"Buona sera" Welcome to the only newsletter that dares you to tell a Palermitano, "he who works by himself does the work of three", and see what reaction you'll get. "Only In Italy!"
All of us the news office wish all our loyal subscribers a healthy and fun summer season!
Enjoy the issue, keep writing and Grazie!
Rome - April 23, 2008 - Italian voters could have their reasons for returning to office the perma-tanned, long-in-the-bleached-tooth Silvio Berlusconi, but they might have given some thought to the rest of us. Now that Berlusconi is again leader of a G8 country, his thoughts and pronouncements are once more inflicted on an undeserving public, us.
Berlusconi is a man who glories in meaningless agitation. Not satisfied, it seems, to have fielded a team that included a dancer from one of his television networks and a fascist, publisher Giuseppe Ciarrapico, Berlusconi announced that right-wing women are "definitely more beautiful" than leftist women.
Where the correct response would have been to ignore this, Russian President Vladimir Putin waded right in. Putin, previously seen posing semi-nude with a fishing pole, replied that he personally thinks that Russian women are "the most talented and beautiful" in the world, adding in what one assumes he thought was a spirit of chivalry, that "if anyone can compete, it may be only Italian women."
Unfortunately, ridiculous as these men are, they are part of a ruling elite. When they talk, it's reported. What they say takes on automatic currency, maybe not everywhere, but there are still people who will take comfort from this nonsense.
When Spain's prime minister, Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, appointed a majority female cabinet, Berlusconi made an issue of it. Zapatero "has formed a government that is too pink," the 71-year-old Berlusconi said. "That's something we cannot do because there is a prevalence of men in politics and it isn't easy to find women who are qualified for government. Now he's asked for it. He'll have problems leading them."
In 2008, a majority of women in a government cabinet is long overdue. It is not a cause for concern, or grounds to sneer.
Berlusconi's pointless provocation nonetheless succeeded in putting the women in the Spanish cabinet on the defensive. Magdalena Alvarez, Spain's infrastructure minister, said Berlusconi's statements were offensive.
"Many of us women would never belong to a government headed by Mr. Berlusconi," she was quoted as saying.
With attention diverted to the question of whether women should be in politics at all, it gets harder to focus on the real issue, which, in Italy, is their virtual absence. Italian women made up just over 15 per cent of the country's MPs in 2006; Spain at the same time had more than double that proportion of female parliamentarians; 36 per cent.
Now it's too pink? Berlusconi is not unaware that Zapatero made him look bad by appointing a majority female cabinet. Berlusconi now has promised to appoint four women to his 12-member cabinet.
Unlike in Spain, however, where a seven-months pregnant Carme Chacon is defense minister, the Italian women are expected to be placed in less prestigious ministries. According to news reports, Mara Carfagna, a Miss Italy finalist, might be given the equal-opportunities portfolio, a suitably female concern.
Italy lags behind the European average of 21 per cent female representation, figures from the Inter-Parliamentary Union show. Few countries in the world can boast anything like equality in their elected legislatures. In Sweden, women make up 47.3 per cent of national legislators; in Canada, they account for only 21.7 per cent.
If Berlusconi were really the last gasp of unreconstructed male chauvinism, his musings on the place of beauty in elected legislatures could be passed off as a local, self-inflicted problem.
But he isn't. Berlusconi's words still resonate. They create mischief, and harm. The question is out there: Must women be beautiful and stylish to earn the right to appear in public?
Women can say no. But let's at least identify the effort for what it is: A way of trying to keep women from power.Here's a man who could balance the budget if he wasn't too busy making moronic statements and picking his nose.
Unfortunately, the poor showing of women in Italian politics is hardly surprising given how they fare in other aspects of life.
- Employment among Italian women stands at just 45 percent, among the lowest within the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.
- According to the yearly "Women to Watch" ranking published by the Wall Street Journal, an Italian did not appear in the list of the top 50 women in world politics, economics and culture, despite Italy being one of the G8 nations.
