In Suspense—Be Prepared for Big Things Ahead
July 5 (EIRNS)—There is a sense of the world being “in suspense” right now, pending the events of the July 7-8 meeting of the Group of 20 in Hamburg, Germany. This is certainly not because there are grounds for presuming a miracle will drop from the sky to save the day. The likelihood is for a formal papering-over of rotten splits and policies. But there are individuals and powers in action, to force a change for the good.
There is no time to lose; dangers are great. As Russian President Vladimir Putin said recently at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, “we must not—have no right to—waste our efforts and time on squabbles, feuds and geopolitical games.” This was cited last Friday by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov at the Primakov Readings International Forum, who warned, “What we need are wise and balanced approaches….”
This is urgent, regarding the situation with North Korea, where the UN Security Council is meeting today, under the chairmanship of China. Chinese President Xi Jinping and Putin yesterday mandated their Foreign Ministers to issue a policy statement on what to do towards a good resolution.
President Xi is doing his part in the countdown to the Group of 20. In Germany, on July 4, he released a signed article, carried in the mainstream media, titled, “To Make the World a Better Place.” This came in advance of his meeting today with Chancellor Angela Merkel and other German leaders. Xi stated that the “Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation, recently held in Beijing, is aimed at stepping up the synergy of development strategies and connectivity” among nations, and that, “it chimes with the theme of this year’s Hamburg Summit, ‘Shaping an Interconnected World.’ The Belt and Road Initiative and G20 cooperation could complement and reinforce each other.” Xi said that China hopes to work with all parties at the Hamburg Summit for global growth.
In Xinhua’s Chinese-language coverage of the ensuing hot debate in Germany over Xi’s remarks, Schiller Institute founder and chairwoman Helga Zepp-LaRouche was quoted, after being described as, “Germany’s well-known Schiller Institute think tank chairwoman and founder.” She strongly endorsed Xi’s efforts to build a “community of common destiny,” and she too, stressed the importance of the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation. Further, Zepp-LaRouche said, “The development of Africa is one of the important issues of the G20 Summit. China has really solved the refugee problem at the source, through investment and construction of railways, dams, power stations, industrial parks and training of the African labor force. If Europe wants to solve the refugee crisis in a humane way, it should be involved in ‘building all the way.’ ” (This was translated roughly from the Xinhua news wire which has also appeared in Sina, on CGTN, and on the site of the Chinese Ministry of Defense.)
The lack of action in the spirit of the Belt and Road, is showing up dramatically in many situations. Look at New York City. On Monday, July 10, starts the “Summer of Hell,” when there will be planned outages of track at Penn Station, to make overdue repairs, but there is no overview plan for the entire region, nor associated contingency measures for the population. This time next week could be absolute chaos, hysteria and suffering.
Yet the Federal Department of Transportation just pulled its representative off the board of the “Gateway Project,” a program of merit, to build new crossings of the Hudson River between New Jersey and Manhattan. The proposed 2018 Federal budget also has no funding for Portal Bridge works, the lone Hackensack River crossing that handles all the north-south rail from New Jersey into Manhattan.
Internationally, look at the food situation. On July 3, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization released a statement that world hunger is on the rise. The emergency needs in Yemen, Nigeria and South Sudan, and elsewhere, are the most severe since World War II.
On July 7, as the G20 opens, there will also be an international conference, co-sponsored by the Schiller Institute, in New York City, on “Food for Peace: The New Name for Peace Is Economic Development,” where participants, including diplomats, agriculture experts, and U.S. farm representatives, will confer on solving emergencies, and moving ahead to a world of food in abundance, and a “common destiny” of development. One farm organization leader’s conference statement says, “We have no idea of the wonderful advances ahead, if we get on track with deliberate development policies, and get off the track of the lies that we are to ‘trust the market forces.’ ”
The means to this are at hand: statesman Lyndon LaRouche’s “Four Laws.”
