The reasons and risks behind Russia's big oil bet - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY MONEY

The reasons and risks behind Russia’s big oil bet

For years now, Russia has been laser-focused on insulating itself from an external economic shock.


It may have just sparked one.

In an unexpected move on March 6, Russia rejected a call by OPEC countries to further cut oil production in order to help prop up prices amid sagging global demand for energy due to the coronavirus.

The decision broke three years of cooperation under an arrangement called OPEC+ and stunned participants at a meeting in Vienna, not to mention some of Russia’s own oil executives — one suggested the move was “irrational” — and governments from the Middle East to the West.

OPEC leader Saudi Arabia swiftly responded to the snub by announcing it is no longer obliged to hold back production, causing the largest single-day drop in the price of oil in nearly three decades and sending global stock markets and the ruble tumbling. Why?

One potential answer: President Vladimir Putin wanted to punish the United States by putting severe pressure on the U.S. shale-oil industry, which has sold millions of barrels of oil while Russian companies kept production down under the existing OPEC+ agreement.

“The Kremlin had decided that propping up prices as the coronavirus ravaged energy demand would be a gift to the U.S. shale industry,” Bloomberg News reported. The acerbic spokesman for Russian state oil giant Rosneft, Mikhail Leontyev, suggested that was at least one of the motives, telling the agency: “Let’s see how American shale exploration feels under these conditions.”

Rosneft CEO Igor Sechin, an old and close Putin ally, has long been said to be chafing under the existing OPEC+ production limits, and was widely seen as playing a role in the decision to reject further cuts.

Some analysts played down the idea that the Kremlin was out to get U.S. shale, however, saying that Russia’s coordination with OPEC+ was fragile to begin with and that Moscow and Riyadh had different views of the current volatility on the global oil market.

Whatever the reasons, it’s a risky move for Moscow at an uncertain time.

The oil price collapse stoked by Moscow’s move and concerns about the effects of the coronavirus on a slew of industrieswill hurt Russia’s economy in the short-term, and there is no guarantee that it can knock out U.S. shale in the long run, analysts said.

The reasons and risks behind Russia’s big oil bet

U.S. Benefits

The United States has been a beneficiary of the high prices maintained by the OPEC+ output cuts over the past few years, overtaking Saudi Arabia and Russia — now Number 3 — as the world’s largest oil producer.

As the coronavirus ravaged the Chinese economy and hit others around the world, slashing oil demand, Saudi Arabia lobbied for OPEC+ to cut another 1.5 million barrels at the March 6 meeting in Vienna. Russia recommended maintaining the existing cuts. OPEC+ — a 24-member group consisting of OPEC nations plus non-cartel members like Russia — first agreed to oil production cuts in 2017.

Saudi Arabia’s announcement that it would hike production sent the price of U.S. crude oil tumbling by 25 percent on March 9 to a low of a barrel. Prices gained back some of the losses on March 10 but were well under for U.S. and the global benchmark, Brent Crude.

Some U.S. shale producers have a break-even price of a barrel or above, putting them in a vulnerable position, said Chris Weafer, an energy specialist and founder of Moscow-based consultancy firm Macro-Advisory.

Oil producers in Saudi Arabia and Russia have lower production costs, enabling them to weather the price.

“There are three parties facing off against each other — Russia, Saudi, and U.S. shale — and it really is a case of who blinks first,” Weafer told RFE/RL.

Several analysts said that in the short-term, Russia is in the strongest position among those three players.

“The impact of this price crash on U.S. shale companies is going to be pretty devastating” in the short term and could result in a U.S. production decline in 2020, said Gregory Brew, a historian at Southern Methodist University in Texas focusing on energy politics and the Middle East.

Diamondback Energy, a Texas-based shale producer, announced March 9 it would immediately reduce investment following the price drop.

Russian oil companies have some insulation. They are profitable at a oil price, helped by a free-floating currency, and the budget is protected for years to come.

The Kremlin’s conservative fiscal policy over the past few years boosted foreign currency reserves to about 0 billion and driven down the price of a barrel of oil necessary to balance the budget from above 0 to below .

At the current ruble rate of nearly 75 to the dollar, the budget can balance at per barrel, said Elina Ribakova, deputy chief economist at the Institute of International Finance in Washington.

Saudi Arabia’s budget break-even oil price is closer to and its foreign currency reserves have been declining amid a massive state spending program.

Risky Bet

Riyadh not only faces budget pressure, but potentially investor pressure to cut production to keep the market stable, Sarah Ladislaw, a senior vice president at the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies, said in a March 9 note.

Riyadh recently sold shares in state oil company Saudi Aramco, raising .6 billion in the world’s largest initial public offering. The shares are now below the price the investors paid for them.

But the U.S. shale industry has shown resilience in the past and is likely to do so again, analysts said. Low oil prices lead to consolidation, which should make companies more competitive in the longer term, Brew said — the opposite of what Moscow may be angling for.

Saudi Arabia failed to achieve the goal of shuttering the U.S. shale industry several years ago: The producers improved their efficiency in response to price pressure, driving down their own production costs.

Unlike large onshore or offshore oil fields that can take years to develop, shale fields can start producing in weeks, said Rauf Mammadov, an energy analyst at the Middle East Institute in Washington. And the biggest U.S. oil companies, which are less vulnerable than smaller outfits, are investing more into shale.

“It will not impact the shale industry in the long run,” Mammadov told RFE/RL.

Meanwhile, the impact of the oil price drop is being felt globally, including in Moscow.

The reasons and risks behind Russia’s big oil bet

‘Very Unexpected, Irrational’

Russia’s already slow-growing economy could potentially contract this year if oil prices stay low for the rest of the year, said Ribakova. She previously forecast growth of more than 2 percent in 2020.

Russia is losing 0 million to 0 million a day at an oil price of rather than , said Leonid Fedun, the billionaire vice president for strategic development at Lukoil, Russia’s second-largest oil producer, which is not state-owned.

Fedun called the collapse of the Russia and OPEC+ agreement “very unexpected, irrational.”

That’s not the view at Rosneft, though. Sechin was the driver behind the Kremlin’s decision not to agree to additional cuts, Weafer said.

In June, Sechin accused the United States of using sanctions against energy-producing nations to make room for U.S. domestic production.

The United States has angered the Kremlin by imposing sanctions on Russian Baltic Sea export gas pipeline Nord Stream 2, delaying its completion indefinitely, and by slapping penalties last month sanctioned a trading arm of Rosneft for doing business in Venezuela.

In 2019, the United States supplied oil to Russia’s western neighbor Ukraine for the first time — as Kyiv seeks to reduce reliance on Moscow amid a continuing war with Russia-backed separatists in its east — while Belarus has inquired about purchasing U.S. oil as it seeks alternatives to Russian crude.

Rosneft will increase production by 300,000 barrels a day following the exit from the agreement with OPEC+, Bloomberg reported, citing unidentified company officials.

Mammadov questioned the notion that Russia is targeting the U.S. shale industry.

The abundance of global supply, while largely driven by the United States, is also due to greater output from Canada, Brazil, and other non-OPEC countries, some of which have high-cost production and will be impacted, he said.

“This is more the outcome of the failure of the negotiation rather than a premeditated strategy or tactic” to crush U.S. production, Mammadov said. “There are too many global unknowns at the moment and that is the reason why Saudi Arabia and Russia could not agree on cuts.”

If the spread of the coronavirus retreats globally, leading to a pickup in economic activity and oil demand, the tensions between Russia and Saudi Arabia will ease as the question of greater cuts subsides, Mammadov said.

