EIR Daily Alert Service
WEDNESDAY, JULY 5, 2017
Volume 4, Number 132
EIR Daily Alert Service
P.O. Box 17390, Washington, DC 20041-0390
July 4 (EIRNS)—Helga Zepp-LaRouche had said that the July 4 Moscow summit of China’s President Xi Jinping and Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, would in effect be the first event of the forthcoming July 7-8 Group of 20 Summit. In fact, today’s Moscow summit began the Group of 20 meetings on an incredibly high level. If the Group of 20 summit and its many side meetings could succeed in maintaining the high level of Presidents Xi’s and Putin’s meeting today, then the G20 leaders would have virtually insured a flourishing and peaceful future for humanity.
Putin, Xi and their delegations concluded numerous agreements—so numerous, in fact, that most of them seem not yet even to have been listed in English. But at the center of them, as President Putin noted, was the coordination of the Eurasian Economic Union with the Belt and Road Initiative launched by China. Referring to the May 14-15 Belt and Road Initiative Forum in Beijing (at which Helga Zepp-LaRouche was a guest), President Putin said, “This initiative of the Chinese leader deserves the closest attention and will be supported by Russia in every possible way.”
President Xi noted that this was his sixth trip to Russia as President, and his third meeting with President Putin this year.
During a break between the meetings of the two delegations, President Putin awarded President Xi the Order of St. Andrew the Apostle, Russia’s highest decoration, inaugurated by Peter the Great in 1698. Putin said that he did this in recognition of Xi Jinping’s special services in the development of partnership, strategic cooperation, and also of friendship between the two states.
This award ceremony was a deeply personal moment which also lawfully brought out what is most universal between the two leaders. President Xi said that the present period is “probably the best period in the history of Chinese-Russian comprehensive partnership and strategic cooperation.” He noted in different ways that the two are pursuing this partnership in the interests of not only their own, but of all nations.
Then came the statement which many have found so remarkable—which has produced freakouts. The statement that they have left geopolitics completely behind them, as Helga Zepp-LaRouche has called for, for decades. On being presented the Order of St. Andrew, President Xi Jinping said, “Mr. Putin and I fully agree that Chinese-Russian relations must remain free of any external influence, despite any changes on the international stage.”
U.S. POLITICAL AND ECONOMIC
July 4 (EIRNS)—The White House has confirmed reports that U.S. President Donald Trump will meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin this Friday. Their talk will take place during the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany, and is planned as “a full-fledged ‘sit down’ meeting,” RT reported, citing Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov.
Ahead of the summit, Trump spoke by phone with German Chancellor Angela Merkel about trade and climate issues, the White House said.
Trump will also meet with Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-Ocha on the sidelines of the summit. This could potentially be a game changer in U.S.-Thai relations, because, under Obama, relations were strained since the 2014 Thai coup. Prayuth turned to China, while constantly under attack from Washington about democracy and human rights.
STRATEGIC WAR DANGER
July 4 (EIRNS)—North Korea has launched another missile on Tuesday, and according to the Japanese Ministry of Defense it fell into the Japanese Exclusive Economic Zone. In a statement the ministry said: “Details are being analyzed, however, the ballistic missile allegedly exceeded an altitude of 2,500 km and flew about 900 km in 40 minutes before landing in the Sea of Japan in our country’s exclusive economic zone.”
In response, President Donald Trump tweeted: “North Korea has just launched another missile. Does this guy [North Korean leader Kim Jong-un] have anything better to do with his life? Hard to believe that South Korea and Japan will put up with this much longer. Perhaps China will put a heavy move on North Korea and end this nonsense once and for all!”
The North Korean issue was taken up by both Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping during their summit in Moscow, where the two leaders agreed to continue their own initiative for a peaceful settlement of the North Korean nuclear issue. Putin said: “Among joint foreign policy priorities is a comprehensive resolution of the Korean Peninsula problems with the interests of ensuring lasting peace and stability in Northeastern Asia. We have agreed to promote our common initiative based on the Russian phased plan for the Korean settlement and Chinese ideas to simultaneously freeze North Korea’s nuclear activities and the U.S. and South Korea’s large-scale military drills.”