NEW GLOBAL ECONOMIC ORDER
‘China, Russia Pledge To Play Role of Ballast Stone for World Peace’
July 5 (EIRNS)—That headline on a Xinhua news story on yesterday’s historic summit between the Chinese and Russian Presidents, Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin, sums up a central thrust of the discussions. In their joint press conference concluding the summit, Xi reported that “President Putin and I wholeheartedly agree that the present world is disquieting, local conflicts and wars appear continuously. As before, issues like the Korean Peninsula and Syria remain complicated.
“We are determined to bolster coordination and cooperation with Russia in international affairs together with the international community, step up efforts to optimize the global governance system to maintain strategic balance and stability throughout the world in order to jointly overcome global threats and challenges such as terrorism, and to work together to encourage the process of resolving conflicts in hot spots through political means, in order to form a new type of interstate relations based on cooperation and mutual benefit.”
President Putin likewise emphasized their agreement “to boost cooperation in various multilateral formats, in particular, at the UN, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and the G20,” also citing, as had Xi, their role in the BRICS. “To sum up,” said Putin, “Russia and China really have very close or identical opinions on all major international issues. We intend to continue developing our foreign policy coordination.”
Those foreign policy agreements were spelled out in a “Joint Statement on the Current Status of Global Affairs and Important International Issues” signed by the two Presidents, in addition to two key bilateral documents, the “Joint Statement of the People’s Republic of China and the Russian Federation on the Further Expansion of Comprehensive Partnership and Strategic Cooperation,” and their approval of the “Action Plan To Implement the Provisions of the Treaty on Good-Neighborliness, Friendship and Cooperation for 2017-2020.”
The full text of the Joint Statement on Global Affairs had not been published in English as yet, but news reports have referenced their statements regarding the North Korean and Syrian hotspots.
According to the BRICS Post, on Syria, the two countries denounced regime change via illegal external intervention, and said that “China and Russia are also calling for an independent investigation into the Syrian chemical weapons issue.”
Xi-Putin Summit Develop Exciting Perspectives for Chinese-Russian Economic Cooperation
July 5 (EIRNS)—Were that other meetings between international leaders so promising for their nations’ people as the just-concluded Xi Jinping-Vladimir Putin summit!
The 40 bilateral agreements signed dealt with everything from agriculture to cooperation in the Belt and Road global development initiative, with a number of private contracts signed on the sidelines of the summit as well. To support these economic development initiatives, the Presidents backed the agreement between the Russian Direct Investment Fund and the China Development Bank to create a nearly $10 billion joint investment fund (65 billion yuan). President Putin reported that they had agreed also “to continue consultations on the wider use of our national currencies in mutual transactions and in investment,” having “set ourselves the task of more actively developing the credit and financial sphere and cooperation in this field.”
High-technology and scientific cooperation was high on their agenda. Putin, in their press conference afterwards, cited the successful construction of the first unit of the Tianwan nuclear power plant (the largest in operation in China, built with Russian technology), and said that two more units will become operational in 2018. The two Presidents also instructed Russia’s atomic energy agency Rosatom “to sign a package of documents on four nuclear power projects in China before the end of 2017,” Sputnik reports.
“Today we particularly focused on high-tech industries—primarily, joint space exploration. We are working on the next space program for 2018-2022,” Putin also reported.
In citing the Moscow-Kazan high-speed rail project amongst key joint projects, Putin also said that the two had discussed “the localization of rolling stock manufacturing in Russia.”
He also raised the growing scientific and educational ties between Russia and China, reporting that 25,000 Chinese students currently study in Russia, and 17,000 Russian students are in China, exchanges which the Presidents foresee rising to 100,000 student exchanges by 2020. For example, the first Russian-Chinese University will begin accepting its first students in September.
In their concluding press briefing, Putin emphasized, once again, that their joint economic projects are part of their efforts to “join the activity of the Eurasian Economic Union with the Chinese initiative of the Silk Road Economic Belt,” which they discussed “in-depth … in line with our idea to form a broad Eurasian partnership.”
Putin elaborated: “We see big potential in the joint use of the Northern Sea Route and the Trans-Siberian and Baikal-Amur Railways. This is largely in tune with our Chinese partners’ initiatives discussed during the recent the Belt and Road international forum in China. The initiative of the Chinese leader deserves the closest attention and will be supported by Russia in every possible way.
