LaRouche AddressA Confluence of Crises:
Our Job Is To Manage the Universe
Here are Lyndon LaRouche's remarks to a private luncheon in Washington, D.C. on March 17.
There are several subjects which are of vital importance as world issues right now. One, of course, is the economic crisis. We have the worst worldwide economic crisis in modern history now developing. It's developing in part, in Europe, in the threatened breakup of the euro system, and I can see no hope for a continuation of the present euro system. Countries which are involved in the euro system are in the process of breaking from it, or being forced to break from it. There's no choice. That's the situation.
But this is also in the trans-Atlantic region, especially. The entire economic-financial situation of the trans-Atlantic region is now doomed: It can not continue in its present form. There are reforms available, if adopted,identify them.
The second thing is we now have a crisis which is probably even more threatening than this grave international economic crisis: The Sun is acting up! Now, you'll find that we have included in some of the materials we've supplied for you here, several reports, including a report which we did on Tuesday evening, on the nature of the crisis of the Pacific region, which is a breakdown crisis, hitting Japan, of course, but Japan is only part of the whole region that's going to go up. I'll explain that....
This Week's News
U.S. Economic/Financial News
March 15 (EIRNS)The Federal Reserve's Open Market Committee (FOMC) announced today that it would continue its current, disastrous policy of Weimar-style hyperinflation, which is guaranteed to annihilate the United States and its economy if allowed to continue.
"The Committee decided today to continue expanding its holdings of securities as announced in November," the official statement reads dryly, meaning that the $600 billion in "quantitative easing" would be maintained through June. The Fed is currently halfway through the planned purchases, having bought about $304 billion of Treasuries as of March 9. The Fed also left its benchmark interest rate in the range of zero to 0.25%, where it has been since December 2008as expected.
Although no decision was announced today about continuing with further quantitative easing ("QE3") when QE2 runs out in June, Bernanke and his London masters have already made the decision (to be announced in late April) to damn the torpedoes, and proceed full steam ahead and issue another $1 trillion in Monopoly money to try to keep the trans-Atlantic system afloat.
Although no "torpedoes" appeared at this meeting of the FOMCthe decision was unanimous, as it was at the Jan. 25-26 FOMC meetingthere is open disagreement with Bernanke's quantitative easing policy from Dallas Fed President Richard Fisher, Philadelphia Fed President Charles Plosser, and others. Thatnot to mention the rapid implosion of the entire world financial system, and the attendant mass strikemakes the outcome of the next FOMC meeting on April 27 entirely unpredictable, regardless of London's intent.
March 15 (EIRNS)The continuing game of "chicken" between the Democrats and the Republicans over the "debt ceiling" and the temporary Continuing Resolutions to kept the Federal government functioning, is leaving Federal agencies, and the citizens who depend on them, in limbo. Agencies are operating at half-power, not sure if they will have a budget, or how much of one, in a week, or in a month. An article in Tuesday's New York Times puts some faces to the figures, and underlines the collapsing reality.
The Federal Head Start (pre-school) program is currently renewing grants at only 60% of last year's levels, leaving parents to wonder, or scramble for alternate care for their children; the Social Security Administration has suspended plans to open eight new hearing offices for disability appeals; the Federal Transit Authority is "parcelling out grants" in three-month allotments ("no way to run a railroad"); the Army and Marines have imposed a hiring freeze on civilians; biomedical researchers at the National Institutes of Health are sitting idle, not knowing what their grants will be; and even farmers are finding long lines and delays, because the USDA has imposed a hiring freeze on seasonal workers. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), "has been particularly hard hit," says the Times, since its budget has been frozen, though its duties (under Frank-n-Dudd) have been greatly expanded.
NASA's CFO, Elizabeth Robinson, described the desperation: "Most agencies have pushed the renewal of major contracts into the winter and spring. Uncertainty has slowed down our spending. That uncertainty takes a toll." This has forced recipients into a no-win situation. Southern Nevada Regional Transportation Commission has only received 40% of its usual federal grant, forcing them to defer purchases of buses and security systems. "We don't know what our financial future is beyond the next couple of months, said the director. "You can't enter into a lease ... because you don't know if you will have the money."
March 16 (EIRNS)After huge increases in food commodity prices in February were reported today, U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) chairman Gary Gensler would not comment on whether CFTC has an investigation underway of futures and derivatives speculation driving up commodity hyperinflation. The public finger is pointing at Federal Reserve chairman Bernanke's "QE2" money-printing policy, which is putting hundreds of billions into bank reserves of some of the same big banks known to be "cornering" commodity futures and derivatives contracts.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported a 1.6% one-month jump in all producer prices in February, indicating a 15% annual producer-price inflation rate over the first two months of 2011. But the inflation of food pricesin this case "finished consumer foods" sold to wholesalers and retailerswas 3.9% in February alone. And the prices of fresh and dry vegetables went up 48.7% in that one month.
The UN Food and Agriculture Organization's food price index went up 3.4% in January; it hasn't published the index for February yet. Agricultural commodity prices have now surged 85%, on average, since last July. This is even faster than energy materials, up 18% in the past three months.
A spokesman for the CFTC, whose funds Congressional Republicans are axing, said March 16 that, "The Commission neither confirms nor denies the existence of any investigation" of the commodity speculation driving prices through the ceiling and hundreds of thousands out into the streets worldwide.
