United States News Digest
Obama to Labor on Bloomberg News: Arbeit Macht Frei!
June 26 (EIRNS)Democratic Presidential candidate Barack Obama today held a closed-door meeting on his economic policy in Pittsburgh, with Steve Case, the former CEO of America Online, Service Employees International Union president Andy Stern, General Motors CEO Richard Wagoner, and others. Reflecting the union-busting policies of Stern, Obama laid out in an interview for Bloomberg News how he would help get working people to cut their own throats, saying that there would be a "natural corrective" if labor is not working cooperatively with management, "because jobs will be lost."
In his speech to the meeting, Obama said the transformation of Pittsburgh from an industrial city to a service economy should be the model for America: "Many of the steel mills are gone. But this American city has found new opportunity through health care and IT; through finance and universities. Now, we must connect that local innovation and ingenuity to a national strategy."
Pushing Al Gore's cap-and-trade scheme on carbon emissions, Obama threatened China, India, and the developing nations: "The next President has to almost immediately enter into negotiations with what were once considered developing countries, but are now full blown competitors," he said. "Other carbon emitters have to be held to similar standards."
Gates: U.S., Israel Disagree on Iran Nuclear Program
June 26 (EIRNS)Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, in response to a question during a press briefing this afternoon, reported that there is a "range of views" among analysts about how far Iran might be from being able to build a nuclear weapon. U.S. analysts, he said, tend to see a longer timeline than the Israelis do, but Israel is not the only country with a more "pessimistic view" of how soon Iran might succeed.
Gates' comments came in the context of a just-concluded visit to Israel by Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Gary Roughead, and on the eve of a visit by Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Michael Mullen.
U.S. Mayors Conference Endorses Medicare for All
June 24 (EIRNS)The non-partisan U.S. Conference of Mayors today passed a resolution urging Congress to immediately enact U.S Rep. John Conyers' (D-Mich.) bill H.R. 676, establishing a single-payer national health insurance system to cover all Americans. The resolution was passed unanimously by the more than 1,100 mayors present at their annual meeting in Miami, giving the lie to the claim that such a system "is not politically feasible." In their resolution, the mayors noted that most polls show that the majority of Americans support universal health care; and, as of the date of the resolution, the majority of American physicians (59%) believe that single payer is the best method of securing universal health care.
Lyndon LaRouche endorsed Conyers' legislation in April 2006, when he characterized support for the bill as a litmus test of the morality of members of Congress and other elected officials.
Congressional Testimony: Oil Prices Could Be Cut in Half
June 23 (EIRNS)Oil prices could be halved within 30 days, according to the consensus testimony of the first witness panel, consisting of financial experts, at a hearing held by the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee this morning. Four industry experts, representing energy consultants, all agreed, under questioning, that oil prices could quickly be cut in half, with no harm to producers, just by removing the speculative aspect of the market. One, Michael Masters, even said that if the Commodities Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) would simply enforce the rules as written, a big portion of the speculative bubble could be immediately contained.
The nearly eight-hour-long hearings, which featured four panels and almost a dozen witnesses, were chaired by Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.), who has a bill, the Prevent Unfair Manipulation of Prices (H.R. 6330, or PUMP), which would close the "London loophole," the InterContinental Exchange desk at the Atlanta trading desk. This would eliminate the traders of "video barrels," speculators who bought and sold oil with no intention (nor capability) of ever taking possession of it. Two panels of witnesses, both traders and users, insisted that Congressional action was urgent.
It remains to be seen what will come of this series of hearings, but Congress is clearly feeling the heat from constituents. While a stronger regulatory environment is helpful, the truth is that the system is entirely bankrupt, and these hearings are not coming close to addressing that issue.
Obama's Ties to the Biofuels Lobby
June 23 (EIRNS)In the run-up to the Jan. 3 Iowa caucus, Barack Obama made a big deal of his support for corn-based ethanol, a good deal of it from Iowa corn. With biofuels now taking a public relations beating for their role in rising food and fuel pricesespecially with the massive flooding in Iowa and Indianaattention is turning to Obama's ties to the ethanol lobby.
The New York Times today ran a page-one piece detailing some of the connections of the Democratic Presidential candidate to ethanol interests.
Obama's chief advisor on energy and environmental issues, Jason Grumet, came to the campaign from the National Commission on Energy Policy, associated with Obama's national co-chairman, former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle of the corn state of South Dakota, and former GOP Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole of the corn state of Kansas, an ethanol backer, who has had close ties to the agri-cartel Archer Daniels Midland (ADM), the largest producer of ethanol.
Not long after joining the Senate in 2004, Obama got caught flying at subsidized rates on corporate jets, including twice on jets owned by ADM, which is based in his home state of Illinois.
Daschle is an advisor to the law firm of Alston and Bird, where he provides "strategic advice" on climate change, energy, health care, trade, financial services, and telecommunications. A member of the Council of Foreign Relations, Daschle serves on the advisory board of BP America, Inc., and on the boards of CB Richard Ellis (the world's largest commercial real estate company), Mascoma Corp. (a "second-generation" biofuel company), and Prime BioSolutions, among others. He also works with the Governors' Ethanol Coalition, an organization that lobbies internationally for ethanol use.
Pickering Attacks Scenario for War with Iran
June 23 (EIRNS)Ambassador Thomas Pickering, the Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs during the Clinton years, refuted the notion that an Israeli strike on Iran's nuclear program, or an American campaign for that matter, could actually solve the problem. During remarks at a forum of the Partnership for a Secure America this morning, Pickering specified that he would not necessarily take the use of force off the table when dealing with Iran, "but if we could get a nuclear solution we could all agree with, and the Iranians wanted to include in that no more regime change and use of force, I'd be prepared to do that."
Pickering noted that there are a number of problems with a military campaign against Iran's program, such as knowing the target set, as well as unknown factors, adding that, "it's hard to say this has a significant chance of success." If Israel did it, "it would be hard to disengage ourselves from it. The real question, he said, is: "Are we prepared to actually go to war to prevent a country from proliferating?" He invoked the fact that this was one of the reasons given for going to war against Iraq, which policy he called "less than a howling success." Pickering concluded that, "At least, we should be talking directly to Iran," but the problem is that the preconditions, which he otherwise called laudable in the context of nonproliferation, "are standing in the way of our being able to operate any diplomatic approach."