PDA

View Full Version : Silvio Berlusconi- King of Italy, Right Wing Pustule



Pages : [1] 2 3 4 5

MidtownGuy
July 13th, 2009, 12:25 AM
Since he's in the news so much and will probably be re-elected by Italians several more times, this walking scandal merits his own thread.
---

'Sultan' Berlusconi often had orgies, Italian daily alleges
Monday, July 13, 2009

PADDY AGNEW in Rome

IF ITALIAN prime minister Silvio Berlusconi thought the widely acknowledged success (at least from an organisational and mass-media viewpoint) of last week’s G8 summit in the earthquake-devastated town of L’Aquila was about to earn him a sustained respite from his domestic critics, he might have to think again.

In the run-up to the summit, Mr Berlusconi’s involvement in the “Barigate” sex scandal prompted criticism not just from opposition figures and (some) Italian newspapers, but also from foreign dailies such as the Financial Times, New York Times and El País .

But in the wake of the G8 summit, Mr Berlusconi’s critics were forced to concede that things had, by and large, gone well in L’Aquila and that the prime minister had, in the words of the Financial Times, trod “the path from playboy to statesman”.

A large part of the “success” of L’Aquila was not so much what happened as what did not happen. There were no further earthquakes, of either the literal, earth-shaking sort or the metaphorical kind, prompted by new revelations linked to “Barigate”.

In the end, too, such was the “tone” established by the prime minister in his news conferences that he avoided having to face awkward questions about his much-discussed private life.

With the L’Aquila G8 now history, however, one of Mr Berlusconi’s most persistent critics, La Repubblica newspaper, returned to “Barigate” yesterday, so-called because the investigation is based in Bari. Reporting that investigators have questioned 19 women who, for a fee, attended parties at the prime minister’s private residences, the Rome-based daily accused Mr Berlusconi of being a “sultan” for whom orgies were systematically organised.

“In the summer of 2008, Berlusconi’s sexual addiction became compulsive. He would phone Tarantini [the health contractor at the centre of the Bari investigation] 10 times in the same day asking him to organise the ‘girls’ for that evening, with only a few hours’ warning,” La Repubblica reports.

The newspaper goes on to suggest that the parties in Mr Berlusconi’s residences often ended in sessions of group sex.

Patrizia D’Addario, the Bari-based call girl who claims she slept with Mr Berlusconi on the night of the US presidential election count last November, is reported as having refused to spend the night in his Rome residence on an earlier occasion because she believed the evening was destined to end in a group sex session.

La Repubblica continues: “What emerges from the Bari investigation is a clearly defined picture, namely that, around the prime minister, there is a very discreet yet at the same time reckless organisation which supplies the ‘Sultan’ with prostitutes for his evenings of orgies.

“The behaviour of the head of government is in total contradiction with those values [God and family] which he proclaims in public and with those laws which he wants to promote in parliament [severe punishments for those who organise prostitution and for those who have sex with prostitutes].”

Opposition figure Antonio Di Pietro, leader of the Italy of Values party, said yesterday: “We find nothing civil, correct or constructive in the behaviour of this government and . . . will continue to oppose it.”

This article appears in the print edition of the Irish Timeshttp://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/world/2009/0713/1224250543288.html

Fabrizio
July 13th, 2009, 01:57 PM
Right Wing Pustule?

Now wait a minute... a Pustule maybe... but I thought Right Wing is someone who :

- is against Socialized medicine.

- is against a Socialized safety-net of state benefits.

- settles international disputes by starting war.

- is for state executions.

- is for a state ban on abortion or new restrictions.

- is against free or subsidized college tuition.

- is for unencumbered gun ownership.

- is for unhinged free-market capitalism.

And so on.... I thought that was "right wing".

I highly doubt that Italians would vote such a person into office.

--

MidtownGuy
July 13th, 2009, 02:37 PM
Many of those things are not necessarily meant by the term "right wing". Yes he's considered right wing by any basic and customary definition of the term.

right wing - those who support political or social or economic conservatism
http://www.thefreedictionary.com/right+wing

"In politics, right-wing, political right, rightist and the Right are terms applied to positions that focus on preserving traditional or cultural values and customs and maintaining some form of social hierarchy or private property.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Right-wing_politics

Nothing about guns and tuition and all of that. You paint things in Texas terms and the context here is Europe. We all know what the phrase means in basic terms, without having to indulge you in a pointless debate that already seems headed towards "let's make this about America again".:rolleyes:

Alonzo-ny
July 13th, 2009, 02:46 PM
Lets not have another of these extended back and forths.

lofter1
July 13th, 2009, 03:03 PM
He's no more right wing than Nero.

(Is a three-way OK?)

Ninjahedge
July 13th, 2009, 03:58 PM
He's no more right wing than Nero.

(Is a three-way OK?)

For him?


Maybe if he was taking it easy or something.........

lofter1
July 13th, 2009, 04:13 PM
Some folks just love Silvio ...

http://rlv.zcache.com/idiot_silvio_berlusconi_tshirt-p235010246589127816qw9y_400.jpg

Fabrizio
July 13th, 2009, 05:05 PM
^ LOL, you know nothing about fashion.

That's from Fall-Winter 2004.

Spring-Summer 2009 is updated with hair transplants and botox.

---


You paint things in Texas terms and the context here is Europe.

And in the next breath he says:


....without having to indulge you in a pointless debate that already seems headed towards "let's make this about America again".

LOL. And so who is the one in this thread to mention America? And make a comparison?

You.

--

MidtownGuy
July 13th, 2009, 05:50 PM
No, YOU made the implicit comparison with your idiot laundry list.
What were you referring to with your little list of supposedly "right wing" characteristics, if not America? We know where you were headed and what you were implying, so don't be disingenuous. We've seen it all before from you.

Fabrizio
July 13th, 2009, 05:58 PM
BTW: on my monitor your hair has a blue tinge.

Combine that with a Berlusconi tee-shirt and you're all set.

Of course after a few washings Berlusconi fades away.

But "IDIOT" remains.

MidtownGuy
July 13th, 2009, 06:03 PM
In that case it's a perfect compliment to Silvio Berlusconi's orange skin.

Oh, you've edited your post now to include more insults. Not insulting enough before?

Why not show us a picture of yourself?

Fabrizio
July 13th, 2009, 06:17 PM
In that case it's a perfect compliment to Silvio Berlusconi's orange skin.

Dream on... he has enough girls to keep him busy.

MidtownGuy
July 13th, 2009, 06:24 PM
As long as he keeps the cash and butterfly jewelry flowing to them, you mean.
What a pathetic old goat, and self deluded too if he thinks he would ever attract more than flies were it otherwise.

MidtownGuy
July 13th, 2009, 06:31 PM
Curiosity leads me to ask... did you, Fabrizio, vote for Silvio Berlusconi?

Oh, and we're still waiting for a picture of you.

Fabrizio
July 13th, 2009, 06:34 PM
As long as he keeps the cash and butterfly jewelry flowing to them, you mean.
What a pathetic old goat, and self deluded too if he thinks he would ever attract more than flies were it otherwise.


Yeah...what a self-deluded pathetic old goat billionare / real estate tycoon / ACMilan owning / media mogol /Prime Minister of the world's 7th largest economy.... I guess he doesn't realize the joke's on him.

MidtownGuy
July 13th, 2009, 06:36 PM
I see that you're all on his d*ck, so did you vote for him?

Fabrizio
July 13th, 2009, 06:40 PM
And again he asks:




Oh, and we're still waiting for a picture of you.

---


I see that you're all on his d*ck, so did you vote for him?

(guys, he's making me nervous...)

Alonzo-ny
July 13th, 2009, 06:44 PM
Lets keep it civil guys.

MidtownGuy
July 13th, 2009, 06:46 PM
Again Fabrizio, did you vote for Berlusconi? It's a simple question, why not just answer it?


billionare / real estate tycoon / ACMilan owning / media mogol /Prime Minister

When you compose his hagiography, don't forget to include singer/songwriter.

Fabrizio
July 13th, 2009, 07:14 PM
The last person I voted for was Enrico de Nicola.



When you compose his hagiography, don't forget to include singer/songwriter.

I know, I know... it's not as prestigious as starring in "Cattle Queen of Montana".

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v33/ronaldo/cattle-queen-of-montana.jpg

MidtownGuy
July 13th, 2009, 08:49 PM
But Silvio IS the Queen;
he cakes on lots of makeup, then waits at the palace to get serviced by paid ladies in waiting.
Yuck.

Fabrizio
July 14th, 2009, 07:51 AM
At least he pays them.... Monica Lewinsky was an intern!

All she got out of the deal was a stained dress and a used cigar.

Luca
July 17th, 2009, 09:14 AM
Re. the ideological stance, CLEARLY Berlsuconi is the leader of what, in Italy, passes for the "right wing". The problem with right/left, liberal/conservative is that they are very broad, very relative labels. I think what Fabrizio might have been hinting at is that many of Berlusconi's policy stances (such as they are) would be center-left to leftist in the US and centrist in most places.

If, Midtown, you have any genuine interest in understanding a phenomenon like Berlusconi (as opposed to just insulting him); I'm happy to point out some stuff. If not, enjoy the bunfight with Fabrizio.

Most people I know who vote for Berlusconi do so for one or more of the following reasons:

> At least in words, he supports lower taxation and is friendlier to free enterprise than the opposition (I know several entrepreneurs who voiced this to me)
> He is perceived as a successful, self-made man and a break with stultifying bureaucratic parties (Ross Perot effect, in terms that may be more familiar to you)
> They are in some way (however tenuous) linked to his business/sports/media empire (kinda like the home-state effect, again in terms that may be more familiar to you, in US presidential elections)

His "judicial difficulties" and use of two terms in power to keep himself free are explained away by his supporters in terms of judicial partisanship (very debatable), judicial incompetence/arrogance (not entirely untrue) and Byzantine legislation (partly true).

An example: under his leadership, 'false accounting' was 'decriminalized' (one charge he or those close to him have faced). Sounds pretty bad, huh? Except that under Italian law any minuscule mistake, even a formal one, constituted 'false accounting' and there was a history of 2-3 decades of Finance Police effectively extorting money from small businesses to "look the other way". I.e.: if you're a small businessman you might vote for this guy, like, forever.

Bear in mind, that corruption, though arguably more endemic AND systemic within Berlusconi's power base, is not exactly unknown among the opposition parties. No indeed.

As for his comical vanity, Latin American personality cult and, ehm, indiscretions... It just does not carry the same political penalty as elsewhere. I think a lot of guys in Italy think "there but for the grace of God, go I". .

As a shorthand, you might think that, when voting in national elections in Italy, your choice could be characterized as follows:

The "right". Veeery corrupt; somewhat complicit in organized crime; led by a vain, venal and self-absorbed man; less than effective on socioeconomic reform but not inimical to business; somewhat conservative/catholic on 'social values'.

The "left". Pretty corrupt, just not as much; clearly complicit in perpetuating public-sector perks bordering on a caste system; very divided and ultimately ineffectual in socioeconomic reform; pathologically suspicious of the private sector; socially progressive though more interested in grandstanding than addressing deep-rooted problems.

Personally, last time around I voted for the "other guys". Living abroad, Berlsuconi is, personally for me, a liability. On balance, too, he has been less fiscally prudent than the other guys. But it's a close call, let me tell you (and "none of the above" is darn tempting, too)


(edited for typos)

Bob
July 18th, 2009, 01:28 PM
Do the trains run on time?

lofter1
July 18th, 2009, 01:59 PM
Yes, and they zip along at a gazillion KPH

Fabrizio
July 18th, 2009, 02:16 PM
Make that 300 km/h.

http://globespotters.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/12/19/faster-trains-that-actually-run-on-time/

Info about Italy's high-speed network:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High-speed_rail_in_Italy

An Americans viewpoint:

http://goeurope.about.com/library/weekly/aa123002a.htm

--

Fabrizio
July 18th, 2009, 02:54 PM
Personally, last time around I voted for the "other guys". (....) But it's a close call, let me tell you (and "none of the above" is darn tempting, too)

I voted for "none of the above".

I would never vote for Berlusconi and I never have. For me it is a matter of principle. The many conflicts of interest alone should disqualify him from office. But... but...

I would love for Midtown to tell us his opinion of Prodi... of Di Pietro, Veltroni, D'Alema....

In a NYTimes article I posted earlier, the authour tries to explain Berlusconi's appeal, she justly writes: "Compared to the old order, Mr. Berlusconi’s political class is seen as a modernizing force. "

From another NYTimes article that illustrates the common sentiment here:

"To Silvia Tomassini, owner of a boutique in Rome’s ancient center, Silvio Berlusconi is “arrogant.” At 71, he’s too old. He endlessly commits “brutta figura,” which loosely means that you can’t take the man anywhere nice. Yet when elections come again to Italy — and they may soon — Ms. Tomassini will vote for him. Indeed, polls show that nearly two years after he was voted out of the prime minister’s office, Mr. Berlusconi would probably win it back. In Ms. Tomassini’s case, she does not love him, but thinks he cares for working people. Besides, she hates the other side.

“He’s not a person of class or culture,” she said. “But he’s better than the center-left.”

---

At least Berlusconi gets things done.

The Italian people (different from an Anglo-Saxon culture) don't give a ratz azz about his call girls... not when you finally have the mountains of trash in Naples cleaned up ... not when you have a quick efficient response to the earthquake in Aquila: 300 dead, continuous aftershocks, a city destroyed yet just 6 months later it's hosting the G8 with all of the world to see. Remember that in proportion, the earthquake in Aquila is for Italy what a Katrina was to the States...

Also: It's not easy for Americans to understand but there is a part of the Italian psyche that shuns democracy. Too many Americans assume that the rest of the world thinks exactly as they do.

Luca compares Berlusconi to Ross Perot... and I think that's a good observation. But I'd also add a dose of Richard Daley, the Democrat who ruled Chicago for 21 years.

From the Richard Daley wikipedia entry:

"Daley's ways may not have been democratic, but his defenders have argued that he got positive things done for Chicago which a non-boss would have been unable to do."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_J._Daley

--

MidtownGuy
July 19th, 2009, 03:43 AM
a city destroyed yet just 6 months later it's hosting the G8 with all of the world to see.
LMAO, to see what? the ruins (still there), half the city still in exile, 23,000 refugees still in tents?
Fabrizio, your brain functions in upside down world.

MidtownGuy
July 19th, 2009, 04:12 AM
Thanks for your thoughtful input, Luca.


The problem with right/left, liberal/conservative is that they are very broad, very relative labels. I think what Fabrizio might have been hinting at is that many of Berlusconi's policy stances (such as they are) would be center-left to leftist in the US and centrist in most places.

Actually, when I said this:

"Nothing about guns and tuition and all of that. You paint things in Texas terms and the context here is Europe."

clearly the relative nature of the labels is exactly what I was referencing.

Fabrizio has his own precious way of framing things, which invariably means a dubious comparison to something in the United States.

Fabrizio
July 19th, 2009, 04:31 AM
Midtown explain to us how the response to the earthquake and it's victims could have been better. Thanks.

And: do you see any merit in the audacity of inviting hundreds of journalists from around the world to stay there for a week and have free reign?

MidtownGuy
July 19th, 2009, 04:46 AM
Midtown explain to us how the response to the earthquake and it's victims could have been better. Thanks.
slow down and don't get it twisted...you explain to us why it was so fantastic. YOU brought it up...made it seem like such a stellar accomplishment for Berly, too. Jeez.

Fabrizio
July 19th, 2009, 05:19 AM
From Newsweek:

Broken Buildings, Broken Hearts
Italy's initial response to a devastating earthquake has been nothing but praise.

In a country where chaos normally reigns, the emergency response to Italy's earthquake was applauded by even the most devastated survivors. Soldiers, rescue personnel and civilians moved swiftly and efficiently to extricate survivors and victims after the worst quake to hit the country in 30 years.

There's much work left to be done. Medieval Italian hilltop towns do not fall gracefully. Piles of ancient stones, heads from statues and marble pillar fragments are all part of the debris scattered on top of cars and along the narrow streets here in L'Aquila.

Less than 24 hours after the quake struck, 150 people have been confirmed dead and another 250 are reported missing. Officials say 50,000 people are homeless and nearly 15,000 buildings have been damaged in central Italy.


Immediately after the quake struck, the military was dispatched to lay out logistical plans and shore up infrastructures like bridges and overpasses. Then civil-protection workers and firefighters worked alongside policemen and neighbors to dig through the rubble in search of survivors, relying on local residents to tell who and how many people lived in each area. Lists were created and the numbers of missing and dead were dispatched to regional officials.

Within hours of the quake, blankets, water and biscuits were being handed out and those who had lost their homes or were too nervous to return were guided to a tent camp in a nearby stadium. Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi dispatched 5,000 additional rescue workers from neighboring towns and cancelled a trip to Russia to fly to the epicenter. "I want to say something important," he said at a press conference in L'Aquilia. "No one will be abandoned to their fate."

The villages of Castelnuovo, Poggio Picenze, Tormintarte, Fossa, Totani and Villa Sant'Angelo have been especially damaged. The entire hamlet of Onno, population 300, is gone. By Monday night, one third of its residents had not been accounted for.

As a spring rain shower drenched the quake area late Monday afternoon, workers quickly erected makeshift tents and handed out plastic bags as raincoats. Tent camps to accommodate 20,000 people have been set up in local stadiums for those still waiting to hear about loved ones. Many of the new homeless have been moved to hotels in neighboring communities where 4,000 rooms have been set aside. Buses were lined up along the city streets to transport residents to nearby towns where residents opened their homes.

"We will work for the next 48 hours without any stop, because we have to save lives," said Francesco Rocca, the head of Italy's Red Cross, on Monday afternoon. "Hundreds of people could still be alive under the buildings."

Even if the rescue efforts are running smoothly, the grief and devastation is almost unbearable. Crying neighbors gathered in front of a house along L'Aquila's main street, where a woman named Nadia perished along with her daughter and granddaughter. Before each victim was pulled from the rubble, massive trucks and ambulances were positioned to shield the view of the bodies being transported to ambulances. "You can film the broken buildings so they send more help," cried an elderly man who pleaded with camera crews not to film the deceased. "But please leave us to our broken hearts."

http://www.newsweek.com/id/192799

MidtownGuy
July 19th, 2009, 05:35 AM
-----
G8 summit: amid the ruins of L'Aquila earthquake

It is night on the avenue Corrado IV, at the gates of the old city. There are few cars in the streets or at the various control points of the police, army and guardia di finanza (GDF or the ‘finance police’, the country’s financial guard). This is the worst time: during the day you see the ruins, you realise that many of the familiar things are no more, but at least you see the people, the cars and the traffic – not so at night though. Then it’s a different story, with half of the city still in exile on the coast and the other half refugees in the tents of the governmental civil defence agency.

The numbers speak for themselves: more than 30, 000 still reside in the hostels of Pescara, Chieti and Teramo in Abruzzo and in Ascoli Piceno in Le Marche. Twenty-three thousand are still in tents, and those who have packed their bags and found their own place to stay elsewhere number almost as many. At the end of June, the number who had returned to their own homes was still less than 2, 000, due in part to the continued aftershocks, registering four and above on the richter scale. Prime minister Silvio Berlusconi has promised that the encampments will be closed before September and that the refugees will be re-housed in new earthquake-proof apartments being constructed on the outskirts of the town. The construction work is slow to start however, and it seems unlikely that these houses will accommodate 15, 000 people. After the scheduled completion of the first houses in September, those still waiting to be housed will have several months to go.

Against this backdrop, L’Aquila is hosting one of the most important G8 summits of recent years. According to Berlusconi, the subjects to be discussed at the three day summit include financial regulation, food security and climate change. Dozens of national delegations (27 countries will be present on the last day), will be hosted between L'Aquila, Rome and the coast. The famous boats, intended for G8 staff members when the summit was planned for Sardinia, have been transferred to the more Spartan port of Ortona. Eight countries hold the cards: Russia, the US, Japan, Germany, the UK, France, Italy and Canada. These nations represent about 13% of the world’s population, and produce well over 50% of its GDP. These events will have a strong emotional impact on residents already exhausted by three months of aftershocks, restrictions, exile and media intrusion.

The controls are currently intense, as are the roadblocks and the patrols of the various police and anti-terrorist units which have been imposed on the lives of the townspeople, who are not even permitted to walk in their streets, at least not without a ‘badge’. During the meeting (from 8 to 10 of July), travel by foot (but not vehicle) is allowed, but only to those who possess one of the various ‘badges’ distributed by the relative G8 mission, residents must register in advance for the relevant ‘badge’. Access to the encampment remains open to residents and visitors, but those tents closest to the summit are heavily controlled.

Curiously, even the movement of animals is forbidden in the western zone. Despite this though, the American delegation was pleasantly surprised when, during their official visit, they came across a herd of sheep.

pictures at
http://www.cafebabel.com/eng/article/30725/laquila-earthquake-g8-summit-site-atmosphere-city.html

Fabrizio
July 19th, 2009, 05:42 AM
^ Exactly.

In your opinion what more should be done?

And BTW, do have any idea how past earthquakes (for instance in 1980) went? This is why the public here has a generally good feeling about the responce and organization of this disaster. Berlusconi has come out well... despite problems that there will be, for Italy the above is a bit of a miracle.

--

MidtownGuy
July 19th, 2009, 05:47 AM
a city destroyed yet just 6 months later it's hosting the G8 with all of the world to see.

and what was the point here? all the world to see WHAT exactly?

MidtownGuy
July 19th, 2009, 05:50 AM
Again, "to see" what in Aquila? This? Berlusconi is so great at getting things done, you say. I say BS.
----------
Calls grow within G8 to expel Italy as summit plans descend into chaos
While US tries to inject purpose into meeting, Italy is lambasted for poor planning and reneging on overseas aid commitments

Preparations for Wednesday's G8 summit in the Italian mountain town of L'Aquila have been so chaotic there is growing pressure from other member states to have Italy expelled from the group, according to senior western officials.

In the last few weeks before the summit, and in the absence of any substantive initiatives on the agenda, the US has taken control. Washington has organised "sherpa calls" (conference calls among senior officials) in a last-ditch bid to inject purpose into the meeting.

"For another country to organise the sherpa calls is just unprecedented. It's a nuclear option," said one senior G8 member state official. "The Italians have been just awful. There have been no processes and no planning."

"The G8 is a club, and clubs have membership dues. Italy has not been paying them," said a European official involved in the summit preparations.

The behind-the-scenes grumbling has gone as far as suggestions that Italy could be pushed out of the G8 or any successor group. One possibility being floated in European capitals is that Spain, which has higher per capita national income and gives a greater percentage of GDP in aid, would take Italy's place.

The Italian foreign ministry did not reply yesterday to a request to comment on the criticisms.

"The Italian preparations for the summit have been chaotic from start to finish," said Richard Gowan, an analyst at the Centre for International Co-operation at New York University.

"The Italians were saying as long ago as January this year that they did not have a vision of the summit, and if the Obama administration had any ideas they would take instruction from the Americans."

The US-led talks led to agreement on a food security initiative a few days before the L'Aquila meeting, the overall size of which is still being negotiated. Gordon Brown has said Britain would contribute £1.1bn to the scheme, designed to support farmers in developing countries.

However, officials who have seen the rest of the draft joint statement say there is very little new in it. Critics say Italy's Berlusconi government has made up for the lack of substance by increasing the size of the guest list. Estimates of the numbers of heads of state coming to L'Aquila range from 39 to 44.

"This is a gigantic fudge," Gowan said. "The Italians have no ideas and have decided that best thing to do is to spread the agenda extremely thinly to obscure the fact that didn't really have an agenda."

Silvio Berlusconi has come in for harsh criticism for delivering only 3% of development aid promises made four years ago, and for planning cuts of more than 50% in Italy's overseas aid budget.

Meanwhile, media coverage in the run-up to the meeting has been dominated by Berlusconi's parties with young women, and then the wisdom of holding a summit in a region experiencing seismic aftershocks three months after a devastating earthquake as a gesture of solidarity with the local population.

The heavy criticism of Italy comes at a time when the future of the G8 as a forum for addressing the world's problems is very much in question. At the beginning of the year the G20 group, which included emerging economies, was seen as a possible replacement, but the G20 London summit in April convinced US officials it was too unwieldy a vehicle.

The most likely replacement for the G8 is likely to be between 13- and 16-strong, including rising powers such as China, India, Brazil, Mexico and South Africa, which currently attend meetings as the "outreach five" But any transition would be painful as countries jostle for a seat. Italy's removal is seen in a possibility but Spanish membership in its place is unlikely. The US and the emerging economies believe the existing group is too Euro-centric already, and would prefer consolidated EU representation. That is seen as unlikely. No European state wants to give up their place at the table.

Fabrizio
July 19th, 2009, 05:59 AM
^ Uh... Midtown you posted an article previously that states about the summit:

"But in the wake of the G8 summit, Mr Berlusconi’s critics were forced to concede that things had, by and large, gone well in L’Aquila and that the prime minister had, in the words of the Financial Times, trod “the path from playboy to statesman”.

So which is it?

And the article you've posted above is from the Guardian. In a follow up story a Guardian columnist notes:

"The chaos the Guardian predicted did not happen."

And:

"The Guardian is free to attack Berlusconi, as long as it has the facts. But claims that Italy is unfit for summitry are unfounded"

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/jul/10/berlusconi-italy-g8-guardian

--

MidtownGuy
July 19th, 2009, 06:15 AM
According to the above article, there were problems. This article goes into more detail about some of them than the other did.

Obviously I'm not responsible for every word of something that I myself did not write, and obviously every reporter at a newspaper is not going to get the same exact take as every other reporter. So what. Get real.

Again, please stop editing your posts so many times. By the time I write a response, you've gone back and reworded everything three times. Just say what you mean and move on. Thanks.

Fabrizio
July 19th, 2009, 06:49 AM
Could you explain to us what your point in all of this discussion is?

BTW: If you noticed, about Berlusconi, Luca writes: "Personally, last time around I voted for the "other guys". (....) But it's a close call, let me tell you (and "none of the above" is darn tempting, too).

So while he says that, for him, voting for Berlusconi is a "close call", I write the following:

"I would never vote for Berlusconi and I never have."

But what we are trying to do here is this... as Luca wrote:

"If, Midtown, you have any genuine interest in understanding a phenomenon like Berlusconi (as opposed to just insulting him); I'm happy to point out some stuff."

To understand a phenomenon like Berlusconi (as opposed to just insulting him) requires some intellectual curiosity which, as I mentioned in another post, is lacking on your part.

The world is not always in black and white (Berlusconi=bad) it is in shades of grey ... especially here in Italy.

(except when it comes to soccer)

No one here is trying to sell Berlusconi on you... but we are trying to explain the phenomena. And part of that is pointing out the man's successes. You are confusing the issue by taking my postings as from a Berlusconi fanboy.

--

As for: "Again, "to see" what in Aquila?"

I think the rest of the forum has the ability to understand what it means to hold a G8 summit on the site of a national disaster of this magnitude... along with inviting journalists to see the place 6 months later, see the progress (or lack), hear Berlusconi's promises (have them on record for the world to witness... and to hold him accountable), tour the tent city, hear the praise, the complaints and even meet protesters. In comparison to past governments, this is refreshing behavior. And the efficient response to the disaster during it's crucial first days (see the Newsweek article) is an accomplishment for the Berlusconi government.

Some info about the 1980 Earthquake in Avellino... for context:

"The Italian government spent 59 billion lire on reconstruction, while other nations sent contributions. Germany contributed 32 million United States dollars and the United States 70 million USD. However, in the early nineties a major corruption scandal emerged of the billions of lire that actually disappeared from the earthquake reconstruction funds in the 1980s. Of the $40 billion spent on earthquake reconstruction, an estimated $20 billion went to create an entirely new social class of millionaires in the region, $6.4 billion went to the Camorra, whereas another $4 billion went to politicians in bribes. Only the remaining $9.6 billion , a quarter of the total amount, was actually spent on people's needs."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1980_Irpinia_earthquake

Yeah, Midtown: tell about the call-girls.

--

MidtownGuy
July 19th, 2009, 01:16 PM
Could you explain to us what your point in all of this discussion is?I already did. Read the title of the thread if you are confused.


To understand a phenomenon like Berlusconi (as opposed to just insulting him) requires some intellectual curiosity which, as I mentioned in another post, is lacking on your part.
Whatever. I'm twice as intelligent as you will ever be, and a heck of a lot more real.
Just keep the insults flowing...Alonzo will allow you to go there, but not me, so I can't really answer you the way your condescending self deserves.


Yeah, Midtown: tell about the call-girls.
I don't care about them , but the hypocrisy of it, considering his grandstanding of "conservative" values all over the place is unseemly. You've expressed similar sentiment on the thread about Sanford leaving his wife so please come back down to Earth.

Fabrizio
July 19th, 2009, 01:37 PM
Do you honestly think that Italians expect their politicians to have "conservative values? Or that they care?

Where was Berlusconi's mea culpa? His apology? His speech to the Italian public with his wife by his side?

That stuff don't happen here. Do you really think Italians are shocked?

As I've pointed out... as Luca has pointed out... as any journalist covering this issue who knows Italy: it's just not a big issue. OF COURSE Berlusconi is a hypocrite, Do you think Italians think differently?

After the "scandal" broke, his poll numbers went UP!

---

Berlusconi promising to put family values at the centre of his campaign (a true quote):

Speaking at his party's convention in Sardinia on January 28, 2006, "Thank you dear Father Massimiliano, I'll try not to let you down and I promise you two and a half months of complete sexual abstinence until April 9 [election]"

--

Asked to explain how Italy managed to get the support of its biggest competitor over the EU Food Authority dispute, he said:

"I used all my playboy skills and courted the Finnish President."

--

At the Brussels summit, at the end of Italy's EU presidency, in December 2003:

"Let's talk about football and women." (Turning to four-times-married German Chancellor, Gerhard Schroeder.) "Gerhard, why don't you start?"

--

Mr Berlusconi's aides said he knew nothing about allegedly paying young women to attend parties:

"To think that Berlusconi needs to pay 2,000 euros (£1,700) a girl, for her to go with him, seems to me a bit much," said his lawyer, Niccolo Ghedini.

"I think he could have great quantities of them for free"

--

My favorite:

Italian President Silvio Berlusconi on his wife's claim he "consorted with minors".

"I don't think there is any way of reconciling our marriage and she should be publicly apologizing to me.
This is the third time she has done something like this during an election campaign and this time it is too much."

--

On Italian secretaries (comments made at the New York stock exchange):
"Italy is now a great country to invest in... today we have fewer communists and those who are still there deny having been one.
Another reason to invest in Italy is that we have beautiful secretaries... superb girls."




--

MidtownGuy
July 19th, 2009, 01:48 PM
Do you honestly think that Italians expect their politicians to have "conservative values? Or that they care?
Silvio seems to think some of them do, since that's his shtick.


Where was Berlusconi's mea culpa? His apology? His speech to the Italian public with his wife by his side?
He just denies everything, of course, and his wife now hates him so I doubt she'd be by his side for anything.


OF COURSE Berlusconi is a hypocrite

It doesn't bother you in his case, yet somehow bugs you enough in the Sanford case that you spoke about the hypocrisy being the thing that bugged you. So, apparently you're a hypocrite too and you all deserve each other.

MidtownGuy
July 19th, 2009, 01:50 PM
"I will try to meet your expectations, and I promise from now on, two-and-a-half months of absolute sexual abstinence, until [election day on] 9 April."
Well, no one ever accused him of lacking a sense of humor. Making jokes is of course a good way to diffuse awkwardness.

ablarc
July 19th, 2009, 01:52 PM
Message to both you gents:

Judge not lest ye be judged.

Fabrizio
July 19th, 2009, 02:11 PM
Making jokes is of course a good way to diffuse awkwardness.

Yeah, ol' awkward, social misfit Berlusconi. LOL.

The guy gets himself spray-tanned every morning. I don't think he suffers from awkwardness.

ZippyTheChimp
July 19th, 2009, 02:17 PM
Also: It's not easy for Americans to understand but there is a part of the Italian psyche that shuns democracy. Too many Americans assume that the rest of the world thinks exactly as they do.Berlusconi is mostly off the radar in the US press. The majority of negative coverage seems to originate in Europe, particularly in the UK and France, where L'Express labelled him the Buffoon of Europe (http://www.lexpress.fr/actualite/monde/europe/berlusconi-le-bouffon-de-l-europe_773074.html)

Fabrizio
July 19th, 2009, 02:22 PM
And with the Italian press... especially La Repubblica and L'Espresso.

But the important part of my quote you quoted "It's not easy for Americans to understand but there is a part of the Italian psyche that shuns democracy." is one of the keys to understanding why Berlusconi does not suffer so much from things that might be a scandal in other countries. This "shunning of Democracy" is not praise BTW... but a damning of the society. Italy had Fascism which some still look on with nostalgia... it had a Communist party aligned with the Communist block. It had a King. Democracy is a new concept.

--

MidtownGuy
July 19th, 2009, 02:25 PM
Yes, it was awkward for him having to go out and refute what his wife was saying. The natural outcome... some awkward humor.

It would be awkward for any 72 year old to have to deny charges of sleeping with a minor to the world; save your dumb sarcasm for another (inevitable) post. His conduct and humor are known to be awkward by most people...he lacks social grace, displays inappropriate behavior...his gaffes are so numerous, so yes, awkward is a great word for him.

Fabrizio
July 19th, 2009, 02:32 PM
A "cafone" is not awkward.


Yes, it was awkward for him having to go out and refute what his wife was saying.

Wha? Midtown... believe me... you don't get it... this is Italy... this is Berlusconi... he made that comment with gusto.

MidtownGuy
July 19th, 2009, 02:56 PM
I know the hook...this is Italy, this is Italy, this is Italy...write a song already.

Fabrizio
July 19th, 2009, 06:30 PM
This is Italy.

