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Archive for November 30th, 2008

MINISTRO DIZ QUE BRASIL NÃO TERÁ RECESSÃO (Brasil)

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on November 30, 2008


29/11/2008 às 00:00:00 – Atualizado em 29/11/2008 às 00:22:31

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O ministro do BRAZIL'S PLANNING MINISTER PAULO BERNARDO (R) SPEAKS DURING A CONGRESSIONAL IN BRASILIA NOVEMBER 1, 2007Planejamento, Paulo Bernardo, afastou o risco de recessão no País por conta da crise na economia internacional. Durante um encontro com prefeitos eleitos de municípios da Região Metropolitana de Curitiba (RMC), realizado ontem, em Campo Largo, Bernardo afirmou ainda que o País deve crescer 4% em 2009.

“Temos feito um trabalho para traquilizar a economia. Enquanto países da Europa estão à beira da recessão, teremos crescimento”, afirmou Bernardo. O ministro ressaltou ainda que as operações de crédito, que segundo ele são vitais para a economia, devem normalizar e a taxa de juros deve diminuir.

O ministro, entretanto, admite que, considerando os impactos já evidentes da crise verificados em diversos setores da economia nacional, deverá haver um crescimento menor do que o esperado em 2008. Porém, para o próximo ano, Bernardo se mostra otimista.

“Ainda, se ficarmos olhando as coisas acontecerem, vamos crescer 2%. Mas vamos trabalhar para que alcancemos a meta de 4%”, diz. O otimismo do ministro se constitui também no campo da geração de empregos, que, segundo ele, deve fechar o ano com mais de 2 milhões de novas vagas.

Para Bernardo, os governos devem intensificar o contato e o apoio aos os empresários, o que poderia contribuir para tranqüilizar o mercado. O ministro, que também salientou a importância do relacionamento do governo federal com prefeitos para direcionar os recursos do PAC, informou que os recursos para investimentos em infra-estrutura para 2009 não sofrerão alterações.

Durante o almoço com os prefeitos, Bernardo ouviu relatos sobre a situação da infra-estrutura que, segundo eles, é fundamental para o desenvolvimento econômico das cidades. PAULO BERNARDO

O prefeito reeleito de Campo Largo, Edson Basso, confirmou que a economia do município deve registrar um crescimento, principalmente com o setor de cerâmicos.

Mesmo com parte significativa da produção do setor no município destinada à exportação, Basso acredita em resultados positivos para o próximo ano. “Esperamos um aumento da produção desse ano. Não sabemos, no entanto, o que vai acontecer em 2009, pois não sabemos a dimensão da crise”, comenta.

Os prefeitos também discutiram políticas de integração entre os municípios da RMC, bem como o quadro de sucessão para a presidência da Associação dos Municípios da Região Metropolitana de Curitiba (Assomec).

Para o prefeito de Fazenda Rio Grande e atual presidente da Assomec, Antônio Wandscheer, os municípios da RMC deveriam discutir ações para contornar a crise de forma integrada. “Temos que trabalhar com o pequeno e o médio produtor. O problema é que não se discute uma gestão metropolitana”, diz.

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Posted in ÍNDICES DE EMPREGO, ÍNDICES ECONÔMICOS - BRASIL, BRASIL, CIDADES, ECONOMIA - BRASIL, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, EXPANSÃO AGRÍCOLA, EXPANSÃO ECONÔMICA, EXPANSÃO INDUSTRIAL, INDÚSTRIAS, INTERNATIONAL, MINISTÉRIO DO PLANEJAMENTO, ORÇAMENTO E GESTÃO, O MERCADO DE TRABALHO - BRASIL, O PODER EXECUTIVO FEDERAL, O PODER EXECUTIVO MUNICIPAL, O PODER LEGISLATIVO MUNICIPAL, ORÇAMENTO MUNICIPAL, OS PREFEITOS, OS TRABALHADORES, POLÍTICA REGIONAL, PR, VEREADORES | Leave a Comment »

BNDES LIBERA R$ 10 BILHÕES PARA CAPITAL DE GIRO (Brasil)

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on November 30, 2008

30/11/2008 às 08:30:02 – Atualizado em 30/11/2008 às 17:21:53

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Agência Estado

O Banco Nacional de Desenvolvimento Econômico e Social (BNDES) anuncia na segunda-feira (1º) uma linha de financiamento a capital de giro, com nova injeção de recursos de R$ 10 bilhões para o setor produtivo. Será mais uma medida do governo para tentar manter inalterado o nível de investimentos no País, apesar da crise. Do volume recorde de R$ 90 bilhões que o banco estima liberar este ano, pelo menos R$ 51,2 bilhões virão de reforços extras em seu caixa.

A escassez de recursos no mercado elevou a importância do banco estatal – principal veículo financiador das empresas nacionais – na economia. O BNDES aumentou sua participação no crédito à exportação para suprir a seca das Antecipações de Contratos de Crédito (ACCs); passou a oferecer empréstimo-ponte para garantir novos projetos; elevou sua participação em projetos industriais e se dispôs a entrar como debenturista ou acionista no capital de empresas em dificuldades.

“Vai haver um momento em que o governo, que orienta o banco, decidirá o que é mais conveniente: ou o BNDES fica restrito, atuando de forma mais segmentada e seletiva, ou aumenta o seu funding. Considerando a característica o longo prazo, é possível que o nível do banco tenha de ficar sistematicamente acima da capacidade atual”, disse o diretor financeiro do banco, Maurício Borges Lemos.

As informações são do jornal O Estado de S. Paulo.

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Posted in BNDES, BRASIL, ECONOMIA - BRASIL, EXPANSÃO ECONÔMICA, EXPANSÃO INDUSTRIAL, FLUXO DE CAPITAIS, O MERCADO FINANCEIRO, O PODER EXECUTIVO, ORÇAMENTO NACIONAL - BRASIL, SETOR EXPORTADOR | Leave a Comment »

POLÔNIA ADOTA PACOTE DE ESTÍMULO ECONÔMICO DE 24 BILHÕES DE EUROS (Poland)

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on November 30, 2008

30/11/2008 às 15:20:14 – Atualizado em 30/11/2008 às 17:22:19

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Agência Estado

A Polônia adotou neste domingo (30) um pacote de estabilização e desenvolvimento econômico para 2009 e 2010 estimado em DONALD TUSK24 bilhões de euros para ajudar o país a enfrentar a crise financeira global, disse o primeiro-ministro Donald Tusk. Ao mesmo tempo, o ministro das Finanças, Jan Rostowski, informou que a previsão de crescimento econômico para 2009 foi reduzida para 3,7%, da estimativa anterior de expansão de 4,8%.

“Este é um programa de estabilização e desenvolvimento, porque a Polônia está na situação de um país que ainda está se desenvolvendo”, disse Tusk. “Felizmente, as conseqüências da crise global para a Polônia não são tão graves”, acrescentou. As informações são da agência Dow Jones.

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Posted in ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, FINANCIAL CRISIS 2008/2009, FINANCIAL MARKETS, INTERNATIONAL, POLAND, THE FLOW OF INVESTMENTS | Leave a Comment »

MINISTÉRIO DO TRABALHO FLAGRA TRABALHO ESCRAVO NO PARANÁ (Brasil)

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on November 30, 2008

30/11/2008 às 00:00:00 – Atualizado em 30/11/2008 às 16:56:12

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MTE

Brasília – O Grupo Especial de Fiscalização Móvel do Ministério do Trabalho e Emprego (MTE) resgatou 39 trabalhadores em situação análoga a de escravo na atividade de reflorestamento nas regiões de Irati e Telêmaco Borba, municípios do centro-sul e Campos Gerais do Paraná, respectivamente. Outros 61 não estavam em situação considerada análoga a de escravo, mas foram terceirizados de forma irregular e, posteriormente, os empregadores procederam com os registros de acordo com a legislação.

No total, foram lavrados 108 autos de infração, 100 registros em Carteira de Trabalho e Previdência Social (CTPS) e pagas rescisões que somam cerca de R$ 170 mil. Toda ação – que teve inicio em 18 de novembro e terminou na última sexta-feira – foi acompanhada pela Polícia Rodoviária Federal (PRF) e o Ministério Público do Trabalho (MPT).

O Grupo Móvel flagrou inicialmente seis trabalhadores que trabalhavam na mineração de diamante, no leito do Rio Tibagi, no município de Telêmaco Borba. Havia várias irregularidades nas questões referentes à saúde e segurança do trabalho, como a submissão de mergulhador a condição de grave risco, pois utilizava uma mangueira de botijão de gás de cozinha para alimentar o mergulhador com o oxigênio.

Além disso, eles moravam na própria balsa e não havia local apropriado para refeição, nem instalações sanitárias e as instalações elétricas não atendiam à norma legal. Houve interdição de máquinas e equipamentos, como vasos de pressão, o que levou à suspensão do trabalho na balsa. O proprietário da empresa, que registrou a CTPS dos trabalhadores, está em processo de adequação às normas de segurança e saúde no trabalho estabelecidas pelo Grupo Móvel.

Em Irati, no centro-sul do Estado, a situação era mais grave, pois em três – das quatro empresas fiscalizadas no reflorestamento de pinus – foram encontradas situações de trabalho análogo ao de escravo. Na primeira delas, a fiscalização alcançou 54 trabalhadores, sendo sete em situação degradante, alojados em dois barracos de madeira sem água potável, luz, instalação sanitária, equipamento de proteção individual ou local apropriado para comer e dormir. Eles tomavam banho no córrego a quinze minutos de carro, local onde também pegavam água para beber.

“Todos tinham carteira assinada, mas a forma com que foram contratados caracterizava uma terceirização ilegal, por meio da figura do empreiteiro, que mascara o verdadeiro empregador e precariza a relação de trabalho”, disse o auditor fiscal do trabalho responsável pela ação, Guilherme José de Araújo Moreira. Ainda de acordo com ele, os sete trabalhadores em situação degradante foram retirados do local e receberam todos os direitos, inclusive rescisórios e retroativos. “O trabalho nas frentes de serviço continuará assim que o empregador se adeqüe às normas de segurança e saúde”, completa.

Situação semelhante foi detectada na atividade de reflorestamento na segunda empresa, onde 22 trabalhadores também foram encontrados em situação degradante na frente de trabalho, além de existir de forma evidente a figura do “gato” na contratação deles. “Um trabalhador foi flagrado aplicando agrotóxico com a mesma roupa que usava cotidianamente, ou seja, sem Equipamento de Proteção Individual”, destaca.