“I am confident that these large-scale projects will result in intensive trade, modern production and jobs and the rapid development of Russian and Chinese regions.”
Leaders of China and Germany Meet Ahead of G20 Summit
July 5 (EIRNS)—Arriving in Berlin this morning, Chinese President Xi Jinping discussed economic and other issues with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, including aspects of cooperation in third countries. At a joint press conference, Xi reiterated China’s strong interest in cooperation in pioneering high-tech sectors such as aerospace production. Merkel mentioned an agreement that has been signed with China for the joint construction of a hydropower complex in Angola, as evidence that both countries can have such joint projects also in other parts of Africa and in Afghanistan.
Merkel also said that Germany supports the New Silk Road project, stressing that Germany has taken a positive view of the initiative. “We would gladly participate in such projects,” she said, “and hope for a transparent tendering process.” Xi said that “Chinese-German relations now face a new beginning, in which we need new breakthroughs.”
Xi was to meet German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier later in the afternoon. Included in Xi’s Berlin agenda is a visit to the Berlin zoo to see pandas Meng Meng and Jiao Qing, who arrived June 24 on loan from China—seen as a special gesture since pandas are a very rare species and usually not given away by the Chinese. “I am convinced that these two can become new ambassadors of our friendship,” Xi said.
U.S. POLITICAL & ECONOMIC
Former Congressman Kucinich Slams Democrats Who Push 25th Amendment against Trump
July 5 (EIRNS)—Former Ohio Democrat Dennis Kucinich reiterated to Fox News his warning that the Democratic Party’s anti-Trump obsession “is destroying the party as an effective opposition.
“People want political parties to be focused on America’s economic needs, jobs, wages, heath care, education, retirement security and peace—and they want American politicians to be constructive, not destructive,” he told Fox News on Independence Day.
Fox had asked him specifically about Maryland Rep. Jamie Raskin’s bill to activate the 25th Amendment against President Trump, which Raskin introduced in April, and promoted again in a tweet last Friday.
H.R.1987, the Oversight Commission on Presidential Capacity Act, would establish an “Oversight Commission” as per the 25th Amendment, to carry out “a medical examination of the President to determine whether the President is mentally or physically unable to discharge the powers and duties of the office.”
Joining Raskin as original co-sponsors in introducing the bill were 19 other Democrats. The bill has gained two more co-sponsors since April 6, bringing the total up to 21.
COLLAPSING WESTERN FINANCIAL SYSTEM
Italy’s Monte dei Paschi Bank Is Nationalized and Restructured
July 5 (EIRNS)—The oldest bank in the world, Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena (MPS), is being taken over by the government of Italy. To make up a capital deficit of €8.1 billion, Italy will pay €5.4 billion, and an additional €2.7 billion is being seized from bondholders and converted to equity (ownership shares) in the failed bank.
The bank’s chief executive, Marco Morelli, who will remain in that position under new ownership, says that 600 of the bank’s 2,000 branches will close and 5,500 jobs will be eliminated. He also said they hoped to salvage 21% of the €28.6 billion in bad loans they are putting up for sale.
World Facing the Worst Food Crisis, FAO Warns
July 5 (EIRNS)—Addressing the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO’s) biennial conference in Rome on July 3, FAO’s Director-General José Graziano Da Silva made clear to the members that world hunger is on the rise, Reuters reported. “I wish I could announce here today some good news regarding the global fight against hunger,” Da Silva said. “But, unfortunately, it is not the case. Preliminary data available indicate for this year that the number of undernourished people in the world has increased, rising again,” Da Silva said. The preliminary data that Da Silva referred to are based on the FAO’s annual report, The State of Food Security and Nutrition, which is expected to be released this September.
Da Silva did not mention specific figures, but the number of people who did not have enough to eat has apparently increased since last year. It had dropped to 795 million in 2014-16, down 21% on 1990-92, according to the FAO. Da Silva pointed out that this year’s numbers were a surprise and he attributed the almost 20 million who are starving in South Sudan, Nigeria, Somalia and Yemen to drought and violent fighting taking place in some of those countries.
