Tag: Italy

Obama set to arm Italy’s drones in milestone move

U.S. President Barack Obama delivers remarks during an observance of the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War, at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial wall in Washington, May 28, 2012. By Jim Wolf President Barack Obama’s administration appears set to notify the U.S. Congress of plans to arm a fleet of Italian MQ-9 Reaper drones, a step that may spur a wider spread of remotely piloted hunter-killer aircraft.

The administration could move ahead within two weeks on the proposal to let Italy join Britain in deploying U.S. drones with weapons such as laser-guided bombs and Hellfire missiles, American officials said.

Italy has a fleet of six Reapers. The sale of the technology to arm them, including bomb racks and “weaponization” kits costing up to $17 million, would help the United States redistribute the burden of its global military operations as the Pentagon’s budget is being squeezed by deficit-reduction requirements.

Too big to fail, too big to save?

By: Catherine Boyle

Italy’s economic problems took center stage Monday as its government, led by increasingly threatened Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, faced yet another key vote.

The health of the euro zone’s third-largest economy has come into focus despite Berlusconi accepting IMF monitoring and surviving several confidence votes in recent months.

Italy’s size makes the potential consequences if it were to fail more wide-ranging than the much smaller Greece.

“Italy has much more systemic implications,” Thanos Vamvakidis, Head of European G10 FX Strategy, BofA Merrill Lynch Global Research, told CNBC Monday.

“It’s too big to fail, too big to save.”

The problems facing Italy include the euro zone’s second-highest debt-to-GDP ratio, and the lack of a credible alternative to Berlusconi’s government.

Italian MPs will vote Tuesday on the country’s public finances, with a number of rebel MPs from Berlusconi’s party threatening to vote against the government in protest at the way it has managed the country’s finances.

Prepare the Black Pope? Media reports say Pope may resign in April

There is one front page news story that will certainly not go unnoticed: that is, that the Pope is thinking about resigning during the Spring of 2012. Journalist Antonio Socci has confirmed the same in the Italian daily, Libero.

“For now,” Socci writes, “he is saying that this may be true (Joseph Ratzinger’s personal assumption), but I hope the story does not reach the news. But this rumor is circulating high up in the Vatican and therefore deserves close attention. The Pope has not rejected the possibility of his resignation when he turns 85 in April next year.”

Socci recalls that the assumption he will resign, without any hitches, was the same thing Ratzinger talked about in an interview in the book “Luce del mondo” (Light of the World), when, in response to a question by interviewer Peter Seewald, he said: “When a Pope arrives at a clear awareness that he no longer has the physical, mental, or psychological capacity to carry out the task that has been entrusted to him, then he has the right, and in some cases, even the duty to resign.”

Greenspan warns of Italy and a negative market reaction

By Newsmax Wires Former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan says he expects the stock market slide to continue in the wake of a decision by credit rating agency Standard & Poor’s to downgrade the U.S. credit rating, even as an S&P official predicted little market impact.

Appearing Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Greenspan said markets will take time to bottom out and that he expects a negative reaction on Monday to the S&P action. He cited a tumble in the Israeli stock market.

Another U.S. recession “depends on Europe, not the U.S. We were doing fine until Italy ran into trouble,” he said. “That destabilized the European system, and the crisis re-emerged. Europe is very critical to the United States in the sense not only do we have a fourth of our experts there, but more importantly, significant proportion of the foreign affiliate profits, in fact half of U.S. corporations, are in Europe.”

Italy seizes seven tons of Iranian explosives

Italy – Italian authorities have seized 7 tones of powerful RDX explosive being shipped from Iran to Syria, police said on Wednesday.

Anti-mafia police found the cargo in a shipping container on a Liberian-registered ship that docked in the Calabrian port of Gioia Tauro in southern Italy last month and said it would have been enough to destroy the port.

The cargo, hidden among packs of powdered milk, was seized on August 27 but police, who were tipped off by intelligence services, did not make an announcement until this week.

Carmelo Casabona, the local police chief, said the cargo arrived in Italy ‘with the involvement of international criminal organisations.’ But the ‘Ndrangheta, the powerful Calabrian mafia, did not appear to be involved, he said.

Doomsday warnings of US apocalypse gain ground

Economists peddling dire warnings that the world’s number one economy is on the brink of collapse, amid high rates of unemployment and a spiraling public deficit, are flourishing here. The guru of this doomsday line of thinking may be economist Nouriel Roubini, thrust into the forefront after predicting the chaos wrought by the subprime mortgage crisis and the collapse of the housing bubble.

“The US has run out of bullets,” Roubini told an economic forum in Italy earlier this month. “Any shock at this point can tip you back into recession.”

But other economists, who have so far stayed out of the media limelight, are also proselytizing nightmarish visions of the future.

Boston University professor Laurence Kotlikoff, who warned as far back as the 1980s of the dangers of a public deficit, lent credence to such dark predictions in an International Monetary Fund publication last week

Colosseum turns off lights for Schalit

ROME – Some 4,000 Romans including Jews, members of interfaith organizations, Christian, Muslim and other friends of Israel, called for Gilad Schalit’s release in a ceremony at Rome’s Colosseum on Thursday.

The lights on the ancient monument were turned off at 11 p.m. – coinciding with midnight commemorations in Tel Aviv.

Simultaneously, similar events organized by Italian Jewish youth groups and municipal authorities took place in Milan, Florence, Varese and Turin.

Schalit’s photo was projected in front of the Colosseum while government and Jewish community authorities made eloquent appeals.

“Israel will never, never be alone.

Israel’s right to exist is beyond questioning,” Andrea Ronchi, Italy’s minister for European relations, repeated loudly.

Nicola Zingaretti, president of the Region of Rome (from the opposition PD – Democratic Party) and Renata Spolverini, president of the province (from the governing PdL – Liberty Party) each made strong calls for Schalit’s freedom.

Mayor Gianni Alemanno (PdL) announced that Rome has named Schalit an honorary citizen. Now “hypocrites and one-sided pacifists” are “keeping their distance from city hall” he said, adding that “Gilad’s face must never cease to disturb our consciences.”

Israel concerned about UNIFIL takeover

Indonesia may command naval force, complicating IDF’s coordination. Israel is concerned that Indonesia could take up command of UNIFIL’s naval force, making it difficult for the IDF and particularly the Israel Navy to maintain a high level of coordination with the peacekeeping force.

Italy is currently in charge of the UNIFIL Maritime Task Force after taking over command from the German Navy last November. Germany, Greece, Italy and Turkey all contribute to the force.

The Rome-Tehran axis

When it comes to appeasing the Islamic Republic, no other Western nation has stooped lower than Italy. Amid the international outrage over the Iranian regime’s brutalization of its own people, Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini warned Europe “must not burn every bridge because Iran is a key figure” in the region. While rejecting any military action to stop Tehran’s nuclear weapons program, Mr. Frattini urged the West to “avoid those [sanctions] that are connected with Iranian national pride.” What may sound like a naïve appeal for more failed diplomacy may just as easily be thought of as a bid to secure lucrative business interests.