This is Berlusconi appearing on one of his network's interview-news programs. Note the introduction: it is pure South American Banana Republic. Note the Theme music from "Gone With The Wind". It is Fellini. Here he talks about his wife and the prostitutes... it is all in Italian of course but at least watch the first minute or so:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6b79dm1VBow

This is the great comedianne Sabrina Guzzanti doing one of her imitations of Berlusconi on the State Network Rai2. Brilliant. The show is Michele Santora's... a leftist commentator brutally critical of Berlusconi:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NfYyLRyNCC0

Now this is another network... the State Network's Rai3 (think MSNBC) with comedian Corrado Guzzanti ( Sabrina Guzzanti's brother) accusing, with great passion, Berlusconi of being a dictator and ruining the country ( here you really have to understand Italian... but watch the force of his words):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G24_vXfQu3s

---


...this is Italy, this is Italy, this is Italy...write a song already.


Oh it has been written. From the musical Nine... the trailer:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MJpwwdOomtY&feature=related

---

MidtownGuy
July 19th, 2009, 07:55 PM
^whoopie do.

I must admit, it's funny to think of Fabby sitting there desperately locating clips and links to illustrate, well... God knows what.
I'm sure someone clicks on the tired old links to musicals and finds them interesting. They're about as exciting as watching Rigamortis take hold for most of us.

Here's a fun little piece about Silvio B. the spray -tanned crooner. Poor Italy, if this is the best caliber of man they can find to be PM out of a nation of 60 million:

'I nearly broke Berlusconi's wrist': Former dancer complains of Italian PM's 'wandering hands'

A former dancer has told how she almost broke sleazy Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's wrist when he tried to fondle her at one of his infamous parties.
The woman, named only as Sandra, has been interviewed for a new book which is out this week and which is sure to embarrass further the controversial politician.

Berlusconi, 72, has been at the centre of a three month sex scandal involving under-age girls and high class escorts - with one, named as Patrizia D'Addario, said to have had sex with him.
Sandra, 24, from Naples, is quoted in Papi: A Political Scandal to be published in Italy.

Several young women have said they called Berlusconi, "Papi" (Daddy) as a mark of affection.

Berlusconi's long suffering-wife Veronica Lario is divorcing him as a result of his 'association with under age girls' but he has denied anything untoward.
In the book Sandra claims she was invited to a party at Villa Certosa, Berlusconi's sprawling villa, on the playboy island of Sardinia, on New Year's Eve 2007.

She goes on to say how there were 'several pretty young girls there' and only two other men singer Mariano Apicella who has written a CD of love songs with Berlusconi and Italian TV producer Guido De Angelis.
She tells authors Peter Gomez, Marco Lillo and Marco Travaglio how she was dozing in her room on the estate when she was woken by Berlusconi.
She claimed: 'His face was coloured with something that looked like self-tanning lotion and it stained his hands too, making them seem greasy. He held a bag full of jewels.'

Sandra said she and the other girls were given necklaces with turtle shaped brooches as Berlusocni explained 'it's the symbol of Villa Certosa.'
She added: 'Later the girls who were sweeter with him (Berlusconi) were given extra jewels.'
Sandra also described how they were taken on a tour of the estate before being given a 'political lecture' from Berlusconi who described his ally Gianfranco Fini as a 'huge Facist unable to mediate'.

Then describing how Berlusconi had tried to fondle her she said: 'I had been told I would get 1500 Euro for going but in the end I only got 1000 Euro.
'Apparently it was because I had not been sweet with him - when his hands started to wander, as they had done with the others, I brusquely pushed them away. I came very close to almost breaking his wrist.'
She added: 'What really made an impression on me was there were people dancing, fondling, kissing, stripping off and some jumping almost naked into the swimming pool.
'Every now and then he (Berlusconi) would take someone away by their hand. It actually made me quite anxious because nobody knew I was there.
'We were not allowed to use our mobiles and the armed security were everywhere, while we were walking about, dancing and eating.
'It is a horrible memory - the worst of my life.'
Sandra also claimed how that evening she and the other women had taken photographs on their mobile phones of a huge firework spectacular but that the following day the images had been deleted.
She also described how she was physically sick after seeing a 'lesbian scene' at the villa.

Berlusconi - despite saying he would not be at Villa Certosa - was spending the weekend in Sardinia while no-one from his office in Rome was available to comment on the new book.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/worldnews/article-1200736/I-nearly-broke-Berlusconis-wrist-Former-dancer-complains-Italian-PMs-wandering-hands.html#ixzz0LkhSqHTq
_________________

very funny quote:
"His face was coloured with something that looked like self-tanning lotion and it stained his hands too, making them seem greasy. He held a bag full of jewels." :eek::D:cool:

Imagine that reaching down to fondle you as you slept. Gross and even sad. All that money and influence, yet without an endearing character what it eventually boils down to is just getting old, pale and ugly so that you have to pay even for "sweetness".

lofter1
July 19th, 2009, 08:04 PM
"Nine" looks like it could be a terrific translation from stage to screen (it doesn't hurt that it's all about a movie director and based on Fellini's great (http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/1999/apr/22/derekmalcolmscenturyoffilm.derekmalcolm) film "8 1/2 (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OtDQOF_pU8A)").

In 1992 I was living for a while in Italy. Some American friends were working in Milan for one of the TV networks and told me about SB. The man was starting his PR blitz and saturating Italy with the Berlusconi brand. I became a big joke among my Italian friends because I kept saying "That guy is going to be your President before too long." They thought I was crazy because Berlusconi was such a cartoon. Amazing what un sacco di soldi can do.

And that's the way it was ...

MidtownGuy
July 19th, 2009, 08:11 PM
she almost broke sleazy Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's wrist

SLEAZY...:D yes, that is probably the best descriptive word for Silvio... in the final assessment, an old sleaze (and literally a greasy one too).

MidtownGuy
July 19th, 2009, 08:17 PM
They thought I was crazy because Berlusconi was such a cartoon.
He certainly is a cartoon.:D
I still can't figure out why he wants to be orange.:confused:

MidtownGuy
July 19th, 2009, 10:55 PM
I was curious to explore various opinions on the response to the earthquake at L'Aquila. What better opinion to seek than that of people FROM there, instead of from dubious corporate news articles.

It seems the people of Aquila themselves have a movement going to get their grievances known and heard by other Italians and the Italian government regarding Berlusconi's efforts. They even draped a huge banner on a hill at the G8. "Yes We Camp". Very clever, I love it. Must be tough getting coverage when the PM owns so much of the media.

Berlusconi is certainly effective at this: using his media empire to his political benefit. It's useful to be able to manipulate perceptions through various media outlets that act together like echoes, and capably attack whatever other media tries to expose things to the light.
http://www.rainews24.it/ran24/immagini/2009/06/quake-abruzzo3_280xFree.jpg
The photo is from Rome, not L'Aquila...it is posted along with an opinion on Berlusconi's Earthquake efforts by a poster who seems to be from L'Aquila, who says the people there have rage against SB.
"...and it is well known how berlusconi coming to l'aquila does not show anymore among the people, due to their rage.
he only appears in official buildings, in front of the cameras.
his speciality..."
and:

"...the initiative is meant to remind the G8 leaders and our premier that 25000 people are still under the tents in L'Aquila, three months after the earthquake..."
http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.php?az=view_all&address=389x6012865


and from earthtimes this:

"The summit, which was to open with a working lunch on Wednesday, was taking place amid protests from L'Aquila's homeless, who distributed leaflets to the international media reading "Yes, We Camp!" - a parody of Obama's election campaign slogan "Yes, We Can!"

Organizers planned to draw the leaders' attention to the fact that thousands of local residents are still living in tents, more than three months after the earthquake devastated their homes.

"Yes, We Camp! is our cry, a cry that denounces the total inadequacy of the way in which the post-earthquake emergency has been dealt with," read the leaflets, with protesters pointing their fingers at the allegedly unkept promises of a speedy reconstruction from Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi." (earthnews)

http://www.earthtimes.org/articles/show/276629,new-trem... (http://www.earthtimes.org/articles/show/276629,new-tremors-shake-g8-summit-venue-amid-yes-we-camp-protests.html)

------------------------
People have different perceptions of SB's earthquake response...that the immediate response was competent according to certain reports is something to be truly thankful for. Although, I can't say for certain how much of that response is directly due to SB and how much is the competent collaboration of the many, many people more directly involved...I'm always wary when people up at the top try to swoop in and take credit for a disaster response, or when others give it to them too easily, as in this case when it's listed as a virtue on Berlusconi's job competency report under "gets things done".

Beyond the praise of the immediate response by the corporate media, it seems there is quite a bit of dissatisfaction among those directly affected by the quake as to whether SB has kept his promise to fix things quickly and effectively. I hope they are able to move into more permanent homes very soon so they are not in tents anymore. Fun "camping" as Silvio originally suggested they consider it.:rolleyes:

Fabrizio
July 20th, 2009, 03:29 AM
Before entering a discussion of the above could the moderators and rest of the forum look at this:


^whoopie do.

I must admit, it's funny to think of Fabby sitting there desperately locating clips and links to illustrate, well... God knows what.
I'm sure someone clicks on the tired old links to musicals and finds them interesting. They're about as exciting as watching Rigamortis take hold for most of us.


^ If the above kind of posting is OK please let me know and I'll post accordingly. Thanks.

Alonzo-ny
July 20th, 2009, 04:20 AM
As with the other thread all should refrain from personal attacks. It doesnt help the discussion.

Ninjahedge
July 20th, 2009, 09:25 AM
It doesn't bother you in his case, yet somehow bugs you enough in the Sanford case that you spoke about the hypocrisy being the thing that bugged you.

Actually, I am getting that it DID bother him, so he did not vote for him.

But at the same time, he is saying that the Italian People, although they do not like him either, voted for him as the lesser of (XX) evils that GOT THINGS DONE.

Kind of like Clinton. Someone who could talk a lot of people into things for the betterment of the country, but someone I would not let any female relative or friend near.....


As for thes rest of the comments, Fab is not far off from what Luca is saying, so try to answer to both in a similar manner MTG. Your anger skips threads and is poisoning your responses.

Fab was wrong to question your "Intellectual curiosity", but also realize that that, literally, means you do not want to know about something you disagree with, NOT that you lack intelligence. So the whole "I'm smarter than you" reply was a bit....off. (Not that you had no right to be annoyed by his comment, however...)

But again, Fab should have known better. You guys keep putting that last barb into your comments that just RUINS any kind of intellectioual discourse you were having earlier. You both need to wait 5 minutes and re-read your comments before posting in hasty anger.

I hope you both do this. I would hate to ignore both of you until this blows over, but your insults are just not needed. Most of us have enough negativity in our lives to not require more from online......

Fabrizio
July 20th, 2009, 10:03 AM
...your insults are just not needed. Most of us have enough negativity in our lives to not require more from online......

Ninja: A moderator has already addressed the issue. You should be asking why Midtown decided to ignore the moderator and continue with insults.

Ninjahedge
July 20th, 2009, 11:51 AM
Ninja: A moderator has already addressed the issue. You should be asking why Midtown decided to ignore the moderator and continue with insults.

I don't care. I just don't want to hear it.

And you don't have to tell me what I can read for myself TYVM.

I do not ask questions I know the answer to, unless being rhetorical would keep the two of you from bickering.

Would it? ;)

Fabrizio
July 20th, 2009, 02:02 PM
^ You mention Sanford and my comments. This is the thread here...it pretty well sums up my thoughts:

http://wirednewyork.com/forum/showthread.php?t=21468

I quess too, for me, it is the difference between the 2 cultures and what is expected from politicians as far as far as their sex lives go.

Berlusconi to the public:

"was asked if he had ever paid a woman “so she would be with him.”
“Naturally, no,” he responded. “I have never understood what satisfaction there is if not in the pleasure of conquest.”

"I don't think there is any way of reconciling our marriage and she should be publicly apologizing to me.
This is the third time she has done something like this during an election campaign and this time it is too much."

And from his lawyer, "Belusconi can get call-girls free..."

And so forth. From Sanford we get:

"It's in the spirit of making good from bad that I am committing to you and the larger family of South Carolinians to use this experience to both trust God in his larger work of changing me, "

"It is true that I did wrong and failed at the largest of levels, but equally true is the fact that God can make good of our respective wrongs in life. "

"Micah 6:8 asks us to do justice, love mercy, and to walk humbly, and as I begin these steps into the last 18 months of this administration,"

Maybe the man is sincere but the whole Redemption thing... if Berlusconi came out with that talk I think people would kick him out of office. Gosh... I'd prefer Clinton's definition of "is" comment over the Sanfords and Spitzers.

C'mon: You are fabulously wealthy... you have call girls... lucky you.

Note too I mention in the Sanford thread: "Also: I am not saying the way here is better: holding an elected office to certain moral standards is actually noble and perhaps a good litmus test ... but it is a way that would not work here."

--------------


Lofter: re: NINE: I was not impressed with the B'way show but it actually might work better on film. Even if it's a bomb... that cast looks like fun. And finally it's great to see Sofia Loren in a prestigious production... if she's smart she'll end her career with this.

Other B'way shows set in Italy: Do I hear a Waltz?... Most Happy Fella... Carmelina.... I think that's it.

---

MidtownGuy
July 20th, 2009, 02:08 PM
Ninjahedge, it's done...let's just move on in a civil manner to each other, everyone.

MidtownGuy
July 20th, 2009, 07:51 PM
Marcello Vernola says he was dropped from Silvio Berlusconi’s party for being a man

A former Italian MEP is claiming that he was prevented from standing again for Silvio Berlusconi’s party in the European election last month because he did not fit in with the party’s “revolution” of appointing glamorous young women.

Marcello Vernola, 48, a lawyer from Bari, was elected to the European Parliament in 2004 for Forza Italia, now part of the centre-right People of Liberty (Pdl) party. He said he had been assured that he would stand again in June.

He says that when this did not happen he was told by Denis Verdini, a national co-ordinator for the PdL: “Tu mica c’hai le poppe?” or “Do you have tits?” — an apparent reference to the policy by Mr Berlusconi of fielding attractive young women as candidates. Mr Verdini denied that he made such a remark.

Mr Vernola said that he had been asked to provide the names and photographs of attractive women from Bari who might make suitable candidates.

He said that they included Maria Gabriella Genisi, a Bari writer and literary festival organiser, who was later dropped. Her erotic novel, The Goldfish Doesn’t Live Here Any More, a fictional account of a woman candidate for the PdL who is dropped in favour of a minister’s mistress, hit the headlines this week.

Mr Vernola said that Patrizia D’Addario, the Bari escort girl who claims she spent the night of the US election with Mr Berlusconi, was discussed as a possible MEP. She stood in the local elections in Bari but was not elected.

The only showgirl to be elected was Barbara Matera, a former actress and Miss Italy contestant, who took her seat this week.

Mr Vernola said that when he asked Mr Berlusconi why he had been dropped, the Prime Minister, who was in L’Aquila dealing with the aftermath of the April 6 earthquake, told him: “I want a revolution. I want to put forward young men and women as candidates.”

He said that when they parted Mr Berlusconi said, “When are you going to present your Bari girlfriends to me?”, a remark “which I only understood with hindsight”.

Bari is at the centre of an inquiry into allegations that Giampaolo Tarantini, a businessman, paid women to attend Mr Berlusconi’s parties in Rome and Sardinia. Mr Tarantini said that he only reimbursed the women’s expenses. Mr Berlusconi denied ever paying for sex.

Oscar Luigi Scalfaro, a former Italian President, said that Mr Berlusconi must appear before parliament to assure Italians that his private life had not endangered national security. “Let us not forget that women like those who have been talked and written about are the kind of people used by those who spy on us,” he said.

Francesco Cossiga, another former President, told Il Giornale, Mr Berlusconi’s newspaper, that there was no need for the Prime Minister to go to parliament to justify his private life as opposed to “matters of state”.

In a sign of tension, Giulio Tremonti, the Economy Minister, became agitated at a televised press conference on the latest tax amnesty in Italy when asked by a reporter how it squared with the crackdown on tax havens to which G20 nations are committed. Mr Tremonti told the reporter to “ask President Obama” about American policy on tax havens and was picked by up microphones describing the reporter under his breath as a d***head.

The tax amnesty, which requires EU approval, is aimed at repatriating billions of euros placed in tax havens to reduce Italy’s huge public deficit.

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/europe/article6717176.ece

Fabrizio
July 21st, 2009, 06:32 AM
^This story was reported last week by the Repubblica (leftist daily and one of my prefered papers) yet they've done no follow ups that I've read or can find. This fellow (unknown outside of Bari unless you keep up with the list of Europarlamentari) was dropped a month ago, he's a lawyer... if he wants to make something out of this... he's got to collect evidence for his claims.

And the article is strange in that it suddenly switches to the subject of the "tax amnesty" controversy and Giulio Tremonti who is mentioned no where else in the article. I can't make much sense of it.

Fabrizio
July 21st, 2009, 06:35 AM
This is from today's Guardian and I think pretty well written:

'We didn't sleep a wink': escort releases recording of her night with Berlusconi


If Silvio Berlusconi thought he'd shaken off the furore over his alleged use of escort girls, he was in for a nasty surprise today.

The Italian prime minister has successfully deflected and sidestepped lurid allegations about his supposed liaisons in recent weeks, helped by some timely international summitry which let him demonstrate his statesmanship, not to mention his commitment to dealing with the aftermath of the L'Aquila earthquake.

But today it was all about call girls, giant beds and the suggestion of a menage-a-trois, after a left-leaning news magazine, L'Espresso, posted "pillow talk" recordings that an escort said she made during a night with the septuagenarian Italian leader.

The escort, Patrizia D'Addario, claims the tapes relate to the night of 4 November last year, when the leaders of the world were holding their breath, waiting to see if Americans would elect their first black president.

Berlusconi, apparently, had other things on his mind.

According to D'Addario, Berlusconi was entertaining her in the bedroom of his magnificent Rome residence, Palazzo Grazioli. In one fragment of conversation, Berlusconi appears to direct D'Addario to wait for him in bed while he showers. In another conversation, recorded the next day, she protests to Giampaolo Tarantini, the businessman who allegedly set her up with the Italian prime minister, that she had not received the €5,000 (£4,300) she was expecting.

In a third snippet, it is claimed she confides to the same intermediary that Berlusconi asked her whether next time they met she would agree to a menage-a-trois with another of his girlfriends.

"He said that he has a girlfriend and would like to have me lick this girlfriend," D'Addario says, according to the posted recordings.

The Berlusconi camp moved quickly to rubbish the tapes. Berlusconi's spokesman said: "This seesaw of gossip is not getting anywhere". A spokesman for his party, the Freedom People, called the release of the recordings "pathetic". An attorney, Niccolo Ghedini, said they were "without any merit, completely improbable and the fruit of invention".

The content of the conversations was reported in broad terms last month, but the words themselves, some pronounced in what sound like the distinctively nasal tones of Italy's prime minister, are likely to have an effect no news report can rival.

One of the conversations appears to back claims that Italy's leader has a giant bed with a connection, as yet unclear, to his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin.

After an exchange in which the prime minister seems to be offering a present to D'Addario, he says to her: "I'm taking a shower." He then asks her to wait on the big bed. She asks which one. He replies: "Putin's".

The tapes also include ammunition for Berlusconi's supporters, however. He has said that he has never paid for sex, and insisted that he was unaware the women who attended his parties were being rewarded. In the telephone call with Tarantini, D'Addario tells him that things went well, adding: "No envelope, though."

There is another respect in which the recordings could help Berlusconi. They imply that the 72 year-old billionaire politician, who has had prostate cancer, nevertheless has remarkable sexual endurance. It remains to be seen if that will inspire more admiration than censure among ordinary Italians.*

D'Addario tells Tarantini "we didn't sleep a wink" and when Berlusconi calls her later, she is heard to say that she is not tired even though she didn't sleep. "Only my voice has gone," she says. He replies: "Why? We didn't shout."

On the recording, both the voices sound gruff.

D'Addario, who stood as a candidate in local elections this year for a group close to the prime minister's party, has given the recordings to prosecutors investigating Tarantini.


(* LOL. True)

--

Fabrizio
July 21st, 2009, 06:45 AM
From everything I understand...if there is no evidence that Berlusconi paid prostitutes then there's not much of a scandal. They are going to need hard evidence and more than this tape. You would have to find that there was illegal activity. Having private parties in your own home... having sex within it's confines among consenting adults, is legally your own business. They would have to prove that the girls were prostitutes, a prostitution ring, or that the girls were under age or pressured or bribed or molested.

So far there is no Linda Tripp. No semen stained dress. And no accusations that Berlusconi was having sex in the Italian Oval Office.

And even this tape could be claimed to have been doctored, as in the Gennifer Flowers case:

"After Bill Clinton denied having a relationship with Flowers on 60 Minutes, she held a press conference in which she played tape recordings she claimed were of secretly recorded intimate phone calls with Bill Clinton. Clinton subsequently apologized publicly to Mario Cuomo for remarks he made about the former governor on the tapes. However, news reports at the time speculated that the taped phone conversations between Flowers and Clinton could have been doctored." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gennifer_Flowers#cite_note-Flo.2A.5E-1

But even if hard evidence should surface.... a question for the Studio Audience:

Considering the Lewinsky case (sex with an intern in the oval office)... considering Kathleen Wiley (claims to have been sexualy assulted in the Oval Office)... considering the $850,000 pay-off to Paula Jones (plus $90,000 in expenses) to keep quiet and not go to court.... do you think Clinton should have been impeached? Would you rather have had Clinton in office or the opposition? Do you consider him to have been a good President or not?

-----

For the kids, if you were too young:

Gennifer Flowers: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gennifer_Flowers#cite_note-Flo.2A.5E-1

Paula Jones: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paula_Jones

Monica Lewinsky: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monica_Lewinsky

Kathleen Wiley: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kathleen_Willey

Juanita Broaddrick: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Juanita_Broaddrick: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Juanita_Broaddrick

--

ablarc
July 21st, 2009, 08:29 AM
...news reports at the time speculated that the taped phone conversations between Flowers and Clinton could have been doctored." ...
But even if hard evidence should surface....
Because of technology, there is no longer any such thing as hard evidence.

Anything can be doctored.

Therefore everything can be cast into doubt.

And everything can be denied.

Fabrizio
July 21st, 2009, 08:44 AM
Even that blue dress?

MidtownGuy
July 21st, 2009, 03:25 PM
Berlusconi's country of the clueless

With scant coverage of pillow-talk tapes at home, Italy's PM has created an information culture typical of authoritarian regimes

Arguably the most striking thing about the Berlusconi tapes is that most Italians know, if at all, only vaguely of their existence.

The fact that the news magazine L'Espresso had posted to its website recordings claimed to have been made by a woman who says she went to bed with him last November in the hope of securing money or influence was just not mentioned on most of last night's TV news bulletins. As far as I can make out, the story was ignored not only by Silvio Berlusconi's own Mediaset channels, but also by the first and second channels of the public broadcasting network, RAI, and by La7, which is owned by Telecom Italia. Together, they account for about two thirds of the audience at that time of night.

It might also be objected that, since the recordings and transcripts have been made available on the internet, and since they were reported in the press, it doesn't really matter that TV paid no attention to them. But that ignores two crucial points.

The first is that Italy is among the countries most indifferent to the internet. According to a report in the Guardian last year less than a third of the population had access to the web, and those Italians who were linked up used the internet relatively little. The average for the population as a whole was just two hours a week. This could explain why even Mediaset was happy today to post a story about the tapes to its website (though naturally leading on the claim by Berlusconi's lawyer that they were faked). The second important point is that, even before the arrival of free news on the internet, only about one Italian in every 10 bought a daily paper.

Word of mouth will undoubtedly spread knowledge of the tapes, in the same way that it has spread a generalised realisation that there is a scandal involving the prime minister and women. But rumour and gossip are unlikely to alter the fact that the details of this whole affair, together with its public interest ramifications, remain largely unknown to most people in Italy. That is an important reason why Berlusconi has been able to shrug off calls for his resignation.

The original controversy concerned the accusation levelled by Silvio Berlusconi's wife that he was "consorting with minors", just as it emerged that he had attended the 18th birthday party of an aspiring actress and model, Naomi Letizia. The other day I found myself (not exactly for the first time) having an argument with a Rome taxi driver. It gradually emerged that we were starting from two entirely different standpoints. He had heard Berlusconi's explanation (that the girl was the daughter of an old friend), because it was carried on TV news, and had given the prime minister the benefit of the doubt. But he was quite unaware that Berlusconi's explanation had not stood up to subsequent scrutiny, because that little detail only appeared in some of the newspapers.

What we are seeing in Italy is the emergence of an information culture typical of authoritarian regimes. There are the information haves: they include those who read papers like La Repubblica, Corriere della Sera and La Stampa; the mainly young people who regularly surf the web, and those who listen to the few independent talk radio stations like Radio 24 Ore. Then there are the much more numerous information have-nots who still take their news from TV bulletins controlled directly or indirectly by Berlusconi. This is a bizarre and alarming situation in a western European democracy, and all the more so because the have-nots are convinced they are just as well-informed as the others. They become quite indignant, even angry, if you suggest otherwise.

Before the fall of the Berlin Wall, there was a part of communist East Germany near Dresden known jokingly as the Tal der Ahnungslosen (the Valley of the Clueless). Because of some freak of topography or atmospherics, its inhabitants were unable to receive TV signals from the west and therefore had to make do with the news given to them by the regime.

No doubt they were not wholly clueless. No doubt visitors to the area told them about what they knew. No doubt, some of the young people who went to Berlin to study returned whispering tales of another and forbidden reality. But the essence of the world view held by these unfortunates was nevertheless formed by their leaders.

We are accustomed to thinking of Italy as a long, thin country with a mountainous spine. But for as long as Silvio Berlusconi remains in office we would do better to imagine it as having a deep, broad cleft running down the middle – a new Valley of the Clueless.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/jul/21/berlusconi-pillow-talk-italy



_____________________
First, the situation of a country having a media mogul as its PM is beyond nuts. That fact alone should be enough for any intelligent and reasonably critical person not to give him their vote. What a whacky place!

I wasn't really surprised when I read that:

"According to a report in the Guardian last year less than a third of the population had access to the web, and those Italians who were linked up used the internet relatively little. The average for the population as a whole was just two hours a week."

When in Italy the lack of internet availability is noticeable, even in the capital of Rome where you can walk forever before finding an access point. I've had an easier time finding a connection in some third world countries.

Most Italians wouldn't be able to look at foreign news sources anyway...in Italy the ability to speak/understand a second language other than Italian seems less common than in other well developed European countries.
An Italian friend told me part of the reason is that everything is dubbed into Italian instead of using subtitles, unlike other countries where foreign movies/TV shows provide an entertaining way to pick up some English or other language.
________________________

Fabrizio
July 21st, 2009, 04:14 PM
I wasn't really surprised when I read that:
[INDENT] "According to a report in the Guardian last year less than a third of the population had access to the web, and those Italians who were linked up used the internet relatively little. The average for the population as a whole was just two hours a week."


http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v33/ronaldo/europe2009top.jpg



^ Actually Italy is about neck and neck with the Spanish.... much higher than the Dutch.

-----------------------



First, the situation of a country having a media mogul as its PM is beyond nuts. That fact alone should be enough for any intelligent and reasonably critical person not to give him their vote. What a whacky place!

One man Rupert Murdoch (with a truly right wing big-money, war mongering agenda) owns the following news outlets:

In the US:

- The New York Post

- The Fox Network (Fox News and Fox Business) - "the most-watched cable news channel." In the United States, Fox News Channel has been rated as the cable news network with the largest number of regular viewers. The quarter ending June 30, 2009, Fox News shows held all ten positions for cable news with an overall increase of 33% in viewership.

- The Weekly Standard

- Consumer Media Group....includes:
- - The Wall Street Journal - the leading US financial newspaper.
- - Wall Street Journal Europe
- - Wall Street Journal Asia
- - Barron's - weekly financial markets magazine.
- - Marketwatch - Financial news and information website.
- - Far Eastern Economic Review

- Dow Jones Indexes - stock market indexes and indicators, including the Dow Jones Industrial Average.

- a 34 per cent stake in Hughes Electronics, the operator of the largest American satellite TV system, DirecTV.

- the Twentieth Century Fox Studio

- HarperCollins book publishing company

- Fox News Radio

- Sirius Satellite Radio

- XM Satellite Radio

- The Timesledger Newspapers of Queens, New York:
Bayside Times, Whitestone Times, Flushing Times, Fresh Meadows Times, Little Neck Ledger, Jackson Heights Times, Richmond Hill Times, Jamaica Times, Laurelton Times, Queens Village Times, Astoria Times, Forest Hills Ledger, Ridgewood Ledger, Howard Beach Times


In other countries:

- the Turkish TV channel, TGRT

- Star TV, a Hong Kong company...it is one of the biggest satellite TV networks in Asia.


- Fox International Channels, domestic cable channels offering different formats of Fox programming in over thirty countries worldwide.


In the UK:

- Sky Television

- The Sun (circulation 3 million copies x day)

- The Times (and The Sunday Times)

( A side note: With regards to the UK: please note that "the BBC World Service is funded by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office, more commonly known as the Foreign Office or the FCO, is the British government department responsible for promoting the interests of the United Kingdom abroad.")

Some interesting info about Murdoch:

"During the 1980s and early 1990s, Murdoch's publications were generally supportive of the UK's Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. At the end of the Thatcher/Major era, Murdoch switched his support to the Labour Party and the party's leader Tony Blair. The closeness of his relationship with Blair and their secret meetings to discuss national policies was to become a political issue in Britain."

"While promoting his memoir, What Happened, Scott McClellan, former White House Press Secretary (2003–2006) for former President George W. Bush stated on the July 25, 2008 edition of Hardball with Chris Matthews that the Bush White House routinely gave talking points to Fox News commentators — but not journalists — in order to influence discourse and content. McClellan stated that these talking points were not issued to provide the public with news; instead, they were to provide Fox News commentators with issues and perspectives favorable to the White House and Republican Party."

"(Murdoch's) News Corporation organises an annual management conference, discussing media issues related to geopolitics. Attendees include News Corporation executives, senior journalists, Politicians and Celebrities. Previous events were in Cancun, Mexico, and the Hayman Island off the coast of Australia. The events are private and secretive, there are no records available for the agenda or talks given at the conferences, and no uninvited journalists are permitted access."

"During the buildup to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, all 175 Murdoch-owned newspapers worldwide editorialized in favor of the war.



I'm not worried about Berlusconi.

---------------

More about Murdoch:

http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/2004/07/b122948.html

----

Fabrizio
July 21st, 2009, 04:31 PM
Arguably the most striking thing about the Berlusconi tapes is that most Italians know, if at all, only vaguely of their existence.




??? First of all: the news broke yesterday. Today this news is in every daily. I guess I could scan the pages ....but in the meantime:

The Leftist Daily that broke the story:
http://www.repubblica.it/

"Il Corrieri" Italy's equivalent of the NYTimes:
http://www.corriere.it/politica/09_luglio_20/registrazioni_daddario_berlusconi_reazioni_7c564dd e-7547-11de-95fa-00144f02aabc.shtml

Il Giornale (authoritative right-wing paper)
http://www.ilgiornale.it/

Turin's national paper: "La Stampa"
http://www.lastampa.it/redazione/cmsSezioni/politica/200907articoli/45723girata.asp

La Nazione (Florence and Bologna):
http://lanazione.ilsole24ore.com/index.shtml

--

MidtownGuy
July 21st, 2009, 05:24 PM
Murdoch is an S.O.B. to be sure, and should have never been allowed to amass such media holdings- often in the same market. Thanks in part to Clinton for the media consolidation mess we're in.

Important difference between Murdoch and Berlusconi: Murdoch has not been elected to head the country (the main point that seems to have been missed).

Internet figures:
Because of vastly different populations among the studied countries, the total number of users in the chart displayed in post #71 is a terrible way to compare; posting it is of dubious value and doesn't really clarify much.

Instead, a look at the percentages of population is much more illustrative of how connected a nation is.

http://static.guim.co.uk/sys-images/Technology/Pix/pictures/2008/11/05/italy-netgraph.gif

In this much more meaningful measure, Italy ranks last behind Netherlands, UK, Belgium, France, Germany, Spain, and even Portugal.
See how numbers can mislead: Italy, misleadingly claimed to be in front of the Dutch, has a percentage of internet users at 32.8%- not even half the figure for the Netherlands.

The original study referenced in the above article is below. This article frames things in a balanced way: perhaps being more "connected" is not always a good thing. There is more to life than hacking away at a keyboard so perhaps Italians are actually more wise even while being less informed. Or...they just don't have an internet infrastructure as well developed? Not sure.

______________________________

This is social networking, Italian style

Contrary to the rest of the west, 'il bel paese' is spurning the net to retain its 'slow' culture - but at what cost to its economy?

Where in the world does the average citizen spend just two hours a week online? An isolated backwater, perhaps? Or maybe netizen figures from a far-off land trapped in a time bubble of its own desiring? Well, close. This bastion of digital indifference is Italy, one of our closest neighbours, a super-rich G7 nation and homeland to the inventors of the telephone and radio.

Some think this technophobia is a good thing, preserving the Italy of laid-back "click with friends and family, not a mouse" yore. Tourists for one find the low-tech lifestyle enchanting.

Turning off the net

Others feel it has put the country at a huge disadvantage, flinging it far over the wrong side of the digital divide where Italy will, in economic terms at least, continue to languish as the ageing, increasingly impoverished sick man of Europe.

And if moribund economies are measured by a lack of IT skills, high-speed connections and e-commerce, then Italy is very sick indeed.

The median amount of time Italian internet users spend online has actually decreased between 2007 and 2008, according to one survey by tech trend specialists JupiterResearch.

Interestingly, what that survey suggests is that although there is more internet connectivity than ever in Italy, residents are actually spurning the net.

Could it be that Italians have better things to do? Face-to-face networking, old-fashioned chat and time to share news and gossip over a game of cards in the shade of a village piazza, perhaps - the same things that draw thousands weary of net-driven modern life to Italy every year?

Information technology definitely presents a dilemma for many Italians, says Paolo Di Croce, the secretary of Slow Food International, who advocates a little less rush in all our busy lives. He believes technology has its place but should not overshadow, for example, the emphasis placed on real-time relationships or physical communities.

