Friday, June 22, 2007
Wednesday, June 20, 2007
- Some Major Bases:
- Aviano Air Base, Pordenone
- Caserma Ederle, Vicenza
- San Vito Dei Normanni Air Station, near Brindisi
- Naval Air Station Sigonella, near Catania, Sicily
- Camp Darby, near Pisa and Livorno
From http://www.kelebekler.com/ (My translation):
Trentino Alto Adige
1. Cima Gallina [Bz]. Communication Station and USAF radar.
2. Monte Paganella [Tn]. USAF Telecommunication Station.
Friuli Venezia Giulia
3. Aviano [Pn]. The biggest advanced base, nuclear deposits and center for USAF telecommunications in Italy [at least 3000 troops and American civilians]. In the base there are USAF operative forces ready for combat [a group of fighter bombers] that were used in the strafings in Bosnia. Moreover, the 16th Air Force and the 31st Fighter Wing and not to mention a Marines squadron of F-18s. It is presumed that the base holds nuclear bombs in an underground bunker, whose construction was authorized by Congress. In the Aviano area base in the Pordenone region there are permanent deployments since 1994 of the 31st Fighter Wing, equiped with 2 squadrons of F-16s [in the war against Yugoslavia in 1999, in 78 days there were 9000 missions: a record] and the 16th Air Force. The latter was equipped with F-16 and F-15 fighters, and has the task, under the U. S. European Command, to not only plan and to lead operations of aerial combat in southern Europe, but also in Middle East and North Africa. It operates, with a staff of 11.500 military and civilians, from two main bases: Aviano, where one finds the General Division, and the Turkish base of Incirlik. The latter base will be the main base for the aerial offensive against northern Iraq, but the use of planes of the 16th Air Force will be planned and directed by the General Division of Aviano.
5. Rivolto [Ud]. USAF Base.
6. Maniago [Ud]. USAF shooting range.
7. San Bernardo [Ud]. US Army munitions depot.
8. Trieste. US Naval Base.
9. Camp Ederle [Vi]. General Division of NATO and command of SETAF of the US Army, which controls American forces in Italy, Turkey, and Greece. In this base, there are land troops normally in Italy: an air transported battalion, an artillary battalion with nuclear capability, three companies of the kind. Important telecommunication station. The American military and civilians that operate at Camp Ederle should number about 2000.
10. Vicenza: SETAF (Southern European Task Force) command. 5th Allied Tactical Air Force. Probable depot for nuclear war heads.
11. Tormeno [San Giovanni a Monte, Vi]. Arms and munitions depot.
12. Longare [Vi]. Important arms depot.
13. Oderzo [Tv]. Arms and munitions depot.
15. Istrana [Tv]. USAF base.
16. Ciano [Tv]. US telecommunication and radar center.
17. Verona. Air Operations Center [USAF] and NATO SETAF base. USAF telecommunication center.
18. Affi [Vr]. US telecommunications center.
20. Erbezzo [Vr]. NSA antenna radar.
22. Monte Venda [Pd]. US telecommunications and radar antenna.
23. Venezia. US Naval base.
24. Sant'Anna di Alfaedo [Pd]. US Radar base.
25. Lame di Concordia [Ve]. US telecommunication and radar base.
26. San Gottardo, Boscomantivo [Ve]. US telecommunication center.
27. Ceggia [Ve]. US radar center.
28. Ghedi [Bs]. USAF base, communication station and nuclear bomb depot.
108. Sorico [Co]. NSA antenna.
32. Candelo-Masazza [Vc]. USAF and US Army training, with NATO coverage.
33. La Spezia. SACLANT (Supreme Allied Commander, Atlantic) Anti-submarine center. [see 35].
34. Finale Ligure [Sv]. Telecommunication station of the US Army.
35. San Bartolomeo [Sp]: Center of research for submarine warfare. Composed of 3 structures. First of all is SACLANT, an affiliate of NATO that is not indicated on any map of the Atlantic Alliance. It would have been better if SACLAT hadn't specified precisely marine research: in a dossier prepared by the Federation of Rifondazione Comunista, it says that "occupation of areas that mirror the water for military requirements of the Italian state and not a shelter for the 6th US Fleet." Then there is Maricocesco, an agency that resupplies the navy. Lastly, Mariperman, the permanent commission for experimenting with war materials, composed of 500 people and 11 institutes [of artillary, munitions, and missles, to the underwater crews].
