From Volume 36, Issue 43 of EIR Online, Published Nov. 6, 2009

Western European News Digest

Delphic Tricks Shut Down French Health System

PARIS, Oct. 27 (EIRNS)—According to the French Quotidien du Médecin (Physicians' Daily), a new French law will soon set the minimal number of surgical operations at 1,500 per year per operating room. The rationale is that below this number, an operating room represents less "chance" for patients to have safe treatment. The same trick was already used to force the closures of many maternity departments. Below 300 births, it was said, they were too dangerous. If applied to operating rooms, the new decree would shut down 182 operating blocks out of 1,075. The measure threatens especially public hospitals and maternity units. Any hospital without an operating block is simply not allowed to perform obstetrics.

The new law is also seen as a move towards more "contractual arrangements" worked out between private insurers and hospitals and a stepping stone for increased privatization.

Blair's Chance to Become EU Dictator Fading Fast

Oct. 30 (EIRNS)—The chance that Tony Blair will become president of Europe, until recently deemed highly likely, are rapidly fading. Yesterday's European Union meeting in Brussels is said to have decided that the presidency should go to someone who would be more of a consensus figure.

The media are reporting that a deal has been made that the EU president would be drawn from the center-right parties that make up the European Peoples Party faction in the European Parliament, which includes most of Europe's Christian Democratic parties. And the foreign ministry should go to the Social Democratic faction. The name of British Foreign Secretary David Miliband as EU foreign minister has come up, but he has said he is not available.

A London Daily Telegraph poll showed that only 31% of British voters want Blair as EU president.

Swiss to Crack Down on Dignitas, Sort Of

Oct. 31 (EIRNS)—International pressure and exposure of the Swiss assisted-suicide clinic Dignitas, has finally led the government to "crack down" on suicide tourism, at least a little. Swiss Justice Minister Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf has proposed tightening the rules to require patients to present two medical opinions declaring their disease incurable, that death is expected within months, and that they have made their decision of sound mind, and fully aware of their options.

But even this tepid so-called "regulation" was too much for the British genocide lobby, and prompted an explosion of outrage from Ludwig Minelli, the founder of Dignitas, who described the proposals to the London Times as "outdated and patronising." Sounding like Jack Kevorkian, Minelli claimed that, "By cutting off assisted suicide for chronically or psychologically ill people who are capable of informed choice, the government will promote lonely suicides on train tracks."

German Economics Minister 'Threatens' State Credit to Firms

Oct. 31 (EIRNS)—The new German Economics Minister, Rainer Brüderle (CDU), has called upon German banks to help solve the credit crunch, in an interview in the financial daily Handelsblatt. If things do not change, Brüderle "threatened" that the KfW could give direct credit to the firms. "But," he cautioned, this would be just an "absolute emergency plan, if the banks' supply and conditions of credit to the real economy is insufficient." In October, 41.7% of firms said they have difficulty getting credit. This is an interesting statement, which also certainly reflects pressure on him from those many high-tech Mittelstand firms in Baden-Württemberg, where he comes from. During this last year, Chancellor Angela Merkel, once or twice, also had mentioned the possibility of founding a new state institution to supply credit.

Did Berlusconi Clip Tremonti's Wings?

Oct. 28 (EIRNS)—Italian Economy Minister Giulio Tremonti and Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi reached an agreement: Tremonti will stay in the government, but he will be put in a straitjacket, called a "steering committee," which he will formally chair. Tremonti and Berlusconi have been at loggerheads over the former's criticism of some of the government's economic policies. From now on, Tremonti will not issue any statement which is not deliberated on by the steering committee. It is reported that this goes particularly for statements such as the recent one against labor flexibility and in favor of a "fixed" job.

Tremonti, meanwhile, has received an unexpected endorsement from Italy's largest mass-circulation weekly, the left-leaning Catholic Famiglia Cristiana, which has been strongly anti-government. However, in its latest issue, it writes that, "Tremonti hit the point: What is good for the family is good for the country." FC, instead, attacks Tremonti's counterpart in the government, Brunetta, who says that workers who lose their job "should find a new one."

Killing Patients Becoming Easier in Britain

Oct. 26 (EIRNS)—A large study of 3,700 British doctors treating dying patients, reported in the Guardian, found that fully one in three had done something to hasten the process. Doctors were forced to be creative in their methods, since patients rarely agreed to die on their time schedule. Some 7.4% (211 doctors) admitted to "giving drugs or stopping treatment" in order to hasten death; 28.4% (825 doctors) admitted to "making a decision on treatment" which they knew (or should have known) would hasten death; and the vast majority, 55% (1,577 doctors), admitted to "giving pain relief," although they swore they hadn't hastened death. Only one in ten patients, however, had asked their doctors for this service.

Prof. Clive Seale of Queen Mary University, who oversaw the study published in Social Science and Medicine, was quick to claim to the Guardian, that he was unable to discover a "slippery slope" effect, where "elderly women or those with dementia" were being pushed to the front of the line.

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