Viridian Note 00191: Euro Fuel ShockBruce Sterling [firstname.lastname@example.org]
Attention Conservation Notice: Extensive cut-and-pasting, over 1,500 words. Besides, so what if Europe is paralyzed in an energy crisis?
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(((As in the 1970s, it's not that the fuel is gone. The problem is that a caste of heavy fossil-fuel users, mostly long-distance truckers, are being bankrupted by higher fuel prices. Since the truckers themselves carry the fuel, they've taken it upon themselves to stop fuel tankers from moving. The result for millions of Europeans is a sudden abrupt lesson on how dependent they are on black goo.
(((Coal-mining labor unions used to bring down Labour governments with ease, so it's little wonder that the Labour Prime Minister is suddenly bristling and militant.
(((Why some people expect Tony Blair to behave like a flinching 1950s leftists is beyond my understanding. The guy just fought a European land war in a torrent of this- shall-not-stand Churchillian rhetoric. Cops, army... of course. Whenever the system breaks down, "khaki green" is the name of the game.)))
"Fuel Deliveries Begin Again in U.K.
By JILL LAWLESS, Associated Press Writer
"LONDON (AP) via NewsEdge Corporation == Fuel tankers
escorted by police began to roll past protesters'
barricades early Wednesday en route to Britain's fuel-
starved gas pumps == the latest development in Europe-wide
protests that have left pumps running dry and tempers
"The first trucks left refineries in England and
Scotland several hours after Prime Minister Tony Blair
promised a quick end to the protests. But retailers said
the amount shipped during the night would do little to
refill bone-dry service stations.
"Truckers, taxi drivers and others angry over high
fuel prices and taxes have blockaded fuel depots for days,
creating shortages that have set off panic buying and kept
cars off roads. By Tuesday evening, retailers Shell and
Elf estimated that 90 percent of their British filling
stations were dry.
"Progress on restoring deliveries was spotty
Wednesday, with reports that tanker drivers were refusing
to cross protest lines at some locations. There were two
reports of bricks being thrown through the windshields of
"'There is an issue of intimidation being raised by
the drivers,' said Sir John Evans of the Association of
Chief Police Officers.
"'We are addressing the issue, we are providing
escorts, we are even offering to put a police officer in
the cab with the drivers from the refineries to the petrol
stations.' (((Why not cut to the chase? Deputize scab
truckers and give them guns.)))
"While the disruption was worst in Britain, similar
protests choked roadways in other European cities and
along the borders of Belgium and the Netherlands. Smaller
protests were also reported in Germany and even France,
whose government made concessions to the strikers over the
weekend. (((The Spirit of May '68 is an innate part of
the French condition humaine.)))
"The protests here started on Sept. 7, with groups of
farmers, taxi drivers, fishermen and even retirees
picketing refineries across Britain. (((Those militant
geezers are a nice touch. Where'd they come from?))) By
Tuesday, hospitals canceled non-vital surgery, ambulance
services reported delays and the Royal Post Office warned
that its deliveries were being 'seriously threatened.' One
municipality in Wales said it was closing all 19 of its
secondary schools because staff were unable to get to
work. (((Great holiday news for Welsh kids! "Thanks for
smashing the system, gramps!")))
"At Avonmouth Docks near Bristol on Wednesday,
campaigners said they intended to stay put. 'Tony Blair
said last night this will all be over in 24 hours and we
want to ram those words down his throat,' said truck
driver Julie Charles. (((That's pretty tough talk,
"That determination was shared by drivers of slow- moving trucks and farm vehicles which backed up traffic on several main routes around the country. ((("Critical Mass" tactics bring nation to its knees. If only they'd been using big dirty trucks instead of clean little bikes all this time.)))
"Blair met Wednesday morning with Malcolm Brinder,
chief executive of Shell, and John Manzoni, head of BP.
The two executives later issued a statement saying there
had been 'some good early progress.'
"'The most important step has been the extent of police and industry cooperation and the increase of police resources,' they said. (((So never mind our utter dependency on fossil fuels from distant, volatile sources, commanded by a cartel. It's nothing that swarms of cops can't cure!)))
