Italian weapons tycoon’s Indian corruption scandal


This 23 october 2012 video says about itself:

Finmeccanica advisor wanted for corruption

Former Finmeccanica manager, Paolo Pozzessere, has been arrested for alleged international corruption. He is wanted in connection with supply contracts to Panama and Brazil which is part of a broader investigation into Europe’s third largest defence group. Former Industry Minister Claudio Scajola [originally in the Christian Democrat party, later in Berlusconi’s party] is also being investigated.

British anti-arms trade activists recently scored a victory against Italian merchants of death corporation Finmeccanica. They managed to drive that firm out of the National Gallery in London, which Finmeccanica abused for selling weapons to Middle East dictatorships and others.

Finmeccanica is linked to the business empire of Silvio Berlusconi.

This video, from television in India, says about itself:

Italian CEO arrested in chopper scam

Feb 12, 2013

Another scam has hit the defence deals in India. Now, the VIP chopper deal of 14 helicopters purchased from Italy’s biggest firm Finmeccanica has come under the scanner. The chief executive of the firm Giuseppe Orsi has been arrested on corruption charges.

Today, from the BBC:

12 February 2013 Last updated at 11:38 GMT

Finmeccanica’s Giuseppe Orsi held on corruption charges

Finmeccanica is Italy‘s biggest aerospace and defence group

The chief executive of Italian aerospace and defence firm Finmeccanica has been arrested on corruption charges.

Giuseppe Orsi has been under investigation for bribery and embezzlement for several months. He has always denied any wrongdoing.

Prosecutors allege he paid bribes to ensure the sale of 12 helicopters to the Indian government.

Finmeccanica shares slumped in Milan after initially being suspended.

They fell more than 9% to 4.236 euros.

In a statement, Finmeccanica expressed solidarity with Mr Orsi and said: “Finmeccanica confirms that management activity and the initiatives it has undertaken are continuing in an orderly fashion.”

Italy‘s Prime Minister, Mario Monti, said in an interview with Italian television: “Magistrates will do their work. I’m sure they will do it thoroughly and in the best way possible.”

He added: “There is a problem with the governance of Finmeccanica at the moment and we will face up to it.”

Maybe pro-capitalist Monti was so relatively critical of Finmeccanica capitalists because of the Finmeccanica-Berlusconi connection. Berlusconi is now Monti’s rival in the elections.

Arrest warrants have been issued for two people living in Switzerland. The head of Finmeccanica’s AgustaWestland business, Bruno Spagnolini, was also placed under house arrest.

India’s foreign ministry said it had not been informed of the raid.

“We had asked the government of Italy through our mission in Rome for details of the investigation, but were told that it is a judicial process and the government of Italy is unable to share any information,” said foreign ministry spokesman Syed Akbaruddin.

An Indian defence ministry spokesman was later quoted by the AFP news agency as saying the country had now ordered its own investigation.

For Italy, it is the latest in a string of corporate scandals – including risky trades at the bank Monti Paschi di Siena and allegations of bribery at the oil services group Saipem.

Mr Orsi was in the process of overhauling Finmeccanica to try to make the company profitable again. The Italian government owns about 30% of the company.

India’s Defence Ministry said today that it has put a €560 million (£483m) contract to purchase helicopters from Italian company Finmeccanica on hold amid allegations that bribes were paid to obtain it: here.

Scandal surrounding the sale of 36 French fighter jets to India: here.

Italians demonstrate against Monti’s austerity


This is called Italy protest video: Police clash with ‘No Monti Day’ activists.

By Ben Chacko:

Thousands say no to Monti on mass marches

Sunday 28 October 2012

More than 150,000 people thronged the streets of Rome on Saturday as marches in cities across Italy marked “No Monti Day.”

The day of protest was called by trade unions and left-wing political parties to call for an end to the unelected government of former Goldman Sachs adviser and European commissioner Mario Monti.

Most marches went off peacefully, though in the northern town of Riva del Garda police broke up the protest with baton charges and tear gas.

