Posted tagged ‘United States’

36 MILLION DEAD BY AMERICA’S AGGRESSIONS, WHAT SAYETH OBAMA?

October 21, 2008

Erle Frayne Argonza

Magandang hapon! Good afternoon!

In just a couple of weeks’ time, the US voters and electorate will make their decisions about who should be the next American chief exec and vice-president. As a US observer (from Manila), I can now advance my own forecast, based on survey polls and the emerging ethos in the USA, that Barak Obama is the man of the hour, the next president of the USA.

I would now wish to bring the matter of US aggression and its toll to the American voters and the Obama camp, this being a most urgent agenda for international peace and cooperation. As per latest count, since after World War II, when the USA was transformed into a World Power status politico-militarily, over 36 Millions of peoples worldwide already died as aggregate casualties of all the US offensives and related military initiatives. What sayeth Obama and his team about the matter?

For an outside observer, it hardly matters what foreign policy architecture were periodically installed by the US administration to justify aggression of every type. The much hyped ‘global cop’ cliché no longer bites the dust, nobody believes today in the rationale for any further US aggression across the oceans save for fascistic elements that profess sympathies for US imperialistic violence and conflicts. What matters is that (a) the aggressions were committed by (b) an imperialistic power, (c) under the guise of performing a global police role, (d) resulting to a staggering 36+ Million deaths!

Will the Obama leadership finally put a reversal to the policies of global carnage and infernal destruction of nation-states by the US military juggernaut machine? Will the new presidency at least put a break to the pedals of the unstoppable destructive deus ex machina within the next four (4) years?

Will there be no more US aggressions of whatever type beginning in January 2009, when the new president takes his oath of office? Will the unilateralism that was shamelessly and arrogantly exhibited—that alienated the USA from the entire world community for the past eight (8) years—be finally put to rest, and that the USA thereafter go back to multilateralism whereby all military initiatives will be concurred within the framework of the United Nations at least?

How about those victims of all the US aggressions, those men, children, women, disabled, blind, deaf, and humble folks-–will they be indemnified by the United State if ever? Isn’t it time that those demonic aggressors within the US Establishment, who were responsible for those carnages, be brought to international justice to answer for their war crimes?

 

How about those 1,000,000+ Filipinos who died during America’s invasion of my beloved Philippines in the years 1898-1900, during that war of US imperialistic expansionism in East Asia, will their families and descendants ever get to be indemnified if ever? Or maybe it hardly pays to consider those Filipinos as humans, because anyway they aren’t homo sapiens but were rather “brown monkeys with no tails”?

While the Philippine-American War was going on, American soldiers were quick to compose and popularize songs that condescendingly denigrated the islanders to the level of animals. One particular song says “monkeys have no tail in Zamboanga” which captures the American campaign in the Mindanao island that was then predominantly Muslim. The genocidal campaign there was among the most horrific of destructive events, surpassed only by the Batangas and Samar campaigns where entire towns were leveled and razed down the ground, bringing their populations down to zero.

The song summarizes the intent and content of US aggression a full century ago. Invaded populations were no human populations anyway, so it hardly matters to observe civility or protocols of war on the subjected peoples. The explicit order is: do anything necessary to neutralize and destroy them, including razing entire towns and cities to the ground, and do the tasks without compunction. For those warm bodies are not of humans’ but of “monkeys with no tails.”

Did US aggression (in the generic sense) ever change its underlying theme and tone from a century ago to the present? That all those conquered lands outside the US borders, whatever names and cultures they represent, are not of humans’ but of Things other than human? “Take them at all cost pronto!”

Does the more human face exuded by American troops today suffice to conceal what could be an insidious, evil, demonic theme behind every imperialistic-fascistic aggression? When will true civility and ‘rule of reason’ ever govern the use of instruments of aggression by the US military juggernaut, now that such a juggernaut had grown to a complexity unparalleled anywhere in human history?

Like many members of the world community, I am sympathetic to the Man of the Hour, Barak Obama. Like everybody else, my expectations are very high that his regime would deliver the goods and reverse the trends of imperialistic aggressions and carnages. I hope this regime won’t let me down, as my exasperation over American doublespeak had already reached its limits.

I’ve raised my questions, and I’ll assign myself four (4) years to watch. What sayeth you, Fellows out there?

[Writ 21 October 2008, Quezon City, MetroManila] 

CONTINUING BOURSE PLUNGE DOWN NEAR DEPRESSION LEVEL

October 11, 2008

Erle Frayne Argonza

Good afternoon, Fellows of Planet Earth!

The planet’s bourses are still plunging as of yesterday (Friday), a day that was dabbed as ‘black Friday’ in Japan which saw the Nikkei plunge by 10%. ‘Bloody Friday’ may be a better term, as the word ‘black’ in ‘black Friday’ could be construed as a racial slur.

This gentleman is among the economists/social scientists in Manila who forecast, way back in the late 1980s yet, that the Western economies led by the USA will experience another horrific depression this decade. We were then following the trends of a yawning gap between the ‘financial economy’ or ‘virtual economy’ and the ‘real economy’ based on the GDP statistics. The American economist Lyndon LaRouche devised a very potent graph of the event which he termed as ‘collapse function’.

As of late 2007, debts in the USA already exceeded the GDP by four (4) times. That means that, in the event of a bubble burst (which came from the realty markets), the economy will come crashing down. It is simply impossible for a $13 Trillion GDP to pay up for debts approximating $50 Trillion last year. In the secondary debt markets, financial derivatives exposures breached the $120 Billion mark in the USA last year, and that all the more exacerbates the weakness and fragility of a $13Trillion economy that simply doesn’t have the money to pay up for ballooning private and public debts.

My own forecast is that the stock market plunge across the globe, which is now in the vogue of a ‘freefall’, will continue till next year yet. At its best, the Dow Jones index reached past 13,000 points about less than a couple of years ago. The same index had already shrunk below 10,000 points at its worst. By next year, the Dow will further shrink by as low as 8,000-8,500 points, the range that actually represents the real value of the entire US economy.

1 Point in the US bourse is equivalent to $1.5 Billion more or less, at its best. A shrunken size would deflate the value to around $1 Billion. At 13,300 points, the Dow index represents a value worth $20 Trillion, which seemingly exceeds the GDP of the entire federation. But that amount is largely speculation, the speculative value exceeding beyond 50% of the real value of the commodity lines traded.

8,500 points in the Dow index would yield, at deflated value, around $8.5 Trilion dollars. That same estimate is the real value of the US economy in GDP terms, per year, as of today. The value of $13 Trillion includes the value of speculation and fiction, on account of the predominance of the ‘virtual economy’.

As I’ve already explained in a previous article, the Bush-Paulson bailout, allocated an amount of $700 Trillion, is a faulty measure to salve the financial ailments of the USA. It follows from the flawed Japanese ‘crisis management’ bailout of huge banks that went in the red last decade, a tragic measure that flattened Japan’s growth to almost zero for around ten years at least. It is a band aid solution to a gargantuan problem that is equivalent to cancer, and everybody knows that band aid doesn’t cure cancer.

