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From Volume 38, Issue 13 of EIR Online, Published Apr. 1, 2011

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A New Peace of Westphalia:
Up from the Ruin Which the Roman Empires Have Made of This World
by Lyndon H. LaRouche, Jr.

March 13, 2011—Foreword:
In the aftermath of successive waves of world-wide warfare, we are now faced with a task of reconstruction which is, certainly, far more challenging, strategically, than anything known since the moment of the October 24, 1648 settlement of the Peace of Westphalia among the Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, the Queen of Sweden, and the King of France. Notably, the precedent for today's challenge had been nothing less than that great ecumenical Council of Florence of 1438-1440, the Council whose great achievement had been betrayed by the launching of the 1492-1648 New Dark Age in Europe.
Similarly, there has been that destruction of Europe which was brought about by Margaret Thatcher, François Mitterrand, and George H.W. Bush, in the establishing of what was to become notorious as the ``Euro,'' and, the more recent catastrophe of the ``bail-out,'' the fraud brought on by the U.S. Presidencies of George W. Bush, Jr. and Barack Obama. These latter developments now threaten the permanent end to apparent hope for economy on Earth for the presently foreseeable future: unless the present, dismal trends in the official opinion of the trans-Atlantic sector of the world are reversed, very soon...

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This Week's Cover


This Week's News

U.S. Economic/Financial News

U.S. Housing Plunge Accelerating

March 23 (EIRNS)—New home sales in the United States practically ground to a halt in February, shocking the "experts" by dropping another 17% from January's record-low rate (301,000/year) to February's 250,000/year. This is 28% down from February 2010.

Meanwhile, sales of existing homes fell by nearly 10% from January to February, and 40% of the national sales were of foreclosed homes. The median price dropped another 3%, to about $155,000. At the bubble's peak in late 2006, this median figure was $220,000, so it has dropped 40%, with no end in sight.

As a result, the median new home sale price of $217,000—which presumably bears some general relationship to the costs of constructing these homes—is now 40% above the median existing home price; normally, this gap is about 15%. Thus, new homes have become practically unsalable, since their value, like that of new cars, is expected to drop 10-15% just while the buyer's household is moving in.

FDIC, State AGs Propose Banks Proceed with Illegal Foreclosures

March 25 (EIRNS)—The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), state attorneys general, the U.S. Departments of Justice and Treasury, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and other regulators, held a private meeting with the five biggest mortgage servicer banks this week, chaired by FDIC head Sheila Bair. Bair reportedly proposed that mortgage servicer banks be allowed to proceed with foreclosures, if they pay a $21,000 incentive to 90-day-delinquent homeowners to leave their homes, the Financial Times reported today.

Foreclosures by the large banks, such as Bank of America, Citigroup, and Wells Fargo, were halted when courts ruled that various electronic mortgage "documents" did not give the banks legal title to the homes, because of the use of "robo-signers," the lack of any basis in law for the Mortgage Electronic Registration System (MERS), and other illegal flim-flam.

Instead of adopting LaRouche's Homeowners and Bank Protection Act (HBPA) to halt evictions, while foreclosed homeowners paid fair market rent, and letting the value of the home settle as the mortgage bubble deflated, while the government supported banks engaged in commercial activity and closed those investment banks which were bankrupt because of speculative losses, now the state attorneys general are trying to find a way to allow the speculators to resume foreclosures. One proposal was that the banks, which have no legitimate title to the homes, would pay up to $21,000 to the homeowner to "turn over the keys." This would cost Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae, and banks holding the illegal mortgages about $20 billion. Another proposal was to use this penalty money to write down the debt of struggling homeowners.

Questioned by EIR on the discussion at the meeting, FDIC spokesman David Barr replied, "We do not comment on closed meetings."

Murder in the Name of Austerity

March 20 (EIRNS)—On March 17, the Costa Mesa city government, in Orange County, Calif., began handing out layoff notices to about 213 public employees (out of a total of 472), in a plan to replace all public employees, including firemen, with outsourced contractors. Before all the notices could be delivered, one skilled maintenance employee, 27-year-old Huy Pham, had jumped to his death from the fifth floor of the Civic Center. Described as an outstanding carpenter, electrician, and builder, Pham had worked for the city of Costa Mesa for four and a half years.

The mass firing took place following a City Council vote on March 4 to fire half of the workforce to deal with a $1.4 million deficit this year. The Council, largely Republican, had decided to take their wrath out on the public employees in order to welch on the payment of pensions. But one 16-year veteran of the City Council, Wendy Leece, a Republican, fought against the City Council decision, trying to rescind the vote, and open up dialogue between the government and workers to deal with the deficit.

On March 4, just after she failed to convince the Council to rescind its decision, Leece wrote on her blog, "There is a condescending attitude toward our residents and employees.... What's the rush? We have a standard budget process. I do not believe our situation is as dire as others believe. We are not running out of money.... Outsourcing could be more expensive.... I don't think we should put the blame on our employees...."

The Orange County and Costa Mesa Employees Associations organized vigils in honor of Huy Pham, which were attended by hundreds of people, including Councilwoman Leece.

Global Economic News

Japan's Damage Estimate Tops $300 Billion

March 23 (EIRNS)—Japan's government said the cost of the earthquake and tsunami that devastated the country's northeast could total between 16 trillion yen and 25 trillion yen ($309 billion), according to a Cabinet Office estimate made public on March 23.

That first, official figure is considerably higher than other, private estimates. Much of the increase can be ascribed to the secondary disruption from electricity blackouts and the closure of plants not directly affected.

The Japanese press was reporting that Tokyo Electric Power Co. will likely continue its rolling blackouts for at least a year, due to damage at two large thermal power plants. The prolonged power outages through the Summer and Winter will affect not only residents of Tokyo and surrounding prefectures, but also industry. Fukushima Prefecture, and the Hitachinaka thermal power plant in Tokai, Ibaraki Prefecture, were both severely damaged in the tsunami. The two damaged thermal power plants have a combined output of 4.8 gigawatts, just greater than the damaged Fukushima Daiichi plant, which was capable of generating nearly 4.7 gigawatts.

Toyota, for example, has halted auto production beginning March 14 because of difficulty in securing components, including rubber parts and electronics. Around 150,000 units of production have been lost, so far.

The official casualty reports to date are 11,082 dead and 16,717 missing. None of these are due to the problems with nuclear plants.

