Western European News Digest
Netherlands To Investigate Financial Crisis
April 23 (EIRNS)The Netherlands Parliament has established a commission to investigate the causes of the financial crisis, including the bailout of ABN-Amro bank. Whether this will become a Dutch equivalent of a Pecora Commission remains to be seen. The investigation is divided in two parts. The first part has an international perspective and will probe the culture of the financial sector up to September 2008. The second part, from September 2008 on, will look at the government interventions and the bailout of banks. Each part will take half a year, and both will be concluded by Summer 2010.
The chairman of the commission with be Jan de Wit, a member of Parliament representing the Socialist Party, for which he, a lawyer by training, is the spokesman on legal issues. In 2002, he served on a parliamentary commission researching fraud in the construction industry.
The Socialist Party is the largest opposition party and the country's third-largest. It led the fight against the anti-national European Constitution, which was defeated by referendum in the Netherlands in 2005. It also opposed the Lisbon Treaty, and its foreign policy expert, Harry van Bommel, was interviewed by EIR on the question.
Mass Layoffs Could Provoke Labor Riots Across Europe
April 23 (EIRNS)The head of the DGB federation of German trade unions, Michael Sommer, warned in an interview ahead of the April 29 summit of German political, business, and labor leaders in Berlin, that mass layoffs would be taken as a "declaration of war" by workers and unions. "At that point, social unrest can no longer be ruled out," Sommer told the Nordwest Zeitung regional daily. "If the government expects a slump of 5%, then one thing is clear: The size of the stimulus packages so far have been insufficient. They have to be strengthened and widened," he said.
With a look across the border into France, where numerous incidents of social unrest, including factory occupations by enraged workers, have been reported during the past weeks, both unionists and entrepreneurs warn against unrest in Germany. Reinhold Wuerth, director of the screw-maker with the same name, said in an interview with the Heilbronner Stimme news daily: "I hope we will not get civil war-like riots."
The Social Democratic Party's federal presidential candidate, Gesine Schwan, also warned of social unrest as a consequence of the economic crisis. She said she can see how, in two or three months, outrage could explode, because by then, measures like short-work, which so far have helped to dampen the effects, will run out. "If then there is no glimmer of hope that things will get better, the mood could become explosive," Schwan said in an interview with the Munich paper Münchner Merkur.
Villepin Sees 'Revolutionary Threat' in France
PARIS, April 20 (EIRNS)Former French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin, speaking on Radio Europe 1 yesterday, called on the Sarkozy government to switch to a higher gear in responding to the mounting anger and despair expressed by workers threatened with layoffs. Villepin warned the risks of "collective behavior that we would no longer be able to manage ... a reaction of society which is unpredictable."
"If we don't want to face this tomorrow, it would be urgent to switch into a higher gear and envision taking exceptional measures," he said. Villepin considers that the government should offer "a just response" to those who are losing their jobs, and "for those suffering the most" in the crisis, especially the youth.
Regarding rumors about an expected government reshuffling (anticipated for after the European elections in June), Villepin said that "two years is, of course, quite long for a prime minister.... Either one maintains the same policy, so no change is required. Or one goes to a higher speed, and then, yes, it's worth seeking reinforcements, maybe adding some more experienced figures." Villepin demurs that he has "no desire to once more become the prime minister."
Global Warming Fraud Challenged in Italy
April 24 (EIRNS)At the just-concluded G8 Environmental summit in Siracusa, Sicily, Italian Environment Minister Stefania Prestigiacomo set a collision course with the Senate and with her own partywhich had mandated the government to review current European Union global warming policies, and attacked the fraudulent Stern Report on global warming.
Prestigiacomo characterized the Senate bill as "negationist" on global warming, and said that it is "outside of time." On April 1, the Italian Senate approved a bill introduced by Sen. Antonio D'Alì and numerous other members of the PdL, the largest government party, calling for a review of current CO2 policies of the EU, in light of dissenting scientific opinions on man-made global warming. The bill was voted up by a majority of the Senate after a heated debate, in which leading members of the opposition had rejected a rational discussion and used derogatory methods.
Senator D'Alì replied to Minister Prestigiacomo that she "must take into account the expression of the Parliament majority." The operational part of the D'Alì bill mandates the government to "urgently intervene at the European Commission and, previous to the G8, on participating countries (and possibly on the G8+5 and the G20).
Brown Could Be Out by July
April 25 (EIRNS)The British Fabian fascists are gunning for Prime Minister Gordon Brown, in order to bring in a new crew of Fabian fascist Tories from the Conservative Party. The Daily Telegraph quotes unnamed cronies of former Prime Minister Tony Blair, the Fabian version of Benito Mussolini, saying Brown will be finished off after the European elections this June, which the Labour Party is expected to lose miserably.
One unnamed "New Labour" Blairite told the Telegraph that Blair would have never increased the tax rate on the wealthiest to 50%, as Brown announced he would do this week. (This is clear, since Blair, now making millions each year, stands to lose a lot.) The paper claims the move will "cost Labour any hope of winning the general election."
The Telegraph reports that Labour MPs fear that Brown's "fate may be sealed" in the European and council elections in June, "amid polling evidence that Labour is facing disaster." Another senior "New Labour" figure said the election was already lost. Lord Peter Mandelson, formerly Blair's personal guru, also attacked Brown's so-called "left turn," while Blair crony, former Home Secretary Charles Clarke, said: "Gordon has got off on completely the wrong foot on this."
The Telegraph quotes another Blairite: "If we are in fourth place he is in real trouble. I'm not sure we could wait until the party conference to replace him. He would have to go by the summer." Another said, "Brown's been an absolutely dreadful leader."
Blair-Labour Scandal: 'Anti-Drug Hotline' Is Pro-Drugs
April 19 (EIRNS)"Go ahead and do the drug" advises Britain's official government "anti-drug hotline" aimed at teenagers, in the newest scandal to hit Gordon Brown Labour government. The Home Office hotline, known as "Talk to Frank," has been caught advising callers to smoke marijuana, take Ecstasy pills, combine them, and even what to do if the police catch you.
The "Talk to Frank" hotline was set up by Tony Blair's New Labour government in 2003, with $10 million-a-year funding and coordination from three departments of government. It is now scandalizing Brown's government, with MPs of several parties coming forward on a Sunday to demand a parliamentary investigation of "Frank's" pro-drug advice.