"Ciao a tutti!" Welcome to another rare politically-correct issue of "Only In Italy!"
Dear Only In Italy,
I read recently where Cefalý, just this year, has finally completed a water network to supply the city with water after 40 years without drinkable water! Amazing, isn't it? Can you confirm this is true? The article did not mention this bright spot on the beautiful island of Sicilia! Grazie! Anne
Thanks for the letter, Anne!
It is true that the drinking water problems in Cefalý and the nearby towns have finally come to an end after 40 years. But no one is cheering yet. If some of the residents are lucky, they'll have water piped into their homes every other day.
In the capital, Palermo, it generally comes in every three days. In the worst-hit areas around Caltanissetta and Enna in central Sicily, or Agrigento in the South-West, supplies of water are piped once every two or three weeks.
Lack of water has led to a war between town and country. Taps are dry in the cities because farmers have siphoned off water from aqueducts to feed their own illegal reservoirs. Dozens of water thieves have been arrested, and the Mafia has been offering water for sale, often drawn from illegal wells of uncertain purity, at extortionate prices.
So, the next time you take a nice long bath or refreshing shower, please think about the Sicilians who have to run down and hop into the Mediterranean Sea just to wash up.
Enjoy the issue, keep writing and Grazie!
Frosinone - May 28, 2004 - A twenty year old living in Frosinone, involved in a car accident three months prior, was accompanied to the casualty ward in the local hospital where doctors had given ten stitches to close a wound close to his left eye.
Despite following a strict prescription, the young man continued to suffer extreme pain in his forehead and was urgently transferred to the S. Andrea Hospital in Rome.
After a thorough examination and with great astonishment, doctors discovered that dozens of tiny fragments of glass and a splinter from the dashboard of his car one centimeter long and half a centimeter wide were still impaled in his face. He was operated on immediately. The family is planning to sue the doctors in Frosinone.
"Grazie!" Our compliments to the brilliant works of Dr. Franco N. Beans.
You can't really blame these doctors. These things can happen especially when Italian doctors examine you through web cams and operate in the ambulance garages of hospitals.
Medical science attempted to take a rational road here. But with Italian doctors, the bridge was out!
Rome - May 28, 2004 - One of the biggest inquiries into marketing practices in the drug industry ended yesterday with Italian police asking for almost 5000 people to be put on trial.
Those facing charges include more than 4000 doctors and at least 273 employees of the British pharmaceuticals giant GlaxoSmithKline.
Some face up to five years in jail if tried and convicted.
Italy's tax police, the Guardia di Finanza, said that GlaxoSmithKline and its predecessor firm had spent 228 million Euros ($A389 million) on "sweeteners" for doctors, chemists and others over four years to 2002.
The alleged bribes ranged from cameras, computers and holidays to cash payments.
The Guardia di Finanza said GlaxoSmithKline "should be held responsible for corporate crime as its managers and other employees acted in the company's interest".
A GlaxoSmithKline spokesman said last night the company had co-operated closely with the authorities. "GSK is committed to ensuring that all its business practices are of the highest standards and any breach of that is unacceptable," he said.
A British-based pharmaceuticals analyst said yesterday that such practices were common among global drug companies. "It goes on all over the world but in parts of Europe these things are absolutely rife," he said. "For example, doctors may be given 'research grants' but there are no limits on how they can spend them."
Italy news agency reproduced what it said was a letter written by a GlaxoSmithKline district manager contained in the 10,000 pages of evidence assembled by the Guardia di Finanza. The letter urged sales representatives to approach specialists directly to get them to prescribe a cancer drug produced by the company. "The initiative can work well with oncologists who have congresses, investments from us... and who have not given us anything in return," the letter said.
Illicit incentives were said to have been disguised in the firm's accounts under the headings of "field selling", "other promotion" and "medical phase IV".
Of the 4713 people from all parts of Italy facing charges, 4440 are doctors. They include more than 2500 family doctors and about 1700 specialists.
The most serious accusations have been leveled at doctors, pharmacists and sales representatives alleged to have been involved in a program intended to promote Hycamtin, a drug used to treat lung and ovarian cancers. In some cases, it is claimed, specialists received a cash payment based on the number of patients treated.
