EIR Online
Online Almanac
From Volume 37, Issue 10 of EIR Online, Published Mar. 12, 2010

return to home page

22nd District in Texas:
Kesha's Victory
by Lyndon H. LaRouche, Jr.

March 3—This time, but not usually, ``Landslide'' was really an honest name for it. Ordinarily, a margin of victory of less than 55% of the vote cast in a Democratic Congressional primary campaign is not really a ``landslide'' victory; to some, it just sounds nice to say it on election night; sometimes people can crank themselves up to repeat ``it was a landslide,'' even on the morning after. The case of just-selected Democratic Congressional candidate Kesha Rogers' victory in the Texas 22nd district, breaks all such rules. She won in a hard-fought election which she won, in fact, as what she had declared to be her impeachment campaign against the incumbent U.S. President Barack Obama. Last night, President Obama just lost Texas. She had said, ``impeach him,'' loud and clear, and that is what really happened in Texas, yesterday evening. Today, ``impeachment'' will soon begin to echo from around the world.

Yet, for what is perhaps a brief moment, even on the morning after, still today, the present Congressional leadership of both major parties still does not understand what is going on. Forces beyond their comprehension are in play.

The pillars of the Philistine's political temple have just been pulled down....

In-Depth articles from EIR, Vol. 37, No. 10
...Requires Adobe Reader®.

This Week's Cover




This Week's News

U.S. Economic/Financial News

It's Not Just the States Cutting to the Bone

March 3 (EIRNS)—U.S. cities will face budget deficits totalling at least $12-$19 billion in Fiscal 2011, even under the unlikely assumption they receive large state subsidies through the stimulus act; the combined city deficits could be as high as $25-30 billion, according to a new report. Against this, the Federal FY2011 budget will include only $2.8 billion in aid to the cities from the stimulus.

Two-thirds of American cities already have put in place hiring freezes or layoffs; 62% have delayed or cancelled capital projects; 11% have cut social services; and 25% have increased property tax rates.

But over the three-year period FY2011-13, cities' combined budget deficits could reach $83 billion, resulting in a massive takedown of city government at the same time many states follow the California path to collapse and ungovernability.

Schwarzenegger's Legacy: Maternal Mortality Triples in California

March 6 (EIRNS)—In the last decade, the number of women who died within 42 days after giving birth has tripled in California. According to a forthcoming report from the California Department of Health, leaked to ABC News, the maternal mortality rate has gone from 5.6 per 100,000 live births, to 16.9 per 100,000, a threefold increase. This is above the rate for the entire United States, which is already bad, at 11 deaths per 100,000 live births, putting it at 40th place worldwide, in a 2005 World Health Organization ranking. In January, a leading accreditation and certification group, the Joint Commission, issued an alert stating that "current trends and evidence suggest that maternal mortality rates [in the U.S.] may be increasing."

A common cause of death after childbirth is stroke, caused by blood clots having formed in the legs during pregnancy. The California report points to increased obesity and use of caesarean sections in delivery as likely causes.

9 Million U.S. Households Can't Cover Winter Heating Bills

March 4 (EIRNS)—A record number—over 9 million households—are expected to seek help to pay Winter electric, heating oil, and natural gas bills, because they don't have the means. This number is up 15% over last year, and the incidence of households suffering power shut-offs is also high, and rising. The Federal program doling out help (LIHEAP—Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program) is being hit by record requests (administered through the states). In Washington, applications are up 42% over last year. In Michigan, up 38%. In Colorado, 20% of those appealing for help were already in crisis, either without heat or soon to lose it. Some cold-weather states have enacted moratoria against power cut-offs in Winter, but these bans start to expire in March and April.

In the Northeast and rural Midwest, there are chain-reactions of non-payment to fuel oil distributors, and similar dislocations hitting what remains of local enterprise. Congressmen from several of these states, including James Oberstar (D-Minn.) and Carolyn McCarthy (D-N.Y.), released a letter this week, calling for more LIHEAP funding, reporting that "a recent survey ... of more than 1,200 poor families found that 32% went without food for at least a day, 42% went without medical or dental care, and 38% did not fill prescriptions," to try to keep the heat on.

Dimon Says California Greater Threat Than Greece

Feb. 28 (EIRNS)—Jamie Dimon, the parasite who heads the JP Morgan Chase looting apparatus, told his underlings at their recent annual meeting that investors should be more worried about the risk of default of the state of California than of Greece's current debt woes. "There could be a contagion" if a state the size of California has problems making debt payments, he said, according to the Feb. 26 London Telegraph.

Dimon said that his and other U.S. financial institutions are largely immune to the European debt crisis. California poses more of a risk, he said, because of its $20 billion budget deficit—which Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is trying to reduce by coming up with more ways to kill greater numbers of the state's population.

Last week, John Chiang, the state's comptroller, said that if a workable plan to reduce the deficit and increase cash levels is not reached soon, he will have to return to issuing IOUs. Last Summer, California issued $3 billion in IOUs to creditors, including residents who were owed tax refunds. "I can't write checks without money; that's against the law. My main goal is to keep the state afloat, but I won't be able to do it without the help of new legislation," said Chiang.

Nuclear Plant Project Engineers To Be Laid Off, as TVA Work Finishes

March 2 (EIRNS)—More than 600 engineers and support staff, who have been working for two years on the TVA's Watts Bar nuclear plant Unit 2, will be out of work by September, as the design phase of the work is completed. This, because there are no other nuclear power plant projects underway, and nowhere (in the U.S.) for the staff to go.

In 2007, TVA decided to spend about $2.5 billion to finish the plant, which was 80% complete when construction was halted in the mid-1980s. Watts Bar Unit 1, which went operational in 1996, is the last nuclear plant built in the United States. Unit 2 is the only nuclear power plant in the United States that is currently under construction.

