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Posts tagged ‘Milan’

What President Obama Doesn’t Get About Inequality.

Inequality is President Obama’s highest priority, but his solutions are wholly naive.

Disparities between rich and poor are as ancient as civilization, but in modern democracies, this condition is exacerbated by globalization and technologies that drive it.

Successive advances in communication and transportation, for example, permit top opera singers, athletes and other professionals to reach wider audiences and earn incomes many times greater than their peers do.

Urgent: Is Obamacare Hurting Your Wallet? Vote in Poll 

Before the radio, phonograph and moving pictures, virtually every city, small and large, had an opera house or music hall that offered live entertainment. The top stars sang in New York, London and Milan and earned considerable wealth, but many local performers and traveling journeymen could earn a decent living too.

Italian tenor Enrico Caruso made more than 260 recordings for RCA Victor from 1904 to 1920, and radio sent his voice around the world. His income soared to levels unheard in past generations, but less renowned performers were displaced as regional opera companies folded.

Satellite communications, the Internet and jet travel permit star journalists to reach millions across the globe, while summonsing the demise of newspapers and opportunities for local reporters and columnists. The same goes for Wall Street bankers, big-firm lawyers and multinational executives, at the expense of their brethren in smaller enterprises.

For ordinary workers, cheaper oceanic and rail transportation for goods and the Internet for services have magnified global competition. More workers in the United States must now compete with those in China, and those in northern Europe must compete with those in southern Europe and in large Chinese cities with those elsewhere in Asia.

Governments have made extremes of income worse. Big cities, often with federal support, subsidize concert halls and sports stadiums, and further raise the salaries paid top performers and big league ball players.

The United States and European Union have gone along with trade and environmental agreements that permit China to charge high tariffs on imports and avoid pollution abatement, making “Made in China” even cheaper. That pushes down wages for American and European workers and wreaks havoc on the global environment.

In China, migration laws permit rural workers to move to factories in big cities, but most may not bring their children. One in five Chinese children lives without their parents, and often those drop out of school and become unemployable, which will create enormous social problems.

Income disparities are making education more unattainable for the children of poor and working classes. This is a social time bomb, but government policies to address the problem often make things worse.

In the United States, government-subsidized loans drive up tuition costs. Community and less-prestigious four-year colleges have lots of children from low and middle-income families, and many graduates are saddled with huge debt and have not found jobs that pay much better than high school graduates.

Enrollment at top business and professional schools are still dominated by students whose parents are well off. They get most of the top-paying jobs on Wall Street, in high-end law firms and among multinational corporations.

Obamacare is making health insurance more expensive for many middle-class families and driving up the cost of healthcare. That makes income disparities worse not better.

Research at the nonpartisan National Bureau of Economic Research has shown putting otherwise able people on public assistance encourages the same in their children, and extended unemployment benefits actually increase unemployment by raising employer costs and reducing the demand for labor.

All these burdens slow growth and lessen job opportunities for the struggling middle class and disadvantaged.

High talk about social justice, widening economic opportunities and income redistribution makes liberal politicians media darlings and wins elections, but such demagoguery does little to fill the belly of the poor.

Urgent: Is Obamacare Hurting Your Wallet? Vote in Poll 

© 2014 Moneynews. All rights reserved.


Berlusconi Sentenced to Jail in Sex Trial.

Image: Berlusconi Sentenced to Jail in Sex Trial

An Italian court on Monday sentenced Silvio Berlusconi to seven years in jail and banned the former premier from public office after convicting him of paying for sex with an underage prostitute and abuse of power.

The judges handed down a sentence that went beyond the request of prosecutors, who had called for the 76-year-old billionaire to serve six years.

The sentence is “completely illogical. The judges even went beyond the prosecutors’ request,” Berlusconi’s lawyer Niccolo Ghedini told journalists after the verdict was read out.

A small group of protesters cheered and applauded outside the courtroom, and sang the national anthem.