Another factor potentially limiting the depth of the price war is the Kremlin’s determination to maintain the political influence it has achieved in the Middle East in recent years, Weafer said.

That greater influence was on display in October 2017 when Saudi Arabia’s King Salman traveled to Moscow, the first-ever visit by the nation’s leader to Russia.

“The Kremlin will want to try to get back to the negotiating table because the political relations” with Saudi Arabia are “very important,” Weafer said.

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

MIGHTY HISTORY

These were the Army plans to conquer Japan

The U.S. had laid a lot of plans for late World War II. After the fall of Italy and then Germany, America wanted to finally crush the empire of Japan and get final payback for Pearl Harbor. Luckily for the infantrymen and other troops slated to die against a determined Japanese defense, the empire surrendered after two atomic bombs and Russia deploying troops. Here’s what the U.S. Army had planned in case that didn’t happen.


The reasons and risks behind Russia’s big oil bet

U.S. plans for the invasion of Kyushu in Operation Olympic, the first phase of the planned invasion of Japan.

(U.S. Army)

The assault on Japan was expected to take 18 months, starting with an intense blockade and air bombardment of Japan. Basically, stop Japan from pulling any more men and equipment back to the main islands and bomb the sh-t out of all equipment and forces already there.

While America had already captured or isolated many of the Japanese troops in the Pacific, there was the ongoing problem of Japanese forces in China that could slip back to Japan if the blockade wasn’t firmly in place for months ahead of the invasion.

It was hoped that the blockade and bombardment would weaken the defenses on Kyushu Island, the southernmost of the main islands and the first target. This assault was Operation Olympic, the first phase of Downfall. The Army wanted to land on Kyushu with soldiers and Marines from the Philippines, the Nansei Islands, and others. A total of 14 divisions were scheduled to take the beaches and push north.

This was slated to take months starting in November 1945. Wartime realities would push the date to December 1, and there was pressure to push it even further amid concerns that the blockade needed more time.

The reasons and risks behind Russia’s big oil bet

U.S. plans for Operation Downfall, the invasion of the Japanese home islands via two amphibious landings, one at Kyushu Island and one at Honshu.

(U.S. Army)

But that invasion through Kyushu was just phase one, a way of preparing for a second, larger invasion through the Tokyo Plain on Honshu Island, the largest island in Japan and the home of the capital. This was Operation Coronet, and it was thought to require 25 divisions just for the initial assaults, not counting the Air Force’s Pacific divisions held in reserve for additional bombardment and resupply.

The tentative date of March 1 was set for the Coronet invasion, but some officers pushed for a later date as soon as March 1 was announced. They wanted to delay the invasions to allow for a much larger air and sea bombardment as well as all sorts of preparatory operations. This group wanted to hit multiple points on the Chinese coast, in Korea, the Tsushima Strait, and other places.

Worst case scenario, this would’ve made the invasion of Japan much easier, though it would have used a lot of valuable resources. Best case scenario, it might have so crippled the Japanese war machine that it couldn’t hold its territory, allowing America to force a surrender without an invasion.

But these preparations would have required a massive supply of troops and machines, and that would have necessarily delayed Operation Downfall. Worse, the operations in China could have entangled America into the civil war there, preventing them from invading Japan for months or years.

The reasons and risks behind Russia’s big oil bet

An Army graphic showing the organization of forces for Coronet, the invasion of Kyushu Island.

(U.S. Army)

Gen. Douglas MacArthur, voted for the full invasion of Japan as soon as logistically feasible. For him, this was the third proposed course of action, and he said:

I am of the opinion that the ground, naval, air, and logistic resources in the Pacific are adequate to carry out Course III. The Japanese Fleet has been reduced to practical impotency. The Japanese Air Force has been reduced to a line of action which involves uncoordinated, suicidal attacks against our forces, employing all types of planes, including trainers. Its attrition is heavy and its power for sustained action is diminishing rapidly. Those conditions will be accentuated after the establishment of our air forces in the Ryukyus. With the increase in the tempo of very long range attacks, the enemy’s ability to provide replacement planes will diminish and the Japanese potentiality will decline at an increasing rate. It is believed that the development of air bases in the Ryukyus will, in conjunction with carrier-based planes, give us sufficient air power to support landings on Kyushu and that the establishment of our air forces there will ensure complete air supremacy over Honshu. Logistic considerations present the most difficult problem.

Nimitz agreed, and the two top commanders began to assemble their forces for the largest amphibious assault ever planned. They relied on all troops, ships, and heavy equipment in the Pacific as well as a steady flow of troops from Europe after the victory there.

And, if the fighting continued past June 1946, they would need to pull an additional four divisions per month from the U.S.

Japan, for its part, dragged its feet in preparing to counter a ground invasion. Even as late as March 1945, there had been little planning and troop buildup for the defense, but Japan finally addressed it. By July 1945, they had 30 line divisions, 2 armored divisions, 23 coastal defense divisions, and another 33 brigades of various types.

The reasons and risks behind Russia’s big oil bet

The Japanese plans for troop deployment to throwback or slow an American invasion of the home islands in 1945.

(U.S. Army)

Those 39 U.S. divisions for Olympic and Coronet are suddenly looking like they’ll struggle, right? Like they could take heavy losses and would require those reinforcements from Europe and America?

Luckily, Japan decided to surrender instead. There are some arguments about whether this was predominantly because of the Russian invasion of Japanese islands to Japan’s north or if it was because of the atom bombs that America dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but either way it allowed America to shelve Operation Downfall and execute Blacklist instead, the plan for the peaceful, unopposed occupation of Japan.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Why a TBI is so dangerous — and how to treat it

Brain injuries are the signature wounds of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, with more than 380,000 service members experiencing them between 2001 and 2017, according to the Department of Defense. Traumatic brain injuries (TBI) can have devastating effects on those who experience them, such as vomiting, seizures, speech disorders, and aggression. Long after initial impact, the resulting injuries can leave sufferers with invisible wounds that are tough to pinpoint or treat.


According to the Military Health System guidelines, a TBI is a traumatically induced structural injury or physiological disruption of brain function, the result of an external force. It’s indicated by an altered mental state, such as disorientation or a decrease in cognitive functions, as well any loss of memory for events immediately before or after the injury, or the loss of or a decreased level of consciousness.

Equally challenging for medical providers is the stigma victims often feel when it comes to seeking help. But researchers say awareness and advances in the DoD’s treatment and prevention strategies have changed for the better the way patients recover.

The reasons and risks behind Russia’s big oil bet

“There has been an increase of awareness about TBI, and that has made a great difference in early identification and intervention. Even in the past few years, we’ve seen a greater willingness to seek treatment for both TBI and psychological health concerns,” said Dr. Louis French, deputy director of operations and a clinical psychologist at the National Intrepid Center of Excellence (NICoE) located in Bethesda, Maryland.

Opened in 2010, NICoE helps active duty members, reservists, veterans, retirees, and their families manage TBIs and other associated conditions while providing diagnostic evaluation, comprehensive treatment planning, outpatient clinical care, and TBI research and education.

According to French, understanding the relationship between the mind and the brain is important because psychological and emotional health can influence TBI recovery.

A TBI can impact a person’s physical, cognitive, and behavioral or emotional functions. It can cause a variety of symptoms, including headache, nausea, dizziness, difficulty with concentration, memory, and language, and feelings of depression and anxiety.