March 18 (EIRNS)Bloomberg Government was set to release a report today showing that the biggest banks are even bigger post-financial-collapse, post-TARP, and post-Dodd-Frank. These banksdeemed "too big to fail" back when the Congress had to pass TARPhave only gotten bigger in the last few years. Politico writes: "The largest banks have grown larger since the financial crisis, and the number of too big to fail banks will increase by 40% over the next 15 years, according to data compiled by Bloomberg." Today, the top 10 banks now hold 77% of all U.S. bank assets.
The Fed meanwhile is doing what it can to help the process of helping the banks. It lifted a number of controls on selected banks today, allowing banks that passed the phoney "stress tests" of 2009 and another round this year (the results are to be kept confidential), to raise their dividends, and to buy back shares the government bought. JP Morgan, Wells Fargo, US Bancorp, and American Express are among the expected winners of the stress tests. The Wall Street Journal acknowledges that this will "widen the divide between weak and strong in the banking industry."
Global Economic News
March 17 (EIRNS)The financial and political meltdown of the European Union continues centered on the trigger points of Portugal, Spain, and Ireland, whose debt bomb could explode at any moment. In Portugal, following his groveling before last week's European Union summit, where he announced a series of further budget cuts, Portuguese Prime Minister José Socrates, now has to deliver, by getting them passed in the parliament. Since he has a minority government he needs the support of the Social Democratic Party (PSD), but PSD head Pedro Passos Coelho has already announced his party will not support the cuts. In fact, he has met with Portuguese President Anibal Cavaco Silva, whom he told that he was not prepared to support the cuts as they stand.
Socrates, himself, has announced that he will resign, if the cuts are not approved. So, it is pretty clear that the government could fall on this vote, which will mean early elections. While the City of London's Financial Times writes that such an outcome would lead to a bailout, no caretaker government could make such a decision.
Across the border in Spain, the government managed to raise EU4.5 billion in 10- and 30-year treasury bills today, but the interest rate declined only a tiny fraction10-year bonds from 5.2% and 30-year bonds from 5.96%; both are still very high. Bloomberg reports the real fear of the banks, which have to roll over EU22 billion of debt in the first four months of this year, in addition to the increased capital they will have to raise.
To the north, in Ireland, the IMF and European Commission had people in Dublin yesterday to review the bailout-budget cuts program. Finance Minister Michael Noonan is claiming "progress" after he said the IMF and EC delegation agreed with the government's plan to make the huge cuts "their way." These vulturous institutions said they did not care where the cuts came from as long as they were made.
March 19 (EIRNS)While the British-controlled media lie about nuclear meltdowns in Japan, following the mega-quake and tsunami March 11, the only meltdown taking place is the financial system. In a coordinated intervention, the G-7 central banks of the sold $25 billion worth of yen to drive down the prices of the currency. While they blame the repatriation of funds by companies for reconstruction, this is an obvious lie, and the Japanese insurance companies have denied it. The other reason given is "speculators," which is closer to the truth but not the whole truth. The major reason is the collapse of one of the key props of the Inter-Alpha Group's system: the "carry trade."
Britain's Guardian reports that the "carry trade," where speculators take advantage of low interest rates in Japan, by borrowing in yen and reinvesting Brazilian reals, New Zealand dollars, and so on, has been unwinding at a dramatic pace. They warn that if the carry trade abruptly unwound, it could cause what economists call a "sudden stop," draining capital from riskier markets around the world, with real consequences which could cause "panic."
March 14 (EIRNS)In China, timely rainfall and a government water mobilization have for the present time, saved prospects for the Winter wheat crop, otherwise threatened by drought. In contrast to this welcome news, the continuation of the globalist policies of speculation and monetarism foretell ever-worsening food shortages and hunger. It is urgent to impose price controls.
Chinese government officials recently announced that this year's wheat harvest could reach 114 million metric tons, or thereabouts, which would be a million tons lower than last year, but not the wipeout otherwise feared if the severe dryness had not been relieved by snow and rain late last month. China alone accounts for about 18% of world wheat production, which amount is consumed domestically. However, world wheat production overall is far under what is required, given the cumulative impact of lack of agriculture improvements and depletion of existing water and soil resources.
While world wheat output in 2009 and 2010 was in the range of 682 mmt., this current year it is expected to be down to only 650 mmt., according to the International Grains Council.
This decline in production, and the fact that output levels were already running below what is required for decent diets for all, is the result of the continuation of the globalist "markets" policy of commodity speculation, agro-cartel domination, and the absence of a Glass-Steagall credit system for building up farming activities in the national interests on all continents. Instead, we are seeing terrible import-dependence, a rush to buy grains, various other fall-back measures, and just desperation and suffering.
United States News Digest
March 20 (EIRNS)In conference call yesterday, among a sizeable group within the Democratic House Caucus, Obama was accused of violating the Constitution by proceeding with military action against Libya without Congressional authorization. In that call, Rep. Dennis Kucinich (Ohio) raised the question of why the U.S. missile strikes are not impeachable offenses. While no other participant agreed with him on that, according to Politico, Reps. Jerrold Nadler (N.Y.), Donna Edwards (Md.), Mike Capuano (Mass.), Maxine Waters (Calif.), Rob Andrews (N.J.), Sheila Jackson Lee (Texas), Barbara Lee (Calif.), and Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D.C.), "all strongly raised objections to the constitutionality of the president's actions."
