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Military suicides up as much as 20% in COVID era

WASHINGTON — Military suicides have increased by as much as 20 percent 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. While the data is incomplete and causes of suicide are complex, Army and…

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WASHINGTON — Military suicides have increased by as much as 20 percent 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. While the data is incomplete and causes of suicide are complex, Army and Air Force officials say they believe the pandemic is adding stress to an already strained force. And senior Army leaders — who say they’ve seen about a 30 precent jump in active duty suicides so far this year — told The Associated Press that they are looking at shortening combat deployments. Such a move would be part of a broader effort to make the wellbeing of soldiers and their families the Army’s top priority, overtaking combat readiness and weapons modernization. The Pentagon refused to provide 2020 data or discuss the issue, but Army officials said discussions in Defense Department briefings indicate there has been roughly a 20 percent jump in overall military suicides this year. The numbers vary by service. The active Army’s 30 percent spike — from 88 last year to 114 this year — pushes the total up because it’s the largest service. The Army Guard is up about 10 percent, going from 78 last year to 86 this year. The Navy total is believed to be lower this year. Army leaders say they can’t directly pin the increase on the virus, but the timing coincides. “I can’t say scientifically, but what I can say is — I can read a chart and a graph, and the numbers have gone up in behavioral health related issues,” Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy said in an AP interview. Pointing to increases in Army suicides, murders and other violent behavior, he added, “We cannot say definitively it is because of COVID. But there is a direct correlation from when COVID started, the numbers actually went up.” Sign up for the Early Bird Brief Get the military’s most comprehensive news and information every morning (please select a country)United StatesUnited KingdomAfghanistanAlbaniaAlgeriaAmerican SamoaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBoliviaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of TheCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’ivoireCroatiaCubaCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuamGuatemalaGuineaGuinea-bissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMarshall IslandsMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMicronesia, Federated States ofMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNetherlands AntillesNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorthern Mariana IslandsNorwayOmanPakistanPalauPalestinian Territory, OccupiedPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalPuerto RicoQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRwandaSaint HelenaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and The GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbia and MontenegroSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and The South Sandwich IslandsSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwan, Province of ChinaTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-lesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUnited States Minor Outlying IslandsUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuelaViet NamVirgin Islands, BritishVirgin Islands, U.S.Wallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabwe Subscribe × By giving us your email, you are opting in to the Early Bird Brief. In this March 19, 2020, file photo Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy, left, accompanied by Gen. James McConville, Army chief of staff, right, speaks at a news conference at U.S. Army Medical Research and Development Command at Fort Detrick in Frederick, Md. (Andrew Harnik/AP) Preliminary data for the first three months of 2020 show an overall dip in military suicides across the active duty and reserves, compared to the same time last year. Those early numbers, fueled by declines in Navy and Air Force deaths, gave hope to military leaders who have long struggled to cut suicide rates. But in the spring, the numbers ticked up. “COVID adds stress,” said Gen. Charles Brown, the Air Force chief, in public remarks. “From a suicide perspective, we are on a path to be as bad as last year. And that’s not just an Air Force problem, this is a national problem because COVID adds some additional stressors – a fear of the unknown for certain folks.” The active duty Air Force and reserves had 98 suicides as of Sept. 15, unchanged from the same period last year. But last year was the worst in three decades for active duty Air Force suicides. Officials had hoped