"The personal element in Italian life is something that will not be exorcised. So we have to find the right balance. Just as with the Slow Food movement and its globalisation, the web and email have become our major tools. Without internet we are not possible, but we must use them wisely," he says. "If you can't survive without sending 50 mails a day, without becoming a slave to the BlackBerry - this goes against our philosophy."

That Italy produced the Slow movement in the first place indicates that there was always going to be some resistance to demands for instant results, efficiency, 24/7 and convenience. And it's not as though Italy doesn't have form in its resistance to modern-day technology concerns and pressures: it spent the least of all the developed countries on fixing the millennium bug. In the event, no problems worth reporting were experienced.

Seeing how the use of IT has often actually increased our workload and complicated daily life, some on the side of the more demanding, tech-reliant digital divide are eyeing enviously Italy's less digitised, less demanding work practices. Such practices may, in the long run, even be good for business.

Just as financial globalisation allowed a few to hijack our banking systems, Italy claims its banks are now in better shape because their less tech-savvy institutions do things the old way.

"America and the UK used to say the Italian banks were backwards, but it turns out we now have the soundest banks in Europe," said Italy's finance minister, Giulio Tremonti, following the global financial crisis.

Italy may suffer in other ways - creaking bureaucracy, protectionism, inefficiency and low growth - but shows less of the malaise that comes with overexposure to digital lifestyles or unregulated internet that the rest of the west is suffering.

Meanwhile, as the internet savvy suffer info overload, Italy continues with older IT practices that many of the digital generation would find puzzling - Flash-infested websites that are less-than-functional shop windows, a sometimes poor response to emails and a bureaucracy that has made it painfully slow and expensive to bring email to the masses.

Domenico Condello, the technical consultant to a company that is attempting to bring the internet to unconnected hills 30 miles east of Rome, Comunita Montana dell'Aniene, says it has been a huge struggle to cut red tape holding back Italy's answer to feeding broadband to its hilly regions - a fast WiMax service.

"There is pent-up demand here," he says. "Fast WiMax services such as ours should revolutionise the internet in Italy." But he admits the start has been slow and that probably only the young will be interested in using the service as it rolls out this autumn.

Italy's half-hearted adoption of the internet and the older generation's failure to grasp the importance of IT to a future economy has frustrated many youngsters so much that they simply give up and go abroad, says Bernhard Warner, who runs a tech consultancy in Rome.

"But," adds the American expatriate, who swears by his high-speed web connection: "There are certainly things to be learnt from the Italian way of doing things.

"I can't see myself living anywhere else. Here, you can walk beyond your desk and realise there is more to life than tech things. Being surrounded by such art and history keeps your perspective fresh. I'm pleased by the Italian sensibility."

But even in the cities, he points out, where there may be broadband, the cost makes it a luxury for most Italians with their lower disposable incomes than the UK. "The preferred way to contact is the mobile for most. So far the net has been a tool for better-paid young professionals," says Warner. It's a far cry from internet being as available as "air and water", which is how the EU recently referred to its policy on broadband adoption.

Italy's new government under Berlusconi is probably not helping. The last election was about halting globalisation, protecting an inward-looking Italy, largely arguing against free trade and the opening of international markets - the internet being a large part of that.
Many who disagree with those policies have abandoned the country, leaving il bel paese - the beautiful country - to decide if it really does prefer life in the past - unhurried, and happily unwired.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2008/nov/06/internet-blackberry-social-networking

_____________________________


??? First of all: the news broke yesterday.
As for the news of the Berlusconi hooker tapes: the content may first have been published yesterday, but their existence has been known and published in news reports for a while (just to clear up any confusion).;)

MidtownGuy
July 21st, 2009, 05:48 PM
While researching internet use in Europe, I came across something about right wing Italian PM Berlusconi mentioning the use of the G8 presidency to 'regulate the internet".
This guy is a real right wing wacko! Apparently for him it's not enough to manipulate traditional media, he'd like to have a go at the internet as well!

Berlusconi plans to use G8 presidency to 'regulate the internet'
Forza Italia?

By Chris Williams

Italian president and media baron Silvio Berlusconi said today that he would use his country's imminent presidency of the G8 group to push for an international agreement to "regulate the internet".

Speaking to Italian postal workers, Reuters reports Berlusconi said: "The G8 has as its task the regulation of financial markets... I think the next G8 can bring to the table a proposal for a regulation of the internet."

Italy's G8 presidency begins on January 1. The role is taken by each of the group's members in rotation. The holder country is responsible for organising and hosting the G8's meetings and setting the agenda. Italy's last G8 presidency in 2001, also under Berlusconi, was marred by riots at the annual meeting in Genoa.
Berlusconi didn't explain what he meant by "regulate the internet", but the mere mention of it has prompted dismay among Italian commentators. Berlusconi owns swathes of the Italian mass media.
The left-wing newspaper L'Unita wrote: "You can not say that it is not a disturbing proclamation, given that the only countries in the world where there are filters or restrictions against internet are countries ruled by dictatorial regimes: those between China, Iran, Cuba, Saudi Arabia."
La Stampa reports Italian bloggers are planning to protest against any move by the president to tighten government control over the web tomorrow. They plan to display anti-Berlusconi banners on their websites.
Any G8 move next year to "regulate the internet" led by Berlusconi is likely to attract criticism. He has often been accused of using his power to try to silence dissent. He lost a long-running libel battle against The Economist earlier this year after it said he was not "fit to run Italy" and was this week suing American critic Andrew Stille for defamation*.
However, the governments of industrialised nations have been ramping up their rhetoric against internet content they view as unacceptable. The UK has introduced new laws and revived arcane ones to clamp down on extremist websites and niche pornography. Australia is busy implementing filters. ®
http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/12/03/berlusconi_g8_internet/

Fabrizio
July 21st, 2009, 05:54 PM
re: Internet regulation: from the article you posted:

"However, the governments of industrialised nations have been ramping up their rhetoric against internet content they view as unacceptable. The UK has introduced new laws and revived arcane ones to clamp down on extremist websites and niche pornography. Australia is busy implementing filters."


----------------

"See how numbers can mislead: Italy, misleadingly claimed to be in front of the Dutch, has a percentage of internet users at 32.8%- not even half the figure for the Netherlands."

Italy did not mislead anyone. The figures I posted are from "Internet World Stats"

http://www.internetworldstats.com/stats4.htm#europe

MidtownGuy
July 21st, 2009, 05:55 PM
"During the buildup to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, all 175 Murdoch-owned newspapers worldwide editorialized in favor of the war.

I'm not worried about Berlusconi.

Someone ought to be...he didn't just publish editorials, he was one of Bush's right hand men.

"Berlusconi has constantly made supportive statements of the U.S.-led war, and has been rewarded with state visits to Washington—he was the second foreign leader, after Tony Blair, to be received after Bush's reelection. Italy was also granted the helicopter contract for the presidential Marine One, as well as a promise to review its hopes for a seat on the UN Security Council."
from here (http://74.125.47.132/search?q=cache:X2GI19KZzwwJ:www.brookings.edu/articles/2005/0301westerneurope_laurence.aspx+italy+iraq+war&cd=5&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us&client=safari)

Alonzo-ny
July 21st, 2009, 05:59 PM
What exactly was discussed at the G8? Ive never seen a G8 pass so quietly and not know what it was about. Wasn't Afghanistan supposed to be high on the agenda?

MidtownGuy
July 21st, 2009, 06:07 PM
Me too, maybe the real issues lost out in the context of earthquakes and prostitutes.


Italy did not mislead anyone. The figures I posted are from "Internet World Stats"


My apologies for the confusing grammar. I didn't mean that Italy as a country misled someone. I meant that posting those numbers as a way to demonstrate Italy being more connected than the Dutch was misleading. It could have been written more clearly but I still think most people would understand the actual meaning.

The Netherlands population is less than 17 million, not even a third of Italy's population so internet use by numbers of people instead of percentage is basically useless.

Fabrizio
July 21st, 2009, 06:07 PM
"he was one of Bush's right hand men."

Midtown: Berlusconi is a baffoon who his leader of a country that (outside of a few things like good food, attractive men, and a high quality life-style ) amounts to nothing in the world.

Berlusconi and his girls will not affect the US... Clinton and his girls had genuine consequences.

In the meantime: Be worried about Rupert Murdoch... Berlusconi's game shows are not the danger.

--

re internet: The graph says % Population (Penetration)

--

MidtownGuy
July 21st, 2009, 06:10 PM
Well, I certainly am worried about him. I loath Rupert Murdoch!

MidtownGuy
July 21st, 2009, 06:13 PM
re internet: The graph says % Population (Penetration)

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v33/ronaldo/europe2009top.jpg

No. The graph you posted shows millions of users, not percentages. The graph I posted has both. As I said, in relation to how connected a country is, percentages are more telling of the situation.

http://static.guim.co.uk/sys-images/Technology/Pix/pictures/2008/11/05/italy-netgraph.gif

Fabrizio
July 21st, 2009, 06:17 PM
Scroll down.

http://www.internetworldstats.com/stats4.htm#europe

----

And even so... for me personally looking at the graph you posted ...I'm moving to Portugal.

--

MidtownGuy
July 21st, 2009, 06:33 PM
One step up!;)

Fabrizio
July 21st, 2009, 06:59 PM
What is so predictable about most of these articles coming from England is the lack of knowledge of what they are writing about. Some of the articles seem to want to confirm certain stereotypes at all costs... as if they are somehow trying to reassure their readers.

Another example... the article about social networking:

"This is social networking, Italian style

Contrary to the rest of the west, 'il bel paese' is spurning the net to retain its 'slow' culture - but at what cost to its economy?

Where in the world does the average citizen spend just two hours a week online? An isolated backwater, perhaps? Or maybe netizen figures from a far-off land trapped in a time bubble of its own desiring? Well, close. This bastion of digital indifference is Italy, one of our closest neighbours, a super-rich G7 nation and homeland to the inventors of the telephone and radio."

------------------------------------------

Instead this is from "Inside Facebook":

"Facebook Growth Surges in Italy, Developers Look for Better Italian eCPMs

December 18th, 2008
If Facebook’s recent global growth has been exponential, Italy’s growth in 2008 can be described as explosive. In the past five months alone, Facebook has grown an incredible 763% from 572k users in July to 4.9 million today! With 8.5% of the population on Facebook, Facebook has become the fourth most trafficked site in Italy."

http://www.insidefacebook.com/2008/12/18/facebook-growth-surges-in-italy-developers-look-for-better-italian-ecpms/

-----

Another article:

Tuesday, 9 December 2008
Italy loves Facebook - 906% growth in 6 months!

The Italian version of the Facebook platform was launched on May 14th 2008 and since then growth of Facebook use in Italy has been phenomenal. I have been periodically noting Facebook usage statistics by country and Italy is by far the fastest growing country in terms of active Facebook users.

On July 8th there were 491,100 Facebook users in Italy

August 7th - 572,960 Facebook users in Italy.

September 29th - 1,035,920 Facebook users in Italy.

November 1st - 2,217,580 Facebook users in Italy.

December 2nd - 4,155,420 Facebook users in Italy.

December 9th - 4,941,980 Facebook users in Italy!

In 6 months the number of active Facebook users in Italy has grown 906%! Furthermore usage of Facebook in Italy has grown by a further 786,560 active users in the last 7 days!

Italy is now the 6th biggest country by users for Facebook, however with a population of around 60 million there is room for significant further growth (especially when you consider that in some countries Facebook usage stands at between 20% and 30% of population.)

http://www.nickburcher.com/2008/12/italy-loves-facebook-906-growth-in-6.html


---

MidtownGuy
July 21st, 2009, 08:19 PM
That's definitely true. It seems almost every friend of mine in Italy loves Facebook and they all have these huge 'friend' networks... this all happened in the last year.

Fabrizio
July 22nd, 2009, 08:32 AM
Others feel it has put the country at a huge disadvantage, flinging it far over the wrong side of the digital divide where Italy will, in economic terms at least, continue to languish as the ageing, increasingly impoverished sick man of Europe.



We are accustomed to thinking of Italy as a long, thin country with a mountainous spine. But for as long as Silvio Berlusconi remains in office we would do better to imagine it as having a deep, broad cleft running down the middle – a new Valley of the Clueless.

What a whacky place!

When in Italy the lack of internet availability is noticeable, even in the capital of Rome where you can walk forever before finding an access point. I've had an easier time finding a connection in some third world countries.

Most Italians wouldn't be able to look at foreign news sources anyway...in Italy the ability to speak/understand a second language other than Italian seems less common than in other well developed European countries.


LOL. I love this stuff.

In the meantime: Could you tell me something? Why is it in every quality of life and human development survey done by authoritative study groups, this poor, underdeveloped, clueless country comes out among the top. Always outranking the UK and many other Euro countries?

Country Brand Index:
http://www.countrybrandindex.com/country-brand-rankings/

The Economist Quality of Life Ranking:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quality-of-Life_Index

(granted the last one done was 4 years ago, Ireland was at it's economic boom... it would be interesting to see this today)

And in the United Nations Human Development index, Italy's postion is again higher than the UK. Note too that the UK is still dropping like a stone, down 4 points. Italy has been surpassed by Greece's strong showing but it as still gained a point. The US too is losing rank.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_Development_Index

And we should be listening to Brits lecture about how to live?

--

Alonzo-ny
July 22nd, 2009, 09:07 AM
A countries 'brand' is meaningless to quality of life.

The quality of life link is nonsense. The UK is not in the same league as Mexico and most of South America.

Italy hardly soars above the UK in any criteria, both countries have their pros and cons. I would be more worried in a country with bad political corruption than I would be here in the UK.

Fabrizio
July 22nd, 2009, 09:20 AM
Italy out ranks the UK in every quality of life and Human development survey I've ever seen. If you can find otherwise please post it, I would love to see it. I can certainly understand not agreeing with the rankings. I think Italy is rated too low... but hey, we'll just have to take it up with The Economist and the United Nations Human Developement League.

Now here's a survey you might like: city rankings from the Mercer Quality of Life Index:

In this ranking, London just beats out Milan. But even Milan beats New York, Chicago and Washinton DC....'natch :

http://www.mercer.com.tw/summary.htm?siteLanguage=1001&idContent=1173105

More about Mercer:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World's_Most_Livable_Cities

nick-taylor
July 22nd, 2009, 09:41 AM
The UK does not have the same quality of life as Mexico and most of South America, ridiculous.The issue with indexes is the variables that they look at. For instance three of the (nine) variables used by the Economist are:
- Family Life - measured by looking at the divorce rate - the UK would be penalised for a high divorce rate compared to other countries where wives (or men) are tied into marriages due to abuse, religion, or family. Divorce is a choice, just as abortion is
- Community Life - measured by looking at church attendance or trade union membership - Again, areas the UK would do poorly because i) Church is for the elderly and socially backward people, ii) Trade unionism isn't a requirement like it used to be due to legislation and co-operation between the employee and employer
- Climate & Geography - measured by the latitude of a country, so somewhere like Zimbabwae would score higher than Norway

Hence Mexico is 'close' to the UK, simply because of its climate, high church attendance, and lower levels of divorce.

Throw those three out, and look at the remaining variables; Health (Life Expectancy), Material Well Being (GDP per person), Political, Stability & Security (Political Stability + Security Rating), Job Security (Unemployment Rate), Political Freedom (Political Freedom), Gender Equality (Ratio of Earnings), and the rankings would be completely different.

The UK would probably shoot up, as would Denmark and Finland, Ireland would fall, as would Italy and the US.

A better comparison would look at :
- Economy (GDP per Capita)
- Economy (Gini Coefficient)
- Crime (Number of Murders)
- Political Freedom (Freedom House Ranking)
- Media Freedom (Censorship)
- Health (Average Lift Expectancy + Accessibility to Healthcare)
- Transport (Accessibility to Public Transport)
- Education (Literacy, Science & Math Levels)
- Education (Number of Nobel Prize Winners + Patents per Capita)
- Environment (Green Space per Capita + 6 GHG emissions per Capita)
- Government (Representation)
- Culture (Theatres, Museums and Art Galleries per Capita)
- Sport (Number of football pitches, basketball courts, etc... per Capita + Number of stadium seats per Capita)


Fabrizio - I thought Midtown was American?

Alonzo-ny
July 22nd, 2009, 10:17 AM
Like I said Fab, Italy hardly soars above the UK. In one of your links Italy was 19 and the Uk 21. Hardly something to shout about. Like I said some things are better in Italy and some things are better in the UK. However something like large scale political corruption is a big one. The UK might have a stupid expenses scandal but its politics are very clean. Corrupt politicians dont last long with the cut throat media and public.

The UK is far from perfect but Italy isn't close either. I can only hope the UK can be more like Scandinavia as soon as possible.

Thanks Nick, a much better explanation of why these ratings are flawed than I could give.

Alonzo-ny
July 22nd, 2009, 10:20 AM
city rankings from the Mercer Quality of Life Index:



I never understand why Ireland always ranks so high in these ratings. Dublin is overly expensive and has none of the qualities that make London, NY, Tokyo, etc worth the money. If I were to live in a small city Id much rather be in Edinburgh, Amsterdam, or many other superior European cities.

Fabrizio
July 22nd, 2009, 11:33 AM
These surveys are always flawed... when we don't agree with them. The sources mentioned are top-notch. If the survey is intrinsically flawed, I think it would occur to the folks at the Economist who have the reputation of their brand on the line.

More from the Economist Survey:

"The United Kingdom, by contrast, ranks 29th in the world—well below its rank on income per person and bottom among the eu-15 countries. (....) Its performance on health, civil liberties, and political stability and security is also below the eu-15 average".


http://www.economist.com/media/pdf/QUALITY_OF_LIFE.pdf

For me personally these surveys only mean so much. Mercer, a reputable group, can tell me all they want that Milan (outside of it's city center one of the ugliest cities in Europe) has a higher quality of life than NYC... but c'mon...please. Who cares? NYC is NYC. But I think these surveys do break some easy stereotypes... and that should get you thinking.

--

Alonzo-ny
July 22nd, 2009, 11:52 AM
Sometimes they are flawed Fab. I dont blindly think the UK is the cream of the crop, I know it isn't. I also know that the UK is well ahead of Mexico and the South American countries that were on a par with the UK in quality of life in your link. To say otherwise is ridiculous.

Fabrizio
July 22nd, 2009, 12:17 PM
And then there's the highly flawed International Living Quality of Life Index.

http://www.il-ireland.com/il/qofl07/index.php

Oh my.... Italy Ranks 8th in the world. (United States 5th)

The UK: 37th


----

Italy: Freedom 100

UK: Freedom 92

United States: Freedom 92

---

Italy: Health 92

UK: Health 84

United States: Health 85

---

It should be noted that here too: Italy's ranking has risen (2 points) since the last survey. The UK? Dropped 19 points.

I guess we'll keep voting for Berlusconi.

..

Ninjahedge
July 22nd, 2009, 12:27 PM
You guys split any more hairs and we will all be bald.

Any "quality of life" survey over a HUGE gamut of qualifiers as they are wont to do will produce a large discrepancy between surveys depending on how much weight they give each.

If the magazines had any brains, they would look at their readership and try to model what THEY thought would be acceptable qualifications to the people buying their magazine.

As many have found out, especially on these highly opinionated and preferential ranking surveys, giving the people what they want to hear sells more.

But what does this really have to do with Burlusconi? QOL is decent in Italy, but it has little to do with the overall connection to the media or the importance that Italians place on wired media as oppsed to other countries.

I don't think that I would go so far as to say that Italians were out of touch, but the one thnig that did not hit me as we drove along the coastline was the apparent proliferation of internet cafe's or even newsstands.

Does this mean absolute rural ignorance? Nope. But I do think that would have a profound effect on opinion as evidenced by the tolerance of such smarmy behavior.

Do I think he should be kicked out of office for sleeping with, well, anything attractive? No. It is human. But I do not think it should be met with such indifference either. (And it sure as HELL should not be on the countries dime).

Alonzo-ny
July 22nd, 2009, 12:45 PM
Fab, look at the inconsistencies.

HDI
Iceland
Norway
Canada
Australia
Ireland
Netherlands
Sweden
Japan
Luxembourg
Switzerland

QOL(IL)
France
Australia
Netherlands
New Zealand
USA
Switzerland
Denmark
Italy
Luxembourg
Argentina

QOL(E)

Ireland
Switzerland
Norway
Luxembourg
Sweden
Australia
Iceland
Italy
Denmark
Spain

Some of these countries jump out of nowhere. Argentina, Tenth in the world! France or Ireland number one! Give me a break. Excuse me if I dont trust these.

I have not said that the UK has the best quality of life or that Italy doesn't. Im saying all countries have different problems and benefits. All I know is the UK has great quality of life. Id love it if there was a bit less crime and less drunkards but Id rather have that than other countries problems like Italy's political corruption.

Fabrizio
July 22nd, 2009, 12:55 PM
Of course they are all different... they all have different critera. But if I could just see one that gives the UK a good ranking. Just one.

Me? I'm a sucker for corruption ...so I guess I'm pretty happy here.

Alonzo-ny
July 22nd, 2009, 01:05 PM
Are you not getting that these rankings are pretty meaningless?

Ninjahedge
July 22nd, 2009, 02:09 PM
Actually Alanzo, they are very meaningful.


They can usually tell you more about the people DOING the ratings than about what they are rating.

Alonzo-ny
July 22nd, 2009, 02:32 PM
The thing is 'Quality of life' is a very broad statement and these people define it by, what, 9 criteria in one case, including how many people go to church as one of them. Church is irrelevant to mine, and many others quality of life yet it defines maybe one 9th or a big part of a 9th of the whole criteria.

Ninjahedge
July 22nd, 2009, 03:05 PM
The thing is 'Quality of life' is a very broad statement and these people define it by, what, 9 criteria in one case, including how many people go to church as one of them. Church is irrelevant to mine, and many others quality of life yet it defines maybe one 9th or a big part of a 9th of the whole criteria.

I wonder if it rated the architectural stylings of the churches attended........

;)

Fabrizio
July 22nd, 2009, 04:12 PM
If church attendance is such an important part of the Economist survey, it's strange then that most of the top ranked countries have low church attendance. Ireland does have higher attendance than European averages but the others (including Italy) have lower church attendance than the US. I believe it is Sweden that has the lowest church attendance in Europe, but it is ranked 5th in the survey.

And if climate is a big issue, note that most of the countries in the top 10 have cold rugged climates.

Info about the Economist Intelligence Unit from their website:

http://www.eiu.com/site_info.asp?info_name=aboutUs_ourMethodology&entry1=about_eiuNav&page=noads

--

MidtownGuy
July 23rd, 2009, 10:59 AM
The point was that numbers like church attendance or any other number are among a whole range of variables that people here might find difficult to agree on anyway, so what is the point of citing these indices. I'm still not sure why QOL rankings were even brought up when they were, in the context this conversation.
______________________________

Now obviously this can't be taken very seriously but it is funny that SB was votedinto theTop Ten Worst World Leaders

#5 Silvio Berlusconi

On-and-off Prime Minister of Italy since 1994 and the third richest man in the country, Berlusconi frequents the international news media with various scandals that are usually centered around women. Berlusconi is currently going through a very public divorce from his wife Veronica Lario over his attendance to an 18-year-old girl's birthday party (he is 73), among other things. Among and endless selection of gaffes, Berlusconi once complimentred Barack Obama on his "suntan".

on Huffington Post (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/07/20/top-10-worst-world-leader_n_241456.html?slidenumber=6#slide_image)

Fabrizio
July 23rd, 2009, 11:26 AM
QOL (and the why of it) was brought up in post #86.

--



On-and-off Prime Minister of Italy since 1994 and the third richest man in the country, Berlusconi frequents the international news media with various scandals that are usually centered around women. Berlusconi is currently going through a very public divorce from his wife Veronica Lario over his attendance to an 18-year-old girl's birthday party (he is 73), among other things. Among and endless selection of gaffes, Berlusconi once complimentred Barack Obama on his "suntan".

Let's see:

1- he's involved in various scandals centered around women.

2 - He's going through a divorce from his wife over his attendance to an 18-year-old girl's birthday party.

3 - Makes a lot of gaffes. He once complimentred Barack Obama on his "suntan".

Result: he's the world's 5th worst leader.

My, my... if that makes him the world's 5th worst leader... then I'd say the world's in pretty good shape.

----

BTW: Berlusconi has made "un sacco" of quotable quotes, but unfortunately he never complimented Obama on his "suntan".

Let's give credit where credit is due.

---

Re: "various scandals centered around women" as grounds for being the world's 5th worst leader: The Huf post wasn't around in President Clinton's day: I'm sure they would have been at the forefront of calling for Clinton's impeachment because of Lewinsky, Jones, Wiley and company. Yeah... right....

Note how this columnist for the HufPost views the Starr Report:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/joseph-a-palermo/the-starr-report-how-to-i_1_b_36970.html

---

MidtownGuy
July 23rd, 2009, 01:07 PM
It's just humorous, that's all. Nobody takes the whacky Huff polls seriously. I mean, they put SB next to Al-Bashir!

Fabrizio
July 23rd, 2009, 06:29 PM
At least Berlusconi is on a world leader list.

Obama could never be on a list like that... best or worst.

According to FoxNews... he's not even President.

Luca
July 24th, 2009, 03:43 PM
Jesus effing Christ Guys !!! (apologies to the Christians)
Do you spend all your time slagging each other off on this forum??

MTG: trying to sift through the posts for material not connected to telling Fabrizio off, the general tenor seems to be that... Berlusconi is not just a corrupt, vainglorious head of government but some right-wing extremist? Did I get that right? And that Italy is a totally fuc#ed country for having elected him? FWIW, I find the Guardian articles you posted (Admittedly, not a in-depth read) quite slanted. And comment like those of L'Express should be taken with a grain of salt given a pretty strong chauvinist spin (not to pick on France, but most of their top politicians have committed crimes similar to Berlusconi's.. ne c'est pas?? except their judiciary backs off a lot easier).

The unjustifiably condescending attitude of many such commentators also helps explain why Berlusconi’s chauvinist gaffes to foreigners don’t lose him too many popularity points.

Fabrizio: I would disagree (but it’s not something I can ‘prove’) that Italians don’t want democracy. I think it’s more that Italians don’t really accept reciprocity and accountability. They DO want lots of freedom… for themselves. Just not the costs/constraints that a functioning democracy entails. Hence the problems/contradictions. But hey, most countries transitioning from dictatorship take some time to adjust. Arguably, in many ways Spain has adjusted better. It would be interesting to discuss why.

eddhead
July 25th, 2009, 09:47 PM
QOL (and the why of it) was brought up in post #86.

--



Let's see:

1- he's involved in various scandals centered around women.

2 - He's going through a divorce from his wife over his attendance to an 18-year-old girl's birthday party.

3 - Makes a lot of gaffes. He once complimentred Barack Obama on his "suntan".

Result: he's the world's 5th worst leader.

My, my... if that makes him the world's 5th worst leader... then I'd say the world's in pretty good shape.

Oh come on. The fact that the world is comprised of uninformed people, and murdering thugs posing as chiefs of states, does not make Berlusconi a model public servant.

The fact as bad as these are, they are not the worst of his offenses. He is a corrupt, fascist pig who uses his ability to create legislation and manipulate the judicial system to further his personal interests at the expense of the people who entrust him who govern them, and to escape prosecution for all manner of abuse of power.

I cannot understand how non-US residents who in one breadth can so capably (and rightfully) disdain the politics of the US, its governing leaders, and under-informed nature US voters, can at the same time render any defense, whatsoever to this thieving pig, and the people who vote for him. He is worse than any US President I can remember including Bush (who by the way he supported). And in electing him, the Italian electorate continues to exhibit as bad or worse judgement than their US counterparts.


----


BTW: Berlusconi has made "un sacco" of quotable quotes, but unfortunately he never complimented Obama on his "suntan".
This was the exact quote from the BBC:

Mr Berlusconi made the quip at a news conference with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.
''Obama is young, handsome and also tanned, so he has all the qualities to agree with you,'' he told the Russian leader, speaking in Italian through a translator.

Close enough


---


Re: "various scandals centered around women" as grounds for being the world's 5th worst leader: The Huf post wasn't around in President Clinton's day: I'm sure they would have been at the forefront of calling for Clinton's impeachment because of Lewinsky, Jones, Wiley and company. Yeah... right....

Perhaps if there were evidence that Clinton was in the frequent aquaintance of prostitutes they might have indeed been amongst those in the forefront.

Besides you do your argument little justice when you justify bad behavior by measuring it against other bad behavior

Fabrizio
July 25th, 2009, 09:54 PM
Eddhead:

The exact quote from Huf Post that I was responding to was this:

"Berlusconi once complimented Barack Obama on his "suntan"."

Would this not give the impression that it was an exchange between the two of them along the lines of: "President Obama... nice sun tan!"?

What Berlusconi actually said.. and he said it to a reporter... was:

"Barack Obama è bello, giovane e abbronzato, ha tutto per andare d'accordo Dmitri Medvedev".

In English: "Barack Obama is young, tan and handsome, he's got everything you need to get along with Dmitri Medvedev". (Also a young and handsome man).

That is quite a difference... not a great comment... but hardly an insult. So no... he did not compliment Obama on his "suntan".

----------

"Perhaps if there were evidence that Clinton was in the frequent aquaintance of prostitutes they might have indeed been amongst those in the forefront."

In the US, without a doubt.

But the point in all of this is that even if he did it is simply not much of an issue among the Italian people. This is a different culture about these things.

---

"He is a corrupt, fascist pig "

In his country, a very popular "corrupt fascist pig". Go figure.

I mentioned in this thread that I would never vote for him... but compared to the opposition here... he is a perfectly understandable choice. There is another poster here from Italy who also voiced a similar sentiment. Perhaps it would be interesting for you to explore the reasons why.

--

eddhead
July 25th, 2009, 10:00 PM
Jesus effing Christ Guys !!! (apologies to the Christians)
Do you spend all your time slagging each other off on this forum??

MTG: trying to sift through the posts for material not connected to telling Fabrizio off, the general tenor seems to be that... Berlusconi is not just a corrupt, vainglorious head of government but some right-wing extremist? Did I get that right? And that Italy is a totally fuc#ed country for having elected him? FWIW,

interestingly, there were no shortage of forum members who suggested that the US was "a totally fu#ed up country" for electing Bush. I was among them, as was MTG. And if I am not mistaken, so were other folks who now feel compelled to react defensively to similar criticisms directed toward Berlusconi and the Italian electorate. Seems a bit hypocritical to me.

Fabrizio
July 25th, 2009, 10:06 PM
No. No one here is acting defensively in criticisms directed toward Berlusconi and the Italian electorate. Read the thread. But uninformed comments should be addressed.

eddhead
July 25th, 2009, 10:15 PM
Eddhead:

The exact quote from Huf Post that I was responding to was this:

"Berlusconi once complimented Barack Obama on his "suntan"."

Would this not give the impression that it was an exchange between the two of them along the lines of: "President Obama... nice sun tan!"?

What Berlusconi actually said.. and he said it to a reporter... was:

"Barack Obama è bello, giovane e abbronzato, ha tutto per andare d'accordo Dmitri Medvedev".

In English: "Barack Obama is young, tan and handsome, he's got everything you need to get along with Dmitri Medvedev". (Also a young and handsome man).

That is quite a difference... not a great comment... but hardly an insult. So no... he did not compliment Obama on his "suntan".

I already acknowledged as much. But if it is not an insult it is at least the gaffe that was originally suggested. The comment was an inappropriate, racially based stereotype. I mean Obama is "tanned" because he is african-american. Are you kidding?


----------


"Perhaps if there were evidence that Clinton was in the frequent aquaintance of prostitutes they might have indeed been amongst those in the forefront."

In the US, without a doubt.

But the point in all of this is that even if he did it is simply not much of an issue among the Italian people. This is a different culture about these things.

I'll buy that. As I said, those were not the worst of his offenses.

---


"He is a corrupt, fascist pig "

In his country, a very popular "corrupt fascist pig". Go figure.

I mentioned in this thread that I would never vote for him... but compared to the opposition here... he is a perfectly understandable choice. There is another poster here from Italy who also voiced a similar sentiment. Perhaps it would be interesting for you to explore the reasons why.

--

Sorry but suggesting he is the better of two bad choices as a rationale for his popularity is absurd. Perhaps it would be interesting for you to explore these justifications against the backdrop of yours and other criticisms and those of others of the US electorate. Kerry vs Bush comes to mind....

Fabrizio
July 25th, 2009, 10:22 PM
The comment was a gaffe. No one said it wasn't .

What I said was that "He did not compliment Obama on his "suntan".

The Hufpost reporting of Berlusconi's comment was framed in a way that was very misleading.

Belusconi has made so many juicy comments... unfortunately this wasn't one of them.

------

"Sorry but suggesting he is the better of two bad choices as a rationale for his popularity is absurd"

Berlusconi is popular because people feel he is doing a good job. His job approval rating has been mostly good.

And yes I do think think Americans were dumb for not voting for Kerry... but I don't think the Italians were dumb for not voting for Veltroni.

--

eddhead
July 26th, 2009, 06:01 PM
No. No one here is acting defensively in criticisms directed toward Berlusconi and the Italian electorate. Read the thread. But uninformed comments should be addressed.



Berlusconi is popular because people feel he is doing a good job. His job approval rating has been mostly good.

And yes I do think think Americans were dumb for not voting for Kerry... but I don't think the Italians were dumb for not voting for Veltroni.

--


I have read the thread, and beg to differ. Berlusconi was a horrible choice. Bush was a horrible choice. An objective assessment would suggest both electorates made bad choices. The suggestion that the Italian choice was understandable while the US choice was dumb is biased. It suggests an inability to assess the actions of the Italian politics through the same prism you use to judge the POTUS.

And BTW, GWB had relatively high ratings moving into the US election season too. That does not mean he was a "good choice"

I am OK with the criticism of POTUS by non US residents. It's justified. I am not OK when Italian residents use a different scale to judge Italian politics than they use to judge that of the US. It suggests a lack of objectivity, and an entirely biased motive.

