The ‘Spirit of the New Silk Road’ Is Defining Reality
April 2 (EIRNS)—Two developments this week make the point that reality in today’s world is the “Spirit of the New Silk Road.” All else—the geopolitical and economic confrontations—are doomed and dangerous. Our task is to organize for this truth to succeed.
Firstly, on April 4, the extraordinary session of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) will convene on the case of the Skripal poisoning in England, amidst growing international agreement, that London has tried to give the bum’s rush to force national leaders to submit to British domination, with the anti-Russia hysteria. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov called it out explicitly at a Moscow press conference, saying, “Leaders of a whole number of countries are asking questions … it’s only too obvious that our British colleagues have lost their sense of reality.” He elaborated on their motive that “Britain’s special services … are known for the license to kill”; and otherwise, that the Theresa May government was in trouble over not delivering on Brexit.
Russia’s representative to the OPCW Alexander Shulgin said yesterday, that on April 4, “we plan to come out with one more initiative at the extraordinary session.” He would not discuss it further, but it will follow the 14 questions on the Skripal affair that Russia put to Britain over the weekend.
Meantime, the London crowd is furious that President Trump, himself, has not fallen into line against Russia, as Britain demands. This was expressed by The Economist of London in a March 30 article, complaining that Trump’s Twitter account “was silent as 60 Russians were ordered out of this country. Indeed, Mr. Trump has never breathed a word of criticism of Mr. Putin.” They write that Trump “continued his near total-silence about Russia” even when he gave “a rambling and wide-ranging speech in Ohio” last week. No wonder the British are upset; it now comes out that President Trump had even raised Washington, D.C., as a possible meeting place, in his phone call with President Putin on March 20.
Second, this week marks a new low point in the worsening trade confrontation, promoted by the geopoliticians between the U.S. and China; as well as promoted in the form of sanctions against Russia. Today China activated its imposition of tariffs on 128 U.S.-produced imports, to the tune of $3 billion, in response to the U.S. imposing tariffs last month, on imports of that value, of Chinese steel and aluminum.
China’s Commerce Ministry released a statement today stressing that the United States has refused to talk. After the U.S. made its March 23 announcement of tariffs on Chinese steel and aluminum, China on March 26 called for trade talks. Despite U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin saying at the time, that there could be talks, nothing at all happened—which is pointed out in today’s China Ministry statement. Now, the U.S. has more anti-China tariffs—$50 billion-plus—under consideration.
Instead of this confrontation, China reiterates in its statement, talks must take place. This is in line with what President Trump, himself, expressed, during his election and early months in office, when he committed to end the destruction of the U.S. economy wrought by decades of bad trade deals. These came about directly as a result of the Wall Street/City of London practices during the GATT/NAFTA/WTO years, hurting all nations involved.
Now the opportunity is at hand, and urgent, to break with this destruction, by going with the reality of the “Spirit of the New Silk Road.”
STRATEGIC WAR DANGER
Lavrov Points to Likely British Intelligence Role in Skripal Poisoning
April 2 (EIRNS)—The issue of likely British intelligence involvement in the poisoning of former Russian GRU colonel, turned British double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia is increasingly coming to the fore.
Speaking at a press conference this morning in Moscow, TASS reported, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov pointed out that British intelligence, “or the government,” were clearly the beneficiaries of the poisoning of Skripal and his daughter. “There are other explanations besides the ones, which our Western colleagues trumpet that only the Russian trace can be considered to be the final verdict,” Lavrov said. He cited experts who observe that the whole poisoning affair “may be advantageous for Britain’s special services, which are known for their ability to act with a license to kill.” Moreover, he emphasized, “this can be also beneficial to the British government which found itself in an inconvenient situation” after failing to negotiate favorable terms for Britain’s exit from the European Union.
“Leaders of a whole number of countries are asking questions,” the Foreign Minister stated, and “Britain, I think, will not manage to avoid answering these questions, because they are already only too obvious and it’s only too obvious that our British colleagues have lost their sense of reality.”
