THURSDAY, MARCH 10, 2016
Volume 2, Number 142
EIR Daily Alert Service
P.O. Box 17390, Washington, DC 20041-0390
- ‘Nobody Saw It Coming’: Why Hillary’s ‘Clintastrophe’ in Michigan?
- World’s Oil Producers To Meet on Supply … in Moscow
- For ‘Innovation Economy,’ China Seeks German Savings Bank System
- London’s Hitmen Predict: After Lula Arrest, Argentina’s Kirchner Is Next
- China’s Future Space Station and Space Telescope Outlined
- India Proposes More Investment in Its Own Nuclear Power Generation
- Russia, UN, and Human Rights Organizations Denounce EU Deal To Pay Turkey for Mistreating Refugees
- Somalia Air Strike: Obama’s Greatest Mass Killing Yet
- U.S. Health Emergency: Zika Cases in Puerto Rico Double Each WeekEDITORIAL
‘Nobody Saw It Coming’: Why Hillary’s ‘Clintastrophe’ in Michigan?
March 9 (EIRNS)—It is significant that Hillary Clinton, after a weekend spent mouthing absurd defenses of Barack Obama and Wall Street, lost a state primary March 9 in Michigan, in which polls had shown her 13-21% ahead just days earlier. She now faces more primaries in formerly-industrial Midwest states with large Democratic constituencies on March 16, and continuing to campaign as Obama apologist, as Wall Street insider, will get the same results. Her campaign should rightly be in panic.
Clearly a strong backlash against actions by Clinton and Obama took place among the Michigan voters over the last long weekend before the primary; and as major political media have immediately noted, the same thing may happen March 16 in Ohio, where Clinton is also given double-digit leads in the polls.
Clinton’s catastrophe was Obama.
Clinton linked herself to Obama in the final weekend’s debate and in other campaign actions; and made the foolish public statement that Obama had taken more Wall Street money than any candidate in history (quite true), and then had pushed through the Dodd-Frank Act. Clinton claimed this meant Wall Street’s money did not corrupt! Voters showed they recognized the opposite: She was tying herself to the despised Obama and to Wall Street at the same time.
Then, Obama’s primary-eve stunt for Clinton—holding a major White House event to promote the “success” of the Dodd-Frank Act—put the nail in her coffin. The winner was not the surprised Bernie Sanders; it was the anti-Obama, anti-Wall Street backlash in Democratic constituencies.
Democratic officials in Congress and elsewhere know very well that the party is split down the middle nationally, between Wall Street money and public outrage at Wall Street. The split is, essentially, between the Dodd-Frank Act and a restored Glass-Steagall Act, which will start the shutdown of Wall Street.
In meetings held March 1-3, a large number of Democratic Congress Members and their staffs told EIR they were acutely aware of this “Dodd-Frank vs. Glass-Steagall” split, and that it was also in the center of the Presidential primary campaign.
But thinking citizens, considering the future of their nation and of mankind, cannot limit themselves to being part of a “backlash.” In the decades since America last had a mission and an optimistic purpose—above all in the space program, from JFK—millions of voters have been dumbed down to such “backlash” existence.
That will not suffice, when we face another deadly financial blowout. Nor when we have the extraordinary alternative offered by the deep-space exploration and New Silk Road infrastructure policies of China and the BRICS-allied nations.
We have to mobilize to force through that alternative, and to force Obama—the “Nobel Prize killer” and the killer of America’s space program—out of office. Much more than Hillary Clinton’s failing campaign is at stake.
NEW STRATEGIC PARADIGM
World’s Oil Producers To Meet on Supply … in Moscow
March 9 (EIRNS)—When not acting to compose Obama’s wars in the Middle East, Vladimir Putin’s Russia appears to be taking time out to compose the world oil markets. After two months of quiet but determined diplomatic efforts and a preliminary agreement with Saudi Arabia, Putin’s oil flank is coming more out in the open. CNBC-TV reported today that on March 20 in Moscow, Russia will host a meeting of major oil producers both inside and outside OPEC—not including United States—“to discuss an output freeze, an Iraqi oil official told state newspaper Al-Sabah.”
Russia is not a member of OPEC, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, but oil export revenue plays a significant role in its overall government revenue.
There is already considerable shouting from sources like Britain’s Telegraph, BBC, and Zero Hedge that “Putin is taking control of OPEC,” or that “Putin is taking charge of a new and larger OPEC.” Zero Hedge wrote again today Russia’s “production freeze” was a fraud, in their view, and that China’s demand for oil will soon be falling, etc.
But in fact, Asia has been the only source of any increases in demand for oil for two years, and through agreements with China, Russia has increased the share of its oil going to Asia.
