Showing posts with label SPY SECRETS. Show all posts
Showing posts with label SPY SECRETS. Show all posts

Monday, April 6


Oil markets are facing a perfect storm. The scissors of supply and demand are moving against one another, generating increasing pain on the oil industry and the political and financial stability of oil-producing countries.

Global oil demand is dropping due to the recession induced by the COVID-19 shut down of economic activity and transport in the most industrialized countries. Goldman Sachs predicts that global demand could drop from 100 million barrels per day (mdb) in 2019 to nearly 80 mdb in 2020.[1] If confirmed, this would be single biggest demand shock since petroleum started its race to become the most important energy source in the world.

Meanwhile, global supply is increasing due to the “oil price war” triggered by the Saudi decision on 7 March to offer discounts and maximize production, increasing output to a record high of 12.3 mbd. The Saudi government had reacted to the refusal by Russia to contribute to a coordinated OPEC production cut of 1.5 mbd, thus shelving, for the moment, the OPEC Plus alliance than had been forged in 2016 precisely to prevent a continuous drop in oil prices

Figure 1 OPEC oil production and supply adjustments

Most analysts explain the ongoing Saudi-Russian oil war with their willingness to increase their respective market share to the detriment of US shale producers. A different, but authoritative interpretation of the Saudi strategy, comes from Bernard Haykel, a professor at Princeton University who is personally acquainted with Saudi crown-prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Professor Haykel maintains that the Saudi decision might actually be motivated by the long-term goal of maximizing oil rents while there still is a market for Saudi oil “because climate change has fueled a global push toward de-carbonization and renewable energy”.[2]

In the short-term, the Saudi leadership is probably seeking to bring Russia back in line with OPEC while at the same time punishing US shale producers which rely on higher oil prices for commercial viability. Yet, Riyadh is also pursuing a longer-term goal, which entails producing as much oil as possible for a world that will be less reliant on petroleum in the medium term.

There is an inherent contradiction between the two goals stated above and the need for Saudi Arabia to preserve a relatively high oil price in order to guarantee fiscal income for the state, thus providing adequate welfare to its citizens.

As a result of the twin supply and demand shocks, the price of US oil (West Texas Intermediate – WTI) has dropped below 20 dollars a barrel followed by wild oscillations. At this price, most US shale companies will not be profitable, (only 3 US shale companies have an average breakeven cost at 30 dollars), while certain qualities of US crude have been sold at negative prices.

The world’s most important crude benchmark (Brent), is below 30 dollars per barrel. With these prices, the political, social and economic turmoil already experienced by OPEC countries such as Venezuela, Libya, Algeria, Nigeria and Iran before the present crisis will become unbearable; while both Saudi Arabia (with a fiscal breakeven at 84 US dollars per barrel) and Russia (with its lower fiscal breakeven price at 48 US dollars) will face tremendous pressures.[3]

The present crisis holds numerous similarities with the oil “counter-shock” of 1985/86 (Figure 2).[4] At the time, global oil demand was declining due to the economic recession of the early 1980s, as well as to the introduction of efficiency measures and the shift to “alternative” energy sources (nuclear and natural gas) put in place by most OECD governments. Similarly to today, there was a problem of over-supply, due to the advent of new oil production, particularly from the British and Norwegian North Sea. Today, a large portion of new supply instead comes from the US shale industry, especially in the Permian Basin, that has increased US production from 5 mbd in 2008 to more than 12 mbd in 2019, giving rise to the so-called “shale revolution”.

Like today, Saudi Arabia was fed up of being forced to continuously cut production to defend the OPEC price and, in the Autumn of 1985, decided to discipline non-OPEC producers by offering discounts and maximizing production. Oil prices fell to nearly 10 dollars a barrel as a result, having a terrible impact on oil producers. US “independent” producers faced bankruptcy, and the cycle of oil industry “mega-mergers” began. OPEC countries entered a phase of political and economic turmoil: Saddam Hussein’s ill-conceived gamble to revive a bankrupted Iraq by invading neighbouring Kuwait in 1990 was only the most evident consequence of the “counter-shock”.

The first novelty is that we might now have reached “peak oil demand” due to a combination of cultural, financial and political shifts in the largest industrialized countries, combined with the ever-increasing pressures for “deglobalization”, heightened by the recent shock from the global pandemic.[5] While the price “counter-shock” of 1985/86 led to a massive expansion of global oil consumption that fuelled the neoliberal globalization of the 1990 and 2000s (global oil consumption increased from 60 mbd in 1985 to 100 mbd in 2019), it is unlikely that the price shock of 2020 will bring global oil demand back beyond the peak of 100 mbd. This will be especially true if state investment plans to counteract the COVID-19 induced recession will be also oriented toward boosting “green” technologies and infrastructures.

The other novelty is that most OPEC countries, and crucially the two countries that played a key role for the creation of OPEC, Venezuela and Saudi Arabia, are for different reasons shifting from a “political approach” to oil production, to a prevailingly “commercial approach”. The Venezuelan government has essentially lost control over its oil industry – which has been effectively privatized and controlled by foreign, mostly Russian, companies. Saudi Arabia has taken the unprecedented step to market 1.5 per cent of its national oil company Saudi Aramco, and as a result now needs to consistently produce dividends for its shareholders, even if at the expense of Saudi state finances.

The spread of this “commercial approach” by OPEC national oil companies will not allow for significant structural production cuts in a competitive environment. Nor will it allow for strong international cooperation with a focus on preserving oil rents for OPEC governments and protecting the availability of the natural resources for future generations. National companies will be struggling to defend their market share, and will thus offer discounts to their customers and demand fiscal incentives from their governments.

The combined pressures from the new “peak demand” scenario, together with the weakening of OPEC due to the commercial orientation of national oil companies, will basically wipe out whatever was left of a “structure” of the oil market that has become increasingly unstable since the 1970s. The race to the bottom of oil prices will wreak economic havoc on most oil-producing countries and regions of the world, including on US states such as Texas (where the oil industry represents 10 per cent of the GDP and directly employs 360,000 workers), and on high-cost OECD oil producers such as Canada.

Since the 1970s, OPEC has been the only international organization that, with moderate success, has attempted to control production and stabilize prices. It cannot, and will not, continue doing so any longer. It will not accept to rein in production while the rest of the world simply strives to pump out as much oil and gas as possible, be this from shale formations, from tar sands or from below the Arctic, with utter lack of environmental concerns. Oil production cuts will either be shared and coordinated with other world producers, or they will simply not happen.

