Western European News Digest
Spain's Zapatero Government Takes Election Hit
May 23 (EIRNS)Spanish Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero's Socialist Party (PSOE) got smashed in yesterday's municipal elections. Early returns showas expectedthat the ruling Socialist Party took a big hit in several regions, to the benefit of the right-wing People's Party (PP) of former President and fascist lunatic José Maria Aznar and his henchman, Presidential aspirant Mariano Rajoy.
With half of the vote counted, the PP garnered 36% of the vote, compared to 28% for the PSOE. It appears that the PSOE may have lost local elections in Barcelona, Spain's second largest city. In the Castilla-La Mancha region, where the PSOE has controlled the regional legislature for decades, the election is still too close to call.
There are already calls for early elections in Spain, but Zapatero said he has no plan to call them before the 2012 scheduled date.
'The Revolution Is Here and Now': Spanish Youth
May 22 (EIRNS)The key dynamic behind the Spanish elections is the ongoing protest organized by Spanish youthcalling themselves the "Indignados"who remain camped out in Madrid's Puerta del Sol, as well as in other urban centers. This morning, the general assembly, which has played a leadership role at Puerta del Sol, voted to extend the protest there "for at least another week," and in the meantime, to debate what form the continuing protest would take. That it will continue, however, there is no doubt. As one youth told the daily El Mundo, the protest will continue "until there is a just social change for the majority, because the revolution is here and now, for the whole world."
Protesters also want to start moving into Madrid's other neighborhoods and setting up permanent campsites there.
French Deputies Create Inquiry on Toxic Loans
May 25 (EIRNS)The Finance Commission of the French National Assembly has decided to create a Parliamentary Inquiry Commission on Toxic Loans, to deal with loans that local governments have contracted and which, as Bloomberg puts it, "threaten their existence."
Such an initiative was called for by LaRouche associate and French Presidential candidate Jacques Cheminade on March 1, when it became obvious that hundreds of local governments, hospitals, fire departments, and similar agencies, had been swindled into taking low-interest loans whose interest rates were indexed to derivatives parameters, such as currency rates, which caused the rates to balloon, thereby driving them even more disastrously into the very debt they had taken to loans to alleviate.
The proposal to create such a commission was unanimously adopted by the Finance Commission.
Germany's Anti-Nuclear Drive Widely Denounced
May 24 (EIRNS)International Energy Agency (IEA) director Nobuo Tanaka warned yesterday that Germany's exit from nuclear power threatens energy security for all of Europe. Because Europe's energy market is increasingly interconnected, the German decision affects the entire continent, Tanaka said in an interview with the Financial Times Deutschland.
Four German electrical grid operators warned Chancellor Angela Merkel that her intent to keep the seven older reactors, which account for a combined capacity of 8,000 megawatts of power, permanently shut beyond the current three-month moratorium, which expires on June 17, could lead to widespread blackouts this Winter.
The Office of Technology Impact Assessment, in a survey commissioned by the science and research committee of the German parliament, warned that power blackouts lasting for several days could be a "national catastrophe" for Germany. Crucial infrastructure such as transportation, telecommunications, energy supply, and the health-care system, would be affected severely.
Swiss Government Goes for Nuclear Phase-Out
May 26 (EIRNS)The Swiss cabinet decided yesterday not to replace the country's five existing nuclear reactors. If the policy gets through parliament, the last nuclear energy could be generated in the mid-2030s.
This decision comes despite a February referendum that supported replacement of reactors, and despite a report this month from Switzerland's Federal Nuclear Safety Inspectorate (ENSI) that found no immediate danger for Swiss nuclear plants, in light of the Fukushima incident.
The move has been denounced by Economiesuisse, the national association of Swiss firms in the power and manufacturing sector.
Will France Impose Water Rationing?
May 25 (EIRNS)The current drought hitting Europe keeps worsening. While farmers pray for rain, close to half the French departments (counties) are in a state of alert, and measures rationing water have been imposed.
On May 16, French Environment Minister Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet consulted the Drought Committee, a technical committee in charge of monitoring the situation. But nothing has been decided to reverse the situation. Even worse, Kosciusko-Morizet stressed that the French government will go ahead with its policy of reducing water consumption by 20% between now and 2020, "by calling on consumers to become aware of the necessity to act."
To prepare for rationing, a brainwashing program has started. According to an IFOP poll for the weekly Sud-Ouest Dimanche, 86% of French citizens are willing to accept freshwater rationing during the day, when presumably many are at work, and not making household use of water.
BAE Implicated in New/Old Bribery Case
May 23 (EIRNS)New evidence has surfaced in Sweden implicating the Swedish jet fighter manufacturer SAAB and the British company BAE in a bribery case to sell Swedish Jas Gripen fighters to South Africa. SAAB and BAE established a joint venture in the early 1990s, Gripen International, to market the Swedish jet fighter to a number of countries by paying bribes to politicians and government officials. An investigative news program on Swedish TV4 said showed new evidence on how SAAB, mostly through BAE and its wholly-owned subsidiary Sanip in South Africa, paid up to EU150 million to Fana Hlongwane, the advisor to then-South African Defense Minister Joe Modise, in order to facilitate the deal.
Unidentified Fingerprints on Kelly's Records
May 25 (ERINS)According to oxfordmail.co.uk/news, yet another "irregularity" has emerged in the case of the death in 2003 of U.K. weapons expert, Dr. David Kelly, who had challenged the Blair government's claim that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. Kelly's death was deemed a suicide, despite massive evidence to the contrary.
Unidentified fingerprints have now been found on Kelly's dental records, which were not reported to the Hutton Inquiry Commission, which investigated his death.
Kelly's file disappeared for 48 hours following an alleged break-in at his dentist's office on the day his body was discovered in 2003.