A ação motivou a retirada dos 22 trabalhadores com suas respectivas CTPS assinadas com data de admissão retroativa e com todos os direitos garantidos pela Consolidação das Leis do Trabalho (CLT). As verbas rescisórias foram pagas e houve a emissão de seguro-desemprego. Por dois dias houve interdição de máquinas e equipamentos, mas depois a empresa cumpriu as normas e houve o levantamento da interdição.

Na terceira empresa foram encontrados oito trabalhadores no reflorestamento e, embora não tenha sido considerado trabalho análogo ao de escravo, também havia a terceirização ilegal. Ao final, a empresa registrou os empregados com data retroativa, cumprindo as exigências da fiscalização. (MTE)

Denúncia foi anônima

Brasília – A decisão por fiscalizar a quarta empresa foi tomada após uma denúncia anônima. Ali, dez trabalhadores sem registro em carteira estavam sujeitos a todo tipo de desrespeito. “Retiramos 10 trabalhadores, que moravam em barracos de madeira, sendo um deles, chamado de gaiota (barraco de ripas de madeira e lona), na carroceria de um caminhão velho, e outro localizado ao lado de um curral, cheio de buracos, com fogareiro dentro dele”, descreve.

Nos dois últimos dias da ação, o Grupo Móvel flagrou uma situação de trabalho degradante envolvendo crianças no corte de cebola, na Vila de Caratuva, zona rural do município de Irati. “Dentre 40 trabalhadores, havia 12 menores laborando. A despeito das evasivas dos trabalhadores e menores, inclusive do proprietário, a equipe se ateve a evitar que as crianças continuassem laborando. Nenhuma criança usava equipamento de segurança e ainda utilizavam faca para cortar a cebola, uma das piores formas de trabalho, segundo legislação”, conta o coordenador da ação.

Havia, inclusive, uma criança de três e outra de cinco anos. “Nós levamos ao povoado três integrantes do Conselho Tutelar para que todos os esforços fossem efetuados objetivando que suas famílias não permitam que as crianças trabalhem. Iniciou-se, portanto, um trabalho visando à inclusão educacional das crianças e cadastramento em programas do governo”, disse, completando: “Aquela região é um foco de trabalho infantil, apesar do esforço do Ministério Publico do Trabalho na região. É como um câncer”, finaliza o auditor. (MTE)

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Posted in AS INDÚSTRIAS DE MINERAÇÃO, ATIVIDADES CRIMINOSAS - BRASIL, BRASIL, CIDADANIA, CIDADES, COMBATE AO TRABALHO ESCRAVO E INFANTIL, COMBATE À DESIGUALDADE E À EXCLUSÃO - BRASIL, CRIMES EMPRESARIAIS, DIREITOS HUMANOS - BRASIL, ECONOMIA - BRASIL, MINISTÉRIO DO TRABALHO E EMPREGO, O MERCADO DE TRABALHO - BRASIL, O PODER EXECUTIVO FEDERAL, OS TRABALHADORES, POLÍTICA REGIONAL, PR | Leave a Comment »

INÍCIO DAS OBRAS DO EDIFÍCIO MAIS ALTO DA CHINA – O projeto completa o bairro “super alto” e exibe espaço público sustentável

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on November 30, 2008

28 de novembro de 2008 09:38

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XANGAI, China, 28 de novembro /PRNewswire-Asia/ – O Shanghai Tower, um edifício de 632 metros (2.074 pés) de altura projetado pela Gensler, empresa líder global em projetos de arquitetura, avança estratégias sustentáveis de projeto e oferece proeminência aos espaços públicos.

A Shanghai Tower Construction & Development Co., Ltd. é a empresa que está desenvolvendo o projeto. Os engenheiros estruturais da Thornton Tomasetti, os engenheiros mecânicos, elétricos e de encanamentos da Cosentini Associates, bem como o Architectural Design and Research Institute (Instituto de Design e Pesquisa em Arquitetura) da Tongji University como o Local Design Institute (Instituto Local de Design) prestarão apoio à Gensler. A construção está prevista para ser concluída em 2014.

O Shanghai Tower está localizado na zona comercial e financeira de Luijiazui, uma área de Xangai que há 18 anos era uma área de terra cultivada. O bairro está posicionado para se tornar o primeiro bairro “super alto” da China, quando o Shanghai Tower foi construído para concluir um trio de torres que inclui o Jin Mao Tower e o Shanghai World Financial Center. Juntos, estes três edifícios criarão um novo ícone na vista de Xangai. Enquanto o projeto do Jin Mao Tower presta uma homenagem ao passado da China e o projeto do SWFC significa o recente crescimento econômico da China, o projeto do Shanghai Tower é o sinal do futuro da China. “Esta torre é símbolo de uma nação cujo futuro está repleto de oportunidades ilimitadas”, declarou Qingwei Kong, presidente da Shanghai Tower Construction & Development Co., Ltd. “Com o Shanghai Tower comemoramos não apenas o sucesso econômico e a conexão cada vez maior da China à comunidade global, como também o compromisso da nossa empresa em desenvolver propriedades que demonstrem as realizações de projetos mais altos, nobres e distintos possíveis”.

O Shanghai Tower terá um espaço para escritórios de alta categoria, varejo, um hotel luxuoso e locais culturais. Os andares mais elevados terão o deck de observação ao ar livre mais alto do mundo. O edifício do pódio da torre contará com um local para varejo de alta categoria com um enorme espaço para eventos. As instalações subterrâneas incluem varejo, conexões ao metrô de Xangai e três andares de estacionamento. “Esperamos que o Shanghai Tower inspire novas idéias com relação ao quanto um edifício alto pode ser sustentável”, disse Art Gensler, FAIA, presidente do conselho da Gensler. “Unimos o perímetro da torre, de cima para baixo, aos espaços públicos e integramos um raciocínio estratégico ambiental em cada etapa. A torre é uma etapa que ganha vida através da presença das pessoas”.

Para mais informação, por favor, contatar:

Jasmine Chien Associada Sênior Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide, Shanghai Tel.: +86-21-2405-1604 Email: jasmine.chien@ogilvy.com

FONTE Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide, Xangai

BNED: NG

FONTE: PR NEWSWIRE LATIN AMERICA

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Posted in CHINA, CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRIES, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION, INDUSTRIES, INTERNATIONAL, NATIONAL WORK FORCES, THE FLOW OF INVESTMENTS, THE WORK MARKET, THE WORKERS | Leave a Comment »

PREÇO DA QUEROSENE DE AVIAÇÃO CAIRÁ QUASE 18% EM DEZEMBRO – Redução foi repassada por conta da redução do preço do petróleo no mercado internacional (Brasil)

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on November 30, 2008

28/11/2008 – 19h25min

PUBLISHED BY ‘ZERO HORA’ (Brasil)

O preço da querosene JET PLANE KEROSENEde aviação (QAV) terá uma redução de 17,8% a partir do dia 1º de dezembro, informou hoje o Sindicato Nacional das Empresas Aéreas (Snea). A redução foi repassada pela Petrobras por conta da redução do preço do barril do petróleo no mercado internacional nos últimos três meses. A Petrobras reajusta mensalmente os preços do QAV, nafta e óleo combustível, mas não divulga os indicadores do reajuste.

Segundo Snea, no ano as oscilações de preço do QAV acumulam queda de 3,71%, o que significa uma reviravolta para as empresas aéreas, que até agosto tinham uma alta acumulada de 37%. O Snea, no entanto, não informou se haverá redução no preço das passagens aéreas, já que o valor do combustível representa mais de 30% do custo das companhias. Segundo o sindicato, a decisão fica a cargo de cada empresa.

AE

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Posted in A QUESTÃO ENERGÉTICA, AÉREO, ÍNDICE DE PREÇOS AO CONSUMIDOR - AMPLO (IPCA), ÍNDICE GERAL DE PREÇOS - DISP. INTERNA (IGP-DI), ÍNDICES ECONÔMICOS - BRASIL, BRASIL, ECONOMIA - BRASIL, INDÚSTRIAS, INTERNATIONAL, O SETOR DOS TRANSPORTES | Leave a Comment »

IRGA: RS TEM 96,6% DE LAVOURAS SEMEADAS DE ARROZ – Resultado significa um aumento de 2,48% na safra atual (Brasil)

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on November 30, 2008

28/11/2008 – 19h55min

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Na última semana de RICE CROPnovembro, a semeadura de arroz no Rio Grande do Sul totaliza 96,6% — 1,06 milhões de hectares em cultivo. Segundo o Instituto Riograndense do Arroz (Irga), este resultado significa um aumento de 2,48% na safra atual, em comparação com a do ano passado. Apesar da estiagem que preocupa os arrozeiros, é cedo para falar em prejuízos.

No que tange ao desenvolvimento das lavouras, até agora, os grãos em estágio de emergência já totalizam 328,1 mil hectares, compreendendo 31,2% de área plantada no Estado. As plantas mais desenvolvidas (vegetativo) já alcançam 729,4 mil ha (68,9%), contra 575,4 mil obtidos na semana passada.

Para o presidente do Irga, Maurício Miguel Fischer, a germinação das sementes passa por um momento arriscado, gerando despesas com energia, água e controle de invasoras para o produtor, que precisa banhar as lavouras:

— Com a falta de chuva, a emergência das sementes não se dá de forma parelha, gerando atraso nesta última etapa do plantio.

Conforme o último levantamento da instituição, apenas 11 municípios gaúchos já concluíram o plantio de arroz.

Mesmo com falta de chuvas abundantes no período, o RS aumentou em 19,8 mil hectares a extensão das áreas cultivadas de arroz. A partir deste sábado, deve voltar a chover no Estado.

As informações são do site do governo do Estado.

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Posted in AGRICULTURA, AGRONEGÓCIOS, BRASIL, COMÉRCIO - BRASIL, ECONOMIA - BRASIL, EXPANSÃO AGRÍCOLA, POLÍTICA REGIONAL, RS, SETOR EXPORTADOR | Leave a Comment »

PAÍS CRESCERÁ EM 2009 QUASE O DOBRO DA MÉDIA DE 1999 A 2003, DIZ MEIRELLES – Apesar da crise econômica, presidente do BC está otimista (Brasil)

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on November 30, 2008

28/11/2008 – 23h21min

PUBLISHED BY ‘ZERO HORA’ (Brasil)

A previsão do Fundo Two weeks ago - Brazil's central bank chief Henrique Meirelles waves to journalists after attending a news conference in Sao Paulo November 10, 2008. Meirelles is attending a bimonthly meeting of the Bank for International Settlements in Sao Paulo - PHOTO - REUTERSMonetário Internacional (FMI) de crescimento de 3% para o Produto Interno Bruto (PIB — soma de toda a riqueza do país) do Brasil em 2009, foi analisada com otimismo pelo presidente do Banco Central (BC), Henrique Meirelles, nesta sexta-feira no encontro Crédito e Sistema Tributário, no Rio de Janeiro.

