Only in Italy is a daily news column that reports funny and weird news on Italy, the mafia, Italian culture and Italian travel.

Only in Italy is a daily news column that reports funny and weird news on Italy, the mafia, Italian culture and Italian travel.

Only In Italy is a daily news column that translates & reports on funny but true news items from legitimate Italian news sources in Italy.
Only in Italy is a daily news column that reports funny and weird news on Italy, the mafia, Italian culture and Italian travel.Only in Italy is a daily news column that reports funny and weird news on Italy, the mafia, Italian culture and Italian travel.
 
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April 2004
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"The Wall Street Mafia"

(04/30/04)

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"Buon Giorno!" Welcome to the only newsletter that openly admits Naples did not invent the pizza, "Only In Italy!"

We would like to sincerely dedicate this part of our newsletter to all our lovely female readers who spend their days hard at work in the kitchen and getting little appreciation from the family.

We appreciate you!

And to show our gratitude to you wonderful women, we have posted some priceless cooking advice from another wonderful woman named 'Ninuzz' who writes to us from Australia. Our "Silvio" bean article inspired her to write to us and we feel we had to share her culinary expertise with you:

Senti, beddu... There is a way to make your beans just a bit less gassy - whether they're red kidney beans or borlotti beans.

You see, when they're soaked overnight in water, supposedly to soften them before cooking, they emit an ingredient called Potassium Oxide which is not dangerous to your health but if you consume it, a gas builds up in your bowel, making it impossible not to break wind after eating the fagioli.

So throw out the water the beans have soaked in and replace it with fresh water. Of course the whole district can still hear you breaking wind, but maybe not as loudly or for a shorter duration. On the other hand, if you don't want to spoil their fun, lascialu stari 'u potassium oxide. Ok gioia? Buon appetitu. Ninuzz

Thanks for your great letter, Ninuzz. We have to also add that there's nothing more boring and ungratifying than eating beans and not be able to let anyone know... you ate beans!

Enjoy the issue, keep writing and Grazie!

Tanti Saluti,              
"Only In Italy" Staff       

 

The Mafia Brings Peace and Profits to Sicily

Palermo - May 11, 2004 - The good news is that the Sicilian Mafia has slashed the rates it charges "clients". The bad news is that it has vastly expanded its client base.

"Pagare tutti, pagare meno", roughly translated as "everybody pays, everybody pays less", is the new slogan Sicilian magistrates and mayors are using to describe what the Mafia is doing these days.

In recent years, a new "Pax Mafiosa" has settled over the island. The Mafia has stopped killing its enemies, police, magistrates, politicians and even its own members.

But like the red Sahara sand that the scirocco wind blows in from Africa, magistrates say the Mafia is still everywhere.

"What the Mafia has been trying to do all these years is to go forward by actually taking a step backwards," said Antonio Ingroia, a magistrate who has investigated the Mafia for years.

Throughout the 1990s the state reeled in a spate of big fish. "Boss of Bosses" Salvatore "The Beast" Riina was arrested in 1993 and his deputy, Leoluca Bagarella, captured in 1995.

Giovanni Brusca, whose specialty was making bombs and dissolving people in acid, was netted in 1996. The list goes on.

Those arrests and others followed national and Sicilian outrage over the killings of top magistrates Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino in 1992 and a spate of bombs in 1993.

Then it all went eerily quiet. The Cosa Nostra changed its business strategy.

"There is a new tactic of keeping a low profile, to avoid the kind of attacks that provoked a reaction from the state," said Alfredo Morvillo, a magistrate whose sister Francesca, also a magistrate, was killed alongside Falcone in 1992.

A KINDER, GENTLER MAFIA?

In interviews, Ingroia, Morvillo and others painted a picture of a Mafia re-asserting its influence in a gentler way.

Libero Grassi, owner of a thriving textile company outside Palermo, was killed in 1991 after he refused to pay a large monthly "pizzo", the Sicilian word for an extortion payment.

The new strategy is to avoid exorbitant rates, such as the ones applied to Grassi's factory, but to cast the protection net much further afield, even to small shopkeepers.

"This gives the Mafia a lot of advantages. Everyone pays so the intake is more or less what is was before. The shopkeeper who does not feel strangled by exorbitant rates finds it more convenient to deal with the Mafia," Ingroia said.

Salvino Caputo, mayor of the city of Monreale, which lies on the edge of Palermo, says that in some cases even relatives of Mafia members pay.

"There's no commercial activity in our area that does not pay extortion, even a small one like 20 euros (13.4 pounds) a month," he said.

The Mafia also makes money through public works contracts but instead of trying directly to influence how they are awarded, it moves in later.

"A 'clean' company wins the contact but then the Mafia 'suggests' where it should buy its cement, where to get the bulldozers, and so it goes," Caputo said.

It's not just money the Mafia is after, magistrates and mayors say. It wants "consensus" to control the territory.

It means the Mafia selling itself as a fact of life, even a benevolent association that helps find a job or fix a problem. This makes it not just a criminal organization but a criminal phenomenon rooted in history and harder to extirpate.

"In our parts it take 10 years to arrest a fugitive and a minute to rebuild a Mafia family," Caputo said.

FROM BRAWN TO BRAINS

The brains behind the Mafia's strategy is Bernardo Provenzano, 70, who assumed control after the arrests of the 1990s.

Police have been on his trail for 40 years. In the last picture police have of him, Provenzano was about 25.

Using computer photo fits of how he may have aged, they have come close to capturing him several times but his ability to elude them has become legendary.

The Provenzano doctrine is defined by no attacks against the state and managing internal dissent through consensus, persuasion and paternal largesse rather than execution.

Riina was a dictator but magistrates paint Provenzano as the head of a directorate, as democratic as a Mafioso can get.