Fabrizio
July 26th, 2009, 06:22 PM
"I am OK with the criticism of POTUS by non US residents. It's justified. I am not OK when Italian residents use a different scale to judge Italian politics than they use to judge that of the US. It suggests a lack of objectivity, and an entirely biased motive."

And I am able to understand both systems to the best of my ability. Are you? Tell us about the Italian Political system.

We are always chosing one candidate over the other. That's the way it works. As I told you personally I voted for neither... but Berlusconi was a valid choice. IMHO Bush was not.

In the meantime : Please tell us about Veltroni... about D'alema. Just as I feel Kerry was a better choice than Bush... I feel Berlusconi is a better choice than those two.

I perfectly understand English and have listened to Kerry, Bush, Obama, McCain... tell me about the speaches you listen to by our politicians to inform your opinion.

So far all we've heard here is that Berlusconi is a right wing pustule, a corrupt, fascist pig. That is not criticism. It is name calling. It is not a discussion.

Let's make it: "right wing pustule, a corrupt, fascist pig, nazi, sleazy, scum bag, idiot". Is that interesting? If you have real criticism... well let's hear it.

---

Furthermore: the American President is my President too. His policies... the policies of the US, affect all of us. The Italian Prime Ministers do not.

"He is worse than any US President I can remember including Bush "

The Italian Prime Minister unlike the an American President cannot start wars... bomb countries...set up a Guantanamo...or instill fiscal policies that are able to nosedive the world economy. He does not have a nuclear arsenal, a CIA, the world's biggest military industrial complex... oh please... It is IMPOSSIBLE for him to be as bad as Bush. Bush's actions have affected millions around the world. And while, in the Italian context, Berlu may be to the right-center, he is working with-in a solidly leftist country were most intrinsic social policies he cannot and would never even try to dismantle. Also: Berlusconi is a Prime Minister in a country that is part of the European Union with common policies.... and he must abide. The American President answers to no one.

So, do I hold them to different standards?

You betcha.

--

eddhead
July 26th, 2009, 08:09 PM
"I am OK with the criticism of POTUS by non US residents. It's justified. I am not OK when Italian residents use a different scale to judge Italian politics than they use to judge that of the US. It suggests a lack of objectivity, and an entirely biased motive."

And I am able to understand both systems to the best of my ability. Are you? Tell us about the Italian Political system.

Not sure what you are suggesting, but I hope it is not along the lines of my lacking the capacity for understanding the political systems and dynamics of other countries, or having a lesser capacity to follow geopolitics for whatever reason.


We are always chosing one candidate over the other. That's the way it works. As I told you personally I voted for neither... but Berlusconi was a valid choice. IMHO Bush was not



So far all we've heard here is that Berlusconi is a right wing pustule, a corrupt, fascist pig. That is not criticism. It is name calling. It is not a discussion.
Really? We have not discussed the legislation he enacted to shorten statute of limitation laws, and the impact it has had on the judiciary's system to prosecute him for bribery, corruption, and tax evasion charges? Or the media oligopoly of him and his family? You want specifics? How about this:
"It is not proper for the Prime Minister, being the chief executive of the Government, to be seen as taking advantage of procedural weaknesses in the system of which all have been calling for reform, including the Council of Europe.” from the UN. Or that there "was satisfied that there was reasonable cause for the magistrates to feel that their independence was threatened.” from the same report.


Let's make it: "right wing pustule, a corrupt, fascist pig, nazi, sleazy, scum bag, idiot". Is that interesting? If you have real criticism... well let's hear it.[/endquote]

see above

---

[quote]Furthermore: the American President is my President too. His policies... the policies of the US, affect all of us. The Italian Prime Ministers do not.

No I am afraid he is not. Italian-American alliances are bi-lateral choices. Citizens of other choices do not get to vote for the US President, nor do they have direct say in US policies


"He is worse than any US President I can remember including Bush "

The Italian Prime Minister unlike the an American President cannot start wars... bomb countries...set up a Guantanamo...or instill fiscal policies that are able to nosedive the world economy. He does not have a nuclear arsenal, a CIA, the world's biggest military industrial complex... oh please... It is IMPOSSIBLE for him to be as bad as Bush. Bush's actions have affected millions around the world. And while, in the Italian context, Berlu may be to the right-center, he is working with-in a solidly leftist country were most intrinsic social policies he cannot and would never even try to dismantle. Also: Berlusconi is a Prime Minister in a country that is part of the European Union with common policies.... and he must abide. The American President answers to no one.

So, do I hold them to different standards?

You betcha.

--

We are talking about the rationality, not the impact of choices. His was a horrible selection. That it had lesser impact that the Bush choice is immaterial do this discussion.

Fabrizio
July 26th, 2009, 08:35 PM
Your exact words were ""He is worse than any US President I can remember including Bush "

I can only interpret that as "impact of choices". And Berlusconi is nowhere in Bush's leauge. Not even in the context of Italy.

Bush affected millions... Berlusconi simply cannot.

(and yes he was a "friend" of Bush's... but Italy has always been an ally, it's position is unique in that it lost a war to the US... it hosts US military bases... it has it's obligations but in Iraq did not actively participate)

------

From an interesting interview with Domenico Pacitti from the University of Pisa which gives a good run-down of the accusations against Berlusconi over the years.

After a summary of the worst allegations he is asked:

Do you think Berlusconi has any positive qualities?

( Remember this was written in 2003: add the solution to the dramatic trash situation in Naples, the response in Aquila, the abolishment of the ICI and other reforms.)

Pacitti: His chief positive quality is that he has so far shown himself to be far more capable of governing Italy than any of his Italian politcal colleagues on the left or right. This observation should of course be perceived from within the accepted conventional paradigm of what constitutes good government in a western imperialist context.

JUST Response: So what exactly has Berlusconi done that is positive?

Pacitti: Well, for example, his foreign policy over the US-UK invasion of Iraq was understandably perceived by Italians to be a highly commendable piece of tightrope walking that allowed Italy to cut an honourable figure internationally. Italians see in Berlusconi a premier who is at last respected by his foreign counterparts. Berlusconi has also introduced a number of commonsense measures no doubt designed to increase his popularity that are having a positive impact on many Italians. For example, the local policeman has been brought back on the beat, giving city dwellers a much needed sense of security. His introduction of a new points system for car licenses which comes down heavily on driving offences is reported to have reduced road deaths by twenty per cent over the past months compared with last year. His latest proposal to raise the retirement age by five years is already seen by many as a sensible step in the right direction of reducing increasing debt caused by overgenerous pensions. These and other measures such as restricting cigarette smoking in public places and raising minimum retirement pensions have done a fair amount to give Italians the welcome sensation that this prime minister actually wants to do something positive for ordinary people and that he has established a closer contact with them than most of his predecessors.

JUST Response: And do you think this makes up for Berlusconi's apparent moral and criminal shortcomings?

Pacitti: Of course it doesn't. It is only natural for anyone who believes in truth and justice as absolute values to think of their ideal political leader as morally upright and untouched by corruption or criminality. The question is: how realistic is it to expect a political leader to act morally and truthfully? Is George W. Bush any less of a criminal than Berlusconi? Or is Tony Blair? What about Ariel Sharon or Hu Jintao and others? How many honest premiers and presidents are there in the world today? Could there ever be such a thing as a truly honest political leader in the modern world? Or is the term "honest political leader" simply a convenient formula that happens to be a contradiction in terms? That's certainly something worth thinking about."

I think that's a good dry eyed look from someone from the Italian left. Berlusconi is: "more capable of governing Italy than any of his Italian politcal colleagues on the left or right."

And that is what I (and Luca) have been saying here all along.

http://www.justresponse.net/berlusconi_pacitti.html



----------------------------------

This is another exellent article that very well describes the mood here:

http://www.spiked-online.com/index.php/site/article/4981/

lofter1
July 26th, 2009, 08:48 PM
eddhead: I'm not backing up Berlusconi, but no one here aside from Fabrizio has tried to widen the discussion or considered in any depth what the altenatives were for the Italians and what those other choices would mean for their country. If you think Berlusconi is the worst that Italians can do then you might want to read up on some Prime Ministers of the recent past, including Craxi (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bettino_Craxi) and Andreotti (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Giulio_Andreotti).

Gotta say, Berlusconi does have a knack for coming up with catchy names for his various political parties:

Forza italia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Forza_Italia)

The People of Freedom (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_People_of_Freedom)

Mrs. Palin might want to take note (and try to acquire a media empire while she's at it).

Fabrizio
July 26th, 2009, 09:18 PM
To be added to my post above:

I wrote " Furthermore: the American President is my President too. His policies... the policies of the US, affect all of us. The Italian Prime Ministers do not."

Eddhead wrote:

"No I am afraid he is not. Italian-American alliances are bi-lateral choices. Citizens of other countries do not get to vote for the US President, nor do they have direct say in US policies"

I am obviously speaking figuratively... I think everyone here knows that, "Citizens of other countries do not get to vote for the US President".

But no matter: "the American President is my President too. His policies... the policies of the US, affect all of us (around the globe). The Italian Prime Minister's do not."

----

Also: "We have not discussed the legislation he enacted to shorten statute of limitation laws, and the impact it has had on the judiciary's system to prosecute him..."

It would be interesting to compare the length of Italy's Statue of Limitation laws with those in other countries....

--

MidtownGuy
July 26th, 2009, 10:57 PM
Fabrizio wrote:

No. No one here is acting defensively in criticisms directed toward Berlusconi and the Italian electorate. Read the thread. But uninformed comments should be addressed.



So far all we've heard here is that Berlusconi is a right wing pustule, a corrupt, fascist pig. That is not criticism. It is name calling. It is not a discussion.


Listen. You're actually getting defensive about being defensive. This kind of misplaced defensiveness is not needed or wanted here. We have many discussions in the news section and I don't seem to recall that we're required to provide personally written, cross-referenced essays about a politician before being able to call them a name or two. What is this schoolmarm routine all of a sudden?

When the discussion turns to Italy (instead of the gazillion threads about American politics), we must suddenly step into professor mode, or expect to have our reasoning and motives disparaged? I mean these are politicians, for crying out loud, why all of this priestly lecturing about not insulting this particular one...or what a proper discussion is...heaven forbid someone should have a few names in mind for a billionaire Prime Minister that has a trail of corruption going way back!
We really shouldn't be required to list everything here...the sordid details are available on Wikipedia or a million other sources right on this same internet for anyone to go and read if they find this discussion lacking in background on the man.

Please get over it and give us a break. Take some time off from this thread if it is going to cause so much drama. "This is not a discussion, na na na, post in the way I think you should, na na na na na." If the discussion on this thread seems to be so unsatisfactory for you, may I suggest that you simply not read it? Problem solved.

If it's too hard to resist, then I have some bad news for you: we are not going to censor ourselves here to make you happy with the manner in which your corrupt Prime Minister is being spoken about. Take heart: you're free to go and post harsh words about any American politician you like and we promise not to get in a defensive tizzy.

Bottom line: Why would we need to provide a doctoral thesis here? Look at the crazy title of the thread. There should be no pretense here. Certainly no one is required to be a professor of Italian politics in order to assess Silvio Berlusconi pretty squarely at this point. We'll call the man any name we like and you should just get over it. It's no big deal, ya know? Try to lighten up a bit.

For a person that says he has no personal stake in it for Silvio, you're sure expending an awful lot of time defending the guy in every way possible.

Let's just face it: at times the Italian electorate is as clueless as any other, and the corrupt SOB who did the best job of manipulating the media wins the elections. If people like Veltroni or Prodi are so unspeakably horrible that choosing Berlusconi is the natural thing for Italians to do, then why not tell us about these horrible and incompetent spooks? They must be devils indeed. Oooooo Veltroni! Be afraid, be very afraid. Boo!!

Which leads to the question...what's with all those millions of genuine Italians who have voted for a candidate other than Berlusconi? I suppose they're just nuts. Uninformed leftists. Not genuine or curious enough to discover that they should really just shut up and support Silvio, again and again. After all, anyone else but Papi, who gets things done, is just impossible to fathom!

MidtownGuy
July 26th, 2009, 11:16 PM
And then there's Luca...


Jesus effing Christ Guys !!! (apologies to the Christians)
Do you spend all your time slagging each other off on this forum??

Now just cool yer jets there, Luca...
The heavy slagging ended p(ages) ago.

I guess I should file my answer to this accusation:

the general tenor seems to be that... Berlusconi is not just a corrupt, vainglorious head of government but some right-wing extremist? Did I get that right? And that Italy is a totally fuc#ed country for having elected him?

No, you didn't get it totally right.
Vainglorious, maybe. I guess 'extremist' depends, since these terms are all relative...did I mean he wears arm-bands and eagle motifs?...of course not. But right wing nonetheless.
I think I used the word whacky, because I do think he's a bit of a whack job.
Italy is not a totally f**ked up country. It's a great country. Its politics are seriously ****ed up, yes. Ours are too. So sue me for saying it.

Hmm...like I said, there does seem to be a bit of defensiveness here on the part of certain members.
Why must it be that a person who insults Berlusconi is doing so only because of a lack of knowledge, incorrectness etc.?
Is this kind of condescending rubbish really necessary:

If, Midtown, you have any genuine interest in understanding a phenomenon like Berlusconi (as opposed to just insulting him); I'm happy to point out some stuff.

Just insulting him? My interest in understanding things isn't genuine because I have a few names for Silvio Berlusconi? Naturally I reserve the right to be well-informed, and then insult the guy too! The two things go hand in hand where SB is concerned, especially for those of us on the progressive side.

We insult politicians all the time on this forum, mostly American ones, and not because we just lack information and need to have things spelled out for us.
Don't confuse a difference of opinion with a lack of knowledge.

lofter1
July 26th, 2009, 11:18 PM
Well, the "leftists' are the ones who voted Craxi in (he was the Socialist Party candidate). And in terms of scumminess, he is arguably the scummiest PM of them all. Or maybe he just screwed up by not insuring that he had enough on-going friends set up in high places to pull him out of the scum.

But, as has been pointed out, we're talking politicians here. So the scum is always relative.

MidtownGuy
July 26th, 2009, 11:45 PM
Patrizia D’Addario: Silvio Berlusconi offered me a seat in European Parliament

The prostitute at the centre of the sex scandal involving Silvio Berlusconi says that the Italian Prime Minister offered her a seat in the European Parliament.

Patrizia D’Addario made the claim in an interview published in the French newspaper Le Journal du Dimanche.

It followed the release of audio tapes and transcripts last week that purportedly revealed intimate conversations recorded while the couple were having sex.

Mr Berlusconi was criticised strongly this year for proposing a string of attractive female candidates with no political experience, including a soap opera actress and a contestant on the reality-television show Big Brother, to run in the European Parliament elections held in June.

After an outcry led by his estranged wife Veronica Lario, all but one of the women, Barbara Matera, were dropped from the ballot for his People of Freedom party.

In the interview published yesterday, Ms D’Addario discussed the two occasions late last year when she was invited by the businessman Gianpaolo Tarantini to attend the Prime Minister’s official residence.

Ms D’Addario said that the only guests at the first dinner, in mid-October, were Mr Berlusconi, Mr Tarantini and about 20 young women. “It was obvious to me that we were all escort girls. Mr Berlusconi asked the girls if they’d like to work in television, go into politics or to take part in Big Brother (aired by one of his television channels),” Ms D’Addario said.

She said that Mr Tarantini, who is being investigated by prosecutors for alleged corruption and abetting prostitution, paid her €1,000 (£865) and that Mr Berlusconi was to give her another “pay cheque” if she stayed the night with him on November 4.

Ms D’Addario said that she made the second visit to the Palazzo Grazioli, but that the Prime Minister did not pay her. Instead, he promised to help her to resolve an issue over a building permit in the southern city of Bari.

“He didn’t pay me, but he promised to send me two people to take care of a problem I had with planning permission which was blocking a building project,” she said.

“To me that was equal to earning €2,000 extra. That project was really close to my heart and he understood that, so I was satisfied. But that is not what happened. Instead he offered me a seat in the European Parliament.”

Ms D’Addario said in the interview that she no longer worked as a prostitute and was running out of money. She added that she was concerned for her safety after a robbery at her home in Bari.

“I feel very isolated. [Mr Berlusconi] is the most powerful man in Italy. After the burglary of my flat and other things which I cannot mention here, I no longer feel safe,” she said. “I am no longer an escort, my building project is still blocked. I have no money and they took everything I had.”

Ms D’Addario emphasised that she had decided to make the tapes independently. Mr Berlusconi’s allies have suggested that she was ordered to make the recordings, which were published last week on the website of the Italian newspaper L’Espresso, as part of a conspiracy against him.

She said yesterday that since enduring a former violent relationship she never left home without a tape recorder. She concluded that it would be “prudent” to tape her encounter with Mr Berlusconi.

Her interview was published as the Italian newspaper La Repubblica identified Grazia Capone, a 24-year-old model and actress, as being under investigation by prosecutors in Bari for allegedly being hired by Mr Tarantini to attend the Prime Minister’s parties.

“Yes, I went to Berlusconi’s parties. I don’t see anything bad or improper about that,” Ms Capone said.

Meanwhile, the Prime Minister’s lawyer, Niccoló Ghedini, denied that there were any ancient Phoenician tombs on Mr Berlusconi’s Sardinian property, Villa Certosa. The statement was made in an attempt to end speculation about whether they had been reported to cultural authorities.

In 2005 Mr Ghedini accompanied police to a section of the property where vases and necropolises from the 3rd century BC had been found. “That news is true, but no Phoenician tombs were seen,” Mr Ghedini said.

In a tape released last Thursday, Mr Berlusconi was allegedly recorded on a tour of his villa with Ms D’Addario pointing out 30 Phoenician tombs among the property’s assets. Under Italian law, any archaeological finds must be reported within 24 hours.

Glamour roles

Angela Sozio, 36 former contestant on Grande Fratello, the Italian version of Big Brother. She was put in the spotlight two years ago after being photographed hand in hand with Mr Berlusconi

Barbara Matera, 28 Miss Italy contestant and a science graduate. Was the only “showgirl” to have been selected as a candidate in the European elections and took up her seat this month

Camilla Ferranti, 30 trained ballerina who appeared in Incantesimo, an Italian soap opera. Mr Berlusconi called the head of state television to urge him to give her a part in a leading show

Eleonora Gaggioli, 31 television actress best known for her role in Elisa di Rivombosa, a steamy costume drama. The law graduate is also a glamour model

Comments:

Pamela Brasolin wrote:
I am grateful to your newspaper. I am an italian woman, disguted by the conduct of our Prime Minister, tired to be informed by internet because of the scandalous silence of our media. Please don' give up, go on denoucing the situation! This is a battle for democracy and truth. Thank you!!!
July 27, 2009 12:45 AM BST

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/europe/article6728322.ece

lofter1
July 27th, 2009, 12:10 AM
Don't you know: Never believe anything anyone says while you're having sex.

Fabrizio
July 27th, 2009, 03:27 AM
The waters are calm, and with contributions from Eddhead and Lofter, the thread kicks into discussion mode, stimulating, informative and civil.... to be interrupted by the following:




Listen. You're actually getting defensive about being defensive. This kind of misplaced defensiveness is not needed or wanted here.

What is this schoolmarm routine all of a sudden?

why all of this priestly lecturing

Please get over it and give us a break. Take some time off from this thread if it is going to cause so much drama.

If the discussion on this thread seems to be so unsatisfactory for you, may I suggest that you simply not read it? Problem solved.

we are not going to censor ourselves here to make you happy...

Why would we need to provide a doctoral thesis here?

and you should just get over it.

Try to lighten up a bit.

Oooooo Veltroni! Be afraid, be very afraid. Boo!!



Well thank you Midtown.

MidtownGuy
July 27th, 2009, 03:45 AM
You're obviously very defensive, and Eddhead seems to be having some of the same difficulty with you.

Those things you cherry picked apart? They are simply me, telling YOU, that your bewildering and defensive attitude toward the discussion is unwanted and not needed. This defensiveness really has to stop. Like I said, spare everyone the drama.

My post was basically saying, chill out... lighten up. And you really need to.

MidtownGuy
July 27th, 2009, 04:03 AM
Example of taking things out of context and getting defensive:

EXTRACTING THIS:
"What is this schoolmarm routine all of a sudden?"

FROM WHAT WAS ACTUALLY THIS:

"We have many discussions in the news section and I don't seem to recall that we're required to provide personally written, cross-referenced essays about a politician before being able to call them a name or two. What is this schoolmarm routine all of a sudden?"

Nobody needs ^ that kind of removal from context. Let everyone just see our remarks with all the connective tissues still in place.
In its complete form, it's asking a legitimate question about this sudden new insistence on following some kind of protocol.

Let's just keep the conversation flowing on Berlusconi without this kind of thing:

So far all we've heard here is that Berlusconi is a right wing pustule, a corrupt, fascist pig. That is not criticism. It is name calling. It is not a discussion.which is what begged to be answered, as I did in the post which you then chopped apart and re-posted in fragments.

MidtownGuy
July 27th, 2009, 04:23 AM
eddhead wrote:

I have read the thread, and beg to differ. Berlusconi was a horrible choice. Bush was a horrible choice. An objective assessment would suggest both electorates made bad choices. The suggestion that the Italian choice was understandable while the US choice was dumb is biased. It suggests an inability to assess the actions of the Italian politics through the same prism you use to judge the POTUS.



and this:

interestingly, there were no shortage of forum members who suggested that the US was "a totally fu#ed up country" for electing Bush. I was among them, as was MTG. And if I am not mistaken, so were other folks who now feel compelled to react defensively to similar criticisms directed toward Berlusconi and the Italian electorate. Seems a bit hypocritical to me.


YES. Very well said!

Alonzo-ny
July 27th, 2009, 05:58 AM
The discussion is drifting towards the posters and not the subject again. If you don't have something to say about the topic, don't post. If you have an issue with how someone is posting or what they are saying take it to PM or ignore it. The discussion was back on track, lets keep it that way.

Fabrizio
July 27th, 2009, 06:58 AM
Oh the thankless job of "defending Berlusconi"....



Comments:

Pamela Brasolin wrote:
I am grateful to your newspaper. I am an italian woman, disguted by the conduct of our Prime Minister, tired to be informed by internet because of the scandalous silence of our media. Please don' give up, go on denoucing the situation! This is a battle for democracy and truth. Thank you!!!
July 27, 2009 12:45 AM BST

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/europe/article6728322.ece

^Now that's a good one. These latest allegations by Patrizia D’Addario were not even given to the Italian media: "Patrizia D’Addario made the claim in an interview published in the French newspaper Le Journal du Dimanche." And it was published yesterday. In the meantime: can't this Pamela Brasolin commenting on the article, buy La Repubblica... which is on every newstand in Italy? It is certainly sold in London.

Today's edition of LaRepubblica (Italy's second largest circulation daily), with the same story:

http://www.repubblica.it/

(It should be noted that the Leftist (and I mean Leftist) LaRepubblica has a daily circulation of about half a million readers in a country of about 60 million people. To put it in perspective: the NYTimes has a circulation of about 1 million. LaRepubblica is cetainly not some obscure publication).

-----

And take a look at this week's cover of L'Espresso (reproduced on the print version). A must-see... the title is fabulous:

http://espresso.repubblica.it/

Weekly circulation of the leftist L'Espresso: 1.290.000 copies.

Compare that to the Belusconi owned Panorama Magazine (direct competitor of L'Espresso)... circulation: 503.000 copies)

(For comparison with the two: Time Magazine: 3,360,135.)

And she can always pick up the Corriere Della Sera... Italy's most important daily... conveniently available all over London, so she doesn't have to be "tired to be informed by internet" :

http://www.corriere.it/politica/09_luglio_24/frattini_escort_dino_martirano_b3cb12aa-7811-11de-96fb-00144f02aabc.shtml



--

lofter1
July 27th, 2009, 10:17 AM
Wouldn't you think that the vast majority of folks, while they may have issues with Berlusconi, envy his "relationships" with these hot young women? Many would either (1) want to "be like Silvio" and have a hottie (or ten) of their own or (2) be the one upon whom Silvio lavishes his attentions / goodies. Of course that is in the fantasy realm, so one can blind themselves to the dirty deeds which need to be done to achieve the level of power and influence that a position such as Silvio's requires.

He's like Trump with bigger ambitions. The have-nots / want-to-haves easily buy into the image that these men so carefully and expensively project. Both know that being trashed / hated is part of the game. They have lots of lawyers / PR people to deal with those inevitabilities. And if luck stays on their side they will both continue to rise to the top. That's what money can do.

That on-going "What's gonna happen now? / Can he get away with it?" is another part of their allure. The dullness and lack of imagination found in the competition doesn't hurt either.

On the other hand, if fortune turns her back on them then they could just as easily end up as the latest in a line of Public Enemies, and findthemselves being Madoff'ed or Mussolini'ed.

eddhead
July 27th, 2009, 10:29 AM
eddhead: I'm not backing up Berlusconi, but no one here aside from Fabrizio has tried to widen the discussion or considered in any depth what the alternatives were for the Italians and what those other choices would mean for their country. If you think Berlusconi is the worst that Italians can do then you might want to read up on some Prime Ministers of the recent past, including Craxi (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bettino_Craxi) and Andreotti (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Giulio_Andreotti).



Granted but if Craxi and Andreotti, as well as a host of others are relevant at all (and given that both have been out of office for 17 years or so, you can argue they are not) it only substantiates the view that the Italian Electorate is at least as ill-informed as that of the US and has a propensity to make incredible choices.


The discussion is drifting towards the posters and not the subject again. If you don't have something to say about the topic, don't post. If you have an issue with how someone is posting or what they are saying take it to PM or ignore it. The discussion was back on track, lets keep it that way.

I do not agree with that rule in all cases. It is in the general best interests of the forum to call out posts that appear to lack objective perspective, as a result of a poster's life experience biases. These posts are editorial comments and as such need to be viewed through a critical prism that includes observations regarding member inconsistencies. Calling those inconsistencies out constitutes a service to the forum.

And I agree with MTG on the double standards. We can all agree to criticize the POTUS, but we need to take special care when addressing the political dynamics of European Countries. We need to first make sure we demonstrate an in-depth understanding of Geo politics, be prepared to write chapter and verse on the intricate dynamics of a given political system, its culture, and its influences, and be willing to overly flexible when assessing its leaders.

It is like saying GWB wasn’t so bad considering Richard Nixon.

lofter1
July 27th, 2009, 10:39 AM
To understand how Berlusconi rose to power one needs to understand Craxi and what he did. Craxi preceded by a few years (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Prime_Ministers_of_Italy) Berlusconi's first term, and his stuff was hitting the fan around the time that Berlusconi came to be.

Fabrizio
July 27th, 2009, 10:40 AM
Granted but if Crazxi and Andreotti, as well as a host of others are relevent at all (and given that both have been out of office for 17 years or so, you can argue they are not) it only substantiates the view that the Italian Electorate is at least as ill-informed as that of the US and has a propensity to make incredible choices.

Scandals about Berlusconi have been around since the '90's. They have been well reported. The Italian Electorate has no illusions about him. He is assumed to be corrupt.



And I agree with MTG on the double standards. We can all agree to critisize the POTUS, but we need to take special care when addressing the political dynamics of European Countries. We need to first make sure we demonstrate an in-depth understanding of Geo politics, be prepared to write chapter and verse on the intricate dynmaics of a given political system, its culture, and its influences, and be willing to overly flexible when assessing its leaders.

Oh, that would be sweet... but you don't have to go to all the trouble...this is how I do it:

http://wirednewyork.com/forum/showthread.php?t=21402


Often while working I watch Fox from it's website. What I hear is now getting downright scary. Seems like the nuts have gone mainstream. I can't think of any other country saddled with such a loud violent fringe group that has a major "news" network egging them on... and because of the US's importance, the fear is not only for Americans, but for the rest of the world as well.

Am I exaggerating? Is Frank Rich exaggerating? (see below)

What's the climate out there?


And:



I don't really know what the climate is in the US, I don't live there. It's easy for me to pull out an article or 2 on the subject... but things are exaggerated all the time... journalists need fodder for articles and editorials.

I watched Fox all during the elections and for a while was convinced that Obama could never win. I was happy to be proven wrong. So what's the deal with this hate mongering.... do you all think it's really having an effect on the crazies?

Or maybe like this:


Mohamed: would you do this for us?: Tell us about basic human rights in your country... the status of women and homosexuals.

This is an article from Wikipedia reporting about basic human rights in your counrty. According to this article the picture is not very good: is it true? You tell us.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_rights_in_Egypt

---

And BTW Eddhead: No one here... or at least certainly not me... takes umbrage at criticising our Prime Minister.

--

MidtownGuy
July 27th, 2009, 11:27 AM
So then, why all the blustering on your part?

Fabrizio
July 27th, 2009, 04:08 PM
This might also help to put the Berlusconi sex scandal and it's impact in Italy into a cultural perspective... it's about our cousins next door:

A Tell-All’s Tale: French Politicians Stray Early and Often

Ed Alcock for The New York Times

PARIS, Oct. 16 — Did President Jacques Chirac have a child with a Japanese mistress? Did the Socialist politician and would-be presidential candidate Dominique Strauss-Kahn attend a sex soirée? Did former President Valéry Giscard d’Estaing really have as many mistresses as the salons of Paris have claimed? Sex and politics have intermingled in France for centuries, but the private lives of politicians have historically been kept secret.This is, after all, the country in which President François Mitterrand concealed for years the existence of a daughter born out of wedlock. It was disclosed by the popular magazine Paris-Match in 1994, just months before he left office, and both of his families attended his funeral two years later.

Now, “Sexus Politicus,” a 390-page tell-all book on the subject, has catapulted to the top of the nonfiction best-seller lists, a reflection of the erosion of privacy in French public life and the appetite for a gossipy read. The authors, Christophe Dubois and Christophe Deloire, are veteran investigative reporters who have written books about the murder of the prefect of Corsica in 1998 and the rise of Islamic extremism in France. About 150,000 copies are in print in France, a remarkable number here for a work of nonfiction. “It’s a rather serious book based on interviews, not just hearsay,” said Patrick Jarreau, one of the editors of Le Monde, though the book does circulate old rumors that the authors say cannot be confirmed. “Sex and politics seven months ahead of a presidential election — that’s a pretty good recipe for success.”

The book’s central premise is that in France, a successful politician is also a seductive politician. Sex, the authors say, is a civic imperative. “Far from being a flaw, to cast yourself in the role of seducer is without doubt an important quality in our political life,” the book claims. Certainly, power attracts. When Edgar Faure became prime minister in the 1950’s, he gained the lofty title of “president of the Council,” and that apparently made all the difference. “When I was a minister, some women resisted me,” he once was quoted as saying. “Once I became president, not even one.”

France’s president from 1895 to 1899, Félix Faure, who was not related, died in the bed of his mistress.

De Gaulle was the only post-World War II French leader to maintain a strict military discipline over his personal life, the book asserts. More recently, it adds, Mr. Giscard d’Estaing, Mr. Mitterrand and Mr. Chirac juggled the demands of the state, their families and their extracurricular activities with aplomb.They understood, according to the authors, a fundamental rule of French politics: Good politicians love and are loved.
“When I was president of the republic, I was in love with 17 million French women,” Mr. Giscard d’Estaing said in an interview taped for the television show “Private Life, Public Life” to be broadcast Wednesday. He added, “When I saw them in the crowd, they felt it and then they voted for me.”

The authors speculate that one reason the Socialist former Prime Minister Lionel Jospin was not a more attractive presidential candidate was that he “was too lacking” in seduction. Mr. Chirac, by contrast, apparently had such power over women that his wife, Bernadette, confessed in a book in 2001 that she suffered from terrible jealousy. “The day Napoleon abandoned Josephine, he lost everything,” she warned him several times. The book also quotes Mr. Chirac’s chauffeur for 25 years, Jean-Claude Laumond, as saying that Mrs. Chirac would ask, “But in short, Mr. Laumond, where is my husband tonight?”

Considerable space is devoted to the well-documented soap opera marriage of Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy, the leading candidate for the presidential nomination for the governing UMP party, and his wife, Cécilia. The editor of Paris-Match was forced to resign after the magazine published a cover photo of Mrs. Sarkozy and her supposed lover looking at a New York apartment layout. The book speculates that at first Mr. Sarkozy presented himself as lonely and long-suffering, but then thought better of it, letting it be known through supporters that he was happy. “If I have a free evening, I know with whom I want to spend it,” the weekly magazine Le Point quoted Mr. Sarkozy as saying last fall. (He was reported to have been involved for several months with a prominent newspaper reporter.) He and his wife have since reconciled.

To avoid being prosecuted under France’s tough privacy and anti-defamation laws, the authors of the book withheld the names of some of the lovers, and made sure they kept ample ammunition in their files — from interviews and from police and intelligence reports. Sometimes the book knocks down rumors, but it also cites public reports the authors could not confirm. For instance, the unsubstantiated story about Mr. Chirac fathering a child with a Japanese mistress was told in a book by Guy Birenbaum in 2003.

“We haven’t been attacked because, to be really honest, often we knew more than we wrote,” Mr. Deloire said. “No politician wants to run the risk that more stories will come out in court.” Instead of protesting, the subjects of the book are staying quiet. Spokesmen for Mr. Chirac, Mr. Sarkozy and Mr. Giscard d’Estaing sent e-mail messages saying they would not comment. Mr. Strauss-Kahn’s office did not respond to several requests.

Unlike in the United States, where such a revelation would become the focus of a blanket media investigation, French journalists barely raised the issue.

Indeed, the reaction of the French people is starkly different from that in the United States, where a sex scandal can threaten to bring down a government.

A January poll by TNS Sofres for the newspaper Le Figaro found that most French voters wanted their next president to be around 50, multilingual, honest and willing to listen. Only 17 percent said they would not vote for those who had extramarital affairs. That Ségolène Royal, the leading candidate for the Socialist nomination in next year’s presidential election, is not married to the father of their four children has not been an issue.

That said, the French tolerance — or even celebration — of sexual exploits may change if Ms. Royal becomes president. “This French exception that makes power rhyme with sexual prowess — will it survive the feminization of politics?” Le Figaro asked. “This question has not escaped Ségolène Royal, who predicts the revenge of women if she assumes power.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/10/17/world/europe/17france.html


---

^ Valéry Giscard d'Estaing's comment: "“When I was president of the republic, I was in love with 17 million French women. When I saw them in the crowd, they felt it and then they voted for me.” .... is pretty damn good...

