Stacey Abrams drops into historic Verzuz rap battle to encourage Georgians to vote in critical Senate runoff races: ‘Let’s get it done’


To kick off a Thursday night matchup described as “the battle to end all battles” between two Atlanta hip-hop legends, Jeezy and Gucci Mane, former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams had an important message for residents of the state leading up to the Jan. 5 Senate runoff races: “Vote.”

“We [need to] at least make sure that everyone shows up to vote so we have two senators to make sure we have COVID response and we’ve got stimulus money coming back to Georgia,” Abrams said, while remotely opening up the event for the two rappers at the famed Magic City strip club in Atlanta.

Verzuz, the brainchild of producers Timbaland and Swizz Beatz, is a virtual series of music battles between popular artists streamed on Instagram and Apple Music that sprang up in response to the COVID-19 pandemic as a way to keep people entertained at home.

On Thursday, Abrams thanked Jeezy and Gucci, former friends turned foes who are now back on good terms, for mobilizing formerly incarcerated people throughout the state to vote. She joked that the appearance earned her some “street cred” with her nieces and nephews.

Former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams. (Staff photo by Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer)

“I just wanted to say thank you to both of you, especially for the work you’ve done to encourage folks who are coming back, returning citizens, to know that they have the right to vote,” Abrams said. “I’ve got a younger brother who’s been in and out of the system and I know that redemption is real and I know that the voices that these men and women can bring to our state matter.”

The live-streamed event had more than 5.5 million total viewers on Instagram and millions more through Apple Music.

Abrams shared a screenshot of her appearance on Twitter with the caption “Let’s get it done,” alongside a link for Georgians to request absentee ballots.

Both Democratic Senate candidates also gave shout-outs to Abrams. Jon Ossoff, who’s going up against incumbent Republican Sen. David Perdue, tweeted, “Go Stacey!”

And the Rev. Raphael Warnock, who’s going up against GOP Sen. Kelly Loeffler, tweeted, “Thanks Stacey Abrams. … Let’s win this.”

Democratic U.S. Senate candidates Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff are seen at a campaign event on November 19, 2020 in Jonesboro, Georgia. (Photo by Elijah Nouvelage/Getty Images)
Democratic U.S. Senate candidates Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock are seen at a campaign event on Thursday in Jonesboro, Ga. (Photo by Elijah Nouvelage/Getty Images)

Abrams narrowly lost to Republican Gov. Brian Kemp in a controversial race in 2018 and has since dedicated her efforts to mobilizing Georgia voters through her Fair Fight national voting rights organization, which has been widely credited as a huge force behind President-elect Joe Biden’s winning Georgia in the 2020 general election.

In a fun exchange at the top of the Verzuz conversation, rapper Gucci Mane asked Abrams, “Can you wipe my record clean?”

“That’s a job that the governor could do,” responded Abrams, who came close to winning that position in 2018, and is rumored to be considering another run in 2022. “You know, we’ll have to think about that later.”

Below are key dates for Georgians to remember ahead of the state’s Senate runoff elections on Jan. 5, 2021:

Cover thumbnail photo illustration: Yahoo News; Photos: Prince Williams/Wireimage via Getty (2), Melina Mara/The Washington Post via Getty Images

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The U.S. Army’s Abrams Tank vs. Father Time: Who Wins?


Here’s What You Need To Remember: Army developers plan to “field” the v4 by 2025 and anticipate beginning early testing as soon as next year. Building upon advancements made for the v3, the Abrams v4 will include new sensors, color cameras, laser rangefinder technology, ammunition data links, meteorological sensors and an emerging, high-tech multi-purpose 120mm tank round. Meteorological sensors help weapons sights and fire control account for weather conditions when it comes to firing rounds at enemy targets. 

The Army is now firing off shots from a new, upgraded Abrams tank variant intended to propel the platform well into the next decade. The tank with a new generation of upgraded sensors, weapons, armor and electronic systems designed to match and destroy future enemy armored vehicles. 

Called the M1A2 SEP v3, the new Abrams brings a new high resolution display for gunner and commander stations and new electronic Line Replaceable Units. It also features a driver’s control panel and a turret control unit.

The addition of new electronics requires an integrated Auxiliary Power Unit engineered to bring more mobile power generation into the tank. 

The new Abrams began firing its first shots on August 18, according to a report from Task and Purpose. Soldiers from the 3rd Battalion, 8th Cavalry, 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division were the first to take possession of the new tank, the report said. 

This M1A2 SEP v3 effort also initiates the integration of upgraded ammunition data links and electronic warfare devices such as the Counter Remote Controlled Improvised Explosive Device—Electronic Warfare—CREW. An increased AMPs alternator is also part of this upgrade, along with Ethernet cables designed to better network vehicle sensors together.