That explains the jittery situation of the post-bailout law scenario. Financial traders and investors who still recall well the Japanese fiasco just couldn’t be appeased by a repeat of the same band aid solution, this time to an economy almost three times bigger than Japan’s (in real value). For as long as no strategic solution to the global financial crash is in site, the stock markets will be jittery till next year, and before long we would see both the USA and Europe plunge back to the depression years of the mid-1920s to early 1930s.

Let’s see what will happen to the election fever in the USA. Some liquidity will be produced by the election spending there, and the optimistic pitch created by the electoral situation may somehow drive back the bourses up a bit. That is just a temporary respite from the blazing flames of the crash, rest assured.

[Writ 11 October, 2008, Quezon City, MetroManila]

IMMORAL U.S. BAILOUT ECHOES JAPAN’S 1990s ‘CRISIS MANAGEMENT’ FLAWS

October 4, 2008

Erle Frayne Argonza

Magandang hapon! Good afternoon!

It’s been some couples of weeks now since the financial downspin in the USA took a further plunge as mega-banks sought help from federal government for rescue. The closure of the Lehman Brothers and the S.O.S. by other big banks that are now in the red rocked the global stock markets to a new round of instabilities and volatilities, even as the US economy is in danger of another Great Depression.

As I’ve already expressed in many articles of mine, the US financial collapse, an event that economists in many parts of the world forecast as early as the 1990s yet, is bound to happen, on account of many factors. The key factor, as this analyst and fellow ‘nationalist economists’ have been saying since 1998 yet (when I was actively involved with a group of economists in Manila called the Independent Review circle), is the widening gap between the (a) ‘virtual economy’ based on predatory finance that produces mere fictitious values and the (b) ‘real economy’ or ‘physical economy’ that produces real values.

The serial liberal economic reforms that began in 1971 yet, which saw the collapse of the gold standard and the dropping of fixed exchange rate (FER) in favor of ‘floating rate’, and onwards through the liberalization-privatization-deregulation-decentralization (structural adjustment policies or SAPs) of the 1980s, and onwards to the GATT-Uruguay Rounds that created the WTO in 1994, took its catastrophic toll on the economies of the planet, but most specially the USA’s.

The Nixon-era financial-monetary reforms and the Reaganomics (SAPs) were the policy culprits of America. They dealt the final death blows on the dirigist policies of New Deal, initiated by Franklin Roosevelt but which was inspired by dirigist policies of earlier luminaries (i.e. Alexander Hamilton, Abraham Lincoln, Friedrich von List), provided the impetus that created the strong, gigantic ‘physical economy’  of the country, and transformed it into a world power economically, politically and culturally. Without dirigist economics (interventionist) and the New Deal, Middle Class America wouldn’t have been possible. The neo-liberal reforms simply wiped out whatever was left of the New Deal by the 1980s, and with the liberalization of the financial –capital-monetary markets, the predatory financiers had their field day of looting the middle class purses under the rubric of portfolio capital and derivatives operations.

Had the US policy makers just labored a bit and assigned their staff to scour the world for some related experience of bank-financial collapse, their researchers could have easily ‘discovered’ the experiences of Japan in the 1990s. By the early 1980s, when Japan clearly demonstrated its sterling industrial and technological capabilities as the base for its wealth production, the Zaibatsus and the policy makers decided to go the liberalization way, confident as they were that the fruits of decades-old ‘physical economy’ build up can’t just be easily wiped out by predatory financier operators.

Japanese technocrats (both in Japan and overseas) also theorized that the key to producing a sound, healthy, mighty Japanese economy was in the realm of micro-economics more than public policy. Never mind if the policy environment will shift from the protectionist-dirigist policies of the post-war decades to liberal policies, provided that at the level of production and organization, capacity and internal potency can be demonstrated. The likes of William Ouichi’s ‘theory z’ comes to mind, or ideas that spawned strategies and tools dovetailing on quality control, team building, and decentralized operations. The world was so awe-inspired by the ‘Japan Incorporated’ model that was based precisely on the micro-economic route, and was extolling the Japanese corporate firm to the hilt as the new champion of the globalizing economy.

The USA that had demonstrated its strength on macro-economics—In the terrain of public policy—as the route to economic might, must have been seduced by the Japanese ideological onslaught at one point, that it so sonorously echoed the Japanese technocratic jargon of ‘globalization’. But when Japan’s financial system began to buckle down in 1994, which then impacted on the rest of the economic sectors, the US politicians and technocrats simply didn’t pay attention, fixated as they were to the seductive results of the ‘virtual economy’ (bubble operations) on the GDP of America.

To recall, Japan suffered miserably for the bailout mistake it pursued. Dabbed as ‘crisis management’, the state went on a binge of saving ailing banks and financial houses, the very same measures that the Bush-Paulson team is now embarking on. Alarmed at those events than in Japan, which led to a 10-year recession & almost zero growth, I began to raise howl about the ballooning portfolio investments in the Philippines by 94-95, and was among those experts who forewarned the state officials that Japan’s ‘crisis management’ was seriously flawed, was tantamount to giving incentives to looters instead of criminalizing, them, and should never be enforced in the Philippines or ASEAN in case that the portfolio bubble will burst in Manila and the region (the bubble burst in 1997).

To repeat: Japan suffered miserably from that fiasco. Recession howled like unstoppable forest fires for ten (10) years, and were it not for the high growth of East Asian markets, Japan couldn’t have risen back to appreciable growth by 2005. Interest rate was compelled to be brought down to zero percent, a precedent that many countries affected by financial meltdowns were aloof to emulating. Bankruptcies,  corporate closures and downsizing led to dislocations and unemployment. For the first time in many decades, former decent Japanese executives and employees who lose their jobs and had their remaining mortgaged properties confiscated, were rendered homeless and starving, and forced to reside in the streets as paupers and vagabonds..   

Sitting with my fellows in the Independent Review circle from 1997-onwards, we took turns in exposing the maladies of the neo-liberal reforms, spoke in diverse media (TV, radio) to forewarn the public of the imminent financial collapse in East Asia (the meltdown took place beginning in June of ’97), and by 98 were of the consensus that the USA was next in line for a meltdown of even catastrophic proportions than either Japan’s or South East Asia’s (97 meltdown). The very destructive effects of predatory finance saw the decline of industry (de-industrialization), agriculture (land use conversions, decay), infrastructures (some huge infra were even privatized), S & T (low priority in budgets & education), and transport & communications in the USA. If the neglect of the ‘physical economy’ will continue for another ten (10) years, it will be too late for salving the US economy as a whole. Any catastrophic bubble burst and financial-monetary meltdown could bring the economic house down, collapse consumption, and render the US economy much like unto a Latin American economy past 2010.

 As I recall then, we experts from the Independent Review circle strongly opined that the ‘crisis management’ tactic was immoral and extremely perverted. How in the world could the state ever reward criminals at all? The bankers and financiers looted the Japanese purse by probably worth trillions of dollars, they should have been criminalized for their sordid crimes, and yet they were even rewarded! Unbelievable! This is one excellent narrative for the Ripley’s Believe It Or Not!

