Raúl Ilargi Meijer: NATO Is A Con Game

Authored by Raul Ilargi Meijer via The Automatic Earth blog,

Okay, well, Trump did it again. Antagonizing allies. This time it was Germany that took the main hit, over the fact that it pays Russia billions of dollars for oil and gas while relying on the US for its defense … against Russia. And yes, that is a strange situation. But it’s by no means the only angle to the story. There are many more.

For one thing, The US has by far the largest military industry. So it makes a lot of money off the billions already spent by NATO partners on weaponry. Of course Raytheon, Boeing et al would like to see them spend more. But once they would have done that, they would clamor for even more after.

At some point one must ask how much should really be spent. How much is enough, how much is necessary. The military-industrial complex (MIC) has every reason to make the threat posed by ‘enemies’ as big as they possibly can. So knowing that, we must take media reports on this threat with tons of salt.

And that is not easy. Because the MIC has great influence in politics and the media. But we can turn to some numbers. According to GlobalFirePower, the US in 2018 will spend $647 billion on its military, while Russia is to spend a full $600 billion less, at $47 billion. And the US Senate has already voted in a $82 billion boost recently.

There are other numbers out there that suggest Russia spends $60 billion, but even then. If Moscow spends just 10% of the US, and much less than that once all NATO members’ expenditure is included, how much of a threat can Russia realistically be to NATO?

Sure, I’ve said it before, Russia makes weapons to defend itself, while America makes them to make money, which makes the latter much less efficient, but it should be glaringly obvious that the Russia threat is being blown out of all proportions.

Problem with that is that European nations for some reason love playing the threat card as much as America does. After all, Britain, France and Germany have major weapons manufacturers, too. So they’re all stuck. The Baltic nations clamor for more US protection, so does Sweden, Merkel re-focused on Putin just days ago, the game must go on.

Another way to look at this is to note that UD GDP in 2017 according to the IMF was $19.3 trillion, while Russia’s was $1.5 trillion. NATO members Germany France, Britain, Italy and France all have substantially higher GDP than Russia as well. European Union GDP was $17.3 trillion in 2017.

If this economically weak Russia were really such a threat to NATO, they would be using their funds so much better and smarter than anyone else, we’d all better start waving white flags right now. And seek their help, because that sort of efficiency, in both economics and defense, would seem to be exactly what we need in our debt-ridden nations.

The solution to the problems Trump indicated this morning is not for Germany et al to spend more on NATO and their military in general, but for the US to spend less. Much less. Because the Russian threat is a hoax that serves the interests of the MIC, the politicians and the media.

And because America has much better purposes to spend its money on. And because we would all be a lot safer if this absurd theater were closed. To reiterate: developments in weapons technology, for instance hypersonic rocket systems make most other weapons systems obsolete. Which is obviously a big threat to the MIC.

Russia attacking NATO makes as much sense as NATO attacking Russia: none whatsoever. Unwinnable. Russia attacking Germany and other European countries, which buy its oil and gas, makes no sense because it would then lose those revenues. From that point of view, European dependence on Russian energy is even a peacemaker, because it benefits both sides.

Can any of the Russiagate things be true? Of course, Russia has ‘bad’ elements seeking to influence matters abroad. Just like the US does, and France, Britain, Germany, finish the list and color the pictures. How about the UK poisoning stories? That’s a really wild one. Russia had no reason to poison a long-lost double spy they themselves let go free years ago, not at a time when a successful World Cup beckoned.

342 diplomats expelled and risking the honored tradition of exchanging spies and double agents from time to time. Not in Moscow’s interest at all. Britain, though, had, and has, much to gain from the case. As long as its people, and its allies, remain gullible enough to swallow the poisoned narrative. Clue: both poisonings, if they are real, occurred mere miles from Porton Down, Britain’s main chemical weapons lab.

And c’mon, if Putin wants his country strong and independent, the last thing he would do is to risk his oil and gas contracts with Europe. They’re simply too important, economically and politically. Trump may want some of that action for the US, understandably, but for now US LNG can’t compete with Russian pipelines. Simple as that.

