Western European News Digest
Italy's Truckers' Strike Compared to Chile's in 1973
Dec. 14 (EIRNS)A truckers' strike paralyzed Italy for three days last week, bringing production and distribution to a halt. Truckers are victims of deregulation and globalization, and their protests are legitimate; however, the role played by strike leaders associated with former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has prompted comparisons to the 1973 truckers' strike in Chile, as the potential death blow for the Prodi government. The Chile "independent truckers" strike, instigated from abroad by corporate interests planning a coup, helped trigger the bloody overthrow of President Salvador Allende by Gen. Augusto Pinochet.
During the strike, Fiat announced 22,000 temporary layoffs, because supplies were not being delivered. Gas stations were left empty. Fresh food delivery, especially vegetables and milk, was cut, while food rotted in depots. It is estimated that the agro-industrial sector lost $200 million per day. Firms producing popular Christmas products, like Panettone, might receive a mortal blow, and you may not see Panettone in American shops.
The government declared the strike illegal, and a few drivers were arrested in southern Italy because they had set up roadblocks. The large national trade unions CGIL, CISL, and UIL supported the demands but condemned the form of the strike.
Although truckers are organized in a myriad of small associations, the largest and most aggressive is led by a parliamentary member of Berlusconi's right-wing party, Forza Italia. Organizations close to the center-left also joined the strike.
At least 85% of freight in Italy runs on roads. Truckers were protesting the effects of deregulation and globalization: Their rates have been frozen for 17 years, and they suffer competition from Eastern European truckers who are willing to drive for 50-70 cents per kilometer, versus the $1 charged by the Italians. Fuel costs have increased and a full tank for a truck costs 47.5 euros more than one year ago. Such "market conditions" can be met only at the cost of safety: longer driving hours, no stops, and higher speed, all of this violating the law and risking the trucker's license.
Lord Conrad Black Sentenced to 6.5 Years
Dec. 10 (EIRNS)Member of the British House of Lords Conrad Black was sentenced today by a U.S. court to least 6.5 years in a minimum security Federal prison in Florida, for bilking millions of dollars from of his media conglomerate, Hollinger International. In addition to the prison sentence, His Lordship was ordered to pay a fine of $125,000 and forfeit $6.1 million, the estimated amount that he defrauded shareholders. The former Hollinger CEO, who has funded neoconservative think tanks such as the American Enterprise Institute and the Hudson Institute, was convicted in July of mail fraud and obstruction of justice, and acquitted on nine other counts. He plans to appeal.
At the time he headed Hollinger, the conglomerate controlled hundreds of newspapers, including the Chicago Sun-Times, the Jerusalem Post, London's Daily Telegraph, and a chain of Canadian papers.
Danish Political Offensive for Kattegat Bridge
COPENHAGEN, Dec. 8 (EIRNS)As a counter to the expected downplaying of the project to build a bridge across the Kattegat strait, from Denmark to Sweden, in the Infrastructure Commission report that's due in January, the politicians who are for the project are going on the offensive. Last week, the threesome who initiated a hearing on the Kattegat bridge on Oct. 3the mayor of Aarhus, the mayor who is the leader of the cities in the mid-Jylland region, and the mid-Jylland county chairmancalled on the parliamentarians to approve money for a study of the project. Jyllands-Posten today has a front-page banner headline, "Study a Kattegat Connection," and the transportation spokesman for the Conservative Party (in the government coalition), Henriette Kjaer, was interviewed on national radio news supporting the idea. Jyllands-Posten reports that there is a majority in the parliament for spending money to study the project, and quotes the transportation spokesmen from the Liberal Party (the other government party), as well as the Social Democrats and the Socialists (the Socialists prefer a rail-only bridge).
The Schiller Institute in Denmark was the first in the recent period to suggest the Kattegat bridge, in connection with its plan for a national maglev rail network.
Despite Merkel, Germans Support Putin Policy
Dec. 11 (EIRNS)London has denounced Russia's Dec. 2 parliamentary elections as a fraud, and Helga Zepp-LaRouche has mocked German Chancellor Angela Merkel's incompetence for "aping" London in this matter. But despite Merkel, traditional German interests represented in both of the two major parties comprising Merkel's ruling coalition, are in firm support of Russian President Putin's policy. They also agree with Putin in backing the candidacy of Gazprom Chairman and Deputy Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev, to be Russia's next President.
Speaking today in New York, former German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, of the Social Democratic Party (SPD), warned against attempts to isolate Russia in world affairs, and called on the United States and Europe to make Russia a partner in all aspects of their foreign policy. He spoke passionately about the "unfairness" with which the West is treating Russia, warning about the dire consequences of such a tactic, and the instability that could result from perceived attempts to isolate or degrade Moscow.
New BAE 'Investigation' Is Another British Coverup
Dec. 9 (EIRNS)The British government has announced, according to the TimesOnLine, that its Serious Fraud Office is relaunching a criminal investigation of corruption at the international military materiel/mercenary slush fund and fraud agency known as BAE Systems.
Dozens of senior BAE executives are to be questioned over the next two months about bribery involved in secret commissions arranged over many years through arms contracts with South Africa, Tanzania, Romania, the Czech Republic, and fascist Gen. Augusto Pinochet's Chile. No mention was made of renewing the investigation of BAE's illicit deals with Saudi Arabia that former Prime Minister Tony Blair shut down.
The British-Saudi BAE ventures that the U.S. Justice Department is attempting to investigate, are not joint British-Saudi operations, but ones in which the Saudis are patsies for the British, Lyndon LaRouche notes. He adds that it is a myth that the Saudis are loyal to the memory of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. "That's not true," he said. "Essentially they are controlled by Sykes-Picot," the British-manipulated 1916 agreement that carved up the Ottoman Empire.
Labour Government Accused of Withholding BAE Evidence
Dec. 7 (EIRNS)During a debate in the House of Lords yesterday, Lord Avebury (Eric Reginald Lubbock) charged that the British government has made a decision not to hand over to the United States its evidence on the BAE bribery-and-slush-fund case, which revolves around Dick Cheney's favorite Saudi, Prince Bandar. Avebury is a member of the Liberal Democrats, the party that boycotted the visit last month by Saudi King Abdullah and his entourage, because of the BAE-Al Yamama corruption, and Tony Blair's coverup of it. Avebury says the Gordon Brown government has already decided not to cooperate with the U.S., but won't admit it openly.
Lord West of Spithead, on behalf of the Home Office, denied that the Home Secretary has refused the U.S. request, and said he is "in the process of giving the request the detailed consideration it requires." Lord Thomas of Greshford then asked if the government has given any assistance at all yet to the American authorities, or whether it is just going to sit for the next 12 months.
Germany Needs a New Bismarck, Says Zimbabwe Official
Dec. 11 (EIRNS)In response to German Chancellor Angela Merkel's attack on Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe, at the just-concluded European Union-African Union summit in Lisbon, Minister of Information Sikhanyiso Ndlovu told the Zimbabwe Herald that Germany needs a leader like Otto von Bismarck, who fought for unification and the eradication of injustice. "She needs to read German history and be oriented," he said of Merkel.
Upon return from the summit, Mugabe said: "We defeated the British, we were the victors over the British. What is Britain after all? They think the empire runs. There is no empire to talk about." Mugabe also addressed the broader issue of the summit, saying, "The summit was discussing cooperation between Africa and Europe, so that we help each other develop our countries. It was not a meeting to discuss Zimbabwe, but you just heard 'Mugabe, Mugabe, Mugabe,' and I said this is not my meeting, but it's for Africa and the EU."