De acordo com Meirelles, mesmo na visão conservadora do FMI, o país vai crescer mais do que a previsão para a média mundial de 2% em 2009, e quase o dobro do crescimento médio, de 1,8%, registrado de 1999 a 2003, e mais do que a média de 2,1% observada de 1980 a 2003.

— Portanto, mesmo no momento, agora, de crise mundial gravíssima, a maior desde 1929, a visão do FMI é que nós vamos crescer 3%. Substancialmente acima da média mundial e da média do que o Brasil cresceu em 24 anos, de 1980 a 2003 — disse.

Crescimento sustentado

Meirelles reafirmou que o Brasil vem se preparando, há alguns anos, para ter um crescimento sustentado, sem subidas e descidas, “sair do padrão de arrancadas e freadas que teve durante muito tempo.

Dava um crescimento muito rápido e depois recessão, decrescia o PIB. Agora não, é uma crise. É séria. Tem uma desaceleração importante. Mas, mesmo um pessimista diz que (o crescimento) é 3%”, disse.

Apesar de considerar séria a crise financeira internacional, o presidente do BC afirmou que o país vai manter o seu crescimento sustentado “e, mais importante, retomando o crescimento a partir de 2010 em taxas maiores”. Para Meirelles, isso “significa que o Brasil não vai perder a sua trajetória de crescimento sustentado”.

Ele avaliou que o atual quadro da economia mundial não é agradável. Segundo ele, só com as Bolsas de Valores o mundo perdeu cerca de US$ 30 trilhões. E deixou claro que o Brasil não está imune à crise. Mas a está enfrentando “com rapidez e decisão, e mais fortalecido”.

Meirelles informou que na próxima segunda-feira, o presidente do Banco Nacional de Desenvolvimento Econômico e Social (BNDES), Luciano Coutinho, vai detalhar o plano de crédito para capital de giro, da linha adicional de R$ 10 bilhões destinada a pessoas jurídicas, “onde a recuperação observada, em comparação a outubro, da ordem de 1,2%, foi muito tímida até agora”. Bem aquém da recuperação de crédito das pessoas físicas, de 14%, revelou Meirelles.

AGÊNCIA BRASIL

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Posted in BRASIL, ECONOMIA - BRASIL, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, EXPANSÃO AGRÍCOLA, FINANCIAL CRISIS 2008/2009, INTERNATIONAL | Leave a Comment »

SUZUKI CORTARÁ 1,2 MIL POSTOS DE TRABALHO NA HUNGRIA – Produção diária será reduzida a partir de dezembro

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on November 30, 2008

29/11/2008 – 06h57min

PUBLISHED BY ‘ZERO HORA’ (Brasil)

A japonesa Suzuki Motor anunciou que no final de fevereiro cortará 1,2 mil empregos em sua fábrica da Hungria por causa da diminuição da demanda na Europa, segundo informou a agência local Kyodo.

Os postos de trabalho na fábrica húngara se reduzirão dos 5,6 mil atuais para 4,4 mil.

A partir de meados de dezembro, o fabricante japonês diminuirá a produção diária até produzir um total de 210 mil unidades anuais, ou seja, menos 90 mil veículos ao ano.

Em outubro, a companhia anunciou uma redução de sua previsão de lucro para o presente ano fiscal, que concluirá em março de 2009, em um 25,2%, para 60 bilhões de ienes (US$ 629 milhões).

EFE

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THE WEIMAR CHRONICLE – Chapter 6

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on November 30, 2008

by Alex de Jonge

INFLATION

The year 1923 has a special and dreadful connotation in German history, for it was the year of the great inflation. If defeat, abdication and revolution had begun to undermine the traditional values of German culture, then the inflation finished the process so completely that in the end there were no such values left. By November 1918 there were 184.8 marks to the pound. By late November 1923 there were 18,000,000,000,000. Although the mark was eventually "restored," and the period of inflation succeeded by a time of relative prosperity for many people, life for anyone who had lived through the lunatic year of 1923 could never be the same again.

Such a cataclysmic loss of a currency’s value can never be ascribed to a single cause. Once confidence goes, the process of decline is a self-feeding one. By late 1923 no one would hold German money one moment longer than it was really necessary. It was essential to convert it into something, some object, within minutes of receiving it, if one were not to see it lose all value in a world in which prices were being marked up by 20 percent every day.

If we go back beyond the immediate cause of hyperinflation—beyond a total lack of confidence in a currency that would consequently never "find its floor," however undervalued it might appear—we find that passive resistance in the Ruhr was a major factor. Effective loss of the entire Ruhr output weakened the mark disastrously, encouraging dealers to speculate against it, since the balance of payments was bound to show a vast deficit. Confidence in the currency could only begin to be restored when resistance ended late in 1923.

It has been the "patriotic" view that reparations were also a significant factor. Certainly they constituted a steady drain upon the nation’s resources, a drain for which it got no return. But reparations alone would not have brought about hyperinflation. There were still other causes. Sefton Delmer believes that the true explanation lay in Germany’s financing of the war. She had done so very largely on credit, and was thereafter obliged to run a gigantic deficit. There were other more immediate causes, such as a total incomprehension of the situation on the part of Havenstein, director of the Reichsbank. Failing to understand why the currency was falling, he was content to blame it upon forces beyond his control—reparations—and attempted to deal with the situation by stepping up the money supply!

The first British ambassador to the Weimar Republic, Lord d’Abernon, had no illusions about the economic plight of Germany. He observed in his diary that "German finance is dying beyond its means," 1 and no one seemed to know why. In the meantime, he noted:

Currency experts have a sad fate. During life they empty every room in which they hold forth, and death finds them in madhouses. Berlin has been deluged with these gentlemen for the last week and still survives; but the currency has gone to the devil.2

He saw the Reichsbank compounding its own mistakes:

In the whole course of history, no dog has run after its own tail with the speed of the Reichsbank. The discredit they throw on their own notes increases even faster than the volume of the notes in circulation. The effect is greater than the cause; the tail goes faster than the dog.3

By October 1923 it cost more to print a note than the note was worth. Nevertheless Havenstein mobilized all the printing resources that he could. Some of the presses of the Ullstein newspaper and publishing group were even commandeered by the mint and turned to the printing of money. Havenstein made regular announcements to the Reichstag to the effect that all was well since print capacity was increasing. By August 1923 he was able to print in a day a sum equivalent to two-thirds of the money in circulation. Needless to say, as an anti-inflationary policy, his measures failed.

In his documentary novel Success, Leon Feuchtwanger has suggested that inflation had less obvious and more sinister causes. Certainly it had its beneficiaries as well as its victims. Anyone living on a pension or on fixed-interest investments—the small and cautious investor—was wiped out. Savings disappeared overnight. Pensions, annuities, government stocks, debentures, the usual investments of a careful middle class, lost all value. In the meantime big business, and export business in particular, prospered. It was so easy to get a bank loan, use it to acquire assets, and repay the loan a few months later for a tiny proportion of the original. Factory owners and agriculturalists who had issued loan stock or raised gold mortgages on their properties saw themselves released from those obligations in the same way, paying them off with worthless currency on the principle that "mark equals mark." It would be rash to suggest, as Feuchtwanger hints, that the occupation of the Ruhr was planned by industrialists to create an inflation which could only be to their benefit. Yet we should remember that Stinnes, the multi-millionaire, had both predicted that occupation and ended up the owner of more than 1,500 enterprises. It should also be remembered that some businessmen had a distinctly strange view of the shareholder. He was regarded by many as a burdensome nuisance, a drag upon their enterprise. He was the enemy and they were quite happy to see him wiped out to their benefit. Inflation was their chance to smash him. Witness the behavior of a banker at a shareholders’ meeting at which it was suggested he should make a greater distribution of profit: "Why should I throw away my good money for the benefit of people whom I do not know?"4

The ingenious businessman had many ways of turning inflation to good account. Thus employees had to pay income tax weekly. Employers paid their tax yearly upon profits which were almost impossible to assess. They would exploit the situation of a smaller businessman, obliged to offer six to eight weeks of credit to keep his customers, by insisting on payment in cash. The delay between paying for the goods and reselling them eroded any profit the small man might make, while the big supplier prospered.5

Whether or not the industrialists actually caused inflation, their visible prosperity made them detested by an otherwise impoverished nation. Hugo Stinnes became an almost legendary embodiment of speculation and evil. Alec Swan remembers how hungry Germans would stare at prosperous fellow countrymen in fur coats, sullenly muttering "Fabrikbesitzer" (factory owner) at them. The term had become an insult and an expression of envy at one and the same time.

Hyperinflation created social chaos on an extraordinary scale. As soon as one was paid, one rushed off to the shops and bought absolutely anything in exchange for paper about to become worthless. If a woman had the misfortune to have a husband working away from home and sending money through the post, the money was virtually without value by the time it arrived. Workers were paid once, then twice, then five times a week with an ever-depreciating currency. By November 1923 real wages were down 25 percent compared with 1913, and envelopes were not big enough to accommodate all the stamps needed to mail them; the excess stamps were stuck to separate sheets affixed to the letter.6 Normal commercial transactions became virtually impossible. One luckless author received a sizable advance on a work only to find that within a week it was just enough to pay the postage on the manuscript. 7 By late 1923 it was not unusual to find 100,000 mark notes in the gutter, tossed there by contemptuous beggars at a time when $50 could buy a row of houses in Berlin’s smartest street.8

A Berlin couple who were about to celebrate their golden wedding received an official letter advising them that the mayor, in accordance with Prussian custom, would call and present them with a donation of money.

Next morning the mayor, accompanied by several aldermen in picturesque robes, arrived at the aged couple’s house, and solemnly handed over in the name of the Prussian State 1,000,000,000,000 marks or one halfpenny.9

The banks were flourishing, however. They found it necessary to build annexes and would regularly advertise for more staff, especially bookkeepers "good with zeros." Alec Swan knew a girl who worked in a bank in Bonn. She told him that it eventually became impossible to count out the enormous numbers of notes required for a "modest" withdrawal, and the banks had to reconcile themselves to issuing banknotes by their weight.