“We continue to grow our understanding of the various factors that go into a person’s recovery from TBI, including physical, emotional, sensory, cognitive and other aspects,” said French. “Family involvement is also now recognized as an important part of the recovery process, and for those who may have complicated recoveries.”

At the NICoE, patients and their families have access to traditional medical specialties like primary care, advanced neurology and neuropsychology, as well as complementary holistic approaches, including wellness and creative arts therapy.

The reasons and risks behind Russia’s big oil bet

Alyson Rhodes, a yoga therapist, leads patients through the rest pose portion of a therapeutic yoga session, Dec. 11, 2017.

One of many reasons the center was created, said Capt. Walter Greenhalgh, director of NICoE, is to provide support to patients and their families.

“NICoE treatment programs are designed to encourage family-member involvement in the patient care plan by attending appointments and participating in programs like family therapy, family education classes, and Spouse and Caregiver Support groups. Our social workers provide education and skills training for all family members and connect them with resources to help them cope as a family unit,” Greenhalgh explained.

Group therapy for those coping with similar injuries can also show patients they aren’t alone and allow families the opportunity to interact with other family members.

Although TBIs are widely viewed as combat injuries, service members can still be at risk during day-to-day activities. Research conducted by the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center shows TBIs are more commonly the result of operational training, falls and motor vehicle accidents.

“TBI is not just a military injury. It’s easy to forget that it was only 10 years ago that we wrote the first in-theater guidelines for TBI, and now we have standardized assessment and treatment protocols across the entire Defense Department,” said French.

The reasons and risks behind Russia’s big oil bet

The National Intrepid Center of Excellence, or NICoE, a directorate of Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland.

The majority of traumatic brain injuries — 82 percent — are classified as mild TBIs or concussions. Mild TBIs:

– Can leave sufferers in a confused or disoriented state for less than 24 hours
– Can cause loss of consciousness for up to 30 minutes
– May result in memory loss lasting less than 24 hours

Moderate TBIs:

– Can create a confused or disorientated state that lasts more than 24 hours
– Can cause loss of consciousness for more than 30 minutes, but less than 24 hours
– May result in memory loss lasting more than 24 hours but less than seven days
– Can appear to be a mild TBI, but with abnormal CT scan results

Severe TBIs:

– Can create a confused or disoriented state that lasts more than 24 hours
– Can cause loss of consciousness for more than 24 hours
– May result in memory loss for more than seven days

A penetrating TBI, or an open head injury, is the most severe type of TBI:

– The scalp, skull and dura mater (the outer membrane encasing the brain and spinal cord) are penetrated by a foreign object.
– Penetrating injuries can be caused by high-velocity projectiles.
– Objects of lower velocity, such as knives or bone fragments from a skull fracture, can also be driven into the brain.

The current definition of TBI was updated in 2015 to be consistent with military and civilian guidelines, and a later review showed that many previously “unclassifiable” cases were likely moderate TBIs.

“Having standardized assessment and treatment guidelines pushed out to an entire military health system and being able to track people through an integrated medical record is amazing,” said French. “Then you have the development of places like NICoE and the Intrepid Spirit Centers that provide intensive, integrative treatment.

“The military and academia are working hand-in-hand to answer questions and improve assessment and care. There are a lot of things that have been done in support of TBI advancement — any of my civilian colleagues look at what the Defense Department achieved in this amount of time, and it’s phenomenal.”

This article originally appeared on All Hands Magazine. Follow @AllHandsMag on Twitter.

MIGHTY HISTORY

The time that the British conquered Manila

The Philippines is a diverse country that draws from an eclectic mix of cultures. Much of the Filipino culture and heritage was influenced by trade with China and other Southeast Asian countries, as well as occupation by foreign countries like Spain, America, and Japan. In the Philippines, you can eat Chinese rice noodles, hear Indonesian, Malay, and Spanish words in the same conversation, and ride a jeep that’s been converted into a public bus to visit WWII historical sites. However, most people would be surprised to learn that the Pearl of the Orient was once under the control of the British Empire.

The Seven Years’ War lasted from 1756-1763 (fighting in the Americas started in 1754 with the French and Indian War, but fighting didn’t begin in Europe until 1756). The conflict between the great European powers spanned the globe, making it the first true world war. During this time, the Philippines was a wealthy Spanish colony made famous by its grandeur and the Manila Galleon Trade. Eager to take a piece of this wealth, Britain planned an invasion of Manila with four store ships, three frigates, eight ships of the line, and 10,300 men.


The invasion force sailed from India and anchored in Manila Bay on September 23, 1762. Not expecting the European war to come to the Philippines, the 9,356 Spanish and Filipino defenders were caught off guard. Outnumbered and unprepared, the Spaniards enlisted the help of native Kapampangan warriors to resist the British invasion. The fighting was fierce, with the British firing more than 5,000 bombs and 20,000 cannonballs on the city. Spanish resistance did not last long and a formal surrender ended hostilities on October 6. The greatest Spanish fortress in the Western Pacific capitulated after just two weeks.

The reasons and risks behind Russia’s big oil bet

A map depicting the British attack on Manila (Source: Library of Congress)

The Spanish defeat resulted in the sacking and pillaging of Manila. Houses and buildings were pillaged and burned, people were killed, tortured, and raped, and countless treasures were looted, lost, or destroyed. Not even the churches of the archbishopric in Manila were spared from the violence. To spare the city from further destruction, the British demanded a ransom of four million Mexican silver dollars which acting Governor-General Archbishop Manuel Rojo del Rio y Vieyra agreed to, preventing further loss of life.

The reasons and risks behind Russia’s big oil bet

The British occupation of Manila (Source: The Filipinas Heritage Library)

With the help of the Kapampangan, Spanish forces retreated from Manila to the Bacolor, Pampanga where they established a new colonial capitol. There, the Spanish organized a resistance to contain the British invasion. An army of over 10,000, most of them natives, was raised for this cause. Although they lacked sufficient modern weapons, resistance forces managed to keep the British confined to Manila and Cavite.

The reasons and risks behind Russia’s big oil bet

British troop movements during the Occupation of Manila (Source: Malacanang.gov.ph)

During its occupation of Manila, Britain took advantage of its location to increase trade with China. The British were unable to capitalize further on their conquest, since the Seven Years’ War ended with the Treaty of Paris on February 10, 1763. That said, news of the peace agreement did not reach the Philippines until early 1764. The British ended their occupation, departing Manila and Cavite, in the first week of April 1764.

Over a century later, the Filipino nationalist and vocal opponent of Spanish occupation, Jose Rizal, lived in London from May 1888 to March 1889. He was astounded to find Filipino artifacts in the British Museum. Among the cultural treasures were the Boxer Codex (c. 1590) and a rare copy of Antonio de Morga’s Sucesos de las Islas Filipinas (1609). According to Kirby Araullo, author and co-founder of the Busolan Center for Filipino Studies, the two artifacts are among the most important primary sources of early Philippine history.

The Spanish defeat was also a turning point for the Spanish Empire; it showed that Spain was no longer the dominant world power that it once was. The Spanish vulnerability emboldened many uprisings against Spanish occupation, including an ill-fated revolt by the national hero couple, Diego and Gabriela Silang. The Sultan of Sulu, a former Islamic state that controlled islands in the present-day southern Philippine Islands and north-eastern Borneo, was also freed from Spanish imprisonment during British occupation. He aligned with the British against the Spanish and increased pirate raids by the Sultanate of Sulu against Spanish colonies.

The Battle of Manila was a major military, political, and financial blow to the Spanish Empire. Although the British were unable to carry out a full conquest of the islands, the Spanish defeat was the catalyst for continued Filipino uprisings and resistance to Spanish occupation.


