“Rambo” is one of the most recognizable military movie series of all time. The indestructible, bow-wielding Special Forces soldier was adapted for video games, comic books, animation, and much more. The series was a permanent fixture of the action movie genre during the 1980s and served as the inspiration for Chuck Norris’s “Delta Force,” Arnold Schwarzenegger’s “Commando” and countless others.
Rambo is a guy’s guy with skills in all things badass: survival, weaponry, hand-to-hand combat, and guerrilla warfare.
As you may recall, Rambo is pulled back into war on two occasions by Col. Trautman and saved the day in both films. Key and Peel made this hilarious comedy sketch depicting what the Trautman/Rambo meeting would be like if it happened today.
The U.S. has conducted more than 4,700 air strikes against ISIS militants since Aug. 2014, and the American pilots carrying out those attacks often have awesome — and sometimes hilarious — callsigns.
In an interesting article for The New York Times, journalist Helene Cooper profiles some of the pilots flying from the USS Theodore Roosevelt, who go by names like “Yip Yip,” “Pope,” and “Pizza.” The pilots talk about some of their missions to strike inside Iraq and Syria and the camaraderie among their squadron.
“Quite honestly, the U.S. Air Force, Navy and Marines own the skies,” Maj. Anthony Bourke, a former Air Force fighter pilot, told The Times. “So even though pilots dream of dogfights, the biggest risk now is small-arms fire, and if you stay above 10,000 feet, you’re not going to be hit.”
Though the Times article does not explain how they got their new names, it’s well known in the fighter pilot community that callsigns are usually earned during a “naming ceremony,” where fellow pilots bestow a newbie with something of a play on their name, or a name that evokes a past screw-up (cool names like “Iceman” or “Maverick” are usually out of the question).
So who are the mystery men flying in on F/A-18s to strike terrorist infrastructure? According to the photo spread accompanying the article, they are:
“Yard Sale” — Navy fighter pilot
“Chaz” — Navy fighter pilot
“Xerxes” — Navy weapons officer
“Pope” — Marine fighter pilot
“Yip Yip” — Navy fighter pilot
“Pickle” — Navy fighter pilot
“Skull” — Marine fighter pilot
“Pope” — Marine fighter pilot
“Betty” — Marine fighter pilot (and yes, he’s a guy)
“Sweet P” — Navy weapons officer
“Smoat” — Navy fighter pilot
“Bones” — Navy weapons officer
“Pizza” — the commander of the Roosevelt’s air wing
Now after an ISIS truck gets blown to bits, we know it may have all been the work of a guy named Yard Sale.
Yes, Canada enjoys a lot of protections the United States offers, but let’s be honest: If Canada weren’t right next to us, it wouldn’t need those protections. The only country who was ever a threat to Canada was the United States.
Saudi Arabia depends on the U.S. for its stability and military protection too, but you don’t see Canada out there exporting terrorism to its neighbors. Canada enjoys a (deserved) reputation for being peaceful.
But don’t make Canada angry. You wouldn’t like them when they’re angry.
5. Their military history
Canada is small country, when you consider their population against how geographically big Canada really is. Theirs is a population akin to California, with surface area akin to the entire United States.
But when they mobilize for war, they really mobilize. In WWI, Canada contributed 620,000 troops from a population of 8 million – 8 percent of the population. At Vimy Ridge, an all-Canadian force overcame a heavily defended German position that had previously wiped the floor with British and French. Vimy Ridge is to Canadians as Derne is to the Marines.
For WWII, Canada formed a force of 1.6 million from a population of 11 million – more than 14 percent of Canadians. All this without a real draft. Pivotal moments in the Second World War were handed to Canada, and they didn’t disappoint. For example, Juno Beach was one of the most heavily defended places in Europe when Canadian Forces landed there on D-Day, and within 12 hours, it belonged to Canada.
That’s just the 20th Century. More on that later.
4. A country full of people who give a shit
One of the things I heard (and saw written on walls) while deployed as a combat cameraman was “the Marines are at war, America is at the mall.” And yeah, you might never know the United States has been fighting a series of wars for the past 16 years just by walking the streets.
Canadian war dead are flown into Canadian Forces Base Trenton, in Ontario. From there, they are driven to Toronto on Highway 401, a 100-mile stretch of road that has come to be called “The Highway of Heroes.” And when one of their own comes home in flag-draped casket, Canadians line this freeway waving flags and bearing salutes as the fallen troops’ procession drives by unimpeded.
I doubt anyone will argue with me on this one. Canadian snipers are incredible.
Americans can poke fun at the Canadian Forces all they want, but their military is a potent one, especially when it comes to snipers. Recently, a Canadian scored a kill and a distance record by hitting an ISIS militant from over two miles away.
That topped the previous record, held by a British sniper, who took it from – a Canadian. In fact, in the top five distance records, three are Canadian. It’s been a long time since a Western country has fought in large-unit combat. So the effectiveness of small units means a lot more.
