- - Sunday, October 14, 2012


ROME — Italy’s justice minister is warning that rampant corruption by politicians’ pilfering public funds is reaching unprecedented levels, just as the government is demanding sacrifices from its citizens to keep the country from succumbing to the European debt crisis.

Minister Paola Severino says corruption is worse than during the kickback probes in the 1990s, nicknamed “Bribesville,” that brought down an entire ruling class.

In an interview Sunday with Sky TG-24 TV, Mr. Severino said corruption is “extremely widespread in a context of great political weakness.”

The non-elected technocrat government of economist Prime Minister Mario Monti has slashed public spending, raised taxes and made Italians work longer for their pensions.

Corruption probes have rocked regional governments in Rome, the financial capital of Milan and elsewhere.

Several political parties hit by corruption scandals face elections in the spring.


U.K., Scotland to set terms for independence vote

EDINBURGH — The British and Scottish governments are set to announce the terms of a referendum that could result in the breakup of the United Kingdom.

Officials from London and Edinburgh have been meeting to finalize details of a vote on Scottish independence.

A deal is expected to be approved Monday by Prime Minister David Cameron and Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond.

It is likely to call for a referendum in autumn 2014, with a single yes-no question on independence.

Scotland and England united in 1707 to form Great Britain, with a common monarch, currency and London-based government.

Scotland now has significant autonomy, including an Edinburgh-based Scottish Parliament.

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