Berlusconi convicted in sex-for-hire trial
MILAN — Silvio Berlusconi, Italy’s flamboyant former premier, was sentenced to seven years in prison and banned from politics for life Monday for paying an underage prostitute for sex during infamous “bunga bunga” parties and forcing public officials to cover it up.
It was the most damaging setback yet for the 76-year-old Berlusconi, who has been tried numerous times for his business dealings but never before for his personal conduct.
Still, he vowed that his days as a political force are not over. He has two levels of appeal — and his supporters quickly rallied around him.
The charges against the billionaire media mogul resulted from what became widely known in Italy as “bunga bunga” parties hosted in 2010 by Berlusconi, then the sitting premier, at his villa near Milan, where he wined and dined beautiful young women.
Berlusconi’s defense described the dinner parties as elegant soirees; prosecutors said they were sex-fueled gatherings that women were paid to attend. The woman at the center of the scandal, Karima el-Mahroug, better known as Ruby, has described aspiring showgirls stripping provocatively for the then-Italian leader.
IRS screening was broader, lasted longer than first revealed
WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service’s screening of groups seeking tax-exempt status was broader and lasted longer than has been previously disclosed, the new head of the agency said Monday.
An internal IRS document obtained by The Associated Press said that besides “tea party,” lists used by screeners to pick groups for close examination also included the terms “Israel,” ”Progressive” and “Occupy.” The document said an investigation into why specific terms were included was still underway.
In a conference call with reporters, Danny Werfel said that after becoming acting IRS chief last month, he discovered wide-ranging and improper terms on the lists and said screeners were still using them. He did not specify what terms were on the lists, but said he suspended the use of all such lists immediately.
“There was a wide-ranging set of categories and cases that spanned a broad spectrum” on the lists, Werfel said. He added that his aides found those lists contained “inappropriate criteria that was in use.”
Werfel’s comments suggest the IRS may have been targeting groups other than tea party and other conservative organizations for tough examinations to see if they qualify. The agency has been under fire since last month for targeting those groups.
Bombings in Iraq kill at least 42
BAGHDAD — A series of evening bombings near markets in and around Baghdad and other blasts north of the capital killed at least 42 people and wounded dozens of others Monday in the latest eruption of bloodshed to rock Iraq.
The attacks were the latest in a wave of violence that has claimed more than 2,000 lives since the beginning of April. Militants, building on Sunni discontent with the Shiite-led government, appear to be growing stronger in central and northern Iraq.
The violence came as tens of thousands of Shiites poured into the holy city of Karbala, 50 miles south of Baghdad, for the annual festival of Shabaniyah, marking the anniversary of the birth of the ninth-century Shiite leader known as the Hidden Imam. Tight security measures were in force to try to prevent insurgent attacks on the worshippers.
One of the deadliest attacks came at night when two bombs placed near a market blew up less than a minute apart in Baghdad’s mostly Shiite neighborhood of Husseiniyah, killing ten people and wounding 30 others.
Police said the second bomb went off among a group of people who had gathered at the scene to help the victims of the first blast.
By wire sources