MIGHTY TRENDING

These drone swarms are wolfpacks for killing enemy UAS

The Army has announced that its Howlers are ready to fight, achieving initial operational capability. If the Army goes to war, these lifeless robots are going to launch out of tubes, fly through the sky, and force enemy drones to crash and burn so they can’t spy on U.S. troops or attack them.


The reasons and risks behind Russia’s big oil bet

(Raytheon)

Howlers were built with two systems from Raytheon, the defense manufacturer. The major platform is the Coyote unmanned aircraft. These drones can be shot from special tubes mounted on ships, vehicles, aircraft, or just on the ground.

They’ve already served with the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration in hurricanes, but they’re primarily aimed at Department of Defense missions. These are the same drones that the Navy used in the LOCUST program where they launched swarms of Coyotes that worked together. The Navy is hoping to use them in coordinated strikes against targets on shore or at sea.

But the Army is hoping to use them in a very specific air-to-air mission: hunting drones. This application requires a special sensor payload, and the Army got that from Raytheon as well. It’s a radar known as KuRFS that tracks aerial threats with Ku band energy. The Ku band is in the microwave range and is mostly used for satellite communications.

On the Howler, this radar lets the Army track enemy threats. This targeting data can allow other systems to engage the targeted drone, but the Howler can also close with and destroy the threat—by blowing itself up.

Yup, the Howler can act as a suicide drone. Guess it’s good the Coyote is relatively affordable at ,000 apiece, counting the warhead. When an enemy drone is capable of taking out an entire ammo dump like in Ukraine or spotting targets for artillery like in all countries where wars are currently being fought, a ,000 bill to take any of them out is easily worth it.

MIGHTY CULTURE

This is why Marines can be so arrogant, according to a Marine

Admit it, you read that headline and thought, “Yeah! Marines are super cocky!” Well, you aren’t exactly wrong. Hell, even if you are a Marine, you’ll agree with that fact. But why are we this way? What is ingrained in our DNA that makes us so damn arrogant?


Marines already know the answer. We’re reminded of it every day while we’re on active duty. Higher-ups are constantly telling us that we’re a bunch of morons with guns bad asses backed by a long and illustrious history of proof. But, if questioned by anyone outside of the Corps, we might not have an easy answer. Furthermore, service members in other branches might be supremely annoyed by the arrogance — and who could blame them?

So, if you’re wondering why this is, here’s your answer:

The reasons and risks behind Russia’s big oil bet

The fighting spirit and notorious reputation we’ve gained throughout history is a huge source of arrogance for us.

(U.S. Marine Corps)

History

As mentioned above, Marines can always point to their history as proof that we really are as badass as we say. Of course, higher-ups and drill instructors might have you believe that it’s because Marines have never lost a battle or retreated but… that’s not exactly true.

Marines have definitely had to surrender, but that doesn’t mean they didn’t fight like hell beforehand. When Marines had to surrender, you can bet that they made the enemy pay for it with blood. Regardless, Marines have a history of (usually) winning battles, typically against overwhelming odds. Victory comes at a high price. The ability to do this is certainly something to be proud of.

The reasons and risks behind Russia’s big oil bet

Overcoming the challenge of boot camp is just the first step.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Justin J. Shemanski)

Training

Whether Marine Corps boot camp is, in fact, the toughest basic training in the military is impossible to prove, but one thing is for sure: it sucks. And then after that, if you’re a grunt, you’ll go to the School of Infantry and, any one of us will tell you that SOI sucks way worse than boot camp ever could.

Even when you hit the fleet, you’ll still have to train for deployments, and that sucks, too. But through the experience of “The Suck,” you gain a lot of pride. You overcome these insane challenges that you never thought you could, and you understand that you did so by digging deep into your own spirit to find the motivation.

The reasons and risks behind Russia’s big oil bet

Even something as simple as morning PT sucks.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Carlos Cruz Jr.)

Lifestyle

The lifestyle of a Marine is, in short, not that great — especially considering that we almost exclusively get leftovers no one else wanted. We work with trash and usually come out on top regardless. Remember the training we were talking about? It sucks worse than everyone else’s (outside of special forces) because we simply don’t have the ability to make it any easier.

But who needs easy when you’re a badass? Not Marines. If there’s anything that lends itself to the arrogance of a Marine, it’s the lifestyle. Having to live in barracks with broken air conditioning during the summer in Hawai’i or the Stumps, eating garbage mess hall food, having strict rules regarding everything, etc. These are all things that make us believe we’re better than everyone else because we know that we have it tough, but that’s what makes us so damn good.

The reasons and risks behind Russia’s big oil bet

Marines can be some of the best people you’ll meet.

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Ernest Scott)

Humility

No matter what you think about arrogance or Marines or the combination of the two, Marines can be some of the most compassionate, humble people you’ll ever meet, and it’s specifically because of our tough lifestyle. We don’t have the best gear to work with and our living quarters suck, but we learn to live with less and it teaches us to appreciate little things.

MIGHTY SURVIVAL

COVID-19: Russia Reports Largest Daily Increase Of Cases; 10,000 Graves Dug In Tehran

The global death toll from the coronavirus is more than 110,000 with almost 1.8 million infections confirmed, causing mass disruptions as governments continue to try to slow the spread of the new respiratory illness.

Here’s a roundup of COVID-19 developments in RFE/RL’s broadcast regions.



Russia

Russia on April 12 reported the largest daily increase of coronavirus cases since the start of the outbreak, as the authorities announced restrictions on Easter church services in and around Moscow to contain the spread of the disease.

The Russian Orthodox Church, which will observe Easter this year on April 19, ordered churches to close their doors to large groups during the holy week leading up to the holiday.

Meanwhile, Russia’s coronavirus crisis task force reported 2,186 new coronavirus cases in the country, raising the total number to 15,770.

The number of coronavirus-related deaths rose by 24 to 130, it said.

The reasons and risks behind Russia’s big oil bet

The official tally has been doubted by critics in Russia and abroad, who suspect the number is being undercounted by health authorities.

Moscow and many other regions have been in lockdown for nearly two weeks, but Russian officials on April 11 warned of a “huge influx” of new coronavirus infections and said that hospitals in the Moscow area were quickly nearing capacity.

“We are seeing hospitals in Moscow working extremely intensely, in heroic, emergency mode,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said during a television interview.

Peskov described the situation in both Moscow and St. Petersburg as “quite tense because the number of sick people is growing.”

Bulgaria

Authorities and doctors in Bulgaria are urging citizens to stay home and pray in their homes for traditional Palm Sunday and Easter services.

Churches have remained open in Bulgaria despite the coronavirus outbreak. Services at major churches are due to be broadcast live for worshippers.

Prime Minister Boyko Borisov said on April 11 that churches will remain open, saying many people were desperate and in low spirits. He, however, urged Bulgarians to stay home.

“A difficult decision but I am ready to bear the reproaches,” Borisov told reporters.

“The bishops told me that there are many people who are in low spirits, desperate. So I just cannot issue such an order [to close churches],” he added.

Thousands attend Easter church services in the Balkan country.

Bulgaria has been in a state of emergency since March 13. Schools and most shops are closed and there are restrictions on intercity travel and access to parks. All domestic and foreign vacation trips are banned.

The country has so far reported 669 confirmed COVID-19 cases, and 28 deaths.

Iran

Iran’s death toll from COVID-19 has risen by 117 in the past day to 4,474, Health Ministry spokesman Kianush Jahanpur said on April 12.