Let’s hope Trump and Putin can talk sense in 5 days. There’s a lot hanging on it. Let’s hope Trump gets his head out of NATO’s and the US and EU Deep State’s asses in time. There’s no America First or Make America Great Again to be found in those dark places. It’s time to clear the air and talk. America should always talk to Russia.

Funny thing is, the more sanctions are declared on Russia, the stronger it becomes, because it has to learn and adapt to self-sufficiency. Want to weaken Russia? Make it depend on your trade with it, as opposed to cut off that trade. Well, too late now, they won’t trust another western voice anymore for many years. And we’re too weak to fight them. Not that we should want to anyway.

We’re all captive to people who want us to believe we’re still stuck in the last century, because that is their over-luxurious meal ticket. But it’s all imaginary, it’s an entirely made-up narrative. NATO is a con game.

China Prepares To Dominate South Pacific With Week Of Electronic Warfare Drills

While the Trump administration unveiling another round of tariffs on Chinese goods worth $200 billion – for which China’s Commerce Ministry is planning “countermeasures,” Beijing quietly began conducting military drills at five bases for electronic warfare, cybersecurity, reconnaissance and tactical strikes at five training bases, reports the South China Morning Post.

Over 50 combat units consisting of around 2,100 officers are taking part in the war games, which includes airborne troops, special forces and electronic warfare experts from the Northern, Southern, Eastern, Western and Central command theatres, according to official accounts over social media.

The war games began simultaneously at the Zhurihe Combined Tactics Training Base near Inner Mongolia, as well as four military institutes in Chongqing, Hebei and hefei provinces, as well as the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, according to the ground force.

The drill was meant to replicate combat conditions so the troops would stay in camps rather than barracks or dormitories, the ground force said via social media on Monday.

Military inspectors from the PLA’s anti-corruption watchdog, the military’s disciplinary commission, were sent to monitor the war games, with live pictures and video footage being sent to relevant troops, it said.

The combat units were made up almost entirely of new graduates and military officers from the surveillance troops, information security force, cyberwarriors, special fighting troops and a strike team from the army’s aviation unit, the ground force said on its WeChat account. –SCMP

China’s ground force said that the five new units were organized with the goal of “transforming their tradition combat role into a “modern army to right with the navy and air force,” along with the newly established strategic support unit and the rocket force.

The five theatre commands were established directly by President Xi Jinping – who replaced the army’s seven military commands in February, 2016 to become chairman of the Central Military Commission. He has since shed 300,000 members of the PLA – cutting the army’s size down to 2 million troopsFor reference, the entire US military has around 1.3 million troops. 

Xi laid out an ambitious plan in October for the PLA to modernize by 2035, on its way to becoming “one of the strongest forces by 2050,” reports The Morning Post, emphasizing technology and modern warfare strategies. 

“The scale of new combat forces has been expanded and becomes more important in combat effectiveness after many traditional troops and outmoded weapons were dissolved amid the military overhaul,” said a PLA commentary published on June 15.

That said, some ground force leaders fell short of Xi’s new requirements, according to The PLA Daily – the public face of the Army.

“However, some commanders failed to understand and study the real role of new combat forces, with some turning the new units into superficial troops or even ‘master of none’ … and some even immersing in traditional combat drills, letting the new combat units become an isolated fighting force.”

On Friday, CNBC reported that China was quietly conducting electronic warfare tests on tech-jamming technology in the South China Sea – weeks after delivering military equipment to the disputed Spratley Islands

The move allows Beijing to further project its power in the hotly disputed waters. The placement of electronic warfare assets, which are designed to confuse or disable communications and radar systems, comes on the heels of China’s installation of anti-ship cruise missiles and surface-to-air missile systems on three outposts in the hotly contested waters of the South China Sea. –CNBC

The Spratleys lie two-thirds of the way east from Southern Vietnam to the southern Philippines – while just north like the Parcel islands, where Beijing has 10 outposts, including Woody Island – their administrative and military headquarters in the South China Sea. 