But the issue goes far beyond the Libya attacks. In a prominent piece on Firedoglake.com titled "Who's Winning? Republicans or DemocratsObama, You're a Goddamned Quarterback!" blogger Bin Quick wrote:
"Obama's Democratic Party support is a mile wide and nanometer deep, and the White House knows it. If [former Wisconsin Senator] Russ Feingold announces his candidacy for the nomination and gives the slightest hint he's willing to get tough on Free Trade, Obama's chances are cooked...."
March 20 (EIRNS)As fights go on around the U.S. to save fundamental labor rights, this week marks the 100th anniversary of the terrible Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, in which 146 workers, mostly women and girls, lost their lives on March 25, 1911. The fire broke out in a Greenwich Village sweatshop, on the top three stories of a building with only a single, rickety fire escape for 500 workers and no fire alarms, and where the owners had locked most of the doors. The workers trapped on the 9th floor died within 20 minutes. Two years before, in 1909, the workers at Triangle, the largest makers of shirtwaists (blouses) had led a strike for better conditions and pay, which brought out 20,000-40,000 workers, many of them women immigrants, in the garment district.
The fire shocked the nation, although the owners were acquitted of manslaughter in a later trial. The tragedy did lead to a two-year investigation of horrific factory conditions in the U.S., where an average of 100 workerswho, of course, included childrenlost their lives every day in the miserable workplace conditions. One eyewitness to the fire was social worker Frances Perkins, later, FDR's Secretary of Labor, who called it "the day the New Deal began." FDR chose Perkins, the first woman cabinet member, to lead the fight to see the comprehensive Social Security legislation through the U.S. Congress.
March 18 (EIRNS)Eight Republicans joined 85 Democrats in voting on Thursday to remove U.S. forces from Afghanistan by the end of the year. The vote was 93-321, as compared to a 65-356 vote on a similar bill last year. Five of the Republicans had also backed last year's bill; these were: Reps. Walter Jones (N.C.), Ron Paul (Texas), John Campbell (Calif.), John Duncan Jr. (Tenn.), and Timothy Johnson (Ill.). Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) voted present. Three Republicans who had opposed the bill last year, voted for withdrawal this year; these were Reps. Jason Chaffetz (Utah), Dana Rohrabacher (Calif.), and Howard Coble (N.C.).
Jones, speaking on Fox Business News on March 15, said, "I'm sick and tired of seeing the taxpayers paying their money overseas in Afghanistan to a corrupt government, and our kids going over there and dying and giving their legs." Referring to the Continuing Resolution which contained $118 billion for Afghanistan but cut domestic spending, Jones said: "And if we can't help a child have milk in the morning and a senior citizen get a sandwich at lunch, I don't know what America is all about. And $118 billion going to Afghanistan that could be spent right here in this country that could help a lot of people."
March 17 (EIRNS)Last month, the new governor of Pennsylvania, Tom Corbett (R), cut off 41,000 low-income Pennsylvanians from the state-aided health insurance program, adultBasic Insurance, in order to "save money." The program has served the "near poor" (those with slightly more resources than the impoverishment required for Medicaid). On March 14, a class action suit was filed by a few of those who lost their insurance, against the governor and others responsible. Corbett's reply asserted, "The fiscal reality is that adultBasic is not a financially sustainable program." Thus, Corbett follows exactly the 1939 Hitler Tiergarten 4 "health" program, of decreeing that there are "lives not worthy of the expense to maintain."
Variations on Corbett's action are pending in many states, under Republicans and Democrats alike, and all with the approval of the Obama Administration, which is supplying "waivers" for state governments to undercut Medicaid directly. Nationally, there are now an estimated 60 million Americans on Medicaid, the program for the disabled and poor. Recently, the Obama Administration gave a blanket extension from 2014 to 2017, for states to enroll anyone in Medicaid, making less than 133% of the official (very low) poverty level.
In Pennsylvania, with a significant elderly and poor population, Medicaid accounts for 31% of the state general fund expenditures; Corbett is working on how to cut this down. The wipeout of the low-income insurance program is Corbett's biggest single cut to social services to date. He explains that he is seeking to reduce the state's $4 billion budget shortfall. Besides 41,000 persons suddenly with no insurance, there was a waiting list of 500,000 for the now-cancelled adultBasic Insurance.
In California and New Jersey, about 21% of general funds goes to Medicaid. In New York, where 27% goes to Medicaid, after two years of frozen payments, the state now is considering imposing $2.8 billion in Medicaid cuts, which will shut down dozens of nursing homes and other facilities.
March 14 (EIRNS)President Obama took his teleprompter on the road, again for an "educational" speech, this time in Arlington, Va.'s Kenmore Middle School. After commending the school for using Duke Ellington jazz recordings in their classrooms (a "student-teacher" initiative), he got down to the main question: how do we "reform" education. Reform programs languished for many years, he said, until it began to break through, not from the top down, but from the bottom up.
Obama's "program" was essentially that of the union-busting "Race to the Top," in which schools compete for limited funds, and those considered "failing" are shut down in favor of private enterprises. And, of course, the role of poverty in creating conditions antithetical to learning is left out of the equation.