John Maynard Keynes had repeatedly warned about the need for global management to stabilize the price of commodities.[6] The only precedent for global negotiations on energy prices has been the Conference for International Economic Cooperation (CIEC) held in Paris from 1975 to 1977. At the time, a select group of 27 participants from the OECD, OPEC and the “less developed countries” tried to discuss energy prices and development issues in parallel. The danger stemmed from soaring oil prices and the widespread fear of “running out of oil”. The exercise ended in failure because of the unwillingness of OPEC, then at the peak of its power, to discuss prices without relevant concessions by industrialized countries.

This time is different. The risk and instability derive from peak oil demand, low prices and the need for stable prices in order to plan a speedy transition away from fossil fuels, while avoiding the political and economic collapse of oil-producing countries. A new “pro-rationing” effort must be undertaken at a global level, involving the US and other OECD members, OPEC and non-OPEC states such as Russia, Mexico and Brazil. Significantly, the “pro-rationing” conducted by the Texas Railroad Commission in the 1930s already served as the model for the founders of OPEC.

Whatever its format and however difficult it may be to change a “neoliberal” ideology that rules out state-led regulation of production, the time for a global dialogue on production levels and oil prices (and possibly on environments standards) has come. Deregulation of the energy market has to give way to a new era of regulation of the oil industry at both national and international levels.

The alternative will leave commercially-oriented oil companies, both national and international, free to engage in a destructive price war that will maximize environmental degradation and the squandering of natural resources. A destructive price-war will ultimately endanger decarbonization efforts (car-markers are already pressing governments to relax emissions standards), and will increase political and economic instability in OPEC countries, such as Saudi Arabia and Iran, that are key regional actors.

Giuliano Garavini teaches International History at Roma Tre University. He is the author of “The Rise and Fall of OPEC in the Twentieth Century” (Oxford University Press, 2019).

[1] Tsvetana Paraskova, “Goldman Sachs: Prepare for a Massive Oil Demand Shock”, in, 26 March 2020,

[2] Bernard Haykel, “Saudi Arabia’s Radical New Oil Strategy”, in Project Syndicate, 23 March 2020,

[3] Jack Farchy and Paul Wallace, “Petrostates Hammered by Oil Price Plunge and Pandemic’s Spread”, in Bloomberg, 28 March 2020,

[4] Duccio Basosi, Giuliano Garavini and Massimiliano Trentin (eds), Counter-Shock. The Oil Counter-Revolution of the 1980s, London/New York, IB Tauris, 2018.

[5] The debate on “peak demand” has been raging since 2018. See Spencer Dale and Bassam Fattouh, “Peak Oil Demand and Long-Run Oil Prices”, in OIES Energy Insights, No. 25 (January 2018),

[6] See Robert W. Dimand and Mary Ann Dimand, “J.M. Keynes on Buffer Stocks and Commodity Price Stabilization”, in John Cunningham Wood (ed.), John Maynard Keynes. Critical Assessments, Second Series, Vol. VIII, London/New York, Routledge, 1994, p. 87.

Tuesday, March 31


Le strade di Bergamo sono vuote. Come in tutt’Italia, le persone possono lasciare le proprie case solo per comprare cibo e medicine, o per andare al lavoro. Fabbriche, negozi e scuole sono chiusi. Non si sente più chiacchierare agli angoli delle strade o ai tavolini dei caffè. Ciò che si sente di continuo, senza sosta, sono le sirene.
Mentre l’attenzione dei vari Paesi del mondo si sposta sui propri centri di contagio, le sirene continuano a suonare. Come quelle che segnalavano i bombardamenti durante la seconda guerra mondiale, molti sopravvissuti a questo conflitto ne ricorderanno le sirene. Risuonano più forte mentre si avvicinano, venute a raccogliere genitori e nonni, i custodi della memoria italiana.
I nipoti salutano dalle terrazze, mariti e mogli si siedono agli angoli di letti ormai vuoti. E poi le sirene ricominciano a suonare, affievolendosi quando le ambulanze si allontanano, dirette verso ospedali stipati di malati di coronavirus. “Ormai a Bergamo si sentono solo le sirene”, ha osservato Michela Travelli.
Il 7 marzo, suo padre, Claudio Travelli, 60 anni, guidava un camioncino che consegnava generi alimentari in tutto il Nord Italia. Il giorno seguente, ha iniziato ad avere febbre e sintomi influenzali. Sua moglie aveva avuto la febbre nei giorni precedenti, quindi ha chiamato il medico di base, che le ha detto di prendere una tachipirina e di riposare. Per gran parte del mese precedente, la classe dirigente italiana aveva mandato messaggi contraddittori sul virus.
Ma a Travelli la febbre non si è abbassata e le sue condizioni si sono fatte più preoccupanti. Venerdì 13 marzo ha sentito una pressione insopportabile al petto e ha iniziato ad avere conati di vomito. La febbre era altissima e la sua famiglia ha chiamato un’ambulanza. I soccorritori hanno rilevato bassi livelli di ossigeno nel suo sangue ma, seguendo le raccomandazioni degli ospedali di Bergamo, gli hanno consigliato di stare a casa. “Hanno detto: ‘abbiamo visto di peggio e gli ospedali sono come le trincee in una guerra’”, ha riferito la signora Travelli.
Un altro giorno in casa ha portato a un’altra notte di attacchi di tosse e febbre. Domenica, Travelli si è svegliato in lacrime, dicendo “Sono malato, non ce la faccio più”, ha ricordato sua figlia. Ha preso un’altra tachipirina, ma la febbre è salita a più di 39 e la sua pelle ha assunto un colore giallastro.
Questa volta, quando è arrivata l’ambulanza, le sue due figlie, entrambe indossando guanti e mascherina, hanno preparato una borsa con due pigiami, una bottiglia d’acqua, un caricabatterie e un cellulare. I livelli di ossigeno nel sangue del padre erano crollati.
I volontari della Croce Rossa si sono chinati su di lui mentre stava steso sul letto, sotto a un dipinto della Vergine Maria. L’hanno portato in ambulanza. Le sue nipoti, di tre e sei anni, l’hanno salutato dalla terrazza. Lui ha alzato lo sguardo verso di loro, verso i balconi da cui sventolavano bandiere italiane. Poi l’ambulanza se ne è andata e non si è sentito più nulla. “Solo la polizia e le sirene”, ha detto sua figlia. I soccorritori che si erano occupati di Travelli avevano iniziato presto quella mattina.
“Non possiamo essere noi gli untori”, ha detto Nadia Vallati, 41 anni, una volontaria della Croce Rossa che di giorno lavora all’ufficio delle imposte, riferendosi a coloro che venivano accusati di diffondere la peste nel diciassettesimo secolo. Dopo essersi disinfettati, Vallati e i suoi colleghi aspettano che suoni l’allarme nella loro sede. Non ci mette mai molto.
Indistinguibili l’uno dall’altro nei camici medici che indossano sopra alle loro tute rosse, i volontari sono entrati in casa di Travelli il 15 marzo trasportando delle bombole d’ossigeno. “Sempre con l’ossigeno”, ha detto Vallati.
Uno dei rischi principali per i malati di coronavirus è l’ipossiemia, il basso livello di ossigeno nel sangue. I livelli medi a condizioni normali sono di 95-100 e i medici si preoccupano quando il valore scende sotto i 90.
Vallati ha detto che le è già capitato di riscontrare in malati di coronavirus anche livelli intorno ai 50. Hanno le labbra blu. La punta delle loro dita diventa viola. Fanno respiri rapidi e superficiali e usano i muscoli dello stomaco per inspirare. I loro polmoni sono troppo deboli.
In molti degli appartamenti che gli operatori visitano, i pazienti sono aggrappati a piccole bombole di ossigeno, grandi circa come quelle per gasare l'acqua, che i familiari hanno procurato loro su ricetta del medico. Stanno nel letto accanto a loro. Mangiano con loro al tavolo della cucina. Guardano con loro, sul divano, i bollettini serali dei morti e dei contagiati italiani.
Il 15 marzo, Vallati ha messo la sua mano, avvolta da due strati di lattice blu, sul petto di Teresina Coria, 88 anni, mentre le veniva misurato il livello di ossigeno nel sangue. Il giorno seguente Antonio Amato, nonostante i suoi 40 anni, stava seduto sulla sua poltrona e stringeva la sua bombola di ossigeno mentre i suoi bambini, che non poteva stringere per paura di contagiarli, lo salutavano dall’altro lato della stanza.

