UK government told “lies” about Iraq threat to justify war, reports The Telegraph

July 13, 2010

Iraq inquiry: Government ‘intentionally and substantially’ exaggerated WMD threat

Tony Blair’s government ‘intentionally and substantially’ exaggerated the threat from Saddam Hussein ahead of the war in Iraq, a former senior British diplomat has claimed.

By Rosa Prince, Political Correspondent
Published: 3:39PM BST 12 Jul 2010

 Carne Ross, who was First Secretary responsible for the Middle East at the United Nations, accused the former government of issuing “lies” to the public about the dictator’s capacity to launch weapons of mass destruction.

He said that it was a “disgrace” that ministers failed to exhaust all peaceful options before going to war against Iraq.

“There was no deliberate discussion of available alternatives to military action in advance of the 2003 invasion,” Mr Ross added.

“There is no record of that discussion, no official has referred to it, no minister has talked about it, and that seems to me to be a very egregious absence in this history – that at some point a Government before going to war should stop and ask itself, ‘are there available alternatives?”‘

French Labour Minister Eric Woerth quits as UMP treasurer in Bettencourt cash bribe scandal

July 13, 2010

Embattled French Labour Minister, Eric Woerth, has announced his resignation as treasurer of France’s ruling UMP party. Woerth, as chief fundraiser for Sarkozy’s 2007 election campaign, is accused of accepting 150,000 euros from L’Oreal heiress Liliane Bettencourt.

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“Can you imagine me coming to a dinner … and leaving with money…?”, asks Sarkozy

July 13, 2010

France is not a corrupt country, says Sarkozy

French President Nicolas Sarkozy in France 2 interview



French President Nicolas Sarkozy has strongly denied allegations that he took illegal cash donations from France’s richest woman, declaring “France is not a corrupt country”.
 Speaking during an hour-long interview on television station France 2, Sarkozy backed Labour Minister Eric Woerth who has also been accused of accepting handouts – alleged to amount to 150,000 euros – from L’Oreal heiress Liliane Bettencourt during the 2007 presidential race.

The Labour Minister has also been accused of conflict of interest because his wife helped manage the billionaire’s wealth.

“France is not a corrupt country,” the president declared. “The political class, left and right alike, is in general honest. French public officials are people of great rigour.”

Sarkozy said it was a disgrace to accuse him of visiting Bettencourt’s home to pick up illegal cash donations, and suggested those behind the allegations were taking part in a defamation campaign.

“Can you imagine me coming to a dinner in front of the guests round a table and leaving with money…?”, said Sarkozy.

The interview comes a day before the Labour Minister is set to present a controversial pension reform plan to the French Cabinet, which would raise the retirement age for public sector workers from 60 to 62

The role of the new media in informing the French about the Sarkozy scandal: Daniel Hannan discusses

July 13, 2010

Will Nicolas Sarkozy be brought down by le Guido français?

 By Daniel Hannan Last updated: July 10th, 2010

The Telegraph

Tiens! as we Old Brussels Hands say. Eh bien, je jamais.

The latest Sarko scandal is, by French standards, a run-of-the-mill affair: wealthy heiress, hidden slush fund, illicit donations, envelopes full of cash. But here’s the difference: French people are now able to read about each new allegation in France. The story has been broken largely by a subscription-only news website founded by a former editor of Le Monde. The Internet has smashed the oligopoly hitherto enjoyed by France’s dowdy and deferential newspapers.

The sheer servility of the French print media has to be experienced to be believed. When, for example, it emerged that a former president had set up his mistress with a seat in the European Parliament, French readers were wholly dependent on foreign reports. The same was true of many of François Mitterand’s peccadilloes, both sexual and political. Not until after he died was his Vichyite past openly discussed.

When Jacques Chirac pardoned more than a thousand politicians who had been found guilty of corruption, no French newspaper so much as alluded to the fact that they had been accused. Indeed, when Nigel Farage, the UKIP leader, pointed out that one of these politicians had been nominated as a European Commissioner, he was told by the President of the European Parliament to withdraw his remarks or risk prosecution.

Some foreigners laugh at the feebleness of French journalists. Others admire it. “Why can’t we be as grown-up as the French about these things?” say go-ahead metropolitan types. But the obsequiousness of French newspapers isn’t determined by their readers’ preferences. On the contrary, in few democracies do voters express such vehement contempt for their elected representatives. No, the reason that French reporters tend to lay off their politicians is because they have a symbiotic relationship with the government. They enjoy tax breaks and other perks, many of their newspapers are related to one or another of the political parties, and privacy laws are loaded against them.

They therefore frequently find themselves at odds with their readers. When France voted on the European Constitution five years ago, every newspaper except the Communist daily called for a Yes vote, leaving the No campaign to les bloggeurs. Guess who won?

Web-based news outlets are contributing to the decline of print media in the English-speaking world. In France, where a journalistic cartel has become reliant on political patronage, their opportunity is commensurately greater. Truly the Internet is a wonderful phenomenon.

French public anger grows at government sleaze allegations

July 13, 2010

When a poll this week found two thirds of French people consider their politicians “mostly corrupt”, many were surprised at how low the figure was.

 Peter Allen, in Paris
Published: 9:45PM BST 07 Jul 2010

The Telegraph

 Suspicions about financial irregularities have plagued Nicolas Sarkozy’s administration since he came to power in 2007 and immediately awarded himself a 140 per cent pay rise.

It prompted Arnaud Montebourg MP to say: “You get the feeling that the political class is helping itself while the French people are abandoned on the edge of the pavement.”

 Within days of being elected, Mr Sarkozy was enjoying a holiday on the luxury yacht of Vincent Bolloré, the wealthy businessman.

