It might sound like science fiction, but the general in charge of the U.S. military’s air transports across the globe says refueling and resupplying the military may soon be a job that’s literally out of this world.
“If I can resupply from space I can go across globe in about 30 minutes,” Air Force General Carlton Everhart, the head of Air Mobility Command, told VOA. “I do truly believe that is the next step. We can really make inroads.”
Everhart says the time gained by using hypersonic craft in space could keep him ahead in “the speed of war,” where competitors China and Russia have been trying to make gains.
The idea of using space deliveries isn’t as far out as it may seem. In fact, industry leaders, companies Everhart hopes to partner with, are already working on this type of technology.
Launch vehicles from companies like SpaceX, Sierra Nevada, and even foreign ventures could “provide tremendous strategic advantage to the U.S. government,” according to Eric Stallmer, the president of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation.
But it’s an advantage that would come with an astronomical price tag of thousands of dollars per kilo.
Experts say the need to transport via space must outweigh these costs, perhaps only being used during the most important of missions.
Todd Harrison, a space and defense expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, points to the 2012 attack in Benghazi, Libya, which killed U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans, as a situation where time necessities could overpower cost concerns.
“Imagine if we had been able to launch a SEAL team and put them right down in that compound within 45 minutes of knowing that it was under attack. It could have made the difference,” he said.
The general is not just focused on launching from one point on Earth to another, Everhart also wants to use satellites to preposition cargo in space.
Stallmer said a lot of spaceflight companies are looking at this idea of space refueling depots, including plans to convert those refueling vehicles to habitats within space once they’ve been used.
The future is full of possibilities, but it is unclear when these technologies will be fully developed. Experts give estimates ranging from a couple of years to more than a decade, but that doesn’t stop Everhart from dreaming.
“The train is leaving the station and we’re going to be on it. And I’m not going to be on the caboose. I want to be in front of, I’m going to be in the front,” he said.
The general says his team is already writing government proposals to make space resupply a certainty for future military mobility. (VOA)
The white supremacist group Identity Evropa more than doubled the number of its chapters.
The violent neo-Nazi organization Atomwaffen Division grew from one chapter to 27.
The white nationalist group and podcasting site The Right Stuff boasted 34 chapters.
American hate groups had a bumper year in 2018 as a surge in black and white nationalist groups lifted their number to a new record high, the Southern Poverty Law Center said in a report issued Wednesday.
The Alabama-based legal advocacy organization recorded 1,020 active hate groups last year, up 7 percent from 2017. The previous record tallied by SPLC was 1,018 in 2011 amid a white extremist backlash against the presidency of Barack Obama, the nation’s first African-American president.
The increase was driven by growth in both black and white nationalist groups, the SPLC said. The number of white nationalist groups jumped from 100 to 148, while the number of black nationalist groups — typically anti-Semitic, anti-LGBTQ and anti-white — rose from 233 to 264.
The SPLC defines a hate group as “an organization that, based on its official statements or principles, the statements of its leaders, or its activities, has beliefs or practices that attack or malign an entire class of people, typically for their immutable characteristics.”
The number of hate groups has grown every year for the past four years, the SPLC said, a 30 percent increase roughly coinciding with President Donald Trump’s election campaign and presidency. The increase followed three years of decline toward the end of the Obama administration.
Hate crimes have followed a similar trajectory in recent years. After falling for three consecutive years, attacks on blacks, Jews, Muslims and other minorities increased by 30 percent in the three-year period ending in 2017, according to the latest FBI data.
The uptrend continued into last year, with hate crimes in America’s 30 largest cities surging by an additional 10 percent, according to the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino.
The majority of hate crimes are nonviolent, but some incidents were deadly. White supremacists in the U.S. and Canada killed at least 40 people last year, up from 17 people the year before, according to the SPLC’s tally.
While most bias-motivated offenses are not committed by members of hate groups, the perpetrators of hate crimes draw inspiration from ideas put out by hate groups, said Heidi Beirich, director of the SPLC’s Intelligence Project and author of the report.
‘Go-ahead’ from Trump
Beirich blamed Trump’s anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim statements and policies for heightening deep-seated white nationalist fears of an impending white-minority country.
The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that more than half of the nation’s children are expected to be nonwhite in 2020, while the U.S. population is slated to become majority-minority in 2044.
“Rather than trying to tamp down hate, as presidents of both parties have done, President Trump elevates it with both his rhetoric and his policies,” Beirich said. “In doing so, he’s given people across America the go-ahead to act on their worst instincts.”
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Black nationalist groups, which advocate separate institutions or even a separate nation, made up about a quarter of hate groups tracked in 2018.
But the SPLC said the black extremist groups “lagged far behind the more than 700 groups that adhere to some form of white supremacist ideology,” the report said.
Among white extremist groups, the SPLC counted 112 neo-Nazi groups, 148 white nationalist organizations, 63 racist skinhead groups, 36 neo-Confederate outfits and 17 Christian Identity organizations.
But not all white hate groups thrived last year. The number of Ku Klux Klan (KKK) chapters fell for the third straight year, dropping to 51 in 2018 from 130 in 2016.
With its outdated traditions and penchant for white robes, the KKK, the nation’s oldest racist organization, has failed to appeal to young white tech-savvy racists, the SPLC said.
“It may be that the KKK, having somehow endured since 1866, is finally on its last legs,” the report said.
The SPLC started tracking KKK chapters in 1987 and later expanded its list to include other hate groups. In recent years, as it has put new groups on its list, including anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant and anti-LGBTQ organizations, conservative groups have accused the SPLC of unfairly labeling them.
Last month, the Center for Immigration Studies sued the SPLC in federal court in Washington for “falsely designating” it as a hate group in 2016, saying the SPLC has produced no evidence that the group maligns immigrants as a class.
Beirich said the SPLC is standing by its hate group listings. (VOA)