36. Monte San Damiano [Pc]. USAF base with NATO coveraege.
37. Monte Cimone [Mo]. US telecommunication station with NATO coverage.
40. Rimini. US logisitcal group for the activation of nuclear bombs.
41. Rimini-Miramare. US telecommunication center.
42. Potenza Picena [Mc]. US radar center with NATO coverage.
43. Camp Darby [Pi]. SETAF has the biggest logistical depot in the Mediterranean [between Pisa and Livorno], with about 1400 men, where the 31st Munitions Squadron is. Here, in 125 underground bunkers, is stocked a strategic reserve for the US Army and aeronautics, estimated at more than a million and a half munitions. Closely connected through a web of canals near the port of Livorno, across Navicelli Canal, there is a base for refueling the navy units stationed in the Mediterranean. The 8th Support Group and US Army base for supporting the American forces south of the Po River, the Mediterranean, the Gulf, North Africa, and Turkey.
44. Coltano [Pi]. Important US-NSA base for telecommunications: from here all of the collected information is managed from the centers of telecommunications of the Mediterranean. US Army munitions depot; NSA base.
45. Pisa [aeroporto militare]. Irregular USAF base.
46. Talamone [Gr]. Irregular US Navy base.
47. Poggio Ballone [Gr]. Between Follonica, Castiglione della Pescaia and Tirli: US radar center with NATO coverage.
48. Livorno. US naval base.
49. Monte Giogo [Ms]. US telecommunicatino center with NATO coverage.
50. La Maddalena - Santo Stefano [Ss]. US atomic base, submarine base, naval squad in support of American aircraft carrier "Simon Lake".
52. Sinis di Cabras [Or]. NSA data processing center.
54. Torre Grande di Oristano. NSA radar base.
55. Monte Arci [Or]. US telecommunication station with NATO coverage.
56. Capo Frasca [Or]. US heliport and system radar.
57. Santulussurgiu [Or]. USAF telecommunication station with NATO coverage.
58. Perdasdefogu [Nu]. Experimental missle base.
59. Capo Teulada [Ca]. From Capo Teulada to Capo Frasca [Or], approximately 100 km of coast, 7,200 hectares of land and more than 70,000 hectares of "off limits" zones: shooting range for navy and aerial practices for the US 6th Fleet and NATO.
60. Cagliari. US naval base.
61. Decimomannu [Ca]. US airport with NATO coverage.
62. Aeroporto di Elmas [Ca]. USAF air base.
63. Salto di Quirra [Ca]. Missile shooting range.
64. Capo San Lorenzo [Ca]. Training zone for the US 6th Fleet.
65. Monte Urpino [Ca]. US and NATO munitions depot.
66. Roma. Command for the Central Mediterranean for NATO and the US interforce logistic coordination. NATO station.
67. Roma Ciampino [aeroporto militare]. Irregular USAF base.
68. Rocca di Papa [Rm]. US telecommunication station with NATO coverage, with probable connection to the underground installations at Monte Romano.
69. Monte Romano [Vt]. US Army shooting range.
70. Gaeta [Lt]. Permanent base of the 6th Fleet and of the naval squadron that supplies the aircraft carrier "La Salle".
71. Casale delle Palme [Lt]. NATO telecommunications school under US control.
72. Napoli. Command of the Marines Security Force. US submarine base. Command for the USAF in the Mediterranean. Port normally employed by the civil units and US military. It is estimated that annually from Naples and Livorno 5000 military container trips are made.
73. Aeroporto Napoli Capodichino. USAF Air base.
74. Monte Camaldoli [Na]. US telecommunication station.
75. Ischia [Na]. US telecommunication antenna with NATO coverage.
76. Nisida [Na]. US Army base.
77. Bagnoli [Na]. Seat of the biggest center of coordination of the US Navy in all telecommunication activities, command and control of the Mediterranean.
78. Agnano [in the vicinity of the famous race course]. US Army base.
80. Licola [Na]. US telecommunication antenna.
81. Lago Patria [Ce]. US telecommunication station.
82. Giugliano [vicinanze del lago Patria, Na]. Statcom Command.
83. Grazzanise [Ce]. Irregular USAF base.
84. Mondragone [Ce]: US and NATO Center of Command for underground anti-atomic weapons, where they want to marry the US and NATO commands in case of war.