In Rome 20,000 doctors and nurses marched along a separate route in uniform to highlight cuts to the national health service, while the main demonstration began at the Piazza della Repubblica and wound its way to the Piazza San Giovanni for a mass rally.

Georgio Cremaschi of trade union group the 28 April Network told Italian media: “The Italian people are waking up at last, along with our Greek, Spanish and French fellow Europeans.”

Mr Monti was appointed to the premiership with EU backing last November to force through austerity measures too unpopular to attract votes and since then has imposed sweeping cuts to public spending and attempted to dismantle employment law.

Italy’s economy has continued to shrink and its public debt is now 126 per cent of GDP.

But the weekend saw the first cracks in the coalition propping up the “technocrat” government as disgraced ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi launched an unexpected broadside at Mr Monti on Saturday.

Billionaire media tycoon Mr Berlusconi was convicted on Friday of tax evasion and sentenced to four years in prison. He is appealing the sentence.

But he appeared to take the court ruling as a cue to make a political comeback, delivering a speech in which he said the government’s economic policies had created a “recessive spiral.”

His People of Freedom party would meet soon to decide whether to withdraw support from Mr Monti’s government, which would force early elections, although he insisted he would not be standing for the premiership.

Mr Monti has also ruled out standing for elected office, although he has offered to remain prime minister whoever wins the next election.

Italian austerity damages science


This video is called Italian lawyers strike over austerity measures.

From ScienceInsider:

Italy‘s Science Minister Is Betting on Europe

by Marta Paterlini on 17 August 2012, 11:40 AM

ROME—Last month, the Italian government angered many scientists by announcing a series of deep cuts in the budgets of state institutes as part of a broader austerity package. ScienceInsider talked to Francesco Profumo,

Profumo indeed. That reminds me of another minister of that name, John Profumo. British, not Italian. Not a minister of education, universities, and research; but a Secretary of State for War (then, in the early 1960s, they were still honest enough to call it war, not “defense” yet).

John Profumo had to resign because of the Profumo scandal.

It is to be hoped that Francesco Profumo, and the whole Italian austerity-mongering government, will follow that example soon.

who, as minister of education, universities, and research in Italy’s ‘technocratic’ government, will have to implement those cuts.

… Before accepting the appointment as minister, he served as the president of the National Research Council for 3 months. Questions and answers have been translated from Italian and edited for clarity and brevity.

Q: The budget cuts announced last month will hit 12 state-funded institutes hard and have caused a great deal of commotion. Won’t they harm Italian science?

F.P.: First of all, let’s stop calling them cuts. I prefer to use the term “spending reviews!”

Yeah, right, Mr Profumo.

Probably, you want to stop people from calling rape rape. You think they should call it love instead.

And freedom is slavery.

And war is peace.

There is a word for the euphemisms of people like Mr Profumo. It is called Newspeak.

Ireland’s economy remains deep in crisis, with all signs pointing to a further downturn as the European Union enters recession: here.

Monti’s capitalism or democracy in Europe?


This video by Mark Fiore from the USA is called Assaulting Austerity.

By Peter Schwarz in Germany:

The euro bailouts and the crisis of democracy in Europe

7 August 2012

Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti said Monday that Europe would fall apart “if governments are completely bound by the decisions of their parliaments.” Every government has “a duty to educate the parliament,” he added in an interview with the news magazine Der Spiegel.

Monti’s statement amounts to an admission that the numerous bank bailouts organized to rescue the euro in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crash, and the austerity programs launched to make the working class pay for them, have strained European bourgeois democracy to the breaking point. The responsibility of the government to parliament, and parliament’s control over the government—which Monti is questioning—is a basic principle of parliamentary democracy.

Monti attacks parliament, but his real target is the working class. For the vast majority of the population, it has already become impossible to influence politics through the ballot box. Major political decisions are made ​​by the financial markets and their henchmen in Brussels, Berlin and the other European capitals.

In the recent elections in Greece and France, parties that appeared to promise an end to, or at least a moderation of, brutal social cuts received broad popular support. In France, the Socialist Party won the presidential election for the first time since 1988. In Greece, the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) emerged as the second largest party.