By the autumn of 1923 the currency had virtually broken down. Cities and even individual businesses would print their own notes, secured by food stocks, or even the objects the money was printed on. Notes were issued on leather, porcelain, even lace, with the idea that the object itself was guarantee of the value of the "coin."10 It was a view of the relationship between monetary and real value that took one back five hundred years. Germany had become a barter society; the Middle Ages had returned. Shoe factories would pay their workers in bonds for shoes, which were negotiable. Theaters carried signs advertising the cheapest seats for two eggs, the most expensive for a few ounces of butter which was the most negotiable of all commodities. It was so precious that the very rich, such as Stinnes, used to take a traveling butter dish with them when they put up at Berlin’s smartest hotel.11 A pound of butter attained "fantastic value." It could purchase a pair of boots, trousers made to measure, a portrait, a semester’s schooling, or even love. A young girl stayed out late one night while her parents waited up anxiously. When she came in at four in the morning, her mother prevented her father from taking a strap to her by showing him the pound of butter that she had "earned."12 Boots were also highly negotiable: "The immense paper value of a pair of boots renders it hazardous for the traveler to leave them outside the door of his bedroom at his hotel.". 13

Thieves grew more enterprising still in their search for a hedge against inflation.

Even the mailboxes are plundered for the sake of the stamps attached to the letters. Door handles and metal facings are torn from doors; telephone and telegraph wires are stolen wholesale and the lead removed from roofs.14

In Berlin all metal statues were removed from public places because they constituted too great a temptation to an ever-increasing number of thieves. One of the consequences of the soaring crime rate was a shortage of prison accommodation. Criminals given short sentences were released and told to reapply for admission in due course.15

It was always possible that one might discover an unexpected source of wealth. A Munich newspaperman was going through his attic when he came upon a set of partly gold dentures, once the property of his grandmother, long since dead. He was able to live royally upon the proceeds of the sale for several weeks.16

The period threw up other anomalies. Rents on old houses were fixed by law, while those on new ones were exorbitantly high. As a result in many parts of Germany housing was literally rationed. If one were fortunate enough to live in old rented property, one lived virtually free. The landlord, however, suffered dreadfully: to repair a window might cost him the equivalent of a whole month’s rent. Thus yet another of the traditional modes of safe investment, renting property, proved a disaster. Hitherto well-to-do middle-class families found it necessary to take in lodgers to make ends meet. The practice was so widespread that not to do so attracted unfavorable attention suggesting that one was a profiteer. Pearl S. Buck records the case of one family where the woman of the house reluctantly confessed to her husband that they would have to have a lodger. He greeted the news not with anger, but with a sigh of relief: the neighbors had begun to talk. Real property lost its value like everything else. Pearl Buck notes the case of a couple selling their house in order to marry their daughter in some kind of style. More telling is a famous song of inflation:

We are drinking away our grandma’s

Little capital

And her first and second mortgage too.17

As noted in the famous and highly intelligent paper the Weltbühne, the song picked out the difference between the "old" generation of grandparents who had scraped and saved carefully in order to acquire the security of a house, and the "new generation" for whom there could be no security any more, who "raided capital" or what was left of it, and were prepared to go to any lengths to enjoy themselves. Where their parents’ lives had been structured with certainties, the only certainty that they possessed was that saving was a form of madness.

Not all Germans suffered, of course. Late in 1923 Hugo Stinnes did what he could to alleviate the misery of his fellow countrymen by the magnanimous decision to double his tipping rate in view of the inflation.18 Along with rents, rail fares were also fixed and did not go up in proportion to inflation. Consequently, travel appeared absurdly cheap. Alec Swan recalls crossing Germany in the greatest style for a handful of copper coins. Yet even this was beyond the means of most Germans. A German train in 1923 would consist of several first-class carriages occupied entirely by comfortable foreigners, and a series of run-down third-class carriages crammed to bursting with impoverished and wretched Germans.

Although the shops were full of food, no one could afford it except foreigners. Germans often had to be content with food not normally thought of as fit for human consumption. In Hamburg there were riots when it was discovered that the local canning factory was using cats and rats for its preserved meats. Sausage factories also made much use of cat and horse meat.19 Moreover, as we shall see, some of the most famous mass murderers of the age used to preserve and sell the meat of their victims in a combination of savagery and an almost sexual obsession with food that mythologizes much of the darkness and the violence that were latent in the mood of Weimar.

If 1923 was a bad year for the Germans it was an annus mirabilis for foreigners. Inflation restored the sinking morale of the army of occupation ; small wonder when every private found himself a rich man overnight. In Cologne an English girl took lessons from the prima donna of the opera for sixpence a lesson. When she insisted that in future she pay a shilling, the prima donna wept with delight.20 Shopping became a way of life: "All through that autumn and winter whenever we felt hipped we went out and bought something. It was a relaxation limited at home, unlimited in the Rhineland.". 21

Germany was suddenly infested with foreigners. It has been suggested that the English actually sent their unemployed out and put them up in hotels because it was cheaper than paying out the dole.22 Alec Swan stayed with his family in a pension in Bonn. They had moved to Germany because life was so much cheaper there. The inmates of Swan’s pension were mostly foreigners of strange complexion, such as the Swede suffering from tertiary syphilis who would bombard heads of state with urgent telegrams. There was also an extremely fat German, christened Glaxo by the Swans. He was in the habit of helping himself to gigantic mounds of the spaghetti which formed the staple diet of the common table, saying apologetically, "My stomach, my stomach," with a hand upon the offending organ, as a form of explanation.

To find oneself suddenly wealthy in the midst of tremendous hardship proved rather unsettling. Inflation corrupted foreigners almost as much as the Germans. The English in Cologne could think of nothing else.

They talked with sparkling eyes and a heightened color, in the banks, the streets, the shops, the restaurants, any public place, with Germans standing around gazing at them.

Scruples were on the whok overwhelmed by the sudden onslaught of wealth and purchasing power beyond one’s dreams.23

As Alec Swan put it:

You felt yourself superior to the others, and at the same time you realized that it was not quite justified. When we went to Bellingshausen, which was a sort of wine place near Königswinter, we would start drinking in the afternoon. I would always order champagne and my Dutch friend would shake his head in disapproval. We’d have two ice buckets: he with some Rhine wine and me with German champagne. It was really rather ridiculous for a chap of my age to drink champagne on his own.

Being as wealthy as that was an extraordinary feeling, although there were many things you couldn’t get in Germany. It was impossible to buy a decent hat, for instance. But you could have any food you wanted if you could pay for it. I haven’t eaten anything like as well as that in my life. I used to go to the Königshalle (that was the big café in Bonn) at eleven o’clock in the morning for a Frühschoppen and a Bergmann’s Stückchen, a large piece of toast with fresh shrimps and mayonnaise. For a German that would have been quite impossible.

I paid two million marks for a glass of beer. You changed as little money as you could every day. No, one did not feel guilty, one felt it was perfectly normal, a gift from the gods. Of course there was hatred in the air, and I dare say a lot of resentment against foreigners, but we never noticed it. They were still beaten, you see, a bit under and occupied.

My mother did buy meat for three or four German families. I remember I bought an air gun, and, when I grew tired of it, I gave it to my German teacher’s son, with some pellets. Some time later the woman came to me in tears saying the boy had run out of pellets, and they could not afford to buy any more.

On another occasion Swan, all of twenty-two at the time, took the head of the Leipzig book fair out for a meal and looked on incredulously as the elderly and eminent bookseller cast dignity to the winds and started to eat as if he had not had a meal in months.

Stories of money changing and currency speculation are legion. Bureaux de change were to be found in every shop, apartment block, hairdresser’s, tobacconist’s. An Englishman named Sandford Griffith remembers having to visit a number of cities in the Ruhr which had local currencies. He stopped at a dealer’s to change some money, but when he produced a pound note the dealer was so overcome by such wealth that he simply waved a hand at his stock of currency and invited the astonished Englishman to help himself.24 Foreigners acquired antiques and objets de valeur at rock-bottom prices. A favorite trick was to buy in the morning with a down payment, saying that one would fetch the rest of the money from the bank. By waiting until the new exchange rate had come out at noon before changing one’s money into marks, an extra profit could be made on the amount that the mark had fallen since the day before.25

The population responded to the foreign onslaught with a double pricing system. Shops would make their prices up for foreigners. It would cost a tourist 200 marks to visit Potsdam, when it cost a German 25. Some shops simply declined to sell to foreigners at all.26 In Berlin a Schlemmsteuer, or tax on gluttony, was appended to all meals taken in luxury restaurants.27

Foreign embassies were also major beneficiaries of inflation, giving lavish banquets for virtually nothing. Indeed the Weltbühne noted with great resentment the presence of foreign legations of nations so insignificant that they would never hitherto have dreamed of being represented in Germany.28 The spectacle of foreigners of all nations, living grotesquely well and eating beyond their fill in the middle of an impoverished and starving Germany did not encourage the Germans to rally to the causes of pacificism and internationalism. The apparent reason for their inflation was there for all to see, occupying the Ruhr.

The surface manifestations of inflation were unnerving enough, but its effect upon behavior, values and morals were to reach very deep indeed, persisting for years after the stabilization of the mark, right up to the moment when Hitler came to power. The middle class—civil servants, professional men, academics—which had stood for stability, social respectability, cultural continuity, and constituted a conservative and restraining influence was wiped out. A French author met a threadbare and dignified old couple in spotless but well-worn prewar clothes in a cafe. They ordered two clear soups and one beer, eating as if they were famished. He struck up a conversation with the man, who spoke excellent French and had known Paris before the war. "Monsieur," the man replied, when asked his profession, "I used to be a retired professor, but we are beggars now.".29

There was a general feeling that an old and decent society was being destroyed. If the year 1918 had removed that society’s political traditions and its national pride, 1923 was disposing of its financial substructure. In response, people grew either listless or hysterical. A German woman told Pearl Buck that a whole generation simply lost its taste for life—a taste that would only be restored to them by the Nazis. Family bonds melted away. A friend of Swan, a most respectable German whose father was a civil servant on the railways, simply left home and roamed the country with a band. It was a typical 1923 case history. Young men born between 1900 and 1905 who had grown up expecting to inherit a place in the sun from their well-to-do parents suddenly found they had nothing. From imperial officer to bank clerk became a "normal" progression. Such disinherited young men naturally gravitated toward the illegal right-wing organizations and other extremist groups. Inflation had destroyed savings, self-assurance, a belief in the value of hard work, morality and sheer human decency. Young people felt that they had no prospects and no hope. All around them they could see nothing but worried faces. "When they are crying even a gay laughter seems impossible . . . and all around it was the same . . . quite different from the days of revolution when we had hoped things would be better.".30

Traditional middle-class morality disappeared overnight. People of good family co-habited and had illegitimate children. The impossibility of making a marriage economically secure apparently led to a disappearance of marriage itself.31 Germany in 1923 was a hundred years away from those stable middle-class values that Thomas Mann depicted in The Magic Mountain, set in a period scarcely ten years before. Pearl Buck wrote that "Love was old-fashioned, sex was modern. It was the Nazis who restored the ‘right to love’ in their propaganda.".32

Paradoxically, the inflation that destroyed traditional German values was also largely responsible for the creation of that new, decadent and dissolute generation that put Berlin on the cosmopolitan pleasure seeker’s map, and has kept it or its image there ever since. It was no coincidence that 1923 was the year that the Hotel Adlon first hired gigolos, professional male dancers, to entertain lady clients at so much per dance. It was also a period when prostitution boomed. A Frenchman accustomed enough to the spectacle of Montmartre was unable to believe his eyes when he beheld the open corruption of Berlin’s Friedrichstrasse.33 Klaus Mann remembers:

Some of them looked like fierce Amazons strutting in high boots made of green glossy leather. One of them brandished a supple cane and leered at me as I passed by. "Good evening, madame" I said. She whispered in my ear: "Want to be my slave? Costs only six billion and a cigarette. A bargain. Come along, honey.".