Just today, in the very Arlington, Va., in which Obama was speaking, it was revealed that 10% of the once-affluent county is now on public assistance. Demand is growing for food stamps, Medicaid, welfare and energy assistance in the city. Next year, according to a report on the local NPR radio station, the county is expecting 1,000 new Medicaid patients. When the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act kicks in, the county will have 14,000 new Medicaid patients.
Ibero-American News Digest
March 19 (EIRNS)Officials from Argentina, Brazil, and Chile have reaffirmed their intention to continue their nuclear power programs, despite the tsunami of propaganda on the alleged "Japan nuclear crisis."
Argentina and Brazil are each working on building new nuclear plants, and have just formalized a program to jointly develop two research reactors in each country.
Chile does not have any nuclear power plants, but is considering moving in this direction, and this week signed a Memorandum of Understanding on nuclear cooperation with the United States, following similar nuclear training agreements with France and Argentina. Chilean President Sebastián Piñera reiterated on March 16, that "Chile needs to learn about nuclear energy," since it needs to double its energy supply over the next ten years.
Not so Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, who on March 15 took a break from his new campaign against breast implants, to denounce nuclear energy as "something extremely risky and dangerous for the whole world." Chávez added that he was freezing Venezuela's plans to build its first nuclear power plant, as provided for in an agreement signed with Russia in 2010.
Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos hailed Chávez's decision, and called Japan's crisis "a wake-up call for all countries using that kind of energy, which is extremely sensitive to human error or natural disasters," in his address March 16 to "Thinking Green: Economic Strategy for the 21st Century," a conference in Bogota whose (very) big speaker was Al Gore.
The next day, Santos called upon Colombians to join his government in participating in Prince Philip's World Wildlife Fund's campaign to shut down electricity use worldwide for an hour next week, the so-called "Hour of the Planet" brainwashing campaign.
Still, for too many Colombians, living without electricity is a year-round misery.
March 21 (EIRNS)Japanese nuclear officials responded with total competence and calm to the crisis caused at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear reactors by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami. "They did just what the manual indicated they should do."
These words of sanity came from Juan José Gil Gerbino, nuclear projects director of Argentina's INVAP company, the highly regarded state sector firm that builds nuclear reactors and other advanced technology. Speaking at a Feb. 17 seminar with nuclear engineers, physicists and former government energy officials, Gerbino said that, "It's amazing that even after the earthquake, [the Japanese] continue to generate 33,000 MWe, right in the middle of this crisis." What is happening in Japan cannot be compared to Chernobyl, he said, adding that there is no threat of a radioactive cloud being formed.
At the same seminar, José Fink, nuclear relations manager at Nucleoeléctrica Argentina, the state nuclear regulatory agency, said that the Argentine government's plan for developing nuclear energy has not changed in the wake of the Japanese disaster. In June, bidding on the construction of the country's fourth reactor will begin, and between September and the end of this year, the Atucha II reactor will begin operations.
While there is plenty of hysteria being generated by Greenpeace-Argentina and other like-minded NGOs, Atomic Energy Commission director of Institutional Relations Gabriel Barcelo stated on March 19 that Argentina was unlikely to ever experience the kind of problems seen in Japan. This is because Argentina's reactors "use different technology," and because the country "isn't in an earthquake-prone region." However, he pointed out, if proper engineering methods are used, there is no reason why reactors can't be built in earthquake-prone areas. It's also important to understand, he explained, that the explosion that occurred at one of the Japanese plants was a chemical one, not a nuclear one, affecting parts of the containment structure. The key thing, he said, is that "safety systems functioned at all the plants."
March 21 (EIRNS)Little of substance came out of President Obama's two-day trip to Brazil this past weekend, but expansion of the use foodstocks for fuel, driving the human race technologically backward as well as making it more hungry, was right at the top of the agreements reached. Brazil and the United States are the two largest producers of biofuels in the world.
Obama signed an expansion of the U.S.-Brazilian Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on biofuel cooperation, which President Bush had negotiated in 2007 with President Lula da Silva, to include a new partnership for the development of aviation biofuels. (Brazil's Embraer, General Electric, and California biotech company Amyris intend to stage the first-ever flight using jet fuel produced from sugarcane in 2012).
The Brazilian Sugarcane Industry Association (UNICA), bragging that its top people were all over Obama's Brasilia activities, was particularly happy with the clause in the expanded agreement which calls on the two countries to work to "prevent international barriers to biofuels trade and development."
Since 2007, the foreign oil majors and food cartels have been moving to buy up Brazilian ethanol production capabilities, the latest expansion being BP's March 11 announcement that it was purchasing three more sugar mills in Brazil, more than quadrupling BP's output of biofuels. Last year, Royal Dutch Shell teamed up with Brazilian sugar giant Cosan, to make it the world's largest cane producer, and produce 5 billion liters of the biofuel within five years.
March 16 (EIRNS)A new study produced by medical researchers at the University of San Francisco and Harvard Medical School, warns that the number of cholera cases in Haiti this year will be double the 400,000 figure that the United Nations originally predicted shortly after cholera erupted in October 2010.
In early November 2010, Dr. Jon Andrus of the Pan American Health Organization, a branch of the World Health Organization, predicted that there would be 200,000 cases; but, on Nov. 23, he increased that projection to 400,000 cholera cases in 2011. The official death toll now stands at 4,672.
