Finance Friday: should you invest in a bear market? - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY MONEY

Finance Friday: should you invest in a bear market?

As I sit in my concrete bunker surrounded by hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes, a wall of toilet paper ready to thwart any potential Coronavirus threats, I feel the need to press pause on regularly scheduled mortgage education and address a topic that has flared up in newsfeeds over the past few days: investing when the market has “crashed”.


Although I joke about my bunker stash (I can’t even find hand sanitizer to stock), personal finance is a highly individualistic and serious subject full of licensing requirements and government regulations. I did what any person not wanting to bring the Financial Industry Regulation Authority fire down upon them and called in the experts. Long-time trusted advisors Nick Stone and Craig Harris were both able to offer some advice to my investment-curious audience who feel that they may be missing out on a Golden Goose Egg during this bear market.

Stone provided examples over the history of time where markets have typical cycles of ebb and flow, and this was bound to come full circle even before the Coronavirus scare (which surely did compound the effect). Putting our economy into the analogy of a marathon, no one sprints 26.2 miles to a finish line. Instead, there are steady-set paces accompanied by throttles and breaks. We may not have seen the bottom of this yet since stocks are priced on what expected earnings are, and companies have yet to report on their current quarter. It could be speculated that markets will dip even a little more. Only time can tell. A piece of advice offered is to maximize on your current contributions such as 401K, IRA and other tax-friendly opportunities versus a narrow lump-sum investment to allow for dollar-cost averaging.

Finance Friday: should you invest in a bear market?

Harris emphasized a good time to invest when the market is in a down point. “Buy low and sell high” is not a catch-phrase but a pillar of investing. Regardless of market conditions, ANY time is a good time to start investing, but there is certainly an advantage when we are in a low market since you can get a little more with your cash. Even at the highest point, like where we just were, there is still a good strategy to be employed for investing your money. Nothing is ever guaranteed, but the market is designed in a way that, over a long enough period of time, your money should grow. He stressed that individual situations and goals are the primary driving factor in how the portfolio is built and how your money can be invested wisely.

Finance Friday: should you invest in a bear market?

Both discourage dumping money blindly into crashing stocks today in hopes of getting rich next week. The singular most important thing you can do with your money is to have a goal in mind versus chasing performance returns. It can be retirement, paying for a child’s college, purchasing a home, etc. but you HAVE to know what you’re working towards in order to get there. The last thing you want to do is be cash-poor and investment-rich without a plan if you need access to that money in the short term. This knowledge is especially important for my mortgage clients who may need to hang on to some cash to close on a new home.

Finance Friday: should you invest in a bear market?

There’s a big myth out there that financial advisors are expensive, but they’re really not. There are traditional brokerage accounts where you pay a small commission on everything bought and put into your account and every transaction made on your behalf. There are also fee-based accounts where you forego commissions and pay an annual fee that varies between firms, typically averages out to be less than 1.5 percent of your invested assets. If you find yourself shopping around for a financial advisor, ask about their cost, make sure they are also a licensed stockbroker so you are diversified instead of pigeonholed into one certain commodity, and ask them if they would invest you like they would invest their own family. It’s a relationship of trust, and you have the ability to establish how you want that relationship to be shaped, whether it be by twice a year comprehensive reviews, weekly phone calls or somewhere in-between.

Important to remember when you see big movement in the economy is this: What do you want to invest FOR, not what do you want to invest IN. That mind shift will help you make smart financial decisions for your future.

MUSIC

6 military cadences you will never forget

Men and women serving in the military have spent hours stomping around the base in well-constructed running formations yelling a repetitive song at the top of their lungs.


Military cadences, or close-order drill, date back hundreds of years as a signal to keep troops covered and aligned as they march forward in the battlefield. Now it’s primarily used to keep service members in step — landing their feet at the same time — causing a prideful beat.

Related: 5 great military cadences you haven’t thought about in years

Finance Friday: should you invest in a bear market?
Look at all those happy faces! (U.S. Army photo)

Regardless, military cadences stain our memories like a top 40 hit on the radio. Once you hear it, let the rhythm teleport you to the good old days.

1. “Fired Up”

2. “You Can’t Break My Body Down”

3. “Mama, Mama Can’t You See?”

4. “I Used To Sit at Home All Day”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I9TINZP5FCs

5. “I Heard That in the Navy”

6. “My Grandma!”

Can you think of any others not listed? Comment below.
MIGHTY FIT

Those ‘core’ exercises in military PT tests don’t actually prove anything about your fitness

Preparing for the abs portion of your PT test might trick you into thinking you have a six pack, but those workouts are potentially getting you into worse shape. Stop taking ab selfies in the gym mirror and listen up.


“Core exercises” are a part of every service’s PT test, whether it’s crunches, sit-ups, or what the Navy inexplicably calls, “curls-ups.”

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This is a curl-up… right?