. . . Some of those who looked most handsome and elegant were actually boys in disguise. It seemed incredible considering the sovereign grace with which they displayed their saucy coats and hats. I wondered if they might be wearing little silks under their exquisite gowns; must look funny I thought … a boy’s body with pink lace-trimmed skirt.34

Commercial sex in Berlin was not well organized and was considered by connoisseurs to be inferior to that of Budapest, which had the best red-light district in Europe. But in Berlin there was no longer any clear-cut distinction between the red-light district and the rest of town, between professional and amateur. The booted Amazons were streetwalkers who jostled for business in competition with school children. Hans Fallada has painted the following portrait of a shop girl:

Pepa Ledig was at twenty-two no longer a blank page. She had ripened, not in a peaceful atmosphere, but during the war, postwar and inflation. Only too soon she knew what it meant when a gentleman customer in her bootshop touched her lap significantly with his toe. Sometimes she nodded . . . 35

Stefan Zweig gives us another glimpse of inflationary Berlin:

Along the entire Kurfürstendamm powdered and rouged young men sauntered, and they were not all professionals; every schoolboy wanted to earn some money, and in the dimly lit bars one might see government officials and men of the world of finance tenderly courting drunken sailors without shame. . . .

At the pervert balls of Berlin, hundreds of men dressed as women, and hundreds of women as men danced under the benevolent eyes of the police…. Young girls bragged proudly of their perversion. To be sixteen and still under suspicion of virginity would have been considered a disgrace in any school in Berlin at the time.36

Another visitor was struck by what he referred to as Berlin’s "pathological" mood:

Nowhere in Europe was the disease of sex so violent as in Germany. A sense of decency and hypocrisy made the rest of Europe suppress or hide its more uncommon manifestations. But the Germans, with their vitality and their lack of a sense of form, let their emotions run riot. Sex was one of the few pleasures left to them. . . .

In the East End of Berlin there was a large Diele (dancing cafe) in which from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. you could watch shopkeepers, clerks and policemen of mature age dance together. They treated one another with an affectionate mateyness; the evening brought them their only recreation among congenial people. Politically most of them were conservative; with the exception of sex they subscribed to all the conventions of their caste. In fact, they almost represented the normal element of German sex life.

… There was a well-known Diele frequented almost entirely by foreigners of both sexes. The entertainment was provided by native boys between 14 and 18. Often a boy. would depart with one of the guests and return alone a couple of hours later. Most of the boys looked undernourished…. Many of them had to spend the rest of the night in a railway station, a public park, or under the arch of a bridge.37

Inflation made Germany break with her past by wiping out the local equivalent of the Forsytes. It also reinforced the postwar generation’s appetite for invention, innovation and compulsive pleasure seeking, while making them bitterly aware of their own rootlessness. It is not surprising that cocaine was very much in vogue in those years. The drug was peddled openly in restaurants by the hat-check girls, and formed an integral part of the social life of Berlin.

Inflation was also taken as evidence that the old order was morally and practically bankrupt. Capitalism had failed to guarantee the security of its citizens. It had benefited speculators, hustlers, con men and factory owners. It had spawned Hugo Stinnes, but had done nothing for the common good. The need for an alternative system appeared universally self-evident, and until one came along the thing to do was to enjoy oneself, drink away grandma’s capital, or exchange one’s clothes for cocaine: a dinner jacket got you four grams, a morning coat eight.38

Inflation and the despair that it created also acted as the catalyst of aggression. It was at this time that anti-Semitism began to appear in Berlin. An attractive German lady remembers walking through a prosperous suburb with a Jewish friend when someone called to her in the street, "Why do you go around with a Jew ? Get yourself a good German man." In one sense she found it understandable. The ordinary German was very slow to adjust to the special situation of inflation, and in 1923 anyone who was not very quick on their feet soon went under. Jews were better at economic survival in such situations than were other Germans—so much so, she says, that by the end of inflation they had become terribly conspicuous. All the expensive restaurants, all the best theater seats, appeared to be filled by Jews who had survived or even improved their position.

One can imagine that Germans who had lost their own status might have resented the spectacle. One old conservative I spoke to added a second reason for the rise of anti-Semitism in a Prussian society which had traditionally been quite free of it. The arguments advanced are his own, and tell us something of his prejudices. He believes that the Weimar Republic was too liberal with regard to immigration from the East, admitting thousands of Jews from Galicia and the old pale of settlement, persons who, in his words, were "Asiatics, not Jews." They found themselves in a strange anonymous town, free of all the ethical restraints imposed by life in a small community where their families had lived for several generations. They tended therefore to abandon all morality as they stepped out of their own homes, morality being strictly a family affair. They would sail as close to the wind as the law would allow, for they had no good will, or neighborly esteem to lose. The gentleman in question is convinced that their mode of doing business during the inflation did a great deal to create or aggravate more generalized anti-Semitic feelings.

Yet precisely these immigrants were to prove a mainstay of the republic. An old Berlin Jew who had spent some time in prewar Auschwitz told me that it was just these Eastern Jews who offered the most active and effective resistance to National Socialism. They were activists where native Berliners, Jew and Gentile alike, were more inclined to remain on the sidelines.

Certainly the period saw a rise in pro-National Socialist feelings. The first Nazi that Professor Reiff knew personally was a schoolboy in his last year. The young man’s father, a small civil servant, had just lost everything through inflation, and as a result his son joined the party. Pearl Buck records the views of an antimonarchical businessman worried by inflation, who said of the Nazis: "They are still young men and act foolishly, but they will grow up. If they will only drop Ludendorff and his kind, maybe someday I’ll give them a chance.".39

For many people, who felt that they had lost all zest for a life rendered colorless by war and poverty, who
could see that they lived in a world in which Schieber won and decent folk lost, a new ideology combining patriotism and socialist anticapitalism seemed to be the only viable alternative to a totally unacceptable state of financial chaos and capitalist laissez-faire. The shock of inflation had made people mistrustful of the past, immensely suspicious of the present, and pathetically ready to have hopes for the future. It was perfectly clear to them that new solutions were needed, equally clear that until such solutions should appear they could put their trust in nothing except the validity of their own sensations.

The mood of the inflationary period is summed up by Stefan Zweig. It is a mood that endured well beyond inflation itself to become the mood of the Weimar age, a blend of pleasure seeking, sexual and political extremism, and a yearning for strange gods.

It was an epoch of high ecstasy and ugly scheming, a singular mixture of unrest and fanaticism. Every extravagant idea that was not subject to regulation reaped a golden harvest: theosophy, occultism, yogism and Paracelcism. Anything that gave hope of newer and greater thrills, anything in the way of narcotics, morphine, cocaine, heroin found a tremendous market; on the stage incest and parricide, in politics communism and fascism constituted the most favored themes.40

It was indeed a time for the revaluation of all (devalued) values.

The mood of 1923 persisted long after inflation ended, which is why the manner of its ending is offered here as a postscript, for nothing was restored but the currency.

Restoration of confidence was only possible when passive resistance in the Ruhr ended in the autumn of 1923. At the same time, the Reichsbank appointed Hjalmar Schacht to deal with inflation. He was an extremely able man with a clear grasp of essentials. He realized that his main problem was to restore confidence both within and without Germany, and to try to prevent people from spending money as soon as it came into their hands. He established a new currency, based on the notional sum total of Germany’s agricultural wealth, the Roggen-Mark (rye mark). This had the effect of restoring psychological confidence in the currency. He combined the move with a gigantic bear trap laid by the Reichsbank to catch the speculators who would regularly build up huge short positions in marks, in the almost certain expectation that the mark would continue to fall against the dollar: i.e., they sold marks they hadn’t got, knowing that they could buy them for a fraction of their present value when the time came to meet the demand. When the mark stopped falling, thanks to the Reichsbank’s engineering, they had to rush to close their positions, and were forced to buy marks which had actually begun to go up. Many speculators lost the entire fortunes which they had built up over the year.

Schacht’s measures sufficed to stop the rot, but in the period between the ordnance declaring the new currency and the appearance of the first notes, there was an interim of pure chaos in which, as Lord d’Abernon noted, "four kinds of paper money and five kinds of stable value currency were in use. On November 20,1923,1 dollar =4.2 gold marks =4.2 trillion paper marks. But by December the currency was stable." The last November issue of the weekly Berliner Ulustrirter Zeitung cost a billion marks, the first December issue 20 pfennigs. Confidence seemed to have been restored overnight. Germany could breathe again.

There were those, however, who could not accept that the old certainties were lost, as this sad little postscript will prove. In the old days the highest denomination printed had been the brown thousand-mark note which had a prestigious, almost magic significance. Many people among the older generation found it impossible to accept that its value was now gone forever. The notes were seen as the symbol of the golden age of stability before inflation, and it was the touching hope of many that one day they would be restored to full value. In the meantime they were hoarded and even collected. They could be bought in the Munich flea market for five marks a million. That there was still a demand for them at all is proof of the belief that one day the Reichsbank would honor its pledge and exchange paper for gold. Weimar’s electoral system of proportional representation encouraged the proliferation of small political parties, of which there were many. But without a doubt, the strangest and saddest political party of them all was the "Party for the Revaluation of the Thousand-Mark Note.".