Although a dozen or so other utilities have submitted license applications with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the approval process is expected to take two or more years. Recently, thanks to the financial crisis and economic collapse, some of the companies have put their applications on hold. Even the Georgia project for two new reactors at the Vogtle site, which recently was granted provisional Federal loan guarantees, will not be in the nuclear engineering design phase soon enough to keep the mere handful of qualified U.S. engineers employed. Perhaps they will be getting job offers from overseas.

Four More U.S. Banks Are Shut Down

March 6 (EIRNS)—Four more U.S. banks bit the dust yesterday, in four states, bringing the number of closures this year to 26. Regulators closed 140 banks in 2009.

The four banks were Sun American Bank of Boca Raton, Fla., Centennial Bank of Odgen, Utah, Waterfield Bank of Germantown, Maryland, and Bank of Illinois, of Normal, Ill. First-Citizens Bank & Trust Co., of Raleigh, N.C. will assume Sun American's deposits and purchase all its assets, the FDIC reported. This is the fourth time First-Citizens has purchased the assets of a failed bank since last July. No buyers were found for Waterfield or Centennial. Heartland Bank & Trust of Bloomington, Ill. will assume Bank of Illinois's deposits.

FDIC Chairman Sheila Bair told Reuters she expects bank failures to remain high this year, against a backdrop of rising unemployment, crash of housing prices and soaring loan defaults.

Global Economic News

Hedge Funds Change Tactics on CDS Bets; Attack Euro

March 3 (EIRNS)—Hedge funds are afraid of government reactions and have stopped betting against single EU nations, the London Financial Times reports today. They have instead shifted their bets against the euro directly. For instance, Brevan Howard, Europe's largest hedge fund, has sent a letter to investors saying that the fund has closed out all of its positions on European sovereign debt. Also Paulson & Co. (the $32 billion U.S. hedge fund) has closed out its positions against Greece. "However, overall market positions against the euro, which yesterday hit a fresh nine-month low against the dollar, are up sharply."

Indeed, the EU has opened an investigation on CDS (credit default swaps) bets, and EU Parliament member and former French Foreign Minister Michel Barnier went to London yesterday, where he met hedge fund managers. However, his mission is called a "charm offensive" by the FT, which interviewed him. Barnier says that the hedge fund directive must be "improved," and discussed a "global banking levy." He endorsed the so-called "Volcker rule," which President Obama is backing, but he said that it cannot be imported in the same form in Europe, which has different banking structures. And anyway, the U.S. has not yet adopted it. He ducked a question on "widespread fears in the US and in London that many European banks, especially those in Germany, had to come clean on their losses." And his soft approach did not convince hedge fund managers, who are afraid of the "devil in the details."

Data released by the Depository Trust and Clearing Corporation, shows the biggest volume of open CDSs on sovereign debt to be in Italy, with $230 billion. Second is Turkey, with $170 billion; third is Brazil, with $143 billion, and fourth is Russia with $110 billion.

The rate of increase of CDS bets sees other countries at the top: Spain, for instance, with almost a 200% increase in one year (from $59.7 billion to $109.7 billion); Portugal from $29.8 billion to $64 billion; and even Germany, from $46 billion to $66 billion.

A Perfect Storm for Mass Starvation in 2010 Is Developing

March 4 (EIRNS)—UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) chief Jacques Diouf told Voice of America on March 3 that a food crisis is looming. Conditions in the world's grain markets today are similar to those during the food price crisis of 2007-08, Diouf said. Riots broke out in more than 30 countries in 2007 and 2008, because people could not afford to buy food.

Already, violence has been reported in North Korea due to food shortages. Efforts to feed starving North Koreans are being hit by dwindling donations, the World Food Program (WFP) said on March 4, as reports of a deadly clash between troops and workers trying to loot a food train came in from North Korea. According to a spokeswoman for the WFP, 2 million people—only one-third of the 6.2 million in North Korea who were supposed to receive aid, were actually getting it, and even then, they were receiving only incomplete rations of fortified foods. "The country is soon to enter the critical 'lean season,' when food stocks from last year's harvest run low. In certain parts of North Korea, particularly in the northeast, high levels of malnutrition are anticipated."

The WFP said this week that it will discontinue all food aid to North Korea in July, if it doesn't start getting sufficient donations.

UN experts say that record high energy prices, growing demand for bio-fuels, low grain reserves, and bad weather in producing countries, helped push up prices beginning in 2007. Food prices remain high in many developing countries. Diouf said the threat of another global price hike persists. Energy prices have not fallen to pre-crisis levels, and crops are still being diverted for biofuels. In fact, he said, except for larger grain reserves, not much has changed since 2007. Diouf also pointed out that many nations are still not investing enough in agriculture.

One other ominous signal is the report of U.S. exports of agricultural-related machinery. These exports totaled slightly less than $8 billion in 2009, a 23% drop from the previous year, according to the Association of Equipment Manufacturers. The AEM trade group consolidates U.S. Commerce Department data for off-road equipment, with other sources, into quarterly export trend reports. U.S. farm equipment exports to Europe show a 42% drop for 2009, while exports to South America declined 31%, and Central America declined 20%. Asia as a whole shows a 19% decrease, while Africa's farm equipment export purchases registered a drop of 25%.

IMF Head Demands Powers for Global Surveillance

Feb. 28 (EIRNS)—Speaking Feb. 26 to a Washington meeting of the Bretton Woods Committee, a private association dedicated to promoting the International Monetary Fund and World Bank, IMF director Dominique Strauss-Kahn laid out a program for the Fund's future—all oriented toward turning the IMF into the global dictatorship the British have been promoting.

First, Strauss-Kahn said, the IMF has to have the ability to carry out "more rigorous" surveillance to "prevent crises." To wit: "In particular, we are floating the idea of a new multilateral surveillance procedure. This would allow—indeed require—the Fund to assess the broader and systemic effect of country-level policies, and the associated risks in a fundamentally different way. We need to take up these issues of systemic importance frankly, regularly, and even-handedly."

Second, he called for increasing the IMF's "crisis response tools"—by which he meant a grab bag of measures targetting low-income countries. He said they had enough money for now.

