Western European News Digest
Personal Debt in UK Could Reach 'Tipping Point' in 2007
According to the anti-debt organization Debt on our Doorstep, Britons owe 1.3 trillion pounds (ca. $2 trillion), 80% of it mortgage debt, the BBC reported Dec. 30. Just a relatively small increase in interest rates, which is being forecast, could set off a "snowball effect" for the whole economy. "People struggling with their debt repayments put their properties up for sale," spokesman Damon Gibbons told the BBC. "When house prices collapse, the collapse of prices leads to people who have borrowed against the increased value of their property, or buy-to-let investors, heading for the exit. In turn lenders who have overcommitted, rush to repossess as soon as people get behind with their mortgage re-payments."
The situation echoes the crash of the early 1990s, when hundreds of thousands of Britons had their homes repossessed. Only now, the debt mountain is much bigger. "One of the most striking statistics to emerge from the past few years is that the rise in house prices has been more than swallowed up by fresh borrowing such as remortgaging and consolidation loans," Gibbons said.
In addition, the Daily Mail is reporting an OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) study shows that borrowing in Britain is the highest of the G-7 countries, at 159% of income. Some 150,000 Britons could go personally bankrupt this year, they say.
Threats Against Upcoming G-8 Summit Taken Seriously
Altogether, 38 incidents, including paint-bombs, window-smashing, and arson attacks, against the upcoming G-8 Summit have alarmed the police and anti-terror units in Germany. The attacks, widely reported in the press Dec. 28-30, one of which occurred at the hotel in the northern German city of Heiligendamm, where the summit will occur June 6-8, were claimed by "anti-globalization" activists. An arson attack against the Hamburg home of Thomas Mirow, Assistant Finance Minister of Germany, and chief coordinator of the G-8 Summit, was especially alarming to authorities. At the time of the arson attack, Mirow happened to be in the U.S., for talks about the German plans for hedge fund transparency.
One focus of police monitoring of the activities and threats voiced by the campaign against the summit, is the role of the British-originated Peoples Global Action Group, an umbrella organization and coordinating center of anti-globalization militants, internationally. Its magazine Dissent!, is also circulating in excerpted German-language versions, recently.
The group, which is working with extremists from the (nominally) "far left" to the (nominally) "far right," is walking in the footsteps of (Briton) Teddy Goldsmith and his anti-industrialist magazine Ecologist, and of the "Ecoropa" network of the (late) Congress of Cultural Freedom (CCF) co-founder and president (1952-1966) Denis de Rougemont. The latter also overlapped with the European Cultural Foundation of Jacques Freymond.
Germany, in general, has seen a resurgence of youth-related violence, from groups nominally on the political "left," notably ostensibly competing Anti-Fa (Anti-Fascist) and Anti-Deutsche (Anti-Germany). New-Year's eve saw riots throughout the nation, the worst centered in Leipzig, where 700 drunk or doped-up youth fought with police, wounding ten. A meeting is planned by the groups in Berlin in early January to map out the direction which the "struggle" will take during the coming year.
Italy Pushes for Worldwide Ban on Death Penalty
Italy hopes to rally the 85 member-nations of the UN, which signed a declaration in December against the death penalty, to push for a total worldwide ban on executions, ITV News reported Jan. 3. The proposal, announced by Prime Minister Romano Prodi, follows protests and disgust expressed by all of Italy's political parties, at the way in which former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein was executed.
Prodi said he would push the UN for a "universal moratorium" on capital punishment; Italy has just taken up a temporary UN Security Council seat.
Alessandra Mussolini, granddaughter of the fascist dictator and a member of the European Parliament, said her "blood ran cold" when she watched the pictures of Saddam's execution. "My mind immediately flicked to pictures of my grandfather, who also had his face uncovered, exposed to the public for ridicule."
Former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi called Saddam's brutal execution, in which those present mocked and jeered the former Iraqi dictator, as the noose was placed around his neck, a "political and historic error." Videos of the hanging have been posted all over the Internet.
