EIR Daily Alert Service


Volume 4, Number 31

EIR Daily Alert Service

P.O. Box 17390, Washington, DC 20041-0390


It Was Not ICE or DEA Agents Who Took 200,000 Californians from Their Homes!

Feb. 13 (EIRNS)—Just when they had been worked to a fever pitch about deportation raids, sanctuary cities invaded, executive orders, a new war on drugs, and other “Trump threats,” nearly 200,000 Californians were suddenly ordered from their homes Sunday night.

To their shock, it was not “Trump” ICE or Customs or DEA agents who evicted them; it was the threatening failure of a 50-year-old work of major economic infrastructure. It has clearly been in need of investment for repairs.

Gov. Jerry Brown, who in December had virtually called for independence for California over President Trump’s climate policies, was forced to ask for a Federal emergency disaster declaration.

It should give those Californians, and other Americans watching this dramatic event, a “wake-up call.”

Emergency radio/TV announcements starting at 5:45 p.m. Pacific time Sunday stated that a failure of the Oroville Dam emergency spillway, in the Northern California Sierra Nevada foothills, was “expected” within as little as 60 minutes. Oroville is the highest dam in the United States at 770 feet, 44 feet higher than the world-famous Hoover Dam. Very heavy rains had filled Lake Oroville completely, to a total maximum depth of 900 feet, then 902 feet. By later Sunday night 190,000 people were out of their homes, which remain threatened.

The dam is not damaged, but its main spillway—essentially a steep concrete canal—obviously has needed repairs. Once the operators started releasing 50,000 cubic feet/second down that spillway to get the lake back down below 900 feet, a huge hole opened up in the spillway and water burst out sideways and down into the Feather River. The operators then started releasing water down the dam’s auxiliary spillway on its other end, a hillside with a reinforced wall on top. Once that too started eroding with only very small releases, the potential arose for explosive flooding, with the lake bursting through the hillside, and immediate mass evacuation was ordered.

With releases down the concrete spillway then doubled to 100,000 cubic feet/sec—making the large hole even bigger—Lake Oroville had been stabilized at 898 feet by Monday. But the forecast of more heavy rain starting Wednesday means continuing danger for the towns around the lake. And operators will have to assess whether the main spillway will make it through the releases necessary during the mountain snowmelt season, without the huge sinkhole expanding and breaking it apart.

Whatever happens next, Oroville Dam is a warning.

Years of severe drought in the West have given way, temporarily and primarily in Northern California, to very heavy Pacific Ocean rains. Despite EIR and LaRouche PAC having developed the infrastructure needs in detail, for both tackling the long-lasting drought and handling episodic flooding, nothing has been done. Governor Brown’s answer, backed by zero funding by Barack Obama’s administration, was to cut water use, and then cut it further, in the nation’s most productive farming and industrial state.

And Oroville Dam, a project spearheaded by Brown’s father Gov. Edmund Brown, and finished under Gov. Ronald Reagan, needed repair investments and didn’t get them. Twelve-year-old recommendations that the emergency spillway had to be armored with concrete were ignored by both the state and the Bush administration, because of a cost of tens of millions of dollars.

How much good did using less water do for those residents, when Lake Oroville started coming over the top of the dam? LaRouche PAC and EIR campaigned since 2010 for a new water transport, management, and water production system for the entire drought-hit West, as well as nuclear desalination to supply city and agricultural water. The whole necessary investment is developed in Chapter 11 of EIR’s special report, The New Silk Road Becomes the World Land-Bridge.

Now the Trump administration is promising large-scale investments in infrastructure at last, and discussing investments from Japan, with such offers from China as well. It will take the national enactment of Lyndon LaRouche’s “Four Laws,” including immediately Glass-Steagall re-enactment and a national credit institution for such investments, to make Trump’s promises happen.


Iran Is Emerging As the Connectivity Link for Vast Section of Asia and Europe

Feb. 13 (EIRNS)—Iran, linked to Central Asia, South Asia and Southwest Asia by land and situated on the Persian Gulf, is emerging as the connectivity link between Asia and Europe. Head of Economy Ministry’s Department of Banking and Insurance Affairs, Alireza Khatounzadeh Abyaneh, talking to Shada.ir, the Economy Ministry’s Economic News and Financial Affairs Center, said Iran became one of the founding members of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) in order to exploit the “great opportunity to tap a great potential for resources and investment,” the Iranian English-language daily Financial Tribune reported today.