The verdict brings to a climax a two-year trial which sparked a media frenzy amid allegations of strippers dressed as nuns and erotic party games with topless girls.

The sentence will be suspended until all appeals have been exhausted, a process likely to take years.

Berlusconi’s age also means he is unlikely to ever see the inside of a prison cell because of lenient sentencing guidelines in Italy for people over the age of 70.

The trial relates to crimes committed in 2010 when Berlusconi was prime minister, and revolves around what prosecutors have described as erotic parties held at his luxury residence outside Milan.

Berlusconi was accused of paying for sex on several occasions with Moroccan-born Karima El-Mahroug, a then 17-year-old exotic dancer and busty glamour girl nicknamed “Ruby the Heart Stealer“.

He was also accused of having called a police station to pressure for El-Mahroug’s release from custody when she was arrested for theft.

His defence claimed he believed El-Mahroug was the niece of former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak and wanted to avoid a diplomatic incident, but prosecutors insisted it was a bid to conceal their liaison.

While abuse of office was the more serious of the charges, it was the sex with the pole dancer after racy “bunga bunga” evenings in a basement room of his mansion that mesmerised the public.

El-Mahroug described the “bunga bunga” sessions of erotic dancing to interrogators in 2010, saying Berlusconi had picked up the custom from former Libyan dictator Moamer Kadhafi.

Both the flamboyant billionaire and El-Mahroug denied having had sex.

Prosecutor Ilda Boccassini told the court in her summing up speech last month that El-Mahroug was “part of a prostitution system set up for the personal sexual satisfaction of the defendant”.

She said the dancer quickly became the premier’s “favourite” and had not admitted the relationship with him only because she had received as much as 4.5 million euros ($5.8 million) from him.

El-Mahroug proved an unreliable witness, admitting in May that she had lied to investigators about the parties — going back on an earlier claim that strippers had “bodily stimulated” Berlusconi — and saying she had invented the vast sum of money.

She still admitted to receiving tens of thousands of euros for attending parties and set up a beauty salon.

The former cruise ship singer has long blamed his legal woes on persecution by “Communist” judges, and any perceived “victory” on the part of the left could spark an explosive reaction from loyalists.

A Milan court last month upheld his conviction for tax fraud, confirming the punishment of a year in prison and a five-year ban from public office which is frozen pending a second appeal.

© AFP 2013


Italy’s Berlusconi Questioned in Prostitution Probe.

ROME — Italian center-right leader Silvio Berlusconi was questioned by Rome prosecutors for three hours on Tuesday over allegations the former prime minister paid 750,000 euros to buy the silence of people aware that he used prostitutes.

The interrogation centered on a case in which the 76-year-old media tycoon is believed to have been the victim of extortion by three former associates, sources at the prosecutors office said.

One of these associates, businessman Gianpaolo Tarantini, is accused of providing prostitutes for parties at Berlusconi’s private villa outside Milan.

Berlusconi is also accused by prosecutors in the southern city of Bari of “inducement to give false testimony,” by paying the money to Tarantini, Tarantini’s wife, and a former political associate, Walter Lavitola.

Berlusconi, whose People of Freedom party is vital to the survival of the left-right coalition government of Prime Minister Enrico Letta, has seen his many legal difficulties mount in recent weeks.

On Monday, prosecutors in Milan called for him to serve six years in jail on charges of abuse of office and paying for sex with a minor, and last week he lost an appeal against a four year sentence for tax fraud.

The verdict in the Milan sex case is expected next month, while Berlusconi has launched a second and final appeal against the tax fraud conviction. He will serve no time in jail until the appeals process, which can last for years, is exhausted.

Berlusconi denies any wrongdoing in all the cases against him.

© 2013 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

Milan Man Killed, Four Wounded in Random Pickaxe Rampage.

ROME — An immigrant from Ghana went on a rampage with a pickaxe in Milan at dawn Saturday, killing a passerby and wounding four others in an apparently random attack, police said.

