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Thu, 27 Jan 2022
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Markets punish Italy to make sure Berlusconi goes

Silvio Berlusconi
© The Associated Press / Andrew Medichini
Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi holds a note he wrote during Democratic party leader Pierluigi Bersani's speech, the note reads: "308, -8 traitors; Government upturn; Vote; Take note; Resignation; Italian President; One solution; Let's move", prior to the start of a voting session at the Lower Chamber, in Rome, Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2011.
Financial markets pounded Italy on Wednesday, sending a clear message that they want Premier Silvio Berlusconi to resign immediately. Italy's president responded there is no doubt about Berlusconi's decision to leave office, appearing to soothe investors.

In another chaotic day driven by the European debt crisis, the Dow Jones industrial average in New York dropped nearly 240 points in morning trading after Italy's borrowing costs soared to a new record high. Traders were troubled by signs that Europe's unending debt crisis was enveloping the eurozone's third-largest economy.

And across the Adriatic Sea, outgoing Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou announced that an agreement had been reached with the opposition to create an interim government to pass the country's new debt deal. Papandreou, who was expected to formally resign with hours, wished the next prime minister well but gave no indication of who it would be.

Berlusconi has pledged to resign after parliament passes the financial reforms that European officials have been demanding for months. The process can take up to two weeks, but President Giorgio Napolitano said that would be accelerated to days, allowing him to quickly begin talks on forming a new government or calling new elections.

"Fears are totally unfounded that Italy may experience a long period of inactivity," Napolitano said, adding that "emergency measures" could be adopted at any time.

Italy's key borrowing rate spiked to a high of 7.40 percent on Wednesday, up 0.82 percentage points from the previous day, as markets expressed concern about how swift and complete the political transition would be. That's over the level that eventually forced other eurozone countries like Greece and Portugal to seek bailouts.


China Says Sanctions No "Fundamental" Answer on Iran

Hong Lei
© unknown
Hong Lei
China's Foreign Ministry said on Thursday that sanctions cannot "fundamentally" resolve the Iran nuclear issue, after Western leaders urged expanded sanctions against Iran over a U.N. watchdog report that Iran has worked to design atom bombs.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei told a daily news briefing that sanctions were not a "fundamental" answer, but Beijing has used similar words before, when it ultimately voted for United Nations Security Council resolutions imposing sanctions on Iran for its disputed nuclear activities.

Hong warned on Wednesday against turmoil in the Middle East from action over Iran's nuclear program, but declined to comment on the possibility of new sanctions following the U.N. report. Veto-wielder Russia indicated it would block new measures at the U.N. Security Council.

As permanent members of the Council, China and Russia have the power to veto proposed resolutions.


The U.S. Congress signal the dangerous politics of Miviludes

© Unknown
Today, the U.S. Congress reacted to the publication of a bulletin from the french Ministry of Justice. This bulletin, which has already been the object of polemical discussions in recent days, instructs prosecutors and judges of courts of appeal to consider certain religious practices, such as fasting, as means of psychological subjection.

In a letter to Prime Minister Francois Fillon dated October 28, co-signed by the presidents of House International Religious Freedom Caucus, the members of U.S. Congress, express their worries: "We are worried because there is no chance of real justice for these movements (religious minority) and this appears as a direct intervention of the executive power to influence and direct the decisions of judges in criminal cases."

Congressmen also tackle the About Picard law. They recall that in 2002 the Council of Europe demanded that this worrying legislation may be reconsidered, which France never did.

Finally, they expressly demand that the financing by the state of associations as the FECRIS attacking and defaming individuals and communities on the basis of their beliefs and practices, often in coordination with Miviludes be stopped.

War Whore

Former U.S. president George W. Bush delivers stark warnings to India and Iran

© Unknown
Former US president George W Bush on Tuesday delivered a blunt warning to Indians about the intentions of China. The former president who has courted trouble in the past with his aggressive and over-the-top assertions said China was looking to upstage India.

"China's No. 1 target is the US, next is India," he told a group of select CEOs at a late dinner meet on Tuesday. Bush, the two-term president whose reign saw a dramatic improvement in Indo-US relations, also said his country's patience with Pakistan was wearing thin, according to one of the participants.

"If the US had not befriended Pak, Pak would have become more dangerous. But now US patience is wearing off," he said. In the course of a free-wheeling discussion, Bush also touched upon a number of important topics. He cautioned businessmen never to do business with Russia and said the EU would have a completely different look in five years but the euro would stay.


Day after UN report, Ahmadinejad pledges Iran won't retreat 'one iota' from its nuclear path

© unknown
Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
Iran won't retreat "one iota" from its nuclear program, but the world is being misled by claims that it seeks atomic weapons, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Wednesday in his first reaction since a U.N. watchdog report that Tehran is on the brink of developing a warhead.

Ahmadinejad also strongly chided the U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency, saying it is discrediting itself by siding with "absurd" U.S. accusations.

"This nation won't retreat one iota from the path it is going," Ahmadinejad told thousands of people in Shahr-e-Kord in central Iran. "Why are you ruining the prestige of the (U.N. nuclear) agency for absurd U.S. claims?"

The 13-page annex to the IAEA's report released Tuesday included claims that while some of Iran's activities have civilian as well as military applications, others are "specific to nuclear weapons."

Among these were indications that Iran has conducted high explosives testing and detonator development to set off a nuclear charge, as well as computer modeling of a core of a nuclear warhead. The report also cited preparatory work for a nuclear weapons test, and development of a nuclear payload for Iran's Shahab 3 intermediate-range missile - a weapon that can reach Israel.


