Italian bond yields back at 6 percent are a deeply ominous sign that the eurozone’s third largest economy is reaching the point of no return, where markets essentially become too expensive for funding.
This is what happens when the ECB stops buying Italian bonds…
Italian bonds slumped, driving two- five-, 10- and 30-year yields to euro-era records, after LCH Clearnet SA raised the deposit it demands for trading the nation’s securities.
Two-year note yields rose above 10-year rates, with five- year debt climbing above 7.5 percent as Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s offer to resign left his weakened government struggling to implement austerity measures to reduce borrowing costs. German 10-year bunds outperformed all their regional peers as the drop in Italian bonds boosted demand for the safest fixed-income assets. The euro sank and U.S. Treasuries jumped.
What do you do when you’re a small-time crook and former cruise-ship lounge singer who went into business – with a partner now in prison – and bought a radio station, then a TV station, then a newspaper, then another radio station, then another TV station, then another newspaper, then a radio network, then a TV network – and ended up owning about 95 percent of the media seen in Italy? That’s what Silvio Berlosconni did – and then created his own political party, ran for Prime Minister with his billions and the full support of his own wholly-owned versions of Fox News, Fox Radio, and Fox Newspaper – and – surprise! – won. Three times!
The saga of the Berlusconi sex scandals heated up again in Italy over the weekend as newly-released wiretaps of Berlusconi’s telephone conversations dominated the headlines all across Italy. The wiretaps were released at the conclusion of an investigation into entrepreneur Gianpaolo Tarantini – a man who is accused of paying women to sleep with Berlusconi at his homes in 2008 and 2009. In the transcripts of the wiretaps, Berlusconi is quoted as telling Tarantini that, “Last night I had a queue outside the door of the bedroom….There were eleven…I only did eight because I could not do it anymore….Listen, all the beds are full here…this lot won’t go home, even at gunpoint.” In another conversation recorded in September 2008, Berlusconi told Tarantini that he needed to reduce the flow of women for a few days because he had a “terrible week” coming up full of scheduled meetings with Pope Benedict, Nicolas Sarkozy, Angela Merkel and Gordon Brown. So what do we learn from this latest development? Well – I guess despite the 74-year-old’s sexual braggadocio – he isn’t much of a multi-tasker!
The UN has called for restraint in Libya amid reports of abuses and alleged summary killings by both rebels and Gaddafi loyalists. The Security Council has also agreed to release 1.5 billion-dollars in Libyan assets to help deal with humanitarian needs. The opposition continues to claim that Tripoli is largely under its control, while the National Transitional Council says it’s moved from its stronghold of Benghazi to the capital. There are reports of heavy resistance by Gaddafi forces, with the Colonel’s whereabouts still unknown. Meanwhile, Gaddafi has aired another radio message, claiming he’s fighting on the frontline. NATO has denied previous reports that it’s assisting the rebels in the hunt to find him. Now more analysis on the latest developments in Libya from author and investigative journalist Webster Tarpley, who’s in Washington.
FOR more than a year the euro zone’s debt drama has lurched from one nail-biting scene to another. First Greece took centre stage; then Ireland; then Portugal; then Greece again. Each time European policymakers reacted similarly: with denial and dithering, followed at the eleventh hour with a half-baked rescue plan to buy time.
This week the shortcomings of this muddling-through were laid bare (see article). Financial markets turned on Italy, the euro zone’s third-biggest economy, with alarming speed. Yields on ten-year Italian bonds jumped by almost a percentage point in two trading days: on July 12th they breached 6%, their highest since the euro was created. The Milan stockmarket slumped to its lowest in two years. Though bond yields subsequently fell back, the debt crisis has clearly entered a new phase. No longer confined to the small peripheral economies of Greece, Ireland and Portugal, it has hurdled over Spain, supposedly next in line, and reached one of the euro zone’s giants. All its members, but especially Germany, face a stark choice.