And Canada’s got it where it counts.
2. Oil reserves
Power is not just about numbers of tanks, planes, and men. We still live in an age where militaries need oil to be successful. The future isn’t here yet. A whole lotta great hardware runs on fossil fuels and Canada has the third largest reserve in the world, dwarfing the United States.
Oil aside, Canada is full of natural resources that could be exploited in case of an existential threat to the country or a need to mobilize for an all-out war. Add on a stable, growing economy and an industry that operates at 82.2 percent capacity and you have a pretty good home front for any conflict.
1. Being the only country to hand the U.S. its ass in a war
While technically, Canada was part of the British Empire at this point, the people living in Canada during the War of 1812 couldn’t rely on Crown to provide them with the backup troops needed to put a beat down on the Americans. Britain was busy with a guy named Napoleon in Europe at the time.
The Canadian subjects of the British Empire did a pretty good job of not being annexed by the United States, even though they took significant losses. This is a gross oversimplification, but they were able to mount some significant offenses of their own.
And when we burned York – modern-day Toronto – they responded by doing something dictators, terrorists, and Communists can only ever dream about today: They marched on and burned Washington, D.C.
Despite fighting with one hand tied behind their backs, they managed to fight us to a draw.
With the United States’ coming withdrawal from Afghanistan it may seem like the focus of the U.S. military is shifting from the Middle East to the Great Powers conflicts brewing with Russia and China.
But America’s enemies in the region are still very much a threat, especially the Islamic Republic of Iran. A recently published Rand Corporation report detailed just how big a threat Iran is in the Middle East, what its goals are, and how it will seek to achieve those goals.
The report doesn’t just list Iran as a single entity. Rand Corporation’s research details that Iran’s threat is actually a massive fighting force, a network of potentially tens of thousands of fighters, all willing to answer the call of the Iranian government, the Revolutionary Guards Corps, or the Ayatollah himself.
Rand breaks the network down into four separate classes: Targeters, Deterrers, Stabilizers, and Influencers.
Targeters’ sole purpose is to bleed the United States in terms of manpower, materiel, and especially money. Iran supports certain groups just to keep up attacks on American forces in the region to increase the costs of keeping them deployed. Beyond attacking U.S. troops, they also make it as difficult as possible for the U.S. to operate in the region, deterring their movements and forcing them to consider an Iranian or militia response when planning operations.
The deterrers are similar actors, not affiliated with any state, but designed to increase the costs of other countries in the region to operate. This group targets Israel, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
Stabilizers are paid to do just what the name implies, to stabilize certain countries or major groups within those countries, usually Iranian allies. Stabilizers are used in place like Syria, which is experiencing massive instability due to the ongoing civil war, but also deals with instability based on its ethnic and religious diversity.
Iranian influencers aren’t on instagram snapping photos, they are used by the Iranian network to expand Iranian influence in the region, giving Iran a bigger say in the area’s greater political affairs.
This means Iran will never directly attack the United States – or anyone else if it can avoid it. Iran’s military goal is to keep the fighting and instability experienced by other countries far from inside Iranian territory. Instead it will use this network to project its power, influence, and physical attacks.
In the meantime, the United States and its regional allies will have to contend with the threat network’s mission, dictated by the government of the Islamic Republic. The cost of that contention will depend on the American military’s desired goals and the political establishment’s willingness to pursue those goals, likely at as high a cost as Iran can inflict on the United States.
This also means that the U.S. will have to develop a means of countering the network, which blunt force is unlikely to achieve on its own. Rand recommends the U.S. defense apparatus develop a counter for each of Iran’s classes.
Because of the American desire to cooperate with locals in the region, Rand recommends caution in choosing which groups to cooperate with, as they could be a member of the Iran Threat Network. To bolster its regional partners while countering Iranian influence, Rand recommends increasing military-to-military partnerships to build the capacity of friendly forces in the Middle East.
It all sounds easier said than done, but the United States can be a powerful ally to any regional partner. The U.S. military has defeated networks of enemy operations in the past, including in Iraq, where Iran’s threat network holds increasing sway – so victory is still possible.
For its latest recruiting commercial, the Marine Corps got an Oscar-winning filmmaker to draw a dramatic contrast between the often-isolating online world and the Corps’ pitch to Generation Z that service in its ranks offers a path toward a life of “belonging, community, and purpose.”
Wally Pfister, who won an Academy Award for his cinematography on Christopher Nolan’s mind-bending thriller, Inception, directed “Battle to Belong,” the Corps’ latest recruiting commercial.
The ad’s protagonist, played by Marine Staff Sgt. Jordan Viches, a correctional specialist stationed at Camp Pendleton, California, is shown walking down a near-future street while being bombarded with digital marketing, notifications, and alerts. Frustrated, he breaks through the electronic assault and emerges training to become a Marine.
Pfister told Military.com the inspiration behind the style in the opening scenes was based on science fiction films such as Steven Spielberg’s 2018 Ready Player One, which portrays a dystopic future where human beings spend much of their lives escaping reality in a virtual world called “the Oasis.”
