Passport

Good times roll for the Italian mob

Italy's "biggest company" is doing just fine in the recession: 

Italy's mafia crime syndicates bucked the recession in 2009 to raise 'profits' by almost 8 percent with the financial crisis making companies and even the stock market even more vulnerable to cash-flush mobsters.

"Mafia Inc. is reinforcing its position as the number one Italian company," said a report published on Wednesday by a body whose members bear the brunt of mafia extortion and crimes, the small business and shopkeepers' association Confesercenti.

It estimated that the impact on business equalled about 7 percent of Italy's economic output, enjoying healthy growth in a year when the Italian economy shrank by almost 5 percent.

Passport

Honduras crisis ends with a whimper

Half a year later, as new president Porfirio Lobo is sworn in, Honduras's political chaos appears to be coming to an end: 

The mustachioed Zelaya, known for his signature white cowboy hat, plans to abandon the Brazilian Embassy where he has been holed up for months, surrounded by soldiers, as soon as Lobo takes office.

"I have an invitation ... to go to the Dominican Republic and I will accept the invitation, obviously with the approval of the new government," Zelaya told local radio on Tuesday.

Zelaya's departure marks a failure of regional diplomacy to push the de facto leaders to step down after the international condemnation of his predawn capture by the army on June 28.

The first step for Lobo's government is to reestablish ties with other Latin American coutries, many of whom did not recognize his election as legitimate. After an initial round of denunciations, I suspect that most will eventually come around. El Salvador's leftist government formally re-established ties with Honduras yesterday.

Honduras's supreme court also cleared the military coup-plotters of wrong-doing on Tuesday and the country's political establishment appears desperate to return to a state of normaly. One has to wonder how long Zelaya plans to stay out of the picture, though.