Category Archives: Politiks As Usual

Silvio Berlusconi says bribes are a ‘necessary part of business’ and tells critics to ‘stop moralising’

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No crime: Silvio Berlusconi, pictured during a political rally in Rome last week, defended the use of bribes in international negotiations saying they are ‘necessary’ when dealing with third world countries and regimes

Berlusconi defending bribes saying they are not criminal but ‘necessary’

The 76-year-old politician called critics ‘absurd’ and ‘masochist’
    
He said without bribes ‘you cannot be an entrepreneur on a global scale’

dailymail.co.uk | Feb 15, 2013

By Sara Malm

Silvio Berlusconi has defended the use of bribes in business saying they are necessary when securing international deals for Italian companies.

The former Italian Prime minister said illegal payments are vital when negotiating with ‘third world countries and regimes’.

Mr Berlusconi made the comments as a response to recent corruption scandals within several state-controlled conglomerates in Italy.

Mr Berlusconi, spoke against the arrest of Giuseppe Orsi, CEO of Finmeccanica defence group, who was taken into custody yesterday accused of paying Indian government officials to secure a helicopter contract.

The 76-year-old politician, who is running for his fourth term as Prime Minister in the country’s elections this month, said bribes are essential in international business, the Financial Times report.

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‘Bribes are a phenomenon that exists and it is useless to deny the existence of these necessary situations when you are negotiating with third world countries and regimes,’ Mr Berlusconi said in an interview with Italian State broadcaster, RAI 3.

‘These are not crimes. We are talking about paying a commission to someone in that country. Why? Because those are the rules in that country.’

The centre-right leader also defended state-controlled energy group Eni, which is alleged to have used bribes to win contracts in Algeria.

Mr Berlusconi even went as far as to suggest that putting a stop to bribery has left Italian companies out of business.

‘No one will negotiate with Eni or Enel or Finmeccanica anymore,’ he said.

‘It’s pure masochism.’

Mr Berlusconi called those who condemn financial incentives in deals outside Western democracies ‘absurd’.

‘If you want to make moralisms like that, you can’t be an entrepreneur on a global scale.’

His comments comes one year after his own bribery case was thrown out of court.

Mr Berlusconi stood accused of handing British lawyer David Mills £380,000 to lie during two 1990s trials to shield Berlusconi and his Fininvest holding company from charges related to the billionaire media mogul’s business dealings.

The Italian general elections will take place 24-25th February where Mr Berlusconi is yet again heading the People of Liberty party and hoping for a centre-right coalition.

His comments were unsurprisingly slammed by opposition politicians, who pointed out that Mr Berlusconi himself is appealing against his October tax fraud conviction while running for Prime Minister.

Just last month an Italian court granted his defense team’s request to postpone a trial for alleged wire tapping until after the elections.

Prosecutors have asked for a one-year jail sentence for Mr Berlusconi for his alleged role in the publication of wiretap transcripts in a newspaper owned by his media empire and three years for his brother Paolo, the publisher of Milan newspaper Il Giornale.

Mr Berlusconi denies all charges.

See also: The Berlusconi Toxic Corruption Data Storage Dump

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David Cameron begins propaganda war against Scottish independence

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Mr Cameron says the government papers – likely to be disputed by Alex Salmond’s Scottish National Party (SNP) – would provide “expert-based analysis to explain Scotland’s place within the UK and how it might change with separation. Photo: GEOFF PUGH

David Cameron has praised the “unbreakable bonds” between England and Scotland as he launches a new phase of the campaign against Scottish independence.

telegraph.co.uk | Feb 10, 2013

By Patrick Hennessy

On Monday, ministers will fire the opening shots in the propaganda war by publishing the first in a series of government documents designed to show how being in the UK benefits Scotland.

The papers will examine key issues in the independence debate ahead of the planned referendum, which is likely to be held in the autumn of 2014, including the economy, the currency, defence, foreign policy and welfare.

In an article published on the Downing Street website, the Prime Minister restates his “passionate” belief in retaining the historic Union between the two countries, declaring: “I will make the case for the UK with everything I’ve got.”

Mr Cameron argues that the case for the Union depends on the head as well as the heart, claiming: “Our nations share a proud and emotional history. Over three centuries we have built world-renowned institutions like the NHS and BBC, fought for freedom and democracy in two World Wars, and pioneered and traded around the world.

“Our ancestors explored the world together and our grandfathers went into battle together as do our kith and kin today – and this leaves deep, unbreakable bonds between the peoples of these islands.”

Polls north of the border suggest support for an independent Scotland is stalling, at around 23 per cent.

Mr Cameron states in his article: “Put simply, Britain works. Britain works well. Why break it?”