Un sabato, Vallati si è trovata nella stanza di un uomo di 90 anni. Ha chiesto alle sue nipoti se il nonno avesse avuto contatti con qualcuno positivo al coronavirus. Sì, hanno detto, con suo figlio, loro padre, che era morto il mercoledì. La loro nonna, le hanno detto, era stata portata via venerdì ed era in condizioni critiche.
Non piangevano, ha detto, perché “non avevano più lacrime”. Durante un altro turno in Val Seriana, duramente colpita dall’infezione, Vallati ha raccontato di aver portato via una donna di circa 80 anni. Suo marito, con cui era sposata da decenni, ha chiesto di darle un bacio per salutarla. Ma Vallati gliel’ha negato, perché il rischio di contagio era troppo alto. La donna ha raccontato che mentre i volontari portavano via sua moglie, l’uomo è entrato in un’altra stanza e ha chiuso la porta dietro di sé.
I casi sospetti vengono portati in ospedale, ma gli ospedali stessi non sono più luoghi sicuri. A Bergamo il primo caso di coronavirus è stato diagnosticato nell’ospedale Pesenti Fenaroli di Alzano Lombardo.
Il sindaco Gori ha spiegato come i contagi abbiano devastato la sua città e portato al limite uno dei sistemi sanitari più ricchi e sofisticati in Europa. I medici stimano che 70.000 persone nella provincia abbiano il virus. Bergamo ha dovuto far trasportare 400 corpi in altre province, regioni e Paesi perché i posti erano esauriti. “Se devo identificare una scintilla,” ha detto, “è l’ospedale”.
Quando arriva un’ambulanza, i soccorritori procedono con estrema cautela. Solo uno dei tre, il responsabile della squadra, accompagna il paziente all’interno. Se il paziente è pesante, qualcun altro lo aiuta. Lo scorso fine settimana, un gruppo di dottori dell’ospedale di Bergamo ha scritto in una rivista di medicina associata con il New England Journal of Medicine, “stiamo apprendendo che gli ospedali possono essere i primi vettori di Covid-19”, visto che “sono così densamente popolati da pazienti infetti e facilitano la trasmissione a pazienti non infetti”.
Le ambulanze e il personale addetto vengono infettati, hanno scritto, ma questi possono non mostrare sintomi e diffondere ulteriormente il virus. Per questo i medici hanno chiesto di evitare di portare i pazienti in ospedale salvo in casi di estrema necessità.
Ma Vallati ha detto che per i casi più gravi non hanno avuto scelta. Gli autori dell’articolo lavorano all’ospedale Papa Giovanni XXIII a Bergamo, dove la squadra di Vallati ha trasportato molti dei malati.
Il Dottor Ivano Riva, un anestesista, ha spiegato che l’ospedale accoglieva circa 60 nuovi malati di coronavirus al giorno. Ha detto che vengono sottoposti a un test, ma a questo punto l’evidenza clinica - la tosse, i bassi livelli di ossigeno, la febbre - è un indicatore migliore, soprattutto perché il 30% dei test ha prodotto dei falsi negativi.
Il Dottor Riva ha spiegato che delle 101 persone che compongono lo staff medico del suo ospedale, 26 erano a casa con il virus. “È una situazione che nessuno ha mai visto, penso in nessun altro Paese al mondo”, ha detto.
Se le persone non stanno a casa, ha detto, “il sistema cederà”.
I suoi colleghi hanno scritto nell'articolo che i letti in terapia intensiva sono riservati ai malati di coronavirus con “una possibilità ragionevole di sopravvivere”. I pazienti più anziani, hanno scritto, “non vengono rianimati e muoiono da soli”.
Travelli è finito al vicino ospedale Humanitas Gavazzeni, dove, dopo un falso negativo, è risultato positivo al virus. È ancora vivo.
“Papi sei stato fortunato perché hai trovato un letto - ora devi combattere, combattere, combattere”, gli ha detto sua figlia Michela in una telefonata, l’ultima prima che gli mettessero un casco per aiutarlo a respirare. “Era spaventato”, ha detto. “Credeva di essere sul punto di morire”.