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China will be looking to compete with the United States’ GPS system with their Beidou program – also known as Compass. The system is expected to be completed by 2020, and will significantly improve China’s electronic warfare capabilities. 

The Beidou system will definitely ‘add wings’ to the PLA, but only when all service troops are able to operate the new combat skills smoothly,” said Hong Kong-based military expert Song Zhongping, who added “Electronic warfare – like cyberwarriors and army aviation air strike operations – are strategically important in modern combat, as many new weapons also need the support of electronic facilities.” 

Professor He Qisong, a defence policy specialist at Shanghai University of Political Science and Law, said the drills this week indicated that the PLA was exploring a new training model to prepare commanders and soldiers for modern warfare.

“All the electronic warfare operations need a comprehensive and safe cybersecurity network. That’s why the strategic support force was established [in late 2015], and it has played a key supporting role in different service troops,” he said. –SCMP

“As a traditional ground force without real combat experience since the late 1970s, it really takes time for the army to break in modern warfare operations with so many newly established units.”

Papa John’s Chairman Resigns After Racist Comments Revealed

Following today’s much publicized report that just a few months after Papa John founder and Chairman John Schnatter quit the CEO last November for “divisive” remarks when he criticized the NFL for its handling of players’ national-anthem protests, saying it hurt the pizza chain’s sales, he used the N-word and graphic descriptions of violence against minorities on a conference call, moments ago the company announced that that the company had accepted Schantter’s resignation.

Papa John’s International, Inc. (NASDAQ: PZZA)today announced that the independent directors of the company have accepted the resignation of John H. Schnatter as Chairman of the Board. Olivia Kirtley acts as the company’s Lead Independent Director. Papa John’s will appoint a new Chairman of the Board in the coming weeks.

As a reminder, earlier on Wednesday, Forbes reported that during a May marketing call, Schnatter was asked how he would distance himself from racist groups online. He responded by downplaying the significance of his NFL statement. “Colonel Sanders called blacks n—–s,” Schnatter allegedly said, before complaining that Sanders never faced public backlash.

Schnatter also reflected on his early life in Indiana, where, he said, people used to drag African-Americans from trucks until they died. He apparently intended for the remarks to convey his antipathy to racism, but multiple individuals on the call found them to be offensive, the source said.

Following publication of the comments, Schnatter issued a statement in which he apologized:

“News reports attributing the use of inappropriate and hurtful language to me during a media training session regarding race are true,” Schnatter said in the statement. “Regardless of the context, I apologize. Simply stated, racism has no place in our society.”

By then it was too late.

Needless to say, the revelation of these comments shocked investors, and following the pounding PZZA stock took today which dropped as much as 5.9%, coupled with various analysts warning that this particular scandal could last a considerable period of time, the resignation is hardly surprising.

* * *

Earlier:

Shares of Papa John’s tumbled on Wednesday to $47.80, the lowest price since February 2016, after after outspoken chairman and founder John Schnatter came under fire following a report from Forbes that he used the N-word and graphic descriptions of violence against minorities on a conference call in May designed by marketing agency Laundry Service as a role-playing exercise for Schnatter in an effort to prevent future public-relations snafus.”

Following the conference call incident, Laundry Service cut ties with Papa John’s – telling staff in a May 31 letter that it was ending its work with an unnamed client thanks to “the regrettable recent events that several employees of Laundry Service witnessed during interactions with a client’s executive,” according to a copy of the letter obtained by Bloomberg.

Papa John chairman and founder John Schnatter

On the May call, Schnatter was asked how he would distance himself from racist groups online. He responded by downplaying the significance of his NFL statement. “Colonel Sanders called blacks n—–s,” Schnatter allegedly said, before complaining that Sanders never faced public backlash.

Schnatter also reflected on his early life in Indiana, where, he said, people used to drag African-Americans from trucks until they died. He apparently intended for the remarks to convey his antipathy to racism, but multiple individuals on the call found them to be offensive, the source said. After learning about the incident, Laundry Service owner Casey Wasserman moved to terminate the company’s contract with Papa John’s. –Forbes

Shares of the pizza chain have tumbled 25% since Schnatter waded into the debate over national anthem protests and made several inflammatory comments against the NFL; the slide continued today with PZZA dropping as much as 5.9%, sliding to the lowest level since February 2016.

