Western European News Digest
Italy's Prodi Wins Confidence Vote
Romano Prodi was asked to remain as Italian Prime Minister Feb. 24 by President Giorgio Napolitano, and won a confidence vote in both houses of the Italian Parliament, following the collapse of his government the previous week. Prodi first won a vote in the Chamber of Deputies, where his coalition has a 30 vote majority. More in question was the vote in the Senate, where the coalition has a slim majority of one vote. Napolitano, after meeting with Prodi, said, "It seemed clear that there was no concrete alternative [to a vote of confidence], especially in the Senate."
Most upset at the developments is former Prime Minister (and Cheney ally), Silvio Berlusconi, who apparently wanted a "broad coalition" of all partieswhich was one of the options that the President could have chosen. Also howling is the separatist, and anti-Islamist Lega Nord (Northern League) partynot a member of Prodi's center-left coalition.
Convicted RAF Terrorist Rekindles Support for Movement
Christian Klar, imprisoned for the last 24 years for multiple murder convictions as a member of the German terrorist Red Army Faction (RAF), addressed the Rosa Luxemburg Conference in Berlin Jan. 13. In a written statement to that conference, which was only released to press at the end of February, Klar expressed his hope that the time had come to "finalize the defeat of capitalism and to open the door for a new future." He attacked an "imperial alliance" in Europe, which "empowers itself to punish from the heavens any nation on Earth, which does not accept its diktat...." The message was read by former federal parliamentarian and former dean of Berlin Humboldt University, Heinrich Fink, who had lost his post due to accusations that he had links to the Stasi, the former East German secret police. Klar has asked German President Horst Koehler for a pardon on his life-sentence; this would allow him to leave prison before the earliest possible date in 2009.
While the event as such is not important, it contributes to heighten tensions around the upcoming G-8 meeting in June. Since the issue of RAF terrorism in the last months has returned to the mass media, a peculiar nostalgia among certain strata of the 68ers is being nurtured.
A security expert recently told EIR that he saw the danger of a new wave of terrorism sweeping Europe and Germany, which would, as in the late '70s and '80s, directly target leading individuals and personalities representing important national assets. Since this aim cannot be served by using the Islamic terrorism story, another smokescreen has to be created, to enable others to operate behind it. It is obvious that this danger will become more acute as Europeans orient towards new positive developments in the United States.
UK Labor Encourages German Actions vs. Locust Funds
Brendan Barber, general secretary of the British Trade Union Congress, said two days ago that he and labor leaders from numerous other countries plan to meet with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Paris, in March, to discuss the hedge fund issue and encourage the Germans to put it prominently on the G-8 Summit agenda in June.
The GMB (General and Municipal Workers), Britain's fourth-largest labor union, held a protest action in London Feb. 22, against a new so-called charity, initiated by the Permira equity fund, which serves as a public relations front for the locust funds. The GMB, in its ongoing campaign against Permira especially, makes direct reference to the Spring 2005 attacks of then-chairman of the German Social Democrats Franz Muentefering against the "locusts."
Youth Riots Erupt in Denmark, Sweden, and Germany
Police in Copenhagen cleared out a building occupied by squatters Feb. 28, in an operation that developed into hours-long clashes of 800 rioting youth with the police. This involved youth from underground circles in Germany and Sweden, as well. Many policemen and rioters were wounded, and more than 200 arrests were made. Security forces were prepared for continued clashes over the March 3-4 weekend.
The squatters' scene, which is nominally leftist, overlaps with autonomous youth centers and pubs all over Europe, in this case. with respective groups in northern German cities. On March 1, 800 youth rioted at the notorious "Schanzenviertel" district of Hamburg; riots were also reported from Flensburg, Hanover, Braunschweig, and Goettingen. The entire network is interlinked European-wide, overlapping with the anti-globalist radicals, who had their first big event in Genoa in June 2001, against the G-7 summit. The riots, a buildup also against the June 2007 Heiligendamm summit of the G-8, deserve special attention because they may serve to create a broader environment for targetted arson attacks (more than 40 have already occurred, in northern Germany and Berlin) and, potentially, assassinations.
Interest in New Bretton Woods Coming from German Left
An aide to a Linkspartei (Left Party) Member of Parliament in Berlin, told EIR March 1, that there is interest in the visit to Rome, during the week of Feb. 12, of Lyndon and Helga Zepp LaRouche, and in the participation of Rifondazaione Comunista party member Andrea Ricci at the LaRouches' conference Feb. 13 at the Parliament's Cenacolo Hall. Government regulation of hedge and equity funds, measures against speculation, and stable currency exchange rates are issues also very much under discussion in the Linkspartei, the aide said, and when briefed that certain initiatives in this direction are underway also in the newly elected U.S. Congress, the aide said that can only be welcomed.
Swiss Want Nuclear Power Development
The Swiss government has presented its new long-term energy development plan, which includes proposals to 1) extend operational periods for existing nuclear power plants; 2) take construction of new plants into consideration; 3) shorten licensing procedures, so that projects can be completed at an earlier date, than with existing procedures.
The government will hold a referendum in the coming weeks, to win broad popular support for the policy. While Germany's neighbor Switzerland is clearly endorsing nuclear power development, the Germans are still hesitant to abandon the anti-nuclear green ideology.
'Religious' Propaganda Film Hypes New British Empire
Following closely on the announcement in the London Economist that the British Empire is back, is the release Feb. 23 of the movie "Amazing Grace," about how British M.P. William Wilberforce (1759-1833) and John Newton (1725-1807), author of the hymn (text only) by that title, were supposedly great British reformers. In reality, though they did oppose the slave trade, it was from the vantage point of "lobbying" for a more compassionate imperialism courtesy of the British East India Company!
Listed as official "Partners" for circulating the movie are the British Embassy, Focus on the Family, along with the U.S. Congress and many others. The Economist has dubbed Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) as a Wilberforce Republican.
The "faith movie," released during Black History Month, is being promoted to the hilt by American fundamentalists, including James Dobson and his Focus on the Family networks. The producers claim that 5,500 American churches participated in an "Amazing Grace" pre-release screening on Sunday, Feb. 18.