Under these circumstances, Monti’s comment underscores the basic class agenda of the European bourgeoisie: to press ahead with the policies of the banks, whatever the outcome of elections or the size of street protests and strikes against austerity measures.

Monti knows well that the social counterrevolution demanded by the international financial markets is incompatible with democratic methods. He leads a government of technocrats that has no democratic legitimacy. Monti—an economics professor, advisor to Goldman Sachs and member of several conservative think tanks (Bruegel, Bilderberg Conference, Trilateral Commission)—is a trusted representative of international finance capital. At its behest, he succeeded the Berlusconi government last November without the holding of an election because Berlusconi had failed to cut the budget quickly and deeply enough.

Since then, the Monti government has systematically attacked the social gains and rights won by Italian workers since the fall of the fascist dictatorship of Mussolini at the end of World War II. It has reduced pensions, increased consumption taxes and eliminated legal protections against dismissal and other social rights.

Last week, former German foreign minister Joschka Fischer (Green Party) published a column in the Süddeutsche Zeitung arguing for authoritarian forms of rule by the EU: here.

The Greek government has announced £9 billion in new cuts—but it can’t hide the chaos it is causing, writes Nikos Loudos: here.

UK chancellor demands pro-business reform of European Union: here.

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Monti’s austerity in Italy


This video is called Italy unions unconvinced by Monti’s austerity plan.

By Marianne Arens:

Italian prime minister to cut additional €26 billion

10 July 2012

“Spending review” is the term given by Italian premier Mario Monti to his latest austerity package agreed by his government last week. The state budget is to be cut by a further €26 billion over the next two years.

Public spending is to be reduced by an additional €4.5 billion by the end of this year. In the spring pensions had already been drastically cut, while consumer prices and taxes were raised.

The latest official figures published by the statistical government agency Istat (May 2012) show an increase in youth unemployment (15 to 24 year-olds) to a staggering 36.2 percent. At the same time, living costs for an average family went up by almost €2,500 per year, according to the reports of two consumer organisations a few days ago.

In 2013 the state budget will be reduced by a further €10.5 billion and in 2014 once again by more than €11 billion. In September 2013, VAT will go up from 21 to 23 percent, putting additional strains on working class and low-income families.

Ten percent of jobs in the public service will be slashed. For every five state employees that retire, only one will be replaced. This will hit the public health sector particularly hard; the closure of 150 hospitals and the axing of 80,000 hospital beds are under discussion. …

More than 3,000 organizations, administrative offices and partly state-run enterprises will be cut. In the Emilia Romagna, for example, this will affect over 360 organizations.

The Emilia Romagna region is hit particularly hard by Monti’s “spending review” policy, because it was struck by the worst earthquake in its history only a few weeks ago. In this area alone 6,500 jobs of medical doctors, nurses and social workers will be slashed, and 4,000 hospital beds eliminated.

The austerity package aims to fulfil the conditions of the European fiscal pact even before the Italian government has approved it. Monti once again called on the members of parliament to agree to the fiscal pact and the European stabilization mechanism (ESM) before the end of July. He referred to his “success” at the latest EU summit in Brussels. (See “EU summit measures mean deeper attacks on the working class”)

The Monti government was not democratically elected. It is a government of big business and the banks. It was put into power in November 2011 by the president of the state, 87-year-old ex-Communist Party member Giorgio Napolitano, following pressure from the financial markets. Ever since, Monti has systematically worked to dismantle all the post-war gains of the working class and ensure that they bear the costs of the banking crisis.

The new austerity package is to be put to parliament on July 31.

Credit ratings agency Moody’s downgraded Italy’s government debt yesterday to just two notches above junk status: here.

Unelected Italian Premier Mario Monti said today that he’s “gravely concerned” that Italy’s autonomous region of Sicily may soon be forced to default on its debts: here.

Eurozone finance ministers meeting in Brussels agreed the terms of a bailout for Spain’s crisis-hit banks today: here.

Rajoy reveals more austerity pain for Spain: here.