85. Montevergine [Av]: Communication station for the US.
79. Cirigliano [Mt]. Command for the US Naval Forces in Europe.
86. Pietraficcata [Mt]. Center for telecommunications for USA and NATO.
87. Gioia del Colle [Ba]. US air base and technical support.
88. Brindisi. US Naval Base.
89. Punta della Contessa [Br]. US and NATO shooting range.
90. San Vito dei Normanni [Br]. Would have been the home to a thousand American troops of the 499th Expeditionary Squadron. Secret service base. Electronics Security
91. Monte Iacotenente [Fg]. Base for the complex radar NADGE (NATO Air Defense Ground Environment).
92. Otranto. US radar station.
93. Taranto. US Naval Base. Storage for USA and NATO.
94. Martinafranca [Ta]. Radar Base USA.
95. Crotone. Telecommunication station and radard for USA and NATO.
96. Monte Mancuso [Cz]. Telecommunication station for USA.
97. Sellia Marina [Cz]. Telecommunications center for the US with NATO coverage.
98. Sigonella [Ct]. Main land base of the Navy in the central Mediterranean, logistic support of the 6th Fleet [about 3400 between military and civilians]. Beyond US Navy unit, it accommodates various tactical squadrons of the USAF: helicopters of the type HC-4, hunting Tomcat F14's and A6 Intruders, groups of F-16 and F-111 equipped with nuclear bombs of the B-43 type, from more than 100 kilitons each.
99. Motta S. Anastasia [Ct]. Telecommunication station for USA.
100. Caltagirone [Ct]. Telecommunication station for USA.
101. Vizzini [Ct]. Various US storage. Note: a non-comissioned officer of the aereonautical military has written to us, specifying that there are no US installations in this Italian military base.
103. Isola delle Femmine [Pa]. Munitions depot for the US and NATO.
104. Comiso [Rg]. The base will be dismantled.
105. Marina di Marza [Rg]. Telecommunication station for USA.
106. Augusta [Sr]. Base of the 6th fleet and munitions depot.
107. Monte Lauro [Sr]. Telecommunication station for USA.
109. Centuripe [En]. Telecommunication station for USA.
110. Niscemi [Cl]. NavComTelSta base [US Navy communication].
111. Trapani. USAF Base with NATO coverage.
112. Isola di Pantelleria [Tp]: Telecommunication center for the US Navy, air base and NATO radar.
113. Isola di Lampedusa [Ag]: US Coast Gaurd Base. Center for eavesdropping (listening) and communications for the NSA.
The abbreviations above in brackets are the administrative province of Italy for that station. Below is the key to the brackets. The region is in parentheses:
[Ag] = Agrigento (Sicilia)
[Al] = Alessandria (Piemonte)
[An] = Ancona (Marche)
[Ao] = Aosta (Valle d'Aosta)
[Ar] = Arezzo (Toscana)
[Ap] = Ascoli Piceno (Marche)
[At] = Asti (Piemonte)
[Av] = Avellino (Campania)
[Ba] = Bari (Puglia)
[Bt] = Barletta-Andria-Trani (Puglia)
[Bl] = Belluno (Veneto)
[Bn] = Benevento (Campania)
[Bg] = Bergamo (Lombardia)
[Bi] = Biella (Piemonte)
[Bo] = Bologna (Emilia-Romagna)
[Bz] = Bolzano (Trentino-Alto Adige)
[Bs] = Brescia (Lombardia)
[Br] = Brindisi (Puglia)
[Ca] = Cagliari (Sardegna)
[Cl] = Caltanissetta (Sicilia)
[Cb] = Campobasso (Molise)
[Ci] = Carbonia-Iglesias (Sardegna)
[Ce] = Caserta (Campania)
[Ct] = Catania (Sicilia)
[Cz] = Catanzaro (Calabria)
[Ch] = Chieti (Abruzzo)
[Co] = Como (Lombardia)
[Cs] = Cosenza (Calabria)
[Cr] = Cremona (Lombardia)
[Kr] = Crotone (Calabria)
[Cn] = Cuneo (Piemonte)
[En] = Enna (Sicilia)
