Ibero-American News Digest
Argentine President Warns: Austerity Will 'Kill' Greece
July 7 (EIRNS)When one sees the savage austerity now being imposed on Greece, "one doubts that economists are really so intelligent," said Argentine President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner in a July 1 speech in Buenos Aires.
Speaking from the Presidential Palace, Fernández said, "[When] I see a patient with the same symptoms and the same pathology" that Argentina suffered from in the 1990s, and see that [economists] want to apply the same medicine that killed the [Argentine] patient, it makes me question the so-called rationality of economists." For years, she added, the so-called experts imposed neoliberal policies on Argentina, wiping out jobs, deindustrializing the country, and creating a huge debt bubble that finally exploded with the 2001 default and subsequent restructuring.
It will take moving away from "traditional schemes" to resolve the current crisis, Fernández emphasized. Further delay in dealing with the real causes of the crisis afflicting Greece and other European countries will only make the consequences more terrible, as occurred in Argentina, she warned. Sooner or later, she added, there will be a restructuring of Greece's debt.
The Argentine leader pointed out that "all the remedies they want to apply ... are based on restricting consumption, which affects the most vulnerable sectors, and ultimately the entire economy." If you force people to stop eating, of course they will react.
Fernández explained that the 75% "haircut" that foreign bondholders had to accept in the 2005 Argentine debt restructuring, was necessary, because the priority for Argentina was to grow, reindustrialize, strengthen its internal market, and create jobs. The predatory vulture funds screamed that it was "unethical" not to pay the full amount owed, but Argentina responded that it was also unethical for financial speculators to charge usurious interest rates.
Chilean Students Escalate Protest
July 7 (EIRNS)A desperate Chilean President Sebastián Piñera, whose approval rating has plummeted to 31%, went on national television July 5 to announce a Great National Education Agreement (GANE), which he claimed would improve the educational system and put an end to weeks of protest and strikes by students who are demanding an end to the for-profit system put in place by the late dictator Augusto Pinochet.
The package includes a $4 billion fund for scholarships and creation of the post of education superintendent, supposedly to provide oversight of for-profit universities. However, Piñera warned, students are making a "grave mistake" in insisting on a state-run educational system, as this would "harm the quality and freedom of education."
Camila Vallejo, head of the University of Chile's Student Federation (Fech), called the proposal "a huge deception" and "a step backward," reflecting the same old policy lines of the past 30 years. Injecting more money doesn't change anything, she said. The fact that the government intends to accept profit as the means to sustain an educational institution, "means that they will continue to see education as a business, and this will affect thousands of Chilean families."
Students took to the streets today to protest in front of the La Moneda Presidential palace and other government buildings, where they were met by police with teargas and water cannons. Vallejo announced that the students won't stop fighting, but will escalate their protest with another national strike on July 14. Meanwhile, members of Piñera's own party, National Renovation, are calling for immediate Cabinet changes. The head of Chile's Socialist Party, Osvaldo Andrade, observed, after noting the 31% approval rating, that "Pinochet was more popular than Piñera."
Argentina To Launch New Two-Stage Rocket
July 10 (EIRNS)Tomorrow, Argentina is scheduled to launch a two-stage prototype rocket, the Gradicom II, from Chamical in the province of La Rioja. Designed entirely by Argentine scientists and engineers, the Gradicom II is expected to reach an altitude of 100 kilometers, and travel 120 kilometers.
In the early 1980s, then-U.S. Defense Secretary Dick Cheney forced Argentina to abandon the Condor II missile project and rocketry program. The December 2009 launch of the short-range Gradicom PCX signalled that the rocketry program was back on its feet again. Both President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, and her predecessor and late husband Néstor Kirchner, fully supported the development of Argentina's scientific and technological capabilities.
The Defense Institute of Scientific and Technical Research (Citedef), an agency of the Argentine Defense Ministry, has overseen the Gradicom II's development. The rocket will have both military and civilian applications, among them, the ability to launch satellites.
Citedef director Eduardo Fabre announced earlier this year that his agency will launch a third, longer-range rocket by the end of this year or the beginning of 2012.
Satellite Technology Can Predict Cholera Outbreaks
July 9 (EIRNS)Several scientists and medical researchers have found that satellite imaging technology developed by NASA has proven extremely useful in predicting cholera outbreaks weeks before they occur.
The world is in its 50th year of a global cholera pandemic which shows no sign of abating. Regular mutations of the cholera bacterium have produced a strain that is more toxic and tenacious than researchers say they have ever seen.
In the Americas, the cholera epidemic which hit Haiti in October 2010, moved into neighboring Dominican Republic a month later, and has so far killed 71 people. Now, the first case of cholera has been confirmed in Puerto Rico, in an elderly missionary who had just returned from a visit to the Dominican Republic. Several Mexican state governments are warning of the threat of epidemics, especially cholera, due to heavy rains from tropical storm Arlene.
Rita Colwell, professor at the University of Maryland and Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, found that measurable changes in the sea often will precede an epidemic by about six weeks. She told Scientific American that sensors on satellites "allow us to measure chlorophyll, sea surface temperature and sea surface height. These factors, it turns out, are very useful in predicting cholera epidemics."
A 2009 paper coauthored by Colwell, entitled "Using Satellite Technology To Model Prediction of Cholera Outbreaks," noted that because the satellite data are "becoming increasingly accurate through ground truthing (real-time collection of information on location), we believe that satellite imaging provides tremendous promise for prediction of cholera, weeks and even months in advance of an epidemic."
The paper goes on to warn, however, that in the United States, "we face a crisis in funding that not only affects basic and applied research in this field but also undermines our ability to deploy remote sensing technologies that provide the most promising means for monitoring our environment." Although remote-sensing technology "is currently still a research tool, the example of cholera prediction through its use provides a compelling argument to maintain and adequately fund our satellite programs; unless this is done, this extraordinary effort at disease prediction will fail."