Third, Strauss-Kahn dealt with the "stability" of the international monetary system, lying that everything seemed okay for now, but raising the question of "whether a new global reserve asset is needed" to replace the dollar.

Like the captain of a ship just before it hits an iceberg, the IMF chief declared that all was well, and we need "more IMF, not less." Why then is he demanding more powers to deal with "systemic risk?" He likely knows the ship is about to crash.

United States News Digest

Mass Strike, Protests Against Budget Cuts Erupt on Campuses

March 5 (EIRNS)—Millions of students, on over 100 campuses in at least 32 states, demonstrated yesterday against budget cuts and privatization of public education. Wire services report that the protests, called the "National Day of Action To Defend Public Education," took place in Alabama, California, Illinois, Oregon, Texas, Washington, Maryland, New York, and other locations. With plunging tax revenues and massive budget shortfalls, states are slashing funding to K-12 schools, community colleges, and universities, and as a consequence, many colleges have cancelled classes, furloughed instructors, and raised tuition.

Privatization is also a focus: A statement by one of the national organizers noted that "the public school system is being privatized through the widespread creation of charter schools, encouraged by President Obama's 'Race to the Top' program."

The largest protests took place in California, where AP reported that "millions" of students were protesting education cuts. "There are student activists all over the country who are looking to California as something to emulate," said Doug Singsen, 32, a graduate student at the City University of New York who has helped organize events outside California. "We want this to be the beginning of a movement that gets stronger."

McCain Calls for New 'Gang of 14' To Stop ObamaCare Bill

March 5 (EIRNS)—Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) is seeking bipartisan support to block Senate Democrats from using the budget reconciliation procedure to pass changes to the health-care bill, saying it is reminiscent of Republican attempts to force President George W. Bush's judicial nominees through with a simple majority vote, The Hill reports.

In a speech on the Senate floor, McCain recalled that he was a member of the bipartisan "Gang of 14" in 2005, which stopped Majority Leader Bill Frist (R) from using the "nuclear option" at that time. "Back a few years ago when the Republican side was in the majority and there was a movement toward the 'nuclear option,'... I stood up as a member of the majority and said we should not erode the 60-vote majority rule that has prevailed here in the Senate for many years."

McCain and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) also introduced an amendment that would prevent the use of reconciliation rules to consider changes in Medicare. The amendment was offered to the "tax extenders" package, but it is expected that the Senate parliamentarian will rule that the amendment is "not germane" to the bill.

How Nero Obama Is Trying To Impose Hitler-Health

March 4 (EIRNS)—To understand how President Obama is moving to impose his Hitler-health bill, you have to understand his Nero complex. He reacts like Nero, and he will kill like Nero, if he doesn't get his way. Any other evaluation, Lyndon LaRouche noted today, is worthless and incompetent.

Thus, following his press conference March 3, announcing his intention to ram through the health bill by an "up or down vote," Obama began to call in one group of Congressmen after another, to bludgeon or bribe them into supporting his bill (the Senate bill, or one very much like it, with the murderous cuts and IMAC "death panel"). He now has Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) out of the way, one major obstacle, who has been sidelined by bogus "ethics" charges. Rangel resigned as chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee on March 3. That's just for starters.

Obama has also scheduled trips to Philadelphia and St. Louis next week. "There will be a bill," was House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's blunt message today at her weekly update; House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said that a bill will be voted out by March 29, before the Easter recess; and White House press spokesman Robert Gibbs demanded that the House pass the full Senate bill by March 18.

Rohatyn Demands His Puppet Ravitch Be Installed as N.Y. Governor

March 3 (EIRNS)—Financier-oligarch Felix Rohatyn called March 2 for installing New York Lt. Gov. Richard Ravitch as governor, to deal with the state's financial crisis. Ravitch, a close ally of Rohatyn, helped impose Rohatyn's 1970s dictatorship over New York City and State, which slashed wages and jobs on behalf of the bankers. As Rohatyn's puppet in the current crisis, Ravitch would be expected to force through crushing austerity that no governor with any independence would carry out.

David Paterson, then Lt. Governor, succeeded to the governor's office when Gov. Elliot Spitzer, a foe of Wall Street, was forced out in a prostitution scandal in March 2008. Paterson then appointed Ravitch as Lt. Governor, a move of questionable legality. Now Paterson is being scandalized: His top aide was forced to resign after being charged with assault, and Paterson allegedly used the state police to try to convince the victim not to press charges.

Paterson said on Feb. 26 that he will step down after his current term (the gubernatorial election is this November). State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, who, like Spitzer before him, is pressing a very popular investigative attack against Wall Street criminals, would be expected to do well in that election.

Thus Rohatyn's demand that Ravitch be installed now as governor, with Paterson stepping aside immediately, is a play for big stakes. Rohatyn's demand is echoed by the entire media and political apparatus of the London-Wall Street axis, such as the New York Times and the New York Daily News.

Ibero-American News Digest

Sonora Mega-March for the PLHINO and Desalination

March 6 (EIRNS)—An estimate 10-15,000 people gathered yesterday in Ciudad Obregon, Sonora, Mexico, in a rally called by the Citizens Forum for Water in Sonora, to demand that the semi-arid northwestern state needs more water, and that great infrastructure projects such as the PLHINO and desalination of seawater are urgently required. The rally of farmers, students, a half dozen former mayors, regional political leaders, and others—and which included about 300 tractors belonging to area producers—strongly rejected Gov. Guillermo Padres' attempt to divide the population by his plan to take water from the Novillo Dam, which is essential for Yaqui Valley farmers, and divert it to the water-starved city of Hermosillo, arguing that the state already has enough water, but it just has to "manage" it better. This is also the line broadcast in Mexico by Prince Philip's Nazi WWF and its Mexican allies.