Fortunately for the Philippines, there was no large-scale bailout of any bank as a result of the 1997 Asian meltdown. Those realty and construction companies affected by the crisis, affected precisely because they over-exposed themselves to ‘hot money’ foreign portfolios that simply dried up as the same portfolios were pulled during the first month of the meltdown, were immediately able to cope up by retooling and re-engineering their strategies and tools. Interest rates were lowered, excess liquidities were flashed out in well managed manner that deserve our central bank accolades from the Bank of International Settlements. In less than a year after the meltdown began, we were back to consumption patterns like there was no recession at all. We didn’t take the Japan route, luckily. By 2001 and onwards our growth patterns were back to appreciable growth, and the local bourse moved up as well.

Today, all over the ASEAN + China-India-Korea (minus Japan), the Asian meltdown seems like an ancient event down memory lane as things have been moving fast. We just can’t believe that our mighty economic partner, the USA, didn’t learn its lessons from the 2001 recession there and from the flaws of the Japanese bailout. ‘Bailing out the rich’ isn’t the issue here, but rather ‘bailing out the criminals’ which is a gross disincentive for the legitimate SMEs and other market players that didn’t receive the same favor.

If we were to seriously search for appropriate short-term tactic for salving ailing financial institutions, the answer lies in a proven approach to corporate ailments: bankruptcy reorganization. The economists Robert Reich (former US secretary of Labor) and Lyndon LaRouche (Executive Intelligence Review) have been airing this solution very strongly, and I am myself bent on accepting this micro-economic short-term solution as an exemplar for the rest of the world. I would not be surprised if the eminent economists Joseph Stiglitz and Paul Krugman would air a similar advisory, and they should better air their counsel strongly.

The entire planet today is watching the horrific bailout in the USA, almost forgetting that this copycat bailout already flattened Japan for a decade at least before. Each one of us should look at our own backyards and make sure that our respective states won’t emulate the rather devious and insane bailout of Japan Incorporated and the Bush-Paulson team.

[Writ 04 October 2008, Quezon City, MetroManila.]

GEORGIA LEADERS: VASSALS OF ANGLO-EUROPEAN OLIGARCHY

August 29, 2008

Erle Frayne Argonza

It may behoove many folks to conclude that the recent Georgia-Russia conflict was an isolated event that has got to do largely with the localized problem in South Ossetia. Before the folks would make their conclusions and curse Russia to the hilt, they better take note of the facts well, most specially those facts related to the Georgia leadership’s direct connections with the Anglo-European oligarchy that installed the same leadership to power.

There has been the persistent view from the source, the Executive Intelligence Review, of the British oligarchy as the core cabal behind the various hostilities in the world today, a view that I don’t exactly share. I am of the opinion that the British, who work largely through their empire network (Commonwealth of Nations), are mere middlemen for a more secretive elite circle that is centered in the Teutonic-Frankish-Venetian bloodline of financiers.

At any rate, the oligarchs do comprise a network of interlocking interests working out to completely dominate the planet, launch a new world war, and install a global government by converting their main creation, the United Nations, into the global regulatory institution and harbinger of the ‘world rule of law’ to conserve that perpetuate that same oligarchic power based on global totalitarian arrangements.

Below is a report from the Executive Intelligence Review concerning the connections of the Georgia leadership to the George Soros circle.

[18 August 2008, Quezon City, MetroManila. Thanks to the Executive Intelligence Review database news.]

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British and Soros Stooges in the Georgia Regime

Aug. 11, 2008 (EIRNS)—The following press release was issued today by the Lyndon LaRouche Political Action Committee.

Ongoing research has thus far identified the following British and Soros stooges in the current government of Georgia:

1) Prime Minister: Vladimir “Lado” Gurgenidze

A British empire banker, citizen of the United Kingdom.

Born 1970, Tbilisi, Georgia. Beginning in 1997 he worked for the Anglo-Dutch giant bank ABN Amro, living in London 1998-2003. From 1997-1998 he directed the bank’s corporate finance operations in Russia and neighboring countries. Among the ABN AMRO conquests was its “twinning project” ensnaring the Bank of Georgia, which had been privatized in 1994-95. From 1998-2000 Grugenidze was ABN AMRO’s Director and Head of Mergers and Acquisitions in the Emerging European Markets.

After the 2003 Soros “Rose Revolution” he returned to Georgia and was chief executive (2004-2006) for the Bank of Georgia, in line with the joint UNDP-Soros structural/financial reorganization program for the country (“capacity-building”). Gurgenidze brought in a management team from ABN AMRO and other British-connected banks.

Gurgenidze was appointed Prime Minister and head of the government in November 2007.

2) Head of the National Security Council: Alexander Lomaia

A longtime top executive of George Soros operatons in Georgia, now overseeing the country’s military operations.

In 2003-2004, Lomaia was Executive Director of the Open Society Georgia Foundation (Soros Foundation). He “directed the foundation’s operational grantmaking and administrative activities, and fulfillment of its annual overall budget of more than $2,500.000. Supervised the staff of up to 50 program, finance, and administrative employees.”

In 2003-2004, Lomaia was regional director for the former Soviet Union for the Open Society institute’s “Democracy Coalition Project”. He “facilitated NGO coalition-building in the newly independent countries of the former Soviet Union to promote an activist democratic reform agenda…. The project facilitated the creation of an international federation of the national coalitions which collectively pursued … democratic reforms on the international stage.”

3) Chairman, Georgia Parliament Committee for Eurointegration: David Darchiashvili

Former Executive Director, Open Society Georgia Foundation.

Darchiashvili has worked for the Soros-dominated NGO networks since 1992, primarily in the Caucasus Institute for Peace, Democracy and Development, a “partner institution” to the Soros Open Society Institute (among its achievements were publishing a Georgian translaton of neoconservatve Francis Fukuyama’s ” “The End of the History and the Last Man”).

Darchiashvili was executive director of the Open Society Georgia Foundation in the period (approximately) 2006-2007, apparently succeeding now-prime minister Gurgenidze as head of Soros operations in Georgia. In his present position he coordinates the Parliamentary institutions in Georgia with the British/Soros plans for the European Union, in conjunction with such channels as the Soros “European Council on Foreign Relations.”

US GENERAL: AFGHANISTAN’S A FAILURE, STRESSES DEVELOPMENT

August 22, 2008

Erle Frayne Argonza

Good day!

A retired US general recently spoke about the overall conduct of war in Afghanistan. To the surprise and chagrin of defense experts and officials, the general most candidly declared that Afghanistan was a disaster.

The retired general spoke more like a development expert than a uniformed defense official. Accordingly, there is no military solution to Afghanistan’s problems. The ideas proposed by the same (ret) uniformed official combine relief and rehab, infrastructures, and capacity-building efforts, or those solutions that have to do more with a total development package. This is a clear departure from the demented thinking in Pentagon and DC that tend to exacerbate the destructive facets of US engagements in Afghanistan.

Below is the news item about the (ret) official’s pronouncements.

[18 August 2008, Quezon City, MetroManila. Thanks to Executive Intelligence Review database news.]

McCaffrey: Afghanistan Disaster, Unless We Send in the Engineers

Aug. 7, 2008 (EIRNS)—Retired Gen. Barry McCaffrey, who often functions as an informal advisor to senior Army leadership on the current wars, reported on the disaster in Afghanistan following his July 21-26 trip to that country and to NATO headquarters in Belgium. In a memo dated July 30, addressed to the Social Sciences department at West Point, McCaffrey writes: “Afghanistan is in misery.” Sixty-eight percent of the population has never known peace, life expectancy is only 44, and Afghanistan has the highest maternal death rate in the world, he reports. The security situation, the economy (including agriculture, which is “broken”), governance, and the opium problems, are “all likely to get worse in the coming 24 months.”

