EIR Daily Alert Service, TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 20, 2018
TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 20, 2018
Volume 5, Number 36
EIR Daily Alert Service
P.O. Box 17390, Washington, DC 20041-0390
Feb. 19 (EIRNS)—Sunday’s thorough indictment of the FBI by New York judge and former prosecutor Jeanine Pirro was needed, and completely accurate as far as she went. America does not need and should not have such a Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Since its creation under Anglophile Teddy Roosevelt in 1908, at British instigation, the role of the FBI has been to delude Americans as to who their adversaries and enemies were, not to fight crime.
Its first job was to tar and feather “Russian and Eastern European reds”; then to arrest, exile or kill American leaders who did not believe in 1915 the United States should go to war with Germany. Then it was East European “reds” again, and dossiers to blackmail Presidents Franklin Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy against détente with Russia; surveillance and arrests and murders to destroy the Civil Rights movement. And then the post-J. Edgar Hoover “modern era” of making serial murderers into FBI informants and protected witnesses, including protecting the Saudi accessories before-and-after-the-fact to the 9/11 attacks.
The FBI has not changed in a century, right up to Robert Mueller’s and James Comey’s roles in the neo-McCarthyite “hate Russia, hate China” campaign which targets President Trump. In this campaign as well, the FBI has been willing instruments of British intelligence, as has now been thoroughly exposed by the infamous case of the “Steele dossier.”
But the world, and the United States, have changed, dramatically. Now there is a different nation which represents scientific progress and technological optimism in action, raising living standards and eradicating poverty at home and abroad. That nation is China, with its now nearly worldwide Belt and Road Initiative of great projects of science and infrastructure.
And the United States, still possessing the capacities to join and even exceed China in this, has instead become riddled with pessimism and xenophobia, with fear of science, with addiction to substances and suicides, with wages and life expectancy declining together. And with mass killers, suicidal pessimists raging to kill the people immediately around them.
Wall Street’s financial collapses and deindustrialization of the country have been the first cause; but the idea that the United States must be constantly preparing war with other nuclear powers, has spread the pessimism.
Now not only America but the nations of Europe face a choice, whether to join in the new paradigm of the great global infrastructure-building and poverty-eradication initiative China has started, or to confront China and Russia and threaten to provoke world war. Most Asian countries, the Eastern European nations, African countries have already chosen for the Belt and Road Initiative; Latin American countries are trying to join it as well, while American military leaders threaten them against it.
This is not just “get Trump” because he favors great power cooperation. Americans are being told that their survival depends on fighting Russia and stopping China’s progress.
This choice between these two paradigms is obvious if the people making it are big enough to think and act for themselves. To think, that is, as they thought when they were going to the Moon and the President had told them to ask what they could do for their country, and for the world.
U.S. POLITICAL AND ECONOMIC
Feb. 19 (EIRNS)—According to the Australian Financial Review on Feb. 18, an unnamed U.S. official said, “Australia is discussing with the United States, India and Japan the establishment of a joint regional infrastructure scheme to rival China’s multibillion-dollar Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), in an attempt to counter Beijing’s spreading influence. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is expected to discuss the idea during talks in Washington, D.C. this week, possibly during a scheduled meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump.”
The “senior U.S. official” told the Financial Review that he preferred such a plan be an “alternative” to the BRI “rather than a rival.” He also said: “No one is saying China should not build infrastructure. China might build a port which, on its own, is not economically viable. We could make it economically viable by building a road or rail line linking that port.” He also indicated that the discussions on this are at an embryonic stage, and it is likely that nothing much will be announced on this during Turnbull’s visit to Washington.
Suspiciously, the “senior U.S. official” tied Turnbull’s “alternative” to the BRI—and his planned address to a National Governors Association conference in Washington on Feb. 24—to privatizations of existing infrastructure and public-private partnerships. “Among the delegation will be asset fund managers including executives from IFM Investors, investigating opportunities to be part of Mr. Trump’s $US1 trillion plans to boost infrastructure spending in the U.S. Australia’s Ambassador to Washington Joe Hockey has been promoting to the Trump administration and to U.S. state governors, the asset recycling scheme he conceived as treasurer which involved the commonwealth contributing extra funds to state government infrastructure projects paid for by privatizing a state asset. The senior U.S. official said there was a general aversion among the states towards privatization and the asset recycling model in the U.S. would have to be different, in that it could involve private, state, and federal money.” How that is “different” is not clear.