Consider the stakes. Italy has the biggest sovereign-debt market in Europe and the third-biggest in the world. It has €1.9 trillion ($2.6 trillion) of sovereign debt outstanding, 120% of its GDP, three times as much as Greece, Ireland and Portugal combined—and far more than the €250 billion or so left in the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF), the currency club’s rescue kitty. Default would have calamitous consequences for the euro and the world economy. Even if the more likely immediate prospect is sustained stress in the Italian bond market, that will surely prompt investors to flee European assets, making the continent’s recovery ever harder. Meanwhile in the background there is the absurd pantomime of Barack Obama and congressional Republicans feuding over how to raise the federal government’s debt ceiling to stave off an American “default” (see article). That may have distracted American investors briefly; once they realise how much is at stake in Italy, it will not help.
The revival of Mussolini’s National Fascist Party has been banned since the 1950s
A group of Italian senators is pressing for a decades-old ban on Benito Mussolini’s Fascist party to be lifted in a move that has provoked fierce condemnation from political opponents and Jewish leaders.
The five members of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s ruling People of Liberty (Pdl) party, led by Senator Cristano De Eccher, presented a bill to the Italian senate arguing that a constitutional rule that prohibits the “reorganisation in any form [of the dissolved Fascist party]”, is outdated and should be scrapped.
Mussolini rose to power after the end of the First World War and by the mid-1920s established a fascist dictatorship. His National Fascist Party ruled the country until 1943 and was a key ally of Nazi Germany. The party’s reformation has been explicitly banned since the 1950s, when Italy’s post-war constitution also outlawed Fascist symbols.
Senate Speaker Renato Schifani, also of the Pdl, was said to be “aghast” at the attempt to lift the ban, says a report by the news agency Ansa.
Emanuele Fiano, the Democratic Party’s home affairs spokesman, told The Independent: “A founding basis of this Italian republic is its opposition to fascism. The laws banning the reformation of the Fascist party or apologising for it should remain untouchable.”
Roberto Pacifici, leader of the Jewish Community of Rome, said: “It’s an extremely worrying proposal.” James Walston, a politics professor at the American University in Rome, said: “This is another manifestation of the long-term rehabilitation of fascism in Italy. It might not happen soon, it might never happen, but it’s been under way since 1994. People are setting out to revise Italian history.” In 1994, during Mr Berlusconi’s first term as Prime Minister, direct heirs to Mussolini’s Fascist party were given jobs in government for the first time since the party was banned.
One neo-Fascist was Mirko Tremaglia, the Minister for Italians Abroad, who as a young man defended Mussolini’s Salo’ Italian Social Republic, as recently as 2002 lamented the Second World War pivotal defeat of the Italians and the Afrika Korps at El Alamein. A senior figure in Mr Berlusconi’s present cabinet, Defence Minister Ignazio La Russa, is also often accused of being a neo-Fascist. He was part of the old National Alliance party, which had its roots in the neo-Fascist Italian Social Movement formed by Mussolini supporters in 1946.
The present Speaker of the lower house, Gianfranco Fini, was head of the National Alliance, until it merged with Mr Berlusconi’s Forza Italia two years ago. But over a period of several years he has renounced his former neo-Fascist sympathies and appears to have made a remarkable transition to a modern-right politician.
His description in 2003 of the “absolute evil” of the fascist era, prompted Mussolini’s granddaughter, Alessandra, to quit the party to form her own Social Action grouping with other disgruntled right-wingers.
Press reports suggest that a senator from Mr Fini’s own small centre-right Fli (Future and Freedom) party signed the proposal but was immediately threatened with expulsion from the party unless he rescinded his support for the initiative.
Italian prime minister to stand trial on 6 April on charges of paying for sex with an underage prostitute and abuse of office
Silvio Berlusconi, who faces up to three years in prison on a charge of paying an underage prostitute, and up to 12 years on a charge of abusing his authority. Photograph: Andrew Medichini/AP
Silvio Berlusconi is to go on trial on 6 April, charged with paying an underage prostitute and then trying to cover up the alleged offence by abusing his position as Italy’s prime minister. All three judges named for the trial are women.
Berlusconi heard the news while in Sicily, where he made no comment, but immediately cancelled a scheduled press conference and flew back to Rome.