The country has recorded 71,686 cases of the coronavirus that causes the disease, Jahanpur added. Some 1,657 new cases of coronavirus were confirmed in the past 24 hours, he said.

Iran has been the country hardest hit by the pandemic in the Middle East. Many Iranian and international experts think Iran’s government, which has been criticized for a slow initial response, is intentionally reducing its tally of the pandemic.

The reasons and risks behind Russia’s big oil bet

Ten thousand graves have been dug in a new section of the Behesht Zahra cemetery south of the Iranian capital to deal with coronavirus deaths, an official with Tehran’s municipality was quoted as saying by the official government news agency IRNA on April 12.

Meanwhile, Iranian President Hassan Rohani said that restrictions on travel between cities within each province in the country have been lifted.

He said restrictions on travel between provinces will be lifted on April 20.

In the past days, Tehran has reopened some “low-risk” businesses in most parts of the country with the exception of the capital, Tehran, where they will reopen from April 18, official media have reported.

Iranian authorities have called on citizens to respect health protocols and social-distancing measures as the country struggles to curb the deadly outbreak.

The government is concerned that measures to shut down businesses and halt economic activities to contain the outbreak could wreck an already sanctions-battered economy.

The United States has offered humanitarian aid to Iran, but the country’s leaders have rejected it and demanded that sanctions be lifted.

Pakistan

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan has appealed to international stakeholders for urgent debt relief for Pakistan and other developing countries to help them deal more effectively with the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.

In a video message released by the Foreign Ministry on April 12, Khan said that “highly indebted countries” lack “fiscal space” to spend both on the fight against the virus and on health and social support.

He said he appealed to world leaders, the heads of financial institutions, and the secretary-general of the United Nations to get together to announce a debt relief initiative for developing countries.

Pakistan has recorded 5,232 coronavirus cases, with 91 deaths.

The South Asian nation’s already struggling economy has been hit hard by nationwide lockdowns that have brought economic activity to a halt.

Pakistan is more than 0 billion in debt to foreign lenders and spends the largest chunk of its budget on servicing its debt.

Armenia

In his Easter sermon, the head of the Armenian Apostolic Church, Catholicos Garegin II, urged Armenians to display “national unity” in the face of the coronavirus crisis.

Leading the Mass at an empty St. Gregory the Illuminator Cathedral in Yerevan on April 12, Garegin called on “the sons and daughters of our nation in the homeland and in the diaspora to give a helping hand to our government authorities in their efforts to overcome the difficult situation created by the pandemic.”

He also called for global solidarity to contain the spread of the virus and what he described as even greater “evils,” including “materialism,” poverty, and armed conflicts.

The Mass, broadcast live on national television, was attended by only two dozen clergymen and a smaller-than-usual choir.

[rebelmouse-proxy-image https://media.rbl.ms/image?u=%2Fproxy%2F0j8lmZ30tqvGI7p40mbbeh-iddjMEj_TrxEL8GZ7gUiVA0eMtSMEqbSSLmSGXtl8ujqBcb4lja8uNx2mI3wQp5lUjnstQu-mKTuxKKg44xZITiFrDQk25Ic&ho=https%3A%2F%2Flh3.googleusercontent.com&s=934&h=e9c18fc442a8f5762418e944a3b7ecf0659d777d65b51ee78cc1fdcb9c93d8cf&size=980x&c=4246473462 crop_info=”%7B%22image%22%3A%20%22https%3A//media.rbl.ms/image%3Fu%3D%252Fproxy%252F0j8lmZ30tqvGI7p40mbbeh-iddjMEj_TrxEL8GZ7gUiVA0eMtSMEqbSSLmSGXtl8ujqBcb4lja8uNx2mI3wQp5lUjnstQu-mKTuxKKg44xZITiFrDQk25Ic%26ho%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Flh3.googleusercontent.com%26s%3D934%26h%3De9c18fc442a8f5762418e944a3b7ecf0659d777d65b51ee78cc1fdcb9c93d8cf%26size%3D980x%26c%3D4246473462%22%7D” expand=1]

lh3.googleusercontent.com

After the service, Garegin blessed a small group of believers who had gathered outside Armenia’s largest cathedral.

Sunday services in all churches across Armenia have been held behind closed doors since the government on March 16 declared a state of emergency over the coronavirus outbreak, which has officially infected 1,013 people in the South Caucasus country and killed 13.

The Armenian Apostolic Church has restricted church attendance on weekdays and instructed parish churches to live-stream liturgies online, when possible.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

The Navy may have cracked the Malaria vaccine

Capt. Judith Epstein, clinical director, Naval Medical Research Center (NMRC) Malaria Department, presented findings on the malaria candidate vaccine, PfSPZ Vaccine, at the 2018 Military Health System Research Symposium (MHSRS), Aug. 22, 2018.

During the breakout session called “What’s New in Infectious Disease Research in the Tropics,” Epstein gave an update on NMRC’s work with PfSPZ Vaccine, a whole organism vaccine comprised of aseptic, purified, radiation-attenuated, non-replicating, cryopreserved sporozoites. Sporozoites (SPZ) are one of the stages of the malaria parasite, which find their way to the liver after inoculation.


According to Epstein, the parasites induce a protective immune response without making copies of themselves. In other words, the weakened parasites do not replicate or get into the bloodstream, and thus do not lead to infection or disease.

“The studies on PfSPZ Vaccine are important because they bring us closer to having a malaria vaccine to prevent infection and disease in military personnel deployed to malaria-endemic regions as well as vulnerable populations residing in malaria-endemic regions,” said Epstein. “Malaria has consistently been ranked as the number one infectious disease threat facing the military, and the burden of malaria remains incredibly high worldwide.”

Epstein was the NMRC principal investigator (PI) on two PfSPZ Vaccine trials, published in Sciencein 2011 and the Journal of Clinical Investigation in 2017, respectively. The former trial was conducted in collaboration with the Center for Vaccine Development (CVD) at the University of Maryland in Baltimore (UMB); both trials were conducted in collaboration with Sanaria Inc. and the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research (WRAIR).

The reasons and risks behind Russia’s big oil bet

Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Harold Sylvester, assigned to Naval Medical Research Center Asia (NMRCA), sets and baits mosquito traps in Singapore. NMRCA is conducting research project to study the different populations of mosquitos in Singapore and their ability to transmit diseases.

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Jay C. Pugh)

In mid-2017, Epstein also became the PI for the “Warfighter 2 Trial”, conducted between 2016 and 2017. The trial was conducted at NMRC and CVD-UMB. Thirty subjects were immunized at each site. The participants had their screening visits, immunizations, and follow-up appointments at the NMRC Clinical Trials Center (CTC) in Bethesda, Maryland. Subjects were immunized with PfSPZ Vaccine and then, along with control subjects, underwent controlled human malaria infection by exposure to five bites from malaria-infected mosquitoes. Subjects were then followed closely to determine whether or not they developed malaria through the evaluation of blood smears and polymerase chain reaction (PCR). Infection was treated immediately with anti-malarial medication.

“In all trials, the vaccine has been demonstrated to have a very good safety and tolerability profile and has also been easy to administer,” Epstein said. “Our focus now is to enhance the efficacy and practical use of the vaccine.” Two of the most important parameters for malaria vaccine development are duration of protection and protection against non-vaccine strains.

In the “Warfighter 2” trial, NMRC researchers were able to demonstrate vaccine efficacy of 40 percent against a non-vaccine strain of malaria when assessed 12 weeks after the final injection, a marked improvement from the previous trials.