The keynote speaker at the event was longtime LaRouche associate and leader of the Pro-PLHINO Committee, Alberto Vizcarra, who told the crowd that water is not a financial commodity, "but rather an indispensable input for life, progress, and the welfare of our people," and that projects such as the PLHINO and desalination are needed for Sonora, Mexico, and the world.

Vizcarra said that among those who could be "heard" applauding this rally were Mexican nationalist figures such as Gen. Alvaro Obregon (1880-1928), "and our dear Norman Borlaug." Borlaug, the architect of the Green Revolution, worked for decades near Mexico City, and in Sonora, where he is widely known and well-loved. In fact, yesterday's march first gathered at the corner of 200th Street and Norman Borlaug Boulevard, named for the American agronomist, who died in 2009.

Vizcarra also told the crowd that simply by gathering, "we have defeated a force which is greater than the power that the government of Guillermo Padres boasts of: We have defeated fear." He was referring to the fact that the Padres government—which stole the July 2009 elections with evident backing from forces deployed by London's Dope, Inc.—had circulated hundreds of thousands of leaflets calling for the rally, but on the wrong day and the wrong time; put out countless radio and TV spots urging people not to attend; and issued direct threats against the event's organizers.

On March 2, a leading member of the Pro-PLHINO Committee, Humberto Aispuro, and with two other leaders of the transportation workers union, were assassinated by hired hit men. State law enforcement authorities have yet to establish the identities and motives of the assassins, or who sent them.

After months of demoralization and fear, in the wake of the stealing of the election, and the rising tide of drug-related murder and terror, Sonora's population and political figures have begun to move again.

Pro-PLHINO Labor Leader Assassinated in Sonora

March 2 (EIRNS)—At 6:15 this morning, Humberto Aispuro Rodelo, Secretary General of the Transport Workers Union in Ciudad Obregon, Sonora, Mexico, and a regional leader of the CTM national labor federation, as well as an active member of the Pro-PLHINO Committee, was assassinated as he was traveling by car to the city of Hermosillo. Aispuro was traveling with three representatives of the state transportation company. Two of them were also killed in the attack, which was carried out with AK-47s.

The report by state law enforcement authorities only states that the victims were overtaken by a Nissan which drew next to them, and its occupants then opened fire, killing the three men. Armando Contreras, the president of the transportation company of Ciudad Obregon, survived the attack.

Aispuro was, over recent years, close to the ideas of the international movement of Lyndon LaRouche.

Clinton Lauds Argentina Debt Paydown; Financial Vultures Unnerved

March 6 (EIRNS)—There were probably more than a few cases of heartburn in London and on Wall Street this past week, provoked by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's favorable remarks on Argentina's management of its debt, during a March 1 press conference in Buenos Aires, with President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner.

Asked by a reporter to comment on President Fernández's plan to use Central Bank reserves to pay debt, Clinton replied this way:

"Well, I think that Argentina has made a tremendous amount of progress in paying down its debt. And the President and I were talking about the progress, which is very dramatic, just in the last several years. And I confessed to her that so far as I know, based on the figures, Argentina's debt-to-GDP ratio is a lower percentage now than the United States' debt-to-GDP ratio. So, however Argentina is doing it, it's working."

London-centered financier interests have been hammering away at the Argentine President for months, deploying their vulture funds to seize Argentine assets in the U.S., to satisfy their fraudulent claims stemming from Argentina's 2001 debt default, while shrieking that Fernández de Kirchner has no right to touch the "autonomous" Central Bank reserves to make debt payments.

Also on March 1, the U.S. Supreme Court let stand a lower court ruling asserting that, under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, Argentine pension assets deposited in the U.S. could not be seized because these funds hadn't been used for commercial activities. After Fernández de Kirchner nationalized private pension funds in 2008, the vulture funds succeeded in having U.S. Federal Judge Thomas Griesa freeze $200 million in pension funds deposited in U.S. accounts, on the grounds that these were now assets belonging to the Argentine government and were fair game.

Fernández de Kirchner Defends Presidential System

March 5 (EIRNS)—President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner defended Argentina's Presidential system, "copied exactly from the United States Constitution," against those who would establish a parliamentary system in the country, and who are trying to force her government to either default on its debt obligations, or slash productive government spending in order to make those debt payments.

In a speech before producers in an agricultural region on March 3, two days after her discussion with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Fernández went after "the evident attempted destitution [of the government] by some national sectors"—she failed to mention the international sectors involved, i.e., the British Empire—who have gotten judges "who seem to have been rented" to block her attempt to put Central Bank reserves under the control of the government, and to use part of those reserves to establish a Bicentennial Fund with which to meet foreign debt obligations.

She blasted those who plunged the country into debt in the 1980s and 1990s, and who now turn around to try to stop her from paying those debts "with the reserves of the Central Bank," demanding instead that she cut the operating budget. "I want them to tell me how, paying the way they propose, we are going to be able to keep paying retirees their two increases per year, how we will be able to keep paying family benefits, how we will be able to continue with an infrastructure plan like the one we are announcing today."

"I am prepared to face the condemnation of any circumstantial Argentine judge, but I am not prepared to face the condemnation of history," she stated. And then she took off the gloves on the issue of principle involving the Presidential system:

"I know that the Argentine Republic has a Presidential system; there is no co-government with the opposition, it is not a parliamentary government. You can agree or disagree with this system of government that we have copied exactly from the United States Constitution; but if you disagree, what you have to do is not violate it, but change the Constitution and put in place a parliamentary government, for example. So, if we had a parliamentary government, if we were to ask this opposition for a proposal, what would they say to me? Some would say not to pay the debt and to investigate it; others, to pay it with an adjustment plan; and, then, what country would we have?"

Western European News Digest

EU Drafts Direct Taxation Plan

March 5 (EIRNS)—The European Union Commissioner for Taxation and Customs Union, Audit and Anti-Fraud, Algirdas Semeta (Lithuania), is planning a "minimum rate of tax on carbon" across the EU "as a priority," he told the European Voice, a publication of The Economist Group. The idea is to give the EU the power of direct taxation, something which is unconstitutional in most member-states, because it violates the principle of "no taxation without representation." The German Constitutional Court ruling of June 2009 forbade exactly such actions, by ruling that EU institutions are not democratically legitimized.