Mr Cameron says the government papers – likely to be disputed by Alex Salmond’s Scottish National Party (SNP) – would provide “expert-based analysis to explain Scotland’s place within the UK and how it might change with separation. We don’t shy away from putting facts and evidence before the Scottish people.

“I know those arguing for independence are already preparing their separate transition plan, as though they’ve got this in the bag, but to me that is wrong. It’s last fast-forwarding to to the closing credits before you’ve been allowed to see the movie.”

The Prime Minister’s intervention came after Mr Salmond outlined transitional arrangements if Scotland voted to go it alone – with Independence Day likely to be in March 2016, and the first elections to a stand-alone parliament two months later.

Mr Salmond, Scotland’s First Minister, said last week: “We’re putting forward what we think is the best future for Scotland, the best way to do it. We’re putting forward how the processes will unveil.”

Boys will be boys, says Afghan President Karzai of Prince Harry’s comparing killing to a video game

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Prince Harry should be allowed to make mistakes, Afghan President says

Afghan President Hamid Karzai has dismissed Prince Harry’s comparison of war to video games – claiming “young men make mistakes”.

telegraph.co.uk | Feb 4, 2013

By Hayley Dixon

The 28-year-old Army captain gave “candid” descriptions of killing Taliban as he returned from a 20 week tour of Afghanistan, which some politicians in the country described as a propaganda victory for the enemy.

But speaking to ITV News and The Guardian President Karzai, who has a long-standing friendship with Prince Charles, refused to add his voice to the backlash.

The Prince claimed that his prowess on computers had helped him with on the battlefield, and described taking insurgents “out of the game”.

President Karzai, who described The Prince of Wales as “a very fine gentleman”, said of the furore: “Prince Charles is a great representative of Britain and the British ways of life. Prince Harry is a young man, we do give exits to young men when they make mistakes.”

When pushed on the issue he replied: “As I said, he’s a young man, and young men do make mistakes talking, while behaving, all of us have gone through that period, so let’s drop it there.”

His comments came as St James’s Palace announced that Harry is to pay a visit to Lesotho and South Africa at the end of the month for a three-day trip on behalf of his charity Sentebale.

He will spend the first two days privately, visiting Sentebale programmes throughout Lesotho, and on the final day will carry out public engagements in the Maseru district of Lesotho and then attend the Sentebale Gala Dinner in Johannesburg.

The last time the third in line to the throne was in Lesotho was in June 2010 when he took his brother, the Duke of Cambridge, to see Sentebale’s work as part of their first joint overseas trip.

President Karzai, who has not had a holiday in 12 years, is visiting the UK for a trilateral meeting with Prime Minister David Cameron, and Pakistani president, Asif Ali Zardari.

He used the trip to condemn the recent insider attacks against British and American troops, describing it as “a serious breach of hospitality”.

But he also echoed comments he made four years ago that between the country was safer between 2002 and 2006 than it is now.

He said: “Schools were open in Helmand and life was more secure. But I am not going to blame.”

He said he “appreciated” the sacrifices of the British forces and the contributions they made to the country, adding: “Whatever happened is the past, and now we are looking forward to the future.”

He now wants to move forward in the peace process, to make it something “tangible” for the people who no longer want guns in their communities, and to bring to an end three decades of suffering.

The idea foreign troops would completely pull out of the country was a “Utopian state of mind” but would ultimately fail as the country needs to rebuild itself with the help of the international community, he said.

In ten years time the situation in the country is expected to have improved three fold. President Karzai added: “A good future lies ahead of us but we need to work for it, and work hard for it.”

‘Stalin Buses’, Soviet Tanks and Military Parades Celebrate Dictator’s Victory at Stalingrad

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Five coaches bearing portraits of the moustachioed dictator have been allowed to operate in ‘Stalingrad’ (Victory Bus)

Volgograd renamed Stalingrad to celebrate key WWII battle against Nazis in 1943

ibtimes.co.uk | Feb 1, 2013

By Umberto Bacchi

To commemorate the 70th anniversary of a key World War II victory Russian lawmakers have renamed Volgograd as Stalingrad (Vicory Bus)

On Saturday, visitors to Volgograd are to experience a trip back in time of 60 years as buses painted with images of Joseph Stalin are driven around the southwestern Russian city, temporally renamed Stalingrad in honour of the Communist dictator who more than any other moulded the Soviet Union.

A military parade led by an old T-34 Soviet tank will also rally in the city centre.

Russian city gets to play ‘Stalin wasn’t so bad’ six days a year

Stalin gets his city back as Russians celebrate dictator’s triumph over Nazis

‘Stalin buses’ to mark 70th anniversary of Battle of Stalingrad in Russia

On 2 February, 1943, the Red Army won the decisively battle of Stalingrad, turning back Nazi forces after about six months of fighting.

To commemorate the 70th anniversary of the key World War II victory, regional lawmakers decided to use the city’s Communist-era name in for the day and on other key anniversaries through the year.

