The Danger Of Patriotism

Authored by Bob Livingston via Personal Liberty blog,

My friends, it is frightening how simple we are and how easily we are manipulated simply because we are intellectually lazy.

The U.S. establishment has confused cause and effect by and through a flag-waving mania in America. "Patriotism" throughout history has covered a multitude of mischief. We are seeing it now!

Phony patriotism is strong leverage against a population ignorant of the ways of treason by its own government. I also have no doubt that U.S. history is full of wars "for democracy" killing millions under the propaganda of patriotism with the majority support of the people and the full support of all but a small cadre of "elected representatives" — who are paid by the federal government, incidentally. In addition the millions of foreign dead, these wars have left hundreds of thousands of American military members dead or maimed physically and/or emotionally.

The whole world knows about the U.S. military industrial complex war machine and its pursuit of profits. But Americans tend to turn a blind eye.

When George Washington said "government is force," he meant that government is force against its own people.

Since by definition government is force, then it follows that government will use any ruse imaginable to increase its power. Increased use of government force or power could backfire unless skillfully handled and justified in the public mind. Therefore governments rarely take action unless accompanied by skillful propaganda.

The brouhaha over certain NFL players' refusal to stand for the playing of the Star Spangled Banner has erupted anew. The reaction of most Americans — who claim to believe in the Constitution and Bill of Rights — is that this expression cannot be tolerated… it is un-American… it is "unpatriotic."

But is it? Or is it not the most American of all things to resist and rebel against what we perceive as tyranny and its symbols?

If we deny one — whether through intimidation and threats, monetary sanctions or government force — his rights, are we not creating a situation where rights are just privileges that can be denied on a whim? If we support police power to invade our homes and wallets and steal our property just because government has made it "legal," are we not again conceding that rights are merely privileges?

You cannot say, "I believe in the 1st Amendment, but…; I believe in the 2nd Amendment, but…; I believe in the 4th Amendment, but…" There is no but.

And if that government making "legal" the assaults on our liberty is represented by a symbol, shouldn't we conclude that that symbol is a symbol of tyranny? I wrote about the phony patriotism of flag worship when the Colin Kaepernick stir occurred last year.

In light of the new kerfuffle over NFL players refusing to stand, and comments to some of our columns on preserving liberty of late, I felt it was time to run it again. Here it is:

The American golden calf

As a young boy, I enjoyed my family's bantam chickens that laid very small eggs and hatched very small chicks. Theirs was a small and miniature world.

One day one of my bantams started sitting on eggs to hatch its chicks. Something happened to her eggs but she continued to sit, so I decided to put a duck egg under her. Duck eggs are at least three times bigger than bantam eggs and take a few days longer to hatch, but she dutifully sat on the egg several days longer. She hatched the duckling and, as you can imagine, it thought that his world was normal and that the bantam hen was his mother.

The duckling eventually grew into a full sized mallard duck, probably five or six times the size of its bantam mother. The full-grown duck would follow its hen mother around as would normal chicks. It was a funny sight to watch.

But I remember thinking, even as a small boy, that the duck's entire reality was that the bantam hen was his mother and that was the way the world worked. He had no need to consider anything else.

This is the world of the American people today. Their perceptions of reality control them and they who control their perceptions control the American people.

Our perception of America has always been that she is the mother country and ordained by God, good and just and a beacon of freedom. This is hammered into our psyches from our early days.

From pre-school up, we are taught to worship the state. I don't know if it is still done, but in the public (non)education system, for many years, schoolchildren across the South — and elsewhere, I suppose — recited the Pledge of Allegiance each morning. Political rallies and government meetings are still often begun with a recitation of the pledge.

People say it with patriotic fervor, with their hands placed dutifully on their hearts.

Sporting events, political rallies and other public venues are often kicked off with the playing and/or singing of the Star Spangled Banner. Before the song begins, people are instructed to rise, men to remove their hats,and people place their hands over their hearts. They don't realize its value as a propaganda tool.

