EIR Daily Alert Service, Friday, November 3, 2017

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 3, 2017

Volume 4, Number 219

EIR Daily Alert Service

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

EDITORIAL

On the Eve of President Trump’s Asia Tour: Despite a World in Danger, the ‘Silk Road Spirit’ Is Catching On

Nov. 2 (EIRNS)—President Donald Trump departs Washington, D.C. for Hawaii, and thence Asia tomorrow, amidst good prospects for what can be an historic shift toward deepening a liaison between the United States, China and Russia, leading to the U.S. linking up with the new Silk Road outlook of development. Trump will be in China Nov. 8-10, and today at the White House, National Security Advisor Gen. H.R. McMaster (ret.) said that no definite time had been fixed for Trump to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Asia, but such a meeting could be announced.

Stateside, there is a fury against Trump from the Wall Street/City of London crowd, opposed to the new world development drive under the Belt and Road Initiative. However, the “Silk Road Spirit” is spreading, not only internationally, but through the Americas in particular, especially in business circles seeking to get in on the action in and with Eurasia. Over the past 10 days, a number of conferences and speeches in South America and the Caribbean have been outspoken about this.

Helga Zepp-LaRouche, in her weekly Schiller Institute international webcast, today, spoke of the situation as both, “dramatic and hopeful.” She said, “First of all, I think both Presidents, President Trump and President Xi, have signalled ahead of the summit their best intention to make this a breakthrough. President Trump gave an extremely interesting interview to Fox TV’s Lou Dobbs, where he said that he expects the relationship between the United States and China to be absolutely great; that China is a great country, that he has an excellent relationship with President Xi Jinping. And then President Xi Jinping, on his side, had a meeting addressing a meeting of the Tsinghua University, which is a very prestigious university in Beijing, where he said that he is looking ‘far ahead and aiming high’ in the relationship with the United States.”

Zepp-LaRouche elaborated on what President Xi is doing at large. “I think President Xi Jinping has a grand design of overcoming all tensions. You know, the ‘win-win’ concept applies to every single country, and you can see that, for example, in the fact that Japan, whose Prime Minister Abe is moving closer to the work with China and the Belt and Road Initiative.  And the same goes for India which until very recently had this border conflict in Doklam, where they had actually a stand-off between the militaries of both sides, and that has apparently been quite successfully calmed down and the relations between China and India are now much improved.

“And then, naturally Prime Minister Medvedev of Russia was just in Beijing and he met with President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Li Keqiang and others, and they talked about integrating the New Silk Road, the Belt and Road Initiative with the Eurasian Economic Union; and they even talked about creating a ‘Silk Road on Ice’ by joining efforts for the development of the Arctic. Then you have all kinds of efforts to overcome tensions among all kinds of conflicts, and I think there is a grand design behind all of this, which is the idea to move the entire world community up to a new level of relations among nations, overcoming geopolitics.

“And I think this is something most people have not yet even started to think about. I think this is such a revolutionary new concept, of overcoming geopolitics by finding a collaboration in the interest of the other, uniting actually all of mankind.  And I don’t know if it will succeed, because you know, there are important forces who are opposing it, but I think the intention, by China, by President Xi Jinping, to establish such a new model of relationships is without any question….”

In this light, what should Trump do in Asia? Zepp-LaRouche was emphatic: He should “boldly move in the direction of what the whole Russia-Gate operation was aimed to prevent: Namely, to improve the relationship with Russia, with China; and I think this upcoming Asia trip, where the potential also exists that he will meet not only with Xi Jinping—that is certain—but also possibly with President Putin [at the APEC summit in Vietnam], and consolidate the relationship between the United States, China, and Russia, and that way, outflank the people who try to prevent exactly that.”

U.S. POLITICAL AND ECONOMIC

Chinese Experts Optimistic on Trump-Xi Summit

Nov. 2 (EIRNS)—The Chinese Foreign Ministry has made it official that President Trump will be visiting China from Nov. 8 to 10.

The English-language edition of People’s Daily, the organ of the Communist Party of China, surveyed Chinese experts today under the headline, “Trump’s Visit to China To Yield Significant Outcomes: Experts.”  Some of the interviews were conducted at a conference held by the Center for China and Globalization (CCG) today, described as a leading think-tank in China.  CCG has described itself as China’s biggest independent think-tank.