Sane Voices Speak Up for the Future of Nuclear Power

March 21 (EIRNS)—In addition to the Chinese, Indian and Russian support for nuclear fission for power generation, reported earlier, sane voices have also emerged in South Africa and Sweden in the wake of the Ring of Fire events. In both countries, discussions on developing advanced nuclear power reactors have begun. On March 20, the leading Swedish daily, Dagens Nyheter, carried a two-page feature, "Nuclear Power of the Future Will Be Safer."

The article pointed to the Generation 4 reactors, now promoted in Sweden. These reactors will be lead-cooled fast reactors (LFR), a fast-spectrum lead or lead/bismuth liquid metal-cooled reactor and a closed fuel cycle for efficient conversion of fertile uranium and management of actinides.

The fast breeder reactor mentioned in the article is the new sodium-cooled test rector, called Astrid, planned for France. The Swedish researchers interviewed in the article said they were developing a lead-cooled fast reactor called Electra. There is also a plan to develop a similar LFR in Europe called Alfred. Since lead is used as the coolant and it boils at 1,740°C, as opposed to water boiling at 100°C, the loss of coolant in LFR can only occur when the reactor temperature reaches a very high temperature.

In addition, last week Reuters Africa reported prominent voices in South Africa calling for the revival of the pebble bed modular reactor (PBMR) as a measure to eliminate altogether all nuclear radiation-related accidents. Last September, the South African government stopped funding the development of PBMR.

Pointing out the advantages of the PBMR, Kelvin Kemm, a Pretoria-based nuclear physicist, said in the article: "The reactor would not need any external cooling. It would cool itself. It's walk-away safe." "At a nerve-jarring 2004 demonstration for journalists, the operators of a small Chinese pebble bed reactor abruptly closed down its coolant system. And then quite literally walked away," said Kemm.

The article said the program may need to be industry-led, since the South African government, after having invested nearly 10 billion rand over a decade, had abandoned it, considering it a bad business investment. "There is lots of merit for the technology, specifically for building power plants away from places where you could potentially have tsunamis," said Cornelis van der Waal, an analyst at consultancy Frost & Sullivan.

Former Irish Premier: Separate Sovereign from Private Bank Debt

March 22 (EIRNS)—Former Irish Prime Minister John Bruton slammed European Central Bank president Jean-Claude Trichet for the Irish banking and debt crisis today, while calling on Ireland to win back its economic sovereignty, which it fought to win in the 1916 revolution.

Bruton, who is currently president of the Irish Financial Services Center, was speaking at a briefing for the Irish Institute of Chartered Accountants, where he reiterated his earlier comments, in which he charged that the ECB should have intervened in the regulation of the Irish banking system. But he went one step further, saying, "The credit of the state itself has unfortunately become entangled with that of the banks. It would be no solution to anything to enhance the credit of the banks, by diminishing the credit of the state. I hope EU decision-makers will also see that the Irish banking problem has been influenced by the requirement of free movement of capital within Europe since 1990, and the deep interdependence that that has created, with all its good and bad aspects."

Targeting the ECB for responsibility of the suicidal bank guarantees implemented by the previous Fianna Fail government, he continued: "A suggestion has appeared in the Irish media that, when Anglo Irish Bank was on the brink of collapse, the ECB told the Irish authorities that it did not want any bank to be allowed to fail—I wonder if this could be true, and if it is true, if it influenced the then-government to give such a wide guarantee to the banks as it gave. In light of the powers of the ECB, the Irish authorities could not easily have ignored such a view from the ECB. But with power comes responsibility, and if the ECB did say this to the Irish authorities, it can hardly argue now that the sole responsibility for what followed rests with the Irish taxpayer."

According to FinFacts Ireland, on Sept. 20, 2008, a week before the issue of the state banking guarantee, Trichet had a phone conversation with the then-Finance Minister Brian Lenihan, in which Trichet reportedly said, "You have to save all the banks." Trichet has neither confirmed nor denied the report.

Bruton said all the pain and sacrifice of the 1916 Rising had been lost now that the country no longer has economic independence, and that Ireland needs to fight to get it back.

United States News Digest

Gov. Walker: It's the Law Because I Say It's the Law

March 27 (EIRNS)—In a display of Nazi arrogance that would have made Hitler's crown jurist Carl Schmitt blush with pride, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's gang moved this weekend to implement his illegal union-busting law, even though there is a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) against it, and it has not been published in the official Wisconsin State Journal, as required by law.

Secretary of State Doug La Follette rightly said on Saturday that the bill was not in effect, because his office had not yet published it in the State Journal—because there's a TRO. But the bill was published on Friday by the Legislative Reference Bureau, which was not named in the TRO. So the head of Walker's Department of Administration, Mike Huebsch, pronounced in a written statement: "Upon the advice of my legal counsel, the Department of Administration will begin the process of implementing [the law] as we are required to do the day after a bill is lawfully published."

Translation: It's the law, because we say it's the law.

Over 50 Million 'Food Insecure' in U.S.A.

March 25 (EIRNS)—On March 24, the group Feeding America, a consortium of about 200 private food banks around the United States, released a Report on "County Level Food Insecurity and Food Cost in the United States" for 2009. The "Map the Meal Gap 2011" report, based on compilations of census, USDA, and unemployment data, does a county-by-county breakdown of "food insecurity." The overall conclusions are that 16.6% of the population was food-insecure in 2009—that's about 51.6 million people. "Food insecurity" is defined as lack of access to enough food for an active healthy life for all household members.

According to the Executive Summary, 45% of those who are food insecure have incomes above the ridiculously low Federal poverty level to qualify for food stamps, but don't have enough to buy food. By far the largest percentage—59%—of highly food-insecure counties are rural. Most of these, percentage-wise, are in the South, especially the South Atlantic and East-South Central regions. The percentages of food insecure in the counties with the highest percentages range up to 37.6% (Wilcox, Ala.). The top ten counties in food insecurity are all in Alabama, Mississippi, and Georgia.

However, the largest numbers of people are in the metropolitan regions, headed by Los Angeles (1.7 million—17.4%) and New York City (1.3 million—16.2%). Chicago, Houston, and Phoenix all have more than half a million food insecure.

Air Traffic Controller Staff Cutbacks Jeopardize Safety

March 24 (EIRNS)—Two passenger jets, with 97 and 68 people on board, respectively, landed at Reagan National Airport without clearance from the airport tower early Wednesday morning, after they were unable to raise anyone there. The biggest danger in a late-night landing is maintenance workers and equipment on the runways. It is reported that a supervisor, the only controller on duty, fell asleep in what was his fourth overnight shift in a row.

