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Thu, 02 Feb 2023
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New Italy law tackles rampant corruption

Mario Monti
© The Associated Press/Mauro Scrobogna/LaPresse
Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti
Rome - Italy passed an anti-corruption law on Tuesday, the latest move by the government of Prime Minister Mario Monti to shed the country's image tarnished by former leader Silvio Berlusconi.

Monti, who took office last November to replace the scandal-plagued Berlusconi, made approval of the law a confidence motion in his administration in order to speed its passage through both houses of parliament.

The new law increases prison sentences for public officials convicted of demanding bribes, abuse of office or influence peddling. It also increases penalties for corruption in the private sector.

The law bans those who have been definitively convicted of corruption from running for public office and obliges local and regional administrations to institute an anti-corruption plan and renew it every year.

It guarantees anonymity for whistle blowers and obliges local administrations to post their budgets and the cost of public works on their internet sites.

The law, which has been kicking around parliament for more than a year, became definitive when the lower house passed the provision with a vote of 460 for and 76 against.

Gear

The unfolding human catastrophe in Iran

Iranian money @ market
© EPA
Sanctions imposed on Iran's banks and financial institutions could lead to a humanitarian crisis.

During their debate about foreign policy last Monday, President Barack Obama and his Republican challenger Mitt Romney both agreed that the crippling unilateral sanctions imposed on Iran by the the United States and its allies must continue, until the Islamic Republic recalibrates its nuclear ambitions.

Both seem to have also adopted Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's favoured refrain that "Iran must not be allowed to acquire a nuclear capability" and that such a capability constitutes a "red line" not to be crossed at any cost. Previously the inveterate refrain had been "Iran must not be allowed to acquire a nuclear weapon".

The definition of "capability" has continued to remain vague and ill-defined, and a number of analysts have concluded that the Islamic Republic is already nuclear capable and has all the necessary components it would need in order to assemble a bomb if it so desired. Once a country has mastered enrichment technology it is generally accepted that the decision to weaponise largely becomes a political one.

Both Israeli and American intelligence continue to hold that Iran has not yet taken any such a decision. A crucial caveat is of course is that as a signatory of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) with all its enrichment sites subject to IAEA inspections, if it desired to make a dash for the bomb, Iran would have to withdraw from the NPT. An act that would immediately raise alarm bells across the world and most likely provoke a rapid Western military response.

Apart from the vague and shifting red lines which continue to afflict the thick fog of Western national security rhetoric vis-a-vis Iran, not a single word was uttered by either men about the plight and suffering of the Iranian people who have had no role in the decisions made by the Islamic Republic's leaders. But, the fact is that the sanctions, exacerbated by government incompetence, have the potential to give rise to a major human catastrophe.

Dollar

Lies of Plutocracy: Exploding five myths that dehumanize the poor

Image
© Bread for the World / Flickr
DeEtte Peck uses her EBT card in Portland, OR, to purchase food.
If you believe that poverty is the domain of the comfortably poor, black, unemployed, unmotivated and uneducated among us, you have been sadly misled. Prepare to be astonished by numbers that tell a very different story.

You're in the grocery store checkout aisle. Time to cash out. You pull out your food-stamp EBT card. You're overcome with a sense shame one feels for being broke in a world that measures self-worth according to net-worth.

You hide the card behind your bank debit card - the one that has nearly nothing in it - and try to act natural as you slide it through the machine. "Cash or Food," it asks. You hit food. No one in the aisle with you is the wiser. But the cashier knows. You wonder if he's now scrutinizing your food purchases. If he's so poor how can he afford organic tomatoes? (After all, pesticides only harm the wealthy!) But at least the people behind you aren't in on it.

"OK, the balance is $10.99," the cashier says. You forgot about the laundry detergent. Now you've been outed to everyone. "He's buying this stuff with our money," you imagine people around you thinking.

People who feel the shame-inducing scrutiny of many judgmental Americans aren't paranoid. When the subject of welfare is brought up in my classrooms, many students immediately talk about people they see cheating the system. Whether the people they have in mind really are cheating the system or not, poor people are routinely conceptually linked with those of the lowest common denominator: lazy, stupid, cheats.

Arrow Down

Shooting the messenger: Canada, Israel call for resignation of UN Investigator of Israeli settlements

Allege bias against special investigator on human rights in occupied Palestinian territories

The UN special investigator on human rights in the Palestinian territories called Wednesday for a boycott of all companies that have dealings with Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem until they adhere to international rights standards and practices.

Israel, the U.S. and Canada all rejected Richard Falk's report, accusing the UN special rapporteur of bias against Israel and calling for his removal.

In a report presented to the UN General Assembly, Falk said a number of Israeli-owned and multinational corporations headquartered in the U.S., Europe and Mexico appear to be violating international human rights and humanitarian laws by exploiting Palestinian resources and helping Israel construct illegal settlements and provide security for them. However, he said further investigations will be made to determine whether the allegations are well-founded.