Past attempts to introduce direct EU taxation have always been defeated, starting with the famous opposition to the European Economic Community (EEC) by France's President Charles de Gaulle in 1965. However, the EU junta sees itself empowered with new privileges by the Lisbon Treaty, and is trying again. "In my estimation it is possible to start discussions within the college [of European Commissioners]," Semeta said, adding that "there is currently the right momentum" to raise the issue again. The momentum Semeta refers to, is the EU push for a fascist, supranational government.

Thousands Demonstrate Against Austerity in Greece

March 5 (EIRNS)—Thousands of Greek workers demonstrated in front of the Greek Parliament today, to protest European Union-dictated austerity measures. The demonstrations followed a three-hour strike by the ADEDY civil service union, which brought mass transportation, airports, and ferries to a standstill, and closed government offices.

On the same day, the Greek Parliament approved budget cuts that included increasing consumer taxes and cuts in public sector workers' pay by up to 8%.

In separate statements, the Greek General Confederation of Labor (GSEE) and the ADEDY said the measures are "anti-popular" and "barbaric," and announced that both organizations will be calling a second general strike for March 11 (the first on was on Feb. 24).

Television footage showed two men throwing a cup of coffee and water at GSEE leader Yiannis Panagopoulos, as he addressed protesters outside Parliament, before a third man walked up and punched him.

Portugal's Civil Servants Stage 24-Hour Strike

March 4 (EIRNS)—The Portuguese civil servants union staged a 24-hour strike today, in protest against the government austerity measures demanded by the European Union. The strike disrupting schools, courts, and hospitals, and is being described as the biggest strike action in years. "There is immense discontent, which you can see in the way workers behave, and that means there will be enormous turnout in the strike," said Manuel Carvalho da Silva, leader of the 725,000-strong General Confederation of Portuguese Workers, ahead of the strike.

Unions fear the additional austerity measures will include an extension of the wage freeze beyond 2010, indirect tax increases, and cuts in bonuses and pension benefits for state workers. Ana Avoila, a trade union leader, said further strikes and protests were being organized for April and May.

According to Britain's Financial Times, polls show a collapse in approval ratings for Prime Minister José Socrates, from 40.3% in January to 29.4% in February.

Hung Parliament Gives Queen Increased Powers

Feb. 28 (EIRNS)—It is increasingly likely, given that the Tory lead over Labour has slipped to only 5-6% (or less) in the polls, that there will be a hung Parliament in the next election, where neither party has the majority of seats required to govern. If that occurs (the last time was in 1974), then the Queen becomes a major factor in naming a new prime minister.

Already, the "golden triangle" of Britain's most senior civil servants and courtiers is meeting to prepare a dossier of advice to the Queen on what steps she might consider. Sir Gus O'Donnell, the cabinet secretary, has distributed secret memos compiled by the prime minister's private secretary in March 1974, Robert Armstrong, as a guide for discussion by the "golden triangle." The memos are also being avidly studied at No. 10 Downing Street, the prime minister's office.

'British Business Model Can No Longer Survive'

March 6 (EIRNS)—David Scammell of Schroders Bank said in an interview in today's Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung that the British financial sector is overblown, that even before this crisis, 30% of tax revenues came from the banking sector, and that has turned even worse, with the bailout policies.

The British government will find it very difficult to place bonds over £220 billion this year, because investors are worried about London, he said. Many of these "have come to the conclusion that the British business model basically can no longer be preserved.... Great Britain will need to have a stronger industry, again," Scammell adds. "The situation in Great Britain is as bad as that in Southern Europe."

French Industry, a Dying Species

Paris, March 4 (EIRNS)—President Nicolas Sarkozy will be closing the discussions of a panel he named a few months ago to study the situation of French industry, which is going from bad to worse. The part of manufacturing comprising the value added in France went down from around 24% to 16% in 2008. During the same time frame, Germany for instance, maintained a constant ratio, at around 29%.

Industrial employment in that same period has declined, from some 3.9 million to 3.4 million, in direct jobs. Interim jobs related to industry dropped from 4.2 million in 2000 to 3.6 million in 2009.

As a result, the French balance of trade is in the red, by -EU43 billion, while Germany's is exploding, at +EU136 billion, even though Germany's balance of trade also reflects deep cuts in wages (in the range of 20%), which, in France, no government has had yet the power to implement. This disequilibrium is even more marked in the exchanges of industrial goods, which for Germany is positive with +EU155 billion, and for France negative, with -EU25.5 billion.

NHS Will Cut 1/3 of Hospital Beds in London

March 4 (EIRNS)—The British government is planning deep cuts in the National Health System. John Appleby, chief economist of Prince Charles's King's Fund said: "In London there is a plan to close a third of the hospital beds, that is being floated by NHS. It's not out in the open yet and already it's attracted huge opposition. In Manchester you have 25 acute hospitals. That is probably too many, and it underlines what a big question the real funding cuts entail."

According to a study by the Guardian, published March 3, there are plans to cut surgical operations and to close emergency departments and entire hospitals. Already general practitioners in Hartfordshire are being told to get "approval" for a list of procedures, including hysterectomies, removal of skin lesions, and tooth extraction. Managers have advised family doctors, that in many cases, "It is usually better to wait to see if symptoms resolve themselves." Some emergency departments will be open only 12 hours a day!

Russia and the CIS News Digest

Medvedev Launches Franco-Russian Year in Paris

March 3 (EIRNS)—Russian President Dmitri Medvedev is on a three-day visit to France, to inaugurate the Franco-Russian Year, during which some 400 special events will be organized in both countries. During a joint press conference March 1, French President Nicolas Sarkozy said, "I am happy to receive President Medvedev for the first time at the Elysée. I receive him as a friend. France considers Russia as a strategic partner. Russia is a friend of France. I had the opportunity many times to work with President Medvedev, and I must say that I trust him. Together we had to solve difficult, painful crises, and we did it. It is therefore a great friend of France who is coming here."