The air-traffic control system has been in disarray ever since President Ronald Reagan fired striking controllers in 1981 (something which Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker views as a model for his efforts to bust public employee unions). The effects of that loss of experience and skill in 1981, compounded with understaffing, still jeopardize air safety today. Fatigue has been a major issue for years. Suspected controller errors rose to 1,887 incidents in 2010, up from 1,233 the previous year.

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood immediately ordered the FAA to put two controllers on the midnight shift at Reagan National Airport, and ordered a review of staffing at other airports around the country.

Judge: N.J. School Aid Cuts Unconstitutional. Christie: So What?

March 23 (EIRNS)—A judge appointed by the New Jersey Supreme Court has ruled that cutting $1.6 billion from state aid to local schools is unconstitutional. Gov. Chris "Muammar" Christie has declined to say whether he would obey a court order to restore the funding. He told NJ101.5 radio's "Ask the Governor" program that the state doesn't have the money to restore the cuts, even if the court orders him to do so.

Superior Court Judge Peter Doyne ruled March 22 that state aid cuts have prevented school districts from providing the "thorough and efficient" education mandated by the state's constitution, especially for poorer children.

Christie's education bureaucrats argued before the judge that the state still provides a "thorough and efficient" education with austerity funding. Others disagree. Garfield Superintendent of Schools Nicholas Perrapato, for example, said the cuts have "pulled the rug out" from poorer districts such as his own, The Bergen Record online) reports. Garfield's funding has been cut by $3 million. And it has laid off nearly 100 staff, eliminated many programs, and increased class sizes.

But the solution is not yet coming from those who think they are defending education: "It would also be unfortunate if people felt the need to blame anybody for this," said New Jersey Education Association spokesman Steve Wollmer.

No Future for California State University System

March 22 (EIRNS)—Even if Gov. Jerry Brown (D) gains a concession from Republicans to put a referendum for a tax increase on the ballot—which, at the moment, appears unlikely—and even if the voters pass his proposed tax increase, the California State University (CSU) system will likely reduce enrollment in its 23 universities by 10,000 students, for the year 2011-12. Brown's "best case" budget calls for a $500 million cut in the system. If the proposed tax extensions, which he is counting on, are not granted by the voters, the cuts in the CSU budget will be closer to $1 billion, which would mean larger cuts to enrollment and increased tuition, as well as significant staff reductions.

Student leaders from the CSU system heard from LaRouchePAC representatives at their gathering last Saturday, and are considering a call for Glass-Steagall. The only other proposal they have is to increase taxes on oil companies, a tax which would be passed on to consumers—including students and their already-stretched families. The student governments of the CSU system were among the organizers of the March 14 march and rally in San Francisco, which drew between 10,000 and 20,000 participants.

Brown's present strategy is to win over two Republicans in both the Assembly and the Senate, to give him the two-thirds vote he needs, to place a tax bill on the ballot. He is hoping to cover half the $25 billion deficit by tax extensions, the other half by cuts. Although several Republicans have been meeting with him, they have thus far refused to support a vote, leaving the state in a familiar place—bankrupt and without a balanced budget.

Michigan Governor Adopts Obama Tactics for Smashing Unions

March 22 (EIRNS)—Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder announced his "Economic Vitality Incentive Program" yesterday, a behavioral-economics "incentive" program to force Michigan's municipalities to crush their own unions if they want to get state revenue sharing. It is precisely modelled on the Race to the Top (or, "Racist at the Top") program of Barack Obama and the clique of behavioral economists who surround him.

Whereas, before Obama, Federal education subsidies were based on the principle of every student's equal right to an education, now Obama's RTTT forces children, teachers, schools, and states to compete in their willingness to implement Obama's "reforms," in order to qualify for a small amount of money, while denying it to other schools and students. This is why RTTT was condemned as racist by all major U.S. civil rights organizations last year.

In just the same way, Snyder's program would deny cities and towns the state revenue-sharing which is now theirs by right, unless they successfully compete against other cities and towns to implement Snyder's so-called "reforms"—mainly unionbusting.

A commentary posted on AnnArbor.com notes that, under Snyder's plan, municipalities have to adopt reforms to get the funds that were formerly distributed as revenue sharing. "This is similar to how the federal government structured the 'Race to the Top' program, which forced states to embrace reform to get a piece of stimulus funding," notes author Nathan Bomey.

Ibero-American News Digest

Argentine Nuclear Scientist Blasts Anti-Nuclear Hysteria

March 25 (EIRNS)—One of Argentina's foremost nuclear authorities, Dr. Raúl Oscar Racana, former president of the Nuclear Regulatory Agency (ARN) from 2004-2009, was interviewed on Channel 9 TV's "Hard To Tame" show on March 18, and blasted the hysteria-mongering about nuclear energy in general and the Japanese crisis, in particular. According to LaRouche Youth Movement (LYM) organizers in Argentina, the YouTube posting of the interview is circulating very widely. As seen in the following excerpts, Racana responded to the host's questions, which are paraphrased here, with very blunt answers, which are exact quotes (in translation):

Q: Are we on the verge of an apocalypse of a nuclear explosion?

A: No. You have to look at what's likely, possible, and impossible.

Q: What about a nuclear mushroom cloud?

A: Impossible.

Q: One in a million?

A: No. Impossible. Not even one in a million.

Q: Could the Fukushima reactor explode?

A: No. That's a figment of the imagination of some perverted minds and some stupid people....

Q: What about Chernobyl? Is Fukushima worse, or not as bad?

A: Look, first you have to define the kind of accident. There are accidents whose origin is natural, such as this one—nature caused it; there are accidents due to lack of expertise or errors; and there are accidents due to imprudence or negligence. That's Chernobyl...

Let me make a comparison. I buy you a Fiat 600, and I tell you, "Look, don't drive it at more than 130 kph." Now, if you drive it at 180 or 190 kph, that Fiat 600 can have an engine meltdown, it will be highly unstable, and you could have an accident at any time. So, to make sure that you don't drive at more than 130 kph I'm going to put a set of security systems on the car to make it impossible for you to exceed 130.

Now, if you get into the car, deactivate the security systems, and drive at 180 kph, you are imprudent. That's exactly what happened at Chernobyl....

Q: Are you concerned about how the Japanese are handling the Fukushima situation?

A: So far, they have shown that they have been able to control the situation....

Q: Who can guarantee that there won't be another earthquake or tsunami?

A: Nobody. But look, the world that's coming is one of dangers. You either face the danger and solve it, or you are doomed to vanish. The second premise you have to keep in mind for the coming world, is that with energy you can solve all problems, and without energy, you can't solve any. So don't worry about contamination coming from energy sources. Because if I have a system that produces contamination, I'll use energy to get rid of the contamination that the first energy system produced. You also have to be aware of where we live. Man is like a fish. A fish, out of water, dies. Man, without radiation, dies. Radiation keeps man alive.

