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As military suicides rise, Army brass reassessing outreach

FORT BRAGG, N.C. — If there were any signs that Staff Sgt. Jason Lowe was struggling, the soldiers he served alongside didn’t see them. The 27-year-old paratrooper was a top performer. He was on the Commandant’s List and had just finished second in his class in the Army’s Advanced Leader Course, setting him up for…

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FORT BRAGG, N.C. — If there were any signs that Staff Sgt. Jason Lowe was struggling, the soldiers he served alongside didn’t see them. The 27-year-old paratrooper was a top performer. He was on the Commandant’s List and had just finished second in his class in the Army’s Advanced Leader Course, setting him up for a promotion within the storied 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg. Yet, five days after graduation, after Lowe left texts and calls unreturned, Staff Sgt. Ryan Graves drove to Lowe’s apartment in Fayetteville, North Carolina, with a bad feeling. “On the way there I think it set in that maybe there’s something a lot worse going on,” Graves said. Graves opened Lowe’s unlocked apartment door to discover his friend had taken his own life. Weeks later, the why remains unanswered. “Everything they teach you, that you’re supposed to look for, doesn’t exist in this situation,” Graves told The Associated Press. “No financial trouble, no relationship trouble.” Military suicides up as much as 20% in COVID era Military suicides have increased by as much as 20% this year compared to the same period in 2019, and some incidents of violent behavior have spiked as service members struggle under COVID-19, war-zone deployments, national disasters and civil unrest. Lowe’s was the tenth suicide the 82nd Airborne Division has endured so far this year, a number that stood at four last year. In 2018, six division paratroopers took their own lives; four did so in 2017. 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While the driving factors of the suicides remain unknown, Maj. Gen. Christopher Donahue, who assumed command of the division in July, believes that the forced periods of isolation and other stressors the coronavirus pandemic have imposed on his troops and their families have been a major factor. The increase has pushed Donahue to make suicide prevention a priority and frequent topic of conversation within his ranks. “There is absolutely a stigma that’s out there,” Donahue said. “And if we don’t acknowledge that, we’re lying.” This year has been an unprecedented one for the 82nd Airborne Division. In January, for the first time in three decades, the Division’s Immediate Response Force was activated amid rising tensions with Iran. Within hours, thousands of paratroopers went from ringing in the new year with family to boarding military transport planes bound for the Middle East. At the same time, Lowe’s unit was finishing up a nine-month rotation in Afghanistan, America’s longest-running war. By the time soldiers in both brigades returned to Fort Bragg in the spring, the COVID-19 pandemic was well underway as it threatened to overwhelm the U.S. public health system. Patriotic welcome home ceremonies were replaced with a mandatory two-week quarantine and restrictions preventing paratroopers from going on leave to visit family out of state. Gyms and dining facilities on post closed down and unit meetings were held via Zoom. While those measures were necessary, Donahue believes it’s the primary fuel igniting the suicide increase. “COVID has made us a division of strangers and we’re doing everything in our power to bring us back together,” he said. While suicide has long been a problem in the U.S. military, numbers have risen this year by as much as 20 percent as service members struggle with isolation and other impacts of COVID-19, added to the pressures of deploying to war zones and responding to national disasters and civil unrest. Incidents of violent behavior also have spiked. The numbers vary by service. Suicide is particularly taking it’s toll in the Army, where senior leaders told The Associated Press they’ve seen a 30 percent jump in active-duty suicides so far this year compared to last year. They’re looking at ways to shorten combat deployments and put more focus on soldier well-being and less on combat readiness and weapons modernization in response to the rising numbers. Uncertainty is a given for soldiers assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division. In June, the Immediate Response Force was called upon again, as paratroopers were sent to Washington, D.C., to quell protests after the death of George Floyd in police custody. Some had just returned home from their first sudden deployment of 2020 and had been out of quarantine for less than a week when they climbed onto buses bound for D.C. Living life on standby puts an obvious strain on relationships, which is another common thread the division is seeing in its suicides. Peer support groups have been implemented for soldiers struggling with relationship issues and a sober living initiative has been launched to house paratroopers struggling with substance abuse in a separate, alcohol and drug-free barracks. But those who knew Lowe can’t pinpoint any of those factors in his sudden and tragic death. Graves tosses around the idea of the pressure Lowe put on himself. But even that is speculation. “He wanted to be the best. He probably was one of the best,” Graves said. Staff Sgt. Ryan Graves talks about the death of his fellow solider, Staff Sgt. Jason Lowe, during an interview on Aug. 26, 2020, on Fort Bragg, N.C. (Sarah Blake Morgan/AP) Instead of delivering the news of Lowe’s passing to his battalion in a mass formation, the notification came over Zoom. Battalion Commander Lt. Col. Christopher Walsh and Command Sgt. Maj. Anthony Gregerson had practice after another soldier took his life earlier this year. The loss weighs heavily on them. “You consider every decision you make and the impact it has on 630 heart beats,” Walsh said. Days after Lowe’s death, his artillery battery went into the field for a three-week training exercise. Brigade chaplains visited their remote camp site to offer counseling or simply an ear to listen. Their services are often rejected by hardened soldiers refusing to ask for help. Couple that with the stigma surrounding mental health and the longstanding belief running deep through the military that seeking counseling could negatively affect a soldier’s career. But since Lowe’s death, the men and women of the 1-319th Field Artillery Regiment are opening up and chaplains have seen an increase in soldiers wanting to talk. Soldiers are prepared to accept casualties when they’re deployed. The 82nd’s 3rd Brigade Combat Team lost five paratroopers during their recent stint in Afghanistan. When a soldier is killed in action, Gregerson has watched the mission of the ones left behind, strengthen. They can focus on the enemy in front of them in combat; the objective is clear. But at home, the fight changes. The demons haunting soldiers become more elusive. “How do you get after this invisible enemy that you don’t know people are going through?” he asked. Associated Press reporter Lolita Baldor in Washington contributed to this report.