Putin’s statement was followed by Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov calling for a cautious response. “We are alarmed and concerned and are following the developments in Northeast Asia with a great deal of apprehension,” he said. “The most important thing now is not to go too far with the response. Those who have a responsible approach towards the task of ensuring peace should understand that using this incident as a pretext for triggering another spiral of counter-measures, which will inevitably lead to reciprocal steps, is a tried and tested dead-end track.” He insisted that “the only alternative is stabilization in terms of actions.”
Drawing attention to the fact that North Korea’s missile test runs counter to UN Security Council resolutions, he said, “Russia voted for these resolutions and cannot stand on the sidelines of these developments. The status quo must be retained, and then the de-escalation process should begin, a step-by-step movement towards the moment when dialogue can be launched. That’s the bottom line of Russia’s proposals.”
July 4 (EIRNS)—The U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces have breached the Old City of Raqqa in Syria, a first step in what is expected to be a long fight to wrest from the Islamic State the city it claims as a capital, the U.S. Central Command announced late July 3.
The SDF fighters, made up of Syrian Kurds and Arabs, and supported by the U.S.-led coalition fighting ISIS, had aimed to trap as many as 2,500 ISIS militants defending Raqqa before entering the city, the New York Times reported.
COLLAPSING WESTERN FINANCIAL SYSTEM
July 4 (EIRNS)—The latest disbursement of the Greek bailout funds is being blocked by the International Monetary Fund because of the alleged failure of Greece to complete three so-called “prior actions.”
The IMF pressure tactics have more of the character of Russian Roulette than blackmail, because the big loser is not Greece if it doesn’t comply, but the European Central Bank. The funds are needed to make debt payments of €2 billion to private bondholders and €290 million to the IMF, but some €4 billion to the European Central Bank on July 20. The tranche will amount to €7.7 billion, with another €800 million due to be disbursed in the fall.
The so-called prior actions include the issuance of a legal opinion on whether the reduction of pensions from 2019 is compatible with the Greek Constitution, a ministerial decision to determine the exact streets where stores can open every Sunday from May to October, and the adoption of a legal clause related to the liberalization of the engineering profession. The IMF insists these three actions specifically must be completed before it will propose to its board that it should participate in Greece’s new program.
July 4 (EIRNS)—In the United States now, the average new car buyer is taking almost six years to pay off a car loan, which that may outlast the functional life of the car. And that’s the average, which means roughly half the car buyers are having to stretch out their loan payments longer than that.
The Edmunds Industry Center yesterday released figures that show that the average car loan now stretches out to 69.3 months, an all-time high. That’s up 6.8% from five years ago. And as of June, the average amount auto buyers are financing has also jumped to its greatest increase of the year, $30,945, resulting in the highest monthly payments for the year, $517.
Said Edmunds Executive Director of Industry Analysis Jessica Caldwell, “It’s financially risky, leaving borrowers exposed to being upside down on their vehicles for a large chunk of their loans.”
Edmunds also found that the annual percentage rate on the loans dipped just below 5% for the first time since February, averaging 4.96% in June. The APR has increased 5.7% from a year ago, and 13.6% from five years ago.
July 4 (EIRNS)—The governors and legislative leaders of New Jersey and Maine have reached agreements on their state budgets—just as the new fiscal year begins—ending the immediate crises, but without solving any of the problems. The partial government shutdowns have ended in both states, leaving at least seven others—Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Wisconsin—with no budgets as they enter FY 2018, which began July 1, 2017 and runs to June 30, 2018. Media reports say Illinois may be close to resolving (papering over) its budget impasse, that has kept it from having an operating budget for more than two years.
In New Jersey, Gov. Chris Christie signed a $34.7 billion budget for FY 2018. The new budget directs revenue from the state lottery to go to the state’s underfunded pension fund, according to NJ.com. A key stumbling block to getting a budget signed had been the amount of control the state would have over the medical insurer Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey. During the shutdown, Christie shrugged off his and his family’s being photographed sunbathing in a state park that he had ordered shut down because of the budget impasse. He since ordered the parks open for the Fourth of July.
July 3 (EIRNS)—Addressing the African National Congress Policy Conference in Nasrec, Johannesburg, today, South Africa’s Economic Development Minister Ebrahim Patel pointed out the huge, $100 billion annual requirement to build up Africa’s infrastructure.
