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Saturday, June 14, 2008 3:48 AM

European protests against high fuel prices turn violent

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ThisIsLondon is reporting 'Scab' driver burned in his lorry as European protests against high fuel prices turn violent.

Violence has flared across Europe as hauliers, fishermen and taxi drivers protest against rising fuel prices they say are crippling their industries.

Some of the worst outbreaks were seen in Spain where prime minister José Luis Rodriguez pledged 'zero tolerance' of any disruption by 90,000 striking lorry drivers.

His warning came after a driver breaking the strike was burned when his lorry was set on fire.

Spain's road system was returning to normal after the interior ministry ordered police to get tough. The government has reached a deal with most of Spain's hauliers on relief from rising costs.

In Portugal, lorry drivers agreed to lift road blocks after their union accepted a deal with their government. But it followed the death of a man near Lisbon on a picket line.

In France, hauliers mounted protest drives on motorways. set alight in violent protests.

Protests have now gone worldwide, with the Philippines and Thailand also seeing angry workers taking to the streets.

Spain appears to have been worst hit, with lorry drivers on either side of the dispute paying with their lives.

Thai truck drivers block the highway during a strike protest against high fuel prices on a highway on the outskirts of Bangkok.

Opposition groups in Malaysia have vowed to push on with mass protests against a 41 per cent hike in petrol prices - despite a pledge from the Prime Minister to keep prices fixed for the rest of the year.
The Washington Post is reporting Fuel Protests Erupt in Asia As Oil Hits $139 a Barrel.
Protests over soaring fuel prices erupted in Asia on Tuesday as truckers in Hong Kong and tire-burning demonstrators in India and Nepal added their angry voices to protests that began last month in Europe.

Two protesters were killed Tuesday, one in Spain and one in Portugal, as they attempted to block traffic, news reports said. They appeared to be the first two fatalities in strikes that began in those countries last month.

Several hundred trucks and buses were used in a go-slow protest in Hong Kong, snarling traffic in that major Asian economic center. Drivers were demanding reductions in fuel taxes. The protests in India and Nepal were smaller and more isolated, but reflected spreading anger over prices.

Fuel taxes are also the central issue for truckers in Europe, because they account for a large portion of the retail price of fuel. Unleaded gasoline sold for $8.65 a gallon and diesel for $9.62 a gallon Tuesday in Britain, which charges a flat $3.77 a gallon in fuel duty and imposes a 17.5 percent consumption tax on the total price.

Tens of thousands of Spanish drivers continued go-slow protests on major roads, knotting traffic near cities such as Madrid and Barcelona.

Traffic jams several miles long formed Monday at Junquera, a crossing on the French border, where Spanish drivers refused to let foreign trucks enter and smashed the windshields of those that tried to pass.

In Britain, Prime Minister Gordon Brown cautioned the public against panic buying of gas and diesel ahead of a threatened strike by 500 oil tanker drivers. "We believe that this strike is unnecessary, and we would want to ensure that nothing was done that inconvenienced the public," Brown told reporters. "But the most responsible thing the public can do is to continue to buy as normal."
Not to worry. Bernanke says danger of downturn has faded.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock
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