Portugal

Latin leaders react to blocking of Bolivian flight

In a bizarre and largely unexplained incident, on July 2 several Western European countries denied the use of their airspace to a Bolivian plane carrying the country's president, Evo Morales, home from a gas exporting countries forum in Moscow. The Bolivians made an unscheduled landing in Vienna, where Austrian authorities reportedly inspected the plane with President Morales' permission. After a 13-hour stopover in Vienna, the flight was cleared with the Western European countries and proceeded to La Paz, where it landed late July 3.

Joint strike actions across Europe

A "European Day of Action and Solidarity against Austerity" on Nov. 14 marked the first time strike action has been held simultaneously across four countries. General strikes were held in Spain and Portugal, with widespread stoppages Greece and Italy. Large solidarity demonstrations were held in several other countries, including France and Germany. In total, 40 trade union organisations from 23 countries were involved in the mobilization. In Spain, the General Workers Union (UGT) and the Union Confederation of Worker Commissions (CCOO) claimed 70% compliance with the strike. After nightfall, violence exploded in Madrid, as police fired rubber bullets to disperse protestors. Strikers erected barricades on several streets, and garbage bins were set on fire, filling the downtown area with smoke. Street clashes were also reported from Lisbo; more than 100 were injured and some 140 arrested across both cities. Brussels also saw violence, after eggs were thrown at the Geman embassy. The continent-wide day of strikes and solidarity was organised by the European Trade Unions Congress (ETUC). (Europa Press, Europa PressEuronews, Euronews, Euronews, Nov. 14)

Give the Nobel Peace Prize to Malala Yousafzai!

Wow. We called out Obama's Peace Prize in 2009 as Orwellian, but the Nobel committee have now sent the irony-meter into full tilt. An appropriately exasperated commentary in Spain's El Diario, wryly titled "That Which the Nobel Prize Calls Peace," states: "The Nobel Prize goes to a European Union being ruled for the banks and financial power, at the expense of the increasing asphyxiation of the people: In Spain the misery index has already reached 26.4%... In Greece, operations are being denied to cancer patients who have lost their health coverage and cannot afford treatment. There are growing cases of diseases such as tuberculosis. Public hospitals limit the supply of vital medicines, and are denying care to the needy..." And the debacle that Euro-unification has become is actually causing a bitter divide in Europe—not this time between Germany and France, but between Germany and the Mediterranean nations of Greece, Spain and Portugal—where a new austerity budget sparked angry protests yesterday, AP notes. And we should probably add Italy, where students clashed with police in protests against austerity measures nearly across the country, Reuters reported Oct. 4. Greek protesters against German-led budgetary whip-lashing have been quick to recall that their country was occupied by the Nazis in World War II, reopening old wounds—even as a Greek neo-fascist movement has emerged to exploit the misery with the usual bogus populism that scapegoats immigrants, leading to a wave of violent attacks. Wow, what an astonishing advance for world peace the European Union represents!

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