From London, Russian Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko similarly charged that London’s refusal to share information on the poisoning has led Moscow to “strongly suspect” that London was the actual perpetrator of the crime. In an interview with Russia’s NTV “Weekly Results” news program, as reported by RT, Yakovenko explained that while Russia has no direct proof, the British government’s behavior constitutes “strong circumstantial evidence in support of this theory.”
Ambassador Yakovenko also pointed out that in order for Theresa May to win support from both the population and the Parliament, she needed a “serious provocation,” and came up with a particularly “savage” one, so as to claim a leading role in the Western campaign to “contain” Russia. But, Moscow will not allow London to escape the legal consequences of its actions, Yakovenko warned. “They will have to give answers,” and bear full responsibility for their actions.
Russia Will Put Forward a ‘Good Initiative’ at April 4 OPCW Session on Skripal Case
April 2 (EIRNS)—On April 4 Russia will present an initiative at an extraordinary session of the Executive Council of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in the Skripal case, Russia’s Permanent Representative to the OPCW Alexander Shulgin said on April 1. The session will take place behind closed doors, and will not be open to the media.
“We plan to come out with one more initiative at the extraordinary session,” he said in an interview with the Russian government daily Rossiyskaya Gazeta, reports TASS. “I’d prefer not to disclose it now but, you can take it from me that it will be a good initiative, which will give rise to no unfavorable criticism. It fits perfectly well into the framework of the Chemical Weapons Convention and is geared to resolve the problem by civilized means.”
He continued, however, that the OPCW experts were unlikely to provide results of their probe in time for the April 4 meeting. “It was reported that they will need two or three weeks after the samples are collected, packed and taken to laboratories for analysis.
“We expect the experts to give an official, purely fact-based conclusion on the chemical composition of the samples collected by the technical secretariat specialists with due observance of the procedure of evidence collecting and ensuring their safety. The mission’s mandate does not envisage identifying those responsible,” he stressed.
Russia Tests New ABM Missile and Other New Weapons
April 2 (EIRNS)—It is not just new strategic weapons which Russia is developing, such as those Russian President Vladimir Putin identified in his March 1 Address to the Federal Assembly. TASS reports on the test launching of an upgraded Russian air defense missile at Sary Shagan range in Kazakhstan, according to a report from the Defense Ministry daily Krasnaya Zvezda (Red Star) today.
“A new modernized air defense interceptor missile has successfully accomplished its task hitting a hypothetical target at the stated time,” the paper quotes Maj. Gen. Andrei Prikhodko, Deputy Commander of the Russian Aerospace Forces’ air and missile defense task force.
The new missiles will be added to the A-135 anti-ballistic missile system operated by the Russian Aerospace Forces and deployed around Moscow to protect the Russian capital and its environs against enemy missile strikes, according to Sputnik. The test also concerned the missile attack warning systems and control of outer space, Krasnaya Zvezda reported.
The test apparently took place last February, after which Prikhodko said that the technical characteristics of the new interceptor missile by far exceed those of its present-day counterparts.
According to a March 27 article by Arkady Savitsky in the online journal of the Strategic Culture Foundation, Russian President Vladimir Putin left unmentioned in his March 1 televised address a number of other new weapons that Russia has developed, aside from the strategic nuclear weapons that he unveiled. One of these is the Kh-32 air-to-surface missile, which was designed to equip the Tu-22M Backfire bomber. The Kh-32 can be used against either land-based or naval targets, flies at an altitude of 130,000 feet during the mid-course phase of its flight, has a top speed of 5,400 kph, and is maneuverable during the terminal phase of its flight when it is diving down on its target at very high speed, making it very difficult to defend against.
The article also discusses the integration of drones and robots into the Russian military, including armed combat robots, and reconnaissance and intelligence-gathering systems. The Russian military is already using robots to provide security at ICBM bases.
