Archive for March, 2010

The next three years – that is, up to the 2013 elections – will be the toughest for Italy’s democracy, its Constitution and Italians in general.

In the meantime, the recent regional elections have given a strong boost to Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s populist model of governing.

Berlusconi believes that by winning elections he is mandated to do whatever he wants, including changing Italy’s Constitution and radically modifying the balance of powers that has kept Italian democracy in check for the past six decades.
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A recent article by Newser founder and Vanity Fair columnist Michael Wolff tried to explain the similarities between Silvio Berlusconi and Sarah Palin.

Their success, he says, is easy to explain:

It’s pure shamelessness, a total absence of self-consciousness, combined with entrepreneurial zeal. These are extraordinary self-reliant salesmen, Berlusconi and Palin. Id people. Media creations, it goes without saying. He was a cruise-ship crooner; she a beauty contestant.

These are all good points, although I think Wolff glides over a fundamental difference: While Sarah Palin wittingly adapted all the cliches the media wanted her to fit in, Berlusconi modeled his image to his liking, having the power to do so with a big chunk of Italy’s television channels and quite a few influential daily and weekly publications.

Wolff then goes on to explaining why this Palin-Berlusconi model is so attractive to voters.
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Here is a very interesting and well-done BBC documentary by journalist Mark Franchetti. It aired on British TV on March 17.

Titled “The Berlusconi Show,” the documentary gives a general overview of Berlusconi’s life, career, political successes and failures, his troubles with justice, his affairs, his alleged ties with the Mafia and much more.
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On Thursday, more than 185,000 people tuned into the online streaming of Raiperunanotte, a special edition of Annozero, a public TV program shut down for a few weeks by the government of Silvio Berlusconi.

Servers were on the point of melting down, buffering capacities were stretched to the limit.
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Italy finally has its own Rambo-style minister.

It’s Roberto Calderoli, Ministro della Semplificazione – the minister whose task is to simplify Italy’s bureaucracy.

His style is quite unique, as you can tell by the pictures. (Credit: Imagoeconomica)

After collecting 375,000 allegedly useless and outdated laws, amendments and other government documents, Calderoli put them all in boxes and had them stacked one on top of the other in front of a fire department in Rome.

He then threw some gas over the boxes and set the whole thing on fire.

Quite a show!

Sure, he could have gone down the environmental route and recycled all that paper. But a nice big fire is certainly going to attract more photographers.

Let’s just hope people don’t follow the minister’s example. Two years ago, burning trash didn’t really work out in Naples and the surrounding towns, where an environmental disaster is quickly developing. Roberto Saviano explains all of that in his amazing book, Gomorrah.

Still, Calderoli definitely needs to be commended for his hard work. According to Corriere della Sera’s Gian Antonio Stella, he has been able to cross out “more than one law a minute” since he got into office in 2008. I’m sure Calderoli is a fast reader and has gone through every single one of the 375,000 laws.

If he hasn’t, I just hope nothing really important ended up between the trash.

The Constitution still seems to be in place. Maybe it’s just a matter of time before he burns that, too.

In 2005, Al Gore launched Current TV, self-described as a “peer-to-peer news and information network.”

Now the Emmy Award-winning network is helping some Italian broadcast journalists find a voice after being virtually laid off by the Italian government for the next three weeks.
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It looks like Italy’s prime minister Silvio Berlusconi is losing it. And by ‘it’ I mean both his poise and the confidence of his voters, given the reports of a large chunk of his electorate not wanting to show up in the upcoming regional elections on March 28 and 29.

In the next few days I will be talking about the latest scandal involving Berlusconi and how the media is starting to unveil a network of influence that the prime minister holds over some of the most important and vital elements of Italian democracy.

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Lettera scritta a Beppe Grillo il 18 marzo 2010:

Caro Beppe,

Ogni giorno leggo il tuo blog da Chicago, dove vivo ormai da due anni e faccio il giornalista senza aver bisogno di tessere o affiliazioni politiche. Le rivelazioni degli ultimi giorni sulle pressioni esercitate dal presidente del Consiglio su certi personaggi del mondo delle comunicazioni e la completa sottomissione di quest’ultimi mi spingono ad esprimere tutta l’amarezza che questa situazione sta creando in me.

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The Italian government is proud to present … the McItaly?

In late January, Agriculture Minister Luca Zaia gave his blessings to McDonald’s latest offering.

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