Visiting the tombs of these 6 dictators makes a great summer getaway package - We Are The Mighty
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Visiting the tombs of these 6 dictators makes a great summer getaway package

When Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez died in March 2013, the government there declared its intention to have the body embalmed and put on permanent display. It was to be preserved and placed in La Planicie Barracks, a military museum near Venezuela’s presidential palace, Miraflores. Unfortunately for Venezuela’s Chavistas, the body decayed much too quickly and had to be interred instead.


The Mausoleum of Hugo Chavez The Mausoleum of Hugo Chavez

No matter what people in other countries may think of Chavez, the Venezuelans mourned Chavez for seven days and staged an elaborate state funeral. His body laid in state for public visitation before being buried. The Venezuelan president was not the first world leader whose body was to be embalmed and displayed for posterity. Many have come before him, mostly dictators. You can be your own judge of whether Chavez belongs in that group while you’re planning your world tour to visit these others (who most definitely are in that group) preserved for the world to see.

1. Vladimir Lenin, Russia – Died January 21, 1924

Visiting the tombs of these 6 dictators makes a great summer getaway package

Lenin changed the 20th century and beyond with the overthrow of Czar Nicholas II and the founding of the Soviet Union. He set Russia on the path from being beaten up by any emerging world power (looking at you, Japan) to being one of two countries to ever be considered a superpower. The “Red Terror” under his reign is estimated to have killed tens of thousands of Russians. Still, after his 1924 death, his body was encased in glass and set up in Moscow’s Red Square where it lies today.

2. Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam – Died September 2, 1969

Ho Chi Minh is the founder of the People’s Republic of Vietnam. Many in our audience may know Ho Chi Minh as a “son of a bi*ch” with “the blue balls, crabs, and the seven-year itch.” Before the war in Vietnam, however, Ho fought with the OSS against Japanese occupation in Indochina and expected an independent Vietnam after WWII. He even quoted Thomas Jefferson during his Independence Day speech to millions of Vietnamese onlookers.

Visiting the tombs of these 6 dictators makes a great summer getaway package

Ho is also responsible for purges of non-communist members of the Viet Minh who helped bring him to power, as well as an estimated 173,000 killings during Vietnamese land reforms. He ruthlessly put down peasant rebellions and tortured and killed political enemies. His body lies in state in a granite mausoleum modeled after Lenin’s in Hanoi.

3. Mao Zedong, China – Died September 9, 1976

The only question left about Chairman Mao is how many people really died as a result of his leadership. From the Chinese Civil War to the Long March to the Cultural Revolution to the Great Leap Forward, Mao is estimated to be responsible for upwards of 78 million Chinese deaths. Mao Zedong is literally the worst thing to happen to humanity in all of human history.

Visiting the tombs of these 6 dictators makes a great summer getaway package

His remains are in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square, across from the Forbidden City, which is iconically adorned with a large painting of his image.

4. Ferdinand Marcos, Philippines – Died September 28, 1989

Marcos served first in the Philippines’ House of Representatives and then in the Senate before being elected President in 1966. He was re-elected in 1969, just one year later a tide of unrest washed over the island nation. Marcos responded by declaring martial law and beginning a rule by decree. For over twenty years, Ferdinand Marcos ruled the Philippines like a king. His armed forces brutally suppressed dissent. He imprisoned tens of thousands of political opponents and Marcos himself embezzled state funds for personal use.

Visiting the tombs of these 6 dictators makes a great summer getaway package

A contested election in 1983 turned from a transition of power into a revolution. Supporters of opposition leader Corazon Aquino, the wife of assassinated anti-Marcos Senator Benigno Aquino, took to the streets of Manila and began to occupy government buildings and broadcasters. Marcos, under advice from the White House, fled to Hawaii, where he died in exile. His embalmed body lies in a refrigerated crypt at the Marcos Museum and Mausoleum in the Philippine city of Batac.

5. Kim Il-Sung, North Korea – Died July 8, 1994

The founder of North Korea and Korean War aggressor Kim Il-Sung died in 1994 after 46 years of unchallenged rule. Technically, he is still the president, as he was granted the title of “Eternal President” by constitutional amendment after his death. The regime even instituted a new “Juche” calendar beginning with the year 1912, the year of Kim’s birth.

Visiting the tombs of these 6 dictators makes a great summer getaway package
The body of late North Korean President Kim Il Sung is displayed in Pyongyang, North Korea. (KCNA Photo)

His body is draped in a Korean Worker’s Party flag at the Kim Il Sung Mausoleum in the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun in Pyongyang. He is expertly angled so the massive, baseball-sized calcium deposit on his neck is not visible to the general public.

6. Kim Jong-Il, North Korea – Died December 17, 2011

Kim took over for his father in 1994, right after his death. North Korea thus became the first secular, Communist dictatorship with a line of hereditary succession. The younger Kim ruled for just under 20 years, dying in 2011 of a suspected heart attack while berating subordinates over the construction of a power plant.

Visiting the tombs of these 6 dictators makes a great summer getaway package

Kim Jong-Il’s reign oversaw some of the worst years of the North Korean regime, including the disastrous four-year famine that killed upwards of 3.5 million people. As a result, he is often depicted in North Korean artwork with waves from a stormy sea crashing on rocks, symbolic of his “stoicism” in weathering the storms. He is also at the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun.