If you’ve carefully read the procedural guidelines for your service’s PT test, you already know how easy it is to cheat on these ab exercises. Or maybe you’re just really bad at counting…

Finance Friday: should you invest in a bear market?

…8, 9, 10, 17, 18, 36, 74… Teamwork at its finest.

Even if you’re not a cheater, the abdominal portion of the PT test is still only testing your ability to do that one hyper-specific movement, not your overall core strength. Strength is specific to how you train, and how you train should be specific to what you do (you know, like your job). What job in the military are any of these exercises specific to? Those crunches will make you able to sh*t really fast and keep your breaks short and your NCO happy, but it won’t make you stronger.

The Navy PRT guidelines state that, “the curl-up, when performed properly, can help develop abdominal strength and endurance, which are important factors in preventing low-back injuries.”

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Nice view, okay smell…

While ab strength definitely protects the spine, the curl-up is far from targeting the actual core muscles needed for that job. The abdominals have many functions, and only one of them is flexion of the spine.

Flexion: that’s the one where you flex your abs, and your spine makes the same shape as Gollum’s.

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That’s right — stretch it out.

The other functions of the abs include but are not limited to, breathing, coughing, sneezing, stabilizing, and maintaining posture.

You have four main groups of abdominals:

  1. Internal obliques help with breathing, rotation, and side bending.
  2. External obliques help pull the chest downward to increase pressure in your abdomen, which is important for the Valsalva maneuver. Divers, pilots, and people who move heavy weight couldn’t survive without them.
  3. The transverse abdominis is the deep, corset-like muscle that provides stability and postural support for the spine. Without it, you would rupture a spinal disk every time you farted.
  4. The rectus abdominis is the sexy one. The rectus abdominis’ primary function is to flex your trunk. It also happens to be the only one really tested in any PT test.

An exercise program that only tests one function of the abs leaves a huge gap in both knowledge and functionality for both you and your service of choice.

Judging from your PT scores alone, no one can tell if your body is actually structurally sound. So, the next time you go to dig a fighting hole, load a torpedo, or crank a wrench may just be the time that your weak back and tight rectus abdominis conspire against your spine, even if you scored among the best.

In order to have full spinal protection, you need to ensure you are working all the muscles of your core, from front to back. That includes the erector spinae. These are the muscles that are growing weak while you crunch your way to some non-specific lower back pain.

Having a strong rectus abdominis and weak erector spinae creates the kind of postural imbalance that causes back pain and loss of mobility and, as a service member, if you can’t hold up your body, you’re about as useful as a poopy-flavored lollipop.

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Tasty…

Since you only have to do curl-ups for your PT test, why bother ensuring your low back muscles are equally as strong as your abs? Having a strong lower back isn’t going to get you promoted faster. But low back pain is the most common type of pain in existence today. 84% of humans have reported that, at one point in their life, they experienced back pain of some kind.

The military is not exempt from this statistic. I’ve known 19-year-old LCpls with “chronic” back pain. This type of highly preventable injury crushes combat readiness.

“Hey, Devildog! Get up! We still have 6 klicks to the objective!”
“I can’t Sergeant, my L3 is throbbing! I have chronic back pain.”
“Didn’t you get a 300 on your PFT? You’re supposed to be in shape!”

So, following the clues, not only does the PT test not prove that you can function adequately to conduct your job, it inadvertently causes you to injure your back by becoming hyper-focused on your front.

Finance Friday: should you invest in a bear market?

This takes REAL core strength.

Try these “core exercises” instead: squats, deadlifts, lunges, and farmers’ carries. These exercises load your core the way it is designed to work: with all core and back muscles engaged equally and totally.

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https://www.composurefitness.com/gamp1/

popular

6 military love stories that are better than movies

Dear John is great movie, but how many times can you watch it? Instead, soak up some real-life military love stories. From the Revolutionary War to a WWII couple that reunited in 2016, these stories will give you a little hope that love is alive and well.

The stories of the GI Brides

During World War II, many of the American soldiers, or GIs, who were stationed overseas didn’t return alone. Many of them fell in love with young European women who followed them back to the States to live an entirely new life.

These women, known as the GI Brides, were walking into unknown territory, saying goodbye to their homeland and culture for love. Their marriages weren’t all perfect, but their stories go to show just how far people will go for their partners.

One book, “GI Brides: The Wartime Girls Who Crossed the Atlantic for Love”, explores the stories of four GI Brides to share how love and war shaped their lives. 

2. The Civil War soldier who would have died without his wife.

Frank and Arabella Barlow were married on April 20th, 1861. Frank enlisted in the Union Army the very same day. He quickly became an accomplished soldier while Arabella became a nurse. She visited him when she could, but danger often kept them apart. Then came the Battle of Gettysburg. During the conflict, Frank was shot multiple times in the back and side. 

