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With the Red Dirt in My Ear

by de Gondi Thu Sep 11th, 2008 at 03:23:09 AM EST

On November 25, 1876, Bad Hand brought his soldiers and Indian troops up Red Fork Creek in a forced all night march. He had hoped to take the Cheyenne camp by surprise before dawn but terrain and snow slowed him up. The troops charged across the plain in the early morning but were met with resistance by Cheyenne warriors hidden in a draw. The Cheyenne had known of the proximity of Bad Hand but rather than move their village as better judgement they had decided to celebrate a victory dance for thirty Snake scalps.

The defence bartered enough time to allow many from the village to flee into the mountains. Bad Hand destroyed the village of over 200 lodges and rounded up about 500 ponies. The battle spelled the end of the Cheyenne war trail. Without horses and shelter many died of exposure and hunger, others surrendered. Chief Dull Knife and some surviving warriors managed to go North to join Crazy Horse at the Tongue River. The white man's winter campaign kept the Crazy Horse village on the run. The scarcity of game and the harshness of winter left little choice for the Northern Plains tribes. It was either to go further North to the Grandmother's land or negotiate with Great Father's little chiefs. Described as driven by bitterness against Crazy Horse in some press reports at the time, Dull Knife surrendered in April 1877. Three weeks later Crazy Horse disarmed to make peace with White Hat and Three Stars.

Travelling in space and time - with a slight edit, afew

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Showdown in Italy

by de Gondi Sat Jul 5th, 2008 at 08:01:45 PM EST

The Italian National Association of Magistrates has declared a state of permanent agitation by a large majority against a series of government decrees that would gravely compromise the judiciary's capacity to fulfil its constitutional role. The ANM (Associazione nazionale magistrati) is considered the parliament of the judiciary branch. Their decision closely follows the heavy criticism launched by the National Council of Magistrates - the governing body of the Judiciary Branch - and a petition by eminent constitutionalists against those same decrees last week.

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Cappotto di legno

by de Gondi Mon Apr 28th, 2008 at 07:31:33 PM EST

"If I must write, I must do it as if it were an emergency, where swearing is more sincere than prayers. And where the broken edges of reality are more likely to reveal truth. Rap in Europe seems light years ahead of literature in its capacity to make words part of the flesh of the present; Parisian rappers that go to stay in Naples to tell stories about the Mediterranean, people from the Philippines or Galarate that speak a common slang and codify new views, inventing new grammars for storytelling. And they speak of a world where everything is a mechanism of power, money, assertion, where politics is always betrayal, and where the word is the discriminating factor capable of narrating all this without denying it, without considering it inevitable, but feeling necessary the beauty of telling it and corroding it. With words and gastric juices. Much writing seems instead to dance Tarantellas around the central questions of our lives. In the end I'm not interested in helping the reader evade. I'm interested in invading him. And I'm interested in literature similar to a viper's bite rather than an aquarelle fantasy."

                                                                    Roberto Saviano, 2007

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Italian Elections Open Thread

by de Gondi Mon Apr 14th, 2008 at 07:01:21 AM EST

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"May the worst lose."

Courtesy of l'Espresso

Update [2008-4-14 9:17:26 by DoDo]: Polling booths closed, exit polls are in, live-blogging begins!

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Random Thoughts on the Italian Campaign

by de Gondi Wed Apr 9th, 2008 at 09:49:54 AM EST

A photographer had an exhibition here recently, called it electoral lasagna, layers upon layers of electoral posters. Yet there's a lot less than two years ago, as if the rightwing coalition had abruptly changed strategy. For years every space within arm's reach was smothered with layers of posters that would fall off by sheer weight. Kilometers of the same mindulling identical drivel. If the rain came down in torrents there would be glue and cellulose mush on the streets and sidewalks, sort of like skidding on processionaries. There was work for everybody putting up posters.

from the diaries. Read it all. -- Jérôme

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Italian Elections 2008- Coalitions and Parties

by de Gondi Wed Apr 2nd, 2008 at 04:40:53 AM EST

158 parties with 181 symbols have been admitted to the Italian electoral pageant. Of course almost none of these parties will make it through the labyrinthine quorum system.

In order to win seats in the House, a coalition must garner at least 10% of the votes on a national basis. A party that stands alone must cull 4%, while a party within a coalition need only 2%. This hardly thwarts parties that would never make it to either threshold. If there's no seat, one can settle for a low government position, a fat contract down the line - or just a pay-off. In the best of cases there's the mechanism called the "best loser" clause. The best placed loser in the election gets a seat just for the effort. The Senate quorums instead are calculated on a regional basis, 20% minimum for coalitions and 8% for single lists.