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Flipkart Big Billion Days Sale: Samsung Galaxy S20+, Galaxy Note 10+, Galaxy F41, More Receive Price Discounts

Samsung Galaxy S20+, Galaxy Note 10+, Galaxy Tab A 8.0, and Galaxy Watch are available on discounted prices under Flipkart’s Big Billion Days sale. The sale is currently live for Flipkart Plus members. Flipkart is also set to offer a Rs. 1,000 prepaid discount along with a 10 percent instant discount for SBI customers purchasing…

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Samsung Galaxy S20+, Galaxy Note 10+, Galaxy Tab A 8.0, and Galaxy Watch are available on discounted prices under Flipkart’s Big Billion Days sale. The sale is currently live for Flipkart Plus members. Flipkart is also set to offer a Rs. 1,000 prepaid discount along with a 10 percent instant discount for SBI customers purchasing the newly launched Galaxy F41. Separately, Samsung is hosting a festive season sale through its online store in India to offer deals and discounts on various accessories, wearables, and smart TVs.Discounts on Samsung phonesFlipkart is offering the Samsung Galaxy S20+ at a discounted price of Rs. 49,999 as a part of its Big Billion Days sale. It’s a discount of Rs. 28,000 on its current price of Rs. 77,999. If you’re looking for a Galaxy Note model, Flipkart also has the Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ at Rs. 54,999, down from its retail price of Rs. 85,000.Flipkart will also sell the Samsung Galaxy F41 during the sale. As mentioned, customers will get an additional Rs. 1,000 discount on prepaid transactions and SBI customers can avail another 10 percent discount on it.Discounts on Samsung Galaxy Watch and Tablet A 8.0In addition to smartphones, Flipkart’s sale brings the Samsung Galaxy Tab A 8.0 Wi-Fi only at Rs. 8,999 that normally retails at Rs. 9,999. Customers can also pick the Samsung Galaxy Watch 46mm Bluetooth variant at Rs. 11,990 — a discount of Rs. 8,000 on the current price of Rs. 19,990.Flipkart also has a Smart Upgrade Plan that lets customers purchase Samsung premium phones by paying 70 percent of their price. After a 12-month period, they will have the option to either upgrade to a new phone via Flipkart and return the initial phone purchased, or pay the 30 percent balance.The Flipkart Big Billion Days sale is currently live only for Flipkart Plus members. However, it will be available for regular customers starting Friday and will go on until October 21.Samsung is also hosting the festive sale through its online store in India that brings up to 40 percent discount on the Galaxy S20+, up to 60 percent discount on wireless chargers and JBL speakers, and up to 45 percent discount on various smart TVs including The Frame. There will also be up to 12.5 percent cashback for HDFC, ICICI, and SBI bank customers.The Samsung sale is live and will go on till November 16.Flipkart, Amazon have excellent iPhone 11, Galaxy S20+ sale offers, but will they have enough stock? We discussed this on Orbital, our weekly technology podcast, which you can subscribe to via Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, or RSS, download the episode, or just hit the play button below.Affiliate links may be automatically generated – see our ethics statement for details.

