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Authored by Robert Bridge via The Strategic Culture Foundation, In the past, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) justified its militarization of large swaths of Eastern Europe by pointing to the omnipresent threat of terrorism, or some 'rogue' foreign state, inherently understood to be Iran. Today the mask has slipped and it is no longer denied that NATO's primary target is Russia. But first, a trip down nightmare lane. The road to ruin - at least as far as US-Russia relations were concerned - began immediately following the 9/11 terror attacks. Three months after that fateful day, in December 2001, George W. Bush informed Vladimir Putin that the US was withdrawing from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, a strange move considering that the treaty had kept the peace between the nuclear superpowers since 1972. This geopolitical "mistake," as Putin rightly defined it, allowed the US to begin the process of deploying a missile defense system, smack on the border with Russia, allegedly to shield the continent against an attack by Iran. Never mind the fact that Tehran had absolutely no reason, not to mention the wherewithal, to carry out such a suicidal mission. But Washington has never been one to let facts get in the way of a forced move on the global chess board. Thus, the Bush administration advocated on behalf of a land-based missile defense system with interceptors based in Poland and a radar station in the Czech Republic. However, due to serious objections from Russia, not to mention the apprehensive citizens of the host countries, the plan had reached an impasse in 2008 - just as Obama was replacing Bush in the White House. Some would call that impeccable timing. What happened next can only be described as a devious sleight of hand on the part of Washington. In September 2009, the Nobel Peace Prize winner, Barack Obama, announced to great fanfare that the US would "shelve" the Bush plan. This announcement was received in Moscow and beyond as a sign that America's first black president was truly the real deal when it came to working on behalf of global peace. Suddenly, it appeared that the Bush reign of error had been an ugly anomaly, a bad eight-year dream. That grand illusion lasted for about as long as it took to read that sentence. Barack Obama, the man who had seduced the global masses with his velvety albeit teleprompted delivery, shifted gears the very next day, announcing that the US would be deploying, in four phases, sea-based SM-3 interceptor missiles in Eastern Europe instead. An opinion piece in the New York Times, penned by then Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates, provided all the information to understand that the world had been hoodwinked. "Steady technological advances in our missile defense program — from kill vehicles to the abilities to network radars and sensors — give us confidence in this plan," Gates wrote. "The SM-3 has had eight successful tests since 2007, and we will continue to develop it to give it the capacity to intercept long-range missiles like ICBMs. It is now more than able to deal with the threat from multiple short- and medium-range missiles — a very real threat to our allies and some 80,000 American troops based in Europe that was not addressed by the previous plan." "We are strengthening — not scrapping — missile defense in Europe," he concluded. With the benefit of hindsight and common sense, it seems that Washington's plan from the start was to move forward with the sophisticated SM-3 system; the bulky Bush initiative just provided the necessary distraction to usher in the advanced Obama plan, which presents a major threat to the global strategic balance. But all that is ancient history compared to what is happening today. Under the guise of 'Russia aggression,' a concept that was peddled to the unsuspecting masses based on the fake news of a Russian 'invasion' of Ukraine and Crimea, compounded by claims that Russia somehow swayed the 2016 US presidential elections, US-led NATO has dropped all pretensions and declared open season on Russia. Combined with Donald Trump's empty threat that the US would exit NATO if member states did not start spending more on defense (2 percent of annual GDP), Eastern Europe has become a veritable hothouse of paranoia-driven militarization. In what the Kremlin has described as the greatest amassing of military assets on its border since World War II, NATO troops and hardware have