Sunday, July 29, 2012

The Olympics invasion of Italian news. Who cares about Syria and the economy?

Italian media must be so happy right now.
Finally, there’s another topic they can use to avoid discussing the real problems of our country: the Olympics. It doesn’t matter if they are taking place in London, somehow they still have the priority over everything else.
Today at 1pm I was watching the news (I won’t say what channel, but anyway unless you watch the Sky news channel they are all really alike), but before I heard something different from the Olympics I had to wait for a good ten minutes.
First of all, we absolutely need to celebrate the victory of the Italian women, who got all the three fencing medals. Fair enough, let’s be happy, since it is unlikely to happen again.
Then, a five minute long interview to the archery men’s team, that won the gold medal. And they also spent time joking about the fact that they become Olympic champions despite being quite fat.
Only after the extremely impelling report about the archery team’s physical shape, we finally heard about the economy, the Pope’s wish that the violence in Syria stopped, and then a report about the actual situation in Syria. In that order: first the Pope’s speech about Syria, then Syria.
I’m always speechless in these occasions. I honestly don’t understand how they can think that the Olympics and the Pope are more important than the violence in Syria. Plus, since I study in London, I developed a kind of dislike for the Olympics just like the Londoners, but that’s a personal thing. I want to thank Mario Monti for saying no to the Olympics in Rome.
Well, after all, football is the best way to divert Italian people’s attention from reality, but when we don’t have football we can be content with any kind of sport. Let’s get ready to be brainwashed for the next weeks.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Italian politicians and their "gold salaries": saved once again

Italian politicians cost us a disgustingly huge amount of money. If at least they deserved it… But they so don’t.
The Italian parliament counts almost 1000 MPs. Twice the American Congress, even though Italy only has a fifth of the American population.
And they get the highest salaries in Europe. No, wait. Maybe in the world. Many of them earn more than US President Barack Obama. Actually, according the data that were released in February, Obama earns less money than the President of the Italian “Electric Energy and Gas Authority”. And the Italian Senate’s stenographer earns as much as the King of Spain. No kidding.
So, I hope, everyone wants a law to cut politicians’ salaries. In the last months, a civic committee called “Comitato del Sole” started to collect signatures to propose a referendum about this topic, but it was suspended. Why? Because the deadline to get the 500.000 signatures we need to submit the proposal was this week. And we only got 250.000 so far. According to the Italian law, if you don’t get enough signatures by the deadline (or if the referendum doesn’t reach the needed threshold, or if the referendum gives a negative outcome), you have to wait five years before you can start a new signatures collection. So they rightly decided to postpone it for now.
Italian fellows? You are all so good at complaining. What about doing something? I am well aware that this signatures’ collection wasn’t advertised at all by state media, but if you care at least a little bit about the subject, you must have heard about it.
Apparently now they will start collecting signatures again in October. Maybe in the meantime we could spread the word, so that more people decide to show up and sign in October. Please, please, PLEASE, Italians: wake up!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Semi presidentialism? It works for France, but they don't have Berlusconi

Today I HATE every single politician in Italy.
This morning the Italian Senate had to vote for a Constitutional reform.  The bill, proposed by the Northern League and the People of Freedom (Berlusconi’s party), wants Italy to stop being a parliamentary Republic and become a French style semi presidential Republic. The Senate voted favourably. Vive la France.

Beside the fact that with the on-going economic crisis I believe the Senate should be discussing more impelling topics, this whole episode gives me a stomach ache for at least two reasons.
First reason: it shows how quickly it is possible for politicians to bypass bureaucratic procedures, and most of all to discuss changing the Constitution (that is sacred and untouchable only when it suits them) if the matter they want to debate benefits them.  And guess who would benefit from this reform? Yes, it’s always the same person and his surname starts with a B. Only the idea of Berlusconi as a president of the Republic is dreadful, but he said he might run for the role “if the party wants him to”.
Second reason: it shows the ineptitude of the parties that are supposed to oppose the bill. Do you want to know what they did, instead of staying there and casting a loud and clear “No”? Most of them left the room at the beginning of the meeting, the remainder abstained. Are you making fun of us? Has everyone ever told you that you can actually vote against something? Well, this was another perfect occasion to show the whole country how useless you are, wasn’t it? Let me tell you how I feel: YOU SHOULD ALL GO TO HELL.
Now the bill will move on to the Chamber of Deputies. I’ll light a candle and keep you updated. 

