26 July 2006

Global warming

Read the following quotes:

"In many countries, farmers are worried about the possibility of crop failures and loss of income."

....In the town of Turin, northern Italy, where the temperatures hit 40C (104F)...."

....In Barcelona, north-east Spain, the death of a woman of 83 was registered as the ninth fatality in the country due to the scorching weather...."

....In France, the heat has brought back memories of the summer of 2003, when about 15,000 people died...."

According to reports in the Polish media, the capital Warsaw has experienced the hottest July since records began more than 200 years ago...."

....Polish firefighters are on high alert to tackle forest fires caused by the drought. There have been more than 8,000 fires in recent days...."

....High water temperatures have also disrupted electricity production at nuclear power stations in France and Spain, which use water as a cooling agent...."

....Electricity supplies in the Czech Republic were back to normal on Wednesday after widespread blackouts due to overload the day before...."

Authorities in the state of California are investigating at least 50 deaths thought to be related to the heatwave gripping parts of the US...."

....Power supplies have been stretched by the record temperatures which have reached up to 46C (115F) in some areas...."

The heatwave also caused blackouts in Missouri and New York...."

"....It's unbreathable hot," Los Angeles office worker Shauntel Barrow told Reuters news agency. "It's hard. We were not running the air conditioning until we get home at 5 o'clock. But it was like an oven so we left it on low. We're cheating but we can't help it....""

Global warming is happening, it's a fact. If we don't act to change things now, it may be too late.

Food waste

I get really upset, when I read stories like this:


"....The aid agency Oxfam says it has already seen families reduced to eating leaves from trees, just to get by...."

Having just recently read stories like this:


"....7 million tonnes of food dumped in landfill sites in Britain every year. A quarter of the food buried in the ground is perfectly edible...."

Totally wrong.

£61m profit, a day

The Italian mafia made a £61m profit last year, per day!! That put's them on a par with Fiat & ENEL, and earns them five times as much as Telecom Italia.

The report, compiled for the Italian government, shows that the four major criminal organisations in Italy earned £25m A DAY from companies listed on the Milano stock exchange.

Revenues for the Mafia, which is made up of the Cosa Nostra in Sicily, the 'Ndrangheta in Calabria, the Camorra in Campania and the Sacra Corona Unita in Puglia are up 25% on earnings in 2004, to an annual total of £24billion.

The majority of extortion happens in southern Italy. In Sicily, 80% of businesses pay protection money to the Mafia. In Palermo a city centre store can pay as much as £700 a month, a supermarket can expect to pay up to £3,500

However, protection money accounts for a small percentage of Mafia income, with Gun running and drugs giving the largest incomes. Other activities include pornography, prostitution and gambling.

22 July 2006

Dennis Bergkamp

Dennis Bergkamp's testimonial match against Ajax has just finished. The last match for a true Arsenal legend.

It was great to see the respect attributed to Bergkamp from his fellow professionals. Marco Van Basten and Johan Cruyff both played for Ajax, Vieira, Henry, Wright, Overmars and more were there for Arsenal. Henry flew in from America this morning from his holiday, he's going back on his holiday tonight.

Bergkamp is easily the best foreign player to have played in the English league, let alone for Arsenal.

Thanks Dennis, for many wonderful memories.

21 July 2006

Courst says it is ok to swear at people

(Some strong language)

The Italian Court of Cassation has ruled it is ok to swear and hurl insults at someone, as long as the other side gives as good as it gets.