[Fm] = Fermo (Marche)
[Fe] = Ferrara (Emilia-Romagna)
[Fi] = Firenze (Toscana)
[Fg] = Foggia (Puglia)
[Fc] = Forlì-Cesena (Emilia-Romagna)
[Fr] = Frosinone (Lazio)
[Ge] = Genova (Liguria)
[Go] = Gorizia (Friuli-Venezia Giulia)
[Gr] = Grosseto (Toscana)
[Im] = Imperia (Liguria)
[Is] = Isernia (Molise)
[Sp] = La Spezia (Liguria)
[Aq] = L'Aquila (Abruzzo)
[Lt] = Latina (Lazio)
[Le] = Lecce (Puglia)
[Lc] = Lecco (Lombardia)
[Li] = Livorno (Toscana)
[Lo] = Lodi (Lombardia)
[Lu] = Lucca (Toscana)
[Mc] = Macerata (Marche)
[Mn] = Mantova (Lombardia)
[Ms] = Massa-Carrara (Toscana)
[Mt] = Matera (Basilicata)
[Me] = Messina (Sicilia)
[Mi] = Milano (Lombardia)
[Mo] = Modena (Emilia-Romagna)
[Mb] = Monza e della Brianza (Lombardia)
[Na] = Napoli (Campania)
[No] = Novara (Piemonte)
[Nu] = Nuoro (Sardegna)
[Ot] = Olbia-Tempio (Sardegna)
[Or] = Oristano (Sardegna)
[Pd] = Padova (Veneto)
[Pa] = Palermo (Sicilia)
[Pr] = Parma (Emilia-Romagna)
[Pv] = Pavia (Lombardia)
[Pg] = Perugia (Umbria)
[Pu] = Pesaro e Urbino (Marche)
[Pe] = Pescara (Abruzzo)
[Pc] = Piacenza (Emilia-Romagna)
[Pi] = Pisa (Toscana)
[Pt] = Pistoia (Toscana)
[Pn] = Pordenone (Friuli-Venezia Giulia)
[Pz] = Potenza (Basilicata)
[Po] = Prato (Toscana)
[Rg] = Ragusa (Sicilia)
[Ra] = Ravenna (Emilia-Romagna)
[Rc] = Reggio Calabria (Calabria)
[Re] = Reggio Emilia (Emilia-Romagna)
[Ri] = Rieti (Lazio)
[Rn] = Rimini (Emilia-Romagna)
[Rm] = Roma (Lazio)
[Ro] = Rovigo (Veneto)
[Sa] = Salerno (Campania)
[Vs] = Medio Campidano (Sardegna)
[Ss] = Sassari (Sardegna)
[Sv] = Savona (Liguria)
[Si] = Siena (Toscana)
[Sr] = Siracusa (Sicilia)
[So] = Sondrio (Lombardia)
[Ta] = Taranto (Puglia)
[Te] = Teramo (Abruzzo)
[Tr] = Terni (Umbria)
[To] = Torino (Piemonte)
[Og] = Ogliastra (Sardegna)
[Tp] = Trapani (Sicilia)
[Tn] = Trento (Trentino-Alto Adige)
[Tv] = Treviso (Veneto)
[Ts] = Trieste (Friuli-Venezia Giulia)
[Ud] = Udine (Friuli-Venezia Giulia)
[Va] = Varese (Lombardia)
[Ve] = Venezia (Veneto)
[Vb] = Verbano-Cusio-Ossola (Piemonte)
[Vc] = Vercelli (Piemonte)
[Vr] = Verona (Veneto)
[Vv] = Vibo Valentia (Calabria)
[Vi] = Vicenza (Veneto)
[Vt] = Viterbo (Lazio)
Monday, June 11, 2007
Thursday, June 7, 2007
The program has included Romania and Poland from 2003 to 2005 according to Council of Europe human rights investigator Dick Marty. Italy and Germany had complied with the program at the time and had not revealed the information in fear of breaking relations with the US.
The case involves the abduction and sudden disappearance of Egyptian Imam Osama Mustafa Hassan Nasr that was released in February of this year after 4 years of detention. He was moved to Egypt for detention where he claims to have been tortured.
It appears for Italy, now that things are open, it is time to attack the US. Prime Minister Prodi and his government are attempting to derail the case, however. Prodi accuses Chief Prosecutor Spataro of overstepping state secrecy laws and putting secret Italian security practices at risk.
Not only are 25 US CIA agents charged, which the US will not release to Italy, but at least 5 Italians are charged as well. This includes Chief of Military Intelligence Nicolo Pollari.
In the hearings today, the judge threw out using former Prime Minister Berlusconi and current PM Prodi as witnesses for the case. However, it would seem that at least their top aids are not free from this case.
