Richest Italian regions of Veneto & Lombardy go to polls over autonomy

Veneto and Lombardy, the two wealthiest regions of Italy, are voting today in a bid for greater autonomy from the center. While non-binding, the twin referenda send a strong message to Rome after the landmark independence vote in Catalonia.

Veneto and Lombardy voters are to decide on Sunday whether to grant regional authorities more control over their taxes, administration, immigration and infrastructure.

Gondoliers row in an empty Grand Canal in Venice. © Manuel Silvestri

Polling stations are open from 7am to 11am on Sunday, with results expected to be counted late into the night, the local press reports. Over 12 million of citizens will be offered a choice of voting ‘yes’, ‘no’or ‘blank’ by tapping the screen of a tablet fitted to a polling booth, according to La Repubblica newspaper. Voting from abroad is not allowed.

The results of the referenda are legally non-binding even if the majority of people in both regions vote ‘yes’ to greater autonomy. It is however thought that they will help Veneto and Lombardy – governed by the euroskeptic, anti-immigrant Northern League right-wing party – have more leverage in negotiations with Rome.

Roberto Maroni, the president of Lombardy and a top-tier member of the Northern League which spearheaded the plebiscites, says that if the ‘yes’ vote prevails on Sunday, he would hope to start negotiations on greater autonomy immediately, La Repubblica reported.

“The more people vote, the greater bargaining power I will have,” Maroni told the New York Times (NYT) in early October. If regional authorities manage to claw back more powers from Rome, it will have to be set out in a law and be approved by an absolute majority in Italy’s parliament, according to Corriere della Serra.

However, the turnout is projected to be lower than needed to declare the plebiscite valid. Though 69 percent of voters would say ‘yes’ – compared to 31 percent of ‘no’ votes – the turnout is expected to be 42 percent at most, compared with 43 percent of possible abstentions across both regions combined, according to an October poll by consulting firm Lorien.

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Matteo Salvini, leader of the Lega Nord party

In part, the twin vote has been inspired by the wave of autonomy referenda that has rocked Europe over the past few years, including Scotland in 2014, the whole UK last year and Catalonia in late September.

“Like the Catalans, we have decided to give voice to the people,”Maroni told NYT. “The difference is that what we ask for is allowed by the Italian Constitution.”

Also, there are other precedents at home. Some of Italy’s regions – Sardinia, Sicily and the partly German-speaking Trentino-South Tyrol – have been given a high degree of autonomy from central government under the Italian constitution.

Neither Veneto nor Lombardy is asking people to consider de-facto independence from Italy, in sharp contrast with Catalonia, where local leaders are determined to prevail in their wrestling match with Madrid. Also in contrast to Catalans, people in Veneto and Lombardy lack a distinct culture and officially-recognised language, thereby having a weaker claim to their own national identity, despite regional dialects which people from elsewhere in Italy struggle to understand.

This is not to say that Veneto, home to tourist mecca Venice, and Lombardy, home to Milan, Italy’s capital of fashion and finance, do not have a distinguished history of independence. Venice, for instance, was an independent monarchy until the second half of the 19th century. Even after annexation by Napoleon, Veneto did not join the rest of Italy until 1866, five years after the national unification.

-AAA

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Nuclear test mountain may collapse

 

Pakistani Nuclear test

North Korean Mount Mantap, under which a series of nuclear tests were conducted, appears to have suffered serious geological damage, known as “tired mountain syndrome,” a report says.

According to a Friday report by The Washington Post, six nuclear explosions since 2006 have so far been carried out at the Punggye-ri Nuclear Test Facility, based underneath the 2,200-meter-high peak in the northeast of North Korea.

The fifth nuclear test, which caused an enormous detonation, was conducted in September last year and triggered a 6.3-magnitude earthquake that which was also felt in China. Since then, the region, which is not known for natural seismic activity, has experienced three more earthquakes, including a 5.8-magnitude tremor that rocked South Korea days after the test.

Chinese geologists have already warned that further blasts could eventually make the mountain collapse completely, releasing radiation.

“We call it ‘taking the roof off.’ If the mountain collapses and the hole is exposed, it will let out many bad things,” Wang Naiyan, the former chairman of the China Nuclear Society and a senior researcher on China’s nuclear weapons program, told the South China Morning Post in September.