We have come to equate the flag, the pledge and the national anthem with patriotism, and patriotism with government, country and support for government, support for foreign wars and veterans. Anything less is "un-American."

Beyond its patriot fervor is the almost religious fervor and religious symbolism of the American people's actions when the pledge and the national anthem begin: the ritual standing, removal of hats, placing of hands and rote recitation. In the book of Daniel, Israelites Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah (Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego) refused to worship the golden image of Nebuchadnezzar contrary to the king's decree. The king ordered them to be thrown into the furnace after it was turned up to seven times its normal temperature.

NFL player Colin Kaepernick created a stir last week when he refused to stand for the national anthem. He was not subsequently ordered into the furnace by the king, but he was burned symbolically by many football fans who torched their jerseys. Americans fumed that he should "leave" America if he can't support the flag and that he had disrespected the flag, the nation and veterans.

What are we saying when we say that someone "disrespected the flag,"  "disrespected the country," "disrespected the veterans" if he chooses to not stand for the national anthem? What is the flag but a piece of cloth? By the reaction to Kaepernick, it seems it has become more of a golden calf to represent mother country or the god of government.

Our mother has become a witch. Yes, same symbols, same flag, same pledge of allegiance, but a decadent spirit controlling the perceptions of the American people, keeping them on the animal farm (controlling their perceptions) long enough to impoverish and enslave them.

Time and gradualism can change a system all the way from human liberty to slavery (the animal farm) over a few generations without anyone being aware except a very few, those who ask questions.

"America, love it or leave it," is a tired canard. One cannot leave it except at great cost. Recall that in 1860-1861 11 states attempted to "leave it" in order to preserve their liberty and rights as sovereign states. They were branded as "insurrectionists" and attacked by the War Party and the result was their economic and social destruction, subjugation and the deaths of some 850,000 people (the equivalent of about 8.5 million people today). When one talks of secession today he's branded as a racist, crazy or a radical and told secession is "illegal."

One can love his country but hate his government and its actions. I love America but not the people who control America and its government. I love America, but its rulers are alien to individual freedom, its government now anathema to liberty.

If the flag is symbolic of government and that government lies at every turn, enslaves its people, steals from their labor, passes laws that are an execration to their Christian faith, takes from them their liberty, mandates the murder of 1 million babies a year, imports tens of thousands of immigrants to replace American workers and drive down wages, and that makes war on other countries that have not threatened us, why should any acknowledge its presence with more than a sneer?

Wars are not for patriotism and "democracy," as we are propagandized. And our freedom has not been threatened by outside forces in 200 years. Wars are to kill; i.e., mass ritual murder. Additionally, big business and globalist banksters in league with Satan reap massive profits for the killing and sacrifice of young men (lambs) on all sides of combat.

If the flag is symbolic of the Constitution, that Constitution died long ago — destroyed by a crony railroad lawyer and mercantilist who made war on a sovereign people to benefit monied interests.

If the flag is symbolic of freedom, that freedom no longer exists — stolen long ago by crony corporations and globalist banksters and unaccountable oligarchical black-robed satanists and idol worshippers who usurped their authority created laws out of thin air under the guise of "interpreting the Constitution" a dictate not granted them under the original document.

The phony form of patriotism instilled within the population is strong leverage against independent thinking, keeping people ignorant of the treason by our own government.

America today is a more advanced state of fascism than World War II Germany and Italy. Fascism never identifies itself as totalitarianism. It always calls itself democracy.

Democracy is the politically correct word and cover term for modern American fascism.

American fascism has all the attributes and trappings of benevolent totalitarianism. No, benevolent totalitarianism is not an oxymoron.

The word benevolent in this instance means that the general perception of the population of the American system is that it is benevolent. This is only to say that modern America is full-blown fascism with a pretty face. It is every bit as deadly to human liberty as any tyranny in history and I would add far more sinister because of its propaganda sophistication.

Any regime that can spin tons of fiat paper money with printing presses or electronically is a slave system regardless of what it calls itself or regardless of the general population's perception of it.

Our mother has been transformed into a witch no matter how much we love her.