It will be interesting what this case will make public, how this will impact Prodi's sudden instability amid mutliple scandals and a visit from US President Bush, and to US/Italian relations that have been strained as of late. One is US anger is that the Italians have refused to offer more troops to Afghanistan.
Bush's arrival may have more relevance than to chat about G8 issues and Afghanistan, and it may have a lot to do with this case.
Italy is considered the worst offender in not meeting their G8 agreements in a study by the University of Toronto. It will be interesting to see what Prodi agrees to as his opinion polls are languishing and he has to work together with the highly unpopular George W. Bush.
Bush arrives in Rome today for the first time in 3 years and will be there through the weekend before heading to Germany for the summit. Some of Prodi's ministers are considering protesting Bush's presence.
Meanwhile, Prodi's government is "on the brink of collapse".
Italy won't be fully under the spot light as the US will be in vetoing climate action plans. Additionally, Germany will claim a lot of the media attention in hosting the summit. The next G8 summit will be in Italy in 2009.
The only apparent attention that Italy has received is criticism of avoiding African aid by U2's Bono. Italy owes $350 million USD and hasn't paid it's share of African aid for 2006 or 2007. Prodi promised to pay $540 million USD next year.
Wednesday, June 6, 2007
Can Italy and Iran work together?
Italy is Iran's #1 European trading partner. Economic sanctions would most certainly hurt Italy most in the EU. Perhaps that is why Italy has said that Iran's bid for nuclear energy is "legitimate".
However, today Foreign Minister D'Alema has stated that the possibility of Iran "acquiring is unacceptable for the international community." However, is it acceptable for Italy?
However, Italian oil power Eni is investing more in Iran even with escalating talks of sanctions. The company probably knows something that the outside doesn't. Italy is too weak to make any drastic economic moves as it continues to struggle with it's own economic hardships. Italy will be relying on other nations to make the bold moves.
A new development from the G8 summit is that they are warning Iran to stop uranium enrichment. The G8 "will support adopting further measures, should Iran refuse to comply with its obligations". This probably is the driving force for D'Alema's latest statement.
Tuesday, June 5, 2007
It appears that easing of trade barriers may have influenced the sudden change in the Italian governments demeanor. In the end, money drives politics.
Italy already holds the majority stake in Croatian import partners at 16% and may likely try to make Croatia more dependant as EU entrance may make the nation a free-for-all.
Croatia is likely needing more economic spurring as it holds 17% unemployment and continues to see a growing trade deficit and driven primarily by who else but Italy.
Monday, June 4, 2007
Why the sudden change? Was this a negotiation tactic for something greater? Did the Italians see their concessions as inevitable as the post WWII treaty already addressed the compensation of the war? Did the Italians win something more?
The regional summit meeting that just occured in Czech Republic may have had unsaid additional items that we may come to find out sooner than later. In the meantime, this brings good news to Croatian EU membership supporters.
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
The following is a graph of foreign population of men (in blue) and women (in red) in Italy on 01/01/06.
This graph demonstrates:
- The highest population of women are 31 years old.
Friday, May 18, 2007
Amazingly, the war in Iraq has had more journalists killed than in any other conflict (assuming there were few journalists in wars prior to 1900, which is a fair estimate).
Reporters for Italian news killed in Iraq and Afghanistan to date (10/03/08):
- Independent journalist, Enzo Baldoni
- Unknown driver for Baldoni
Italian reporters abducted and released:
Total number of journalists killed to date since 2003:135
Thursday, May 17, 2007
N. Italy in 1796:
N. Italy in 1799:
That was just at the time when the US congress passed the Alien and Sedition Act of 1798. It says says anyone "opposing or resisting any law of the United States, or any act of the President of the United States" could be imprisoned for up to two years. This gave rather unreasonable powers over immigrants to the US.
From the late 1800s to the early 1900s, Italians were emigrating in droves when starvation and disease drove Italians to America. 25 million emigrated from a nation left with only 32 million.
Up until WWII, the nation still saw mass emigration in the 1930s of 300,000 per year. During WWII, Italians had been interned in the US like the Japanese and Germans.
Boundary changes have produced refugees since ancient times. And now strife in Africa, the former Yugoslavia, and the fall of the Soviet Union have caused mass refugees fleeing their country. Italy is a gateway for entrance to Western Europe. It has the largest coastline sitting in the middle of the Mediterranean.