Papa John’s did not dispute Forbes‘ report on Wednesday, however they noted that “Papa John’s condemns racism and any insensitive language, no matter the situation or setting. … We take great pride in the diversity of the Papa John’s family, though diversity and inclusion is an area we will continue to strive to do better.”

As Bloomberg adds, the company’s new CEO, Steve Ritchie, who replaced Schnatter in January, sent an internal memo to team members, franchisees and operators on Wednesday addressing the event, though without mentioning Schnatter by name.

“You may have read the media reports today tied to our company culture. We want to make it clear to all of you that racism has no place at Papa John’s,” according to the memo obtained by Bloomberg News.

“The past six months we’ve had to take a hard look in the mirror and acknowledge that we’ve lost a bit of focus on the core values that this brand was built on and that delivered success for so many years,” Ritchie said. “We’ve got to own up and take the hit for our missteps and refocus on the constant pursuit of better that is the DNA of our brand.” –Bloomberg

The 56-year-old Schnatter founded Papa John’s in Jeffersonville, Indiana after he installed a pizza oven at his father’s tavern. The business eventually grew to over 5,000 locations with annual revenues north of $1.7 billion. 

Following the NFL anthem controversy, Schnatter stepped down as CEO when during the company’s third-quarter conference call he blamed the league for slow sales. The company later apologized for the “divisive” comments. 

WHO Carcinogens: Asbestos, Arsenic, Cigarettes, Alcohol,… & Bacon!?

Authored by Mac Slavo via SHTFplan.com,

The World Health Organization has now officially declared bacon to be just as dangerous to human health as tobacco cigarette smoking. WHO has made the decision to declare all processed meats “carcinogenic to humans,” and that’s not a good thing.

The World Health Organization officially classified processed meats as carcinogenic in October 2015. The decision managed to be made by something called the International Agency of Research into Cancer (IARC), based on a review done on 800 studies globally.

They claimed that the report found “sufficient evidence in humans that the consumption of processed meat causes colorectal cancer.” According to the IARC Report:

“Meat consists of multiple components, such as haem iron. Meat can also contain chemicals that form during meat processing or cooking.

For instance, carcinogenic chemicals that form during meat processing include N-nitroso compounds and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.

Cooking of red meat or processed meat also produces heterocyclic aromatic amines as well as other chemicals including polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, which are also found in other foods and in air pollution.

Some of these chemicals are known or suspected carcinogens, but despite this knowledge, it is not yet fully understood how cancer risk is increased by red meat or processed meat.”

That means it isn’t just bacon, but any processed meat that could be potentially cancer-causing. According to Reporting The Truth, WHO made the decision to bacon and other processed meats in with the ranks of other notoriously carcinogenic substances such as asbestos, arsenic, cigarettes, and alcohol. As a matter of fact, this decision and subsequent story is all based around a fallacy: an appeal to authority, the authority of the WHO.

Often, the WHO, CDC (Centers for Disease Control), and other government organizations have the ability to cause a media outcry based on nothing more what they say. The WHO has no genuine intention of keeping people healthy, being some altruistic force to make sure people don’t get bowel cancer. It would be naive to think that’s why they exist.

At the root of this story, the WHO and health organizations are justifying their existence by issuing warnings about things like this.

The WHO has a surface level, where they disclose to the public what they are researching and try to justify their existence with little warnings like this, and then they have a deeper depth of what they do and who they endorse, what research and products they promote, and all the rest.

Also, it’s not a good thing when government organizations start “officially” recognizing things. When the government starts “officially” recognizing the danger of tobacco, they start trying to make laws that do nothing but line the pockets of politicians with new taxes, and create annoying little additional hassles for people who will not give up smoking cigarettes either way. –Reporting The Truth

The truth is, almost everyone knows bacon is not a “health food.”  It isn’t a vegetable and it’s loaded with fat.  It’s not the best food to eat and because of that, most people have the common sense to not eat a pound of it at a time.