 

FOOTNOTES

Chapter 6 – INFLATION

1 d’Abernon, vol. II, p. 23
2 Ibid, p. 22
3 Ibid, p. 24
4 Bonn, p. 2 78
5 Buck, p. 143
6 Ludecke, p. 148
7 Zweig.p. 237
8 Ibid, loc. cit.
9 Daily Express, February 24, 1923
10 Ostwald,p. 63
11 Adlon.p. 99
12 Ostwald,p. 130
13 Clark, p. 11
14 Ibid, loc. cit.
15 Ibid, p. 12
16 Schonberger, p. 155
17 Ostwald.p. 181
18 Adlon.p. 98
19 Ostwald, pp. 84-5
20 Tynan.p. 132
21 Ibid, p. 157
22 Zweig.p. 223
23 Tynan.p. 157
24 Lochner, p. 102
25 Ibid, p. 103
26 Got, p. 67
27 Ibid, p. 57
28 Weltbuhne,
November 1922
29 Beraud.p. 82
30 Buck, p. 163
31 Ibid, p. 141
32 Ibid, loc. cit.
33 Beraud.p. 22
34 Mann, p. 77
35 Fallada, Wolf, Among Wolves, p. 15
36 Zweig.p.238
37 Landauer, pp. 77-80
38 Got, p. 53
39 Buck, p. 232
40 Zweig.p.238

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THE KILLING WINDS – THE MENACE OF BIOLOGICAL WARFARE

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on November 30, 2008

Chapter 2

by Jeanne McDermott (Arbor House – 1987 – Hardback – 322 pages – ISBN 0877958963)

HERE IS WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT BIOLOGICAL WARFARE

“Armis Bella Non Venenis Geri” (War is waged with weapons, not with poisons). — Roman condemnation of well poisoning

Identical copies of the BIOCHEMICAL WARFAREtreaty banning biological weapons reside in Moscow, London, and at the mammoth State Department building in Washington, D.C. The United States stores its treaties in a dim, almost shabby room, behind a massive, electronically controlled bank vault door, filled with scores of musty manila folders crammed together on rows of gray metal shelves. Here, the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on Their Destruction is nothing special, just one of thousands of international agreements on everything from wheat to whaling, seabeds to outer space.

Genevieve Bell has been the treaty librarian since 1969, the year Nixon renounced biological weapons. Dressed in a green corduroy suit and a green blouse for Saint Patrick’s Day, she welcomes the infrequent visitor. In the age of instant Xerox, few people care to see the originals anymore. “It’s not too often at all that I bring out the Biological Weapons Convention,” she says. “If a party wants to see it, yes, sure, we have an obligation to show it. But I can’t say I’ve had many requests.”

The Biological Weapons Convention, or BWC, as it is usually abbreviated, has the feel of a noteworthy and honorable modern document. It is bound with a simple, blue leather, folio-size cover; typed on creamy, gold-edged paper; decorated with a delicate red and blue ink border; held together with a red, white, and blue ribbon that threads through punched holes in the paper and binder.

The treaty itself is written in five languages: English, Chinese, French, Spanish, and Russian, and followed by thirty-five pages of official and often ornate signatures. To date, over a hundred countries have signed the Biological Weapons Convention, the most recent being China, which the State Department welcomed with a small ceremony.

The text of the treaty has fifteen articles, but the first and second express the heart of the agreement. The first says:

Each State Party to this convention undertakes never in any circumstances to develop, produce, stockpile or otherwise acquire or retain 1) microbial or other biological agents or toxins whatever their origin or method of production, of types and in quantities that have no justification for prophylactic, protective or other peaceful purposes; 2) weapons, equipment or means of delivery designed to use such agents or toxins for hostile purposes or in armed conflict.

The second article reads:

Each State Party to this Convention undertakes to destroy or to divert to peaceful purposes, as soon as possible, but no later than nine months after the entry into force of the Convention, all agents, toxins, weapons, equipment and means of delivery specified in Article I of the Convention, which are in its possession or under its jurisdiction or control.

The treaty specifically bans biological weapons, those made Ayith disease-causing germs such as anthrax, and toxin weapons, those made with poisons produced by living organisms such as botulinum. It does not ban chemical weapons, those made with synthetic chemicals such as nerve gas. (Another treaty, the Geneva Protocol, bans the use but not the production or stockpiling of chemical weapons.) Despite the differences in their legal status, chemical and biological weapons are often lumped together, abbreviated in discussions within military circles as CBW. What the weapons have in common is the fact that they are invisible killers that travel through the air.

For historians, as well as students of arms control, the Biological Weapons Convention represents a daring landmark and a milestone in detente. It was the first treaty, and remains the only one in existence, to ban outright an entire class of weapons, prohibiting not only the use, but also the manufacture and stockpiling of the weapons. No other arms control treaty has aimed to be so comprehensive or ambitious, and in the last few years, no other treaty has found itself at the center of so much controversy. With the passage of time, the State Department retires some international agreements to the National Archives, simply to make room for newcomers. But those treaties that provoke accusations and counteraccusations — such as the Biological Weapons Convention—stay inside the vault.

The Biological Weapons Convention bans one of the oldest and least respected forms of warfare—the use of poison and disease. Since Greco-Roman times, poisons have figured not so much as weapons of war but as tools for assassination. Although the use and preparation of poison was a shrouded, clandestine art, it seems clear that the Greeks and Romans knew about the toxic qualities of hemlock, hellebore, rhubarb, the castor bean, and the amanita mushroom. In the imperial courts, professional poisoners tried to outsmart the cup bearers and food tasters, and often succeeded, the best-known example being Agrippina, who is thought to have poisoned her husband, the Roman emperor Claudius. Some historians claim that Pope Alexander poisoned his way to power, that during the Italian Renaissance, the powerful Borgias picked off their rivals with poison, and that the plotting in the courts of Louis XIV and the Russian czars involved tainted potions.

Until the invention of the microscope and the germ theory of disease, diseases could not be spread in the sophisticated ways that poison was. One technique was to dump a corpse in the enemy’s well or water supply. But then, as now, the attacker ran the risk that the disease would strike his own troops.

Possibly the earliest, and one of the few, recorded accounts of biological warfare took place in the spring of 1346 when the Mongols laid seige to Kaffa, a walled city on the Crimean coast. After three unsuccessful years in which their own soldiers were dying of the plague, the Mongols tried something new. According to an eyewitness, “The Tatars, fatigued by such a plague and pestiferous disease, stupefied and amazed, and observing themselves dying without hope of health, ordered cadavers placed on their hurling machines and thrown into the city of Kaffa so that by means of these intolerable passengers, the defenders died widely. Thus there were projected mountains of dead, nor could the Christians hide or flee or be freed from such a disaster.” While Kaffa filled with plague, some of the survivors fled, carrying the disease with them to Constantinople, Venice, Genoa, and other European ports. Within three years, the Black Death (spread by less heinous activities as well) swept Europe, killing a quarter of the population.

In another often recounted case, the British commander-in-chief in the American colonies, Lord Jeffrey Amherst, set out to destroy the American Indians with disease after an Indian rebellion in 1763. “You will do well to try to innoculate the Indians by means of blankets,” Amherst told his subordinates, “as well as to try every other method that can serve to extirpate this execrable race.” At his request, two blankets and a handkerchief from a smallpox hospital were given as presents to an Ohio tribe. A few months later, smallpox broke out, and, lacking immunity, the Indians were ravaged by disease.

By the twentieth century, disease ceased to be explained by mysterious miasmas or elemental imbalances of humors. Microscopic organisms—bacteria, fungi, and viruses—were gradually identified as the culprits, isolated, cultured, and studied. At the same time, the molecules responsible for the toxicity of so many plants ANTHRAX SPORESand animals were extracted, concentrated, and purified by methods more reliable than making incantations under a full moon. During World War II, scientists around the world began to devise ways to incorporate invisible germs and poisons into conventional military hardware.

To the modern soldier, the various types of biological weapons developed since then do not look like anything very special. In fact, they look like conventional weapons—a bomb dropped from an airplane, a canister and shell fired from a rocket launcher or howitzer, a missile, a drone, and even bullets. The weapons are designed to be hurled, fired, or dropped. The weapons can also be in the form of a spray, spread by a low-flying airplane like a crop-dusting pesticide. While the bomb and the spray tank became standards, a few unusual efforts also emerged—like long-range balloons carrying feathers infected with anticrop spores, bombs filled with disease-carrying insects, and a deadly aerosol spray can shaped like a whisky hip flask.

What distinguishes one biological weapon from another is not so much the hardware but the fillings, which contain the ANTHRAX THRU AN ELECTRONIC MICROSCOPEdeadliest organisms nature ever concocted, all too small to be seen with the naked eye. Some are bacteria and fungi, living creatures only one cell big. Others are viruses, even tinier, ephemeral entities on the threshold of life, made of chunks of DNA, which replicate only by invading and taking over a cell. And finally, some are toxins, the poisonous molecules secreted by plants and microbes, sprayed by insects, or injected by snakes to destroy their own enemies.

In nature, the microbes, viruses, and toxins that cause disease are everywhere, lurking in the soil, the water, the air, your food. Physicians battle these primordial public enemies daily, trying to prevent their growth, treating those people who fall prey. The creation of a biological weapon, in fact, begins with the knowledge gained by doctors of medicine in the process of treating disease. Instead of applying that knowledge to save life, the practice of medicine is perverted, turned inside out, upside down, in violation of the Hippocratic Oath to do no harm.

From the enormous roster of the world’s diseases and toxins, which grows each year as new diseases evolve or are discovered, almost all have been considered as potential biological weapons. But many have not been seriously studied because they are not hardy, swift-acting, reliably infective, or easily spread through the air—qualities that a weapon designer wants. From 1943, when the United States launched its biological weapons program, until 1969, it experimented with the following human and animal diseases and toxins: anthrax, botulinum, brucellosis, chikungunya, cholera, coccidiosis, dengue, dysentery, food poisoning toxin, influenza, melioidosis, plague, psittacosis, Q-fever, Red Tide poison, Rift Valley Fever, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Russian spring-summer encephalitis, shigellosis, smallpox, tularemia, typhoid, Venezuelan equine encephalitis, and yellow fever.

It also experimented with the following crop diseases: wheat rust, rice blast, tobacco mosaic, corn stunt, potato yellow dwarf, Fiji disease (which attacks sugar cane), hoja blanca (which attacks rice), rice blight, corn blight, sugar cane wilt, coffee rust, maize rust, rice brown-spot disease, late blight of potato, powdery mildew of cereals, stripe rust of cereals.