Also see the Introduction. Promoted by DoDo

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Italian Elections 2008- Introduction

by de Gondi Mon Mar 31st, 2008 at 06:17:47 AM EST

Local and regional elections will be held in Italy on April 13th and 14th. Voters will also have the opportunity to approve 90% of national deputies and senators for the next legislature, all formally chosen by parties on March 10th according to criteria that vary from party to party. The remaining 10% will be chosen by the parties from the March 10th "blocked lists" based on party share ranking.

Due to the arcana of the current electoral law it is difficult to make previsions on the composition of the two Houses. According to "voter" simulations, 30 votes dispersed in key localities can decide the outcome regardless of the gross approval rating of the four main political coalitions. More realistic scenarios based on recent polls offer four possibilities, none of which give a center-left majority.

Promoted by DoDo

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Papa Otiosus

by de Gondi Wed Jan 16th, 2008 at 06:32:23 PM EST

The old rule goes that it doesn't matter what they say about you so long as they talk about you. It's common fare in Italy to give the Pope or his government a front-page blurb every day but the past couple of  days he's been grabbing headlines by  simply doing nothing. I mentioned last Saturday that he had been invited to open the academic year at the University of Rome this coming Thursday. For reasons that may escape most people this particular pope is not well received by large sectors of the Italian population because of his heavy handed meddling in Italian affairs as well as his curious notions of what science out to be. And what makes it all the worse is that the entire political spectrum eagerly grovels at his every call.

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The Day After

by de Gondi Mon Nov 19th, 2007 at 05:17:48 AM EST

In the aftermath of the Senate debacle, the Italian rightwing has exploded. Berlusconi launched into what he does best by polarizing the situation with baseless accusations against his allies. In his view he's the only one who shouldered the burden of making opposition. Yet his idea of opposition was to demonize the Prodi government as illegitimate. Berlusconi saw himself as invested with a sovereign right to topple the government in the name of the people. He therefore forbid his allies to dialogue with the government as is normal institutional praxis. His approach was entirely destructive without offering an alternative project.

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Recent sources of tension between Italy and the United States

by de Gondi Sat Feb 10th, 2007 at 04:09:50 AM EST

Tension between the Italy and its partner has reached water head on a number of fronts. The judiciary branch continues to pursue its autonomous course both in the Abu Omar kidnapping case as well as the Calipari assassination. The latter case had the political backing of the Ministers of Justice of both the Prodi and Berlusconi governments while the Abu Omar case continues to be held in a political limbo by the Prodi government.

At the same time what appears to be normal but heated dialectics within the governing coalition over Italy's presence in Afghanistan has been the object of an "irritual" diplomatic letter by the US Ambassador Ronald Spoglio together with the other five members of the so-called "coalition of the willing"  that unilaterally invaded Iraq (England, Canada, Australia, Romania, Holland). The six representatives of the Iraqi invasion intimated that Italy should stick to its obligations in Afghanistan. "Peace-keeping" in Afghanistan is mandated by the UN through NATO forces, not by a self-contrived "coalition of the willing."

From the diaries ~ whataboutbob

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Limarev e il falso Guzzanti

by de Gondi Tue Jan 30th, 2007 at 09:20:09 AM EST

Ok, I can't help it. Paolo Guzzanti wrote an article with the same title last January 12th. It's priceless. "Limarev and the False Guzzanti." Written by a certain Paolo Guzzanti, vice-director of the Berlusconi weekly, Panorama, and Senator-for-eternity for his Boss's political entity. Will the real Paolo Guzzanti please stand up?

But lets take a step backward to refresh our memories. Evgueni Limarev is the son of a high ranking KGB officer and now lives in France. He professes to have worked for the FSB. He deals in information. In 2004 he was approached by Litvinenko to work with Guzzanti's Parliamentary Mitrokhin Commission. He eventually released an interview to la Repubblica in February 2005 which you can find translated below. The interview was published last November together with a follow-up interview. Both interviews caused an uproar in Italy and threw a wrench into Scaramellov's devious plans. Limarev asserted that he had met Guzzanti on several occasions in Naples and Rome. Guzzanti immediately replied that he had never met Limarev.

From the diaries -- whataboutbob

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Gordievsky teams up with Scaramella

by de Gondi Fri Jan 26th, 2007 at 08:20:38 AM EST

General Oleg Gordievsky has granted an interview to the reporter Oleg Fochkin for the Russian daily Moscovski Komsomolts in which he falls in line with Paolo Guzzanti's smear campaign. In the interview Ghordievsky contradicts his two previous interviews with Italian reporters, most notably the Repubblica interview translated here at Eurotrib. During the interview Gordievsky makes several factual errors.