Intanto, la signora Travelli ha aggiunto di essere stata messa in quarantena e che aveva perso il senso del gusto, un disturbo frequente tra le persone che pur non mostrando sintomi sono state a stretto contatto con il virus. Così tante persone stanno morendo, così velocemente, che le camere mortuarie dell’ospedale e gli addetti delle pompe funebri non riescono a reggere il ritmo. “Trasportiamo i morti dalla mattina alla sera, uno dopo l’altro, costantemente,” ha detto Vanda Piccioli, che dirige una delle ultime agenzie di pompe funebri rimaste aperte. Altre hanno chiuso dopo che i loro direttori si sono ammalati, alcuni finendo anche in terapia intensiva. “In genere onoriamo i defunti. Ora è come una guerra e noi ne raccogliamo le vittime”.
Ha spiegato che il suo staff trasporta 60 corpi infetti al giorno, dall’ospedale Papa Giovanni e quello di Alzano, dalle cliniche, dalle case di riposo e dagli appartamenti. “È difficile per noi trovare guanti e maschere”, ha detto. “Siamo una categoria nell’ombra”.
Piccioli ha aggiunto che all’inizio cercavano di restituire gli effetti personali dei defunti, raccolti in sacchetti di plastica, ai loro cari. Una scatola di biscotti. Una tazza. Un pigiama. Delle ciabatte. Ma adesso semplicemente non hanno tempo. Le chiamate alla Croce Rossa non si sono ancora fermate.
Il 19 marzo, Vallati e i suoi colleghi sono entrati nell'appartamento di Maddalena Peracchi, 74 anni, a Gazzaniga. Aveva finito l’ossigeno. Sua figlia Cinzia Cagnoni, 43 anni, che vive nell’appartamento di sotto, aveva ordinato una nuova bombola che sarebbe arrivata lunedì, ma i volontari della Croce Rossa le hanno detto che non avrebbe resistito così a lungo.
“Eravamo un po’ agitati perché sapevano che quella potrebbe essere stata l’ultima volta che ci vedevamo”, ha detto Cagnoni. “È come mandare qualcuno a morire da solo”.
Lei, sua sorella e suo padre nascondevano un’espressione coraggiosa sotto le mascherine, ha raccontato. “Ce la puoi fare”, hanno rassicurato la madre. “Ti aspetteremo, ci sono ancora così tante cose che dobbiamo fare con te. Combatti”.
I volontari hanno portato Peracchi all’ambulanza. Una delle sue figlie ha suggerito ai nipoti sconvolti di salutarla a voce più alta. “Ho pensato a un migliaio di cose”, ha ricordato Cagnoni. “Non abbandonarmi. Signore aiutaci. Signore salva mia madre”. La porta dell’ambulanza si è chiusa. Le sirene hanno iniziato a suonare, come fanno “a tutte le ore del giorno”, ha detto Cagnoni.
L’ambulanza è arrivata al Pesenti Fenaroli di Alzano Lombardo, dove a Peracchi è stato diagnosticato il coronavirus e una polmonite a entrambi i polmoni. Il giovedì sera, sua figlia ha riferito che stava “appesa a un filo.”
La signora Peracchi è una donna di profonda fede cattolica, ha spiegato sua figlia, che ha avuto anche lei la febbre la notte in cui l’ambulanza ha portato via sua madre e da allora è in quarantena.
La figlia ha raccontato che a sua mamma faceva soffrire l’idea che, se le cose fossero andate male, “non potremo fare un funerale”.
Per contenere il virus, tutte le celebrazioni civili e religiose, tra cui i funerali, sono state vietate in Italia. Il cimitero di Bergamo è chiuso. Le bare accumulate attendono in una sorta di ingorgo di essere portate ai crematori del nord-Italia.
Le autorità hanno vietato alle famiglie di cambiare gli abiti dei morti e hanno chiesto che i corpi vengano cremati con il pigiama o i camici che le vittime indossavano al momento del decesso. I cadaveri devono essere avvolti in un ulteriore involucro o coperti con un tessuto disinfettante. I coperchi delle bare, che in genere devono rimanere aperti fino alla consegna di un formale certificato di morte, ora possono essere chiusi, ma devono comunque attendere prima di essere sigillati. Spesso i corpi rimangono per giorni nelle case, dato che le scale e le stanze soffocanti sono diventate particolarmente pericolose per lo staff delle imprese funebri.
“Cerchiamo di evitarlo”, ha detto Piccioli, la direttrice dell’agenzia di pompe funebri, riguardo le visite a casa. Nelle case di riposo è molto più facile perché si può arrivare con cinque o sei bare, riempirle e caricarle direttamente nelle macchine. “So che è terribile da dire”, ha detto.
Attraverso una rete di sacerdoti locali, Piccioli aiuta a organizzare veloci preghiere, invece che veri e propri funerali, per i defunti e per le famiglie che non sono in quarantena.
È stato il caso di Teresina Gregis, seppellita al cimitero di Alzano Lombardo il 21 marzo dopo che era morta a casa. I soccorritori avevano detto alla sua famiglia che non c’era spazio negli ospedali. Solo un piccolo gruppo ha potuto piangerla, a causa delle restrizioni.
Hanno detto alla famiglia “Tutti i letti sono pieni”, ha raccontato la nuora della donna, Romina Mologni, 34. Dato che lei aveva 75 anni, “hanno dato la priorità ad altri che erano più giovani”.
Nelle sue ultime settimane a casa, la sua famiglia ha fatto di tutto per trovarle delle bombole di ossigeno, cercandole in tutta la provincia mentre la donna stava seduta di fronte al suo giardino e alle girandole che adorava.
Quando è morta, tutti i negozi di fiori erano chiusi a causa dell’ordinanza. Mologni allora ha portato al cimitero una delle girandole che sua figlia aveva regalato alla nonna. “Le piaceva quella”.

Saturday, February 29


Il 13 gennaio 2017, è morto Udo Ulfkotte.A causa di un infarto cardiaco, apparentemente, sebbene l’immediata cremazione del corpo e l’assenza di un’autopsia non mancheranno di alimentare, proprio per lui che è sempre stato descritto come un teorico della cospirazione, gravi dubbi sulle reali cause della sua morte. 

Nato nel 1960 a Lippstadt in Vestfalia studiò diritto e scienze politiche all’Università di Friburgo dove ottenne il dottorato di ricerca con una dissertazione sulla politica americana e sovietica nel Medio Oriente

Nel 1986 entrò alla redazione della Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) dove fu per anni corrispondente dall’estero ed acquisì una profonda conoscenza di decine di Paesi, specie in Medio Oriente. 

In quegli anni, così riferì lo stesso Udo Ulfkotte in un’intervista a Russia Today e nel suo recente libro dedicato al tema, egli partecipò a un diffuso sistema di corruttela dei giornalisti tedeschi,indotti da prebende e pressioni a diffondere notizie la cui finalità non era tanto quella di raccontare la verità, quanto quella…di Alessandro Fusillo

Wednesday, November 28


This is a chapter-by-chapter analysis and documentation of the power of Israel via the Israeli, Jewish or Pro-Zionist Lobby on US Middle East policy. 

