The saying goes, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” Sometimes, however, it’s both. There are times in life when knowing the right person can give you knowledge that can change your outlook. Occasionally, we meet someone interesting who inadvertently gives us rules to live by that can change our lives. Here are seven rules for life I learned from a conversation with a former intelligence officer:
Never take anything for granted or at face value. I get it, this sounds paranoid. Think about it, though, how many times in life have you simply believed what someone told you only to find out later that it was complete and utter BS? How many times have you been hurt because you believed a lie? On the surface, it might sound paranoid, but it can save you a lot of trouble and heartache.
Never tell all you know.
It’s important to not show all your cards. By giving someone almost all you know, but not everything, you then protect yourself. Sometimes it’s okay to hold back a little bit.
Never rely on one source.
This is the same as when someone tells you not to settle on the first car you look at or the first house you view. You should shop around when it comes to major purchases. In the same way, you should do your own research on things. Never simply believe the word of one person. There are always three sides to a story: view one, view two and the truth that lies somewhere in the middle.
Constantly re-evaluate and revise.
The validity and integrity of facts can change, so it is important to constantly re-evaluate a situation, and be ready to revise your stance. If you’re truly paying attention at any given time, you will be able to see these changes and be prepared for them. Sometimes this can mean you have to re-evaluate everything you thought to be true.
Always remain objective.
This is important in so many aspects in life. By remaining objective, your view on any given situation can’t be clouded. If you train yourself to always be objective, then you can enter into any circumstance with a clear head.
Trust no one you’re not absolutely certain is trustworthy.
There are few people in life we can be absolutely certain we can trust. When it comes to anyone else, you should approach everything with a questioning opinion, circling back to the “question everything” rule. Protect yourself by not just assuming everyone you meet is trustworthy.
Rely on your gut.
This might be the most important rule on this list, at least in my opinion. Too often we second guess ourselves, and it’s almost always a mistake. “Rely on your gut feeling, it’s very rarely wrong.” This is true when it comes to test taking. It’s true when it comes to making decisions. It is especially true when it comes to your judgement of other people. If your gut is telling you something isn’t right, 9 times out of 10, it isn’t right. Trust your instincts, they won’t steer you wrong.
Each of these is a rule that those in the intelligence world live by and swear by. They live out these rules both professionally and personally, they aren’t something that can just be turned off. By implementing even part of these rules into your own life, you could quite possibly save yourself pain and heartache in the future. Always be objective. Always be alert. And always, always trust your gut.
An American and an Australian who were held by the Taliban in Afghanistan for over three years were freed Nov. 19, 2019, as part of a prisoner swap.
The State Department said in a statement on Nov. 19, 2019, that the American Kevin King, 63, and the Australian Timothy Weeks, 50, were “successfully recovered” in the morning and were in the custody of the US military.
The department added that both men would soon be reunited with their families.
Weeks and King were teachers at the American University of Afghanistan in the capital of Kabul and were kidnapped at gunpoint outside the university in August 2016. The two men were held hostage for over three years.
In 2017, the Taliban released a propaganda video showing the two men in black robes and looking disheveled. In the video, the men discussed their time in captivity and urged their governments to negotiate with the Taliban to secure their release.
In a statement in 2017, the Taliban said King was “gravely ill” and needed urgent care.
The State Department said the Taliban released the professors as a “goodwill measure.” The department added that the Taliban intended to release 10 Afghan prisoners, and the Afghan government intended to release three Taliban prisoners as part of the exchange.
Pictures taken in 2014 by Afghanistan’s National Directorate of Security that officials said showed Anas Haqqani, left, a senior leader of the Qaeda-linked Haqqani network, and Hafiz Rashid, another commander.
(National Directorate of Security)
The men released as part of the swap were senior members of Haqqani network, which is linked to Al Qaeda.
“We see these developments as hopeful signs that the Afghan war, a terrible and costly conflict that has lasted 40 years, may soon conclude through a political settlement,” the State Department said.
Australian Minister of Foreign Affairs Marise Payne said that the Australian government was “profoundly relieved” by the agreement and thanked the Trump administration and the Afghan government for their assistance.
“We regard this release as one of a series of confidence-building measures that are taking place in Afghanistan,” she said.
Payne added that Weeks’ family had “asked for privacy” but conveyed that they felt “relief that their long ordeal is over.”
According to The Washington Post, the Afghan government initially said the pair appeared to have been kidnapped by a criminal gang. The Pentagon and Navy SEALs also unsuccessfully attempted to rescue the two men in a botched mission in eastern Afghanistan.
The US had kickstarted talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government in September 2019 but abandoned talks after a Taliban attack in Kabul killed a US soldier.
This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.
Narrator: Kim Jong Un has been the supreme leader of North Korea since December 2011, but despite how often Kim makes the news, you probably don’t know that much about him. Since its founding in 1948, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s totalitarian government has heavily restricted the information that comes in and out of the country.
However, Kim’s life is not a complete mystery. We know most of Kim’s childhood was spent hidden from the public eye in Switzerland. He’s a fan of former NBA player Dennis Rodman, married to one of North Korea’s cheerleaders, and calls his relationship with US President Donald Trump “special.” Here’s everything we know about Kim’s mysterious life and family.