Oil prices have stabilized and then gradually risen since the Russian initiative began in late January. Today it approached $38/barrel for West Texas Intermediate grade, from the low of about $26 in early February, when Wall Street analysts were all forecasting $20 and even $10/barrel oil.
The initiative has been aided by the fact that U.S. shale production has been falling, by nearly 1 million barrels/day so far. For the 11th week in a row, the U.S. oil rig count declined (down 8 this week to 392, from more than 1,800 two years ago). This is the first drop below 400 oil rigs since Dec 2009. Total U.S. oil-plus-gas rigs dropped to 489 last week. just one higher than the all-time record low seen in April 1999.
For ‘Innovation Economy,’ China Seeks German Savings Bank System
March 9 (EIRNS)—The German Savings Banks Association (DSGV) and the China Banking Association (CBA) yesterday signed a cooperation deal which is to benefit locally oriented commercial banks in China. Handelsblatt reported the benefits for both countries in a long treatment of the news today.
China’s objective is to develop the “innovation” or “knowledge economy” while investing in the “win-win” global infrastructure developments which drive productivity. The need for a commercial banking sector serving “Mittelstand” companies—which tend to develop new technologies rapidly—has been known to China’s leaders ever since the 1993-95 period in which they implemented China’s Glass-Steagall bank separation law.
But it has been slow to develop; DSGV president Georg Fahrenschon told Handelsblatt that China’s “city banks” were the basis of a commercial banking sector, but there are only 134 of them, with just 11% of the deposits in China’s banking system. By contrast, Germany has 400 of this category of banks—“Sparkassen”—with more in total deposits than Deutsche Bank and Commerzbank combined—and at war with the destruction by the ECB, and the Brussels and Basel bureaucrats.
The DSGV has a reciprocal “pro quo’’ in mind for this “quid.” China is 2016 president of the G20, which is often now the level at which banking regulation is decided. The German banks want China to use its position to relieve community, savings, and cooperative banks—banks without derivatives exposure—from the misguided regulations and distorted capital requirements of Basel II and III, Dodd-Frank, etc.—and to lean against the destructive negative rate, or “NIRP” policies of other central banks. Such relief has been proposed recently by FDIC Vice-Chairman Thomas Hoenig, and put into legislation by House Democrats in the U.S., but they say that both Obama and the Democratic leadership oppose it.
The DSGV is involved in consulting in other interested countries, like Iceland, Ireland, Estonia, Greece, and Cuba, among others, because a justified belief has spread that the German savings banks have proven more stable and reliable as financiers of the real economy than the private banks through the entire global banking crisis since 2007.
London’s Hitmen Predict: After Lula Arrest, Argentina’s Kirchner Is Next
March 9 (EIRNS)—Only a short time after former Brazilian President Lula da Silva’s March 4 arrest and detention, London-directed forces in neighboring Argentina began to spew out predictions that former Argentine President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner “would be next”—indicted or even jailed.
The very unsavory Argentine commentator Alfredo Leuco remarked on his March 6 Radio Mitre program that Fernández looks in the mirror and sees Lula, “and panics.” Neither Lula’s fame and prestige were able to save him, Leuco warned, and “she can and must think that if they did that to Lula, she … will suffer the same fate.” Fernández and Lula are close friends.
Nor is Fernández the only target. The right-wing Argentine daily Urgente 24 asserted on March 5 that “Lula’s fate, [Bolivian President] Evo Morales’s electoral defeat in his attempt to install indefinite reelection, the legislative victory of the Venezuelan opposition, the precipitous decline of [Brazilian President] Dilma Rousseff’s image, together with Cristina Fernández’s leaving office, mean a change of direction in the region”—precisely the continental shift that London and Wall Street intended with the November 2015 election of neoliberal Mauricio Macri as Argentina’s President.
London has reserved special venom for Cristina Fernández, however, because she steadfastly refused to bend to its insane monetary dictates and allied with the BRICS nations instead.
In the three months that Macri has been in office, his underlings in the corrupt pro-London faction of the justice system have launched a legal witchhunt against Fernández and her former collaborators, in what Urgente 24 called “a kind of mani pulite”—as in the Italian Clean Hands operation that was used against Italian political figures who didn’t pay obeisance to London.
Macri will shortly introduce a “whistleblower law” into Congress, for the purpose of drumming up evidence of “corruption,” as occurred in the Petrobras case in Brazil,— a case which was orchestrated for no other purpose than to bring down Rousseff’s government. Notably, the head of Argentina’s Anti-Corruption Office, Laura Alonso, is a known operative of the United States’ National Endowment for Democracy (NED), which specializes in “regime change” campaigns.
