"Buon giorno, cari studenti!" Welcome to the only newsletter that cannot explain why politics make strange bedfellows, "Only In Italy!"
And without further delay...
Enjoy the issue, keep writing and Grazie!
Reggio Calabria - April 8, 2010 - An 'Ndrangheta boss dubbed the 'Narco Prince' for running the Calabrian mafia's huge cocaine traffic with Colombia has escaped while receiving medical treatment for the second time in 11 years.
Roberto Pannunzi, 64, was in a Rome clinic after receiving temporary release on a 16-year trafficking sentence to be treated for a heart condition.
Although he had been under Italy's toughest prison regime while in jail, he was not under guard in the clinic.
His disappearance was discovered during a routine check three weeks ago, a local news agency reported.
Pannunzi first escaped while receiving treatment in 1999 but was caught in Madrid in 2004.
Italian police say he was the most important drug chief in 'Ndrangheta, whose control of the European cocaine trade has helped them overtake Cosa Nostra as Italy's richest mafia.
When he was first arrested in Medellin in 1994, Pannunzi offered agents a million dollars in cash to let him go.
"Oh, porca di quella vacca, again?!" We wonder if the police had the chance to give him a bouquet of flowers and 'get well soon' card before he sashayed out the front door.
We know what your thoughts are and we'll try to illustrate to you what went wrong (just as soon as you finish laughing)...
1.) How does a top drug chief whose organization now controls the European cocaine trade get a 16 year sentence? (Most countries would give you a 16 year sentence for armed robbery in an egg farm while holding several chickens hostage. Something went wrong.)
2.) Does such a dangerous criminal deserve medical treatment for a heart condition? (You can tell by his lovely photo that before being arrested twice his healthy daily diet consisted of ricotta, mozzarella, fried baccala, lasagna and homemade wine. For treatment he should have been reduced to eating raw fruits and vegetables usually found in dumpsters in the back of Chinese restaurants and washing it down with rain water. Once again, something went wrong.)
3.) Why wasn't he under guard in the clinic? (The clinic should have had an overmanned and overgunned police force present that patients would have had their bed pans checked for hidden drugs and explosives. And Roberto should have been operated while being handcuffed to the surgery table. "'Fanculo", something went wrong.)
4.) Obviously, someone was paid at the clinic to let him go. Who? (Either he left of his own will or he purchased 100,000 Euros worth of anesthesia and had the anesthesiologists gas the entire building. "PORCA DI QUELLA VACCA, SOMETHING WENT WRONG!)
Naples - April 8, 2010 - Italian police on Thursday seized 700 million euros of assets from the Camorra in what Interior Minister Roberto Maroni said was the largest assets seizure from a mafia group ever.
The assets taken from the Casalesi clan near Naples included apartments, farms, land and firms including a plant that once belonged to the Cirio food giant.
They were seized from the heirs of Dante Passarelli, a Casalesi associate who died in a mysterious accident in 2004 while on trial with the then top bosses in the clan. Italian President Giorgio Napolitano, Premier Silvio Berlusconi, Justice Minister Angelino Alfano and Maroni all hailed the operation as hitting the mafia where it hurts.
Maroni, who has made assets seizures the linchpin of a new anti-mafia plan, said "today is a day for all honest people to celebrate" and estimated the full worth of the seizures could run as high as two billion euros.
The National Anti-Mafia Directorate said the Casalesis had been brought so low financially they were "finding it hard to pay their members".
The Carabinieri said "the clan's treasure chest has been seized".
The Casalesis' criminal empire was spotlighted in Roberto Saviano's 2006 bestseller Gomorrah, later made into a successful film of the same name. The journalist and writer has been under round-the-clock police protection after receiving death threats from jailed Casalesi chieftains.
700 million euros ($930 million) seized...we're confused.
Questions: 1.) How did it get so bad in Naples that Italian police were able to seize such a gargantuan "treasure chest"?
I think we've mentioned 167 times before that there is no law in the land of Naples. It's 'Dodge City' with bad Napolitano music. "Figli di cornuti", police cannot wait until massive Mafia fortunes are built before moving in!
"Cazzo", we're not safe anywhere in Naples!
It's not even safe for Tarzan!
"Oh, look! Who’s that running out of town?! Why, it’s Tarzan!"
