"La vita è bella...ma dipende."
"Mamma mia," another issue?! "Si". Hard to believe we didn't take another 6.5 month break, eh?
Thanks for all the romantic feedback. Most of you had probably lost faith in us and our cruise liners, but we'll prove you wrong. We've got more issues and happy stuff on the way. No, really...
Enjoy the issue, keep writing and Grazie!
Rome - February 27, 2012 - An Italian court on Saturday dismissed a corruption case against Silvio Berlusconi, ruling that the statute of limitations had expired on charges that the Italian billionaire allegedly paid his lawyer to give false testimony in the 1990s to shield him from prosecution.
A panel of judges delivered a brief ruling, stating that the statute of limitations had expired without elaborating on the substance of the actual case. The judges are due to release their motivations within 90 days. Mr. Berlusconi's lawyers said they planned to file a motion seeking an acquittal for Mr. Berlusconi.
The ruling capped a long-running trial that began in early 2007 and was repeatedly interrupted by the billionaire's tenure as prime minister from 2008 to late 2011.
Mr. Berlusconi faces two other trials on charges of tax fraud, paying an underage woman for sex and abusing his office in an attempt to cover up the relationship. He has denied those charges, claiming he is the target of persecution by left-wing magistrates.
In November, Mr. Berlusconi was swept out of office by the euro-zone debt crisis, but he remains a major force in Italian politics. He is the founder of Italy's biggest political party, the conservative People of Freedom Party, and his support of Italy's new Prime Minister Mario Monti is vital to the survival of the Italian government.
Over his 18 years in politics, Mr. Berlusconi has survived dozens of criminal investigations and many trials. In some trials, he was acquitted while in other trials the statute of limitations expired.
Saturday's ruling is likely to embolden Mr. Berlusconi's allies who have long called for an overhaul of the Italian judiciary in order to speed up trials and demand more accountability from prosecutors.
"This shouldn't happen to anyone in Italy regardless of whether they're prime minister," said Maurizio Gasparri, a lieutenant in Mr. Berlusconi's party. "Even the most anonymous Italian should have the guarantee that a prosecutor will be unbiased."
A judge indicted Mr. Berlusconi in Oct. 2006 on a corruption charge for allegedly paying U.K. lawyer David Mills $600,000 between the end of 1999 and the early months of 2000. The payment, prosecutors alleged, served as compensation for misleading testimony that Mr. Mills allegedly gave to prosecutors who were investigating Mr. Berlusconi in the 1990s. Mr. Mills denied the charge, saying he received the payment from someone else.
Mr. Mills, who was tried separately from Mr. Berlusconi, was convicted of corruption in Feb. 2009 and sentenced to four years and six months in prison. In 2010, however, Italy's highest court struck down the sentence, ruling that the statute of limitations had run out.
On a (rare) serious note, many all over the planet ask what are the reactions of the Italians. What would you like for us to say? We knew it was coming...again.
It's just another chapter in the story of a man who suffers from the Napoleon or "little man" syndrome.
To save his mega empire and himself from jail, he entered politics and distorted and destroyed the Italian judicial system. In less than 10 years he had managed to have about 36 "ad-personam" laws passed in Parliament to make sure he would come out unscathed.
Because the statute of limitations in Italy does not begin until the case is heard in court -- rather than when a defendant is charged with the crime -- attorneys simply need to delay court dates until the statute of limitations expires. "Capisci?" "Si?"
The time between court dates can be many months. You meet up in court one day and then again maybe another day 4, 6, 27 months later and for only about 12-14 minutes, until the trial is over. That's why rat-bastard Italian lawyers always advise their clients to go to the bathroom at home, show up to court 2 hours early and make absolutely sure you're in that court room when your turn is called.
Judge: "Buongiorno to all. Case of 'Minchione vs Scassapalle' will now begin..."
Berlusconi: "The Mills trial is just one of numerous invented proceedings against me. In total, more than 100 legal procedures, over 900 prosecutors have busied themselves with me and with my company. These persecutions against me are not just a world record but a record for the universe and the entire solar system."
"Porco Giuda", you see? How can one comment?
Rome - February 28, 2012 - Budget airline Ryanair is suing Exxon Mobil, the world's second largest company, as part of a multimillion pound lawsuit alleging the oil group overcharged it for aviation fuel.
The London-listed carrier is claiming at least 9M Euros (12M USD) in compensation, plus an unspecified amount for lost profit, after the oil company allegedly hiked prices over a seven-year period, documents filed with London's high court reveal.
The claim, which equates to at least 2% of the airline's 2011 pre-tax profit, follows an Italian competition authority decision in 2006 ruling that Exxon and other aviation fuel suppliers in Italy had breached European competition rules.
The court documents add that the oil companies entered into "a unique and complex agreement, the purpose and effect of which was to share the market for the supply of jet fuel and to prevent the entry of new operators".
Ryanair alleges that the competition ruling means that airlines buying fuel from Exxon in Italy, via its subsidiary Esso Italiana, had "paid higher prices than at comparable airports located outside Italy".
The claim adds: "Ryanair has further suffered loss of profit and interest". Industry experts said that airlines could have used lower fuel prices to cut ticket prices, meaning that the likes of Ryanair might have sold more seats and related services to extra passengers.
An Exxon spokeswoman said: "Esso Italiana can confirm that Ryanair initiated proceedings against it in 2011 regarding historic jet fuel sales in Italy. We do not wish to comment further." Ryanair, which is claiming damages for fuel supplies made between 1999 and 2006, declined to comment.
