"A closed mouth catches no flies." ("Si", another very useful proverb that has kept many Italian marriages happy.)
"Hey, ciao..." We were just listening to the great Pavarotti and reflecting. Did he enjoy more singing or eating? That's a tough one.
Enjoy the issue, keep writing and Grazie!
Naples - March 30, 2012 - Italian police discovered a life-size porcelain bust of Al Pacino as Cuban drugs lord ‘Scarface’ during a raid on the home of a suspected mafia drugs boss outside Naples.
Police stumbled upon the bust at the home of 34-year old Carlo Padovani, who was arrested along with more than 30 other people, including eight women, suspected of dealing drugs in Boscoreale, on the slopes of Mount Vesuvius.
Padovani, who is believed to be linked to three Camorra mafia clans operating in the area, reportedly ordered the bust from a local ceramic dealer. It is said to be worth around 1,000 euros ($1,330).
Despite being initially arrested in July last year, police said Padovani managed to carry on running his drugs empire from his home where had been placed under house arrest.
Rosario Cantelmo, a senior prosecutor, told reporters that Padovani’s cocaine-dealing operation was organized on "an industrial scale," and provided jobs for entire families.
Adult drug dealers, some of them women with husbands in prison for mafia-related crimes, earned 400 euros ($530) a week as well as a bonus of 10 percent of the value of every deal done.
Children as young as six received a weekly wage of around 200 euros ($265) to act as lookouts.
As you may already be aware, we have a perverse love for criticizing the Wonderful World of Naples and its sensational and crafty inhabitants. They are like no other.
You have to understand the drug correlation has little to do with the fascination many Napolitani have with Tony Montana. It's much deeper...
1) Napolitani know very well they don't need to be born in Rome, Milan or Florence to make it to the top. You can grow up in a household where Darwin's theory of evolution jumps off the roof, have no money, and no skills...but you're free to decide at any point to not let it hold you back.
2) Using nothing but Naples street smarts and determination, like Tony Montana, Carlo the Napolitano achieved his vision of the American dream. He had money, power, respect and a bust of his favorite idol that looks nothing like Pacino. Everything he always wanted from the comfort of his home...where he was held under temporary house arrest!
3) Unlike Tony, Carlo listened to Frank. He didn't get obsessed about that ricotta pie in the sky. Stay focused and don't get greedy, and you'll win in the long run. What we want to know is, "porca di quella troia", how do you convince six-year-olds to get on the payroll?!
4) All a Napolitano has in this world is his "coglioni" and his word. He doesn't break them for anyone. He lives by his own code of ethics. Most of you who know any Napolitani are aware they will tell you anything with pure conviction. So much so you believe them every single time. Most of the members of this news staff have been living in Italy for 15 years...and we still helplessly fall for the "cazzate" that come out of their mouths.
Rome - March 30, 2012 - Italy is plagued by nepotism, legal gaps and institutional deficiencies that prevent the country from getting serious about fighting corruption, according to a new report.
The country needs an independent anti-corruption watchdog to hold the country’s politicians, public officials and institutions accountable, according to the report, released by Transparency International Italy.
Italy ranked 69 out of 183 countries on the transparency group’s Corruption Perceptions Index, the worst among EU countries. Most recently, the country has been rocked by the corruption scandal of former Italian premier Silvio Berlusconi. Only 5% of Italians say corruption is declining, according to a recent TI survey.
"In recent years, Italy’s leaders have not done half as much as they should have to fight corruption," Maria Teresa Brassiolo, head of Transparency International Italy, said in a news release.
"Their failure to act has left systems of accountability and control of public spending weak and expensive, leading to enormous waste. We see examples of this on an almost daily basis and it can no longer be accepted."
The survey, which evaluated the effectiveness of Italy’s politics, public service and businesses and anti-corruption enforcement, also recommended specific codes of conduct for members of Parliament and an end to Parliamentary immunity from prosecution.
The report also called for stiffer sanctions for corruption convictions and public education programs on anti-corruption. A recent EU survey found that 89% of Italians think sanctions for corruption are currently too weak.
TI warned that the institutional problems were partially responsible for the country’s economic crisis, due to mismanagement of resources.
Hmmm...we trying to understand where Transparency International is going with this. Corruption in Italy? You never hear about such things.
- Another report shows that criminal tension is rampant in Palermo...and there is a rumor that the water in Venice is dirty too.
- There recently was a 2 million Euro report that discovered that some of the buses in Rome are crowded. (We think it was the same agency that found criminal tension in dirty water.)
- The 5% of Italians that say corruption is declining cannot be considered credible due to the high probability their ears are clogged with olive oil.
- During the May 2007 Town Hall elections of Palermo, 110 city bus drivers were hired...and not one of the 110 had a license to drive a bus. However, a town hall assessor played down the bewilderment and so-called corruption by stating, "Don't worry, they'll learn." (See? You can't be more transparent than that.)
- There are 167,000 school janitors in Italy...50,000 more than police officers. Our anticorruption watchdog was outside on the stoop, fast asleep in the sun when some public officials pulled this one off. (By the way, they want to be addressed as "scholastic collaborators", not janitors. We apologize for that.)