As the DoD’s premier scientific meeting, MHSRS helps to facilitate the exchange of information between almost 3,000 attendees from around the world on health care topics relevant to the warfighter. This year’s meeting was held at the Gaylord Palms Resort and Convention Center, Aug. 20 – 23, 2018, Kissimmee, Florida, and focused on medical innovation as a key factor in operational and mission readiness.

NMRC’s eight laboratories are engaged in a broad spectrum of activity from basic science in the laboratory to field studies at sites in austere and remote areas of the world to operational environments. In support of the Navy, Marine Corps, and joint U.S. warfighters, researchers study infectious diseases; biological warfare detection and defense; combat casualty care; environmental health concerns; aerospace and undersea medicine; medical modeling, simulation and operational mission support; and epidemiology and behavioral sciences.

NMRC and the laboratories deliver high-value, high-impact research products to support and protect today’s deployed warfighters. At the same time researchers are focused on the readiness and well-being of future forces.

This article originally appeared on the United States Navy. Follow @USNavy on Twitter.

popular

Watch airmen change a tire on the world’s most advanced fighter

Believe it or not, your car and a fifth-generation fighter jet have some of the same maintenance needs. Surprised? What could your Ford, Toyota, or Dodge need that a Lockheed F-35 Lightning II needs done as well?


The answer: tire changes. When we think about the fighters, cargo planes, tankers, and bombers that take to the skies, it’s pretty easy to forget the importance of something as basic as a tire. The fact is, the state of tires has been important in the aviation world for a long time. In World War II and the early days of the Cold War, B-29 pilots needed a tire gauge, among other things, to make sure their bombers were ready for takeoff.

The reasons and risks behind Russia’s big oil bet
The pilot is on the right. (YouTube Screenshot)

It’s not that much of a surprise when you think about it. Yes, the planes are designed to fly, but they also need to take off and land. The tires on an airplane serve the same purpose that tires do on a car: They provide traction on runways (or roads, as the case may be). If the tires are not well-maintained in either case, the vehicle’s more likely to get wrecked.

Changing a flat or worn-down tire on the F-35 is a lot like changing it on a car. You need to jack the plane up (granted, the jack for the Lightning has to have a much greater lifting capacity than one for a Buick), remove the old tire, and put on the new one. Of course, there’s always the need to check that the tire pressure is just right — not too low, not too high. Incidentally, the F-35’s tires, at least in the video below, are from Michelin.

The reasons and risks behind Russia’s big oil bet
Four U.S. Air Force F-35A Lightning II’s from the 34th Fighter Squadron, Hill Air Force Base, Utah, taxi down the runway at Kunsan Air Base, Republic of Korea, Dec. 3, 2017, during exercise VIGILANT ACE 18. Their tires, by the way, are made by Michelin. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech Sgt. Joshua Rosales)

Learn how the F-35’s tires get changed in the video below. Stick around until the end, so you can see the F-35 take to the skies at full afterburner after the maintenance is done.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QiS39Lul4-Q
(Ultimate Military Channel | YouTube)
MIGHTY SPORTS

10 simple moves that will burn fat and build cardio

Stairs workouts are among the quickest, most accessible, and straightforward ways to get in shape, fast. No, you don’t need a gym’s stair climber to do them. Find some stairs, run, jump, and step up them, come down, and repeat — that’s all it takes to burn a ton of calories, and, if you keep it up, lose weight. It’s an effective workout for a number of reasons: For one, it’s a heart rate exercise that’s equivalent to a sprint-style running session. Second, stair work adds up. Research has shown that taking just 200 steps a day, five days a week for 8 weeks, can improve cardio fitness by almost 20 percent. An added bonus: it’s a leg day workout that puts a minimal impact on your joints.


The biggest downside to stair workouts is that they get, well, boring. The workout below aims to solve this. It features 10 moves to shake it up and is intended to be a 20-minute sweat session. The faster you do each sequence, the higher your heart rate and the more calories you will burn. But it’s more important to practice good form than it is to be fast: Keeping your back straight, shoulders back, and knees over toes as you climb will build strength in the right muscles so you’ll be stronger the next time you tackle a stairs routine.

1. Step ups

Stand at the base of the staircase. Raise your right leg and place your right foot one the second step (skipping the first step). Push off the floor with your left foot and shift your weight onto your right as you step up. Swing your left leg in front of you, bending your left knee, while swinging your right arm forward for counter balance. Step back down to start position. Perform 10 step-ups with your right leg, then switch sides. Do 3 sets total.

The reasons and risks behind Russia’s big oil bet

(Photo by Bruno Nascimento)

2. Mini box jumps

Stand at the base of the staircase. Bend your knees and swing arms behind you, then swing them forward as spring off the ground and propel yourself onto the second step. Land on both feet. Jump back down using both feet. Do 10 jumps x 2 sets.

3. Fast feet

Starting at the base of the staircase, sprint to the top as fast as you can, moving your feet rapidly like a football drill. Do the equivalent of 5 flights of stairs. That means if you only have a single flight to work with, you’ll sprint to the top, sprint back down, and repeat 5 times.

4. Triceps dips

Sit on the second step, knees bent, keeping feet on the floor below the stairs. Place hands at either side of your hips on the edge of the second step, palms facing forward. (Note: If you are tall, sit on the third step instead.) Slide your hips forward until your butt is off the step, using your arms to support your weight. Bend and straighten your arms, feeling the burn in your triceps. Do 10 reps, 3 sets.

5. Incline lunges

Stand at the base of the staircase. Work your way to the top taking three steps at a time. Pause in the lunge position between each step, allowing maximum load on your front quad with every step. Do the equivalent of 5 flights of stairs, jogging back down to the start and repeating if you only have one flight to work with.

The reasons and risks behind Russia’s big oil bet

(Photo by Gesina Kunkel)

6. Side jogger

Stand perpendicular to the staircase, right hip closest to the stairs. Bend right knee and step up onto the first step, bringing your left leg with you. Quickly step up onto the second step. Work your way to the top using your right side to propel you. At the top of the flight, work your way back down using your right side to lead you again. At the bottom, reverse and jog sideways up the stairs using your left side to lead the way. Jog back down left-side first. That’s one set. Repeat 3 times.

7. Incline clapping push-ups

Stand at the base of the staircase. Place hands on the third step, arms straight. Keeping your back straight and in line with your legs, bend elbows and lower chest to the stairs. Hold for a second, then explosively push off the stairs and clap your hands together before landing in the extended push up position. Do 10 reps, 3 sets.

8. Backwards jog

Stand with your back to the base of the staircase. Using caution, walk up the stairs backward, engaging your glutes and hamstrings with every step. Note: This moves requires a bit of balance and coordination (more than you might think!). Use the side wall for support with one hand if needed. For those more advanced, try this exercise at a slow-jog pace. Complete the equivalent of 5 flights of stairs.

The reasons and risks behind Russia’s big oil bet

(Photo by Gesina Kunkel)

9. Single-leg jumps

Stand at the base of the staircase. Shift weight onto your right leg, lifting left foot off the floor. Bend right knee, swing arms behind you, then swing them forward as you push off the floor and jump onto the first step with the right leg. Hop back down, keeping left foot off the floor. Complete 10 jumps on right side, then switch legs. (Note: Use side wall for balance as needed.) Do 2 sets total.