BONUS (Not a Dictator): Pope John XXIII, Vatican City – Died June 3, 1963

Pope John XXIII was not a dictator, really. Not in the accepted sense of the term, although the Pope does have nearly-autocratic rule in the Vatican (the Holy See is his religious jurisdiction, as a head of state, he oversees the Vatican City). Unlike the aforementioned dictators, this Pope has a history of liberalizing the Church, focusing on human rights and the needs of the poor. While officials were moving his body out of a Vatican crypt, they popped open his coffin and found him very well-preserved. He is now coated with a thin layer of wax and is on display at St. Peter’s Square.

Visiting the tombs of these 6 dictators makes a great summer getaway package
John XXIII interred in the Altar of St. Jerome.

In his early career before becoming Pope, John worked to help refugees (mostly Jewish) flee the Nazis. He intervened directly numerous times to ensure the safe passage of Jewish people out of Europe. His Papacy began on October 28, 1959 as he oversaw the Church’s recognition of the Jewish people as faithful and apologized for anti-Semitism on the behalf of the history of the Catholic Church.

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This shocking video illustrates the huge number of WWII fatalities

A new data-driven video produced by Neil Halloran illustrates the massive number of fatalities of Second World War like never before.


The video, which was released on Memorial Day, “uses cinematic data visualization techniques to explore the human cost of the second World War, and it sizes up the numbers to other wars in history, including recent conflicts,” according to a press release. “Although it paints a harrowing picture of the war, the documentary highlights encouraging trends in post-war battle statistics.”

The video features a number of eye-opening insights, such as the relatively small number of German losses during the initial invasions, or the huge numbers lost — both civilian and military — by the Soviet Union during the war. At one point, the chart showing Soviet deaths continues to grow higher, leaving the viewer to wonder when it will ever stop.

“As the Soviet losses climbed, I thought my browser had frozen. Surely the top of the column must have been reached by now, I thought,” a commenter wrote on Halloran’s fallen.io website.

From Fallen.io:

The Fallen of World War II is an interactive documentary that examines the human cost of the second World War and the decline in battle deaths in the years since the war. The 15-minute data visualization uses cinematic storytelling techniques to provide viewers with a fresh and dramatic perspective of a pivotal moment in history.

The film follows a linear narration, but it allows viewers to pause during key moments to interact with the charts and dig deeper into the numbers.

Now watch:

The Fallen of World War II from Neil Halloran on Vimeo.
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17 Photos That Show Why Troops Absolutely Love The .50 Caliber Machine Gun

The M2 .50 caliber machine gun has been in production longer than any other, and it’s easy to see why troops love it.


Since the 1930s, “Ma Deuce” has been serving troops on the ground, in vehicles, and in aircraft, and with its effectiveness and reliability, it doesn’t look like this weapon is going out of style any time soon. Originally developed during World War I by John Browning, the weapon is now in the hands of U.S. troops and a number of NATO allies.

Here’s why:

Visiting the tombs of these 6 dictators makes a great summer getaway package

The M2 .50 cal has served troops well in Iraq and Afghanistan as a fearsome automatic weapon usually mounted to vehicles.

Visiting the tombs of these 6 dictators makes a great summer getaway package

But it was just as deadly in Normandy in 1944 …

Visiting the tombs of these 6 dictators makes a great summer getaway package

… As it is overlooking remote bases in Afghanistan today.

Visiting the tombs of these 6 dictators makes a great summer getaway package

With a belt-fed .50 BMG round, it packs serious punch that can effectively hit targets out to 1,800 meters.

Visiting the tombs of these 6 dictators makes a great summer getaway package

The weapon can fire a variety of ammunition types, such as standard ball, blanks, armor-piercing (AP), armor-piercing incendiary (API), armor-piercing incendiary tracer (APIT) …

Visiting the tombs of these 6 dictators makes a great summer getaway package

… And the crowd favorite: Saboted Light Armor Penetrator (SLAP), which can bust through steel.

Visiting the tombs of these 6 dictators makes a great summer getaway package

Troops can find the .50 cal everywhere from the perimeter of the forward operating base …

Visiting the tombs of these 6 dictators makes a great summer getaway package

… to the rails of U.S. Navy ships.

Visiting the tombs of these 6 dictators makes a great summer getaway package

Of course, two is better than one.

Visiting the tombs of these 6 dictators makes a great summer getaway package

Before they can fire it, soldiers usually learn how to disassemble, assemble, and adjust headspace and timing — tweaks made to the gun that allow it to fire safely. (The U.S. Army upgraded a number of their .50 cals to the M2A1, which doesn’t require headspace & timing adjustments).

Visiting the tombs of these 6 dictators makes a great summer getaway package

Once it’s ready to go, soldiers place the rounds on the feed tray, make sure the cover is closed, and pull the bolt to the rear to load the weapon.

Visiting the tombs of these 6 dictators makes a great summer getaway package

Then it’s ready to rock and roll. The .50 can fire in single shot or fully automatic mode.

Visiting the tombs of these 6 dictators makes a great summer getaway package

At the rear, soldiers grab the “spade” handle and fire it using a butterfly trigger. They need to be careful however: There’s no safety mechanism to prevent accidental discharge (Some variants have been fielded which feature a positive safety selector).

Visiting the tombs of these 6 dictators makes a great summer getaway package

While it’s most often mounted to vehicles in a rotating turret …

Visiting the tombs of these 6 dictators makes a great summer getaway package

… Ma Deuce can also be found on the side of helicopters.

Visiting the tombs of these 6 dictators makes a great summer getaway package

And with the use of a tripod, it can also be fired very effectively from the ground.

Visiting the tombs of these 6 dictators makes a great summer getaway package

Correction: This post was updated with new information to reflect the fielding of the M2A1 variant and other versions, which feature safety selectors, and don’t require the need for adjustments to headspace and timing.