Kim Jong Un is believed to have been born in the early 1980s to Kim Jong Il and Ko Yong Hui. His birth year remains unconfirmed by the North Korean government, which is a contrast to how his father and grandfather’s birthdays are celebrated as national holidays. Kim first lived with his mother in the capital city of Pyongyang with the other North Korean elite, but later, Kim was sent to live in Switzerland. Even though the Kim regime doesn’t allow North Korean citizens to leave the country, or even travel within North Korea without permission, members of its own family have enjoyed luxurious lives abroad.
In Bern, Switzerland, the family lived in apartments purchased by the North Korean government for roughly million. The Kim family’s photo album shows Kim Jong Un doing everything from visiting Disneyland Paris to skiing in the Swiss Alps, and when he wasn’t jet-setting around Europe, the future North Korean leader attended the International School of Berne, a private English-language school that costs more than ,000 a year. Known to his classmates as Pac Un, Kim Jong Un was reportedly obsessed with basketball. In Bern, Kim seemed to wear only Adidas tracksuits and Nike sneakers.
Kim’s time in Switzerland ended in 2001, when his father ordered his return to North Korea. Once he was back, Kim started attending Kim Il Sung Military University with his older brother Kim Jong Chol. Although his father, Kim Jong Il, hadn’t formally declared an heir, Kim Jong Un was widely seen as his successor. Kim Jong Il reportedly thought that his second-oldest son, Kim Jong Chol, was “effeminate” and weak. Meanwhile, his oldest son and Kim Jong Un’s half-brother, Kim Jong Nam, found life in North Korea oppressive.
Kim Jong Un was quickly promoted up the political and military ladder, despite lacking major military experience. The BBC reported that he was made a four-star general, deputy chairman of the power-wielding Central Military Commission of the Workers’ Party, and a member of the policy-making Central Committee. In 2011, after the death of his father, Kim Jong Un became the third-generation supreme leader of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
In 2012, North Korean media announced that Kim had married a woman named Ri Sol Ju. Not much is known about Ri, other than that she’s a former cheerleader and singer in North Korea’s famous “Army of Beauties.” They are believed to have three children, though their ages and gender have been kept a secret.
During the early years of Kim’s reign, it was believed that his aunt and uncle were the real decision makers. His aunt Kim Kyong Hui and her husband, Jang Song Thaek, were trusted advisers who had served on various government committees for years. However, in 2013, Kim ordered the execution of his uncle and his uncle’s inner circle. Kim’s rocky start as supreme leader continued as he pushed for North Korea to increase its nuclear arms program in 2013. In just six years, Kim Jong Un had conducted more nuclear tests than both his father and his grandfather combined.
Then, in February 2017, international condemnation towards North Korea increased when Kim Jong Un’s half-brother, Kim Jong Nam, was attacked at Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Malaysia and later died en route to the hospital. South Korean and US officials speculated that Kim Jong Un ordered the assassination of his half-brother, and Kim Jong Nam’s death only served to heighten the world’s suspicion of North Korea’s leadership.
Donald Trump: I say to the North, do not underestimate us, and do not try us.
Narrator: Over in the US, after taking office, President Trump broke the previous administration’s “strategic patience” approach towards North Korea and demanded immediate denuclearization. Kim Jong Un responded by trying to test a nuclear missile at the same time Vice President Mike Pence was scheduled to be visiting South Korea. North Korea continued testing nuclear weapons, while Trump took to Twitter to taunt Kim. Kim responded with his own insults, and as the two leaders continued sniping at each other, odds of war between the two countries seemed to increase. But then 2018 changed everything.
That March, Kim Jong Un made a secret trip to Beijing, his first known trip outside North Korea since coming into power. Just one month later, Kim made history when he met with South Korean President Moon Jae-in, becoming the first North Korean leader to set foot in South Korea in 65 years. Later that summer, Kim met with Trump in Singapore. It was the first meeting between a North Korean leader and a sitting US president. Kim went on to call his relationship with Trump “special.”
As of April 2020, it appears Kim’s health may be less than optimal, and rumors are circulating that he may have had surgery. Kim wasn’t seen at his grandfather’s birthday celebration on April 15, which is abnormal, considering it’s North Korea’s most important holiday. There’s no way to know for sure why Kim hasn’t been seen, but there are reasons to believe it’s health-related. Back in 2008, his father wasn’t seen at an important parade. It was later revealed that his father had had a stroke, so it wouldn’t be the first time a North Korean leader missed an important event due to health concerns.
Kim’s been reported to have health issues as early as 2014, when he disappeared from public view for 40 days. He returned limping and using a cane to walk. However, Kim could just be staying away from the public to protect himself from COVID-19, even though North Korea’s been saying it has zero confirmed cases of the virus in the country, something public health experts find hard to believe.
Regardless of the reason why Kim has been MIA, the mystery around his health has brought other questions to the forefront, like who will succeed him? His kids are too young, his brother seems unlikely, and though his sister, Kim Yo Jong, holds a political title, there has never been a female leader of North Korea, and that’s unlikely to change anytime soon.
There’s also the critical question of what could happen to North Korea’s nuclear arsenal. The US has previously made offers to help rebuild North Korea’s weak economy if its government hands over its nuclear weapons, but we’ll have to wait to find out if North Korea will take the US up on its offer.
Noted astronomer and satellite expert Ralf Vandebergh of Nijswiller, Limburg, Netherlands, spent months searching the skies for one of the Holy Grails of sky spotting, the secretive U.S. Air Force Boeing X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle. In May 2019, he finally succeeded.
