Jul 17

Sicily Is San Bernardino: With First Italian Region On Verge Of Default, Montius Pilate Washes His Hands (ZeroHedge, July 17, 2012):

Buried deep in the newsflow from Ben Bernanke is the following piece of very critical news for anyone who is still long Italian bonds: namely that Italy may not be Spain, or Uganda, but Sicily is about to become San Bernardino. From Reuters:  “Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti said on Tuesday he expected the governor of Sicily to resign following a growing financial crisis that has pushed the autonomous region close to default.” Because the resignation of Sicily Governor Lombardo will somehow allow all those who care about the fundamentals of Italy to stick their heads in the sand… at least until Sicily is followed by Calabria, Campania, Lazio, Abruzzo, Tuscany, Lombardy, Umbria, Liguria, Veneto and so on. At least the governors of those respective provinces now have an advance warning what the endgame is.


Monti said in a statement there were “grave concerns” that the island could default and he said he had written to the governor Raffaele Lombardo seeking confirmation that he would resign by the end of the month.

“The solutions which could be considered that involve action on the part of the government cannot fail to take account of the situation of the administration at regional level but rather have to be matched to this so as to deploy the most efficient and appropriate instruments,” the statement said.

As to how Italy will actually fund the bailout its insolvent regions, fear not: ze Germans will be delighted to step in and make it rain cash courtesy of the ESM, which may or may not be active one day.

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Sep 07

An ill wind is blowing over Italy’s green revolution, as the Mafia seek to capitalise on generous grants for renewable energy.


They rise up high above the sun-scorched countryside, looking out over hilltop villages, palm trees, neatly-tended vineyards and olive groves.

But for all their promises of a clean, green future, Italy’s windfarms have now acquired a somewhat dirtier whiff – as the latest industry to be infiltrated by the country’s mobsters.

Attracted by the prospect of generous grants designed to boost the use of alternative energies, the so-called “eco Mafia” has begun fraudulently creaming off millions of euros from both the Italian government and the European Union.

And nowhere has the industry’s reputation become more tarnished than Sicily, where windmills now dot the horizon in Mafia strongholds like Corleone, the town better known as the setting for the Godfather films.

“Nothing earns more than a wind farm,” said Edoardo Zanchini, an environmental campaigner who has investigated Mafia infiltration of the industry. “Anything that creates wealth interests the Mafia.”

It is not just Italian criminals, however, who have spotted the potential for corruption. Recent research by Kroll, the international corporate security firm, has discovered examples all over Europe of so-called “clean energy” schemes being used to to line criminals’ pockets rather than save the planet. Some involve windmills that stand derelict or are simply never built, while others are used to launder profits from other crime enterprises.

“Renewable energy seems like a good thing, run by saintly people saving the world,” said Jason Wright, a senior director with Kroll, which performs background checks on renewable energy schemes on behalf of legitimate investors, and which has documented a sharp rise in the number of wind farms with suspect ownership.

“But a lot of people want to jump on board a sure-fire revenue spinner. I wouldn’t say the entire sector is corrupt, but there is a small percentage of corrupt projects.”

The level of fraud has prompted calls for tighter restrictions on the use of public money in funding renewable energy, for which EU bureaucrats have grand ambitions. Brussels has ordered all 27 EU nations to ensure that one-fifth of their energy is renewable by 2020, and in recent years has given out an average of €5 billion (£4.1 billion) annually in loans and grants. The levels of subsidy allow some wind farm owners to claim generous premiums for every watt of electricity they generate.

In Italy, for example, power from wind farms is sold at a guaranteed rate of €180 per kwh – the highest rate in the world. In a country where the Mafia has years of expertise at buying corrupt politicians and intimidating rivals, the result is perhaps inevitable, creating a new breed of entrepreneur known as the “lords of the wind”.

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May 12

The eruptions that have shaken the Mount Etna volcano on the southern Italian island of Sicily have subsided, experts said Sunday at the Palermo Geophysics and Volcanology Institute.The eruptions, which started Saturday afternoon, died away towards 9:30 p.m. (1930 GMT) the same evening.

“Seismic activity has returned to normal,” a technician told AFP.

The eruption, accompanied by streams of lava, had started between 3 and 4:00 p.m. local time on the volcano’s southeast crater.

The last eruption of Mount Etna was in November last year, two months after another eruption forced a temporary closure of nearby Catania airport due to flying lava and clouds of ash.

The last truly spectacular eruption was in the summer of 2001.

Sun May 11, 2:20 PM ET

Source: AFP

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