United States News Digest
Bloomberg Pressures Politicians for His Toll-Tax Scheme
March 21 (EIRNS)The first signs of New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's use of high-pressure tactics to bring politicians in line behind his traffic congestion taxing scheme appeared today, when newly inducted Gov. David Patterson endorsed Bloomberg's plan. Patterson, who up until his March 19 appearance with Bloomberg in the city had not endorsed the scheme, stated that one of the reasons he decided to endorse it, is the "need to raise significant revenue for mass transit improvements," which was the hook Bloomberg used to win support.
During four high-profile events with U.S. Transportation Secretary Mary Peters on March 19, Bloomberg threatened his opponents that if they didn't pass his plan by March 31, the city would loose a $354 million Federal transportation project grantmoney Peters made contingent on adopting the congestion scheme, which would charge motorists $8 to drive into Manhattan below 86th Street on weekdays between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. Bloomberg lied, "Refusing those funds is basically saying that there will be next to no MTA [Metropolitan Transit Authority] capital projects ... in our future... There's no money short of this."
On Bloomberg's watch as mayor, the MTA has opened a $9 billion funding gap in its capital plan, while industry has been further driven out of the city, leaving it dependent Wall Street's revenues. Bloomberg is presiding over a $3-billion-plus budget deficit for the budget which begins July 1, and projected deficits for the next three years in the tens of billions. The U.S. Department of Transportation's $354 million can't fill the holes he's created.
10,000 Rally in NYC Against Bloomberg's School Cuts
March 20 (EIRNS)Ten thousand teachers, students, and parents rallied in pouring rain in front of New York City Hall for two hours yesterday, to protest against Mayor Michael Bloomberg's cuts in the education budget, as well as cuts from the state level. A LaRouche PAC squad of six, behind a sign that said, "The Crash is on! We need LaRouche's New Bretton Woods," distributed two leaflets by Lyndon LaRouche, "Doom Has Struck: Three Steps to Survival," and "Bloomberg Isn't Running, Only Dripping Copiously." An LPAC organizer described the situation as "a real shift ... with the crowd honed in on the financial crisis." The teachers, who loathe Bloomberg, insisted, "He's not going anywhere; he's hated."
After promising more money, in January, Bloomberg and then-Gov. Eliot Spitzer did an about-face, and announced that the dramatic downturn in the economy was forcing them to reduce the amount of money for schools. They demanded that every school cut 1.75% from its current budget immediately. The Bloomberg press machine had organized a briefing with reporters the day before, emphasizing that the mayor had increased education spending since 2002.
Ouster of Ballistic Missile Defense Head a 'Positive Tilt'
March 20 (EIRNS)The head of the Ballistic Missile Defense Agency (BMDA), Gen. Henry Obering, was dismissed on March 18, and replaced by his deputy, Gen. Patrick O'Reilly, in a move that is widely viewed in Pentagon circles as a "tilt" in favor of those who wish to pursue the Kennebunkport proposal by Russian President Vladimir Putin. General Obering has been a leading skeptic of collaboration with the Russians, and made a series of provocative statements about BMD plans, which were subsequently countered by State Department and other U.S. officials. Most recently, Obering claimed that the U.S. was in talks with Turkey about installing radar in that country, a clear rebuff of the Russian proposal to use existing Soviet-era radar installations in Azerbaijan.
O'Reilly has been the "hands on" person with the Russians, visiting the Russian radar installation in Azerbaijan, and working with Russian military counterparts. Lyndon LaRouche concurred with the assessment from U.S. intelligence officials that the shift reflected the ongoing factional battles between "war party" and more sane elements within the Bush cabinet, and represented a positive tilt, particularly in the context of the early retirement of Central Command head Adm. William "Fox" Fallon, who favors negotiations with Iran, and Vice President Cheney's ongoing provocative trip to Southwest and South Asia.
Hillary Clinton: Michigan, Florida Votes Should Be Counted
March 19 (EIRNS)Speaking in Detroit this morning, Sen. Hillary Clinton called for either counting the votes already cast in the Michigan and Florida primaries, or for holding "new, full and fair elections," and demanded that Barack Obama support this. Yesterday, Clinton campaign representatives accused Obama's campaign of dragging their feet by refusing to support a rerun of the Michigan and Florida primaries; they characterized this as an effort by the Obama campaign "to disenfranchise the voters of Michigan and Florida." And they warned that if this happens, it will give the Republicans a huge opening in those states in the November general elections.
Both primaries were held earlier than permitted under rules set by the Democratic National Committee, which then disregarded the results. In Florida, with all candidates on the ballot and a large turnout, Clinton won 49.8% to Obama's 32.9. In Michigan, where Obama was not on the ballot (his supporters were advised to vote "uncommitted"), Clinton won 55.2%, and "uncommitted" 40.1%.
EIR notes that any failure to resolve the Florida and Michigan situation also provides an opening for Nancy Pelosi and Al Gore to "broker" the Democratic convention, as they have threatened to do, in such a manner as to ensure that Clinton does not get the nomination.
Florida GOP Forced Primary Date Over Democratic Protests
March 18 (EIRNS)A spokesman for the Florida Democratic Party today confirmed to LaRouche PAC that the date for the Florida primary was set by the Republican governor and the Republican majority in the State House. Democrats introduced an amendment to the bill, setting the election timetable, and tried to move back the date, to conform with the Democratic National Committee policy, but the GOP majority prevailed.
Same Dick Cheney, Same Old Lies, To Trigger Iran War
March 19 (EIRNS)U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney, during his visit to Oman today, repeated the litany of lies that he had used in his March 2002 trip through the region, to rev up war against Iraq. Instead of Iraq, he targetted Iran this time, to say Iran "may have restarted" a nuclear weaponization program. In August 2002, it was, "We know that Saddam Hussein has reconstituted his nuclear weapons program."
Cheney told the Associated Press in Muscat, Oman, "what it [the National Intelligence Estimate] says is that they have definitely had in the past a program to develop a nuclear warhead, that it would appear that they stopped that weaponization process in 2003. We don't know whether or not they have restarted. What we do know is that they had then, and have now, a process by which they're trying to enrich uranium. They're working at it for years."
Lyndon LaRouche has repeatedly called for impeachment of Dick Cheneysomething House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has blocked for two yearsas the best way to prevent an attack on Iran.
Marines Losing Capability for Conventional Warfare
March 18 (EIRNS)The capability of the U.S. Marine Corps to conduct "full spectrum operations," that is, the full range of operations up to and including major combat operations, "has been bled" by the focus on counterinsurgency and stability operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, reported Gen. Robert Magnus, the assistant commandant of the Marine Corps, during a panel discussion today at this year's Navy League conference in Washington, D.C. When asked to elaborate on exactly what capabilities the Marines were losing, Magnus reported that there are junior officers who have never participated in amphibious operations, and tank crews that have not engaged in gunnery practice for years. These skills get to the core competency of the Marine Corps, but Marines are not home between deployments long enough to train for them, which could be a serious problem if the next war calls for different capabilities than the current ones.