For an egalitarian conservative whose campaign slogan had been “Work more, to earn more” the cruise certainly sent out all the wrong messages.

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Countries should yield power to Berlin in return for cash

July 13, 2010

Now Merkel Wants A Country’s Sovereignty In Exchange For Germany’s Cash

Gregory White | Jul. 12, 2010, 11:57 AM | 650 |

German Chancellor Angela Merkel wants states to give up some sovereignty in return for Germany’s cash in future bailouts of bankrupt member states, according to Der Spiegel.

Chancellor Merkel is trying to create an organized bankruptcy proceeding for eurozone member states that will see investors, members, and the bankrupt country share the burden of the bailout. This is different than the current scenario, which sees investors and members bear the majority of the burden.

The designing of this new scheme is being done behind the scenes because Merkel’s government is concerned it might jeopardize the current Greek bailout, according to Der Spiegel.

The organizer of the bankruptcy would be the new Berlin Club. which would have the right to takeover some sovereign power from the bankrupt state.

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Greek strikes over pension heist intensify, reports the Sofia Echo

July 13, 2010

Greek public sector workers will stage another protest against the vote on the government bill to reform the pension system in a three-hour strike involving symbolic occupations of municipal buildings, Greek media reported on July 13 2010

Between 10am and 1pm on July 15, all city halls in Greece will be symbolically occupied. Additionally, the union of Greek judges and prosecutors are also poised to stage a two-hour walk-out from all courts and prosecution offices in the country, also in protest against pension reform.

Ministry of culture staff are also on strike, so the Parthenon in Athens and other major archaeological sites across the country will remain closed until 12pm.

Meanwhile, international experts have given a boost of moral support to Greece’s fiscal consolidation programme, claiming that it is on track and thus will allow the country to qualify for a second tranche of international aid in September 2010, according to euro zone finance ministers.

“The Greek government program … is impressive and has outpaced our expectations,” Eurogroup Chairman Jean-Claude Juncker said, during a debate on Greece among the currency area’s 16 finance chiefs.

“The Greek program of fiscal consolidation and structural reforms is on track,” European Monetary Affairs Commissioner Olli Rehn said.

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Spanish government on the edge as mutiny over budget cuts for the sake of banks grows

July 13, 2010

Zapatero Faces Budget Debate ‘Rehearsal’ as Spain Allies Mutiny

July 12, 2010, 6:31 PM EDT

By Emma Ross-Thomas

July 13 (Bloomberg) — Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero is headed for a showdown with lawmakers that may determine how much longer his six-year-old Socialist Cabinet can hang on.

Tomorrow’s annual state of the nation debate will generate proposals for parliament to vote on next week, as Zapatero seeks to tame the euro area’s third-biggest budget gap amid defections by former allies after two years of economic contraction.

Zapatero pushed through emergency austerity measures with a margin of one vote on May 27, and failure on the 2011 budget in votes set for September would bring his government down. The regional Catalan party, CiU, put Zapatero on notice that day that its 10 members wouldn’t support the budget.

“The debate is important for us to see if the government has any chance of finishing the legislature in a way that’s in the least bit useful for the country, if they have the support and policies,” Pere Macias, a CiU lawmaker responsible for budget issues, said in a telephone interview.

The premier goes into the debate without backing from the smaller parties that had helped pass his minority government’s program and with the deepest budget cuts in three decades eroding his popularity. The budget shortfall was 11.2 percent of gross domestic product last year and the government aims to cut it to 6 percent in 2011.

Zapatero has riled unions and members of his Socialist party with a policy U-turn aimed at cutting the shortfall and stemming a surge in borrowing costs.

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Moody’s drives Portugal deeper into debt death spiral by credit rating cut

July 13, 2010

Portugal’s Credit Rating Cut Two Notches at Moody’s

July 13, 2010, 5:01 AM EDT

July 13 (Bloomberg) — Portugal had its credit rating cut two notches to A1 at Moody’s Investors Service as prospects for weak economic growth after allowing its budget deficit to balloon will lead to a growing debt burden.

“The Portuguese government’s financial strength will continue to weaken over the medium term,” Moody’s said in a statement today, adding that the outlook is stable. “The Portuguese economy’s growth prospects are likely to remain relatively weak unless recent structural reforms bear fruit over the medium-to-longer term.”

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MEPs press for answers after inquiry into swine flu vaccination campaign refused European Parliament party heads

July 10, 2010

MEPs Michele Rivasi and Corinne Lepage have criticised the heads of the main political parties at the European Parliament for refusing to launch an investigation into the swine flu vaccine campaigns.

210 MEPs called for an inquiry into the way swine flu was handled in Europe, and for the role of the European Medicines Agency, especially, to be examined.

But at the conference of Presidents of the EP political groups on 20 May in Strasbourg, the EPP and S&D refused to launch an inquiry into the mass swine flu vaccination campaigns in European Countries.

“This decision is incomprehensible and unacceptable,” Corinne Lepage said on her party’s website.

” This refusal appears to be the result of a manouevre by the heads of the two main political groups, the EP and S&D. The mobilisation of 210 MEPs has been brushed aside. We want to know as an imperative and without delay the motives for refusing to allow the deputies to fulfil their mission to control the actions of European Institutions.  This is a step on the head; this refusal is a real denial of democracy and tends to confirm the doubts that one may have on the way the crisis was managed.  When the European Parliament is asking for more transparency with other institutions, it is imperative that it applies it to itself.”

Sophie Meulemans of the Belgian Initiative Citoyenne, can be seen on TV5 on Saturday July 10th at 6:20 pm asking  Belgian MEP Anne Delvaux, who belongs to the same party as the pro vaccine Nicolas Sarkozy and Roseylne Bachelot, asking why there is no investigation.


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