Remarkably, on June 30 and July 2, 2019, that Vandebergh finally captured some rare photos of the secret military spacecraft. Fifty-year veteran space journalist and author of the new book, “Moon Rush: The New Space Race”, Leonard David broke the story about Vandebergh’s sighting and photos on Saturday, July 6, 2019 on LiveScience.com. The photos are now being republished and shared around the world.
Journalist Leonard David quoted astronomer Ralf Vandebergh in his story on LiveScience.com as saying, “When I tried to observe it again [in] mid-June, it didn’t meet the predicted time and path.” Vandebergh went on to tell Leonard David in his article that, “It turned out to have maneuvered to another orbit. Thanks to the amateur satellite observers’ network, it was rapidly found in orbit again, and I was able to take some images on June 30 and July 2.”
The Air Force’s X-37B began as a test project with NASA in 1999 but was acquired by the U.S. Department of Defense in 2004. Most sources list two operational X-37B spacecraft and a single X-37A. The fact that only three exist, their missions and roles are classified and they operate in space makes them incredibly difficult to get photos of, especially when performing an active mission as in Vandebergh’s photos.
Even more remarkably, according to Vandebergh’s photo analysis, he may have actually captured the X-37B with its cargo bay door open, performing some type of experiment or operation.
Vandebergh told reporters, “It is really a small object, even at only 300 kilometers [186 miles] altitude, so don’t expect the detail level of ground-based images of the real space shuttle. We can recognize a bit of the nose, payload bay and tail of this mini-shuttle, with even a sign of some smaller detail.”
Vandebergh used a 10-inch F/4,8 aperture Newtonian telescope fitted with an Astrolumina ALccd 5L-11 mono CMOS camera to capture his photos. He tracked his elusive quarry across the sky by hand using a small 6×30 spotting scope to line up his telescope for the photos.
Official USAF photo of X-37B (left) and astronomer Ralf Vandebergh (right).
(USAF and Ralf Vandebergh)
Little is known about the current role of the two X-37Bs and the single X-37A. Most likely the X-37Bs are in some form of “operational test” use with the USAF while the X-37A reportedly remains a combined Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and NASA spacecraft with an equally secretive role.
While most information in the public domain lists both the X-37B and X-37A as “test” vehicles, the X-37B has performed unusually long duration space flights for testing. Remarkably, the current mission being performed by the X-37B in Vandebergh’s photos is designated “Mission OTV-5”. This mission began 670 days ago on September 7, 2017 when it was boosted into orbit on the SpaceX Falcon 9 orbital delivery spacecraft that launched from the NASA facility at Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
While little is known about the actual mission of this current X-37B flight, author Leonard David may provide some insights in his report for LiveScience.com where he wrote:
“X-37B missions are carried out under the auspices of the Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office, and mission control for OTV flights is handled by the 3rd Space Experimentation Squadron at Schriever Air Force Base in Colorado. This squadron oversees operations of the X-37B and is tagged as the Air Force Space Command’s premier organization for space-based demonstrations, pathfinders and experiment testing, gathering information on objects high above Earth and carrying out other intelligence-gathering duties.”
This article originally appeared on The Aviationist. Follow @theaviationist on Twitter.
There’s stolen valor and then there’s you’ve-got-to-be-kidding-me-stolen-and-savaged valor. Military impostors are the WORST. Check out the faux military cred antics of these guys:
1. The impostor Green Beret who botched a civilian rescue mission
People first noticed something fishy about the obese “Green Beret” when he tried to buy some ATV’s on discount for his fellow soldiers. An active-duty sergeant quickly noticed that despite the captain’s ranking on his uniform, William James Clark was wearing a black beret. Seriously?
Then things went from slimy to sinister: On May 26, 2002, a tugboat crashed into a bridge on the Arkansas River in Oklahoma, killing 14 people and sending more into the water. People rushed to the river, desperately trying to save the victims. Then you-know-who showed up.
Not only did Clark tell the emergency responders that he was in charge — disrupting the professionals who included members of the Army Corps of Engineers, National Transportation Safety Board and the FBI — he also went through the victims’ personal items and commandeered a truck from a nearby dealership on “The National Guard’s orders”. Class act.
But wait, there’s more: A real Army officer died in the accident, so Clark took it upon himself to break the news to the man’s widow, keeping up the charade even in the face of a dead man’s grieving wife.
“Captain” Clark was finally called out by the town mayor, at which point he fled to Canada where he hid for a few days before getting locked up in federal prison.
2. The “veteran” professor who fooled his whole school — and an entire academic field
He also claimed that the movie “Taken” was inspired by his own life — he said his daughter actually died in real life after being sold into sex slavery and getting hacked to death with machetes. Schools and conferences around the country scrambled to get Hillar to speak at their events. And it wasn’t just civilians he fooled; many of his students were active-duty service members.
After 10 years of this charade, Hillar finally ignited the suspicions of the special forces community, and the impostor — who had never served in the military or even graduated college — was outed as a fraud once and for all.
3. The serial impostor who BS’d his way to the White House
As shockingly easy as it was for our previous contenders to commit stolen valor in recent years, it was basically a cake walk in 1915. This was a time before CAC cards and internet databases, so if you woke up and decided you wanted to impersonate a Navy sailor, most people would have taken it at face value.