The new study, published in the British medical journal Lancet, predicts 779,000 cases between March 1 and Nov. 30 of this year, with 11,100 deaths, adding that the decline in the prevalence of cholera seen early this year merely reflects the "natural course of the epidemic, and should not be interpreted as indicative of successful intervention." The study warns that there will be many more cases than indicated by official estimates, which are used to determine resource allocation.
Numerous NGOs which have been treating cholera in Haiti since last October, are now pulling out, because the epidemic is allegedly "tapering off." Medical experts affiliated with the Haiti Epidemic Advisory System (HEAS), who are engaged in operational biosurveillance in remote areas, argue that such reports ignore the epidemic's advance in rural areas, where infection and morbidity rates remain extraordinarily high, but not officially documented.
The new study characterizes as "crude" the UN's projection method, which assumed a 2% attack rate. It ignored the "transmission dynamics and pathogenesis of cholera, such as where the bacteria are most likely to be transmitted, and ignores that people can be asymptomatic carriers," or develop immunity after becoming ill. There is no empirical basis for the estimated 2% attack rate, the study adds, and asks why, just two weeks after the initial projection, the UN doubled the projection to 400,000 "without explanation."
The report notes that while there is controversy over the use of vaccines and antibiotics in treating cholera, there are specific conditions under which they can be effective, and that, combined with the distribution of clean water, "all three interventions were projected to avert 170,000 cases and 3,400 deaths between March and December of 2011."
Western European News Digest
March 13 (EIRNS)An interview with Helga Zepp-LaRouche, the chairwoman of Germany's Bueso party, was broadcast during prime time on Friday evening, March 11, on one of Spain's major radio stations, Radio Intereconomia, whose host Daniel Estulin introduced Zepp-LaRouche as "one of the most brilliant women in the world today." She began by stating that, "We have believed for some time that the world financial system will collapse, and we are now at the point where that is occurring."
In addition to the Zepp-LaRouche interview, Estulin's website had as its lead item, over the weekend, LPAC-TV's first Moon-Mars video, with a direct link to the Spanish-language version available on the Spanish LPAC site.
March 17 (EIRNS)The united Swedish trade unions are mobilizing against the fascist policy of the EU to abolish collective bargaining. The eurozone summit on March 11 adopted the Competition Pact proposed by the EU Commission, and also the separate Franco-German proposal. The Swedish government will not join, which is an option for the EU countries outside the eurozone. Finance Minister Anders Borg "warns against a supranational regulation of the wages," Dagens Nyheter wrote March 16.
The three leaders of Sweden's main trade union confederations, LO, TCO, and SACO, first came out in an op-ed in Dagens Industri March 4, commending the position of Borg and calling for a halt of all these kinds of proposals at the next EU summit March 24-25. Yesterday, they alerted the Swedish parliament EU committee in a letter, asking it to also put pressure on the government.
Out of the countries not part of the eurozone, Poland and Denmark have announced their interest in joining the pact.
March 15 (EIRNS)The Irish Parliament (Dail) opened for its first debate since the new Fine Gael/Labour Party coalition government was formed last week. As soon as he was sworn in, new Prime Minister Enda Kenny crawled off to Brussels, but got no mercy from his European partners on the bone-cutting IMF/EU bailout deal. Returning to Ireland, the only sympathy he got was from the disgraced former Fianna Fail government ministers. Indeed, new member of parliament Shane Ross, who is the business editor of the Sunday Irish Independent, said that the new government was already "walking in the Fianna Fáil swamp" and was "sinking in the quicksand."
Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams again slammed the bailout package, while other Sinn Fein and Independent MPs demanded a referendum on the unsustainable debt.
March 13 (EIRNS)Yesterday, more than 300,000 people demonstrated in 11 Portuguese cities, including an estimated 200,000 in Lisbon and 80,000 in the northern city of Porto. That is nearly 3% of the total population of the country (just under 11 million). The protest was organized mainly via Facebook and other Internet means by university youth in their late 20s, to protest unemployment, job insecurity, and the lack of a future.
They call themselves the "Geração a rasca," which has been translated as the "Scraping-By Generation," or the "Desperate Generation," and they came into existence less than a month ago. They state explicitly that they were inspired by protests in Egypt, Tunisia, and elsewhere, which "have helped open our eyes," said one of the young organizers. "We are the best qualified generation in the history of Portugal and we want to use our skills to better our country. We don't want to emigrate."
March 14 (EIRNS)On March 12, the small town of Derwitz, near Potsdam, saw the first-ever protest rally in Germany against the new biofuel E10, with 200 citizens taking part, driving passenger cars, trucks, and joined by farmers with their tractors. Mayor Klaus Behrendt also joined the rally. The protesters, who came from two roads driving into the city, demanded an end to the double taxation of fuel through the ecology tax, as well as an end to cutting down forests to create biofuels plantations.
The ecology tax particularly enrages citizens, because it has contributed massively to making dieselwhich is mainly used by commercial vehicles50% more expensive since 2009.