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United States charges six Russian intelligence operatives with hacking

October 20, 2020 by Joseph Fitsanakis THE UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT of Justice has unsealed charges against six members of Russia’s military intelligence agency for allegedly engaging in worldwide computer hacking against several countries. The charges, announced in Pittsburgh on Monday, represent in a rare move that targets specific intelligence operatives and identifies them by name…

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October 20, 2020
by Joseph Fitsanakis

THE UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT of Justice has unsealed charges against six members of Russia’s military intelligence agency for allegedly engaging in worldwide computer hacking against several countries. The charges, announced in Pittsburgh on Monday, represent in a rare move that targets specific intelligence operatives and identifies them by name and visually. According to the US government, the six Russian operatives were instrumental in some of the most destructive and costly cyber-attacks that have taken place worldwide in the past five years.

The indictment alleges that the six Russian intelligence operatives were members of a hacker group named “Sandworm Team” and “Voodoo Bear” by cybersecurity experts. In reality, however, they were —and probably still are— employees of Unit 74455 of the Russian Armed Forces’ Main Intelligence Directorate, known as GRU. Their cyber-attacks employed the full resources of the GRU, according to the indictment. They were thus “highly advanced”, and were carried out in direct support of “Russian economic and national objectives”. At times, the group allegedly tried to hide its tracks and connections to the Russian government, by making it seem like its cyber-attacks were carried out by Chinese- and North Korean-linked hackers. However, according to the US government, its operations and targets were carried out “for the strategic benefit of Russia”.

The hacker group has been active since the end of 2015, and is alleged to have continued its operations until at least October of 2019. Alleged attacks include a major assault on the power grid of Ukraine in December of 2015, which left hundreds of thousands without electricity and heat. Other alleged attacks targeted the government of Georgia and the French national elections of 2017. The charges include alleged attacks on Western chemical laboratories that examined the toxic substance used in 2018 against former GRU officer Sergei Skripal in England.

Finally, some of the group’s alleged efforts centered on sabotaging the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. Russian athletes were barred from the games, after the Russian government was accused of participating in wholesale doping of its Olympic team. Notably, none of the attacks connected with the group’s operations appeared to have directly targeted the United States —though some of the viruses that were allegedly unleashed by the group affected some American companies.

► Author: Joseph Fitsanakis | Date: 21 October 2020 | Permalink

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Best coffee maker for 2020: Bonavita, Ninja, Oxo, Bunn and more – CNET

It’s hard to brew tasty coffee. Coffee grounds need to hit hot water for an optimal length of time. That water must be within a precise temperature range too. Only a handful of drip coffee makers can pull off this sort of alchemy. And the ones that don’t (which is the vast majority) serve pots that taste…

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It’s hard to brew tasty coffee. Coffee grounds need to hit hot water for an optimal length of time. That water must be within a precise temperature range too. Only a handful of drip coffee makers can pull off this sort of alchemy. And the ones that don’t (which is the vast majority) serve pots that taste truly awful.We’ve found some noteworthy exceptions on the market, so whether you want to brew perfect lattes, make iced coffee or turn coffee beans into the ideal cup of fresh coffee, you don’t need to spend a mint to get the best coffee maker. You can drop almost $500 on a tricked-out Ratio Eight that’s as beautiful as it is capable, or on a programmable commercial coffee maker. But all it takes is $15 to get Oxo’s superb Single Serve Pour Over funnel.

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And there are plenty of compelling choices in between for a coffee lover’s brew. One is our Editors’ Choice winner, the Oxo Brew 8-Cup, our pick for best all-around automatic brewer. Another is the KitchenAid Siphon Brewer, which uses an ancient technique to achieve outstanding and dramatic results. No matter your budget, there’s a coffee machine on this list that’ll fit your drip needs perfectly and be the best coffee maker for you. We’ll periodically update the list with new products as we test them. We promise, you’ll never have to drink coffee from pods or an ancient coffee pot again.

Brian Bennett/CNET

The Oxo Brew 8-Cup Coffee Maker delivers SCA Golden Cup-rated coffee that tastes just as good coffee from our previous favorite, the Bonavita Connoisseur, but Oxo’s new brewer is more thoughtfully designed. This drip machine also comes with a special single cup filter basket for Kalita Wave filters. The Oxo Brew is compact, stylish, and also sturdy, plus it comes with a thermal carafe that doesn’t drip or spill. 

Read our Oxo 8 Cup Coffee Maker review.