Italian earthquake victims boo Mr Austerity Monti


This is a BBC video on the earthquake in Finale Emilia, Italy. Best wishes to everyone who has suffered and still suffers from this natural disaster!

Like with disasters in Japan and elsewhere, there are not just natural, but also social and political sides to this disaster.

Dutch NOS TV images today showed Italian earthquake survivors, angry at Prime Minister “Mr Austerity” Monti, calling Monti and his entourage “thieves.”

Translated from Dutch NOS TV:

Monti visits earthquake victims’ camp in Italy

Added: Tuesday, May 22, 2012, 11:58

By our editor Eveline Rethmeier in Finale Emilia

This morning, the Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti visited the quake survivors’ camp in Finale Emilia, badly hit by the earthquake this weekend. Many people jeered and booed him.

Monti is responsible for the legal change which put an end to government aid for private property damaged in natural disasters.

“How dare you show yourself here, now that you have just indicated that we will not get any government support. You should be ashamed of yourself!” sounded from the camp while Monti talked to the journalists. …

Tents

After the earthquake, over 5000 people spent the night from Saturday to Sunday in tents and shelters. Relief about surviving the disaster predominates, but there is little confidence of a quick return.

Thousands of people have slept in tents and cars when the area after the earthquake of 6.0 still got about a hundred aftershocks.

In the sports centre of the ravaged Finale Emilia 250 people are waiting for news about relief. The coming days they will largely have to stay in the shelters for fear of further aftershocks.

Gloomy

The 73-year-old Giovanni feels gloomy. He lives in the historic center of town and briefly this morning, he was allowed to go with the fire brigade to his home to fetch his medication. When he will be allowed to return, he does not know.

“In L’Aquila after three years, people are still in temporary shelters. No idea why in Italy that must always take so long.” In addition, he saw the open door of a neighbor, while it had been closed when they left.

For many people there are fears that in the affected closed part of the center, burglars will come at night.

After the summer

Azima, a 33-year-old woman, is trying to restrain her four children who are running around. “For them it’s a trip. There are many children of their school and for them, it cannot last long enough. I have not slept for three nights. I think constantly I feel the earth moving.”

The expectation is that the residents of affected areas will not be able to return home till after the summer.

From Reuters:

Protest movement gains, parties hurt in Italy vote

21/05 18:29 CET

By Steve Scherer

ROME (Reuters) – Italians delivered a stunning blow to traditional parties on Monday when they elected protest candidates to govern several key cities, signalling a major shift in the political landscape ahead of a general election next year.

In the most sensational result in two rounds of local polls, comedian Beppe Grillo’s Five-Star Movement consolidated its meteoric rise from fringe group to national contender by winning the mayor’s office in Parma, a city of 190,000 people.

Grillo’s 39-year-old candidate Federico Pizzarotti, a political newcomer, defeated Vincenzo Bernazzoli, a seasoned politician supported by a coalition of centre-left parties, according to final official results.

“My victory reflects Italians’ desire for change,” Pizzarotti said.

The two main parties in the right-left coalition that supports Prime Minister Mario Monti – architect of Italy’s tough austerity programme – did not fare well in the local elections on Sunday and Monday.

By putting the parties that support the technocrat prime minister in parliament on the defensive, they could make it more difficult for Monti to push through highly unpopular measures aimed at avoiding a Greek-style debt crisis.

Former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s People of Liberty (PDL) party took a walloping in the first round two weeks ago, and lost to the centre left in Piacenza on Monday.

The left-wing Democratic Party (PD) was part of a coalition that won in the port city of Genoa, but was defeated in Palermo as well as Parma.

“The Parma victory is extraordinary. It shows a very clear rejection of the traditional parties,” said James Walston, Professor of International Relations at the American University in Rome.

ANTI-PARTY VOTE

“The local votes are very much against the parties, and only indirectly against Monti,” Walston said.

Grillo’s movement did especially well in the north, also scoring wins in the small towns of Mira and Comacchio, and taking advantage of a corruption scandal that has badly hurt Berlusconi’s former ally, the Northern League.

That party lost all seven races it contested on Monday.