When Mafia bosses today hear on the grapevine that a member is not happy and is considering turning state's evidence, they no longer kill him or his family but send envoys to listen to his complaints and try to keep him in the fold.

Despite the Mafia's lower profile, police have chalked up a string of victories in the fight against organized crime.

According to Interior Ministry figures, in 2003 police investigated 1,254 crimes attributed to organized crime in Italy and arrested 172 fugitives, including three Sicilian Mafiosi on the 30 most-wanted list and two top bosses from mainland gangs.

Two top bosses of the Calabrian 'Ndrangheta crime group were arrested earlier this year.

More than 2,000 properties owned by organized crime groups were frozen or confiscated in 2003 and the government dismissed 12 town councils infiltrated by organized crime.

Still, the Mafia is so ubiquitous in Sicily that Ingroia compares his job to "trying to empty the ocean with a bucket with a hole in it."

"What we need is a global commitment from the state that allows us to eliminate the root causes of why it is that when Mafiosi are arrested they are immediately substituted by someone else," Ingroia said.

"Figli di Puttana!" What fantastic economic news!

Isn't it comforting to read that vicious and bloody criminal organizations have the big hearts to help jumpstart a stalled Italian economy? Who needs lower interest rates?

"They've slashed the rates they charge "clients". Thanks! Italians can now stay in business a couple of months longer.

"They've stopped killing its enemies, police, magistrates, politicians and even its own members." Thanks! Italians can now live a little longer!

"The new strategy is to avoid exorbitant rates but to cast the protection net much further afield, even to small shopkeepers." Thanks! The chickens down at our Uncle Giuseppe's farm can now get the insurance protection they need and deserve.

"They 'suggest' where you should buy cement, where to get the bulldozers, and so it goes." Thanks! Italians can now obtain free business directories filled with trustworthy suppliers where you'll find great deals and discounts.

"The Mafia is selling itself as a fact of life, even a benevolent association that helps find a job or fix a problem." Thanks! No more unemployment lines. The Mafia has put a friendly touch on the words 'head hunters'.

What's left?

Hmmm...How about an IPO? Who wouldn't want to buy a couple of thousand shares of Mafia Corp.?

Let's get back to sanity for a moment. Go back and read this article a second time. Doesn't the Italian government remind you of the Emperor Nero who played the fiddle while Rome burned?


Italy Last Again As the World Recovery Advances

Rome - May 18, 2004 - Euro zone economic growth is to lag behind the rest of the world this year and next, and Italy will have the dubious distinction of bringing up the rear, the OECD says.

Stagnating activity is nonetheless expected to pick up somewhat as world trade increases and consumer confidence recovers from the effects of corporate scandals.

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development forecast the Italian economy would grow by a meager 0.9% this year and by 1.9% in 2005, matched only in its sluggishness by the Netherlands in 2004.

An OECD twice-yearly economic report said inflation would reach 2.2% this year and 2.1% in 2005, surpassed this year only by Greece and Spain.

Italy's public deficit, meanwhile, is forecast to hit 3.1 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) this year and 3.9% next, putting it among roughly a half a dozen countries in breach of the EU's Stability and Growth Pact ceiling of 3.0%.

The report said Italian unemployment should hit 8.6% in 2004 before edging down to 8.5% a year later.

As for 2003 world trade, "the appreciation of the Euro during the year exacerbated the declining trend in Italy's export market share, by significantly more than appears to have been the case in other major Euro area countries," the OECD said.

Now, "low levels of confidence will probably translate into a higher saving ratio, holding back the recovery of consumption."

Italy was rocked last year by several corporate scandals, the biggest of which was the collapse in December of the dairy and food group Parmalat, which had issued billions of euros in bonds that attracted small Italian investors.

On the other hand, "falling government saving and the prospects of a rising government debt ratio would induce further precautionary saving in the private sector, thus slowing down the consumption recovery," the OECD warned.

"Porca puttana" Italy is always 'bringing up the rear' about something all the damn time!

 What a mess! This country's always been in a mess because we have always loved that damn rear! The last improvements were made by Michelangelo and itís been downhill ever since.

Italy, the only country where 3 employees are hired for each public service job; one to do half a job and the other two watch to make sure that he/she doesn't work too hard.

What can the Italians do? This stupid government is taking over the country like cancer takes over the human body. And there is no radiation, no chemotherapy, no kryptonite, nothing is able to stop this rear cancer!

But we really have nothing to fear. The Mafia Corp. is working extra hard to put our economy back on track.

 

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Police Present New Lamborghini Police Car

Rome - May 18, 2004 - Italian drivers who have a penchant for using roads as their personal speedways are about to lose the race.

Italy's state police have been presented with a sleek new addition to their fleet: a Lamborghini Gallardo. It comes with a top speed of 309km/h.

The car is ready for service, fitted with a siren and painted blue and white with the word Polizia (police) stenciled on the side.

Police showed it off at an anniversary celebration in Rome on Friday.

They said the Lamborghini would be used on a highway in southern Italy for emergencies and to transport organs for transplant.

Lamborghini, which is owned by Volkswagen, donated the car.

The six-speed, two-door luxury vehicle can go from zero to 96km/h in four seconds, and has a list price of $165,000 which makes it unlikely that the Italian police force will actually buy any for its fleet.

"Sta minchia!" I agree that this is really going to be a problem, not only for Italian drivers, but for pedestrians too. We'll have to get the hell out of their way before they mow us down.

The Italian police will always be:

- fighting amongst themselves to see who will get the 'babe' mobile (and mind you these are people carrying loaded guns),
- testing the car on every open road to see how far they can push that baby,
- reaching top speeds to get home in time for lunch and to avoid their ziti and sardines from getting cold.

 

Julian - Julius Caesar's cousin
 
 
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