Monday, July 23, 2012

Want to complain about your job? Just consider yourself lucky to have one

New encouraging data about employment. According to a research conducted by the Ministry of Labour, in the third term of 2012 only 2 work contracts out of 10 were for a permanent position; the remainder 8 were for temporary ones. We should have seen it coming: our Prime Minister Mario Monti warned us. He said that in the future permanent jobs would no longer exist in Italy, and that after all they are “boring and lead to a monotonous life”. Well, if by “monotonous life” you mean that it would allow us to plan our future (move out of the parents’ house, get married, have children and so on) you’re absolutely right. It is partially true that Italians are a people of “bamboccioni” (“big babies”) who live with their parents until they are 40, but on the other hand, where should they live? Under a bridge? Without a stable job they can’t certainly afford a mortgage.  I personally think that more young Italians should move abroad, because being geographically mobile seems to be the most effective way to get a job. But then again, we do have a lot of “mamma boys” who will never leave the country. And very often the ones who do leave Italy are criticised because” if everyone leaves, Italy will sink”. Do you want me to sink with Italy then? Forget it.
But maybe we should consider ourselves happy even only with a temporary job: it’s getting harder and harder just to get a job of any length and kind. The Minister of Labour, Elsa Fornero, in an interview with the Wall Street Journal claimed: “Work isn’t a right, it has to be earned”. It’s funny though: I used to think that we have to work to deserve a reward. Now work IS the reward.  Perhaps we should amend the first article of the Constitution: not "Italy is a democratic Republic founded on labour", but "Italy is a democratic Republic founded on the right to try to get the right to work". Complicated, yet more appropriate. 

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Paolo Borsellino: 20 years later, very little has changed

Today it's the 20th anniversary of Paolo Borsellino's death in the so called "massacre of Via D'Amelio". Borsellino was an Italian magistrate who spent his life fighting the Sicilian Mafia, and in the end was murdered in a car bomb. Together with his friend and colleague Giovanni Falcone, who was also assassinated, he is a symbol of the battle of the Italian state against the mafia. The topic is still very actual: unfortunately, it is not obvious that the state should fight.
Just in these days there new rumours about the role played by some Italian politicians in a presumed deal with the mafia, dating back to the massacres season in the '90s, which, according to the allegation. saw the complicity of the state. The new scandals involve the President of the Republic himself, Giorgio Napolitano. In a phone tapping, Palermo's judges claim, he was heard speaking with some men who might have been a part of that mafia deal. Now the debate is whether those conversations should be destroyed or not, since they include the President. 
Anyway, the matter is extremely hot. Borsellino's words are as current as they could be.
"Politics and mafia are two powers that live on the control of the same territory: they either fight, or collude"
(Paolo Borsellino, January 19, 1940- July 19, 1992)

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Same old story, same old Silvio

What about 2013? Anyway, we all know that Berlusconi might lose and still be the most influential figure in Italian politics. So in any case, Italy really sucks at changing.
Can you guess the brand new name for Berlusconi's party? From "People of Freedom" it's changing back to "Forza Italia" ("Go Italy"). What an amazing innovation. They move backwards and call it "new". 
As The Independent titled: new party, same old Silvio (link:

Seriously, should we laugh or should we cry?

Monday, July 16, 2012

Will we let him screw the entire country again?

Quote of the day:
"Berlusconi will take advantage of the mood of the crisis: this feeling, which deep inside people still have, that, at the end of the day, when he was in charge things were not this bad. And this time he will play not in order to win, but just to get enough votes to be able to blackmail whoever will govern. As usual."
(Roberto Saviano, Italian journalist and author of "Gomorrah")

He's absolutely right. Search the universe, and you will not find a people whose memory is shorter than ours. We Italians are extremely good at forgetting things. This time, we have already forgotten the reason why we wanted Berlusconi to leave in the first place: the fact that he screwed the entire country, as The Economist correctly put it. Thinking that we might let him screw us all again makes me want to cry for Italy. 