Which is exactly what Stanley Clifford Weyman decided to do — for over ten years. For Weymen’s first trick he disguised himself as a Romanian sailor, referring to himself as Lieutenant Commander Ethan Allen Weinberg and boarding the USS Wyoming unannounced. Surprisingly, the U.S. Navy was cool with this, accepting that he was just a friendly foreign officer. Apparently all you needed was a weird-looking uniform and a smile to dupe people back then — simpler times.
After an inspection, “Commander Weinberg” invited the officers to dine with him at the Astor Hotel, one of New York City’s finest establishments of the day. The captain was thrilled, and the dinner went swimmingly — until the police rolled in and cuffed Weyman, who reportedly asked if he could at least finish dessert first. (Probably not the way he envisioned the evening going.)
This wasn’t Weyman’s first duplicitous dinner, either; in 1910 he faked being the American consul to Morocco as a ticket into all of New York’s fanciest restaurants, sending the bill to the U.S. government after each meal before finally getting caught.
You would think that after this many busted dinners, Weyman would lose his appetite for crime. You would be wrong. In 1921, this serial impostor decided to take his one-man show to the big leagues, and ended up shaking hands with the president of the United States. Yes, you read that right.
To pull of his greatest stunt, Weyman donned a U.S. Navy uniform and reached out to an Afghan princess named Fatima, who was visiting the states at the time. Weyman convinced her that he was from the State Department and could arrange a meeting between her and President Warren G. Harding for the low, low price of $10,000 ($130,000 today). Fatima conceded, excited to meet the president.
But Weyman didn’t stop once he got his cash. Instead of ditching Fatima, he was true to his word, and got her the meeting with the president.
He also lost the $10,000 because he needed to rent a private boxcar suite for the princess to travel in from New York to Washington and set her up in a fancy hotel once she arrived, but this guy was in it for the thrill, not the money.
And thrill he got. The meeting happened, he met Harding, and no one was the wiser until some members of the press realized that this random naval officer looked a hell of a lot like the crazy guy who kept getting arrested for masquerading as random naval officers.
Weyman was arrested after the meeting, again. He would later get out after his two-year sentence and continue impersonating military personnel and getting arrested until the end of his days, living out his weird criminal dreams.
4. The dude who assembled his own fake Special Forces unit
You know the saying “shoot for the moon and you’ll land among the stars”? This guy took it a little too seriously.
David Deng decided that it was time to move on from civilian life, and what better way to do that than by cutting out the middle man and creating your own special forces unit?
Deng knew that in order to get this “operation” off the ground he would need something very important — recruits. Deng preyed on Chinese immigrants who had recently moved to the Los Angeles area, guaranteeing them eventual citizenship and better luck with the ladies. Sadly, over 100 gullible hopefuls “enlisted” into Deng’s secret program, paying hundreds of dollars for the chance at a better life.
Deng led the young men in drills he’d learned from old training manuals, and issued everyone uniforms and IDs he purchased from an apparently very sweet, trusting military surplus store.
Deng’s Special Forces had a good run, as far as fake military units go. The group got to take a private military tour at the USS Midway Museum, and marched in Los Angeles’ Chinese New Year parades. They became very popular among the local Chinese-American community, and few people questioned their legitimacy.
5. The political impostor who faked a military record — and paralysis — to make it to Congress
Politics can be dirty. If we’ve learned anything from “House of Cards“, it’s that everyone has a secret, and it’s only a matter of time before your enemies drag yours out and strangle you with it. Utah Representative Douglas Stringfellow was no exception in this regard. His road to success was nearly as murky and duplicitous as Frank Underwood’s (except for the murdering Zoe part).
Stringfellow knew that a surefire way to earn the love of the American people was to have a military record. Luckily, he had one — a WWII hero and a Silver Star winner, exactly what 1950s America wanted from a leader as the Cold War loomed closer. Or at least, that’s what he told people.
Stringfellow claimed that he was a member of the elite OSS (Office of Strategic Services), a WII-born intelligence agency that would later evolve into the CIA. As such, he undertook a mission to save nuclear scientist Otto Hahn from the Nazis, only to be captured and tortured by the Germans until he was left paralyzed from the waist down.
Too good to be true? Well . . . yes, actually. Stringfellow was really just a private in the Air Force, not a scientist-saving hot shot that got tortured by Nazi cronies. The OSS thing and the Silver Star were BS too. But the most shocking lie of them all? He wasn’t paralyzed.
Utah bought the wheelchair routine, however, and voted him into office. But after two years in the position, his secret got out, and his image was completely destroyed. Even The Church of Latter-Day Saints, Stringfellow’s place of worship, shamed him — forcing him to make a public confession of his misdeeds.
6. The guy who faked PTSD — on television
Sometimes impostors are cunning. Sometimes they’re crazy. And sometimes, as in this case, they’re both. 45-year-old Brian Camacho — aka Brian Kahn – managed to convince Military Minds, a community network that helps veterans find treatment for PTSD, that he needed help after several deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. Military Minds sent him to Canada to receive medical assistance, and no one questioned his legitimacy. And why would they? The guy was decked out in a full military uniform, complete with eagle, globe and anchor tattoo.