10. Decline push-ups

Squat facing away from the stairs and the base of the staircase. Place your hands on the floor in front of you and shift your weight forward so your arms arm supporting your body. Keeping hands on the floor, walk your feet backwards up the stairs behind you until they are on a step that allows you to create a straight line from your extended arms to your toes (probably the third step). Keeping your back and legs straight, bend your elbows and do a push up. Note: Decline push ups are hard and it’s normal that you can’t go as deep as you would on a flat surface.) Do 10 reps, 2 sets.

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

MIGHTY FIT

How a club drug is curing PTSD

Portland, Chicago, Berkeley, Dallas, Denver, and Oakland are all making moves to decriminalize psychedelic drugs that have been shown to have therapeutic applications.

So in your lifetime, you may see the decriminalization and eventual legalization of magic mushrooms, MDMA, LSD, mescaline, and DMT.

How is this not bigger news?!

It begs the question though… Are these “drugs” actually helpful in treating illness?


Well, to answer that question, allow me to take you on a very shallow dive of what MDMA has managed to do for veterans with PTSD in just one study.

Put your preconceptions and socially conditioned ideas about these drugs aside and try to take in this information as if it’s the first time you’re hearing about it.

How MDMA is being used to treat PTSD | The Economist

youtu.be

Ecstacy is good for more than just raves

In 2010 scientists studied the effects of MDMA assisted psychotherapy on 19 veterans and/or first responders with treatment-resistant PTSD. Some of these guys had been experiencing PTSD for more than 19 years. Greater than 57% of the participants no longer met the diagnosis for PTSD after the study concluded. Remember, these people were previously resistant to all PTSD treatment.

The long term follow up had some other findings worth noting:

  • Only 2 of the participants that finished the study had a relapse that resulted in unimproved symptoms of PTSD.
  • 16 of 19 were attending therapy before enrollment in the study. Only eight were still in therapy during the 2-month long-term follow up.
  • Everyone wanted to do more sessions afterward and thought that they would be beneficial.
  • 13 of the 19 participants reported improved cognitive function. There are no negative cognitive side effects to MDMA with respect to this study.
  • No participants suffered from substance abuse after the initial treatment.
Healing Trauma in Veterans with MDMA-Assisted Psychotherapy

youtu.be

Expert discusses MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for PTSD

What is even more telling to me than the numbers are some of the direct quotes from the participants.

  • “The therapy made it possible for me to live”
  • “The MDMA provided a dialogue with myself I am not often able to have, and there is the long-term effect of an increased sense of well-being.”
  • “I was always too frightened to look below the sadness. The MDMA and the support allowed me to pull off the controls, and I … knew how and what and how fast or slow I needed to see my pain”

The picture painted by these quotes is a complex one. The therapy was life changing for many of the participants, but it wasn’t easy, as is obvious from this statement by one of the participants.

“…one of the toughest things I have ever done…” That’s from someone who went to war. The therapy was on par with combat for this individual.

Anyone who has taken a hard look at their “shit” whether it be from war, an abusive childhood, or just having to live with being human, knows that it can be the hardest thing you ever try to do. Burying it deep down and ignoring it is the easy route.

Breakthrough for Psychedelic Medicine

youtu.be

More than PTSD

Okay, so that’s PTSD and veterans, obviously a topic close to my heart and the rest of the We Are The Mighty family, but there is a whole host of other conditions that are being studied/treated with psilocybin, the psychedelic compound in magic mushrooms.

The most interesting aspect of these studies, in general, is that the drugs aren’t curing anything. The psychedelics aren’t doing the work; the patients are. The psychedelics are simply helping people get out of their own way so that they can help themselves, especially in mental conditions.

The cancer treatments are a little different. Cancer isn’t being cured. The studies are looking at whether these drugs can help people with cancer-associated depression and anxiety. Also, it seems to be helping people become okay with dying.

From personal experience, I can attest that these compounds can show you exactly what it means/feels like to die. Depending on your experience and the way you set up the experience, the fear of death could be completely erased.

More on mental health and meditation here.

The science of psilocybin and its use to relieve suffering

youtu.be

Do the work

Without going total hippie on your ass, I’d like to leave you with this one idea.

The boom in psychedelic research is great news for humanity. When done correctly with pure substances, there seem to be no side effects whatsoever from these compounds. No side effects is basically unheard of when it comes to current PTSD medications.

The main reason is that these drugs aren’t doing much more than helping us let our guard down. The world is filled with a whole lot of really messed up shit that conditions us to protect ourselves. Veterans are one of the most stark examples of what happens when you experience something truly terrible.

You close off. You bury deep. You try to fight the memories. You try to change the past in your mind. You take responsibility for something you had no control over in the first place.

The research on psychedelics is showing us that what actually needs to happen is the opposite of all those things. We need to forgive ourselves, let go, and become okay with moving on. Facing your own death and coming to terms with it helps in dealing with the deaths of others as well.

Sometimes we just need some help to do those things. A properly set up psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy session may just provide the help needed. The opportunity to face your demons may be accessible and legal in a city near you within the next few years.

The reasons and risks behind Russia’s big oil bet

Share and promote this research if you’re on board with helping veterans. The reason this research is being conducted is because of people that care. The system isn’t set up to promote this research. We have to speak up to get our brothers and sisters treatments that could change their lives. Visit MAPS for information on how to help and donate to this cause. Share this article if there’s someone you know who could benefit from this type of treatment. Comment on Facebook and keep this conversation going. Send me an email at michael@composurefitness.com if you have had an experience or know someone who has had an experience with these substances that you think would help shed some light on this conversation. We need to be the keepers of our health and the health of our brothers and sisters.

To get on the inside of the Mighty Fit community, join our Facebook group here. It’s where all the Mighty Fit faithful gather to share knowledge and motivate each other.

The reasons and risks behind Russia’s big oil bet
MIGHTY TRENDING

North Korea threatens to pull out of the US peace summit

North Korea appeared to turn the tables on the US on May 15, 2018, by threatening to pull out of a summit scheduled for next June 2018.

The threat is an apparent broadside against the Trump administration and looks like a power move that could make Washington consider concessions to Pyongyang.


North Korea released statements on May 15, 2018, bashing officials in the administration, canceling talks with South Korea, and threatening to withdraw from the planned summit with the US.

In doing so, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has turned the tables on President Donald Trump, who has built enormous expectations for the meeting.

One statement from North Korea’s state-run media likened ongoing military exercises involving US and South Korean forces to a rehearsal for an invasion, returning to a talking point from 2017, when Trump and Kim were trading nuclear threats.

In a later statement, a North Korean official expressed “violent anger” at the US’s behavior and said Pyongyang would have to “reconsider” the meeting with Trump.

The official offered Trump an ultimatum: Cede to North Korea’s demands, or lose the summit.

How the tables have turned

The reasons and risks behind Russia’s big oil bet

When Trump accepted Kim’s offer to meet for a historic summit — which would be the first time a sitting US president meets with a sitting North Korean leader — experts and analysts were more or less united in viewing it as a legitimizing win for Kim.

Kim bought his way to the table with Trump with a single, virtually meaningless word: denuclearization.

The US has long maintained that it will not talk to North Korea unless the prospect of disarmament is on the table.

When Kim started discussing the prospect in early 2018, Trump and his top officials cheered the move as proof that its unique approach to North Korea had worked.

But in statements on May 15, 2018, North Korea said Trump had employed the same tired ideas that had failed in the past, asserting that its “treasured” nuclear program had brought it international power.

Now, after Trump has repeatedly hyped his progress with Pyongyang, it is Kim, the leader of a rogue state, dangling the prospect of a summit to gain concessions from the US.