The Intrinsic Value Of Foot Locker

Foot Locker has been selling shoes since 1974 and has over 3,300 stores. Although the company is one of the top retailers in the business, Amazon has had a huge impact on the price of the stock. Find out what the intrinsic value of the stock might be worth based on free cash flows.

U.S. B-1B Bombers Fly Just Off Coast Of North Korea: 4 Reasons Why This Time It’s Different

Just before North Korea’s foreign minister was due to address the United Nations, the Pentagon announced that U.S. Air Force B-1B Lancer bombers escorted by fighter jets flew in international airspace over waters east of North Korea on Saturday, in a show of force which “demonstrated the range of military options available to President Donald Trump.” The flight was the farthest north of the demilitarized zone separating North and South Korea that any U.S. fighter jet or bomber has flown in the 21st century, the Pentagon added.


B-1B Lancer prepares to take off from Andersen AFB, Guam, Sept. 23, 2017

According to Reuters, the B-1B Lancer bombers came from Guam and the U.S. Air Force F-15C Eagle fighter escorts came from Okinawa, Japan. The Pentagon saod the operation showed the seriousness with which it took North Korea’s “reckless behavior.”

“This mission is a demonstration of U.S. resolve and a clear message that the President has many military options to defeat any threat,” said Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White, calling North Korea’s weapons program “a grave threat” adding that “we are prepared to use the full range of military capabilities to defend the U.S. homeland and our allies.”

The DMZ is a strip of land running across the Korean Peninsula near the 38th Parallel, separating North Korea from South Korea. It was created in 1953, following the armistice which ended the Korean War.

The patrols came after officials and experts said a small earthquake near North Korea’s nuclear test site on Saturday was probably not man-made, easing fears Pyongyang had exploded another nuclear bomb just weeks after its last one. Reversing its original assessment, China’s Earthquake Administration said the quake was not a nuclear explosion and had the characteristics of a natural tremor.

While the US has flown similar sorties before, according to The Aviationist, the show of force is a bit more interesting than usual, for four reasons:

  1. it is the farthest north of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) any U.S. fighter or bomber aircraft have flown off North Korea’s coast in the 21st century;
  2. unlike all the previous ones, the latest sortie was flown at night, hence it was not a show of force staged to take some cool photographs;
  3. no allied aircraft is known to have taken part in the mission at the time of writing, whereas most of the previous B-1 missions near the Korean Peninsula involved also ROKAF (Republic Of Korea Air Force) and/or JASDF (Japan’s Air Self Defense Force) jets;
  4. it was a U.S. Air Force job: no U.S. Marine Corps F-35B stealth jet took part in the show of force this time, even though the STOVL (Short Take Off Vertical Landing) variant of the Joint Strike Fighter has taken part in all the most recent formations sent over Korea to flex muscles against Pyongyang. The photo here below shows the “package” assembled for Sept. 14’s show of force.


Munitions from a U.S. Air Force, U.S. Marine Corps and Republic of Korea Air Force (ROKAF)

bilateral mission explode at the Pilsung Range, South Korea, Sept 17, 2017.

Spain In Crisis: Catalan Police Reject Madrid Takeover, Vow To “Resist”

Spain found itself on the verge of a full-blown sovereign crisis on Saturday, after the “rebel region” of Catalonia rejected giving more control to the central government in defiance of authorities in Madrid who are trying to suppress an independence referendum on Oct. 1.

As tensions rise ahead of the planned Catalan referendum on October 1, and as Madrid’s crackdown on separatist passions took a turn for the bizarre overnight when as we reported Spain’s plan to send boatloads of military police to Catalonia to halt the referendum backfired with dockers in two ports staging a boycott and refused access, on Saturday Spain’s Public Prosecutor’s Office told Catalan Police chief Josep Lluis Trapero that his officers must now obey orders from a senior state-appointed police coordinator, Spanish news agency EFE reported on Saturday.