Furthermore, the report quoted Paul Richards, a seismologist at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, as saying that “some kind of stress in the ground” could be detected there. “In that part of the world, there were stresses in the ground, but the explosions have shaken them up,” he added.

The North conducted its sixth and biggest nuclear test on September 3 this year. The hydrogen bomb was said to be multiple times more powerful than America’s atomic bomb that destroyed Hiroshima in 1945.

North Korea says possession of nuclear weapons is a “matter of life and death” for the country.

Pyongyang has already said it is considering testing a hydrogen bomb over the Pacific Ocean in response to Washington stepping up economic sanctions against the country.

The US and North Korea have been at loggerheads over Pyongyang’s weapons and nuclear programs. However, tensions on the Korean Peninsula have recently risen sharply following a series of weapons tests by Pyongyang, including last month’s test, and two missile launches over Japan. Back in July, the North also claimed that it had fired two intercontinental ballistic missiles.

North Korea is under mounting international pressure over its missile and military nuclear programs and has been subjected to an array of sanctions by the United Nations. However, Pyongyang says it needs to continue and develop the programs as a deterrent against hostility by the US and its regional allies, including South Korea and Japan.

-AAA

‘Special place in hell awaiting’ unindicted war criminal George W Bush

There is “a special place in hell awaiting” former US President George W. Bush who is “a war criminal, a racist and a bigot,” says Stephen Lendman, a journalist, writer and political analyst based in Chicago.

Lendman made the remarks in an interview with Press TV on Friday, a day after Bush launched a coded attack on the presidency of Donald Trump, saying “bigotry seems emboldened” in the United States in recent months.

Speaking at the George W. Bush Institute in New York City on Thursday, Bush condemned bigotry, conspiracy theories and lies in American politics while endorsed policies that run counter to those supported by Trump. He also warned that Americans need to reject “white supremacy.”

“George W. Bush, an unindicted war criminal, belonging in prison not doing God knows what, just criticized Donald Trump without mentioning his name for being a bigot, and a racist or whatever, ignoring his own sordid record, two terms in his presidency,” Lendman said.

“Both elections he lost but the elections were rigged to put him in the White House. And he took full advantage of it, waging war and naked aggression on Afghanistan, on Iraq, persecuting Muslims in America,” he stated.

“Talk about a racist and a bigot, I don’t know anybody more racist and bigot than George W. Bush along with his partner Dick Cheney. He has got a lot of nerve criticizing Trump who absolutely deserves plenty of criticism, but not from Bush,” he noted.

“Bush had a record, blood stain that will never be erased. There is a special place in hell awaiting him. I look forward to the day,” the analyst said.

‘Bush was involved in 9/11 false flag’

White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card whispers into the ear of President George W. Bush to give him word of the plane crashes at the World Trade Center, during a visit to the Emma E. Booker Elementary School in Sarasota, Florida, on September 11, 2001. (Photo by AP)

“He is a war criminal, and I repeat that. There was horrific stuff that he was involved in the post 9/11, which was the mother of all false flags. Bin Laden had nothing to do with it, so called ‘crazed Arabs’ had nothing to do with it. The CIA had everything to do with it along with Israel’s Mossad,” Lendman said.

“Of course he would never prosecute them. He would go after other people. And this type of incident is used for America to wage wars of aggression, advancing its imperial agenda. That’s the record of George W. Bush — nobody to complain about the offences or whatever of anybody else. He had a sordid record that he will never able to live down,” the analyst said.

‘Bush trying to rehabilitate himself’

“What Bush is probably trying to do is rehabilitate himself from the criminal record that he had, eight years in office. He has been out of office for about nine years next January. For a while in America, his approval rating was almost a record low, down around 22 percent till the end of his tenure. Absolutely reviled, hated by most Americans, hated by anybody of any decency, and I think what he is trying to do is rehabilitate himself in the eyes of the public,” he said.

“Another person, not me, and I’m quoting them has called America the Unites States of amnesia for a good reason, because most of Americans forget what they may have known at some time within weeks or months or years go by, and they completely forgot. Probably most Americans don’t realize the criminal record of George Bush,” the journalist said.

“So if they see him criticizing Trump, who has an approval rating of around 32 percent, they will say, ‘There’s a good guy, George Bush, criticizing a bad guy, Donald Trump.’ I think that’s what all his dirty game is about,” he concluded.