Medvedev and Sarkozy consulted closely during the Summer 2008 crisis, when the Georgian regime of Michael Saakashvili attacked Tskhinvali, capital of the South Osseta district, and Russian peacekeeping forces stationed there.

In an article published in Le Figaro Feb. 27, Jacques Sapir, France's leading Russian expert, welcomed the Paris-Moscow rapprochement, noting that the Russian leaders want to make of their country a "great modern nation," and that several initiatives have been adopted which "all open important perspectives for French industry if we decide to cooperate in that program," especially in the energy programs. "The times when the West—Europe and the United States—had the monopoly over modern technology, are well over. Today the globalization of those techniques has made of South Korea, Taiwan, and even China, very strong competition. It is logical that in order to build its energy-efficient program, Russia should turn to Europe, and to France in particular. Our results speak in our favor. But that does not constitute an obligation. It is thus important to seize the opportunity presented to us."

Three important agreements will be signed during Medvedev's visit. Sarkozy stated at their joint press conference, that France has entered into "exclusive negotiations" with Russia, to sell four Mistral helicopter carriers, the first of which will be built at the St. Nazaire shipyards, badly hit by the successive crises in shipbuilding. "It is in the interest of Europe that we not fall back into that very difficult period which was the Cold War." Also, Gaz de France (GDF) signed its entry into the North Stream Gazprom pipeline project, and the French industrial group Alstom announced that it will be taking a 25% stake in the Russian group Transmashholding (TMH), both producers of railways. That process will take six months.

EU Might Finance South Stream

March 3 (EIRNS)—After attempting to boycott the South Stream pipeline of Russia's Gazprom, which will take Russian natural gas under the Black Sea to the Balkans, Italy, and Austria, the European Union has now announced that it might finance the project. "The more surprising support for the Russian gas giant came from the European Commission," reports today's Le Figaro. "The new European Energy Commissioner Günter Oettinger declared from Bulgaria, that Brussels could financially support Gazprom's South Stream gas pipeline." Oettinger repeated that Nabucco, another southern gas pipeline promoted by the European Union against the Russian South Stream, remains a priority.

Southwest Asia News Digest

Biden Follows Mitchell to Mideast

March 7 (EIRNS)—Vice President Joe Biden arrived in Israel yesterday, one day after Middle East peace envoy George Mitchell, in what is being billed as a two-pronged diplomatic offensive. First, Biden's trip is intended to bolster the Mitchell mission, which aims to start four months of "proximity talks," during which Mitchell will shuttle between Israeli and Palestinian delegations, to attempt to reach a final two-state solution. The second prong is Iran, where the United States, according to U.S. intelligence sources, is pushing a combined sanctions and diplomacy policy, for the time being, aimed at getting Iran to belatedly agree to the proposal of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that it swap its low-enriched uranium for fuel rods for its isotope reactor. Israel is believed to be seriously contemplating military strikes against Iran, which the U.S. opposes.

According to one well-placed Egyptian source, during his recent trip to Washington, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak was rebuffed on a series of new weapons requests, including mid-air refueling systems and other weapons that could be used in a strike on Iran. According to the source, Israeli officials are concerned that the next round of Israel-Palestinian talks will have Mitchell at the negotiating table, a prospect that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is reportedly not looking forward to.

The Mitchell and Biden trips have been preceded, in the past two months, by visits by top Obama Administration and military officials, including Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen, and CIA Director Leon Panetta. Those trips were centered on warning Israel not to take unilateral action against Iran. In a TV interview today with CNN's Fareed Zakaria, CENTCOM Commander Gen. David Petraeus confirmed that the United States has moved from a diplomatic phase to an international sanctions phase against Iran, but that he believes that the Iranian Supreme Leader has not yet decided to actually build a nuclear bomb.

Lyndon LaRouche has emphasized that so long as Barack Obama is in the White House, the prospects of any American success, particularly in such a difficult situation as the Israel-Palestine conflict, is near zero. The idea that Obama would cross London and jeopardize the nearly century-old imperial Sykes-Picot vice-grip on the region, is a non-starter. Obama recently ignored protests by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and asked Quartet envoy Tony Blair, a rabid proponent of military action against Iran, to serve as Mitchell's partner in the new round of Israel-Palestine peace talks—an overt act of sabotage against his own Administration's efforts.

Obama Deep in British Trap on Iran Sanctions

March 4 (EIRNS)—Under British and Israeli pressure, U.S. President Barack Obama is backing a British-directed timetable to get tough on Iran. To this end, Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg and National Security Council Asia specialist Jeff Bader were dispatched to China to try to get agreement on sanctions, such as cutting off delivery of refined petroleum.

The Chinese response, both at the UN and in Beijing, has been to stress again that sanctions are not appropriate, and that all avenues of diplomacy have not yet been pursued to resolve the nuclear issue. Several members of the UN Security Council—China, Turkey, Lebanon, Brazil, and Russia—are opposing sanctions, but the pressure is on from London and from the Netanyahu regime in Israel to push for the sanctions now.

In contrast, during Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's trip to Brazil, the joint communiqué issued by her and Brazilian Foreign Minister Celso Luiz Nunes Amorim did not mention sanctions at all. The section on Iran said that the two "expressed their serious concern with the evolution of the nuclear situation in Iran. They recognized the right of all signatories to the NPT [Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty] to develop nuclear programs for peaceful purposes and encouraged Iran to take the necessary steps to strengthen the international community's confidence in the peaceful nature of its program by fully cooperating with the IAEA and complying with the obligations contained in the relevant UNSC resolutions. They reiterated their commitment to the pursuit of a positive diplomatic outcome to these issues." U.S. media played this as "Clinton rebuffed by Brazil" on sanctions.