“‘Battle to Belong’ takes a bold step to showcase how America’s youth can be caught up in a world that creates a confusing, and sometimes suffocating, digital hum as the new normal,” said Lt. Col. Christian Devine, national director of marketing and communication strategy, Marine Corps Recruiting Command. “The campaign is designed to provoke reaction from a generation of youth who are often disillusioned by the very technology and types of social connectivity that were supposed to bring us closer together.”
With the COVID-19 pandemic forcing more and more human interaction into the virtual realm, the Corps’ message may resonate even more with its increasingly isolated target audience.
“Many high schools and colleges are returning to school via remote learning, which further challenges Marine recruiters who value the relationships they normally build with students and educators on campus,” said Gunnery Sgt. Justin Kronenberg, communication strategy chief at Marine Corps Recruiting Command. “At its height, the COVID pandemic had a dramatic effect on our ability to prospect and it continues to limit our ability to do some of the in-person activities so important to our success.”
Marines and sailors with Kilo Company, Battalion Landing Team 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit, conduct a live fire range during a pre-deployment training exercise at MAGTF Training Command/Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center at 29 Palms, California, Nov. 11, 2018. US Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Dalton S. Swanbeck.
Kronenberg said the Corps’ contracted advertising agency, Wunderman Thompson, regularly conducts research to gain insight on how the Marines’ brand is resonating with its target demographic of young people and influencers.
“We validated that young people of recruitable age hunger for belonging and self-transcendence and participation in a common moral cause or struggle,” he said.
“Like generations before, these youth are seeking identities that will define them,” Devine said. “They crave belonging, community, and purpose.”
The partnership between Wunderman Thompson and the Marine Corps goes back more than 74 years, according to Kronenberg, and the agency was again awarded the Corps’ business after a contract recompete last year.
“We value the team’s creative acumen and deep understanding of the Marine Corps’ ethos and brand identity,” Kronenberg said.
US Marine Corps Sgt. Sean Nash provides cover fire during the Integrated Training Exercise (ITX) at Marine Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, California, Jan. 28, 2020. ITX is a month-long training event that prepares Marines for deployment. US Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Jack C. Howell.
The new commercial features original music from legendary composer and Academy Award and Grammy Award winner Hans Zimmer, and Marine Corps musicians performed Zimmer’s music for the spot.
“The Marine Corps makes three promises to the American people: Win Battles, Make Marines, and Develop Quality Citizens,” Kronenberg said. “We consider each of those promises to be chapters of what we call the Longer Marine Corps Story.”
“Battle to Belong” is the third installment in the Longer Marine Corps Story. “Battle Up” focused on developing quality citizens, and “A Nation’s Call” showed the Corps’ winning battles.
Everyone’s favorite Game of Thrones badass — Kit Harrington — will make his mark on Marvel movies when he appears as “Black Knight” in The Eternals. But, will his character actually be a back-door way to get new versions of Wolverine and the rest of the X-Men into the ever-expanded Marvel Cinematic Universe? Here’s what’s going on.
Kit Harrington and Eternals co-star Salma Hayek posted a behind-the-scenes photo of themselves on the set of the next Marvel movie. If you’re confused about what The Eternals even are, that’s fine. Here’s cheat-sheet: They’re a group of immortal beings who sort of pre-date regular history in the Marvel universe. Remember Star Lord’s dad, as played by Kurt Russell in Guardains of the Galaxy 2? Yeah, he was one of the Eternals.
ANYWAY. Salma Hayek’s photo was just a sweet Instagram photo, but at the exact same time, comic book fans began theorizing that there’s a lot more going on with Harrington’s character than previously thought.
If your eyes glazed over when you read “comic book fans started theorizing,” I’ll cut to the chase: in the complicated mythology of Marvel Comics, Harrington’s character Black Knight is loosely connected with the origin of the mutants who are later known as X-Men. Basically, Black Knight ran into some early versions of the Mutants, but the legit explosion of mutants didn’t happen on Earth until the 20th century, partially because the mutant gene was stimulated by outside forces.
Okay, so what the hell does that mean for the MCU right now? Well, up until this point, the MCU movies haven’t depicted any of the X-Men for legal reasons, with the notable exception of Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver. Also, as was revealed last week, an outtake of the famous Iron Man post-credits scene would have hinted at the existence of X-Men in the background of the MCU. No one really knows what the plot of the Eternals will be about yet, but it’s totally possible that Black Knight might discover the “origin” of the new version of Mutants in the MCU. (Reminder: post- Fox/Disney merger, the X-Men can now appear in the regular Marvel movies.)
In other words, because of some crazy ancient history magical shenanigans, Marvel’s The Enternals could end with a post-credits scene that teases the new X-Men. That is, only if we’re lucky.
The Eternals hits theaters Nov. 6, 2020.
This article originally appeared on Fatherly. Follow @FatherlyHQ on Twitter.