Meanwhile, Reuters reported today Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, when asked at a news conference about the report of four-way cooperation, said Japan, the United States, Australia, and India regularly exchanged views on issues of common interest. “It is not the case that this is to counter China’s Belt and Road,” he said. Japan plans to use its official development assistance (ODA) to promote a broader “Free and Open Indo-Pacific Strategy” including “high-quality infrastructure,” according to a summary draft of its 2017 white paper on ODA.
Feb. 19 (EIRNS)—U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson appeared on CBS News’ Sunday prime time broadcast “60 Minutes” last night, and took questions on U.S. relations with North Korea, China, and Russia from Margaret Brennan.
Brennan asked if the fact that the entire United States was in range of North Korean missiles made Tillerson nervous. “It does…. It also stiffens our resolve…. The President is meeting his responsibilities as commander-in-chief by asking our military, Secretary Mattis … to ensure we are prepared for anything.” Brennan followed up, “And those military options are there in case you fail?” Brennan replied, “I say to my Chinese counterpart, ‘You and I fail, these people get to fight.’ And that’s not what we want.”
Asked if he is ready to work with Kim Jong Un, Tillerson said, “That’s who we will have to work with to achieve this diplomatically. What we have to determine now is are we even ready to start? Are they ready to start? And if they’re not, we’ll just keep the pressure campaign underway and we will increase that pressure.”
More broadly, the Secretary said “We’ve got a common understanding with China; North Korea represents a serious threat to China as well. And we’ve been very clear with them that they are going to have an important role to play once we get to the negotiating table. … My job as chief diplomat is to ensure that the North Koreans know we keep our channels open. I’m listening. I’m not sending a lot of messages back because there is nothing to say to them at this point. So I’m listening for you to tell me you’re ready to talk.”
How will he know they are? “They’ll tell me…. We receive messages from them, and I think it will be very explicit as to how we want to have that first conversation.”
Brennan described arguments the Secretary had won and lost with the President, but Tillerson responded, “I think the American people have won with the decisions the President has taken. And it’s not about agreeing or disagreeing. Because he’s the decision maker.” He pointed out some of the agreements the President has walked away from, such as climate change, were commitments the American people had never had an opportunity to weigh in on before, and they did so by electing Trump.
He concluded that he talks to Trump almost every day; what people say doesn’t bother him. “I am committed to this President. My word is my bond. I ride for this brand; that’s why I’m here. And nothing anybody else says is going to change that.”
Feb. 19 (EIRNS)—House Intelligence Committee Chair Devin Nunes (R-CA) was interviewed yesterday by investigative journalist Sharyl Attkisson on the weekly syndicated broadcast “Full Measure,” which she hosts. Titled “Russia Probe,” Nunes started the segment by telling her, “We have a Russian investigation going on whether or not there was collusion between any campaign and the Russians. That’s coming to a close. We’ve never had any evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians.”
Attkisson then asked, “So, you’re comfortable with saying at this point, you don’t see anything there?” Nunes replied, “No, there’s nothing there.” He continued, “So in that investigation, we’ve unearthed things that are very concerning. We know that there are un-maskings that occurred and probably were leaked to the media…. What we found was happening is, in the last [Obama] administration, they were unmasking hundreds, and hundreds, and hundreds of Americans’ names. They were unmasking people for what I would say, for lack of a better definition, were for political purposes.”
Attkisson said, “On the un-maskings, one very tangible bit of evidence that to me looks like a crime. Is the fact that the U.S. Ambassador to the UN, Samantha Power. It looked like she had made a masking request on a near-daily basis. Which is amazing in 2016. It’s pretty incredible. Yet she reportedly told Congress, most of those were not really her…. Wouldn’t that mean somebody committed a serious national security crime if they used her name to request un-maskings of U.S. citizens?”