Back in New York, Obama's Rice-ist, UN Ambassador Susan Rice, is pushing for sanctions that are a form of economic warfare. In lockstep with British Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant, Rice told the UN Sanctions Committee yesterday that Iran's "ongoing violations and ... behavior show a continued pattern of disregard" for the "concerns" of the international community. Lyall Grant said that Iran is "acting duplicitously and illegally," and that it must be forced to "change its course." France's Deputy Ambassador Nicolas de Rivière was quoted saying that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) recent report was "damning" and that "time is up" for Iran. Rice denied reports that a draft resolution by Britain, the U.S., and France had already been put into circulation.

China Offered Exemption from Iran Sanctions in Return for UN Vote

March 5 (EIRNS)—For sanctions against Iran to be effective, the United States requires a strong international agreement, including with China, stated a well-informed Washington-based intelligence source to EIRNS on March 5; and to achieve this, the Administration is offering China exemptions from the sanctions, so that Chinese companies will not be negatively impacted. This tactic was also reported in the Washington Post today. Our source noted that China is Iran's biggest trading partner, and has $90-120 billion invested largely in Iranian oil and gas fields. Iran is also one of China's major importers.

"The purpose of the sanctions is to pressure Iran, not punish China," said the source, and therefore, the United States is trying to design "smart sanctions" that will target the Revolutionary Guard companies and command structure which are assuming control over Iranian defense ventures, including nuclear research facilities.

That is the intent of the Obama Administration's national security team, but there are two views on how to handle Iran, the source said: One is that patience and serious pursuit of diplomatic channels will eventually lead to an agreement with a leading faction in Iran. The second view—especially from the British and Israelis—is that Iran is only using the negotiations to stall, while it secretly escalates its program for building nuclear weapons. The "smart sanctions" would not involve economic warfare and militarized methods, such as a naval blockade of ships delivering refined petroleum products, or intercepting vessels at sea, which are being pushed by the international war party.

China clearly adheres to the view that, eventually, the negotiations with Iran will reach a satisfactory agreement, and that the United States needs the moral backing of the United Nations for the sanctions to work, said the source.

Brzezinski Says Keep Talking to Tehran

March 6 (EIRNS)—In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, former U.S. National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski warned that a preemptive attack on Iran's nuclear facilities should be avoided. Above all, he said, "keep talking to Tehran."

The crux of Brzezinski's recommendations is to try to stop Iran's nuclear program; and if Tehran continues to pursue this, it should be made to pay. However, there's a chance that Iran isn't seeking to possess actual nuclear weapons, but is trying to become "more like Japan, a proto-nuclear power" with a demonstrated ability to make nuclear arms without actually crossing the line.

But it's impossible to know, he stated. If a halt to the nuclear program can't be negotiated, "then I think we have no choice but to impose sanctions on Iran, isolate it." But sanctions alone won't "determine the outcome."

Asia News Digest

India Withdraws Request to World Bank for Funding in Arunachal Pradesh

March 6 (EIRNS)—In what is considered by many in India as a volte face, India's executive director for the World Bank, Pulok Chatterjee, conveyed to the Bank on Feb. 12 that India will not seek bank funds for any project specific to the state of Arunachal Pradesh.

Months ago, when India sought World Bank funding for some infrastructure projects in Arunachal Pradesh, which is included in the ongoing Sino-Indian border talks, China objected, calling Arunachal Pradesh a "disputed territory" and saying that the proposal, if entertained by the Bank, would be tantamount to international acceptance that the state is "an integral part of India." China also reacted sharply when Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh visited Arunachal Pradesh about eight months ago.

During the verbal skirmishes with Beijing at the time, New Delhi had said that China has no business to interfere in the affairs of a territory that is an integral part of India.

The Feb. 12 meeting was attended by China's executive director for the World Bank Shaolin Yang, the Bank's general counsel (legal), and its vice-president for South Asia, and Chatterjee. The Indian representative, on his own, offered not to name individual states in the project document or seek World Bank assistance for projects to be implemented in Arunachal Pradesh. He said that these were national projects, under implementation for many years, and that the World Bank assistance was by way of budgetary support. "Both these projects received World Bank assistance earlier without the disclaimer clause being triggered and without any objection from China.... [T]he present assistance being considered was more like additional financing of the earlier projects," he argued.

New Delhi's Re-Think on the Afghan Situation

March 6 (EIRNS)—Discussions have begun at the top level of India's government to open talks with Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and the Afghan Taliban, in light of evidence that U.S.-NATO troops are losing ground rapidly, and that the Obama Administration is now looking at bringing the Taliban in to share power in Kabul. Indian National Security Advisor Shivshankar Menon is now in Kabul, ostensibly to investigate the latest attack on Indian citizens there; he reportedly holds this view.

The re-think on New Delhi's behalf stems from a number of factors. There is a realization that with the deterioration of the Afghan security situation, and further weakening of support for President Hamid Karzai by the U.S. and NATO, the control of Afghanistan is steadily slipping into the hands of the Pakistani Army and ISI, and the Taliban. India, having invested about $1.7 billion into various infrastructure projects in Afghanistan, is now fearful that if it does not quickly build ties to the ISI and the Afghan Taliban, India may become irrelevant in the future Afghanistan. India is also considering paring down its reconstruction projects in Afghanistan, however. Projects underway may be wrapped up quickly, and there may be even a freeze on new projects. Pakistan has made clear that a strong Indian presence in Afghanistan poses a security threat to Islamabad.

According to media reports, the advice to engage with sections of the Taliban and start a limited and regulated dialogue with the ISI came from the Indian Prime Minister's Office. The advice is controversial, but stems from India's need to ensure that Afghanistan is not handed over on a platter to Pakistan. India is also considering helping prop up a friendly political alliance and intensively engage with Russia and Iran.

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin will be in New Delhi in mid-March. One of the major subjects under discussion between the two prime ministers will be the changing situation in Afghanistan and how to develop a common ground, to jointly counter the challenges that the Taliban's coming to power might pose to the region as a whole.