It wasn’t long after this arrangement, however, that Kahn’s brother Ian came forward, confessing his brother’s real name — and the fact that he had never served in the military. In an interview with the Military Times, Ian Kahn lamented that “It’s all a game to him. He really believes he went to Iraq and Afghanistan.”
Kahn also appeared in one of Military Minds’s promotional videos, once again referring to himself as Marine 1st Sgt. Brian Camacho. The whole situation is sad and weird, but the fact that this guy claimed that he suffered from PTSD, a very real and debilitating challenge for many servicemen and women who return home, is just sick. Stolen valor is one thing, but this is just mind boggling.
You can see Kahn in the short video below, bulls**ing his way through a QA as if he has actually served.
A few days ago reading the news that Lt. Col. Ralph Featherstone, Marine All Weather Fighter Attack Squadron 225 squadron commander since last April, had been fired on Jan. 24 after performing a flyover during a “sundown” ceremony at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, “due to concerns about poor judgment” I immediately thought his F/A-18 had performed some kind of insane low passage or buzzed the Tower as done in the famous Top Gun scene.
Then, I found the video obtained by the San Diego Union-Tribune that shows the actual flyover. According to the media outlet, an air wing official confirmed the removal was linked to the flight shown in the following video:
What is more, “Featherstone was in the rear seat of the jet when it flew lower and faster than was approved in the day’s flight plan.”
In about 30 years attending airshows and events and 25 years reporting about military aviation I’ve seen many many “stunts” (i.e. aggressive maneuvers at low altitude) far worse than the one in the video above. Maybe we miss some detail about the whole story here, but that flyover is far from being “low”! No matter you are an expert or not, I think you won’t find it dangerous from any point of view.
Let’s not forget that the sundown ceremony celebrated the squadron’s transition from the “Legacy Hornet” to the F-35B STOVL (Short Take Off Vertical Landing) variant of the Lightning II aircraft. It’s an event aimed at boosting the morale of the squadron as it moves to another chapter of its history. Do you see anything “unsafe” in that passage?
Another week in isolation, another week of memes. We’re grateful for the people of the internet who are using their creative energy to make us laugh. From Tiger King to overindulging on our quarantine snacks, these are our 50 favorite memes for the week.
1. Shelf sustainable and so delicious
Plus, so, so cheap.
2. We miss sports
To be fair, I think that’s a little more than six feet. Go Chiefs!
3. You’re open?
I’ve probably done this.
4. Higher power + slushies
While this wasn’t original to the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s been retweeted lately since it’s so appropriate now.
5. The Cure
Hahahaha. Sorry, not sorry.
6. Ok, actually sorry
2020: Hold my beer.
7. Need some new hobbies
Bonus points if you like to touch your face in restaurants.
8. Poor Ernie
I wonder if he and Bert are social distancing?
Live footage of me at Costco.
10. Beauty and the Beast
Excited to be singing this for the next three months.
11. Love in the time of COVID-19
The honeymoon is definitely over.
12. Dolly has the truth
Also 11:00pm – 2:00am.
13. No expert needed
These are a relic!
14. Groundhog Day
Hard to see your shadow if you’re not allowed outside…
15. SMWP&L ISO SWTP
Polish up on your conversation skills since ya’ll aren’t going to meet in person for awhile.
16. Mr. Rogers
Also, carry the one.
17. Baby Yoda knows
Seriously, why hasn’t soap always been anecessity?
18. World’s Best Boss
The Michael Scott cringe is real.
19. Rainy days
At this point, my kids would prefer a paper bag.
20. Get it, Sheryl
Like a good neighbor, a She Shed is there.
21. Lenten sacrifice
Friends, family, parks, dining in public, the list goes on…
22. The force be with you
You’re on mute, Luke!
23. April Fools
Spoiler alert: It didn’t happen.
24. Refund requested
Unsubscribe us from this year, please.
25. Spider pun
You know you’re going to repeat this one.
Oh how the little things seem so big now!
27. The windows to the walls
Raise the roof, my friends.
28. When you’re digging deep in the freezer
Quarantine doesn’t necessarily bring out the best in us. And kids are learning allll sorts of new vocab words.
29. The Last Supper
Holy Week is definitely a little different this year…
But if there’s a taco eat-a-long, I’m in.
31. Brady Bunch
Pretty much every zoom classroom meeting.
32. Oh Dwight
Stanley knows what’s up.
33. The days
^^^ All the times I haven’t worn real pants.
34. It all runs together
Fridays have never been so obsolete.
Baths are the new big event.
36. Carol for the win
You cool cats and kittens.
37. Arts and crafts for the win
It’s a big stress relief.
She’s definitely aging better than most of us.
39. The hand off
Not pictured: the wine glass handing the baton to the bourbon.
40. Life skills
Make sure your selfie shows some sort of self-preservation ability.
41. Joe Exotic
Or RC Cola.
42. Mattress games
Also excellent for sledding down stairs.
43. Homeschool geometry
10 in 10 chance there are at least 14 Tupperware without lids or 14 extra lids. Either way, 0% likelihood it’s a one to one ratio.
44. Roll Tide
45. The quarantine 15 (or 60)
But there are just so many snacks.
46. Bobby Boucher
This education brought to you by day drinking.
47. Dexter approved
And going into a bank with a bandana over your face is expected…
48. Apocalypse wear
49. Nemo knows
We’ve come so far… but seriously, now what?