“Due to our budget limitations and a shortage of funds, benefiting from these resources for our infrastructure projects is of great importance and based on AIIB’s statutes, Iran is eligible to use its resources not only in its infrastructure projects but also to undertake similar projects in other member countries and move toward sustainable economic development,” he said. He also pointed out that “since China is the founder of AIIB and also the force behind the New Silk Road, and as Iran is located on the Silk Road, the northeastern provinces will be able to use the bank’s resources for infrastructure [projects].”

Iran is also a very important participant on the North-South corridor (International North-South Transport Corridor) which will enable goods to get transported from the Persian Gulf through the Caspian Sea by ship and along both the shores of the Caspian Sea by railroad. This particular corridor will be utilized by the South, Southeast, East and the Central Asian countries to access Europe through Russia.

A major beneficiary of this route will be land-locked Afghanistan which will secure access to the corridor as well as to the Arabian Sea and beyond. Afghanistan’s Consul-General in India Mohammad Aman Amin said that Chabahar Port of Iran, which is being developed by India, “is likely to open in a month’s time and it will provide impetus to the trade between India and Afghanistan,” Press Trust of India reported.

The opening of the Chabahar Port will enable the Asian countries, located on the Arabian Sea, Andaman Sea, Indian Ocean, and the Pacific, to access the North-South land corridor through Iran to Afghanistan, Central Asia, Russia and Europe.


Former U.S. Senator Webb Describes Democrats Slowing Down Trump Agenda

Feb. 13 (EIRNS)—Former Democratic U.S. Senator from Virginia James Webb said in an appearance on NBC News’ ”Meet the Press” yesterday, “There is a campaign going on on the Hill, in the media, in academia, to personally discredit not only Donald Trump, but the people who are around him. And, you know, the end result of this really is to try to slow down the process, by the way. You and I were talking a minute ago about the confirmation process … slow it down, so that by [2018], when the Democrats are very vulnerable, particularly in the Senate, there will not be a record of accomplishment that they can run against,” the Daily Caller reported today.

Webb was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2006, but chose not to run for re-election in 2012. Before serving in the Senate, Webb, a highly decorated Vietnam veteran, had been Secretary of the Navy under President Ronald Reagan. Webb is also the author of eight books, including six Vietnam-based novels, and an award-winning filmmaker. He ran for the Democratic Presidential nomination in 2016, but dropped out of the race after poor results in several early primaries.

In the 2018 Senate elections, Republicans have only 8 incumbent Senators facing re-election. The Democrats have 23, or 25, if the 2 Independents who caucus with the Democrats are counted.

Trump’s Possible Choice for Ambassador to EU Calls for ‘Grexit’ and Warns of Euro Collapse

Feb. 13 (EIRNS)—European Union fanatics are up in arms over the idea that President Donald Trump is considering naming Ted Malloch as his ambassador to the European Union. Some have said they will not accredit his appointment, a move Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission, would not rule out. Perhaps the reason is that Malloch has voiced the view that not only is the Eurozone heading for a collapse, but the EU itself could come to an end.

In a recent interview with the popular Greek Skai Television, Malloch expressed these views and also called both for substantial debt relief for Greece and for Greece to exit the euro, i.e., a Grexit. When asked whether he thinks the Eurozone will survive, Malloch answered: “Well, I think certainly there will be a Europe; whether the Eurozone survives, I think it’s very much a question that is on the agenda. We have had the exit of the U.K. [from the EU], there are elections in other European countries, so I think it’s something that will be determined over the course of the next year, year-and-a-half. I think it is interesting from the perspective of Greece, why is Greece again on the brink; it seems like a déjà vu; will it ever end? I think this time I would have to say that the odds are higher that Greece itself will break out of the euro.”

As to why Greece should leave, Malloch added, “I think we have to face some facts; I mean, the first one is that the harsh austerity programs have been a complete failure. I have traveled to Greece, met lots of Greek people, I have academic friends in Greece, and they say that these austerity plans are really deeply hurting the Greek people and that the situation is simply unsustainable. So you might have to ask the question if what comes next could possibly be worse than what’s happening now.” He reiterated that Greece “really needs debt relief, and I know people in Europe don’t want to hear that … it means a haircut to the lenders and to the banks in Germany and probably, at least in my perspective, a return to the drachma.”

When asked about the President’s view, Malloch said; “I would remind your audience that no one less than President Trump himself about a year ago tweeted that the Greeks are wasting their time in the Eurozone. So you have it directly from the person, you don’t need an intermediary…. I also look at the polls, and in Greece, I am actually moderately surprised to see that now the majority of the Greek citizens themselves in a recent poll said that it was wrong to join the euro in the first place….”

He called for a “supply-side” policy that would get the economy moving, but added that “frankly, I don’t see how you do that inside the euro that’s tilted towards other players in Central Europe and Germany.”

Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov Discusses Syria Settlement in NTV Interview

Feb. 13 (EIRNS)—Russian President Putin’s website yesterday reported his meeting with Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Feb. 10, “Diplomats Day” in Russia.

Lavrov gave the following analysis on the peace process for Syria in an interview to NTV, according to RT:  “We are currently in a situation which is much more favorable to start working on a real settlement of the crisis [in Syria]. We were close to it in September last year, but the Americans failed to implement an agreement which had been coordinated with us earlier, which once more confirmed the Obama Administration’s inability to negotiate on many issues.

“They [U.S.] took an agreement and then couldn’t do anything [within it],” Lavrov said, “largely because of Obama’s reluctance to have an argument with some countries in the region,” leaving a settlement through the UN’s participation “turned to [result in] zero progress,” he said.

Moscow could no longer rely with such foot-dragging, the minister told NTV, and that a decision had to be made to take action in other ways, such as through Russian-Turkish relations. “We know that Turkey has influence, and continues to influence a very considerable number of field commanders.”

Lavrov emphasized that Russia’s involvement in securing a cease-fire in Syria is not trying “to undermine the UN’s efforts, although our initiative was largely based on [others’] inaction, we understand that many more sides should be involved in peace talks than those currently working on the [Astana] negotiations.” There should be more participation from Syria and “players from the outside….” he said.

Parallel to the Astana peace process, Russia is also preparing for talks under the UN auspices, Lavrov told NTV, and that so far such a meeting has been confirmed for Feb. 20.

In those talks, he stressed, the “whims” of some Syrian opposition group leaders, “especially those who have long been living outside Syria,” should not be taken into consideration. “If it once again becomes a hindrance to hold UN talks, then the organization’s reputation will be seriously damaged,” he said.

Lavrov said that U.S. representatives were present as monitors at the recent meeting in Astana, Kazakhstan, and he confirmed that an invitation had been sent to Washington to take part in the talks, once a new team on the Middle East and Syria is formed under the incoming administration.

“If U.S. President Trump’s main priority in the international arena is fighting terrorism, then it should be admitted that in Syria, not only the Syrian army supported by the Russian Air Force are fighting ISIS, but also Hezbollah groups supported by Iran. There is a choice of priorities here….

“I am sure that Donald Trump is absolutely sincere  every time he confirms his determination to defeat ISIS. We are ready to cooperate with him,” Lavrov concluded, and he expressed the hope that cooperation between Russian military and American military in Syria “will soon start to form again.”


Evidence of Changing Attitudes among Parties in Syria Conflict

Feb. 13 (EIRNS)—The general evidence emerging out of the Astana/Geneva process towards a political resolution of the war in Syria, is that, as a result of the work of Russia, Turkey, and Iran, those three guarantor countries of the cease-fire in Syria announced on Dec. 29, positions are slowly changing compared to what they were a year ago.

The Saudi-backed High Negotiations Committee announced, yesterday, the composition of the delegation it will be sending to Geneva to participate in the UN peace talks there, scheduled to begin on Feb. 20. The delegation, for the first time, includes representation from two groups of Syrian political opposition that had heretofore been excluded, the Moscow group and the Cairo group, both of which have “have long disavowed the armed rebellion and insisted that political change can only come through peaceful activism,” reports Reuters.

The HNC said, in a statement, that the goal of the negotiations was a political transition under UN auspices in which Assad had no role in the future of the country, reports Reuters, but it is no longer insisting that Assad step down from power at the beginning of a transition.

Another sign of change comes from Turkey, where President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in remarks delivered to reporters in Istanbul yesterday, said that Turkey has no intention of staying in Syria indefinitely. Turkish troops will not remain in Syria once the Islamic State (ISIS) is defeated, and they will leave the lands to their “true owners.” A year ago, Erdogan was still committed to the regime-change policy for Damascus, but has withdrawn from that since the Russian-Turkish collaboration began, late last year.


Top U.S. Rocket Maker Will Lay Off More Workers, To ‘Compete’

Feb. 13 (EIRNS)—U.S. rocket company United Launch Alliance (ULA), created ten years ago as a joint venture between aerospace giants Lockheed Martin and Boeing, and the supplier of Atlas and Delta rockets to NASA, the Pentagon, and commercial customers, is cutting back employees to reduce costs, to be able to “compete” with SpaceX.

ULA launches have typically been about double the cost of what SpaceX is advertising as its $62 million price. As reported in Satnews Daily Feb. 6, ULA could be reducing employment by about 400 positions, after having eliminated 350 jobs last year. Its total employment in 2015 was 3,750. These are some of the most highly skilled people in the aerospace industry.