-AAA

IF MUSIC BE THE FOOD OF LOVE …PLAY ON

Röyksopp (Norwegian pronunciation: [ˈrøyksɔp]) are a Norwegian electronic music duo from Tromsø, formed in 1998. Since their inception, the band has consisted of Svein Berge and Torbjørn Brundtland. Röyksopp is the Norwegian word for puff

Susanne Aartun Sundfør (Norwegian pronunciation: [sʉˈsɑnːə ˈɔʁtun ˈsunføʁ]; born 19 March 1986) is a Norwegian singer-songwriter and record producer. Born and raised in Haugesund, Sundfør embarked on her musical career two years prior to the release of her eponymous debut album (2007), which reached number three on the Norwegian album chart. It was followed by Take One, a live album consisting of songs from her debut. Her second studio album, The Brothel, was released in 2010 to commercial success in Norway, peaking at number one and becoming the best-selling album of that year.

 

-AAA

 

 

Death toll from Somalia bombings rises to 358

Al-Shabab recruits in Mogadishu, Somalia

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The number killed in twin bombings in the Somali capital Mogadishu last weekend has risen to 358, the government said late on Friday. As well as the confirmed death toll, 228 people were injured in what was the deadliest attack in the country’s history, Somalia’s news agency quoted the information and internal security ministers as saying. (Reuters)

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Worst stock market crash ever is coming says Max Keiser

Thirty years ago Wall Street slid into the abyss, suffering the biggest one-day market fall of over 22 percent. Since then the Dow Jones has risen from 1,738 points to an all-time high of over 23,000, raising fears another historic crash is on the cards.

RT talked to Keiser Report host Max Keiser about the root causes of the 1987 crash and the possibilities of another market meltdown.

Today’s stock market has parallels to the 1987 market, said Keiser, adding that “valuations are at historic highs.”

© Brendan McDermid

 

“The Fed (and central bank counterparts) are pumping money, and sentiment is wildly bullish.”

Analysts have been warning recent stock market moves look eerily similar to just before 1987’s ‘Black Monday.’ Investors also raised concerns steep valuations might mean a correction is overdue.

On October 19, 1987, stock markets around the world crashed, shedding billions in value very quickly. The crash began in Hong Kong and spread to Europe, hitting the United States after other markets had already declined by a significant margin. The Dow Jones Industrial Average which comprises the 30 largest US publicly traded companies, lost 22.6 percent of its value that day.

Keiser says to understand what happened with the market we have to recall the global financial crisis of 2008.

According to him, “unprecedented amounts, over $20 trillion in cash, was printed and thrown at Wall St. creditors to repair their technically insolvent balance sheets.”

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A trader sits down, on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange © Brendan McDermid

“There was no reform or attempt to reign in the crooked behavior of bankers at all. In turn, they interpreted this as a ‘green light’ to keep doing what they had been doing that led to the crash; namely, engage in extreme, reckless borrowing to speculate.”

A former stockbroker, Keiser said that now in 2017, the debt pyramid has never been higher. “Just one indicator of this would be the sovereign bond market in the US and UK that are trading at multi-hundred-year highs thanks to the Ponzi-economics of central bank debt monetization (printing money and buying back their own debt).”

Talking about the risks of another Black Monday equities crash, Keiser said it is impossible to say exactly when “this truckload of market risk explodes but it’s 100 percent guaranteed and will be by far the biggest loss of wealth ever recorded.”

He added that “countries like Russia are smart to be loading into Gold and initiating crypto strategies ahead of the ‘bond-pocalypse’ and equity inferno.”

Individual investors should be doing the same, Keiser said.

-AAA

Catalonia  supporters pulling their cash out of Spanish banks

The pro-independence Catalan National Assembly has urged Catalans who back the region’s independence to withdraw money from five banks, including those that moved their headquarters out of Catalonia.
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The group posted a tweet calling on its 270,000 followers to pull deposits from CaixaBank and Banco Sabadell branches between 8am and 9am on Friday to express their indignation over the lenders’ decision to shift their legal headquarters out of the region.

“Go to one of the five principal banks and take out as much cash as you want. Don’t forget, it’s your money,” said the tweeted message that had been retweeted or liked more than 10,000 times by 12:31 GMT.

The act targets Spain’s main financial institutions, including CaixaBank, Sabadell, Bankia, BBVA, and Santander.

-AAA