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F 1


the ethical

dilemma of


Hello everyone,Surviving an eight-hour flight in the wheel well of anaeroplane; making a living as a Disney influencer; beingeighteen and already making a fortune in crime. Theseare just a few of the unbelievable (but true) stories in thisissue of WaspReporter Magazine. But there is more! Korean pop music is becoming increasingly popular.Fans love the upbeat tunes (who doesn't remember Psy's'Gangnam Style'?), and the artists are both memes andicons. But there's a darker side to this phenomenon, as youcan read in 'The K-pop cover-up' on pages 12-13. After therecent deaths of two leading stars, is the multibillion-dollarKorean-pop music bubble about to pop? Have you ever heard of drone racing? It is a type ofsport where players pilot small radio-controlled dronesthat have cameras mounted on them. Both participantsand spectators can view a live stream camera feed fromthe drones by wearing head-mounted displays, whichmakes it possible to fly or follow the race as if being inthe aircraft itself. This 'Sport of the future' (pp. 14-15)is by no means a niche pastime any more. All over theworld championships are being organised and someplayers have managed to make a living as professionaldrone racers. Another article that you shouldn't miss is 'Thenuclear football' (pp. 16-17). The football refers to aninconspicuous leather satchel that always accompaniesthe American president. It contains the US nuclear codesthat give the president the ability to start a devastatingnuclear war within minutes. Ask yourself this: would yoube able to give the orders and send human civilisationback to the Stone Age?

####### 3 A narrow escape

####### 6 Atmythinnest

####### 8 My family's secret

####### 10 The Mouse whisperers

####### 12 The K-pop cover-up

####### 14 Sport of the future

####### 16 The nuclear football

####### 18 Obsessing over Mars

####### 20 Six grand and a Rolex

####### 22 Forbidden medicine

####### 24 Terrorist finishing school

####### 26 Malcolm and Martin

Q Scan the QR codes to access the audio files.Johan GrausEditorFor this interview, Sheila has interviewed Ali, who works as an expert decoratorbut turns out to have had a couple of very different jobs.

situation. I thought about my125 parents and my girlfriend, MariaEsther, and wondered what theywould think when they learnedwhat I had done.My father was a plumber, and130 I had four brothers and a sister.We were poor, like most Cubans.Our house in Havana had just onelarge room. Food was hard to comeby. About the only fun I had was135 playing baseball and walking withMaria Esther along the seawall.When I turned 16, the governmentshipped me off to vocational schoolin Betancourt, a sugarcane village140 in Matanzas Province. There, I wassupposed to learn welding, butclasses were often interrupted tosend us off to plant cane.Young as I was, I was tired of145 living in a state that controlledlanding position. I held on fordear life, swinging over the abyss,wondering whether I had been75 spotted, whether the plane wasturning back to hand me over toCastro's police.A small problemBy the time the wheels beganso coming up again, I had seen abit of extra space among all themachinery where I could safely stay.After a few minutes, I touched oneof the tyres and found that it had85 cooled off. I swallowed some aspirintablets against the head-splittingnoise and began to wish that I hadworn something warmer than mylight sport shirt and loose-fitting90 trousers.Up in the co*ckpit, CaptainValentin Vara del Rey had settledinto the routine of the overnightflight, which would last eight95 hours and 20 minutes. Take-offhad been normal, with the aircraftand its 147 passengers, plus acrew of ten, lifting off at 170 mph.But right after lift-off, something100 unusual had happened. A light onthe instrument panel had stayedon, showing there was somethingwrong with the landing gear. 'Areyou having difficulty?' the control105 tower asked. 'Yes,' answered Varadel Rey. 'The right wheel hasn'tclosed properly. I'll repeat theprocedure.'The captain lowered the landing110 gear, then raised it again. This time,the red light went out. Believingthe incident was just a small error,the captain turned his attention toclimbing to the assigned cruisingt»5 altitude. When levelling out theplane, he saw that the temperatureoutside was 41 degrees below zero.Life in CubaShivering uncontrollably from the120 bitter cold, I wondered if Jorge hadmade it into the other wheel well.I also began thinking about whathad brought me to this hopelesseveryone's life. I dreamed offreedom. I wanted to become anartist and live in the United States,where I had an uncle. I knew that150 thousands of Cubans had gottento America and done well there. Asthe time approached when I wouldbe drafted, I had thought moreand more of trying to get away. But755 how?Making plansI knew that two planeloads ofpeople were allowed to leaveHavana for Miami each day, but160 there was a waiting list of 800,4 VJK number 3 • volume 19