Carabinieri paramilitary police in Milan said the 21-year-old attacker was taken into custody shortly after the attacks in a residential area on the northern outskirts of the city.

People working in cafes and other businesses near the attack told Sky TG24 TV that the man wildly swung a pickaxe, running down streets and ferociously striking passersby, mainly on the head. Pools of blood stained the streets.

A 40-year-old man died after being struck on the head with the pickaxe and suffering further blows to the abdomen while he lay on the ground, police said. The victim was described as an unemployed man who was heading to a cafe near his home.

Among those wounded was a man in his 20s who was helping his father deliver newspapers to newsstands; another was a man walking his dog.

At first it appeared five people had been wounded, but police later said the sixth person the attacker swung at darted into a doorway in the nick of time and escaped injury.

Two of the wounded were in critical condition.

Police said the motive was unclear.

“Police blocked him with difficulty. He was in an evident state of marked psychological stress,” Col. Biagio Storniolo told reporters. Asked about the motive, Storniolo said the suspect “was not being cooperative. He says only that he is hungry and has no home.”

The man, identified as Mada Kabobo, 21, was jailed while he is investigated for murder and two counts of attempted murder for the two persons who were most critically wounded, police said.

First media reports said the man had ignored a 2011 expulsion order because he was not legally in the country, but police later clarified that the expulsion papers had not yet been issued because legal proceedings in southern Italy were pending. Police said they identified the suspect, who had no documents on him, from fingerprints.

Police said he was in the country illegally, and had previously been arrested in the Puglia region for alleged, theft, robbery, property damage and resisting public authorities.

Milan Mayor Giuliano Pisapia said the entire city was shocked that a man would go on such a rampage, “killing one and wounding several, even gravely, just because he ran into them on his path.”

© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Italian bishops thank God for wrong pope.

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – Italian bishops were so convinced that one of their own would become pope that they sent a congratulatory message to the media thanking God for the election of a prelate from Milan.

The trouble was, the new pope had already been named as Argentinian cardinal Jorge Bergoglio.

The secretary-general of the Italian conference, Monsignor Mariano Crociata, expressed “joy and thanks” to God for the election of Cardinal Angelo Scola of Milan in a statement sent to reporters at 8:23 p.m. (3:23 p.m. ET) on Wednesday night.

About 10 minutes earlier, Bergoglio had made his first appearance before the crowds in St. Peter’s Square.

At 9:08 p.m. (4:08 p.m. ET), the Italian bishops conference sent another statement thanking God for the election of the pope, but this time got the name right.

In the days leading up the secret conclave, many Italian newspapers openly promoted Scola as the next pope.

The newspapers – and the bishops conference – appear to have missed the warning contained in a traditional Italian saying that front-runners at a papal conclave are often disappointed.

“He who enters a conclave as a pope, leaves it as a cardinal,” the saying goes. Perhaps it was never more true in the modern age than in the conclave that elected Bergoglio instead of the Italian favorite Scola.

(Reporting By Philip Pullella; Editing by Crispian Balmer and Peter Graff)



How to Run for Pope.

Reuters (above); AP (inset)

The papal election begins tomorrow, but just because the vote is done in secret, that doesn’t mean there isn’t a campaign. With the start of the conclave (“with key”) approaching, the assembled cardinals spent the weekend fanning out all over Rome, meeting parishioners and well-wishers, shaking hands, and doing media photo-ops. Technically, most were just paying a visit to their respective churches (most cardinals are assigned a titular church within Rome, that they “oversee” in a ceremonial manner), but one can’t help notice the parallels to a barnstorming political candidate.

As The New York Times puts it, the “art of running for pope … means never, ever appearing to be running.” Obviously, no one rises to top of any organization without ambition, but sincehumility is also one of the key job qualifications for the Pontiff, it can be tricky to let the other Cardinals know you want the job without letting them know that you really, really want the job. All members of the conclave have been forbidden to talk to the media, or speak out on social media, but even so, publicly pushing for a particular candidate just isn’t done.