Currently, the birth rate is smaller than the death rate (8.5% and 10.5% respectively). This sort of emigration is slowly eating at the Italian population. The only rises in population are now due to immigration of which standards have just been eased.
Berlusconi is now accusing the new immigrants of raising crime within Italy. A recent poll said 43 percent of Italians see immigrants as a threat to public security, up from 39 percent in mid-2005.
Leftists may argue that Immigration may be a vital part in sustaining growth for the nation with a still stagnant economy. This source of cheap labor could be used to maintain Italians lifestyles.
Yet, Italians are getting progressively more concerned about these immigrants. It is hard to not remember their history of being immigrants themselves, however Italy's Italians are composed of those that have never emigrated.
The immigration issue is still unresolved even after recent legislation, and now is being used as a political tool for Berlusconi to try to regain power. It will be interesting to see how it resolves, however it may take longer than anyone may anticipate.
Wednesday, May 16, 2007
- 33 deaths
- 8 non-hostile deaths (accidents)
- 16 from 1 event (car bomb in An Nasiriyah on 11/12/03)
Source: Iraq Coalition Casualty Count
Estimated Iraqi civilians reported killed by military intervention in Iraq to date:
- Min 63744
- Max 69795
Source: Iraq Body Count
Italian troops killed in Afghanistan to date (05/04/07):
- 9 deaths
Source: NATO (via Wikipedia)
Afghan civilian reported deaths since occupation in 2001:
- Jonathan Steele of the Guadian estimated 20,000 - 50,000 on 05/20/02.
- 2006 saw more than 3700 killed, about 1000 of them civilians.
Sources: BBC and the Guardian
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
Although more reinforcement is requested says little about a pull-out. As the troops were sent for "peace-keeping" operations, it appears as though they are amid a war. The Italians voted to keep troops for another 6 months last March.
However, more interestingly (from the Middle East Online):
On May 8, the Senate in Kabul approved a bill that called for negotiations with the Taliban, a ceasefire, and a date for the withdrawal of foreign troops. The proposed legislation demands that foreign forces should not engage the Taliban unless they are themselves attacked or have first consulted with the Afghan army, police and government.
The bill reflects a growing popular rebellion against heavy-handed American army tactics and aerial bombardments, which have brought death and destruction to many parts of Afghanistan. The bill has to be approved by the lower house of Parliament and by President Karzai before becoming law.
On May 10, Iraq had followed suit with similar legislation of which a majority has required a timeline for the withdrawal of troops. The homecoming of Italian troops seems more and more imminent.
Monday, May 14, 2007
After over a million fliers were handed out, the Pope seems to have taken the approach of arguing in semantics: "If the Church were to start transforming herself into a directly political subject," he observed, "she would do less, not more, for the poor and for justice, because she would lose her independence and her moral authority." (Quote in Italian here). He defended actions as "defending the family" and not as political acts.
The Pope then also continues to blast both the left and the right: "The Marxist system has left a sad inheritance of economic and ecological destructions and a painful destruction of the spirit. The same for the West, where the distance between poor and rich grows constantly and an alarming degradation of personal dignity with deceptive illusions of happiness are produced."
Meanwhile, estimates from 250,000 to over a million people gathered in Rome to protest the legislation. It is difficult to say that the Vatican is not involved with politics with such a sweeping protest assembled. With its strong following and support, the Vatican may more accurately be described as a political party all its own that doesn't need direct seats in the legislature than "involved with politics".
Friday, May 11, 2007
The Afghan government has taken over the management of hospitals run by an Italian aid group that pulled its international workers to protest the detention of a staff member by authorities, an official said Thursday.
It appears that even after the Italian NGO "Emergency" left their posts in protest to the death sentencing of the Afghan translator and aid for the freeing of the Italian journalist Mastrogiacomo, their posts were quickly filled by the Afghan government. This does bode as a good sign for Afghanistan as they are not negotiating with influential forces and enforcing their laws and have the resources to back it up. There are other recent signs of success for Afghanistan that seem promising.
With recent Afghan unity and successes against the Taliban, with a small percentage of Italian troops in Afghanistan (1300 out of 32000 NATO troops), and when Italian aid seems unnecessary, there may be attempts for a withdrawal of troops. Especially with Prime Minister Prodi under heat from his party and others, the time may be nearing.