for these flights. Also, if you signedup to leave, the government lookedat you as a gusano - a worm - andlife became even less bearable.165 My hopes seemed pointless.Then I met Jorge at a Havanabaseball game. We got talking andI found out that Jorge, like me, wasnot happy with hls life in Cuba. 'The170 system takes away your freedom -forever,' he complained.Jorge told me about the weeklyflight to Madrid. Twice we went tothe airport to have a look. Once,/75 a DC-8 took off and flew directlyover us; the wheels were still down,and we could see into the wellcompartments. 'There's enoughroom in there for me,' I rememberiso saying.These were my thoughts as Ilay in the freezing darkness morethan five miles above the AtlanticOcean. By now we had been in185 the air for about an hour, and I wasgetting light-headed. Was it reallyonly a few hours earlier that I hadcycled through the rain with Jorgeand hidden in the grass? Was Jorge190 safe? My parents? Maria Esther? Idrifted into unconsciousness.A perfect landingThe sun rosé over the Atlantic likea great golden globe, as Iberia's195 DC-8 crossed the European coasthigh over Portugal. With the endof the 5,563-mile flight in sight,Captain Vara del Rey began hisdescent toward Madrid's Barajas200 Airport. Arrival would be at 8 a.local time, he told his passengersover the intercom, and the weatherin Madrid was sunny and pleasant.Shortly after passing over205 Toledo, Vara del Rey let down hislanding gear. As the wheels hit thewind a 200 mph turbulence flowedthrough the wheel wells. Now theplane went into its final approach210 - a spurt of flame and smoke fromthe tyres as the DC-8 toucheddown at about 140 mph. It was aperfect landing - no bumps. Aftera brief post-flight check, Vara del215 Rey exited the plane and stood byits nose waiting for a car to piek himup, along with his crew.Nearby, there was a sudden,soft plop as the frozen body of220 Armando Socarras Ramirez feilto the concrete surface beneaththe plane. José Rocha Lorenzana,a security guard, was the first toreach the body. 'When I touched his225 clothes, they were frozen as stiff aswood,' Rocha Lorenzana said. 'Allhe did was make a strange sound, akind of moan.'

My temperature
was so low that it did
not even register on
the thermometer

'I couldn't believe it at first,'230 Vara del Rey said. 'But then I wentover to see him. He had ice over hisnose and mouth. And his colour...'As he watched the unconsciousboy being carried into a truck, the235 captain kept saying to himself,'Impossible! Impossible!'No regretsThe first thing I remember afterlosing consciousness was hitting240 the ground at the Madrid airport.Then I blacked out again and wokeup later at the Gran Hospital de laBeneficencia in downtown Madrid,more dead than alive. When they245 took my temperature, it was solow that it did not even register onthe thermometer. 'Am I in Spain?'was my first question. And then,'Where's Jorge?' But Jorge hadn't250 been on the plane.Doctors said later that mycondition was similar to that of apatiënt undergoing 'deep freeze'surgery - a delicate process255 performed only under carefullycontrolled conditions. Dr JoséMaria Pajares, who cared for me,called my survival a medical miracle,and I feit lucky to be alive.260 A few days after my escape,I was up and around the hospital,playing cards with my police guardand reading stacks of letters fromall over the world. I especially265 liked one from a girl in California.'You are a hero,' she wrote, 'butnot very wise.' My uncle, wholived in New Jersey, telephonedand invited me to come live with270 him. The International RescueCommittee arranged my passageand continued to help me.I made it, but I often think ofmy friend Jorge. We both knew the275 risk we were taking and that wemight be killed in our attempt toescape Cuba. But it seemed worththe chance. Even knowing the risks,I would try to escape again if I had280 to. «Vjl?- number 3 • volume 19

55 me 'slu*t'. I refused to go back to school after that. I didn't teil my mum about the assault, so she was confused and upset. We started arguing a lot, andso over the next two years I feil intoa serious depression, hardly everleaving the house. It meant that Ihad so much more time to look atmy body in the mirror, and hourses and hours to work out.I didn't think I had an eatingdisorder. My body was somethingto focus on at a time when I didn'twant to think about the things that70 had gone wrong. I also believedthe assault was my fault. I feit soashamed and guilty, and I thoughtif I could change my body, I couldchange my life.75 A secret lifeAfter my assault, I started lookingat thinspiration pictures on Tumblr.I looked at pictures of wrist bonesand ribs, and was motivated toso work out or purge. I could log onand see myself as 'normal', andpeople encouraged me to limit myeating. We exchanged tips on howmany calories to eat, how to purgess safely, and which laxatives to use.I used to write food items onmy mum's shopping list so shedidn't think I had a problem. So ifI asked her to buy peanut butter,90 I had a spoonful in front of herand then secretly threw it away.My mum probably thought I waseating more than I was. Still, a yearinto this unhealthy way of eating95 and exercising, she became veryconcerned and wanted me to seekhelp.Even though my mum andsister were worried, ironically,100 neighbours and family hadbegun praising me for losingweight. To the outside world, Iwas living up to the acceptablestandards of health and beauty.los If you're curvy and people seeyou getting thinner, they thinkit's great. But I was becomingunhealthier: my hair was fallingout, I had big bags under my110 eyes, I wasn't menstruating, andwould constantly get out of breath.Mentally, I had never been worse -and I feit suicidal most days.In hospitalin Mum and I would argue for hoursabout me going to see a therapistor going back to school, but I stillcouldn't face either. Then, whenI was 17, I swallowed two bottles120 of sleeping pills. My sister foundme in the bathroom and calledan ambulance. I spent two daysin the hospital and met mental-health professionals who, instead125 of being helpful, were unkind. Theyconstantly asked questions and toldme I was too young to be 'sad'.I feit so helpless. I thoughtthat my eating disorder gave me130 some kind of control over my life,but when I woke up in hospital,I realised l'd lost all control. Thedoctors said if I didn't go back toschool, l'd have to take classes135 there. Even after just two days, Iknew I didn't want to be back in thehospital ever again.But it was seeing my sister -who is normally very unemotional140 - look so shaky and scared forme that made me snap out ofmy mindset. l'd thought aboutnothing but my depression andbody for years, but during that145 first overwhelming night, I startedthinking about her and her feelings