So how do the Cardinals decide who is “papabile” and who is just fallible? Well, if you’re part of the conclave, a lot of it has to do with deciding what you want the Catholic Church to accomplish  and then finding your fellow cardinal who is in the best position to get those things done. Then you have to build voting blocs or alliances that can help get that candidate elected. Much like the political conventions of older days (or an episode of Survivor) there is a lot of deal-making and vote trading, but for the candidates, those duties are best left to your friends—and the Holy Spirit, of course.

Some men genuinely don’t want the job of Pope and would rather rally support for their preferred choice, taking on the unseemly duties of campaigning so that the next Pope won’t have to get his hands dirty. Much of the politicking has already gone on behind closed doors across the Vatican in recent days, but the negotiations will continue even once the conclave is inside the Sistine Chapel.

That’s not to say that public appearances don’t matter. A big part of the pope’s job is speaking to the masses, and how the cardinals handled themselves over the last week demonstrates both their ability to relate to the people, and their ability to negotiate the complicated internal politics of the Church. The overwhelming majority of the cardinals are being introduced to the wider world for the first time (and some of the newer ones barely know each other) ,so making a good impression for the voters is an important step.

While many of the voting groups are starting to take shape by now—Archbishop Angelo Scola of Milan (pictured above at right) has resurfaced as a possible favorite—don’t expect it to be over and done with on the first vote on Tuesday, so expect black smoke on Day One. No single candidate is likely to control the ballot on the first go-around and it will take time to work out the complicated allegiances. Only after that first vote will the cardinals be able to see where their choice really stands, if they need to abandon their preferred candidate, join forces with another voting bloc, or push harder for their current pick. If you’re one of those candidates, the best thing to do is sit back, keep quiet, and pray.



Italy center-right lawmakers protest against Berlusconi trial.

MILAN (Reuters) – Dozens of parliamentarians from Silvio Berlusconi’s center-right party demonstrated on Monday outside a Milan court against the former Italian prime minister going on trial on charges of paying for sex with a minor.

The demonstration came after the judges ordered checks to be made on Berlusconi to verify his claim that an eye problem meant he was unable to attend a hearing on Monday.

The checks add to an increasingly bitter legal and political battle around Berlusconi as parties struggle to deal with the aftermath of February’s election which left none of them able to form a government.

“We consider this scandalous and not worthy of the normal functioning of a justice system in a civilized country. It is extremely serious,” Angelino Alfano, secretary of Berlusconi’s People of Freedom party.

Berlusconi, who faces a series of court hearings in separate trials this month, has been in hospital since Friday because of an eye problem that he says has forced him to cancel a number of public appointments.

Monday’s hearing was expected to be one of the final dates in the case, in which Berlusconi is charged with paying for sex with former nightclub dancer Karima El Mahroug, better known under her stage name “Ruby”, when she was below the minimum age of 18. A final ruling is expected on March 18.

He denies any wrongdoing.

However, prosecutors believe that his stay in hospital may only be a delaying tactic. On Saturday judges rejected his argument that he was unable to attend a trial for tax fraud.

He says he has been subject to politically motivated “judicial persecution” by what he says are left-wing judges who want to end his political career.

Three doctors, including a cardiologist and a senior eye specialist were charged with conducting the inspection at the San Raffaele hospital in Milan. Results were expected on Monday.

The court also rejected a request by Berlusconi’s two main lawyers for the trial to be delayed because they had to attend a meeting of his People of Freedom party, which they both represent in parliament.

Berlusconi’s center-right alliance holds the second-biggest bloc in parliament but appears to be shut out of government by the hostility of both the center-left Democratic Party and the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement of former comic Beppe Grillo.

(Reporting by Sara Rossi; Writing by James Mackenzie; Editing by Louise Ireland)



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