It raises serious questions as to the primary beneficiary of US policy, and its destructive results for the United States. The extraordinary extent of US political, economic, military and diplomatic support for the state of Israel is explored, along with the means whereby such support is generated and consolidated. Contending that Zionist power in America ensured unconditional US backing for Israeli colonization of Palestine and its massive uprooting of Palestinians, it views the interests of Israel rather than those of Big Oil as the primary cause of the disastrous US wars against Iraq and threats of war against Iran and Syria. It demonstrates and condemns US imitation of Israeli practice as it relates to conduct of the war on terrorism and torture. It sheds light on the AIPAC spying scandal and other Israeli espionage against America; the fraudulent and complicit role of America’s academic “terrorist experts-in furthering criminal government policies, and the orchestration of the Danish cartoons to foment antipathy between Muslims and the West. It questions the inability in America to sustain or even formulate a discourse related to the subject of Israeli influence on the United States. It calls for a review of American Mid East policy with a view to reclaiming US independence of action based upon enlightened self-interest and progressive principles.

Saturday, June 30


Glencore is keeping the marketing rights for the Sarir and Messla crude grades for a third year even though BP and Shell are returning to lift Libyan oil in a sign the country’s industry is perceived as becoming more reliable. One source familiar with the matter said Libya’s state oil firm National Oil Corporation (NOC) had allocated its 2018 crude and that the contracts would be signed next week. 

With production having steadied at around 1 million barrels per day (bpd) since the middle of last year, Libya, beset by factional fighting, has become a less unstable supplier. However, supply risks remain. One pipeline bringing Es Sider crude to export was recently bombed but swiftly repaired. BP and Shell declined to comment. Spokesmen for Glencore and the NOC did not immediately respond to requests for comment (Last August, Shell directly lifted its first cargo of Libyan crude in five years).

Since the end of 2015, Glencore has been the sole marketer of the Sarir and Messla grades, which are produced in the east of the country and exported via the Hariga port. Glencore was one of the few traders willing to deal with the risks associated with Libya’s unrest, Islamic State intrusions and a crippling port blockade that slashed the country’s output.

Earlier this month, the NOC said it was seeking a prompt restart of the country’s largest refinery at Ras Lanuf, following a resolution to arbitration cases with its operator, Lerco. The refinery, closed since 2013, runs on the grades allocated to Glencore. It was not immediately clear when the refinery would resume operations or what would happen to Glencore’s allocation once it does. 

NOC subsidiary Arabian Gulf Oil Co produces the Sarir and Messla grades. Output has been fluctuating between around 150,000 and 230,000 bpd, its chairman said in early January, below its potential 320,000 bpd owing to power problems.

Other contract winners include Vitol, Total, Unipec, OMV, BB Energy, ENI, API, Cepsa, Socar and Repsol, trading and shipping sources said, largely unchanged from 2017 to June, 2018.

-Shell and BP have agreed annual deals to buy Libyan crude oil. Sources told the news agency that Shell’s deal is the first of its kind since 2013, and that the first cargo of 600,000 barrels will start to be loaded from Zueitina port.

-The head the eastern-based National Oil Corporation EAST (NOC) has claimed that his office has signed 29 contracts independently of the Tripoli-based organisation.

Naji al-Maghrabi told Reuters that recent contracts included deals with major states such as Russia and China. Russia is reported to be planning to arm eastern-based strongman General Khalifa Haftar

-The Deputy Prime Minister of Libya’s internationally recognized government in Tobruk, Abdus Salam al Badri, told a conference last week in Malta that his government will punish international oil companies (IOCs) that continue to work with the rival administration in Tripoli.

-In parallel, the Chairman of the National Oil Corporation (NOC) based in the East of Libya, BP, which didn’t have a term deal in 2017, has reportedly also reached an agreement for this year.

-The Tripoli-based National Oil Corporation (NOC) held a series of meetings with a group of global refineries in the Mediterranean area and with a major oil companies last week in London. The first meeting was with BP, followed by meetings with more than 20 partners, customers, Libyan crude refiners and fuel suppliers. BP, which didn’t have a term deal in 2017, has reportedly also reached an agreement for this year.

-The newly-created National Oil Corporation (NOC) loyal to the internationally recognised government in the east of Libya has reportedly invited international oil companies (IOCs) to “discuss legally signed agreements and contracts” at a conference in Dubai next month.

-The Tobruk government set up the rival company – ‘NOC East’ – in Benghazi, but oil buyers are still dealing only with the established NOC in Tripoli. According to Reuters, oil customers have refused to sign any deal with the eastern entity due to legal concerns as geological data to prove ownership of oil reserves are stored at NOC Tripoli. The invitation to a conference on 2nd September was issued by Naji al-Maghrabi, who was recently appointed chairman of the eastern NOC.

-The head the eastern-based National Oil Corporation (NOC) has claimed that his office has signed 29 contracts independently of the Tripoli-based organisation.  Naji al-Maghrabi told Reuters that recent contracts included deals with major states such as Russia and China. Russia is reported to be planning to arm eastern-based strongman General Khalifa Haftar, commander in the Libyan National Army (LNA), who opposes the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli.

-The Deputy Prime Minister of Libya’s internationally recognized government in Tobruk, Abdussalam Elbadri, told a conference last week in Malta that his government will punish international oil companies (IOCs) that continue to work with the rival administration in Tripoli.

-In parallel, the Chairman of the National Oil Corporation (NOC) based in the East of Libya, Nagi al-Magrabi, told Bloomberg: “We will send letters to all the international companies that operate in Libya asking them to deal with the internationally recognized and legal government. “We will take measures based on their respective replies to the letter. If they continue to decline to cooperate with the legal government, we will stop their loadings once their contracts expire.” Mahdi Khalifa, an NOC board member, said that any oil companies that refuse to cooperate with the government face the risk of legal action.

-Libya’s internationally recognised government has warned companies against dealing with the Tripoli-based National Oil Corporation (NOC). Speaking to a press conference of Beida, the head of the House of Representatives (HoR), Abdullah al-Thinni (pictured), said his government is taking further steps to export crude oil from the regions under its control through its locally recognized “NOC”, and away from the Tripoli-based organisation.

