28 February, 2007

Bad news in Italy, good news at work

I have been quite busy lately, which is why I haven't written anything. I have a number of things I'd like to have written, including photos and images and advertisements, but I haven't had the time to sit down & type. Considering that I have to give a talk Friday, perhaps I shouldn't be typing this now, but here goes.

The bad news first. Last week, my beloved Italy was full of bad news. To begin with, Romano Prodi's government fell, which isn't such bad news in and of itself, but becomes bad news when one reflects on the fact that the previous government of Silvio Berlusconi lasted five years, and for the first time made Italy look like a nation that could actually hold a stable government. Before Berlusconi, the average Italian goverment lasted 6 months. Prodi's managed only 9. The president asked Prodi to assemble a new coalition, and Parliament is voting on that today, perhaps already has, but the Italian newspapers I read haven't reported it yet.

One of the main reasons Prodi's government fell was that the radical left wing is incensed at the expansion of an American military base near Vicenza, which is to say: anti-Americanism contributed to the fall of the government. Berlusconi has been saying for several months now that Prodi's government would fall any day now. He just won't shut up, and last week he was suggesting to Prodi that they form a coalition government together. Prodi is having none of it, although this would probably be good for Italy, even if we are talking about Berlusconi. If the larger parties formed a coalition, Italy would be held hostage less frequently to the demands of small, extremist parties, and something might actually be accomplished.

As an aside, the Italian cartoonist Gianelli today depicts Prodi in Parliament telling the ministers,

Vorrei augurarmi una unione civile!

(I'd like to hope for a civil Union!)
The humor is based on the fact that Prodi's past coalition was called "The Union of the Olive" (only in Italy) and one of his most controversial proposals, which the Catholic Church has strenuously opposed, is a measure that would create "civil unions" for couples living together. So Prodi hopes for a civil Union. Get it? Hyuk hyuk.

In other political news, a film is being released where the protagonist contemplates assassinating Silvio Berlusconi. Here in the US, left-wingers are content only to write books about assassinating right-wing political leaders, but in Italy they make actual films! Europe is truly more civilized than America. ;-)

There was other bad news last week. Nigerians have, for some reason, been kidnapping Italians who work in the country, and last week they captured a couple of engineers.

But the real kicker came in soccer news. You may have heard that, having won the world cup, some Italian soccer fans are now rampaging at soccer games. Things have been so violent that the league closed ticket sales in some stadiums. The Neapolitans are never to be outdone in anything of this sort, and last week police discovered near a minor league stadium a bag of Molotov cocktails, with instructions that they be deposited in the stadium.

Finally, good news at work. I received news today that a paper has been accepted into a journal. :-)

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