The views expressed by Wang Huiyao, a real go-getter who is the founder and director of the CCG, were as follows. “Bilateral cooperation in infrastructure will provide great opportunities for both nations. Trump has rolled out plans to upgrade America’s infrastructure, but his $1 trillion plan is as elusive as ever. On the other hand, China has spent $11 trillion on infrastructure in the past decade, accumulating rich experience in building high-speed rails, roads, and energy plants and proving itself to be a strong partner.”

Meanwhile, the U.S. can also help China’s Belt and Road Initiative, as the former has rich experience in economic cooperation with countries along the Belt and Road. “It would be a win-win solution for both nations if the U.S. is willing to participate in the Belt and Road initiative and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank,” said Wang.

In terms of boosting the stability and development of the region, experts believe that promoting a Free Trade Area of the Asian Pacific (FTAAP) with both the U.S. and China’s participation can alleviate their conflicts in the region, seeking more mutual benefits. “Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership has been denounced by many American leaders and other member nations, while the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership which involved China has yet to make any remarkable economic achievements. A FTAAP with both China and the U.S. may solve the current problems, but it would require hard work and mutual trust from both sides,” Wang concluded.

U.S. and China Discuss Anti-Drug Cooperation

Nov. 2 (EIRNS)—Voice of America reported today a meeting of U.S. and Chinese officials in Beijing to share anti-drug intelligence and make joint efforts to curb the menace. On Oct. 26, U.S. President Donald Trump had declared the opioid epidemic a national public health emergency, telling the Americans that “we can be the generation that ends the opioid epidemic.” Trump had said on that occasion that U.S. authorities were “strengthening the inspection of packages coming into our country to hold back the flood of cheap and deadly fentanyl, a synthetic opioid manufactured in China.”

The VOA reports today that Chinese state media said that on Oct. 26, “during the meeting both sides solidified a clear direction and detailed methods for the next phase of cooperation.” It cited a report by Xinhua, quoting a top anti-drug official who said “the two should build cooperation.” At a regular press briefing on Oct. 31, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying gave reassurances that Beijing would be cooperative in the efforts to control fentanyl. “The Chinese government has been actively cooperating with the U.S. and other countries within a framework as the law allows.”

China Appreciates U.S. Direct Diplomacy with North Korea

Nov. 2 (EIRNS)—At a regular press briefing in Beijing on Nov. 1, China’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying, asked about comments by a “U.S. official” that the U.S. has been holding quiet diplomatic talks with North Korea, said “We welcome any contact and dialogue between the D.P.R.K. and the U.S. We encourage the two sides into contact and dialogue and hope that this will help enhance the mutual understanding and trust between the two sides.”

The GBTimes article also cited a report from Huanqiu.com that said the U.S. has entered into “clandestine diplomatic talks” with North Korea despite the war of words between President Donald Trump and North Korea’s Kim Jong-un. The report also said that “Joseph Yun, the U.S. Special Representative for North Korea Policy, had already held classified conversations with diplomats stationed at the North Korean Permanent Mission to the United Nations, using the so-called ‘New York channel.’ ”

Reuters, in an exclusive report on Oct. 31, wrote on the New York channel and cited a “senior State Department official,” saying Yun’s interaction with the North Koreans has “not been limited at all, both (in) frequency and substance.” Further, “Among the points that Yun has made to his North Korean interlocutors is to ‘stop testing’ nuclear bombs and missiles, the official said.”

Justice Department and FBI Finally Produce Steele Documents to House Investigators

Nov. 2 (EIRNS)—The Department of Justice and the FBI have refused for months to provide their files concerning “ex”-British intelligence agent Christopher Steele’s 2016 dirty Trump dossier to Congressional investigators, despite subpoenas from the House Intelligence Committee chaired by Devin Nunes (R-CA) and letters from Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA). Some of the questions the documents are expected to help answer, according to Senator Grassley, are whether Justice or the FBI used the Steele dossier to obtain permission from the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance (FISA) Court to conduct surveillance of Trump associates, and whether Justice or the FBI paid Steele—or exactly what dealings they had with him.

After the months of their stonewalling, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) said last week that he had gotten agreement from the DOJ and FBI to produce the documents. Now, Fox News reliably reported yesterday that on Tuesday, Oct. 31, House Intelligence Committee staffers for both parties were brought into the DOJ to review the documents and take notes.  Staffers for House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) were also present, as was grandstander Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), Intelligence Committee ranking member, who was the only Congressman in the group.