As opposition MPs called for the prime minister’s resignation, his justice minister, Angelino Alfano, said the judge’s decision had implications for “the autonomy, sovereignty and independence of parliament”. Alfano said that, by indicting Berlusconi, the judge had ignored a vote on 3 February in which the chamber of deputies voted not to agree to a search request from prosecutors investigating the prime minister on the grounds that they did not have the necessary jurisdiction.
Hundreds of women will take to the streets of Italy’s cities today calling on scandal hit Premier Silvio Berlusconi to resign after prosecutors requested he be sent to trial for having sex with an underage prostitute.
A protester bang pots and pans as they take part in a demonstration calling for the resignation of Italian Prime Minister Berlusconi on Saturday. Photo: REUTERS
Protesters say evidence leaked from the probe into Berlusconi, 74, allegedly paying for sex with then 17 year Moroccan belly dancer Karima El Mahroug, and show he has little respect for female dignity.
Wiretaps leaked from more than 600 pages of the prosecution file suggest he surrounded himself at parties at his home with starlets and other women hoping to use their looks to gain positions in politics or within his Mediaset TV empire.
Protests are scheduled to take place in 200 cities and towns across Italy as well as London and New York, with the largest due to be held in Rome and Milan and counter demonstrations by activists from Berlusconi’s People of Freedom party area also planned.
Organisers have called the protest ”If Not Now, When?” which is also the title of a famous novel by the Italian award winning writer Primo Levi and which tells the story a group of Jewish partisans behind German lines during World War II as they seek to continue their fight against the occupier and survive.
This is Webster Tarpley’s opinion and I do not agree with all of it.
Obama White House NSC Russia Director Michael McFaul Deploying IMF Shock Therapist Boris Nemtsov as Wheelhorse of Feeble “Stop Putin in 2012″ Bid
Awareness is growing around the world that the Wikileaks-Julian Assange theater of the absurd is radically inauthentic – a psyop. Wikileaks and its impaired boss represent a classic form of limited hangout or self-exposure, a kind of lurid striptease in which the front organization releases doctored and pre-selected materials provided by the intelligence agency with the intent of harming, not the CIA, nor the UK, nor the Israelis, but rather such classic CIA enemies’ list figures as Putin, Berlusconi, Karzai, Qaddafi, Rodriguez de Kirchner, etc. In Tunisia, derogatory material about ex-President Ben Ali leaked by Wikileaks has already brought a windfall for Langley in the form of the rare ouster of an entrenched Arab government.
At Foggy Bottom and Langley, a manic fit has been building since the flight of Ben Ali. US imperialist planners now believe they can re-launch their shopworn model of the color revolution, CIA people-power coup, or postmodern putsch against a whole series of countries in the Arab world and far beyond, including Italy. The color revolutions had been looking tarnished lately, as a result of the failure of the Twitter Revolution in Iran back in June 2009. Previously, the Cedars Revolution of 2005 had failed in Lebanon. The Orange Revolution in Ukraine had been rolled back with the ouster of NATO-IMF kleptocrats Yushchenko and Timoshenko. In Georgia, the Roses Revolution was increasingly discredited by the repressive and warmongering regime of fascist madman Saakashvili.
US Seeks to Mobilize a New Generation of Young Nihilists Across the Globe
But now, NSC, State, and CIA believe that the color revolution has a new lease on life, thanks to their estimate that the United States, because of Wikileaks and Assange, has captured the imagination of a new generation of young nihilists across the globe who are described as the post-9/11 generation, estranged from governments and opposition parties, and thus ready to follow Langley’s peroxide Pied Piper.
Assange started his intensive deployment phase this year with video of a Class A US war crime in Iraq, which was very graphic but which dealt with an incident which was already widely known. The second document dump focused on Iraq, but now the targeting had shifted to Prime Minister Maliki, and the Iranian asset whom the US by some strange coincidence was trying to oust as leader of Iraq in favor of the US puppet Allawi. With the third document dump, this time involving State Department cables, we found out much derogatory gossip about such classic CIA targets as Russian prime minister Putin, Italian Prime Minister Berlusconi, the Russian-Italian strategic alliance, President Fernandez de Kirchner of Argentina, and President Karzai of Afghanistan, along with jabs at supposed US allies who need to be kept off-balance and dependent, including the Saudi Arabian royal family, French President Sarkozy, and others. Wikileaks thus directs the vast majority of its fire against figures who are part of the CIA’s enemies list.
