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EIR Daily Alert Service, Wed. Aug. 30, 2017

EDITORIAL

Trillions in Credit for a New Infrastructure: The Hurricane Shows There Is No Alternative!

Aug. 29 (EIRNS)—The ongoing destruction of lives, livelihoods, economy, and productivity by the hurricane in Texas is a signal to the country: The elected officials of the United States must have refused and stalled for the last time, on rebuilding and replacing the nation’s ancient and broken-down economic infrastructure.

Let the words “natural disaster” not be misused. A major city is being destroyed because it is flood-prone, floods repeatedly, and its flood-control infrastructure—designed and built 70-80 years ago—is no longer worthy of the name. Yet the plans to completely rebuild it, requiring tens of billions in investments, have been ignored and turned down.

Hurricane Katrina killed nearly 2,000 people and wreaked $130 billion in economic losses for the same reason. Superstorm Sandy killed more than 100 people and caused $65 billion in economic losses for that same reason. These disasters could have been averted for a fraction of their eventual cost in lost wealth, let alone in lost lives. New York area residents are going through a “Summer of Hell” as the regional transportation system breaks down, for that same reason. We don’t yet know how many will lose their lives in Houston and East Texas, but the economic and human losses there are going to be staggering.

“The nation calls for action, and action now!” in President Franklin Roosevelt’s words. There is no alternative to action on a Hamiltonian national credit institution that funds the necessary trillions in new infrastructure investment.

LaRouchePAC has taken the responsibility to drive President Trump and the Congress into this action. But this is also the responsibility of the citizens who have been actively supporting the President, or supporting Sen. Bernie Sanders, who have wanted a drastic change in the deindustrialization and Wall Street speculation policy ruling the country.

In thinking about the terrible costs of inaction, it should not be forgotten, that allowing Wall Street to eliminate the Glass-Steagall Act in the 1990s led to a crash that caused $10 trillion in lost wealth, mass unemployment, and untold loss of life.

There must be action on reinstating Glass-Steagall as well, and on the entirety of what EIR Founding Editor Lyndon LaRouche has called his four economic laws to save the nation, including large “science driver” investments in fusion power technology breakthroughs and revived NASA space exploration.

China’s Belt and Road Initiative, an international program of new rail “land-bridges” and infrastructure great projects, offers immediate cooperation for the credit and the building of a new infrastructure in the United States. Promoted for decades by Lyndon and Helga LaRouche, this initiative is now moving on great projects they have long identified as absolutely essential, such as the Kra Canal in Southeast Asia and the revival of Lake Chad in sub-Saharan Africa.

Action in the United States is just as urgent, immediately. Watching what is happening to Houston, there is no alternative.

STRATEGIC WAR DANGER

Reactions to North Korea Missile Launch; Go with ‘Double Freeze”

Aug. 29 (EIRNS)—North Korea launched a missile over Japan’s Hokkaido Island at 5:57 a.m. local time today, which triggered siren alarms and strong threats by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, President Donald Trump, and European leaders. Russia and China today, and Germany previously, responded by proposing that the United States and South Korea adopt a “double freeze” on military tests and drills to defuse the danger of war.

Early this morning, North Korea carried out its fourth missile test in four days, this one, for the first time, directly over Japanese territory, Hokkaido Island, in defiance of United Nations resolutions banning its missile testing.

U.S. President Donald Trump told ABC News: “The world has received North Korea’s latest message loud and clear: this regime has signaled its contempt for its neighbors, for all members of the United Nations, and for minimum standards of acceptable international behavior. Threatening and destabilizing actions only increase the North Korean regime’s isolation in the region and among all nations of the world. All options are on the table.”

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said North Korea’s latest action posed an “unprecedented threat” to Japan.

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said, “China has to ratchet up the pressure” on North Korea.

North Korea’s Ambassador to the UN in Geneva, Han Tae-Song, told ABC.net, “Now that the U.S. has openly declared its hostile intention towards the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, by waging aggressive joint military exercises despite repeated warnings … my country has every reason to respond with tough countermeasures as an exercise of its right to self-defense.”

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov said that in a war on the Korean Peninsula, “An absolutely new reality would emerge; tragedies would be innumerable… I think we should fight against this option as hard as we can,” Sputnik reported today. Ryabkov referred to the joint military exercises America is currently holding with South Korea (Aug. 21-31), the Ulchi Freedom Guardian activity, which involved computer-simulated warfare. Ryabkov said, “We consider [that] the joint drills that went ahead anyway, albeit in a lighter mode compared to the initial agenda, made an impact in terms of provoking Pyongyang to make the new launch. We are highly concerned by the general developments,” Newsweek reported.