For as much it may be worth it to debunk this new media assault, it remains clear that what counts in disinformatya is to repeat the message through strategic sources until the lie has a life of its own.

Extracts of the interview appear today, January 26th,  in la Repubblica by Moscow correspondent, Leonardo Coen. I would very much appreciate it if our Russian community could find the full text and possibly check this translation, add relevant passages if worthwhile, and inform us about the ownership and editorial line of Moscovski Komsomolts. Oleg Fochkin's credentials are also welcome.

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BBC Falls for Scaramella Scam- with Update

by de Gondi Thu Jan 25th, 2007 at 07:48:45 AM EST

On Monday evening, January 22nd, the BBC ran a special on the murder of Alexander Litvinenko. The program contained excerpts from an interview with Alexander Litvinenko conducted by Mario Scaramella. The BBC presented the interview as "fresh evidence" and "top secret." In the video interview Litvinenko declares that when he sought to leave Russia for Italy he was discouraged by General Trofimov (assassinated in 2005) because Prodi was a long-standing KGB agent.

The interview is part of the continuous, grave and obsessive efforts by Berlusconi Senator Paolo Guzzanti and his shill, Mario Scaramella, to smear political adversaries with false charges.

There is nothing "top secret" about the interview. While in London last December Scaramella freely distributed the interview to all the reporters who interviewed him. Scaramella had at the time acquired a certain international notoriety by staging a polonium poisoning of himself, trumpeted as a deliberate assassination attempt. Recent investigations have determined that initial analysis of Scaramella for polonium poisoning were "false readings."

From the diaries -- whataboutbob

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Scaramella Smurfed in Naples

by de Gondi Mon Dec 25th, 2006 at 04:55:57 AM EST

Mario Scaramella was arrested Sunday afternoon at the Naples international airport and transferred to the Rome prison, Regina Coeli. He is presently charged with aggravated calumny, illegal international traffic of arms, and revelation of official secrets, stemming from the Naples investigation. Scaramella accused a Russian citizen of trafficking arms with the intent of committing terrorist acts in Italian territory. By making his accusations Scaramella blew the cover on investigations that were covered by judiciary secrecy. It is further alleged that Scaramella may actually have arranged the illegal arms traffic that he then denounced.

Promoted by Colman - a pressie for those of us enjoying the serial thriller.

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Fixing Fox

by de Gondi Tue Dec 5th, 2006 at 02:56:15 AM EST

Fox propagates malicious urban legends while Mario Scaramella heroically battles against an assassination attempt. Wonderland ghostbusters entertain us as they try to corner the nefarious Prodi. Scaramella re-anounces another one of his lists of evil Italian politicians and reporters and sets the stage to litvinenko prime time with death-bed accusations.

I want to thank Migeru for pointing out an exceptionally bad piece of reporting by Fox news in his comment Saturday. Just for the hell of it, let me play editor and kick ass in the Fox newsroom.

Promoted by Colman. Note by Jerome: All our coverage of the Scaramella/Litvinenko saga can be found here.

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Italian News Tour

by de Gondi Sun Oct 29th, 2006 at 04:57:18 AM EST

Most of the headlines Saturday go to yet another spy story. This time it's the Treasury police spying on opposition bigwigs under the Berlusconi regime. Prodi was the all-time favorite target along with just about everybody Silvio didn't like. Of course it's no small coincidence that Nicolò Pollari, zombie head of the Sismi, came from the Treasury police and ran shotgun over there these past years. His pet pick for head of the Guardia di Finanza (Treasury), General Roberto Speciale, will have plenty on his hands when investigators drop by.

From the diaries ~ whataboutbob

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Subversive Espionage Ring Busted

by de Gondi Tue Oct 3rd, 2006 at 08:21:13 AM EST

On September 20th,  21 individuals were arrested in police operations throughout Italy. They were charged with illegally collecting and storing personal information on common citizens, bankers, CEOs, soccer players, politicians. The 344 page arrest ordinance points to alleged crimes such as fraud, blackmail, falsification, corruption, intimidation, violation of state archives and police records, illegal possession of government and state documents, illegal wiretapping, illegal possession of authorized wiretaps, impersonation of public officials.

Further reports since the story broke indicate that documents seized in police operations came from police and intelligence services of other European nations.

For Italian watchers the scandal is not new. The existence of an illegal parallel "intelligence service" has been regularly reported in the press since l'Espresso published their first scoop on the case in December 2004 linking the clandestine structure (then called "SuperAmanda" by l'Espresso) to Telecom Security. Since March 2006- and especially with the explosion of the Sismi-Abu Omar case and the subsequent death of Adamo Bove (Telecom security agent) in July- the press has continually revealed aspects of the on-going investigations.

