Subscribe to our free daily newsletters
. Military Space News .




Subscribe to our free daily newsletters



SUPERPOWERS
Walker's World: Yes, we camp

Protestors attend a demonstration against Spain's economic crisis and its sky-high jobless rate at the Puerta del Sol square in Madrid on May 22, 2011. Protesters seething over mass unemployment defied a ban on their swelling movement even as Spaniards voted in local elections expected to crush the ruling Socialists. Photo courtesy AFP.
by Martin Walker
Hamburg, Germany (UPI) May 23, 2011
The massed occupation of Madrid's central square by up 60,000 protesters in defiance of police orders to disperse may not presage a Cairo-style popular uprising in Spain. But it says something profound about European disgust with its political class.

Clearly, the underlying causes of the protest which has spread to other city squares around the country are the economic crisis and the government's austerity measures that have unemployment in Spain to 21 percent. For young people, the figure may be twice as high.

But the trigger seems to have been outrage at levels of political corruption, with a widely distributed map showing towns and districts where more than 1,000 politicians are standing for office in the weekend municipal elections despite being the subject of official investigation. They include Francisco Camps, the powerful head of the regional government of Valencia, and many other targeted in the so-called Guertel case, a far-reaching inquiry into bribes and kickbacks alleged to total some $170 million.

Even more telling is the way Spanish protesters complain at what they call the 'Berlusconi-zation' of their country. It is at once a reference to the clownish behavior of Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and his apparent immunity from legal sanction and a protest at the emergence of a privileged political class in Spain that seems equally capable of avoiding punishment for scandals.

Across Europe, political figures have not only been seen to be behaving badly but have usually got away with it. This helps explain the fascination with the case of Dominique Strauss-Kahn, who resigned last week from his post as head of the International Monetary Fund after being arrested and charged with the attempted rape of a hotel maid in New York. The image of a powerful man, widely tipped to become the next President of France, being seen in handcuffs and prison overalls was a potent reminder that the law is meant to work for the weak and the powerful alike.

In Anglo-Saxon societies, justice usually works. In Britain, former Environment Minister Elliot Morley was sent to prison for 16 months Friday for fiddling about $45,000 from his parliamentary expenses. Three other former MPs have been imprisoned for similar offenses. In the United States, President Bill Clinton faced impeachment over allegedly lying to avoid a sex scandal.

But despite the publicity over his "Bunga-Bunga" parties with naked call-girls, some of them below legal age, and his phone calls to get at least one such girl released from police custody, Berlusconi seems untouchable. His governing majority has changed laws and gained time for the statute of limitations to end his court cases over tax avoidance and graft.

In Germany, where the law also seems to function as it should, the political class has been discredited by a different kind of scandal, the academic offense of plagiarizing in order to win a university doctorate.

This year, the popular Minister of Defense Karl Theodor zu Guttenberg, was forced to resign his post after he was found to have taken large sections of his Bayreuth University doctoral thesis from other people's work, including newspaper articles, without having sourced the information.

The most interesting feature of this affair is that he was exposed not by university authorities or political opponents but by a virtual non-governmental organization called VroniPlag. The group publishes online, printing the evidence from both the original thesis and the sources from which it seems to have been copied.

"The goal is to guarantee the integrity of doctor titles in Germany," VroniPlag says on its Web site. "Our work is neither politically motivated nor is it aimed at personal defamation or anything like that."

VroniPlag has since taken on new targets, most prominently the vice president of the European Parliament, Silvana Koch-Mehrin. From the German Free Democrat party, she is a member of the European Parliament and is accused of "copying" about a quarter of her 10 year-old doctoral thesis on currency reform. Veronica Sass, the lawyer daughter of the former Bavarian Prime Minister Edmund Stoiber, is under investigation by her old university after VroniPlag claimed that part of her thesis on telecoms regulation had been taken from a Wikipedia article.

Bribery and corruption, attempted rape, sex with under-age girls, cheating on expenses and cheating on their academic credentials -- the record of Europe's political class would be unsavory at the best of times but in the context of the economic crisis that has sent unemployment and budget deficits soaring, the European public is reacting angrily.

And modern technology means they have the means to do, with Spain's squatting protesters in the campsite on the Plaza del Sol using Facebook and Twitter to rally support just like their predecessors in Cairo's Tahrir Square. Germany's VroniPlag uses computer programs devised to prevent academic cheating in the United States to identify plagiarists in high places.

There is something international about this phenomenon, with the Spanish protesters claiming Cairo as their inspiration and using President Barack Obama's "Yes, we can" slogan for their own motto, displayed around their makeshifts tents. It reads "Yes, we camp."



Share This Article With Planet Earth
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit
YahooMyWebYahooMyWeb GoogleGoogle FacebookFacebook



Related Links
Learn about the Superpowers of the 21st Century at SpaceWar.com
Learn about nuclear weapons doctrine and defense at SpaceWar.com



Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News


SUPERPOWERS
US and Britain set up joint security body: reports
London (AFP) May 23, 2011
A new joint security body set up by Britain and the United States is to be unveiled at the start of President Barack Obama's two-day visit to London later this week, Britain's newspapers reported Monday. The "National Security Strategy Board" will be chaired by British National Security adviser Peter Ricketts and his US counterpart, Tom Donilon, and is being established to help coordinate l ... read more







SUPERPOWERS
Russia plays down missile differences with US

Medvedev warns of Cold War over missile defence

Medvedev warns of Cold War over missile defence

Boeing to Begin Maintenance Work on SBX Missile Defense Radar

SUPERPOWERS
Israel to switch Hawks for David's Sling

China 'to target 1,800 missiles at Taiwan in 2012'

Ukraine seeks talks with Romania, US on missile shield

US Army's Apache fires first Hellfire missiles at sea

SUPERPOWERS
Thousands protest against US drone attacks in Pakistan

HART On-Demand Intelligence System Proves Value To Warfighters Ahead of Theater Deployment

TiaLinx Announces Launch of Phoenix50-H

US drone attacks kill nine in Pakistan: officials

SUPERPOWERS
Northrop Grumman Awarded Continuing Operation of Battlefield Airborne Communications Node Contract

ADTI Launches High Performance Antenna Arrays Protype Program

Northrop Grumman Awarded Contract to Develop EHF SatComms Antenna for B-2 Bomber

Lockheed Martin To Produce Equipment For US Army Tactical On-The-Move Network

SUPERPOWERS
Rotorcraft Technology Contributes to US Navy's Successful Test Bed Flight

Lockheed Martin Responds To US Army's CIRCM Request For Proposal

More delays in Brazil jet fighter deal

Northrop Grumman to Develop New Micro Gyro Technology for DARPA

SUPERPOWERS
Israeli 'spy' and Russia's arms secrets

US defense cuts mean 'hard decisions': Gates

Raytheon Awarded ALR-67(V)3 Full Rate Production Contract

Supreme Court takes no sides in stealth plane case

SUPERPOWERS
Walker's World: Yes, we camp

US and Britain set up joint security body: reports

Russia to push restraint in Arab world, nuclear safety at G8

Tibetan leader warns India of China 'encirclement'

SUPERPOWERS
MLD Test Moves Navy A Step Closer To Lasers For Ship Self-Defense

US Navy And Northrop Grumman Accomplish Goals For At-Sea Demonstration Of Maritime Laser


The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2010 - SpaceDaily. AFP and UPI Wire Stories are copyright Agence France-Presse and United Press International. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by SpaceDaily on any Web page published or hosted by SpaceDaily. Privacy Statement