“We don’t know what the truth is there,” Nunes replied. “I think it’s highly unlikely that she was not the one who was giving permission to make those unmasking requests.”
To Attkisson’s question, how could such information be used? Nunes said his committee now has no evidence as to who leaked the names, but knows that the names were unmasked, and were published in newspapers: “It’s like political dirt to create a narrative and a spin with the mainstream media.”
Nunes concluded that the Intelligence Committee could make criminal referrals, but they would go to the very individuals being referred!—high Justice Department and FBI officials. So, Nunes said, Congress has to “find a way to put them on trial.”
STRATEGIC WAR DANGER
Feb. 19 (EIRNS)—Three U.S. Senators who attended the Munich Security Conference said on Sunday that they had been briefed by National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster that there has never been a “bloody nose attack” strategy considered by the United States regarding North Korea, nor is such an attack under consideration now.
“We are here to echo that there has not and has never been a bloody nose strategy,” said Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), referring to the media-sensationalized idea that the Pentagon was preparing for a supposedly “limited” attack on nuclear test or missile sites in North Korea. Whitehouse said that he and two other Senators were briefed by McMaster in a secure annex of Congress before travelling to Munich. “It was very clear from H.R. McMaster,” Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), was quoted as saying by Bloomberg. The third Senator, James Risch (R-ID), reportedly told a Munich audience the same thing.
THE NEW GLOBAL ECONOMIC ORDER
Feb. 19 (EIRNS)—According to a report by London’s Financial Times, Chinese officials engaged in implementing the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) have been talking to Baloch tribal separatists for almost five years. CPEC’s western arm runs through the terrorism-infested Balochistan province of Pakistan to reach the Gwadar Port on the Arabian Sea. FT reported that three people with knowledge of the talks said, “Beijing had been in direct contact with militants in the southwestern state of Balochistan, where many of the [CPEC] scheme’s most important projects are located.” The City of London daily also said that such talks have met with success.
The FT report cited one Baloch tribal leader who said that through these talks a number of “young men had been persuaded to lay down their weapons by the promise of financial benefits. ‘Today, young men are not getting attracted to join the insurgents as they did some 10 years ago,’ he said. ‘Many people see prosperity’ as a result of the China-Pakistan corridor, he said.”
Feb. 19 (EIRNS)—Development Minister Gerd Müller (CSU) in the caretaker German government harshly criticized the just-concluded Munich Security Conference for paying no attention to Africa—the continent only ranks as number 10 on an MSC list of global threats, he said—in an interview with German magazine Focus on Saturday.
The European Union demonstrates a similar indifference, Müller said; its budgeting only €6 billion annually for EU activities in Africa is just “miserable.” With 400 million Africans being born in the next 30 years, traditional and limited development policies will fail to solve any of the problems, Müller said. Furthermore, building a fence around Europe to keep refugees out will also fail, he continued, equally raking the EU for thinking it can help to send refugees back to their countries, without offering them concrete assistance in creating an existence there. What is needed are large-scale investments for jobs and enterprises in Africa. The Siemens program that is training 5,000 young Egyptians for a future job in the country’s power and electrical engineering sectors, flanked by funds provided by the German government, may serve as a model.
Müller said that he considering an alternative to the MSC, a “world peace conference” hosted by Germany later this year, to discuss these issues. He also said he had discussed with fellow Christian Social Union leader Horst Seehofer, the designated new Interior Minister, a program to bring 10,000 Iraqi refugees back to their home country to help in its reconstruction.
Feb. 19 (EIRNS)—Former British Labour Party Prime Minister Tony Blair, like his Tory successor in the position, David Cameron, seems to have become a convert to the promise of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) at a time when some Western European ministers are stubbornly attacking it.
In a Jan. 25 interview with China Daily, Blair started by calling China’s rise and the BRI “of big significance to the world…. I would like to see us work out ways in which we can be part of this. We should actually be understanding. This is China exerting the role that it will inevitably exert as it becomes more powerful.”
He supported the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) and China’s investments in infrastructure and industry in Africa. “The problem with the Western institutions,” Blair said, “is that they have become hopelessly bureaucratic. One of the reasons why there are African countries who welcome Chinese investment is that it tends to be much less bureaucratic and much swifter to be realized.”
