We Asked a Military Expert How to Invade and Conquer Russia
In the past, when I’ve asked military experts from IHS Jane’s what it would take to conquer, say,America, or the UK, the idea of it actually happening in the near future was relatively far fetched. But recent events in Crimea have raised the very real possibility of conflict, so when I asked IHS Jane’s Konrad Muzyka what it would take to conquer Russia, it all suddenly felt very real.
No one wants to see Putin riding into battle on the back of a nuclear warhead, but that said, I’d like to make it clear that I, for one, welcome our new Russian overlords and would like to remind them that I could be helpful in rounding up others to toil in their underground vodka caves.
VICE: I’m going to begin with a classic cliche. Over the centuries, plenty of power-hungry leaders have tried to take on Russia, convinced that they would be the first to overcome the brutal Russian winter. How could a modern army deal with this ancient problem?
Konrad Muzyka: I agree that from a historical perspective this has been a problem many countries have succumbed to. But the advent of precision guided munitions and, more importantly, nuclear weapons have completely nullified the issue. Any potential conflict with the West would most likely be fought in the air, space, and sea. Any use of land forces would be limited to capturing strategically important facilities—bridges, airfields, and the like. Given the size of Russian territory, I don’t think anyone would be interested in moving their troops to Russia and holding them there.
So how quickly might any invading force find itself plunged into a nuclear winter?
Russia reserves the right to use nuclear weapons even in a regional conflict scenario. As such, any country taking on Russia needs to be aware of a dramatic and quick escalation that could take place. But this is a sign of weakness rather than strength.
In the days of the Red Army, it felt as though there was an endless supply of men ready to die in the name of Mother Russia. Is this still true? What’s their manpower like?
That’s true, but many of those sent into battle during the Second World War fought at gunpoint. Not only that of the Nazi Wehrmacht, but also that of their fellow Russian “comrades.” Retreat was usually forbidden, even in a tactical sense—those who were caught falling back were either shot on the spot or court-martialed… and then usually shot.
Hunting for the Vampire of Barcelona
At the turn of the 20th century, Enriqueta Martí—a woman from the witchcraft-steeped countryside of Cataluña—came to Barcelona. Like many of the poor rural immigrants flooding into Barcelona at the time, she found that the Catalan capital was less “Pearl of the Mediterranean” and more “City of Death.” This didn’t bother her, though, because it was in Barcelona that she became her country’s answer to Jack the Ripper, luring children back to her house, killing them, and then drinking their blood.
Fast forward a century and Marc Pastor, a CSI detective based in Barcelona, finds himself working on a case involving another female serial killer. In his spare time, he writes Barcelona Shadows, a retelling of Martí’s diabolical career redolent of Arthur Conan Doyle, Robert Louis Stevenson, and David Peace. Already a bestseller in Spain, the book has just been published in English. I caught up with Marc for a trip back to the dark alleys of the Barcelona slums.
VICE: Hi, Marc. When exactly is your book set?
Marc Pastor: It’s in 1912. Barcelona is leaving its rural past behind and becoming a modern city. There is the biggest casino in Europe, which was an amazing amusement park with a rollercoaster. There’s a lot of poverty. People are living in the streets and there’s a lot of sickness. This is where Enriqueta appears, where she rises up. A woman. She is a female killer, which is very unusual because 99 percent of serial killers are men. It’s a dark and creepy city with a dark and creepy serial killer.
And Enriqueta came onto this scene from the countryside, to work as a servant in a house?
Actually, as a whore.
I was about to say: she swiftly becomes a prostitute. How quickly does she start to kill people, and can you tell me about her methods?
We don’t know exactly how many people or children she killed. That’s part of the myth. Jack the Ripper had five victims, but you don’t know how many victims Enriqueta had. She was arrested in 1912, but she went to Mallorca in 1901 for three months and had to come back because people wanted to kill her. So you can imagine she was murdering people and children for 12 years, at least. I met a lot of people after publishing the book who told me, “My grandma was a victim of Enriqueta,” or, “My grandmother-in-law was one of the people Enriqueta tried to kidnap.” They showed me pictures. She tried to kidnap a lot of people. One woman told me her grandmother-in-law was approached by a woman who tried to give her candy and told her to come with her.
On the Front Lines of Gender Equality with Pakistan’s Lady Cadets
Lady Cadet Wardah Noor, a slim 24-year-old Pakistani with deep-set eyes and an erect bearing, has pinned all her hopes on becoming a soldier.
“I found my civilian life to be slow moving and unsatisfying,” she told me one evening in September after a full day of class and training exercises at the prestigious Pakistan Military Academy (PMA). Raised in a middle-class home, Wardah had already earned a college degree in computer science but found little opportunity in her small village in Pakistan’s Punjab province, where horse-driven carts were still the primary mode of transportation. She craved discipline and structure. She wanted, she realized, to join the army.
LC Wardah was one of 32 women, ages 23 to 27, who comprised the PMA’s 2013 lady cadet class. The Academy is located in the town of Kakul, just a few miles from the Abbottabad compound where Osama bin Laden was killed by a team of Navy SEALs in 2011. It’s Pakistan’s answer to West Point; it’s just as hard to gain entry, and those who do, go on to lead young soldiers into battle.
Gaining admission to the academy is highly competitive. Once enrolled, male cadets spend two years of rigorous physical training and the study of war craft. Female cadets at the PMA, however, receive only six months’ training and then are assigned duties that don’t involve direct combat, serving as members of the medical and engineering corps, or analyzing tactics and logistics, or even training future officers.
“I want to be a part of protecting my country from the terrorists, and protect our borders,” LC Wardah explained. “We have both external threats as well as internal threats.”