the decline early in the year would continue. Navy and Marine officials refused to discuss the subject. Civilian suicide rates have risen in recent years, but 2020 data isn’t available, so it’s difficult to compare with the military. A Pentagon report on 2018 suicides said the military rate was roughly equivalent to that of the U.S. general population, after adjusting for the fact that the military is more heavily male and younger than the civilian population. The 2018 rate for active duty military was 24.8 per 100,000, while the overall civilian rate for that year was 14.2, but the rate for younger civilian men ranged from 22.7 to 27.7 per 100,000, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. James Helis, director of the Army’s resilience programs, said virus-related isolation, financial disruptions, remote schooling and loss of child care all happening almost overnight has strained troops and families. “We know that the measures we took to mitigate and prevent the spread of COVID could amplify some of the factors that could lead to suicide,” said Helis, who attended department briefings on suicide data. Army leaders also said troops have been under pressure for nearly two decades of war. Those deployments, compounded by the virus, hurricane and wildfire response and civil unrest missions, have taken a toll. Soldiers’ 10-month deployments have been stretched to 11 months because of the two-week coronavirus quarantines at the beginning and end. McCarthy said the Army is considering shortening deployments. Gen. James McConville, Army chief of staff, said there’s new attention to giving service members “the time that they need to come back together and recover.” “We were very focused on readiness four years ago because we had some readiness challenges, and we did a great job. The force is very, very ready now. But I think it’s time now to focus on people,” he told the AP. McConville and Army Sgt. Maj. Michael Grinston said units have begun “stand-up” days, where commanders focus on bringing people together, making sure they connect with each other and their families and ensuring they have strong values in how they treat each other. The isolation is also taking a toll on veterans, particularly the wounded. Sergio Alfaro, who served in the Army for 4 ½ years, said fears associated with the virus intensified his PTSD and suicidal thoughts. “It’s definitely something that’s made things a bit more chaotic, trying to plan for the future, do things together,” said Alfaro, who deployed near Baghdad in 2003, facing daily mortar rounds, including one that killed his commander. “It’s almost like adding more trash on the heap.” While he once feared that strangers passing by might hurt him, now he fears people may have COVID and not show symptoms. Others in support groups, he said, “are just sick of living this way, worried about what’s coming over the next hill, what next horrible thing are we going to be confronted with.” Roger Brooks, a senior mental health specialist at the Wounded Warrior Project, said veterans are reporting increased suicidal symptoms and anxiety. Between April and the end of August, the group saw a 48 percent jump in referrals to mental health providers and a 10 percent increase in mental health calls and virtual support sessions, compared to the previous five months. Brooks said there’s anecdotal evidence that the pandemic has made wounded warriors like amputees feel more isolated, unable to connect as well with support groups. He said injured vets have seen disruptions in medical visits for pain management and other treatments. Within the Army, Helis said the virus has forced an increase in telehealth calls and online visits with mental health providers. That has generated some positive results, such as fewer missed appointments. “And we also think there was a reduction in the stigma of seeking behavioral health because you can do it from the privacy of your home,” he said. Military leaders also are encouraging troops to keep a closer eye on their buddies and ensure that those who need help get it. That message was conveyed in a remarkable public statement this month by Gen. John Hyten, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He said he sought help while heading U.S. Strategic Command from 2016 to 2019. He didn’t reveal details but said he saw a psychiatrist — a rare public admission by a senior officer. “I felt like I needed to get some help,” Hyten said in a video message. “I felt like I needed to talk to somebody.” He encouraged others to do the same, if needed, without fear of hurting their career. Need help? Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255) Military veterans press 1. Individuals can also go to: https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/talk-to-someone-now and veterans can go to woundedwarriorproject.org or call the project’s resource center at: 888-997-2586.

