Western European News Digest
'Irish Peril Could Drive Brits To Assassinate'
Feb. 11 (EIRNS)With events in Ireland rapidly careening out of the control of the Inter-Alpha Group, Lyndon LaRouche warned today that we have entered the kind of situation where the British oligarchy resorts to assassination. LaRouche cited the known cases of British-engineered assassinations of American Presidents, from Abraham Lincoln, through William McKinley, and John F. Kennedy. "This is how the British Empire is. They resort to assassination as a weapon of choice, under certain circumstances where they see their imperial powers imperiled. I would not be in the least surprised to see the British taking just such actions in Ireland."
In the context of LaRouche's remarks, it should be noted, without drawing any premature conclusions, that Sinn Féin issued a report in the past 24 hours, concerning a plane crash near Cork Airport on Feb. 10. The news report, which appeared in the Irish Republican News, noted that Sinn Féin's Martin McGuinness escaped death in a plane crash on that date, thanks to a last-minute change of plans. McGuinness, the North's Deputy First Minister, had intended to be aboard a commuter flight from Belfast that crashed, killing six people at Cork Airport.
Italian MP Pushes Initiative Against Euthanasia
Feb. 10 (EIRNS)Cristiana Muscardini, deputy chairwoman of the Foreign Trade Committee of the European Parliament, has sent a letter to the head of European People's Party parliamentary group, Joseph Daul (France), asking for an initiative against euthanasia programs dictated by budget cuts. In her letter, dated Jan. 31, Muscardini writes: "The difficulties of all kinds which have afflicted Europe for some timepolitical, financial, economic and social difficultiescontribute to cancelling the memory of the great issues regarding the values representing the foundations of our civilization: the culture of life, for instance, and the rejection of euthanasia. Currently instead, when the melting of the financial system threatens welfare policies, the impulse to reduce health expenses by eliminating older and weaker people has gained more and more ground."
French Communities Declare War on Banks
Feb. 11 (EIRNS)On Feb. 9, Claude Bartelone, the Socialist president of the General Council of the Department of Seine-Saint-Denis, outside Paris, announced that the department will sue three banks that enticed the department into toxic loans. When he was elected in 2008, Bartelone discovered that 93% of the department debt was in adjustable-interest-rate debt. After three years of discussions with the banks, in January 2011, the department has EU952.7 million of debt, with still 72% of it toxic; 63 toxic loans oblige the department to pay EU23-28 million extra a year.
Today, several hundred French towns and cities are finding themselves in an impossible situation, facing close to EU10 billion in debt.
French Judiciary Join Police in Revolt vs. Cuts
Feb. 8 (EIRNS)Having locked horns last week with furious police officials unwilling to accept the brutal austerity required to keep France's AAA credit rating for the sake of the "euro," over the Feb. 5-6 weekend, President Nicolas Sarkozy took aim at another segment of law enforcement, this time, the judiciary. When police in Brittany found the body of a murdered woman, Sarkozy blasted the judiciary for having released the chief suspect from prison without close monitoring.
Furious, the court in Nantes, joined by others throughout the country, and the judiciary unions, called for postponement of all non-emergency court hearings until at least Feb. 17, when they plan a protest in Nantes, where the victim lived. The threatened action prompted Prime Minister François Fillon to call news conference, where he denounced as "excessive" the response by hundreds of court officers, who, in fact, keep the justice system running. Representatives of the judiciary retorted that the Sarkozy cuts deprive them of the resources they need to maintain standards.
Hyperinflationary Collapse Hitting Britain Hard
Feb. 12 (EIRNS)Brenden Barber, General Secretary of the British Trade Union Confederation (TUC), issued a warning, Feb. 10, on the effect of the Cameron coalition government's planned welfare cuts. New research demonstrates that accelerating Schachtian austerity cuts, which will reach full effect in 2013, mean that working families, where both parents earn minimum wage, will lose more than £2,700 a year in income.
In addition, switching the measure for uprating benefits from the Retail Price Index to the Consumer Price Index, which does not include housing costs, will reduce the value of key benefits, saving the Treasury £5.8 billion by 2015. Housing benefit cuts, will also lead to "significant reductions" for many working class families, the study said.
"Workers are already suffering an income squeeze, and Gov't austerity will make low and middle income families even worse off," said Barber.
EU Inaction on North African Refugees
Feb. 12 (EIRNS)As a result of the North African developments, the wave of refugees into Europe has dramatically increased. Italy, with its territory just a few dozen kilometers from Tunisia, is hit especially hard. In the last 48 hours, about 3,000 refugees, mostly from Tunisia, have reached the shores of tiny island of Lampedusa by boat. Given that Lampedusa has 4,500 residents and that the refugee wave is expected to increase, this has created an emergency. Currently, refugees are transported to Italy's mainland and distributed among existing refugee centers, which are, of course, too small for an emergency.
Italian Interior Minister Roberto Maroni has called for an emergency meeting of the EU Interior Ministers for a joint effort to provide assistance. The EU has responded that such a request must be filed 16 days in advance.
Tremonti's National Rail Tour Highlights Collapse
Feb. 10 (EIRNS)Walking out in the middle of the press conference yesterday at which Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi detailed his new "economic recovery" program, Italian Economy Minister Giulio Tremonti, instead, embarked on a rail tour from Rome to Reggio Calabria, the southern edge of the Italian peninsula, to survey the state of the infrastructure in Southern Italy.
As a normal passenger, he took a high-speed train from Rome to Naples, then an Intercity to Lamezia Terme, and finally a local train to Reggio Calabria. Due to the obsolete state of rails south of Naples, it took seven hours to traverse the last 700 km of the trip; by comparison, on the modernized Rome-Milan line, it took three hours to travel 500 km. Tremonti and his group made the return trip by car on the highway, another aspect of infrastructure which desperately needs modernization. (Among other problems, work on the Reggio Calabria-Salerno highway must be protected by the army, because of mafia sabotage.)
On arrival, Tremonti said that the trip was needed to get a concrete sense of the situation, summarizing it thus: "Trains coming from the North have midges [small-winged fliesed.] squashed on their windshield. Trains coming from the South don't. In the South, midges are faster than trains," he said polemically.