Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

History, architecture and fashion might not be enough anymore to keep Milan among the top Italian cities. What the city really needs, according to Mayor Letizia Moratti, is to get its name in the new Italian version of Monopoly coming out later this year.

“All I dealt with in these past two days was Monopoly,” the mayor of Italy’s most industrious city said at a press conference today.

Moratti has been hard at work to get the city of Milan into the revised version of Hasbro’s popular board game, which celebrates its 75th anniversary. The gaming company has asked fans to vote online for the most representative cities that will appear in the new version, replacing the old street names. The voting deadline is July 28.

“Milan is currently out of the 22 cities that would make it on the game,” said Moratti. “So I appeal to all the citizens of Milan to go to to vote and make sure Milan will be part of the beautiful game.”

Only 0.54 percent of fans have voted Milan so far.

Milan's ranking for the future Italian version of Monopoly

Although a very poor result, the city is certainly doing better than Rome, (0.2%) Florence or Venice. (Both at 0.12%) Despite its name, even the little Pugliese town of Monopoli isn’t faring too well, stuck at a depressing 0.08%.

By shifting the focus on Monopoly, Moratti avoided answering thorny questions about slow construction and planning for Milan’s Expo 2015. Emma Marcegaglia, president of Italy’s most important group of industrials, Confindustria, said today she was “worried but still confident” the Expo would eventually come through.

Given Milan’s indecisiveness on the Expo 2015, combined with its recent housing crisis, it shouldn’t come as a surprise if Monopoly fans don’t feel confident enough to raise green houses and red hotels over Italy’s industrial capital.

Top 22 rankings for future version of Italian Monopoly

Top 22 rankings for future version of Italian Monopoly


After 17 days as Minister for the Application of the Federalist Reform, Aldo Brancher has stepped down from his government duties to take on a court trial against him and his wife.

Brancher was nominated by Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi on June 19, after which he tried in vain to appeal to a recently approved law that gave government officials the right to delay court hearings in case of “legitimate impediment.”

“I thought I had to privilege my obligations towards the nation for a brief period of time,” Brancher told Judge Annamaria Gatto in a Milan court on Monday. “But since this decision has been widely exploited, I decided to make other choices, as a sign of respect towards my family first of all and also to put an end to the speculation.”

On June 25, just six days after his nomination, Brancher had seen his legitimate impediment request denied by President Giorgio Napolitano, who did not find any valid reason why Brancher would not be able to show up for his court hearing.
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On June 19 a new minister, Aldo Brancher, was nominated to take over the government’s efforts to pursue what is known in Italy as “federalism,” a plan long sought after by the separatist party Lega Nord.

Brancher is a highly controversial figure in recent Italian history.

As journalist Marco Travaglio pointed out on Il Fatto Quotidiano, Brancher was arrested on June 18, 1993, right in the middle of the Tangentopoli scandal that rocked Italian politics in the early ’90s.

Brancher, who at the time was working for Berlusconi’s Fininvest, was accused of bribery by Giovanni Marone, former secretary to Health Minister Francesco De Lorenzo. Marone had this to say about Brancher:

“Brancher came to me on behalf of Fininvest to ask for a larger slice of advertising in the anti-Aids campaign [on the Fininvest TV channels]. And when this privilege was realized, he was thankful and paid me with 300 million lire (approximately $150,000) in two payments.”

After three months in jail Brancher was released and then charged 2 years and 8 months of jail-time for illegal financing and false accounting.

The third and final degree of justice got him off the hook thanks to Berlusconi, who in the meantime had become head of the government, starting to pass all sorts of laws favorable to his many legal troubles.
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If you thought former President George W. Bush’s illegal wiretapping spree of a few years ago was bad, think again. Italy and Italians have it much worse.

“Everyone is being spied on,” said Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi today.