March 17 (EIRNS)Chancellor Angela Merkel's panicked decree for a six-month halt of any activity at Germany's eight oldest nuclear power plants, which supposedly are in urgent need of a safety check after the Japanese nuclear accident, is meeting strong, public resistance from top jurists in the country. Hans Papier, former president of the Constitutional Court, denounced the decree as unconstitutional, since a law can be lifted or changed only through a strict parliamentary procedure, and every decision by the government or parliament is subject to a review by the Court. Moreover, Papier argues, there exists no threat from German nuclear power plants to the German population.
March 13 (EIRNS)The ever-widening royal scandal around Britain's Andrew, Prince of Sleaze, is playing out in the context of the international mass strikes, as the corrupt royal family-Saudi monarchy-City of London nexus again comes to the fore.
Andrew, the Queen's favorite son, is beset by new exposures every day, and could be forced out of his role as international British trade representative very soon. This would cut him off from all the sleazy financial resources which have kept him and his divorced, but still closely attached, wife Sarah Ferguson, afloat, and bring even more upheavals in the Queen's "family from hell." Yesterday, Buckingham Palace had to announce that Andrew's planned trip to Saudi Arabia next week had been postponed, "given the current circumstances in the region." Andrew's trip was to promote defense contracts. The palace claimed the scandals had nothing to do with the postponement, but of course no one is swallowing that one.
March 17 (EIRNS)Today is the 150th anniversary of the birth of Italy as a nation, a century and a half ago, after Garibaldi's conquest of the Bourbon Kingdom in Southern Italy and the Piedmontese invasion of the Church state from the north, the Italian national state was proclaimed under the Savoy monarchy. The architect of that accomplishment was Camillo Benso di Cavour, the man who was characterized by his enemy, Austria's Prince Metternich, as "the only statesman of Europe."
Unfortunately, Cavour died a few months after unification, possibly poisoned, leaving no successor to become a real national leader. Thus, the Piedmont aristocracy handled Southern Italy as a colony of the North, only in part accomplishing Cavour's original design.
March 15 (EIRNS)MEP Cristiana Muscardini, deputy chairwoman of the Trade Committee of the European Parliament, filed a Parliamentary Question to the EU Commission on Feb. 23, on the subject of the FCIC Report in the United States. The document is numbered E-002186/2011 and can be found in all languages on the European Parliament's website.
March 20 (EIRNS)Egyptian voters have ratified changes in their Constitution, paving the way for parliamentary elections in June, and Presidential elections in the last week of August. The referendum passed by a 70 to 30 margin. But the youth that led the January 25th Movement opposed the changes, and instead proposed that an interim government be established while a new Constitution was drafted and ratified over the next 12 months.
Details on the vote reported here come from Egyptian sources. The "yes" vote on the partial changes in the Constitution was supported by the National Democratic Party (NDP, the former Mubarak party), the Muslim Brotherhood (MB), and the Salafi movement of Islamists, who opposed any change in the Constitution that might create a separation of mosque and state (the current Egyptian Constitution's Article II establishes Sharia law as the foundation of the Egyptian state). NDP officials were handing out cash to draw out voters, and the MB were distributing sugar and cooking oil.
A source in the January 25th Movement emphasized that the 30% no vote was a significant achievement, and that they would immediately map out a strategy for the June parliamentary elections. The next 90 days will be a period of intense debate and the momentum of the mass strike will intensify.
March 18 (EIRNS)The power of the mass-strike process was demonstrated in a profound way in Palestine. After years of political deadlock between Israel and the Palestinians, and between Hamas and Fatah, things abruptly shifted this week, as the result of an intervention by the youth of Gaza. On March 15, some 10,000 young people took to the streets of Gaza City, demanding that Hamas and Fatah reach a unity agreement and reconstitute a single government over the Palestinian territory.
The youth were clearly inspired by the revolution in Egypt. As the demonstrations were taking place in the streets of Gaza, back-channel discussions were being revived between Hamas and Fatah, leading to a phone discussion between the top deputy to Palestinian Authority (PA) Prime Minister Salem Fayyad and Hamas head Khaled Mashal.
PA President Mahmoud Abbas announced that he will be going to Moscow on March 21, and will attempt to travel from there to Gaza to meet with top Hamas officials, to work out details of a National Unity Government (NUG). According to sources close to the negotiations, Fayyad sent a letter to Hamas, proposing details of a NUG, with equal cabinet representation, with Gaza security under Hamas control, West Bank security under Fatah control, and plans for early elections.
Years of deadlock have been at least potentially unblocked by the factor of the youth simply saying that they will no longer tolerate the no-future politics as usual.
March 18 (EIRNS)The British have deployed their top Sykes-Picot puppet, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, to threaten Iran with a military strike. In an interview with CNN, he said the West must present Iran with a "credible military action" if sanctions do not shut down its nuclear program.
He raved on, "They have enriched enough material now almost for three nuclear bombs. They still have to re-enrich it again, but that is what they are doing. The only thing that will work is if Iran knew that if sanctions fail there will be a credible military option." Asked what would constitute a credible military action, Netanyahu said: "It means action that will knock out their nuclear facility."
Netanyahu said if military action were taken, he would prefer that it be led by the United States. "This is not just our problem. This is the problem of Europe, and the United States," he said.
He came out in full support of Saudi Arabia for sending troops into Bahrain: "I think they are concerned with a possible Iranian takeover of Bahrain.... Saudi Arabia is working to protect its own interests."