The shaggy-haired comic’s rise became apparent two weeks ago during the first round of voting, based on his vitriolic criticism of the parties, Monti’s austerity measures, the euro, banks and the debt markets, targets of popular anger also in recent Greek and French national votes.

Greece is politically paralysed after inconclusive elections in which the mainstream parties that engineered the country’s international bailout failed to win enough seats to form a government. In France Socialist Francois Hollande was elected to the presidency on a pro-growth platform.

While a litmus test of Italy’s national mood, Monday’s vote in nearly 120 towns was largely overshadowed by two tragic events over the weekend.

On Sunday, a strong earthquake struck a large area of northern Italy, killing at least seven people, while a Saturday bombing in front of a school in southern Italy killed a teenage girl and ignited fears of a return to the political violence of the 1970s-80s.

In the first round of the local polls, tax hikes, rising unemployment and a series of corruption scandals contributed to driving voters away from Berlusconi and his centre-left rivals towards Grillo.

Italy’s economy slid further into recession in the first three months of this year, the third consecutive quarterly decline and the steepest economic contraction for three years, data published on Tuesday showed.

With Monti’s approval rating dropping to 38 percent, according to pollster SWG, down from 71 percent shortly after he took over from the scandal-plagued Berlusconi in November, the premier is trying to shift focus to growth from austerity.

In a sign of mounting voter disillusion, turnout was sharply down, declining 14 percentage points from the first round to 51 percent.

Turnout was less than 40 percent in Palermo, where veteran mayor Leoluca Orlando, who stood for the opposition Italian Values party, was headed toward a landslide victory over a centre-left candidate. It will be Orlando’s fourth term as mayor of Sicily’s biggest city.

More than 900 cities voted on May 6-7, and Monday’s voting took place in cities where no candidate won more than 50 percent in the first ballot.

(Editing by Barry Moody and Andrew Roche)

Earthquake: Italian workers killed by capitalism: here.

An influential think tank on Tuesday warned that the eurozone risks falling into a “severe recession” unless Brussels tempers neoliberal EU deficit rules with a growth pact: here.

Scientists around the world today condemned an Italian court’s decision to convict six scientists on manslaughter charges for failing to predict an earthquake that devastated the city of L’Aquila in 2009: here.

Italians vote against austerity


This video says about itself:

Italian lawyers are taking part in a week-long strike to protest against Prime Minister Mario Monti’s austerity package and call for an overhaul of the justice system.

By Marianne Arens:

Italian local elections: high abstention and a protest against austerity

9 May 2012

The local elections held last weekend in Italy were characterised by high levels of abstention. Compared to last year’s local elections average voter turnout declined by seven percent, from about 74 to 67 percent. In addition, those parties that support the austerity policies of the Monti government lost a large percentage of their vote. Increased votes were registered for smaller fringe parties and the protest list headed by the comedian Beppe Grillo.

In the first round on May 6-7, local elections were held in Genoa, Palermo, Parma, Verona, Bologna and hundreds of smaller communities. Some provincial elections also took place. A total of nine million voters, one in five of the Italian electorate, went to the ballot box. It was the first election since the assumption of power by technocrat Mario Monti and therefore an important test.

The traditional parties and politicians lost heavily. Silvio Berlusconi‘s People of Freedom party (PdL) suffered heavy defeats almost across the board. Following a recent corruption scandal and the resignation of party founder Umberto Bossi, the Northern League also registered an historic low poll. The Northern League mayor, Flavio Tosi, was confirmed in Verona only after clearly distancing himself from Bossi. The PdL and the Northern League have now dissolved their alliance.

In the Sicilian capital of Palermo, a traditional stronghold of the PdL, Berlusconi’s party failed to even reach the second round. The victor in the city was Leoluca Orlando, the candidate of the party Italy of Values (IdV), who gained 46 percent and stands against the candidate of the Democratic Party (PD), Fabrizio Ferrandelli, in the second round. In the primaries Ferrandelli had achieved an unexpected victory against the candidate favoured by the party leadership, Rita Borsellino.