The Catalan Police, however, disagreed and as Bloomberg reports, the SAP union – the largest trade group for the 17,000-member Catalan Police, known as Mossos d’Esquadra – said it would resist hours after prosecutors Saturday ordered that it accept central-government coordination. The rejection echoed comments by Catalan separatist authorities.

“We don’t accept this interference of the state, jumping over all existing coordination mechanisms,” the region’s Interior Department chief Joaquim Forn said in brief televised comments. “The Mossos won’t renounce exercising their functions in loyalty to the Catalan people.”

The Mossos are one of the symbols of Catalonia’s autonomy and for many Catalans the prosecutor’s decision may be reminiscent of the 1936-39 Spanish Civil War and subsequent dictatorship of Francisco Franco, when the Mossos were abolished.

In a joint press conference today with the Catalan home affairs minister Joaquim Forn and the Mossos chief Josep Lluís Trapero, Forn said that the move by Spain was “unacceptable”.

“We denounce the Spanish government’s will of seizing the Mossos, as they did with Catalonia’s finances” Forn said adding that that “the Catalan government does not accept this interference, it bypasses all the institutions that the current legal framework already has in place to guarantee the security of Catalonia.” Additionally, Trapero expressed his intention to not accept the measure, which he described as “interference by the state”, and also warned that “it skips over all the bodies of the legal framework to coordinate the security of Catalonia”.


Catalan minister Joaquim Forn (L) with Mossos chief Josep Lluís Trapero

Earlier on Saturday, El Pais reported that Civil Guard Colonel Diego Perez de los Cobos, chief of staff of the Interior Ministry’s security department, was named by a prosecutor to coordinate the efforts of the Civil Guard, the National Police and the local Mossos.  Spanish media reported unnamed Home Office sources as saying the measure did not mean withdrawing any powers from the Mossos formally, but rather requiring them to submit to a joint coordination operation to stop the Catalan referendum taking place on October 1.

However, shortly after the reshuffling, Catalan police chief Josep Lluis Trapero rejected giving up control to the central government during a meeting with the heads of the other police forces on Saturday, adding that all possible legal challenges would be studied. According to La Vanguardia Trapero “protested at that meeting about the decision to impose central government control” on the regional police force.

Also on Saturday morning, as the police meeting in Barcelona took place, the regional interior minister, Forn, published a defiant message on Twitter: “We will encounter many difficulties. The state wants to take control of our self-government, but they will not stop us! #HelloRepublic”.

Ironically, as Bloomberg writes, while Mossos chief Trapero reports to the regional government, his force’s funding is mostly provided by Madrid and it’s supposed to take orders from judges and prosecutors from across the country. Article 155 of the Spanish Constitution lets the central government take control of a regional administration if it poses a threat to the national interest. Rajoy has already made moves in that direction.

Earlier this week, the budget ministry took over management of Catalan’s finances and will issue paychecks to more than 200,000 public workers in the region, including the police.

That said, any more direct challenge to the Mossos would be fraught with risk because Trapero, its leader, has become something of a local hero since leading the response to the terrorist attacks in August. Separatists are selling T-shirts with his face printed on them.

According to Reuters, the Catalan government also believes that the Mossos takeover bypasses the Catalan statute  – article 164 – and constitutional law and the Spanish prosecutor that ruled in favour of Madrid taking control had overstepped his legal boundaries, saying that it had no power to rule on who had the authority to issue orders to Mossos.

The prosecutor had ordered that the Catalan police, the Spanish National Police and Spain’s Guardia Civil be managed from the Ministry of Home Affairs in Madrid. The decision, according to the prosecution, aims at “reinforcing the operation to prevent crime and to keep public order” a week before the October 1 independence referendum.

 

The decision was announced during a meeting between the prosecutor and the chiefs of the three police forces.

The disobedience will fuel further speculation the Mossos will not work with the national Civil Guard in Spain’s largest regional economy. The standoff came a day after Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s government acknowledged it’s sending more reinforcements to help control street demonstrations and carry out a separate court order to halt the vote.

Additionally, the latest move by Madrid will also increase the tension between the two sides which increasingly looks like it could descend into a direct confrontation as neither side appears to be willing to back down.