50. Every remote employee
And yet we’ll keep doing it every day…
Stay safe, keep your sense of humor and wash your hands!
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made an unannounced visit to Baghdad, where he met with Iraqi officials to discuss the United States’ security concerns amid what he called “escalating” Iranian activity.
Pompeo’s May 7, 2019, visit to the Iraqi capital came after the United States earlier this week announced the deployment an aircraft carrier battle group to the Middle East, which U.S. official said was in response to threats to American forces and the country’s allies from Iran.
The U.S. intelligence was “very specific” about “attacks that were imminent,” Pompeo said in Baghdad, without providing details.
Tehran has dismissed the reported threat as “psychological warfare.”
Tensions between Tehran and Washington have escalated since President Donald Trump one year ago withdrew the United States from the 2015 between Iran and world powers and imposed sweeping sanctions on Iran.
After meeting with Iraqi President Barham Salih and Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi in Baghdad, Pompeo told reporters: “We talked to them about the importance of Iraq ensuring that it’s able to adequately protect Americans in their country.”
U.S. Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo meets Iraqi President Barham Salih, in Baghdad, Iraq on Jan. 9, 2019.
(State Department Photo)
He said the purpose of the meetings also was to inform Iraqi leaders about “the increased threat stream that we had seen” so they could effectively provide protection to U.S. forces.
Pompeo said he had assured Iraqi officials that the United States stands ready to “continue to ensure that Iraq is a sovereign, independent nation.”
“We don’t want anyone interfering in their country, certainly not by attacking another nation inside of Iraq,” he said.
Asked about the decision to deploy additional forces to the Middle East, Pompeo said: “The message that we’ve sent to the Iranians, I hope, puts us in a position where we can deter and the Iranians will think twice about attacking American interests.”
After his four-hour visit, Pompeo tweeted that his meetings in Baghdad were used “to reinforce our friendship to underline the need for Iraq to protect diplomatic facilities Coalition personnel.”
Iraqi Foreign Minister Mohammed Ali al-Hakim said the sides discussed “bilateral ties, the latest security developments in the region, and anti-terrorism efforts.”
U.S. forces are deployed in Iraq as part of the international coalition against the extremist group Islamic State.
Ahead of the visit, Pompeo said he would also discuss with the Iraqis pending business accords, including “big energy deals that can disconnect them from Iranian energy.”
Earlier, the U.S. secretary of state had attended a meeting of the Arctic Council in Finland and abruptly canceled a planned visit to Germany due to what a spokesperson said were “pressing issues.”
White House national-security adviser John Bolton on May 5, 2019, said that the deployment of the USS Abraham Lincoln aircraft carrier and accompanying ships, along with a bomber task force, to waters near Iran was intended to send “a clear and unmistakable message to the Iranian regime that any attack on United States interests or on those of our allies will be met with unrelenting force.”
The United States was acting “in response to a number of troubling and escalatory indications and warnings,” Bolton said.
The Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln.
(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Zachary S. Welch)
The Pentagon said on May 7, 2019, that the U.S. bomber task force being sent would consist of long-range, nuclear-capable B-52 bombers.
Keyvan Khosravi, spokesman for Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, said the USS Abraham Lincoln was already due in the Persian Gulf and dismissed the U.S. announcement as a “clumsy” attempt to recycle old news for “psychological warfare.”
“From announcements of naval movements (that actually occurred last month) to dire warnings about so-called ‘Iranian threats’,” Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif tweeted. “If US and clients don’t feel safe, it’s because they’re despised by the people of the region — blaming Iran won’t reverse that.”
The latest escalation between Washington and Tehran comes ahead of the May 8 anniversary of the U.S. pullout from the nuclear agreement with Iran that provided the country with relief from sanctions in return for curbs on its nuclear program.
After decades of appearances in video games, cartoons, plush figurines, and all other manner of merchandising, Sonic the Hedgehog is getting his own live-action film.
That film — titled “Sonic the Hedgehog” — was scheduled to arrive November 2019. But the first trailer for it landed earlier this year, and the reaction was strong to say the least. Strongly negative, that is.
The issue mostly centered on the look of Sonic:
Old Sonic (left) and new Sonic (right).
After years of cartoon depictions of the speedy blue hedgehog, the pseudo-real version of Sonic had some people freaking out. So much so, in fact, that the film’s director vowed to change the look of Sonic ahead of the movie’s release.
Moreover, the movie was delayed to re-work Sonic’s look — it’s now scheduled to arrive on Feb. 14, 2020.
Now, six months later, we’ve got a new trailer with a much, much less weird-looking Sonic.
No teeth! More cartoony! And he’s got gloves!
Take a look at the latest trailer for “Sonic the Hedgehog” right here:
Sonic The Hedgehog (2020) – New Official Trailer – Paramount Pictures
Northern Afghanistan is at risk of falling to the Islamic State. Their latest attack in Sar-e Pul Province killed 15 Taliban fighters at prayer, but it’s just the latest in a series of ongoing conflicts that have seen hundred killed on both sides. The ISIS stronghold in Nangarhar Province is pushing westward in an effort to undermine the al-Qaeda-affiliated Taliban there.
All the groups involved in the fighting, including those who support the Ghani government in Kabul, are having the same logistical and intelligence problems faced by anyone fighting in the mountainous country — fighters and civilians switch their allegiances as often as their clothes.