Peruvian Geographer: Solar Activity Is Cause of Earthquakes

March 24 (EIRNS)—On March 12, the day after the Japanese earthquake/tsunami, the Peruvian daily La Razón published an article headlined, "Solar Storms Are the Cause of the Phenomenon, According to Vilchez Lara." It reported on the views of Luis Alberto Vilchez Lara, doctor in geographic sciences, president of the Antarctic Studies Institute in Peru, and dean of the department of geographic sciences of the Federico Villareal National University, as well as an Air Force professor.

According to La Razón, Vilchez has called on the country's authorities to take note of the changes in the Earth's axis of rotation and magnetic field, after the Japanese events, just as occurred after the February 2010 earthquake in Bio Bio, Chile. Vilchez, according to the daily, said that "This earthquake is a consequence of an unusual phenomenon which is happening in the cosmos, and which is known only to international scientific elites, referring to solar storms which not only have altered worldwide weather on the Earth but are also producing other significant changes in the Earth's crust."

Ecuadorian Nuclear Physicist Campaigns for World Land-Bridge

March 21 (EIRNS)—All that is needed to build a worldwide, high-speed, multimodal rail network which unifies the planet is political will and a crossing over the Bering Strait, Prof. Hugo Tobar Vega told the Ecuador daily Expreso, in an interview published March 19.

Isn't this far-fetched? "Not at all!", the 72-year-old nuclear physicist and expert in maritime transport, answered with a smile. Tobar Vega, who teaches at Ecuador's Escuela Politécnica del Litoral (Espol), continued that what is crazy, is that in 2012, a 30-meter-draft vessel, capable of transporting 22,000 containers, will begin operating. If this is where maritime transport is headed, it will be the death of most ports in the world, which can't handle such size. He explained that the project for a world train is not new. Tsar Nicolas II of Russia proposed uniting the Americas and Asia by a bridge over the Bering Strait, and in 2007, President Vladimir Putin proposed to his U.S. counterpart just such a world land-bridge—crossing the strait with a tunnel. "Should it be built, it would be one of the most important achievements of all humanity, because it connects the whole planet by land, from Chile to South Africa," Tobar Vega said.

Accompanying the Expreso article is a graphic with EIR's famous global land-bridge map, identified as "the principal rail lines throughout the world, outlined by U.S. economist Lyndon LaRouche."

Will this be possible? "I think so," Tobar Vega answered. "I may not see it, because once approved, it will take some 17 years to build, but it will be useful to humanity."

Chile Could See Another Big Quake Soon

March 26 (EIRNS)—Both Chilean and foreign seismologists, geologists and engineers warn that another big earthquake in Chile, of a magnitude as high as 9 on the Richter scale, is a real possibility in the near future. In the two weeks since the Japanese quake and tsunami, there has been a considerable amount of seismic activity in Chile, although not of a magnitude to cause significant damage.

But Stefano Lorito of Italy's National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology reported in late January of this year that Chile's Pacific coast is a likely site for a new earthquake, due to the fact that the 8.8 magnitude quake that occurred on Feb. 27, 2010 didn't sufficiently relieve seismic stress that had been building up in the zone. According to Lorito's study, which was published Jan. 30 in Nature Geoscience, the 2010 quake in south central Chile had only partly broken stresses deep in the Earth's crust in an area south of the capital of Santiago. These stresses have been building up since an 1835 quake devastated the city of Concepción, also severely damaged in last year's quake.

Lorito's team of scientists looked particularly at the risks in an area known as the "Darwin Gap" on the coast near Concepción, so named because Charles Darwin visited the area and documented the enormous damage done to that city by the 1835 quake. Examining data from tsunamis, satellites, and other sources, Lorito's group found that the continental Nazca plate beneath the Pacific Ocean was sliding under the South American mainland at a rate of about 6.8 cm. (2.7 in.) a year, so that a total of almost 12 meters (39 ft. 4.4 in.) of stresses had built up since 1835.

While the area deep below the Earth to the north of Concepción moved almost 20 meters as a result of the 2010 quake, the Darwin Gap area barely moved. Lorito's team concluded that "the increased stress on the unbroken patch may in turn have increased the probability of another major to great earthquake there in the near future."

Sane Voices Amidst Anti-Nuclear Hysteria

March 27 (EIRNS)—While Greenpeace and a gaggle of other British-directed fascist greenies are using events in Japan to demand the takedown of nuclear energy, a number of sane voices have been heard above the din.

In Argentina and Brazil, officials have reaffirmed their intention to continue their nations' respective nuclear programs, emphasizing the safety of their reactors. These two governments have also just formalized a program to jointly develop two research reactors in each country.

In Chile, the government of President Sebastián Piñera has just signed a memorandum of understanding on nuclear cooperation with the United States, following similar nuclear training agreements with France and Argentina. Anti-nuclear hysteria has emerged here since the Japanese earthquake and tsunami, especially in the Congress, forcing Piñera to promise not to build nuclear reactors during his Presidency. But pro-nuclear sentiment remains strong among some business and scientific leaders who realize that nuclear is the only way Chile can generate the energy it will need in coming years. Piñera said last week that his government will continue "to study" events in Japan.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, a British asset, is letting it all hang out, however. On March 15, after denouncing nuclear energy as "something extremely risky and dangerous for the whole world," he announced he was freezing Venezuela's plans to build its first nuclear power plant, established in a 2010 agreement he signed with Russia.

Not to be outdone, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos hailed Chávez's decision, and insisted other countries follow suit. Santos called Japan "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 a "Thinking Green: Economic Strategy for the 21st Century" conference in Bogotá, whose big—and we do mean big—speaker was British hedge fund fraudster Al Gore.

Western European News Digest

Greens Big Gainers in German Elections

March 27 (EIRNS)—In today's vote, the CDU-FDP coalition in the state of Baden-Württemberg suffered an historic loss. The Green party is going to form a government with the Social Democrats (SPD) as a junior partner, ending 58 years of Christian Democratic (CDU) government in Germany's southwest. For the first time ever, the Greens are able to place a minister president (governor) at the head of a German state. The results are CDU 39% (-5.2), Greens 24.2% (+12.5), SPD 23.1% (-2), FDP 5.3% (-5.4), Left 2.8% (-0.3), other 5.6% (+0.3).

