United States News Digest
LaRouche Beats Former Mr. Universe on Pension Theft
California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger surprised reporters at an April 7 press conference in Sacramento, when he announced his decision to drop plans to petition to place an initiative on the November 2005 ballot, to privatize the state public employees' pension plan. "Let's pull it back," he said, "and do it better." The initiative was the centerpiece of his plans to "reform" state government through a series of ballot initiatives, allegedly to save money in the near-bankrupt state. In reality, it was a thinly veiled plan to place the state's $360 billion pension fund into the hands of the banker friends of George Shultz, Schwarzenegger's controller and chief economic "adviser."
Though Schwarzenegger argued that he did not make this decision based on growing opposition to his plan, this is just another example of his lying. The latest poll released the day of the press conference, from the Survey and Policy Research Institute of San Jose State University, shows that his popularity has plummeted: of those polled, 43% approve of the job he is doing, 43% disapprove. Large protest crowds have appeared at each of his recent fundraising events, with policemen and firefighters joining nurses and teachers, in opposition to his drive to dismantle state government. Police and firefighters joined the opposition when they learned that his plan to privatize their pensions, turning the CalPERS fund into individual 401(k) plans, would remove the death and disability benefits their families receive under CalPERS.
The California press is playing this as a defeat for Arnie, which it most definitely is. The Governator has been the target of a relentless organizing drive by the LaRouche Youth Movement, which has distributed hundreds of thousands of pamphlets identifying him as a puppet of Shultz, and his so-called pension reform as looting, modelled on the thievery of Chile's public retirement funds by another puppet of Shultz, former Chilean military dictator General Pinochet.
In his international webcast April 7, Lyndon LaRouche said that he expects that, with the reality of the economic crisis hitting, and the mobilization he is leading to defeat George Pratt Shultz, that he expects to see a "Pratt-fall" soon. You might say that, with Schwarzenegger being forced to retreat from his plan to steal the public pension funds of California, that Shultz has taken a hit in his soft underbelly!
Delay Hit Again, This Time for Trip to Russia
With the FBI already probing the secret lobbying operations of House Majority Leader Tom DeLay's former money-man Jack Abramoff, involving the National Center for Public Policy Research, two more trips arranged for DeLay by the group have been added to the pile of troubles for Texas Republican. DeLay is still screaming that the "liberals" are involved in a "conspiracy" to smear the good works of the conservative movement, and the Republican Partyi.e., himbut so far, DeLay's complaints are not stopping the investigations from proceedingnor the details from leaking out.
The basic lines of the investigation leaked to the Washington Post, which ran the story on April 7, are the following: In 1997, DeLay and four staff members took a trip to Moscow, sponsored by the NCPPR; in Moscow, DeLay met then-Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin (who had a close working relationship with Vice President Al Gorewhich EIR exposed in 1999-2000 as overlapping Russian organized crime activities), and also with U.S. lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who had helped DeLay set up the massive fund-raising operation that DeLay uses as his power base.
The Post has exposed, however, that the cost of the trip, which included rounds of golf, and dinners in Moscow with Abramoffabout $57,000, according to DeLay's office recordswas actually paid by a mysterious company called Chelsea Commercial Enterprises Ltd., which has an address "listed variously as a post office box on the British island of Jersey ... or a law firm in the Bahamas." Sources who arranged the trip for the tax-exempt group the National Center, say that Chelsea paid for the entire trip. But Chelsea was a lobbying group for Naftasib, a Russian oil and gas concern, which was involved, in 1997, in the attempt to buy up the oil giant Yukos. Chelsea reportedly paid at least $440,000 to fund lobbying aimed at building "support for policies of the Russian government for progressive market reforms."
Powell Refuses To Support Bolton Nomination
The appointment of knuckle-dragger John Bolton to represent the Bush Administration as Ambassador to the United Nations has exposed a bitter rift in the U.S. diplomatic corps.
In the latest case, all but one of the living Republican Secretaries of Stateincluding James A. Baker III, Lawrence S. Eagleburger, Alexander M. Haig Jr., Henry A Kissinger, and George P. Shultz, wrote to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to support neo-con Bolton's appointment to the UN.
Only former Secretary of State Colin Powell declined to endorse Bolton.
Bunker Busters Back on the Table
A Defense Department call for development of bunker-buster nuclear warheads was read into the record at hearings of the House Armed Services Committee on April 4. The statement, from Mira R. Ricardel, Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Policy, said: "We don't need a smaller Cold War-era nuclear stockpile; we need capabilities appropriate for 21st century threats. That means we need to conduct a range of studies on potential weapon concepts including the completion of the Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrator study." The latter refers to the bunker-buster nuclear warhead.
Also, Linton F. Brooks, the manager of the nuclear stockpile, told the Senate Armed Services subcommittee April 1 that the Administration wants to begin concept and feasibility studies on replacement warheads.
By bipartisan agreement, the House Armed Services Committee last year stemmed development of new nuclear weapons systems, putting in its place the Reliable Replacement Warhead Program, which limited the budget to studying replacement parts for updating existing warheads that might be aging.
Reid Warns: GOP Heading Toward Parliamentary System
Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid (Nev) said April 5 that he had met with Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist over the GOP threat to shut off extended debate using the "nuclear option" rule-change, and although they have a long way to go before the issue is resolved, "at least we're talking."
Reid insisted that "this is the most important issue I've ever dealt with, because it deals with this little Constitution of ours.... This nuclear option is about our Constitution."
Reid said that the Republicans are headed in the wrong direction with this"what they're heading toward with this idea of nuclear option is a parliamentary form of government."
"And that is not how our Constitution was written, and it would be a disaster for our country to wind up having just one big House of Representatives here. The Senate has been, as has been indicated, the saucer that cools things around here. It's been that way for 217 years. It should stay that way."
Reid also blasted Rep. Tom DeLay and Sen. John Cornyn, both Texas Republicans, for their attacks and threats against the Federal judiciary. "These statements are really hard for me to comprehend and justify," Reid said. "I believe in our Constitution. I believe in the separation of powers doctrine. I believe that the Founding Fathers were wise in developing these branches of governmentexecutive branch, legislative branch, judicial branchone having no more power than the other."
Fight Brewing Over Patriot Act
In December of this year, 15 sections of the USA Patriot Act will "sunset," or expire, unless renewed by Congress. On April 5, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, along with FBI Director Robert Mueller, appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee to argue that the Act should be renewed in full. Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), the ranking Democrat on the committee, in his opening statement, indicated that he expected the "burden of proof" to be on the Administration. He indicated that the argument that "there are no proven abuses from the Patriot Act," doesn't wash, because most of the operations authorized by it are carried on in secret. He went on to detail a pattern of obfuscation by the DOJ, and said that the torture and other problems with detainees were a result of "policy decisions that were made at the top."
For his part, Gonzales is expected to "employ a softer tone," than his predecessor, John Ashcroft, but is only expected to agree to "tweaks" in the law, and no substantive changes.
On the same day, Senators Larry Craig (R-Id) and Dick Durbin (D-Ill), were expected to introduce a bill amending the most controversial provisions in the Act. "Cooler heads can now see that the Patriot Act went too far, too fast and that it must be brought back in line with the Constitution," said Gregory Nojeim, of the ACLU in Washington. At least 44 states and 375 communities are reported to have passed anti-Patriot Act resolutions, the most recent being the state of Montana.