"Che giornata da schifo!" Remember: Get a wife and oxen from your own land. "Only In Italy!"
It's a gorgeous day here in Sicily...but it is still going to suck.
Enjoy the issue, keep writing and Grazie!
Catania - April 29, 2010 - One of Sicily's most powerful crime families ran a funeral scam in which it got nurses and morticians to tell 'connected' firms when bodies would be available, police said Thursday.
The scam was similar to smaller operations which have come to light across Italy in recent years and have been dubbed 'the dear departed' by the media.
Some 18 people including funeral home directors were arrested in this eastern Sicilian city, home to the notorious Santapaola clan.
A cousin of jailed superboss Benedetto Santapaola, Natale D'Emanuele, was among those arrested on charges ranging from bribery to breaking market-competition rules.
D'Emanuele, who is also in prison, ran the scam from his cell, police said.
"Excuse me? Oh, Grazie. I appreciate your recommendation, nurse. But there's a very good chance my mother will survive the appendectomy."
Unfortunately, Italians take their funerals and cemeteries too seriously. And our funerals are among the most expensive in Europe, frequently costing around 2,600 Euros ($3250). Itís also important to obtain personal recommendations from the very few trustworthy relatives and check that the undertaker is not a rat bastard "figlio di puttana" who works for one of the so-called 'connected' firms.
By the way, bodies can be buried in three ways in Italy: in a family tomb, an individual tomb or in a communal burial ground.
Interment in a communal burial ground is free but considered very demeaning by many Italians, as the remains can be exhumed after just ten years and your family, relatives and friends will disparage and criticize you behind your back until the day you wind up underground.
Si, there is a severe shortage of cemeteries in Italy so, there's a chance your remains could wind up thrown in a mass grave with people you never cared for or fought with when you were alive, and your coffin reduced to firewood for wood-burning ovens at the local restaurants.
Embalming isn't usually available because they are many nincompoops who lack the skills. Besides, there's a chance they would probably pull a scam by embalming you with olive oil instead.
Cremation is becoming increasingly popular and that is the way most of us on the news staff would like to go. For our last wish we are going to ask for our ashes to be scattered in the soup pot of jailed superbosses who run these scams.
Union leaders called the strike to protest a government emergency decree concerning the financing of the country's 14 state-supported opera houses, which have 5,500 workers.
The union says benefits will be chopped and the decree also hobbles their ability to bargain properly. Reports say that stipends, which can account for up to 20 per cent of a worker's total salary, would be cut by 50 per cent.
Giancarlo Albori, a La Scala union official, said that an emergency decree was not necessary: "We don't agree with the instrument."
The Accademia Nazionale di Santa Celilia in Rome posted a warning on its website that it has scrapped performances Sunday, Monday and Tuesday because of a strike.
The famed La Scala, in Milan, has already canceled its May 13th premiere of Wagner's Das Reingold.
Barber of Seville: "FIGARO! FIGARO!"
This strike is part of a long-running boring drama involving Italyís main opera houses, which are almost all dependent on government financing and frequently suffer labor stoppages or the threat of them.
The fight bears the asinine hallmarks of Italian life: Powerful blood-sucking unions holding on to long-held privileges, a struggle between local and central control, and seemingly wrongheaded decrees from Rome.
The Italian government provides about $321 million a year for all 14 opera houses. But that's not much more than the Metropolitan Operaís budget in New York. There is no doubt that the protagonists of these houses have the brilliance, passion and talent of people like the late great Pavarotti...but the management of Bozo the Clown.
For example, the 'Teatro Massimo' in Palermo is the largest theatre in Italy (and the third largest opera house in Europe).
In 1974 the house was closed to complete renovations required by updated safety regulations, but the inflated cost over-runs from the Mafia, rat-bastard Sicilian corruption, and meddling from Sicilian politicians who had less knowledge of Opera culture than the vendors in front of the theater selling greasy "panini con la milza" (fried cow spleen sandwiches), all added to the delay and it remained closed for a staggering 23 years and reopened in May of 1997.
The only opera performance taking place at the 'Teatro Massimo' during those 23 years was 'Fantasia' by the local academy of Palermo rats.
Pordenone - April 30, 2010 - An Italian farmer who has been waging a three-year battle to plant genetically modified maize sowed six GM seeds Friday in a challenge to the government and regional authorities.
Giorgio Fidenato, leader of the pro-biotech group 'Federated Farmers' (FF), said he had planted six GM maize seeds "in public soil" in an undisclosed area near the northern city of Pordenone.
Web cams have been set up to stream coverage to the FF web site "so supporters will be able to monitor the progress of the seeds from day to day", he said.
Announcing his action earlier this week, Fidenato said planting GM seeds was "not illegal", accusing the government of "not respecting the law" by banning them.
Last month, the Italian committee tasked with approving seed applications refused to authorize a request filed by the pro-biotech group Futuragra for the addition of a GM maize strain to its register.
"I've been waiting to plant GM crops for three years and have never received a reply to my requests from officials. At this point, since they haven't said no, I take it I can go ahead," said Fidenato.
The northern Italian farmer said he was ready to face trial to press his case.
The issue of GM crops is particularly explosive in Italy. As the second-largest producer of organic crops in Europe and the fourth largest in the world, there is widespread fear of the potential damage resulting from accidental GM contamination.
"Porca di quella troja", this is Italian Farmville gone wacky.
There are a variety of good reasons for developing genetically modified foods in Italy. For instance, some foods can genetically modified to prevent the occurrence of allergies after consumption, while some are developed to improve their shelf life. It is also been said that experts are working on developing Italian foods that have the ability to cure certain contagious diseases such as incompetence, laziness, corruption and stupidity which are widespread in Italy's public work sector.
What are the pros and cons of genetically modified Italian foods?