Rheinmetall and Steyr Mannlicher offer new RS556 assault rifle system

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

2017-01-11_RS556_assault rifle system_page3_image1January 2017: Two of Europe's most respected defense companies, Rheinmetall and Steyr Mannlicher, have joined forces to manufacture and market the RS556 modular assault rifle. This German-Austrian cooperation project adds a key item to Rheinmetall's growing array of infantry products.

The RS556 is based on the highly regarded STM556, which Steyr Mannlicher first unveiled in 2012. Outstanding modularity characterizes this easy-to-use, future-proof 5.56mm x 45 cal. weapon.

Rheinmetall and Steyr Mannlicher are offering the RS556 assault rifle as a jointly produced product, made in Germany, with a German valued added share of 60%. Among other things, the two partners thus have their sights set on the German market. This innovative weapon is a possible candidate for the new “System Sturmgewehr Bundeswehr”: the German armed forces intend to replace their standard G36 assault rifle with a more advanced system starting in 2019.

2017-01-11_RS556_assault rifle system_page3_image5Rheinmetall and Steyr Mannlicher each have well over a century of experience in developing and manufacturing infantry weapons. The RS556 project underscores both companies' commitment to supplying military and security services around the globe with reliable, future-proof, state-of-the-art systems and equipment.

Featuring an adjustable short-stroke gas piston system and rotating bolt, the gas-operated RS556 is based on the tried-and-tested Steyr Mannlicher AUG, or Universal Army Rifle, a design concept that has proven itself in decades of service on every continent.

With a 16” barrel (406 mm) and a fully loaded, 30-round magazine, the RS556 weighs around 4.2 kilograms, just over 9 pounds. The adjustable-length light-weight stock clicks into seven different positions, meaning that operators can adjust the RS556 to match their individual equipment profile in optimum fashion.

In a matter of seconds and without tools, the hammer-forged barrel can be easily exchanged. This means that the RS556 can be readily modified for various missions. A number of standard barrel lengths are available (14.5”, 16”, 18” and 20”); however, customer-specific barrel and rifling lengths can be easily created.

The RS556 features several standard and optional NATO accessory rails with receiver systems designed in accordance with MIL-STD-1913, STANAG 2324 and STANAG 4694. This means that the weapon can be fitted with various optics and night observation devices or laser light modules. A 40mm grenade launcher can also be mounted on the new assault rifle. Moreover, the RS556 is compatible with Rheinmetall's modular “Future Soldier – Expanded System” (IdZ-ES), and can also be connected to other soldier systems.

A special breech system with an emergency operation feature ensures that the weapon always functions reliably even in extreme operating conditions, e.g. in severely hot and cold environments.

Founded in 1889, the Rheinmetall Group is a tech enterprise specializing in mobility and security. Consisting of three divisions – Vehicle Systems, Electronic Solutions and Weapon and Ammunition – the Group's Defense arm is one of the world's foremost defense technology makers, supplying a wide array of advanced military equipment: from vehicle, protection and weapon systems to infantry equipment and air defense solutions to networked target engagement sequences and electro-optics and simulation technology. In the small arms domain, Rheinmetall has produced such renowned products as the G3 assault rifle and the MG3 machine gun.

Established in 1864, Austria's Steyr Mannlicher has long been one of the great names in the European small arms sector. The company's many technical achievements include the Werndl-Holub breechloading rifle, the Mannlicher straight-pull bolt-action rifle with en bloc clip, and the SSG69 sniper rifle. The Steyr AUG bullpup system is used by at least 37 nations worldwide. As the standard rifle of military organizations ranging from the Austrian Army to the Australian Forces, it has proven extremely effective in all climate zones. In addition, Steyr Mannlicher supplies modern sniper rifles such as the SSG08, the SSG Carbon and the .50 cal. BMG HS50M1. Likewise meriting special mention is the company's GL40 40mm grenade launcher, which can be used in build-on or standalone mode.