Catalan President Carles Puigdemont speaking a pro-independence rally

Carles Puigdemont, Catalonia’s president, called the independence vote in an attempt to push the secession movement forward after decades of political and legal fights over the region’s traditions and language. Since Rajoy took office in 2011, he’s had persistent clashes with separatists seeking to foment a backlash against Madrid. Catalonia is home to about 7.5 million people, or 16 percent of the population, but accounts for a fifth of the economy, on a par with Portugal and Finland.

Several pro-independence groups have called for widespread protests on Sunday in central Barcelona. “Let’s respond to the state with an unstoppable wave of democracy,” a Whatsapp message which was used to organize the demonstration read.

The Catalonian government opened a new website on Saturday with details of how and where to vote on Oct. 1, challenging several court rulings that had blocked previous sites and declared the referendum unconstitutional.

“You can’t stem the tide,” Catalonia’s president Carles Puigdemont said on Twitter in giving the link to the new website.

But Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy insisted again that the vote should not go ahead. “It will not happen because this would mean liquidating the law,” he said at the PP event in Palma de Mallorca. Acting on court orders, the Spanish state police has already raided the regional government offices, arrested temporarily several senior Catalan officials accused of organizing the referendum and seized ballot papers, ballot boxes, voting lists and electoral material and literature. The finance ministry in Madrid has also taken control of regional finances to make sure public money is not being spent to pay for the logistics the vote or to campaign.

How this escalating clash between Madrid and Catalonia is resolved over the coming week will define the fate of Spain for years to come.

Putting America’s Record-Breaking $20 Trillion Debt In Global Context

The U.S. federal government just passed a record $20 trillion in publicly held debt. That’s bigger than the entire economy of every country in the European Union, combined.

As HowMuch.net notes, the debt will only grow higher unless President Trump and the U.S. Congress can agree to unprecedented spending cuts combined with tax increases. 

Don’t count on that happening anytime soon. Most people think that an eye-popping $20+ trillion debt is insurmountable, and in fact, it is the largest in the world by far.

But when you look at another fiscal measure – the ratio of debt-to-GDP – the U.S. is not in the worst situation…

Source: HowMuch.net

HowMuch.net's visualization allows you to quickly see how the U.S. government’s debt compares to other countries around the world. The size of the country correlates to the size of the debt. The U.S. and Japan stand out because they have the highest debts in the world ($20.17T and $11.59T, respectively). Other countries, like Germany and Brazil, appear much smaller because their debts are comparatively tiny ($2.45T and $1.45T, respectively). We then color-coded each country according to its debt-to-GDP ratio. Green countries have a healthy margin, but dark red and fuchsia countries have debts that are even bigger than their entire economies.

Top 10 countries with the Worst Debt-to-GDP Ratios 

  1. Japan (245% at $11.59T)
  2. Greece (173% at $338B)
  3. Italy (138% at $138B
  4. Portugal (133% at $274B)
  5. Belgium (111% at $111B)
  6. Spain (106% at $106B)
  7. Canada (106% at $106B)
  8. Ireland (105% at $105B)
  9. France (98% at $98B)
  10. Brazil (82% at $82B)

The debt-to-GDP ratio is a critical metric for evaluating a country’s fiscal health. It makes a lot of sense for the American government to have a higher debt than a much smaller country, like Germany. Think about it like this: Bill Gates is worth $86 billion, so he can afford a much higher credit card bill than me or you.

That’s why it’s important to consider the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of each country, a number which represents the sum of all transactions occurring in the economy.

Once you understand the public debt as a percentage of GDP, you get a level playing field for countries on different economic scales. When you think about it like this, the U.S. isn’t even among the ten worst sovereign debts in the world.

China’s Maritime Strategic Realignment

Authored by Brian Kalman, Daniel Deiss, Edwin Watson via SouthFront.org,

China has begun construction of the first Type 075 Class Landing Helicopter Dock (LHD).