The Russian military has also put into service a stealthy, gliding bomb called the Drel. Each unit can carry up to 15 smaller bombs, each weighing 20 kg that are self-guiding after release. A single Drel can fly up to 30 km after release from its carrier aircraft. Alexander Kochkin, the deputy head of the Techmash Concern which designed and builds the Drel, confirmed to Sputnik that it will be used to arm the Su-57 stealth fighter, but can also be used on other types of Russian combat aircraft. The Russians claim that the targeting system used for the Drel cannot be jammed.
U.S. POLITICAL & ECONOMIC
Lula Defense Exposes DOJ/FBI Control over Brazil’s ‘Lava Jato,’ Could Annul Conviction
April 2 (EIRNS)—Former Brazilian President Lula da Silva’s legal defense team filed an explosive motion before the 4th Region Federal Regional Court on March 16, which could blow open the entire British Empire/Wall Street “Lava Jato” (“Carwash”) operation, which is being used to tear apart Brazil as a nation. Depending on how this unfolds, this counterattack by the Lula legal team could have blowback inside the U.S. as well, adding to the unmasking of the corrupt apparatus in the Department of Justice (DOJ) around Robert Mueller’s attempted coup d’état against President Trump.
The motion presents new evidence as grounds for throwing out the conviction and 12-year prison sentence handed down against Lula on patently flimsy “corruption” charges. Included in the evidence are on-the-record statements by high-level U.S. Department of Justice officials that Brazil’s Judge Sergio Moro and his “Lava Jato” hit squad which prosecuted Lula, cooperated intimately with the DOJ, bypassing “official procedures,” to “construct” their cases generally, and specifically against Lula da Silva, “in a manifest affront to due legal process and national sovereignty.”
The evidence submitted includes the July 19, 2017 speech by then head of the Justice Department Criminal Division, Kenneth Blanco, in which he cited the guilty verdict handed down against Lula da Silva as a leading example of the “extraordinary results” achieved from DOJ collaboration with the “Lava Jato” strike force, which he openly bragged operated outside “formal processes such as mutual legal assistance treaties.”
No one in Brazil had taken note of that publicly available speech until EIR published a press release on Dec. 16, 2017 with the relevant quotes, and identifying the overlap of this operation with the British coup plotters against U.S. President Donald Trump. The release hit Brazil like a bombshell.
Added to the evidence by the Lula legal team is the May 24, 2017 speech at an Anti-Corruption Summit in São Paulo by then-Deputy Assistant Attorney General Trevor McFadden, second in command in the Criminal Division. The exposé added to Blanco’s assertion of DOJ control over “Lava Jato” and the case against Lula, among other gems, that Brazil and the DOJ “not only helped one another in the collection of evidence and the construction of the case,” but they agreed on what fines and punishments would be imposed in both countries.
In light of the above, and stating that the judge in Lula’s case had refused to allow any questions raised by the defense about foreign involvement in the case brought against him, his legal team therefore also demanded that the defense be provided documentation on allcontacts and meetings between Judge Moro’s “Lava Jato” team and the DOJ/FBI.
If this motion prospers, every tree in the forest could fall.
Those who carried out the coup against former President Dilma Rousseff, and who are now trying to throw Lula in jail lest he win the upcoming presidential elections, in which he is the leading candidate, will try to sweep these new developments under the rug and proceed anyway, but Lula’s defense team has documented before the Brazilian courts and people that Lava Jato is an illegal, international attack on the nation, run through networks controlling the Criminal Division of the Department of Justice and the FBI in the United States.