Vladimir Putin may be the wild card in world affairs right now, but he didn’t gain that influence overnight.
The Russian President’s ascension to power is filled with spies, armed conflicts, oligarchs, oil and (of course) judo.
So here’s how a onetime “nobody” climbed up the ranks to become the “World’s Most Powerful Person.”
Vladimir Putin was born in Leningrad on Oct. 7, 1952.
Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin is the only child of a decorated war veteran and factory worker in the slums of Leningrad. He grew up in a Soviet Union styled communal apartment with two other families — as was typical at the time.
As a teen Putin worked at his school’s radio station, where he reportedly played music by the Beatles and other Western rock bands.
The photographer Platon — who took Putin’s infamous Time Magazine cover in 2007 — said that Paul is Putin’s favorite Beatle, and “Yesterday” is his favorite song.
However, “by [Putin’s] own account, his favorite songs are Soviet standards, not Western rock. He has been deeply conservative his whole life,” Karen Dawisha wrote in her new book, “Putin’s Kleptocracy.”
Early on in life, Putin got into judo. He was his university’s judo champion in 1974.
Former deputy finance minister and first deputy chairman of the Central Bank Sergey Alaksashenko believes that Putin’s love of judo says something about his foreign policy.
“Unlike chess, a judo fighter should not wait for the opponent’s move. His strategy is to wait until he gets a chance to execute a single quick move — and then take a step back. Successful judo fighters must anticipate their opponents’ actions, make a decisive, preemptive move and try to disable them,” he wrote in the Moscow Times.
He also really loved spy novels and TV shows — especially one about a Soviet double agent.
Putin reportedly loved the popular 1960s book series turned TV series “17 Moments of Spring” starring the Soviet double-agent Max Otto von Stierlitz (né Vsevolod Vladimirovich Vladimirov) who rose up the ranks into Nazi elite during World War II.
Putin said about the series: “What amazed me most of all was how one man’s effort could achieve what whole armies could not.”
And in a moment of life imitating art, in 1985 the KGB sent Putin to Dresden, East Germany where he lived undercover as a “Mr. Adamov.”
Reportedly, Putin mastered the German language so well that he could imitate regional dialects. Unlike most KGB agents, Putin liked hanging out with Germans. He was particularly fond of the “German discipline.”
But how exactly Putin spent his time in East Germany is relatively unknown. According to the Kremlin, he was awarded the bronze medal “For Faithful Service to the National People’s Army.”
Additionally, Putin was once investigated for “allegations of favoritism in granting import and export licenses.”
… but the case was dismissed pretty quickly “due to lack of evidence.”
Back in the early 1990s, Putin was in charge of a deal where $100 million worth of raw materials would be exported in exchange for food for the citizens of St. Petersburg. Although the materials were exported, the St. Petersburg citizens never got the food.
Reportedly, Putin was the one who signed off on the deal — but the Kremlin denies this.
When Sobchak lost the re-election for mayor, the victor offered Putin a job. However, Putin turned it down saying: “It’s better to be hanged for loyalty than be rewarded for betrayal.”
Putin was the campaign manager for Sobchak’s re-election. Vladimir Yakovlev, who had the support of the powerful Moscow mayor, ran against Sobchak and won. He offered Putin a gig in his office, but Putin declined it.
And then — seemingly out of nowhere — Yelstin stepped down as president and named Putin the acting president on New Year’s in 1999.
Many people believed that Yeltsin propelled Putin to presidency in order to protect himself: The war in Chechnya was starting to curdle, and his ratings were starting to drop.
Interestingly, one of Putin’s first moves was to pardon Yeltsin “immunity from criminal or administrative investigations, including protection of his papers, residence and other possessions from search and seizure.”
In his first speech as acting president, Putin promised freedom of speech, freedom of conscience, freedom of the press, the right to private property …
The exact quote from his speech is:
“I want to warn that by any attempts to go beyond the Russian laws, beyond the Constitution of Russia, will be strongly suppressed. Freedom of speech. Freedom of conscience. Freedom of mass media. Property rights. These basic principles of the civilized society will be safe under the protection of the state.”
Putin recognized that the Yeltsin-era oligarchs had the potential to be more powerful than him … so he struck a deal with them.
“In July of , Putin told the oligarchs that he would not interfere with their businesses or renationalize state resources as long as they stayed out of politics — that is, as long as they did not challenge or criticize the president,” according to the Council on Foreign Relations.
And then Putin established his reputation as a “man of action” with his handling of the Second Chechen War.
In 2002, a Moscow theatre was seized by 40 Chechen militants, who were led by the warlord Movsar Barayev, and 129 out of the 912 hostages died during this three-day ordeal.
This was a critical moment for Putin, and many expected his domestic approval to plummet. But his “ruthless handling of the siege and his refusal to negotiate with the hostage-takers further shored up his reputation as a man of action.”
His approval rating was up at 83% after it was all over.