Construction most likely started in January or February of this year, with some satellite imagery and digital photos appearing online of at least one pre-fabricated hull cell. The Type 075 will be the largest amphibious warfare vessel in the Peoples’ Liberation Army Navy (PLAN), with similar displacement and dimensions as the U.S. Navy Wasp Class LHD. The PLA has also made it known that the force plans to expand the current PLA Marine Corps from 20,000 personnel to 100,000.

As China completes preparations for its new military base in Djibouti, located in the strategic Horn of Africa, it has also continued its substantial investment in developing the port of Gwadar, Pakistan. Not only will Gwadar become a key logistics hub as part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and the “One Belt, One Road” trade initiative, but will also be a key naval base in providing security for China’s maritime trade in the region.  When these developments are viewed in conjunction with the decision to reduce the size of the army by 300,000 personnel, it is obvious that China has reassessed the strategic focus of the nation’s armed forces.

The PLAN’s intends to expand the current force structure of the PLA Marine Corps fivefold, from two brigades to ten brigades. At the same time, the PLAN will be increased in size and capabilities, with many new, large displacement warships of varying types added to the fleet. Of particular interest, are the addition of at least two Type 055 destroyers, an indigenously designed and built aircraft carrier of a new class, two more Type 071 LPDs, and the first Type 075 LHD.

China is rapidly gaining the ability to project power and naval presence at increasing distances from its shores. Not only is the PLAN expanding in tonnage, but its new vessels are considerably more capable. The PLAN will be striving to add and train an additional 25% more personnel over the next half a decade, in an effort to add the skilled crews, pilots, and support personnel that will facilitate such an ambitious expansion.

The Chinese military leadership previously decided to double the number of AMIDs starting in 2014. A 100% increase in the PLA AMIDs and a 500% increase in the PLAMC denotes a major strategic shift in the defense strategy of the Chinese state. With the successful growth of the Silk Road Economic Belt/Maritime Silk Road Initiative, it becomes readily apparent that China must focus on securing and defending this global economic highway. China has made a massive investment, in partnership with many nations, in ensuring the success of a massive system of economic arteries that will span half of the globe. Many of these logistics arteries will transit strategic international maritime territories. In light of these developments, a military shift in focus away from fighting a ground war in China, to a greater maritime presence and power projection capability are quite logical.

China began construction of a maritime support facility in Djibouti in 2016, to protect its interests in Africa, facilitate joint anti-piracy operations in the region, and to provide a naval base to support long range and extended deployments of PLAN assets to protect the shipping lanes transiting the Strait of Aden. In addition, China invested approximately $46 billion USD in developing the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, including major investment in the infrastructure of the port of Gwadar. The governments of both nations desire the stationing of a flotilla of PLAN warships in the port, and possibly a rapid reaction force of PLA Marines. Gwadar is well positioned to not only protect China’s economic interests in Pakistan, but also to react to any crisis threatening the free passage of maritime traffic through the Strait of Hormuz. The forward positioning of naval forces will allow the PLAN to protect the vital crude oil and natural gas imports transiting the Suez Canal, the Gulf of Aden and into the Indian Ocean from routes west of the Horn of Africa. In light of the fact that 6% of natural gas imports and 34% of crude oil imports by sea to China transit this region, the desire to secure these waterways becomes readily apparent. Not only would the presence of PLAN warships and marines help to secure China’s vital interests in Pakistan and the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor in particular, but would also afford the PLAN a base of operations close to the Strait of Hormuz. Approximately 51% of all Chinese crude oil imports by sea transit the strait, as well as 24% of seaborne natural gas imports. Any closure of the Strait of Hormuz due to a theoretical military conflict or an act of terrorism or piracy would have a huge impact on the Chinese economy.