-The chairman of the pro-HoR “NOC”, Mabruk Abu Yousef Maraja, warned of the illegality or illegitimacy of dealing with the NOC in Tripoli. He also warned Tripoli not to enter into any contracts or legal actions that would impose any obligations on the Libyan oil sector.

-National Oil Corporation (NOC) Chairman Nuri Berruien [Nuri Balrwin] (pictured), has confirmed that there are to be no new exploration-production sharing agreements (EPSAs) before mid-2014. Answering questions at the end of a conference in London, he added that this would probably be “during a constitutional government”, implying that the current “interim” government is not deemed constitutional enough or does not have the authority or legitimacy to launch an EPSA bidding round, according to Libya Herald. He added that he hoped for a “win-win” situation for both the NOC and the international oil companies, admitting that the current EPSAs had problems for both parties and hoped that the new EPSAs would “encourage long-term development”.

Glencore oil deal in Libya branded worthless by rival government. Internationally recognised regime in Benghazi says commodity firm’s potentially lucrative oil-export deal in Tripoli is with the wrong people. 

Glencore’s deal to export Libyan oil is not worth the paper it is printed on, the commodities company has been told. The Switzerland-based firm agreed last week to buy up to half of Libya’s oil exports from the western division of the National Oil Company in Tripoli, where an Islamist-backed government is based. But the internationally recognised government in Benghazi, in eastern Libya, said Glencore had signed a deal with the wrong people

Nagi Elmagrabi, chairman of the eastern division of the National Oil Company, told Bloomberg that he had written to Glencore asking for an explanation but not yet received a reply. He said that if Glencore had signed a deal with the parallel regime in Tripoli, the Benghazi government could physically prevent Glencore tankers from using Libyan ports. 

The deal in question envisages Glencore loading and finding buyers for crude oil from the Sarir and Messla fields, exported via Tobruk’s Marsa el-Hariga port in the east. The eastern government says it does not recognise any agreement signed with Tripoli.

Finding a way to resolve the impasse could prove particularly lucrative for Glencore, given that Libya’s oil exports have huge potential to increase. Libya was pumping about 1.6m barrels of oil a day before the civil war that ended Colonel Muammar Gaddafi’s rule in 2011. 

Production has since slumped to as low as 400,000 barrels a day, although it could be increased if the security situation in Libya improves. Glencore regularly invests in countries where security risks and political turmoil have deterred other investors, such as the Democratic Republic of Congo and Colombia

However, the company is in need of new sources of income, after the economic slowdown in China prompted a slump in global commodity prices, ravaging its share price. The company floated its shares at £5.30 in 2011 but they have since plunged, closing on Monday at 90.42p. 

The firm announced proposals earlier this year to raise £6.6bn in an effort to allay investors’ fears about its £20bn debt pile. The plan includes mine closures, asset sales and a £1.6bn share-placing but has yet to arrest the decline in Glencore’s stock. Glencore declined to comment on its dealings in Libya

Saturday, May 27


Those "Reports" explores the Security challenges posed by foreign fighter returnees. It argues that—contrary to popular belief—most foreign fighters do not die on battlefields or travel from conflict to conflict

This means that Law Enforcement, Intelligence, and other Security Officials should expect unprecedented numbers of returnees from Afghanistan, Indonesia, Africa, Mali, Libya, Syria and Iraq should a ceasefire hold. 

The challenge posed by returnees is threefold: Recidivism rates are uncertain, law enforcement cannot manage the numbers of prospective returnees alone, and returnees from non-Western countries also pose a threat to the United States. 

Findings suggest that a global architecture should be put in place to mitigate the threats from foreign fighter returnees.

Friday, April 7


On the eve of the 14th anniversary of one of the most contentious and divisive wars in living memory, Peter Taylor forensically investigates how key aspects of the secret intelligence used by Downing Street and the White House to justify the invasion of Iraq, were based on fabrication, wishful thinking and lies.
Using remarkable first hand testimony, this one-hour Panorama special reveals the full story of how two very highly placed sources, both close to Saddam Hussein, talked secretly to the CIA via an intermediary and directly to MI6 in the build-up to the war and said Iraq did not have an active Weapons of Mass Destruction programme. But both were ignored.

In a compelling story of spies and intrigue, deception and lies, key players reveal how sparse British and American intelligence was and how none of the handful of human sources had direct knowledge of WMD production. 

The former CIA Paris Station Chief, Bill Murray, explains how he used an intermediary to recruit Iraq’s Foreign Minister and his frustration when he found crucial intelligence from this source was rejected because it didn’t fit in with the White House’s agenda. 

The intelligence from Iraq’s Foreign Minister was confirmed four months later, when an MI6 officer met Iraq’s Head of Intelligence, who passed on the same message, saying Iraq had no WMD.

Lord Butler, author of the 2004 report into the WMD intelligence, says the British public was misled.

With a series of revelatory interviews, including a shocking exchange with the Iraqi spy and self-confessed fabricator ‘Curveball’, Panorama sheds new light on the spies who fooled the world.

Thursday, February 16


Delenda est Cathargo ("Carthage must be destroyed") RT are words that come down to us from ancient history. It is said they were spoken by the famed Roman statesman and orator Cato the Elder at the end of his speeches. They remain relevant today in the case of Trump, Russia and a Washington establishment that is intent on destroying both.

The Rome of our time is Washington, Russia is Carthage, and today's Cato the Elder is none other than US Senator John McCain, whose quest for conflict with Russia is unbounded.

Indeed for Mr. McCain the belief that Russia must be destroyed has been elevated to the status of a self evident and received truth.

Origins of the 'Dodgy Dossier': it was McCain who passed the "dodgy dossier" on Trump to the FBI, after receiving it from former UK ambassador to Russia, Sir Andrew Wood. Contained within the dossier is information purporting to reveal how Trump has been compromised by Russian intelligence over various sexual encounters with prostitutes in a Moscow hotel room. Compounding the scandal, adding to the lurid nature of it, are reports of the existence of a second Russian dossier on the President-elect. 

The dossier's originator has been revealed as former British MI6 intelligence officer Christopher Steele, who now runs a private intelligence company and has, according to reports, gone into hiding in the UK, supposedly fearing assassination by Russian agents.

The fact that Mr. Steele hasn't set foot in Russia for a number of years and reportedly, on behalf of Trump's enemies within the Republican Party establishment, paid for the information contained in the 35-page dossier, recently released with the caveat that its contents cannot be verified, should have been more than enough to have it instantly dismissed as, well, fake news?