In 2004, Putin was re-elected for a second term. He continued to focus on domestic affairs, but drew major criticisms for his crackdowns on the media.
Journalist Anna Politkovskaya was murdered in her apartment lobby after she wrote about corruption in the Russian army with respect to Chechnya. Many in the Western media criticized Putin for failing to protect the media.
Those accused of the murder “testified that Akhmed Zakayev and Boris Berezovksy (one of the Yeltsin-era oligarchs) could be the clients, who ordered the murder of Anna Politkovskaya,” according to TASS.
In 2008, Dmitry Medvedev was elected president. One day later, he made Putin the new Prime Minister … And then Russia got clobbered by the financial crisis.
When the global financial crisis hit, things got really got bad. The Russian economy was slammed particularly hard because it relied heavily on Western investment.
Additionally, the financial crisis really showed just how dependent the Russian economy is on oil and gas, and how intertwined the industry was with the country’s political economy, according to the Brookings Institute.
In that same year, Russia got involved in a five-day international conflict — the Russo-Georgian War.
The Russo-Georgia conflict involving Russia, Georgia, and the two regions South Ossetia and Abkhazia. The two regions have been trying to get formal independence since the 1990s — Russia recognizes the independence, which has been condemned by Western nations.
“After the 2008 conflict, Moscow declared that it would formally recognize the independence of both South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Russia’s allies Nicaragua and Venezuela followed suit, as did a number of small Pacific island states,” according to the BBC.
Two years later, in March 2014, Putin annexed Crimea in one of the most complicated and controversial geopolitical moves of the year.
The ousted Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych “sent a letter to” Putin “requesting that he use Russia’s military to restore law and order in Ukraine.”
The Russian Parliament granted Putin “broad authority to use military force in response to the political upheaval in Ukraine that dislodged a Kremlin ally and installed a new, staunchly pro-Western government, the Ukrainian government in Kiev threatened war if Russia sent troops further into Ukraine,” reported The New York Times.
On March 2, Russia took complete control of Crimea, and on March 16, an “overwhelming majority” of Crimeans voted to secede from Ukraine and join Russia.
No one’s quite sure what Putin’s next move will be, but since he’s considering a fourth term, we may be seeing much more from him until at least 2024 …
Back when Putin was a deputy mayor in St. Petersburg, his inner circle cronies referred to him as “Boss.” Today, they refer to him as “Tsar,” and Forbes just named him the most powerful person in 2014.
And there’s no telling what people will call him next.
Universal pictures has the option for former Army Staff Sgt. David Bellavia’s memoir of the Second Battle of Fallujah, “House to House.” They’ve selected their writer to adapt the book into a screenplay and it’s another Army infantry veteran, Max Adams.
Staff Sergeant David Bellavia captures the brutal action and raw intensity of leading his Third Platoon, Alpha Company, into a lethally choreographed kill zone: the booby-trapped, explosive-laden houses of Fallujah’s militant insurgents. Bringing to searing life the terrifying intimacy of hand-to-hand infantry combat, this stunning war memoir features an indelibly drawn cast of characters, not all of whom would make it out of the city alive, as well as chilling accounts of Bellavia’s singular courage: Entering one house alone, he used every weapon at his disposal in the fight of his life against America’s most implacable enemy.
Bellavia was nominated for the Medal of Honor for his part in clearing a building of insurgents after he and his men were ambushed. He ultimately received the Silver Star. Adams served with the Rangers during 11 years of service from 1995-2006. He recently produced two movies, “Bus 657” starring Robert De Niro and “Precious Cargo” starring Bruce Willis.
North Korea hasn’t always been a nuclear pariah. For most of its history, it was just a regular pariah. Even the Soviet Union wasn’t thrilled with Kim Il-Sung’s special brand of communism, but as time went on other communists became hard to come by, so they cut the North Koreans a break.
Time definitely took its toll on communist countries. These days, there are very few communist countries left; Cuba, Laos, Vietnam and China all stand with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK). But North Korea is the only one that still goes around threatening its neighbors. For most of the post-Cold War era, no one really cared much. Then they got nukes.
But it wasn’t always that way. In 1985, the DPRK actually signed the worldwide Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), committing it to halting the spread of nuclear weapons and associated technologies. It also promoted the peaceful use of nuclear energy. North Korea even had a nuclear power plant. This might have been at the behest of its Soviet benefactors, but it was still a good step forward.
Just before the fall of the Soviet Union, the USSR and the United States signed the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, or START, which limited the deployment of nuclear weapons around the world. As part of this 1991 treaty, the United States removed its nuclear arsenal from the Korean Peninsula. The decision was celebrated in North Korea, where the two Koreas agreed not to produce or receive nuclear weapons or process uranium the very next year.
But like most things in North Korea, it was short-lived. In 1993, the country was suspected of having an underground nuclear enrichment program and refused inspections from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). As tensions mounted, the DPRK threatened to withdraw from the NPT. Cooler heads prevailed after the U.S. intervened and talked it out.