  • and the future. In that momentI knew I had to change the way Iwas living. I looked up new schools150 and booked an appointment with atherapist straight away.Change of mindsetTherapy was scary because I hadto talk about my assault. But it led155 me to open up about my eatingdisorder. With my therapist's help,I slowly started letting go of someof the crazy rules I had about food,and I deleted my calorie-counting160 apps. I stopped pushing myselfto breaking point by finishingworkouts earlier each time.Slowly, I started gainingweight. At first, it feit horrifying.165 Four months after leaving thehospital, my jeans stopped fitting.My heart raced and I ran to themirror to analyse where l'd gainedthe weight. I feil back into my oldno thinking immediately and promisedto myself to exercise for hours thenext day. But instead, I decided totalk to my therapist.In 2016, I started using175 Instagram to post about my journey
  • I was inspired by how much otherpeople's posts had helped me.Shortly after, a Canadian fashionbrand offered me a modelling job180 - they wanted to showcase all bodytypes. Everyone on the shoot wasso kind. For the first time, I couldfinally appreciate how beautiful mybody was.185 Over the past two years, l'veearned my income by modellingplus-sized clothes for fashionbrands and gained over 100,followers. I feel physically healthy,190 and mentally at peace. To me,health isn't about size and weight,it's about our minds too. Sadly, Ihad to reach my lowest point inorder to start getting better. But195 now, l'm in a place where - lookingat my happy, healthy face in themirror - I realise I love myself forwho I am. Finally. «number 3 • volume 19 7


####### She was a baby when her mother, aunt, and grandmother died. But only now, nearly

####### 20 years on, has Lowe discovered the terrible reality about her parents' relationship

/ Tasnim Lowe was 16 months old when she was found under the apple tree where her father had left her,wrapped in a blanket. Behind her, the house in Telford,Shropshire, where her mother, aunt, and grandparents5 lived was on fire and would soon be totally destroyed.Her 16-year-old mother, Lucy, who was pregnant again,her 17-year-old aunt, Sarah, and their mother, Linda,were killed. Lowe's grandfather, George, managed toescape.10 The following year, 2001, Lowe's father, Azhar AliMehmood, was convicted of three charges of murderand one of attempted murder. Eighteen years on, he isseeking parole.The case - and Lowe's efforts to understand why her15 father committed such a crime - is now the subject of aBBC film. Made over more than a year, the documentaryfollows Lowe as she uncovers the horrific truth about herparents' 'relationship'.BBC film20 We meet at her flat in Telford. Lowe is small and looksyounger than 20. But when she speaks, she is so forcefuland independent that she seems older. There is atiny burn scar just above her cheekbone. 'Doing thedocumentary,' she says, 'did take a toll on my mental25 health because I had to take in so much information, andprocess it... Now I can look back on what I learned andunderstand it better.'Last year, Lowe was contacted by journalist GeraldineMcKelvie, who was investigating child sexual exploitation30 (CSE) rings operating in Telford at the time Lowe's familywere killed. Lowe's mother's case seemed to fit thepattern - she was 13 when she met Mehmood, a taxidriver nearly 10 years older than her, and 14 when shebecame pregnant.35 That story led to the BBC documentary. 'Makingit,' she says, 'was good, because I wanted to know8 Vjpt. number 3 • volume 19

The Guardian

####### Disneyland has long been the holiday of a lifetime. But for some Instagrammers it's

####### also a job. Meet the influencers making a career out of blogging about Disney food,