---

eddhead
July 27th, 2009, 05:08 PM
http://wirednewyork.com/forum/showthread.php?t=21402


--
Sometimes ... but in other instances you do it like this

"It is no less threatening and extremist than Islam. One could argue that Iran is co-existing with Islam or that Saudi Arabia is coexisting with Islam. These pronoucements by the Vatican are no less intrusive, threatening and divisive that any fatwa. The issue is the Vatican trying to roll us back to the year 1305......"

There are Jewish lobbys in the US. You don´t think they try to influence the government? There are Christian lobbys. ALL try to change government policy.

I did not spend a lot of time looking for this, it was just Just the first one I saw based on looking at oldest quotes first. It was just the easiest one for me to find.

I am not going to go back and forth with you on this because A. It is getting tedious B. I take it on faith you are informed C. I acknowledge that you have a right to your opinion. But I do ask the same courtesey in return

Moreover, I do not judge you for critisicing the POTUS nor its social structure. Nor do not ask that you first demonstrate an in-depth understanding of the subject matter before posting on US social and political issues

But I will call you out when I believe you and or anyone else are allowing their posts to be tainted something other than the issue at hand and I expect the same in return. It strikes me that despite disclaimers, you and others are rationalizing Berlusconi through the prism of predecessors and more recently peers. It is like you are saying, I would never stick up for him BUT....

lofter1
July 27th, 2009, 05:43 PM
There is a huge difference between "rationalizing" and giving background that folks might be better off to understand when discussing the issue of the leadership of a country.

But when the thread starts out with "pustule" in the title one really shouldn't expect there to be much beyond surface name calling (one reason I hung back for so long).

Is it really better to keep it at the somewhat humorous but often tedious level of misunderstandings and pre-judgments?

Fabrizio
July 27th, 2009, 06:09 PM
^ Make that: "Silvio Berlusconi- King of Italy, Right Wing Pustule"

^

But I will call you out when I believe you and or anyone else are allowing their posts to be tainted by something other than the issue at hand...

Well, that's nice to know. And you're doing a hell of a job!

---

"There are Jewish lobbys in the US. You don´t think they try to influence the government? There are Christian lobbys. ALL try to change government policy."

Eddhead: Oh thanks for going into the archives (and in this heat!) and digging up that quote from about... oh, I don't know.... 4 years ago? Completely out of context... has nothing to do with anything... but anyway it still sounds good to my ears.

Sit down and have a beer. You deserve it!

--

MidtownGuy
July 27th, 2009, 06:45 PM
There is a huge difference between "rationalizing" and giving background that folks might be better off to understand when discussing the issue of the leadership of a country.

Background is always welcomed...but what we've seen is more along the lines of biased rationalizing and excuse making.

I'd bet most of us already know about Berlusconi's history of corruption (spanning decades) which has already been widely reported across the internet. Folks can find info all over if they don't understand something. Maybe they could open another window and type a query into that little rectangular box with the word "google" next to it. Guaranteed to fill in most gaps in background if someone wondered why SB might be called a few unflattering names.


Is it really better to keep it at the somewhat humorous but often tedious level of misunderstandings and pre-judgments?

No, but why should we not have some levity at the same time that we explore the facts?

A politics forum could become a very dry place if even a word like "pustule" causes trepidation, or people are required to submit a personally written thesis in order to throw a few labels around- especially concerning a politician already known by everyone to be corrupt! Maybe we should be submitting our credentials first?

The defensiveness being shown on this thread regarding an admittedly corrupt politician is absolutely ridiculous. The indignation might be more wisely reserved for a politician that actually deserves to be defended.

Surely a bit of levity AND understanding can coexist on the same thread. The thread "Evil Dick Cheney, Enemy of the People" doesn't seem to have suffered because the title isn't very Wall Street Journal. Then again, Cheney is American, so we aren't asked to "tell us about..." every thing he ever did before registering an opinion.

It has been suggested that any further discussion of posting style be continued on a dedicated thread in Forum Issues rather than continuing to pollute this thread. I think it's a good idea if anyone is interested.

Perhaps we could start with how this kind of caustic sarcasm:

"Sit down and have a beer. You deserve it!"
is just as deleterious to meaningful dialogue as "You are a ________."

Fabrizio
July 27th, 2009, 06:52 PM
^Midtown... sincerely... when someone digs up my posts from years ago to find some obscure sentence... they do deserve a beer. If anyone finds that offensive... I'll take it back.



The defensiveness being shown on this thread regarding an admittedly corrupt politician is absolutely ridiculous.

There is no defensivness.

Berlusconi is corrupt. Any Italian will tell you.
He is a womanizer. Probably pays women or at least gives very expensive gifts. Who is not in agreement with that?

Where is the defensivness?

If I tell you that in Italy most people, including many on the left, grudgingly admit that he is, at the moment (for a myriad of reasons)... the best man for the job.... that is not being "defensive".

If I tell you that in Italy yes, he is considered to be to the right... but if I try to clarify that by pointing out that in your society he would be, on many issues and policies, considered left wing.... that is not being "defensive".

Etc.


----------------------------

Corruption and politics. If I try to point out a paralell between Berlusconi and Richard Daley... maybe I'm trying to shed light on something: Daley was known by all to be corrupt. He was called Boss: see this book jacket.

And he ruled Chicago for 21 years. Popular as can be...but as corrupt as can be .... but why is it today many consider him to have been one of the 20th Centuries greatest mayors?

Is it because historians are being "defensive"? Maybe it is because there is a bigger picture... maybe there are many shades of grey to understanding and not just black and white.

Berlusconi is very corrupt.... he is also a very able polititian who can get things done and round up a coalition in a country where it is very hard to do that. Oh and guess what? He's corrupt. We know that...

As bad as Bush? We'll let's thank God Berlusconi was born in Italy and could never have been the ruler of a world power (just as I would not have wanted Richard Daley the ruler of a world power ).... but as the man running Italy... considering the state of our current left...Berlusconi is sort of ok.

--
About Richard Daley: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_J._Daley

---

MidtownGuy
July 27th, 2009, 07:25 PM
I don't know what "most people" means if there is not a quantifiable basis for the claim. Are you just going by the last election? A newspaper poll?
I do know that on many of the "leftist" or "progressive" sites I come across, there are countless Italians expressing a different opinion. They loath Berlusconi and consider him a danger to Italy. NOT the best man for the job.

So what we really have here is not "I'm right, you're wrong" about whether he is the best man to run Italy. It's just your opinion, Fabrizio. People will disagree. So, that doesn't stem from a lack of knowledge or because they just don't "get it".

You're welcomed to your opinion. I'm sure you know other Italians that share it.

Yet, I'm also positive there are millions who absolutely do not. The comments of Italians who disagree with you are everywhere on the internet. Lamentably, none of them are on this forum because if they were, the opinions here would be a lot more representative of the feelings of various Italians on this matter.

Would it be worth it to re-post some of their comments here, as a way for people here to know what Italians other than yourself feel about this? It seems most of what is being said, even the repeated reference to his mastery of the Naples garbage crisis, is actually up for debate when you start talking to actual Italians.

Take for instance, this:


Federico, I have read your post twice and I am still wondering if you believe what you wrote. Is one of the most unbalanced thing I have read on this forum so far.

You claim that Berslusconi granted Italy <<stability, security, fight against crime and Mafia, strong measures against illegal immigration, fight against bureaucracy and excessive Government spending, rigorous finances and economic measures to help Italy's recovery from the "Troubles">>. This is ludicrous.

Under Mr B.'s governements Italy GDP systematically fell, debt increased, public spending increased, service quality decreased, median income decreased, inflation increased, hidden economy increased.... In the regions governed by the Center-Right the Health Care System, once an Italian pride, got rotten due to mounting corruption and excessive spending. Labor Statistics are appalling and productivity is falling since 1994. I dare you to prove the contrary. The only reforms of the labor market that allowed italy to increase participation, employment and reduce unemployment has been approved by the center-left government. A little contribute was carried by Legge Biagi, that continued the work made by Ministry Treu during the preceeding left wing government.

The only promise Berlsuconi kept was to fight immigration. An that is ironic because without immigrants our GDP would have been continuously negative in the last 15 years. Double irony is that the restrictions imposed by Berslusconi stop high quality immigants (Italy is now in the last rank concerning high skilled immigration in Western Europe and the comparison with US is embarassing) but do not stop criminals...that do not have anything to lose...Romania, Albania Libya were really successful in sending us their criminals and low skilled workers in excess thanks to Berlusconi's uninformed policies.

Mafia: you claim Berlsuconi is a fierce enemy of organized crime. it's VERY ironic because the founder of Forza Italia, Berslusconi's party, is Marcello Dell'Utri, held guilty of Mafia Association and sentenced to 9 years in prison. It is VERY ironic because Berlusconi was the employer of Vittorio Mangano, an important Mafia Boss for years. Mangano lived in Berslusconi's house and officially served there as horse groom: furhter irony, in Mafia gergon, a "horse" is a batch of dope and Mangano was really in charge of distributing dope in Milan for Mafia during those years...When Mangano died, Dell'Utri, still congressman for Berlusconi's party, said that Mangano was an hero because he did not testified against him and Berslusconi during his trial. Oh, not to mention the recent law that restricted law enforcement telephone tiptapping so much that became almost impossible to use these techiniques to collect evidence of crime..And of course, for what crimes telephone tiptapping is important? Extorsion, laundering, drug dealing, tax evasion, etc, tipically Mafia crimes....Not to speak about the several laws that crippled our judicial system to save him from being held guilty or even receive a trial..

Alitalia: you claim Berlusconi performed admirably on this issue. Here what really happened. The center-left prepared a deal with Air France in which the French company was to buy Alitalia for several billions AND pay Alitalia's debts. Air France though required to be able to fire few thousand excess employees and redirect routes because Malpensa Airport as an hub was not profitable anymore. The Italian government would have replaced employees income for 1 year. Berlusconi stepped in saying that Italy is a great country and we could not do without a national company and that Malpensa was strategic for Italian economy. A striking mass media campain mounted on Berslusconi's networks and newspapers against the deal. Mean while the center left government fell and Air France representatives told that they would sign the contract only after the upcoming elections if the new government would approve it. Berlusconi won and the deal was dismissed. He split Alitalia in a Bad company and a Good company. The bad company was a financial artifact allowing the government to concentrates Alitalia's debts and liabilities. The good stuff, endowment, and assett plus 300 millions Euro was packed in the good company. The government spent BILLIONS of taxpayers euros to pay off the company's debts packed in the Bad Company...Then he sold for a bucket of euro the good company to a bunch of his friends..What we got now? Malpensa halved his traffic and it is not a hub anymore, Air France is stepping in anyway because Berslusconi's friends got no idea on how to run an airline company, connection between Milan and Rome got incredibly expensive due to monopoly rights given by the governemtn to the new company.

Earthquake in Abruzzi: You claim he did an excellent job in Abruzzi. Just for a comparison. After an analogous tragedy happend in Marche, few Km far away but during a Center Left government, people got TRUE HOUSES in weeks. After months people still live in tents in Abruzzi in appalling conditions. To avoid troubles the government took the following actions: 1- camps are under curfew; 2- leafleting is prohibited (how can they organize dissent?); 3- internet is severely limited when not accessible at all and communications with the outer world is very difficult; 4- Camp-to-camp movements are restricted: people need to pay to visit their parents living in different camps (consider that these people do not have a job now and lost everything). Are they prisoners or what? Why this information is not given to the Italian public?

Naples trash issue: Simply my friend, the trash has been moved from inner city to outer city. Since you are Italian, look at tv show Report for an account of the issue (or the movie Biutiful Cauntri).

I'll explain later why Italians still votes for the bufoon...
https://richarddawkins.net/forum/viewtopic.php?f=17&t=83033

Is this person right about everything? Who knows, but just like yourself, he holds an opinion and he lives in Italy.

MidtownGuy
July 27th, 2009, 07:39 PM
One mistake is to keep holding up "womanizing" and the hooker fiasco as the main problem that people have with him. We know that it isn't. This is just the latest, and sort of amusing to follow. Let's avoid reducing this whole question of his fitness as a leader to whether or not he has sex with prostitutes.
The Italians that oppose him for very serious reasons don't give a hoot about that, as you've amply reminded us.

This article is old (8 years, so there are plenty of things that happened more recently which are not covered here) but does a good job of showing how the scope of SB's criminal activity goes way beyond a few hookers, which I think we all agree don't matter much.

An Italian story
http://www.economist.com/world/displaystory.cfm?story_id=587107
After next month’s election, Silvio Berlusconi, Italy’s richest businessman, is expected to become prime minister again. Yet he is still locked in a string of legal battles. His companies have used money from untraceable sources—and he even faces allegations of links to the Mafia

ON APRIL 20th, in a drab courtroom in Milan, three judges met to hear evidence in a big trial. The case involved the alleged bribery of judges. Taped to the door was a handwritten list of the accused. At the top was Silvio Berlusconi’s name.

This case illustrates vividly that Mr Berlusconi has not put his legal problems behind him. Shortly before he first became Italy’s prime minister, in May 1994, his business empire, Fininvest, became a subject of the mani pulite (clean hands) investigations. This operation, launched by magistrates in Milan in 1992, had exposed deep-rooted corruption in Italian politics, the bureaucracy and business.

When Mr Berlusconi founded his political party, Forza Italia, in 1993, little was known about his business methods. He portrayed himself to Italians as a self-made man who had built up a powerful television empire by breaking the monopoly of Italy’s state-owned broadcaster, RAI. He told them that he represented a clean break with Italy’s corrupt past.

Since 1994, however, magistrates have investigated many allegations against Mr Berlusconi, including money-laundering, association with the Mafia, tax evasion, complicity in murder and bribery of politicians, judges and the finance ministry’s police, the Guardia di Finanza. Mr Berlusconi, who strongly denies all the allegations, maintains that left-wing magistrates dominate the judiciary, and that the mani pulite investigations were politically motivated. Not surprisingly, his closest associates echo these assertions. “Mr Berlusconi has been persecuted since 1993. There is something rotten in the judicial system,” says Fedele Confalonieri, an old friend and chairman of Mediaset, Fininvest’s television group.

A senior British judge, Lord Justice Simon Brown, took a rather different view in 1996. The case involved an unsuccessful attempt by Mr Berlusconi to stop Italian magistrates getting their hands on some documents seized by the Serious Fraud Office in Britain. The magistrates needed these documents as evidence in a case of illegal party financing, whereas Mr Berlusconi claimed the alleged offence was political. It was a misuse of language, Lord Justice Brown said,

to describe the magistrates’ campaign as being for “political ends”, or their approach to Mr Berlusconi as one of political persecution...the magistracy are demonstrating...an even-handedness in dealing equally with the politicians of all political parties. It is, indeed, somewhat ironical that the applicants here are seeking to be regarded as political offenders in respect of offences committed in part whilst Mr Berlusconi himself was actually in office...I just cannot see corrupt political contributors...as “political prisoners”.
But Mr Berlusconi has a second line of defence. “Italy is not a normal country. Even an anomaly like Mr Berlusconi must be understood in the context of the country. He has done nothing worse than any businessman in Italy,” pleads Mr Confalonieri.

Indeed, many Italians, by no means all of them on the right, echo this defence. Mr Berlusconi, they say, did only what all businessmen had to do to get ahead: pay off anybody, politicians and judges included, who was in a position to help. Mr Berlusconi’s fault, they say, is simply that he was cleverer, and became richer, than his rivals. Besides, they add, what were the magistrates themselves up to, before the mani pulite campaign, when they were notably inactive in pursuing bigwigs?

Others disagree. “He went beyond the acceptable way of doing business in Italy,” comments a top Italian banker.

Wheels of justice
Three things are important if the full background to Mr Berlusconi’s legal entanglements is to be understood. First, once an allegation of a crime is made in Italy, magistrates have a legal duty to investigate. They can investigate the allegation for a maximum of two years without bringing charges. Second, once charges are brought, the justice system moves slowly: a trial can last for years, as can the appeal process. Third, in Italy, the accused are not considered guilty before definitive conviction in the final appeals court.

Mr Berlusconi has had no definitive convictions so far, but only three of nine criminal proceedings against him have reached the final appeals court (click to see the charge sheet). In the one case where the result is known, concerning illegal political donations, this court did not find him innocent. It upheld the verdict of the first appeals court which, because of the lapse of time since the offence, had applied the statute of limitations. Under the Italian penal code, this extinguishes the crime.

Mr Berlusconi’s legal problems all stem from his business career, which started in the 1960s. When he entered politics, he gave up the directorships of all his Fininvest companies, except AC Milan, a football club. However, he remains the controlling shareholder, and one or both of his grown-up children sit on the board of each of the main companies in the empire.

The structure of that empire is not straightforward even now, and has been far more convoluted in the past. Twenty-two holding companies, each of them beneficially owned by the Berlusconi family, control around 96% of the main private holding company, Fininvest.

Fininvest’s biggest asset by far is a controlling stake, worth 13.1 trillion lire ($6.0 billion), in Mediaset. Terrestrial television in Italy is dominated by two groups: Mediaset, and the state-owned RAI. Between them, Mr Berlusconi’s three TV networks (Canale 5, Italia 1 and Retequattro) have a 43% share of the national audience and over 60% of total TV advertising sales.

Television is only one part of Mr Berlusconi’s media empire. He has a controlling stake in another quoted company, Mondadori, which is Italy’s largest publishing group. Mondadori’s books division has almost 30% of the domestic market; its magazine division, with around 50 titles, 38%. The Berlusconi family also owns one of Italy’s leading national newspapers, il Giornale.

Fininvest also has a 36% stake in Mediolanum, a fast-growing financial-services group that Ennio Doris founded in 1982 with Mr Berlusconi’s financial backing. Mediolanum was floated on the stockmarket in 1996. And Fininvest has a clutch of loss-making businesses (see table below), such as its Internet portal, Jumpy, launched just as the dotcom party was finishing, and Pagine Utili, a struggling telephone-directories firm.

The money trail
Mr Berlusconi cut his business teeth on property development in and around Milan. In the late 1960s, he had the idea of developing Milano 2, a garden city of around 3,500 flats. It was built on the eastern outskirts of Milan beneath the flight path of aircraft taking off from nearby Linate airport. The appeal of the development was enhanced after the aircraft were mysteriously diverted over other residential areas.

This was not the only mystery. Companies in Switzerland, where beneficial ownership is impenetrable, injected 4.1 billion lire (33.5 billion lire in today’s money) in equity into the Italian companies responsible for Milano 2. So, on paper, this project belonged not to Mr Berlusconi, but to anonymous third parties.

Officials at the Bank of Italy suspected that Mr Berlusconi was behind the Swiss companies. At the time, holding capital abroad without telling the authorities was a criminal offence. A team from the Guardia di Finanza, led by Massimo Berruti, investigated in 1979, but concluded, despite evidence that Mr Berlusconi had personally guaranteed bank loans to the Italian companies, that he was not the beneficial owner of the Swiss companies. Mr Berruti’s boss signed the official report. Like Mr Berlusconi, he belonged to the infamous P2 masonic lodge. Immediately after his investigation, Mr Berruti left the Guardia di Finanza and worked as a lawyer for Mr Berlusconi. He is now a Forza Italia member of parliament.

Milano 2 gave birth to Mr Berlusconi’s television empire. In 1978, he launched a local cable-television station for Milano 2, called Telemilano. This scheme became far grander. Mr Berlusconi’s ambition was to challenge RAI’s monopoly on national television advertising, for which there was huge pent-up demand. Telemilano became Canale 5 in 1980.

There was one major snag: only RAI was permitted by law to broadcast nationally. Although private commercial television was unregulated in most respects, a court ruling in 1980 allowed private television stations to broadcast only on a local basis.

But Mr Berlusconi soon found a way round this ruling. He bought programmes, especially American films and soaps, and offered them at very low prices to small, regional television stations. Mr Berlusconi collected the revenue from pre-recorded advertising slots that he inserted. Each station in the Canale 5 circuit agreed to broadcast the same programmes at the same time. In this way, he secured his national audience.

How did Mr Berlusconi finance his budding television empire? Part of the answer is with bank debt. He had a large helping hand from public-sector banks, which provided bigger loans than Fininvest’s creditworthiness seemed to merit. But the rest of the answer is not clear at all. In 1978, at the birth of his television group, Mr Berlusconi set up the 22 holding companies that control Fininvest. From 1978 to 1985, 93.9 billion lire (387 billion lire in today’s money) flowed into the 22 companies, ostensibly from Mr Berlusconi.

In 1997, a financier with links to the Mafia alleged to magistrates in Sicily that Mr Berlusconi had used 20 billion lire of Mafia money to build up his television interests. The magistrates asked the Bank of Italy to help the anti-Mafia division investigate. Two officials spent 18 months combing the shareholder, banking and accounting records of the 22 companies. The Economist has a copy of their reports, which run to over 700 pages. The two main findings are startling.

The first is Mr Berlusconi’s lack of openness with the two trust companies that he instructed to be the registered holder of his shares in the 22 companies. The trust companies were subsidiaries of Banca Nazionale del Lavoro (BNL), a large bank. Mr Berlusconi put money into the holding companies through two little-known Italian banks, rather than through BNL itself. Thus, BNL’s trust companies had no clear picture of the ultimate source of these funds. In 1994, BNL’s managers were so concerned about this that they carried out two inspections of BNL’s relations with the 22 companies.

These inspections revealed other anomalies, such as share sales that were registered solely on Mr Berlusconi’s word, and with no documentary evidence. For instance, when he sold shares in one of the holding companies to a Fininvest subsidiary for 165 billion lire, the funds bypassed the trust companies altogether. So they had no idea how, or even whether, the buyer had paid for the shares.

The second finding is that the ultimate source of the money put into the 22 companies cannot be traced. There were three reasons for this. First, 29.7 billion lire had been paid in cash, or cash equivalents. Second, the investigators had found no extant supporting documents in the records of the trust companies, banks or holding companies for 20.6 billion lire. Third, Mr Berlusconi had been adept at sending funds round in circles.

Why did Mr Berlusconi want to do this? The investigators were baffled. One company, Palina, ostensibly a third party, had sent 27.7 billion lire to the trust companies, which had then transferred this sum to the holding companies. From there, the funds went to Fininvest, and then, through a Fininvest subsidiary, back to Palina. All these transactions took place on the same day and at the same bank. The investigators found that hidden behind Palina was Mr Berlusconi. He had used a 75-year-old stroke-victim to front for him. Soon after the transactions took place, Palina was liquidated. Its books had been kept blank.

So the true source of the 93.9 billion lire that flowed into the 22 companies in 1978-85 remains a mystery that only Mr Berlusconi can solve. We have sent him questions about this, in writing, but he has declined to answer. A close reading of the reports suggests that the possibility of money-laundering in the 22 companies cannot be ruled out. Banca Rasini, one of the little-known banks used by Mr Berlusconi and once his father’s employer, cropped up in trials of several money-launderers in the 1980s. But the anti-Mafia investigators found no evidence to support the allegation that had triggered their work. They clearly hoped to produce a second report, but the time limit for the investigation had by then expired.

A friend in need
After he bought his two largest private competitors, Italia 1, in 1983, and Retequattro, in 1984, Mr Berlusconi had secured a virtual monopoly in private television. To skirt round the law and broadcast nationwide, he needed help from political friends. None helped more than Bettino Craxi, who became leader of the Socialist Party in 1976 and prime minister in 1983. Mr Berlusconi, through his two main networks, had a powerful political weapon to offer.

In October 1984, officials in several Italian cities shut down his television stations for broadcasting illegally. This spelled potential disaster for the heavily indebted Fininvest group. Within days, Craxi, who died in Tunisia last year after being sentenced in absentia to prison for corruption, signed a decree that allowed Mr Berlusconi’s stations to stay on air. After some parliamentary tussles, this decree became law.

Craxi’s decree did nothing to prevent concentration of ownership. But neither did the Mammi law (named after Oscar Mammi, the telecoms minister), passed in 1990. Tailor-made to suit Mr Berlusconi with his three national networks, it said that no single group could own more than three out of the 12 networks that would be licensed. The coalition government of the day, which depended heavily on Craxi’s Socialist Party, pushed through this controversial measure despite the resignation of five ministers in protest. In effect, this law entrenched the duopoly between Mediaset and RAI. In 1991 and 1992, Mr Berlusconi paid a total of 23 billion lire into Craxi’s offshore bank accounts from a clandestine part of his Fininvest empire, known as All Iberian.

Following leads from their investigation of Craxi’s bank accounts, prosecutors discovered a secret and substantial network of Fininvest companies, incorporated in such jurisdictions as the British Virgin Islands and the Channel Islands. These companies were not disclosed as subsidiaries in Fininvest’s accounts. According to prosecutors, in 1993 Mr Berlusconi signed a letter to his auditors falsely stating that these companies were not part of the Fininvest group.

The prosecutors claim to have found a wide-ranging international fraud, perpetrated under the direction of Mr Berlusconi, to siphon off huge amounts from Fininvest into the secret offshore companies. According to them, Fininvest used various fraudulent financial techniques. The offshore companies, the prosecutors claim, used these funds for all sorts of illegal activities, such as the offshore companies purchasing:

through a third party, quoted shares in companies in the Fininvest group, the apparent intention being to inflate the price of the shares. That this operation was a sham was clear from the fact that the shares, which were bearer shares, remained at all times in the possession of the same fiduciary.
A genuine buyer of bearer shares in a quoted company would hardly have left them in the safe keeping of the same person used by the seller.

Offshore interests
Another leg of the prosecutors’ case is that the offshore companies were used to warehouse secret stakes in television companies in Italy and Spain. The prosecutors say they have strong documentary evidence of this. The Mammi law required Mr Berlusconi to sell 90% of his interest in Telepiu, a pay-TV network that he set up in 1990. However, according to the prosecutors, Mr Berlusconi kept control of this stake until 1994 through his offshore companies. He arranged contracts with associates who agreed to act as fronts for him. Under these contracts, while legal ownership of the shares passed to the investors, beneficial ownership remained with Mr Berlusconi’s offshore companies.

The magistrates also uncovered a similar alleged warehousing operation for a 52% stake in Telecinco, a Spanish television station. At the time, Spanish antitrust legislation did not allow anyone to own more than 25% of such companies. Baltasar Garzon, an anti-corruption magistrate in Spain, wants Mr Berlusconi’s immunity as a member of the European Parliament lifted. He is likely to have to wait. For eight months, Spain’s foreign and justice ministries have been locked in a strange wrangle about which is the competent authority to submit a request to the European Parliament.

Mr Berlusconi is currently on trial for falsifying the accounts of the Fininvest holding company. The effect of the alleged falsification of the accounts was to hide all the alleged illegalities. False accounting is a serious offence in Italy, punishable by up to five years in jail. Magistrates have recently applied for a case to be brought on equally serious charges of false accounting relating to the group accounts of Fininvest.

However, Mr Berlusconi may be planning an escape. On March 17th he told a meeting of Italian businessmen that, if elected, his government would decriminalise most cases of false accounting. So the magistrates’ work may have been in vain. Yet although they have been unable to trace the ultimate destination of the tens of billions of lire paid out by various parts of Mr Berlusconi’s secret offshore empire, they have discovered where some payments went.

Mr Berlusconi gained control of Mondadori, the publishing group, in 1991 after a bitter battle with Carlo De Benedetti, a wealthy Italian businessman who was himself briefly imprisoned in the mani pulite period. Mr Berlusconi is alleged to have bribed an appeal-court judge, Vittorio Metta, with 400m lire to rule in his favour in a case that decided the battle with Mr De Benedetti.

When magistrates started investigating the case, they discovered that Mr Metta had paid 400m lire in cash in 1992 towards the cost of a flat. In February 1991, the month after Mr Metta’s ruling, one of Fininvest’s secret offshore companies paid 3 billion lire into a Swiss bank account of Mr Berlusconi’s close associate and lawyer, Cesare Previti, who was defence minister in his government in 1994. From Mr Previti’s account, magistrates traced a payment of 425m lire to a Swiss bank account of another lawyer, Attilio Pacifico, who withdrew this amount in cash in October 1991. Mr Pacifico allegedly handed over the bribe to Mr Metta.

Although the magistrates found no direct proof of the payment in cash to Mr Metta, they believed they had a strong case based on indirect proof. Scrutiny of Mr Metta’s bank accounts revealed no cash withdrawals amounting to 400m lire in the relevant period. Neither did investigation of the Italian and Swiss bank accounts of a retired Italian judge who, according to Mr Metta, had given him the 400m lire in wodges of cash—though the accounts did contain several million dollars.

So the magistrates believed they had established that Mr Metta had received 400m lire in cash from the money that Mr Berlusconi paid to Mr Previti in February 1991. Last June, a judge at a preliminary hearing took a different view. He believed Mr Metta and ruled, therefore, that Mr Berlusconi and the other defendants, who included Mr Previti and Mr Metta, had no case to answer. The magistrates have appealed.

Dealings with judges
Mr Berlusconi is also on trial for alleged bribery of judges. His co-defendants, who all deny the charges, include Mr Previti and Mr Pacifico, and, again, the case involves Mr De Benedetti as the offended party. In 1985, Mr De Benedetti signed a contract to buy SME, a food and catering conglomerate, from IRI, a large state-owned group. Mr Berlusconi and another businessman formed a company to mount a higher bid for SME. After a court ruling in 1986 that his contract was not valid, Mr De Benedetti’s deal with IRI fell through. He then took the case to the highest appeals court, where he also lost.

One charge against Mr Berlusconi, which he denies, is that he induced judges to find in his favour by promising them money. Whether this is true or not, there is a clear trail of money from Mr Berlusconi to Renato Squillante, a judge, via Mr Previti. The Economist has documents that show a transfer, on March 6th 1991, of $434,404 from one of Mr Berlusconi’s Swiss bank accounts to one of Mr Previti’s, and on March 7th, a transfer of the same amount from Mr Previti’s account to the Swiss bank account of Rowena Finance, a Panamanian company. Court evidence shows that Rowena Finance’s account is Mr Squillante’s. Mr Berlusconi had wanted to appoint his chum, Mr Previti, as justice minister in 1994, but the president of Italy refused to approve this.

Mr Berlusconi has been absent from the 26 hearings scheduled to date in this trial—some recently postponed, as his lawyers are standing in the election. He has applied for the judges to be replaced, as he claims they are prejudiced.

If he is eventually found guilty of the crime in the final appeals court, he could receive a prison sentence; the statute of limitations will not kick in until 2008. Unlike the crime of false accounting, it will be very difficult for his government, if he wins the election, to decriminalise the offence of bribing judges. This trial could also be unique in Italian judicial history. No serving prime minister of Italy since the war has yet been a defendant in a criminal trial.

Cosy with Cosa Nostra?
Mr Berlusconi’s problems with the magistracy have not been confined to Milan. In Sicily, Mafia pentiti (supergrasses who have “repented”), especially Salvatore Cancemi, whose evidence has helped prosecutors secure several convictions against Mafia bosses, have made very grave allegations against Mr Berlusconi and his close friend, Marcello Dell’Utri. Mr Cancemi alleged in 1996 that both were in direct contact with the Mafia boss who ordered the bombing which killed an anti-Mafia magistrate, Paolo Borsellino, in 1992.

After a two-year investigation, magistrates applied last year for the inquiry to be closed without charges. They did not find evidence to corroborate Mr Cancemi’s allegations. Similarly, a two-year investigation, also launched on evidence from Mr Cancemi, into Mr Berlusconi’s alleged association with the Mafia was closed in 1996.

A parallel investigation resulted in charges against Mr Dell’Utri of aiding and abetting the Mafia, which he denies. With the exception of Mr Berlusconi, nearly all the prosecution witnesses in the trial, which started in 1997, have been heard. According to Ennio Tinaglia, the lawyer for the province of Palermo, a civil party in the case, the prosecution has “presented strong evidence of Mr Dell’Utri’s very close links with the Mafia.” Mere mention of the Mafia makes Fininvest’s managers twitch. “Mafia is second only to paedophilia as a crime. It is a terrible, shameful thing,” says Mr Confalonieri, one of Mr Dell’Utri’s former colleagues.

So who is Mr Dell’Utri? Apart from a short spell in the late 1970s, Mr Dell’Utri, a Sicilian, worked with Mr Berlusconi in Fininvest from 1974 to 1994. As chief executive of Publitalia, Mediaset’s advertising wing, he was responsible for the cash generator of the Fininvest group. Mr Dell’Utri, a member of the Italian parliament, was a co-founder of Forza Italia, and acted as Mr Berlusconi’s campaign manager in the 1994 election.

Magistrates have also applied for Mr Dell’Utri to be brought to trial on charges of conspiracy to slander their colleagues. And he is currently under investigation for allegedly attempting to bribe a prosecution witness at his trial. A court case in 1996 revealed that Mr Dell’Utri received donazioni (gifts), often in cash, of 4 billion lire from Mr Berlusconi between 1989 and 1993.

While Mr Berlusconi is not obliged to testify in his own trials, even as prime minister, he cannot escape giving evidence in Mr Dell’Utri’s. Prosecutors will probe him about his long-standing friendship with Mr Dell’Utri. And he will have to answer other questions that he has hitherto avoided. These include how and why he employed Vittorio Mangano, a convicted mafioso from a powerful clan in Palermo, on his country estate near Milan for two years in the 1970s.

High on the prosecutors’ list will be questions on the anti-Mafia investigators’ reports about the 22 holding companies. Not least, they will ask him where the 22 companies got their funds. There will also be questions about a Sicilian television company that he owned with a Mafia-related figure.

Despite his claims that he is the shining archetype of a self-made man, Mr Berlusconi has needed a lot of help from insalubrious quarters. Though he says he wants to replace the old corrupt system, his own business empire is largely a product of it. His election as prime minister would similarly perpetuate, not change, Italy’s bad old ways.

MidtownGuy
July 27th, 2009, 07:41 PM
^Craxi is mentioned several times.