U.S. Blocks UNSC Move To Investigate Israeli Violence against Palestinians in Gaza
April 2 (EIRNS)—The U.S. blocked a UN Security Council statement, on March 31, calling for an independent investigation into last week’s Israeli violence in Gaza. Israeli forces deployed along the Gaza border wall killed 17 protesters and wounded more than 1,400, half of them by gunfire, according to Palestinian health authorities. The occasion for the protests was “Land Day,” during which Palestinians demand the Right of Return to lands now occupied by Israel but were at one time Palestinian homelands. The protests are slated to continue until May 15, the anniversary of the “Nakba,” or “Catastrophe” when hundreds of thousands of Arab residents in British Palestine were forced from their homes in the 1948 partition.
The UN Security Council statement, proposed and circulated by Kuwait on March 30, called for an “independent and transparent investigation” of the violence, reported AFP. The draft council statement also expressed “grave concern at the situation at the border.” It also reaffirmed “the right to peaceful protest,” and expressed the Council’s “sorrow at the loss of innocent Palestinian lives.” The proposed statement also called “for respect for international human rights law and international humanitarian law, including protection of civilians,” according to the draft seen by AFP. The U.S. blocked the statement on March 31. The Israelis have rejected out of hand any investigation, internal or otherwise, insisting their actions were in self-defense.
The Palestinian Authority has blamed the U.S. and the U.K. for blocking the Kuwaiti statement. Nabil Abu Rudeineh, spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, accused the U.S. administration of “providing a cover for Israel to continue its aggression against the Palestinian people.”
“The U.S. ambassador insists on taking positions in support of the occupation and in defense of its crimes and violations,” said a statement by the Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Ramallah. The ministry accused U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley of “blind bias in favor of Israel and its crimes.”
Glenn Greenwald Calls Andrew McCabe’s ‘GoFundMe’ Page ‘Obscene’
April 2 (EIRNS)—The Intercept’s Glenn Greenwald wrote March 30 that the hundreds of thousands of dollars raised by GoFundMe page of fired FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe were “obscene.”
This morning, McCabe announced an end to his fundraising, claiming his $250,000 quota had been exceeded and $500,000 raised. Perhaps not coincidentally, in an opinion piece published in The Hilltoday, Constitutional lawyer Jonathan Turley also critically examined the fraudulent nature of McCabe’s begging for funds, pointing out that McCabe’s claim that he had been denied his pension was patently false. His pension was never in danger.
Greenwald put McCabe’s “fundraising” in this moral light:
“In 2017, more than a half-million human beings—553,742 of them to be exact—were homeless in the U.S. for at least some time. Last year was the first since the 2008 financial crisis that America’s homeless population grew. The 2016 U.S. census found that 12.7% of Americans—which translates to just over 43 million human beings—live below the poverty line. Millions of American children live in hunger: according to a 2015 U.S. Department of Agriculture study, the U.S. has ‘13.1 million households with children that often go without food’….
“All over the planet: hundreds of millions of human beings live in unimaginable poverty. According to the 2016 comprehensive World Bank study on global inequality, ‘767 million people are estimated to have been living below the international poverty line of $1.90 per person per day.’ ”
McCabe began fundraising when the Justice Department’s Office of the Inspector General recommended that McCabe be fired after its investigators found that he repeatedly and deliberately lied to the FBI.
COLLAPSING WESTERN FINANCIAL SYSTEM
New Chinese Tariffs on 128 U.S.-Made Imports Went into Effect on April 2
April 2 (EIRNS)—Today China imposed tariffs on 128 items imported from the U.S., in response to earlier action by the U.S. to apply tariffs on Chinese-made steel and aluminum imports. China’s list has two main tariff categories. For 120 items, involving mostly agriculture products and some steel goods, the tariffs will be 15%. For different types of pork and scrap aluminum, the tariffs will be 25%.
The total value of the trade affected is in the range of $3 billion, which corresponds to the value of the tariffs placed last month by the U.S. on imports of Chinese steel (25%) and aluminum (10%.) This value is relatively small, but the localized impact in the U.S. is significant, and as well, the U.S. trade fracas spotlights the fact that there is no way for economic betterment, except through a “Silk Road” trade spirit, of finding ways to benefit the economies of all trading partners. The opportunity for this is for the U.S. to join in the world shift to the Belt and Road Initiative.