The proof of the pudding is in the eating—ULA has had 114 consecutive successful missions since 2006. SpaceX has lost two rockets in the past 19 months.

To be fair, Lockheed, Martin Marietta, and the other early aerospace manufacturers blew up plenty of rockets in their first tries, at the start of the Space Age. But their recent record of success, which is the product of years of experience, a highly skilled workforce, and continued technological development, means that the real “cost” of trying to compete with “new space” entrants may be the reliability of the space program.

India Is Increasing Its Space Exploration Spending by More than 20%

Feb. 13 (EIRNS)—Pointing out the cuts in recent budgetary support to the space sector in both the United States and Russia, the pioneers of deep-space exploration over many decades, Eric Burger, senior space editor at Ars Technica, wrote: “India is increasing its space exploration spending for 2017-18 by more than 20%.”

Describing the plans in the coming years for the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), a state-owned organization, the article said the budgetary “increases will provide initial funding for two new ambitious Indian space science missions—one to Mars and another to Venus. Although the budget documents do not provide much detail, reports in Indian newspapers suggest the ‘Mars Orbiter Mission II’ may include some kind of lander, with a launch in 2021 or 2022; the ‘Mission to Venus’ will be a more straightforward orbiter.”

Burger also observed, “These are heady days for India’s space program, which has continued to scale up its ambitions since 2014, when its small 13 kg Mars Orbiter Mission reached the red planet and began sending back a stream of data and images. India has also begun flight tests of a reusable space plane, the RLV-TD, with the aim of slashing launch costs.” He also noted that at the time “its budget prospects are brightening, India is gearing up for one of its highest-ever profile launches,” which plans to propel this week 104 satellites into orbits in a single launch.


Another Measure of China’s Growth, U.S. Stagnation and Poverty

Feb. 13 (EIRNS)—A research paper from the private National Bureau of Economic Research, in Washington, presents a stark contrast in what has happened to “the bottom 50” of income earners—the base of the working population—in the United States and China over the past 40 years.

The real incomes of the lower half (by income) of households in the American population, are actually lower than they were in 1978. While the NBER is primarily focussed on rising income inequality, which has occurred in both countries, its treatment of the question of the working population’s real incomes is what stands out. In China, the real incomes of the “lower half,” by income, are 401% higher (i.e., five times as large) than they were in 1978, as poverty has been virtually eliminated in its population of 1.5 billion people.

Moreover, when wealth rather than income is considered, the ratio of household wealth, to household income, has been rising just as fast in China over these 40 years, as in the United States.


Argentina’s Scandal-Ridden President Faces Labor Revolt

Feb. 13 (EIRNS)—Argentina’s labor movement is preparing a national strike and mass protest against the increasingly scandal-ridden and unpopular President Mauricio “Panama Papers” Macri, whose City of London- and Wall Street-directed economic policies have thrust the country into a crisis reminiscent of the 1990s.

The CGT labor federation has set March 7 as the date for a nationwide protest march, and is expected to announce a national strike against Macri soon. While its bureaucratic leadership would prefer to negotiate with Macri, it can no longer ignore popular rage over continued firings, utility rate hikes in the range of 50%, attempts to eliminate labor rights, and shutdown of small and medium-sized businesses that generate 70% of the country’s jobs.

Almost all of the large infrastructure projects that were either underway or planned when Macri took office in December 2015, are semi-paralyzed or halted altogether. These include the Russian-financed Chihuido hydroelectric dam and the Chinese-financed Kirchner-Cepernic hydroelectric complex in Santa Cruz, projects that former President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner signed in 2014 with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping, respectively.

Bank workers have announced a 24-hour nationwide strike for Feb. 17, over the government’s refusal to allow banks to pay wages as agreed to in collective bargaining. Teachers in Buenos Aires province, the country’s most populous, are also expected to announce a general strike, to protest the governor’s refusal to allow a wage increase higher than 18%, despite an annual inflation rate running close to 40%. The powerful metalworkers union, the UOM, 80,000 of whose affiliates have been fired, is holding a protest march tomorrow and will also join the national strike, as will the teamsters union. Many social and community organizations are backing the general strike call.

Macri’s popularity rating continues to plummet, while Fernández de Kirchner’s has risen. Widely expected to announce her candidacy for Senate from Buenos Aires province in the October midterm elections, despite the unprecedented legal and political persecution against her, Fernández de Kirchner is speaking out aggressively against Macri’s murderous policies, attacking the loss of jobs, destruction of labor rights, and the all-out assault on the population’s general welfare.

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