A Confederate general, General John Brown Gordon, found him barely alive on the field and took pity on him, offering him some water. Frank told Gordon that his wife, a nurse, was volunteering nearby, and asked if he would pass along a message to her. Despite fighting on opposite sides of the war, Gordon found Arabella and escorted her past enemy lines to her dying husband. She, however, had no intentions of allowing him to die. 

She was able to treat his wounds and nurse him back to health, and they remained happily married until she herself succumbed to typhus just a few months later. Tragic as it was, there’s a silver lining. Frank Barlow and John Gordon reunited years later and struck up an unexpected friendship, which lasted until Barlow passed away in 1896. It just goes to show that respect and kindness can cross surprising divides.  

3. A vet from America’s first war had the world’s longest marriage 

One of the oldest ever vets fought in the Revolutionary War and lived all the way through the conclusion of the Civil War- he lived a remarkable 109 years! His name was Daniel Bakeman, and his marriage is one of the oldest marriages on record. He and his wife Susan married when they were essentially children, around the ages of 12 and 14. 

Despite enduring 10 years of war, multiple house fires, and many moves, they raised eight happy children together and remained married until Susan died at 105. Lasting through two major wars and 91 years, their love lasted longer than most lives! 

4. This couple who were reunited after being separated by war for 11 years.

An American man named Woodford McClellan met his future wife, Irina, in Russia in 1972. He was just a tourist and was planning on returning back to the states right after his vacation, but he was instantly taken with her. He was able to acquire a visa, and by 1975 the couple was married. Sadly, his visa was only temporary. A few months after they said their vows, he was forced to return to the US.

One would think that a legal marriage would make it simple for the couple to reconnect, but Russia’s harsh policies during the Cold War made it impossible. He wasn’t permitted to visit her in Russia, and she wasn’t allowed to move to America. Plenty of people would have given up and moved on, but they waited it out. After 11 years, she was finally given permission to emigrate and resume her life with her long lost love. She even wrote a book about it after.

Irina’s book is now out of print, but you can still find used copies if you’re dying to read it.

5. Possibly the most surprising military love story, one couple reconnected after 70 years because of a Google search. 

During World War II, an American soldier named Norwood Thomas was stationed in London. He fell in love with a local named Joyce, and they proceeded to send love letters to each other for the rest of the war. Still, they were young and war proved to be chaotic. Norwood joined the 101st Airborne when they parachuted into Normandy on D-Day, and after that, he went home. 

Meanwhile, Joyce moved to Australia. The two didn’t speak for years and moved on with their lives. They each married someone else, but they never forgot each other. Eventually, Norwood lost his wife and Joyce separated from her husband. Out of curiosity, she looked up her old flame and found him on the internet. They began chatting over Skype and soon realized they still had feelings after 70 long years. They launched a GoFundMe to help them raise the money to meet in person. The campaign was a success, and Norwood flew to meet Joyce in Australia on Valentine’s Day. 

6. Last but not least, a different kind of military love story; that of a man and his dog. 

Finance Friday: should you invest in a bear market?
The story was made into a book by Damien Lewis in 2015, available on Amazon.

Not all kinds of love stories are romantic. Some are about brotherhood. After an Airman named Robert Bozdech was shot down, he came across a tiny, orphaned German Shepherd puppy. He escaped with the pup and named him Ant. Over the course of WWII, the pair became inseparable. They saved each other’s lives countless times, and Ant was eventually awarded the Dickin Medal for his remarkable loyalty. 

The moral of this story? Love conquers all, even war. But if you’re single on Valentine’s Day, don’t sweat it. Just adopt a dog.


MIGHTY SPORTS

10 killer core exercises that aren’t sit-ups

There’s a reason sit-ups top the list of exercises to get your spare tire under control. They work the major rectus abdominis muscle. They are challenging to do but elementary to understand. They involve no machines or special devices.

And yet… there’s no way around it. Sit-ups are boring. Up, down, up, down — the exercise gets really old, really fast. They are also good but not perfect: All that rounding of the spine places stress on the lower back which can cause injury over time. More over, the exercise works your abdominals in two planes of motion, but does not engage your obliques or transversus abdominus, limiting the true amount of core strength you can build.

Not to worry, flat abs were not built by sit-ups alone. There are plenty of other moves out there that can give you the muscle tone you want without the monotony you dread. Here are 10 ab exercises to try instead of sit-ups.


1. Crunches

The cousin of full sit-ups, crunches involve lying on your back, feet either flat on the floor or elevated in the air with knees bent. Perform small contractions of your abdominal muscles to raise and lower your torso a few inches. You can do these with hands by your sides or behind your head for support. Aim for 100 crunches.

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(Photo by Catherine Heath)

2. V-Holds

A key part of core strength is balance. In this exercise, start sitting with your knees bent, feet flat on floor. Place one hand behind each knee. Slowly lean back, lifting your feet off the floor so that the hover a few inches off the ground. When you find the sweet spot where you are balanced between your raised legs and backward-leaning torso, stop. Try to extend your legs into a straight position, so that your body forms a V shape. Hold for 10 counts.

