Cops bust cybercrook who sent heroin to Brian Krebs

Sergei "Fly" Vovnenko, a Russo-Ukrainian cybercrook who stalked and harassed security journalist Brian Krebs -- at one point conspiring to get him arrested by sending him heroin via the Silk Road -- has been arrested. According to Krebs, Vovnenko was a prolific credit-card crook, specializing in dumps of stolen Italian credit-card numbers, and faces charges in Italy and the USA. Krebs documents how Vovnenko's identity came to light because he installed a keylogger on his own wife's computer, which subsequently leaked her real name, which led to him.

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Public Prosecutor of Rome unilaterally orders ISPs to censor 46 sites


The Public Prosecutor of Rome has unilaterally ordered Italy's ISPs to censor 46 sites, and it appears the ISPs are complying, even though no complaint had been lodged against the sites, nor had any judge issued any order related to them. This doesn't bode well for the governance style of the new Prime Minister, Matteo Renzi, a young politician who is trying to set himself apart from the autocratic Berlusconi regime, which used tight media control as part of its corrupt governance strategy.

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Pixel-art on classic furniture

Trip Pixel Furniture, from Studio Badini Createam/Seletti, adds pixellated fine-art images to the Trip line of furniture, created a tastily dissonant juxtaposition of modern glitchiness with ponderous, weighty French classic furniture.

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Dante for fun: kids books that retell the Inferno, Purgatorio and Paradiso


As mentioned, I'm in Florence, Italy with my daughter for a speaking gig. We toured the Palazzo Vecchio on the first day, and happened on a bust of Dante, and I began to explain the story of Dante, his exile, and the way he damned all his enemies to the most grotesque tortures in his epic poem. My kid was fascinated -- being sentenced to an eternity to boil, head down, in a lake of filthy blood, is pretty fascinating when you're six!

When we got to the gift-shop, we discovered an improbable set of childrens' picture books that retell Dante for young people: it's called "Dante for fun" and it comes in three volumes (naturally): Hell, Purgatory, and Paradise.

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Fine metalworking: tiny knives and batlike brooches from Mario Cesari


I ran into Mario Cesari at a market in Florence, Italy today (I'm in town to speak at the Museums and the Web conference). He's a metalworker who produces beautiful pieces that are really to my taste (I bought a weird, bat-like brooch from him). There was a lot more I was tempted by, especially the little, finger-length machete pen-knives. He's got an Etsy storefront with a good selection of his work. Having handled it and bought some of it, I can affirm that the workmanship and aesthetics of these things are beyond reproach.

Farmhouse narrowly avoids boulder-flattening


A farm in Ronchi di Termeno, Italy, was nearly squashed by titanic boulders that rumbled off nearby mountains in a landslide. One of them destroyed the barn, while another stopped a whisker shy of the farmhouse itself. The furrows the boulders cut through the fields are straight out of a golden age DC comic.

Boulder smashes through Italian farm [BBC]

(Thanks, Fipi Lele!)

(Images: downsized, cropped thumbnails of photos from the Associated Press)

Skeletal tile-mosaic in the chapel floor


The Cornaro Chapel at the Santa Maria della Vittoria church in Rome sports many beautiful works of art, but I'm especially taken by the skeletal figure set into the floor tiles, whose upraised arms seem ready to snatch sinners into the underworld. The photo above was taken by Chris and memorialized in a fabulous post on Roman Patina, which also includes photos of many of the other works in the chapel.

Cornaro Chapel, Santa Maria della Vittoria (via Kadrey)

Improvised tools made from flotsam, sticks and stones


When the artists at Studio Fludd were sent to a peaceful Italian island with a group of other artists, they decided to improvise a set of living tools out of random flotsam and other found objects. They took their inspiration from John Cage's aphorism that "Poor tools require better skills." The resulting tools are beautiful in a Gilligan's Island/Apollo 13 improvisation aesthetic sort of way.

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Revamped Goggle Jacket recreates Italian endurance-race fashion


CP Company worked with the Royal College of Art to recreate and update Massimo Osti's "Goggle Jacket" -- a jacket designed for Italy's Mille Miglia open-road endurance race that ran between WWI and WWII. They modernized the materials, rethought some of the fit issues -- a clever flourish reduces bunching while sitting; another moves the watch-window so you can check the time without moving your hands from the steering wheel -- but still managed to produce something that looks simultaneously futuristic and retro. It's a gorgeous piece of clothing, though £879 is too rich for my blood.