Of all the countries in ANTHRAXthe world, only the United States admitted to amassing a stockpile of biological weapons, and when the Biological Weapons Convention was signed, only the United States publicly destroyed its arsenal. It had had an active biological warfare program for twenty-five years and had produced and/or standardized ten different biological and toxin weapons, selecting them for a constellation of practical characteristics. The list included:

Anthrax: The renowned bacteriologist Robert Koch first cultured the single-celled bacterium, Bacillus anthracis, in 1877, which under the microscope looks like a football. It lives in the soil in many parts of the world, where it forms an almost indestructible spore resistant to disinfectants, rapid freezing and thawing, even boiling. Anthrax infects goats, sheep, horses, cattle, elephants, hippos, and many other animals, including people. If you touch the spores, the bacterium can enter through a wound in the skin and form a small lesion or pustule that eventually turns coal black. (Anthrax is from the Greek word for coal.) Fever, chills, malaise, nausea, and vomiting follow. Even without adequate treatment, almost everyone recovers.

While the cutaneous form of anthrax is the most common today, in nineteenth-century England the inhalation form of anthrax was widespread. It was known as wool-sorter’s disease because factory workers fell sick after reaching into bins full of wool and shaking the wool out. The motion unleased a cloud of anthrax spores into the air which the workers then inhaled. Within two to three days, they died from suffocation, the result of a toxin released by the anthrax bacterium.

The spores clung not only to sheep wool but to many other animal products as well. A vaccuum cleaner assembler caught it from revolving horsehair brushes, a man who cut piano keys from an elephant’s tusk, and a tourist from a hide-covered bongo drum brought back from a Caribbean vacation. If untreated, the inhalation form of anthrax kills almost everyone exposed to it. While anthrax remains a negligible livestock concern in this country, cases of inhalation anthrax have all but disappeared since the passage of stricter sanitation laws. The military concentrated on the inhalation form of anthrax as a weapon, particularly during World War II. But the spore is so indestructible that once unleashed it permanently contaminates an area, denying it to both defender and attacker. Despite these drawbacks, the United States continues to view anthrax as a potential biological weapon.

Botulinum: Botulinum is a toxin that takes its name from the Latin word for sausage because it was first identified in 1793 when thirteen people in a small German town fell sick after eating the same sausage. The bacterium, which secretes the toxin, was isolated a hundred years later when band members in a small Belgian town fell sick after eating a ham. Shaped like a stout rod, Clostridiwn botulinum commonly and harmlessly grows in the oxygen-free surface layers of the soil, particularly in California, and for reasBACTERIAons unclear, produces botulinum, the most potent neurotoxin known. The microbe only causes problems in improperly canned or cooked food, of which a mere nibble can kill. The toxin takes effect within twelve to seventy-two hours, leaving the victim headachy, dizzy, and (if the dose is sufficient) ultimately dead from respiratory paralysis. About a hundred people succumb to botulinum each year worldwide, and of these 30 percent die. The U. S. Army produced twenty-thousand botulinum-tipped bullets and also planned to spread the toxin as an aerosol until it became clear that sunlight degrades it and destroys its potency.

Brucellosis: Found in wild animals like antelope, reindeer, caribou, and hares, brucellosis was a common livestock disease in the United States until eradication programs began in the 1960s. Today, this country has about one hundred-fifty cases each year, mostly among abattoir workers, farmers, and veterinarians who are exposed to the blood of the infected animals. The disease is caused by several strains of the Brucella bacterium. After a four- or five-day incubation period, the infected person has a low-grade fever, and a tired, rundown feeling that gets progressively worse. Over the next two to three months, he or she loses weight, feels depressed, and suffers an intermittent fever. Once diagnosed, brucellosis is treated with tetracycline. Explored by the army as a weapon in the early days of the program, it was dropped in the 1950s in favor of diseases that act and incapacitate more quickly and more uniformly.

Q-fever: Q-fever is short for query fever. When first discovered among abattoir workers in Queensland, Australia, no one BOTULISMknew what it was. The disease hits suddenly, triggering severe headache, stiff neck, chills, sweats, and a lack of appetite, like a severe case of the flu. Within seven to ten days, it subsides. Nobel laureate F. McFarlane Burnet isolated the cause, a single-celled microbe that changes from the shape of a rod to that of a bead, and named it Coxiella burnetii. C. burnetii is highly infective and very persistent, able to survive in sheep’s wool for seven to nine months. It spreads by aerosol, ticks, mice, bedbugs, and fleas. In Italy, the passage of a flock of sheep through a narrow street was enough to start an infection. Employees at a commercial laundry caught it from handling the unsterilized clothes of lab workers who studied it. Only one to ten microbes are needed to infect. Q-fever strikes sheep, goats, and cattle worldwide, but the infection often escapes notice in both animals and people. Doctors in the United States see one hundred to two hundred cases a year in people, but suspect that a milder form is more common and probably mistaken for the flu. For the military, Q-fever was attractive because it is stable, infective, and quick to act. The army continues to research it today.

Saxitoxin: Throughout many of the world’s oceans, single-celled plankton called dinoflagellates bloom in the summer months, tinging the water red, creating what coast-dwellers call Red Tide. Clams, mussels, oysters, and other filter-feeding bivalves eat the dinoflagellates. People eat the molluscs and occasionally die as the result of ten or more deadly and paralyzing toxins, including the extraordinarily powerful saxi-toxin, produced by the dinoflagellates. In 1974, there were 1,600 cases worldwide of paralytic shellfish poisoning and 300 deaths. Death, when it occurs, takes place within thirty minutes after the meal, as the lips, tongue and face start to burn and tingle. As the feeling spreads to the legs and arms, paralysis sets in. The throat closes up. Until the respiratory muscles cease all movement and suffocation occurs, the victim stays calm and conscious. There is no specific antidote. In the 1950s and 1960s, Detrick scientists prepared over 30 grams of shellfish toxin by harvesting, collecting, and grinding up a vast number of Alaskan butter clams and other shellfish. The toxin was used in the suicide pill carried by Francis Gary Powers, the pilot who flew the secret U-2 plane over the Soviet Union in 1960.

Staphylococcus YERSINIA PESTISenterotoxin: Staphylococcus is a ubiquitous, beach ball-shaped bacterium that comes in many strains. Some are harmless and some, like those that cause toxic shock syndrome and food poisoning, are not. The food-poisoning strain wreaks havoc by secreting an enterotoxin. Although the organism is killed by normal cooking temperatures, it can multiply very rapidly, producing enough toxin to make you sick in two to three hours. Severe nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea hit within half an hour to four hours after eating and last for one to two days. The CIA chose the toxin for its immediate and fierce action and stockpiled a form resistant to the chlorine in city water supplies. Since the freeze dried form of the toxin is stable and can be stored for up to a year, the military planned to spray it over large areas.

Tularemia: Tularemia resembles the plague. Discovered in Tu-lare County, California, in 1911, tularemia is carried by squirrels, rabbits, field voles, mice, shrews, and ticks. The disease exists in all countries north of the equator. In Utah, Wyoming, and Colorado, it occurs most frequently during rabbit-hunting season. Caused by the bacterium Pasteurella tularensis, it strikes two to seven days after exposure—usually in the course of skinning the rabbit. The victim starts to feel achey, with chills and a fever as high as 105 ° F. If inhaled, which happens infrequently in nature but would be the case in a biological war, it causes a cough, chest pain, and difficulty breathing. If untreated, 5 to 8 percent of the people who get tularemia die. For inhalatory tularemia, as many as 40 percent may die. Doctors treat it with antibiotics, but the U.S. military developed a strain of tularemia that was resistant to streptomycin. There are 250 to 300 cases in the United States each year. At the time of the arsenal’s destruction, the government had a large stockpile of tularemia and considered it a useful weapon.

Venezuelan equine encephalitis (VEE): VEE is a mosquito-borne virus first found in horses in Venezuela, and later across South and Central America, including Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Panama. In 1970, the mosquito harboring VEE crossed over the Rio Grande River into Texas, but the feared spread of the disease was contained by eradicating the insect. Within twenty-four hours of injection, the virus produces a headache and fever from which most recover in three days. The virus spreads to the nervous system in 10 percent of the cases and is fatal in 1 percent. The United States was increasing its stockpiles of VEE in the late 1960s.

Yellow fever: Yellow fever is a disease with a notorious legacy, responsible for killing the slaves on the slave ships and probably for destroying the crew and passengers of the legendary Flying Dutchman. It is caused by a virus carried by mosquitoes found in a belt just above and below the equator. It strikes three to six days after the mosquito bite, with a fever and often liver damage, which brings on a yellow color—hence the name. As part of an “entomological warfare” program started in the early 1950s, Detrick labs produced half a million mosquitoes a month, and in tests, planes dropped infected mosquitoes over a residential area in Georgia and Florida. In addition to yellow fever-infected mosquitoes, Detrick grew mosquitoes infected with malaria and dengue; fleas infected with plague; ticks infected with tularemia; flies infected with cholera, anthrax, and dysentery. By the late 1960s, yellow fever was not considered a weapon of choice.

The United States also stockpiled two anticrop diseases:

Wheat rust: In April of each year, the Romans held a ceremony, sacrificing a red dog to keep the gods from unleashing the YERSINIA PESTISred rust disease on their wheat crop. Like fire, the rust streaks the leaves and stems, sometimes even reddening the soil. Once it takes hold, the rust can destroy more crop in less time than any other disease. It is caused by a fungus, Puccinia graminis, which forms a tough, windblown spore that grows under humid conditions. Rust can kill the plant outright or shrivel and stunt it.

Rice blast: Caused by the fungus Piricularia oryzae, rice blast also spreads as a windblown spore, growing under humid conditions. If it attacks during an early stage of the plant’s growth, the plant fails to produce rice. Some American planners considered dropping rice blast on Vietnamese rice paddies during the war but the plan was never approved by senior officials. It would have proved difficult to implement since the Vietnamese planted so many different strains, each becoming susceptible at slightly different times.

Outside of isolated sabotage incidents, biological and toxin weapons have seen remarkably little use in the twentieth century, or rather, remarkably little use that everyone can agree on. No one disputes that the Japanese used germ warfare against the Chinese during World War II. But opinions are divided on two notorious and widely publicized incidents. Did the United States wage germ warfare against North Korea and China during the Korean War? Did the Laotians and Cambo-dians use Soviet-made toxin weapons in Southeast Asia in the late 1970s and early 1980s?

Pound for pound, and penny for penny, biological weapons excel in packing the deadliest punch of any weapon. According to an army field manual written in 1966, a single fighter plane spraying a lethal biological agent could cause 50 percent mortality over an area of 300 square miles; that is, it could kill half the people in a city the size of Dallas or New York. That is ten times the area that would be devastated by the same amount of nerve gas.