It is just such a shame that Germany (and Austria, in this case), as well as the UK and the USA (OK, I guess the Russian Federation does too) concentrate so much effort in designing killing tools rather than producing things that help humanity to survive the many other challenges. Do we really want to have arms production and arms exports to be what keeps the economy going?

And, obviously, in order for this to function the governments must keep creating phoney wars and threats ad infinitum. Where else would the arms industry be were it not for conflicts and wars, often caused by our governments' actions and interference?

© 2017

Nottinghamshire farmer plants 'edible woodland'

David Rose with Shona Martin of the Woodland Trust and some of the fruit that Home Farm will grow. Picture:  Toby Roberts/WTML

An array of locally-grown fruit will be added to the menu in Nottinghamshire following the planting of an "edible woodland" by a dedicated farmer in partnership with the Woodland Trust.

David Rose is turning six-and a half hectares of arable land at Home Farm, Screveton, by planting more than 4,000 fruit and nut trees. The hard work was done last month when volunteers turned up at the progressive farm to plant the young trees and bushes.

Fruit species include apples, pears, cherry, wild cherry, plum, currants, gooseberry, raspberry, damson, whitebeam, elder, mulberry, wild service tree, apricot, quince, lime, Japanese silverberry, rowan, dog rose, sea buckthorn, medlar, hawthorn and crab apple.

The fruit should be available from the farm and local greengrocers after five years. The nut trees should be producing sweet chestnuts, walnuts, hazels and almonds after ten years.

David said: "Farming is going through such changes and there needs to be a way that smaller or medium sized farms can have an opportunity to have a sustainable business.

"I believe that agro-forestry gives that opportunity to produce food in a way that maximises the potential of every acre.

Read more here.

With Housing Costs Sky-High, the Commune Makes a Comeback


Several years ago Aurora DeMarco, 53, was having health problems. The divorced masseuse and hospice care provider was stressed, depressed, and overwhelmed by all the upkeep of her three-bedroom condo in the tony Brooklyn neighborhood of Park Slope, known for its majestic brownstones and trendy boutiques. And she hated that simply meeting a friend in one of the nearby artisanal coffee shops had become “astronomically expensive.”

“Life was a grind,” says DeMarco. “It was a lot of money, time, and effort to maintain that lifestyle.”

So two years ago, DeMarco left it all behind.

In the glorious ’60s, we might have said that she turned on, tuned in, and dropped out. Or maybe we’d just cut to the chase and say that she joined a commune. In fact, DeMarco did the modern-day equivalent: She joined “an intentional community,” a group-living arrangement that in some ways harks back to the heyday of hippies. It’s becoming an increasingly popular lifestyle choice for more mainstream residents as rents, home prices, and the cost of living just keep rising.

She now pays $810 a month for her own room in a 10-bedroom house in New York City’s Staten Island as part of the Ganas community. The 75-member group is spread out over eight buildings in the neighborhood. And the best part for DeMarco, who still works outside the community, is everyone shares in the burden of cooking and other daily chores.

“I feel like I have a support network,” DeMarco says. “I’m not so much on the hamster wheel.”

Read more here.

Delhi bans disposable plastics

plastic bottles in India

India's capital city has taken a strong stand against plastic pollution, but now it needs to convince its residents.

India’s capital city, Delhi, has taken a courageous step toward fighting plastic pollution. In December 2016, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) voted to pass a law banning the use of all disposable plastics throughout the national capital region. This came into effect on January 1, 2017.

The decision applies to all disposable plastics, including produce bags, chai cups, and cutlery. While the change is meant to reduce the staggering amount of plastic pollution generated by India, not everyone is supportive of the change. Many fruit and vegetable vendors are concerned they will lose business, as customers will go elsewhere if they cannot get a bag in which to carry their purchases. Other wish there had been more time to get used to the idea of such a ban.