set up camp from as far north as Estonia, down through Latvia and Lithuania, into Romania and Poland, where the rotation of US troops is now standard operating procedure. Meanwhile, massive military games aimed at deterring the Russian bogeyman continue unabated on Russia's border. In April, British journalist Neil Clark described just one of these exercises, dubbed Summer Shield. The NATO military exercises "got underway at the Adazi military base. Soldiers from Latvia, the US, Bulgaria, Estonia, Canada, Lithuania, the UK, Luxembourg, Romania, Slovakia, Germany and also non-NATO member Sweden are taking part in the drills," Clark wrote. He then went on to make a rather unsettling yet accurate observation: "Today’s mantra regarding 'Russian aggression' is the 2003 equivalent of 'Saddam’s Weapons of Mass Destruction,' to be repeated ad nauseum by anyone supporting NATO’s Drang nach Osten. And like the WMD claim, it’s based on zero evidence." Such reckless behavior would have been difficult to fathom less than a decade ago. But these are brave new times, and American madness has settled upon the realm of foreign relations like a noxious cloud, forcing client states to crack open their tattered wallets or be left out in the cold when the big, bad Russian bear comes a knocking. Consider the case of Romania, one of Europe's poorest countries. Prompted by Donald Trump's warning that North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) members must fork over 2 percent of their GDP on military spending, Bucharest just made a down payment on a $1 billion American-made M142 HIMARS (High Mobility Artillery Rocket System), as well as four new multi-function corvettes. Romanian Defence Minister Mihai Fifor told Jane’s that these exorbitant purchases would “improve Romania’s national and allied defense capability” and emphasized that Romania’s commitment to the 2% of GDP spending cap “for the next 10 years is strong”. Prime Minister Viorica Dancila said, “We want those procurement programs to also strengthen our defense industry based on offset arrangements where possible”. This was not the first American military incursion into Romania under the guise of guarding against Iran and other alleged rogue players. In May 2016, the US activated its $800 million missile shield in Romania, which Russia obviously views as a direct threat. “At the moment the interceptor missiles installed have a range of 500 kilometers, soon this will go up to 1000 kilometers, and worse than that, they can be rearmed with 2400km-range offensive missiles even today, and it can be done by simply switching the software, so that even the Romanians themselves won’t know,” Vladimir Putin told reporters during a visit to Greece in May 2016. “We have been saying since the early 2000s that we will have to react somehow to your moves to undermine international security. No one is listening to us,” Putin warned. It remains to be seen how long NATO tone-deafness will continue before the militarization of Eastern Europe gets completely out of control and the situation becomes untenable. Or perhaps the point of no return has already come to pass and, fait accompli, we are merely enjoying an illusory calm before the storm.
**Weekend Reading**: **Elizabeth Warrn**: [Address to NCAI](https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/#inbox/16196b9709382efe): "I want to start by thanking Chairwoman Andrews-Maltais for that introduction... >...It has been an honor to work with, to learn from, and to represent the tribes in my home state of Massachusetts, the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head—the Aquinnah—and the Mashpee Wampanoag. I also want to thank President Jefferson Keel, and everyone at the National Congress of American Indians. For over 70 years, you’ve championed the rights and dignity of First Americans and I am honored to be here with you today. >I’ve noticed that every time my name comes up, President Trump likes to talk about Pocahontas. So I figured, let’s talk about Pocahontas. Not Pocahontas, the fictional character most Americans know from the movies, but Pocahontas, the Native woman who really lived, and whose real story has been passed down to so many of you through the generations. In the fairy tale, Pocahontas saves John Smith from execution at the hands of her father. In the fable, her baptism as “Rebecca” and her marriage to a Jamestown settler are held up to show the moral righteousness of colonization. In reality, the fable is used to bleach away the stain of...