####### Disney fashion, and Disney fun

The Mouse


By Amelia Tait? When she was living in NewYork City, AJ Wolfe would readguidebooks about Walt DisneyWorld on her way to work. Wolfe5 used the books to 'escape fromreal life'. Fifteen years later, shemakes a living doing a job thatdidn't even exist then, and manycan hardly believe exists now -10 eating sweets at the Most MagicalPlace on Earth.Since 2009, Wolfe, a motherof one from Texas, has postedpictures and food reviews ofsuccessful website, video channel,and Instagram page. She hasgathered more than 82m views20 on YouTube and has more than530,000 followers on Instagram.Like most content creators, Wolfeearns money by selling adverts andtaking sponsorships directly from25 brands. She can hardly believe it.'It's... incredible,' she says.Wolfe, 41, travels to DisneyWorld once a month. On thosedays, she gets up at 6 a., visits30 the park, tastes and takes picturesediting content. 1 A decadeago, she relied on credit cards topay for her frequent Disney trips.35 Now, she's essentially paid to go.'I like to say Disney World is theopposite of New York: perfectlycultivated happiness versus thegritty reality of the city that never40 sleeps,' she explains. 'I think that'swhy some people are obsessedwith Disney. It's such a markedescape from the worries andstresses of their day-to-day life.'45 2

Niche influencersWolfe is one of hundreds of peoplewho make a living posting Disneycontent online, and one of many50 millions who enjoy consuming it.3 We're familiar with theconcept of Instagram influencers

  • people who live perfect livesthat we love (and hate) to follow.55 But niche influencers are on therise, too. There are influencerswho only post about Harry Potterand influencers obsessed withPoundland. There are veganeo influencers, Christian influencers,kidfluencers. 'You surround yourselfwith your tribe,' Wolfe theorises ofthe trend.Over the past few years,65 marketing agencies have begunto understand the benefits of'micro influencers'. Typically, theyhave fewer followers than thetraditionally Internet famous, butzo they are valuable because theirfollowers are often more loyaland thus more likely to purchaserecommended products. 4Chelsea Watson is a Disney75 Instagrammer (@StyledByMagic;65,000 followers) whose grid isbursting with bright colours andclassic influencer shots. She poutsher lips and strikes over-the-so shoulder poses. The key differencebetween Watson, 24, and otherfamous Instagrammers is the mouseears atop Watson's head.In 2017, she and her husbandas moved to Florida from NewHampshire so Watson could pursuea Disney career full-time and shenow visits the parks 'at least twicea week'. Her posts are dedicated90 to Disney-inspired fashion andaccessories. She creates roughlythree sponsored posts a month;brands pay her to advertise theirproducts in a picture. Though she95 won't talk exact figures, this is nowher sole income. 5Disney babiesWatson has a passion for fashion.But she also has a passion for Disney.100 'Disney was such a formidable partof my generation's upbringing,' sheexplains. 'We consumed so much aswe were growing up that it made alasting impact.'105 In a prophetic essay from 1992,NYU professor David Forgacs wrotethat anyone bom after 1925 is a'Disney baby', brought up on a dietof films, stories, and merchandise110 dictated by the mouse. 'Disneybabies grow, ideally, into Disneyadults,' he wrote, arguing thatDisney adults have Disney babiesof their own. Forgacs spoke of the115 way the parks marketed nostalgiaand played with the boundariesbetween adolescent and child, inorder to profit. 'Children are a majorsource of Disney income, but only120 indirectly: it is adults who spendmoney on them,' he reminds us.Why does Watson think peoplefind her content so compelling?'I think it has a lot to do with125 the climate in general,' she says.'In today's world, people wantsomething happy and positiveto focus on. Disney really is foreveryone.' 6i3o No one in Watson's personal lifehas criticised her for being a grownadult who loves Disney, but otherDisney influencers haven't been solucky. Britt and Jared are a married135 couple from Louisiana who have32,000 followers on their DisneyInstagram and YouTube profilescombined. They both still work fulltime (Jared as a pharmacist, Britt as a140 hairstylist), though Britt has doubledher income by selling homemadeMickey Mouse ears on Instagram.'Do you ever get judged bypeople?' I ask. 'Oh my God, yeah!'745 Britt exclaims. A few years ago,when Britt worked in a bank, shesaw her colleague was swampedwith work and offered to help.'Don't you have a colouring book to150 colour?' her colleague had replied.'That's the rudest thing anybodyhas ever said to me,' says Britt.7Magie isn't the only thing the155 couple find at Disney World. Brittsays they were 'broke as a joke'before she began selling her ears.Now, if the couple have a big bill,she can open up her ear shop and160 instantly sell 40-50 pairs, which shewill make in the course of a month.But the couple say they're not justmotivated by money, they enjoy theopportunity - through their weeklyles Disney vlogs - to share the parkswith those who can't afford to visitthem in real life. 8A great escapeDo Disney influencers ever get sick170 of Disney? None of the influencersI speak to can comprehend theidea of being sick of Disney. Theirbiggest fear is that their career willsomehow dampen their love of the175 brand. 9Believe it or not, Disneyinfluencing can be difficult - there'sa pressure to always be online,multiple outfit changes in the park,180 long days, and the ever-increasingexpectations of fans. Still, as faras opportunities to earn moneygo, it seems you can hardly beatreviewing a Mickey-shaped ice-78s cream, or showing off your latestDisney accessories.Basically, these influencersallow viewers all the escapism ofa Disney holiday without the price;9o tag. 'When you go to Disney World,you forget that the world hasbecome so dark outside,' says Britt,in Louisiana. Food blogger Wolfeagrees: 'When you're at Disney795 World, you're able to escape yourstresses. And it's wonderful.' «number 3 • volume 19 11