SCIENCE AND INFRASTRUCTURE
China’s Future Space Station and Space Telescope Outlined
March 9 (EIRNS)—China plans to launch an optical space telescope which is being designed to have a field of view 300 times that of Hubble. This will enable it to look at larger regions of the cosmos than Hubble can, in high resolution, explained Lt. Gen. Zhang Yulin on March 7. Zhang is a National People’s Congress Deputy, and Deputy Minister of the Central Military Commission Equipment Development Department, and described the telescope to People’s Daily.
It is expected that the telescope would be able to capture about 40% of the sky within 10 years of orbit. To ensure that the telescope will remain functional and able to conduct scientific studies for a decade, it will be co-orbited with the upcoming space station, and designed to allow astronauts to service it, when it docks with the station. NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope underwent a number of servicing missions, carried out by Space Shuttle astronauts. That meant that Hubble had to wait until a Shuttle could be launched, whereas in the Chinese plan, the crew will be available for servicing the telescope all the time.
At the same time, China’s space projects were addressed during the ongoing National People’s Congress. Speaking to media on the sidelines of the Congress, Zhou Jianping, a top official in the manned space program, added some detail to the space station project. The core module, he said, will be launched in 2018, with the complex expected to be completed in 2020. There had been previous indications that it would be delayed, but apparently it is back on a faster track. The station will require new selection criteria for astronauts, said Zhou. “Astronauts will need to carry out a greater variety of missions than before, so a greater variety of astronauts [is] needed.” NASA underwent a similar progression, moving into the Space Shuttle era.
Zhou explained that “the mission of the space station is to become China’s national laboratory in space, and support scientists’ work on cutting-edge scientific exploration, space technology research and development, and utilization of space resources.” Research into new materials is a priority, and growing food on orbit, will be tested, “under the long-day and short-day scenarios.”
India Proposes More Investment in Its Own Nuclear Power Generation
March 9 (EIRNS)—Addressing a March 6 international conference supporting the 2030 development agenda, India’s Home Minister Rajnath Singh told the audience that the Modi government will invest an additional Rs3.0 billion ($458 million) annually for 15-20 years for enhancing nuclear power generation. The government plans to develop a comprehensive plan spanning that period, to augment India’s capacity for nuclear power generation, he said.
In the annual fiscal budget for 2016-17, which is under discussion in Parliament, India’s Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has increased the tax on coal by almost 50%. About 70% of India’s power is generated from coal. Addressing the issue, Home Minister Singh said: “Taxing coal and promoting nuclear energy shows the government’s commitment to the environment,” as Deccan Herald reported March 7.
Singh’s statement did not detail how this money will be spent. What is clear is that it will be separate from the annual budget for the Department of Atomic Energy’s importation of reactors, and from India’s annual budget for new power generation. What remains to be seen is whether this money will be utilized to enhance the manufacturing capacity of indigenous nuclear reactors and the peripherals, or whether it would be kept as a reserve for setting up new plants, when they are ready.
Rajnath Singh said six indigenous nuclear power reactors with a total capacity of 4300 MW are under various stages of construction, and that more indigenous reactors would come up in the states of Haryana, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. The Nuclear Power Corporation of India—the state-run agency in charge of all nuclear power reactors—had stated earlier that it had a target of creating about 14,500 MW of installed capacity by 2024. As of now, India’s installed nuclear power generation capacity stands at 5,780 MW.
STRATEGIC WAR DANGER
Russia, UN, and Human Rights Organizations Denounce EU Deal To Pay Turkey for Mistreating Refugees
March 9 (EIRNS)—The United Nations and human rights groups warned yesterday that the EU deal to send back all irregular migrants to Turkey in exchange for political and financial rewards could be illegal, Reuters reported March 8.
UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi told the European Parliament in Strasbourg yesterday, “I am deeply concerned about any arrangement that would involve the blanket return of anyone from one country to another without spelling out the refugee protection standards under international law.”
Grandi said this hours after the 28 EU leaders worked out an agreement with Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu in Brussels that pays Turkey more money ($3.3 billion more) to keep refugees in Turkey rather than allowing them into Europe; gives faster, and visa-free travel to Turks throughout the EU; and speeds up the long-stalled EU membership talks for ISIS-supporting Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
The EU’s cowardly accession to Turkey was immediately denounced around the world:
Amnesty International called the proposed mass return of migrants to Turkey a “death blow to the right to seek asylum.”
Doctors Without Borders said it was cynical and inhumane.
The French Socialist MEPs said, “In the name of ‘Realpolitik,’ member states seemed ready to trample on their principles to conclude a shameful bargain with Turkey.”