Tensions soon mounted yet again and it looked like North Korea and South Korea were on a collision course for war. In 1994, former President Jimmy Carter met with Korean leader Kim Il-Sung and defused the situation, paving the way for a bilateral agreement between the U.S. and the DPRK.
During this time, the founder and President of North Korea, Kim Il-Sung died and his son, Kim Jong-Il took over amid a worsening famine there. That same year, the two countries agreed on a framework to halt North Korea’s illegal nuclear program in exchange for food aid, oil, food and two light-water reactors for energy.
Within five years, construction on the light-water reactors had begun and North Korea issued a moratorium on nuclear-capable missile testing. Its willingness to put its arsenal on hold led to the first Inter-Korean Summit in 2000. South Korean President Kim Dae-Jung visited Pyongyang after five decades of constant threats and conflict. The two left the summit with an agreement to begin multiple joint business ventures and cultural cooperation projects. Families separated by the Korean War were reunified and the U.S. eased economic sanctions on the DPRK.
The warming relations between the two countries lead to a state visit in Pyongyang from U.S. Secretary of State Madeline Albright. The two countries talked about an end to North Korea’s missile program but were unable to seal a deal before the end of President Bill Clinton’s time in office.
Clinton’s successor, George W. Bush, listed North Korea as part of an “Axis of Evil” in his 2002 State of the Union address and his administration refused to certify North Korea’s compliance with the 1994 Agreed Framework. North Korea responded by leaving the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and disregarding all agreements with South Korea. It expelled all IAEA inspectors and reactivated its nuclear plant in Yongbyon.
To ease tensions, leaders from North Korea, South Korea, Japan, Russia, the United States and China agreed to meet in Beijing in 2003. The Six-Party Talks (as they became known) succeeded in getting everyone together but no agreements were made. Two years later, the Six-Party Talks bore fruit, resulting in a North Korean agreement to end its nuclear program. It didn’t rejoin the NPT, but agreed to its terms.
Until 2006, that is, when North Korea conducted its first underground nuclear test, along with seven ballistic missile tests. North Korea had officially joined the nuclear club. Since then, the effort to get North Korea to end its nuclear and missile programs has been a mess of quick starts and stops. Every time progress is made in negotiations, the DPRK finds a way to destroy it and advance the programs.
Kim Jong-Il died in 2011, and his successor (and son) Kim Jong-Un briefly halted the nuclear program. The new leader briefly raised hopes of a nuclear-free Korea, but even those were soon dashed. Today, no one knows how many nuclear weapons the North has, or even how many missiles, but it is known that it is capable of striking the west coast of the United States – and everywhere in between.
John Wick’s backstory has never been explicitly explained in the films or accompanying comic series. Though the third film or prequel TV series may give us more concrete evidence, we’ve been given enough puzzle pieces to confidently say he served in the U.S. Marine Corps.
Given his extreme handiwork with firearms, hand-to-hand combat proficiency, cold demeanor, proper posture, and dispensation of absolute wrath towards anyone who harms the things he loves, it’s not too much of a stretch to say that he once was a Marine. No single point is definitive proof but it’s fun to speculate.
Chad Stahelski, the director of the franchise, was asked by Collider in a 2017 interview about John Wick’s backstory. He said that the series isn’t about overloading the audience with dry exposition, but rather shows the audience little things. Stahelski said,
“We’re giving you the pieces and I think it’s always good… Hopefully in five years, you and your buddies will talk about how ‘he’s this or he’s that.’ We’ll give you a couple more pieces and let you stitch it together.”
It’s the minor details that give one troop away to another in the civilian world and, right about now, our veteran radars are going off.
The most obvious indicators of military service are his tattoos. While most point to his faith, the Latin phrase on his shoulders is a dead giveaway.
John’s tattoo reads, “Fortis Fortuna Adiuvat,” or “fortune favors the brave” in Latin. This is also a lose translation of the motto of the 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marines — although their spelling is “Fortes Fortuna Juvat.” This is common enough that it’s not conclusive evidence alone, but it’s definitely a starting point.
Another blink-and-you’ll-miss-it detail almost exclusive to the military community is the style of his watch and how he wears it. It’s got a leather band and he wears it on the inside of the wrist of his non-dominant hand.
War fighters chose not to wear anything reflective as to not give away their position and, by wearing it on the inside of the wrist, it’s easy to keep from breaking. This, however, would also be common among professional hitmen.
His relationship with Marcus
It is strongly hinted at that Marcus was a mentor to John in the past — he taught him everything he knows about firearms and helped bring him into the world of underground wetwork. Given that their age difference isn’t too extreme, it would make sense that Marcus was once his NCO. This would also explain why after John walked out on the life of crime, Marcus was able to stay — because he was there before they both became hitmen.
This theory is also backed up by the film’s color palette. Everything in the film is cold or red — except things dear to John. Take, for example, his wife’s gold bracelet, his dog’s tag, and Marcus’ clothing and home decor. There’s definitely a closeness here; it’s up to us to speculate why.