“It has been estimated that the infrastructure gap on the continent is something like $100 billion, an enormous sum of money that has to be invested every year to be able to ensure that Africa can meet the needs of a rapidly urbanizing population and still relatively high growth rates in many parts of the continent,” Patel said, South African Broadcasting Corp. (SABC) reported.
Last July, the African Development Bank, in a report published on its website, noted that, according to the Africa Infrastructure Country Diagnostic, the infrastructure needs of Sub-Saharan Africa exceed $93 billion annually over the next 10 years. To date, less than half that amount is being provided, thus leaving a financing gap of more than $50 billion to fill. It is well known that China is the leading outside country helping Africa to meet that deficit.
The poor state of infrastructure in Sub-Saharan Africa—its electricity, water, roads, and information and communications technology—cuts national economic growth by 2% every year and reduces productivity by as much as 40%.
In a June 9, 2016 article, African Business pointed out that a staggering 600 million Africans do not have access to power today, while the road access rate across the continent is just 34%, compared to 50% in other developing regions. The region’s economies are paying a heavy price for this, with an estimated 2.1% of GDP shaved off growth in Sub-Saharan Africa annually.
SCIENCE AND INFRASTRUCTURE
July 3 (EIRNS)—The Chinese shipping company, COSCO, as new owner of the Piraeus Port Authority (OLP) in Greece, is planning to bring shipbuilding back to the port. OLP chief executive Fu Chengqiu made the point during a joint visit with Greek cabinet members to the Perama Ship Repair Zone.
Fu said COSCO intends to first revitalize and develop the ship repair industry in Greece, and, in a second phase, move toward resumption of shipbuilding. The Perama Ship Repair Zone is part of OLP and has been going through a refurbishment of its two fixed docks and two floating docks. In November 2017 it will receive a new floating dock, 240 meters long, and able to handle ships up to 80,000 tons. This will allow the country’s large ferries to undergo their annual maintenance in Greece and not have to travel to Turkey, thereby promote Greek jobs.
Fu made his statements on June 30 during a visit to Perama along with Shipping Minister Panayiotis Kouroublis and Deputy Economy Minister Stergios Pitsiorlas, in the presence of shipping association representatives. The meeting was aimed at promoting the installation upgrade and the government’s efforts to create jobs.
July 4 (EIRNS)—The thread by which British Prime Minister Theresa May is hanging may be close to snapping. As all major British dailies report today, May is enmeshed in a new scandal, accused of suppressing a report mandated in January 2016 by then-Prime Minister David Cameron on foreign—specifically Saudi—funding of extremism in the United Kingdom. May has reportedly been sitting on the report for six months and the decision on whether to make it public rests solely in her hands.
According to the Guardian, Cameron ordered the report as part of a deal with the Liberal Democrats in order to obtain their support for extending British airstrikes against the Islamic State in Syria. The review was conducted by the extremism analysis unit within the Home Office, presided over at that time by May.
In a parliamentary question to the Home Office last week, Green Party co-leader Caroline Lucas raised the obvious point that the delay in publishing the report “leaves question marks over whether their decision is influenced by our diplomatic ties.” May’s cozy relationship with the Saudis—one of her first trips abroad was to Riyadh—is well documented. When Lucas re-submitted her parliamentary question to May directly, May replied that ministers “were still considering advice on what is able to be published and will report to Parliament with an update in due course.” Who is giving the advice? Lucas asked.
In light of recent terrorist incidents at the Manchester Arena and London Bridge, demands for release of the report are growing, coming from Members of Parliament and other political leaders. Last May, according to the London Times, Liberal Dem foreign affairs spokesman Tom Brake stated in a letter to May that, “it is no secret that Saudi Arabia in particular provides funding to hundreds of mosques in the U.K., espousing a very hard-line Wahhabist interpretation of Islam. It is often in these institutions that British extremism takes root. Now is not the time to brush this under the carpet once more.”
Outgoing Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron charged, “We hear regularly about Saudi arms deals or ministers going to Riyadh to kowtow before the Royal Family, but yet, our government won’t release a report that will clearly criticize Saudi Arabia…. All this government seems to care about is cozying up to one of the most extreme, nasty and oppressive regimes in the world. You would think our security would be more important, but it appears not.”