The two terrorist groups are vying for power in the country’s eastern and northern regions. The Taliban want to push the Islamic State out of the country before it can establish a clear footprint. In June 2018, the Taliban launched two sweeping offensives in Kunar and Laghman. ISIS, for its part, did not observe the recent three-day ceasefire for the Eid al-Fitr holiday observed by government and Taliban troops.
The black represents ISIS support as of December 2015.
(Institute for the Study of War)
It was during that holiday, the holiest of days for the world’s Muslim population, that ISIS killed 25 in a suicide car bomb attack in Nangarhar. According to The National, a newspaper based in the United Arab Emirates, ISIS sources say the recent Taliban advances were effective and that the Islamic State is experiencing “setbacks” in the rocky provinces of Kunar.
Fighters from Islamic State arrived in force in Afghanistan in 2015, just as ISIS fortunes in Iraq and Syria started to turn sour. The strength the group projected outside the country in recent years invited many defections from other terrorists groups and militias, especially from the Pakistani Taliban. The Afghan Taliban and ISIS have been butting heads ever since.
The Taliban dislikes the Islamic State’s brand of Islamic fundamentalism.
A lot. A whole lot.
ISIS hates that the Taliban draws its legitimacy through ethnic and nationalistic foundations, not Islamic jurisprudence like the kind declared by the Islamic State. To ISIS, Afghanistan is a province they call “Khorasan” and subject to the rule of their self-proclaimed caliphate. The Afghan Taliban’s alliances with Pakistan’s intelligence services and even Shia Muslims are just a few more reasons ISIS declares the Taliban to be non-Muslim nationalists.
There will be no possibility for peaceful resolution between the two.
A crowdfunding campaign has launched to reunite two World War II veterans who fought against each other during the war and became as close as brothers after the war. The mission is to bring the two World War II veterans together again for a mini-documentary in Normandy, France.
They fought each other in Tunisia, Africa; however, they reunited decades after, and became friends, even as close as brothers. Sadly, there is not much time left, it may be even the last opportunity to do so. Graham lives in the United Kingdom and Charley in Germany, with their health decreasing and them getting older each day, it may be the last opportunity to have them meet again. But with your help, they may be able to reunite one more time and have their last encounter and story told in a mini-documentary.
This is their story
In late March 1943, Allied and Axis forces prepared for one of the fiercest battles of the World War II African campaign near Mareth, Tunisia. It was here, where after four months on the run, Rommel’s Africa Corps took one of its last stands. Enclosed on one side by rocky, hilly terrain and the Mediterranean on the other, capturing Mareth proved a difficult proposition for the British Eighth Army.
In order to outflank the Axis forces, the British 8th Armored Brigade, along with New Zealand infantry swung southwest and then north through an inland mountain pass to attack the Axis troops from behind.
They ran into the German 21. Panzer Division. Karl Friedrich “Charley” Koenig, only newly arrived in Tunisia as a 19-year-old officer candidate, waited for his first combat as a loader in a Panzer IV of Panzer-Regiment 5.
Across the hardscrabble Matmata hills, Sherman tanks of the Sherwood Ranger Yeomanry Tank Regiment readied themselves for the attack. In one sat machine gunner and co-driver Graham Stevenson. Graham had fought at the battle at El Alamein and bailed out of a tank as a 17-year-old. Taking part in the hard fighting all along the way from Alamein through Tunisia, he had just barely reached the tender age of 18.
On March 23rd, Panzer Regiment 5 and the Sherwood Rangers tanks stalked one another and engaged in individual tank battles. Shells whistled loudly by Charley’s tank, his experienced commander advising calm. Their Panzer IV would not be knocked out on this day, but it would not be for long.
The next day, a radio signal warned the Germans of an incoming RAF Hurricane IID tank buster attack. Scrambling out of their Panzer IV, Charley’s crew moved side-to-side as Hurricanes swept in from all directions at nearly zero altitude firing their powerful 40-millimeter cannon.
An accurate Hurricane pilot hit the rear of the tank, shortly before a lone British artillery shell, fired out of the blue, made a direct hit on their front deck. A half-track arrived in the night to tow them to the be repaired. Charley was now out of the way, while Graham and his crew took part in the Tebaga Gap battle on March 26th, the Shermans and the Maori infantry inflicting a severe mauling on the 21. Panzer-Division.
Graham survived Africa and returned to England with the Sherwood Rangers to train in Sherman DD swimming tanks for the invasion of Normandy. Due to a slight disagreement with a commanding officer that landed him in the guardhouse, he came in on Gold Beach, Normandy a bit later than his Sherwood Ranger comrades.
In his first day of hedgerow fighting, untested and frightened infantrymen escorting his tank fled under fire, leaving Graham and his tank commander to conduct their own reconnaissance. Just steps outside of his tank, Graham was hit and nearly killed by German machine gun fire. As an artery bled out, his life hung on a thread. Luckily, a nearby aid station saved his life. But his war ended there.
Charley’s career ended in May, 1943, when he was taken prisoner by the Americans and transported to camps in Arkansas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Belgium, and England before returning home in 1947. Even decades later, he could never forget the war in Africa, and his honorable opponents.
In 1991, he sought out the Sherwood Rangers and found Ken Ewing, head of the southern branch of the Sherwood Rangers Old Comrades’ Association. It wasn’t long before they became like brothers. After Charley attended ceremonies for the regiment in Normandy and Holland, he was invited in as a member of the Association, where he was accepted wholeheartedly by the remaining British World War II veterans, including Graham, who was in the same tank crew with Ken.
