Western European News Digest
Sweden: Unanimous Decision To Burn Bondholders
June 17 (EIRNS)The Swedish parliament voted yesterday to burn the bondholders and bankers, not the taxpayers, in case of a banking crisis. The relevant part of the statement reads: "A framework should be based on rules and principles that make fully clear that all banks, regardless of being big or small, can be liquidated, and that it is the bankowners and the bondholders that should pay the costs, not the taxpayers, as happened in the [Swedish 1990-94] financial crisis."
The historic decision was unanimous on this point. Although the decision is a statement, not a law, it will have very important influence on future decisions to handle a new banking crisis. The decision is a step in the direction of Glass-Steagall, which needs to be fully implemented to clarify the regulations on how to handle the evolving banking crisis.
In a similar policy statement, Swedish Finance Minister Anders Borg this morning called for bondholders to take losses in Greece.
Navy Chief: U.K. Libya Intervention Unsustainable
June 14 (EIRNS)Adm. Sir Mark Stanhope, the chief of the British Navy, told the Telegraph that the British military operations in Libya cannot be sustained for more than another three months, due budget cuts in the military. "He said the campaign would have been more effective without the Government's defence cuts," wrote the Telegraph. "The aircraft carrier and the Harrier jump-jets scrapped under last year's strategic defence review would have made the mission more effective, faster and cheaper, he said. He warned that the Navy would not be able to sustain its operations in Libya for another three months without making cuts elsewhere."
Armed Forces Chief Gen. Sir David Richards slapped down Stanhope, assuring one and all that the Brits can walk on water.
Italian Minister on Libya: Use Funds for Democracy, not Bombs
June 17 (EIRNS)Italian Interior Minister Roberto Maroni, speaking at a national police trade-union meeting on June 15, said that "[Yesterday], the U.S. Congress rejected Obama's request for more funding for the offensive in Libya. The Italian government and the European governments should do the same and use the money to develop democracy, not for bombs."
Maroni made his statement on the eve of the national mass rally of his party, Lega Nord, to take place June 19.
British Public Sector Workers Call for Biggest Strike in 100 Years
June 18 (EIRNS)The two largest teachers unions in the U.K. voted in favor of a strike over the government's change in pension policies, in the first sign of opposition since half a million people demonstrated against the Cameron government's cuts in March. The vote by the National Union of Teachers and the Association of Teachers and Lecturers is expected to close schools across England and Wales this term, affecting millions of children. Both state and private schools will be affected.
Also this week, Britain's public sector union, UNISON, called for the biggest strike action in Britain in 100 years, to defend their pension rights and protest the general cut in public services, layoffs, and wage cuts. UNISON is part of the Trade Union Congress, which organized the general strike earlier against the government's austerity measures.
Union General Secretary Dave Prentis said, "It will be the biggest since the general strike. It won't be the miners' strike. We are going to win," Prentis told the Guardian. (In 1984, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher crushed a miners strike after 51 weeks, which allowed her to impose austerity conditions, layoffs, and closures.)
Prentis said that he had full backing from his members, and that they were now recruiting support for the campaign outside the workplace, sending representatives into community groups to organize. A motion at the union's conference next week would formalize this campaign.
Berlin Daily Attacks WBGU as Unconstitutional
June 14 (EIRNS)Alexander Gauland, a conservative Christian Democrat and former chief editor of the Potsdam-based Märkische Allgemeine Zeitung, has an op-ed in today's Berlin Tagesspiegel, which, under the headline, "Modern Jacobins," states that Hans Joachim Schellnhuber's Advisory Council on Global Change (WBGU), which advises the government of Chancellor Angela Merkel, doesn't stand on constitutional grounds. The WBGU is promoting policies that are reducing the economic-technological potentials of the future generation and is imposing an ecological dictatorship for which there is no room in the Constitution, Gauland charges.
One may read this op-ed as an implicit reference to Constitutional Court action, as former Court chairman Hans Papier mooted three weeks ago, that the changes in nuclear laws that Merkel plans may not survive the Court's scrutiny. Court action would be taken, however, only after the law were changed, which would not prevent the law from coming into being in the first place.
City of London, the New Venice
June 13 (EIRNS)A new working paper from the Centre for Research on Socio-Cultural Change (CRESC) of the U.K.'s Open University likens the City of London to a "city-state within the national economy," which is operating as Venice and other Italian city-states did in the 14th Century, i.e., a parasite on the nation.
"London is now running an entrepôt trade in money at the intersection of the international time zones, just as Italian city-states like Genoa or Venice had run an entrepôt trade in goods at the intersection of the trade routes from the East and the Mediterranean to the North and West of Europe," the CRESC describes the monster. Finance is more lucrative than trade, for London and "for 14th century Florence, where Peruzzi and Bardi were major lenders to Edward III in England and managed many of the financial affairs of the rest of Europe"until they went under, when Edward III defaulted on his loans.
Left unsaid is that the bankruptcy of the Bardi and Peruzzi banking houses presaged the plague of the Black Death in Europe.
British Government Advisor: Drop Climate Change from School Curriculum
June 13 (EIRNS)A British government advisor recommended that climate change be excluded from the national curriculum. Tim Oates, the head of a review of the curriculum for children 5 to 16 years old, which will be published later this year, told the Guardian that the curriculum needs "to get back to the science in science."
Oates wants to reduce the curriculum from the 500 pages it grew to under the Labour Party governments, which had pushed "topical issues" such as climate change over basic scientific knowledge.
Climate change has featured in the national curriculum since 1995.