Western European News Digest
Mobilization To Defeat New European Treaty
PARIS, Oct. 31 (EIRNS)Four French members of the European Parliament announced their support today for a mobilization to defeat the new European constitutional treaty, in a popular referendum. This is a rewarmed version of the European Constitution which was rejected in referenda in both France and The Netherlands, in 2005.
At a meeting in Paris last night, they denounced the proposal as an attack on social and economic rights of workers. A representative of the French Communist Party, who attended the Lisbon meeting, said that nothing was done to curb the policies of the European Central Bank, and also denounced the new treaty as submerging national military policy under the decisions of NATO. It was noted that the European Parliament can oversee extraditions among its 27 member states, but cannot prevent extraditions from the European Union to the United States.
Motivating the mobilization to reject the new treaty, one speaker cited a poll that 54% of the French people supported the recent rail strike, and that over 60% are in favor of holding a popular referendum on the new treaty.
Tide Shifting Against German Railroad Privatization
Nov. 1 (EIRNS)The German railway workers union Transnet has warned the Christian Democrats not to continue rejecting the "people's bond" proposal of the Social Democratic Party (SPD), otherwise Transnet will stop supporting the government's railway privatization plan altogether, and instead re-join those who insist that railways remain in public hands.
This sudden change of views on the part of Transnet can be understood as a reflex reaction, to join in the shift of sentiments in the nation against privatization. The Social Democrats voted against the government's plan at their national party convention in Hamburg Oct. 30. The SPD, although technically voting in favor of privatization, effectively blocked the government's plan to begin privatization with a sale of 25% to private equity funds or similar private investors. The Transnet shift is yet another big slap in the face to the increasingly unpopular Transport Minister Wolfgang Tiefensee (SPD), who just a week ago reiterated that "when thinking about railway privatization, I rather think of big financial investors than small bond-holders."
French Socialist Praises Argentina's Economic Success
PARIS, Nov. 1 (EIRNS)Following a visit to Argentina, where she met at length with First Lady Cristina Fernández de Kirchner during the latter's final campaign swing in the Presidential election, French Socialist Party leader Ségolène Royal wrote an enthusiastic letter to the networks in France of her association, Desirs d'Avenir, detailing what she had learned there. Fernández was elected President on Oct. 28. She clearly inspired Royal to say things she has not dared to say here, such as that IMF rule was disastrous, and calling for more regulation of the financial markets.
Most of the "leftist" parties now leading South America know that "while the market is a good servant, it is a bad master," she wrote. These countries are a laboratory of new ideas, which is important because this is not a time of change as such, but of a "change of epoch."
"For me, as for her it is clear: globalization, far from disqualifying the State, calls for new forms of intervention of public power to seize all the opportunities and, at the same time, protect against the risks of a blind financialization acting on its own."
Liberal Dems Boycott Saudi Royal Visit Over BAE Scandal
Oct. 30 (EIRNS)The first visit of a Saudi monarch to the United Kingdom in 20 years, has been met with a boycott by the leader of the Liberal Democrats, Vince Cable, and by protests outside the London Saudi embassy over the BAE-Saudi "Al-Yamamah" arms deal and the Saudi human rights record. The visit occurs about ten months after the Serious Fraud Office was forced by Tony Blair's government to dropon "national security grounds"an investigation into corruption tied to BAE arms sales to Saudi Arabia during 1985-2007. At the time, Blair claimed that if the probe went ahead, cooperation between the two countries on counterterrorism would cease.
Foreign Minister David Miliband cancelled his meeting with the Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal, on the grounds that his newly adopted infant son had just arrived.
As Lyndon LaRouche and EIR have documented, the Al-Yamamah deal was not a simple case of bribes paid to Prince Bandar, the Saudi ambassador to the U.S., but rather involves the creation of a gigantic pool of funds, for special operations in behalf of the British Empire.
Increasing Warnings of European Real Estate Blowout
Nov. 2 (EIRNS)French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Finance Minister Christine Lagarde huddled at the Elysée Palace on Oct. 29 with major banks and insurance companies, on the crisis over subprime mortgages. According to Le Figaro Oct. 30, Serge Maître, the secretary general of the French Association of Bank Users (AFUB), figures that 35-50,000 French holders of home loans are already in trouble.
Twice in the past weeks, major French dailies have rung the alarm over the subprime mortgage crisis. After Le Figaro covered the "bad surprise" hitting moderate-income households, the Oct. 27 issue of Libération ran a three-page exposé on the French subprime mortgage crisis, beginning on the front page.
On Oct. 31, under banner headlines, the Danish daily Jyllands Posten reported that hundreds of Danish real estate properties are over-mortgaged to such an extent that several housing experts fear a collapse like that in America. Especially threatened are rental properties.
LaRouche-Linked Candidate Again Featured in Danish Daily
COPENHAGEN, Oct. 31 (EIRNS)"Running for office based on maglev and financial crash: Tom Gillesberg from the Schiller Institute, an international political organization, is one of the independent candidates who is trying his luck." So reads the headline of yet another article about the campaigns of Institute chairman Gillesberg and three other Institute activists, in Denmark's largest newspaper, Jyllands-Posten.
The coverage, which reports the Schiller Institute's forecast of a global financial crash, appears in an issue featuring alarm about a real estate crash hitting Denmark.
Italy: Indebtedness Up; Food Consumption Down
Oct. 31 (EIRNS)Consumer credit rose 17.5% in the first six months of 2007 in Italy, according to figures provided by the Italian Banking Association.
Household debt is, nevertheless, still the lowest in Europe (5.8% of GNP, compared to 16.5% in Britain, 9.9% in Germany, 9.4% Spain, and 7.5% in France).
But food consumption fell 10% over five years (2001-06), according to Ismea research institute.
Baltic Republics Reaffirm Joint Nuclear Plant Project
Nov. 1 (EIRNS)Two days ago, leaders of three Baltic countries meeting in Vilnius, Lithuania, reaffirmed their commitment to a joint project for a new nuclear power station to replace a Soviet-era one in Ignalina, Lithuania, near that site.
In February 2006, Lithuania, Estonia, and Latvia decided to build a new power plant at the Ignalina site, and days later, Lithuanian President Valdas Adamkus reached agreement with Poland to welcome the latter to participate in the joint project, to which Latvian President Valdis Zatlers and Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves have now also agreed. Construction of the new nuclear power plant is expected to be completed no earlier than 2012, but the final deal is pending, until remaining differences among the four countries can be resolved.
Was Sarkozy Trained by the U.S. State Department?
Nov. 1 (EIRNS)Voltairenet.org, an influential website, commented on the statement made by Karen Hughes, U.S. Undersecretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs. Hughes stated on Oct. 25 that "More than 130 participants [in our programs since 1945] have become leaders of their countries, including the current prime minister of Great Britain [Gordon Brown], the President of France [Nicolas Sarkozy], and the President of Turkey [Abdullah Gul]."
"While the biography of Gordon Brown is well-known," adds Voltairenet.org, "it is the first time a U.S. official has admitted that Mr. Sarkozy and Mr. Gul had been trained by the State Department, a fact that those concerned have always tried to hide."