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The drones hunting ISIS have grown more lethal

The Air Force Special Operations Command runs 37 Reaper drones that have just been upgraded with better sensors, upgraded weapons software, and extra fuel tanks so they can kill more targets and watch more objectives on missions against ISIS and other enemies.


Visiting the tombs of these 6 dictators makes a great summer getaway package
An MQ-9 Reaper prepares to land after a mission in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Photo: US Air Force Staff Sgt. Brian Ferguson

Identifying ISIS targets often requires a long information-collection period, and killing them takes a rapid engagement once the kill order is given. The upgraded drones are better at both stages of the hunt.

The sensor ball from the original MQ-9 Reapers was replaced with a high-definition camera. The software that controls the camera was also upgraded to enable automatic detection of threats and the ability to track 12 moving targets at once. Better communications gear was installed to allow ground controllers and others to see the higher quality video coming from the drones.

Reapers can carry up to 14 AGM-114 Hellfire missiles. The upgraded version carries the same munitions but can now fire them in a “super ripple,” firing a missile every 0.32 seconds. The external fuel tanks give the Reaper pilots more time to identify targets, track them, and plan the engagement before firing.

Visiting the tombs of these 6 dictators makes a great summer getaway package
An MQ-9 Reaper on the flightline. Photo: US Air Force Staff Sgt. John Bainter

All this comes at a cost to weight. To increase thrust and improve takeoff performance, a system to inject alcohol and water into the engine was added and a four-bladed propeller was incorporated. The landing gear was also improved.

American drones have already had a lot of success in the fight against ISIS. Jihadi John, the British-born militant who conducted many of the Islamic State’s early, high-profile executions, was killed by two Hellfire missiles fired from a drone.

A drone strike in Jul. 2015 killed 31 insurgents including Hafiz Saeed, the man thought to have led ISIS in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The drones were upgraded under a $34 million Medium Altitude Long Endurance Tactical (MALET) Lead-Off Hitter (LOH) contract.

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The US likely knew about Hitler’s sexual dysfunctions back in 1943

Visiting the tombs of these 6 dictators makes a great summer getaway package
Photo Credit: Wikpedia


One of history’s most brutal tyrants was a diagnosed schizophrenic on a mission to avenge his childhood years of repressed rage, according to American psychologist and Harvard professor Henry Murray.

In 1943, Murray was commissioned by the Office of Strategic Services, a precursor to the CIA, to study Adolf Hitler’s personality to try to predict his behavior.

In his 229-page report, “The Personality of Adolph Hitler,” Murray described Hitler as a paranoid “utter wreck” who was “incapable of normal human relationships.”

“It is forever impossible to hope for any mercy or humane treatment from him,” Murray wrote.

Here are more revealing insights into Hitler’s personality:

After a frustrating childhood, Hitler felt obligated to exert dominance in all things

Hitler suffered from intolerable feelings of inferiority, largely stemming from his small, frail, and sickly physical appearance during his childhood.

He refused to go to school because he was ashamed that he was a poor student compared with his classmates. His mother appeased him by allowing him to drop out.

“He never did any manual work, never engaged in athletics, and was turned down as forever unfit for conscription in the Austrian Army,” Murray writes.

Hitler managed his insecurities by worshiping “brute strength, physical force, ruthless domination, and military conquest.”

Even sexually, Hitler was described as a “full-fledged masochist,” who humiliated and abused his partners.

Much of his wrath originated from a severe Oedipus complex

As a child, Hitler experienced the Oedipus complex (love of mother and hate of father), which he developed after accidentally seeing parents having sex, Murray’s report says.

Hitler was subservient and respectful to his father but viewed him as an enemy who ruled the family “with tyrannical severity and injustice.” According to the report, Hitler was envious of his father’s masculine power and dreamed of humiliating him to re-establish “the lost glory of his mother.”

For 16 years, Hitler did not exhibit any form of ambition or competition, because his father had died and he had not yet discovered a new enemy.

He frequently felt emasculated

Another blow to Hitler’s masculinity: He was “incapable of consummating in a normal fashion,” old sexual partners shared with Murray.

“This infirmity we must recognize as an instigation to exorbitant cravings for superiority. Unable to demonstrate male power before a woman, he is impelled to compensate by exhibiting unsurpassed power before men in the world at large,” he writes.

As mentioned, when Hitler did have sexual relations with a woman, he exhibited masochistic behaviors.

Hitler was said to have multiple partners but eventually married his long-term mistress, Eva Braun, hours before they committed suicide together in his Berlin bunker.

Visiting the tombs of these 6 dictators makes a great summer getaway package
Photo Credit: Wikipedia

He suffered from indecisiveness and collapsed under pressure

Even at the peak of his power, Hitler suffered from frequent emotional collapses from a guilty conscience. “He has nightmares from a bad conscience, and he has long spells when energy, confidence and the power of decision abandon him,” Murray writes.

According to Murray, Hitler’s cycle from complete despair to reaction followed this pattern:

  1. An emotional outburst, tantrum of rage, and accusatory indignation ending in tears and self-pity.
  2. Succeeded by periods of inertia, exhaustion, melancholy, and indecisiveness.
  3. Followed by hours of acute dejection and disquieting nightmares.
  4. Leading to hours of recuperation.
  5. And finally confident and resolute decision to counterattack with great force and ruthlessness.

The five-step evolution could last anywhere from 24 hours to several weeks, the report states.

He was ashamed of his mixed heritage

Hitler valued “pure, unmixed, and uncorrupted German blood,” which he associated with aristocracy and beauty, according to Murray.

