Western European News Digest
Powerful Strike Wave Sweeps Europe
Nov. 20 (EIRNS)Railway strikers in France were joined by several million public sector workers and students today, at the same time that the ongoing railway strike in Germany was temporarily suspended for talks with the railway management. And in Finland, the government was forced to back down on nurses' wage demands.
The French public-sector strike involves workers in the education, postal, telecommunications, hospital, energy, and air-traffic control sectors, plus defense industry, revenue administration, social security, and other administrative sectors. The French LaRouche Youth Movement (LYM) is continuing its intervention into that mass ferment, with a new leaflet written by Solidarity and Progress leader Jacques Cheminade, to uplift the mobilization toward a New Bretton Woods solution against austerity and economic-financial collapse.
In Germany, rail engineers got crucial backing from the Federal Labor Court, which yesterday overturned an earlier ruling by that same court that banned railway strikes on grounds that they would affect national security. The case is now transferred to the court in Frankfurt, where a pro-labor ruling is expected. The German LYM is intervening with a statement authored by BüSo (Civil Rights Solidarity Movement) national chairwoman Helga Zepp-LaRouche, calling on the labor unions to make the step towards a broad debate on "firewall" legislation, such as Lyndon LaRouche's "Homeowners and Bank Protection Act" in the United States.
In Finland, the weeks-long strike by nurses has resulted in a partial victory, as the government backed down on wage demands. The strike peaked over the past few days, as the government hardliners had recruited a majority in parliament to vote a new law that would authorize the government to declare the strike illegal. The TEHY hospital union had threatened to cancel contracts for all 13,000 nurses yesterday, to create the ultimate pressure in this showdown. However, broad sympathy in the population, and sympathy strikes in other labor unions, developed over the past few days, so that apparently the government decided to grant concessions to the nurses, and quickly bring the matter to an end.
As Markets Plunge, Danes Think of LaRouche Candidates
COPENHAGEN, Nov. 22 (EIRNS)A more sober mood is settling over the Danish financial markets and the press, after the recent months of denial of the global financial breakdown crises. In the recent national election, LaRouche-allied candidates ran under the slogan "After the financial crash: Maglev over the Kattegat," and they were often asked, "What financial crash?"
On Nov. 22, the home page of Borsen's Internet site showed a photo of the Danish parliament, with LaRouche candidate Tom Gillesberg's election poster from the recent election prominently in front. The picture accompanies an article on candidates not getting elected to parliament, but still getting millions of crowns in financial support from the state (http://borsen.dk/politik/nyhed/120947/). Gillesberg is not getting any of this money, but there is obviously good reason for publishing his poster anyway: Everybody is thinking of his prophetic warnings of the impending financial crash in the recent election campaign as the financial crises deepens, and as top Danish stocks have lost 15% of their value over the last five weeks.
New Polish Government May Ditch Missile Defense
Nov. 19 (EIRNS)Bogdan Klich, defense minister for the Polish government that took office on Nov. 16, says that he wants to ensure that Poland's participation in the U.S. ballistic missile defense program is in his country's interest. Part of the anxiety in Poland, the Canadian Press reports, is that allowing ten missile interceptors to be placed in Poland could "further strain its already shaky ties with Moscow." The previous Polish government made public that its interest in the missiles was to counter a "threat" from Moscow, not Iran. The new government, Klich said in an interview with the newspaper Dziennik, will "weigh the benefits and costs for this project, for Poland."
Italy: Berlusconi Launches New Jacobin Party
Nov. 19 (EIRNS)Former Italian Prime Minister and media magnate Silvio Berlusconi announced that he is dissolving his current party, Forza Italia, and founding a new one, which he will call either "Popular Party of Freedom," or "Party of Freedom."
Berlusconi's announcement comes in the context of a campaign to replace the current political class, initiated months ago by pro-British oligarchical centers, which have fed a populist, Mussolini-style "anti-political" mood in the population. The leader of this campaign has been business leader Luca Cordero di Montezemolo. Berlusconi is now offering the "right-wing" alternative to Montezemolo. Berlusconi said that he will build his new party with young people and that the "Parrucconi" ("old fogeys") should stay home.
EU Announces Funds for Transport Projects
Nov. 22 (EIRNS)European Commissioner for Transport Jacques Barrot announced in Brussels yesterday that, for the five-year period from 2008 to 2013, his department will fund 29 projects, either in whole or in part, which are located in Germany. The list includes the extension of the high-speed rail track from Paris to Stuttgart, to Vienna and Bratislava; the EU co-funding would amount to 338 million euros.
The biggest-single project among the 29 mentioned, will be the upgrading of rail transport infrastructure on the route Berlin-Palermo via Erfurt, Nuremberg, and on through the Austrian Brenner Tunnel to northern Italy. To this, the EU will contribute 960 million euros. Also the Danish part of the Fehmarn Belt Bridge will be funded, with 374 million euros, but no funding has been provided for the German part. Nor was co-funding granted for the Munich Transrapid maglev project; apparently the German government has not even asked for that.
The plan for the European Transport Network, of which these projects are a part, has been an integral part of the much more ambitious Productive Triangle/Eurasian Land-Bridge drive by the LaRouche movement since 1989. The LaRouche plan, however, called for using magnetically levitated trains, a technology only now being picked up on in discussions in Denmark and Munich.
Germany's Merkel and Italy's Prodi: No to Tony Blair!
Nov. 21 (EIRNS)German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Italian Premier Romano Prodi do not want Tony Blair to become "European chairman" next year. Italian media report that the two heads of government agreed on this in the Italian-German bilateral meeting yesterday near Berlin. Blair's candidacy had been pushed, especially, by France's Nicolas Sarkozy.
The Italian-German meeting has apparently brought the two countries closer, as they agreed also on Kosovo and Afghanistan policies. Both countries are against the unilateral independence of Kosovo.
Sabotage Against France's High-Speed Tracks
Nov. 21 (EIRNS)All four of France's TGV high-speed railroads were found to have been sabotaged around dawn this morning. Signal boxes and cables had been burned to prevent TGV traffic.
This coordinated action happened on the eighth day of railway workers strikes against President Nicolas Sarkozy's gutting of government pensions. Trade union leaders condemned the action as harmful to their cause, and the main railroad union leader asked, "Who has an interest in such actions?"
This was a coordinated operation, as it was carried out simultaneously at four sites around the country between 6:00 and 6:20 a.m. Because the sabotage tends to discredit strikers, just as negotiations between the government and unions started today, the first suspicions are aimed at a set-up/police operation. Other suspects include extreme left provocateurs, who were already warmed up last Spring during Sarkozy's election campaign. Some serious people tend to consider these two possibilities as one.
Vatican Issues 'Mea Culpa' on Spanish Civil War
Nov. 20 (EIRNS)For the first time, the Roman Catholic Church has officially admitted "mistakes" made during the Spanish Civil war, referring to its support given to Generalissimo Francisco Franco's fascist insurgency. "We too, must ask forgiveness for the mistakes made in that decade," said Bishop Ricardo Blazquez, chairman of the Spanish Bishops' Conference, during a speech in Madrid yesterday.
The historical "mea culpa" of the Catholic Church is in line with the critical review, undertaken by Pope John Paul II, of the history of the Church under the Inquisition.