Falk said the call for a boycott is an effort to take infractions of international law seriously and "use what influence we have to change behaviour." He said the pace of Israeli settlement building has accelerated and Israel has ignored UN resolutions condemning the practice, so "there is a sense that what the UN says doesn't count."

Comment: "Committed to advancing human rights." Really?! Israel's hypocrisy would be unfathomable if its leaders weren't complete psychopaths:

War Crimes: Israel Pillaging Palestinian Resources
Israel Won't Cooperate With UN Probe of West Bank Settlements
Israel stripped 140,000 Palestinians of residency rights engaging in a systematic policy of illegal displacement
UN official: Israel engaging in ethnic cleansing
Leaked Document: Israeli Forces Train And Arm Settlers To Attack Palestinian Protesters
Israel to Bar UN Fact-Finding Team from Entering Country for Investigation Into Jewish Settlements


Heart - Black

Who Really Murdered Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman? - Part 2

"T" Stands For "Torture" In The Brave New Gulag Archipelago
There is a precedent for Huntley's psychiatric abuse. During 1996, Australian remand prisoner Martin Bryant was held in illegal strict solitary confinement for 150 days, and "helped" by psychiatrists and psychologists until he finally pleaded guilty to the Port Arthur massacre. At no time did Australian police ever try to corroborate Bryant's false "guilty" pleas
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Ian Huntley, who stands accused of the murder of British ten-year-old girls Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman, was rushed from Rampton high-security psychiatric prison to a court at Peterborough in Cambridgeshire at noon on 10 September 2002. Having run the gauntlet of the obligatory media hate mob pre-positioned outside in the street, Huntley was rapidly processed through the Magistrates Court to the [higher] Crown Court in less that one hour, an all time record for the British legal system which normally allows eight days for this process.

Once in the Crown Court, Huntley was charged with attempted "Conspiracy to pervert the course of justice", for allegedly lying to police during their investigations. Having been charged with this further startling offence, Ian Huntley was immediately remanded back to Rampton high security psychiatric prison for a further 28 days of psychiatric evaluation.

Comment: In case you missed it, here's the background to this horrific tale:

Who Really Murdered Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman? Part 1

See also:

Jimmy Savile scandal: BBC director general engulfed by 'tsunami of filth'

UK police swamped as over 300 child rape victims come forward in BBC pedophile network scandal

Jimmy Savile scandal exposes pedophile network at heart of British establishment

British MP: Powerful pedophile network linked to Westminster Parliament and 10 Downing Street

Child rape has been taking place at BBC studios for decades: Newsnight editor steps aside over Jimmy Savile scandal


Star of David

Israel planning to use cluster bombs on an attack on Lebanon

victim

A victim of a cluster bomb. Many nations have signed on to a ban that also involves destroying stockpiles of the weapons. However, neither the U.S. China, Russia, nor Israel have signed on.
* Israel has more targets for new war with Hezbollah

* Hezbollah may attack if Israel strikes Iran atomic sites

Israel would use a lot fewer cluster munitions in any future war with Hezbollah than it did in their 2006 conflict, even though it would go into southern Lebanon earlier and harder, a senior Israeli military officer said on Monday.

The disclosure confirms Israel already has detailed planning for an offensive aiming to avoid some controversial tactics used in the 34-day push against the Iranian-backed guerrillas.

Israel has not signed the Convention on Cluster Munitions, whose adoption in 2008 was spurred partly by Lebanese casualties of the bomblets, some of which lay scattered and unexploded until they were accidentally detonated by civilian passersby.

"Due to a whole range of considerations -- legitimacy, our non-indifference to the treaty, effectiveness and other factors -- cluster use is expected to be reduced in combat in the rural areas," the officer told foreign journalists.

Comment: The original article title tries to imply that Israel is doing a really kind thing by 'limiting' their use of cluster bombs.


Heart - Black

Who Really Murdered Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman? Part 1

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Staff Sergeant Frank Ronghi from Fort Bragg, North Carolina, pleaded guilty to forcibly sodomizing and then murdering an 11-year-old girl during early 2000
British Police torture least likely suspects Ian Huntley and Maxine Carr from Soham Village, while deliberately ignoring thousands of more likely suspects from nearby American Air Force bases

When British police arrested Ian Huntley and Maxine Carr [pictured left and right above] during the early hours of Saturday 17 August, on suspicion of the abduction and murder of Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman, they did so in the certain knowledge that absolutely no hard evidence existed incriminating either suspect. The reason for the rapid arrests was very simple: Just hours earlier, two small bodies had been found near the perimeter fence at USAF Lakenheath, and the Prime Minister at 10 Downing Street was terrified of a massive political scandal involving American servicemen based in, or transiting through, the United Kingdom.