In the eyes of environmentalists, however, there is no time left to waste. India and four other Asian nations are the top plastic polluters in the world. They are responsible for an estimated 60 percent of the 8.8 million tons of plastic that are added to the world’s oceans each year. If current rates continue, Asia will be dumping 80 percent of the world’s plastic at a rate of 200 million tons a year by 2025. That’s not very far off, which means action is needed now.

Read more here.

IKEA Live Lagom

See how Live LAGOM is changing people's lives


Lagom: It’s a simple Swedish phil­­­osophy on everyday life that means ‘just the right amount’. An idea that we can strike a healthy balance with the world around us without having to make extreme changes, and without denying ourselves anything. With LAGOM in mind, we think you can live a more sustainable, healthy and cost-conscious life at home, without any dramatic upheaval. To learn how to make sustainability affordable and easy to achieve we created our Live LAGOM project, an active community to help save energy and water, reduce waste and promote a healthy lifestyle.

Read and see more here.

Why Your Urine is Too Good to Waste

Almost all of the nitrogen and phosphorous we ingest comes out of our bodies—what if we could return it to the soil?


Follow Kim Nace into her bathroom. Yes, it’s okay; many people visit here, headquarters of the country’s first community urine recycling program. Let her show you the odorless, waterless toilet: a wooden box inset with a conventional toilet seat and lid. Under the lid, a large, clean hole in the back lets solid waste drop to a container in the basement. In the front, a wide, plastic funnel channels urine to an underground tank.

What if we could keep urine out of wastewater and use it?

It’s the urine that captivates Nace, executive director of the Rich Earth Institute in Brattleboro, Vermont. For the past five years her organization has grown a movement of scientists, farmers, and volunteers seeking to answer the question: how can we intercept the nitrogen and phosphorous polluting our waterways, reroute it to farmers’ fields, and in the process, reduce reliance on chemical fertilizers?

The crux of their solution, it turns out, lies within each of us—and the choices we make in the bathroom.

What comes out of our bodies contains almost all of the nitrogen and phosphorous we ingest. Abe Noe-Hays, research director at the Rich Earth Institute, explains it this way: “When plants grow and produce food, that food is full of nitrogen and phosphorous. When we eat it, we rearrange the molecules, but the elements don’t go away; they come out dissolved in our urine. If we can return those elements to the soil, it really is giving back the very thing we took in the first place.”

Read more here.

New Plastics Economy: Businesses support action plan to recycle 70% of global plastic packaging

A cross-sector coalition of multinational businesses have today (16 January) thrown their weight behind the Ellen MacArthur Foundation's new global action plan to recycle and re-use 70% of the world's plastic packaging.

The report estimates that $80-120bn of plastic packaging material value is lost to the economy due to a linear, take-make-dispose value chain

The New Plastics Economy initiative, which has released its latest report at this week’s World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos, provides a roadmap of priority actions for businesses to move towards a circular global plastics system in 2017.

Supported by more than 40 major industry actors such as Unilever, Marks & Spencer (M&S) and the Coca-Cola Company, the report highlights that re-use provides an attractive economic opportunity for 20% of global plastics packaging, while a further 50% could be profitably recycled through concerted efforts on design and after-use.

The remaining 30% of plastic packaging must shift towards fundamental redesign and innovation, or face the reality of never being reused or recycled, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation says.

Dame Ellen MacArthur said: "The New Plastics Economy initiative has attracted widespread support, and across the industry we are seeing strong initial momentum and alignment on the direction to take. The New Plastics Economy: Catalysing action provides a clear plan for redesigning the global plastics system, paving the way for concerted action."

“We look forward to following the progress of this singular and powerful initiative over the coming years as it stimulates the innovation, redesign and new thinking needed to pave the way towards creating a plastics system that works.”

Read more here.

Over Two, Under One: Basket Weaving With Reeds

If you like working with your hands, basket weaving can provide you with beautiful objects for your home, to give as gifts, or to sell.

basket weaving fig 04 japanese weave 550p jpg

Everybody loves a basket! And whether you're using that woven container to tote vegetables from the garden, display fruit on your kitchen table, or just stash away an unfinished needlework project, you'll find that your satisfaction in the task is doubled if the basket is one you've made yourself.