The Telegraph reported Aug. 15 that “North Korea has always denounced the drills as provocative rehearsals for invasion, and has in the past offered a moratorium on further nuclear and missile testing in exchange for their cancellation—a trade-off promoted by Pyongyang’s main ally China, but repeatedly rejected by Washington and Seoul.”

“Germany understands and endorses the ‘double freeze’ initiative [the North stops missile launches; South Korea and its allies stop military drills], and is willing to continue to work with Beijing to promote a peaceful settlement of the D.P.R.K. [North Korea] nuclear issue,” German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said in a telephone conversation with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Aug. 16.

United States Conducts Second Test of B61-12 Nuclear Bomb

Aug. 29 (EIRNS)—Yesterday, the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) announced the second flight test of the B61-12 nuclear gravity bomb. The test, during which two full-up bombs—minus the nuclear explosive package—were dropped from an F-15E strike aircraft, “evaluated the weapon’s non-nuclear functions and the aircraft’s capability to deliver the weapon,” according to the NNSA press release.

Besides replacing aging electronics, the B61-12 adds a guidance kit for improved accuracy and a “dial-a-yield” feature that critics say lowers the threshold for the use of nuclear weapons.

“The fact of the test of this modification of the nuclear bomb, indicates that the United States continues an accelerated rearmament program of its tactical nuclear arsenal in Europe, as well as that both Washington and Brussels are considering the scenario of a limited nuclear war in Europe,” Russian military analyst Igor Korotchenko told RIA Novosti.

Mikhail Ulyanov, Director of the Russian Foreign Ministry’s Non-Proliferation and Weapons Control Department, told RT, “U.S. military specialists claim that this bomb will be more ethical and more usable, because it has greater accuracy and results in less catastrophic effects for civilians if used on vast areas. This prompts the conclusion that when they go operational, such bombs may objectively lower the threshold of using nuclear weapons. We see this as the key negative effect of the ongoing upgrade work.”

Production of the B61-12 is expected to begin in March 2020.

COLLAPSING WESTERN FINANCIAL SYSTEM

Hurricane Exposes Huge Costs of Not Promoting the General Welfare

Aug. 29 (EIRNS)—After Hurricane Katrina killed thousands of Americans in 2005, made hundreds of thousands homeless, and cost an estimated $130 billion in economic losses, new flood-control and seagate infrastructure was built—at last—for New Orleans at a fraction of even the economic costs. More importantly, it would have prevented some of the human costs.

After plans for seagates to protect New York Harbor, projected to cost $9 billion, were set aside, Superstorm Sandy killed 117 people in 2012 and cost $65 billion in economic losses. Its damages to New York’s obsolete transportation system were NOT reconstructed, and that system’s collapse has turned into a life-threatening crisis in the past year.

The plan of the Harris County Flood Control Authority for a new flood control infrastructure to “harden” the Houston area against its repeated flooding disasters, was most recently estimated to require $26 billion in investment. Since this was not done, Houston’s people are suffering an immense “natural disaster,” whose economic costs may equal Katrina’s $130 billion, and in which the loss of human life and livelihood still can’t be told.

During Franklin Roosevelt’s Presidency and through the 1940s, the new infrastructure to prevent such “natural disasters”—such as the Tennessee Valley Authority—was funded by national credit through the Reconstruction Finance Corporation and the Works Progress Authority. Hurricane Harvey could be the national alarm which ends 70 years in which the country has gone without any such national credit institutions.

President Trump, who toured Texas today and will return on Saturday, said, “The real [funds] number, which will be many billions of dollars, will go through Congress. It will happen very quickly.” This will require a thoroughly bipartisan vote which isolates the “no government” wing of “Cruz Republicans.” And it will fund neighborhood reconstruction, but not the new infrastructure needed.

Trump also said, “Every asset at my command is at the disposal of local officials.”

Houston is flooded by water up to 8-10 feet deep, except for the center of downtown and a few residential areas, and is now bracing for a “second pass” of the storm overnight and tomorrow, after it doubled back over Galveston Bay. The two reservoirs in the county’s flood-control system overflowed in all directions Tuesday, and the Brazos River overtopped its levees into residential areas. Houston’s small and unpumped drainage canals and bayous—which were to be multiplied, widened, and provided with pumps in the neglected $26 billion new infrastructure plan—have all flooded, and its highways have become unintentional drainage canals. At least one bridge has fallen, and highways will fail.