In an article that appeared on the UK's Independent newspaper website — titled "The dodgy Donald Trump dossier reminds me of the row over Saddam Hussein and his fictitious weapons of mass destruction" — Patrick Cockburn writes, "I read the text of the dossier on Donald Trump's alleged dirty dealings with a scepticism that soon turned into complete disbelief." Later in the same article he observes, "In its determination to damage Trump, the US press corps has been happy to suspend disbelief in this dubious document."

More significant than the fact this dossier was not immediately dismissed is the timing of its emergence and subsequent publication by the US news site, BuzzFeed. It comes on the very cusp of President-elect Donald Trump's official inauguration as the 45th President of the United States on January 20th, and the very point at which his cabinet appointees were being grilled over their views of Russia, the threat Russia allegedly poses to the US and the West, during their official Senate confirmation hearings.

Political Coup Underway Against Trump: by now most people are aware, or at least should be, of Washington's long and ignoble history when it comes to fomenting, planning, supporting, and funding political and military coups around the world — in Central and Latin America, the Middle East, Africa, and elsewhere the CIA and other US agencies have brought down countless leaders and governments that have refused to toe the line when it comes to serving US interests.

In unprecedented fashion, what we have in this instance are those same deep state actors, working in conjunction with the US liberal establishment, currently engaged in a coup designed to destroy the Trump presidency — if not before it begins then certainly soon after, with the prospect of impeachment proceedings against him already being mooted in Washington circles.

During his recent press conference, Trump felt minded to declaim against Washington's bloated intelligence community, accusing it of releasing the dossier to the media, an allegation US intelligence chiefs have denied. The result is an unprecedented open war between the country's next president and his soon-to-be intelligence services that has pitched the country into a political crisis that grows deeper by the day.

The Power of the Military Industrial Complex: on the question of why the US deep state and Washington's liberal establishment is so intent on maintaining Russia in the role of deadly enemy, the answer is very simple — money. Huge and powerful economic and ideological interests are tied up in the new Сold War of the past few years. We're talking the country's previously mentioned gargantuan defense and intelligence budgets, continuing US support and financing of NATO, along with reason for the continued existence and funding of the vast network of political think tanks in Washington and throughout the West, all of which are committed to sustaining a status quo of US hegemony and unipolarity.

Russia's emergence as a strategic counterweight to the West in recent years has and continues to challenge this hitherto uncontested hegemony, providing lucrative opportunities for organizations, groups, and individuals with a vested interest in the resulting new Cold War. For those of a skeptical persuasion in this regard, I refer you to the chilling warning issued by former US President Dwight D. Eisenhower prior to leaving office in 1960 to make way for his replacement, John F. Kennedy.

In his televised farewell address to the American people in 1961, Eisenhower said, "We have been compelled to create a permanent armaments industry of vast proportions. Added to this, three and a half million men and women are directly engaged in the defense establishment. We annually spend on military security more than the net income of all United States corporations."
He continued: "This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence — economic, political, even spiritual — is felt in every city, every State house, every office of the Federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society."

Finally, Eisenhower warned the American people how, "In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist."

Though neoconservatives may no longer be in the driving seat in Washington, neoconservative ideas undoubtedly are. And prime among them is the idea that not only must Russia be destroyed but also anyone who would dare stand in the way of this narrative, up to and including President-elect Donald J. Trump.

Sunday, February 5

Friday, February 3


The late Yasser Arafat’s powerful moneyman MOHAMMED RASHID is the target of the highest-profile Palestinian corruption probe to date, facing allegations he syphoned off millions of dollars in public funds, the chief investigator has said.

Anti-corruption campaigners lauded the case against the shadowy former aide, Mohammed Rashid, as a sign of the maturing of the Palestinian political system, although the probe also appeared to be tinged with political intrigue.

Rashid, who has in the past denied wrongdoing, made veiled threats on a website to disclose purported secrets about the rise to power of Arafat’s successor, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. And Palestinian watchdogs, while praising growing government vigilance about corruption, expressed concern that such investigations are at times being used selectively to settle personal scores.

The tall, dark-haired Rashid left the Palestinian territories after Arafat’s death in November 2004, and his current whereabouts were not immediately known. Rafik Natche, head of the Palestinian Anti-Corruption Commission, said Mohamed Rashid holds business interests in Jordan, Egypt, Montenegro, Iraq and the United Arab Emirates, and that the Palestinian Authority has asked all five countries to freeze his assets and extradite him.

An Iraqi citizen of Kurdish ancestry, Rashid befriended top PLO officials in the 1980s.

From the 1994 establishment of the Palestinian Authority, a self-rule government in parts of the West Bank and Gaza, to Arafat’s death a decade later, Rashid was in charge of many of the Palestinian leader’s financial dealings. The iconic Arafat was known for a frugal lifestyle, but needed large sums to buy loyalty and allowed corrupt practices by those in his inner circle.

It is not known why Arafat put Rashid, a former journalist without formal business training, in charge of most of his business affairs.

Rashid “came to the Palestinian revolution without a penny in his pocket and became a multimillionaire,” Natche told The Associated Press. “Where did he bring his money from? Of course, this is the money of the Palestinian people.”

Natche said Rashid is suspected of having taken millions of dollars out of the Palestinian Investment Fund and the PLO’s treasury, as well as setting up fake companies in his name and in the names of relatives. “The money and the companies disappeared,” Natche said, citing documents.

In comments posted Tuesday on the website Inlightpress, Rashid said he would not respond to the allegations now, but warned that Abbas “made a huge mistake and must suffer the consequences.” He did not elaborate. The website, which is believed to be linked to Rashid, announced in a separate section that it would soon run a series of articles by Rashid about the circumstances of Abbas’ rise to power.

After keeping a low profile for years, Rashid started drawing attention to himself with a series of interviews that the Arab satellite TV station Al Arabiya began broadcasting last week. Rashid told the station he was asked by Palestinian officials in 2008 to provide documents about the investment fund, and that he told them the documents were at the fund’s office. He said he has not been contacted since then.

The first decade of the Palestinian Authority was marked by rampant corruption and official mismanagement. During those years, Rashid “ran a network of financial transactions outside the law and outside the budget,” said Azmi Shuaibi, a leading anti-corruption campaigner in the West Bank.

In 2003, the international community, concerned about millions in foreign aid going to waste, asked Palestinian economist Salam Fayyad to supervise Palestinian Authority spending. Fayyad, now the West Bank-based prime minister, is credited with providing greater transparency. However, for years, little was done to go after those suspected of stealing public funds.