March 16 (EIRNS)Not only did Saudi Arabia deploy thousands of troops into Bahrain, to crack down on protesters demanding political and economic reforms. The move was taken as a direct slap at the visit of U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates to Bahrain just days before the Saudi invasion (at the invitation of the Bahraini Defense Minister). Gates was pushing for calm and negotiations and had, according to one senior U.S. intelligence source, requested a meeting with Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah, but the request was turned downan unprecedented move by the Saudis. Days later, a similar request by Secretary of State Clinton was also rejected.
According to the source, King Abdullah despises President Obama, and is committed to taking whatever steps are needed to crush all the protests and demands for reform in the Persian Gulf region. King Abdullah and other top Saudi officials have claimed that Iran is behind the destabilizations in Bahrain and Yemendespite the conviction of both the U.S. State Department and the Pentagon that Iran is not involved in any significant way.
The source emphasized that this Saudi-led, and British-backed move to preserve the Sunni Stability Belt, a longstanding anchor of the Sykes-Picot controls over the region, is only going to incite sectarian violence, which could spin out of control. Israel is weighing in with renewed efforts to pressure Obama to endorse a "preventive" attack on Iran.
(See InDepth for an analysis of the Saudi strategy of promoting sectarian violence in the Arabian peninsula.)
March 15 (EIRNS)The events in Bahrain can only be described as a humanitarian catastrophe at the hand of the Saudis and the rest of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries. Shi'a villages have been attacked as if one by one, house by house, by a mixed mob of security forces using live rounds, and goons armed with swords, knifes, and clubs. More than a thousand have been injured, and five have reportedly been killed. Reports of helicopters using live ammunition have come from Sitra, the second-largest island, an opposition stronghold since the mid-1990s. Street battles have become the norm, while different parts of the suburbs of the capital, al-Manama, have defended themselves with barricades and check-points.
The Supreme Islamic Council in Bahrain, along with all the six Shi'a parties, has declared the Saudi troops to be invaders.
But the Bahrain issue has become a regional primary issue. Although the head of the GCC said that it will not be allowed for any foreign power to intervene into the Gulf and Bahrain, a clear message to the Americans, it somehow considers that the Saudi and GCC invasion is not an "outside" intervention.
It is notable that the financial district in Bahrain has been blocked from the highway leading to it. This highway passes through Pearl Square, and is the site that witnessed clashes over the weekend. Bahrain is a financial center and an important offshore banking island for the British and the Saudis. Reports about the number of Saudi and other GCC troops vary from a couple of thousand to tens of thousands. As of March 15, Crown Prince Salman ben Hamad has been dismissed and had left to an undisclosed location; the King, his father, has declared an emergency situation, and there are reports that these changes are part of a Saudi backed "coup" in Bahrain.
The regional implications of this escalation are numerous and dangerous. For example, Shi'ite leader Mokhtada al-Sadr has threatened from Iraq, that if Kuwait sends any troops to Bahrain, he will use his armed forces against Kuwait. A strong condemnation of the Saudi invasion was issued by Lebanon's Hezbollah. The Qatif and the eastern province of Saudi Arabia are blowing up, and it is known that the Shi'a population in this region are armed, but have as of yet not been using their weapons.
Turkey's Prime Minister Tayep Recep Erdogan is warning of another Karbala massacre, referring to the slaughter of the grandson of the Prophet Mohammad, in Karbala more than 14 centuries ago. And on March 15, the Iranian Foreign Minister said that Iran will not sit on its hands with the Saudi invasion continuing.
March 20 (EIRNS)Thousands of Saudi Arabian troops and goons unleashed by the Bahrain royal family have not succeeded in forcing the protesters off the streets. Bahrainis, protesting poverty, high food prices, and unemployment, have set up roadblocks preventing the riot police from entering the village of Malkiya.
In Yemen, the much-detested ruler, Ali Abdullah Saleh, who had perched snipers on the rooftops to shoot and kill protesters on March 18, is fast losing support. Sheik Sadiq al-Ahmar, head of Saleh's Hashed tribe, has called on him to step down after the deadly crackdown on protesters, saying, "We hail with all respect and observance, the position of the people at the [Sana'a University] square." On March 20, massive crowds flooded into Sana'a University's square in the capital and huge solidarity demonstrations were held across the country.
On March 20, Saleh dismissed his entire cabinet after a number of resignations over the attack on the protesters. Yemen's Tourism Minister, Nabil Al-Fakeh was the first to resign.
In Oman, about 200 workers at two refineries staged demonstrations March 20, demanding higher wages, as a series of concessions by Oman's veteran ruler Sultan Qaboos bin Said failed to quell protests.
In Saudi Arabia, where protests were banned weeks ago, dozens protested outside the Interior Ministry in Riyadh to demand the release of prisoners. Witnesses told the media that a number of protesters were arrested today after trying to push their way into the building, heavily fortified by about 2,000 special forces.
March 15 (EIRNS)Prominent Indian agronomist M.S. Swaminathan, in an interview with the Indian news agency refiff.com, said that he is tired of the "lip service" to food production provided by the Manmohan Singh Administration, and has come to the conclusion that India will never have a second Green Revolution, which is a dire necessity for reviving the agricultural sector and making India food sufficient.