What North Korea demands and how Trump might cave to it

The reasons and risks behind Russia’s big oil bet
Kim and North Korean officials at a nuclear facility in September.
(KCNA photo)

North Korea’s recent statements push back on longstanding US-South Korea military exercises and call for Trump to back off of his demand for “complete, verifiable, and irreversible denuclearization.”

Already, it looks as if the US may cave to save the summit. South Korea’s Yonhap News reports that the B-52, a US nuclear bomber, could be pulled from air combat drills in a nod to North Korea’s new demands.

But before that, Trump’s top officials had minced words about the aim of talks with North Korea and the possible definitions of “denuclearization.”

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who has been to North Korea twice in the past month or so, has in a series of recent interviews described slightly different aims of the talks.

While Pompeo often speaks in absolute terms, saying total denuclearization and removal of nuclear facilities must come before Washington eases off Pyongyang, he told CBS’s “Face the Nation” on May 13, 2018, that talks with North Korea would seek to ensure that “America is no longer held at risk by your nuclear weapons arsenal” and ending Kim’s chemical and biological weapons program and missiles “that threaten the world.”

Adam Mount, the director of the Defense Posture Project at the Federation of American Scientists, tweeted that, in other words, Pompeo said the US would accept “a standard that could permit retention of nuclear warheads, facilities, material, and possibly short range missiles.”

Kim’s master bluff

The reasons and risks behind Russia’s big oil bet
Kim leading South Korean President Moon Jae-in across the demarcation line into North Korea.

Jeffrey Lewis, a North Korea expert, said of the country’s recent statements, “I can’t imagine Kim gives up his summit.”

Lewis added: “I think Kim wants that photo with the President of the United States, paying tribute to him, for the front page of the Rodong Sinmun,” North Korea’s state newspaper.

Similarly, the historic diplomatic meeting may play well for Trump, motivating him to meet Kim’s conditions for talks.

North Korea’s recent hardline statements contradict what a South Korean official told reporters in March 2018 — that Kim had said he “understands the South’s stance” on the military exercises, which were happening at the time.

Basically, Kim seemed fine with the exercises when he was trying to get meetings with the US and South Korea, but now that he’s secured those talks, he has started to object.

“North Korea is back to its old game of trying to raise the stakes prior to a meeting,” said Bruce Klingner, the former chief of the CIA’s Korea division. “But Kim risks undermining the good will he had built up through his diplomatic outreach since January 2018.”

Now the question for the Trump administration is whether to call Kim’s apparent bluff or quietly meet his demands.

But by backing off from complete denuclearization, Trump could end up with a bad deal — and if he calls Kim’s bluff, the two leaders could land right back on the nuclear brink.

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

11 valuable tax tips and benefits for military families

The holidays are over, and we are now in the year 2020. It’s a good time to start working on our 2019 taxes, because April 15 will be here before we know it. Taxes are overwhelming and complex, but there are numerous tax benefits for military families, so it is important to understand the basics.


The reasons and risks behind Russia’s big oil bet

Income

Servicemembers receive different types of pay and allowances. It is important to know which are considered as income and which are not. For servicemembers, income typically includes basic pay, special pay, bonus pay, and incentive pay.

Exclusions

Items normally excluded from income include combat pay, living allowances, moving allowances, travel allowances, and family allowances, such as family separation pay.

Combat pay exclusions are a substantial benefit to servicemembers and spouses. Combat pay is that compensation for active military service for any month while serving in a designated combat zone. This may also include a reenlistment bonus if the voluntary reenlistment occurs in a month while the servicemember is serving in the combat zone. Note that for commissioned officers, there is a limit to the amount of combat pay you may exclude.

The most common living allowances are Basic Allowance for Housing and Basic Allowance for Subsistence. Moving allowances are those reasonable, unreimbursed expenses beyond what the military pays for a permanent change of station.

Sale of Homes

Servicemembers and spouses often decide to purchase homes when moving to new duty stations. Often, we then turnaround and sell the homes a few years later before moving again.

What happens if you make a profit from the sale of this home? If you are fortunate enough to profit, you may qualify to exclude up to 0,000 of the gain from your income, or up to 0,000 if you file a joint return with your spouse. This is referred to as the Sale of Primary Home Capital Gain exclusion. Normally, this exclusion requires that you owned the home for at least two years and lived in it for at least two of the last five years. There is an exception, however, for servicemembers. If you were required to move as the result of a permanent change of station before meeting these requirements, you still may qualify for a reduced exclusion.

Claim for Tax Forgiveness

If a servicemember dies while on active duty, there are circumstances where the taxes owed will be forgiven by the IRS. Contact your closest Legal Assistance Office immediately for assistance using the website provided later in the article.

Extensions

If April 15 is quickly approaching and you are running out of time, remember, there are several different extension requests that military families may make. If the servicemember is in a combat zone, an automatic extension covers the time period the servicemember is in the combat zone plus 180 days after the last day in the combat zone.

Avoid Tax Scams

In November 2019, I wrote an article on common scams during the holidays. Unfortunately, scams are not limited to the holidays. There are numerous tax scams that have stolen personal information and millions of dollars. Scammers use the mail, telephone and email to initiate contact. Please remember that the IRS never initiates contact by email, text messages or on social media pages to request personal or financial information. The IRS initiates most contact through the regular U. S. Postal Service mail. Finally, the IRS never uses threats or bullying to demand payments.

If you have any questions, contact the IRS with a telephone number you find on its website (www.irs.gov) and verify what you received is legitimate before doing anything. To protect yourself, only use an IRS telephone number from its website. Do not use a telephone number you received that you suspect may be part of a tax scam from an email, text message or social media page.

The reasons and risks behind Russia’s big oil bet

Signing Tax Returns

Normally, both the servicemember and spouse must sign jointly filed tax returns. If one spouse will be absent during tax season, it is advisable to have an IRS special power of attorney, IRS Form 2848 (Power of Attorney and Declaration of Representative). You may access this form on the IRS website.

Military Tax Centers

Annually, many Legal Assistance Offices worldwide help servicemembers and spouses file their federal and state income tax returns starting in early February. Last year, for example, Army Legal Assistance personnel and volunteers prepared and filed over one hundred thousand Federal and over sixty-four thousand State income tax returns saving servicemembers and their families more than million in tax preparation and filing fees.

If you don’t live near a military installation, visit the Department of Defense Military One Source website at https://www.militaryonesource.mil for additional information on accessing free online tax assistance.

Legal Assistance Offices

If you have specific tax questions or receive correspondence from the IRS, contact the closest legal assistance office to schedule an appointment. Use the Armed Forces Legal Assistance website (https://legalassistance.law.af.mil) that I provided in the October 2019 blog to locate your nearest legal assistance office. The quicker you address your issues, the better likelihood that you will successfully resolve them.

The reasons and risks behind Russia’s big oil bet

Valuable Tax Tip for 2020

Finally, here is a valuable tip for next year’s taxes. Does it seem like every year you are scrambling to find tax documents and receipts from throughout the tax year? Relieve this stress by getting a folder and writing “Tax Year 2020” on the front of it. Keep it in an easy-to-find place, and every time you receive a document or receipt that may impact your taxes place it in the folder. That way, at the end of this year, you will have most of the supporting documents you need already together.

Future Blogs

Be on the lookout for future blogs that will continue to discuss specific legal issues often encountered by servicemembers and military spouses. As always, this blog series will help to protect your family and you!

This article originally appeared on Military Spouse. Follow @MilSpouseMag on Twitter.

Do Not Sell My Personal Information