The new Italian prime minister Mario Monti announces the names of the ministers of the new government
Mario Monti, the new Italian prime minister designated by the president of the Italian Republic Giorgio Napolitano to succeed to Silvio Berlusconi as the head of a new transitional “tecnical” government has announced this morning during a press conference at the Quirinale the full list of ministers that will be part of his government.
Mario Monti – prime minister and Secretary of Economy
Giulio Terzi di Sant’Agata – Secretary of Foreign Affairs
Annamaria Cancellieri – Home Secretary
Paolo Severino – Secretary of Justice
Gianpaolo di Paola – Secretary of Defense
Corrado Passera – Secretary for the Economic Development and Infrastructures
Mario Catania – Secretary for Agriculture
Corrado Clini – Secretary for the Environment
Elsa Fornero – Secretary of Labour, Social politics and Equal Opportunities
Renato Balduzzi – Health Secretary
Francesco Profumo – Secretary of Education
Lorenzo Ornaghi – Secretary of Culture
Antonio Catricalà – Undersecretary of the Council of Ministers
Enzo Moavero Milanesi – European Affairs Secretary
Piero Gnudi – Secretary of Tourism
Fabrizio Barca – Secretary for the Territorial Cohesion
“The nomination of Corrado Passera for both the Economic Development and Infrastructures comes from the logic of focusing on coordinated initiatives for the economic growth and development” said the new prime minister Mario Monti. Then, answering the question of a journalist on whether there may be a conflict of interest for Corrado Passera between the role of Secretary and his bckground of businessman, Monti added: “He has a long history as a manager, which includes experiences within the world of industry, services and banking. I considered his personal history as an important basis and as a promise of an effective activity, without his past work becoming an obstacle for his new duties”.
Monti also added “we have operated within a short period of time and with a rigorous approach a looking carefully at making the best choices. We have confidence in what we hve done, and we have received messages of encoragement from our european and international partners. We hope this will reassure the markets for what concerns our Country”.
In the meantime, the spread between Italian bonds and German bunds reached 520 points.
Rome, 21.45 pm, 12/11/2011: the Italian prime minister resigns. The Berlusconi era comes to an end.
The decision is communicated in a press conference at the Quirinale not my Berlusconi himself, but by an unknown official, the general secretary of the Presidency of the Italian Republic, Donato Marra.
It’s a short speech, but enough to make the joy of the Italians explode. It’s a joy mixed to anger, the one that spreads across the street of Rome during the night: thousands of people celebrating the end of almost 20 years of Berlusconism.
An improvised orchestra plays Hallelujah outside the Quirinale:
TRADER OR PRANKSTER? – Wonders today Forbes’ blogger Emily Lambert, who interviewed him again after the turmoil generated by his interview on the BBC yesterday. What is certain is that London-based trader Alessio Rastani has managed to draw attention on himself with his scarying statements on the global economic crisis. He even admitted that he is “dreaming” of the crisis to spread even more in order to make more money.
THE ECONOMIC CRISIS IS LIKE A CANCER – And in a moment when Italy is risking to end up in a similar situation to that of Greece and Portugal, and the spread between its bonds and the German bunds keeps widening - almost vanifying this way the effects of the austerity plan recently put forwards by the Berlusconi government - Mr Rastani’s interview on the BBC came like a cold shower for those who hoped that things could soon get better. He said in fact that within the next 12 months the savings of millions of people in the world are going to disappear, and he compared the economic crisis to a cancer that if ignored can only get worse.
According to Mr Rastani, even bailouts and rescue plans are completely uneffective in reassuring the investors: in a market ruled by speculation, he says, investors are more likely to be skeptical about the world’s politicians’ response to the crisis than to trust their recovery plans.
The global economy is ruled by Goldman Sachs rather than by governments, he added: and actually, if things get worse there’s the scope for some people to get rich out of it.
Wikileaks cables on Italy: the mystery behind the spent nuclear bars from Elk River (US) stored in Basilicata since 1970
At the time when that law was approved, Italy was facing the aftermath of the Chernobyl catastrophe, that led to thousands of deaths and the poisoning of an entire area of eastern Europe after the explosion of a nuclear plant in Ukraine. The Italians, horrified by what they were seeing, decided through a referendum to get rid of nuclear energy.
In the years that followed, the situation remained unchanged, until the early 2000, when the second Berlusconi government for the first time in twenty years reopened the discussion around the possibility to bring back the nuclear energy in Italy.