No Equal Time for CIA Covert Operations
Assange also provides a splendid pretext for draconian censorship and limitations on the freedom of the internet. The totalitarian liberal Senator Feinstein wants to bring back Woodrow Wilson’s infamous Espionage Act of 1917 in honor of Assange. Assange must be seen not as an activist, not as a journalist, and not as an entertainer, but rather as a spook. John Young of Cryptome, according to some reports, has denounced Wikileaks, to which he formerly belonged, as a CIA front. In a December 29 RT interview, Young described the internet as “a very large-scale spying machine.”1 The internet is indeed a vast battlefield, where the intelligence agencies of the US-UK, China, Israel, Russia, and many others clash every hour of the day, with commercial spies, hackers, anarchists, cultists, mercenary trolls, and psychotics all getting into the act as well. Intelligence agencies deliberately feed real and doctored material to various websites, sometimes using their own disgruntled employees as cutouts, conduits, and go-betweens. This means among other things that Bradley Manning cannot be taken at face value, although it is also clear that he like anyone else should not be tortured.
Italy’s Prime Minister has bounced back from countless scandals, but the latest allegations may prove disastrous
Silvio Berlusconi maintained at least 14 glamorous young women in apartments in a gated complex outside Milan, leaks from prosecutors in the city revealed yesterday. They lived rent-free in the estate and were given large sums of cash by the billionaire politician in return for sex.
Milano Due was one of the first gated housing estates in Italy, a sprawling complex of flats set in landscaped gardens, built by Mr Berlusconi himself in the 1970s when he was a thrusting young property developer. With underground parking, a supermarket, bars and other facilities, it is one of the most fashionable addresses in the Milan hinterland. When he moved into television, Mr Berlusconi located the headquarters of Mediaset, his television company, here.
But in his declining years the estate has also become the headquarters of what is, in effect, his harem, it is alleged. Its presence was revealed by Corriere della Sera newspaper yesterday in yet another blow to the battered image of the Prime Minister as he prepares to defend himself against what could be the gravest crisis of his political career. Prosecutors in Milan are demanding that he be put on trial immediately for having sex with an underage prostitute.
Roberto Maroni of the Northern League gave the undertaking after opposition claims that some of the rioters were police. Anna Finocchiaro, leader in the Senate of Italy’s biggest opposition group, the Democratic party, said: “There were evidently people who had been infiltrated [among the rioters] and who put at risk the demonstrators and the police. Who commanded them? Who paid them? What were they meant to cause?”
Photographs taken during the disturbances have prompted not only suspicions but bitter memories of the 1970s when rogue members of the police and intelligence services lent themselves to a so-called “strategy of tension” aimed at raising the level of violence to the point at which it could be used to justify draconian repression or even a coup d’état.
Yesterday, groups of masked and hooded demonstrators rampaged through the capital attacking police, smashing windows, setting fire to vehicles and throwing up barricades. The mayor of Rome, Gianni Alemanno, said first indications were that they had caused damage of about €20m. The disturbances were thought to be the most violent in Rome since 1977.
One of the participants in this week’s rioting was photographed hurling a dustbin at members of the revenue guard and wielding a long shovel. But in other shots, he appears to be standing with the guards raising a truncheon in one hand and holding a pair of handcuffs in the other.
One blog carried a photograph of a demonstrator being held on the ground by officers whose uniform boots are seemingly identical to his. Further controversy surrounded a revenue guard who was ambushed by rioters.
An official statement said he was rescued “thanks to the intervention of colleagues, some in uniform and others in civilian clothes”. But, according to Italian media reports, the revenue guard subsequently briefed reporters to the effect that it never deployed officers in civilian clothing in demonstrations or disturbances.
Any attack on Iran will (most probably) start WW III.
Members of the G-8 meeting in Huntsville, Ontario on June 25, 2010
World leaders “believe absolutely” that Israel may decide to take military action against Iran to prevent the latter from acquiring nuclear weapons, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said Saturday.
“Iran is not guaranteeing a peaceful production of nuclear power [so] the members of the G-8 are worried and believe absolutely that Israel will probably react preemptively,”Berlusconi told reporters following talks with other Group of Eight leaders north of Toronto.