In 2006 Italian regulators fined six oil companies, including subsidiaries of Exxon and Shell, a total of 315.4M Euros for constructing an arrangement to supply jet fuel to airports. The Italian competition authority found that the companies engaged in an "intense and continuous exchange of information" and coordinated strategies for setting up refueling contracts and keeping the status quo in place in the jet fuel market.
"The higher we soar, the smaller we appear to those who cannot fly." (Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche)
"Porco diesel", it's sickening. We know you'll agree when we scream that people running oil companies are not real humans. No-no, don't dare count them as human beings. They're 1/3 human and 2/3rds foul-smelling ugly cheese...like Taleggio.
"...oil companies entered into "a unique and complex agreement, the purpose and effect of which was to share the market for the supply of jet fuel and to prevent the entry of new operators". "Cazzo", of course it took 8 years for Ryanair to figure out they were being bamboozled! With the language acrobatics the Italian companies perform, you would think they owned a circus in Palermo!
And don't kid yourselves, folks! These "figli di puttane" at Esso Italiana must be in cahoots with the other "figli di puttane" who are losing your airport luggage. We know what's going on here!
What does Esso Italiana want? Hmmm? To bring Italy to a further standstill?
Why don't we stop going to work and growing food?
Exxon spokeswoman: "Esso Italiana can confirm that Ryanair initiated proceedings against it... We do not wish to comment further." That sounds just as comforting as:
Nonna (at the family table for Easter lunch): On behalf of this family, I can confirm that my grandson initiated proceedings against us when he presented that future so-called wife. I do not wish to comment further."
Rome - February 28, 2012 - Italians hit by the economic crisis are turning to traditional recipes including Ribollita, a Tuscan bean soup made with stale bread.
Italians facing a long, hard winter with less money to spend in the supermarket thanks to the economic crisis are being encouraged to rediscover the cheap, traditional recipes of their ancestors.
Soups made with old bread and even pig's lungs are unlikely to appear on the menu of Michelin-starred Italian restaurants in London, New York or Rome, but they are being touted as the nation's real cooking, made at a fraction of the price of many modern dishes.
"Old recipes are a richness that Italy boasts, that were perfected during periods of poverty and are a way to come through the crisis eating well," said Carlo Petrini, the head of the slow food movement, which campaigns for traditional, sustainable foods.
Petrini said the secret of Italy's low cost, old-style cuisine was the use of leftovers, from Tuscany's Ribollita vegetable soup, made with stale bread, to "le Virtu" (the virtues), a soup made in the town of Teramo with every winter vegetable left in the cupboard.
"Nothing got wasted and the name of the soup is no coincidence. Young women once had to know how to make it before they got married," said Petrini. "Today food is a commodity. It needs its value back and to achieve that you cannot throw it away. Thanks to the crisis the young are rediscovering this and luckily their parents and grandparents are still around to teach them."
In a roundup of nearly forgotten dishes, a national paper listed "Sbira" soup, a Genovese speciality made with tripe, mushrooms, lard, bread, pine nuts and meat sauce that was favored by policemen and prison guards and served as the traditional last meal to prisoners sentenced to death.
Any talk of cutting out waste in Italian cooking inevitably revolves around making better use of the lesser known parts of animals including offal, which was a peasant staple for centuries, notably in Rome where prime cuts were reserved for the rich, leaving tripe as the city's signature dish.
Arneo Nizzoli, 76, who runs a renowned restaurant in northern Italy near Mantua, said busloads of cookery students were now showing up to eat his maialata meals, where he uses as much of the pig as possible, from pig's lung soup to cotechino, a type of sausage, made with tongue, to pig's lard set with garlic, parsley and onion and spread over browned slices of polenta.
"In this cold weather the TV is telling people to eat vegetables and fruit to resist. What is that about? What about lard?" he said.
Pig's noses, cheek and feet, which all find use in Nizzoli's kitchen, cost half a euro a kilo, compared with over 20 Euros (26 USD) for cured pig's ham or prosciutto.
"Sometimes I feel like a culinary archaeologist, but doing it my way means spending less and raising fewer pigs," he said. "These dishes take hours to cook, but if people are out of work they may have that time."
Horsemeat was once fed to children as a key source of iron by Italian mothers but young customers were now reluctant to try his horse stew, which is slow cooked for hours, said Nizzoli. "Horses were traditionally eaten here when they died but kids today just aren't interested," he said.
We have to admit that most traditional Italian dishes are outstanding and delicious. Although they are quite inexpensive to prepare, they do come with a hefty moral price.
Nonna: "You see what happens? Eh?"
(The reprimanding, loud and incoherent. Just like WWII Japanese pilots going down with the plane.)
Nonna: "During the war, I created and sowed together all the clothing for your Nonno, myself and my children! All of you embarrass us with your designer clothes!"
(After that war, this was a woman who was coming out of the beauty parlor with cotton candy hair. They're supposed to start out with blonde but she came home with puffed-up orange.
Nonna: "Oh, and look at your Nonno. He always got food on the table during the war!"
(Our Nonno was a butcher and was considered the supreme highlight of the family. And that food on the table was the scraps he was stealing from the shop.)
"Mamma mia", it's amazing how an interesting story on Italian food can quickly turn into an issue of hatred and hypocrisy.
By the way, horsemeat makes the best "braciole".
You take the meat, add a lot of garlic and basil, roll it with thread and you put in some nice tomatoes.