The courst decided a woman was entitled to call an acquaitance "Cretin" "Fool" "Bastard" & "Drug addict" because the insults had been mutual

The judges decided there was justification for the 'crime' upholding a decision made back in March. In that case a woman was acquitted after calling an immigrant co-worker a "Bloody nigger." The judges decided this was allowed as the man had isulted her family and her response was 'an equivalent insult'

This is not the first time a ruling from the court has caught the attention of the Italian media. In fact, the court is often the source of much amusement and bemusement with it's rulings. Past decisions have included:

  • A woman is complicit in rape if she removes skin tight jeans, even under threat
  • Bottom patting is ok, as long as it is 'a sudden & isolated' act
  • Overturning a conviction for rape of a youth who continued to have sex with his partner even though she had changed her mind halfway through
  • Punishing a council worker who blew the whistle on his colleagues for using taxpayers money to pay for calls to sex lines on council mobile phones
  • Saying it is ok for paedophiles to take pictures of minors, so long as they do not sell them
  • And they upheld an adultery ruling against a woman for kissing a bus driver. The reason they gave was 'The time and emotion invested in the relationship betrayed marital trust'
Sometimes you have to wonder what life these judges lead, to be able to pass such judgements.

Best newspaper front page.

No comments needed. This front page says it all.

Full article is here:


20 July 2006

Innocents of war

It doesn't matter, who is right, who is wrong. What matters is innocent people are dying. It must stop.

Innocent people are being killed. One third of the victims have been children. I pray that this conflict will end, and soon.

15 July 2006

Pine Barrens

For any Sopranos fans, you'll know this is the one of the best, if not THE best, episode from all series. Enjoy a taster....

14 July 2006

Calciopoli verdict

The results for the Calciopoli scandal are in, and they make sad reading for fans of the four teams involved.

Juventus, are relegated to Serie B, with a 30 point deficit to overcome. This probably means they will not be promoted next season unless they pretty much win *every* game. Unlikely but not impossible. Juve's last two Scudetto wins have been revoked. No news if they are to be awarded to another team, or if they will be cancelled from the records.

Lazio are relegated to Serie B, with a deficit of 7 points to overcome.

Fiorentina are relegated to Serie B with a deficit of 12 points to overcome.

Milan are not going to be relegated. They will stay in Serie A but have had 44 points taken away from last years league total, leaving them in a league position that gives NO European football. They start the next Serie A competition next year with a deficit penalty of 15 points.

They judges have spoken, the sentences have been passed. A sad day for all fans, as ever the innocent victims of the greedy few.

Rant time

Three vehicles, all of which have one thing in common.....

They SHOULD NOT be on the road during rush hour times!!

It's totally irrational. Rush hour is the peak time for traffic on the road, and it is the time you will find these vehicles, trundling along without a care in the world, holding up masses of traffic. Queues and queues of cars sitting behind the ignorant drivers of these vehicles. Never, do they pull over to allow the traffic to pass, never do they acknowledge the stress they cause.

These vehicles should be banned from the road during peak hours. So selfish.

12 July 2006

Sorry doesn't always work

Sorry doesn't always work. It's a phrase my daughter tells me, every so often. She learnt it at nursery (my daughter is only 4) When the kids say sorry, they are told "Sorry doesn't always work" to emphasise it is not enough to just say sorry, you need to be sorry for it to have any meaning.

Zinedine Zidane this evening in an interview on French TV gave his side of the story, around the incident that ended with his being sent from the field in the World Cup final, his last competitive game of football, for headbutting Italian defender Marco Materazzi.

Zidane apologised for his actions. But he doesn't regret them. For me, his apology has no meaning. An empty phrase. I'm sorry for what I done, but I do not regret doing it. If you don't regret it, then why apologise? Surely if you have no regrets then you have nothing to apologise for?

Zidane at least put some unfounded rumours to rest, by clarifying that Materazzi had NOT racially abused him. The insults Materazzi threw at Zidane, he claims, concerned his mother and sister.

Materazzi has made a statement this evening too. He has already admitted throwing insults at Zidane. He always denied calling Zidane an Islamic terrorist, or saying that Zidane was the son of a terrorist whore. Materazzi claims ignorance on such matters. He also denies insulting Zidane's mother. Materazzi lost his mother when he was young, and says for him the Mother is sacred.