And China Daily reported his praise for “China’s achievements since reform and opening-up, which has lifted 700 million people out of poverty since it began 40 years ago. It is a really significant event…. It signalled that China was going on a new path of engagement with the world with the opening-up of its economy. The results have been staggering.”
Finally, Blair said the quality of political debate in China is deeper in scope than “democratic” debate in Western countries. “There is a quality of debate in China that takes place at the highest levels of the political structure that doesn’t happen in the same way in the West.” China Daily interviewer Andrew Moody concluded, “The former prime minister singled out [President Xi Jinping’s] report to the CPC 19th National Congress, which heralded Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era, as a prime example.”
SCIENCE AND INFRASTRUCTURE
Feb. 19 (EIRNS)—China has completed the first final prototype radio telescope dish for the international Square Kilometer Array (SKA) project. It was proudly unveiled on Feb. 6 in Shijiazhuang, the capital of Hebei province, by the Vice Minister of Science and Technology. The Array, which will be made up of several thousand radio telescope dishes, will be placed in South Africa and Australia. The international consortium which is funding the project includes China, Australia, Canada, South Africa, France, Germany, Italy, Sweden, Spain, and Britain.
The project, which has attracted scientists and engineers from about 20 countries, will combine signals from collecting dishes placed at wide geographic distances, to create the most sensitive radio telescope in the world—50 times more sensitive than the Hubble Space Telescope.
The Chinese prototype incorporates hardware and critical electronics from Germany and Italy which are responsible for moving and pointing the telescopes. The 54th Institute of China Electronics Technology Group Corp. built the structural assembly for the dish, and is responsible for integrating the hardware and doing the testing. The fully assembled 15-meter diameter prototype dish will be tested before being put into production.
A second telescope prototype is also being built in China, funded by the German Max Planck Society. It will be shipped to South Africa and assembled there in the next few months, to conduct real astronomical observations for the first time. Both of the prototypes are the final precursors for a series of up to six SKA dishes, which will comprise an Early Production Array, to be built on site beginning in 2019. This small, initial array is designed to demonstrate the coordination among multiple dishes.
COLLAPSING WESTERN FINANCIAL SYSTEM
Feb. 19 (EIRNS)—The “small print” in the January report of a big, nearly 10% increase in housing construction starts in the United States, was that almost all of the increase was in multi-family rental dwellings. Developers, said a report by CNBC are “focusing almost entirely on the luxury segment, while the shortage of affordable rental housing is growing, as developers remain hamstrung by the now record-high cost of construction.”
America, since the 2008 crash, has fallen to just over 60% home ownership and has 44 million households renting. But as the number grows because of the inability to afford home ownership, not only has available “low-income” housing disappeared, but now “mid-range income” housing is disappearing, as well.
CNBC reported, “Here are the facts: in 2017, apartment completions in the 150 largest U.S. cities jumped to 395,775 units, higher than 2016 production by a staggering 46% and more than doubling the long-term average, according to RealPage,” wrote Zero Hedge Feb. 17. “However, instead of focusing on the mid-range, luxury upscale buildings accounted for between 75 and 80% of the new supply in the current cycle.” Why? “It’s just tough to make a deal work financially if you’re going toward that middle-market price,” Greg Willett, chief economist at RealPage, told CNBC.
The CEO of a large Mid-Atlantic/Northeast developer, the Bozzuto Group, is quoted: “In our portfolio, which represents 70,000 units mostly in the luxury space, we’re seeing that our renters are spending a relatively low amount of their income on rent despite rents being perceptively high. That being said, it is a tale of two cities. In the middle income and the lower income markets, people are spending proportionally more on their rent—so much so I believe there’s an acute crisis headed our way.”
Mortgages to own homes are generally not approved if all of a household’s monthly debt payments, including the prospective mortgage, tax and insurance payments, total much more than one-third of its income. But renting households are paying much more. Some 21 million of the 44 million renter households “pay more than 30% of their income for housing; 11 million of them pay more than 50% of their income for housing, according to a late 2017 report from Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies,” concluded Zero Hedge.