"(Italy's leaders) Their failure to act has left systems of accountability and control of public spending weak and expensive, leading to enormous waste." Which is why this failure gives rise to the argument: Why are we separated by the animals?
"The report also called for stiffer sanctions for corruption convictions and public education programs on anti-corruption." Thank you very much, Transparency International, for the report and song and dance. It would be easier to wrestle a wild boar to save a vegetable crop.
Rome - March 30, 2012 - First it was the death of the pope tweeted to the world from a Twitter account that belonged to the Holy Father's number two. Later came tweets announcing the deaths of Fidel Castro and Pedro Almodóvar.
The tweets flew around the world of social media. All, however, were hoaxes, the work of Tommaso De Benedetti, one of the world's most creative and successful fake tweeters.
"Twitter works well for deaths," said De Benedetti, speaking for the first time about his desire to expose how unreliable social media can be as a news source.
A Rome schoolteacher, De Benedetti, 43, defines himself as a "normal person". But in the Twitter world he has recently played the parts of Afghan president Hamid Karzai, a Spanish minister and Syrian president Bashar al-Assad.
"Social media is the most unverifiable information source in the world but the news media believes it because of its need for speed," he said. False tweeting is a growth industry, and despite Twitter's placing of a blue tick on the verified accounts of the famous, users continue to trip up. In January even Twitter was fooled into briefly verifying tweets claiming to be by Wendy Deng, Rupert Murdoch's wife, in which she flirted with comic Ricky Gervais.
De Benedetti has form dating back to his days fooling Italian newspapers into publishing his fake interviews with writers, often American, including John Grisham, Arthur Miller, Gore Vidal, Toni Morrison, Derek Walcott and Philip Roth. His game was disrupted when a journalist asked Roth in 2010 about criticisms he had leveled at Barack Obama in the Italian newspaper Libero. The writer denied giving the interview.
De Benedetti denied he was a simple hoaxer fooling papers for money. "I wanted to see how weak the media was in Italy," he said, claiming he was only paid between 20 and 40 Euros for an interview. "The Italian press never checks anything, especially if it is close to their political line, which is why the right wing paper Libero liked Roth's attacks on Obama." Half the time, he added, he suspected editors knew he was peddling made-up interviews, but took them anyway.
After he was exposed, De Benedetti turned to the internet, writing an email to the International Herald Tribune criticizing the Libya war and signing it Umberto Eco. "I phoned the Tribune after they published it to let them know," he said.
Next he faked an email from Mexican writer Paco Ignacio Taibo to the Italian bishops' conference newspaper Avvenire, in which he praised the pope. Avvenire splashed it on the front page.
His first Twitter venture was an account in the name of Swedish writer Henning Mankell. "Mankell denied it after Swedish papers started quoting it," De Benedetti said. A fake feed he set up for Italian prime minister Mario Monti was followed by the French president, Nicolas Sarkozy. De Benedetti's account for Hamid Karzai drew a denial from the Afghan leader, while his fake tweets from Assad denying the veracity of leaked emails were briefly picked up by an English newspaper.
A fake announcement of the pope's death by the Vatican's number two, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, was followed by reports in another false feed of the death of Pedro Almodóvar, prompting a tweet from a newspaper's world account saying that the rumor was being looked into. Through two accounts, De Benedetti announced the death of Fidel Castro.
De Benedetti has used a fake account for Cristóbal Montoro, Spain's hapless finance minister, as a vehicle for numerous announcements. "Montoro has repeated that the account is not real but 3,000 people still follow it," he said. "On Facebook you are limited by access to 'friends', but on Twitter you can be sure people will follow you and it is being used as a real-time source of information without checks."
And for the cherry on the cake, De Benedetti clicks on the fake Twitter account he has created for Kim Jong-un, the leader of North Korea, and slips in a photo of Indian politician Sonia Gandhi. "I can just change the profile with Gandhi's details and all the followers of my fake Jong-un feed become followers of my fake Gandhi feed," he said. "It's so easy."
Since we have had several thousand years of practice at recognizing BS artists, you'd think we'd get pretty good at spotting them. Take this example:
During a company conference and in a bid to boost motivation, Luca Luciani, a top manager of Telecom Italia Mobile services, told 300 managers in a colorful, aggressive language to take Napoleon as their role model, in particular his impressive performance at the 1815 Battle of Waterloo.
"Everybody thought Napoleon had had it, beaten by the supremacy of his adversaries. He had five great nations against him...but with strategy, clear ideas, determination and strength, Napoleon made Waterloo his masterpiece".
Luciani concluded by telling his managers: "Go ahead and score like Napoleon at Waterloo".
An incredibly inspirational video, wasn't it? You could almost swear it was Martin Luther King Jr preaching in Italian.
Now, we might not know a lot in this Italian world (most of us on the staff graduated from Pizza University with honors), but wasn't Napoleon definitively defeated at Waterloo and exiled to the island of St. Helena where he died in 1821?
AH, "cazzarola", we fell for it!