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Europe Archive

Thursday, April 10, 2003

When Democracy Failed: The Warnings of History: February 27, 2003, was the 70th anniversary of Dutch terrorist Marinus van der Lubbe's successful firebombing of the German Parliament (Reichstag) building, the terrorist act that catapulted Hitler to legitimacy and reshaped the German constitution. By the time of his successful and brief action to seize Austria, in which almost no German blood was shed, Hitler was the most beloved and popular leader in the history of his nation.
   ... Through the 1930s, however, Hitler and Roosevelt chose very different courses to bring their nations back to power and prosperity. Germany's response was to use government to empower corporations and reward the society's richest individuals, privatize much of the commons, stifle dissent, strip people of constitutional rights, and create an illusion of prosperity through continual and ever-expanding war. America passed minimum wage laws to raise the middle class, enforced anti-trust laws to diminish the power of corporations, increased taxes on corporations and the wealthiest individuals, created Social Security, and became the employer of last resort through programs to build national infrastructure, promote the arts, and replant forests.  To the extent that our Constitution is still intact, the choice is again ours.

Wednesday, March 19, 2003

BBC NEWS - Robin Cook's resignation speech: "Ironically, it is only because Iraq's military forces are so weak that we can even contemplate its invasion. Some advocates of conflict claim that Saddam's forces are so weak, so demoralised and so badly equipped that the war will be over in a few days. We cannot base our military strategy on the assumption that Saddam is weak and at the same time justify pre-emptive action on the claim that he is a threat. "

Friday, March 14, 2003

Germans Revisit War's Agony, Ending a Taboo: " the new awareness of the Allied bombings and the devastation they wrought has become an important element in German opposition to the expected American war on Iraq. What people like Ms. Lang and Ms. John, both antiwar activists in Dresden, have been saying is something like this: We have direct knowledge of the gruesome effects of war and we don't want anybody else to experience what we have experienced."

Sunday, February 09, 2003

France-Germany Hatching a Plan: "Germany and France are working on a new plan to try to avert war in Iraq that would compel Baghdad to admit thousands of U.N. troops to enforce disarmament and tighter sanctions, a magazine said on Saturday. A German government spokesman confirmed Berlin and Paris were working together to find a peaceful alternative to war with Iraq, but would not provide any details of the efforts. "

Friday, January 31, 2003

The Guardian : Speak for this nation War at this time is wrong because, given Iraq's currently unresolved, ambiguous circumstances, it is not a remotely justifiable or sensible way to conduct our affairs. Does anybody honestly believe that if Baghdad falls to US armour and Saddam is dethroned, that will be the end of the story? Those who enthusiastically support an attack may yet have their "victory day". But even as they turn away in tricked-out triumph, and turn away they surely will, as after the one-day wonder of Kabul's capitulation, the real problems will begin in earnest.

Saturday, December 28, 2002

Rigorous Recycling: "Some 50.7 billion aluminum cans were tossed last year instead of being recycled... recycling of aluminum will dip below 50 percent this year, a rate not seen since 1986.... aluminum-can recycling is a bellwether for other kinds of recycling... because it's valuable, easy, and cheap to reuse."

A Restive Kosovo, Officially Still Serbian, Squirms Under the Status Quo: "Ever since NATO bombed the Serbia of Slobodan Milosevic in 1999 to stop Serbian attempts to crush an armed rebellion by Kosovo's repressed Albanian majority, the international bureaucrats have tried to defer a decision on the ultimate status of what remains, officially, a Serbian province. It is an act increasingly hard to pull off -- largely because many of the Albanians of Kosovo are aware of the foreigners' desire, particularly palpable in conversation with American officials, to end their involvement here."

Thursday, December 19, 2002

Untypically, a Rockefeller Tells the Story of His Life: "David Rockefelle, at age 87, has become the first in three generations of Rockefellers to publish an autobiography, breaking a century-long habit of fierce privacy instilled in his clan by his grandfather. "Memoirs," a candid account of Mr. Rockefeller's life at the busy intersection of global banking, family business and unofficial diplomacy, made its debut from Random House yesterday."

Friday, December 13, 2002

New Kind of Dam Rises in Switzerland: To Hold Back the Land: Global warming: "Swiss scientists are studying landslides to determine which ones may have been caused by melting permafrost. One terrifying instance was in September in the Caucasus, in Russia. There, scientists say, 140 million cubic feet of rock layers, including a mass of ice, rock and ferns, snapped off and began a free fall down the the northern slope of Kazbek Mountain, gathering fresh mud, trees and rock until it hit the Kolka Glacier. A portion of the glacier sheared off and an estimated 2.1 billion cubic feet of snow, trees, ice, debris, rock, mud and water continued to rumble toward the bottom of the mountain. It landed in the Genaldon Gorge, near Karmadon, and killed about 140 people. The compressed avalanche dammed several lakes, including one whose water rose to flood level, threatening a second village."