In Rhineland Palatinate, the SPD lost its absolute majority and is now forced to form a coalition government with the Greens. The Free Democratic Party (FDP) lost all its seats in the state parliament. The results are SPD 35.7% (-9.9), CDU 35.2% (+2.5), Greens 15.4% (10.8), FDP 4.2% (-3.8), Left 3% (+0.4), other 6.5% (0.0).

The surge of the vote for the Greens is due to two weeks of non-stop media lying about an alleged nuclear catastrophe in Japan. This hysteria has not taken place in other European countries. The only comparable precedent would be the anti-Muslim hype that took place in the U.S.A. following the 9/11 attacks.

Mass Strike Comes to London

March 26 (EIRNS)—The global mass strike hit London in a big way today, when 400,000-500,000 people, far more than the organizers expected, participated in a demonstration against the austerity budget of the U.K.'s Cameron government. As in Wisconsin, the protest brought out nurses, teachers, firefighters and other public sector workers, students, pensioners, and other groups, demanding an alternative to the huge spending cuts being imposed by the government.

Ed Milliband and other leaders of the Labour Party also addressed the rally in Hyde Park, but probably didn't quite get the response they hoped for. Milliband told the protestors that he was "proud" to stand with them, but was heckled when he said that "some cuts" were needed.

French Elections Yield Breakthrough for LaRouche-Affiliated Party

March 20 (EIRNS)—France held the first round of cantonal elections Sunday, which elect half the members of the local council, with runoffs to take place on March 27. While final totals will be determined next week, the clear tendency of the first round shows a victory for the Socialist Party (25%), a massive defeat for President Nicolas Sarkozy's UMP party, which barely made it to 17%, a breakout for Marie Le Pen's right-wing National Front, which reached for 15% nationwide for the first time.

David Cabas, one of the three Solidarity and Progress candidates running in the canton of Ploërmel, in Brittany, came in third in a field of four, with 7.56% of the vote. Along with promoting the right ideas at the right time, Cabas benefitted from straightforward coverage, despite (or perhaps because of) the fact that he attacked President Sarkozy head-on, calling for him to resign. S&P is led by LaRouche's longtime associate Jacques Cheminade, who is a candidate for the Presidency.

Mediterranean Has No Tsunami Warning System

March 21 (EIRNS)—Europe has no tsunami alarm system for the Mediterranean, which as part of the Alpide Belt, suffers both powerful earthquakes and tsunamis.

According to tsunami expert Costas Synolakis, the conditions for powerful tsunamis exist throughout the seismically-active Mediterranean. Synolakis recommends a temporary solution by having Europe join the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center (PTWC), which covers the Caribbean, Pacific, and Indian Oceans. "We need to have this interim coverage and then slowly let Europe decide where it will build its monitoring center, how this will come about and what will be the jurisdictional boundaries," he said. "But we cannot wait forever until people figure it out."

Scientists: Fallacy of 'Old' Nuclear Plants

March 22 (EIRNS)—Pierre Gadonneix, the former CEO of the state-owned power utility Electricité de France (EDF), stated on radio station BFM Business that, "In France today, the older nuclear power plants are, the safer they are, because they are refurbished every ten years. It is not how long it has been in operation that makes a power plant safe, but its design and the investments made in it. The French nuclear power plants are young: The average age of reactors is slightly over 20 years; the oldest is only 30 years old. If you compare that to the United States, where the Westinghouse reactors are rigorously the same as France's, reactors are allowed to operate for 60 years."

The French reactions also come in response to German elected officials calling for the shutdown of France's nuclear reactor in Fessenheim, Alsace, on the Franco-German border. After their statements, some 9,000 people, most of them Germans, crossed the border on March 20 to demonstrate in France in favor of shutting down the reactor. Fessenheim is the oldest French reactor, operating since 1977.

Sinn Fein Plans All-Ireland Strategy

March 20 (EIRNS)—The Sinn Fein party's 14 Republic of Ireland MPs will meet with its members of the Northern Ireland Assembly at Stormont, the Northern Ireland Parliament, tomorrow to plan their cross-border political strategy, Sinn Fein Assembly group leader John O'Dowd told the Belfast Telegraph. Upcoming are elections for the Republic's upper house, the Seanad, who are elected by the Dail (lower house) and other institutions, and, in Northern Ireland, there will be Assembly and local elections on May 5.

Today, O'Dowd said, "This first meeting will focus primarily on advancing the united Ireland and all-Ireland political agenda. No other political party on this island has the depth and geographical spread of Sinn Fein elected representatives. We are the only party with a strategy and a team to deliver all-Ireland political change."

Portuguese Government Falls

March 23 (EIRNS)—Portuguese Prime Minister José Socrates said on Wednesday that he had submitted his resignation to the President, after Parliament had earlier rejected his minority Socialist government's latest austerity measures in a vote.

The rejection "had taken away from the government all conditions to govern," Socrates said in a televised statement. He said his government would remain in power in a caretaker capacity.

All opposition parties voted for a resolution to reject the measure's austerity plan proposed by Socrates. Only the Socialists, who have 97 seats in the 230-seat parliament, voted in favor of the measures.

Tens of Thousands Protest Around EU Summit

March 24 (EIRNS)—Initial police reports are that tens of thousands of people, under the aegis of the European Confederation of Trade Unions, showed up at the start of the two-day EU summit in Brussels, Thursday, to protest the "pro-corporation" nature of the discussion. Agora Erasmus in Belgium, the sister organization of the LaRouche movement's Solidarité et Progrès party in France, put out a leaflet, "Freeze the Bankers' Speculation, Not Our Wages!," in English, French, and Dutch, for demonstrations against the EU defense of bankers' looting at the expense of Europeans' living standards.

Greek Students Confront Papandreou

March 22 (EIRNS)—While visiting the island of Syros Monday, Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou had to face protesters, who, he claimed, were hurling "verbal abuse," including high school and University of the Aegean students demonstrating against the government's policy while Papandreou was meeting with local government officials. There were clashes with police, who used tear gas to drive off the protestors.

Student protests, in cooperation with teachers and parents, over government austerity, are starting to emerge. Last week, teachers, students, and parents occupied 100 schools throughout Greece. The union of primary school teachers has announced a 24-hour strike on March 30, joining a strike by the high school teachers union and other unions.

German High Court Rules Against Deutsche Bank

March 22 (EIRNS)—Deutsche Bank AG, Germany's biggest bank, lost a crucial court case in the Constitutional Court of Germany, on Tuesday, over an interest-rate swap. This has been the first such case over sales of these "products" to companies and local governments heard in the country's highest civil court. The bank must now pay Ille Papier Service GmbH EU541,000 plus interest, in damages resulting from the swap purchase, ruled Federal Court of Justice Presiding Judge Ulrich Wiechers, in Karlsruhe, the court's seat, today.