But so far, the government had always faced a fierce opposition from parties and anti-nuclear groups. In 2003, 150,000 people joined a demostration against the construction of a new nuclear plant in Scanzano Jonico (in the Southern-Italian region of Basilicata), in what has been described as one of the biggest protest against the comeback of nuclear energy in Italy. The point of the anti-nuclearists was that Italy was still struggling too much to find a proper way to process the spent fuel from the nuclear plants that were turned off in the Eighties, to be ready to open brand new plants safely.
THE WIKILEAKS CABLE – In this context of a fight between the State and the local institutions and groups of citizens on nuclear energy that must be read a cable sent in 2006 from the Rome embassy to the US by the local ambassador Ronald P. Spogli and classified as “confidential”.
The cable, entitled “Italy national elections subject: disposition of Elk River spent nuclear fuel: letter from under-secretary of the Council of Ministers Gianni Letta to ambassador”, describes the attempt of undersecretary of the council of ministers Gianni Letta – Berlusconi’s right hand man – to send nuclear materials stocked in Matera (Southern Italy) back to Elk River (Minnesota, US).
In the cable, Spogli reports an excerpt of the letter that Letta sent him: “Dear Mister Ambassador, I am writing you to call your attention to an issue about which your embassy has probably already informed you. It is a very important issue for the (Italian) government even from the psychological point of view. We will soon be sending our nuclear waste currently stored in Piedmont and Emilia Romagna to France. The spent fuel will remain in France until 2025 at least, when Italy should have its own nuclear waste storage site. This is causing protests in the South”.
THE PROTEST OF THE LOCALS – Felice Santarcangelo is one of the leaders of the Movimento No-Scorie Trisaia (No-nuclear waste Movement Trisaia). He says he knows very well what protests Letta is talking about: “I believe that letter came after the protest we organised here in Basilicata against the nuclear waste and the centre of Trisaia di Rotondella, where the spent fuel from Elk River has been stocked since 1970. Back then, the general Jean, who was administering the centre, tried to arrange to send them to Russia, but we standed against that as well. We believe that those bars should be sent back where they came from, the States”.
One of the problems related to the Elk River bars, according to Mr Santarcangelo, is the way they are kept: “At the moment they stay in a pool containing water. This is a risky and old fashion way to store radioactive materials, as we have seen in the Fukushima disaster in Japan. Moreover, according to the plans of Sogin, the company that administrates the site, the place is going to be dismantled, and those bar will have to be relocated: this will cost time and money, because they will generate liquid waste that will have to be solidified before being stored in casks”.
THE CENTRE OF TRISIA DI ROTONDELLA – Sogin is a company specialised in dismantling nuclear centrals. It has been in charge of the ITREC Trisaia di Rotondella since 2003: “ITREC was founded in 1965 specifically to study a way to reuse uranium-thorium fuel” explains a sposkeman for the company. “For that reason, in 1970, following an agreement between the Cnen and Usaec, the Italian and American atomic agencies, they received 84 bars from the Elk River centre. Of those, 20 have been riprocessed. In 1987 the project has been abandoned, so we have 64 bars left that need to be disposed of”.
According to the company, the conditions in which the bars are kept are safe, and everything is going according to plans, which means that by 2014 the site is expected to be completely dismantled.
In 2005, after the protests of Scansano, a “Table for the Transparency” has been created to improve the cooperation between local institutions, Sogin, groups of anti-nuclear activists and governative agencies that are supposed to vigilate and supervise the situation.
A TRAFFIC OF RADIOACTIVE MATERIALS – But according to those who oppose the existence of the nuclear site of Trisaia di Rotondella, and campaign for its closure, transparency is exactly was is lacking in the management of ITREC Trisaia di Rotondella by Sogin and the local authorities: “In 1999 the anti-mafia agency has opened an investigation over a traffic of illegal, highly radioactive and dangerous materials that involved the centre of Trisaia di Rotondella” says Maurizio Bolognetti, a local representative of the Radical Party -. “The investigation was later closed with no charges being made against anyone, but afterwards the director of the local office of the anti-mafia agency, Giuseppe Galante, who had led the investigation, said in an interview to a local newspaper that he received a “red light”, meaning that he was pushed to drop the investigation. But he refused to give further explanations about that”.
NUCLEARE CONNECTION – In that interview, published on the newspaper “Gazzetta del Mezzogiorno” on the 31st August 2010, Mr Galante recalls that during that investigation, named “Nucleare connection”, his agents “founds traces of plutonium at the ITREC centre. Plutonium that shoudn’t have been there, since the centre was supposed to process thorium-uranium fuel only”.
According to a former president of Sogin, Carlo Togni, this lack of security and transparency regards the 64 Elk River bars as well: “The situation at Trisaia di Rotondella is deplorable – says Togni in an interview to the newspaper “Gazzetta del Mezzogiorno” on the 25th June 2010 -. The 64 Elk River bars are badly stored, and they will never leave Italy”. The same article publishes a report of the local police in Matera, which found that the bars were being “solidified through the system Sirte-Mowa, that so far has produced 770 solid elements. But part of it is still liquid, and is kept in a tank”.