Fabrizio
July 27th, 2009, 07:46 PM
When I say "most Italians"... I mean "most Italians".

Berlusconi won an election.



The comments of Italians who disagree with you are everywhere on the internet.

"Is this person right about everything? Who knows, but just like yourself, he holds an opinion and he lives in Italy."

I don't understand your point. There are Americans who love Obama... Italians who love Berlusconi.... Americans who hate Obama... Italians who hate Berlusconi.

You didn't know that?

Are opinions about Obama unanimous? Really?

That's why it pays to be informed. If I listened to American talk radio... ( mainstream talk radio...to the most listened-to man in America), equipped with no real knowledge of the counrty... I'd have quite a view of the US... now wouldn't I?

From what I understand Obama isn't even the President. He can't be.

He was born in Kenya.


----------


I'm not going to post this but just provide a link....worth reading... a review of Boss from the NYTImes:

Corrupt as all hell.... and a great mayor... go figure: http://www.nytimes.com/books/99/09/26/specials/terkel-daley.html


----

scumonkey
July 27th, 2009, 08:06 PM
released days ago:
http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/photos/uncategorized/2008/06/13/bobirthcertificate.jpg

Fabrizio
July 27th, 2009, 08:09 PM
^that's what I meant: false.

MidtownGuy
July 27th, 2009, 08:15 PM
I don't understand your point.
Try.
Negative views on Berlusconi from sources outside of Italy have been posted here, and are typically shot down for various reasons, the general theme being that out here, we (non-Italians, British newspapers, etc.) just don't get it.

So, I thought why not post some comments from your compatriots who reflect an opinion in direct contradiction to some of the things you've said. When phrases like "most Italians think..." are being thrown about so much, it is certainly useful and enlightening to look at some Italians' opinions other than your own. You'd have us believe all the Naples garbage is gone, L'Aquila is wonderfully satisfied with him, and Italians don't care he is corrupt. Other Italians disagree quite strongly, and often it seems they are the ones most knowledgeable or affected by the situations you describe.

MidtownGuy
July 27th, 2009, 08:22 PM
Regarding the Naples garbage crisis, which has been mentioned several times as something Berlusconi successfully solved- what surfaces upon closer inspection is a situation more complex than suggested.
Remember that line about black and white, and shades of grey?

Fabrizio
July 27th, 2009, 08:25 PM
I agree... post away? Why not? Have I said that there are not people who hate the man?

I am not "throwing around" phrases like "most Italians think..."

"Most Italians think..." is done in the context of a man who won an election and has had high approval ratings. That is a good basic critera. I have not had a chance to ask everyone.

-------------------

People wonder why Italians vote for Berlusconi... I am trying to explain to the best of my ability.

I guess I could say: it's because Italians are idiots.

But you already know that from reading the Guardian.

--

MidtownGuy
July 27th, 2009, 08:32 PM
I don't recall anyone saying Italians are idiots.

MidtownGuy
July 27th, 2009, 08:35 PM
"Most Italians think..." is done in the context of a man who won an election and has had high approval ratings.

Even you did not vote. I wonder what percentage of Italians did.

Fabrizio
July 27th, 2009, 08:53 PM
That "birth certificate" is creepy.

In 1961 you named boys "Robert", "Joseph" ,"James"... you did not name them Barack Hussien. I can't imagine a Barack Hussien carrying a lunch box.

The name Obama is cool though. It sounds Sicilian... it would have worked well in 1961 down on South Street in Philly: "Vinney Obama", "Salvatore Obama", "Vito Obama"...

But Barack Hussien? ew.

lofter1
July 27th, 2009, 10:44 PM
His mom was a pre-hippie, a hopeful citizen of the world (BO's, not SB's). JFK. Peace Corps. The name makes complete sense when viewed in context of the time.

Fabrizio
July 28th, 2009, 03:50 AM
Where as "Silvio" would most likely be the name of a barber or a maitre'd.

195Broadway
July 28th, 2009, 07:53 PM
released days ago:
http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/photos/uncategorized/2008/06/13/bobirthcertificate.jpg
One would think that they would produce the origonal document in order to put this issue to bed.

scumonkey
July 28th, 2009, 08:30 PM
It is against the law in the state of Hawaii to do that...

From worldnet daily:
Janice Okubo, the Health Department's public information officer, told WND that Hawaii law prohibited her from commenting on the birth records of any specific person. Okubo cited Hawaii Revised Statutes Section 338-18 (http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/hrs2006/Vol06_Ch0321-0344/HRS0338/HRS_0338-0018.HTM), which pertains to "Disclosure of Records."
That section of Hawaii state law states regarding the release of vital statistics records, "The department shall not permit inspection of public health statistics records, or issue a certified copy of any such record or part thereof, unless it is satisfied that the applicant has a direct and tangible interest in the record."

From Wordpress:
Hawaii’s Gov. Linda Lingle has placed the candidate’s birth certificate under seal and instructed the state’s Department of Health to make sure no one in the press obtains access to the original document under any circumstances.

From CTA:
Health Director Dr. Chiyome Fukino said she hoped to end lingering rumours about Obama's birthplace.
"I ... have seen the original vital records maintained on file by the Hawaii State Department of Health verifying Barack Hussein Obama was born in Hawaii and is a natural-born American citizen," she said in a brief statement. "I have nothing further to add to this statement or my original statement issued in October 2008 over eight months ago."

Why didn't these people have problems/argue as religiously over McCains birthplace?!

195Broadway
July 28th, 2009, 09:01 PM
Is Obama allowed to see/ copy the original?

...Sorry for the hijack.. moderators please feel free to move this discussion to an appropriate place.

scumonkey
July 28th, 2009, 09:10 PM
See yes- copy -questionable...
I'm a naturalized citizen as well (born in Bermuda) my mother is American.
I am only allowed to "see" my birth certificate, but not allowed to get a copy...
I also have a green paper that looks almost exactly like the one shown for Obama- not allowed anything else.
(I was surprised at the similarity in documents- the only major difference is the word "Abroad" after live birth-
and the place/seal)

lofter1
July 28th, 2009, 10:45 PM
I'm a naturalized citizen as well (born in Bermuda) ...


I'm confused ...

Not sure if you're classifiying BO as "naturalized" alsol. Obama was born in the USA. He's not a "naturalized" citizen, but a full blown natural-born citizen.

Not that I'm pulling rank or putting down those who become citizens of their own accord. It only makes a difference for one seeking to be POTUS or VP (due to that little clause (http://www.presidentsusa.net/qualifications.html) in the Constitution: Article II, Section 1).

lofter1
July 28th, 2009, 10:48 PM
To get back on topic: What are the legal qualifications for someone seeking to be the leader of Italy (assuming that being a pustule isn't on the list)?

scumonkey
July 28th, 2009, 11:21 PM
^ my bad- i misspoke...according to your link I'm a natural born citizen as well (but born in a foreign country)
"Anyone born outside the United States, if one parent is an alien and as long as the other parent is a citizen
of the U.S. who lived in the U.S. for at least five years (with military service included in this time"
I was told long ago I could not run for prez- I was told wrong-learn something new everyday;)
Now back to your regularly scheduled SB debate:D

Luca
July 29th, 2009, 11:17 AM
Go for it Scummonkey!! :D
Yes, you can!!

Back to Berlusca: I do think Fabrizio's parallel with Daley (or, say, Huey "Kingfisher" Long) is a good match for illustrative purposes.

I totally disagree with the line implied by the Guardian that Italians somehow don't know what's happening. This raises the issue of "complicity", which is pretty inescapable in a representative system.

D'Alema (I believe) put it best when he said that "Italy is an extraordinary country. Sometimes I wish it was e merely a normal one". :o
A hyper-simplified view of post-war Italy could be that the consensus was "purchased" by on the one hand creating a fairly extensive welfare state and pro-union, pro-labor rights system and on the other not really soaking the well-off entrepreneurial class to pay for it (hence debt > 100% of GDP). When, by the early 1990s, it became no longer possible to keep spending away, the consensus broke. What ash emerged, though, is a somehow more atomized, less ideological (yey) but perhaps even more opportunist (ouch!) version of it.

WE don't really have a proper "right wing" (conservative might be a better term) party/coalition in the British, US or even Spanish sense. We do not have a proper "left-wing (progressive? 'Liberal'?) side either.

France is in some ways similar but they have a tradition of more or less efficient bureaucracy/statism that supersedes the day-to-day inefficiency of the government in charge.

RE. The “country X is messed up for voting for voting in politician YY”. Regardless of which country, I think it’s more useful to examine why he/she gets voted in rather than say that Italy/the US/wherever is just a nation of easily distracted morons a la “What’s the Matter with Kansas?”. Obviously I find it frustrating that there are people who vote for someone who colludes with the mob… Or for a party, in 2009, that still wants to hark back to the good old days of Gramsci and Lenin…

What is more depressing is why would someone like Maggie Thatcher, Tony Blair or, I daresay, Barack Obama (leaving aside the whole race thing) not really be able to build the consensus necessary to rise to power in Italy.

ZippyTheChimp
July 29th, 2009, 11:53 AM
Back to Berlusca: I do think Fabrizio's parallel with Daley (or, say, Huey "Kingfisher" Long) is a good match for illustrative purposes.I think not.

Somewhere in this thread, Berlusconi was also compared to a mayor in Italy.

They are mayors, not prime ministers or presidents. Their issues are mainly of the sort of getting the garbage collected. In the case of Daley, a comparison with a local politician from a half-century old political system that would be anachronistic today in a major city is quite a stretch.

Prime ministers project themselves nationally and internationally. The one time in his career that Daley was in the international spotlight, he failed miserably.

1968.

Fabrizio
July 29th, 2009, 12:07 PM
(I'm working on a deadline so this may be choppy)

"a comparison with a local politician from a half-century old political system that would be anachronistic today"

^You are absolutly right. But that does not make the comparison wrong.

The key is "for illustrative purposes". How to explain "Why do Italians vote for Berlusconi" "He is so corrupt etc"

Daly was popular, very corrupt, ruled for 21 years... had lots of people who hated him... had lots of people who loved him...no sercret that he was part of a corrupt political machine but "he got things done".

So there are many paralells with Berlusconi.

Is that right for a politician on a world stage? Probably not... but that's another discussion.

Note: my comparing him to Daley, is not to defend him but to try to explain the phenomena of him.

---

Ninjahedge
July 29th, 2009, 12:20 PM
One would think that they would produce the origonal document in order to put this issue to bed.

Or, as the Daily Show put it.

They have the Governor, Senator and other prominent figures (R and D) saying everything checks out.

You have TWO INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPERS proclaiming his birth in the birth announcements at the time.

Let it go. Frigging paranoid xenophobic racist bastiches.

http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/wed-july-22-2009/the-born-identity


(Oops... move if necessary.....)

ZippyTheChimp
July 29th, 2009, 12:32 PM
Daly was popular, very corrupt, ruled for 21 years... had lots of people who hated him... had lots of people who loved him...no sercret that he was part of a corrupt political machine but "he got things done".

So there are many paralells with Berlusconi.

Is that right for a politician on a world stage? Probably not... but that's another discussion.I think it's for this discussion. It's not just about why Berlusconi is popular; but his actions relative to his position as PM. I personally couldn't care less as to why Italian voters put him in office; that's their business.

Lofter mentioned that part of the problem with this thread might be the word pustule in the title. I had already mentioned in the mod forum my dislike for heavily one-sided thread titles. But when I come across this topic, I don't see "right wing pustule." What pops into my head is an episode of Seinfeld, where Newman refers to someone as "a useless pustule." It's funny.

That's how I see Berlusconi, as a clown. Someone who acts the way he does simply because he can get away with it; who can say, "If you don't like it, try to find someone better."

Maybe he is the lesser of all evils, but by flaunting it, he disrespects his office and his country.

Fabrizio
July 29th, 2009, 12:39 PM
"I think it's for this discussion. It's not just about why Berlusconi is popular; but his actions relative to his position as PM. I personally couldn't care less as to why Italian voters put him in office; that's their business. "

Zippy: the subject of as to why Italians vote for Berlusconi ( corrupt etc.) came up in the thread. My comparison was in respose to that.

-----

"Maybe he is the lesser of all evils, but by flaunting it, he disrespects his office and his country."

Agreed. Although, not as bad as those "who act the way they do simply because they can get away with it" with regards to ignoring the Genevra convention... ignoring the UN... ignoring world opinion.... starting wars unilateraly... etc...

But then again... in the US it's a philosophy that even has a name: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_exceptionalism

---

ZippyTheChimp
July 29th, 2009, 01:09 PM
You continually try to drag the US into this, having somewhere mentioned "European culture."

I'll remind you again, the title of this thread came from a UK article. Most of the press about Berlusconi comes from "European culture." He gets hardly any coverage here. Most of the press he did get over the last month had to do with Italy hosting the latest G8 meeting.

If you asked people on the street here their opinion of the prime minister of Italy, the most common reply would probably be, "Who is he?"

Fabrizio
July 29th, 2009, 01:17 PM
Yes, most of the negative press comes from the British press... a bit from the French and the German but mostly from the Brits.

--------

"You continually try to drag the US into this, "

^Can we put a lid on this?

99% of the participants on this thread are American. Comparisions, context etc are a normal part of any discussion. If I want to help clarify or shed light on something here I will try to compare it to things other posters might be familiar with. You confuse it with "being defensive"... it is trying to look at the bigger picture.

Berluconi thumbs his nose at the world's opinion makers.... he acts they way he does because "he can get away with it"... ok... agreed. Now may I point out how other heads of State do the same thing?

----

"If you asked people on the street here their opinion of the prime minister of Italy, the most common reply would probably be, "Who is he?"

We know that. In fact many would not even be able to locate Italy on a map.... let alone know about it's inner workings.

--

Alonzo-ny
July 29th, 2009, 02:15 PM
"You continually try to drag the US into this, "

^Can we put a lid on this?



I have to agree with this. There is too much complaining about comparisons with the US around here. I was chastised for comparing the US and UK political systems in the past and its baffling. It would be much harder to have a discussion without comparisons, especially on a US site, with the US.

Obviously a response to a negative comment about Europe with 'well the US is bad' is not appropriate but comparisons are.

ZippyTheChimp
July 29th, 2009, 02:57 PM
"You continually try to drag the US into this, "

^Can we put a lid on this?

99% of the participants on this thread are American. Comparisions, context etc are a normal part of any discussion.And this (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_exceptionalism) sheds light on understanding Berlusconi, right?


"a comparison with a local politician from a half-century old political system that would be anachronistic today"

^You are absolutly right. But that does not make the comparison wrong.

The key is "for illustrative purposes". How to explain "Why do Italians vote for Berlusconi" "He is so corrupt etc" You don't have to assume that because I disagree with the validity of your comparison between Berlusconi and Daley, that I don't get what you're saying and require clarification.

I get it. But it's YOUR OPINION and I disagree. MY OPINION is that a comparison between politicians A and B should consider the relative jobs X and Y.

Italian voters elected Berlusconi to the job of PM. Chicagoans elected a mayor. Unless less you can show me that Daley could be elected president and survive with his behavior, I reject your comparison. Again, that's MY OPINION.

To put it a different way, would a Berlusconi thread even exist if he was mayor of Milan? I dubt it.

Fabrizio
July 29th, 2009, 03:18 PM
I am not comparing Berlusconi to Daley.

As Luca noted, "I do think Fabrizio's parallel with Daley (or, say, Huey "Kingfisher" Long) is a good match for illustrative purposes."

My post about Daley starts with the following:




Corruption and politics. If I try to point out a paralell between Berlusconi and Richard Daley... maybe I'm trying to shed light on something...
---

Agreed, a comparision would not be correct, one is a PM, one was a mayor... but for illustrative purposes, there are things that are similair.... analogous to.

I guess I could compare him to a clown as you have ....but gee... a clown has a big red shiney nose and funny shoes... I guess I could compare him to a pustle... or to the King of Italy....but hey... a King is a lot different than being a PM and....


-------------


this[/url] sheds light on understanding Berlusconi, right?

Again I'm drawing paralells:

"Someone who acts the way he does simply because he can get away with it"

"Maybe he is the lesser of all evils, but by flaunting it, he disrespects his office and his country."

"Agreed. Although, not as bad as those "who act the way they do simply because they can get away with it" with regards to ignoring the Genevra convention... ignoring the UN... ignoring world opinion.... starting wars unilateraly... etc..."

"But then again... in the US it's a philosophy that even has a name..."

Valid or not?

---

MidtownGuy
July 29th, 2009, 05:01 PM
What pops into my head is an episode of Seinfeld, where Newman refers to someone as "a useless pustule." It's funny.

I thought so too. I was beginning to think I was the only one that remembers Seinfeld around here, or the only one with a sense of humor.
Politics without some irreverant humor toward the pols...no thanks.
---

Alonzo- of course comparisons are great and useful, but too often the spirit of the comparison trends toward this:

{insert European country being criticised} is ______ (or does______), but in the US it's WORSE...see this link...at least we aren't you".

that's when it becomes cloying.

Alonzo-ny
July 29th, 2009, 05:24 PM
Obviously a response to a negative comment about Europe with 'well the US is bad' is not appropriate but comparisons are.

Of course, covered that. ;)

However, I feel because of what you described being used it has led to bringing up the US at all into 'Here we go again' which isnt always the case.

ZippyTheChimp
July 29th, 2009, 05:50 PM
Politics without some irreverant humor toward the pols...no thanks.

Yes, humor depends on whose backyard you're in.

Again, Fabrizio felt the need to 'splain it all to me.


I am not comparing Berlusconi to Daley.

As Luca noted, "I do think Fabrizio's parallel with Daley (or, say, Huey "Kingfisher" Long) is a good match for illustrative purposes."

My post about Daley starts with the following:



Agreed, a comparision would not be correct, one is a PM, one was a mayor... but for illustrative purposes, there are things that are similair.... analogous to.And your earlier comment on Daley included:

And he ruled Chicago for 21 years. Popular as can be...but as corrupt as can be .... but why is it today many consider him to have been one of the 20th Centuries greatest mayors?I I didn't bother correcting the flaw in this argument, since I consider the entire comparison faulty, but if you insist...

"Popular as can be" was not the case with Daley. He controlled the political machinery of Chicago at that time, making it virtually impossible for a challenger to win. The high regard you cite (not universal by the way) is a present assessment of his record and the present state of Chicago. It has nothing to do with his popularity as a candidate. If anything, Daley was polarizing.

Is this the parallel you were going for?

By the way, I understand Berlusconi's poll numbers have dropped below 50%.

A clown in politics is someone who isn't taken seriously, usually by the world community. Maybe that's why he gets all this negative press. Should Italy be regarded as a third-rate country, deserving no better?

Fabrizio
July 29th, 2009, 06:12 PM
"He controlled the political machinery of Chicago at that time, making it virtually impossible for a challenger to win."

^That BTW is something that Berlusconi's opponents often accuse him of.

"if anything, Daley was polarizing."

^ a lot say that about Berlusconi too...

Keep going.

---

"A clown in politics is someone who isn't taken seriously, usually by the world community. Maybe that's why he gets all this negative press."

Except in America where "he gets hardly any coverage".

(probably because they've had enough clowns to deal with).

-----

"I understand Berlusconi's poll numbers have dropped below 50%"

Are you sure you're reading those numbers correctly? He controls the media doesn't he?

---

Fabrizio
July 29th, 2009, 06:30 PM
I was beginning to think I was (.....) the only one with a sense of humor.

Politics without some irreverant humor toward the pols...no thanks.



OK... may not be as eloquent and side-splitting as "King of Italy, Right Wing Pustle" but about Berlusconi this is the best I can do....





That's from Fall-Winter 2004.

Spring-Summer 2009 is updated with hair transplants and botox.



The guy gets himself spray-tanned every morning. I don't think he suffers from awkwardness.




This is Berlusconi appearing on one of his network's interview-news programs. Note the introduction: it is pure South American Banana Republic. Note the Theme music from "Gone With The Wind". It is Fellini.


Berlusconi is a baffoon who is leader of a country that (outside of a few things like good food, attractive men, and a high quality life-style ) amounts to nothing in the world.





Me? I'm a sucker for corruption ...so I guess I'm pretty happy here.


A "cafone" is not awkward.

ZippyTheChimp
July 29th, 2009, 06:34 PM
"He controlled the political machinery of Chicago at that time, making it virtually impossible for a challenger to win."

^That BTW is something that Berlusconi's opponents often accuse him of.You compared their relative popularity. I highlighted it.


"if anything, Daley was polarizing."

^ a lot say that about Berlusconi too...Ditto the above.

I could make an equally "valid" parallel between Berlusconi and John Gotti, who was very popular in his neighborhood because he got things done. But a neighborhood isn't a country, is it? Neither is a city.


Except in America where "he gets hardly any coverage".

(probably because they've had enough clowns to deal with).Just more evidence that your posture is completely defensive. Why don't you take a break from this thread; you don't own it.

You accept that Luca gets what you are saying, but think that I don't. That's only because Luca agrees with you, and I don't. I didn't challenge Luca's understanding of the material; I disagreed with it, and said so. You think that the political offices involved aren't relative; I think otherwise. I don't yet know what Luca thinks.

Fabrizio
July 29th, 2009, 06:50 PM
Why don't you take a break from this thread; you don't own it.

While we're on the subject of retro TV characters: does anyone here remember PeeWee Herman?

-----




I could make an equally "valid" parallel between Berlusconi and John Gotti, who was very popular in his neighborhood because he got things done. But a neighborhood isn't a country, is it? Neither is a city.

But a chair is still a chair, even when there's no one sitting there, but a chair is not a house ...and a house is not a home...

I told you: "Agreed, a comparision would not be correct, one is a PM, one was a mayor... but for illustrative purposes, there are things that are similair.... analogous to."

Gotti & Berlu? Fine? Why not? If you are trying to illustrate a point... but yes we know a neighborhood isn't a house... I mean a home.... sorry... country.


---

MidtownGuy
July 29th, 2009, 07:48 PM
does anyone here remember PeeWee Herman?

http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3539/3770702066_25704cfc10_o.jpg http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3545/3769886431_9f2f0c758f_o.jpg
sure!

Fabrizio
July 29th, 2009, 07:56 PM
In fact my avatar is a shot of me when they caught me in that movie theatre.

As you can see, I'm left handed.

ZippyTheChimp
July 29th, 2009, 11:04 PM
http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3539/3770702066_25704cfc10_o.jpg http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3545/3769886431_9f2f0c758f_o.jpg
sure!What are PeeWee Herman's two favorite baseball teams?

Fabrizio
July 31st, 2009, 10:27 AM
This is a IMHO a good article from a May 2009 issue of Time Magazine... by the Italian writer Beppe Severgnini. He touches on most of the things I've been trying to explain on this thread... although I do think his accomplishments have been more than Severgnini would ever admit .

And forget about Richard Daley... Severgnini compares Berlusconi to Juan Peron and Frank Sinatra.

(lousy comparison: Berlusconi has never played Vegas):


Silvio Berlusconi: An Italian Mirror

What do Italians make of Silvio Berlusconi? Easy. Most think: "He's one of us." He loves his family, his football, his friends, his food. And his money, of course. He praises the church in the morning, family values in the afternoon and hangs around with young women at night — at 72, that's quite an achievement. He is fun, no doubt. On the left, most politicians are boring. Beating them? Piece of cake, for Silvio the maverick.

Many Italians don't care about his conflicts of interest (who hasn't got a few?) or his problems with the law (defendants are more simpatico than prosecutors). Broken promises, half-truths, unanswered questions? The word accountability doesn't translate well into Italian. This is the land of human nature, as one American traveller once said. And of emotional politics. France is a bit like that too. It's no coincidence that a bright, quick, short populist, who also happens to be a bit of a ladies' man, is running the show in Paris. Like us, the French see politicians the way the British see City bankers. We forget and forgive, even though we shouldn't.

His gaffes? The majority of Italians think Berlusconi just speaks his mind, and they don't care if foreigners are puzzled, or worse. Some remarks are unforgivable, of course. Obama's suntan, jokes about concentration camps, sexist comments. If you head a government you must know that your words — reported instantly, compressed into sound bites — can baffle foreigners. Italians abroad know this. They complain, rightly, that Berlusconi's faux pas allow those who don't like Italy to ridicule us, ignoring the good things we do around the world.

To be fair, foreign media sometimes exaggerate the incidents. Calling out to the American President in front of Queen Elizabeth II, after the official photo op at the G-20 in London ("Mr. Obamaaa! I'm Mr. Berlusconi!") was a lovely Borat moment — harmless, and quite funny. Talking on his mobile while Angela Merkel was waiting for him at the NATO summit? He was just showing off ("I can convince Turkish leader Erdogan to accept Rasmussen as head at NATO. Leave it to me, guys.") And when he told earthquake victims in Abruzzo to think of their situation "like a weekend of camping," sure, it didn't sound good to an outsider. But most Italians understood Mr. B. was just trying to sdrammatizzare, to play down the situation, defuse the tension.

Berlusconi is a seasoned politician (he was first in office in 1994, and he's the only European head of government born before World War II), and he knows that international misunderstandings don't harm him at home — and often quite the contrary. Those who criticize him don't vote for him anyway.

His gaffes are not part of any grand strategy. Most likely they are spontaneous, the result of nouveaux-riches insecurities, fermented in self-esteem and turned into cockiness. Proud of his achievements — first real estate, then television and soccer, finally politics — the man thinks he can say what he likes, when he likes to whomever he likes.

He's popular. A mixture of Juan Perón and Frank Sinatra. Never a dull moment. Does the Italian media criticize him? Not his papers and his TV stations. Nor, with a few exceptions, state-controlled outlets such as Rai. The right-wing press adores him. The left-wing press despises him. Only a few papers — including my own Corriere della Sera — discuss him day by day, case by case, column by column.

Does this make Italy an authoritarian state? Of course not. We are too anarchic to allow anyone to tell us what do for long (they all failed, from Caesar Augustus to Benito Mussolini). Berlusconi has won three elections, lost two, and democracy is alive and (almost) well. Italy is like a postmodern signoria — think the Sforza in Milan, the Medici in Florence — led by a benevolent elder well-liked by his subjects.

Is Berlusconi a good Prime Minister? Let's just say he's not much worse than his predecessors, and he sells himself better. He hasn't solved Italy's perennial problems — runaway public debt, red tape, organized crime, corruption, a grinding justice system and aging infrastructure — but at least he's provided stability. Italy averaged almost a government a year between the end of World War II and the turn of the century. Berlusconi completed his term between 2001 and 2006; re-elected in 2008, he may well last until 2013.

The truth is that Berlusconi is not only Italy's head of government, but the nation's autobiography. He combines generosity, inconsistency, acting talent, stamina, tactical lapses of memory and loyalty. He promises things he doesn't do, and does things he's never mentioned. His Italian opponents — even the best, the most honest and lucid — are right to worry. Not about Berlusconi himself. But about the Berlusconi inside them.

--

MidtownGuy
July 31st, 2009, 01:49 PM
The soft and tender quality of this article is so typical of TIME. How sweet.

In any case, the Italo-pride of this writer influencing his perception is plain to see. Not bad, it's typical for nationalists...but the need to be balanced with a more objective view is clear.
For example:

We are too anarchic to allow anyone to tell us what do for long (they all failed, from Caesar Augustus to Benito Mussolini).

What a romanticized view. So, Mussolini's rule from 1922 to 1943 (21 years of a fascist dictator!) is supposed to be viewed as not a long time for a man to be allowed to remain in authoritarian power. He just "failed" because Italians no longer wanted to be told what to do? Yeah, right. That's a funny interpretation of history. He would have stayed in power even longer than he did if the war didn't take such a nasty turn for him and Italy. He actually played very well to certain elements of the Italian psyche. In that way, among others, SB is very much like him.

Interestingly, I actually think Silvio and Benito share some physical resemblance too, and certainly share attitudes. I suspect that in his own mind SB fancies himself something of a new Caeser, he even has the vacation palace in Sardinia.:rolleyes: Too bad for him that Italy is no longer a world class power, he could have had some real fun then.

Italians are very proud of their history, culture, etc..., and with good reason. Sometimes, however, it really gets in their way of understanding how to make progress for themselves.

Fabrizio
July 31st, 2009, 02:41 PM
Without the Mussolini that was in power up until the mid 1930's, Italy probably would have wound up in the Soviet block or would have been broken up. Those years are actually looked on as being positive considering the alternative conditions. It's hard to understand the extreme poverty that the populace was in. Oh... yeah, there was that war thing... that Nazi ally thing but... but beside the disaster, Mussolini created the basis that was to become modern Italy. Dictatorship must be compared to what were the conditions that preceded it. Consider Franco in Spain. Castro in Cuba. Peron in Argentina.

Over all, Servegnini's assesment of Berlusconi is mature and sophisticated...it is a discription of Berlusconi, not an indorsement. He asks the question: "What do Italians make of Silvio Berlusconi?" And then goes on to answer it. There is more to the story of Berlusconi than "Berlusconi=all that is bad".




Italians are very proud of their history, culture, etc..., and with good reason. Sometimes, however, it really gets in their way of understanding how to make progress for themselves.

Curious: How do Italians not understand how to make progress for themselves? Compared to whom?

--

MidtownGuy
July 31st, 2009, 02:57 PM
I said sometimes, clearly not meaning they don't make ANY progress! It's a glorious country with so much gong for it. Of course they make progress.

As far as comparing them, I can only say that my statement is true of many other societies as well.

ablarc
July 31st, 2009, 05:55 PM
^ Au fond, isn't everyone an Italophile?

eddhead
July 31st, 2009, 06:22 PM
^Midtown... sincerely... when someone digs up my posts from years ago to find some obscure sentence... they do deserve a beer. If anyone finds that offensive... I'll take it back.

Honestly I just did a search on your posts in the political thematic category in reverse chronological oder (oldest to newest if that makes sence). I may have filtered furhter but I don't think I did. I went to the oldest post as opposed to the most recent ones because I did not want to take the effort of looking through the posts on THIS thread. It just seemed to be the most efficent way to find what I was looking for, and it turned out to be pretty easy to find. If I am not mistaken, it was the first or among the first that popped up, and it took less than 2 minutes to find.

But I will take the beer anyway. It has been a long week.



[sic] Daily ... And he ruled Chicago for 21 years. Popular as can be...but as corrupt as can be .... but why is it today many consider him to have been one of the 20th Centuries greatest mayors?

Not me. Daily was a repressive thug

Fabrizio
July 31st, 2009, 06:33 PM
We know he was a repressive thug. What's your point?


The American Mayor
The Best & The Worst Big-City Leaders

http://www.nytimes.com/books/first/h/holli-mayor.html

"Sixth in the rankings is Chicago's six-term mayor, Richard J. Daley (1955-76), who set a record for the longest period in that office in his city and was the most powerful mayor in the Windy City's history. Probably the last boss of an effective big-city political machine in the land, Irish American Daley is credited with heading off downtown blight, encouraging an unprecedented building boom in the Chicago Loop while keeping the city solvent and the books balanced, and guiding his city through a turbulent decade, the 1960s. And, we might add, he survived that career-killing decade that ended so many promising upward-bound political careers. He was also soundly denounced by his contemporaries for ordering police to "shoot to kill" in the 1968 Westside Martin Luther King riots and for his crackdown on antiwar protesters at the Democratic National Convention the same year. Controversial in his lifetime, Daley remains controversial in death. Yet the experts rated him a solid sixth in the "best" mayors since 1820."

eddhead
July 31st, 2009, 06:44 PM
Background is always welcomed...but what we've seen is more along the lines of biased rationalizing and excuse making.

I am up against a deadline myself, but clearly I agree. I also agree with comments you made regarding how the focus on womanizing serves as a distraction to the more egrecious bribery and corruption charges, and the manner in which he has utilized the legistation process to mitigate opportunities to prosecute him'
[/quote]

@Fab
I know the source. I looked it up. My point is I do not agree with it. Hence the "not by me" comment. That is my point.

Fabrizio
July 31st, 2009, 06:58 PM
I can certainly understand not agreeing about Daley (or Berlusconi) but my point is that sometimes performance in politics is relative... it is about context. You have to consider the place and the times... the picture in 360 degrees. Daley was corrupt, part of a crushing political machine yet many historians consider him to have been a great mayor. Go figure.

Are they nothing but apologists?

Are Italians correct in closing an eye to Berlusconi's corruption charges in trade for years of stability and tangable results?

----

"I also agree with comments you made regarding how the focus on womanizing serves as a distraction to the more egrecious bribery and corruption charges"

That is why the left here is again shooting themselves in the foot. That's what you do when you have no solutions to offer. Like the GOP wondering about Obama's birth certificate.

As I have pointed out over and over again: Italians do not care about the womanizing stuff.

And furthermore: corruption charges against Berlusconi have been going on for years.... the public is very familiar with it. He is a pretty open book.

--

"and the manner in which he has utilized the legistation process to mitigate opportunities to prosecute him"

This is why I tell you: you do not have the background info to discuss this.

Yes, Berlusconi changed laws so that a sitting Prime Minister is immune from prosecution.

Sounds awful doesn't it?

Actually Italy is now in line with France. And in-line with Italy pre-1993.

"In many systems, some sort of immunity from prosecution is provided to elected leaders, either for life or during their time in office. This may only be connected to matters directly related to office, or it may be for any prosecution. In France, for example, presidential office carries with it immunity from all prosecution while the President remains in office. In the U.K. and elsewhere, parliamentary immunity operates so that Members of Parliament cannot be sued for libel for what they say in Parliament. A contrast is provided between the situation in France and America. In the former, President Chirac has claimed Presidential immunity to avoid prosecution on corruption allegations (dating from his time as Mayor Paris in the 1980s), while in the USA President Clinton faced a prolonged court case over accusations of sexual misconduct while Governor of Arkansas, as well as an impeachment attempt in Congress.[1]"

http://wiki.idebate.org/index.php/Debate:_Immunity_from_prosecution_for_politicians

MidtownGuy
July 31st, 2009, 07:55 PM
We would need to see some of those tangible results, and determine the legitimacy of them in order to answer your question. So far you haven't been able to say exactly what results he has been so masterful at achieving. Actually, many Italians would now probably say emphatically "no" in answer to your question.