Evidence gathered during the investigation has been passed to the chief prosecutor of the northern Italian city of Verona. He will decide whether to seek indictments from a judge.
Tax police are investigating other drug firms in Rome, Milan and Florence.
"Che bastardi!" Now we can't even trust our local pharmacist any more. That Italian rat
Now, one could walk into an Italian pharmacy to buy simple cold medicine and walk
out with medicine to help the prevention of athlete's foot and testicle cancer.
And you can't get in touch with a doctor for a medical opinion because he'll
be on a 3 week Safari hunt with his lover and pharmaceutical sales rep!
Now, one could walk into an Italian pharmacy to buy simple cold medicine and walk out with medicine to help the prevention of athlete's foot and testicle cancer.
And you can't get in touch with a doctor for a medical opinion because he'll be on a 3 week Safari hunt with his lover and pharmaceutical sales rep!
Rome - May 29, 2004 - Advertising Silvio Berlusconi, Italy's media mogul-turned-premier, has a wealth of nicknames, ranging from the Cavalier and Berluskaiser to the Great Seducer.
Yet another appellative is now being added to this list: Secret Agent Silvio 007.
According to the Italian media, Italy's richest and most powerful man is building a concealed tunnel under La Certosa, his luxurious 2,500-square-meter seaside Sardinian villa.
Starting from a natural sea grotto on the Punta Lada peninsula at the northern end of the Mediterranean island, the tunnel will allow visitors to reach a secret entrance to the property by boat.
This is not merely a rich man's folly, it is pointed out, as La Certosa's regular visitors include the likes of Russian President Vladimir Putin and former Spanish Premier Jose Maria Aznar.
"Like in The Spy Who Loved Me, he will reach the heart of the mountain by submarine. Or perhaps, in case of danger, by swimming underwater and slipping out of his wet suit in the elevator that takes him up to his villa," joked Italy reporters.
While most may tend to view Berlusconi's "secret tunnel" as being a rather inconsequential affair, the addition has infuriated environmentalists and opposition lawmakers.
They point out that it is being built in a naturally beautiful area which is also state property. Technically, Berlusconi should seek permission from planning agencies, but according to Italian news agencies, local officials deny any knowledge of the tunnel construction.
Opposition lawmakers recently asked parliament to investigate, but Paolo Bonaiuti, Berlusconi's spokesman, told them it was merely "an improvement to a private property."
Local magistrates have also opened an enquiry, news agencies reported, but the probe had to be abandoned on May 7 when the Public Works Ministry introduced a decree saying the tunnel work was "classified" for security reasons.
This move has reinforced speculation that Berlusconi may be planning to invite another close ally, US President George W. Bush, to La Certosa.
Underlining the project's secretive nature, a local opposition senator, Gianni Nieddu, recently attempted to approach the scaffolding and pontoons by boat, but was promptly identified and turned away by police who cited "national security" reasons, reporters said on Thursday.
Berlusconi bought the 27-room villa, which overlooks the crystal-clear waters of one of the Mediterranean's most beautiful bays, some 20 years ago, when he was still a businessman.
A year later, he annexed the nearby Villa Stephanie, bought from a Lebanese businessman for US$1.6 million.
Berlusconi has been using the setting for a new style of informal diplomacy with world leaders.
Ahead of Putin's last visit to the villa, in August 2003, Berlusconi created an exotic new cactus garden in its grounds and invited star tenor Andrea Bocelli for a sing-along.
He is now also building a granite replica of a Greek amphitheater, photos of which were published by local newspapers on Thursday.
"Mamma mia!" Italian life
is a prom and Silvio's the queen!
Hmmm...After he resolves his own personal security problems, we're sure he'll move
to more important issues like how difficult it is to keep a pair of socks
together. Why do we always lose one?
You build a secret tunnel to your home, an exotic cactus garden, a
Greek amphitheater, you invite Bush, Aznar, Putin and hire a star tenor for
a sing-along. Something is not kosher with this picture...
Hmmm...After he resolves his own personal security problems, we're sure he'll move to more important issues like how difficult it is to keep a pair of socks together. Why do we always lose one?
You build a secret tunnel to your home, an exotic cactus garden, a Greek amphitheater, you invite Bush, Aznar, Putin and hire a star tenor for a sing-along. Something is not kosher with this picture...