Murray offers the following explanation of Hitler’s contempt for mixed blood:

As a boy of twelve, Hitler was caught engaging in some sexual experiment with a little girl; and later he seems to have developed a syphilophobia, with a diffuse fear of contamination of the blood through contact with a woman.

It is almost certain that this irrational dread was partly due to the association in his mind of sexuality and excretion. He thought of sexual relations as something exceedingly filthy.

Hitler denied that his father was born illegitimately and had at least two failed marriages, that his grandfather and godfather were both Jews, and that one of his sisters was a mistress of a wealthy Jew.

He focused his hatred on Jews because they were an easy target

Murray explains that Jews were the clear demographic for Hitler to project his personal frustrations and failings on, because they “do not fight back with fists and weapons.”

The Jews were therefore an easy and nonmilitarized target that he could blame for pretty much anything, including the disastrous effects after the Treaty of Versailles.

Anti-Semitic caricatures also associated Jews with several of Hitler’s dislikes, including business, materialism, democracy, capitalism, and communism. He was eager to strip some Jews of their wealth and power.

Hitler had a ‘hypnotic’ presence over the people he spoke with

While the merciless Nazi leader was known to offer a weak handshake with “moist and clammy” palms and was awkward at making small talk, his overall presence was described as “hypnotic” in Murray’s analysis.

Hitler received frequent compliments on his grayish-blue eyes, even though they were described as “dead, impersonal, and unseeing” in the report.

Murray notes that the Führer was slightly under average in height, had a receding hairline, thin lips, and “strikingly well-shaped hands.”

Sources say Hitler appeared to be shy or moody when meeting people and was uncoordinated in his gestures. He was also incredibly picky about his food.

Here is Murray’s full study:

Analysis of the Personality of Adolph Hitler

More From Business Insider:

This article originally appeared at Business Insider Defense Copyright 2015. Follow BI Defense on Twitter.

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VA’s LA campus draft master plan just released, needs vet input

Visiting the tombs of these 6 dictators makes a great summer getaway package
(Photo courtesy of NPR.org)


The Department of Veteran Affairs has just released the draft master plan for how the agency intends to improve the campus of its West Los Angeles facility after years of encroachment, misuse, and neglect. The plan follows a landmark legal ruling last year following a lawsuit that alleged that VA was violating the covenant of an 1888 deed whereby the United States acquired title to the West LA Campus by misusing parts of it for commercial purposes in lieu of caring for and serving veterans.

The agreement established a nonprofit, Vets Advocacy, to serve as a partner in the West LA VA master planning process. Vets Advocacy and We Are The Mighty have joined forces in a grassroots campaign to assist the veteran community in voicing how they’d like to see VA services provided at the West LA VA campus.

“With the proper veteran input, the West LA VA redevelopment plan has the potential to serve as a 21st Century blueprint for VA campuses nationwide,” said Jonathan Sherin, a psychiatrist and veteran advocate who has been a key facilitator of the planning effort.

The new master plan for the West LA Campus will help VA determine and implement the most effective use of the campus for veterans, particularly for homeless veterans, including underserved populations such as female veterans, aging veterans, and those who are severely physically or mentally disabled. Focus areas include considerations surrounding vet housing (both temporary and permanent), vet services, and historic preservation.

The draft plan divides the campus into four zones labeled (1-4 respectively) “Healthcare Excellence,” “Coordinated Care,” “Veteran Housing,” and “Recreation.” Details of each zone can be found in the document.

“This draft master plan provides the VA with a stronger foundation to build a 21st century healthcare campus and vibrant community for veterans,” VA Secretary Robert McDonald said in a statement. “It also helps to ensure we will have the housing and healthcare resources needed to sustain the mission of ending veteran homelessness.”

Now that the draft master plan has been published, veterans have 45 days to review it and provide inputs, thereby helping to ensure the plan meets the needs of those it is designed to assist. The master plan can be viewed and downloaded and comments can be submitted at #VATHERIGHTWAY.

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This soldier risked everything to save his friend in Tal Afar

Gary Villalobos left his civilian life to join the United States Army. By 2005, he found himself in Tal Afar, Iraq, as Sgt. First Class Villalobos. It was there he learned the true meaning of fear — and what it takes to overcome that fear to try and save one of his own.


“What I think about when I think about my four deployments in Iraq, I’m glad I was part of it,” Villalobos says. “I took part in something greater than myself, something significant. But most importantly, you know what I think about is the hundreds of people, the hundreds of soldiers that I connected with at a different level. Shared hardships really bring people together.”

Visiting the tombs of these 6 dictators makes a great summer getaway package
Villalobos in Iraq.
(Courtesy Gary Villalobos)

Now-Master Sgt. Gary Villalobos came to the U.S. from Mexico in 1970, moving into a small shack near the beach behind his grandmother’s house in California. By the time he graduated from high school, he had a job that wasn’t going anywhere. It was just after the 1991 Gulf War and young Gary watched as that war’s heroes were greeted triumphantly upon their return to the U.S.

So, he went to an Army recruiter. Twelve years later, the United States invaded Iraq and, in 2005, Villalobos was in Tal Afar for only a month before he found himself directing Iraqi soldiers with the U.S. Army’s 3rd Armored Cavalry to take on an insurgent group and capture their leaders.

Visiting the tombs of these 6 dictators makes a great summer getaway package
(AARP Studios)

Villalobos and Army officer Lt. Col. Terrence Crowe took 14 Iraqi Army troops on a patrol to capture those leaders, stepping into an alleyway — an alleyway that was also an ambush killzone.

The Army officer took the full brunt of at least four AK-47s, not one shot hitting above his waist. .