Friday, July 13, 2012

Brace yourselves: Berlusconi is back. Again. Like a phoenix

We rejoiced too soon. Guess who is back to lead his party, The People of Freedom, and who will run as Prime Minister in the next general election in 2013. Yes: Silvio Berlusconi. There won’t even be a primary election, he will just be the candidate. Nobody in his party has half his charisma, and indeed no one believed that Berlusconi was actually gone for good. But frankly I hoped he would take an extra-long holiday… Come on, with all the money he has, he could buy a desert island, build a huge mansion and go there with enough girls to keep him company for a year. Why doesn’t he do that? Just a couple of days ago I was commenting how great it was not to be ashamed of our PM.  Berlusconi doesn’t have many chances to become PM again: even for the very short-term memory of the average Italian, he has done too many things to ruin Italy (or to be more precise, he has ruined Italy by NOT doing ANYTHING to solve Italy’s economic crisis). The problem is that he might be very influent for Italian politics even without becoming PM.  Here in Italy, politicians are planning a reform of the electoral system and, if Berlusconi gets what he wants (which is likely), the new system will be highly proportional. Since in Italy we have something like a million political parties, a proportional system will definitely lead to a coalition government, maybe of more than two parties. In a situation like that, where no party has a majority, a big and popular party such as Berlusconi’s will still be crucial for parliamentary outcomes:  for instance, if he threatens to vote against a law proposal, the government might give in to his requests, otherwise it might fall apart. And that means Berlusconi will still be able to turn things to his advantage: that’s what he does best. Unless this time things don’t go exactly his way, he will win again. Despite his past, his scandals and his trials. The man is like a phoenix: he always rises again. Brace yourselves. He’s back. 

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

No more bunga bunga: now bring on some normality

Link to the video: Jimmy Carr as Silvio Berlusconi- Enjoy!

All of a sudden, Italian media started talking about Berlusconi's sex scandals again, and particularly about his trial (one of the many), in which he is accused of paying to have sex with minors. There must be a reason for this new interest in the topic. Possibly, the message they are trying to promote is that the girls who said they slept with Berlusconi in exchange for gifts and money are now withdrawing everything. So, Berlusconi would not be an old pervert guy, but a generous man who was ridiculed in front of the whole world because of those lying women. How surprising, considering Berlusconi's media empire (TV channels, newspapers and the ability to influence also the media he doesn't actually own).
Anyway, I told myself: "Hey, let's refresh my memory: what did people say about Berlusconi when he was in charge?". So I found this video by Jimmy Carr, from the show "10 o'clock live", that I really like. It's over a year old, but I guess everyone abroad still pictures Berlusconi exactly like this. And I'll be honest, there is still work to be done to fix things in Italy: I kind of like our new Prime Minister Mario Monti, nevertheless I think he could and should do much more. Yet, when I see this type of video and I recall what people used to comment during the Berlusconi era when I said I was Italian, I can only feel relieved. It seems amazing to be talking about spending reviews and anti-spread plans, instead of "bunga bunga" parties and hookers. I actually find it weird that our Prime Minister is admired and not mocked. We Italians have been living in an unusual reality for almost two decades. Maybe that's why it seems so difficult to deal with Monti's government: it's too believable.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Never tell an Italian you're not hungry

True story.
A real challenge when you live abroad and you have to visit all your relatives in a day: if you don't eat anything, you MUST at least have an espresso. 
Feeding you is the Italian way to show you affection. So shut up and eat.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Italian politicians: they never get boring...

Every single day, in Italy, "colourful" politicians give us at least a reason to be ashamed of them.
Today, it’s this brilliant statement of Santino Bozza, Northern League’s MP and councilor of the Veneto region:
“Gays? I know that unfortunately they exist, they are sick, different, crazy. If I see them kissing, I spit on the ground in disgust. […] I don’t like gays at all, it would be trouble if there were any in the (Northern) League. I see that there are plenty in leftwing parties, even among the leaders […] I see their obscene behavior in public, on the streets, in parks. We are giving them all this freedom that I don’t see as a positive thing. Just be on your own and get the f**k out”
This is the kind of talk that we hear, while leaders such as Cameron and Hollande talk about gay rights and gay marriage.
It’s just amazing to think that we actually pay these people. 

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Football, opium of the Italian people

First Italian fact: in Italy, we care more about football than anything else.
Here we are, deep in the economic crisis, almost desperate to find a solution, and yet for a weekend the world seems to have stopped. It’s been two days since the final against Spain (that totally deserved to win, by the way) and we are still talking- or in certain cases crying- about it. With the aid of the media, that makes it look like the worst tragedy ever, we are all paining because we lost a stupid football game. Well, so what? We lost a GAME, nobody died, nobody got hurt. Get over it, Italians… We all need a diversion sometimes, but we are crossing the line. Please wake up and go back to worry about serious problems. And God knows we do have much more serious problems. If young people stop envying Balotelli’s muscles and stop complaining that Italy made such a long way to the final for nothing, maybe they will start focusing on the new Istat data, which say that youth unemployment reached 36.2%.
In Italy, football is the real opium of the people.