Achieving zero hunger by 2030 is one of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals adopted by member states in 2015. However, David Beasley, head of the UN World Food Program (WFP), told the conference that the goal had “zero chance of succeeding in the atmosphere that we have in the world today” because of conflicts, reported Reuters. Beasley has been nominated for the role of WFP executive director by the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump.
STRATEGIC WAR DANGER
No Agreement Reached at Fifth Astana Meeting on Syrian Ceasefire
July 5 (EIRNS)—The fifth meeting on the Syrian ceasefire, held in Astana, Kazakhstan, July 4-5, ended today, with a meeting of the guarantor countries, Russian, Turkey, and Iran, expected in Tehran at the beginning of August, in order to hash out the remaining disagreements.
There was still no agreement reached in Astana on implementing three de-escalation zones, already discussed at the previous meeting. “We have not been able to agree on setting up the de-escalation zones. Nevertheless, that’s our objective, and we will seek to achieve it in the immediate future,” said Alexander Lavrentiev, head of the Russian delegation to Astana and Russian Presidential Envoy for the Syrian Settlement. “Without making a decision on establishing these zones, we will be unable to approve the package of documents that would ensure the normal operation of these de-escalation zones,” he said.
Earlier reports had indicated that agreements had been reached on two of the zones, Eastern Ghouta and north of Homs, but that no agreement had been reached on Idlib province. Lavrentiev also indicated that agreement on a fourth zone in the south would have to be approved by the U.S. and Jordan, as those two countries support opposition groups in that part of Syria.
Bashar al-Jaafari, Syria’s ambassador to the UN and leader of the Syrian government delegation to Astana, attributed the meeting’s failure to reach a final agreement on “counter-efforts” of the Turkish side, reports the official Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA). “The Turkish attitude, since the start of the track of Astana process, has been negative, and this negativity has led to modest results in this round, especially with regard to the issues related to the de-escalation zones,” said al-Jaafari. “I can only say that the Turkish side did everything in its power to hinder reaching positive results that concern the interests of the Syrian people.”
Sen. Vladimir Dzhabarov, the First Deputy Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee in the Federation Council (Russia’s upper house), attributed the failure of the meeting to reach an agreement to uncertainties surrounding the anticipated July 8 meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Russia and China Propose New Joint Initiative on North Korea
July 5 (EIRNS)—During their meeting in Moscow yesterday, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping jointly proposed an initiative to reduce tensions on the Korean Peninsula. “We’ve agreed to promote our joint initiative, based on Russian step-by-step Korean settlement plan and Chinese ideas to simultaneously freeze North Korean nuclear and missile activities, and U.S. and South Korean joint military drills,” Putin said in the final press conference given by the two leaders.
Shortly afterwards, the Russian Foreign Ministry posted a fulsome joint statement, issued by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi just after the latest missile test by North Korea on July 4. The statement declared that “Russia and China will closely coordinate their efforts in order to promote a complex solution to the Korean Peninsula’s problems, including that of the nuclear issue, for the sake of achieving a lasting peace and stability in Northeast Asia.” The statement combines China’s dual suspension proposal, where North Korea agrees to a moratorium on further nuclear and missile testing while at the same time, the U.S. and South Korea suspend large-scale military exercises and a plan for a phased de-escalation of tensions on the peninsula. The opposing parties, according to the statement, will “begin talks and assert common principles of their relations, including the non-use of force, the renunciation of aggression, peaceful coexistence and determination to do all they can to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula with a view to promoting a complex resolution of all problems, including the nuclear issue.”
Russia’s Ambassador to the United Nations Vladimir Safronkov reported on the joint Russian-Chinese statement to the UN Security Council, which met in emergency session today. The dual suspension proposal and the gradual establishment of a mechanism for creating peace and security could lead to normalization of relations among all states, Safronkov said.
The U.S., Japan and South Korea, on the other hand, proposed a fresh batch of strong international and individual sanctions such as on labor exports and fuel trade, the Korea Herald reported this morning. “Any country that hosts North Korean guest workers, provides any economic or military benefits, or fails to fully implement UN Security Council resolutions is aiding and abetting a dangerous regime,” U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said in a statement. “We intend to bring North Korea’s provocative action before the UN Security Council and enact stronger measures to hold the D.P.R.K. (North Korea) accountable.”
