From Volume 7, Issue 22 of EIR Online, Published May 27, 2008

United States News Digest

Specter: Alternatives to Talking to Iran 'Very Bleak'

May 20 (EIRNS)—Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), during a hearing of the Senate Defense Appropriations Subcommittee today, called for a little courage, with respect to Iran, on the part of the U.S. government. At the outset of his questioning of Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, Specter took Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to task for annunciating a policy of refusing to even talk to Iran unless it stops enriching uranium. "It seems to me that it is unrealistic to try to have discussions but to say to the opposite party, 'As a precondition to discussions we want the principal concession that we're after.'"

Specter noted that there were openings from Iran in 2001 and 2003, after the U.S.-led invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, but "the record is pretty clear that we wasted an opportunity to respond to their initiatives." Rather than speculating, he said, it would make more sense to talk to the Iranians to try to find out what it is they need.

Gates did not disagree, especially as Specter was quoting to him from a speech Gates had given the previous week, on the need to figure out a way to develop some leverage and then talk with the Iranians. Gates instead said there is now a different government in Tehran, which is much more difficult to talk to than the previous, Khatami government was. Specter replied that "we've only got one government to deal with there, and they were receptive in 2003. I've had a chance to talk to the last three Iranian ambassadors to the UN, and I think there is an opportunity for dialogue, but I think we have to be a little courageous about it and take a chance, because the alternatives are very, very, very bleak."

Grocers Wage Campaign Against Biofuels

May 19 (EIRNS)—The Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) is beginning a feisty campaign that the Biofuels Digest calls an "anti-biofuels jihad." The biofuels industry is distraught, because the grocers aren't just testifying before Congress (as they did on May 6), but have hired a public relations firm to conduct a six-month campaign to "obliterate whatever intellectual justification might still exist for corn-based ethanol." A pro-biofuels blog wails that it is a "smear campaign" by the GMA, whose companies employ some 14 million workers and generate more than $2 trillion annually.

The Biofuels Digest contends that the GMA is "linked financially to John McCain and a Republican senatorial revolt on ethanol mandates." It claims that documents published in the Capitol Hill daily Roll Call, say the GMA "has launched a massive, global PR campaign, pledging to assemble a global center-left coalition including hiring trusted third-party experts to link ethanol mandates to global hunger, food industry job losses and inflation."

The PR firm, Glover Park, says it aims to convince lawmakers that food prices are a "now" issue that is fast reaching crisis proportions for American consumers.

The GMA began in March looking for a public relations firm, with the aim of building a "groundswell in support of freezing or reversing some provisions of the 2007 Energy Bill and for the elimination/reform of ethanol subsidies and import restrictions."

Daschle Stumps for Ethanol

May 20 (EIRNS)—Former Senate Minority Leader and Barack Obama supporter Tom Daschle defends the limitless expansion of ethanol production from corn, by claiming that it has no effect on either the cost of food, or contributing to the starvation of so-called Third World populations. In a sophistical article, printed in the September/October 2007 issue of Foreign Affairs, entitled "Myth vs. Reality," The former South Dakota Senator, an Obama advisor, said, "I am convinced that just as the [food vs. fuel] crunch never came during the past 25 plus years, it will not come now." Daschle, who is a regular speaker for the ethanol producers' lobby, repeatedly makes the assertion, "corn is used mostly to feed animals, not people," willfully ignoring what most farmers know: People eat beef, chicken, and pork fed by corn. This is back-handed support for genocide.

Daschle's biofoolery was prompted by an earlier Foreign Affairs article written by C. Ford Runge and Benjamin Senauer, entitled, "How Biofuels Could Starve the Poor." They showed that in March 2007, corn futures were at their highest level in ten years, with the effect of corn based ethanol "starving the hungry."

Is Michael Bloomberg Losing It?

May 20 (EIRNS)—Stung by a series of setbacks to his cherished initiatives, and the LaRouche Political Action Committee's having damaged his run for the U.S. Presidency, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is cracking up in full public view, lashing out at friend and foe alike.

In April, the New York State Assembly rejected Bloomberg's London-sponsored "congestion pricing" scheme (known in New York as the "congestion tax"), to charge cars $8 per day for driving in Lower Manhattan during certain hours. In early May, the mayor's school reform plan, which would have allowed principals to hire and fire teaches based strictly on their students' test scores, regardless of the teacher's seniority or other qualifications, appears to have been blocked.

Bloomberg is not taking this well. The May 20 New York Times reports that "in recent days, ... another Michael Bloomberg has spilled into view: short tempered, scolding, even petulant." Bloomberg "is prone to outbursts of angry hyperbole, according to current and former associates, most of whom would speak only anonymously for fear of offending the mayor. They described a suddenly red-faced man who, in full view of others in the bullpen, the open workspace at City Hall, might scream, 'You're destroying my administration!' at an aide over a slip-up, or unleash a profanity-laced question about why he had botched a step in the project." The mayor began displaying such unbalanced behavior on Feb. 21, when, on a trip to Washington, D.C., he was confronted by LaRouche Youth Movement members on his support for the fascist public private partnerships (PPP) plan to turn U.S. infrastructure over to financiers to loot. So destabilized was Bloomberg, that he failed to show up at the Feb. 24 press conference of the Building America's Future Coalition, on behalf of the PPP program, which he, himself, had called.

The May 19 neocon magazine American Spectator, recognizing that Bloomberg is damaged goods, weighs in with an article, "Bloom off the Rose," reporting on various scandals erupting in and around the mayor's office.

New Bloomberg Moves Are Another Assault on U.S. Media

May 19 (EIRNS)—As New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg contemplates the end of his term next year, he is considering what to do next.

Bloomberg News last week announced the signing of seasoned veteran editor Norman Pearlstine to the post of "chief content officer." Pearlstine has served as editor for Time magazine, for the (pre-Rupert-Murdoch) Wall Street Journal, and most recently as a "deal maker" for the Bush-connected Carlyle Corp. With this new talent, Bloomberg improve his image and expand his audience beyond the financial community. While the growth of Bloomberg's subscribers slowed, the number of employees has doubled since he was in office as mayor, now at 2,300 worldwide. Published reports say that Pearlstine's job will be to "energize" the reporters, and indications are that the immediate focus will be on expanding "Bloomberg TV" beyond its limited economic news reporting.

In a rousing video presentation at the time of the announcement, Bloomberg's staff witnessed an employee ripping a copy of the New York Times Business Section in half, to the tune of the Beatles' "Revolution."

Britain's Miliband in U.S., Decries Protectionism

May 19 (EIRNS)—While warning that a rise in protectionism could effect a disaster on the world economy on a par with the Iraq War, British Foreign Secretary David Miliband arrived in the United States this week. Not wanting to "criticize" any of the Presidential candidates, of course, he warned that Washington must remain committed to free trade "in a very fundamental way." The London Financial Times notes that Miliband will "meet with advisors to the Presidential rivals." Another item, that will be on the agenda, the article states, is the imperialist "league of democracies," which Miliband indicated that the Brits might join, if it were structured properly (democratically "welcoming all comers"). Without stating it directly, Miliband told the Financial Times that the U.S./U.K. "bridge" might be in jeopardy, since Britain was more and more looking more toward Paris and Berlin for foreign policy coordination.

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