Western European News Digest
EU Junta Sets Timetable for Direct Taxation
Sept. 15 (EIRNS)EU Commissioner for Budget Janusz Lewandowski was in Rome yesterday for talks with the Italian government on the proposed EU direct taxation scheme. He gave an interview to the daily Milano Finanza in which he said that in mid-October, the EU Commission will publish a feasibility study to "evaluate the impact of potential new measures on citizens and on states." The various proposals will be discussed at the European Parliament and at the EU Council of governments. Then, "The official Commission proposals will come around mid-2011, at the beginning of the Polish Presidency [of the EU], so that an agreement can be reached in 2012." Lewandowski complained that the current system, with the 76% of EU budget being composed of government payments, "is not in line with the [Lisbon] Treaty and with the project of the founding fathers."
Anglophile Press Barrage Prelude to Financial Attack on Italy?
Sept. 17 (EIRNS)Some in Italy are worried about the campaign that the Anglo-American media are waging against Italian "corruption" as being a factor in perceived financial vulnerability.
The London Financial Times magazine, The Banker, writes that Italy is the next Greece. The author, Venetian-educated Silvia Pavoni, quotes Charles Calomiris, who "was one of the first people to predict Argentina's debt crisis a decade ago," and now says, "that Europe's biggest concern after Greece is Italy, given that it has the continent's second highest debt-to-Gross Domestic Product (GDP) ratio, not to mention the perceived level of corruption within the country."
Pro-drug global speculator George Soros spoke about an "Italian problem" in a recent interview with CNBC, the Italian Il Riformista writes. "For some time now, the country risk on Italy has increased, parallel to political uncertainties. On this issue, hedge funds are the most diffident, and have decided to increase their insurance level against adverse scenarios," i.e., the massive purchase of CDSs (credit default swaps).
The U.S.-based magazine Foreign Policy published an article on Italy by James Walston, entitled "Bordello State," which focusses on Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's sex scandals, and his relations with Russian Prime Minister Putin and Libyan strongman Qaddafi. The author is a British professor in Rome who used to write articles on terrorism for the London Guardian in the 1970s.
Saxony Police Union Head Gives BüSo Interview
BERLIN, Sept. 17 (EIRNS)In another breakthrough in the BüSo party's institutional work in Germany, the head of the Saxony police union, Matthias Kubitz, granted a one-hour interview to the BüSo (Civil Rights Solidarity Movement, led by Helga Zepp-LaRouche), in which he painted a devastating picture of the situation facing public employees.
Kubitz detailed the effects of planned layoffs of one-fourth of all policemen in the state of Saxony over the next few years, further increasing the already long response time to emergency 911 calls; in auto/deer accidents, response time already exceeds 90 minutes. He warned that if the present economic course does not changewith Mittelstand companies going either for low wages or shutting down altogether; young people moving west to the more prosperous states in the Federal Republic; and managers "earning" the lion's share of the moneyall this will lead to violent social tensions, which the police then have to deal with, made all the more difficult if the police officer patrolling the streets is seen as a representative of the ever-more-hated government.
According to his best information, he said violence against police has increased by 50% in the last years. The situation obviously puts officers under considerable stress, especially as the appropriate law enforcement manpower cannot be maintained as personnel cuts grow. He warned that the lack of police officers in some regions is becoming so bad, that the idea of vigilante committees (Bürgerwehr) is already being discussed by local citizens. Security might become a private commodity.
In response to a question, he also raised his deep concern that the lack of police manpower could be used by certain groupings to argue for deploying the military inside Germany, thereby possibly leading into a "military state." He pointed to the difference in task structure, in which the police are the helpers and friends to citizens and serve them, whereas the military has to defend the country against foreign enemies. "You don't want tanks providing security for a football stadium."
Mass Anti-Austerity Demonstrations in Greece
Sept. 13 (EIRNS)Prime Minister George Papandreou was met by 20,000 angry demonstrators in Thessaloniki, Greece's second-largest city, yesterday, when he arrived to give a speech on his austerity policy. In the speech, he claimed there will be no more new budget cuts. The previous cuts have already reduced the living standards of state workers by 20%. While saying Greece will not default or restructure it debt, he announced the privatization of the national railway, electricity, and other public companies, a move that will lead to further job cuts and income loss.
Demonstrators chanted "Thieves!" and "Let the rich pay for the crisis!" and held banners with slogans like "We Are Not for Sale" and "No to EU and International Monetary Fund," while trade unionists promise a Winter of discontent. Demonstrators came from all over the country to participate in the rallies organized by labor unions.
A Greek doctor, believed to be a member of a far-right group, tried to throw a shoe at Papandreou, shouting that his government betrayed the Greek people and served the interests of bankers. The man, who was seized by police, posted on his website a call to the people of Thessaloniki to "welcome Papandreou with their old shoes."
German Industry Group Demands Infrastructure Investments
Sept. 17 (EIRNS)In an unusual intervention, the Federation of German Industries (BDI), in a joint statement with 12 other associations, mostly in transportation, on Sept. 15 called on the German government to invest at least EU12 billion annually into German transportation infrastructure. "Germany lives more and more off its substance" of infrastructure, due to the last years' persistent underfunding, they warn. Between 2001-08, less than EU10 billion a year was invested by the Federal government, and only in 2009-10 in some areas, did funding reach the minimum EU12 billion that is required. German infrastructure is deteriorating to a "disturbing extent," the statement says. This is also reflected in the collapsing "rate of modernization," which describes the aging of capital investment in all means of transportation, which fell significantly, between 1980-2008, from 78% to 66%.
But, as the statement points out, "the quality of infrastructure is decisive for the wealth of tomorrow. The aim must be to secure an excellent transportation infrastructure for Germany" through more investments and more efficiency. "Well-developed and integrated transportation routes constitute the backbone of our export nation," as "essential preconditions for growth, wealth, climate protection, and quality of life." It points out that, "For every EU1 billion you invest in infrastructure, you create 20,000 jobs."
British 'Expert' Calls for Legalizing Cannabis
Sept. 14 (EIRNS)Her Majesty's drug pushers are reopening the debate in Great Britain on legalizing cannabis. Aberdeen University Prof. Roger Pertwee, the man who claims to have discovered THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, hashish, etc., called for legalizing cannabis and putting it on the same level as tobacco and alcohol. Speaking at the British Science Festival, he said, "We should consider licensing and marketing cannabis and cannabis products just as we do alcohol and tobacco. At the moment, cannabis is in the hands of criminals, and that's crazy. We're allowed to take alcohol, we're allowed to smoke cigarettes. Cannabis, if it's handled properly, is probably not going to be any more dangerous than that."
Pertwee was given big play in the British media, including interviews on BBC and Sky News, in which he said he wanted to restart the debate on legalizing cannabis. He played a leading role in finding so-called "medical uses" for marijuana, including in the development of Sativex, the licensed cannabis-based medication launched by the British biotech company, GW Pharmaceuticals, allegedly to relieve neuropathic pain and spasticity in multiple sclerosis.