FEMA director Long estimates that 30,000 people will have to be rescued to prevent their drowning, and that half a million will need Federal assistance to recover their homes and livelihoods. As of Tuesday, 15 people had been confirmed drowned or killed by hurricane debris. These could well be low estimates. Thousands of rescue personnel are involved, including all of Texas’s National Guard and Coast Guard, National Guard units from other states, and FEMA personnel. U.S. Army units are also mobilized, should Texas call for them.

About 15% of U.S. port capacity is shut down in Houston and Corpus Christi ports, with damage unknown; East Texas highways and rails are under water. National freight traffic has already been affected, and this will have international trade impacts as well. More than 20% of U.S. oil refinery capacity is shut in, with damage unknown.

U.S. POLITICAL AND ECONOMIC

Military Response to Hurricane Harvey Begins To Ramp Up

Aug. 29 (EIRNS)—The Department of Defense is gearing a Federal military response to the Hurricane Harvey flood disaster in southeast Texas that could involve 30,000 troops or more. Yesterday, Texas Gov. Greg Abbot activated Texas National Guard of 12,000 troops. So far, the Texas guard has deployed 3-4,000 troops, along with 16 helicopters, about 200 Humvees, 218 high-water vehicles, 15 wreckers, and 19 fuelers. Maj. Gen. James Witham, the National Guard Bureau director of domestic operations, told reporters at the Pentagon today that the Bureau is preparing to activate 20,000 to 30,000 National Guard troops from around the country to assist the recovery effort. The National Guard Bureau is now planning for the weeks after Harvey, when fresh guardsmen and military troops with expertise in engineering and security will be needed, he said. “At the height of [Hurricane] Katrina there were approximately 50,000 guardsmen and a little over 20,000 active component forces. I anticipate there will probably be a similar ratio,” Witham said. Seven other states have already offered their Air National Guard assets to Texas, including helicopters for search and rescue, and C-130 transport aircraft.

The Pentagon is also preparing and pre-positioning active-duty units to assist also. Pentagon spokesman Col. Robert Manning told reporters at the Pentagon, yesterday, that aircraft, vehicles, equipment, and supplies are being sent to staging areas near the worst of the flooding, in anticipation of a possible request for assistance. The Navy is preparing the assault ships USS Kearsarge and USS Oak Hill, both of which are capable of carrying relief supplies and troops, and supporting helicopters. Twelve DoD aircraft have already been pre-positioned, and another 30 have been identified for possible deployment, CNN reported yesterday. In addition, more than 200 high-wheeled tactical vehicles capable of moving through high water have been identified as available and ready to move within 24 hours. Gov. Abbott has not yet requested federal military assistance, but he and the DoD signed an agreement yesterday, on establishing a dual-status command so that a single commander can command both federal forces in Title 10 status and National Guard forces in Title 32 status.

Trump Flies to Texas To See the Damage and Promise Help

Aug. 29 (EIRNS)—President Donald Trump landed in Corpus Christi, Texas, today, accompanied by his wife, Chief-of-Staff John Kelly, Federal Emergency Management Agency Chief Brock Long, the Small Business Association chairman, and Trump’s Legislative Affairs director, to see the damage for himself, talk to state and local officials, and promise the people of Texas aid for rebuilding. Ben Molino, a Corpus Christi Councilman, said, “It’s important he see the damage around the coast. I’ve never seen anything like it, and neither has anybody else.”

After a meeting with local officials in the Corpus Christi Firehouse, the President then flew to Austin, the state capital, for more meetings with several congressmen and local elected officials, and promised to return in a few days.

The President pledged to quickly pass an appropriations bill to deal with the damage to private property and public infrastructure.

Rain is still falling and expected to continue through Thursday in Houston, where 9,000 people are sleeping in an emergency shelter. Officials report that the shelter is orderly, has food and beds, and in no way resembles the chaos in the New Orleans superdome 12 years ago.

Hurricane Harvey is forecast to move northeast from Houston, across Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky, and West Virginia by Sunday morning. At least 11 people are dead, including a Houston police officer who drowned on his way to work his shift.