Russia’s Sputnik International columnist Finian Cunningham wrote March 5 that “with the violent police seizure of Turkey’s biggest independent newspaper, Zaman and Today’s Zaman, the country has finally crossed the line to become a full-fledged dictatorship…. EU leaders pander to Turkey after the latter has played a leading role in destabilizing Syria and triggering the refugee crisis… Turkey is embracing fascist dictatorship, and Washington and its European minions are smitten by the same embrace.”
Sputnik on March 8 quoted French academic and lawyer Alexis Teas writing in Le Figaro of the EU Turkey deal: “This sinister choice has the aftertaste of the Munich Agreement of September 1938, under which the democracies gave Czechoslovakia to Hitler. The cowardly abandonment of this country [Greece], the cradle of European civilization, is emblematic of a Europe that is disoriented, rootless and drifting.”
Somalia Air Strike: Obama’s Greatest Mass Killing Yet
March 9 (EIRNS)—Obama added to his kill tally on March 5 with an airstrike in Somalia that the Pentagon claimed killed 150 Al Shabaab militants. According to the statement issued by Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook on March 7, the target was a training camp, where the militants had gathered for a “graduation” ceremony and were planning attacks against African Union forces in Somalia. In addition, they were a direct threat to U.S. troops, the Pentagon claimed. However, Glenn Greenwald, writing in The Intercept noted, the Obama Administration has not offered a shred of evidence that any of this is true, and yet the U.S. mainstream media reported the Pentagon’s boiler plate statement with little, if any, questioning.
This is not unusual for Obama, Greenwald notes. “Other than the higher-than-normal death toll, this mass killing is an incredibly common event under the presidency of the 2009 Nobel Peace laureate, who has so far bombed seven predominantly Muslim countries,” Greenwald writes. “This particular mass killing is unlikely to get much attention in the U.S.,” for a number of reasons, not the least of which is “the complete normalization of the model whereby the U.S. President kills whomever he wants, wherever he wants, without regard for any semblance of law, process, accountability, or evidence.”
Greenwald goes on to take apart the logic behind such air strikes (which are targeted assassinations, regardless of how they’re carried out), arguing that we are not at war with Somalia, therefore there’s no legal basis for such strikes; that the main U.S. military presence on the continent is to operate drone bases, therefore, if they weren’t there, there’d be no threat to U.S. military personnel; and finally, that the Pentagon claims that only “combatants” and/or “terrorists” get killed in these strikes have long proven to be inaccurate. “Given that clear record of deliberate deceit, why would any rational person blindly swallow evidence-free assertions from the U.S. government about who it is killing?”
“But for Americans, this is now all perfectly normalized,” Greenwald goes on. “We just view our President as vested with the intrinsic, divine right, grounded in American exceptionalism, to deem whomever he wants ‘Bad Guys’ and then with no trial, no process, no accountability order them killed.”
U.S. POLITICAL AND ECONOMIC
U.S. Health Emergency: Zika Cases in Puerto Rico Double Each Week
March 9 (EIRNS)—Zika virus cases are doubling each week in Puerto Rico, Reuters reported today, as U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Dr. Thomas Frieden toured Puerto Rico on March 7-9 to examine the preparations to prevent the Zika virus, and called stopping its spread a “tremendous challenge and crisis.” CDC is forecasting that 700,000 people, thousands of whom will be pregnant women, will become infected during 2016, one-fifth of the island’s population.
For the moment, Puerto Rico is importing all blood products from the U.S. mainland until it can perfect methods to detect the Zika pathogen in locally donated blood and used in hospitals.
In Brazil, Zika has been linked to an increase of cases of microcephaly, which causes babies to be born with small heads and undeveloped brains. “Until a few months ago, no one had any idea that Zika could cause birth defects,” Frieden said today. The CDC expects thousands of Puerto Ricans to become infected, due to pools of standing water, and lack of window screens, air conditioners, and insect repellent to ward off the large population of Aedes aegypti mosquitoes endemic to the island, and which are the Zika disease vector.
Dr. Jorge Munoz, Director of the CDC’s dengue branch in Puerto Rico, said that it has developed a triple test that can detect Zika, dengue and chikungunya—three different viruses carried by the Aedes aegypti mosquito. In February, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration granted emergency authorization to use this test in health departments across the United States to sort out whether an infection was caused by Zika, or dengue, or chikungunya—all related viruses.
Much more has to be learned quickly about Zika, including whether the Zika virus actually causes microcephaly in babies. Brazil has reported more than 640 cases of microcephaly, and considers most of them related to Zika infection in the mothers, and is investigating more than 4,200 more suspected cases of microcephaly.