A Life Divided: Italy's Quixote of Terrorism: " March 14, 1972, Giangiacomo Feltrinelli, a leading European publisher who was one of Italy's richest men, was blown up trying to ignite a terrorist bomb on an electric pylon outside Milan. It was a strange and yet emblematic end to the complex career of a man who was a major figure in the history of postwar European culture. Feltrinelli had helped revolutionize Italian book publishing. The son of a family of wealthy Italian monarchists, he joined the Communist Party while still a teenager. He nonetheless published, over the objections of the Soviet Union, the first world edition of Boris Pasternak's "Doctor Zhivago," an event that shook the Soviet empire and won Pasternak the Nobel Prize for Literature. Feltrinelli also started the first (and still the best) great bookstore chain in Italy, which still bears his name."

Monday, December 09, 2002

Chechen in Extradition Dispute: Criminal or Peacemaker?: "Akhmed Zakayev has been an actor and a rebel commander, a negotiator, a politician and then a commander again. Bearded, articulate and mild-mannered, he has over the last decade become perhaps the most prominent public face of Chechnya's struggle for independence from Russia. To the Russian government, he is a terrorist and a murderer... To others, even some in Russia, he is none of those things, but rather the best hope for a peaceful resolution of Russia's long, bloody Chechen conflict."

Sunday, December 01, 2002

Guardian - Fire union chief pledges to topple New Labour: "FBU leader appeared determined to extend the breadth of his attack against the Government beyond the issue of the 16 per cent salary increase, which has been rejected. He said that war against Iraq would be wrong and directly attacked the Chan cellor's decision to provide £1 billion pounds of funding for any future military campaign. 'It's disgraceful to say that for people in this country who are prepared to risk their lives to save others you can't find any extra money, but you can find at least a billion to bomb innocent men, women and children in Iraq,' he told the rally. 'I have no nostalgic romanticism about old Labour but there are real Labour values built on real social progress, on real justice for working class people and indeed for fairness for all.' "

Sunday, November 24, 2002

Conservatives Sweep Vote in Austria: "Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel's conservative party made large gains to dominate parliamentary elections on Sunday, according to initial results. But his coalition partner, the anti-immigration party of Joerg Haider, was pounded at the polls, the results released by state television showed. Preliminary results showed Schuessel's People's Party captured over 42 percent, the Interior Ministry said. That's a 16 percentage-point increase over its performance in 1999 elections. Haider's Freedom Party stood at just over 10 percent, down nearly two-thirds from the 27 percent it captured in the last elections. The Social Democrats also gained but appeared to have been outpaced by the People's Party. They were listed at just over 37 percent, more than three percentage points more than in the last elections. The environmentalist Greens stood at around 9 percent, little changed from their results two years ago, the preliminary results showed."

Wednesday, November 13, 2002

Erik H. Thoreson | Bush Liberates Europe!: "Bush intends "to extend the benefits of liberty and prosperity through the spread of American values and tangible rewards for good governance." Discussion and speculation abound. What will the new Americanized Europe look like?...
After more than half a century of high-quality, universal and equal healthcare treatment for all, Norwegians will adopt the more elegant pay-as-you-go American system. The best medicine will be reserved for those who can afford it. Those who can't will either join a limited service, for-profit HMO or simply go without healthcare. After all, who said healthcare was a right? It is a privilege for those who have earned the right to pay for it....
To improve their safety and allow them to defend their personal property, Europeans will be encouraged to own and carry handguns, assault rifles and any other weapons they want. There is little doubt Europe will be the "safer" place promised by Bush once capital punishment returns"

Monday, November 11, 2002

Spaniards at Last Confront the Ghost of Franco: "only now is the country beginning to confront the terror of the 1936 army uprising and civil war that brought the generalissimo to power. Nearly 40 percent of Spain's 40 million people either were not born when Franco ruled or are too young to remember him. So in fits and starts, Spaniards are overcoming their fear that something bad will happen if they remember, shattering a conspiracy of silence that may force Spain's center-right government to acknowledge an era it wants to forget."