The ruling will influence dozens of other cases Deutsche Bank has with municipalities in Germany, with similar disputes in Italy, France, and Great Britain.

Russia and the CIS News Digest

Medvedev Launches Public Criticism of Putin

March 21 (EIRNS)—Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin yesterday stated that the UN resolution on Libya "is defective and flawed. It allowed everything. It resembles calls for Crusades." Russian President Dmitri Medvedev chose to respond publicly that "under no circumstances is it acceptable to use expressions which essentially lead to a clash of civilizations, such as 'Crusade' and so on. It is unacceptable... Everyone should remember that." Medvedev added: "I do not consider the [UN] resolution wrong. On the whole, it reflects our understanding of what is happening."

Lyndon LaRouche commented that this is a curious development. Putin's comment is honest, whereas Medvedev's is opportunist. Medvedev is looking for a wedge, and took the occasion to launch his campaign against his possible rival in Russia's upcoming Presidential elections.

Russian Scientists: Abandoning Nuclear Will Kill

March 24 (EIRNS)—Russian scientists are warning that abandoning nuclear energy would be a very deadly process. Sergei Boyarkin, programs director at Russia's Rosatom state corporation, told Itar Tass March 22 that closing nuclear power plants would lead to a dramatic deterioration of the environment, far beyond the alleged pollution of C02.

Alexander Gusev, director of the Institute of Strategic Planning and Forecasting and an advocate of developing fusion power and fast reactors of the BN-800 type, is quoted by the Free Press citing U.S. figures proving that coal (which produces 26% of world energy, including 50% of electricity) is a far deadlier and more dangerous energy source than any other, with nuclear the safest. The number of fatalities per TWh (terawatt hours, or 1 billion kilowatt hours) for those working to produce different types of energy, show that 161 coal miners will die to extract enough coal for 1 TWh of energy, Gusev said, but for nuclear, the number of fatalities is just 0.04.

"While mourning for the victims of Chernobyl and Fukushima, we must not forget that every day we become victims of the current system of energy production. Toxic wastes discharged daily from the thermoelectric plants not only harm the environment—every day they get into the meals on our tables through food chains and destroy our bodies."

In the world, oil (36% of world energy) takes 36 lives, and hydropower (2.2%) about 1.4 lives per TWh. For nuclear, (5.9%), the figure is 0.04 lives per TWh.

Southwest Asia News Digest

Gates Warns vs. Land Wars in Asia; Notes Egypt as Exception

March 24 (EIRNS)—Defense Secretary Robert Gates is not backing off from the warning that he gave in a speech to West Point a month ago, in which he cited Gen. Douglas MacArthur's wisdom against a land war in Asia. In an interview given to reporter David Ignatius, Gates said, in reference to Libya, "I think we should be alert to the fact that outcomes are not predetermined, and that it's not necessarily the case that everything has a happy ending.... We are in dark territory, and nobody knows what the outcome will be."

Gates singled out Egypt as a success because of the longstanding and deep collaboration between the U.S. and Egyptian military, but that is not the case everywhere. Gates offered advice to leaders who are facing "tectonic" changes in a region that has been politically frozen for 60 years, writes Ignatius: Get out ahead of change by making reforms early; and second, avoid violence, which usually backfires. He also commented that Hosni Mubarak might have remained in office if he had made early concessions.

New leaks about Gates' opposition to the no-fly-zone strategy came out again in Time magazine, in a piece featuring British agent-of-chaos Susan Rice. At a March 15 National Security Council meeting, writes Time, Gates was telling President Obama that a no-fly zone would not prevent Gaddafi from taking back the rebel strongholds. Rice, speaking by videoconference, bragged to Obama that she could get a resolution through the UN which would authorize further military actions, like bombing Gaddafi's armored columns. Obama readily supported Rice over what Gates was warning about, says Time.

Israeli Settlements Violate Spirit of Mass Strike in Arab World

March 27 (EIRNS)—Leaders from 14 U.S. Christian churches and numerous interdenominational organizations sent a blistering letter to President Obama on March 7, criticizing United States' Feb. 18th veto of UN Security Council Resolution S/2011/24 that condemned Israeli settlements as illegal. Importantly, the letter links the Palestinian struggle to the mass strike sweeping the Arab and Muslim world from North Africa to Central Asia.

"We believe the current upheaval in the Arab world both reveals God's desire for the liberation of all people from oppression (Psalm 146.7) and presents an opportunity to support moral values in advancing human rights.

"In this connection, we wish to express our regret that the United States vetoed the resolution in the United Nations Security Council February 18 reaffirming that Israeli settlements activities in the Palestinian territories, including East Jerusalem, are illegal. While we appreciate statements affirming continuing U.S. strong opposition to the expansion of Israeli settlements, these must be followed by concrete measures to halt this activity. We believe bold and immediate new steps are needed now to prevent this veto from further damaging America's credibility as a broker to help resolve this conflict that threatens the security of both peoples and denies self-determination to Palestinians."

The UN resolution was co-sponsored by 79 countries and demands "that Israel, the occupying Power, immediately and completely ceases all settlement activities in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and that it fully respect all of its legal obligations in this regard...."

The letter also warns Obama not to try to manipulate, stall, and delay the United Nations demand for a final settlement of Palestinian statehood by September 2011 by coming up with an "interim agreement," that would only cost more lives and delay peace.

A Bloody Friday in Arabia

March 25 (EIRNS)—Protesters across the Arabian Peninsula faced a truly bloody Friday on March 25. In Syria, widespread protests against the government of President Bashar Assad drew a severe response from security forces, who fired on demonstrators, witnesses say. Deaths are reported in the cities of Daraa, Latakia, Homs, and Sanamein, as well as in the poor Damascus suburb of Madamayeh. Hundreds of Syrians took to the streets in the capital, Damascus, in solidarity with people in Daraa, who are demonstrating for the eighth day against the regime. Eyewitnesses told the Chinese news agency Xinhua, that protests erupted just after the Muslim Friday prayers at some mosques in Damascus and Homs.

"We sacrifice our blood, our soul, for you, Daraa," protesters chanted, as they were met by Assad loyalists chanting in support of the Syrian President. Secret police broke the Damascus protest, and arrested dozens, Reuters said. Washington has expressed concerns over the government's violence in quelling the protests.