inhumane circ*mstances behindthe scenes that push some K-pop50 performers to extremes. 'K-pop'shistory is a history of cover-ups,'says John Lie, author of K-Pop:Popular Music, Cultural Amnesia,and Economie Innovation in South55 Korea.Exposing the industry'sproblems has been almostimpossible, mainly because theperpetrators are the singers' own60 bosses. 'What makes K-pop moreexploitative in some ways is thatartists are employees,' explainsLie. All-powerful entertainmentcompanies dictate their every65 move and stars are often bound bycontracts that prevent them fromspeaking out.I would know. I reached out todozens of people in K-pop and I70 was continually ignored, ghosted,or strung along. This story almostdidn't happen. Until one artistfinally agreed to speak to me.'Many artists don't want to talk75 because they're afraid of beingblacklisted from the industry,'K-pop artist, songwriter, andYouTuber Grazy Grace told me.'But I want to speak honestly soao that others don't make the samemistakes I did.'Chasing a dreamIt all starts in the dorms. There'sreally only one way into the world«5 of K-pop: participating in oftenyears-long training programmes runby entertainment companies whosegoal is to mass-produce pop stars,exporting the better-than-perfect90 ones onto the stage.Trainees can start as youngas 11 years old. Many cram intorooms, sleeping on bunk beds orthe floor. Living away from family95 and friends, typically in Seoul, theywork 12-hour days, memorisinglyrics and dance moves, practisinguntil they don't make a mistake.All for free. 'Payment' comes inwo the form of a room and dance andvoice lessons... and sometimesnose jobs and double-eyelid lifts sowannabe stars can look the part.'It was my dream to becomews a singer,' says Grace. 'Until Irealised how bad it was mentally. Ideveloped anxiety and insomnia.I couldn't sleep for six monthsstraight. I didn't want to shareiio my feelings because I didn't wantto get cut from the company. Ithought if I looked too depressed,l'd be let go.'1 she dealt with verballis attacks whenever her voice failedher. She kept quiet through weeklyweight checks. Girls like Graceweren't allowed to gain even onequarter of a pound, she says.120 'You kind of lose who you are,'says Grace. And that's not byaccident. Some trainees' roomsare monitored by closed-circuitcameras, and mobile phones are125 frequently checked by managers.Social-media posts, too, mustoften be approved. Part of this isto make sure there's no interactionwith a trainee of the opposite sex.130 Romantic relationships could resultin termination of contracts - evenactual K-pop Idols, as those who'make it' are called, are oftencontractually barred from dating for135 the first few years of their career inorder to appear available.And once you're in, you'rein. Some trainees sign contractsthat say that if they quit, they140 have to pay back everything theprogramme invested in them.Depending on the company, thatcan end up being tens of thousandsof dollars.145 Most won't though. Gracedidn't. After three years of unpaidwork, the company let her go.For those fortunate enough toreach Idol status, things seldom150 get better. While K-pop concertssell out in minutes, some artistscan't even afford to buy a friend aback-row ticket to their own shows.2 profiteering from pop stars155 is hardly a new thing, it's especiallyintense in K-pop. 'Companies aretrying to maximise profits in ashort amount of time,' says K-popexpert Hye Jin Lee, a professorwo at USC's Annenberg School forCommunication and Journalism.'The career lifespan of an Idol isvery short.' Few make it to 30 withtheir career intact.ws Hope for changeAdd it all up and it's clear thatthe deaths of stars like Hara andSulli aren't just sad tragedies butdire warnings. Many K-pop starsno have reached rock bottom when itcomes to their mental health, andthey need help. Yet in an image-obsessed industry, in a countrywhere talking about mental health175 is taboo, few are likely to get it.There are signs things arestarting to change. Some would-beIdols are starting to shape their owncareer paths through social media.wo 'It's easier to be independent nowthan it was before,' says Grace,who, over the past three years,has slowly built an audience ofmore than 200,000 subscribers onws YouTube.And while talking about mentalhealth has long been consideredtaboo, more and more stars arestarting to do it anyway. Likewo K-pop artist Taeyeon, of Girls'Generation, who opened up to fanson Instagram about how she's beentaking antidepressants.'As more K-pop artists talk195 about their issues, the companieswill start realising that they need todo something,' says Lie. 'Dramaticchanges might not happen in ashort period of time, but there will200 be changes.'Here's one: BTS were recentlygiven some time off for a longholiday - for the first time in sixyears. Hopefully this is the beginning205 of a reform that will change theindustry for the better. «number 3 • volume 19 13

the future

####### Tearing through a stadium in high-speed chase, racer drones give speed junkies an