Sunday Herald - Ian Bell: "can liberal Americans really despise [Bush] so much if they cannot even be bothered to vote against his party? And does a result unthinkable in European terms not remind us, finally, that our American allies have become very distant cousins indeed? Isolationism is a fact of US history. American power, meanwhile, is now the only relevant fact in world affairs. The decay of American politics, its simul taneous surrender to money and voter apathy, is a third fact we now take for granted -- while listening to all those lectures on freedom -- yet we rarely make the connection between these truths.... A nervous people fearing attack have chosen the promise of security, have watched bemused as their leaders have lurched back and forth between bombast and paranoia, but have not all become subscribers to the weird Republican doctrine of interventionist isolationism. If -- and it is a big if -- the Democrats can begin to articulate reasoned dissent then America's multiple personalities, its extraordinary diversity, will again assert themselves.  Two apparently contradictory things are clear. First, according to all the rules, Bush won his electoral prize hands- down. Second, this president has yet to forge the sort of coalition among his own people that makes a long war possible -- let alone convince the rest of the world. Vietnam is too often called in evidence -- this time the stakes are much higher -- but the history of that conflict contains an important truth. It began with a broad consensus and ended in acrimony so profound that America was almost torn apart. It was launched by Democrats and continued by Republicans, but in the end neither party was capable of sustaining the effort, or of explaining away its sheer pointlessness. "

Friday, November 08, 2002

Russia and the Wages of Terror: "A young generation of radical Chechen fighters, reared on these Russian methods, is now fighting far more cruelly for the liberation of their land from federal forces than the Aslan Maskhadov, the aging Chechen president. And only a small fraction of those radicals was destroyed by Russian special forces in the Moscow theater on Oct. 26; the far larger part is preparing new acts of revenge against Russia that we cannot anticipate. At the same time, the intellectual inadequacy of our special services, especially the Federal Security Service, has become obvious."

Friday, July 26, 2002

Radical Union Leaders Are Threatening a Hot British Summer: "Mr. Blair's government has produced a minimum wage and passed some labor-friendly laws, but the militant new leaders object to his emphasis on involving private enterprise in public-sector areas like health and transportation. The private-public partnerships, as Mr. Blair calls them, are at the heart of his plans to modernize the government, stimulate the economy and meet voter demands for better services. The union leaders are professing contempt for the Labor Party, which was organized a century ago to represent the working class but recast by Mr. Blair as "New Labor," a more centrist political force stripped of its socialist ideology and frequent hostility to business. "I came not to praise New Labor but to bury it," John Edmonds, leader of the union representing public-sector workers, said Saturday at a meeting of the Trades Union Congress in London. Delegates called for a "summer of discontent,""

Sunday, July 21, 2002

America the Invulnerable? The World Looks Again: "American contempt for a weak Europe is producing pressure for more unity, more outspoken independence and a clearer understanding that Europe must spend more money on its military forces if Washington is going to take it seriously. Real interests are diverging, and years of talk about tensions and resentments have crystallized into a sudden perception that the relationship itself has changed. On fundamental issues like the International Criminal Court, the Kyoto environmental treaty and the crisis in the Middle East, even strongly pro-American leaders like the British prime minister, Tony Blair, and the German foreign minister, Joschka Fischer, are openly differing with America with a public bluntness that would have been unthinkable five years ago -- or in the weeks after Sept. 11."

Tuesday, May 28, 2002

Poland's Top Scorer Gets a Cold Welcome: "Emmanuel Olisadebe has scored 10 goals in 16 games for his adopted country, including eight in World Cup qualifying matches. Still, his appearance in Poland's red-and-white uniform has provoked xenophobic behavior from the team's own fans. Never before has Poland fielded a black player. Among his teammates, Olisadebe, 23, is popular for his unpretentious personality and his magnificent skill. Not all Poles have offered the same embrace. Last year, at a so-called friendly match in Warsaw between Poland and Iceland, some home fans tossed bananas on the field. The same thing happened the season before in a league match in the town of Lubin, which devastated Olisadebe. It was left to Tomasz Waldoch, the Polish captain, to defuse the situation, according to Coach Jerzy Engel. "They threw bananas at all of us, not just at Oli," Waldoch told the team after the Iceland match. "If they don't want us, we won't play here again." If he didn't already, Olisadebe knew then where he stood with his teammates. Shoulder to shoulder."

Thursday, May 23, 2002

Look Out, the Gurkhas Have Come! With Lawyers: " former Gurkhas have begun legal proceedings against the British government in the High Court here. Britain, they say, has discriminated against them for as long as they have been part of its army, paying them far less than other British soldiers and denying them a range of rights their colleagues take for granted. The case has an unusually high profile, in part because Cherie Booth, the wife of Prime Minister Tony Blair, is on the Gurkhas' legal team, essentially charging her husband's government with human rights violations."