Villalobos tried to suppress their fire but the incoming sounded like it was coming from all sides. Gunfire poured in on Villalobos and the patrol as he tried to make sense of the ambush. He suddenly realized he had an edge and chucked his only grenade as hard as he could into the ambush. The firing stopped and he was able to pull his officer out.

The enemy melted away.

Back to FOB Sykes, Villalobos learned Col. Crowe didn’t make it.

Visiting the tombs of these 6 dictators makes a great summer getaway package
U.S. Army Reserve Lt. Col. Terrence Crowe.

Crowe and Villalobos went on numerous patrols together and became quite close. They went on nearly every mission together. Crowe was a native of Upstate New York and was a talented carpenter in his civilian life.

“He treated me with dignity and respect,” Villalobos says. “Part of the reason I feel guilty is because I was not in the front, where I should have been. He should have been in the rear, or at least the middle… but not point man.”

Villalobos was awarded the Silver Star for making sure he pulled Crowe out of the ambush. To him, it’s the most important award, representing the sacrifice that Colonel Crowe made.

“I don’t see it as something I earned… I just wanted to get Colonel Crowe out of there,” he says.

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You need to hear this fighter pilot’s powerful story about finding purpose

Ed Woodward had the harrowing experience of watching his identical twin brother die before his very eyes.


“We had just finished celebrating his first year of med school,” said Woodward in the video below. “And we were hit by a drunk driver going about 120 mph racing another car down the highway.”

As his sibling succumbed to his injuries, Woodward promised he’d live his life for both of them. In 2001, he launched his Air Force career as a 2nd lieutenant. He flew combat missions in support of Operation Northern Watch, Operation Noble Eagle, Operation Enduring Freedom, and Operation Iraqi Freedom.

His performance earned him an Air Medal, two Aerial Achievement Medals, two Air Force Commendation Medals and a nomination for the Air Mobility Command’s best tanker aircrew of the year in 2002. After getting his pilot wings, he was selected to fly the F-15C Eagle; it was a dream come true, Woodward said.

But with only five flights to go in his training tragedy struck again. He developed a blood clot during a heavy G force maneuver that almost killed him. It caused a brain injury ending his pilot aspirations and resulting in a medical discharge from the Air Force.

“I was lost,” Woodward said.

Watch Woodward tell his incredible story about how his commitment to his brother helped him find his purpose in life by going from fighter pilot to M.D. candidate:

GotYourSix, YouTube

Don’t miss your opportunity to listen to more incredible stories like Woodward’s. This year, Got Your 6 Storytellers will be held in three cities across the country:

  • New York – Wednesday, October 26, 2016
  • Los Angeles – Tuesday, November 1, 2016
  • Washington D.C. – Thursday, November 10, 2016

Visit Got Your 6 Storytellers for additional information.

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UK scrambles fighters in response to nearby Russian nuclear-capable bombers

The Royal Air Force had to scramble Typhoon fighter jets in response to nearby Russian nuclear-capable Tu-160 bombers on Thursday.


The bombers came from the North East past Ireland, ITV News reports. A UK Ministry of Defense spokesperson told ITV “at no point did the Russian aircraft enter UK territorial airspace.”

However, some of the Tu-160 bombers carry long-range nuclear capable cruise missiles which can pose a threat to the UK even outside of its own airspace. It is not clear right now which Tu-160 variants were intercepted.

Visiting the tombs of these 6 dictators makes a great summer getaway package
Russian Tu-160 bombers fly in formation. | Flickr

Russia has recently been holding snap air force exercises, with a directive from Russian President Vladimir Putin himself apparently instructing the force to prepare for a “time of war.”

Russian planes frequently skirt or breach NATO and US allies’ air spaces. When detected, the standard operating procedure for most countries dictates scrambling jets to intercept the intruders.

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Here’s when vets should NOT buy franchises

Visiting the tombs of these 6 dictators makes a great summer getaway package


“Worry about the dollars and the pennies take care of themselves.” — anonymous

It’s worthwhile to keep that adage above in mind when you are being pitched to buy a franchise business.

One of the most costly mistakes veterans can make is paying too much upfront for a franchise that you can’t sell for the same price the next day.  It’s the venture equivalent of buying a used Chevy for the price of new BMW.

I hate it when I receive letters from veterans who “want out” of a franchise they just bought.  They feel snookered, trapped, and annoyed at themselves for not looking at the details before signing on the dotted line.

The best way to avoid buyer’s remorse is to become a smart shopper of franchise opportunities.  Here are five tips to help you assess if you are more likely to make money or lose money in the franchise world.

1. Set higher standards

If your objective is to merely “go into business for yourself” or “own a franchise” then your aspirations are not high enough to be a successful business owner.  After all, you will achieve your goal of business ownership the day you sign the franchise contract!  Then what?

A more purposeful objective is to own a franchise that will make money for you.  When you set high standards for your financial return on your invested time and savings your tire-kicking “due diligence” questions become more precise and purposeful.

2. Understand sales rep motivations

When you start to explore different franchise opportunities, you will come in contact with franchisor representatives and business brokers who have just one purpose—to sell you a franchise as fast as possible.  These individuals are not your trusted friends or unbiased financial advisors.  Certainly don’t sign any franchise agreement without prior review from an experienced corporate attorney who understands franchise valuations and royalty obligations.

3. Add up cost of acquisition

Sneaky franchise brokers are adept at hiding the true investment cost of a franchise purchase.  If you sign up to buy a franchise, your cost of acquisition is more than the down payment.  Include the amount you have to borrow to acquire the franchise plus other savings you may have to apply to the business until it achieves at least cash flow breakeven. (when net sales revenues exceed expenses every month)  This is the total amount you will have at risk in your new business.  How comfortable are you with this amount?  What would happen if you lost it all?