The French have been pressured to withdraw from the Taliban as well recently. French President Sarkozy has also talked of withdrawal which resulted in the release of a French hostage. However, concessions to hostage threats are an unlikely mechanism for withdrawal as nations fall under public scrutiny for showing "weakness" and negotiating with the enemy. Italy has already gone through their own debacle in their concession to hostage takers. We will see if the French actually follow through soon.
Nevertheless, if Italy and France both pull out, that would symbolically show a pull out of spirit for the Afghan movement. The French currently have 1100 troops stationed in Afghanistan and if both nations pull out it would be a 8% withdrawal of troops. Although a small percentage in theory, there may be more witnessing european nations that will have corroding support as a result. The US is already spread thinly with war in Iraq. Hence, NATO members, and especially the US, will probably try its best to deter Italy and France from leaving. Although it is highly politically popular now to be anti-US policy, they will probably not pull out until there is a longer streak of stability in Afghanistan.
Thursday, May 10, 2007
Catholic parishes up and down Italy have handed out millions of flyers urging the faithful to rally outside Rome’s St John in Lateran cathedral on Saturday for “Family Day”, against what they see as an attack on family values by the left.
The Vatican has a grip on Italy that is more than religion, but involves culture too. 88% of Italians claim to be Catholics, however, only 37% claim to practice. In the same survey, only 19% support abortion when the reason for abortion is that the mother does not want to have children. If only 37% practice, clearly their is a belief system that transcends going to church.
As Western Europe sees declines in church attendance, the Vatican may slowly lose its grasp of its enveloping bordering nation. Additionally, if Italy's new relaxing of immigration legislation encourages more immigration, the Albanian and North African Muslims may swing the pendulum somewhat. Statistics show that Orthodox Christians from Eastern Europe are coming in large numbers too.
The success of the current measure may help us understand better how the Vatican is fairing in what was once a ruling faction of the area for centuries.
Friday, May 4, 2007
An article approved by the House committee on Thursday would prevent people with businesses worth more than 15 million euros from holding government office. Those wishing to do so would be forced to sell their businesses or put them into a
"We're not expecting people to emulate St. Francis (who gave up all material possessions)... The blind trust isn't a weird concept - it's typically American," said Prodi, a former European Commission chief. But Berlusconi shot back that the reform bill was "an act of political assassination". "It's further proof of the Left's desire to eliminate its most dangerous political adversary, namely myself," said the 70-year-old media magnate, who is Italy's richest man. "We're not in America but in Italy, and things work differently here... Fixing a limit beyond which one has to take all one's assets and entrust them to a person who can do what he wants with them is completely crazy," said the former premier. Since his entry into politics in 1993, Berlusconi has been dogged by criticism, both at home and abroad, for his dual role as powerful businessman and leading politician.
Who has the conflict of interest here? You could easily argue both as Prodi could want to oust Berlusconi altogether as he has only a 2 member lead in the senate. Additionally, there is much to say about Italy's richest man being in politics.
Prodi interestingly references the US as a good example of having blind trust laws. What is noteworthy is how Dick Cheney's involvement in Halliburton has been far from clean. Some may claim that perhaps Prodi should have used the US as an example of how conflict of interest can have adverse affects, including going to war for financial gain.
From SF Gate in 2002, prior to Iraq invasion:
Documents uncovered by the Center for Public Integrity show that Halliburton received $1.5 billion in government loans and loan guarantees during the five years Cheney was CEO. That compares with just $100 million during the previous five years.
Cheney retired from Halliburton in August 2000. He received $4.3 million in deferred compensation that year, plus $806,332 in salary. He subsequently sold more than $40 million in stock options.
Even though he's no longer in Halliburton's executive suite, Cheney reported on his 2001 tax return that he received nearly $1.6 million in deferred compensation from the company last year.
Cheney is still receiving deferred compensation from Halliburton, but neither the company nor the White House would specify how large his payment will be this year or how long the payments will continue.
Friday, April 27, 2007
To get your mind around the concept of productivity, imagine a small, insular farming village in which all of the good land is being farmed and every household grows or makes whatever it uses -- from food to the house itself. Further suppose that a stranger walks into town looking for work.
If you subscribe to the "lump of labor" theory, then this guy is out of luck. The only way he could go to work would be by farming part of someone else's land. If he eats more, someone else must eat less.
But that's not how the world works. Suppose the guy who walks into town has figured out how to build a more effective plow. He can sell his plows to farmers, who will pay for them with a share of their more bountiful harvests. Not only will our stranger have a job, but the farmers will be growing and eating more -- even after paying for their new plows.
