Western European News Digest
Glass-Steagall in Swedish Parliament
March 7 (EIRNS)In an historic breakthrough for Sweden, two parliamentarians raised questions about separating speculative activities by banks to avoid the risk of further bailouts, in an open hearing by the Financial Committee March 1. Both are the spokespersons on economic matters for their respective parties: Ulla Andersson for the Left Party and Anders Sellstroem for the Christian Democratic Party. The questions were put to a panel with the Minister of Finance, the heads of the Central Bank, and the Swedish Financial Supervisory Authority.
This first mention of a Glass-Steagall policy in the presence of the government makes the issue now an official policy option. Both civil servants in the panel opened up for this kind of discussion, even though they did not directly answer the questions. The financial and media dictatorship in the country has been outflanked by a year-long intensive campaign by the LaRouche Movement-European Labor Party (EAP) in Sweden, which has produced and distributed 100,000 pamphlets over the last year.
Irish Independents Form Technical Group in Dáil
March 8 (EIRNS)Sixteen of the nineteen elected Independents and members of small parties have agreed to form a technical group in the Irish parliament (Dáil). This group, together with the 14-person Sinn Féin delegation, will lead the opposition to the newly formed Fine Gael/Labour Party coalition.
Sinn Féin MPs, along with many of the unprecedented number of elected Independents, campaigned on the key issue of saving Irish sovereignty and "burning the bondholders," and are now discussing a strategy of a debt audit for Ireland, together with other indebted countries, to be followed up by a national constitutional referendum on separating the unpayable gambling debts of the banks from the sovereign debts of the country.
The Independent group will be led by Finian McGrath, well known for his support of the ill and disabled; Joe Higgins, Socialist Party leader; and Shane Ross, former Senator and business editor of the Sunday Independent, who ran against the "rogue bankers" in his campaign for parliament.
German Engineers Strike Has Popular Support
March 10 (EIRNS)Germany's locomotive engineers (GdL) trade union voted overwhelmingly yesterday for an open-ended strike, following several "lightning strikes" in the passenger transport sector. The GdL is well-organized, and has proven in earlier strikes that it can paralyze a good part of the train service nationally; in a couple of warning strikes during the past four weeks, it succeeded in bringing 80% of all trains to a halt for two, three, or five hours, on several select days.
A recent opinion poll, carried out by Germany's second national TV channel ZDF, showed 64% of the population in favor of the striking locomotive engineers, as opposed to 31% against. This high percentage for the strikers is the more astonishing, as millions of commuters have to suffer when trains won't get them to their jobs on time, because of strikes. A showdown between the state-run Deutsche Bahn (DB) and the private railway companies (which are the main target of this strike, because of their wage-dumping practices) may, therefore, produce some rather surprising developments in the mass-strike category, since the population is fed up with a lot of things which the politicians and the elites are doing.
Her Majesty's Army To Break Mass Strike
March 12 (EIRNS)Taking a lesson from Colonel Qaddafi, the British government will deploy the Army, fresh from the killing fields of Afghanistan, against striking workers at home. Friday's Independent reported that the first 3,000 troops will begin training in procedures such as arrest and restraining techniques. They will then be held on standby for seven months between April and December. They could be deployed as early as March 14, when the prison staff have threatened to go on strike. Approval for the program came March 10, with the Army being ordered to be ready by April 1. An entire battalion could be deployed if prison staff go on strike at eight prisons.
Will the British Army take a lesson from the Egyptian military and refuse to suppress the rights of its own people?
EU, NATO Still at Odds Over How To Oust Qaddafi
March 11 (EIRNS)European Union heads of state met Friday in Brussels in emergency session on Libya, but were unable to come up with a consensus on how to oust Libyan strongman Muammar Qaddafi from power, even though everyone agrees that he has to go. French President Nicolas Sarkozy jumped ahead of everyone else by formally recognizing the opposition leadership in Benghazi as the legitimate government, and he has called for a no-fly zone and bombing of Libyan air force targets, if Qaddafi deploys his air force against civilian populations. He is being backed by Britain's David Cameron, but EU Foreign Minister Catherine Ashton strongly opposed the military escalation, claiming to speak for the EU consensus.
Portugal Could Be the Trigger for Euro Blowout
March 8 (EIRNS)Monday's downgrading of Greek debt by Moody's led to predictable record leaps in bond yields for Ireland (9.44%), Portugal (7.55%), and Spain (5.41%). Some bankers think that Portugal will be the next likely country to blow out, followed shortly by Spain. One foreign-exchange broker cited by the New Zealand Herald stated: "This could potentially be a very tricky month for the euroit's a car crash waiting to happen.... I think Portugal is weeks away, and I think Portugal will be the trigger."
Higgins Denounces 'Witch Doctors of Brussels'
March 10 (EIRNS)Irish Socialist Party leader and Member of Parliament Joe Higgins denounced the "Program for Government" of the new government led by Enda Kenny of the Fine Geal and the Labor Party as a "grotesque betrayal" of the people's democratic revolution. Higgins added that the new government would implement "almost to the letter" the plans of "the late and unlamented" Fianna Fail/Green regime.
"The poisonous cocktail of austerity, concocted by the witch doctors in Brussels and Frankfurt because of the sickness of the European financial system, is to continue to be force-fed to the Irish people by this new Government," he said.