Those who seek lots of coffee in a hurry will love the quick brew cycle of this coffee maker. The Bunn Velocity Brew BT drip coffee maker with its stainless steel-lined thermal carafe whips up a large coffee pot of joe at astonishing speed. In as little as 3 minutes, 33 seconds, the coffee maker can deliver full batches of tasty drip to drink.

Read our Bunn Velocity Brew BT review.

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

It’s hard to find a coffee maker that beats the KitchenAid Siphon Brewer’s unique combination of spectacle and quality. It makes a coffee pot of distinctly rich, deep and seductively flavorful coffee. Its vintage brewing process, based on vapor pressure and vacuum suction, is also mesmerizing to watch. No paper filters needed as the Siphon Brewer comes with a reusable stainless steel filter.

Read our Kitchenaid Siphon Coffee Brewer review.

Chris Monroe/CNET

Think of this kitchen appliance as the Swiss army knife of the drip coffee maker world. The Ninja programmable brewer (with frother, thermal carafe and reusable filter) offers an uncanny degree of flexibility, making it the best coffee maker for those who don’t always want the same cup. It can create everything from solid drip, to perfect cold brew, to iced coffee, to latte-style drinks with its milk frother, and it will adjust the temperature according to your choice. Its thermal carafe will keep tea or coffee hot up to two hours. This programmable coffee maker even lets you brew iced coffee and hot coffee in multiple sizes, from small cups all the way up to full carafes.

Chris Monroe/CNET

Cold brew coffee is delicious, but it can be a pain to make. Oxo’s cold brew coffee maker takes much of the headache out of the process. This Oxo Brew coffee maker saturates coffee grounds evenly and lets you drain cold brewed coffee from them into its glass carafe with relative ease.

Read our Oxo Cold Brew Coffee Maker review.

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Delicious coffee and great tasting drip from a product that costs just $15? It sounds unlikely but that’s just what the affordable Oxo Good Grips Pour-Over offers. It only makes coffee one drink at a time and requires you to provide the hot water. That said, the simple brewer transforms the otherwise complex task of pour-over into one that’s easy, clean and almost foolproof.

Read our Oxo Good Grips Pour-Over Coffee Maker review.

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Judging by the Ratio Eight appliance, the people at Ratio believe that a coffee maker should be beautiful as well as functional. Starting at $495, each brewer is crafted from a selection of premium materials like walnut, mahogany and glass. (Both the water reservoir and carafe are made from hand-blown glass.) Their sturdy aluminum bases are available in numerous finishes as well. And yes, the Ratio Eight with its glass carafe also makes excellent drip.  

Read our Ratio Eight review.

Megan Wollerton/CNET

Dutch company Technivorm has sold exceptionally good drip coffee makers for decades. Its Moccamaster KBT 741 drip coffee machine sports a design with clean lines and sharp angles that harkens back to 1968, the year the first Moccamaster hit stores. Retro design aside, the Moccamaster KBT 741 consistently puts out perfect freshly brewed coffee that will satisfy coffee connoisseurs. Its stainless steel thermal carafe also keeps its contents hot a full six hours.

Read our Technivorm Moccamaster KBT 741 review.

A note on testing coffee makers Evaluating the performance of a coffee maker is trickier than it might sound. The first step is to know what good drip coffee actually is. According to the Specialty Coffee Association, there are criteria critical to brewing quality java. Mainly these are brewing time and water temperature. Hot water should come into contact with grounds for no less than four minutes and no longer than eight. Additionally, the ideal water temperature range is between 197 degrees Fahrenheit (92C) and 205 degrees Fahrenheit (96C). To confirm how each coffee maker meets that challenge, we log the length of their brew cycles. We also employ thermocouple heat sensors connected to industrial-grade data loggers. That enables us to record the temperature within the coffee grounds while brewing is underway. We measure the temperature inside the brewing chamber of every coffee maker we test.
Brian Bennett/CNET
After brewing coffee, we take sample readings of the produced coffee liquid with an optical refractometer. Given we factor in the amount of water and freshly ground coffee used, that data lets us calculate the Total Dissolved Solids percentage of each brew. From there we arrive at the extraction percentage. The ideal range is commonly thought to be between 18 and 20%. We also back up measured data with a good, old fashioned taste test. If the taste of a cup of coffee is bitter, there’s a good chance it was over extracted during the drip. On the opposite end, an under extracted cup of coffee will typically taste weak — it can even taste sour or have the flavor of soggy peanuts. And to be certain, we brew identical test runs a minimum of three times to achieve average results. More coffee recommendations

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