Western European News Digest
Irish Dail Defeats Bailout Referendum Motion
April 7 (EIRNS)The Irish government defeated a motion in the April 6 Dail (parliament) session which called for a referendum on the EU/IMF loan package. The vote was defeated 121 votes to 27, with the Fine Gael/Labour coalition government and the members of the previous Fianna Fail government voting against the motion. The motion, which was proposed by the Technical Group of Independents, called for a referendum to give the Irish people an opportunity to accept or reject the bank bailout. In a show of arrogance, a government counter-motion commended recent decisions to restructure the banking system.
Earlier, about 100 people gathered outside the Dail calling for the referendum on the EU/IMF bailout, chanting, "Bail out the people and not the banks!" A meeting had been held the night before, which featured Unite Union secretary Jimmy Kelly, United Left Alliance leader Richard Boyd Barrett, a member of the technical group, and Lilja Mosesdottir, a former Icelandic parliamentarian whose nation voted to reject the bailout in a referendum on April 9. (See InDepth for more on the Icelandic revolt.)
EU Finance Ministers Plot Portugal Dictatorship
April 8 (EIRNS)The European Union's finance ministers met today in Budapest, where they discussed imposing on Portugal a financial dictatorship. Now that Portugal has capitulated to blackmail from the Inter-Alpha banking system and the European Central Bank, the finance ministers will put together a bailout package which promises to be just as brutal as those that have been forced on Ireland and Greece.
The Irish Times reports that the plan is to prepare an agreement which would be completed by the end of May, so that it can be signed and implemented by the next government the day after the June 5 election. Throwing all democratic principles out the window, the idea is to ensure cross-party "support" for the package by involving all parties in the talks, thus making the elections superfluous.
Lords Call for 'Glass-Steagall'-Style Reform
April 9 (EIRNS)On the eve of the release of the first report of Great Britain's Independent Banking Commissionwhich leaks have indicated will not recommend even Bank of England head Mervyn King's pseudo-Glass-Steagall proposaltwo members of the House of Lords have called for Glass-Steagall-type reforms of the banking system.
Lord Oakshott called for dividing up both Barclays and the Inter-Alpha Group's Royal Bank of Scotland; Lord Skidelsky said he supported King's "championing of a British Glass-Steagall Act to split the banking system into commercial and investment banks."
Copies of the IBC report have already been handed out to cabinet ministers, their senior advisors, and regulators; the banks themselves will get it at 6AM on Monday, April 11, and it will be released to the public at 7 AM.
Has the Mass Strike Arrived in Spain?
April 9 (EIRNS)The first youth demonstration in recent years occurred in Madrid on April 7, with some 3,000 youth taking to the streets. Calling themselves "Youth with No Future," and self-organized through Facebook and other social networking sites, they rallied against the economic mess the country is in, and the fact that they are being denied a future. Youth unemployment in Spain now stands at 43%.
The main slogan of their rally was: "No home, no job, no pension, no fear!," and many of the youth interviewed by the press pointed to youth mobilizations in other countries as their model.
Gerry Adams Denounces Queen's Ireland Visit
April 8 (EIRNS)Buckingham Palace announced that the Queen's visit to the Republic of Ireland will begin on May 17, and that she will visit Croke Park, Guinness Storehouse, and the National Stud in Kildare, among other sites. There will be a state dinner for her at Dublin Castle, which was constructed by the Normans in the 1200s and, until Irish Independence in 1922, was the fortified seat of British rule.
Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams called the Queen's visit "offensive and insensitive." He particularly pointed to the day the visit is to commence, which is the anniversary of the May 17, 1974 bombings in Dublin and Monaghan which killed 33 people, and injured and mutilated over 300 more.
German Cranes Aid Japan in Nuclear Emergency
April 5 (EIRNS)The Japanese are getting two of the world's largest German-made cranes to stabilize the nuclear plants. The cranes, made by Putzmeister, will be used to pump water on to the plants to cool them, and then can be used in their usual job, which is pouring concrete, if the Japanese decide to encase the reactors.
Eleven similar German pumps were used at Chernobyl. One pump crane is being transported by a Russian Antonov AN-225 cargo plane, the world's largest, from Savanna River, Georgia, where it is being used to build a mixed oxide nuclear fuel plant.
EU Ignoring Mediterranean Tsunami Danger
April 8 (EIRNS)On the sidelines of the Vienna European Geosciences Union conference, scientists lambasted the EU bureaucracy's disinterest in creating a tsunami early warning system for the Mediterranean, which is Europe's most hazardous zone. Good intentions were voiced after the Indian Ocean tsunami of December 2004, but no progress has been made in Europe since then, the critics told Agence France Presse and Der Spiegel.
Jörn Lauterjung, chairman of the German-Indonesian Tsunami Early Warning System (GITEWS), said, "Now political decisions are needed so that we can start the implementation and put things into operation."
New Container Rail Line from China to Germany
April 6 (EIRNS)Yesterday, Deutsche Bahn announced the arrival in Duisburg of a test container train from Chongqing, Szechuan. For the distance of 10,300 km on the so-called Southern route, the train required half as long as the transport takes by sea. The line goes south of Mongolia through Kazakhstan, Russia, Belarus, and Poland, to Germany.
Perfidious Albion: No Delay on Nuclear Plants
April 6 (EIRNS)While Her Majesty's press whores have been conducting an anti-nuclear power campaign, the British government appears to be committed to its plans to build at least eight new power stations. Britain's so-called Climate Change Minister, Greg Barker, told Bloomberg that there will be no "material delay" in the U.K.'s plan to build new nuclear reactors at eight sites.
Poland is even more determined. In an interview with Britain's Guardian, Polish Treasury Minister Aleksander Grad said: "Of course it's time to review and analyze [safety] carefully, but it wouldn't be right to make a rash decision, a 180-degree turn. Poland is not at risk of earthquakes and tsunamis. The problem in Japan was not the power plants themselves, but the earthquake. We need to make a decision based on rational analysis and not emotions."