Western European News Digest
Iraqi Prisoner-Abuse Scandal Breaks in Britain
The Jan. 19 British press is full of shocking photos of at least three soldiers of the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers brutally abusing Iraqi prisoners. The photos were presented as evidence in the court martial of the three, being held in Osnabruck, Germany. The abuse took place in Basra, southern Iraq, in the British-occupied zone. The British forces were "rounding up" alleged thieves of humanitarian aid. The soldiers were charged by their superior officer, Maj. Daniel Taylor, with "working them [the alleged Iraqi thieves] hard." The photos show prisoners, tied up in nets, huddled on the ground, and in simulated sexual acts.
It is also reported that almost 800 British soldiers have been wounded in Iraq.
French Labor Unions Oppose Privatization
A week of action began in France Jan. 17, with one-day strikes and protests of hospital personnel, and of electricity and gas workers. Postal workers joined Jan. 18; railway workers were to stage their day of action on Jan. 19; surgeons and other medical personnel at general hospitals were also to join in.
On Jan. 20, public-sector employees, including teachers and university personnel were to stage protests and strikes, and all labor federations have announced, already, a national day of action for Feb. 5.
The government official most to blame for these privatization projects, is former Finance Minister Nicolas Sarkozy (now party chairman of the governing UMP), who is one of the most rabid neo-cons in French politics.
Airbus Group Unveils Prototype of World's Largest Airliner
The A380, a European airliner designed for long-distance flights, will be able to transport 555 passengers in its two-class version, 33% larger than Boeing's 747 "jumbo" jet. An all-economy-class A380 could transport 800 passengers. The price of one Airbus 380 is $280 million, and the company already has 149 orders from airlines. Airbus intends to sell 750 of the new airliner over the next few years.
The unveiling ceremony, which took place in Toulouse on Jan. 18, also provided a platform for an informal European summit, as the leaders of France, Germany, Spain, and Britain attended.
Schiller Institute Fields Candidates for Danish Parliament
Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen on Jan. 18 announced a the three-week election campaign, which he had planned to call in early January, but postponed because of the Asian tsunami tragedy.
Two Schiller Institute activists will run as independent candidates: LaRouche Youth member Feride Istogu Gillesberg is running in an election district comprising one-third of Copenhagen, and is expected to file 200 nominating signatures shortly.
Schiller Institute activist Janus Cramer Moeller is collecting signatures in Aarhus, Denmark's second-largest city, located on the Jutland peninsula.
The campaign will focus on the international financial and economic crisis, and the need to end poverty in the poorer countries of the world. The thrust of the campaign will be to recruit youth to the LaRouche Youth Movement.
Denmark's two dominant political parties are the Liberal Party, headed by Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen, and the Social Democrats, headed by Mogens Lykketofp. Prime Minister Rasmussen is expected to be re-elected, if the voters buy his line that things are going well with the economy, and if they continue to support his restrictive immigration policy.
The opposition Social Democrats' election program, entitled, "Made in Denmark," is a grab bag, for investment in infrastructure, research and development, and education to create jobs for a globalized future, and on the other hand, creating service jobs for low-wage earners, with added friction over immigration policy.
Straw Distances Himself from Bush Threats to Iran
In an interview with the Financial Times Jan. 19, British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw defended the approach of France, Germany, and Britain toward Iran. "Those who said we would be split apart by the Iranians are wrong. Those who said we would not be able to negotiate any substantial text [with the Iranians] are wrong. Those who said we could not build up a degree of trust with the Iraniansat the same time building up a strong consensus with the U.S. and the non-aligned countriesare wrong. It has taken a phenomenal amount of work, but so far so good. And it's a better strategy than the alternative." Straw may meet Condoleezza Rice at the end of January.
All-Party Consensus in Germany vs. Bush Threat to Iran
German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder (Social Democrats) was asked during a press conference in Toulouse Jan. 18, whether he sees any reason whatsoever to detour from the EU-Iran formula, in which Iran stops the militarily relevant part of its nuclear program, in return for receiving EU economic aid (also for peaceful nuclear technology). A military strike against Iran would be in no one's interest, Schroeder responded.
Volker Ruehe, Christian Democrat and former Defense Minister, said bluntly that "if the USA really wants the Iranian problem solved, they should stop issuing threats and start cooperating with the Europeans for a diplomatic solution." Ruehe said he saw certain problems on the Iranian side, but these were not of the character that would justify military action.
The other political parties also denounced the new U.S. threats against Iran. The German neo-cons have remained silent, so far.
German Neo-Con Endorses Iran Regime Change à la Ukraine
In a delphic way which claims George Bush's threats to Iran are "just aimed at increasing pressure on Tehran, nothing else," Wolfgang Schaeuble, an avowed supporter of the Iraq war, said in Berlin Jan. 19 that a non-military solution is to be preferred. He added, though, that without U.S. muscle-flexing, the Europeans would not be able to make any progress with Iran.
Regime change in Tehran, given the strong opposition there, may well follow the Ukrainian way, Schaeuble said, implying that the West should support this scenario of "peaceful change."
Australian Daily Exposes British Royal Family's Nazi Links
Following the international scandal surrounding Prince Harry's appearance at a party dressed in Nazi regalia, Sydney's Daily Telegraph reported the "Nazi links the royals would rather forget."
After referencing the well-known connections of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor to the Nazis, it reported that the Duke of Windsor's brother, the Duke of Kent, was married to a Princess Marina, who was related by marriage to Philip of Hesse-Cassel, "a fanatical Nazi who joined Hitler's party three years before the dictator was made Chancellor of Germany and who subsequently served as a Nazi regional governor.
"The Duke, who died in a wartime air crash, made frequent trips back to Germany, where he established strong contacts with the Nazis, including Prince Philip of Hesse-Cassel.
"Philip's younger brother, Christopher of Hesse-Cassel, an SS colonel, married Sophie, sister of the current Duke of Edinburgh. Christopher even named his son Karl Adolf in honour of Hitler (i.e., Prince Harry's second cousin is named after Hitler).
"All four of Prince Philip's sisters married German aristocrats, and his family ties to the Nazis were so strong that when he married the then Princess Elizabeth in 1947, he was allowed to invite just two guests to avoid the scandal of pews full of Nazi sympathizers on the bridegroom's side of Westminster Abbey."
'Atlantic Storm' Simulates Smallpox Attack on NATO by Islamic Terrorists
The Jan. 17 edition of Germany's Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung focussed readers' attention on a mock "close to reality" international summit held on Jan. 15 in Washington, which served as the stage for another mock eventa bio-warfare attack using smallpox on major cities of NATO members and associate members. In the simulated exercise, as the heads of state are meeting, news reports begin to pour in of an ominous pattern of smallpox cases in Frankfurt, Istanbul, Rotterdam, and Stockholm. Shortly thereafter, a splinter group from al-Qaeda claims credit for the spreading epidemic.
The summit begins discussing measures of protection, in a situation that finds the Western states unprepared for such an attack; for example, there is a shortage of vaccines. Frictions inside NATO create obstacles to a coordinated response: the U.S. President, whose role was played by Madeleine Albright, declares the American population would never support giving out vaccines in Europe, because the Europeans boycotted the Iraq war. Turkey wants a declaration of emergency, according to Article 5 of the NATO treaty, which NATO rejects; Europe wants a UN Security Council mandate for action, which the U.S. vetoes.
The heads of state and government role-playing in this event, were mostly former top diplomats, members of parliament, and government ministers. The event as such was organized by Departments at the University of Pittsburgh and Johns Hopkins University, and co-funded by the Alfred Sloan Foundation and the German Marshall Fund.