From Volume 38, Issue 17 of EIR Online, Published Apr. 29, 2011

United States News Digest

Midwest Earthquake Drill Set for April 28

FLASH, April 26—As of this writing, a flood emergency in several of these Midwestern States ironically, puts the following preplanned emergency drill in doubt. April 23 (EIRNS)—At 10:15 a.m. on April 28, a magnitude 6.5 to 7.5 earthquake will hit 11 states in the central U.S. At least, that's the drill that has been scheduled by the Department of Homeland Security in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Illinois, Indiana (which actually had its drill on April 19), Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Tennessee. The event is patterned after an annual exercise in California called the Great Shakeout, which is next scheduled for October 2011.

According to the website, over 2.7 million people in those 11 states have signed up to participate in drills to include "duck-and-cover" exercises, to begin when the shaking starts, and to discuss what to do during and after a major earthquake to increase the chances of survival. The website includes scenarios and checklists for creating emergency plans and supply kits, and advice on how to make your home more earthquake resistant. The April 28 drill will be followed by a National Level Exercise in May for government agencies and emergency workers who would be responding to such an event.

The region participating in the exercise is the New Madrid Seismic Zone, which has had a number of huge (M7-8) earthquakes over the past 4,500 years, the most recent in 1811-12. The U.S. Geological Survey has declared that a new quake would devastate the unprepared area, whose epicenter is reported to be in Memphis.

Dorgan to Obama: Stop Talking; Shut Oil Speculation Down!

April 22 (EIRNS)—Former Senator Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.) had this to say today, about yesterday's announcement that the White House has set up an Oil and Gas Price Fraud Working Group, replicating the yet-to-be-felt "powerful array of tools" it has deployed in "the fight against financial fraud":

"We don't need to investigate speculation at this point. We just need to stop it. It's the same old movie. It always has a bad ending. We have the big investment banks, the hedge funds. They're selling oil they don't have to people who are buying it who will never get it, trading energy contracts. And the result is higher prices through speculation. And somebody who drives up at the gas pump pays 60 or 80 bucks for a gas tank full of gas. Or a trucker pays $1,000 or $1,200, all because of rampant excess speculation. We don't need to investigate it anymore. Let's just stop it."

Dorgan delivered the message in an interview with MSNBC this morning, in which he warned that $4 a gallon is "a trigger point" for the American people.

Also interviewed in the MSNBC segment was Bart Chilton of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (whom Dorgan described as one of the "good guys" on the CFTC), who commented that 75% of the cases the CFTC has referred to the Department of Justice for prosecution have been rejected. "You remember Baretta? [A 1970s TV police detective character—ed.] He'd say, 'if you do a crime, you do the time.' Well, up until recently, it's been, you do the crime and maybe you'll pay a fine and get a slap on the wrist."

As Economy Sinks, So Does Obama

April 22 (EIRNS)—"Americans are more pessimistic about the nation's economic outlook and overall direction than they have been at any time since President Obama's first two months in office," says the New York Times, reporting on a new Times/CBS poll, which shows says that the number of Americans who think the economy is getting worse, has jumped 13 percentage points in just one month.

Disapproval of Obama's handling of the economy has never been higher, at 57% of Americans, according to the poll. But this is no solace for the GOP-dominated Congress, since 75% of respondents also disapprove of the way Congress is handling its job. People also don't buy the GOP line that cutting the budget will create jobs (only 29% believe that).

The London Daily Telegraph plays it thus: "Hope and change? A national gloom descends over Obama's America." Nile Gardiner writes: "You know things are really going badly for the White House when even The New York Times, the most powerful bastion of liberalism in America, is warning the President he is in serious trouble.

"Coming on the heels of two other major polls which show declining support for the President and mounting unhappiness with his handling of the economy, this latest New York Times poll will make the White House exceptionally nervous," Gardiner writes. "A national gloom has descended over Obama's America, with potentially far reaching consequences for the 2012 elections, a contest that will largely be decided by debates over the economy. Hope and change is in the air, but not quite of the kind the Obama presidency envisioned."

Rising anger against Obama by blacks and, in particular, Washington D.C. residents is profiled by Politico on April 17. D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton is quoted, "The discontent out there is pretty widespread"; with Washington residents having voted for Obama in record numbers, "they expected better of him."

"It's not just President Obama, but it's the whole [White House] team," Princeton Prof. Cornel West told Politico. "They just tend to keep distance from black folk, politically, until election time; then they come running back.... There's too much social misery out there, man. The last thing we need is a weak and feeble reaction to the right wing. When it comes to advocating for the poor and minorities, I just haven't seen the kind of backbone; I just haven't seen the real spine, not just at the level of rhetoric, but in execution."

Snyder's Financial Dictatorship Spreads in Michigan

April 20 (EIRNS)—A second emergency financial manager in Michigan has let it be known that he is taking advantage of the expanded powers signed into law by Gov. Rick Snyder last month (Robert C. Bobb, the manager of Detroit Public Schools, was the first, a week earlier). Joe Harris, who was appointed the emergency financial manager of the former industrial city of Benton Harbor, two years ago, issued orders to the elected city commission April 14 that they are to take no actions, even to include holding meetings, without his permission. Harris didn't even send out a public notice that he had effectively fired all of the city's elected officials; most people found out about it in the local news, days later.

"They are using Benton Harbor as a test case," said City Commissioner Juanita Henry. "If they have disenfranchised the people so badly they just don't respond to anything, they can do this all over the country."

Carole Drake, a city resident who fought the privatization of a city park, warned that "People should be paying attention to what is happening here, because Benton Harbor is ground zero for the future of what is to become of our state under Governor Rick Snyder." Angry residents are vowing to recall State Rep. Al Pscholka, who sponsored the bill that expanded the powers of state-appointed emergency financial managers; they are also planning a recall of Snyder and State Sen. John Proos, and there is a campaign underway to repeal the law itself.

City officials and residents have been in a running battle with Harris since last year, when he proposed to disband the fire department in order to "save money," and he has frequently been accused of refusing to work with city officials.

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