The first v3 Abrams completed production within the last year or two and the tank is intended to pave the way forward to a new v4 variant slated to being production in 2023, Army officials have told The National Interest

Army developers plan to “field” the v4 by 2025 and anticipate beginning early testing as soon as next year. Building upon advancements made for the v3, the Abrams v4 will include new sensors, color cameras, laser rangefinder technology, ammunition data links, meteorological sensors and an emerging, high-tech multi-purpose 120mm tank round. Meteorological sensors help weapons sights and fire control account for weather conditions when it comes to firing rounds at enemy targets. 

Both v3 and v4 Abrams variants will use a new generation of Forward-Looking Infrared sensors, using higher resolution digital imaging and an ability to see through weather obscurants such as rain, dust or fog. Light and heat signatures will also be better identified by the new FLIR. 

The emerging M1A2 SEP v4 will also be configured with a new slip-ring leading to the turret and on-board ethernet switch to reduce the number of needed “boxes” by networking sensors to one another in a single vehicle.

Kris Osborn is the new Defense Editor for the National Interest. Osborn previously served at the Pentagon as a Highly Qualified Expert with the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army—Acquisition, Logistics & Technology. Osborn has also worked as an anchor and on-air military specialist at national TV networks. He has appeared as a guest military expert on Fox News, MSNBC, The Military Channel, and The History Channel. He also has a Masters Degree in Comparative Literature from Columbia University.

Image: Reuters



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Battle Tank Showdown: What Happens When Russia’s Armata Meets America’s Abrams in Battle?


Key Point: The Abrams tank may have met its match.

During the Cold War, the United States and the Soviet Union engaged in a constant competition to develop better tanks and anti-tank technology. While this was disrupted by the breakup of the Soviet Union and the resulting cuts in defense budgets on both sides, the next generation of tanks are finally reaching maturity. Representing the United States and based on a slow progression of technology on an existing design is the M1A2 SEP v3. Representing Russia and based on a set of almost all-new technology and design is the T-14 Armata. While truly accurate comparisons of these tanks is almost impossible due to the classified nature of their exact characteristics, it is possible to analyze their capabilities based on a comparison of what we know of their systems and subsystems, to get a rough idea of how they might perform on the battlefield.

The T-14 Armata can be accurately described as the first true “Russian” tank to land a contract for production, as it is the first tank design to do so that came after the fall of the Soviet Union. Design work for it began in 2010 at OAO NPK Uralvagonzavod (UVZ), which also designed the T-55, T-62, T-72 and T-90 tanks. The tank is designed around the unmanned turret, which makes it unlike any other main battle tank (MBT) in service and gives it a unique set of advantages and disadvantages. It also includes next generation versions of systems that were considered key systems of previous generations of tanks: 125mm smoothbore cannons, Explosive Reactive Armor (ERA) and Active Protection Systems (APS). The almost complete use of domestic products is also notable. Russian tanks used to rely on high-tech foreign components in some subsystems. The entire information management suite—hardware and software—is also domestically produced.

The unmanned turret provides the Armata with its main advantage: enhanced crew survivability. While maximizing crew survivability is always a priority in tank design, the Armata takes it to the next level by placing the entire crew in an armored capsule in the tank’s hull. This allows for better crew armor protection as the armor can be concentrated to protect this capsule in the hull—as opposed to being spread out to protect crew positions in the hull and the turret. The ammo is separated from the crew, increasing the probability of crew survival in the event that the ammunition load is hit. In prior Russian tanks, the ammunition was stored in the same area as the crew, surrounding them. The separate ammunition and crew capsules could allow for more aggressive firefighting methods—such as flooding the entire chamber with CO2 gas, which would kill the crew of a manned turret—but it is unknown if these systems are implemented at this time.

This design is not without its drawbacks. Unlike some Russian tanks that have dual gunners’ sighting systems, such as the T-72B3, the Armata only has one gunner sight on the turret that is fed remotely to the gunner’s station in the fighting compartment. While the commander’s sight might provide some level of redundancy—assuming it is fully linked to the fire control system—disabling these two sights, or their linkages, to the fighting compartment would severely cripple Armata’s ability to fight and the situational awareness of the crew.

The turret is not well armored and current estimates suggest that it would be vulnerable to anything larger than a medium calibre autocannon. Under the angular “cover,” which is usually assumed to be sheet metal with resistance to not much more than small arms, the turret’s shape is a block of steel armor. The thickness of this armor, which surrounds the breech and loading mechanism of the gun, is unknown but in speculative mockups it does not seem to be very thick. The sights and APS are generally accepted to be outside of this armor, meaning that they could be damaged through the cover from shots from a side aspect of the tank.

