Western European News Digest
New Italian Magazine Features LaRouche
Dec. 18 (EIRNS)A new monthly Italian magazine, published Dec. 14, features a one-page article on Lyndon LaRouche as the only economist who forecast the collapse of the system, and who has a solution, in terms of bankruptcy reorganization and a new credit system.
The magazine is called Il Borghese del Nord and is close to the Lega Nord (Northern League), whose Euro Parliament Member (MEP) Mario Borghezio is prominently featured. In another article, it is reported that the newly formed European Parliament Committee on the Financial Crisis will travel to the U.S. in January. "Will it have the courage to hear an 'inconvenient guru' such as Lyndon LaRouche?" Borghezio asks.
The editors say that the magazine wants to address the "productive bourgeoisie" of Northern Italy.
The official radio station of the Lega Nord party also aired a live interview with Liliana Gorini, chairwoman of the Italian Solidarity Movement and LaRouche representative in Italy, on the question of the British connection to the attack against Italian Prime Minister Berlusconi.
Greek Crisis Escalates
Dec. 17 (EIRNS)Standard & Poor's became the third rating agency to downgrade Greece's debt on Dec. 16. Apparently, the government is scrambling to get cash for immediate payments, and needs to "buy time"this is what Finance Minister Georges Papaconstantinou told the London Financial Times in an interview today. Papaconstantinou said that Greece will implement a tougher plan than Ireland, but it needs time. It will cut the budget deficit by 4% next year, and then 2% the following years, through a series of stop-gap actions and structural reforms. Papaconstantinou says that his hard line represents a minority in the party, but he has the backing of Prime Minister George Papandreou. Meanwhile in Berlin, Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble again issued a statement on the Greek crisis as being dangerous for the stability of the euro.
France: 1 Million Unemployed Will Lose Benefits in 2010
PARIS, Dec. 17 (EIRNS)According to the calculations of the government unemployment agency, Pole Emploi, 1 million long-term jobless will run out of unemployment benefits in 2010. Already, 850,000 have reached the end of that rope this year. Out of these million, 17% will switch to the specific solidarity allowance (ASS), which provides EU450 per month under Hartz IV-type conditionalities; only a small portion of the remaining 83% would go to RSA (formerly RMI, minimum income allowance, around EU400 per month). To prevent this nightmare scenario from coming to pass, the social partners may decide to extend unemployment compensation for another three months. Cost: EU1.342 billion, which is nonexistent.
The situation is fueling both the rise of Jean-Marie LePen's right-wing populist National Front and the danger of new riots. In its latest annual report, the official watchdog that monitors the so-called "sensitive urban zones" (ZUS) found that the gaps in income and jobless rates within the zones, continued to widen after the 2005 riots. Jobless rates remained stuck at daunting levels in the troubled suburbs, on average more than 9 percentage points higher than in neighboring streets where residents were better integrated into society, the report found. Claude Dilain, the mayor of Clichy-sous-Bois, the suburb of Paris where the unrest began after two local youths died while fleeing police, told Le Monde, "We are back where we were before 2005.... If nothing is done, we are heading for disaster."
Solidarnosc Union Protests in Warsaw, Again
Dec. 16 (EIRNS)Workers from the Polish Solidarnosc trade union launched a highly visible demonstration in Warsaw yesterday, in an attempt to pressure the government to do more to protect jobs in heavy industry. The workers carried the historical white and red flags of the union, delivered a petition at the Labor Ministry, and then marched on to the Parliament building and Prime Minister Donald Tusk's office. In particular, the trade union is demanding that the government pay unemployment benefits for people laid off from the shipyards in Gdansk. The shipyard is highly symbolic for Poland, because that is where the Solidarnosc movement, a forerunner of the mass movements that overthrew all of Eastern Europe's socialist regimes in the Autumn of 1989, had its origin, in the 1980s.
The protesters also demanded government help for the "anemic" weapons, railway, and shipbuilding industries, which have been targetted for shutdown, or at least downsizing, by privatizers at the EU Commissionwhich is also keeping pressure on the Polish government not to interfere with the "free-market process."
Following the restructuring and privatization of many heavy industries by successive post-communist Polish governments, thousands of workers have lost their jobs, many of them are now faced with poverty. "In Poland," Solidarnosc chairman Janusz Sniadek told the crowd, "there are people even today who must fight for their bread and their place of work."
Blair To Be Protected by Official Secrecy
Dec. 13 (EIRNS)The Independent reported today that key parts of former British Prime Minister Tony Blair's testimony to the Chilcot inquiry on the Iraq War will be held in secret. Specifically, "His conversations with President George Bush when he was prime minister, and crucial details of the decision-making process that led Britain into war, will fall under the scope of national security and the protection of Britain's relations with the U.S. But there are also suggestions by well-placed sources that anything 'interesting' will also be shrouded in secrecy, leaving his public appearance containing little more than is already known."
As already reported, Blair's meeting with Bush at the Crawford Ranch constituted a secret meeting to plot aggressive war, which is grounds for an indictment under the Nuremberg tribunal.
Such a decision to keep Blair's testimony secret is no different than the decision to shut down the investigation of the BAE-Saudi Al-Yamamah deal in the interests of imperial security and the protection of Britain's dirty terrorist relations with the Saudis. As also in the case of David Kelly, the British imperialists are intent upon preventing any rock from being turned.
Tremonti Brings EU110 Billion Home
Dec. 15According to wire reports from parliamentary sources, Italian Economy Minister Giulio Tremonti's tax amnesty has repatriated EU110 billion of flight capital. The exact figure will be known in the next days. The amnesty deadline was Dec. 15, but the government is considering an extension of six more months, given the positive results. The amnesty for flight capital was conceded in exchange for a low flat tax, about 5%. This means that the state has gained over EU5 billion in revenues. The "carrot" has been accompanied by a "stick" in the form of intensified police investigations, including undercover operations in Switzerland.
Speaking at a trade union meeting today, Tremonti said that a reform of the tax law in Italy is necessary, in order to introduce penalties for speculation and bonuses for Italian families.