####### unparalleled rush and add a whole new and exciting dimension to the sport of racing

i Night has fallen at Hard Rock Stadium, home of the Miami Dolphins. Glowing a ghostly green, a gate rises from the empty stands in clouds of fog, creating an atmosphere like a scene from a science fiction movie.5 The stadium seems almost empty, and yet there is realexcitement in the air, which is suddenly filled with thesound of high-pitched engines. Six flashes of light areracing toward the gate: they are the LEDs of the racingdrones. As the unmanned vehicles pass through the10 gate, they change direction in a fraction of a second andvanish in the neon-lit hallways of the stadium.But one of the drones doesn't make it. First there'sa bang, followed by a hail of broken lighting tubes anddrone fragments hitting the ground. The sound of the15 other five drones begins to fade away as they continuetheir high-speed race inside the huge stadium. Swearing,Ken Loo tears his goggles from his face as he sees hiscrashed drone. 'What I really love about drones is thefeeling of flying,' he explains. 'I feel like l'm in the co*ckpit20 of an aircraft.' The crash has brought him back to realityin a brutal manner. Loo is a hardcore drone racer, buthe's had to learn the hard way what an unforgiving sportit is.The best year for drone racing so far was 2020, but25 2021 is expected to be even better. Several investorsnow support the sport, and TV networks worldwide havebought the rights to broadcast the events sponsored bythe Drone Racing League (DRL). When the 2019-World Championship Season began in August with round30 one at Miami's Hard Rock Stadium, it was broadcast onNBC and NBC Sports as well as Twitter. But what makesthe sport so special, and how difficult is it to control aracing drone?Incredible skill35 In contrast with participants in other racing sports, droneracers have to avoid competitors not only to the left andright but also above and below. 'The skill of the pilots isincredible,' says Ben Johnson, spokesman for the DRL.'In combination with the incredibly complex courses, that40 skill makes the experience really stand apart.' Despitethe many tough obstacles they must avoid, racingdrones can reach a top speed of 163 miles per houron the generally circular courses. Things are particularlyspectacular when races are held at night and the high-4s speed spectacle gets exceptionally thrilling.The drone pilots wear head-mounted displays,usually goggles, that make it possible to fly the race asthough they were in the aircraft. The devices are calledfirst-person-view goggles, usually abbreviated to FPV.14 number 3 • volume 19

####### It has an inconspicuous black leather exterior, a weight of about 45 pounds, and it's

####### always within reach of the US president. Nicknamed the 'nuclear football', it has the

####### potential to annihilate civilisation. And it's surprisingly easy to use...

i Whenever the president of the United States leaves the White House, he is shadowed by one offive aides. Drawn from each branch5 of the military, they hold a rank of major or higher, and they hold thefate of the world in their hands inthe form of the 'nuclear football'

  • a briefcase that's contained inio a black leather 'jacket', lts officialappellation is the 'president'semergency satchel' and it gives himthe ability to obliterate his enemies.On the day he or she is sworn15 into office, the US presidentreceives the world's most powerfulciphers. Called the Gold Codes,they are printed on a plastic cardsimilar to a credit card that is20 known as the 'biscuit'. They allowthe president to identify himself asthe authorised user of the football.Presidents carry the biscuit on theirperson day and night.25 In contrast to numerouscharacterisations by Hollywood,the football does not contain a'big red button'. The contentsare designed to identify the30 holder as an authorised user andto communicate with the JointChiefs of Staff and the NationalMilitary Command Centre. Insidethe football, the president would35 see a number of military optionswith pre-set war plans for choosingtargets and setting objectives, from'selective destruction' to full-scaleattack. Former senior military40 aide Colonel Buzz Patterson hascompared the documents to themenu of a fast-food restaurant:'It's like picking one from ColumnA and two from Column B,' he45 says. Moscow plus Pyongyang andTehran, for example.No separation of powersWashington, DC, January 20,2021: On Inauguration Day, there50 was a transfer of power from theoutgoing president, Donald Trump,to his successor. At the same time,a black briefcase officially changed16 VJK number 3 • volume 19

