From Volume 38, Issue 5 of EIR Online, Published Feb. 4, 2011

Western European News Digest

Euthanasia Promoters Backed Down in France

Jan. 26 (EIRNS)—The promoters of the bill on euthanasia in the French Senate backed down today, prior to the debate on the floor, following a strong statement against it by Prime Minister François Fillon, leader of the majority party UMP. The same day, Health Minister Xavier Bertrand had also rejected the bill in no uncertain terms, announcing that he would be defending the government's opposition to it in the Senate debate. Additional pressure came from the Archbishop of Paris, who denounced the bill, and from right-to-life demonstrators, who ran street theater with Dr. Death and 700 body bags outside the Parliament, to dramatize what was going on.

Before the law was debated and voted on in the evening, Article 1 and its corollaries, which called openly for euthanasia, was withdrawn from the bill, by a vote 172-143 on two amendments to repeal it.

Dutch Slash Green Subsidies, Back Nuclear

Jan. 28 (EIRNS)—The Netherlands government seems to be moving closer to reality, at least in terms of energy policy. The new center-right government has announced a radical overhaul of Dutch energy policy, under which subsidies for most forms of "renewable" energy will be cut drastically. Under the new guidelines, virtually all subsidies for offshore wind farms, solar power, and large-scale biomass will be eliminated, while for the first time since the 1986 Chernobyl accident, the government has called for the construction of new nuclear power stations.

Belgian Professor Calls for Special Euthanasia Clinic

Jan. 24 (EIRNS)—A few days only after the renewed push of pro-euthanasia lobbyists in neighboring Netherlands for a special euthanasia "clinic," now in Belgium, also, there is a new call for such an atrocity.

Prof. Wim Distelmans of the University of Brussels, according to a RTL Luxembourg report today, has complained that while Belgium already has a euthanasia law, many doctors, in homes for the elderly, and in the hospitals cannot carry it out, because they have to stick to the rules of their institutions, which often ban "mercy killing" explicitly. Those hospitals should be stripped of state financial support, Distelmans demanded, and instead, a clinic solely for committing euthanasia should be established.

Belgians Demonstrate Against Political Impasse

Jan. 23 (EIRNS)—Fully 224 days after the last Federal elections in Belgium, which gave a majority to the Inter-Alpha-backed Flemish separatists, more than 30,000 Belgian citizens from all over the country demonstrated in Brussels this afternoon, calling on their leaders to immediately form a government.

The demonstration—the result of a Facebook campaign under the banner "Shame, No Government, Great Country"—was the second of its kind. The demo came as a massive popular response to a young Flemish journalist, Kris Janssens, whose very funny video got hundreds of thousands of visits. Janssens captured the anger and fear striking most Belgians with irony and imagination: If your bathtub is leaking, Janssens says in the video, you call a plumber. If the plumber you're paying tells you after 200 days that he is now about "to start thinking about the repair," you'd take him to court!

Spain's Official Unemployment Surges Above 20%

Jan. 28 (EIRNS)—The Spanish government announced that official unemployment worsened in the fourth quarter of 2010, leading to Spain ending the year with 4.7 million people unemployed, or 20.3% of the labor force—the highest among all so-called industrialized nations. Those figures, of course, exclude those who have given up on looking for a job.

A huge portion of the officially unemployed (47%, or 2.15 million people) have been unemployed for more than a year. And nearly 1 million (940,000, or a fifth of total unemployed) have been out of work (and are still looking) for two years. Youth (under 25) unemployment is at 42% of the labor force—although this component is probably the one that is most significantly understated by excluding those who have given up on looking for a job, or who never even formally entered the labor force.

But perhaps the most shocking statistic reported by the government, is the fact that 1.3 million households (8% of all households in the country) have all members of the household unemployed.

New Greek General Strike Called for February

Jan. 27 (EIRNS)—Greek trade union federations have called for a general strike for February 23. The civil servants' union federation, Adedy, will join Greece's largest trade union federation, the General Confederation of Employees of Greece (GSEE), to protest the cuts in salaries and pensions that have been demanded by the European Union dictatorship, which is now running the country's economy.

Scotland's The Herald Calls for Glass-Steagall

Jan. 20 (EIRNS)—The Herald, one of the leading papers in Scotland, editorialized Jan. 19, for a return to Roosevelt's Glass-Steagall. "After the collapse of nearly 5,000 US banks in the Great Depression," it said, "regulations known as Glass-Steagall, which forced the separation of investment and commercial banks, were brought in to prevent a similar banking collapse in the future.... A new version of Glass-Steagall which would build a protective wall between the savings and borrowings of individuals and the international currency casinos in the same bank looks increasingly attractive." Once commercial banking was isolated from investment operations, then the speculative operation "would take the hit if risk-taking was cavalier."

French To Build Underwater Nuclear Power Stations

Jan. 20 (EIRNS)—Patrick Boissier, CEO of the Group DCNS, the French state naval construction company, announced today that the company is launching validation studies to construct small, 50-250 MW underwater nuclear power reactors. The state naval construction company was founded 350 years ago by Cardinal Richelieu.

After France and Germany failed to sell their jointly built giant EPR (1600 MW) reactor to Abu Dhabi (which preferred a Korean reactor), the idea of constructing smaller and cheaper nuclear power equipment re-emerged.

The DCNS's new, innovative concept, called "Flexblue," would be an underwater nuclear power station in a cylindrical shape, 100 meters long, 12-15 meters in diameter, at a depth of 60-100 meters, a few kilometers offshore.

British Government Bans 57 Surgical Operations

Jan. 17 (EIRNS)—The National Health Service will be banned from carrying out 57 surgical operations. Pain will no longer be a justification for elective surgery.

According to a government directive, reported in the British press today, "operations which will only be carried out in exceptional circumstances include, taking out tonsils, removing varicose veins that are causing severe problems, hysterectomies, fitting grommets, removing skin lesions, hemorrhoid surgery, wisdom teeth extraction, cataracts and joint replacements." Even operations with an 80% success rate will be viewed as "of no clinical value" and stopped. The policy is being implemented in specific areas, including Bury, Oldham, Meywood, Middleton and Rochdale, and is part of an effort to slash EU20 billion from the NHS.

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