Five coaches bearing portraits of the moustachioed dictator will operate as part of the “Victory Bus” initiative.

It is a controversial move. Nostalgics credit him with leading the country to victory in World War II and making it a world superpower but to many others he is a hate figure for his genocide of millions of fellow countrymen and for his repressive regime.

“It’s blasphemous to rename the great Russian city after a bloody tyrant who killed millions of his fellow citizens,” said Nikolai Levichev a senior federal lawmaker with the leftist Just Russia party.

“This is an insult to the memory of those who died,” Russia’s human rights ombudsman Vladimir Lukin told Interfax news agency.

The city was renamed Volgograd in 1961 as part of the Soviet Union’s rejection of the Stalin personality cult.

“Our people won under the lead of Joseph Stalin and there is nothing about our supreme commander to be ashamed of,” reads a statement by the Victory Bus.

“We don’t paint swastikas. Thank God, Communist ideology and Stalin’s image have not been officially condemned. We only urge the preservation of memory of the WWII victory and people who contributed to it,” organiser Aleksey Roerich told Izvestia.

Roerich said the buses are from private firms funded by the Communist party and private donors.

The so-called “Stalinobuses” will operate in Volgograd until 9 May when Russia celebrates the final victory of the so-called Great Patriotic War. Stalin’s image will also appear on vehicles in the streets of St Petersburg and Chita.

Stalin led the Soviet Union from 1924 until his death in 1953.

John Kerry, Hillary Clinton, and Rand Paul remind Americans that 9/11 remains a dominant political theme

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Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) questions Senator John Kerry (Not Pictured) during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee confirmation hearing on Kerry’s nomination to be secretary of state, on Capitol Hill in Washington, January 24, 2013. Gary Cameron / Reuters

NBC News | Jan 26, 2013

By Tom Curry

The attack of Sept. 11, 2001, has been so pervasive a theme in American politics in the years since that at times we scarcely notice its influence even though it explains so much of what came after that day.

Sometimes almost forgotten, 9/11 is an experience some Americans may recall only when they travel and must undergo screening from a select few of the army of 45,000 screeners that was created by the actions of 19 suicidal hijackers.

So it was remarkable that three times in the space of two Senate hearings on Wednesday and Thursday, the 9/11 attack percolated through the discussion.

Testifying Thursday morning at his confirmation hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to be secretary of state, Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., voiced his regret that one effect of that fateful day has been to make people abroad see American policy simply in terms of killing individual al Qaida leaders and pre-empting terrorist threats.

America’s foreign policy must not be “defined by drones and deployments alone,” Kerry warned. “We cannot allow the extraordinary good we do to save and change lives to be eclipsed entirely by the (counterterrorism) role we have had to play since September 11th, a role that was thrust upon us.”

A day before, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in her testimony about the Sept. 11, 2012, attack on the U.S. diplomatic facility in Benghazi, used the 2001 attack to make the case for continued robust American involvement in North Africa.

She warned of the risks of a 9/11-style attack from the group Al Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).

“People say to me all the time, well, AQIM hasn’t attacked the United States. Well, before 9/11, 2001, we hadn’t been attacked on our homeland since, I guess, the War of 1812 and Pearl Harbor. So you can’t say, well, because they haven’t done something they’re not going to do it,” she said.

But a bit later Clinton came under assault from Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., who used 9/11 as his rhetorical theme.

“Ultimately with your leaving (the State Department), you accept the culpability for the worst tragedy since 9/11, and I really mean that,” Paul told Clinton. Democrats on the committee recoiled in anger at what they saw as a cheap exploitation of 9/11.

Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., told Clinton, “I think if some people on this committee want to call the tragedy in Benghazi the worst since 9/11, it misunderstands the nature of 4,000 Americans-plus lost over 10 years of war in Iraq, fought under false pretenses. It was fought under false pretenses, but it was also fought, I think, because we had a misunderstanding of what we could do and what we could manage in that region for what was under our control.”

Murphy, first elected to the House in 2006 as part of the voter backlash against the Iraq war, didn’t mention that Clinton herself, serving in the Senate in 2002, voted for the congressional resolution authorizing President George W. Bush to invade Iraq.

Her vote was one liability during her bid for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination – a liability which Barack Obama, a state senator when Congress voted on the Iraq invasion, didn’t have.

The 9/11 attack created the political environment which made possible, and perhaps even inevitable, the congressional vote authorizing Bush to use military force against Iraq.

In his Oct. 7, 2002, speech making the case for using force, Bush repeatedly invoked 9/11. To those American who wondered “why do we need to confront it (the threat of Saddam Hussein) now?” Bush said, “There’s a reason. We have experienced the horror of Sept. 11. We have seen that those who hate America are willing to crash airplanes into buildings full of innocent people.” And America’s enemies would be eager “to use a biological or chemical, or a nuclear weapon.”