Although the maritime trade routes transiting the Indian Ocean are of vital importance to keeping the manufacturing engine of China running uninterrupted, the South China Sea is of even greater importance. Not only does the region facilitate the passage of $5 trillion USD in global trade annually, but much of this trade is comprised of Chinese energy imports and exports of all categories. The geographic bottle neck of the Strait of Malacca, to the southwest of the South China Sea, affords the transit of 84% of all waterborne crude oil and 30% of natural gas imports to China. The closure of the strait, or a significant disruption of maritime traffic in the South China Sea, would have a devastating impact on the Chinese state. It is in the vital national interest of China to secure the region based on this fact alone. In addition, establishing a series of strategically located island outposts, covering the approaches to the South China Sea, affords China a greater ability to secure the entire region, establish Anti-Access/Area Denial (A2/AD) and defend the southern approaches to the Chinese mainland, while enforcing the nation’s claims to valuable energy and renewable resources in the region.

China continues to expand and reinforce its island holdings in both the Paracel and Spratly archipelagos. The massive construction on Mischief Reef, Fiery Cross Reef and Subi Reef will likely be completed later this year. These three islands, in conjunction with the surveillance stations, port facilities and helicopter bases located on a number of key smaller atolls, afford China the capability to project power and presence in the region at a level that no other regional or global power can match.

As China moves forward in expanding the PLAMC and the amphibious divisions of the PLA, it has maintained a swift schedule in shipbuilding which aims to provide a balanced and flexible amphibious sealift capability. China intends to tailor a modern and sizable amphibious warfare fleet that is capable of defending the growing maritime interests of the nation, and which can provide a significant power projection capability that can be employed across the full breadth of the Maritime Silk Road.

The first two classes of amphibious vessels that were seen as essential to design, construct and supply to the PLAN were the Type 072A class Landing Ship Tank (LST) and the Type 071 class Landing Platform Dock (LPD). There are a total of six Type 071 LPDs planned, with four currently in service and the fifth vessel reaching completion this year.

Plans to build a large LHD began in 2012, with a number of different designs contemplated. The class was known in intervening years as the Type 075 or Type 081. The Type 075 design was finalized and plans were made to begin construction in 2016. Although many analysts believe that the PLAN intends to build two such vessels, there will most likely be a need for one or two additional vessels of this class to meet the growing maritime security and power projection requirements of the nation. All signs point to the PLAN’s intentions of establishing two to three Amphibious Ready Groups (ARGs), as they have slowly and methodically developed a modern amphibious warfare skillset over the past two decades. They have taken a similar approach to establishing a modern carrier-based naval aviation arm.

From what is known, the Type 075 will displace 40,000 tons, have an LOA of 250 meters, and a beam of 30 meter. The Type 075 will be fitted with a large well deck, allowing for amphibious operations by LCACs, AAVs, and conventional landing craft. Each LHD could theoretically carry approximately 1,500 to 2,000 marines, a full complement of MBTs and AAVs (approximately 25-40 armored vehicles), 60 to 80 light vehicles, and ample cargo stowage space. The helicopter compliment will most likely consist of approximately 20 Z-8 transport helicopters, two Z-18F ASW helicopters, one or two Ka-31 AEW helicopters, four Z-9 utility helicopters, and possibly 6 to 8 naval versions of the Z-10 attack helicopter. With no VSTOL fixed wing attack aircraft in service, the PLAN would most likely opt for using a rotary wing attack element for the LHDs.

China has been slowly and methodically building the foundations of economic and military security and is offering those nations that cooperate as part of the New Silk Road/Maritime Silk Road a seat at the table. In order to create a mutually beneficial trade and transportation network, one that may soon supersede or compete against others, China must secure its vital interests, backed up by military force, and build a viable and sustainable naval presence in key maritime regions.

China has clearly signaled that its defense strategy is changing.

The Chinese leadership feels that the sovereignty of mainland China is secure and is shifting focus to securing the vital maritime trade lifeline that not only ensures the security of the nation, but will allow China to increase its economic prosperity and trade partnerships with a multitude of nations.

Whether the United States decides to stand in the way of China’s growth or chooses to participate more constructively in a mutually beneficial relationship is yet to be determined. Without a doubt, China has set its course and will not deviate from this course unless some overwhelming force is brought to bear.