From the diaries - whataboutbob

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Top Priority Indulgence Law Passes in Italy

by de Gondi Sat Jul 29th, 2006 at 07:40:23 PM EST

Italy is a catholic nation. This evening Italy once again pranced around as a catholic republic. Certainly not the religious sentiment that so many justly harbour, but that limited and antisocial solidarity that scoundrels flaunt at the county fair or in church jamborees under the guise of humility and charity.

Mister Clemente Mastella, Prodi's so-called Minister of Justice, saw his act of clemency, or shall we say plenary indulgence, pass the Senate with 545 votes against 56 and become law. Mister Mastella immediately made it known that he dedicated this act of republican faith to the late Pope John Paul II who for reasons of his own felt compassion for those in prison.

Mister Mastella and the coalition he represents apparently feel that a little bit of one-upmanship wouldn't spoil things. Realpolitik.

Freeing over one third of the prison population is a noble jest, nearly 13000 prisoners on a total population of over 35000. Prisons in Italy are archaic and densely populated. So Mister Mastella, as his racist Druid predecessor, saw fit to propose a compassionate law, but with a touch of overkill.

Why bother justly liberating 13000 prisoners if you can't throw in a de facto amnesty for all the white collar crimes perpetrated up to May 2006? After all, with such a noble jest, Saint Silvio of Arcore and his court, need no longer worry about many future legal vexations. To hell, Mister Mastella, with the tens of thousands of citizens who have lost their savings in the Parmalat scandal. Or all of those who have stupidly paid taxes in the stead of scoundrels. Or we, the state, who must pay damages.

Mister Prodi's coalition has turned a blind eye to evidence. Had the indulgence been made for but a year discounted, nearly 12000 prisoners would have been released without a grave weight on those social structures that help the social and economic reinsertion of delinquents. By magnanimously voting a full three years of indulgence, our sovereign Parliament, in a rare expression of antisocial solidarity, has freed the half dozen criminals actually serving time for white collar crime. And seen to it that the criminal elite that never saw verticals in their life can continue as before, ever mindful that impunity is the norm in Italy.

Mister Prodi has offered a God-send to Mister Berlusconi.

That's politics.

Mister Prodi is also aware that in politics there is no such thing as gratitude.

You've paid the tiller, Mister Prodi, but as far as a large part of your constituency is concerned, you're on probation.

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***Adamo Bove, Top Investigator in Abu Omar Kidnapping Case

by de Gondi Thu Jul 27th, 2006 at 06:03:19 AM EST

Last Friday just after 12 noon, Adamo Bove fell to his death on a motorway in Naples. He had just left his wife to do some errands in town while he headed home. On an overpass he stopped his car, put on the emergency lights, and apparently jumped to his death, presumably making sure there were no oncoming vehicles on the highway some thirty meters below him.

The Naples' Public Minister, Giancarlo Novelli, opened an investigation for "instigation to commit suicide by unknown individuals." Within hours investigative police sequestered material in Bove's offices in Rome and Naples, as well as his home. The Rome PM Pietro Saviotti immediately re-entered from vacation to co-ordinate investigations in Rome. In an exceptional move the Milan Procura issued a statement denying that Bove had ever been subject to investigation or interrogated by Milan magistrates. This followed news reports that Bove had been suspected in many recent cases of wire-tapping espionage.

Back from front page

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***New Twists in the SISMi Scandal- with UPDATE

by de Gondi Tue Jul 25th, 2006 at 04:19:13 AM EST

New twists in the on-going investigation into the Sismi's role in the Abu Omar kidnapping. Friday's papers (Repubblica, among others) carry the scoop that Marco Mancini had registered his conversations with his colleague Gustavo Pignero. As reported, both Mancini and Pignero are suspected of having done preliminary intel and logistics for the actual kidnapping. They then participated in the cover-up and disinformation campaign as the Milan Procura and investigative reporters unravelled the case. As magistrates focused on Mancini (burnt as an agent first by the Stampa and then the Repubblica), he went on diplomatic sick-leave at the behest of General Nicolò Pollari, head of the Italian Military Secret Services.

Mancini felt that he was being set up to take the fall by Nicolò Pollari and decided to act. He called up Pignero at the beginning of June and told Pignero that he (Mancini) had been convoked to testify by the Milan magistrates. He said they should meet to discuss their eventual testimony. But Mancini's intentions were to get Pignero to talk while he taped him.

From the front page ~ whataboutbob

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