Western European News Digest
Greek Gov't Forces Suspension of Truckers' Strike
Aug. 4 (EIRNS)The 32,000 members of the Confederation of Greek Truck Owners and Drivers have temporarily suspended their strike against attempts to "liberalize" their industry, pending negotiations with the government. The week-long strike had paralyzed food and fuel deliveries. This followed action by the Greek government, on July 31, to call out the Army and Navy to crush striking Greek truck drivers, who are attempting to protect their livelihood, now threatened by the government's determination to deregulate the trucking industry.
The Army was ordered to seize tanker trucks, as well as using those of the military, to deliver fuel. In addition, the government has already started issuing military mobilization orders to the 32,000 striking truckers which would force them to report for military duty, in which circumstance, they would be ordered back to work. If they fail to obey, they will be arrested, their trucks seized, and their licenses revoked. The Navy is being deployed to deliver fuel to the islands.
After initially voting overwhelmingly to continue the strike and to defy the mobilization orders, the truckers decided on the temporary suspension. There had already been clashes between truckers and police.
Fiat Outsourcing is LSE Model for Feudalism
July 27 (EIRNS)Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne stunned the Italian nation by announcing that Fiat will outsource the production of two new car models to Serbia, thus jeopardizing the future for the plant at Mirafiori, Turin, the historical base of the auto company. Marchionne said his decision was due to the obstructionist conduct of Italian trade unions, especially its most radical faction, FIOM, as manifested in the recent negotiations for the Fiat plant in Pomigliano (Naples).
FIOM regional secretary in Piedmont, Giorgio Araudo, said: "We must say that they go to Serbia because 70% of the investment is paid by the Serbian government, because they will pay no taxes for the next 10 years, and because workers get [only] a EU400 monthly salary."
The London School of Economics considers the Fiat Auto Serbia (FAS) project a case study for the neo-feudalist model of Manchester capitalism without nation-states. According to Il Sole 24 Ore's correspondent from Kragujevac, the LSE has, in the Serbian "auto-city," the "scientific explanation" for the outsourcing model. The head of the local university, Dejan Arsenijevic, explains that "in the future the classical [nation] state will no longer exist, but there will be many city-states developing around an industry."
In the wake of the uproar over the possible shutting of the Turin plants, the Fiat management met with the workers, and declared that it intended to keep them open.
Sarkozy: Foot in the Door for Hitler Health
PARIS, July 30 (EIRNS)As part of the cuts in the Social Security budget, the French government is getting ready to eliminate Social Security coverage for treatment of benign hypertension. This is really a symbolic exercise, since this disorder concerns only about 40,000 people in France for a grand total of tens of millions of euros, while this year's deficit will reach EU13 billion.
The reality is, however, that this is the first attack by the government on a group of diseases which is now covered by Social Securitythe ALD (covering long-duration diseases)which includes much graver diseases, such as cancer, diabetes, uncontrolled hypertension, chronic diseases of all sorts, etc. It signals the government's intention, as in the case of pushing back the retirement age, to cut state support for the vulnerable.
Europe's Increased Commitment to ITER
PARIS, July 27 (EIRNS)The nations participating in the construction of the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER), the world's largest tokamaka magnetic confinement fusion deviceare now meeting at the construction site in Caderache, southern France. After a meeting of ITER representatives in June in Suzhu, China, setting a new timetable, the EU, in charge of 45% of the financing, finally arranged to cover a projected funding shortfall. Four days ago, the European Commission decided to bite the bullet, pull funding from other science programs, and fulfill its obligations to the future.
French Science Minister Valerie Pecresse met with President Obama's advisor, John Holdren, in Washington on June 25, and with the Chinese Science Minister in Beijing on July 5, to finalize matters. The decision on how to proceed with ITER is expected to start the real take-off of the four-year old program.
Switzerland Threaten Referendum v. Bailouts
July 30 (EIRNS)Swiss People's Party (SVP) leader, populist Christoph Blocher, has threatened a popular referendum against bank bailouts if the Swiss Parliament fails to enact a satisfactory bill next November. The Parliament is expected to discuss and draft a bill on the basis of the coming report by the TBTF (Too Big To Fail) Committee, which will be released mid-August. The committee was set up following concerns by Parliament and the Swiss National Bank that Switzerland cannot possibly bail out either of the two large banks, UBS and Credit Suisse, whose assets are four times the national GDP. A conflict has emerged between chairman of the SNB Governing Board Philipp Hildebrand and the banks, which resist any regulation or separation of activities.
U.K.'s Carne Ross Charges Coverup on Iraq
July 25 (EIRNS)According to today's London Guardian, Carne Ross, the U.K.'s Iraq expert at the United Nations, from 1997-2002, says all the Iraq invasion documents should now be made public. Last week, the former head of MI5 gave backhanded support to U.K. weapons expert David Kelly, who was found dead in 2003, allegedly by suicide, after it had been revealed that he was the source of a BBC story that former British Prime Minister Tony Blair had "sexed up" the danger of Iraq's non-existent weapons of mass destruction in order to justify the invasion. Ross's statement further supports Kelly's position.
Ross criticized "Britain's own "deep state"that is, secret government, for covering up its mistakes and denying access to critical documents," for trying to intimidate him over his testimony. Ross stated that, shortly before his testimony, "an official" cautioned him to not publicly refer to certain of the documentsthose which clearly overexaggerated Iraq's military capabilities.