4. Evaluate owner’s compensation

Another trick of franchise sales reps is to present impressive financial projections of average franchise unit performance.  Look closely at these projections.  Do they include a budget allocation for the owner’s salary, healthcare, adequate insurance and other real world expenses associated with running a business?  If there is no allocation for an owner’s salary and benefits and you intend to work full time in the business, beware!

Remember, year-end profits should be your financial return on your invested capital, not your sole source of compensation for working 40 to 70 hours a week to keep the franchise alive!  Of course, the business could fail to generate a profit too which means you as the founder earns nothing for a lot of work.

5. Understand market value

Buy low, then sell high.  If you pay $25,000, $50,000, or $100,000 to buy into a franchise, then you should find evidence that other franchises can be sold at least for that much or more.  Unfortunately, the opposite is often true.

Research the market for this brand of franchise.  What are the average resale purchase prices in your state?  Who buys up franchises when the owner wants out?  Does the corporate office buy back franchises?  What does the franchise agreement call for?  Frequently, one regional franchise operator buys distressed properties at deep discounts.

Given all the risks associated with owning a business and personal obligation to repay debt, you should walk away from any franchise that cannot eventually be sold for at least two times your invested capital.

Unfortunately, I get too many letters from franchise buyers who are desperate to get out of a money-losing franchise.  They realize they overpaid for a franchise usually within a year of purchase.  They didn’t pay attention to the quantitative issues where they could lose hard cash because the sales reps kept their attention on how great it will be to at last be the boss of a money making business.   At the end of the day, they didn’t make any money and didn’t have any fun as a business owner.

Now you know better.

Susan Schreter is a devoted Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program workshop presenter and founder of Start on Purpose, a service organization that empowers business owners anywhere in America to find and manage business funding with confidence.  Connect with her at Susan@StartonPurpose.

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The 6 greatest celebrity foreign policy gaffes in the last 50 years

Sometimes when celebs venture into the complex world of foreign policy — either intentionally or otherwise — the results are embarrassing, comical, or even career-ending. Here are six of the worst in recent memory:


1. The Beatles barely make it out of the Philippines alive after (unintentionally) snubbing Imelda Marcos

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The Beatles attempt to get the hell out of Dodge … or Manila. (Photo: Associated Press)

In early July of 1966 while The Beatles toured the Philippines they unintentionally snubbed the nation’s first lady, Imelda Marcos, who had expected the group to attend a breakfast reception at the Presidential Palace. When presented with the invitation, Brian Epstein politely declined on behalf of the group, as it had never been the group’s policy to accept such “official” invitations. But the group soon found out that the Marcos regime was unaccustomed to accepting “no” for an answer. Imelda Marcos was infuriated when finding out that one of her frequent grand parties of 200 guests did not include the Beatles. After the snub was broadcast on Philippine television and radio, all of their police protection disappeared. The band barely made it out of the country alive.

2. Jane Fonda goes to North Vietnam during the war

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In May of 1972 Jane Fonda was invited to North Vietnam by the delegation at the Paris Peace Talks. She accepted the invitation with the intention of treating the trip like a fact-finding “humanitarian” mission. She wanted to take photos that would expose that the Nixon Administration was bombing the dikes to flood civilian areas. Ultimately the trip had a different effect, mostly because of a photo that emerged of her sitting on an anti-aircraft gun wearing an NVA helmet. From that point forward she’s been “Hanoi Jane” to most Vietnam vets.

3. Paul Simon violates Apartheid-related boycott to make “Graceland”

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What boycott? Hands up for making some hits!

In the 1980s the anti-Apartheid movement was growing rapidly, gaining support of political leaders and other public figures worldwide. Part of the movement was a boycott of all things South African. Paul Simon basically trampled the boycott by going to South Africa to work with local musicians while recording his legendary “Graceland” album.

Following the album’s success, Simon faced accusations by organizations such as Artists United Against Apartheid, anti-apartheid musicians including Billy Bragg, Paul Weller and Jerry Dammers and the then Ghanaian Ambassador to the United Nations James Victor Gbeho that he had broken the cultural boycott imposed by the rest of the world against the apartheid regime in South Africa, which was in its final years at the time.

At an album launch party, Simon bluntly clarified his opinions on the controversy: “I’m with the artists. I didn’t ask the permission of the ANC. I didn’t ask permission of Buthelezi, or Desmond Tutu, or the Pretoria government. And to tell you the truth, I have a feeling that when there are radical transfers of power on either the left or the right, the artists always get screwed.” (Source: Wikipedia)

4. Dixie Chicks commit professional suicide by dissing W in London

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During the run-up to the invasion of Iraq, Dixie Chicks performed in concert in London on March 10, 2003, at the Shepherd’s Bush Empire theatre in England. This concert kicked off their Top of the World Tour.

During the introduction to their song “Travelin’ Soldier”, Natalie Maines said, “Just so you know, we’re on the good side with y’all. We do not want this war, this violence, and we’re ashamed that the President of the United States is from Texas.” The comment ignited a firestorm with country music fans, a generally patriotic bunch, and the Dixie Chicks were blackballed and boycotted by fans, radio stations, and promoters worldwide, which essentially ended the band’s career.