After a lull of a few days, demonstrations also turned violent in Jordan's capital Amman, when government supporters clashed with protesters, hurling stones at each other. Scores of people were injured, according to news reports. Hamza Mansour, leader of the opposition Islamic Action Front, said 26-year-old party member Khairi Jamil Saeed was "killed as a result of brutal police beating on his head and body," AP reported. This is the first reported death of a protester since unrest began in Jordan.

Israeli Right Goes into War Mode; Push for Greater Israel

March 27 (EIRNS)—Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has lost his grip in the international arena, and inside Israel itself, as the mass strike sweeps North Africa and the Arab world, violating "the rules" of the last 60+ years, leaving British agent dangling.

Among the situations facing Netanyahu:

* The Israeli right, the fanatic settlers community, and factions of the Israel military are screaming for an Operation Cast Lead II attack on Gaza to weaken, if not obliterate, the Hamas leadership before a Fatah/Hamas unity agreement for joint leadership comes about.

* Instead of holding talks with Israel, either direct or indirect, Palestinian National Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, head of the PLO, held direct talks with Hamas leaders in Ramallah on March 26 about a unity government arrangement. Dozens of countries in the UN General Assembly are discussing the independent Palestinian state, and

* Palestinian diplomatic work is winning more and more support internationally for UN recognition of an independent Palestinian state, with or without Israeli agreement. The support for an internationally recognized Palestinian state has grown even faster after the Feb. 18 UN Security Council resolution that declared the Israeli building of settlements past the 1967 line to be completely illegal.

* Dozens of rockets have been fired at the Israeli towns on the border with Gaza in recent weeks.

Netanyahu's lost clout in the U.S. has become a popular subject in Israeli media. In February, his calls to the White House demanding that Mubarak stay in power in Egypt, went unanswered. He is also reportedly shocked that neither the U.S. administration nor the U.S. Congress is visibly supporting Israeli strikes on Gaza—which are all set to go after the Jerusalem bus bombing on March 23. And while Netanyahu fulminates that he holds Hamas responsible for the bus bombing in Jerusalem, for which no group claimed credit, there is evidence that the attack came from inside Israel itself, raising a concern, according to the Jerusalem Post, over "home-grown" terrorism.

Netanyahu's own Likud is showing itself to be the party of ethnic cleansing and "Eretz Israel" that it has always been. According to Arutz Sheva on March 25, Likud faction chairman in the Knesset, Zev Elkin, proclaimed "there is no place for a Palestinian state, not in temporary borders and not in any other configuration."

On March 27, the daily Ha'aretz reported that Kadima leader Shaul Mofaz, a former Defense Minister is openly challenging Netanyahu for not protecting Israel. Visiting Be'er Sheva (Beersheba) near the Gaza border, Mofaz said that Netanyahu's non-response to the attacks from Gaza is wrong, and that "the government's policy ... is eating away at both Israel's deterrence and the security forces' ability to attack.... We should have exacted a price."

However, massive bombings by the Israeli air forces that kill thousands of civilians from high altitudes, as happened against Gaza in December 2008-January 2009, would make Netanyahu look like a Qadaffi Duck.

Asia News Digest

India: No Option But To Use Fission Power

March 20 (EIRNS)—Speaking to the news media on March 20, Indian Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh said: "What has happened in Japan is very serious. We will have to learn appropriate lessons and whatever additional safeguards, additional precautions are required we must take, but I don't believe India can abandon its nuclear energy (program)."

Ramesh was apparently responding to the increasing noises made by the anti-nuclear brigades, demanding abandonment of power generation through nuclear fission. The Wall Street Journal on March 18 cited experts saying that one immediate impact will be the delay of projects and the escalation of costs in India. "How many more warnings do we need before we finally grasp that nuclear reactors are inherently hazardous?," Greenpeace said in a release from New Delhi earlier this week.

"The nuclear industry always tells us that situation like this cannot happen with modern reactors, yet Japan is currently in the middle of a potentially devastating nuclear crisis. Nuclear power will always be vulnerable to the potentially deadly combination of human error, design failure and natural disaster," Greenpeace said.

India's Nuclear Power Corporation (NPC) director G. Nageshwar Rao, at a news briefing, pointed out on March 19 that, because of recurring power shortages in India, which cause power outages in some nuclear power plants, the Indian reactors were built with passive cooling systems, which do not depend much on instrumentation, as do those in Japan. For instance, pressure relief valves function without operator control and despite any loss of auxiliary power. Rao also said the Indian reactors have adopted the third-generation safety design features, in terms of the various passive safety features backing up the active safety systems, ensuring that the core is always filled with water containing boron, and the temperature of water would remain well below the limits.

India To Provide Technology for Developing African Agriculture

March 25 (EIRNS)—At a recently-held conference in New Delhi, a new partnership emerged among three important organizations—the International Crops Research Institute for Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), Indian Council of Agriculture Research (ICAR), and International Agriculture Consulting Group (IACG)—to engage with Africa in providing solutions and helping the region exploit its potential in food and agriculture through country- and region-specific interventions and strategies, involving public-public and public-private partnerships, and providing backward and forward linkages, besides research and development support.

This partnership could counter the Bill Gates Foundation's major ingress into Africa, where the Gates-lent money is promoting so-called small-scale, self-sustaining agriculture. By contrast, at the New Delhi conference, Dr. M.J. Khan, president of the IACG and Agriculture Today Group, focused on the necessity to meet the challenge of feeding the growing population, and the need for collective global efforts to address the food security concerns. ICAR director Dr. S. Ayyappan added, "Among the untapped regions with vast potential, Africa offers the scope and opportunity for the world community to engage in agriculture development and not only meet the challenge of global food security, but also hold out hope to millions of poor people."

China Moves Ahead with HTR: Nuclear 'Workhorse' for Economic Development

March 24 (EIRNS)—China will start building an HTR demonstration plant at Rongcheng, Shandong province, in April. "The world's first high-temperature, gas-cooled reactor" will be installed at Rongcheng, Cui Shaozhang, deputy general manager at Huaneng Nuclear Power Development Co., announced March 22 in Singapore. The plant will contain two 250MW high-temperature gas-cooled pebble-bed reactors.

Chinese plans to build commercial-scale HTR reactors are a year or so behind schedule, so this is a vital next step.

The HTR operates at a very high temperature, over 950°C, providing more efficient electricity generation than current nuclear plants, and potential use of the extreme heat for various industrial processes. Lower-temperature heat produced by these reactors could be applied to water desalination—an urgent requirement in China—and efficient heating for cities. "Modular" HTR reactors, of the size of the one being built in Shandong, could be located near cities and near the ocean, for both processes.