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Italy passes Internet censorship laws: regulator can censor sites on 12 days' notice without judicial review

Italy has passed an Internet censorship bill that allows for a regulator to order the national blocking of websites without judicial review. If the website's operator wants to come to Italy to object, they have as little as 12 days to do so. ISPs that fail to comply with the censorship orders face fines of €250,000 per day.

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Berlusconi kicked out of Italian senate

Silvio Berlusconi's scandal-haunted political career has suffered a potentially killing blow: following his conviction for tax fraud, the upper house of the Italian parliament has tossed him out, stripping him of his seat. Berlusconi insists that he will be exonerated by new evidence, and has called upon the president of Italy to pardon him (though he will not formally petition for a pardon, insisting that it should be forthcoming as a matter of course). Assuming the pardon is not forthcoming, he will go to prison in 2014.

See also: Berlusconi's "decadenza"

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Marvelous grotesques from Domenico Gnoli's Modern Bestiary


These illustrations are from Domenico Gnoli's 1968 title Bestiario Moderno (Modern Bestiary), an "incredible collection of pen and ink illustrations that are intricately detailed and nothing short of amazing." The book appears to be out-of-print, which is a damned shame.

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Berlusconi sentenced to 7 years in prison

Silvio Berlusconi, the disgraced former prime minister of Italy and billionaire media baron, has been sentenced to seven years in jail for having sex with an underaged prostitute. The woman, Karima 'Ruby' el-Mahroug, was paid to have sex at Berlusconi's infamous "Bunga Bunga" parties, and at one point, he lied to Italian police about her to keep her from going to jail for theft -- Berlusconi told the cops she was Hosni Mubarak's niece and that arresting her would cause an international diplomatic incident. Berlusconi sounds like he plans on appealing:

After the verdict, Berlusconi said in a message posted on Facebook that he believed he would be acquitted "because in the facts there is really no possibility to convict me."

He called the sentence "incredible, of a violence never seen or heard before, to try to eliminate me from the political life of this country." He pledged to "resist this persecution, because I am absolutely innocent, and I don't want in any way to abandon my battle to make Italy a truly free and just country."

Elected officials from Beppo Grillo's Five Star movement are insisting that the Italian state must do everything in its power to put Berlusconi behind bars.

'Bunga bunga' busted: Berlusconi convicted of hiring underage girl for sex [Colleen Barry/Associated Press]

(Image: Berlusconi, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from spiritolibero85's photostream)

Amazons with a Cause

Why are women first to pay for every crisis? In every society, capitalist, socialist, or transition? It's because the bodies of women are expendable.

I always noticed how women over eighty in Turin looked incredibly well, beautiful and loved and taken care of: desirable, because old and valuable. I connected this to Italy's long-established and sophisticated health care system. Italian hospitals were famous for methods which preserved the dignity of the patients, in tumor cures, especially breast cancer: the "invisible mastectomy" was invented in Milan. Rather than simply intervening in crisis, they were good at illness prevention and attentive follow-ups.

The economic crisis and financial harassment of Italy has reached this safe haven of health and dignity. In Turin, one of the best clinics for cure and prevention of breast cancer is about to be closed. The patients are on the streets, their appointments cannot be scheduled, they are paying for their urgent operations because their doctors cannot help them. The doctors are on the streets too.

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Student Riots in Italy: a dispatch from Jasmina Tesanovic

When I myself was a protesting student, I remember vividly remembered the cold warning in the text by Pier Paolo Pasolini. He reminded us youngsters that the police we faced in the streets were also someone's children, that not all young people were fortunate enough to be in colleges rather than wearing uniforms, and that we should join all together against the general oppressor, the system, capitalism, the corporations, name it…

That was then, and this is now, and while the students and policemen still have the same interests, they are still on the opposite sides of the barricade. Austerity has driven Italy to its knees. Day by day the future of Italy's young people is vaporizing, and now the streets are flooded by torrential rains, to boot. Italian cities rocked by earthquakes might as well settle for witchcraft, rather than find responsible and competent government officials who can rescue the nation's casualties.

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