3. Bicycle Crunches

An oldie but goodie, the bicycle move is great because it engages your oblique muscles as you twist your torso from side to side. Start by lying on your back, knees bent, feet in the air. Bend elbows and place your hands behind your head. Start circling legs in a bicycle-like motion, bringing opposite elbow to knee. Do this for one minute.

4. Inverted Hinges

Start in an extended push-up position, legs and arms straight. From here, hike your hips toward the ceiling, keeping your back flat and legs straight. Keep going until your body forms an inverted V shape, with your butt as the apex. Hold here for five counts, then slowly stretch back out in a controlled manner. Do 10 inverted hinges.

5. Planks

From an extended push-up position, drop down so that your weight is supported by your elbows, which should rest beneath your shoulders. Hold this position, back straight, for one minute.

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(Photo by Sam Owoyemi)

6. Side Plank

From the front plank position, shift your weight so that you are resting on your right arm. Twist your entire body so that your left shoulder points toward the ceiling and your legs are stacked on one of top of the other with your left side on top. Maintain a straight line from your shoulders to your feet. Hold for one minute, then rotate to the other side and repeat.

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(Hipcravo)

7. Crunch Pulses

Start sitting on the floor, knees bent, feet tucked under a sofa or chair base for support. Stretch your arms in front of you and slowly lean your torso back until your upper body creates a wide V shape with your legs. Stop in this position and begin to make small pulsations back and forward with your upper body. Do this for one minute.

8. Twists


Begin this move in the same wide V shape as above. Instead of pulsing up and down, swing both arms over to your right side and twist your torso to follow. Begin to “pulse” in this position, making small twists to the right and back to center (as opposed to up and down). Do 10 times, then rotate arms and torso to the left side and repeat.

9. Windshield Wipers


Start lying on your back, feet in the air, legs straight. Place arms out to either side of support. In a controlled manner, drop both legs over to the right, reaching for the floor. Keep hips still and facing up toward the ceiling. Bring legs back to the centerline, then drop them over to the left side. Repeat this side-to-side motion (like a set of windshield wipers) 10 times.

10. Leg Raises

Lie on your back, legs straight. Tuck hands under the small of your back for support. Keeping your legs straight and together, raise feet off the floor toward the ceiling. In a controlled manner, lower legs back to the floor without arching your back. Do 10 times.

This article originally appeared on Fatherly. Follow @FatherlyHQ on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

This is what North Korea has to do to live up to the Singapore Agreement

North Korea returned the remains of 55 bodies , thought to belong to US service members on July 27, 2018, coinciding with the 65th anniversary of the armistice that paused the Korean War.

The symbolic move represents the single, hopeful thread of President Donald Trump’s North Korea policy, as the rest of it crumbles.

“After so many years, this will be a great moment for so many families. Thank you to Kim Jong Un,” Trump tweeted .


“We are encouraged by North Korea’s actions and the momentum for positive change,” the White House said in a statement.

Benjamin Young, a North Korea expert from George Washington University previously told Business Insider : “The repatriation of the Korean War remains is significant in that it partially closes a painful chapter in US-Korea relations.”

“It’s significant from a historical perspective and is symbolic.”

That Trump and Kim Jong Un’s joint statement at Singapore lists the “immediate” repatriation of the bodies shows the historical and symbolic importance of the repatriations, but it wasn’t easy getting here.

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US Treasury photos show a ship-to-ship transfer with a North Korea-linked vessel.

Trump agreed to the summit with Kim on vague promises of denuclearization which met with near universal doubt.

Many former top experts advised Trump to skip the meeting entirely, seeing it as providing Kim with international legitimacy even though he oversees some of the worst human rights violations in the world, including keeping an estimated 2.6 million “modern slaves.”

Trump’s policy hangs by a thread

After the summit, Trump saw his greatest success on the North Korean front swiftly undone.

The “maximum pressure” regime of economic, diplomatic, and military pressure completely evaporated, even though the administration insists it is still in effect.

The China-North Korea border again hums with commerce and activity, and Chinese tourists again crowd the streets of Pyongyang, analysis from NK News points out . Fuel prices have dropped, indicating an increased supply.

“Numerous” sanctioned North Korean ships have appeared in South Korean ports, NKNews found .

North Korea has realized a primary goal of its US-facing diplomacy — sanctions relief — while only providing minimal, reversible, and unverifiable dismantlement of a tiny fraction of its nuclear arsenal.

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Meeting between United States North Korea delegations in Singapore on June 12, 2018

The audacity of hope

Viewed as a transaction, the North Korea process has ripped off the US by handing over international legitimacy and an end to US-South Korean military drills in exchange for baby steps towards disarming .

Viewed as a budding relationship, Trump has made unprecedented progress in healing relations with Pyongyang.