Many types of material are suitable for basket weaving, but one of the best is reed. Strong, pliable, and light, reed comes from the core of the long shoots of the rattan palm, which grows in the tropical forests of many South Pacific islands. These shoots reach lengths of 200 to 600 feet as they trail over the floor of the jungle or hook onto other trees and plants. And once the thorny outer bark has been removed, the smooth, glossy underbark is stripped off in specific widths to be used for caning chair seats and such.

Beneath this layer is the actual reed — the core of the vine — which is harvested and machine-processed into round and flat strips of different diameters and widths. The sizes range in diameter from No. 0 at 1/64" (used for making miniatures) to No. 12 at 3/8" (used for sturdy handles). As a rule, the spokes — which are the ribs or framework — of a basket should be two numbers coarser than the weavers... which are the flexible strands that are woven over and under the spokes.

Read more here.

A picture is worth.... how to avoid the flu

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Refurbishing an axe head

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

What is a hatchet and what is an axe?

hatchet1-1A hatchet is a small axe of up to about 2 pounds in weight while everything above 2 pounds in weight becomes an axe proper.

Hatchet and axe are important tools for the woodsman, coppice worker and greenwood carver and -worker, although the main tool for the coppice worker, more often than not, is the billhook.

Good hatchets and axes often can be very expensive to purchase new and thus refurbishment of good to high quality old ones that at times can be had at flea markets for little money are well worth the time and effort. At the same time while giving you a quality tool at a reasonable cost it also saves valuable resources.

The proper refurbishment of a hatchet or an axe head is not something to be hurried along by use of power tools, however. And it is amazing to see even so-called experts coming out with the most stupid things imaginable. You look at those articles and videos and wonder “what the heck?”.

Do NOT use angle grinder or bench grinder, especially not for regrinding the edge and never burn out the (remains of the) old handle in a fire. Both of it can and will affect the temper of the steel and could ruin the axe or hatchet head.

Time and again, and only recently in the Bushcraft magazine in the UK, when the talk (and advice) comes to refurbishment of axe heads the use of an angle grinder (and in some cases and incidents the use of a bench grinder) is talked about. This is as stupid as burning out the remains of a handle in a fire. Both will harm the temper of the steel. And I do not care about whatever supposed credentials the author who writes such an article has. The same goes for sharpening billhooks and also knives. A bench grinder or similar is an absolute no go here.

While it is fine to remove any burring over of the back of the axe head with an angle grinder, a belt grinder, or even a Dremmel tool – and even that very, very carefully – to use a high-speed grinder on the edge is a No-No. Even the slightest overheating will change the temper of the blade and make the edge soft and that is something we definitely do not want to happen. Unless, that is, you know how to and wish to re-temper the blade in the end.

The only way to resharpen the edge is by way of hand tools, that is to say by file and by sharpening stones, aka whetstones, or, if you have access to one, a sandstone wheel in a water bath, like the big old whetstone wheels that used to be found in village smithies and on many farms, that needed a second person to turn the handle. And the same, obviously, also goes for the sharpening the edge on a newly forged tool.

But, as said, again and again we see people, even those claiming to be experts, using dry high-speed bench grinders with their harsh abrasive “dry” wheels and then comments such as that one needs to keep quenching the tool in water to prevent overheating. Hello! You heat that steel to such an extent that it requires quenching you have already done damage. So, don't do it.

Most billbooks, hatchets and axes are, in fact, soft enough in the cutting edge to be sharpened by use of a mill bastard file, a fine cut file, and those that are not will have to be done with “stones”, by hand. The only safe and precise way that will ensure the integrity of the steel is maintained. It is not difficult but may take a little while.

I must say that there are times when I cringe as regards to the advice that is being given by people claiming to be expert on the subject as to how to refurbish an axe, a billhook or a knife and of the sharpening of same. It is worrying in the extreme, at times.

© 2017