The leaders of the G-8, which comprises Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, Canada and the United States, devoted much of their two-day session to discussion of the contentious nuclear programs unfolding in North Korea and Iran.
The leaders issued a statement on Saturday calling on Iran to “respect the rule of law” and to “hold a “transparent dialogue” over its nuclear ambitions.
Organisers claim a turnout of least 350,000, but police say it was far less
Tens of thousands of people have rallied in Rome, demanding the resignation of Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.
The No B (Berlusconi) Day march was organised by grassroots groups via the internet and social networking sites.
Mr Berlusconi faces separate tax fraud and bribery trials after he lost his immunity from prosecution in October.
He denies the charges against him, insisting he is the victim of magistrates with a political agenda.
Protesters chanted “I have a dream – Berlusconi in jail” during the march in the Italian capital.
Mr Berlusconi denies all the charges against him
“This is a day of democracy, a day that shows that the country can come together to build an alternative and most of all to tell Berlusconi to go,” Antonio di Pietro, former anti-corruption judge and now an opposition leader, was quoted as saying by Reuters.
“There are people from all over the country here, and even from abroad with one message: Berusconi has to go!” he added.
Their revulsion increased with the news that many of the dead soldiers had been mutilated — and with the publication of photographs showing the militants triumphantly sporting their victims’ flak jackets and weapons. The French had been in charge of the Sarobi area, east of Kabul, for only a month, taking over from the Italians; it was one of the biggest single losses of life by Nato forces in Afghanistan.
What the grieving nation did not know was that in the months before the French soldiers arrived in mid-2008, the Italian secret service had been paying tens of thousands of dollars to Taleban commanders and local warlords to keep the area quiet, The Times has learnt. The clandestine payments, whose existence was hidden from the incoming French forces, were disclosed by Western military officials.
Italian soldiers with the Nato-led International Security Assistance Force at a compound run in Herat. Silvio Berlusconi said that his Government “has never authorised or allowed any payment”
A Taleban commander and two senior Afghan officials confirmed yesterday that Italian forces paid protection money to prevent attacks on their troops.
After furious denials in Rome of a Times report that the Italian authorities had paid the bribes, the Afghans gave further details of the practice. Mohammed Ishmayel, a Taleban commander, said that a deal was struck last year so that Italian forces in the Sarobi area, east of Kabul, were not attacked by local insurgents.
The payment of protection money was revealed after the death of ten French soldiers in August 2008 at the hands of large Taleban force in Sarobi. French forces had taken over the district from Italian troops, but were unaware of secret Italian payments to local commanders to stop attacks on their forces and consequently misjudged local threat levels.
A view of a sacrary displaying the six photos, of the fallen soldiers from the Italian Army, who died in an attack on an Italian military convoy in Kabul which also killed 10 Afghan civilians, seen in Rome, Thursday, Sept. 17, 2009.
ROME — Premier Silvio Berlusconi said Thursday it would be best for international troops to leave Afghanistan soon, after a bomb blast in Kabul killed six Italian soldiers in Italy’s deadliest day yet in the conflict.
Berlusconi insisted there was no timetable for withdrawal, and said any decision would be made together with Italy’s allies. The explosion also wounded four Italian soldiers.
“We are all convinced it’s best for everybody to get out soon,” Berlusconi told reporters in Brussels. His comments were carried on Italian state TV.
A neo-Fascist group that claims it has thousands of recruits has announced plans to start anti-crime foot patrols on the streets of Milan.
The resemblance between their outfits and those of Benito Mussolini’s Blackshirts has triggered a judicial inquiry.
The Italian National Guard says that it has 2,500 recruits. It claims that a third are drawn from former members of the police and Armed Forces.
The Guard revealed its oufits and kit in Milan at the weekend: khaki shirts with armbands bearing the Nazi symbol of the Black Sun, black belts and shoulder straps, black ties, heavy black boots and military style caps decorated with the eagle, symbol of the Roman Empire. They are also equipped with black helmets, black gloves and torches.