Apperance in ‘Payday 2’
This one should be taken with a massive grain of salt because it involves evidence from Payday 2, not the John Wick franchise. He was a community unlock in 2014 and had more DLC added during the second film’s theatrical release.
The game doesn’t hold back on explicitly saying that John was a Marine and was brought into the Payday Gang by a series regular, Chains, who is very open about his prior military service.
Mickey Ireson, a Marine Corps veteran in rural America, struggled with all the worse elements of the VA system. He drove three hours each way to appointments, struggled to reach doctors, and had to juggle his medical needs with school and a full-time job. He kept fighting to stay on an even footing, but he slowly gave way. Eventually, he was homeless, jobless, and kicking a drug habit.
Some vets who have learned to deal with the bureaucratic nightmare are helping out their peers. An Army veteran who knew the problems of getting care from the VA in the country met Ireson through a non-profit and helped him out. Ireson is now back in school with a 3.8 GPA, president of his student veterans club, and employed.
Still, Ireson’s story is not unique. Check out the full story on America’s rural veterans from from James Clark at Task and Purpose
Stetsons, six shooters, gunslingers on horseback galloping across a stark desert landscape. The Western is a beloved fixture of American culture that still taps into something universal, capturing the good, bad, and ugly at the heart of lawmen and outlaws everywhere. And good news, partner: many of the best Westerns are available now on Netflix for your viewing pleasure.
From classic shoot-em-ups set against the American frontier to fresh genre twists that transport you to the badlands of Brazil, here are the best Westerns on Netflix you can watch right now. Saddle up and get streaming.
A Philadelphia man unaccustomed to the rough Western life and two gambling outcasts arrive in the town of Big Kill in an attempt to make themselves a fortune. The once-prosperous town is in a slump, however, and the rag tag men find themselves teaming up against the dastardly gunslinging preacher and his gang who wreak havoc on the townspeople. The cast includes Jason Patrick, Lou Diamond Phillips, and Danny Trejo.
This dark and gritty 2016 Western takes place in a small Texas town on the Mexican border. Texas Ranger David Kingston (Liam Hemsworth) is sent to investigate a series of deaths and disappearances of Mexican citizens after the niece of a Mexican general goes missing. Once Kingston arrives in the religious town, he finds the people there under the rule of a despotic and occultist preacher, Abraham Brant (Woody Harrelson). The further Kingston looks into the town and Brant, the closer he gets to uncovering the troubling mystery and a link from his past.
This 1968 epic Spaghetti Western by Sergio Leone is considered by many to be one of the greatest films of all time. When Jill McBain (Claudia Cardinale) arrives in the town of Sweetwater, she finds that her new husband and his three children have been murdered by a merciless gunslinger, Frank (Henry Fonda). As Frank tries to ruthlessly clear the way for a railroad tycoon’s new train line, a bandit named Cheyenne (Jason Robards) and an enigmatic stranger with a harmonica (Charles Bronson) try to protect the widow from the cruel assassin.
Strap in, because this 1994 biographical Western crime film clocks in at over three hours. The film follows Wyatt Earp (Kevin Costner) from his teenage years through to his later years with his wife Josie (Joanna Going). Several pivotal moments throughout Earp’s life are covered in the movie, including his friendships with Ed Masterson (Bill Pullman) and Doc Holliday (Dennis Quaid), his time as a lawman, and the gunfight at the O.K. Corral.
The Outsider embraces the tropes of classic Westerns, while pushing the story forward with a darker, modern edge. The film stars Trace Adkins as Marshal Walker, a lawman with a begrudging yet unwavering support for his unhinged and sadistic son, James (portrayed by Kaiwi Lyman). After James assaults and kills the wife of Chinese railroad worker Jing Phang (John Foo), the marshal tries to keep his son safe from the widower on a violent path of justice. Sean Patrick Flannery portrays Chris King, a jaded tracker caught in the middle of the brutal dispute.
Even the most novice of Western watchers have heard of the 1969 classic True Grit. In Arkansas in 1880, the young tomboy Matte Ross (Kim Darby) seeks justice for the murder of her father, hiring tough-as-nails, hard-edged U.S. Marshal Rooster Cogburn (John Wayne) to track down the killer, Tom Chaney (Jeff Corey). While Mattie and Cogburn are joined by Texas Ranger La Boeuf (Glen Campbell), Chaney is joined by the rotten outlaw “Lucky” Ned Pepper (Robert Duvall). The two groups track each other through Indian Territory, setting themselves up for a deadly confrontation.
This popular series ran for five seasons on AMC. In the aftermath of the Civil War, former Confederate soldier Cullen Bohannon (Anson Mount) sets out on a path of revenge to find the Union soldiers that murdered his wife. Along his journey, he becomes entangled in the railroad business. The series also stars Colm Meaney, Common, Dominique McElligott, Robin McLeavy, Dohn Norwood, Eddie Spears, and more.
