Western European News Digest
'Wir sind das Volk,' Against the Euro, Indeed!
Dec. 28 (EIRNS)The public debate in Germany, which increasingly makes mainstream media headlines, outside, as well as inside Germany, attracts particular interest in neighboring Switzerland, where an article in SchweizMagazin, a website journal, stands out: It reports yesterday's opinion poll from Bildzeitung, that "Germans Want D-Mark Back," and adds something else:
"The euro was introduced through pressure applied by France [actually orchestrated by Britain's Margaret Thatchered.], which made it a condition of Germany's reunification, and then-Chancellor Kohl let himself be blackmailed. While Kohl suppressed euro-critical debates, stylized the introduction of the common currency into a question of war and peace, warning against 'stupid cultural pessimism' and nation-state thinking, even against chauvinism, the Germans in 1990 demanded self-determination: Wir sind das Volk" (We are the people).
Vienna Cardinal Attacks Bailouts, Euthanasia
Dec. 31 (EIRNS)In his 2010 year end message, Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn said, yesterday, that "if on the one side, billions have to flow to rescue banks, and on the other side the money for education and family support is not there or has to be considerably reduced, the question is posed about proportionality."
Schoenborn said that "the dignity of man is indivisible, from its first moment of existence until natural death," and he stressed "natural," here. "Things have to be addressed by their real name," he said, "and euthanasia is murder, the killing of a human being." The same is true for abortion, he added.
Scotland Rejects Euthanasia
Dec. 31 (EIRNS)The Scottish parliament has soundly rejected a bill permitting assisted suicide. The bill, introduced by MSP Margo MacDonald, was overwhelmingly rejected on the first reading. In a statement issued on Dec. 8, MacDonald vowed to campaign in the upcoming May 2011 parliamentary elections on the death plank.
Brits: Decade of Austerity To Save the Euro
Dec. 29 (EIRNS)Spokesmen for the British Crown used a Dec. 28 New York Times article on the imminent collapse of the euro, as the vehicle to deliver their policy message for the New Year: The only way the euro system can survive its current meltdown crisis, is by imposing a decade of bone-crunching austerity on the so-called PIIGS countries (Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece and Spain).
The article, which begins with the sentence, "We told you so," features the views of British euro-skeptics such as former Prime Minister Gordon Brown advisor Ed Balls, and former Conservative Chancellor of the Exchequer Norman Lamont. Lamont delivers the punch line: "The real problem is that the only way countries like Greece and Spain and Portugal can regain their competitiveness with Germany is to impose a decade of restrained living standards on their populations. That is the time bomb ticking inside the euro." [emphasis added]
Ireland's Greens Swept into Dustbin of History
Dec. 28 (EIRNS)Although Green Party leader John Gormley signalled the party's intent to bring down the current Irish coalition government when, on Nov. 22, he called for a general election in January, the Greens are now trying to push the vote back to March, so that they can work out the details of the rapacious budget billand make sure they pass their climate change law. Today's Irish Independent said this bill "requires dramatic reductions in carbon dioxide emissions to meet the strict EU targets which have been equated to turning off the heat and lights in 300,000 homes each year." One of the only good consequences of the Irish crisis, is that the Green Party, as the Independent put it in its headline, is "Headed for the Political Dustbin."
Spain Imposes Huge Hikes in Electricity Rates
Dec. 29 (EIRNS)In its slavish desire to please international financial vultures which have Spain in their sights, the Zapatero government announced yesterday that it will raise electricity rates by a whopping 9.8% as of Jan. 1the biggest increase in 28 years. The rate hike will affect over 20 million consumers. Home natural gas rates will also rise by 3.93%, affecting another 6.5 million households.
The head of the Organization of Consumers and Users called the electricity price increase "unacceptable, brutal, and aberrant."
The rate increase was done to make sure that the rating agencies don't downgrade the debt of Spanish electricity companies such as Iberdrola and Endesa.
Meanwhile, government and the country's political parties are meeting today to decide on the government's proposal, at bankers' insistence, to raise the pension age from 65 to 67 years.
German Cities, Democracy, Killed by Austerity
Dec. 29 (EIRNS)A combination of sinking tax revenues, staggering new expenses for social and welfare payments, reduced subsidies by the 16 German states to their cities, and mounting old debt, is pushing German municipalities into a highly precarious situation, the Deutscher Städtetag, the national association of municipalities, warned yesterday in press conferences in the national capital, Berlin, and in numerous state capitals. The net new deficit of all cities in Germany jumped from EU4.2 billion in 2009 to EU7.8 billion this year, adding to accumulated deficit from the past years, so that the total debt is approaching EU20 billion. And the situation will worsen in 2011, as corporations report run-up losses in 2010 that imply they can't pay EU1.1 billion in corporate taxes, next yearand corporate taxes are a major source of income for the cities.
Brits Who Don't Freeze, Die of Flu
Dec. 31 (EIRNS)The British government continues to think of new ways to kill off its unwanted population. Thousand of Britons are freezing to death because of high, unregulated energy prices. The number of deaths linked to cold over the four months of last Winter reached nearly 28,000, according to the Express.co.uk Dec. 5. Now there is a growing flu epidemic, because the government has decided not to spend money on an advertising campaign for people to get Winter flu shots.
Thirty-nine people have died from Winter flu so far, and 36 have died from the H1N1 swine flu; others died of Influenza B. Only one was a person over 65; four were under 5, and 23 of these fatalities were in the serious risk category and should have received a flu shot. The number of people in hospitals with serious respiratory problems has increased by over 50%, from 460 to 738.
While the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization has called for the reinstatement of the advertising campaign in order to step up immunization, they have called for no immunizing of children under five. Health Minister Andrew Lansley has decided to reinstitute the advertising campaign.
Conservative parliamentarian and former General Practitioner, Sarah Wollston, denounced the government's health policy as an undercover attempt to privatize the National Health System. She is the first Tory MP to attack her own government's policy. She received support from Dr. Hamish Meldrum, chairman of the British Medical Association, who told the Guardian, "She is right. That is our analysis. It brings that reality a lot closer." He shares her concern that the government is privatizing the profitable parts of the system. "In the past these providers have tended to be given the most profitable parts of the NHS and left the NHS with the most difficult areas, such as acute and emergency care."
Scots Import Power from Nuclear France
Dec. 27 (EIRNS)Not only does lack of wind stop wind turbines, but they freeze up in cold weather, as well. The Scotsman reports that output from Scotland's major wind farms fell to as low as 2.5% of their potential generation capacity during the cold weather of the past weeks. This is at a time that the cold weather has increased demand for power to unprecedented levels, according to recently released information. The data, charted on the Balancing Mechanism Reporting System website, which the National Grid uses to monitor U.K. power generation, also revealed that at times when wind energy production was at its lowest, back-up power had to be brought in from France, where the majority of electricity is nuclear generated.
This is occurring at a time that the Scottish government is opposed to nuclear power, insisting that no nuclear plants will be built in Scotland once its two nuclear power stations are decommissioned, in 2016 and 2023 respectively.