Swaminathan, known as MSS, is one of the so-called troika, the other two being the legendary American agronomist Norman Borlaug and then-Indian Agriculture Minister C. Subramaniam (both deceased). The troika was set loose by Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, and later, by Prime Minister Morarji Desai, to make India food self-sufficient. Between 1965 and 1978, India turned from a hugely food-dependant nation to a food-surplus nation, because of the introduction of technology and seed-science ushered in by the troika and Mrs. Gandhi.
In his interview, MSS, comparing the Green Revolution period with the present anti-agriculture policies of the Singh government, said: "It was totally different then. The country was under pressure. We were importing 10 million tons of wheat and the population was only 450 million. A number of books then said India would not survive and Indians would die like sheep going to slaughter houses. There was political support and determination to make the country self-sufficient. Now all that is gone."
Although MSS did not emphasize the requirement of building an adequate infrastructure to set the stage for the second revolution, he did say that for another Green Revolution, "you need four ingredients: technology, which gives a quantum jump in yield; and services, like electricity and water," as two of the four. He pointed out that India's "strong economic growth" (which is being used by the Singh government as the opium to silence rural discontent) "reflects neither in food intake nor in the prosperity of farmers.... The GDP may be growing, but the contribution of agriculture to GDP is going down."
Deeply frustrated, MSS identified this anti-farm policy of the government as the degeneration of political leaders who are now in power. "Their aim is to bring in foreign companies," he said. "They want to hand over the retail sector to WalMart and others. These companies have access to people in power, whether it is Montek Singh Ahluwalia or others." Ahluwalia, deputy chairman of the Planning Commission, and the prime minister's comrade-in-arms in formulating anti-farmer policies, is, like the prime minister, a product of the World Bank, and receives a pension from that institution.
March 18 (EIRNS)With the Philippines being inundated with anti-nuclear hysteria over the past week, Butch Valdes, head of the Philippines LaRouche Society, and the Save the Nation (SANA) organization which he formed in conjunction with organizations representing engineers, broadcasters, scientists, and others, counterattacked with a well-attended press conference blasting the lies about the situation in Japan, and presenting the truth about the urgency of nuclear power if the Philippines, and the human race, are to survive.
The Philippines press widely reported last week that Mark Cojuangco, the sponsor of the bill before Congress to reopen the mothballed Bataan Nuclear Power Plant, had withdrawn his bill. However, when Valdes notified Cojuangco of the press conference to refute the lies, Cojuangco joined in the event, giving a detailed description of the features of the plant and its structural reliability to withstand natural calamities. He added that he was not abandoning his proposed bill, but merely called for a moratorium on the debate in deference to victims of the earthquake and tsunami, as well as lack of real facts on the condition of the Fukushima nuclear facility.
The mechanical engineers were much more emphatic in their presentation. Bert Lozada described his training in Japan's nuclear power plants, and the higher-level technology that went into the construction of the Bataan plant. His colleague Lemy Roxas lamented the flawed political decision not to run the nuclear plant, explaining that the Philippines Society Of Mechanical Engineers had submitted a paper to President Corazon Aquino at the time (1986), declaring that safety measures were sound, and recommending its immediate start-up (the plant was never used). The engineers reported that hundreds of Filipinos are now working in nuclear power plants around the world, but are anxious to come home and build nuclear plants in their homeland.
Valdes commended the efficient bureaucracy of the government of Japan, its patriotic civil servants and scientists, who immediately reacted to address the problem at hand, almost unperturbed by international media lies and manipulation. They earn their people's trust, said Valdes, that all that can be done, is being done.
He asked those present not to lose focus, reminding them of the "three urgent steps" to save the nationa revolution in food production, restored nuclear power, and a moratorium on the foreign debt. He stressed that the principal issue is not a nuclear crisis, but rather the ongoing collapse of the financial system, which is causing populations of all nations to demand a better way of life. The natural calamities are at present, not always foreseeable, he said, but only through a willful change of the economic order can we create the science to understand and protect ourselves from such destruction.
March 18 (EIRNS)U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) chairman Gregory Jaczko told a Congressional hearing March 16 that the spent fuel cooling pond at the #4 plant at Fukushima Daiichi had no water, and threatened a massive release of radiation endangering the population. The Obama Administration immediately called for a 50-mile evacuation policy for U.S. citizens, conflicting with the Japanese 12-mile policy.
Jaczko's claim was a total fabrication. He is not a nuclear specialist at all, but a "science policy" man, whose first job was as a science fellow in the office of anti-nuclear hysteric Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.). Then he went on to join Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.).
Japan immediately refuted the claim that the cooling pond was dry, and flew a helicopter over it to show that it was full of water, before getting back to serious business at the other sites.
Today, an NRC spokesman partially admitted the fraud, saying that the "evidence is so far inconclusive."
March 18 (EIRNS)The North Korean news agency KCNA reports that the director of the country's Bureau of Earthquakes sent a letter to the chief of the Weather Office of South Korea yesterday, proposing that the North and the South jointly promote research into the volcanic activities on Mt. Paektu, in the common interests of both nations.
The letter referred to the fact that earthquakes and volcanic phenomena have frequently occurred in various parts of the world in recent years. The great quake that hit Japan underscores the urgency to conduct, "in a foresighted and successful manner," research into earthquake and volcanic activities on the Korean Peninsula, since it is geographically located close to Japan, the statement said.
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