As for the "stability" he has provided in the trade off...I'm dubious. Do you just mean less changes in government, or actual stability in the society regarding economics, immigration, opportunity, etc. that are a result of his policies directly?


As I have pointed out over and over again: Italians do not care about the womanizing stuff.
I thought so too, and you had me convinced. But I'm confused because his approval numbers have dropped, to below 50% from 62% last Fall. I can't say if it's because of the sex scandals...but something must be causing it. Are there other things causing people to be unhappy with him? Why the drop?


He is a pretty open book.The guy has 2 sets of books.

Fabrizio
July 31st, 2009, 07:59 PM
"..have dropped, to below 50% from 62% last Fall".

As usual: It is the economy.

Again context: Obama's numbers are dropping... but really what's the alternative? The GOP?

Same here... what's the alternative?

----

"Actually, many Italians would now probably say emphatically "no" in answer to your question." (the question was: Are Italians correct in closing an eye to Berlusconi's corruption charges in trade for years of stability and tangable results?)

I think you are very wrong.

---

"As for the "stability" he has provided in the trade off...I'm dubious. Do you just mean less changes in government, or actual stability in the society regarding economics, immigration, opportunity, etc. that are a result of his policies directly?
"

Knowing Italy's past of over 60 governments since WWII: what do you think?

-----

"So far you haven't been able to say exactly what results he has been so masterful at achieving."

Then you haven't been paying attention.

---

MidtownGuy
July 31st, 2009, 08:03 PM
So what type of stability has SB provided? (quick before you send us on a distracting discussion of Obama, which is an entirely different situation for several reasons)

Fabrizio
July 31st, 2009, 08:15 PM
"quick before you send us on a distracting discussion of Obama, "

Midtown: really if you are interested in a civil discusion I'm all for it ...if not forget it. Talk about the issues.

I'm not trying to distract. I'm pointing out that yes his numbers are down... but in the scheme of things what does it mean? You tell me.

All I can offer is this: Obama's approval rating was in the 60's... it's now 54... his lowest. I think it's for lots of issues but I believe (I might be wrong) that people like him, are rooting for him and would not want to see the opposition in power. I think the same is true for Berlusconi. This is not defending Obama or Berlusconi but trying to interpret those numbers.

Right now the economy is turning out this year to be worse than expected. If the economy does not turn around Berlusconi is out: it has happened before.

MidtownGuy
July 31st, 2009, 08:18 PM
It would be better for everyone if you just make a new post instead of editing the previous post after I've already responded.


"So far you haven't been able to say exactly what results he has been so masterful at achieving."

Then you haven't been paying attention.


The Naples garbage? highly debateable.
Immigration? Nope
Economy? Nope
I've paid attention, it's just that your examples weren't convincing at all.

MidtownGuy
July 31st, 2009, 08:22 PM
Midtown: really if you are interested in a civil discusion I'm all for it ...if not forget it. Talk about the issues.
But we were, until the Obama comparison. Obama has been in office how long?
Anyway, what was so uncivil? I rightly don't want to be distracted again by comparisons that aren't appropriate. The situation between Obama and SB are very VERY different.

Fabrizio
July 31st, 2009, 08:24 PM
The Obama example is excellent.... entirely appropriate. The issue is: what do those poll numbers mean. I'm looking for an explaination. This is how I do it. You tell me what Berlusconi's mean. I'd be happy to hear your interpretation.

Do his lower numbers mean they want him out? They want the opposition. I don't know: you tell me.

-----

Fine I don't have the time or will to provide the before and after of things like the garbage in Naples... Aquila vs Avellino... taxes before and after... etc. I am not trying to convince you. Do your own home work. I live here. The prevaling mood is as I am describing. Just as there is a prevaling mood in the US about the current administration... even though I hear the detractors.

In the end: Believe what you will.

But one thing I will be humble enough to say about the US... I can only conjecture: I don't live there.

Fabrizio
July 31st, 2009, 08:47 PM
More about that "prevailing mood":


This might also explain things about public perception. This is from the London Times... a paper that Like the Guardian loves to rip into Belusconi: read-up... again it reports things I've been telling you here all along:


May 31, 2009
Silvio Berlusconi survives as the lech with the common touch
Rosemary Righter

The blusterbuss that is Silvio Berlusconi is firing full blast and all Italy is, yet again, watching him fight his way out of his latest troubles. They include his umpteenth brush with Italy’s magistrates, a damning legal judgment that he bribed David Mills, the British lawyer, a cool $600,000 to commit perjury; divorce, for the second time, in this Catholic country – a divorce blamed by Veronica Lario, his wife, on her septuagenarian spouse’s “consorting with minors”; and his implausible friendship with a Neapolitan family remarkable only for the beauty of Noemi Letizia, their daughter.

Any one of these scandals would destroy most politicians. Even in Italy. Voters here can and do get angry. This is, after all, the country where, in the 1990s, the force of their disgust vaporised an entire political generation and dissolved both the long-dominant Christian Democrats and the Socialist party.

Yet they show no sign as yet of destroying Berlusconi. Italy is stirred, all right; he is the talk of every bar and some Italians want to see him behind bars. The normally supportive church rumbles disapprovingly. Yet his extraordinary popularity has barely been shaken, not even by the Letizia scandal.

After a bruising fortnight of daily demands for the full truth in the centre-left newspaper La Repubblica, which accuses Berlusconi of fabricating “a rosary of lies”, Dario Franceschini, leader of the opposition Democratic party, tried a knockout punch: “I ask Italians. Would you want your children to be brought up by this man?” It was Franceschini who hit the ropes.

Not only did all five Berlusconi children spring furiously to “this man’s” defence but, in a snap poll, 72% of people said they most certainly or probably would and only 20% thought not. Italians do not care to be preached at, whether by priggish priests (not known in too many parishes for sexual abstinence), by the righteous political left or by foreigners accusing them of voting for someone who is a “danger to democracy”.

So he turns up at Noemi’s 18th birthday party in a Neapolitan suburb (as he never, says his wife, turned up to his own children’s parties); so he gives the girl a £5,300 pendant (a bit much, but he can afford it); so he has more ways of saying how and when he came to know her than there are colours in a cassata ice-cream; so it’s all uncomfortably similar to other rumours about nubile “interns” at his Sardinian summer villa. And yet: so, too, do many people believe him, as they would not other politicians, when he calls an ordinary family his friends; when he points out that he himself drew attention to the relationship by attending Noemi’s party; and when he furiously asserts that the only question anyone has the right to ask is whether he has had “a, let’s say, spicy relationship with a minor” and that the answer is “absolutely not”.

La Repubblica predicts these scandals will hit his People of Liberty party (PdL) in this week’s European elections, adding that less than 40% of the vote would be a “defeat”. Some defeat: just below 40% would still be higher than the 37.4% the PdL scored in last year’s general election, which in Italian terms was a landslide victory. The Democrats, by contrast, are expected to poll a miserable 26%-29%, worse even than last year’s 33%. And Berlusconi’s personal ratings are still well ahead of his party’s.

The fact that Berlusconi is the only politician anyone is talking about (ahead of elections that bore the Italians as much as they do the rest of us) could nudge his opponents deeper into the ditch. “Il Cavaliere” has never doubted that there is no such thing as bad publicity.

Italians do find some Berlusconi gaffes cringe-making – not so much the off-colour sexual jokes as things such as his calling Barack Obama “suntanned” or being told to pipe down by the Queen – and they do wish he were less of a loose cannon. When he paraded a bevy of TV belles as prospective MEPs, his fuming wife said they had been rolled out “to entertain the emperor”. He was quick to drop all but one. Even so, Italians had a good chuckle when he retorted that at least PdL candidates would be better looking than the “malodorous and badly dressed” opposition.

Part of Berlusconi’s secret is that he doesn’t talk down to people and he has never pretended that his feet are not made of the same clay. He may be a bit of a lecher, they say, but it may be more talk than trousers and at least he isn’t a snob. That common touch compensates for a lot. It can even be inspirational: who but Berlusconi would have responded to the earthquake in L’Aquila by announcing he would host July’s G8 summit there?

Above all, this self-made billionaire stands outside the casta, the pampered political class that Italians hold in broadly deserved contempt. They reckon he gets things done. He said he would sort out the Naples rubbish crisis and he has; he promised to abolish dwellings tax and he has; earthquake victims are seeing action, not just hearing talk. And when Berlusconi proposes cutting parliament down to 100 MPs, “Magari”, say the voters, “If only.”

“The thing foreigners don’t get about Berlusconi,” a journalist said to me the other day, “is just what jerks we’ve had to put up with.” If the economy really crashes, that would trip him. But not those feet of clay.

Note to Midtown: read that last sentence again.

lofter1
July 31st, 2009, 08:58 PM
(That ^ was posted as I was writing this \/ and touches on similar points)

You have to go back to Berlusconi's 1st term and understand what Italy was going through at that time (early 90s) to comprehend why some Italians say "Better SB than the other guy."

In those years (particularly 1991-92) Italy was FROZEN, with money not moving in any direction (tough for a country where there are many socialized programs). This was due to the previous corruption and the subsequent Mani Puliti (Clean Hands) policy that overtook the country.

I'm not sure how much SB had to do with subsequent modernization / loosening up of Italy's economy, but he was the guy in charge when it happened so folks give him credit for that.

In the early 90s there was a monopolistic state telephone company which was terrible. Service was lousy and expensive. One had to go to the (government run) Post Office to pay the bills. SB (like Bloomberg) understands how that kind of operation is just no good for the general economy. Not sure how much SB had to do with breaking the telephone monopoly, but I wouldn't be surprised if he got rich off that and gave the Italians something they wanted and loved (Italians were hooked to their telefonini way before folks in the US got hooked).

And back then there were only about FIVE television stations, three of them government run and controlled by the individual political parties (Rai Uno: Conservative; Rai Due: Socialist; Rai Tre: Communist) and given funding based upon the clout of the individual party. Berlusconi had his own stations and got rich(er) from his media empire when that opened up. But he also brought to the Italians something they wanted: more viewing choice.

Also, back in the early 90s Italy operated with an economy which had salaries paid at a rate of 30% under the table / off the books -- almost everyone in the fields I was involved with (publishing, media, entertainment) knew it and was paid that way. Trouble was that sometimes collecting the final 30% share took months and lots of additional work. I know things are tight now, but it seems that from the mid-90s to the mid-2000's that cash was flowing and italians were digging it.

Fab: Do salaries still work that way today? And is there a housing bubble deflation in Italy like the one we have here?

Fabrizio
July 31st, 2009, 09:05 PM
One other thing worth noting about those poll numbers:

"The poll by the IPR institute for the left-leaning daily La Repubblica gave the billionaire prime minister a 49-percent approval rating, the lowest since he swept back to power for a third time since 1994."

The poll was done by LaRepubblica, Italy's major leftist daily. LaRepubblica is the paper that broke the sex scandal stories and that is on a mission to down Berlusconi. I think it's a great paper... it's my morning paper at breakfast but I do read it with a filter...

Fabrizio
July 31st, 2009, 09:16 PM
Yes... it is difficult for Midtown to understand that Berlusconi has been a modernizing force. Unfortunately it is being done by a man with a dubious past... a media empire... and etc.

Lofter: just one point because I have to go: about TV. No one here ( except for you) seems to know that Italy HAS ALWAYS had state-run TV.

"Berlusconi, the Prime Minister has a monopoly on TV news" etc... like it's some kind of wierd scandal.

But the Prime Minister of Italy has always had the monopoly! There were NO private TV in Italy until the 1990's and Berlusconi's channels.

The problem today is that Berlusconi has the state TV and the private TV (except for SKY which is the hands of Murdoch) but the end result is as things have always been: the TV is in the hands of the State. Before there were 3 state channels. Now there are 6.

I should note that the Rai is still divided along party lines as you mention, with RAI3 as the liberal channel (even under Berlusconi).

----

To the rest of your post:

Over all: working here.... being paid... cash flow... much better now than before. Even the Euro which was mess when it was introduced has had so many positive changes as far as I'm concerned.

Belusconi has helped business... our Left is fine on some social issues... but when it comes to business it is like some Communist left-over from Eastern Europe.

MidtownGuy
July 31st, 2009, 09:38 PM
Lofter: just one point because I have to go: about TV. No one here ( except for you) seems to know that Italy HAS ALWAYS had state-run TV.

Actually, the establishment of SB's television empire was covered quite extensively in the Economist article that I posted (#143) so I certainly know this, and also the people who read that article. It talks about the maneuvering necessary to overcome that.

It's actually a great piece giving factual background on many aspects of the Berlusconi phenomenon, so interested people should actually read it instead of a skim or whatever. Yes, I know it's long but it's very informative.

MidtownGuy
July 31st, 2009, 10:25 PM
I just saw this, it was probably added in the 9:28 edit:
Yes... it is difficult for Midtown to understand that Berlusconi has been a modernizing force.

Why would you frame it like that? Share the statements I made that would make you say this, because I'm curious. What did I ever say contrary to this?
Is it just that I disapprove of any country's leader owning so much media?
Couching things this way is misleading and not conducive toward polite dialogue.


"Berlusconi, the Prime Minister has a monopoly on TV news" etc... like it's some kind of wierd scandal.

Again, just quit the routine. It isn't a weird scandal, it's an unfortunate situation for the Italian people.

The curious thing about this whole discussion has been your assumption that I am operating under some kind of information deficit, when I have read every article here and tons of others over the years about this man. Why can't it be that we show things from a different perspective, instead of always being "what Midtown doesn't understand..."

I simply represent another viewpoint, whether it is from protesters in L'Aquila or the perspective of the Roma. It isn't even always my viewpoint, just posting someone else's. ;) I'll say something roughly like "Apparently many of the tent people of L'Aquila feel differently because..." Or..."other Italians may not feel that way since..." So what ? Again why be so provocative by continually disparaging my understanding?
A devil's advocate is good in a conversation like this so don't sweat it so much and make it so personal. Take a deeeeeeep breath. Relax. We like Italy, as ablarc said we are all basically italophiles.

Fabrizio
August 1st, 2009, 11:28 AM
it is difficult for Midtown to understand that Berlusconi has been a modernizing force.


Share the statements I made that would make you say this, because I'm curious.


Well, I don't know.... things like:


We would need to see some of those tangible results, and determine the legitimacy of them in order to answer your question. So far you haven't been able to say exactly what results he has been so masterful at achieving. .

I would think being a "modernizing force" is quite a masterful achievement.

So, I see.... actually you DO feel that he's been a modernizing force... and so I would imagine then that you can understand why Italians vote for him.

I'm happy to hear that.

---



I simply represent another viewpoint, whether it is from protesters in L'Aquila or the perspective of the Roma. It isn't even always my viewpoint, just posting someone else's. ;)

Oh thank God! Now I can take a deeeeeeep breath and relax.

Listen to what an idiot I am: After all of those articles, I actually thought you too were scandalized by Berlusconi's womanizing. That's how dumb I thought you were.

My bad!

--

MidtownGuy
August 3rd, 2009, 02:31 PM
I would think being a "modernizing force" is quite a masterful achievement.

Oh...kinda like Captain Comet! A hundred thousand years before his time. Neato!


and so I would imagine then that you can understand why Italians vote for him.

Yeah! His kind of "modernizing force" is a real Juggernaut... they ought to get out of the way and let him work his miracles!


After all of those articles, I actually thought you too were scandalized by Berlusconi's womanizing.

^comes from not really thinking about what I wrote (or didn't write), but rather your preconceptions. Me scandalized? No, that's you filling in the blanks with things I never said about the "womanizing". The articles about the D'Addario/SB thing were just timely...that's what was in the news. If tomorrow the international press had a slew of articles about a new Berlusconi/mafia scandal, then that would be reflected in what gets posted here too.

MidtownGuy
August 3rd, 2009, 02:37 PM
Italy: Berlusconi to get medical aid for stress

Arcore, 3 August (AKI) - Italy's scandal-plagued prime minister Silvio Berlusconi is reportedly about to undergo "medical treatment" for stress during his summer vacation. Berlusconi is resting at his home in Arcore, near the northern Italian city of Milan, and is planning to visit his vast Sardinian residence, Villa Certosa.

Berlusconi has recently been at the centre of allegations that prostitutes visited his homes in Rome and Sardinia and continuing speculation about his private life and an impending divorce from his wife Veronica Lario are understood to have taken their toll on his health.

Reports say three doctors from a private clinic in the mountain resort of Brixen in the German-speaking province of Bolzano will advise Berlusconi, 72, on physiotherapy and diet to help him rest.

The Von Guggenberg private clinic in Brixen is popular with politicians and sporting and TV personalities. It incorporates physiotherapy, homeopathy and other forms of alternative medicine in its treatments.

Athanas von Guggenberg told the Corriere dell'Alto Adige newspaper that the three doctors from his clinic would give Berlusconi "advice on anti-stress and 'det-tox' treatment at home... medical examinations and rest."

His villa at Arcore also has a fitness centre in one wing.

Berlusconi told journalists in Rome at the weekend he would undergo a ten-day exercise programme to lose weight.

He said cortisone he had been taking for a painful neck has caused him to put on weight.

"From 10 to 20 or possibly 25 August, I will be in Sardinia," he added. His children and grandchildren will be joining him at his sumptuous Villa Certosa on Sardinia's Costa Smeralda, he said.

The villa was the setting for a series of compromising pictures of topless women and a nude man taken by a Sardinian photographer.

Berlusconi had previously announced he would be spending his summer holidays in the earthquake-hit Abruzzo region - he has now pledged to return there once a week to check the progress of construction.

"I will be there for a day or two a week: there are still important decisions to be taken, although we are doing excellent work," Berlusconi claimed.

His conservative government has drawn criticism for the slow pace of reconstruction work in Abruzzo's provincial capital, L'Aquila, and surrounding areas.

The local economy has ground to a halt and tens of thousands of people are still living in tents and temporary accommodation following the devastating 6 April earthquake.

Berlusconi declined to comment on whether he would be taking legal action against high-class prostitute Patrizia D'Addario, who claims she was paid to sleep with Berlusconi .

She has handed tapes and photos of their alleged encounter to prosecutors conducting a corruption inquiry in the southern Italian city of Bari.

Some of the tapes and transcripts of D'Addario's alleged encounter with Berlusconi were published last month by left-leaning daily La Repubblica and its sister weekly La L'Espresso on their websites.

---
Note:
"His conservative government has drawn criticism for the slow pace of reconstruction work in Abruzzo's provincial capital, L'Aquila, and surrounding areas.

The local economy has ground to a halt and tens of thousands of people are still living in tents and temporary accommodation following the devastating 6 April earthquake."

Oh dear...more of those pesky shades of grey.

Fabrizio
August 3rd, 2009, 03:01 PM
^ who wrote this? Maybe some one should explain to them about after-shocks and how that does slow things down... how many residents of homes that have been restored are unwilling to return to them... and that the tent cities will remain until november as was the original promise. Check back then.

BTW: "medical treatment for stress" means either he's getting cleaned out because of the cocaine ....or he's getting another facelift.

-----

"^comes from not really thinking about what I wrote (or didn't write), but rather your preconceptions. Me scandalized? No, that's you filling in the blanks with things I never said about the "womanizing". The articles about the D'Addario/SB thing were just timely...that's what was in the news."

Oh, I see ("wink, wink").

What a disapointment. I really thought you were upset after reading that article you posted by Paddy Agnew from the Irish Times...

Wanna know something? ... OK, I confess: IMHO Berlusconi is a... a Right Wing Pustule ....not to mention a pathetic old goat.

---

For those interested: foto streams of L'Aquila and the "tendopoli" (tent cities).... here you can see the looting, the pools of human waste, the garbage sitting out in the summer sun, and oh the typhoid:

http://www.flickr.com/search/?w=all&q=%22l%27aquila%22+tendopoli&m=text

http://www.flickr.com/search/?w=all&q=%22l%27aquila%22+tent+city&m=text

---

MidtownGuy
August 3rd, 2009, 03:11 PM
I really thought you were...

^just what happens when you don't slow down to listen to people.

Fabrizio
August 3rd, 2009, 03:18 PM
Oh dear...more of those pesky shades of grey.

Well what can I do? With you I see mostly shades of mauve and chartreuse.

---

---

Campo Coppito:

http://www.flickr.com/search/?q=Campo%20Coppito&w=all

MidtownGuy
August 3rd, 2009, 03:24 PM
Let's move beyond more insults, shall we?


For those interested: foto streams of L'Aquila and the "tendopoli" (tent cities).... here you can see the looting, the pools of human waste, the garbage sitting out in the summer sun, and oh the typhoid:

Making light out of the affected people's situation is unsavory.

Fabrizio
August 3rd, 2009, 03:28 PM
I didn't even mention the cholera and the dysentery.

MidtownGuy
August 3rd, 2009, 03:30 PM
More information on operations in L'Aquila----

Silvio Berlusconi ignores protesters on visit to quake town L’Aquila
July 31, 2009

Silvio Berlusconi ignored protesters when he toured the earthquake-hit town of L’Aquila yesterday and boasted that projects to rehouse those made homeless were superior to those everywhere else in the world.

In a carefully managed visit to the town in the Abruzzo region the Italian Prime Minister appeared to sidestep almost all contact with the 20,000 people living in 140 tent communities.

His entourage invited only TV cameras and photographers to follow at a discreet distance as he greeted building workers in Bazzano on L’Aquila’s outskirts, where construction of apartments is taking place.

Mr Berlusconi was reported to have been met by 70 angry residents when he visited the city council offices while journalists were kept waiting for him several miles away. The devastating earthquake in April killed 300 people and left 50,000 homeless.

Mr Berlusconi said that construction was on target and that 30,000 people would have housing by mid-November or, at the latest, by the end of year.

“This kind of extraordinary operation has never happened anywhere else in the world,” he said. “Not with Katrina [the hurricane that struck New Orleans], or with earthquake reconstruction in Japan or China.”

Accompanied by the head of the Civil Protection authority, Guido Bertolaso, Mr Berlusconi shook hands with construction workers and raised the Italian flag. He claimed that 15,000 apartments would be completed by the end of September and 4,000 damaged homes would be repaired by the end of September.

Sara Vegni, a spokesman for protest group 3.32, named after the time that the April earthquake took place, said too many people would be forced to remain in the tents.

It was Mr Berlusconi’s first visit to L’Aquila since he presided over the G8 summit in July. He had pledged to visit every week to ensure the completion of building projects.

The mayor of L’Aquila, Massimo Cialente, said that the Government had not done enough to help the homeless and although the city of L’Aquila had received €20 million (£17 million) for housing reconstruction, another €120 million was still required.

As Mr Berlusconi toured L’Aquila, he faced some of his strongest criticism yet from the Catholic Church.

Monsignor Riccardo Fontana told the Italian daily, La Repubblica, that average Italians were disgusted by “excessive transgressions” that had allegedly occurred recently and that any form of adultery was unacceptable.

“You can never justify adultery,” Monsignor Fontana told the Italian daily. The Archbishop appeared to be responding to complaints on the letters page of the Catholic bishops’ daily newspaper, Avvenire, that the Catholic Church had failed to respond adequately to allegations about Mr Berlusconi’s sexual encounters with Patrizia D’Addario and liaisons with other women.

In L’Aquila, 1,500 construction workers are trying to complete the housing promised by Mr Berlusconi and another 1,000 are expected to arrive soon.

In April the Italian Cabinet set aside €8.5 billion for reconstruction in Abruzzo, €1.5 billion of which was allocated for emergency measures.

Giuseppe Ruocco, a computer engineer from Pile, near L’Aquila has been living in a tent with his wife, two children, his parents and mother-in-law since the earthquake. He said that more government funds were needed to remove the rubble and to help families return home.

Professor Emanuele Tondi, an earthquake expert from the University of Camerino, north of L’Aquila, warned that there could be more serious earthquakes in the region in the next few months.

Professor Tondi said that there were signs that an earthquake measuring at least 5 or 6 in magnitude could strike north of L’Aquila and the towns of Montereale, Cittareale and Campotosto, were particularly vulnerable.

The L’Aquila earthquake was the most deadly in Italy since 1980, when more than 2,500 people were killed near Naples.

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/europe/article6734070.ece

Fabrizio
August 3rd, 2009, 03:45 PM
^ Another good one... "appeared to sidestep almost all contact with the 20,000 people living in 140 tent communities" BUT "Mr Berlusconi was reported to have been met by 70 angry residents when he visited the city council offices while journalists were kept waiting for him several miles away." Which is it?

We are told things are too slow but: "Professor Emanuele Tondi, an earthquake expert from the University of Camerino, north of L’Aquila, warned that there could be more serious earthquakes in the region in the next few months."

"Professor Tondi said that there were signs that an earthquake measuring at least 5 or 6 in magnitude could strike north of L’Aquila and the towns of Montereale, Cittareale and Campotosto, were particularly vulnerable."

---

This is the web site of the citizens group, comitato 3.32:

www.3e32.com

MidtownGuy
August 3rd, 2009, 03:50 PM
I didn't even mention the cholera and the dysentery.

Awww, that's OK, as long as they're not dying everything is peachy! It's all card games by the campfire and sing-alongs with the kids.;)

Fabrizio
August 3rd, 2009, 03:52 PM
Official photostream of the citizens protest group 3.32:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/3e32/

MidtownGuy
August 3rd, 2009, 03:59 PM
Music and dance are wonderful for sustaining people. Those photos are great, thanks for posting them.

There is this short video about the people organizing
Angry quake refugees in L'Aquila rally on the Web (http://www.france24.com/en/20090710-angry-aquila-quake-refugees-web-germany-egyptian-woman-murder-xenophobic-fast-food-blog)

Fabrizio
August 3rd, 2009, 04:14 PM
Oh boy... If anyone is truly interested: that video gets it's protesters mixed up: they are mixing protests against the G8 with those of the quake victims. L'Aquila was home to protests against the meeting: a poster

http://www.flickr.com/photos/cau_napoli/3682500425/

The "Yes, We Camp" protests were about those waiting for homes due to the quake. Other protests were in June.

The candle light march: I have no idea what that one is about or where it was. Any other photos would be welcome.

--

MidtownGuy
August 3rd, 2009, 05:18 PM
Protests against both the G8 and L'Aquila protesters were manifesting at the same time, throughout the month.

In some cases, the actions were related.

Berlusconi's choice of L'Aquila as a tool angered lots of people in L'Aquila and formed a perfect backdrop for both G8 protesters and local protesters to work together under common themes, one of which is M-O-N-E-Y and how it is used. In this case, many L'Aquila protesters were enraged at the expenditure for facilities to accommodate the G8 delegates while they themselves waited for real relief from their (lack of) accommodations.

Imagine that...anti-globalism activists and troubled L'Aquila locals siding with each other and coordinating some actions for the world's gathered cameras. No, it's just unbelievable and must be mixed up reporting?

For anyone interested, http://abruzzo.indymedia.org/.
Indymedia is recognized by anyone familiar with international activism to be a hub of anti-G8 coordination, and that link leads to the local Abruzzo page.

MidtownGuy
August 3rd, 2009, 05:31 PM
The candle light march: I have no idea what that one is about or where it was.

It was in L'Aquila.
---


Yes We Camp

It's the slogan of the citizens committees that have formed in the central Italian city of L'Aquila, hit by a 6.3 magnitude earthquake on April 6, 2009. And it was on display for world leaders during the G8 summit being held just outside the city in an area off limits to the local people.

On the morning of July 8, as the Group of Eight leaders began arriving in L'Aquila, activists scaled the hill overlooking the red zone and laid out huge sheets of white plastic to form 10-meter high letters reading 'Yes We Camp.' As Mattia Lolli of the 3e32 Committee, which takes its name from the time the earthquake hit, explained, "We want to make sure the G8 leaders as well as public opinion in Italy know that three months after the earthquake there are still over 22,000 people living in tents."

The G8 summit was originally to take place on the island of Sardinia. On April 23, Silvio Berlusconi, Italy's scandal ridden prime minister, made the surprise announcement that it would be moved to L'Aquila, saying it would put the world's spotlight on the devastated city. But that's not how it is seen by local residents, who are still mourning the loss of friends and loved ones – 300 people died in the quake – as well as their homes and their city.

Among the first events organized by the citizens committees on the occasion of the G8 summit was a candlelit march the night of June 6, the three-month anniversary of the earthquake, to remember the victims and "shed light on the responsibilities."
continues here (http://www.peaceandjustice.it/yes-we-camp.php)

---
I hope that clears up the confusion.
---


Any other photos would be welcome.
Okay, since you asked so nicely.
http://cache.daylife.com/imageserve/0gwE40GdNcdd1/610x.jpg
Getty Images 4 weeks ago
Residents and demonstrators hold a candle light rally in L' Aquila on July 6, 2009 days before the G8 world leaders will attend the next G8 summit, three months after a big earthquake hit the area.

MidtownGuy
August 3rd, 2009, 05:47 PM
Berlusconi makes funding truce with Sicily rebels

ROME, July 31 (Reuters) - Silvio Berlusconi's government reached a truce on Friday with Sicilian rebels in the ruling centre-right coalition who threaten to form their own breakaway party in a row over funding for Italy's poor south.

A group of Sicilians prominent in government -- including one minister -- have accused Finance Minister Giulio Tremonti of holding back funding for the south while favouring his political allies in the rich, industrialised north of Italy.

Prime Minister Berlusconi has warned that the threat to form a new 'Party of the South' would undermine his efforts to consolidate the centre right, which have brought unaccustomed stability to Italian politics since he was re-elected last year.

Tremonti had been accused by the southerners of blocking 4 billion euros ($5.65 billion) of development funds for the south, which are partly provided by the European Union.

At a news conference with Sicily Governor Raffaele Lombardo, rebellious cabinet undersecretary Gianfranco Micciche and Environment Minister Stefania Prestigiacomo, Tremonti announced that 4.3 billion euros of funds had been released for Sicily.

But while the Sicilian faction expressed satisfaction with the development, the threat to form a new 'Party of the South' appeared to have been left hanging in the air.

'It is a sword (of Damocles) ... and sooner or later we will do it,' said Lombardo.

Berlusconi said a day earlier that creating a breakaway Sicilian party was 'exactly the opposite' of what he wanted.

'We cannot accept something which, instead of moving towards the aggregation of the centre right, takes out some elements of the PDL,' the prime minister told a news conference.

He has merged Italy's two main conservative parties into the People of Freedom party (PDL), which governs in coalition with the anti-immigrant Northern League, and the much smaller Sicily-based Pro Autonomy Movement (MPA) led by Lombardo.

New data this week underscored how divided Italy is between north and south. The south has more than three times as many people living on less than 1,000 euros ($1,409) a month as central Italy and four times as many as the north.

Rome has accused Sicily of misspending development funds to plug gaps in the budget for pay and healthcare -- something that Lombardo promised would not happen to the newly released money.

The Northern League, which is close to Tremonti, complains that the south of Italy, from Rome down, is inefficient, corrupt and wastes northern taxpayers' money.

http://www.forbes.com/feeds/afx/2009/07/31/afx6724919.html

Fabrizio
August 3rd, 2009, 05:51 PM
^Looks good.



Berlusconi's choice of L'Aquila as a tool angered lots of people in L'Aquila and formed a perfect backdrop for both G8 protesters and local protesters to work together under common themes, one of which is M-O-N-E-Y and how it is used.

The overwhelming majority were appreciative of it: L'Aquila was indeed used as a "tool"... an effective way to ask for money from other countries. And L'Aquila got it's international pledges... which probably would not have been as generous. But to have the world's political leaders there, to see the distruction, was smart.

And most of all, it puts progress (or lack of it) and promises in the spotlight... of which no politician can shirk from. It was a briliant move from Berlusconi: and it could also easily back-fire. We'll see by the end of the year. If the G8 meeting had been held elsewhere, as originally planned... the protests would have been defening: forgotten indeed.

To truly put L'Aquila in persepective: we are used to the kind of business that went on with the 1980 quake in Avellino. Berlusconi's approach has been quite a refreshing change from the past.

L'Aquila should have been our Katrina: it wasn't.

----

A good article from the BBC:


Italy's minimalist G8 summit

By Bridget Kendall
BBC diplomatic correspondent, L'Aquila

Switching the venue of this year's G8 summit to an active earthquake zone sounded like a hostage to fortune.
Why invite the world's most powerful leaders to perch on the same precarious spot of the Earth's crust which in April killed 300 people and left 60,000 others homeless? Just think what global chaos would ensue if - mid session - the ground opened up and swallowed them all.
When the town of L'Aquila was rocked by a new - though less powerful - set of tremors last Friday, the summit's prospects began to look decidedly dicey.

'A good idea'

In the town centre many buildings were already cracked and cordoned off. On every corner caved-in roofs and ripped-out walls hinted at the prospect of new collapses to come. It felt as though at any minute it could all start to shake again.

I had visions of us journalists stuck, incommunicado and cowering under tables in the so-called media village. Reporters turned refugees, caught in a new disaster zone, while summit leaders were airlifted out to Rome. But in the event, nothing happened. Not a tremble.
To my surprise earthquake survivors living in local tent camps thought the summit an excellent idea. What better way to draw attention to the fact their lives had been reduced to rubble, than to pull in the likes of George Clooney and other celebrity hangers-on who tend to pitch up at major summits.

"My home won't get repaired for another three or four years. The entire tower block fell on top of it. Any publicity is welcome," said one woman, Anna, sitting with her neighbours under a sun parasol outside her blue canvas home.
The pathway between the tents was lined with drying washing and children's bicycles. A hand-painted notice, decorated in big childish crayon, announced it was Butterfly Row. There was also Cat Alley, and Moon Street, all clearly marked. An air of semi-permanence had set in.

Roughing it?

In keeping with the earthquake tragedy, the summit itself had an air of austerity. So different from the usual lavish attempts to promote a country at its best.