Now, Graham and Charley are the only members of Sherwood Rangers Old Comrades’ Association left alive who fought in Africa 75 years ago. Their friendship, which has transcended the brutality of war to reveal that mutual respect, healing, and reconciliation can exist between former enemies, sends a powerful message to future generations.
Heather Steele, Founder and CEO of non-profit organization World War II History Project, has launched a $25,000 crowdfunding campaign to make this reunion and filming of a mini-documentary happen. You can help make this possible — I’ve spoken with Heather and she’s incredible passionate to make this happen. There are various perks available for your kind donations from getting personalized postcards from the Veterans to flying in a WWII bomber or riding a tank!
I’ve known for a long time that some men and women really don’t enjoy the holiday season. In recent years I’ve had encounters that really brought home to me how many people there are in this situation, and how deep is their pain.
I’ve been convicted that we – the VA – and we – the community of faith – really should find some way to address this deep, aching need that some of our brothers and sisters feel.
Planning this service brought home to me many reasons why people might suffer during the holidays.
The first one that comes to mind is grief — loss of a loved one or a friend — but it’s not the only reason.
Alienation from family or even geographic distance from them can do it.
Painful memories of events that happened in the holiday season might be a reason.
Some people are experiencing loss of a job or other economic difficulty.
Even good things might make the holidays difficult; think about retirement, empty nest, or moving to a new home.
Any big change that affects a strong part of your self-identity might cause loneliness and feelings of isolation.
Even the loss of what might have been can be so painful.
I’m supposed to say something helpful, here, but I don’t want to offer quick fixes or simple tips; What brings healing is going to be distinctive for each person. Still, there are some principles that can help many.
Chaplain Jonathan Landon.
We may suppress our painful feelings, because we don’t want to burden others, but giving ourselves freedom to acknowledge the pain may be helpful by itself. Concealing those feelings can leave us feeling lonelier, and leaves those who care about us helpless to comfort us. So if you need to cry, then cry. And if you need to be hugged, say that, and let your family members and friends reach out to you and meet your need.
I can’t be so presumptuous as to guarantee it, but if you acknowledge your pain, and people offer space to let it out, and make that giving of mutual support into a time for bonding, maybe you can let the pressure off a little bit. Maybe you can relieve the tension of those who care about you, who are trying to avoid stirring up painful feelings. Then you may just find that there’s some room for laughter, smiles, and enjoyment.
You see, what most of us really need is not the quick fix or the simple solution; it’s caring relationships. One of the key themes of the time leading up to Christmas is the prophecy that foretold the coming of Jesus, giving him the name or title of “Emmanuel”, which means, “God with us.” This Word teaches me that I am never alone in any loss or pain, no matter what my emotions may tell me.
But the message is not only about God being with us; we have the opportunity to show the presence of God to others, by living God’s love in truth and caring for them. Some people came here today because they’re struggling with the holidays. Some people came here because they care about who is struggling with the holidays. Some care because of their faith. Some of them just care because they see a human in pain and they don’t want anyone to suffer alone.
Don’t forget: in the midst of your own pain, you have opportunities to come alongside of others — to be with them, as God is with us.
In this fairly recent tradition, the Blue Christmas service usually happens on or close to the 21st of December, the night of the winter solstice, the longest and darkest night of the year.
It’s an appropriate symbol for a time when many people feel alone, lost and in pain. But that’s not the only meaning of the night of the 21st. Because what happens at sunrise on the morning of the 22nd?
The days begin to get longer. At first, it’s by tiny increments and you hardly notice it, and then it grows faster and faster and you can’t miss it. It’s inevitable. The light returns. That, too is part of the symbolism of this night and this service. The light returns. No matter how long the night will be — or has been — the light returns.
Chaplain Jonathan Landon is the chaplain at the Eugene VA Health Care Center.
The US Marine Corps is denying it uses dating apps to recruit after a screenshot of an apparent Bumble conversation depicting such efforts turned up on Reddit.
The screenshot shows a message that says, “Hey! My name is Kaitlin Robertson and I am with the Marine Corps. I would love to have one of my recruiters sit down and talk with you about your options within the Marine Corps including education, financial stability, hundreds of job opportunities, and free health/dental insurance, just to name a few. I would love to make you part of our Marine Corps family!!”
An quick-witted, unnamed young man responded, “You’re not even going to bribe me with crayons?”
But Marine Corps Recruiting Command spokesman Gunnery Sgt. Justin Kronenberg told Stars and Stripes the Marine Corps is not employing popular dating apps to draw in young, able-bodied recruits. He also claimed the Bumble message was not written by a recruiter.
Recruits from Kilo Company, 3rd Recruit Training Battalion.
(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Bridget M. Keane)
“We don’t condone use of dating apps for business purposes and no, that Bumble post was not written by a recruiter,” Kronenberg said.
The US military has struggled to recruit in recent years, and all of the branches have sought to find innovative ways to bolster their ranks. The US Army, for example, is on the hunt for a new slogan and is scrapping “Army Strong” in an apparent effort to increase its appeal to young folks.
But it seems that dating apps, however effective they might be, are not going to be included in the military’s recruitment efforts anytime in the near future.
This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.