Returning the bodies of US soldiers doesn’t change anything on the ground in the Koreas. North Korea still has artillery guns and missiles ready to bear down on Seoul, and possibly the US, and they haven’t budged.

But the measure builds confidence and trust, which is sorely needed. North Korea dragged its feet and stood up US officials in previous talks about repatriating the bodies, but eventually came through.

No other US president has been willing to talk to North Korea , citing its illegal nuclear program , serious human rights violations , and countless kidnappings and attacks on civilians. But Trump took a unique approach in meeting Kim, and has earned a unique result.

At the Aspen Strategy Forum, Commander of the US forces in Korea General Vincent Brooks shed light on how US objectives in North Korea have shifted from military to diplomatic:

“Our challenge now, candidly, is to continue to make progress but to make that progress in an environment that is essentially void of trust, and without trust, we’ll find it difficult to move forward.
“So, building that trust while that pressure continues and while the efforts for diplomacy continue is the order of the day. In many ways, the lack of trust is the enemy we now have to defeat.”

Trump has not denuclearized North Korea, or even gotten close. But he’s presented a different US position and in doing so offered a path, however perilous, towards a new future between Washington and Pyongyang.

This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.

MIGHTY HISTORY

This WWII beer run was the greatest of all time

It took sixty five years for one member of the 101st Airborne Division Screaming Eagles to learn that his actions during the Battle of Bastogne were legendary, but not for heroism or bravery. It all started with a simple request for a beer – and the greatest beer run the world will ever see.


Vincent Speranza, Vince to all that know him, had joined the Army right after graduating high school in 1943 and was assigned to Company H, 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne as a replacement soldier while the unit recovered from Operation Market-Garden.

Related video:

www.youtube.com

Shortly after training, Vince found himself in a foxhole in the middle of Bastogne, Belgium – cold, short on supplies, food, and ammunition. And surrounded by German troops.

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A roadblock is set up with 30 caliber heavy machine gun, and a tank destroyer is ready for action near Bastogne, Belgium, Dec. 10, 1944.

“The first eight days we got pounded” by German artillery, he recalled. “But this was the 101st. They could not get past (us). They never set one foot in Bastogne.”

On the second day, his friend Joe Willis took shrapnel to both legs and was pulled back to a makeshift combat hospital inside a mostly destroyed church. Vince tracked him down and asked if there was anything he could do for his friend.

The answer was simple – Joe wanted a beer.

Also Read: This is how British pilots made beer runs for troops in Normandy

Vince told him it was impossible. The 101st was surrounded by Germans with no supplies coming in, they were taking artillery fire every day, and the town had been bombarded. But Joe wanted a beer.

Moving through the town, Vince, from blown-out tavern to blown-out tavern, went searching until serendipity hit. At the third tavern he hit, Vince pulled on a tap and beer came flowing out. He filled his helmet – the same one used as a makeshift shovel and Porta Potty in the foxhole – with all the beer he could handle and returned to the hospital.

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Vincent Speranza with some bottles of Airborne Beer. (Photo from GI Jobs.)

Mission accomplished. Vince poured beer for Joe and some of those around him. When the beer ran out, they asked him to go for more.

As he returned to the hospital, Vince was confronted by a Major who demanded to know what he was doing.

“Giving aid and comfort to the wounded,” was the paratrooper’s simple answer.

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Airborne Beer in action. (Photo from GI Jobs.)

An ass-chewing about the dangers of giving beer to men with gut and chest wounds lead to Vince putting his helmet back on his head, beer pouring down his uniform, and heading out.

While that could have been the end of it, the story continues 65 years later, when Vince returned to Bastogne for an anniversary celebration and learned that his epic beer run had been turned into Airborne beer, typically drunk out of a ceramic mug in the shape of a helmet.

Hear the story from the Airborne legend himself:

(Erminio Modesti | YouTube)
MIGHTY TRENDING

Now we know why Kim Jong-un killed his brother

Kim Jong Nam was the heir apparent to the world’s only dynastic Communist regime. His fall from grace came when he was apprehended in Japan trying to get into Disneyland Tokyo. Since then, the son of the late Kim Jong-Il and half-brother to current North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un was stripped of his inheritance and eventually exiled, paving the way for Kim Jong-un’s rise to power. Even that came to an end.


Kim Jong-Nam was assassinated in a Malaysian airport in 2017, under the guise of a prank, with VX nerve agent. And now we know why – he was informing the CIA.

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The avid gambler was sprayed in the face with the toxic agent and would die after a seizure before he could ever reach the hospital. VX is the most potent of all nerve agents. Colorless and odorless, it will trigger symptoms in seconds if inhaled. It can cause paralysis, convulsions, loss of consciousness, respiratory failure, and death. Kim Jong Nam was dead within minutes of his exposure. Two women approached him on his way home to China and rubbed their hands on his face.