There is no military solution, McCaffrey writes: “The atmosphere of terror cannot be countered mainly by military means. We cannot win through a war of attrition…. Afghanistan will not be solved by the addition of two or three more US combat brigades from our rapidly unraveling Army.”

Instead, McCaffrey argues that, in addition to building up the Afghan security forces, economic measures are also required. He calls for the deployment of a “five battalion Army engineer brigade… to lead a five year road building effort employing Afghan contractors and training and mentoring Afghan engineers…. The war will be won when we fix the Afghan agricultural system which employs 82% of the population…. The war will be won when the international community demands the eradication of the opium and cannibis crops and robustly supports the development of alternative economic activity.” McCaffrey pointed to the tremendous growth in the poppy crop since the US invasion in 2001 and warned that “Unless we deal head-on with this enormous cancer, we should have little expectation that our efforts in Afghanistan will not eventually come to ruin.” On Pakistan, McCaffrey warns against a US military intervention in that country from across the border in Afghanistan, which he says “would be a political disaster. We will imperil the Pakistani government’s ability to support our campaign. They may well stop our air and ground logistics access across Pakistan and place our entire NATO presence in severe jeopardy.” In dealing with Pakistan, “We must do no harm…” 

ANTHRAX SCARE: SPIN DOCTORS, ROUGE FORCES

August 19, 2008

Erle Frayne Argonza

 

News came out recently about the suicide by a biodefense researcher who may have something to do with the anthrax scare weeks after the 9/11 event in the USA. I was in the USA at that time, and I witnessed the anxiety and trauma done by that sordid event.

 

My own theory then was that rouge forces within the USA were the ones behind the 9/11. The series of scare tactics and bombing hoax that followed could have been part of that overall agenda. The grand levels of fears could have been used to justify more police state intervention, at the worst leading to a declaration of Martial Law in the whole USA.

 

The bad thing, I think, is that the biodefense researcher’s death cut up the opportunity to find out who were the real people behind that anthrax scare. The rouge forces connects to Establishment, this is most likely, so the researcher’s death will bury forever that channel of command between this researcher and the real manipulators behind the screen.

 

The news report below reflects the update news about the researcher’s death.

 

[02 July 2008, Quezon City, MetroManila. Thanks to MSN database news.]

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By LARA JAKES JORDAN and DAVID DISHNEAU, Associated Press Writers Fri Aug 1, 3:57 AM ET

 

WASHINGTON – A top U.S. biodefense researcher apparently committed suicide just as the Justice Department was about to file criminal charges against him in the anthrax mailings that traumatized the nation in the weeks following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, according to a published report.

The scientist, Bruce E. Ivins, 62, who worked for the past 18 years at the government’s biodefense labs at Fort Detrick, Md., had been told about the impending prosecution, the Los Angeles Times reported for Friday editions. The laboratory has been at the center of the FBI’s investigation of the anthrax attacks, which killed five people.

Ivins died Tuesday at Frederick Memorial Hospital in Maryland. The Times, quoting an unidentified colleague, said the scientist had taken a massive dose of a prescription Tylenol mixed with codeine.

Tom Ivins, a brother of the scientist, told The Associated Press that another of his brothers, Charles, told him Bruce had committed suicide.

A woman who answered the phone at Charles Ivins’ home in Etowah, N.C., refused to wake him and declined to comment on his death. “This is a grieving time,” she said.

A woman who answered the phone at Bruce Ivins’ home in Frederick declined to comment.

Justice Department spokesman Peter Carr and FBI Assistant Director John Miller declined to comment on the report.

Henry S. Heine, a scientist who had worked with Ivins on inhalation anthrax research at Fort Detrick, said he and others on their team have testified before a federal grand jury in Washington that has been investigating the anthrax mailings for more than a year.

Heine declined to comment on Ivins’ death.

Norman Covert, a retired Fort Detrick spokesman who served with Ivins on an animal-care and protocol committee, said Ivins was “a very intent guy” at their meetings.

Ivins was the co-author of numerous anthrax studies, including one on a treatment for inhalation anthrax published in the July 7 issue of the journal Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy.

Just last month, the government exonerated another scientist at the Fort Detrick lab, Steven Hatfill, who had been identified by the FBI as a “person of interest” in the anthrax attacks. The government paid Hatfill $5.82 million to settle a lawsuit he filed against the Justice Department in which he claimed the department violated his privacy rights by speaking with reporters about the case.

The Times said federal investigators moved away from Hatfill and concluded Ivins was the culprit after FBI Director Robert Mueller changed leadership of the investigation in 2006. The new investigators instructed agents to re-examine leads and reconsider potential suspects. In the meantime, investigators made progress in analyzing anthrax powder recovered from letters addressed to two U.S. senators, according to the report.

Besides the five deaths, 17 people were sickened by anthrax that was mailed to lawmakers on Capitol Hill and members of the news media in New York and Florida just weeks after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. The victims included postal workers and others who came into contact with the anthrax.

In the six months following the anthrax mailings, Ivins conducted unauthorized testing for anthrax spores outside containment areas at USAMRIID — the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases at Fort Detrick — and found some, according to an internal report by the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command, which oversees the lab.

In December 2001, after conducting tests triggered by a technician’s fears that she had been exposed, Ivins found evidence of anthrax and decontaminated the woman’s desk, computer, keypad and monitor, but didn’t notify his superiors, according to the report.

The report says Ivins performed more unauthorized sampling on April 15, 2002, and found anthrax spores in his office, in a passbox used for moving materials in and out of labs, and in a room where male workers changed from civilian clothing into laboratory garb.

Ivins told Army investigators he conducted unauthorized tests because he was worried that the powdered anthrax in letters that had been sent to USAMRIID for analysis might not have been adequately contained.

In January 2002, the FBI doubled the reward for helping solve the case to $2.5 million, and by June officials said the agency was scrutinizing 20 to 30 scientists who might have had the knowledge and opportunity to send the anthrax letters.

After the government’s settlement with Hatfill was announced in late June, Ivins started showing signs of strain, the Times said. It quoted a longtime colleague as saying Ivins was being treated for depression and indicated to a therapist that he was considering suicide. Family members and local police escorted Ivins away from the Army lab, and his access to sensitive areas was curtailed, the colleague told the newspaper. He said Ivins was facing a forced retirement in September.

The colleague declined to be identified out of concern that he would be harassed by the FBI, the report said.

Ivins was one of the nation’s leading biodefense researchers.

In 2003, Ivins and two of his colleagues at the USAMRIID received the highest honor given to Defense Department civilian employees for helping solve technical problems in the manufacture of anthrax vaccine.

In 1997, U.S. military personnel began receiving the vaccine to protect against a possible biological attack. Within months, a number of vaccine lots failed a potency test required by federal regulators, causing a shortage of vaccine and eventually halting the immunization program. The USAMRIID team’s work led to the reapproval of the vaccine for human use.

The Times said Ivins was the son of a Princeton-educated pharmacist who was born and raised in Lebanon, Ohio. He received undergraduate and graduate degrees, including a Ph.D. in microbiology, from the University of Cincinnati.