"The public and the press channeled much of their rage
at the Blair government for not easing gasoline taxes in
the face of rising oil prices, which have soared to $35 a
barrel. Taxes account for 74 percent of the cost of
gasoline in Britain, the highest in Europe at $4.31 per
gallon." (((Why fuss at distant OPEC when we can destroy
the revenue stream of our own government?)))
"In Belgium, truckers blocked depots and highways
across the country for a fourth day. Hopes of a deal were
dashed Wednesday after Belgian Prime Minister Guy
Verhofstadt refused trucker demands for a fuel-tax rebate.
"Dutch truckers kept up a third day of protests, blocking several main routes, after Finance Minister Gerrit Zalm rejected demands for lower fuel taxes. Royal Dutch/Shell, meanwhile, said it intended to press ahead with a hike of several cents for diesel fuel."
(((I know that comprehensive coverage is tiresome, but one has to admire the swift international angles available in these globalizing days...)))
"Fuel Protests Spread Across Europe
By BRYAN BRUMLEY, Associated Press Writer
LONDON (AP) via NewsEdge Corporation
"Truckers, taxi drivers, farmers, tour operators and
others who claim that high oil prices are hurting their
businesses, continued their protests in Britain, Belgium,
the Netherlands, France and Germany. (((Where's the rest
of the EC? One has to wonder about the self-selected
group of countries here.)))
"Blair and German Transport Minister Reinhard Klimmt
said their countries would not follow the example of
France, which agreed to demands to subsidize fuel prices.
Protests continued in scattered French cities, despite
"'The sensible way, the only right way to deal with
this problem, is to put pressure on OPEC,' Blair said.
(((Better limber-up those NATO tanks and F-15s after
saturating the streets with bobbies, then.)))
"For European motorists, a gallon of unleaded gasoline
can cost more than $4 per gallon, a far higher price than
in the United States. (((That's true == why, over here in
the USA, a mere $3 per gallon price would guarantee
"A decision by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting
Countries to raise production by 800,000 barrels a day,
announced Monday, had no immediate impact on the protests,
although it did send October contracts of North Sea Brent
crude down 45 cents at $32.33 a barrel on the
International Petroleum Exchange in London. (((A pity
more truckers don't own stocks.)))
"The German government also resisted the pressure.
"'I see no reason at the moment why we should
compensate for this through taxation,' Klimmt, the
transport minister, told ARD television. (...)
"Truckers, taxi drivers and tour bus operators in
Belgium expanded protests Monday, blocking the country's
largest oil refinery and main arteries in the capital.
Several hundred truck drivers continued to jam main roads
leading to downtown Brussels. Some 20 trucks also moved
in to cut access to the country's largest oil refinery
south of Brussels, near the city of Charleroi.
(((There's a bizarre kind of genius about this dog-in-
the-manger protest == "Our fuel costs too much, so we'll
make sure nobody else gets any." From a Greenhouse point
of view, spontaneous popular attacks on oil refineries are
fantastic news. Why, the air must be cleaner in Belgium
than it's been in years. Much more of this, and they'll
reduce themselves to the bucolic condition of Serbia after
"Several dozen truck drivers blocked a major freeway in
the Netherlands Monday in the first Dutch protest of high
"If the protests drag on, 'measures will have to be
taken,' said police spokesman Willem van Hooijdonk.
(((These truckers must have email. There's a Seattle-WTO
style wasp-swarm thing going on here: the disparate
interest groups, the international coordination, the lack
of authorization from conventional labor authorities, the
wide variety of chosen targets, the suddenness of it ==
it's all too effective not to be digital.)))
"Three trucks were parked across the road, halting all
traffic between the port city of Rotterdam and the
southern town of Breda, about 55 miles south of Amsterdam.
Traffic was backed up more than six miles. (((Wait till
they start chaining 'em together. Truckers, rubber
bullets, pepper gas == this could get pretty good.)))
"'Lots of smaller companies are on the verge of bankruptcy because of the high prices,' said Ruben Hubbers, spokesman of the Resistance Party, which organized the action." ((("Resistance Party." Completely unheard-of. Who are they? A nice gold star <*> for the first Viridian to find their website.)))
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