Trump Bars Breitbart From Alabama Rally As Feud With Bannon Escalates

Apparently, this is what Steve Bannon meant when he swore he would never turn on his old boss during a series of interviews he gave after leaving the West Wing.

The simmering feud between Breitbart and President Donald Trump intensified on Friday as the Trump communications team barred a Breitbart reporter from the press pool during a Trump rally in Alabama, where the president was campaigning for Luther Strange (aka "Big L") – his pick to permanently fill the Alabama senate seat vacated by Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Trump announced his support for Strange weeks ago, eliciting howls of outrage from Bannon and Breitbart, who have accused Strange of being a “swamp creature” and blasted him for his association with former Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley, who resigned earlier this year following a widely publicized sex scandal. Strange served as attorney general of Alabama (Sessions’ old job) under Bentley, and has been working with Trump for months after being appointed by Bentley to temporarily fill Sessions' old seat. 

But for better or worse, Strange is Trump's man – for now, at least – and the president showered him with praise during the rally. But while cycling through his greatest hits (everything from the second amendment, to Hillary-bashing, to his promised border wall), he found time to slip in a subtle dig at Bannon, joking that he had "fired" certain former staffers for disloyalty. Bannon and Breitbart have consistently supported  Alabama Supreme Court Roy Moore, who will face off against Strange in Tuesday's crucial Republican runoff primary.

Anyone who has closely followed the many staffing changes at the White House will, of course, remember that Bannon and the White House communications department have offered conflicting accounts of the terms of his departure, with Bannon insisting that he left voluntarily, while the communications staff have suggested that he was fired.

A similar ambiguity exists surrounding the terms of Bannon loyalist and former Breitbart employee Sebastian Gorka's departure, who, as luck would have it, appeared on Fox Business just minutes before Trump took the stage to slam the president over his support for Strange.

In a brief segment, Gorka criticized Strange for his association with Bentley and claimed that Moore was the true “MAGA” candidate.

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Of course, when Bannon – who is back running Breitbart – promised that he wouldn’t use the website as a cudgel against Trump, he did so with the caveat that Breitbart would hold the administration accountable should it abandon the nationalist, populist agenda that Trump promised the American people during the campaign.

To wit, Breitbart has become increasingly frustrated with Trump’s perceived abdication of his nationalist agenda by sending more troops to Afghanistan (after promising to bring troops home) and, more intolerably, his decision to allow DACA to be preserved in law by striking a deal with “Chuck and Nancy.”

And now it’s decided to turn its guns on Trump, publishing now fewer than hald a dozen anti-Strange or anti-Trump headlines during the Trump rally last night.

 

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And now, Axios is reporting that Steve Bannon has been confirmed to headline a Roy Moore rally in Alabama Sunday night, alongside Phil Robertson of the popular show “Duck Dynasty.” Axios, which noted that Strange is also the pick of Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a perennial Bannon foe, explained that “for Bannon to make a rare public appearance in such close proximity to Trump shows how invested he is in the race specifically, and attacking McConnell more generally.” But in attacking McConnell, in this instance, he is also striking at Trump.

In keeping with his promise to always support Trump against the establishment forces that Bannon says are trying to co-opt the Trump presidency, Axios reported that the Bannon camp is trying to spin the attacks against Strange as an indirect way of “supporting” Trump.

"Steve is coming to Alabama to support President Trump against the Washington establishment and Mitch McConnell. Steve views Judge Moore as a fierce advocate of Trump and the values he campaigned on."

To be sure, Breitbart’s strategy may be working. Trump appeared to admit during the rally last night that his Strange endorsement may have been a mistake, and that he would support Moore if he wins.

While the crowd at Friday’s rally cheered mightily for Trump, the cheers for his chosen candidate were less enthusiastic. As of Saturday afternoon, Moore leads Strange by nearly 9 percentage points in the RealClearPolitics polling average.

Whoever wins Tuesday’s primary has a virtual lock on the senate seat. And as the race draws closer, we expect to hear more from Trump. But will Breitbart succeed in convincing him to change his endorsement?

Given Trump’s distaste for “losers”, we imagine it’s not out of the question.