In related news, Fusion GPS, the Washington-based firm which commissioned Steele’s dirty dossier, has reported that it paid Steele’s firm Orbis $168,000 for his dossier, from more than $1 million that Fusion had received from the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton campaign through the Perkins Coie law firm.  High overhead, perhaps.

THE NEW GLOBAL ECONOMIC ORDER

Putin Presents Positive Assessment of Tehran Summit among Russia, Iran, and Azerbaijan

Nov. 2 (EIRNS)—Speaking to reporters, Russian President Vladimir Putin expressed satisfaction with his participation in the Nov. 1 trilateral summit hosted in Tehran, with President of Iran Hassan Rouhani and President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev. Last year’s first summit took place in Baku, and next year the heads of state agreed, they will meet in Russia. An English translation of President Putin’s speech is posted to the Kremlin website.

“We have discussed important issues concerning stability, the fight against crime and terrorism, but of course, economic matters topped the agenda,” TASS quotes Putin as saying. As an example, Putin mentioned the North-South Transport Corridor, which “has already been tested. Since last year, the first deliveries began from India to Iran, Russia, and farther on. This route has proved its economic feasibility and effectiveness.”

Putin continued, “if we work in an open and benevolent way and seeking a positive result, then our work will do good to our countries and our people.”

Speaking on the discussions with his colleagues on cooperation in the energy industry, Putin said, “I would like to note that despite huge production of hydrocarbons in each of our countries, there is an interest surprisingly to supply this feedstock to each other, taking internal logistics into consideration. For example, we confirm our readiness to supply gas via the pipeline transport systems of Azerbaijan to the north of Iran, which can be economically feasible for our partners….

“It is known perfectly well that Russia, Iran and Azerbaijan are important producers of hydrocarbon resources, but this doesn’t mean we should compete with one another,” Putin said. “What this means is that we must coordinate our efforts.”

Commenting on his talks with host President Rouhani concerning their countries’ cooperation along with Turkey in the fight against terrorism, the Russian President said, “We work with Iran quite efficiently. We manage to negotiate positions on Syria. Thanks to our joint efforts, and also to Turkey’s efforts, … the situation in the territory [of Syria] regarding the fight against terrorism is developing very positively, as well as the process of negotiations, which are underway in Astana [Kazakhstan]. A regular round of talks has just ended, and ended with good results.”

He further stressed, “There are loads of questions and problems” in this sphere. “None of them is possible to be solved unilaterally. None of the countries is capable of solving this problem unilaterally.”

Belt and Road Is the Way To Go for Ibero-America and the Caribbean

Nov. 2 (EIRNS)—It is increasingly recognized among the nations of Ibero-America and the Caribbean that their future lies in participation in China’s wonderful Belt and Road Initiative. A number of developments express this.

The International Seminar for China-Latin America-Caribbean Cooperation on the Belt and Road, which concluded in Shanghai on Oct. 31, is one example of this. Organized by the Shanghai Academy and the Center for Latin American Studies at the University of Shanghai, the gathering, according to Xinhua, “focused on the debate on the present and future of cooperation between China and Latin America [in the framework] of the Belt and Road.”

Enrique Dussel of the Center for Sino-Mexican Studies at Mexico’s National Autonomous University (UNAM) noted that Ibero-American exports to China had dropped in recent years, but pointed out that “industrial and technological parks and special economic zones promoted by the Belt and Road can be a good solution” for increasing trade. Zhou Zhiwei of the Center for Brazilian Studies at China’s Academy of Social Sciences, made a similar point, emphasizing that the Belt and Road can resolve problems such as the fact that Latin American products have a low cost-benefit relationship due to long-distance transportation costs and reduced technological content.

Lu Guozheng of China’s International Trade Academy told Xinhua that the Belt and Road Initiative is partially responsible for the increase in trade among China, Ibero-America and the Caribbean, whose volume increased by 28.4% in the first half of this year.  He predicted that if both sides continue working together, trade and economic cooperation between China and Latin America will enter a new phase “with a more stable, reasonable and sustainable development.”

Participants also stressed that the Belt and Road can accelerate the internationalization of China’s currency.

Ibero-America and Caribbean ‘Must Take Advantage of the Belt and Road,’ UN Agency Head Says

Nov. 2 (EIRNS)—Speaking in Santiago Oct. 30, Alicia Barcena, Executive Secretary of the UN’s Economic Commission on Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), affirmed that the nations of the region “must take advantage of the Belt and Road Initiative, which will first connect Asia and Europe and then expand toward us.”