He and his wife, Diane, owned a home just outside the main gate to Fort Detrick. …

ANOTHER GREAT DEPRESSION COMING AS FINANCIAL SYSTEM ENDS

August 18, 2008

Erle Frayne Argonza

Is the global economy moving downward towards a devastating collapse?

If we employ a long-term Kondratieff cycle to model the world economy, we can see that the period beginning in 1935 approximately (when the big market economies US-UK-Germany moved towards another cycle of growth approximately after the Great Depression, should have ended around 1995 approximately, after which comes another great depression.

As early as 1989, ramblings of a global collapse began to murmur in the US economy. Mexico, Japan, Argentina, and other economies followed in the 1990s, while Europe went through a general low-growth trend that was the most sustainable for the continent as a whole. Then came the Asian meltdown of 1997. Then the USA again went through a recession in 2001, a pattern that has been repeated again from 2008 to the present. It seems that the pillars of the world economy couldn’t get out of a short-term crisis without having to crash back to another episode of short-term crisis altogether.

Is it really a ‘short-term’ crisis in the first place? Or is it in fact a ‘systemic crisis’, and that the financial downspin the Northern economic pillars are going through could very well be the terminal phase of a very long cycle of growth that began after the end yet of the Treaty of Westphalia (1648)? That in fact, several long-wave Kondratieff cycles have already passed over since that time, and that finally the system is DEAD in the wood?

Well, not only the financial system but the whole of CAPITALISM is already on its death throes. Those oligarchs behind the systems now dying won’t see the systems they built die down just that without “bringing down the other houses” with them, it seems. Which means that, right after the terminal phase of the system, another huge, catastrophic war will come, which will later see another Westphalian-type treaty or so that will re-carve the contours of polities into a Post-Westphalian totalitarian technotronic global order.

Below is a briefer from the Executive Intelligence Review that summarizes the issue at hand.   

[18 August 2008, Quezon City, MetroManila. Thanks to Executive Intelligence Review database news.]

End of the Line for Financial System; Bankruptcy Issue Raised

Aug. 10, 2008 (EIRNS)—The death of the financial system was the implicit subject of several articles in the financial press over the weekend, reflecting the way reality is setting in and attitudes are changing.

  • “Investment banking is dying,” was the blunt statement by William Cohan, in a op-ed in today’s Washington Post entitled “The End of the Masters of the Universe?” Cohan says that the revenue streams of the investment banks are drying up, and that there is genuine fear in the corridors of power on Wall Street.
  • “We have a banking crisis and an agency crisis and a mortgage crisis and a coming credit card crisis. We’ve never seen anything like that before. And it all seems to be coming home to roost at the same time. That’s never happened either,” Charles Geisst, a professor of finance at Manhattan University, told yesterday’s Washington Post. He said the Great Depression was the last time the financial markets were hammered by such a variety of factors, adding: “But we did not even have credit cards in the 1930s; there was no such thing as student loans.”
  • The specter of generalized bankruptcy was raised by Yale finance professor Robert J. Shiller in an op-ed in the New York Times. Citing the failure of Bear Stearns and the government measures to bail out Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, Shiller asks, “What if the next case is worse? No one in government seems to feel a responsibility for warning about such possibilities and formulating a detailed policy for dealing with them.” Shiller says that “Bankruptcy law is a good place to start. After all, the dreaded financial meltdown would amount to a wave of bankruptcies…. What would happen to the economy if hedge funds had to liquidate, one after another, in a financial crisis? We need to rethink the theory and practice of bankruptcy, given the new complexities.”

Shiller points to the inherent limitations in current bankruptcy laws, which were largely drawn to protect narrow financial interests, and are poorly suited to deal with systemic problems, when a “subsidized system of triage would be needed to identify which companies should be saved, with the main criterion being the possible economic impact of their liquidation.”

These comments, taken as a whole, represent the way discussions of the “unthinkable” are beginning to percolate, and converge upon the outlook of Lyndon LaRouche. Shiller’s mention of triage by bankruptcy echoes the emergency measures proposed by LaRouche, of putting the financial system itself through bankruptcy, protecting the population with a firewall, and freezing the financial paper while we determine what debts will, and won’t, be honored. Whatever Shiller may think about LaRouche’s proposals, he is implicitly admitting that the system is finished, and that we must prepare for its demise, making decisions on the basis of the interests of society, and not merely the narrow interests of financial institutions. Reality is setting in, and reality leads inexorably to the policies outlined by LaRouche. 

AMERICAS’ DEVELOPMENT UPDATES

August 13, 2008

Erle Frayne Argonza

Let’s continue our news sharing about development-related matters. Across the Americas comes news bits, from penguin populations in Argentina to environmental news in Brazil, up through governance news in Venezuela.  

[01 August 2008, Quezon City, MetroManila. Thanks to DevEx database news.]

Argentina

Penguin populations have plummeted at a key breeding colony in Argentina, mirroring declines in many species of the marine flightless birds due to climate change, pollution and other factors, a study shows. Dee Boersma, a University of Washington professor who led the research, said the plight of the penguins is an indicator of big changes in the world’s oceans due to human activities. For the past 25 years, Boersma has tracked the world’s largest breeding colony of Magellanic penguins on Argentina’s Atlantic coast. Since 1987 she has observed a 22 percent decrease in the population of these penguins at the site. (Reuters)

Brazil

Brazil’s new environment minister, Carlos Minc, called all sugar cane mills in the northeastern state of Pernambuco an environmental “disaster of disasters” and fined them USD 75 million. In a crackdown called Old Green Mill conducted jointly with the environmental protection agency Ibama, Minc said that all 24 mills in the state had committed a series of crimes. Since he took over as minister after conservationist icon Marina Silva stepped down several weeks ago, Minc has targeted Brazil’s powerful farmers, ranchers and miners, who are riding a global commodity boom, and blamed them for fueling deforestation. (Reuters)

Colombia

Republican John McCain, in an unusual trip to Colombia as a US presidential candidate, called on President Alvaro Uribe on July 1 to make further progress on human rights while pushing the US Congress to vote on a trade pact between the two countries. McCain kicked off a three-day trip to South America and Mexico by meeting Uribe in an effort to tout his positions on trade and showcase his foreign policy experience over that of Democratic rival Barack Obama. McCain pressed the Colombian president to make further progress on human rights issues while highlighting the success of efforts under his administration in fighting the FARC. (Reuters)

Haiti

Aid for Haiti is falling short as the Caribbean country is buffeted by urgent needs to help feed its poor while developing domestic food production and jobs, a UN official said on June 1. The UN System is an umbrella group that represents all of the international organizations and conventions that have been created by the world body. Permanent coordinator of the UN System in Haiti Joel Boutroue said the UN System plans to collect USD 131 million in funding for near- and mid-term programs to support local food production and the creation of new jobs in the poorest country in the Americas. (Reuters)

United States

US President George W Bush has signed a bill removing Nelson Mandela and South African leaders from the US terror watch list, officials say. Mandela and ANC party members will now be able to visit the US without a waiver from the secretary of state. The African National Congress (ANC) was designated as a terrorist organization by South Africa’s old apartheid regime. A US senator said the new legislation was a step towards removing the “shame of dishonoring this great leader.” (BBC)

Venezuela

President Hugo Chavez was personally involved in covering up his nation’s role in an Argentine election scandal, according to a court statement by a witness who might testify at a criminal trial in Miami. The claim was made by Franklin Duran, who faces trial on charges of acting in the US as an unregistered agent of Chavez’s government. Prosecutors say Duran conspired to silence a Florida businessman who toted USD 800,000 in a suitcase from Caracas to Buenos Aires, where the valise was seized Aug. 4. Prosecutors say the cash was intended for the campaign of Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, who was elected president of Argentina on Oct. 28. (Bloomberg)

AMERICAS’ DEVELOPMENT UPDATES

August 11, 2008

Erle Frayne Argonza

Let’s continue our news sharing about development-related matters. Across the Americas comes news bits, from penguin populations in Argentina to environmental news in Brazil, up through governance news in Venezuela.  