The Walther PPK is an ideal option to place inside a woman’s private parts because it’s the preferred firearm for English superspy James Bond, who could certainly be considered an expert in the female anatomy. It was also the gun Adolf Hitler used to shoot himself, so it could be a great conversation starter, though taking a gun out of your vagina is already a pretty good way to get people talking.
How to Make Foreign Policy Less Disastrous in 2014
Look, you might not like it, but the fact is, foreign policy has a lot to do with you. If you live in the US (and you probably do because I can see your iPod), then what Obama does with our bombs reflects you globally. And if you live in the world (and you probably do because I can see you’re human), then you still, for now, live on a planet where the USA has the most sway. And if you like gay people, or women, of all the superpowers available to humans, America is probably your best bet. Your votes appointed a bunch of people who are barely of average intelligence to run—or shut down—Congress and therefore hold some responsibility as to how this country operates.
As such, it’s obvious that last year you, YOU, dropped the ball, because looking back, 2013 was a really shitty year for foreign policy. Against the backdrop of grinding war in Syria, we cringed as Edward Snowden lifted the lid on the largest mass surveillance program in history. Terrorists staged mass prison breakouts and held entire cities to ransom. Egypt killed the hell out of itself and both sides blamed the US and literally nothing was done to make Syria any less hellish. In fact, it got worse. Well done. Meanwhile, on the part of the planet where you can’t even pretend to have any influence, the Chinese navy won a game of WW3 chicken in the Pacific. Somehow in all of this, Russia came out smelling of roses.
So, yes, frankly the US could be doing better. The Taliban are still with us, hiding in their caves, eagerly awaiting the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2014. And chaos eagerly awaits that. In Yemen, Pakistan and beyond, US drone strikes continue, making Obama the Peace Prize Winner look evermore like someone who uses flying robots to assassinate people. Thanks to an embarrassing climb-down over involvement in Syria, the very idea of the West intervening in another country’s problems has never been less in fashion. And looking at Afghanistan, still donning its A/W 2001 garb of shrapnel and loved ones’ viscera, it’s not hard to see why.
Ruben Pater, a designer from the Netherlands, recently came out with what he calls a “21st century bird-watching” guide—a poster and book explaining how to spot, hijack, hack, and dazzle different types of drones.
Christmas Violence in the Central African Republic
On Wednesday, Archbishop Dieudonne Nzapalainga gave his Christmas sermon in the Central African Republic’s capital city of Bangui. He discussed the need for reconciliation and forgiveness, but the country’s leaders are incapable of stopping—or unwilling to stop—the violence, even as the country spirals deeper into the abyss due to an endless series of revenge killings between Christians and Muslims.
The following night, I took refuge in what had probably been a Bangui flophouse in better times. Gunfire cracked in the distance, bullets zipped by, and explosions shook the windows as I sat there in the darkness. At the time, no one seemed to know who was fighting, most people were in hiding, and everyone was scared. A French military helicopter circled overhead while I frantically gathered my belongings in case I needed to move in the middle of the night.
I later learned armed militias had been attacking the presidential palace.
As Nzapalainga told his flock, what had been sectarian strife is now a religious conflict. And Lucifer has taken up residency in the CAR.
(Source: Vice Magazine)
Is Hiring a Hitman in Russia As Easy As Ordering a Pizza?
By now you’ve all heard about the legions of tech-savvy hitmen hanging out on the deepweb waiting to be asked to kill people. The sites have gained plenty of attention in recent months, largely because of Ross Ulbricht, the alleged founder of infamous deepweb drug and assassin marketplace Silk Road. Ulbricht is currently accused of using the Silk Road to hire a hitman to kill six people, and was arrested in an FBI sting on October 1.
But if a few websites in Eastern Europe follow through on what they advertise, you don’t even need to know what the deepweb is to hire yourself a contract killer. The sites are offering their services, completely openly over the internet, for anyone to access and place an order. Running since February of this year, one site offers everything the bloodthirsty revenge seeker might be after. “A light shake down” for $350; the Tarantino-esque “Chiropractor” for $800, and for some extra cash, they will break any part of the victim’s body for $50 a bone.
When it comes to the murder itself, several options are available: “death from natural causes or an unfortunate incident”; “‘random’ murder in a fight (for example in an assault at night),” or the “classic” ordered hit. Prices for these depend on various factors, such as the location of the victim and whatever challenges the hitman may need to overcome to complete the job. For an additional fee, customers can request a slew of optional extras: leaving the target naked in the forest; having them dig their own grave, getting them gagged with a rag soiled with urine and faeces. The customisation options are pretty vast.
We Spoke to Larry Flynt About the Execution of the Man Who Shot Him
VICE: How did you feel when you heard that Joseph Paul Franklin was executed?
Larry Flynt: I had no feelings either way. I’ve been against the death penalty all my life, but it has nothing to do with him. I don’t think the government should be in the business of killing people.
Why have you not spoken about the death penalty before?
It’s always been an opinion of mine, but I’ve never been very vocal about it, because I see the politics as too difficult to change. When I wrote that page for the Hollywood Reporter, I had no idea it was gonna go viral. And all of a sudden, people all over the world wanted to talk to me about the death penalty.
Read the whole interview
A School in Ontario Staged a Fake Massacre for a Police Training Exercise
Journalism students at Sheridan College, near Toronto, were ordered to take down video and photos (which you can see in the gallery above) of a mock school shooting that have ruffled some feathers with the school’s faculty and administration.
On November 25, the college hosted a training exercise for the Halton Regional Police Department. Students from the school’s musical theatre program acted as if they had been shot dead, complete with fake wounds and blood.
The scenario took place with two shooters played by plainclothes cops. About 100 students and staff participated in the event, with 15 playing dead and a further 10 playing wounded.
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