Barcena, who attended last May’s Belt and Road Forum in Beijing and has met several times with President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang, was speaking on the occasion of the release of ECLAC’s annual report, “Perspectives for Latin American and Foreign Trade.” She said, according to Xinhua, that “I think there has been a very important strengthening [of trade relations] among China, Latin America and the Caribbean,” but called for diversifying Ibero-American exports to China, “so that Chinese companies will invest in our region.” Technology, she said, is one area in which cooperation should expand, to the “mutual benefit” of both sides. “China has advanced a great deal in this direction lately,” she noted, adding that “our task must be to look at cooperation plans in this area.” Barcena cited the proposal to build an underwater fiber-optic cable to connect Chile to China as an example of such cooperation.

Xinhua points to ECLAC’s report that the increased trade between China and Ibero-America and the Caribbean, is eclipsing the U.S. and Europe as trading partners for this region. The U.S. is no longer the region’s primary trading partner.

Cuba Seeks To Become Regional Hub as Part of the Belt and Road Initiative

Nov. 2 (EIRNS)—Speaking Oct. 31 at the China Pavilion at the Havana International Fair, accompanied by Chinese Ambassador Chen Xi, Cuba’s Deputy Foreign Trade Minister Antonio Carricarte announced that Cuba hopes to become a regional hub as part of the Belt and Road Initiative, so that the BRI can extend throughout Ibero-America and the Caribbean, Xinhua reports.

Specifically, Carricarte said, Cuba’s goal is to become a maritime and air transport center for the entire region, particularly in the Mariel Special Development Zone. “This goal for our country can connect us with China’s Belt and Road, for the purpose of extending that noble goal to the Caribbean and Latin America,” he said.

Carricarte also emphasized that existing Ibero-American integration organizations, of which there are many, can serve as an entry point for Chinese companies. China is now Cuba’s number-one trading partner, and primarily exports automotive goods, construction machinery, and electronic and telecommunications technology to Cuba. The Havana International Fair is the most important one in the Caribbean, said Ambassador Chen, and has contributed greatly to commercial exchange between Cuba and the rest of the world.

STRATEGIC WAR DANGER

Israel Attacks Syrian Munitions Factory

Nov. 2 (EIRNS)—Israel launched an airstrike on Nov. 1 against what Syria said was a copper factory near Homs. The Syrian army fired a surface-to-air missile at the Israeli aircraft but failed to hit it. Israel’s Ynetnews claimed that RT Arabic said the factory was affiliated with Hezbollah, although the English-language RT News made clear that Israel’s “usual pretext for such airstrikes is targeting of ‘Hezbollah infrastructure.’ ”

According to Ynetnews, “the Lebanon-based, Hezbollah-affiliated Al Mayadeen TV network” said there were “unconfirmed reports Israel had attacked a facility in an industrial area in the suburbs of Homs, and that the Syrian anti-aircraft systems responded.”  RT quoted the Syrian Foreign Ministry statement that: “This new Israeli aggression is proof that the Israeli occupation authorities are not satisfied with their practice of state terrorism against the Arab population in occupied Palestine, Syria and Lebanon, but are seeking the role of an official sponsor of terrorism,” and reported that Damascus has asked the United Nations to condemn the attack on the copper factory.

Israeli Intelligence Minister Israel Katz told Army Radio on Thursday morning, “I can’t, of course, relate to reports about the Israel Defense Forces’ attack in Syria, but regardless, Israel’s position is clear: Smuggling arms to Hezbollah is a red line in our eyes.”

COLLAPSING WESTERN FINANCAL SYSTEM

Financial Control Board Demands Blood from Storm-Ravaged Puerto Rico

Nov. 2 (EIRNS)—For the first time since the disaster of Hurricane Maria, the Wall Street-run financial control board overseeing Puerto Rico’s finances met Oct. 31—appropriately on Halloween—to tell the Rosselló government that it must come up with a new fiscal plan by Dec. 22, to show how it intends to “turn around” the economy.

Gov. Ricardo Rosselló, meanwhile, was on Capitol Hill yesterday with his cabinet, meeting with Congressmen and administration officials to emphasize that Puerto Rico needs “billions” more in emergency funding before the end of the year.

Even with the incredible destruction wrought by Maria, the control board says, insanely, that the new plan is supposed to focus on promoting new investment through pension reform and corporate tax reform—austerity, privatization, and budget cutting. As board member José Ramón González put it, reported National Public Radio, “Like it or not, the government will have to make potentially serious rightsizing decisions in accordance with the more limited resources … that it will face.” Rightsizing?