Two years ago, Abbas set up the Anti-Corruption Commission and a special court. So far, the commission has handled 85 cases, including those of two Cabinet ministers who were forced to resign, but the court has not yet handed down any verdicts, Natche said.

The commission filed charges of fraud, embezzlement and money-laundering against Rashid on April 30. On May 8, the court urged Rashid through an announcement in a local newspaper to surrender to Palestinian authorities, Natche said. Rashid will be tried in absentia if he cannot be brought to the Palestinian territories, he added.

Shuaibi praised stepped up efforts to go after government corruption, but expressed concern about the way targets for investigation are being chosen. He noted that Rashid is a longtime associate of former Gaza strongman Mohammed Dahlan, who had a falling-out with Abbas last year after seemingly challenging the president’s leadership. The connection between Dahlan and Rashid created an impetus “to pursue Rashid as well,” Shuaibi said.

“I think the priorities (for investigations) are being set on a personal basis,” said Shuaibi. He said he told Abbas that “we have concerns that the issue is being handled in a way of settling personal scores.” Shuaibi said Abbas told him all suspicions were being investigated.

Officials in Abbas’ office declined comment. Natche said anyone can approach the commission with information about alleged corruption, but acknowledged that most of his leads come from government agencies.

Daoud Kuttab, a Palestinian commentator, said Arafat’s continued popularity made it difficult for investigators for some years to launch a probe against Rashid. But enough time has passed since Arafat’s death, Kuttab said, adding that “there is a strong public sentiment against corruption.”

Friday, January 13


Further down you can read as one man has unleashed, with its investigative intrusion, an cruel underground war between western Secret Services, who never was so critical and dirty as in that days.

Roberto Di Legamiwho directs the Italian national police division that specializes in combatting internet and other communications network crimestold The Associated Press in a telephone interview Tuesday.  

He said: "In the eight months we have been investigating, we haven't registered any evidence of extortion activity, or attempts to (use hacked data) to obtain influence." 

Police Chief Franco Gabrielli has decided to make changes at the head of Italy's postal police, with the current director, Roberto Di Legami, being switched to a new post, sources said Wednesday. Among the reasons for the changes is the fact that a case of alleged spying on figures such as ex-premier Matteo Renzi and ECB chief Mario Draghi was allegedly underrated, as top officials at the department of public security were not informed.

Italian Police have arrested a brother-and-sister team suspected of conducting an ambitious, years-long campaign of hacking that targeted thousands of accounts belonging to some of the leading political and business figures in Italy. 

The motive of the sprawling campaign, which carried Masonic overtones, remains a mystery. But those in the crosshairs included Matteo Renzi when he was Italian premier, European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi and much of the cream of Italy's elite.

Police said that it was an assist from the FBI that helped cracked the "cyberespionage headquarters" and led arrests of Giulio Occhionero, 45, and his 49-year-old sister Francesca Maria Occhionero. They are being kept in isolation in two different jails in Rome.

The two live in the Italian capital, where they are reportedly well known in the world of high finance. They also have a legal residence in London, where at one point they registered a securities company, Di Legami said. Prosecutors' requests for the arrest warrants alleged that the duo tried to hack into Renzi's personal email twice in June, when he was still premier, and into Draghi's email account once in June and again in July.

A person familiar with the matter said there was no indication any European Central Bank account was successfully breached. The person spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitive nature of the matter. Italian police were generous with praise for the FBI's help. Di Legami said the FBI found the servers despite the suspect's use of the online anonymity tool Tor to mask their electronic movements.

The FBI did not return a message seeking comment on the nature of its assistance, confirming only that it had helped with the investigation through the U.S. Embassy in Rome. All but one of the servers the Occhioneros allegedly used in their scheme were located in the United States, Di Legami said. He added that, until the Americans hand the servers to Italian investigators, it will not be known if any of the hacking attempts succeeded and if so, what data might have been extracted from the targeted accounts.

Other prominent Italians whose accounts allegedly were targeted include Fabrizio Saccomanni, a former Italian economy minister who also served as a top official of Italy's central bank; a Catholic cardinal holding Vatican posts; Mario Monti, an economist who wrestled with Italy's financial crisis as premier from 2011 to 2013; former top officials of the Italian tax police squad; and Italian politicians from across the political spectrum.

Politicians expressed relief that a cyber-spy operation had been unmasked and demanded investigators get to the bottom of it. "Everything must be rapidly cleared up, avoiding news leaks," Debora Serracchiani, a top official with Renzi's Democratic Party, said. "Certainly, a criminal plan has been uncovered upon which many hypotheses can be made."

The alleged hacking operation came to light as Italian politics already are roiled over Renzi's stepping down as premier last month after a referendum defeat and maneuvering ahead of likely early elections that could come this year. Ignazio La Russa, a right-wing lawmaker who was among the cyber-spies' targets, was quoted by the Italian news agency ANSA as saying that he did not feel anguished about information of his that may have been taken.

"A member of Parliament must be transparent. If they asked me, I would have given them the info gratis," La Russa said. La Russa added: "I'd be sorry however, if they spied on my private life, entering in the accounts of my wife or children." Giulio Occhionero co-founded a Roman investment firm named Westlands Securities SpA, according to his LinkedIn profile and a former employee of the company who didn't want to be identified in connection with the investigation.

Di Legami said investigators think the firm might have been set up largely as a cover for criminal activities, although they found evidence Westland Securities provided legitimate financial advising, including for construction at a southern Italian port, and also had some dealings in stocks and bonds. Giulio Occhionero was the main force in the duo, drawing on his background as an engineer (he has a degree in nuclear engineering) as well as formidable talent as a quantitative analyst, the police official said.

Francesca Maria Occhionero, whose LinkedIn page shows she served as Westland Securities' managing director, mainly helped with support logistics. Di Legami said the investigators' big break came when a security manager at a government office dealing with computer security received an email from a law office he didn't recognize. Alarmed, the manager asked a security firm to trace the IP address. When the IP address didn't match the one used by the law office, police investigators picked up the trail.

Di Legami said the hackers used sophisticated and complex malware and were able to access their victims' networks for long periods of time, remotely harvesting emails, communications and other documents from targeted computers. In all, the suspects allegedly obtained some 18,000 usernames and nearly 1,800 passwords.

The suspects created numerous folders to divide up their targets. Among the more creatively named ones was a folder dubbed "Bros" that included persons who supposedly belong to a Masonic lodge and another folder dubbed POBU — for politicians and business — in which various individuals from high-level politics and business were listed. Investigators moved to have the suspects arrested because of the "concrete danger" they could flee abroad, police said! No Comment...