Western European News Digest
Hankel Warns: Last Big Bailout Led to Hitler
Jan. 31 (EIRNS)In what is probably the only aspect worth mentioning from the World Economic Forum in Davos Switzerland, Jan. 26-29, German euro-skeptic Wilhelm Hankel took on European Central Bank director Jean-Claude Trichet, with harsh words at a Jan. 28 panel, "Euro Grounding?"
Hankel introduced himself as "coming from a country which is still suffering from the tragic mistake of some 80 years ago, when a government tried to make public savings and to pay public debtthat was the last government before Hitler came to power." He added that the Eurocrats' philosophy of drastic budget cuts and the sacrifice of national currencies to the artificial euro, prevents governments from creating create prosperity for their nations; it takes out the pillarsbudget and currencyon which a sovereign state must rest. Hankel added that he sees democracy endangered by such policies, and two-thirds of the Eurozone member countries as basically bankrupt. This euro system is doomed to failure, Hankel said.
Sinn Féin Campaign: There Is a Better Way
Feb. 2 (EIRNS)Today marked the kick-off campaigns for the Feb. 25 Irish "snap" general election. In his speech, Sinn Féin party president Gerry Adams noted that the IMF/EU deal, which has forfeited Ireland's sovereignty to foreign institutions, has become the focus of the election. He said Sinn Féin's election theme, "There is a better way," is resonating among the Irish people, who were being told that they had no choice but to negotiate slightly better terms and accept a future of misery and austerity.
He reiterated Sinn Féin's message: IMF, go home, and take your money with you.
In his opening day speech he drew the line between Sinn Féin and any of the other parties, which, he said, are part of "the cozy coalition of cuts."
French 'Call to the Left' vs. Euthanasia
Jan. 31 (EIRNS)Just days after a pro-euthanasia bill was defeated in the French Senate, several medical experts in various areas of palliative care, including oncologists and psychologists, declared in a "Call to the Left," published in the weekly Marianne, that they felt ashamed seeing so many Senators "of the Left" backing the new drive for "voluntary" euthanasia or assisted suicide. They also are infuriated that such a proposal is about to appear on the Socialist Party 2012 Presidential platform. The call points to the abusive practices of the Swiss organization Dignitas, which EIR has highlighted, abuses that rush French citizens by train to be executed in Swiss hotels.
Now It's the Spanish Regional Governments
Feb. 1 (EIRNS)The next shoe to drop in Spain will be the indebtedness of the regional governments. But, with a total debt for all the regions of EU107.6 billion, this is much smaller than the major time bomb, the bankruptcy of the banks because of the half-trillion euros worth of bad real estate loans. Nonetheless, the Financial Times writes that the situation with the regions is causing the government to lose a lot of sleep.
Catalonia, the largest and richest region, has a debt of EU30 billion and must raise EU10-11 billion this year. The government has not been paying suppliers, including pharmaceutical companies and other vendors, an arrears of now more than EU3 billion. Similar situations exist in Valencia, which had a EU16.4 billion debt; Madrid, EU12.6 billion; Andalucia, EU11.4 billion; and the rest, combined, EU37 billion. The total public sector debt is EU560 billion.
French Police Go On Hunger Strike vs. Austerity
Jan. 30 (EIRNS)French President Nicolas Sarkozy's systematic takedown of public services is encountering a new wave of lively opposition, notably by the police. As a result of layoffs in the police forces, public safety is at risk, the government is going ahead with the creation of private public safety militias, allegedly cheaper and hired only on an "as-needed" basis.
So far, France has 64 public security, or CRS (Compagnie Républicaine de Sécurité) units, founded after World War II, and composed of 14,000 well-trained anti-riot police. Protests among the CRS rose when it became clear last week that up to 30 CRS units will be eliminated, as will seven squads of the Army's civilian police force, the gendarmerie.
Since these forces are not allowed to strike, on Feb. 29, Unit 54, one of the three CRS units in Marseille, went on a hunger strike. A CRS unit stationed in Strasbourg joined in on Jan. 30, in solidarity with Unit 54. Several other units have begun to disobey deployment orders. In Perpignan, most of Unit 58 came down with what is called the "blue flu," calling in sick when the unit was deployed to a soccer game. On Jan. 26, 70% of Unit 46 in Lyon was struck with blue flu, as were some 50 officers in Marseille's Unit 53.
Food Inflation Hits France
Feb. 1 (EIRNS)Figures published yesterday by the French national office for statistics report a more-than-21% increase in average wholesale agricultural prices (the price asked for by producers before sale to distributors).
The increase for cereals was above 87%; above 78% for potatoes; 63% for maize; almost 37% for fresh vegetables, and a wild 150% for wheat. As a result, the distribution industry, which kept comfortable profit margins by buying cheap from producers and selling "relatively cheap" to consumers, and then played the cash on the stock markets, is now saying it has no choice but to pass on to the consumer the increase in producer costs that it pays.
So far, due to the lag time before such increases hits the retail market, prices of food have remained relatively low. Now, however, the consumer price of pasta is expected to rise by at least 10%. France's Agriculture Minister Bruno Lemaire said price increases for consumers are "unavoidable. "
'Network X' Anarchist Terrorists Growing in U.K.
Feb. 1 (EIRNS)According to the Daily Mail, an anarchist terrorist group in Britain is growing in size and violence out of demonstrations and rioting by students.
Reportedly, 1,300 students have been meeting secretly in Manchester, who are part of the new, more deadly anarchist terrorism emerging in Europe, which is known as "Network X." Security services are said to be unprepared to counter this new phenomenon.
The Network X protestors are preparing for a month of demonstrations before April 29, the wedding day of Prince William and Kate Middleton. On the day of the wedding, the anarchists plan to cause chaos with smoke bombs and roadblocks, and divert the ceremony from Westminster Cathedral to St. Paul's, before halting the procession.
Spain's Unemployment Hits Record in January
Feb. 2 (EIRNS)In January, there were officially 131,000 new unemployed in Spain, bringing the total to more than 4.2 millionthe highest level since these records were started in 1996. This was more than a 3% increase over December 2010's newly unemployed, and it brings the official unemployment rate above 20%.