At the same time, using the bogus issue of the now-cancelled $300 million contract which the bankrupt Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) granted to the small Montana firm Whitefish Energy, the board gave itself the authority to approve all contracts the government might grant of $10 million or more. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI), chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, told El Nuevo Dia that after the Whitefish “scandal”—the company is portrayed as unscrupulous—any monetary allocation to Puerto Rico will be “subject to stricter controls.”

Governor Rosselló is challenging the control board’s right to name Col. Noel Zamot (USAF, ret.), a privatization fanatic, as the emergency manager of PREPA, which the board did using the Whitefish contract as a pretext. Zamot has to be approved by New York-based bankruptcy judge Laura Swain, and Rosselló says he will fight this in court. His liaison to the board, Christian Sobrino, said at the Oct. 31 meeting, that if this is approved, it would mean the board can replace any Puerto Rican government official, any judge, any legislature, “maybe even the governor.”

SCIENCE AND INFRASTRUCTURE

Russia Seeks Increased Participation in Saudi Power and Railroad Sectors

Nov. 2 (EIRNS)—At a meeting of the Intergovernmental Commission of Russia and Saudi Arabia at Riyadh, Russia’s Energy Minister Alexander Novak, who co-chairs the Commission, said the Russian state corporation Rosatom is interested in building nuclear infrastructure in Saudi Arabia, including construction of 16 nuclear power units, TASS reported today. “Nuclear industry is an important part of our cooperation. For example, Rosatom could take part in creation of a nuclear cluster in Saudi Arabia, including the construction of 16 modern (nuclear) blocks,” he said.

Also, Russia’s Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Vasily Osmakov told TASS that Russian Railways is negotiating the construction of two railroads in Saudi Arabia. “The issue is being discussed; the tender is expected at the end of the year,” he said.

During Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud’s state visit to Russia in early October, Rosatom and the King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy (KA-CARE) had signed a “program of cooperation” for the peaceful uses of nuclear energy in Moscow. According to World Nuclear News of Oct. 6, Rosatom had said they “plan to cooperate in small- and medium-sized reactors, which can be used both for power generation and desalination of sea water; in the training of personnel for Saudi Arabia’s national nuclear program; and in the development of the kingdom’s nuclear energy infrastructure.”

OTHER

U.K. Defense Secretary Resigns from May’s ‘Rickety’ Government

Nov. 2 (EIRNS)—British Defense Secretary Michael Fallon submitted his resignation over allegations of sexually inappropriate conduct. This follows allegations against several Conservative Party Members of Parliament, who have been making headlines over the past few days. The notoriously anti-Russian Fallon will not be missed by the Kremlin.

Guardian columnist commentator Polly Toynbee points out that Fallon’s resignation suggests that there is more to his exit than his “inappropriate” conduct. Toynbee entitles her op-ed, “Fall of Fallon Leaves May’s Government a Scandal Away from Losing Power.” She wrote: “The fall of Michael Fallon is a mighty blow to Theresa May. Her rickety government has just lost one of its old reliables,” and whenever necessary he would always lie his head off for the sake of the government.

Although she does not mention it, if the Tories lose power, it could mean new elections and a possible Labour Party victory.

There are other MPs facing allegations, and she warns that they too might be pressured to resign, which would result in by-elections for their vacated seats.

Toynbee goes on: “There will be shudders through Westminster’s ranks. The circulating list of Tory harassers and sexual malefactors may or may not be accurate, but there are quite enough MPs who will fear their own head may join Fallon’s on a Westminster spike. A government this perilously fragile, is only a scandal or two away from losing power.”

Recalling that in 1961 Harold Macmillan’s government fell over the Profumo Affair, she concludes: “What an irony it would be if another good old British parliamentary sex scandal brought down this government—and not the Brexit abomination or the extreme suffering caused by austerity or any of the myriad acts of atrocious governance they have been guilty of since 2010.”

May has appointed Gavin Williamson, the Conservative Party Chief Whip of the House of Commons, as Defense Secretary to replace Fallon. Williamson, one of the up and coming Tories, is a May loyalist who is claimed to be her anointed successor, but the appointment of the inexperienced 41-year-old has angered many of the conservative Tories. He is credited with forging the big payoff deal with Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) of Northern Ireland to support the government. He has not gotten caught up in the ongoing sex scandals, perhaps because he brings his pet tarantula, Cronus, into the Parliament.

 

 

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