Thursday, May 02, 2002

Ex-Soldier Fabricated Chechnya Story, Russian Officials Say: "Andrei Samorodov, a former Russian Army officer who said last month that he had fled the battlefield in Chechnya in 1999 to escape pressure from fascist cadets to execute civilians during Russia's assault, was not serving in the army at that time, according to Russian officials and acquaintances of his. Mr. Samorodov apparently fabricated his case for political asylum in the United States, which was granted in May 2000"

Tuesday, April 30, 2002

Trotskyist on a First-Name Basis to France: "Arlette Laguiller... No one really believes that 10 percent of the French want the overthrow of the Fifth Republic, leaving analysts to puzzle over the reason for her support. Some say it is her sheer familiarity. She has been in the public eye for more than 30 years. The French have watched her progress from a trendy militant in a leather jacket to a dowdy pensioner. A recent survey in the magazine Elle found she was the one candidate with whom voters would feel most comfortable sharing their problems. Others say voters are attracted to her integrity. Her message has never changed, and she seems to live what she preaches. She owns virtually nothing and contributes her salary as a member of the European Parliament to her party, the Workers' Struggle. Still others say her support is a measure of the disgust that French voters bring to the election this year."

Tuesday, April 23, 2002

French Political Leaders Rally Around Chirac: "Mr. Le Pen had benefited from a large field of candidates that splintered the vote. With many of the center-left believing that Mr. Jospin's qualification was assured, they voted instead for ecologists or other candidates only to discover that they had contributed to the total eclipse of the French left." - Another example of why "instant runoff voting" would be useful.

Monday, April 08, 2002

'Sakharov': From the H-Bomb to Human Rights: "Richard Lourie has written a biography.. Sakharov's first impulse to liberation was not revulsion against the political system (''I still believed that the Soviet state represented a breakthrough into the future'') but his sense of guilt about the deaths caused by radioactive fallout from the nuclear tests he directed. When he advised cutting back on the tests, he encountered the unyielding, repressive Soviet system that he had seen applied only to others."

The Mideast in Marseille: Violence Shakes a City. A ruined Marseille temple is only one of a series of Jewish sites that have been targets in the past week of homemade bombs in almost a dozen French cities.

Thursday, April 04, 2002

Oil Concerns in Russia Branch Out: "Russian oil companies, overflowing with cash and crude, have begun snapping up "downstream" assets like pipelines and refineries outside Russia, mainly in the former Soviet bloc countries of Eastern Europe. Russia overtook Saudi Arabia in the month of February as the world's largest producer, and its steadily rising output is far beyond the amount domestic demand can absorb. The country's oil companies are moving to secure market outlets and captive customers for their crude. "

Friday, March 29, 2002

Italy's Unions Seem Ready for Battle: "Italian government's resolve to create a more flexible labor market is coming under increasing resistance from the nation's traditionally powerful labor unions, threatening to unleash the worst labor trouble in decades and challenging the government of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. "

Tuesday, March 26, 2002

Europe Versus United States in Steel War: "In 1980, Europe's five largest steel companies accounted for 30 percent of steel production in the European Union. Today, the top five account for more than 60 percent. By contrast, the top five American companies account for about a third of the American market, and they are all much smaller than their biggest rivals in either Europe or Asia. Europe's steel employment, meanwhile, has shrunk radically, from nearly 800,000 workers in 1980 to fewer than 280,000 today."

Saturday, March 23, 2002

Rome Swamped by 2 Million Protesters: "At least two million trade unionists descended on Rome on Saturday, filling the city center with a sea of red flags in a massive show of force against plans by Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi to re-write labor laws. The demonstration was also broadened into a protest against political violence following the killing last Tuesday of a senior government adviser who helped draw up changes to Italy's long-standing employment rules."

Friday, March 22, 2002

Italian Terrorists Say They Killed Economist: "An offshoot of the Red Brigades terror group said today that it was responsible for the shooting death on Tuesday of an Italian economist who was working on bitterly contested changes in Italy's labor laws. The group also said the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States were a model of effective terrorism. A 26-page communiqué portrayed the slaying of the economist, Marco Biagi, as part of a global struggle against "imperialism." "

Monday, March 18, 2002

Former East Germany sinks into economic backwater: "Young people are abandoning 'the poor eastern brother' in search of jobs and job training in Munich and other prosperous parts of Germany."

Sunday, March 17, 2002

Russian Defector Says Army Killed Civilians in Chechnya: " says that young fascist cadets in his elite airborne unit encouraged soldiers to execute civilians during the assault." - swastikas and all.

Military Gulf Separates U.S. and European Allies: "European governments sense that they are increasingly becoming second-rank powers, unable to affect American foreign policy goals because they can bring too few military assets to the table."

Tuesday, March 12, 2002

British Police to Stop and Search More on Street, With Safeguard: "Britain directed the police today to increase stop-and-search street investigations and, under new anti-bias guidelines, to require officers to give people forms explaining why they had been singled out."

Collected by Jonathan March with Radio Userland software