hands: the 'nuclear football', which55 contains the codes that give thecommander in chief the ability tosend human civilisation back to theStone Age. From that moment on,Joe Biden had the power to order60 the deaths of hundreds of millionsof people. If the president were toorder a nuclear strike, there wouldbe no separation of powers - novote in Congress, no veto from65 America's generals: it would takeabout as much time to trigger anuclear holocaust as it takes totweet a message from the WhiteHouse.70 If America were really beingattacked with rocket-borne nuclearweapons, there would be no timeto waste. The president would haveto quickly decide whether he trusts75 the technology and judgement ofhis intelligence services and thenrespond immediately to protect theAmerican people.Cuban crisis80 The psychological pressure ofcalling a nuclear war is very hardto imagine, but President JohnF. Kennedy got to experiencesome of the high drama in the fallas of 1962. That year, in the earlymorning of October 16, America's35th president was shown imagesof Soviet missile bases that werenearing completion on the nearby90 island of Cuba. Armed with nuclearmissiles, Cuba would've had theability to destroy America's capitalcity and most of its importantindustrial cities in a matter ofos minutes. The Cuban Missile Crisiswas the hottest moment of theCold War - and it also markedthe birth of the nuclear football.Although the US had a huge100 advantage in terms of the numberof nuclear warheads and the meansof delivering them, the full-scaleuse of these weapons could lead tothe annihilation of both the attackerW5 and the defender.Tensions continued to rise, anda week after the Cuban MissileCrisis began, the alert level of theStrategie Air Command, which is110 responsible for the nation's nuclearair defences, was raised to thehighest level - for the only time inour history. That put 3,000 nuclearweapons on alert, readying the total115 power of 7,000 megatons - roughly450,000 times the energy of theatomic bomb that was dropped onHiroshima. Coming that close tothe very brink of nuclear war led120 to a rethinking of weapons controland the invention of the nuclearfootball. Luckily, an all-out nuclearwar was averted through diplomacy.But even today, if the American125 president decides to use nuclearweapons, the first launch couldcome just minutes later...The apocalypse: a reviewOnce the president has successfully130 identified himself, there is a briefauthentication by the Pentagonbefore an encrypted message ofsome 150 characters (about half thelength of a tweet) gets transmitted135 through the Nuclear Commandand Control System. This messagespecifies the prescribed plan of

Hundreds of warheads

Nuclear weapons travel to their targets aboard either a bomber ora missile. Airports and missile silos are immovable targets and thusvulnerable to an attack. Therefore, the majority of America's nuclear185 arsenal is carried aboard nuclear-powered submarines on the world'sseas. The US Navy has 14 ballistic missile submarines and fourcruise missile submarines. Extremely quiet, they are very hard for anenemy to detect. Together, they carry hundreds of warheads. Thesesubmarines fire their missiles from a depth of around 165 feet. A190 small motor propels the missile from the sub. Then a series of threedifferent propulsion systems take over, each one being jettisonedbefore the next one ignites. The third-stage motor is ejected as themissile reaches its target area.


While the 45-pound briefcase never leavesthe president's side, the codes got lostfor several months during the Clinton175 administration. The incident was revealedyears later when former Chairman of theJoint Chiefs of Staff Henry H. Sheltonmentioned it in his autobiography. Hadcodes fallen into the wrong hands, the180 world might be a very different place today.action as well as its timing and alsosupplies the codes to unlock and140 launch the missiles and warheads.Procedures are in place to ensurethe message will reach all forces,even under the most extreme ofcirc*mstances.145 The president's order to attackhas to be verified by the secretaryof defence, but the secretary hasno veto power and must complywith the order. Should he or she150 refuse to take action, the presidentis able to issue the order to a morecompliant person. At the end ofthe chain of command the order tolaunch is authenticated by at leasti5s two people using codes that arestored in a safe. An intercontinentalballistic missile launch requires fourpeople to turn keys simultaneously.The launch of submarine ballistic160 missiles also requires participationof four people: the submarine'scaptain, navigation officer, missileofficer, and launch-control officer.Once the missiles are launched,165 there is no going back. The sheerpower of a submarine missileenables it to reach 20 times thespeed of sound in less than twominutes. That's faster than any170 football. «number 3 • volume 19 17