Worst of all, Kim was carrying atropine autoinjectors on his person at the time, an indication that he was expecting such an attack from his younger brother. Reports indicate that Kim Jong Nam had been marked for death for at least five years – since his brother first took power.

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Kim Jong-un came to power in 2012 after the death of Kim Jong-Il.

Now, the Wall Street Journal reports the reason why Kim Jong Nam was doomed to die was his cooperation with the American Central Intelligence Agency. For years, Kim regularly met with agents and contacts in the CIA, though the exact details on the nature of his relationship to the agency are unclear. Since Kim Jong Nam had been exiled from the Hermit Kingdom for more than a decade, what he could tell the CIA about the situation in Pyongyang is not known. The Wall Street Journal added that Kim was likely in contact with intelligence agencies from other countries, especially China’s.

Kim’s purpose for going to Malaysia was to meet with a Korean-American businessman, suspected of being a CIA operative himself, on the resort island of Langkawi. After his killing, members of his family were taken from Macau by North Korean dissident groups and are now in hiding.

MIGHTY TRENDING

The new Cold War has nothing to do with Russia – it’s all China

The Cold War was the ultimate worldwide, geopolitical game, pitting two disparate ideologies against one another. The battle lines were drawn — and they were clear. In one corner, you had the global Communist bloc and its allies, some perfidious, willing to pit the two superpowers against each other for their own gain. In the other was the West and its allies, defenders of capitalism and democracy (or… at least… they were just not Communists).

For nearly 50 years, this game dominated the world order. It became so ingrained in our brains that, today, it’s still difficult to think of Russia as anything but the Soviet Union, a democracy in name only, just waiting to turn back the clock and surprise us. So we must always be on guard.

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Of course the Simpsons predicted it first.


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Pictured: Chinese foreign policy.

The problem with American foreign policy makers is that they don’t really know if Russia is truly their main adversary these days. Recently, a top CIA Asia expert told the Aspen Security Forum that China was definitely enemy number one, but does not want a direct conflict. China is much more insidious than that. Where the Soviets Russians prefer to openly troll Americans and blatantly defy American objectives, China is subtly undermining American power in strategic locations all over the world. And it has nothing to do with trade disputes.

FBI Director Christopher Wray says China poses the most significant threat to U.S. national security.

“The volume of it. The pervasiveness of it. The significance of it is something that I think this country cannot underestimate,” Wray said. It was a sentiment echoed by many security experts in Aspen — China is ready to replace Russia as a global U.S. competitor and to supplant the U.S. as the economic powerhouse.

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“The future is now, old man.”

Related: The FBI says Chinese spies in the US are the biggest threat right now

China has the second-largest defense budget in the world, the largest standing army in terms of ground forces, the third-largest air force, and a navy of 300 ships and more than 60 submarines — all in the process of modernizing and upgrading. The Chinese are also far ahead of the United States in developing hypersonic weapons.

They’re ready for the United States in a way that Russia hasn’t been prepared for in a long, long time.

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“I’m sorry Xi, I misheard you. The future is what?”

And this isn’t exactly a new development. While the United States (and now Russia) were engaged in costly wars and interventions all over the world, China has slowly been expanding its worldwide economic footprint and partnerships. Russia has been harassing its neighbors since 2008 in Georgia, Crimea, Ukraine, and elsewhere. Meanwhile, China began its Belt and Road Initiative, investing billions in infrastructure to link China with markets from Central Asia to Europe.

While no one was watching, Chinese investment dollars have filled coffers all over the world, bringing once-forgotten economic backwaters into the Chinese sphere of influence at the cost of American prestige. Chinese raw materials will build these developing marketplaces and the Yuan may soon even be the currency of choice. If the Belt and Road Forum takes off, it could even cut Chinese reliance on American markets.

Russia seems more threatening because that’s exactly what the Russians are good at. Vladimir Putin is no fan of the West or NATO and it seems like he takes real delight in NATO’s failures, especially in Ukraine. While hypersonic weapons, an increased nuclear weapons capacity, and a deeper relationship with Bashar al-Assad’s Syria seem like a significant threat (and may well be), the reality is those hypersonic weapons aren’t quite perfect and Syria isn’t going as well as planned.

Meanwhile, China is quietly preparing for the future.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Watch F-35s in ‘beast mode’ on a war mission in the Middle East

Two F-35A Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters recently flew a mission in the Middle East in “beast mode,” meaning they were loaded up with as much firepower as they could carry.

The F-35s with the 4th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron took off from Al Dhafra Air Base in the United Arab Emirates to execute a mission in support of US forces in Afghanistan, Air Forces Central Command said. The fifth-generation fighters sacrificed their high-end stealth to fly with full loadouts of weaponry on their wings.


“Beast mode,” the carrying of weapons internally and externally to boost the overall firepower of the aircraft, is also known as the “Third Day of War” configuration. At the start of a fight, the F-35 would store all of its weapons internally to maintain low observability, as the external weapons would likely increase the surfaces that enemy radar could detect.

