guns kill people
A Europe-wide crackdown on alleged mobsters from the former Soviet Union continued Monday, with arrests now totaling at least 69. The suspects are accused of robbery, drug smuggling, money laundering, and other crimes.
The crackdown, dubbed "Operation Java," has exposed the global reach of the Russian mafia, who some experts claim now dominate the criminal underworld in several European countries and are active as far away as Australia and Singapore.
The Associated Press reported Monday that the crackdown started as a probe into the Russian mob by Spanish authorities. Spain arrested 24 suspects over the weekend, with more arrests in Austria, France, Germany, Italy, and Switzerland, Reuters said.
The Guardian reported that the mob had targeted Spanish real estate investments for money laundering.
Police have carried out a series of operations against the Russian mafia and its money-laundering operations in Spain's corruption-riddled property sector over the past four years.
Among those to have been detained in recent years is Zakhar Kalashov, accused of being a senior mafia boss. Kalashov is on bail, awaiting sentence in a money-laundering trial that was carried out under tight security and that ended in December.
Armenians, Russians, and Georgians were arrested. Criminals from former Soviet states are often lumped together as the "Russian mob," despite varying origins.
Video at Spanish newspaper El Pais' website showed authorities hustling suspects into police cars, and carrying evidence away from raided buildings.
El Pais on Tuesday quoted Swiss prosecutors and a Spanish police source on the massive scope and reach of the criminal ring. (in Spanish)
"This is a perfectly structured, highly hierarchical international criminal organization, directed from Spain and mainly active in robbery, burglary, and receiving stolen goods," said Swiss prosecutors in a statement relating to 11 detainees.
The criminal group also raised money in Ireland, Sweden, Belgium, Britain, and Turkey. "We're going to find big mansions and enormous amounts of money, as we did in other operations," a Spanish police source said.
In March, investigative journalist Ruslan Gorevoy claimed that mobsters from the former Soviet Union operating outside Russia now numbered as many as 300,000 and have come to dominate the criminal underworld in several countries, the Moscow Times reported, citing an article in the Russian-language Versiya.
Gorevoy says law enforcement personnel in many countries – including Spain, Greece, Hungary, Italy, France, Mexico, “and even the United States” –have been surprised by how “confidently” criminal groups consisting of people from the former Soviet Union now dominate their national criminal worlds.
Indeed, the Versiya report continues, the Russian groups, which include “up to 300,000 of our compatriots,” have succeeded in pushing aside local groups and establishing their own “spheres of influence” to the point that they no longer need to “clarify relations with the help of arms.”
The flying laser's long-awaited test on Thursday showcased a potential to zap multiple targets at the speed of light and at a range of hundreds of kilometers, the Pentagon's Missile Defense Agency said in a statement.
"The Missile Defense Agency demonstrated the potential use of directed energy to defend against ballistic missiles when the Airborne Laser Testbed (ALTB) successfully destroyed a boosting ballistic missile," the agency said.
Perhaps the most striking statement made by Illarionov in recent months, was on the subject of corruption. "Totalitarian regimes are very much corrupted," said Illarionov during the 11 November meeting of the discussion club. "[The Russian leaders] find support abroad, outside, among the states that are citadels of democracy, in the countries that actually make a big effort to protect freedom and democracy at home; but still, the totalitarian regimes find support there...."
How do they find this support? According to Illarionov, "Under the existing system, it is very easy to buy off the European leadership. It costs very little, and is easily done, so it is not a problem to achieve results with this method in Europe." In fact, Illarionov asks if the statesmen of any system can remain independent in the wake of sweetheart deals they cannot refuse to take. The Russians look at European politicians the way a shopper looks at goods in a store. They see one they like, examine the price tag, and pay the cashier. In fact, they use oil money, which allows them to buy whatever they see. Illarionov noted: "The largest export that Russia delivers is corruption. It's not oil or gas, but corruption. And this is in greater demand than even oil or gas." The politicians of Western Europe love corruption, because it makes them rich.
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Ethanol production has depressed national wholesale gasoline prices in the US by 14 cents/gal
US refinery profit margins by $1.33/bbl over the period of January 1995 to March 2008, according
to work by economics researchers at Iowa State University.
Those figures correspond to an 8% reduction in the case of gasoline prices, and a 10.6% reduction for refinery margins.