Shortly after the arrests, British and American media organizations demonized Ian Huntley and Maxine Carr so successfully that public attention was diverted away from Lakenheath completely, and focused instead on the young couple from Soham who had earlier willingly spoken to television crews about their concerns for the well being of the two missing 10-year-old girls. Both knew the girls reasonably well. Ian Huntley was the caretaker at their school, and Maxine Carr was a former teaching auxiliary in their class.

Millions of viewers around the world watched Ian and Maxine being interviewed by the media, and most were impressed by the openness of their statements and their genuine willingness to help if possible. Experts in non-verbal communication also noticed that Ian and Maxine's involuntary body and eye movements perfectly matched what they were saying verbally to the journalists.

In other words, both appeared to be telling the truth both verbally and non-verbally, an almost impossible feat for even a trained liar to fabricate. It is critical to note here also that both came across on television as perfectly normal, sane individuals, a reality later to be inexplicably challenged by police and psychiatrists in Cambridgeshire.

Comment: Who Really Murdered Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman? - Part 2


USA

Frankenstorm Sandy prompts monstrous media hysteria

Image

Some waves, yesterday. Amid the hype, the endlessly recycled images on 24-hour news channels left the viewer unsure of how serious the crisis really was.
If you were watching CNN, you will have gone to bed wondering whether New York would still be on the map come dawn.

After watching media mass hysteria over hurricane Sandy on CNN for a chunk of the evening I went to bed on Monday night uncertain whether New York would still be with us by breakfast time. Yo, Big Apple, glad to wake up and find you very wet but still more or less in one piece.

I'm not sure about CNN's reputation being intact in our house though. I don't often watch the channel much these days, but even with Christiane Amanpour - she's a veteran war correspondent and grown-up - in charge of coverage of "the monster storm from hell", the output was completely over the top. It's the sort of occasion when the only experts being consulted sounded like the OTT variety. And, no, little or no climatic context was provided.

By comparison, BBC1's Six O'Clock News, which only devoted its first five minutes or so to something that hadn't actually happened to the US eastern seaboard yet - and didn't live up to its billing when it did, peaking a few hours later - was a model of reticence. As ever Radio 4 is both calmer and more informative. All those misleading pictures often get in the way.

I won't be back on CNN in a hurry, which is worrying - and not just for CNN either because intense competition between rival media in search of readers and viewers leads to hype and hysteria which must put off many customers. Even those in search of lurid sensation go off in search of even dafter novelty when they tire of waiting to see if CNN's intrepid reporter in storm-torn Atlantic City - his name was Ali - would be picked up by the wind and blown into the sea (or the "literal Niagra Falls" as one eyewitness called the ocean).

Comment: The context is important and the context was, as ever, entirely lacking in mainstream US media coverage. Yes, Sandy was big, but it was not 'the end of the world' in and of itself, it was just another extreme weather event joining a long list of similar events in recent years.


Boat

Iran dispatches warships to Sudan after Israeli airstrike on missile base

Iran risked Israeli military retaliation Monday with the dispatch of a naval task force to Sudan just days after a widely reported airstrike by the Jewish state against a missile base run by Tehran in Khartoum.
Image
© Getty Images

An airstrike was widely reported to have been carried out by Israel against a missile base run by Iran in Sudan.
Sudanese state media said that a docking ceremony was staged in Port Sudan to receive the convoy led by an Iranian naval frigate and corvette warship.

Commanders of the Iranian flotilla reportedly met Sudanese navy chiefs as a gesture of "peace and friendship".

But Israel sees the increasingly close military links between Iran and Sudan as a credible threat. It fears Iran is building missiles to supply Hizbollah and the Syrian regime.

Israeli media has said that a long-range bombing run by eight F15 bombers hit a missile base staffed by Iranian engineers at the Yarmouk military plant.

Sudan has complained to the United Nations that Israel bombed the factory.

Iran claims to have harvested images of "sensitive" Israeli military sites and other potential missile targets form a drone shot down after it was launched from Lebanon by Hizbollah

Ismael Kowsari, a Iranian MP, told the semi-official Mehr news agency that images from the drone were broadcast back to Hizbollah operators before the Israeli military shot it out of the sky earlier this month.

Vader

Blowing the roof off global corporate oligarchy

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© Mr. Fish
Sun Tzu, author of the ancient and enduring strategy treatise, The Art of War, once said:
Military tactics are like unto water; for water in its natural course runs away from high places and hastens downward.

So in war, the way is to avoid what is strong and to strike at what is weak.

Water shapes its course according to the nature of the ground over which it flows; the soldier works out his victory in relation to the foe whom he is facing.
Wind, similarly, finds its way into the weakest points of a roof, and no matter how strong, should it find these points, is capable of taking the entire roof off with a good gust.

Imagine increasing global awareness of the disparity and injustice purveyed by global corporate oligarchy as a storm, and imagine the roof of this oligarchy's house covered in workers trying to tack down these weakest points. Where are they?

Where do they fear the wind blowing hardest?