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An F-35A Lightning II in “beast mode” during an operation in support of US forces in Afghanistan in May 2019.

(US Air Force)

The fighters carried six GBU-49 Paveway laser-guided precision bombs and two AIM-9X Sidewinder infrared-tracking short-range air-to-air missiles externally. Air Forces Central Command released a video on Friday of 380th Expeditionary Maintenance Group teams loading the weapons onto the jets.

US Air Forces deployed the F-35A to the Middle East, the US Central Command area of responsibility, for the first time in April 2019. The aircraft flew their first sortie on April 26, 2019.

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A F-35A Lightning II.

(US Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Chris Thornbury)

Four days later, the F-35s, which were pulled from the active-duty 388th Fighter Wing and Reserve 419th Fighter Wing, conducted a strike in Wadi Ashai, Iraq. The mission, carried out in support of Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve marked the F-35A’s first combat mission, according to the US Air Force.

This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.

Articles

Why the M-60 ‘Pig’ remains one of the best US machine guns ever

Just a few feet away from the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C., is a life-size statue called “Three Soldiers.”


Crafted in bronze by sculptor Frederick Hart, he portrayed the men garbed in uniforms representative of the U.S. Army and U.S. Marine Corps, carrying weapons of the Vietnam War era and facing the memorial wall. The man on the left, his body draped with ammo belts, carries an M-60 general purpose machine gun.

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Other than the M-16 rifle, perhaps no other firearm is as closely associated with the Vietnam War as the M-60. Portrayals of the M-60 in the hands of Vietnam War soldiers range from the sublime dignity expressed by the “Three Soldiers” statue to the over-the-top destruction of the fictional town of Hope, Washington, by Sylvester Stallone’s character, John Rambo, in the film “First Blood.”

The M-60 is a weapon that has faithfully served American soldiers in many battles since 1957. Far from perfect, the early model of the M-60 had so many design flaws that soldiers jerry-rigged fixes using everything from wire coat hangers to empty C-ration cans. The M-60 is also heavy — the machine gun weighs about 23 pounds, and those belts of ammo aren’t exactly lightweight, either.

No wonder the M-60 earned an unflattering nickname: The Pig.

But one thing is certain. Even with its flaws, a soldier armed with an M-60 can lay down a lot of lead, whether he is fighting in the jungles of Southeast Asia or the badlands of Afghanistan.

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U.S. Marine Corps M-60 in all her glory. (Photo courtesy of WikiMedia Commons)

The M-60 is an air-cooled, disintegrating belt-fed, gas-operated general purpose machine gun. It fires the 7.62 mm round with a cyclic rate of about 550 rounds a minute — a rate of fire that requires the crew to change the M-60’s barrel about every minute. In addition, the M-60 has an integral, folding bipod, but it can also be mounted on a folding tripod.

The M-60 was — and is — a fixture in the U.S. armed forces, serving as a squad support weapon, vehicle-mounted machine gun and as a “flex gun” mounted in the doors of helicopters like the UH-1 Huey and the CH-47 Chinook.

Development of the M-60 started after World War II. American generals held a grudging admiration for the German MG-42, a machine gun so powerful that it was nicknamed “Hitler’s Bone Saw” by the Wehrmacht troops that fired it. The MG-42 had a blinding rate of fire and was belt fed—both qualities were considered desirable by weapons designers. The Fallschirmjägergewehr 42, or FG 42 battle rifle, also had equally desirable qualities, such as a gas-operated bolt, which were closely scrutinized by the Americans.

Ordnance experts took the best Germany had to offer and developed a prototype machine gun. Some argued it wasn’t an ideal machine gun compared to foreign models such as the FN MAG—but it could be domestically produced, which made congressmen with defense industries in their districts very happy.

In 1957, the Defense Department adopted the machine gun and dubbed it the United States Machine Gun, Caliber 7.62 mm, M60. It’s been in the arsenal ever since.

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A Navy SEAL fires an M-60 lightweight machine gun from the shoulder, because that’s how SEALs roll. (Photographer’s Mate Petty Officer 1st Class Chuck Mussi)

But the three-man crews who served the M-60 during the Vietnam War discovered the machine gun had its idiosyncrasies.

First of all, no one designing the M-60 remembered to put a wire carrying handle on the barrel. That made barrel changes an agonizing affair—in order to remove the red-hot steel, an assistant gunner was expected in the heat of battle to don asbestos gloves that looked like oven mitts. Also, ammo belts would sometimes bind in the weapon. Then, some G.I. got a brilliant idea: just lash an empty C-ration can to the left side of the receiver so the belt would flow smoothly over the curved surface.

By the 1980s, the military adopted the M-60E3, a version of the machine gun with added improvements and (most of) the bugs worked out.

Although the Defense Department ordered the phase-out of the M-60, it is still used by U.S. armed forces personnel. SEALs favor the M-60, the Navy and the Coast Guard often have it on board their ships, and Army reserve units frequently have an M-60 in the weapons room.