Lazard's Kornblum Demands Germany Adopt Free Trade
On the eve of German Chancellor Angela Merkel's trip to the U.S., former German Ambassador and now head of Lazard's Germany operations, John Kornblum called on Germans to walk into "transatlantic free trade area" trap. Indicating intense pressure on the Christian Democratic wing of the German government to adopt the TAFTA design (originally worked out by synarchist banker George Shultz, when he was Secretary of State in the Reagan Administration), former U.S. Ambassador to Germany and present chairman of Lazard's banking in Germany, Kornblum, dedicates an op-ed in the Jan. 3 Frankfurter Allgemeine daily to the issue.
The notion that there is a "Western" community of values has been lost after 60 years of trans-Atlantic relations, Kornblum wrote, and today, confidence that the West can play a role in the world no longer exists. There is a profound crisis, like that of 40 years ago, when Europe and the United States had to find a way out of the Cold War paralysis, and the way out, Kornblum claims, came from two "visionaries"Willy Brandt and Henry Kissinger, who developed the concept of Ostpolitik. Today, the challenge to the West is to establish the trans-Atlantic Free Trade Area, he wrote, and it should be evident, he added, that it would be more than just trade issues, that it would be a community of distinguished "Western" values comparable to NATO.
The Kornblum piece, which once again documents how much influence he still has, although he has had no official diplomatic status since leaving the embassy in 2001, came on the eve of Chancellor Merkel's meetings with President George W. Bush and others at the White House, Jan. 4. Merkel, for her part, said in an interview with the Financial Times, published Jan. 3, that she would not go for the full TAFTA design, but agreed that a new trans-Atlantic agreement between the U.S.A. and Europe is necessary to stand up against Asian and Ibero-American "rivals" in the globalized economy. The reference to the Asians and Ibero-Americans is withheld in the published version of the interviewbut is mentioned in radio and television coverage of the interview.
Purported Author of 'Sexed-Up' Iraq Dossier Is Knighted
John Scarlett, who claimed responsibility for the British government's sexed up "45-minute" Iraq dossier, which got Britain into the Iraq War, has received a knighthood in the New Years Honours list, the Independent reported Dec. 30. The list is submitted by the government to the Queen. Scarlett is now head of MI6, British foreign intelligence. On the same day, it was noted that the 127th British soldier was killed in Iraq.
Scarlett was chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee in September 2002, when the Iraq dossier was written. In the 2003 Hutton Inquiry hearings into the death of the weapons expert David Kelly, Scarlett defended the sexed-up dossier, and defended Tony Blair, claiming Blair had not pressured the dossier's authors.
Big Increase in Voter Registration for French Election
The deadline for registering to vote being Dec. 31, many unregistered voters invaded city halls everywhere in France to get on the list for the 2007 Presidential elections, AFP reported Dec. 30. (The first round of voting will take place on Sunday, April 22, with a likely second round on Sunday, May 6.) Special instructions had been given to mayors that they keep city halls open on Saturday afternoon to allow prospective voters to register. Although the actual number of people who have registered will be known only in March, the estimation available reveals that the increase in the voter rolls is between twofold and tenfold in most cities. These new voters are predominantly in the lower 80% of family-income brackets, mainly youth and people from the working-class suburbs, in short, those people so much despised by the French "elites."
Jacques Cheminade, leader of the LaRouche-associated Solidarity and Progress party, is petitioning to become a Presidential candidate in the upcoming elections.
Youth Violence Erupts in Denmark
Violence has erupted in a dispute over the ownership of a large house in Copenhagen where dozens of youth were living, congregating for allegedly degenerate activities. The closure of the house by authorities provoked demonstrations in which about 1,000 people protested Dec. 17, and 186 were arrested, and then released. The "youth house" was previously state-owned, but then abandoned. After the youth, some of whom had come from other nations besides Denmark, took refuge in the house, the state demanded that they return it to their rightful owners.
The events have alerted EIR investigators to the possible relationship to the German antifa and minestrone of violent left-wing groups operating out of the youth center at Connewitz in Leipzig.