Western European News Digest
British Protest Stopover of U.S. Planes Bound for Israel
Margaret Beckett, the British Foreign Secretary, protested to the American government after two cargo planes loaded with 5,000-pound "bunker-buster" bombs bound for Israel had stopped over at Prestwick airport near Glasgow. She stated to Channel Four News: "I am not happy about it. Not least because it appears that insofar as there are procedures for handling of that kind of cargohazardous cargoes, irrespective of what they areit does appear that they were not followed. I have already let the United States know that this is an issue that appears to be seriously at fault; that we will be making a formal protest if it appears that that is what has happened."
Beckett was criticized because of the lack of appropriate monitoring of British military components exported to Israel. Under British rules, military equipment should not be used for internal oppression or external aggression.
Privateers Active as Europe's Leaders Escape to Vacation Fantasy
With most European policy-makers on summer vacation these days, and with anti-private-takeover legislation still lacking, hedge and equity funds are pushing ahead aggressively with takeovers and pirate-style expropriations.
The latest incident in this pattern has been the forcing by the British equity fund, Terra Firma, of new debt on its German motorway services operator Tank & Rast, with the aim of collecting 400 million extra euros to please its shareholders. The debt is financed by downsizing of the grid of 340 motorway service stations, reducing the number of lessors, and increasing the leasing ratesin many cases doubling them between 2005 and 2007.
Among other such funds, Cerberus is getting ready for the purchase of about 8,000 publicly owned flats in the city of Freiburg, a cash-strapped municipality whose Green Party Mayor has lured the majority of the city parliament into the sales deal.
Veolia Transport, again, is looking forward to entering the medium-distance train service in Bavaria, with at least three routes envisaged for takeover for private operation between Ingolstadt, Augsburg, and Schongau. Veolia's transport division (formerly Connex; renamed this past April) is the biggest private train operator in Germany.
Otherwise, an alert has been put out by insiders that hedge and equity takeover attacks can be expected, in the coming weeks and months, on the following 10 big firms in Germany: E.on; SAP; Daimler-Chrysler; BASF; Deutsche Post; Adidas; MAN; Altana; Stada; Rheinmetall.
Rohatyn's PPP Model Comes Under Attack in London
Public-private partnerships (PPPs) were harshly denounced July 25 by the transport workers union of Britain, RMT, for having ruined underground transport (the "Tube") in London. Calling for "an end to Tube privatization," RMT chairman Bob Crow charged that the PPP approach not only "unacceptably failed to deliver on key targets," but proved to be one big disaster that must be brought to an end, now.
"This isn't about companies needing to pull their socks up or try harder, this is about the need to end an expensive scam that has lined the privateers' pockets with 2 million pounds sterling of public money every week," Crow said. "The PPP remains a means for doling out guaranteed, risk-free profits to the lucky contractors, and Londoners and Tube workers are suffering as a result.
"Taxpayers' and Tube users' money that should be invested in improvements is being taken out at the rate of 100 million pounds sterling a year, and it has to stop. The PPP needs to be brought to a speedy end.... All our experience, and report after report have shown us that privatization has failed by every measure," Crow said.
British MP Casts Doubt on Kelly Suicide
An opposition member of Parliament told the London Daily Mail July 23 that British scientist David Kelly, who cast doubt on intelligence about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, may not have taken his own life in July 2003. Liberal Democrat MP Norman Baker said he is challenging the official inquest. "I do so on the basis that the medical evidence available simply cannot sustain it, that Dr. Kelly's own behavior and character argue against it, and that there were serious shortcomings in the way the legal and investigative processes set up to consider his death were followed," he wrote.
Baker questioned that Kelly supposedly cut the ulnar artery in his wrist, a more difficult and painful option than cutting the radial artery. Despite the stress Kelly was under, Baker said contacts with friends and relatives showed no sign that Kelly had suicidal thoughts. Baker also faulted the inquiry, saying the pathologist was one of the least experienced in Britain, and that Lord Brian Hutton, who conducted the judicial inquiry, had never conducted such a public inquiry before.
Court Ruling Strengthens Critics of Privatization
The district court in Konstanz, Germany ruled July 28 in the case of the air crash over Ueberlingen that killed 69 children aboard a Russian-Bashkirian airliner and two pilots of a FedEx freight plane on July 1, 2002, that Germany must pay compensation to the relatives of the victims, as well as to the airlines affected.
Although the Swiss flight control agency Skyguide is to blame in the first case, for giving faulty guidance to the two planes and thus setting them on a collision course, the German government is responsible, as the incident occurred over German air space, the court found.
The 2001 letter of agreement signed between the German Flight Control and the Swiss Skyguide, outsourcing and assigning part of the southwest German airspace to the Swiss controllers, is not relevant, the ruling said, because "the sovereign task of securing airspace has never been effectively transferred to Switzerland." The air sovereignty remains with Germany, therefore.
The ruling is relevant also in view of German government plans to privatize 75% of its flight control system, in line with EU Commission guidelines for privatization and deregulation of air-flight sector operations.
Note to Dutch Elderly: Move to Belgium and Live
It is far more dangerous to get old in the Netherlandswhere euthanasia policies recently became fully operationalthan in Belgium or France. The Dutch government legalized euthanasia recently in order to "reduce" previous abuses. Now, at least, a written authorization from the victim is needed, whereas before, Baby Boomers bribed and pressured the doctors to brutally "reduce the suffering" of their parents in order to get their hands on their inheritance. Some semblance of legality was introduced into this hideous practice, which had already become rampant.
Between 1990 and 2000, the number of centenarians roughly doubled in Belgium (917) and France (6,000), while the Dutch tried to "stabilize" the total and "succeeded" in limiting the increase: The number only rose from 800 to 1,100. Their "success" is directly attributable to legalized euthanasia. While the centenarian population has risen elsewhere at a fairly constant rate, in the Netherlands their numbers regularly fall.... In 2001, they dropped below the 1,100 level of the previous year. The same pattern occurred again in January 2006, when the number was 1,371 compared to 1,381 centenarians in January 2005.
Europe's previous experience with legalized euthanasia occurred when Adolf Hitler in the fall of 1939 signed a secret order designating certain doctors to perform euthanasia, and legalizing the practice by fiat.
Rohatyn Unleashed Locusts on European Defense Industry
In a speech delivered on April 15, 1999 at Les Echos Defense Industry Conference in Paris, Felix Rohatyn signalled the start of an onslaught of locust capital firms on the European defense industry. The Cold War has been over for 10 years, said Felix (then Ambassador to France under President Clinton), and during that time, the American defense industry has undergone a "painful" consolidation, paring itself down to 250 companies. Europe, however, still has 750 defense-related industries, and "to many [here]," he said, "the consolidation and restructuring of European defense industries is the next big step in building a unified Europe."
At the time, Rohatyn was not sure if Europe would end up with a single monster (British) defense contractor, or if others, like Germany's Daimler-Benz, would be part of the mix, but he was sure that consolidation was necessary to keep Europe on a technological par with the United States. The one thing he urgently wanted to prevent, he said, was Europe's developing a "Fortress Europe" attitude and closing its markets to outsiders.