[01 August 2008, Quezon City, MetroManila. Thanks to DevEx database news.]

Argentina

Penguin populations have plummeted at a key breeding colony in Argentina, mirroring declines in many species of the marine flightless birds due to climate change, pollution and other factors, a study shows. Dee Boersma, a University of Washington professor who led the research, said the plight of the penguins is an indicator of big changes in the world’s oceans due to human activities. For the past 25 years, Boersma has tracked the world’s largest breeding colony of Magellanic penguins on Argentina’s Atlantic coast. Since 1987 she has observed a 22 percent decrease in the population of these penguins at the site. (Reuters)

Brazil

Brazil’s new environment minister, Carlos Minc, called all sugar cane mills in the northeastern state of Pernambuco an environmental “disaster of disasters” and fined them USD 75 million. In a crackdown called Old Green Mill conducted jointly with the environmental protection agency Ibama, Minc said that all 24 mills in the state had committed a series of crimes. Since he took over as minister after conservationist icon Marina Silva stepped down several weeks ago, Minc has targeted Brazil’s powerful farmers, ranchers and miners, who are riding a global commodity boom, and blamed them for fueling deforestation. (Reuters)

Colombia

Republican John McCain, in an unusual trip to Colombia as a US presidential candidate, called on President Alvaro Uribe on July 1 to make further progress on human rights while pushing the US Congress to vote on a trade pact between the two countries. McCain kicked off a three-day trip to South America and Mexico by meeting Uribe in an effort to tout his positions on trade and showcase his foreign policy experience over that of Democratic rival Barack Obama. McCain pressed the Colombian president to make further progress on human rights issues while highlighting the success of efforts under his administration in fighting the FARC. (Reuters)

Haiti

Aid for Haiti is falling short as the Caribbean country is buffeted by urgent needs to help feed its poor while developing domestic food production and jobs, a UN official said on June 1. The UN System is an umbrella group that represents all of the international organizations and conventions that have been created by the world body. Permanent coordinator of the UN System in Haiti Joel Boutroue said the UN System plans to collect USD 131 million in funding for near- and mid-term programs to support local food production and the creation of new jobs in the poorest country in the Americas. (Reuters)

United States

US President George W Bush has signed a bill removing Nelson Mandela and South African leaders from the US terror watch list, officials say. Mandela and ANC party members will now be able to visit the US without a waiver from the secretary of state. The African National Congress (ANC) was designated as a terrorist organization by South Africa’s old apartheid regime. A US senator said the new legislation was a step towards removing the “shame of dishonoring this great leader.” (BBC)

Venezuela

President Hugo Chavez was personally involved in covering up his nation’s role in an Argentine election scandal, according to a court statement by a witness who might testify at a criminal trial in Miami. The claim was made by Franklin Duran, who faces trial on charges of acting in the US as an unregistered agent of Chavez’s government. Prosecutors say Duran conspired to silence a Florida businessman who toted USD 800,000 in a suitcase from Caracas to Buenos Aires, where the valise was seized Aug. 4. Prosecutors say the cash was intended for the campaign of Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, who was elected president of Argentina on Oct. 28. (Bloomberg)

RE-ECHOING ROOSEVELT’S ‘PHYSICAL ECONOMY’ SOLUTIONS TO GLOBAL FINANCIAL COLLAPSE

July 27, 2008

Erle Frayne Argonza

My beloved country remembers the late Franklin Delano Roosevelt very well. It was his presidency that paved the way for preparing the Philippines as an independent state, by first granting the country the status of a commonwealth with its own constitution (1935 Constitution), and by permitting such domestic government to prepare the legislative measures and policy environment for a future independent state (granted independence in 1946).

Roosevelt’s regime also paved the way for the developmental paradigm that would propel the Philippines along the road to industrialization (we now term this as Import-Substitution Industrialization). The paradigm, based on the works of previous thinkers Alexander Hamilton, Friedrich von List, and the exemplar development policies of Abraham Lincoln, puts great stress on the ‘physical economy’ as the foundation for a prosperous and mighty economy in the long run.

Roosevelt further went on to cogitate that colonialism should fold up after the war, and that all former colonies must follow the road to development and prosperity, this being the road to genuine international peace and cooperation. The international doctrine of Roosevelt became the foundation for post-war cooperation, and buttressed the founding of the Bretton Woods agencies whose mandates were propelled precisely by the physical economy framework, the need for undertaking development in the former colonies, and the need to regulate national currencies via fixed exchange rate backed by the gold standard.

The current circumstance is now too remote from the ‘physical economy’ policy regime of the post-war era. Economic liberalization policies led to globalization and the galvanization of the ‘virtual economy’ based on predatory finance. The ‘virtual economy’ had led to de-industrialization, agricultural decay, decline of S&T, and deteriorating infrastructures in the most affected economies, and had fragmented developing states into ‘failed states’.

The global financial system created by the relentless liberalization of financial, fiscal and monetary policies across borders, had already collapsed and is beyond salvation using the present intervention tools that now seem to be burnt out tools altogether. A global conference must be convened most urgently to carve out a new financial architecture based on a ‘physical economy’ framework, and to decisively criminalize predatory finance.

Below is a press release of relevant notes on the global financial collapse, by the economist Lyndon LaRouche.

[27 July 2008, Quezon City, Metromanila. Thanks to the Executive Intelligence Review database news.]

 

LaRouche: Financial System Is Dead, Cannot Be Saved

July 13, 2008 (EIRNS)—This release was issued today by the Lyndon LaRouche Political Action Committee (LPAC).

With the U.S. and British financial press full of wild speculation about how the Bush Administration is going to intervene Monday morning, to bail out Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, Lyndon LaRouche today issued a sharp, preemptive warning: “The financial system is already dead. It cannot be saved.”

LaRouche expanded: “If any of the reports of a planned bailout of the two big mortgage lenders, by the Treasury Department or the Federal Reserve are true, I say, ‘Forget it.’ Any such efforts to delay the funeral of the present global financial and monetary system will only make matters worse. A bailout will cause an accelerated hyperinflationary explosion, far worse than the hyperinflation that hit Weimar Germany in the autumn of 1923. Back then,” LaRouche continued, “Germany had a gun pointed to its head. The gun was called the Versailles Treaty, and Germany had no choice. Today, the United States has a choice. I spelled out the choice in numerous recent locations.”