Quentin Tarantino wrangles an all-star cast of gunslingers for his ultraviolent 2015 Western set against the snowy expanse of post-Civil War Wyoming. Bounty hunter John Ruth (Kurt Russell) escorts fugitive Daisy Domergue (Jennifer Jason Leigh) to her execution in Red Rock, Wyoming, when they’re waylaid by a blizzard. They seek refuge in a stagecoach lodge, alongside six other strangers—each with a severely itchy trigger finger.
Hannibal‘s Mads Mikkelsen unleashes a wave of bloody vengeance in this independent Western from Danish filmmaker Kristian Levring. Mikkelsen plays Jon, a Danish homesteader on the American frontier who sets out to avenge the brutal murder of his wife and son by an outlaw gang.
Ben Foster, Jeff Bridges, Chris Pine, and Gil Birmingham star in this gripping Western heist thriller set against the bleak backdrop of bankrupt, small-town America. Brothers Tanner (Foster) and Toby (Pine) join forces to rob different branches of the Texas bank that’s threatening to foreclose on their family ranch. Bridges and Birmingham play the Texas Rangers in hot pursuit of the desperate brothers.
Michael Fassbender, Kodi Smit-McPhee, and Caren Pistorius star in this stylish and thoughtful Western. Smit-McPhee plays Jay Cavendish, a Scottish teen who enlists the help of a stoic gunslinger named Silas (Fassbender) to traverse the American frontier and reunite with his lost love Rose (Pistorius). But bounty hunters stalk the pair as they head west.
Prefer the narrative expanse of a Western TV show? Check out Godless. Set in 1880s America, the series tracks Frank Griffin (Jeff Daniels), a sadistic gang leader in search of his former protégé Roy Good (Jack O’Connell). Good’s trail leads Griffin to the town of La Belle, a New Mexico town inhabited nearly entirely by women after a mining accident wiped out its male residents.
Christian Bale, Rosamund Pike, and Wes Studi star in this powerfully acted Western set in 1892. Bale plays Joseph J. Blocker, a U.S. Army Captain who after years of bloody fighting against the Cheyenne is tasked with escorting tribal leader Chief Yellow Hawk and his family to Cheyenne lands in Montana. Along the way, they cross paths with young widow Rosalie Quaid (Pike), whose family was murdered out on the plains. Together, they must endure the challenges and dangers of their arduous journey.
Interested in a comical spin on the Western genre from the Coen Brothers? Take a gander at their dark and absurdist Western, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, starring everyone from Tim Blake Nelson and Zoe Kazan to Liam Neeson and Tom Waits. Keep in mind we’re still talking about the Coens here—so expect plenty of bloodshed alongside your cosmic hilarity.
Known as O Matador in its native Brazil, this striking international Western transports viewers from the 19th century American frontier to the desert badlands of early 20th century Brazil. The film follows Cabeliera (Diogo Morgado), an orphan raised in the wilderness by an outlaw named Seven Ears (Deto Montenegro). Now an adult, Cabeliera sets out to find Seven Ears—and transforms into a dangerous gunman himself.
You don’t see too many planes flying over Walt Disney World, but that will change on April 6 when the U.S. Navy Blue Angels make two flybys over the Magic Kingdom.
This isn’t the first time the performance squadron has graced the skies above Mickey’s place. The Blues did a flyby back in 2015, when six F/A-18 Hornets flew right over Main Street and performed a Delta Break in which they split into six different directions. The two planned flybys on April 6 will happen between 9:30 a.m.-10 a.m., according to the Disney Parks blog.
The Blue Angels are set to perform at the Sun ‘n Fun Fly-In in Lakeland, Florida. They practice at Lakeland Linder Regional Airport on April 6 and April 7 and have performances on April 8 and April 9.
While they are based in Pensacola, the Blue Angels are making their first Florida appearance of the year. Their Air Force counterparts, the Thunderbirds, have already made two of their three planned air show appearances for 2017 ,having just performed at the Melbourne Air Space Show the weekend of April 1.
A highlight of that was the transportation of 87-year-old Buzz Aldrin, who can now say he’s walked on the moon and flown in a Thunderbird. They earlier performed at the TICO Warbird Airshow in Titusville, Florida, and had their own flyby of an American icon, when they took to the skies over Daytona International Speedway ahead of the Daytona 500.
The Thunderbirds finish their Florida schedule for 2017 with a stop up in the Panhandle for the Gulf Coast Salute at Tyndall Air Force Base on April 22-23.
The Blue Angels will make three more stops in the state stretching into November: the mid-summer Pensacola Beach Air Show on July 8, a two-day performance at Naval Air Station Jacksonville on Nov. 4-5 and the Homecoming Air Show at Naval Air Station Pensacola on Nov. 11-12. Air shows held at military bases are free.
The Sun ‘n Fun will also feature the French Air Force’s Patrouille de France Jet Demonstration Team, which this year is making its first U.S. appearances in 30 years.