Milan prosecutors yesterday opened an inquiry into the Guard, which has been dubbed “the Black Patrols” because of its Fascist-style insignia and uniforms. Fascist and Nazi symbols and slogans are forbidden in Italy under laws passed after the Second World War and the fall of the Fascist dictatorship of Mussolini. Maurizio Monti, deputy head of the Guard, said that the organisation was properly registered. “We do not believe we have committed any crime.”
A law allowing for local patrols to help police to combat street crime is in its final stages in parliament. Patrols have, however, already begun to operate in Italian cities, some organised by the anti-immigrant Northern League, a key ally in the ruling centre-right coalition of Silvio Berlusconi.
Gaetano Saya, the leader of the Guard, is already under investigation for allegedly disseminating racial hatred. He told Corriere della Sera that the Guard was based on the Roman legions. He said that he had taken his cue from Mr Berlusconi’s recent remark that Italy was not and should not be a “multi-ethnic society”.
Here is an update on the size of the derivatives market with the latest official figures (.pdf) from the Bank for International Settlements (BIS). Hold your breath, as we are not anymore talking paltry billions but TRILLIONS of whichever fiat currency.
Current emergency meetings on banks and markets are still only in the stage where politicians and central bankers are bickering over how to create a few more hundred billions Euros and FRNs. But toxic MBS pale in comparison to the mushrooming growth of the derivatives market. According to figures released in the quarterly review of the BIS (pp A103) in September the total notional amount of outstanding derivatives in all categories rose 15% to a mindboggling $596 TRILLION as of December 2007.
As soldiers prepare to be deployed on Italian streets, a city mayor has been accused of Fascism after he passed an edict banning groups of more than three people congregating in parks and public gardens.
Critics have complained that the sight of gun-toting soldiers on Italian streets will have a negative effect Photo: AFP/GETTY
The anti-gathering laws were enacted as thousands of soldiers were due to take to the streets of Italian cities for the first time on Monday under a controversial move by Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi to fight crime.
Massimo Giordano, a member of Italy’s anti immigration Northern League party, defended the anti-gathering motion and claimed it would cut down on unruly behaviour.
However opposition councillors said it was “reminiscent of Benito Mussolini’s edict of the 1920’s which banned groups of five or more people”.
SOLDIERS are to be deployed in Italian cities as Silvio Berlusconi, the prime minister, cracks down on crime as part of his government’s new domestic security package.
The troops – drawn from those who have served abroad – will patrol alongside regular state police and carabinieri paramilitary police.
They will be able to stop, search and identify suspects but will have no powers of arrest. Instead they must call for support or take suspects to the nearest police station.
Defence minister Ignazio La Russa said: “We are talking about a contingent of 2,500 troops who will patrol, alongside ordinary police, in order to safeguard the security of citizens.
“The scheme will be initially for six months and then renewed for another six months as a one-off and that will be it.
“If it was possible to recruit and train 2,500 police officers immediately then I would be delighted not to use troops.”
Opposition MPs and police unions did not share his enthusiasm with Antonio Di Pietro, of the Party of Values, saying: “Troops on the streets are only seen in places like Colombia against terrorists and armed insurrectionists. The idea of militarising cities gives an impression of insecurity and will affect tourism and the economy.”
Jean-Claude Juncker, the EU’s ‘Mr Euro’, has given the clearest warning to date that the world authorities may take action to halt the collapse of the dollar and undercut commodity speculation by hedge funds.
Jean-Claude Juncker, who is calling for Washington to
take steps to halt the slide of the dollar
Momentum traders have blithely ignored last week’s accord by the G7 powers, which described “sharp fluctuations in major currencies” as a threat to economic and financial stability. The euro has surged to fresh records this week, touching $1.5982 against the dollar and £0.8098 against sterling yesterday.
“I don’t have the impression that financial markets and other actors have correctly and entirely understood the message of the G7 meeting,” he said.
Mr Juncker, who doubles as Luxembourg premier and chair of eurozone financiers, told the Luxembourg press that he had been invited to the White House last week just before the G7 at the urgent request of President George Bush. The two leaders discussed the dangers of rising “protectionism” in Europe. Mr Juncker warned that matters could get out of hand unless America took steps to halt the slide in the dollar.
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