Just a few weeks before the election, Italy of Values had put forward the former Mayor Orlando as its candidate. Orlando stems from the camp of the right wing and was mayor of Palermo on no less than four occasions in the 1980s and 1990, gaining a reputation as an opponent of the Mafia. This time around, Orlando was able to win support from the Greens and Communist Refoundation, and emerged as the strongest candidate from the first round.

In Genoa, another political outsider, economics professor Marco Doria (a descendent of Genoese nobleman Andrea Doria), was able to make the running in the PD primary while the party’s official candidates lagged behind. Like the Milan mayor, Giuseppe Pisapia, who last fall notched up a victory against the party leader of the center-left camp, Marco Doria was able to win the support of some groups outside of the traditional parties. With 48 percent of the vote, he enters the second round as the favourite.

The Democratic Party (PD) was able to hold on to most of its mayoral posts but mostly on the basis of support for local politicians who are regarded as relatively independent of the official party line. The PD is the main successor to the Communist Party, and together with Berlusconi’s PdL unconditionally supports the austerity policies of Mario Monti.

Candidates on the list of the comedian Beppe Grillo, the “Five Star Movement” were able to notch some notable successes. In Parma the list won nearly 20 percent of the vote in its first-ever showing, in a contest with a coalition of Democrats and Italy of Values. In Genoa, the Movement won 14 percent and in Verona nine percent of the vote. On average, Grillo’s candidates averaged around eight percent.

This is despite the fact that Grillo offers no sort of alternative to the traditional parties and politicians he criticises. He diverts widespread public outrage at the arrogance and corruption of the political elite into right-wing channels: a devoted supporter of the free market economic system, he calls for an end to waste, “clean” politics and the promotion of local and green initiatives and small businesses against the multinationals and international banks.

Grillo has recently sought to exploit public hostility to the European Union. He is now demanding that Italy should leave the euro zone. The EU is seen quite correctly by many Italian workers as an instrument of the European banks and the driving force behind the brutal austerity measures.

Grillo is clearly profiting from the vacuum on the left. The demise of the former workers’ parties and trade unions, their nationalism, together with their support for the diktats of the EU and the social counterrevolution pursued by the Monti government means that a thoroughly diffuse and essentially backward-looking movement as the “Grillini” has been able to benefit from the growing anger of a broad social strata.

The elections took place against a backdrop of growing recession. Industrial production in the first quarter of 2012 sank by 2.3 percent and gross domestic product (GDP) fell by 1.6 percent. Many companies have reported mass layoffs or bankruptcy.

The drastic austerity measures introduced by the Monti government have significantly worsened the situation of working people in a short period of time. The pension cuts and the increase in the age of retirement means that thousands of seniors have to wait longer for their pensions, even though they have not the slightest chance of getting a job. Their descent into poverty is inevitable.

The suicide rate has risen dramatically as unemployed workers and small entrepreneurs decide to take their lives because of the financially hopeless situation. The artisan association CGIA reports that over a thousand people took their lives last year—25 percent more than the previous year. This year there are likely to be far more victims.

The official rate of unemployment in March was two and a half million—an increase of half a million or 23 percent compared to the previous year. This trend is increasing. Total unemployment rose in March by 2.7 percent compared with the previous month. Unemployment has risen steeply since the introduction of drastic austerity measures by the Monti government in November 2011.

If one includes so-called “inactive” workers, i.e., those of working age but who have not looked for work last month, then the official unemployment rate soars to 14.5 million people, or 36.7 percent of the population of working age.

In March 2012, 22.9 million people were registered on payrolls, which represents an employment rate of only 57 percent for people between the ages of 15 and 64 years. For women the employment rate is below 50 percent. In addition, 36 percent of all young people between 15 and 24 are officially unemployed.

These figures show that an enormous social explosion is brewing beneath the surface. The results of the recent elections are just the first indications of the political upheavals to come.

From daily The Guardian in Britain:

Anti-austerity parties ride protest vote in Italian local elections

Italians vote against tax hikes and corruption, potentially weakening Mario Monti’s influence over parties in parliament