Western European News Digest
Dollar Crash Creates Crisis for EADS, Airbus
Nov. 27 (EIRNS)On Nov. 23, Airbus CEO Tom Enders said that the company may trim its 2-billion-euro ($3 billion) research budget, as a cost-cutting measure. (Airbus planes are priced in dollars.) On Nov. 27, ATWonline reported that the CEO of EADS (Airbus's corporate parent), Louis Gallois, explained that Airbus loses 1 billion euros in profit for every 10 cent decline in the value of the dollar against the euro. Airbus had announced the cutting of 10,000 jobs after it lost 572 million euros last year, as part of a "restructuring" plan. But that plan was based on a rate of $1.35 to the euroit is now worth $1.48 and falling. Gallois told Die Welt that an additional 1.5 billion euros ($2.2 billion) per year must now be cut, on top of the cumulative 6 billion euros in cuts it had planned, by 2010.
During a speech last week to German labor unions, Gallois said that "the dollar's decline is life-threatening for Airbus," and that European manufacturers may have to move production outside Europe. Enders said that the plan for cuts that they had is "no longer sustainable."
Angry MPs Demand Debate on U.S. BMD at British Bases
Nov. 27 (EIRNS)In mid-October, a Member of Parliament filed a motion for an open debate on a U.S. proposal to have two Royal Air Force bases upgraded and used as part of the ballistic-missile defense system. The debate was never held. Then, on Nov. 24-25, the House of Commons' Foreign Affairs Select Committee released a report on the U.S. proposal, the British offers to participate, and the Russian reaction to the Polish and Czech proposals. The report recommends that there be a "full Parliamentary debate on these proposals," and "regrets" that these agreements were made without transparency or approval.
Press TV also reported that former Czech Premier Milos Zeman said that the radar base the U.S. wants to install in the Czech Republic is unnecessary, and a provocation aimed at Russia. He stated that a majority of Czechs oppose the base. Last week, the leadership of the new government of Poland said the decision to allow ten interceptor missiles to be deployed on its soil will be reconsidered.
'Drive-By' Scandal Forces Labour Minister To Resign
Nov. 27 (EIRNS) A flash-in-the-pan scandal hit Britain's Labour Party Nov. 24-25, resulting in the resignation yesterday of the party's secretary-general, Peter Watt. The scandal pivoted around contributions made to Labour by an eccentric real estate developer named David Abrahams. Abrahams, a failed political "wannabe," had made contributions, using his employees as conduits, totalling about $1 million. The contributions were spread over the last four years. Watt's only apparent fault was his admission that he was privy to Abrahams' subterfuge. Prime Minister Gordon Brown has apologized for the affair; Labour is determined to find a way to return the funds in question.
Barring further revelations, this scandal, which looks like a crass means to tar Labour with the echoes of Blair's recent "peerage-gate" scandal, is over.
Norwegian Cities Lose Money Through Citibank
Nov. 27 (EIRNS)A credit disaster is rocking northern Norway: As reported in the Swiss daily Neue Zuercher Zeitung today, the cities of Narvik, Rana, Hemnes, and Hattfjelldal have lost heavily in U.S. credit derivatives, Narvik being forced to take a loan to pay the December salaries of municipal employees, after losses of 50% with collateral debt obligations in the U.S.A.
The four cities engaged in this speculative venture, in the range of 451 million crowns ($90 million), combined, at Citibank, using expected future revenues from oil and gas as collateral. Brokers of the firm Terra Securities, assisted in this deal.
Norway's Finance Minister Kristin Halvorsen ordered the nation's financial watchdog agency to look into the affair.
Highly Trained Rioters in Paris: 82 Policemen Wounded
Nov. 28 (EIRNS)Following the death of two adolescents in an incident involving the police, in the desperately poor Paris suburb of Villiers-le-Bel, rioting turned into open warfare in the larger Paris area, between more than 200 inhabitants of the city and the police, in which, on Nov. 26, 82 policemen were wounded. The rioters were well organized, reports Le Figaro, noting that lookouts stationed on the rooftops transmitted early warning signals on the police deployments via their cell phones, to groups of approximately ten rioters on the ground fighting with the police.
Her Majesty's Dogs of War Losing Money
Nov. 28 (EIRNS)Her Majesty's "dogs of war, the "private military company" Armor Group, announced a profit warning because of losses having to do with the fallout over the Blackwater scandal in Iraq. Armor Group is the former Defence System's Limited, founded in Britain in the 1980s, by veterans of the Queen's own Scots Guards regiment, and then sold to the Florida-based Armor Holdings, which produces security related hardware, and was recently taken over by BAE Systems.
The British Armor Group is no longer part of the Florida company, but is once again based in London in an office at Buckingham Gate, a few steps from the Queen's Buckingham Palace.
Armor Group's chairman, Sir Malcolm Rikfind, is a potential suspect in the ongoing BAE bribery scandal, by virtue of the fact that he was the Tory defense secretary while the deals were being made.
New Push for Dutch Maglev Route Project
Nov. 29 (EIRNS)An industrial consortium of international companies went public today, with a proposal for a high-speed train link based on maglev technology, between Schiphol airport, Amsterdam, and the city of Almere.
According to the plan, the train will go through a tunnel beneath the IJmeer, a bay of Lake Marken that separates Amsterdam and Almere, and the train link could later be extended to the cities of Utrecht, The Hague, and Rotterdam for a cost of 5 billion euros.
The proposal is the third attempt to build a Transrapid maglev track in the Netherlands, after two previous plans were shelved by the government. The Dutch government has not yet responded to the proposal.