Speaking in front of the assembly of Confcommercio, the Italian General Confederation of Enterprises, Berlusconi calmly (for once) explained why the Italian Senate has recently approved a law that would prohibit journalists from publishing court documents containing recorded phone conversations and would make prosecutors’ jobs much harder by limiting the use of wiretapping possible suspects.

He said that 150,000 phones are currently being wiretapped in Italy. Making a rough estimate of the people involved in the phone conversations, Berlusconi said that 7 million people are being listened to every day.

That’s an awful high number of people to listen to. I’m wondering how many people are employed to do this? With just over 100.000 police officers in Italy, you’d think someone else is doing the job.
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Last week, former Cincinnati mayor Ken Blackwell was on Jon Stewart’s Daily Show to present his book: “Blueprint: Obama’s Plan to Subvert the Constitution and Build an Imperial Presidency.”

Aside from being very bad at making his point, Blackwell wasn’t able to answer a simple question about the TITLE of the book: “Specifically, how is Obama subverting the Constitution?”

Blackwell stumbled and muttered something about Obamacare and appellate court judges to be appointed by the president.

If this is subversive, please find someone to export this model to Italy.

Napolesconi, by Gippo - Gyp, 2005

What Blackwell (and co-author Ken Klukowski) need to do is read some books on Italy’s prime minister Silvio Berlusconi. Only then will they have a clearer idea of what “subverting the constitution” means.

Here are just a few facts to back up what I’m saying.
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In a dictatorship it is important to keep all opposing voices quiet. Dissent is not allowed, while cheering and clapping without thinking is always encouraged.

This past Sunday, April 25, was the 65th anniversary of the Italian liberation from nazi-fascism. It is a national holiday in Italy and is celebrated, or at least used to be celebrated, to remember the resistance that so many Italians opposed against Nazi and fascist forces in occupied northern Italy during World War II.

These forces’ success allowed Italy to become a Republic, with universal suffrage (finally) and one of the most advanced Constitutions at the time.

Article 21 of that Constitution is the right to free speech. It is an article that has always bothered Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, who openly demonstrated his disgust for freedom of speech last week, when he humiliated Gianfranco Fini, his closest ally, in front of their Partito della Libertà Party. Berlusconi had not liked some words of criticism previously expressed by Fini.

Going back to April 25, this year’s celebration was pretty low-key.

Berlusconi was in Milan’s Scala theater, alongside many important Italian representatives. The President of the Republic, Giorgio Napolitano, was also present.

In the video down here you will see what happens in a debilitated democracy. Dissent is suppressed with force, but this force will not be shown on TV, the main source of information for most Italians, because that TV is controlled by the same people who suppress freedom of speech. If the episode is shown, the news surrounding it will be distorted to accomodate one view… the government’s.

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As I was watching live footage of Italy’s Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and his main political ally, Gianfranco Fini, yell at each other during a meeting of their Partito della Libertà Party, I couldn’t stop thinking about Mussolini.

Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and President of the Chamber of Deputies Gianfranco Fini yelling at each other.

For some reason, my mind started imagining how Berlusconi would apply certain fascist techniques to punish his ally, who has been mumbling and groaning over the past few days, expressing some concerns about the direction in which the party is going. Keep in mind that Fini is the one most likely to take over Berlusconi’s position within the Party once the media-emperor leaves his throne vacant.

Then I realized I was actually witnessing a fascist technique right in front of my eyes: “Internal exile.”
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When it comes to leading a lavish lifestyle and spending heaps of money on extravagant expenses, such as fancy hotels or bondage-themed clubs, some members of the Republican National Committee have lots to learn from one famous Italian politician

Starting today, their new model should be Silvio Berlusconi, the ultimate partier.

He celebrates the 18th birthday party of an unknown girl who he’s been inviting to various events for some time; he spends the night of Nov. 4, when the world was celebrating Barack Obama’s election, in his bed with a professional escort; and he has built a castle-like mansion in Sardinia where men and women can roam around naked.

And what happens to him? Nothing.
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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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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.