U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley, during the emergency session of the UN Security Council, today, announced that the U.S. would soon be introducing a new resolution to further tighten sanctions on North Korea. While she wouldn’t provide any details, Haley indicated that North Korea’s access to hard currency as well as the flow of oil, increasing restrictions on air and maritime traffic, and holding the leadership of North Korea accountable, are additional measures that could be taken. Haley also indicated that the U.S. could use military force if other measured don’t force North Korea don’t back down.
SCIENCE & INFRASTRUCTURE
Another Record Achieved by China’s ‘Artificial Sun’ Program
July 5 (EIRNS)—“China Makes Key Breakthrough in Artificial Sun Research,” Xinhua reported today, on the announcement by scientists from its EAST tokamak program that they had set another world record for fusion energy research by achieving a fusion plasma pulse lasting for 101.2 seconds in the steady-state, high-confinement plasma known as the “steady-state H-mode operation.” The report came from scientists at the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Hefei Institute of Physical Science, which operates the EAST.
Officially named the Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST), Chinese media refer to the tokamak by its more poetic nickname, the “artificial sun.”
EurekAlert! news website of American Association for the Advancement of Science, reported today that EAST’s Chief Operator Gong Xianzu “shared the good news and his excitement with some EAST partners at home and abroad at midnight via social media.” Gong said the breakthrough indicates EAST will “continue to play a key role on both the physics and engineering fronts of steady-state operation, and has significant scientific implications for the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) and the future China Fusion Engineering Test Reactor (CFETR).
“It is a success based on joint efforts,” said Gong.
China, which is the only nation in the world that is increasing its budget for fusion research, including it under the rubric of national science and technology development for energy, has welcomed international participation in its EAST program. Among the more than 100 foreign participants in numerous of its experiments in recent years, are scientists from the fusion team at General Atomics in California.
Tony Blair Could Be on the Docket Again for War of Aggression against Iraq
July 5 (EIRNS)—A high court for England and Wales is hearing an appeal by a private group attempting to overturn a ban on prosecuting former Prime Minister Tony Blair over the Iraq War, reported the Guardian. This group was blocked in 2016 by Westminster magistrates court which ruled Blair would have immunity from any criminal charges. This ruling by district judge Michael Snow will now be reviewed before the Lord Chief Justice Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd, and Justice Duncan Ouseley.
In his opening argument demanding a war crimes trial in Britain, Michael Mansfield QC, cited the conclusions of the Chilcot Iraq Inquiry, which determined that the Blair government brought Britain into the war on false pretenses and said that the offense of waging aggressive war has effectively become assimilated into English law. “Saddam Hussein did not pose an urgent threat to the U.K., intelligence reporting about [alleged Iraqi] weapons of mass destruction was presented with unwarranted certainty, that the war was unnecessary, and that the U.K. undermined the authority of the UN Security Council,” Mansfield said in his opening statement.
“Nothing could be more emphatic than these findings,” he said. “It was an unlawful war.”
As for the government’s claim that the crime of launching a war of aggression does not exist in the statute books of English law, Mansfield argued that when British prosecutors had opened their cases at the Nuremberg war crimes trials after World War II, they had acted as though the crime of aggressive war had already been assimilated into English law, reported the Guardian today.
Mansfield and another attorney, Imran Khan, are representing Gen. Abdulwaheed al-Rabbat, former chief of staff of the Iraqi army, who is living in exile, in a private initiative to prosecute Blair. An initial attempt to prosecute Blair was dismissed at Westminster magistrate’s court on the grounds that Blair enjoys immunity and that the crime of war of aggression does not exist in English law.
The high court’s Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd and Mr. Justice Ouseley will make a decision after another week for Rabbat’s lawyers to make additional specified submissions. If the judges do not dismiss the appeal, the issue of whether the crime of war of aggression exists in English law will be sent up to the Supreme Court to decide.