The other improvements of the Armata are fairly standard. The new 125mm 2A82 gun is paired with new “Vacuum” APFSDS rounds in both Tungsten and depleted uranium variants, which should provide improved anti-tank performance. The primary difference in the new cannon is the increased operating pressure to allow for a higher muzzle velocity, although these exact parameters are unknown. The 2A82 gun also lacks a bore evacuator, a device that reduces the burnt propellant gases entering the breech compartment after firing, as it is unnecessary for an unmanned turret. It also can shoot the “Telnik” programmable high-explosive round and the new “Sprinter” gun-launched missile.

The Malachit ERA, which is present on the hull and on the top of the turret is said to be more effective than earlier generations. In addition, the tank fields the Afghanit APS, which includes hard-kill components. This is the second time a APS with hard-kill has seen contract adoption on a Russian tank, with only the Drozd system being deployed before on the T-55. This is said to be effective against all threat types, whereas Drozd could only defeat ATGMs and HEAT projectiles within a certain velocity range. Afghanit also covers a wider frontal arc than Drozd.

The M1A2 SEP v3 also incorporates improvements in key areas. Many of these changes relate to logistics and battlefield networking, improving tank readiness and battlefield awareness. In addition to these, there are specific items that improve the M1A2’s tank vs tank performance directly. A new Ammunition Datalink (ADL) module allows the M1A2 to shoot the new M829A4 advanced APFSDS round, as well as new types of multipurpose ammunition from the same M256 120mm cannon. There also is an improved armor package, but details are unknown. Other sources state that the thermal imaging gunner’s and commander’s sight will be upgraded to third-generation imagers, improving resolution and clarity at range. In 2017, it was also announced that the M1A2 SEP v3 package would include the Trophy Hard-Kill APS, improving its protection. In the end, the M1A2 SEP v3 is an incremental improvement and would likely fight the same way previous M1s have, just better. Unlike the T-14, it doesn’t radically change the way the vehicle can fight.

In a fight against each other, the M1A2 SEP v3 would likely have an advantage in detection. All thermal imaging matrices in the United States are produced indigenously and have been for generations. Meanwhile, the Russian thermal sights on the Armata are the first batch that will be produced in Russia, so they likely will be inferior to American sights. The turbine engine of the Abrams is also likely quieter than the diesel of the T-14 Armata, but the Armata is lighter and has a better horsepower to ton ratio, giving it better mobility.

Lethality wise, it’s hard to determine a clear winner due to both systems using new rounds and armor with unknown capabilities. Defensively, the Armata’s Afghanit APS is likely superior to the M1A2 SEP v3’s Trophy APS, due to the integrated nature of the system. Trophy on the M1A2 is an addon kit with radars and countermeasure launchers being bolted onto both sides of turret, potentially limiting the interception window for projectiles approaching from the frontal arc and increasing the profile of the turret, making the M1A2’s already large turret even larger. Afghanit has its countermeasure launchers smoothly integrated under the turret cover, giving full coverage over the entire frontal arc. Afghanit is also probably better ergonomically integrated with the crew’s displays and controls due to it being a part of the design from the start. Most importantly, Afghanit is rated towards all threats, including APFSDS rounds.

Trophy doesn’t appear to provide this capability, in a 2016 meeting with the Congressional Research Service, discussing the use of APS on American combat vehicles, Rafale said Trophy “provides protection against all known chemical energy threats, including chemical energy tank rounds.” Nothing was mentioned about APFSDS rounds. Chemical energy tank rounds (commonly known as HEAT rounds) travel more slowly and are easier to intercept than APFSDS rounds. Thus, the Armata is probably significantly more survivable than the M1A2 SEP v3 and could potentially defeat American rounds before they even hit the armor. Whether it’s actually possible for an APS to intercept the hypersonic APFSDS rounds has yet to be seen.

Despite its superior APS, the thin armor on the Armata’s turret could be its undoing. An autocannon could potentially knock out the sights of the Armata by shooting through lightly armored cover. The earlier mockups suggest such a shot could be taken from a rather wide arc, as opposed to on other Western tanks where the sight is more smoothly integrated into the hull. The gunner’s sight being outside of the main armor on the Armata makes it a larger target than the gunner’s sight on the M1A2 SEP v3. The commander’s sights on both tanks are about equally exposed. If a modern M829A4 round got through the APS of the Armata and struck the turret, it would likely knock out the gun mechanism and take the Armata out of the fight, although the crew would probably survive.



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Stacey Abrams on Biden’s VP, Georgia’s election, and voting rights


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