LaRouche cited his recent call for the Federal Reserve to immediately raise interest rates to 4 percent, as a stop-gap measure to prevent a massive flight of institutional capital from the banking system. He demanded that this move be accompanied by clear statements from the Fed that there will be no more Bear Stearns-style bailouts of the speculative bubble. Instead, the Fed will protect the chartered Federal and state banks, through bankruptcy reorganization, on the model of what Franklin Roosevelt did, when he first took office in March 1933, and faced the same kind of collapse of the banking system that we face now. “Only, today’s crisis is orders of magnitude worse,” LaRouche added, “due to the massive leveraging by the banks and other financial institutions.”

LaRouche warned that Bush Administration and Fed officials, like Hank Paulson and Ben Bernanke, may be on an “ego trip—unwilling to admit that they have failed miserably. But the reality is that they, like the George W. Bush Administration, have failed, with wretched incompetence. For one thing, they failed to reverse the Alan Greenspan monster bubble, which is now blowing.”

LaRouche added that there is no way to even estimate the magnitude of the financial bubble, that has now blown. “The collapse of Fannie and Freddie means the end of the system. And that has already happened, and nothing can be done, within the rules of the current system, to solve that problem. We can keep Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac alive, but only through actions reforming the system, in terms echoing the precedents of President Franklin Roosevelt, that in ways appropiate for the actual conditions of today.

“The only alternative is to implement my three-step solution to the crisis,” LaRouche concluded. “If the so-called leadership in Washington is unwilling to do that, then this financial system, and, by extension, these United States, are finished. It may be a tough reality to swallow, but it is the only reality that there is.”

Lyndon LaRouche will be delivering an international webcast on Tuesday, July 22, 2008, at 1:00 p.m. (EDT). The webcast takes place on the first anniversary of LaRouche’s July 25, 2007 Washington, D.C. webcast address, in which he announced that the financial system had already crashed. Days later, the collapse of Countrywide, and other major mortgage lenders, and the blowout of Bear Stearns, illustrated that LaRouche was 100% correct.

US WATCH: TRANSPORT U.S. BACK TO PROSPERITY

July 24, 2008

Erle Frayne  Argonza y Delago

The final feature of the US ‘real economy’ worth featuring is transportation & communications. This is among the most productive sectors that produce real wealth, contrasted to the ‘casino economy’ of predatory finance that produces wealth from out of wealth itself, producing really nothing worth our value. Broad as it is, let me focus on the transport sector.

 

Time was when the railway industry took off, inducing growth as soon as the railways hit the West. The continental divide among the US states was bridged quickly, intra-trade exponentially increased. Soon enough, foreign trade also increased in leaps and bounds as maritime shipping grew and matured quickly, making US articles of trade be exported to all corners of the planet.

 

Trains, ships, airplanes, automotives, trucks, heavy equipment, tractors, and other state-of-the art prototypes came out of America’s workshops to propel growth not only in the US but in other countries as well. “Made in the USA” products became household words everywhere, including my Wild Wild West province of Cagayan in Northern Philippines, precisely due to the miracle of the transport sector that was broadly a facet of the ‘real economy’ of America. I was a child in the 1960s and early 70s when the “Made in the USA” was chic and almost a cult-level cliché.

 

That era now is now consigned to the dustbins of a remote past. Sure, America still produces state-of-the art transport prototypes. But look, railways have stagnated (is there a mag-lev there now?), automotives are shrinking by the day (laying off and displacing thousands of top quality industrial technicians), while the cutting edge technology for almost all prototypes, save for military transport, have already been surpassed by Asia.

 

McCain and Obama should better do their homework and understand the catastrophic future that awaits America if the transport sector remains neglected and ceaselessly ravaged inch-by-inch by the infernal fires of predatory finance. The policy makers there better salve the ailing sector quickly, and get back those laid-off topnotch industrial technicians to work before they lose every iota of motivation to even get involved in the sector they grew up with but which rejected them (how traumatic!).

 

If there’s any sector to begin with, it’s railways. Better renovate the railways, and establish maglevs in all the major continental routes of the US. And quickly take the initiative to establish cross-border maglevs with Canada and Mexico. Later, establish maglevs connecting Alaska with Russia via Siberia, thus connecting US to the Asian land mass.

 

Sorry for sounding ‘interventionist’, fellows in America. We Asians are as concerned with your economy as you are, and we would want your economic leadership to again rise to the fore. If America does that, other nations will then move on, propelled by growth in the ‘real economy’ because America is doing so. Failing to do that, the economic baton will transfer to Asia, and it will crash our hearts to see our fellow Earthans of America sinking in esteem by the day, because of their collapsing prosperity.

 

We are all siblings on Earth, this is certain, that’s why we share words of wisdom about your economic conditions. May you finally have a reform-oriented President comes this coming electoral contest.

 

[Writ 07 June 2008, Quezon City, MetroManila]

US WATCH: S & T CUTTING EDGE EROSION

July 22, 2008

Erle Frayne  Argonza y Delago

 

As I’ve been stressing in previous articles, “it’s the economy” that count much as top agenda to be addressed by policy makers, bureaucrats and growth stakeholders in the USA. And this should be the primary concern of the political bigwigs when election comes by the end of the year.

 

A policy shift that will veer away America from the destructive flames of the ‘virtual economy’ founded on predatory finance, back to the ‘real economy’ based on tangible outputs in manufacturing, agriculture, infrastructures, S & T, and transportation & communications.

 

This time around, do make reflections on the S&T facet of America’s economy and society. For over two (2) centuries the USA was a hallmark of development, precisely due to the ingenuity manifested by its entrepreneurs who built the mighty industrial economy. The S&T facet of production has been a well established fact-of-life in America, and I should stress that facet here means ‘cutting-edge’.

 

Without S&T cutting-edge, America would still be a backwoods economy today, much like some backwoods states there. But since the founding fathers of America laid down the foundations of growth and prosperity—foundations based on the ‘real economy’ or ‘physical economy’—and propelled by the collective will to drive relentlessly till the grand visions are achieved, America has risen meteorically to where it is: a mighty economic juggernaut, the object of high esteem by many nations.  

 

But when the ‘virtual economy’ began encroaching on every economic sector there, most specially after the collapse of the gold standard, gradually did the priority for developing S & T erode. Today that erosion is severely felt, as many analysts from the West have heralded the admission that Asia had already surpassed the essential technological cutting edge of the West as early as 2007 yet.

 

Let’s take solar technology for instance. Solar panel design had already reached maturity in California, home to solar energy development. The early take off of the industry there prompted the investors to immediately establish branches overseas, one of which is the Philippines. One leading company was so surprised that its Filipino engineers (Philippine-based) had already surpassed the innovation designs of their California counterparts (Americans) before the end of 2007 yet.

 

Now, as you go from one economic sector to another, most specially the productive sectors, and assess the cutting edge situation of technologies, then you can see the reality that America & EU (West) were already surpassed. It won’t take long before the wealth boosted by the Asian cutting edge will move up, making Asian regions surpass both the US and EU in terms of GDP.

 

Well, the other option is the ‘neo-con’ option: nuke all competitor nations back to the stone age. If you do so, say if you nuke the Philippines today which designs and produces ½ of the worlds Intel chips, think of the consequences. Nuke India, China, ASEAN, South Korea, come on demonic neo-cons! Enjoy your Nero madness with wild abandon!