65 that absorbs harmful ultraviolet radiation from the Sun. 'We used to willy-nilly just pump them into Earth's atmosphere, because why not, until we realised - by looking at Venus - that these chlorofluorocarbons had a very direct implication for the ozone contentzo in the atmosphere,' Hammel told me. In the '90s, US environmental agencies banned the use of these chemicals. Venus might carry other lessons for Earth. It used to be a pleasant and hospitable place before its75 atmosphere swelled with enough heat-trapping gasesthat its water boiled away. Scientists don't think climatechange will push Earth to this brink, but Venus is areminder that we shouldn't take our planet's atmospherefor granted.so Venus is hot enough to melt lead, and engineers haven't yet perfected hardware that could withstandthe planet's scorching environment. Driving on Marsis a breeze in comparison, and rover missions therecould be the key to discovering whether life has everas arisen somewhere else in the solar system. The surfaceof Mars hasn't changed much in the few billion yearssince the planet lost its atmosphere and, with it, thewatery conditions that would make life possible. ThePerseverance rover, when it touches down on Mars in90 February, will search for signs of ancient microbial lifepreserved in rocky formations moulded by long-gonelakes and rivers.But to investigate whether life exists anywhere else inthe solar system right now, Mars is probably the wrong95 place to look. In fact, the best candidates for this kindof search aren't planets at all. They're moons. There'sJupiter's Europa, and Saturn's Enceladus, and Neptune'sTriton - all shiny, ice-covered worlds that probablyharbour liquid oceans in their depths. And there's Titan,wo the only spot in the solar system besides Earth whereliquid rains down from clouds and fills lakes and streamson the surface.Practical preferencesThese moons, however, would take nearly a decade to105 reach. The journey to Mars takes a comparatively pleasantsix months. And if the goal of exploring Mars is not just tolearn more about Earth or search for alien life but to sendpeople there someday, it makes perfect sense to deploymany robotic missions to scope out the place and test110 the technology. Other planets and moons are fascinatingtargets, with the potential to answer some of humankind'soldest existential questions. But they are harder sells inthe face of some of our most intriguing daydreams andambitions: an outpost on the moon, or a community on115 Mars. People are partial to worlds with surfaces they canactually set foot on, and the ice giants have none.Perhaps the most compelling argument for payingmore attention to other worlds in the solar system,Mars or otherwise, is that they are the only ones we120 can conceivably visit. Astronomers have discoveredthousands of exoplanets in the past quarter century,and they have begun studying some of them in detail,searching for indicators of life within the molecules oftheir atmospheres. But reaching the nearest exoplanet125 would take tens of thousands of years.Science fiction isn't necessary to imagine whatscientists and engineers could reasonably do in our owncosmic backyard, and in our lifetimes. They certainlywould need bigger budgets and more political will from130 governments - and these decision makers usually wouldrather go to the moon or Mars. But imagine a boat onTitan that could sail the methane seas, smooth as glass.A spacecraft plunging through Venus's sulfuric clouds,or circling Jupiter's moon lo, the most volcanically135 active place in the solar system. A probe that peers intoUranus's dense atmosphere, the colour of pale turquoise,and examines its moons too. Did you even know thatUranus has moons? And that one of them is namedMiranda? Mars isn't our only neighbour in the solar140 system worth getting to know. «VjR. number 3 • volume 19

AUDIO The Observer

####### As hacking gangs use more and more young

Six grand and a Rolex

####### fixers tor their Internet scams, one 1 8-year-old

####### reveals how he and his friends made a fortune

1 Like most 1 8-year-olds, Carlos is never far from his phone, using it to catch up on his social mediafeeds and scroll through friends'5 pictures. Unlike most teenagersthough, he posted photographsdepicting a level of affluenceunlikely for someone who leftschool after GCSEs and is now10 a junior employee at a centralLondon restaurant. The picturesshowed a life of excess - Carlosand his friends holding wads ofcash, clad in designer clothes,15 Rolex watches on their wrists,and driving around London in aMercedes.But the truth behind thephotographs was that this20 prosperous-looking lifestyle wasfunded by a very modern crime.The teenagers were all involvedin cyber fraud, acting as fixers foronline hackers who would deploy25 them either as 'money mules' -using their bank details to shiftmoney in elaborate frauds - or forconvincing others to hand overtheir details for use in the scams.30 Criminal gangsThe frauds are everyday andcommonplace, and cost banks andconsumers hundreds of millions ofpounds. People are persuaded, via35 a threatening text message, that,for example, they owe money tothe taxman. Or they might be toldthey risk being convicted of a crimethey know nothing about if they40 don't pay a fine.Behind these frauds areindividuals and gangs based inBritain and abroad; they often useequipment and techniques bought45 from the dark web - part of theInternet that can only be accessedwith clandestine software. 'I knowpeople who do this in Liverpool andothers in Manchester,' said Carlos.50 'It has to be everywhere in thecountry.'Now 18, Carlos started at 15 asa 'middle', working for an Internethacker to recruit gang members55 and ensure discipline among them.For a teenager, the amounts heearned were extraordinary. In hisbest week, he took home £6,000,money he had to conceal from his60 family, but flashed about on socialmedia as a way to encourage otherteenagers to join up.For the hackers at the topof the pyramid, the rewards are65 even greater. Carlos and his peersearned about 40 per cent of whatwas stolen in the frauds while their'boss' took home the rest. Thehackers are frequently part of muchzo wider criminal gangs which usethe frauds as just another incomestream.Authorised push paymentThe scale of cybercrime has75 ballooned in recent years. Thelatest data from UK Finance, the20 VJK number 3 • volume 19

3rd semester - WASP Reporter - PRO F 1 medicine the ethical dilemma of forbiddeim Hello everyone, - Studeersnel (2024)
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