Western European News Digest
British Defense Giant BAE at Center of Saudi Bribe Scheme
June 7 (EIRNS)The long-time Saudi Arabian Ambassador to the United States, who now is head of national security for the kingdom, received nearly $2 billion in bribes from a British arms manufacturer over a period of two decades. Prince Bandar bin-Sultan, who is also the son of the Saudi Minister of Defense, received payments into the Saudi Embassy accounts in Washington at Riggs Bank, from BAE Systems, the British defense company that manufactures Tornado and Hawk jet fighters.
According to a BBC investigation, aired on June 6, the payments into the Saudi slush fund in Washington, D.C. were made beginning in 1985, when the Saudi government and BAE signed a $100 billion deal, under which the British company would provide fighter jets to the kingdom, and would conduct other military-related construction projects. The payola scandal between BAE and Prince Bandar implicates every British government from Margaret Thatcher, through John Major and Tony Blair.
While the BAE-Saudi bribery scandal has been brewing for years, on Dec. 14, 2006, Attorney General Lord Goldsmith announced that the official probe, conducted by the Serious Crimes Office (SCO), would be ended, with no indictments. Prime Minister Blair fully endorsed the decision to shut down the probe, and both he and Lord Goldsmith claimed that any further action would jeopardize the national security of Great Britain. Washington sources who have been tracking the scandal for years reported to EIR that Bandar had threatened the British government with a cutoff of all Saudi cooperation in the "war on terror" should the probe continue.
Until 2001, there was no law in Great Britain against bribery; however, there are indications that the payments to Prince Bandar continued well after that date; and as of 1977, such payments to foreign politicians have been outlawed in the United States.
Prince Bandar has gained notoriety for his long-standing close ties to the Bush family, and for his more recent collusion with Vice President Dick Cheney, in promoting a Sunni politico-military alliance against Shi'ite Iran. In November 2006, acting behind the back of the new Saudi ambassador in Washington, Prince Turki al-Faisal, Bandar arranged a secret trip by Cheney to Riyadh, where the Sunni versus Shi'ite war scheme was pitched to King Abdullah.
Brown To Distance Himself from the Hated Blair
June 1 (EIRNS)"There certainly is a political vacuum in Britain at the moment, with Tony Blair making his very prolonged 'farewell' tour. Blair is certainly in a strange mental state," a London source told EIR today. "People are counting the days until Blair goes: There are 26 to go!" Gordon Brown, who will succeed Blair as Prime Minister, is keeping a low profile until Blair is finally out on June 27, because he wants a smooth transition; but behind the scenes, he is certainly planning some surprise political initiatives which will appeal to the population, and finish off Tory leader David Cameron in time for the next parliamentary elections. Brown is presenting himself as a more "traditionalist" leader, appealing to working people's needs, and moving away from Blair's "Third Way" ideology.
The Tories are headed for oblivion, along with Labour's Blair, in the opinion of this source. The Tories have been so demoralized since Blair's original resounding victory in 1997, that they have been desperately trying to out-do Blair ever since, and have gone down to one defeat after another. Among other "modernizations," Blair wanted to cut the focus on Shakespeare in English classes. The British workforce is certainly less skilled than it was ten years ago, and this is something Brown may also focus on to distance himself from Blair's policies, including the close ties to George W. Bush.
Brown To Expand Police-State Anti-Terror Laws
June 4 (EIRNS)British Prime Minister designate Gordon Brown today indicated he would seek the following measures against suspected terrorists:
* An extension of the limit on detention without charge to 90 days, from 28 days, with a weekly judicial review, in an attempt to co-opt House of Commons opposition.
* Making terrorism an aggravating factor in sentencing, giving judges greater power to punish terrorists within existing criminal law.
* Ending the ban on questioning terrorists once they have been charged under judicial review.
* Moving towards allowing wiretap evidence to be admitted into evidence pending a Privy Council review of the law.
Brown is clearly not distancing himself from Blair on the "war on terror."
Italian Cabbies Score Victory with LaRouche Movement Leaflet
June 1 (EIRNS)On the very day that Italian taxi drivers used a LaRouche movement leaflet as a key piece of their national strike against the deregulation of public transport services, the Italian government backed down and agreed to some of their demands. The drivers protested that in the name of the "free market," the sector was to be opened up to privatized services, which are already acting as bootleg operations, driving down wages and safety standards.
In a meeting with the taxi drivers held yesterday evening, Pierluigi Bersani's Development Ministry agreed to remove the provision which would have opened the sector up to "innovative services" to be performed by private companies. Any changes must now be made in the context of the publicly licensed taxi system and the municipal public transport company.
As EIR Online reported last week, all of Italy's 30,000-plus taxi drivers went on strike June 1, holding a large demonstration in downtown Rome.
In both Milan and Rome, thousands of leaflets written by Movisol (Movimento Solidarietà)LaRouche's co-thinkers in Italywere distributed by the strikers and their supporters during the demonstration, calling for an end to the deregulation policy which threatens numerous sectors of the productive economy, and the launching of an FDR-style public works program.
Video Game Aims To Brainwash Youth on Climate Hoax
June 7 (EIRNS)A new video game, "Operation Climate Control," will be unveiled at Britain's House of Commons on July 3 according to Escapist magazine. The game is the second in a series; the first, "Climate Challenge," was released in conjunction with the BBC earlier this year. The BBC wrote: "Operation Climate Control is geared toward students aged 14 to 16. This multiplayer game requires players to make the same environmental decisions that governments and individuals face daily."
In Climate Challenge, the player must decide to either cut economic growth or worsen CO2 emissions. A future world is described in which "global population peaks mid-century and declines thereafter, and new and more efficient technologies are rapidly introduced." The new game is sponsored by a host of British private and government agencies, including the Climate Change Communication Initiative, the Energy Saving Trust, the Carbon Trust, the Department of Trade and Industry, the Environment Agency, the UK Climate Impacts Programme, and the Department for Transport.