Kyle Mizokami Security, A tragedy for the U.S. Navy's silent service. The conspiracy theory is that the Scorpion was somehow caught up in some kind of Cold War skirmish, and that the Soviet flotilla had sunk the sub. An unusually high number of submarines were sunk in 1968, including the Israeli submarine Dakar, the French submarine Minerve, and the Soviet submarine K-129. According to conspiracy theorists, the Cold War had briefly turned hot under the waves, leading to the loss of several submarines. Unfortunately, there is no actual proof, nor an explanation for why a Soviet task force with only two combatants could manage to kill the relatively advanced Scorpion. In May 1968, a U.S. nuclear-powered attack submarine was sent on a secret mission to spy on the Soviet navy. Seven days later, with the families of the crew waiting dockside for the USS Scorpion to return from a three-month patrol, the U.S. Navy realized that the submarine was missing. Scorpion had been the victim of a mysterious accident, the nature of which is debated to this day. The USS Scorpion was a Skipjack-class nuclear attack submarine. It was one of the first American submarines with a teardrop-shaped hull, as opposed to the blockier hull of World War II submarines and their descendants. It was laid down in August 1958 and commissioned into service in July 1960. Recommended: America Has Military Options for North Korea (but They're All Bad) Recommended: 1,700 Planes Ready for War: Everything You Need To Know About China's Air Force Recommended: Stealth vs. North Korea’s Air Defenses: Who Wins? Read full article
American looks to add to medals won in 2010 Vancouver GamesLindsey Vonn: ‘There’s nothing special about me. I just ski fast’Latest medal table | Full event schedule 3.37am GMT So that’s all from here. The first of what might be many medals for Italy’s Sofia Goggia, now firmly entrenched as the world’s best downhiller. A stunning silver for Norway’s Ragnhild Mowinckel. And a hard-earned bronze for one of the legends of the sport, Lindsey Vonn.I think I’ll check out some figure skating. Gotta prep for coverage of the women’s free skate. Can we have the Olympics every year? 3.34am GMT And a quick tribute to Sofia Goggia. The downhill gold medalist (it’s now official, as are the silver for Ragnhild Mowinckel and the bronze for Lindsey Vonn) is 25 years old. In 2012 and 2013, she suffered a handful of knee injuries. Since then, she has been climbing her way up the World Cup ranks -- second in the downhill season standings last year and leading this year. Continue reading...
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The American has never held back, whether with her aggression on the piste or her criticism of the US president. Now she is set for what is likely to be her final OlympicsOn Saturday, Lindsey Vonn will return to the Olympic stage for the first time since she won downhill gold in Vancouver eight years ago and carved out a place in US sports history, becoming the first American woman to win alpine skiing’s marquee event at the Games. The intervening years have looked more like a moguls course than a smooth ski slope for the 33-year-old, who has dealt with plenty of bumps on her way back to the Olympics. Yet she remains a risk-taker, continuously willing to put everything on the line for what she loves and what she believes in, an audacity that just could lead her back to the top of the Olympic podium.A series of right knee injuries and two subsequent surgeries sidelined Vonn ahead of the Sochi Games and prevented her from defending her downhill title four years ago. While ailments and age have forced Vonn to adjust her training – she limits her time on the mountain and places greater emphasis on warming up to protect her body from further wear and tear – the looming threat of injury hasn’t caused her to adopt more cautious race tactics. Continue reading...
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Nagasu becomes first American to land triple axel at OlympicsUnited States take bronze in team event behind Canada and OARWinter Olympics team figure skating – as it happenedMirai Nagasu became the first ever American woman to land a triple axel at the Olympics, and only the third overall, to highlight a strong North American showing in the figure skating team competition, which concluded on Monday morning with the men’s, women’s and ice dance free skates at the Gangneung Ice Arena.Nagasu, Adam Rippon and the brother-sister ice dance team of Maia and Alex Shibutani helped the United States to a bronze medal behind Canada and the Olympic Athletes from Russia, who took gold and silver respectively. Continue reading...
Now that the U.S. Census has released its newest estimate of median household income in the United States, it's time to consider where the U.S. federal government spending per U.S. household stands with respect to the Zero Deficit Line, which is the amount of spending that the typical American household can actually afford. The chart below shows those two measures for each year since 1967, when the Census first began reporting its median household income figure: Looking at the chart, we see that for the third year in a row, the amount of U.S. federal government spending per household is hovering just below $30,000 per U.S. household. Our tool below will reveal how much spending can actually be supported by the typical American household given its annual income of $50,054 (or whatever median household income level you might choose to enter!) Median Household Income Data Input Data Values Median Household Income How Much Federal Spending Per Household Can the U.S. Really Afford? Estimated Results Values Federal Spending per U.S. Household Using our tool, we find that in reality, the typical American household can only afford to have the federal government spend no more than $21,059. On a side note, do you remember the old Warner Brothers' Road Runner cartoons? The ones where Wile E. Coyote would be chasing after the bird, then suddenly find himself suspended in mid-air beyond the edge of a cliff, until he looked down and finally crashed back to earth? The level of federal spending per household since 2008 and the lack of meaningful growth in the incomes of U.S. households under President Obama, combined with all the talk these days of the approaching "fiscal cliff" suggests that there is one giant "splat" sound in the near future for the U.S.