5. Mariah Carey sings for Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi

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In 2008 Mariah Carey was paid a reported $1 million to play a four-song set for Muammar Qaddafi and his family at their retreat on the island of St. Barts in the Caribbean. After a huge public outcry based on Qaddafi’s human rights record and sponsorship of terrorism Carey said she was unaware who she was playing for until it was over and that she felt “horrible and embarrassed.”

She didn’t give the money back but promised to record a song to raise money for human rights.

6. Dennis Rodman goes to North Korea to hang with dictator Kim Jong-un

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In February of 2013 basketball legend Dennis Rodman visited North Korea as a personal guest of Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un where Rodman presided over a weird basketball game that matched up the North Korean ‘dream team’ and a rag tag bunch of Americans including a Harlem Globetrotters alum and a journalist from Vice.

When asked if he was aware of Kim Jong-un’s barbaric acts toward his perceived enemies (including his uncle whom he had beheaded) and his cruelty to his people, Rodman claimed ignorance while sticking with the notion that Kim was just a friend and a good guy as far as he could see. At the same time Rodman checked back into rehab.

Now: The real story of Jane Fonda and the Vietnam vets who hate her

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6 ceremonial military units that are actually badass (when they aren’t wearing funny hats)

Honor guards are an important part of the pomp and circumstance surrounding official state events. Many guard units are mostly for show, serving only to drill perfectly and impress crowds.


But some honor guards are filled with active soldiers who continue to practice killing people when they aren’t all dressed up in tall hats and shiny breastplates. Here are 6 of them.

1. The Queen’s Guard (U.K.)

The Queen’s Guard is probably the most iconic ceremonial guard unit in the world, but the men outside Buckingham Palace aren’t just a tourist attraction.

They are real soldiers and are allowed to use violence to protect themselves, their post, and the Queen. Some tourists have learned this the unpleasant way.

2. The Swiss Guard (The Vatican)

Dating back to the 1400s, the Swiss Guard are the primary protective force for the Pope. When the guardsmen aren’t wearing their funny uniforms, they’re training to kill those who threaten the Holy Father. Skip to 2:13 in the video to see members of the Swiss Guard training with their assault rifles.

3. Old Guard (U.S.)

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Photo: US Army Sgt. Luisito Brooks

The 3rd Infantry Regiment of the U.S. Army are the official honor guard of the President as well as the ceremonial guard for the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. All members are active duty infantry soldiers who also deploy to combat and train for fights in the national capital.

(Note: The 3rd Infantry Regiment is the official honor guard for the president, but the president is much more commonly seen with the Marine Sentries, four Marines assigned to guard his person in the West Wing of the White House.)

4. Republican Guard (France)

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Photo: Wikipedia/XtoF

Part of the French Gendarmerie, a military police force, the Republican Guard serves as the guard of honor for many official events and the French president, but it also guards key government installations in Paris, protects the French prime minister and president, and engages in military exercises.

5. Corazzieri Regiment (Italy)

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Photo: Wikipedia/Jollyroger

Commanded by a colonel in the Italian Army, the Carazzieri Regiment performs ceremonial duties as the honor guard of the Italian president, but they’re also an active police force. During times of war, they can be organized under the Defense Ministry.

6. Presidential Guard (Fiji)

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Photo: Republic of Fiji Military Forces

The Presidential Guard of the Republic of Fiji Military Forces is the honor guard of Fiji’s president. However, they are also in charge of the physical security of the president’s residence and nearby installations.

NOW: Here’s the intense training for Marines who guard American embassies

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10 incredible Post-9/11 combat medics who risked their lives to save others

In the field, everyone is working to ensure that nothing goes wrong. But, when the mission goes sideways, everyone thanks the heavens for the medic. The one who rushes through fire to save their patients.


Here are 10 medics who saw patients in danger and rushed to their aid, sometimes sustaining serious wounds or even dying in their attempt to save others.

1. Ranger platoon medic treats patients while enduring repeated IED blasts

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Photo: US Army Patrick Albright

Spc. Bryan C. Anderson was part of an Army Ranger assault force sent after a high-value target in Kandahar Province, Afghanistan on Oct. 5, 2013. When the team landed, an insurgent successfully fled the target building and began running away. An element of soldiers moved to catch him but they were struck by a suicide bomber and triggered two pressure plate IEDs.

Anderson rushed to the aid of the wounded even though he knew they were in the middle of a pressure plate IED belt. Over the next few hours, Anderson crisscrossed the IED belt treating the wounded. During a particularly harrowing 30 minutes, seven IEDs detonated within 10 meters of Anderson, according to his official award citation. Though some of his patients from that night died, two severely injured Rangers survived because Anderson continued rendering aid despite experiencing his own traumatic brain injuries. Anderson was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross.

2. Corpsman riddled with shrapnel pulls 4 injured comrades from vehicle while under fire

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Photo: US Marine Corp Mike Garcia

During an American-Afghan convoy, Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Benny Flores was in a vehicle struck by an IED. Despite having his own shrapnel injuries and taking incoming enemy fire, Flores began treatment of a Marine in his vehicle and then aided the Marine in taking cover. He ferried to and from the vehicle three more times, treating and moving to cover a wounded Afghan police officer and two more Marines, all while under enemy fire and without receiving treatment for his own wounds. Flores received the Silver Star.

3. Pararescueman drops into IED field to save Army Pathfinders

On May 26, 2011, a squad of U.S. Army pathfinders was crippled when it struck multiple IEDs during a mission. Air Force Staff Sgt. Thomas H. Culpepper, Jr. was voluntarily hoisted down to the battlefield only 25 meters from a known IED. Culpepper and his teammate stabilized the pathfinders and then began hoisting them into the helicopter. On the last lift, Culpepper and the final patient were nearly dropped from the helicopter when it experienced a sudden loss of power.