China Warns: 'Helpless' Obama May Provoke Israeli War on Iran

March 2 (EIRNS)—Retired senior Chinese diplomat Hua Liping, Ambassador to Iran in the 1990s, wrote an article in the China Daily today, with a severe warning that the Obama Administration is increasingly "helpless," as a result of having continued the failed, confrontational policies of the Bush Administration against Iran, and that "this helplessness could ultimately make the US use force or give Israel the go-ahead to launch a military attack against Iran."

Iran had agreed to allow uranium enrichment overseas in 2003, in the U.K., France, and Germany, Hua wrote, and was planning to renew that agreement in 2004, when the Bush Administration "rejected it outright, forcing the Iranian nuclear issue to take a turn for the worse. Iran restarted its uranium conversion facilities in Isfahan in August 2005 and resumed uranium enrichment six months later." Hua added: "The US snubbed the Iranian moderates, represented by Seyed Mohammad Khatami, even though they were willing to compromise, forcing them to withdraw from the country's politics. This led to the election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a hardliner with a strong anti-US stance, as Iran's president, who immediately resumed the country's uranium enrichment program."

Hua concluded: "But now, US-led sanctions on Iran seem imminent. That Washington knows full well how ineffective sanctions are, [but] still wants to impose them on Iran, indicates the helplessness of the Obama administration. This helplessness could ultimately make the US use force or give Israel the go-ahead to launch a military attack against Iran. This is exactly what China does not want to see. That's why it suggests that as long as Iran keeps its doors open to negotiations, the international community should not impose sanctions on it."

Lyndon LaRouche has made similar points, adding that the Mossad assassination of a PLO leader in Dubai was intended to provoke a violent response, which would in turn be used to justify an Israeli attack on Iran.

Japanese Cabinet Deadlocked Over CO2 Industrial Suicide

March 6 (EIRNS)—The Japanese Cabinet has postponed a decision on its major environmental measures until March 12 because of internal conflict and outside industry pressure, according to a Financial Times report. Failure to reach agreement by that date would delay the bill until parliament reconvenes after elections in July. It now looks very unlikely that, with plummeting poll results, the governing coalition can maintain its hold in those elections.

Industry pressure on Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama around his carbon emission proposal is so great that he described the bill as "in danger of being pummelled" by industry groups and their allies. The three major industry umbrella groups came out with an unprecedented combined statement attacking the proposed 25% cuts by 2020, last week. That was followed by nearly identical statements from nine energy-intensive industrial sectors.

Within the government, Industry Minister Masayuki Naoshima said yesterday: "There is a problem with the way the government has put this bill together. We need to collect a broader range of opinions." This is the same language used by industry groups to signal the necessity of moving decisions on the future of Japanese industry out of the hands on environmental fanatics. Naoshima indicated his support for an industry proposal to cap greenhouse gases as a proportion of output, instead of in absolute terms, a change environmental radicals say would weaken any carbon trading system, but which would correspond to China's approach to limiting emissions.

Also within the Cabinet, the Social Democratic Party has blocked proposals to include expansion of Japan's nuclear power industry in climate change legislation. However, the government has in recent weeks joined industry initiatives to promote the sale of nuclear power plants to Vietnam, Southwest Asia, and other localities.

Africa News Digest

LaRouche Alternative for African Development Reported in UN Circles

March 6 (EIRNS)—Lyndon LaRouche's proposal for a new credit system to replace the International Monetary Fund, as the way to develop infrastructure in Africa, was reported March 4 on the MediaGlobal website. The site has informal ties to the UN Secretariat, and describes itself as an "independent media organization." LaRouche has proposed a Four-Power agreement of China, Russia, India, and the United States, to establish a fixed-exchange-rate credit system, as an alternative to the bankrupt IMF monetary system.

Referring to central and east Africa, author Rachel Pollock explains that "The Northern Corridor is the 'busiest and most important route in central and east Africa,' linking Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Rwanda, and Uganda to the Kenyan port of Mombasa, according to the Northern Corridor Transit Transport Coordination Authority (NCTTCA). The route also provides links to southern Sudan, Ethiopia, and northern Tanzania. There are a variety of infrastructure facilities along the route, which include a road network, rail network, rail-lake transport, inland water routes, inland container depots, and an oil pipeline."

Pollock then refers to LaRouche's view: "Lawrence Freeman, director of the African Desk of Executive Intelligence Review at the Schiller Institute [sic] told MediaGlobal, 'We have to situate the usefulness of the Northern Corridor in the larger context of vital infrastructure projects needed for the survival of Africa. The recently proposed rail line from Port Sudan to Dakar is an example of the type of infrastructure projects that will integrate Africa and create new cities and manufacturing centers, which will generate new physical wealth, uplifting Africa out of their abject poverty.' In addition to providing land-locked African countries access to ports and trade routes through high-speed rail transportation, energy production and water management are essential to the transformation of the Northern Corridor. Freeman told MediaGlobal, 'Nuclear power is the most efficient way to provide the energy needed for a productive economy. We should support the Republic of South Africa's production of Modular Pebble Based [sic] nuclear reactors. In addition to water management, nuclear-powered desalination of water would provide billions of new cubic feet of potable water.' "

Pollock continues, "More recently, Lyndon LaRouche, a notable economist, is organizing for a four-power alliance between Russia, China, India, and the United States. The idea is to initiate a new credit system to invest in global infrastructure projects in rail development and nuclear energy, which would greatly benefit the economic development of African countries."

In her article, "East African Community not reaping the economic benefits of the Northern Corridor," Pollock reports that the East African Community-USA Trade and Investment Council held its inaugural meeting in Kampala, Uganda, on Feb. 15, "to discuss challenges of trade-related infrastructure and ways to expand investment and trade opportunities within the region," and blamed "poor access to transportation along the Northern Corridor" for the current slow growth in trade.

All rights reserved © 2010 EIRNS

top of page

home page