Construction of the demonstration plant, which will include time to work out any uncertainties in the technology, aims for feeding electricity to the national power grid in about 2015. Tsinghua's experimental reactor underwent a successful test in July 2010. The project will both demonstrate the HTR's economic viability, and its key advantage, safety. HTR plants do not require special emergency systems; they use inert helium for the cooling system, and cooling is independent of any external power source. Reactor cores will be able to withstand temperatures exceeding 1,600 C for several hundred hours without melting down, China Business News reported, based on an exclusive interview with Mu Zhanying, president of China Nuclear Engineering Group Co.

Despite Tsunami of Hysteria, Asia Continues Nuclear Programs

March 22 (EIRNS)—For all the lying hysteria expended by the international press over Japan's Daiichi nuclear situation, no minds have been changed in Asia. Asia had been spearheading a worldwide nuclear renaissance before the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, and it still is today.

South Korea is the latest country to confirm its nuclear program. It forcefully announced Tuesday that it remains among the saner nations of the world in regard to nuclear power.

"There is no change in the government's plan for expansion of nuclear power plants," said Yun Choul-ho, president of the Korea Institute of Nuclear Safety. "We believe there is no alternative to nuclear energy at this stage, and instead we can take this opportunity for reviewing nuclear safety, as well as for expanding exports of nuclear technology," he said. As with other countries, the government plans a comprehensive check-up on the safety of nuclear power plants in Korea, even though South Korea does not have the earthquake issues that Japan faces.

South Korea also has ambitious plans for the export of nuclear technology to the rest of the world, including engineering, construction, operation, and training. It has already won a prize, three-reactor deal from the UAE, and is looking for contracts in Turkey and Jordan, among other areas.

China, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Indonesia in East Asia are all going forth with their nuclear plans, but have announced, as expected, some form of additional safety review. Thailand and the Philippines, which were hesitant before, remain hesitant.

South Korea Responds to North's 'Ring of Fire' Request

March 23 (EIRNS)—South Korea has positively responded to a North Korean request earlier this week to discuss responses to a possible Mt. Baekdu eruption. The South's state-run weather agency, which has responsibility in matters of this type, delivered a call through the liaison officials of the two countries for a meeting next Tuesday in the South Korean border city of Munsan.

"We have accepted North Korea's proposal to hold talks on the issue," the official said on the condition of customary anonymity. "More importantly, we proposed that experts of the two sides meet so that they can properly evaluate the extent of possible volcanic activity at Mount Baekdu."

Located on the border between North Korea and China, Mount Baekdu is the highest point on the Korean Peninsula and Manchuria, standing at 2,744 meters (9,000 feet). Its name meaning "white-headed mountain," Baekdu is also considered a sacred symbol of ancestry by both South and North Koreans. Local experts have long said that the mountain, which last erupted in 1903, may have an active core threatening the entire peninsula and far beyond.

Africa News Digest

Kenyan Ambassador Calls for Marshall Plan for South Sudan

March 25 (EIRNS)—Elkanah Odembo, Kenyan Ambassador to the U.S., speaking today at a forum on "Southern Sudan in Transition," called for a strategic "Marshall Plan" to develop the soon-to-be new state of South Sudan. In answer to a question from Lawrence Freeman of this news service, Ambassador Odembo elaborated that, given the extremely poor economic conditions in South Sudan, what is urgently needed is a 25-30-year comprehensive, robust, long-term economic infrastructure program.

He emphasized that such a "Marshall Plan" cannot be done piecemeal, and stipulated that it cannot be imposed on Southern Sudan, but be done in collaboration among various nations and institutions. He stated that World Bank financing will not work, and therefore a new financial mechanism must be found. "This is not business as usual," he said.

Odembo also expressed concern that there are very important issues still to be resolved before the July separation of North and South Sudan, which are part of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) which ended the civil war. On that date, Sudan is slated to become two separate countries. The separation of the South from Sudan is the result of the CPA-mandated referendum which began Jan. 9, 2011. In that referendum, people from the South voted overwhelmingly for separation. The separation is to become official six months after the referendum, on July 9.

Odembo expressed concern that it would be more difficult to resolve the remaining unresolved issues between the North and South after the six-month transition period between the referendum and the finalization of the separation.

Egyptian Foreign Policy Focuses on Food and Water Security in Sudan

March 28 (EIRNS)—In his first foreign trip, the new Egyptian Prime Minister Essam Sharaf (appointed in February by the Supreme Armed Force Council, following the forced resignation of President Hosni Mubarak) went to Sudan to discuss large food production and water projects. His delegation included Egypt's Agriculture Minister and Irrigation Minister. This is a positive step to resolve food and water issues in the two Nile valley nations.

"Egypt will make the completion of a partially built canal [Jonglei Canal], spanning an unnavigable section of the River Nile in South Sudan, a top priority," a cabinet spokesman said yesterday, according to AFP. Cabinet spokesman Magdi Radi told a news conference in Khartoum: "We want to start building the Jonglei Canal, because it is a top priority. It offers to provide 4 billion cubic meters of Nile water annually." (See LPAC video "The Extended NAWAPA Project: Possibilities for Africa," for a detailed description of this project at http://www.larouchepac.com/node/15817)

The delegation's two-day visit included both North and South Sudan.

The Egyptian officials emphasized that Sudan is an important ally for Egypt, both in terms of its agricultural potential, and in Cairo's efforts to secure an acceptable agreement with upstream Nile countries about the future of its vital water supplies. The South suspended the construction of the Jonglei Canal during the civil war to put pressure on the North.

Sharaf pointed out that Egypt is the third-largest investor in Sudan, with current investments amounting to $5.4 billion. He emphasized that he wanted to see this investment increase.

The Egyptian premier highlighted an agreement by the joint ministerial committee to develop food security through different agricultural projects in Sudan. "The first strategic project for us is meat production. We will also have a contractual partnership in the Gezira Scheme," he said, referring to Sudan's vast but neglected farming project on land between the Blue and White Nile, south of Khartoum.

Sudanese officials said that 41,000 feddan (17,000 hectares) of land in White Nile state had been set aside for the meat project. Egypt's Minister of Agriculture Ayman Abu Hadid described some of the food projects as urgent, saying that the production of meat, sugar, wheat, and corn could start within six months.

Production of food, and creation of new water and land resources, are matters of immediate life and death for the Egyptian nation, which has become dependent on foreign countries, for up to 50% of its food supplies, thanks to 30 years of IMF "reform" policies and globalization.

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