We can do it again: A second stranger walks into town and offers to set up a school -- or make clothes, or build houses, or design irrigation ditches, or do anything that frees up the farmers to spend more time cultivating their crops. Again, crop yields go up. And again, we've created another job.
Productivity is an important aspect of growth. Population growth and other factors are not as important as productivity, which is usually a better estimate for economic growth.
Currently, Italy is making reforms to its public sector in an attempt to curtail some of its reputation for poor public service and increase productivity. There was an agreement between Luigi Nicolais, the minister in charge of public reform, with the trade union federations – CGIL (Confederazione Italiana Generale del Lavoro), CISL (Confederazione Italiana Sindacati Lavoratori) and UIL (Unione Italiana del Lavoro) – which represented state employees at negotiations.
So as Wheelen tells us about increasing productivity, an investment in education, innovation, specialization, and sensible tax and regulatory policies are what are necessary to maximizing productivity. The public sector reform is just one small part of one of these elements.
Thursday, April 26, 2007
In 1943-45, up to 10,000 were tortured or killed by Yugoslav communists who occupied the Istrian peninsula, now part of Croatia and Slovenia.
The demands have been building recently. The "exiles", or esuli, and "optants", or optanti, of the region now in living in Italy have not been able to take legal action in Croatia. A post-war contract between SFR Yugoslavia and Italy prevented the restitution of their property since a deal was made that seized this property as it was treated as war reparation. With its new EU leverage, Italy will hope to repair these "damages".
A map of the borders following WWI and WWII.
West Balkan nations to cooperate on organised crime and migration
According to the UNODC (UN Office of Drugs and Crime), the
heroin route through Croatia and Slovenia into Italy and beyond has grown in
importance again. Ivica Kirin, interior minister for Croatia, the closest of
all the Balkan nations to EU accession, said that by working more closely to
stop cross-border crime, nations would not only be defending themselves but
the EU too.
Nearby Croatia seems to also have trouble controlling its 5835 km (3626 miles) of coastline and will be difficult to protect. This will be another issue that Italy will have to contend with with the approaching EU membership that would make international border crossing easier.
Additionally, Italy is now grappling with immigration legislation. If Croatia has difficulty controlling its coastline now, other issues such as immigration will be a factor and may mean a bigger in flux of migrants to Italy assuming Croatia reaches EU status.
In a more recent report of Croatian massacre, the Hague is indicting a number of Croatians for their attack and expulsion of ethnic Serbs from Croatia. Croatia's former and deceased President Franjo Tuđman has been reported saying on video, "blows that will make the Serbs all but disappear, in other words, those we don’t reach immediately, must capitulate in the next few days."
With newer and fresh reports of war crimes, the Italians efforts to win over land for the esuli for an event over 50 years ago will probably be easy considering the other transgressions that may give Croatia difficulty in its bid for EU membership.
Tuesday, April 24, 2007
This appears to be afront of new EU legislation that has imposed minimum penalties for illegal dumping and other ecological crimes. Interestingly, since these developments, the EU is now imposing possible sanctions on the US and China for giving subsidies to industry to dispose of hazardous and other wastes. This appears to be part of the on-going struggle for the EU to hold onto its exports as they continue to falter for the EU with the ever falling dollar.
Is this law driven by the actual attempt to crack down on the mafia or is it a means for the EU to demonstrate that there are measures to curbing illegal dumping within the EU for its on-going trade war? Perhaps both as the indirect costs of illegal dumping are astronomical and any favoring with the EU would help when the Italian debt has been downgraded to A+.
There is some skepticism of mafia crackdowns in Italy. As the "questione meridionale" (Question of the Meridian or Middle Region) hasn't been answered since WWII, there will always be a stark difference in wealth of the north to the poor south. As the politicians invest in the south as a voting reservoir, there is no crack down on the status quo of the mafia. Still unresolved, this invites groups such as the Lega Nord (the Northern League) which answers with the option to cleanly cut away from the south. The mafia has its roots in being counter-establishment and the organization continues its trends as the south is still not integrated accordingly by the government.
This legislation does target the 2nd highest revenue source to drug trafficking for the mafia, however, it still doesn't target infrastructural changes and unemployment that would keep crime from being the easier option. There is still a long way to go for Italy, but this does make a low risk crime with small punishments a more serious punishment.