

His mother’s endorsement, however, comes with a caveat. Continue reading