And 45 nations — many of them NATO or East Asia allies — continue to use the M-60 as their heavy-hitting general purpose machine gun.

MIGHTY TRENDING

F-35 pulls out new moves, can out-turn older jets

Early in its combat testing, a test pilot’s damning report leaked to the press and exposed the world’s most expensive weapons system, the F-35, as a bad dogfighter that the F-16 routinely trounced in mock battles.

But new videos leaked from the US Air Force’s F-35 demo or stunt flying team show the jet making head-spinning turns that older jets could never hit.


In 2015, the test pilot’s write up of the jet’s combat performance obliterated the idea of F-35 as a capable dogfighter due to a glaring flaw: Weak maneuverability.

“Overall, the most noticeable characteristic of the F-35A in a visual engagement was its lack of energy maneuverability,” the pilot wrote.

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the U.S. Air Force F-35 Lightning II joint strike fighter.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Samuel King Jr.)

“The F-35 was at a distinct energy disadvantage in a turning fight and operators would quickly learn it isn’t an ideal regime… Though the aircraft has proven it is capable of high AOA [angle of attack] flight, it wasn’t effective for killing or surviving attacks primarily due to a lack of energy maneuverability,” he continued.

Furthermore, according to the pilot, there was basically nothing the F-35 could do to escape getting killed by the F-16’s gun. Any move he tried to escape the F-35’s cannon read as “predictable” and saw the pilot taking a loss.

But the F-35 program and its role in dogfights hadn’t been as well figured out back then.

Since then, the F-35 has mopped up in simulated dogfights with a 15-1 kill ratio. According to retired Lt. Col. David Berke, who commanded a squadron of F-35s and flew an F-22 — the US’s most agile, best dogfighter — the jet has undergone somewhat of a revolution.

New moves, new rules

In the video, the F-35 pilot takes the plane inverted, hits a tight loop, and appears to pause in mid-air as he enters a flat spin that makes his hundred-million-dollar jet appear like a leaf floating down towards earth. (Really better to watch than read about it.)

The flat spin move is often used by F-22 and Russian fighter pilots to show off the intense ability of their planes to sling the nose around in any direction they wish.

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(Lockheed Martin)

According to Berke, this F-35 stunt “demonstrates what the pilots and the people around the aircraft have always known: It’s vastly superior to almost anything out there,” in terms of agility.

Furthermore, according to Berke, an F-16 could not hit the move shown in the demo team’s video.

Berke and others close to the F-35 program have described to Business Insider a kind of breakthrough in the maneuvering of the F-35 throughout its development.

Berke said the video proves that the F-35 is a “highly maneuverable, highly effective dogfighting platform,” but even still, he wouldn’t use that exact maneuver in a real dogfight.

The flat spin is “not an effective dogfighting maneuver, and in some cases, you would avoid doing that.”

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F-16 Fighting Falcons.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Joshua Kleinholz)

“If me and you were dogfighting and we’re 2 miles away, and I had a wingman 5 miles away, you’d be super slow and predictable and easy for him to find,” due to executing the move, said Berke.

But despite the F-35’s impressive moves and ability to win dogfights, Berke said he’d stay on mission and try to score kills that take better advantage of the jet’s stealth.

“I want to avoid getting into a dogfight, but if I had to I’m going to be able to outmaneuver most other aircraft,” he said.

After all, the F-35’s makers never intended it as a straight World War II-era Red Baron killer, but a rethink of aerial combat as a whole.

This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Russian military’s cathedral consecrated without mosaic featuring Putin

Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill has consecrated the main cathedral dedicated to the armed forces, built to mark Victory Day in celebration of the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II in Europe.

Religious leaders, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, his deputies, guests, and hundreds of uniformed soldiers attended the ceremony on June 14 at the newly constructed Cathedral of the Russian Armed Forces, located some 60 kilometers outside of Moscow.

The church was originally due to be opened on May 9 as part of a grand celebration to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the defeat of Nazi Germany. But the opening was postponed due to the deadly coronavirus pandemic.


The massive cathedral, one of the largest in the world, sparked controversy earlier this year when leaked photos showed a partially completed mosaic featuring Russian President Vladimir Putin, Defense Minister Shoigu, General Valery Gerasimov, and several other Russian officials.

The plan to display the mosaic was later canceled following criticism and after the Kremlin leader reportedly expressed opposition to the idea.

“This is an unprecedented event for the soldiers and for all of the the citizens in the whole country,” Gerasimov, the current chief of the General Staff of the armed forces, said ahead of the event.

The construction of the church cost 6 billion rubles (about million), according to media reports.

The church was supposed to be paid for entirely through donations, but according to Russian reports almost 3 billion rubles (about million) came from the Kremlin budget.

This article originally appeared on Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Follow @RFERL on Twitter.

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