President Trump told the crowds today that he would bring financial help to the region quickly, and promised that with Federal assistance, Houston’s long and expensive recovery would serve as a model: “We want to do it better than ever before; this is the way to do it,” in contrast to the George W. Bush’s botched relief effort 12 years ago, in August 2005 in New Orleans, devastated by Hurricane Katrina.

The slow-moving storm has brought catastrophic flooding to East Texas, and paralyzed Houston, the fourth-most-populous U.S. city. City officials were preparing to shelter up to 19,000 people, with thousands more expected to flee the area as the flooding entered its fourth day. A wide swath of Houston and its surrounding suburbs were under water, and forecasters warned the rain would continue through Thursday, putting stress on the dams and drainage systems that protect the low-lying U.S. energy hub.

THE NEW GLOBAL ECONOMIC ORDER

Thai Prime Minister Prayut Will Make Thailand’s Northeast the ‘Economic Hub of the Mekong Region’

Aug. 29 (EIRNS)—The city in Northeast Thailand that once housed the primary airbase for U.S. carpet bombing of Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam, is now being turned into the hub for development of the entire Mekong region.

The Thai Cabinet on Monday gave final approval to the construction of the high-speed rail line from Bangkok to the Northeast city of Korat, the first link of the rail line which will eventually reach the Laotian border to connect with the railroad China is building from Yunnan through Laos to the Thai border.

This first link, to Korat, 252 km in length, is expected to open in 2021. It is part of an ambitious plan by the Prayut government to make the Northeast into a major hub for the entire Mekong region, which includes Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand, and Yunnan and Guangxi Provinces in China.

Last week Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha presented his plan to a Cabinet meeting held in Korat, reported the National News Bureau of Thailand. This involves integrated water management, upgrading agriculture and industry, upgrading airports and river ports, and tourism.

The next phase of the high-speed rail line will connect Bangkok to the booming industrial port region between Bangkok and the Cambodia border, called the Eastern Economic Corridor, thus also connecting the Northeast to these ports.

The Northeast (called Isan) is the most populated but poorest region of the country, subject to floods and droughts every year. Besides China, Japan and South Korea are also deeply engaged in infrastructure and industry development in the region.

SCIENCE AND INFRASTRUCTURE

Bruegel Report Documents Chinas Rise As a Scientific Power

Aug. 29 (EIRNS)—A report from the Bruegel Research Institute in Brussels authored by Reinhilde Veugelers, entitled “The Challenge of China’s Rise as a Science and Technology Powerhouse”, gives an interesting picture of the development of science over the most recent period as well as an indication of the contributions of Chinese science students to the development of science in Europe and the United States, debunking some of the myths propagated during this inflammatory immigration debate. The author describes the well-known intentions of China of becoming by 2050 the main producer of innovations in science and technology, with China now being the second-largest contributor to R&D on a country basis. It accounts for 20% of total world R&D and ranking second behind the U.S. in terms of the share of total value-added created by high-tech manufacturing.

China is now the world’s number-one producer of undergraduates with science and engineering degrees, delivering almost one-quarter of first university degrees in science and engineering globally, and with a similar trend in the award of PhD degrees in China with the number of natural sciences and engineering doctorates increasing more than tenfold between 2000 and 2006. Since 2007, China has awarded more PhD degrees in natural sciences and engineering than any other country.

Ultimately, this development will benefit China, but it has also served to benefit the United States and Europe, which are still major destinations for Chinese students in higher education. China continues to send tens of thousands of students to study at American universities. These students represent by far the largest group of foreign PhD recipients in America, taking 29% of all PhDs awarded to foreign students in 2013, and representing about 7% of all PhDs awarded in the United States. This is particularly the case in mathematics and computer sciences, where the Chinese share of PhDs awarded to foreigners increased to 38% in 2009. In 2013, 57% of foreign-born individuals in the U.S. workforce with a science and engineering degree were from Asia, with India leading, and China coming in second.

In addition, many Chinese students (84%) tend to remain in the United States, permanently or temporarily, and thus contribute during their early careers to the scientific work at American institutions until they return to China. Presently foreigners contribute disproportionately to major U.S. scientific achievements, and are twice as likely to be the lead authors on frequently cited ‘hot papers’. Veugelers urges Europe to engage more with China in science in order to improve the quality and pace of scientific development. This may occur with the new integration mechanism of the Belt and Road bringing Europe and Asia closer together. Veugelers calls this international mix of science a “virtuous” development.

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