THE “SHIPS OF POISONS” CASE – But Trisaia di Rotondella is also at the centre of other, more obscure traffics, which were partly mentioned by the director of the local anti-mafia agency, Giuseppe Galante, in that interview, and that are explained more in detail in the book “Poisoned. This story must be told because it kills our people”, by journalists Manuela Iatì and Giuseppe Baldessaro. In the chapter “the Basilicata case and the massacre of Ustica”, they recall that during the same anti-mafia investigation it was found that in 1994 a stock of plutonium had been delivered to Trisaia di Rotondella from another centre, Saluggia, in Northern Italy. In 2004 a group of senior officers of Trisaia was put under investigation: in the papers regarding that investigation, there is one in particular that says that 100 metres under the sea off the coast where the centre is located, there is allegedly a boat with tanks containing nuclear waste from Trisaia di Rotondella centre: that boat, according to the investigators, is one of many others so called “ships of poisons” that were made sunk on purpose in order to get rid of nuclear materials coming from illicit traffics.
A MULTI-MILLION BUSINESS – These, of course, are all hyphotesis made by magistrates and police forces that in Italy have been investigating for years the connection between mafia and nuclear waste traffics. But although the truth has not yet been acclarated, many are the elements that suggest that nuclear waste represents a multi-million business for criminal organisations, and that the way this materials are stocked and treated by centres such Trisaia di Rotondella is not always transparent.
INVESTIGATION CLOSED – The magistrate who led the main investigation on Trisaia di Rotondella, Luigi Basentini, motivated in a document the decision to close the investigation with the fact that “it wasn’t able to get enough evidence, but neither was able to contradict the suspect of a traffic of weapons ad strategic materials (in particlar plutonium, which is a fundamental ingredient of the atomic bomb, and which Enea denies to have treated at the Centre), and traffic of radioactive waste through the so-called “boats of poisons”. After almost 30 years is objectively impossible to find out what the officials reponsible of the nuclear politics have done inside the Trisaia di Rotondella centre”.
In the meantime, the 64 Elk River bars remain stocked there. But thanks to the Wikileaks cable on the correspondency between the Italian under-secretary Gianni Letta and the US ambassador in Rome Ronald Spogli, we are able to understand that this remains a sensitive and highly-political subject, and it is probably destined to be in the news again in the future.
Italy, austerity plan fails to reassure markets. On Facebook the anger of the Italians against the privileges of their MPs
For Italy there is still a concrete contagion-risk from the debt crisis that is afflicting Greece.
ITALIAN BANKS DOWN – Today, the spread between Italian bonds and German bunds reached 337,1 points. Two of the Italian main banks, Unicredit and Intesa San Paolo, one hour after the opening of Piazza Affari – the Milan stock exchange – had lost 4,13 and 3,11 points.
CUTS AFFECTING LOW-INCOME PEOPLE – The plan has been welcomed with anger by the majority of the population: one of the consequences of the plan is in fact the increase in the cost of healthcare services, including specialistic check-ups in hospitals.
At the same time, the long-discussed cuts to the cost of politics – allowances, free air travels, the use of state vehicles just to name a few – were erased from the austerity plan at the very last minute.
In other words, many think that the costs of these plan are weighing entirely on the shoulders of low-income people, while high-earners and politicians -who in Italy receive a salary that is much higher of that of their collegues in most European states – were left untouched by the cuts.
ON FACEBOOK THE REVOLT AGAINST THE “CASTE” OF MPS -
As a reaction to that, since Saturday an anonymous Facebook user – who identifies himself only with the nickname Spidertruman – has started publishing the details of all the personal expenses Italian MP’s pay with public money: this include, for example, the use of state cars by MP’s wives to go shopping and bring kids to school, discounts on cars and mobile tariffs, free travels on state airplanes.
The page - I segreti della casta di Montecitorio (“the secrets of the caste of Montecitorio”, Montecitorio being the name of the building where the Italian parliament is located in Rome) – has been “liked” by 200,000 Facebook users so far. Some of the comments of the angered citizens include “you’re a hero! We should do a huge demonstration” (Glosh869), “Do these sons of a b… know how hard it is to mantain a family with 1,200 euros a month? Guys, let’s organise ourselves, we should kick them out through a revolution!” (Stefano), “excellent, now I only wish that all the Italians kicked their MPs out, all of them” (Antonello).
In the meantime, a real hunt to find out the real identity of the “deep throat” has started in the corridors of Montecitorio.