The Chinese Commerce Ministry released a statement today, and the list of 128 U.S. items, now under new import tariffs. According to media reports, the statement points out that on March 26, China requested talks with Washington, about the newly-announced U.S. tariffs on imports of Chinese steel and aluminum, but the U.S. did not respond. The statement also reports that the results of China’s public comment period, which ended March 31, show that, “a lot of people have expressed their endorsement to the measures [proposed tariffs on U.S. imports] via phone and email, and they support the government to take actions to defend the interest of the nation.”
A large part of the $3 billion in trade with China, now coming under tariffs, is from U.S. pork. In 2017, some $1.1 billion worth of U.S. pork went to China. National Hog Farmer quoted Ohio pork farmer Jim Heimerl, President of the U.S. National Pork Producers Council, on March 23, as saying, “No one wins in these tit-for-tat trade disputes, least of all the farmers and consumers.”
SCIENCE & INFRASTRUCTURE
Countries along Greater Mekong/Lancang River Plan 227 Projects
April 2 (EIRNS)—The Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) held its 6th Summit on March 31 in Hanoi, agreeing to a Hanoi Action Plan and a Regional Investment Framework (RIF) 2022, identifying a pipeline of 227 projects with an indicative cost of $66 billion. The GMS was founded in 1992 by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the six Southeast Asian nations in the Mekong River basin, together with Yunnan and Guangxi provinces in China, where it is named the Lancang River. The GMS has supported projects worth $21 billion, primarily in transportation.
The RIF, called a “living pipeline” of projects that will be reviewed and updated regularly, is also largely focused on transportation, with 97 of the 227 projects and $56 billion of the $66 billion in transportation projects. The GMS leaders “strongly supported the economic corridor approach that transforms transport networks into transnational economic corridors, linking production, trade and infrastructure,” reports Xinhua.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said at the summit: “The GMS, once an important area along the ancient Maritime Silk Road, is now where the Silk Road Economic Belt connects with the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road. This puts the GMS countries in a solid and unique position in the Belt and Road cooperation.”
The 7th GMS Summit will be held in Cambodia in 2021.
Spain’s Nuclear Industry Proposes Role in Chinese-Ibero-American Nuclear Projects
April 2 (EIRNS)—Eduardo Aymerich, director general of the Spanish Nuclear Group for Cooperation (SNGC), a consortium formed by four Spanish nuclear companies, told Xinhua during the International Fair of China’s Nuclear Industry over March 28-31 in Beijing, that SNGC wants to partner with Chinese nuclear companies in Ibero-America. He cited the example of China’s contracts to build two nuclear plants in Argentina, explaining that “in addition to our specialized services, we know the region and share the culture, so that we could be a connecting bridge between the Argentine client and the Chinese supplier.”
SNGC, he said, is interested in working with China in other countries also, naming the U.K., Turkey, Romania and South Africa.
Two SNGC officials attending the fair stated that doing business in China itself is a challenge, because of the speed at which the industry is developing. “The Chinese nuclear sector has developed a great deal in recent years. The challenge now is to offer them innovative technologies which interest them,” Aymerich told Xinhua. José García, head of international development at ENUSA, the nuclear fuel-processing company in SNGC, called the Chinese market very competitive for Spanish companies “because in five years the product which you sell them will be left behind.”
Spain’s nuclear industry needs business abroad to stay alive, because while nuclear power supplies around 20% of the nation’s electricity (with seven plants still operating), the insane predominance of anti-nuclear greenies in the nation is blocking all needed expansion. Among them, the four companies making up the SNGC consortium manufacture and operate nuclear safety valves, steam generators, and other components and fuel, and also provide engineering, inspection and training services.
China’s nuclear industry fair hosted more than 200 companies and institutions participating from more than 50 countries and regions.