- On Italian television, bikini-clad brainless women sell everything from mobile phones to ice cream and skimpily-clad and well-endowed showgirls appear on talk shows, sometimes with idiotic and raunchy dance numbers.
- A 2006 study was realized by the Italian Association of Pediatrics (Sip) interviewing 1,251 children among 12 and 14 years old. When asked what they wanted to be when grown up, young girls had no doubts: their dream is to be a velina (a barely speaking/barely dressed stupid television showgirl). That was the most popular answer, followed by an embarrassing "I don't know".
- During an election rally, Silvio Berlusconi won an applause from a crowd of flag-waving Italian women when he urged them to cook for his party's candidates. "Cook for our party's representatives and make the sustenance as sweet as possible."
Bari - April 23, 2008 - Police on Wednesday arrested 33 people in connection with a probe involving organized crime, funeral parlors and mortuary staff at local hospitals and private clinics here in southeast Italy.
Code-named Operation "Dearly Departed", the investigation uncovered a criminal organization which demanded kickbacks of 100 euros from funeral parlors not connected with organized crime which brought home patients who died in hospital.
Hospital staff who found 'clients' for funeral parlors connected with the mob received payoffs of between 300 and 650 euros, depending on the arrangements made by the families of the deceased.
The investigation began in 2006 and evidence gathered by police included tapes of thinly veiled threats made to mortuary staff at the Di Venere Hospital here by local crime boss Antonio Di Cosola. The staff were called outside the hospital on a pretext and found themselves confronted by Di Cosola and some of his thugs.
The Mafioso told them that they had to respect the laws of the 'family' and pass all funeral business to a parlor run by Rosa Porcelli.
Di Cosola, Porcelli and her husband Pellegrino Labellarte were all taken into custody on Wednesday on extortion and other charges, including criminal association.It never ends...even after you're dead.
You have to admit the Mafia has some pair of 'coglioni'.
Do you remember the good ol' days when you were confident a hospital staff would do everything possible to give you or your loved ones all the best health care available? Now, you can't even trust these rat bastards.
You're better off taking your dearly departed straight home from the hospital and burying them in the yard.
British engineer Fraser Dunn, 29, was left shaken and more than a little stirred after the 134,000 GB pound Aston Martin DBS slid off the road and plunged into Lake Garda in northern Italy, where filming is taking place on the new Bond movie Quantum of Solace.
He was knocked out, but regained consciousness still in the car at a depth of 150 feet and managed to swim to the surface.
Now local police have said he has been given a mandatory fine for dangerous driving.
Local police chief Marco Zucchelli said: "This is a standard fine for dangerous driving because the driver lost control of the car."
Dunn, who is from Leamington Spa, was left with just minor injuries after the accident.
"I was very, very lucky," he said. "I do feel lucky to be alive because I was knocked out by the force of the impact and when I came to the car was at the bottom of the lake. I have been told it was 150 feet down.
"The whole thing was a bit James Bond like. I just kicked out of the car and swam to the surface - my lungs felt as if they were going to explode and my chest still hurts now.
"Apart from a few bruises, though, I am fine. It's actually very embarrassing and I'd like to try and forget the whole thing."
Italy...the world has had enough.
"My name is Bond, James Bond."
Local police chief Marco Zucchelli said: "This is a standard fine for dangerous driving because the driver lost control of the car." How could police chief "M", promoted to the top of his incapacity, actually think it was the stunt driver's intention to recklessly drive an expensive car into the lake?
"Cazzo", Goldfinger would have been more sympathetic!
Then you're forced to go down to the labyrinths of the police station where you attempt to battle the evil forces of Italian bureaucracy. There you'll find the lethargic and indifferent eggplant version of Miss Moneypenny explaining to you that you should consider yourself lucky you were not fined for not wearing a seatbelt and failing to signal the right turn into the lake.
"Do you expect me to sign autographs?"