Four days later, the Senate voted for the Iraq war authorization, with Kerry, Clinton and then-Sen. Joe Biden among the 77 voting for it.

Just as Murphy had argued at Wednesday’s Senate hearing that Iraq was “fought under false pretenses,” so, too, Democrats back in 2004 argued that Kerry, Clinton, Biden, then-Sen. Chuck Hagel and the other members of Congress who’d voted for the Iraq war resolution had been deceived.

But some antiwar Democrats argued that – deception or not – their party could never beat Bush in 2004 with a candidate who was compromised by having voted for the Iraq war resolution.

It’s impossible to know the answer to that question – would Howard Dean or Sen. Bob Graham (who voted “no” on the Iraq war resolution) have defeated Bush in 2004?

We do know that Bush held his party’s 2004 convention in New York City, a target of the 9/11 attack and defeated Kerry in the election.

His second term was an unhappy one for many reasons, but it was Bush – not Kerry – who got to the fill the next two vacancies on the Supreme Court.

And 9/11’s effect is also still directly felt in the current wrestling over fiscal policy. As Obama and congressional leaders try to figure out how to pay for ever-growing entitlement programs and reduce budget deficits, Republicans in Congress, but many Democrats, too, are reluctant to significantly reduce a $630 billion Defense Department budget that grew massively in the years after Sept. 11, 2001.

Syria’s Muslim Brotherhood Propped Up by US Since 2007 Under Bush

landdestroyer.blogspot.com | Jan 24, 2013

by Tony Cartalucci

MuslimBrotherhood-1In 2007, the Wall Street Journal published an article titled, “To Check Syria, U.S. Explores Bond With Muslim Brothers.” And even then, it was noted that the Brotherhood held close links with groups the US recognizes and lists as terrorist organizations, including Hamas and Al Qaeda.

The report gives a disturbing foreshadowing of US support that would eventually see the Muslim Brotherhood rise as both a political and terroristic power across the Arab World, after decades of hard-fought attempts to crush the sectarian extremist organization everywhere from Tunisia to Syria, from Egypt to Libya, to Jordan, and beyond. In fact, the 2007 Wall Street Journal article specifically noted that the US partnership could “destabilize governments in Jordan and Egypt, two US allies where the Brotherhood is a growing opposition force.”

Egypt is now run by a sectarian-extremist Muslim Brotherhood dictatorship, after the US incited unrest there in 2011, while Jordan is seeing increasing unrest led by the Jordanian arm of the Brotherhood.

What is also disturbing about the 2007 report, is that it shows how allegedly “Bush-era” policies transcended the 2000-2008 administration and continued in earnest under President Obama.

The report, written by Jay Solomon, echoes similar foreshadowing of the coming violent sectarian bloodbath now engulfing Syria, found in Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh’s New Yorker piece titled, “The Redireciton: Is the Administration’s new policy benefiting our enemies in the war on terrorism?

Full story

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Related

‘CIA favors Brotherhood as Egypt dictatorship benefits US’

Satanists planning rally for Florida Gov. Rick Scott

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Florida Gov. Rick Scott has some unexpected, and likely unwanted, new support (Logo from Satanic Temple website/Scott …

Yahoo! News | Jan 16, 2013

By Eric Pfeiffer

Florida Gov. Rick Scott may have earned himself a new constituency, but the devil is in the details.

Local news site WPBF.com reported that a group of Satanists plans to hold a rally outside Scott’s office on Jan. 25 to support the governor’s signing of a bill that allows students to pray at school events.

“We’ve gotten such a response, it’s just impossible for me to know what that translates into,” Satanic Temple spokesman Lucien Greaves told WPBF, regarding how many will show up at the rally.

“You don’t build up your membership unless people know about you,” Greaves said in a separate interview with the Palm Beach Post. “So this allows us to get our message out in public. We’re hoping it will reduce the stigmatism.”

The Satanic Temple was launched in 2012 with what Greaves described as being “more or less an online community.”

The group’s website describes itself as being different from other, better-known Satanic organizations. Greaves said the rally is part of a larger ongoing effort at making the group’s beliefs more commonplace in mainstream discussions of religion and belief. From the website:

“Though we have far to go before public education leads to a mainstream embrace of our Satanic religion, we feel that our own public ‘coming out’ will go a long way toward raising the consciousness of the populace … and the social environment has never yet been better prepared for the welcoming of a new Satanic era.”

The group’s founder, Neil Bricke, is scheduled to speak at the rally.

“We feel it’s time for Satanists to come out and say exactly who we are,” Greaves said.

So, what does Scott think of the newly organized support?

“This is a great country. Everyone has a voice,” Gov. Scott’s press secretary wrote in an email to ABCNews.com.