"The assets taken from the Casalesi clan near Naples included apartments, farms, land and firms including a plant that once belonged to the Cirio food giant." By the way, Cirio is Italy's favorite tomato products producer (ex. sauce). Rest assured, a tomato is the last thing you would see within a 30 km radius of that food plant.
There's a better chance they would use that plant to produce faulty ice blocks for igloos and sell them to Eskimos rather than marinara sauce for our linguini!
Rome - April 8, 2010 - The number of first marriages in Italy has almost halved in the past 35 years while second marriages have more than doubled, according to a report from Istat issued on Thursday.
According to the national statistics bureau, the tendency of Italians to set up households outside of wedlock was also confirmed by the fact that 20% of births in Italy in 2008 were to unmarried couples.
Looking at the period from 1972 to 2008, Istat also found that Italians are getting married at a later age, a growing number were opting for civil rather than religious unions and mixed marriages between Italians and foreigners have rocketed.
The Istat report alarmed Undersecretary Carlo Giovanardi, who holds the portfolio for the family, according to whom the trend meant Italy risked "having no future" and faced "social disintegration".
"Italy is a nation based on matrimony, be it religious or civil, and this is a great social asset. However, the decline in marriages, together with that of the birth rate, among the lowest in the world, and the rise in the number of immigrants will set the stage for social disintegration," Giovanardi warned.
Italy risked having no future, he explained, because "without marriage there is lower potential for stability, which is essential for children".
According to the undersecretary, Italians are also opting not to get married for economic reasons, the high cost of raising a family, for which much could be done to grant greater tax deductions for low-income families.
The rise in the number of second marriages, however, was a positive trend, Giovanardi said. In 1972, there were 419,000 registered marriages in Italy, or 7.7 per 1,000 residents, while in 2008 there were 246,413 marriages, four per 1,000 residents.
The decline was primarily for first-time marriages, Istat observed, because those involving divorced or widowed people rose from 6.5% of the total in 1972 to 13.8% in 2008.
First-time marriages represented 93.5% of the total in 1972 but only 86.2% in 2008, Istat said.
In second-time marriages, 92.1% were between couples in which at least one partner was divorced. The average age for the groom was 48 if he was divorced and 61 if widowed, while for the bride it was respectively 43 and 48.
The average age in first marriages in 2008 was 33 for the groom and 30 for the bride, six years more than it was in 1972.
Over one third of marriages in 2008, 36.7%, were non-religious compared to 20% 15 years earlier, with highs of over 48% in northern Italy and lows of 20% in the south.
In 1995, Istat said, 4.8% of marriages in Italy involved a non-Italian while in 2008 mixed marriages in northern and central Italy were more than 20% of the total, while in the south they were 8.1%.
In most cases the groom in mixed couples was an Italian who in 13.6% of cases married a Romanian, 10.6% a Ukrainian and 9.6% a Brazilian.
Italian women marrying foreigners for the most part chose a North African, in 22.2% of cases a Moroccan, 7.6% a Tunisian and 6.1% an Egyptian.
"Si si, bella! I am listening to you! Your speech is sensational. Keep talking while I lower my head and listen to the fan whirring in my car engine."
Without rambling about dubious references to two famous nitwits, Romeo and Juliet, Italy is a country where people love to love a little too much. Italians are fascinated about all that there is to be enjoyed in life. Sex and romance are near the top of the list of the fine things, just below a good lasagna.
While Italians respect the sacred institution of marriage, we're famously one of the least faithful nationalities in the universe ('yawn'...shocking).
The Italian Woman:
- They are perhaps the most enchanting of all the Latina beauties with a lust for life, a wonderful figure, and dreamy, offset eyes that could compel you to walking into oncoming traffic when you meet their gaze.
- Believe it or not, Italian women are the most talkative yentas in the world (45,000 words a day, give or take, 20,000 words) and the infernal tsunami of sentences, gestures and gabby expressions make them a godforsaken weight to be reckoned with.
- History claims that many Italian women become quickly cynical and disillusioned with love after a lifetime of dealing with the meaningless, feeble, and incompetent Italian man.
The Meaningless Italian Man:
- Is there anyone more charismatic than the Italian man? Smooth-talking, well-dressed and overflowed self-assured sex appeal? Unfortunately, not according to many Italian women.
- To the naive female world outside Italy, we like to appear as the very essence of sophistication and charm. To those who know us best we're a rather pathetic bunch of half-witted jackasses.
- The average Italian guy won't let an attractive single woman pass him without saying something slightly improper and questionable.