Propaganda Alert! Iran Moved Nuclear Material to Bunker: U.N. Watchdog

Iran has started moving nuclear material to an underground facility for the pursuit of sensitive atomic activities, a U.N. nuclear agency report showed, a development likely to add to Western suspicions Tehran is trying to build a weapon.

The International Atomic Energy Agency document also said Iran had continued to stockpile low-enriched uranium (LEU) and one prominent U.S. think-tank said it had enough of the material for four nuclear weapons if it refines it further.

The information that Iran last month moved a "large cylinder" with LEU to the Fordow subterranean site was included in the U.N. body's most comprehensive report yet pointing to military aspects of Tehran's nuclear program.

The main finding in the IAEA report, which was leaked on Tuesday, was that Iran appeared to have worked on designing a nuclear warhead and that secret weapons-relevant research may continue.

Alarm Clock

Burning Down the House

Attempting to put out a fire by heaping more fuel upon it is clearly an exercise in futility.

If your house is burning you have basically two options; do nothing and allow the house to burn to the ground or extinguish the fire completely and rebuild your house making sure it is totally fireproof this time.

A problem cannot be solved by applying more of the same reasoning and principles that created it.

The for-profit, kapitalist paradigm is an unsustainable, unspeakably evil, criminal enterprise. It is the problem. It is the fire burning down the house. Unless and until it is completely extinguished, what we'll get is what we've got and have had for many centuries. In due time the house will be completely destroyed and nothing will remain.

This existing system cannot be fixed. The reason for this is quite simple; it's not broken! It is functioning exactly as desired for the small minority that controls it. They are the fire-starters, a group loosely referred to as bankers or financiers.


Baiting Perception? - UN: Some secret Iran work specific to nuclear weapons

Report comes amid speculation of military strike against suspected sites
© Reuters
An Iranian Shahab 2 missile is paraded in Tehran on Sept. 22, the anniversary of the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s. A newer generation missile, the Shahab 3, is being used to mount a nuclear payload, the U.N. nuclear agency said Tuesday.

Vienna - Iran is suspected of conducting secret experiments whose sole purpose can only be the development of nuclear weapons, the U.N. nuclear atomic energy agency said for the first time in a report released Tuesday.

While some of the suspected secret nuclear work can have peaceful purposes, "others are specific to nuclear weapons," according to the report by the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency.

A 13-page attachment to the report details intelligence and IAEA research that shows Tehran working on all aspects of research toward making a nuclear weapon, including fitting a warhead onto a missile.

"Iran," the report added, "has carried out the following activities that are relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device:
  • "Efforts, some successful, to procure nuclear related and dual use equipment and materials by military related individuals and entities;
  • "Efforts to develop undeclared pathways for the production of nuclear material;
  • "The acquisition of nuclear weapons development information and documentation from a clandestine nuclear supply network; and
  • "Work on the development of an indigenous design of a nuclear weapon including the testing of components."
Specifically, Iran's work includes developing and mounting a nuclear payload onto its Shahab 3 intermediate range missile - a weapon that can reach Israel, Iran's arch foe.

In response, the United States may impose more sanctions on Iran, possibly on commercial banks or front companies, but is unlikely to go after its oil and gas sector or central bank for now, a U.S. official told Reuters on Tuesday.

Comment: "A senior diplomat familiar with the report said its significance lay in its comprehensiveness, thereby reflecting that Iran apparently had engaged in all aspects of testing that were needed to develop such a weapon."

Senior Diplomat. He has no name, credentials, country? How does he know how Comprehensive it is, was he there, how long was he there, what parts of Iran were visited? Does he have film of the testing(s)? Is there anything tangible to this besides some gag words like a higher up, a senior diplomat, a Congressional, administrative, Soviet weapons scientist, counselor on foreign affairs, official speaking on condition of anonymity..? Will the public ever see the slides? What were the highlights at a private conference of intelligence professionals, who were they, what country or business conglomerate do they work for?

Next up: Powell at the UN with a vial..?

Card - MC

US: Fannie Mae loss widens, asks taxpayers for $7.8B

© Unknown
Washington - Mortgage giant Fannie Mae is asking the federal government for $7.8 billion in aid to covers its losses in the July-September quarter.

The government-controlled company said Tuesday that it lost $7.6 billion in the third quarter. Low mortgage rates reduced profits and declining home prices caused more defaults on loans it had guaranteed.

The government rescued Fannie Mae and sibling company Freddie Mac in September 2008 to cover their losses on soured mortgage loans. Since then, a federal regulator has controlled their financial decisions.

Taxpayers have spent about $169 billion to rescue Fannie and Freddie, the most expensive bailout of the 2008 financial crisis. The government estimates that figure could reach up $220 billion to support the companies through 2014 after subtracting dividend payments.

Fannie has received $112.6 billion so far from the Treasury Department, the most expensive bailout of a single company.


Italy: Berlusconi to Resign After Parliamentary Setback

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said on Tuesday he would resign after suffering a humiliating setback in parliament that showed a party revolt had stripped him of a majority.

Berlusconi confirmed a statement from President Giorgio Napolitano that he would step down as soon as parliament passed urgent budget reforms demanded by European leaders after Italy was sucked into epicenter of the euro zone debt crisis.

The votes in both houses of parliament are likely this month and they would spell the end of a 17-year dominance of Italy by the flamboyant billionaire media magnate.

His failure to implement reforms fueled a party revolt and Berlusconi told his own Canale 5 television station that the only option was an early election. However, this could prolong the uncertainty that has sapped market confidence.

Napolitano said he would now hold consultations on the formation of a new government. Markets and Napolitano himself are thought to favor a technocrat or national unity government.