Western European News Digest
German Social Democratic Chairman Attacks Free Traders
In an April 17 interview with Bild am Sonntag, Germany's largest Sunday mass-tabloid, SPD Chairman Franz Muentefering said that the worst threat to industry and jobs is financial investors. "They remain anonymous, have no face, fall upon firms like swarms of locusts, eat them up and move on." These are people with no respect at all for rules and limits, and it is "against this form of capitalism that we are fighting," Muentefering said, adding that one "must not leave the world to the hands of money." Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder gave full support to Muentefering, having his official press spokesman Hans Langguth state in Berlin April 17 that he, too, shares the view that there is a social responsibility that capital is obliged to carry out. Langguth referenced the March 17 governmental statement given by Schroeder, in which he had urgently called on managers to create jobs.
German Metalworkers Official in Line with UAW
Briefed on the implications of the impending General Motors collapse, and the alternatives discussed among auto workers for keeping the high-tech capacities of GM for production other than cars, a German metalworkers union official said that his union had made a similar proposal several years ago. The official said that they had proposed a network connecting all the railway links between the supplying firms and Opel Bochum in phase onethis would cut costs in logistics, but cut them in a productive way; an underground network in phase twowhich turned out in the discussion to be the very same CargoCap concept originally designed at the Ruhr University Bochum, which the BueSo of Helga Zepp-LaRouche is now campaigning for, in the ongoing North Rhine-Westphalia election campaign.
The union leader said that at that time, everybody rejected the idea. Told that it would make a lot of sense to revive the proposal, in light of what SPD party chairman Franz Muentefering has said ("I know Franz," he said), he replied, indeed, maybe one should do that.
'LaRouche's Emergency Action Plan Makes Sense for Italy'
"LaRouche's 'Emergency Action' for General Motors makes sense also in Italy," commented Italian Deputy Giovanni Bianchi, a friend of Lyndon LaRouche who was among the Italian Parliament signers of the motion for a New Bretton Woods, recently voted up in Rome's Chamber of Deputies. "The collapse of the real economy is common to both the United States and Italy, so LaRouche's emergency action goes in the right direction," Bianchi told Liliana Gorini, a leader of LaRouche's movement in Italy. "The key is reindustrialization of certain sectors, which cannot keep up competition with low-cost products from Southeast Asia, and what he said about the machine-tool sector is very important. Reconverting the auto sector would be the key, in the U.S. but also here."
Bianchi was referring to the crisis at automaker Fiat, the leading auto producer in Italy, whose stocks were suspended from trading April 18, after diving when the market opened in Milan.
Asked about reactions to Deputy Mario Lettieri's mention of LaRouche during his speech in the Parliament for the New Bretton Woods motion, Bianchi said "it was commented on positively."
Pitched Battle in France Over EU Constitution
The political situation in France is more and more polarized by the debate on the European Constitution, provoking an institutional crisis. Latest polls show that the percentage of those intending to vote against the EU Constitution has risen to 55-56%.
LaRouche activists, led by Jacques Cheminade, are intervening forcefully in up to ten events per day in the Paris region and have distributed 100,000 leaflets. After a public debate April 18 organized by the Paris daily Le Monde, LaRouche associates caught up with former government official Jean Paul Chevenement, who encouraged the organizers to continue with their good work and who left open the possibility of collaboration in the future.
A recent op-ed in Le Figaro by George Sarre, who is first secretary of Chevenement's movement, the MRC, and a Former Minister and current Mayor of the Paris 11th Arrondissement, wrote that rejection of the Constitution is no big drama, since the Nice treaty is applicable up to 2009, and that a "no" vote would give everybody a chance to renegotiate a new treaty, better suited to the present situation.
"The European project we must reconstruct if, on May 29, the French "no" blocks further progress on this archaic Europe, will have to respond to present challenges: full employment, independence of Europe, national cohesion." "Full employment must become the main objective of the European central bank. The stability pact must be replaced by a pact for progress, employment and investment. In this mission, the Central Bank must be under the control of the Council of Ministers of the Economy in the Eurozone countries and controlled by their national parliaments."
"Especially, the future treaty will have to plan for the possibility of industrial policies: Before consuming, one has to produce!" Sarre writes."
Poland Pays Homage to the Warsaw Ghetto Martyrs
On the 62nd anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, survivors, citizens, and government officials placed wreaths at a monument in Warsaw honoring hundreds of citizens who took up arms on April 19, 1943, in a heroic act of civilian resistance against the Nazis.
Marek Edelman, 84, who helped lead the uprising, and was one of only a dozen who survived, took part in the observance. Former Polish Foreign Minister Wladyslaw Bartoszewski, 83, who was a member of a Polish organization assisting the Jews during the war, said the fighters surprised the Nazis, who did not expect any resistance.
NATO Foreign Ministers Deliberate on Mideast Role
Following the meeting in Washington, D.C. between Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and President George Bush, the central topic at the NATO Foreign Ministers meeting April 20-21, in Vilnius, Lithuania, was on how to revive the Mideast peace process, the Daily Times reported from Brussels April 20. Among other items on the agenda were relations with Russia and Ukraine. More broadly, the participants planned to discuss a U.S.-backed plan to give NATO a bigger role in the political dialogue.
It also seems at the outset that France, which is not a NATO member, is not quite willing to go along with that line. France made itself clear before the two-day meeting commenced that it is willing to discuss the subject in general terms, but is staunchly opposed to any wider NATO role in the region. "NATO has no role replacing international efforts in the region," said French Foreign Ministry spokesman Jean Baptiste Mattei.
Tempers Still Flare Over Calipari Assassination Report
The Pentagon claims that the "investigation continues" into the March 4 killing of Italian SISMI chief Nicolà Calipari by U.S. forces at a temporary checkpoint in Baghdad, and that, "it is inappropriate to comment while the investigation continues." Calipari had rescued Italian journalist Giuliana Sgrena from kidnappers, and was killed at a U.S. checkpoint while driving her to the airport to leave Iraq. The Italians are objecting to a finding that cleared the U.S. soldiers at the checkpoint. But a Pentagon lieutenant colonel, a duty officer, blew his stack when asked who was the contact point between the Italian government in Rome and U.S. government in Washington. "That's a crappy way of doing business," he yelled.
On March 24, there was a report that the Italian authorities had written to U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, demanding that the Italian investigators get access to the car in which Calipari and Sgrena were riding, when Calipari was killed. Then, on April 15, NBC News and the leading Italian newspaper, Corriere della Sera, reported that Italian members of the investigative commission into the killing objected to a finding that "U.S. soldiers at the checkpoint acted appropriately." Thomas Casey, a State Dept. press officer, said there is no conclusion to the probe, and anyone who says so is "misinformed."
Italy Returns Ethiopian National Treasure
Italy has begun the process of returning a 1,700-year old stone to Ethiopia, stolen by Italian troops in 1937. The Axum obelisk, one of Ethiopia's national treasures, weighs 160 tons, and is being shipped back in sections, accompanied by celebrations in Ethiopia. Can the Elgin Marbles, stolen by a British lord from the Parthenon in Athens, and now in the British Museum, be far behind?