President Putin revamped an entire 18th Century palace in St Petersburg. Tony Blair took over one of Scotland's grandest hotels.
But Italy's Silvio Berlusconi commandeered the local barracks of the Finance Police and required world leaders and their delegations to sleep in dormitories on site. "How is the accommodation for VIPs?" I asked one UN official. He sighed and replied wearily: "It's not quite what we're used to." He was lucky. Some of the journalists unable to find places to stay locally were reduced to begging space among the tents of the earthquake refugees. Our BBC team drove back nightly over the mountains to a village two hours away. Also minimalist and unpredictable were the communications facilities. It was almost impossible to find out schedules or contact numbers for delegations. The only truly reliable information was the time of the prime minister's late afternoon press conference.

That you could not avoid. On large screens, beaming down at you would be the unmistakable jovial grin of Mr Berlusconi.
And if you did miss it, never mind. It was played over and over again. Press conferences by those with critical views, like the so-called G5 group of emerging countries (India, Brazil, China, South Africa and Mexico)seemed to occur with almost no prior warning or publicity.
It was almost as though these Asian and Latin American giants were G8 dissidents, deliberately kept to the fringe.

One morning we arrived at the media centre to find the broadband connection we were using had been cut off. Local Italian technicians claimed it was on the orders of the Italian authorities.

A few hours later it was restored. But in situations like this, you soon start to get paranoid. Was this an attempt to control our output to what could be monitored?

Probably not, but - instead of the usual eagerness for media coverage - it felt distinctly odd to be prevented from telling the world what was going on.
In some ways this new "bare bones" G8 style suits the mood of the moment.
For a change the journalists were not kept 50 miles away from the leaders, or worse - as has happened - sequestered on a separate island.
The summiteers were a short walk away. It felt as though we could keep them under our gaze.
At one formal function, the eyes of a weary Barack Obama glazed over and his shoulders slumped. Not just us hacks, it seems, were getting by on hard mattresses with very little sleep.
This year, in L'Aquila, we were all part of the same world.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/8145847.stm

--

MidtownGuy
August 3rd, 2009, 06:06 PM
I'm just trying to get to the bottom of the discrepancy here. You said:

The overwhelming majority were appreciative of it: L'Aquila was indeed used as a "tool"... an effective way to ask for money from other countries.Yet in what I posted right above (written by someone who attended a march in L'Aquila of 5000 people, not an armchair expert in some other part of Italy or New York), people disagree. Thousands of L'Aquilanos resented the G8 being there in their time of grief, especially considering how Berlusconi was using it as a personal prop.

On April 23, Silvio Berlusconi, Italy's scandal ridden prime minister, made the surprise announcement that it would be moved to L'Aquila, saying it would put the world's spotlight on the devastated city. But that's not how it is seen by local residents, who are still mourning the loss of friends and loved ones – 300 people died in the quake – as well as their homes and their city.

The truth is probably somewhere in between.

Fabrizio
August 3rd, 2009, 06:27 PM
I don't know anything about that web site you posted or who they are. Tell me about them.

And:

"Among the first events organized by the citizens committees on the occasion of the G8 summit was a candlelit march the night of June 6, the three-month anniversary of the earthquake, to remember the victims and "shed light on the responsibilities."

^ That sounds appropriate and perfectly justified.

-----

In your opinion, for what it's worth: would it have been better to have the summit in Sardinia as planned or L'Aquila. What do you think?

BTW: "We want to make sure the G8 leaders as well as public opinion in Italy know that three months after the earthquake there are still over 22,000 people living in tents."

^ It is an earthquake zone. There are tremors. This is considered the safest solution. Buildings must be built under EU standards for earthquakes. The buildings that did go down are stone, brick & stucco... it's a mess. Many are historic. Many of the new buildings were with out any earthquake building standards.

In your opinion: what more should be done.

The real compliants in this type of situation (consider the logistics of 22,000 people in tents) would normally be: waste elimination, contaminated water, lack of water, E Coli, food distribution, looting, roving gangs, and etc.

People are living in tents: we know.


--

Fabrizio
August 3rd, 2009, 07:03 PM
It is interesting to compare Berlusconi's approach and what our expectations from the government are, compared with the US:

LEAVING THE TRAILERS
Ready or Not, Katrina Victims Lose Temporary Housing
By SHAILA DEWAN
Published: May 7, 2009

NEW ORLEANS — Earnest Hammond, a retired truck driver, did not get any of the money that went to aid property owners after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

He failed to qualify for one federal program and was told he missed the deadline on another. But he did get a trailer to live in while he carries out his own recovery plan: collecting cans in a pushcart to pay for the renovations to his storm-damaged apartment, storing them by the roomful in the gutted building he owns.

It is a slow yet steady process. Before the price of aluminum fell to 30 cents a pound, from 85 cents, he had accumulated more than $10,000, he said, almost enough to pay the electrician. But despite such progress, last Friday a worker from the Federal Emergency Management Agency delivered a letter informing him that it would soon repossess the trailer that is, for now, his only home.

“I need the trailer,” said Mr. Hammond, 70. “I ain’t got nowhere to go if they take the trailer.”

Though more than 4,000 Louisiana homeowners have received rebuilding money only in the last six months, or are struggling with inadequate grants or no money at all, FEMA is intent on taking away their trailers by the end of May. The deadline, which ends temporary housing before permanent housing has replaced it, has become a stark example of recovery programs that seem almost to be working against one another.

Thousands of rental units have yet to be restored, and not a single one of 500 planned “Katrina cottages” has been completed and occupied. The Road Home program for single-family homeowners, which has cost federal taxpayers $7.9 billion, has a new contractor who is struggling to review a host of appeals, and workers who assist the homeless are finding more elderly people squatting in abandoned buildings.

Nonetheless, FEMA wants its trailers back, even though it plans to scrap or sell them for a fraction of what it paid for them.

“All I can say is that this is a temporary program, it was always intended as a temporary program, and at a certain point all temporary programs must end,” said Brent Colburn, the agency’s director of external affairs. He said there would be no extensions.

As of last week, there were two groups still in the agency’s temporary housing program: more than 3,000 in trailers and nearly 80 who have been in hotels paid for by FEMA since last May, when it shut down group trailer sites. Most are elderly, disabled or both, including double amputees, diabetes patients, the mentally ill, people prone to seizures and others dependent on oxygen tanks.

Of those in trailers, more than 2,000 are homeowners who fear that the progress they are making in rebuilding will come to a halt if their trailers are taken.

“They had helped me out up until this point, and I couldn’t believe that they suddenly decided, no, we’re not going to let you finish the house, we’re just going to take the trailer, and you can sit here on an empty lot,” said Philipp Seelig, 70, a retired handyman. He said he was about two months from being able to move back into his duplex in the Broadmoor neighborhood. A grant to elevate his house to the required height did not come until December.

Progress on renovations has been slow for many reasons: contractors who did shoddy work or simply absconded with money, baffling red tape and rule changes, and inadequate grants. The opening of new rental units began to accelerate this year, but many projects have been stymied by the recession.

FEMA says it has done everything it can to help those in temporary housing. But, as is so often the case when it comes to Katrina issues, the agency’s clients give a different account. Agency officials insist, for example, that they have been working “extensively” to help families in trailers and hotels find permanent solutions.

“A lot of people are involved in the process of making sure that no one falls through the cracks,” said Manuel Broussard, an agency spokesman in Louisiana. “Everyone’s been offered housing up to this point several times. And for various reasons, they have not accepted it.”

But the dozen temporary housing occupants interviewed for this story said they had received little if any attention from FEMA workers and were lucky to get a list of landlords, much less an offer of permanent housing.

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/08/us/08trailer.html

------

"Earnest Hammond, 70, with cans he collects to pay for repairs to his hurricane-damaged home."

MidtownGuy
August 3rd, 2009, 07:14 PM
Why do you want my opinion on where the G8 event should have been held? Or what more should be done now? I'm giving you the opinion OF THE PEOPLE THERE.

You are the one who brought up the opinions of Italians regarding Berlusconi's handling of the G8. You originally listed the L'Aquila aftermath as a plus point for Berlusconi. Since Your representation was rather one dimensional and does not square with the opinion of many locals in the area, I expanded the conversation by presenting other viewpoints. Those of Italians other than yourself, most notably that of people in L'Aquila.
My opinion is that I should listen more closely to what the people of L'Aquila are saying than to what you choose to share here. They know more of what they are talking about than you do from your armchair in Tuscany.


People are living in tents: we know.Now we do know on this forum, because I brought it up. Not you, for sure. When you rated Berlusconi in glowing terms for the L'Aquila aftermath, you never mentioned it. Tens of thousands of them angry in their tents, but never a mention of them. If a discussion about Berlusconi is to include how well his government responded to an earthquake, it follows that the contrasting opinion of protesting L'Aquilanos would be a reasonable thing to bring up.

It's called trying to represent the full story. You don't have to make it personal; this is not about me (though you seem to be trying to make it out that way).


Tell me about them.Telling you this won't take any more of my time: They're more directly involved in this than you are, so their assessment is automatically more nuanced and credible than either mine or yours.
If you want to know more, google your heart out. You're an Italian citizen: they are trying to express these things to you.

Fabrizio
August 3rd, 2009, 07:25 PM
"When you rated Berlusconi in glowing terms for the L'Aquila aftermath, you never mentioned it."


LOL. Get this: I HID the fact that people were living in tents.... it was an earthquake... the tent cities are in all the news internationally and residents will be there until Nov..... BUT I've been keeping it a secret.

At least trying to: until now!

Well, darn it... you let the cat out of the bag. Good sleuthing!

I really was hoping that the forum thought everything had been cleaned up and rebuilt in 3 months...

Uh... Midtown: Berlusconi deserves high marks BECAUSE of the tent cities... among other things.

NEXT: I live in Italy. L'Aquila is like 4 hours away from me. I have a military friend from here who is down there for security. Have friends who go down for relief efforts. I attend fund raising events which have been held constantly in my town, and we keep a collecton of money from the public in one of our businesses..... but me? Informed? Oh no.... Midtownguy knows... and I'm learnin'.

I've also posted here voices from L'Aquila... oh boy...LOL. Please.

My fave: "Tens of thousands of them angry in their tents".

Uh, Bud, their friggin' city has been destroyed.

--

MidtownGuy
August 3rd, 2009, 07:32 PM
I HID the fact that people were living in tents

Don't be ridiculous. More like you conveniently forgot to mention it.


but Midtownguy knows!

No. I said I was listening to the voices of L'Aquila, and that neither you nor I understand the situation as they do. Get it straight, or don't bother.


My fave: "Tens of thousands of them angry in their tents". Bud, their friggin' city has been destroyed.

Yes, and according to you they should just be glad they don't have cholera.

Fabrizio
August 3rd, 2009, 07:53 PM
"More like you conveniently forgot to mention it."


^ LOL. Oh please. You sound like my last BF and our final dinner together.

----

Midtownguy: If you are interested: the real propblems with Aquila have not been seen yet. So far it's been a miracle.

What I want to see is: an over all plan for reconstruction: what happens to the historic center? Will residential areas be sterile suburbs or knited into a traditional, familair urban-fabric.

And most importantly: Will money pouring into Aquila go to reconstruction and to the citizens ...or to the Mafia? Remember this area is infiltrated by the Mafia.

Will business relocate there? What incentives will the gov, offer for business and industry?

Those IMHO are the big concerns. And we will see as Winter comes on.

One thing that is very positive is that the G8 was held there and the world's cameras were pointed on the city: there can be no hiding from promises that have been made.

Fabrizio
August 3rd, 2009, 08:11 PM
BTW: in all of this: would you please tell us exactly what the Aquilinos are protesting? That they are still in tents? What exactly do they want? Tell us about their issues. What is the timeline they are willing to give the government? What do they think should be done differently?

BTW: you might want to read the 3.32 web site to hear their voices and what their concerns are.

MidtownGuy
August 3rd, 2009, 08:13 PM
Midtownguy: If you are interested:
We're on page 16. I must be.


One thing that is very positive is that the G8 was held there and the world's cameras were pointed on the city: there can be no hiding from promises that have been made.

...and the L'Aquila protesters want to make sure they keep some cameras rolling, long after the g8 attention is gone. The rest of the world's press has already forgotten about L'Aquila...this will be a matter of people in Italy continuing to "shed light on the responsibilities", as the vast majority of the efforts there will be from the Italian government, not all of us out here in the world community.

MidtownGuy
August 3rd, 2009, 08:16 PM
BTW...would you please tell us exactly what the Aquilinos are protesting?...

Why don't you have a closer look... you are interested, that's good. You have lots of access to things on the internet that will be in Italian, so perhaps you could report back to us in English. I use google translate when I need to, but there's nothing like a real human. You can be our impartial expert. It'll be great.

Fabrizio
August 3rd, 2009, 08:23 PM
"the L'Aquila protesters want to make sure they keep some cameras rolling, long after the g8 attention is gone."

One great thing about this country is that protest is part of our culture. In my peaceful, well-to-do town, we have maybe 6 or 7 street protests a year. These are authorized and protesters are even given police escort... with streets officially closed. Italy is a traditionally leftest, ball-breaking populace. This country goes on strike constantly.

Of course these people protest: they should... they must... that's what you do... it is part of the DNA: but guess what? So far this government's response has been miraculous. You can post hundreds of these articles about people protesting in l'Aquila... this is not news for me...I would not expect differently from them. But again: let me repeat: Berlusconi has gotten high marks for how he has handled this earthquake.

As I told you... here one would expect them to be protesting about other things: food, water, disease, lack of medical attention, drainage of water when it rains, lack of hospitals, lack of plumbing, looting, crime etc. But so far the protests are mosly about construction delays... about people not being let back in their homes, about the gov. telling people where to live, about condeming properties that people feel should not be condemd.... etc. and etc. Not that the complaints are not real... but they are of a different nature then what one would expect here. Do you get that? That's why it's so funny to hear you going on and on about them still living in tents! as if Berlusconi has really blown it.

Oh and BTW: l'Aquila is governed by the Centro-Sinistra: do you really think they are going to let Berlusconi off easy?

--

Fabrizio
August 3rd, 2009, 09:04 PM
"the L'Aquila protesters want to make sure they keep some cameras rolling, long after the g8 attention is gone."

One great thing about this country is that protest is part of our culture. In my peaceful, well-to-do town, we have maybe 6 or 7 street protests a year. These are authorized and protesters are even given police escort... with streets officially closed. Italy is a traditionally leftest, ball-breaking populace. This country goes on strike constantly.

Of course these people protest: they should... they must... that's what you do... it is part of the DNA: but guess what? So far this government's response has been miraculous. You can post hundreds of these articles about people protesting in l'Aquila... this is not news for me...I would not expect differently from them. But again: let me repeat: Berlusconi has gotten high marks for how he has handled this earthquake.

As I told you... here one would expect them to be protesting about other things: food, water, disease, lack of medical attention, drainage of water when it rains, lack of hospitals, lack of plumbing, looting, crime etc. But so far the protests are mosly about construction delays... about people not being let back in their homes, about the gov. telling people where to live, about condeming properties that people feel should not be condemd.... etc. and etc. Basically the government has taken over their lives as happens after a disaster. People want their stuff... their house is in ruins and the gov, is telling them they can't enter... it's a bitch. Not that the complaints are not real... but they are of a different nature then what one would expect here. Do you get that? That's why it's so funny to hear you going on and on about them still living in tents! as if Berlusconi has really blown it.

Oh and BTW: l'Aquila is governed by the Centro-Sinistra: do you really think they are going to let Berlusconi off easy?

--

MidtownGuy
August 3rd, 2009, 09:24 PM
That's why it's so funny to hear you going on and on about them still living in tents!

me? now that's a hoot. You mean them going on and on about it. I just posted their stuff to balance your originally one sided portrayal of things, and then said "here is the other opinion on the Berlusconi/L'Aquila aftermath". When you kept dismissing them and asked for more, I simply found the things you asked for. Please. get. a. grip.

It's what time there now, in Italy? Like 3 am? And your still patrolling this thread for my responses?

As I said, you are trying desperately to make this about me.

Fabrizio
August 3rd, 2009, 09:39 PM
for your info... and for those curious: it is summertime. I must work. (And unfortunately) must work all of August. Since it is about 40 degrees during the day (celsius) I prefer to work in the evening ( as do most true puttane). I keep Wired open. Am listening to Fox News and Glen Beck, responding to questions about L'Aquila and retouching a photograph of a circus performer from the 1890's. And drinking a beer. Anyway, thanks for checking the time for me. I will be going to bed after breakfast, at about 8am. I would like to get up at about 3 in the afternoon. Give me a wake-up whistle. You do know how to whistle don't you?

Fabrizio
August 3rd, 2009, 09:48 PM
As I said, you are trying desperately to make this about me.


Oh dear, not on your life... let's get this straight: it is ...and it always is... about me.

ablarc
August 4th, 2009, 08:27 AM
For the Italophobes, a little petrol on the fire:

Mon Aug 3, 12:33 pm ET. Yahoo.

ROME (AFP) – An Italian thief thanked police officers for arresting him and putting an end to a beating from Korean tourists whom he had robbed in Rome, police said on Monday.

"I must thank you, they were massacring me," the 48-year-old criminal told police after he was arrested near the Theatre of Marcellus, one of the monuments in Rome's historic centre.

The thief, from the northern region of Liguria, stole a handbag from a Korean family when they were not paying attention. He threatened the family with a knife when he was spotted and then tried to flee.

Two men from the family, in their twenties, chased him for several hundred metres before they got him down with taekwondo moves. They disarmed the thief and continued to beat him.

A patrolling police officer intervened, separated the three and arrested the thief immediately.

"Normally tourists will just call us and report the incidents," the officer said. "In this case, the two got really excited and could have seriously injured the thief."

The young Koreans left after they got the handbag back. The thief was transferred to a prison in Rome and will face robbery charges.

Armed robbery in Rome experienced a sharp decline last year with 4,246 cases reported in 2008 compared with 5,133 in 2007.

ablarc
August 4th, 2009, 08:45 AM
More...

Mafia Boss Breaks Silence on Borsellino Assassination

By JEFF ISRAELY / ROME Jeff Israely / Rome – Mon Aug 3, 4:10 pm ET. Time Magazine.

Each year, Italians take part in a midsummer ritual to honor the victims of the Mafia and speak out against the scourge of organized crime. From Palermo to Torino, politicians, church leaders and youth groups gather to mark the July 19, 1992, assassination of anti-Mob magistrate Paolo Borsellino, who was killed along with five bodyguards in a meticulously planned car-bombing outside his mother's apartment in the Sicilian capital.

For this year's anniversary, a most unlikely voice spoke out. Salvatore (Toto) Riina, the Mafia's notorious former boss of bosses, has broken his silence from his prison cell near Milan, where he is serving a life sentence for dozens of homicides, including the masterminding of the Borsellino hit and one three months earlier of another crusading Sicilian prosecutor, Giovanni Falcone. (See pictures of life in Italy.)

Riina, who'd led the bloody takeover of the Mafia by the Corleone faction in the early 1980s, had never made more than a passing (and indecipherable) allusion about the crime to the authorities since his arrest in Palermo a year after the Borsellino killing. His longtime partner in crime and successor as capo dei capi, Bernardo Provenzano, has also stayed mum since his capture near Corleone in 2006. Known as Cosa Nostra, the Sicilian Mob has long maintained power on the island (and beyond) with the help of omertÀ, a vow of silence and absolute refusal to cooperate with authorities. Most had expected Riina, 78, to take his secrets to the grave.

But leading Italian newspapers have reported that in two separate instances over the past few weeks, Riina has weighed in on open questions surrounding the Borsellino assassination. His surprise decision to talk comes as investigators in Caltanissetta, in central Sicily, have reopened a probe into lingering suspicions that members of the Italian intelligence services may have played a role in the July 1992 plot. Riina, communicating in the typically oblique language of Mafiosi, authorized his lawyer to pass on to reporters his claims that in fact the state was involved. Florence-based attorney Luca Cianferoni told La Repubblica newspaper on July 19 that Riina said, "They killed him," referring to Italian authorities. "Don't always look only at me. Also look inside yourselves."

The late 1980s and early 1990s were a tumultuous period in Italy. Bribery scandals eventually brought down much of the postwar political class. In Sicily, political corruption mixed with murder, as the Falcone and Borsellino assassinations were followed by Cosa Nostra's deadly bombings in Rome, Florence and Milan. Some Mafia experts believe the Mob's decision to take its battle to the mainland was a response to the breakdown in longstanding attempts by certain government authorities to negotiate a truce with mob leaders. Indeed, after Riina's years on the lam, his arrest, in broad daylight in central Palermo, was itself a sign to many that someone had been playing a double game. (Read a TIME cover story on the Mafia.)

According to newspaper reports, Riina has said little and maintains his vow of omertÀ by offering few hard facts. But the old boss clearly wants to influence the current probe and has met with investigators, to whom he reportedly promised to provide more detailed testimony on both the Falcone and Borsellino cases.

The reopening of the Borsellino case has prompted others to talk as well. Several top Italian government and law-enforcement officials involved in the early 1990s probes have given their version of events in interviews. Also speaking out was the son of the former mayor of Palermo, Vito Ciancimino, who was the local political link for the Corleonese clan. Massimo Ciancimino has reportedly revealed a portion of the contents of his late father's secret archives, which investigators hope can help solve a series of Mafia mysteries, including the state's alleged role in the Borsellino killing. (Read "Meet the Modern Mob.")

La Repubblica also reported that two former colleagues of the murdered magistrate recounted to investigators a meeting with Borsellino in Palermo shortly before his death during which he broke down in tears saying, "A friend has betrayed me, a friend has betrayed me."

But perhaps the most telling statements come from the family of the victim. Since his brother's murder, Salvatore Borsellino has kept his own poignant vow of silence. But the Milan-based engineer has now spoken out in a July 17 video interview on the website of Corriere della Sera, a Milan-based daily. Displaying a striking resemblance to his martyred kin, Borsellino says he is convinced the Mafia did not act alone. "My brother knew about the negotiations between the Mafia and the state, and this is why he was killed," Borsellino says. "There were government authorities who worked to prepare and carry out [the assassination]." The final history of this brutal chapter in Italy's past is in the hands of neither Borsellino's surviving relatives nor his convicted killers, of course, but his successors among the corps of Sicilian prosecutors.

^ The dark side, perhaps, of dolce far niente.

Fabrizio
August 4th, 2009, 08:55 AM
OK... from Berlusconi to hand bag thieves to the 1992 murder of Borsellino.

Next!:

SPECIAL REPORT: MEN'S FASHION FROM MILAN
Climate Change: A Reality Check

By SUZY MENKES
Published: June 21, 2009

MILAN — With fresh color and a firm silhouette in soft fabrics, the menswear 2010 season has opened in Milan with a clear vision: put creativity and craftsmanship into clothes that are for real.

GIORGIO ARMANI “Elegant — but different for 2010,” Giorgio Armani said backstage, referring to the opening outfits that used the tailoring of his 1980s heyday but gave it a jolt of bold check pattern.

It was a smart move by the maestro of the soft suit, who said he was fighting a liver problem. He went back to his basics to prove that design with deep roots grows into a modern classic.

So everywhere there was a dose of Armani — in the Jazz Age geometric sweater patterns from the designer’s favorite 1930s; in the suits, built from the shoulder but with a more sensual curve at the waist; and in the casual look of a sweater set with elongated cardigan.

While Mr. Armani has, in the past, chased after a hip trend, here the collection was focused on wardrobe solutions — and not just for the suits. They were often shown as the accompaniment to happy couples, as though you got the girl on your arm by buying the right clothes.

But the sportswear was equally clear and streamlined, from leather jackets to python sneakers, showing that the Armani look is never more relevant than when it is at its purist.

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/22/fashion/22iht-rsuzy.html

Fabrizio
August 7th, 2009, 08:21 PM
I will try to get this thread back to a genuine discussion about the Berlusconi administration if anyone is interested.

Maybe we can save the handbag thieves of Rome and the Borsellino assassination for another thread.

------------------

I don't have time to translate this, but today's (leftist) LaRepubblica featured this article (link below) on it's front page today:

"Tutti a L' Aquila capitale d' estate"

"Everyone is going to L'Aquila... the summer's capital"

It is about the solidarity between L'Aquila and the Italian people. It praises the Berlusconi administraion for work done so far... and underlines the promises made for the coming months.

http://ricerca.repubblica.it/repubblica/archivio/repubblica/2009/08/02/tutti-aquila-capitale-estate.html

On the same page you can see photos of a protest: "Riaprite il centro".... "Re-open the town center". Residents who understandably would like to have
access to the city but are still (understandably?) denied.

--------------------

Below is a link to a BBC report "Inside L'Aquila's 'tent city'" it was made just 3 days after the earthquake: again a testament to the quick, efficient relief effort.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/7991221.stm

----

Another interesting video: "Quake homeless queue for breakfast" which gives an idea of the atmosphere. The order and organization.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/7989170.stm

--------


And let's hope the "The European Union and Immigration" thread gets back to normal. Although you wouldn't know it from that thread, believe it or not, Europe is made up of 27 countries...

--

MidtownGuy
August 8th, 2009, 01:25 AM
Oh, give it a rest already. Get a life.

Fabrizio
August 8th, 2009, 06:15 AM
^While I'm working on getting a life: if you have anymore articles about Patrizia D'Addario in your files, pleeease post them. Pretty please? Thanks in advance.

-------------------------

More about L'Aquila and it's reconstruction:

This is a group called "Collettivo 99": http://www.collettivo99.org/

"an association of young professionals with expertise in urban-planning, climate change, technology and cultural restoration pushing to turn L'Aquila into a model city — and to make its decade-long rebuilding project into a kind of "laboratory" for remaking a city."

The site is all in Italian but clicking around you can get an idea. There is a short video of Jeremy Rikin speaking (in English).

Below is an article from Time Magazine "Can the G-8 Help L'Aquila Recover?"

Some excerpts:

"The annual G-8 summit begins on July 8, on the campus of a L'Aquila military school, after Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's daring (critics say dicey) last-minute decision to shift the high-profile meeting of world leaders to the quake-devastated city. (A strong tremor on July 3 forced Italian officials to confirm that there is a backup plan to move the entire summit at a moment's notice to Rome.)"

"Such was the thinking behind Berlusconi's decision in the immediate aftermath of the quake — when the often controversial Prime Minister was widely praised for his response to the disaster — to change the long-planned G-8 venue from scenic Mediterranean digs on the island of Sardinia to the rubble of L'Aquila. He will give world leaders a tour of the medieval city center where the restoration of damaged churches and other cultural treasures is alone expected to cost more than $4 billion. The view they will get resembles the aftermath of a bombing raid, as seen on a recent ride-along with local firefighters: a half-crushed dormitory where several university students died; piles of rubble everywhere; giant orange belts and steel cables to steady shaky building columns; a four-story apartment building with the façade missing; the caved-in roof of the 13th century Basilica of Santa Maria Collemaggio.
Berlusconi is counting on his G-8 partners to choose from a so-called shopping list of heritage projects to be supervised and paid for by individual foreign-aid donations."

"But beyond the one-off contributions, the unique melding of a major economic summit and a natural disaster may offer a chance to rethink the approach to reconstruction. Mario Pezzini, a director at the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), who helped spearhead a recent OECD conference between government and university officials in L'Aquila and international experts on projects to restore the area's economy, sees an opportunity to rethink the very concept of worldwide disaster response. "We all know that there is a good network of civil protection agencies from different countries that respond to the immediate emergency," he says. "What's missing is an international network to work on more long-term economic recovery for these areas struck by disaster."

http://www.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,1909148_1909157_1909641,00.html


---

ablarc
August 8th, 2009, 09:32 AM
^ Fabrizio, you are truly a piece of work. (http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=piece+of+work)

Fabrizio
August 8th, 2009, 09:46 AM
^ Darling, it's a lot better than being a POS.

Fabrizio
August 8th, 2009, 10:01 AM
Jeremy Rifkin speaking about L'Aquila:

http://www.collettivo99.org/?p=971

His call is for L'Aqulia to become a "Third Industrial Revolution" city.

More about Rifkin and his theories.... interesting stuff (watch the video):

http://www.foet.org/

ablarc
August 8th, 2009, 10:19 AM
^ ... it's a lot better than being a POS.
Lol, I guess.

Only the link's first entry really applies.

Fabrizio
August 12th, 2009, 06:54 PM
In those years (particularly 1991-92) Italy was FROZEN, with money not moving in any direction (tough for a country where there are many socialized programs).

I'm not sure how much SB had to do with subsequent modernization / loosening up of Italy's economy, but he was the guy in charge when it happened so folks give him credit for that.


Also, back in the early 90s Italy operated with an economy which had salaries paid at a rate of 30% under the table / off the books -- almost everyone in the fields I was involved with (publishing, media, entertainment) knew it and was paid that way. Trouble was that sometimes collecting the final 30% share took months and lots of additional work. I know things are tight now, but it seems that from the mid-90s to the mid-2000's that cash was flowing and italians were digging it.



There is a very surprising statistic today in the NYTimes that I think also explains why Berlusconi finds popularity here.

His more business-friendly attitude (in comparison to the opposition ) is important in a country with so many people owning their own businesses. The opposition has always treated the small business owner with disdain.

A chart showing the self-employment rates in industrialized countries:

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v33/ronaldo/sb1-sm-2009-08.jpg



America’s (Very Small) Small-Business Sector
By CATHERINE RAMPELL

The Center for Economic and Policy Research, a liberal research organization in Washington, recently published a study looking at the rates of small business employment around the world.

The finding: “By every measure of small-business employment, the United States has among the world’s smallest small-business sectors.”

More data can be found in the full report. This conclusion — that, despite maintaining a national identity centering around the so-called “American dream,” we are not, relatively speaking, a nation of be-your-own-boss, small entrepreneurs — is pretty striking.

One potential explanation for America’s low self-employment and small-business employment, the report argues, is that other countries have universal health care access that is not dependent on employment.

“High health care costs discourage small business formation,” the authors write, “since start-ups in other countries can tap into government-funded health care systems.”

Readers, what do make of this report’s explanation for such patterns? Are there other likely causes for having a small American small-business sector?

My guess is that some will argue high corporate income tax rates play a role. After all, as anti-tax politicians and research groups argue, America has the second-highest corporate income tax rate in the developed world. But, as we’ve noted before on Economix, America’s effective corporate income tax rate is much lower than the statutory tax rate — and is among the lowest in the industrialized world — thanks to the many deductions and loopholes in the American tax code.

Fabrizio
August 12th, 2009, 08:40 PM
This is an article by William Pfaff that I think is very insightful into Berlusconi's popularity:

Sarkozy/Berlusconi: Politics Latin Style.

Date 2009/7/31 13:00:00

Paris – It sometimes pays to be a nondescript politician, like Gordon Brown of Britain. Flamboyance of the Latin kind gets you into
the newspapers, but for bad reasons as well as good.

Nicolas Sarkozy of France has been in the news both for fainting while jogging and, in another report, because his wife, Carla Bruni,
is said to be trying to polish him up to be more attractive to the French intellectuals. He admits that you can’t win elections with
the intellectuals, but you may lose if they are against you.

Sarkozy is not a man noted for charm but for his unchecked energies and the restless activity that seems to have been
responsible for a fainting spell while jogging, and an overnight hopitalization.

He won the presidential office two years ago through tireless campaigning, ambitious if sometimes scattershot reform promises, and
terrific force of personality. He ran against an exhausted and divided Socialist party with an attractive but unconvincing candidate, Segolene Royal .

Whatever his rough charm, he did convince the majority of French voters that he would seriously attack the neglected problems of society, and end the lethargy and drift of the last years of the long Jacques Chirac presidency. He has done what he has promised, and made positive changes in the big state sector of the economy and in labor relations in the private sector. He met every problem head-on, yet was highly flexible in his dealings with business and labor.

His presidency of Europe in the second half of 2008, when France led the European Union, was dynamic and successful when the global economic crisis erupted, and he made Europe the international leader in dealing with the crisis Georgia provoked with Russia during the summer Olympics by trying to claw back one of its lost separatist enclaves. He left office with a vastly improved reputation in Europe.

But inside France he remains hated by the left for his supposed market-economy views and pro-Americanism, both of which actually proved when tested to be forgotten campaign politics. When the economic crisis came, he proved as much of a state interventionist as any of his French predecessors, whatever their party.

He took France back into full NATO participation when there seemed nothing gained by staying out, but has maintained a prudent distance from Obama administration enthusiasm for winning George Bush’s “war on terror” under another name and in another place, Afghanistan-Pakistan.

He took on reform of the state’s huge, ideology-bound state education system, and its neglected and declining universities
(unable to compete with the elite “grandes ecoles” system of higher education), issues on which every recent government has been defeated.

The left will never like him, and the right, while it supports him, has a socially condescending view of this political buccaneer of
immigrant origin, who uses common language and has common manners. The critical man on the street says that “he talks like a grocer” and lacks the dignity of his presidential office. His elegant Italian wife, Carla Bruni, is at work on this.

Italy’s Silvio Berlusconi is another matter entirely. He is a success in politics apparently because the majority of Italians like
him, envy his flamboyance, admire his success from obscure origins, his wealth -- and his boasting about his sexual powers, his business schemes and his outsmarting of the taxmen, investigating judges, and police in the shady deals he’s been accused of making while building his colossal fortune.

Italian observers sometimes say that the mass of ordinary Italians admire Berlusconi for his cynicism because they share it. Whether they respect him for it is another matter. If they elect him as an exaggerated version of the supposedly prototypical Italian, that does not, after all, give the world a very enthralling picture of Italians and Italy.

Now he is in trouble again. The newspapers have just published the Prime Minister’s purported indiscretions to an escort, who says she
was engaged to spend a night with him. Being a prudent young woman, who had previously had unfortunate experiences with men, she recorded their conversations. The tape included not only what he had to say about his inclinations in intimate pleasures but supposedly his casual revelation of unreported Phoenician tombs found on his property in Sardinia, contents of which ornament his residences. He unqualifiedly denies this.

It would be a serious crime to have taken the Phoenician relics and not reported them, and while he has managed to get legislation
exempting him from prosecution for civil crimes during his presidency, it doesn’t seem to cover offenses against
Italy’s archeological legacy. It would be curious affair if Berlusconi’s downfall should actually begin with what was found while
excavating a swimming pool, and end with braggadocio before an attractive woman, whom he didn’t have to seduce.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Pfaff

--