Biological weapons come relatively cheap. A panel of experts told the United Nations in 1969 that in a large-scale operation against a civilian population, casualties might cost $2,000 per square kilometer for conventional weapons; $800 for nuclear; $600 for nerve gas; $1 for biological weapons. For the price, one gets a brutally versatile weapon. Biological weapons can be weapons of mass destruction, capable of wiping out huge civilian centers; they can blight a country’s breadbasket while leaving the industrial infrastructure intact; they can be sprayed on people ill-equipped to defend themselves in order to drive them off the land; they can be spread in unconventional ways—on the wings of birds, through infected ticks, mosquitoes, fleas, flies, and tourists. They are, however, most uniquely suited to sabotage, terrorism, and covert operations since they are invisible, small enough to carry in a pocket, and, without careful monitoring, can be indistinguishable from natural occurrences.

Why, then, did President Richard Nixon, a political realist who approached foreign policy as if it were a chess game, give up such a good thing? The reason is simple: Biological weapons provoke far more trouble than they are worth. In the modern theater of geopolitics, their very attributes create horrendous liabilities. Consider this fact: biological weapons are so cheap and powerful that they have been dubbed “the poor man’s atomic bomb.” By condoning and furthering the development of biological weapons, the United States created an arms race that would only hurt it in the long run.

The United States is a rich and powerful country, one of the richest and most powerful in the world. One way it maintains military superiority is by spending money on the development and stockpiling of weapons. Very few countries are wealthy enough to keep up. It is in the best interest of the United States and the other superpowers to keep war expensive. The more expensive it is, the fewer countries that can pose threats. It was, therefore, not in the best interest of the United States to develop a cheap and powerful weapon like biological weapons. That was the fundamental logic behind Nixon’s decision.

Other factors contributed to the American renunciation of biological weapons. There is no credible defense against TULAREMIAan all-out biological attack. No devices will even give reliable advance warning. Even if such devices existed, what steps could be taken? People can be vaccinated against some diseases, but these work only if taken weeks before the attack. Even then, experts doubt their protective value against the onslaught of aerosol germs in a biological weapon, or that an attacker would choose a weapon for which the country had prepared an effective vaccine. Gas masks would help, but few civilians have their own. Lacking genetic resistance to a particular disease, crops and livestock are defenseless.

In 1969, the U.S. military was reluctant but willing to give up biological weapons. Troop commanders had never heartily approved of them, in part because they had a disreputable air that never quite fit the military’s self-image of what an honorable warrior should be asked to do. For battlefield operations, the advocates of biological weapons never proved them superior to conventional or even chemical weapons.

A host of practical problems bedeviled biological weapons. They did not behave in a straightforward way. In the field, commanders found them too complicated, too demanding, too quirky. They spread like killing winds. For each disease, the symptoms, incubation, duration, and treatment varied. Coupled with the way the vagaries of the wind, temperature, and terrain influenced the weapon’s stealthy drift, the commander had a lot of variables to juggle and few guarantees. Although the army subjected biological weapons to hundreds of tests, it never had enough data—for the obvious ethical reasons—on what real weapons do to real people. What good is a weapon that you can’t test? In the end, the military decided it wasn’t good enough to keep.

In 1969, three years before the two superpowers signed the Biological Weapons Convention, the United States gave up BW, as biological weapons are usually abbreviated, altogether. Nixon renounced not only biological weapons but also toxin weapons, which occupy a gray area, somewhere between biological and chemical weapons. Although the two had been developed in tandem at Fort Detrick, the U.S. center for biological warfare research in Frederick, Maryland, toxins behave more like chemical weapons on the battlefield. The only difference between a toxin and a chemical weapon is that one is synthesized by nature and the other concocted by man. Both are inert molecules, acting in minutes to hours, and toxic in micrograms or milligrams, not picograms like biological (or germ) weapons. By contrast, germ weapons are living creatures that grow and multiply, taking their toll in days.

Nixon did not renounce chemical weapons, nor did the subsequent international ban include them. Chemical weapons are deployed like biological weapons—in bombs, from spray tanks—but instead of spreading live organisms, they disperse toxic chemicals, such as nerve gas, tear gas, herbicides (like Agent Orange), mustard gas, and other harassing and incapacitating chemicals. The United States, the Soviets, and now a number of other countries continue to stockpile chemical weapons, and the Iraqis are currently using them in their war against Iran. The Reagan administration lobbied hard to build a new generation of nerve gas weapons, but the Congress consistently blocked appropriations for that purpose until September 1986, when Congress finally gave its okay.

While it is illegal to produce and use biological weapons, it is not illegal to produce chemical weapons. (It is illegal to use them.) Chemical weapons remain a legal component of the world’s stockpiles in part because they are not as cheap, potentially powerful, nor as unpredictable as their biological counterparts. They draw on a longer, more successful tradition within the military, and have a more powerful constituency than biological weapons. After all, they had been used in World War I and the Vietnam War, with arguable success. They have also served a useful function as a deterrent: the United States could give up biological weapons with an easy conscience because it could always retaliate with chemical weapons.

But chemical weapons also raise a prickly question from an arms control perspective. How can you distinguish between industrial chemicals and chemicals of war? What if you ban one but not the other? Since World War II, the creation of insecticides and nerve gases have marched hand in hand. Gerhard Schrader, a German scientist working at I. G. Farben, discovered an organophosphorus compound in 1936 that killed insects in seconds. Under a law that decreed that any industrial invention with military potential should be shared with the Wehrmacht, Schrader’s finding led to the development of nerve gases. Today, a plant that produces the pesticides ma-lathion or parathion could be used to produce nerve gas.

Many other chemicals are Jess toxic, but just as lethal and widespread as organophosphate pesticides. When a 1984 The Living Weapon - As America's germ warfare program expanded during the Cold War, scientists began to conduct their own covert tests on human volunteers. The United States continued the development and stockpiling of biological weapons until President Nixon terminated the program in 1969. This American Experience production examines the international race to develop biological weapons in the 1940s and 1950s, revealing the scientific and technical challenges scientists faced and the moral dilemmas posed by their eventual success.accident at the Union Carbide pesticide plant in Bhopal, India, released methylisocyanate into the air, five thousand people died. In a magazine interview, the Bhopal mayor said, “I can say that I have seen chemical warfare. Everything so quiet. Goats, cats, whole families—father, mother, children—all lying silent and still. And every structure totally intact. I hope never again to see it.”

When the Biological Weapons Convention officially went into effect in 1975, it left the impression that every trace or consideration of biological weapons utterly disappeared from the world’s military establishments. That was not the case. By keeping chemical weapons legal, military establishments maintained an institutional infrastructure familiar with the equipment, training, doctrine, and insidious action of invisible weapons. While the United States burned its germs and toxins, scrapped its weapon hardware, dismantled and converted its mass production facilities, it retained the books, reports, studies, and test data accumulated over the twenty-five-year existence of the biological-warfare program. According to one Pentagon official, it would take the United States (or any other country that dismantled its full-fledged offensive program) two to three years to get back into the biological weapons business IF the president of the United States renounced the treaty.

As allowed by treaty, research continues around the world. The systematic study of nasty germs and toxins has not stopped. In the United States, it takes place on a largely unclassified basis and in the name of defense. Fifteen years after the renunciation, the list of germs and toxins studied at Fort Detrick bears little resemblance to those studied in 1969. These new agents have been identified, grown, studied, analyzed, assessed, evaluated, and, if Dugway builds the BL-4 lab, will be tested. But they have not been developed into weapons, that is, mass produced or loaded into hardware—two steps that would clearly violate the treaty.

Since the Reagan administration took office in 1980, the budgets for both biological and chemical weapons have skyrocketed. Compared with the cost of building an F-16 fighter plane, the budgets dedicated to the subject of biological warfare still look small, but it is important to bear in mind that biological research costs relatively little. In 1987, the total budget for biological warfare defense was $71.2 million. Compare that with what was spent on research and development at Fort Detrick at the height of the Vietnam War in 1969. Then, it was $19.4 million—or if you adjust for inflation, $55.6 million. In other words, the United States is spending more on BW research than it did when it had an offensive program.

What this jump in budgets means is that the military is again talking about biological warfare. “Up until three or four years ago, we weren’t talking on the subject [of biological weapons] at all,” says Major Dick Ziegler, a Pentagon spokesman. According to the Department of Defense, the Dugway lab is essential for preparing a defense against the mounting Soviet threat. The Pentagon and the Reagan administration point to a mysterious outbreak of anthrax in Sverdlovsk and to Yellow Rain in Southeast Asia as evidence of the Soviet’s disregard for and violation of the treaty.

In conservative circles throughout the nation, the two events are already taken as proof that the Biological Weapons Convention has failed. Like the clock in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, the treaty is an anachronism, some say, out of step with the times. But others vehemently disagree with that conclusion. They stress that the evidence for treaty violations at Sverdlovsk is open to question and that cited for Yellow Rain has failed to stand up to scrutiny.

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US MILITARY CHEM-BIO WARFARE EXPOSURES WEBSITE UNVEILED

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on November 30, 2008

Friday, November 14, 2008

by Justin Palk – Frederick – News-Post

Posted by Meryl Nass, M.D. at 10:18 AM

From World War II through 1975, thousands of service members and veterans were potentially exposed to chemical or biological weapons as subjects or observers of tests carried out by the Department of Defense.

The department unveiled a new website Monday to provide information about what happened during those tests.

The data on the site is broadly grouped into three sections: chemical agent tests during World War II; chemical and biological agent tests of Project 112 and its naval component, Shipboard Hazard and Defense or Project SHAD; and Cold War-era chemical and biological weapons testing.

The site provides details about specific incidents, such as the release of mustard agent in the Italian port of Bari in 1943 when a U.S. ship carrying the agent to use in response to theoretical German gas attacks was destroyed during a German air raid on the port.

Overview sections give broad outlines of what types of testing were performed at what points in history.

The biological warfare research at Fort Detrick and the Operation Whitecoat disease immunity experiments are listed under the Cold War section of the site, as are Dugway Proving Ground and Edgewood Arsenal, both sites where chemical weapons research was done.

The site does not list the names of service members who might have been exposed to chemical or biological agents. It does, however, include contact information veterans can use to seek help in verifying any potential exposure they may have had, or to provide information they may have about tests the Defense Department conducted.

For information, visit fhp.osd.mil/CBexposures/index.jsp

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PUBLISHED BY ‘Anthrax Vaccine – posts by Meryl Nass, M.D.’

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