 

I’d rest my case.

 

[07 June 2008, Quezon City, MetroManila]

US WATCH: INFRASTRUCTURE DECAY, NEEDS MASSIVE REDEVELOPMENT

July 19, 2008

Erle Frayne  Argonza

A bridge has fallen, the Mississipi river flooded Orleans like some pathetic third world city, airports are too cramped up as they are incapable of containing the surge in passenger & cargo levels, the East Coast experienced the emergency shut down due to grid overload (causing massive blackout), railway tracks are thinning out and overall capacity is on downward trend, and more.

They seem to be unrelated, but for economists and sociologists the trends all tell the same story. Pieced up together, they indicate crumbling infrastructures. Not because the structural engineers of America are sloppy, and definitely not that the heavy equipment sector couldn’t provide quality machines to reinforce the burgeoning infrastructure need of the juggernaut US economy.

The true story is that, as the economy shifted to the ‘virtual economy’, there was the systematic abandonment of infrastructure as a priority for fiscal and budgetary allocations. “Leave that to the private sector!” was the slogan for infrastructure. Even the famed fast lanes of America are already being sold out one after the other to the highest bidders, financial speculators all led by the likes of Felix Rohatyn & partners, thanks to deregulation and liberalization.

The thing is, most of America’s major infrastructures—airports, wharfs, roads, bridges, dikes, dams, power distribution, and more public works—were built in the 50s and 60s yet, at the height of the post-war boom under the aegis of the New Deal. Such infrastructures now require massive renovation, with entire replacement for those decaying beyond salvaging.

Did the civil engineers of America speak about the matter clearly? They did, and they have been saying alarming things since the 1990s yet. At the height of the ‘bridge over troubled water’ fiasco, they came out with the report that ¼ of America’s roads and bridges needed major repairs and replacements as soon as possible.

The other sectors’ experts have spoken as well. In the airlines industry, no less than state officials have forewarned that if no renovations (toward expansion) will be done on airports in 10 years’ time, there will be major crisis in the airlines sector. The possibility of emerging markets overshooting the USA’s cutting edge in air transport delivery also looms ahead in the short run.

With no reversal of policies in sight, chances are that, in 20 years’ time, the USA will be an apocalyptic landscape of fallen bridges, impassable roads, rotten wharfs, fallen dikes and inoperable dams, rotten buildings left to nature, and forest cover claiming back once bustling cities.

Only a timely policy reversal can nip the apocalyptic future in the bud. That is, if the political bigwigs in the coming election—McCain and Obama—do their homework well, comprehend the problem deeply, and begin large-scale strategic solutions to colossal problems in infrastructures.

[Writ 06 June 2008, Quezon City, MetroManila.]  

US WATCH: AGRICULTURE DECAYS, BIOFUEL MATTERS MOST!

July 18, 2008

Erle Frayne  Argonza

Agriculture remains to be among the most protected sectors of the US economy. Enough to cause ceaseless chagrin on the members of the WTO, who have been demanding that the EU-USA-Japan trilateral belt better play by the rules and remove the trade barriers in agriculture.

But the overall alarming trend in America’s agriculture is the rapid shrinking of arable lands altogether. Lucky enough that America is blessed with millions of acres of arable land, but the liberalization of land use conversions affected this mighty economy strongly like in other countries. Prime agricultural lands are being transformed into commercial and residential lands, most specially those southern regions that practically fed the whole America for nigh centuries long.

Agriculture is following a general trend of economic decay. The historic practice of mono-cropping alone had already created havoc on the soil quality in many places across the US. Compounding the decay problem is the pressure by WTO members for the sector to bring down the trade barrier, thus possibly bringing in floods of cheap food imports from Europe and the south.

Just recently, the inflated marketability of biofuels led many a planter to shift to massive corn production, for the sole purpose of raking profits on alternative fuels. Of course, many hedge funds and enthused investors had cashed in on the biofuels craze, and news came out that even Bill Gates had invested in this ‘greenfield’ energy source.

Estimates put the amount of corn planted to biofuels as more than enough to feed over 110 million people. That’s a lot of mouths to feed for sure! But feeding mouths is hardly the priority in the US agriculture today, the core focus being the next round of looting on the consumers’ purse by driving food prices upwards both due to the biofuels craze and speculation on food stocks.

So, what say you, voters of America? Let’s just hope the political bigwigs contesting the presidency will indeed take the interest of ‘food security’ at its core. Failing to do so, America itself might end up with inflated food prices in the couples of years ahead, and believe it or not, the Depression era of seeing people without food on their plates may come back. The difference being that the Great Depression was only quite temporary, while this coming ‘food insecurity’ will be around for a very long time.

This brings to mind what the late John Meynard Keynes declared cryptically, “in the long run, we shall all be dead!”

[Writ 06 June 2008, Quezon City, MeroManila]

US WATCH: DE-INDUSTRIALIZATION

July 14, 2008

Erle Frayne  Argonza

The public (in America) is of the broad position that the NAFTA was responsible for the folding up of many factories and the transfer of jobs to Mexico/South. This NAFTA-bashing has some validity to it, but the semi-economic integration alone with Mexico and Canada isn’t a sufficient reason for the bigger problem of de-industrialization.

Once robust and colossal, the industrial sector of the USA contributed over 50% of the Gross Domestic Product or GDP, and employed half the labor as well. As early as the mid-50s, the futuristic sociologist Daniel Bell already warned that the trend wouldn’t hold long enough, as the ‘post-industrial society’ was already knocking its doors on the USA. Not only that, he also forecast that by the 21st century, the center of global economic growth would be the Asia-Pacific, while labor would shift to the services sector.

Had the policy-makers heeded the warning of the likes of Bell then, and fine-tuned the ‘real economy’ principles of Franklin Roosevelt, the de-industrialization of America couldn’t have happened. By the early 1980s, Alvin Toffler added resounding echoes to the forecast of a post-industrial society, by adumbrating the  ‘3rd wave technology’ thesis. Such a thesis expounded that knowledge-intensive technologies would dominate post-industrial society, and will destroy institutions founded on old economic-ideological precepts notably liberal capitalism and socialism.

However, the neo-liberals led by Friedman and Hayek became the dominant Pied Pipers in shaping the public policy of America. All sectors of the economy soon became dog-eat-dog arena for private sector hegemony, leading to the ascent of the ‘virtual economy’ founded on predatory finance. Gradually did the ‘virtual economy’ wreck the classic industries of America, the most exemplary being the steel industry.

The tragic closure of Bethlehem Steel tells it all: that the ‘virtual economy’ has no interest in sustaining strategic industries or to develop their technological edge further. One after the other, manufacturing concerns were closed shop, dis-assembled and re-assembled in emerging markets where labor and factor inputs were cheaper. The ‘industrial belt’ of America—stretching from up New England down to the automotive & machine tool shops of the south—is rapidly evaporating.

The clear message for this year’s presidential poll in America is: resuscitate the industrial sector. Re-tool both the hardware, institutions and human resources to make them competitive again. Revive all the strategic reproducible industries (steel, machine tools, railways, automotive, shipping, airlines, etc.), or else face the specter of ‘third worldization’ of America. A tall order, but what choice does the USA have?

[Writ 06 June 2008, Quezon City, MetroManila]