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  • On view through March 16 in the stately halls of the Quirinal Palace in Rome is a stunning exhibition of 110 archaeological treasures, paintings and religious objects, retrieved by the crack Carabinieri art squad over the past three years. The stolen items range from a 6th C. BC warrior's helmet to red- and black-figured Attic vases, a huge gilded cross taken from a church, a pile of rare ancient coins, and l8th Century paintings of Roman ruins. Says General Mariano Mossa: "The illicit trade in art works is now fourth after the clandestine dealing in arms, drugs and financial products. It often involves international organized crime and money laundering. And now they are using the Internet to sell abroad."
  • May 23 marks the 21st anniversary of the murder of the anti-Mafia Judge Giovanni Falcone, his wife Francesca Morvillo and their three bodyguards, blown up by 500 kilos of dynamite on the highway between the airport at Puna Raisi and the city of Palermo. Most of those considered responsible are in prison. But what is believed to lie behind his murder, and that months later of his fellow magistrate Paolo Borsellino, is still being analyzed by Palermo magistrates investigating allegations that an illegal secret pact had been forged between the government and the Mafia. In the words of Palermo's chief prosecutor, Roberto Scarpinato, "We must take cognizance that the Mafia evil is not outside of us, but also among us."
  • Facts & Stories
    Judith Harris(April 14, 2013)
    On April 15 a joint session of Parliament, flanked by a delegation of members of regional assemblies, meets to begin the process of electing a successor to Giorgio Napolitano, 86,President of Italy for the past seven years. A year after he was appointed life Senator in 2005 by the then President, Carlo Azeglio Ciampi, he succeeded Ciampi, taking office on May 10, 2006. His presidency culminates a fascinating career that spans nearly seventy years of Italian politics. Few would disagree that he has been an outstanding president and a figure of national pride. Especially during the past five years of economic crisis as challenging as the Great Depression of the Thirties, his fair-mindedness and the force of his personality have helped to bind Italy together.
  • Right and left in Italy agree on the gravity of the problem. "The house is on fire," thundered Angelino Alfano, titular secretary of the rightist Freedom Party (PdL). "Italy is starting to be frightened - yes, frightened," intoned the moderate leftist professor Ernesto Galli della Loggia, writing in Corriere della Sera. Both lament the politicians' failure to move toward formation of a new government. But there agreement ends, and the impasse over what to do to avoid a dangerous power vacuum continues. Fighting to gain time as the end of his mandate approaches, President Giorgio Napolitano has appointed a 10-man committee of "sages" to try to excogitate points of convergence on reforms.
  • In Italy, pressures are mounting for earlier elections because of corruption scandals that have rocked the governments of Italy's two most important regions: Lazio and Lombardy. Both regional governments have been brought down by shock waves of financial misdeeds, which have forced their governors to resign.
  • Facts & Stories
    Judith Harris(August 27, 2012)
    From Palermo, prosecutor Antonio Ingroia is fighting to have those responsible for a sub rosa negotiation in 1992 between top Mafia bosses and representatives of the Italian state brought to trial. Most unfortunately for all concerned, the phone taps he ordered as part of his inquiry led straight into the Quirinal Palace.
  • Facts & Stories
    Judith Harris(July 27, 2012)
    The upward surge of the spread to today's 506.48 for 10-year bonds (but 519 at the opening of the markets) has reignited interest in holding elections this November, six months ahead of schedule. The emergency premier Mario Monti reportedly told President Giorgio Napolitano Wednesday that, "My government has done what it could." Whether or not these were Monti's precise words, they definitely express a darkening mood.
  • Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister for Economic and Financial Affairs, Ali Babacan met the Italian and Italian-American business community in New York at a meeting organized by the Confederation of Italian Entrepreneurs Worldwide at the Italian Trade Commission. “Our relationship with Italy is excellent, we are friends and we are perfect strategic partners,” said Babacan.