They were recovered into the bird and Culpepper received the Distinguished Flying Cross.

4. Corpsman continues treating casualties after being shot in the back

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Photo: US Marine Corps Sgt. Scott A. Achtemeier

On April 25, 2013, Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Kevin D. Baskin was part of a Marine task force pinned down by enemy fire outside Kushe Village, Afghanistan. Baskin treated an initial casualty under heavy fire and then moved him to a casualty evacuation vehicle. Immediately afterwards, Baskin was shot in the back. He continued to treat new casualties and refused medical treatment for his own. He supervised the evacuation of the wounded and laid down cover fire for the evacuation of the team. His actions were credited with saving the lives of four Marines and he was awarded the Silver Star.

5. Medic bounds up to wounded casualties under fire, then treats them until he dies of his own wounds

On March 29, 2011, a group of soldiers with the 101st Airborne Division were clearing a known insurgent strong point when they came under a complex ambush from enemy fire. Three members of the lead element were injured immediately. Spc. Jameson L. Lindskog bounded from the rear of the element to the troops in contact while under fire so heavy that the bullets destroyed cover whenever he moved behind it.

Lindskog triaged the casualties and began treatment. While working on an Afghan National Army soldier, Lindskog was struck in the chest by an enemy round. He remained lucid and refused treatment, asking to stay on the battlefield and give instructions to those rendering aid. His instructions saved the lives of two other men, but he died of his wounds before being evacuated. He was posthumously awarded the Silver Star.

6. Pararescue jumper treats nine casualties by moonlight while under withering enemy fire

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Photo: US Air Force Justin Connaher

The 101st Airborne called for support during an operation after they took two casualties on Nov. 14, 2010. Air Force Para rescue jumper Master Sgt. Roger D. Sparks was on the response team. His helicopter arrived and was circling the objective when the situation on the ground suddenly intensified and the 101st took four new casualties. Sparks and another airman began a 40-foot descent to the battlefield below despite the increased enemy activity.

While descending, they came under intense enemy fire and their lowering cable was struck three times by bullets. Immediately after landing, the pair was attacked with an RPG round that knocked them both from their feet. Running across the objective while under increasing machine gun and RPG fire, Sparks treated nine wounded soldiers by moonlight, many with serious problems like punctured lungs, eviscerations, and arterial bleedings. He returned to the landing area but stayed on the ground, coordinating the evacuation until the last soldier was loaded. His actions saved five lives and resulted in the remains of four Americans making it back to their families. He was awarded the Silver Star.

7. Medic shields casualties from mortar fire until forced to move, continues treatment throughout

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Photo: US Army Pfc. Scott Davis

Spc. Monica Lin Brown was an airborne medic on a combat patrol in Afghanistan on April 25, 2007, when an up-armored Humvee struck an IED. The IED was the first part of a complex ambush on the column. Brown moved 300 meters under enemy fire to the burning vehicle and began caring for the wounded. She triaged them onsite and then moved them with the help of the platoon sergeant into a nearby wadi. She continued to render aid and used her own body as a shield while 15 enemy mortar rounds landed within 100 meters of her position.

The mortar fire eventually forced her to move the wounded two more times as she continued treating and shielding them. The wounded men were eventually medically evacuated and Brown was awarded the Silver Star.

8. Medic dies after treating casualties under ‘barrage of RPG fire’

On Nov. 12, 2010, Spc. Shannon Chihuahua was part of a blocking position in Kunar Province, Afghanistan. A squad providing overwatch suddenly came under a complex enemy attack with small arms, machine guns, and RPGs. Chihuahua ran from a relatively safe position into the heat of the fighting to treat the wounded.

Moving from soldier to soldier providing care, Chihuahua eventually found himself the focus of the enemies’ attacks. Chihuahua went down under a “barrage of RPG fire,” according to Sgt. Kevin Garrison, the squad leader whose position was the focus of the first attack. Chihuahua was awarded the Silver Star.

9. Stryker medic pulls three casualties from a burning Bradley

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Spc. Christopher Waiters makes his first attempt to enter a burning Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicle on April 5, 2007 in Iraq. Photo: US Army

Staff Sgt. Christopher Bernard Waiters was the senior medic in his Stryker company when a Bradley Fighting Vehicle struck an IED and began to burn with its crew still inside on April 5, 2007. He parked his vehicle in a security position and immediately engaged two enemy fighters.

He then ran to the burning Bradley on his own and pulled the driver and vehicle commander out. He treated both and escorted them back to his own Stryker. That was when he learned another soldier was in the troop compartment. He ran back and entered the burning vehicle, falling back only for a moment when the 25-mm ammunition began to explode. He re-entered, saw the deceased soldier and went for a body bag. Another medic retrieved the body while Waiters drove the wounded back for further treatment.

10. Medical sergeant performs surgery in the open while under fire

As the medical sergeant on a civil affairs team, Staff Sgt. Michael P. Pate was part of a patrol in Afghanistan. The group came under heavy fire from multiple machine gun positions and at least six other enemy shooters. Early in the ensuing firefight, the rear man of the element was shot in the back. Pate and his team leader rushed to the man and drove him to what little cover was available, a six-inch deep ditch. Though his patient was slightly covered, Pate was fully exposed as he performed surgical interventions on the wounded man. During this time, Pate also assisted the joint-terminal attack controller with directing airstrikes and coordinated the medical evacuation for the wounded. He was awarded the Silver Star.

NOW: Medal of Honor: Meet the 16 heroes of Iraq and Afghanistan who received the nation’s highest honor

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