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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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Pope endorses civil union laws for same-sex couples

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{CNN.VideoPlayer.handleMobilePinnedPlayerStates(containerId, paused);}},onContentMetadata: function (containerId, playerId, metadata, contentId, duration, width, height) {var endSlateLen = jQuery(document.getElementById(containerId)).parent().find(‘.js-video__end-slate’).eq(0).length;CNN.VideoSourceUtils.updateSource(containerId, metadata);if (endSlateLen > 0) {videoEndSlateImpl.fetchAndShowRecommendedVideos(metadata);}},onAdPlay: function (containerId, cvpId, token, mode, id, duration, blockId, adType) {/* Dismissing the pinnedPlayer if another video players plays an Ad */CNN.VideoPlayer.dismissMobilePinnedPlayer(containerId);clearTimeout(moveToNextTimeout);CNN.VideoPlayer.hideSpinner(containerId);if (Modernizr && !Modernizr.phone && !Modernizr.mobile && !Modernizr.tablet) {if (typeof videoPinner !== ‘undefined’ && videoPinner !== null) {videoPinner.setIsPlaying(true);videoPinner.animateDown();}}},onAdPause: function (containerId, playerId, token, mode, id, duration, blockId, adType, instance, isAdPause) {if (mobilePinnedView) {CNN.VideoPlayer.handleMobilePinnedPlayerStates(containerId, isAdPause);}},onTrackingFullscreen: function (containerId, PlayerId, dataObj) {CNN.VideoPlayer.handleFullscreenChange(containerId, dataObj);if (mobilePinnedView &&typeof dataObj === ‘object’ &&FAVE.Utils.os === ‘iOS’ && !dataObj.fullscreen) {jQuery(document).scrollTop(mobilePinnedView.getScrollPosition());playerInstance.hideUI();}},onContentPlay: function (containerId, cvpId, event) {var playerInstance,prevVideoId;if (CNN.companion && typeof CNN.companion.updateCompanionLayout === ‘function’) {CNN.companion.updateCompanionLayout(‘restoreEpicAds’);}clearTimeout(moveToNextTimeout);CNN.VideoPlayer.hideSpinner(containerId);if (Modernizr && !Modernizr.phone && !Modernizr.mobile && !Modernizr.tablet) {if (typeof videoPinner !== ‘undefined’ && videoPinner !== null) {videoPinner.setIsPlaying(true);videoPinner.animateDown();}}},onContentReplayRequest: function (containerId, cvpId, contentId) {if (Modernizr && !Modernizr.phone && !Modernizr.mobile && !Modernizr.tablet) {if (typeof videoPinner !== ‘undefined’ && videoPinner !== null) {videoPinner.setIsPlaying(true);var $endSlate = jQuery(document.getElementById(containerId)).parent().find(‘.js-video__end-slate’).eq(0);if ($endSlate.length > 0) {$endSlate.removeClass(‘video__end-slate–active’).addClass(‘video__end-slate–inactive’);}}}},onContentBegin: function (containerId, cvpId, contentId) {if (mobilePinnedView) {mobilePinnedView.enable();}/* Dismissing the pinnedPlayer if another video players plays a video. */CNN.VideoPlayer.dismissMobilePinnedPlayer(containerId);CNN.VideoPlayer.mutePlayer(containerId);if (CNN.companion && typeof CNN.companion.updateCompanionLayout === ‘function’) {CNN.companion.updateCompanionLayout(‘removeEpicAds’);}CNN.VideoPlayer.hideSpinner(containerId);clearTimeout(moveToNextTimeout);CNN.VideoSourceUtils.clearSource(containerId);jQuery(document).triggerVideoContentStarted();},onContentComplete: function (containerId, cvpId, contentId) {if (CNN.companion && typeof CNN.companion.updateCompanionLayout === ‘function’) {CNN.companion.updateCompanionLayout(‘restoreFreewheel’);}navigateToNextVideo(contentId, containerId);},onContentEnd: function (containerId, cvpId, contentId) {if (Modernizr && !Modernizr.phone && !Modernizr.mobile && !Modernizr.tablet) {if (typeof videoPinner !== ‘undefined’ && videoPinner !== null) {videoPinner.setIsPlaying(false);}}},onCVPVisibilityChange: function (containerId, cvpId, visible) {CNN.VideoPlayer.handleAdOnCVPVisibilityChange(containerId, visible);}};if (typeof configObj.context !== ‘string’ || configObj.context.length 0) {configObj.adsection = window.ssid;}CNN.autoPlayVideoExist = (CNN.autoPlayVideoExist === true) ? true : false;CNN.VideoPlayer.getLibrary(configObj, callbackObj, isLivePlayer);});CNN.INJECTOR.scriptComplete(‘videodemanddust’);

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