Western European News Digest
Urge Direct U.S.-Russia Talks on BMD Deployment
Poland's ex-President Aleksander Kwasniewski said his country should insist that the U.S. discuss its missile defense plans with Russia and the European Union, news wires reported Feb. 21. "Undoubtedly, Poland's security is important, but I think our main condition must be that the Americans should discuss this issue with at least two of their main partnersRussia and the EU," Kwasniewski told Polish TVN24. He went on to caution against getting involved in negative fall-out from the planned deployment. "I think it is some kind of game which we should not participate in," Kwasniewski said, and called for a broad public debate on the matter.
At the same time, French Defense Minister Michele Alliot-Marie said NATO could and should intervene to dispel Russia's fears about the missile system. "One should distinguish between theater NMD, on which we cooperate, and the NMD for the protection of the population and large territories," she said at a news conference in Moscow on Feb. 21. "As for the other system, the dialogue and transparency should be improved to dispel suspicions. NATO could play its role in this sense."
Synarchists Bolt from France's Royal, Again Backing Sarkozy
After having massively promoted French Socialist Party Presidential candidate Segolene Royal, the financial assets in the media are now working full time to advance the candidacy of the more controllable Nicholas Sarkozy (currently, the Interior Minister and head of the center-right UMP party) and Francois Bayrou (president of the centrist UDF party) to destabilize Royal's candidacy, with the result that opinion polls now show Sarkozy defeating Royal 54% to 46% in the second round. Royal, however, is feisty and presented a program which has positive features, including calls for increases in social spending in minimum wages, retirement pay, and assisted job creation for youth. It calls also for massively increasing and better targeting of government funding for R&D.
On Europe, Royal goes further than her competitors, calling for a reform in the European Central Bank mission to include not only the fight for currency stability, but also for growth, and for national spending on R&D to be excluded from the European Union's stringent Maastricht criteria deficit calculations.
On foreign policy, she stated that policy towards the U.S. will be one of friendship but firmness, and outlined three priorities: Africa, China, and Russia. "I want France to be among the first powers to perceive this coming to power of China and draw all the inferences," she stated. She also noted that "very strong secular ties unite us to Russia," and that Russia "belongs, I'm convinced, to European civilization."
(See last week's InDepth for coverage of LaRouche associate Jacques Cheminade's Presidential campaign: "Cheminade Campaigns for 'Soul of France.'")
Italian Judge Indicts 26 Americans in Rendition Case
A Milan judge indicted 26 Americans and five Italian intelligence officials Feb. 16 in the rendition case of Egyptian cleric Abu Omar. The trial is to begin June 8, although it is expected the Americans will be tried in absentia. The Americans charged include the CIA's former Rome and Milan station chiefs, Jeff Castelli and Robert Seldon Lady, and a USAF colonel who was stationed at Aviano air base at the time. Abu Omar had been taken to Aviano to be flown to Germany and then Egypt, after being abducted on the streets of Milan in 2003. The other Americans are thought to be CIA officers. The Italians indicted include former SISMI (military intelligence) head Nicolo Pollari, and his deputy Marco Mancini.
In Washington, the State Department referred questions to the Justice Department, which had no comment. "Our official, public view is that this is an internal, Italian judicial matter." Likewise, the CIA had no comment.
Last month, a court in Munich issued arrest warrants for 13 suspected CIA agents accused of kidnapping German citizen Khaled el-Masri, and taking him to a prison in Afghanistan where he was tortured.
British Labor Takes Up Fight Against 'Locust Funds'
The fourth-largest British labor union (600,000 members), GMB (Britain's General Union), has held repeated protest actions against hedge and equity funds, the Frankfurter Allgemeine reported Feb. 21. Unlike the German labor unions, which have largely been silenced by slanders that their anti-locust protest was "anti-Semitic," labor outside of Germany has had fewer problems of that kind. In January, several actions took place against the fund Permira, which after its takeover of Automobile Associates in autumn 2004, fired more than a third of the 10,000-man workforce. That has created a disaster in the car accident emergency sector, with a 20% increase of unserviced car breakdowns, 30% increases of prices for car owners taking the emergency service of AA, and working days of up to 12 hours for the AA staff that has remained.
"GMB members have suffered because of the curse of the venture capitalist at the AAwhere these robbers and plunderers have taken other viable businesses and hollowed them out to satisfy their own greed," a union statement said, adding that "GMB wants the UK Government to wake up to the fact that the venture capitalists are, as the German Government said, 'swarms of locusts sucking the substance' out of the economy."
A GMB spokeswoman, reached by phone, said that indeed, the German debate about measures against the locust funds has been watched with a lot of sympathy also among workers in Britain, and that the case of Permira is just one among many others that have destroyed jobs and robbed the taxpayer.
European Commissioner Now Defending Locust Funds
Charlie McCreevy, EU Commissioner for Internal Market Affairs (i.e., deregulation and privatization), came out vehemently in defense of the hedge funds, in an interview published by the Financial Times Feb. 20. He said that the funds are doing good work, taking risks which nobody else would take, to provide funds for the markets, and so on. The problem is not the funds; it is the bad public relations they have exercised, to convince the broader public of their virtues, McCreevy thinks.
Paying lip service to "some transparency," McCreevy then, however, claimed that it would be impossible for the funds to report the millions of transactions they do, on any given day, to any supervisory authority. Demanding that, as certain people [for example, in the U.S. Senateed.] are doing these days, would not create transparency, but rather drive the funds out of the markets completely. "Some people really want to regulate them out of existence," McCreevy complained.
Clash of Civilizations Again Stoked in Netherlands
A statement by Dutch Member of Parliament Geert Wilders, has provoked a protest from the government of Saudi Arabia, the Telegraaf reported Feb. 18. In an interview with a Dutch daily de Pers, Wilders stated that Muslims should tear out half of the Koran if they want to stay in the Netherlands.
Wilders is a notorious chauvinist whose ravings get wide publicity in the press.
De Pers's first issue came out on Jan. 23, 2007. Though new on the block, it has already landed a contract for distribution by the Dutch railway stations. Its nominal owner is the notorious speculator and asset-stripper Marcel Boekhoorn.