Materazzi goes on to say that he held Zidanes shirt, and Zidane looked at him with an arrogant attitude, and said if he was so desperate for his shirt he could have it at the end of the game. It was then that Materazzi shot back with the insults, which lead to Zidane losing his cool and landing the headbutt on Materazzi. You can see this in the film clip in the post below.

I've had enough of this story now. Zidane behaved like a thug in his actions, and committed a common assault on Materazzi. He apologises, but doesn't regret his actions. His apology means nothing. Whatever the verbal provocation, the actions cannot be justified.

Sorry doesn't always work.

11 July 2006

And the polemic rumbles on

After the World Cup final, the talk is more about the headbut of Zidane to Materazzi than the fact Italy won. Not that anyone in Italy cares, they are still partying.

A new angle on the incident has been posted up on Youtube. You can clearly see Materazzi and Zidane together, Materazzi holding Zidane. It appears Zidane offers his shirt to Materazzi, and as he walks away Materazzi has a lot to say about it. And Zidane snaps. I still believe more than what was said here, is important at how they arrived at this point. Video needs to be reviewed of any previous incident during the finals between these two. Only then can we get a clear picture of what happened.

I still believe, whatever Materazzi said, Zidane should have kept walking. His reaction is below any level of provocation he may have received. A violent response to a verbal insult is wrong. Violence is never the way, and it is a shame violent conduct has marred Zidanes career, and damaged his reputation from this act in the final game of the tournament. The final game of his career.

10 July 2006

Four stars on our shirt

It's still sinking in. Italy, champions of the world. My throat is so sore, I didn't know I could sing so loud (or so well)

Overall I feel Italy can be proud of the way they played in this tournament. People will always trot out the old stereotype image of dour and boring football. But this team, whilst retaining the strong defensive qualities Italy is famous for, showed they had more than enough in attack too. 12 goals scored in the tournament, by 10 different players. Strength in depth.

We should find out today the results of the calciopoli investigation, and whilst I hope the offenders are punished in the manner they deserve (remembering my team, Milan, are one of the four accused) I hope for two things:

Winning the world title doesn't in some way lessen the punishment given for the crimes committed.
That the scandal takes it's place in the scheme of things and doesn't detract from a wonderful Italian achievement.

09 July 2006

Campioni Del Mondo!

Finally, after 24 long years, Italy are once again football champions of the world, for the fourth time in our history.

I'll take all arguments over whether we deserved to win, who was the best team and all the rest another day.

For now, all that needs to be said is ITALIA, CAMPIONI DEL MONDO!

Calciopoli, well that's another day. Today it's all about gli Azzuri, and winning the trophy, and title.

Campioni Del Mondo.

04 July 2006

La dolce vita

An excellent little article in the Guardian online today.

According to scientists at Leicester university, people in Italy stay healthy for longer than those in other European countries.

Guido Santavecchi explains:

The Germans - or i panzer, as we usually refer to them - lag behind us, in terms of both life expectancy and the number of years of healthy life one can expect. And so do the French, our cugini transalpini (cousins over the Alps). And as for the United Kingdom (sorry, we used to call you perfida) ... apparently Italian men can expect to stay healthy a whole decade after British men. Italian women, meanwhile, can expect to avoid the first ageing illnesses (we call them acciacchi) for a full 14 years longer than British women.

Under the circumstances, I wonder if you Brits would mind taking some advice from an Italian. After all, with Italy and its politicians and its economy forever in dire straits, perhaps we deserve the chance to feel a little full of ourselves, and full of a little good advice too.

First of all, at lunchtime, stop that crappy junk food, be it sandwiches or pots of salad that you are so eager to buy after queueing for ages in the street or at Tesco. And stay well away from your company canteen with its frustrated cooks.

Instead, go home for your lunch. It's what the Italians do, and it serves us well. OK, your boss may object, but really your boss should be going home at lunchtime too.

Second, remember not to cycle home - the correct thing to do is drive. We Italians are very proud of our very unhealthy habit of driving fast and noisy cars in our traffic-jammed towns. Somehow, it works for us.

When at home, have a decent ration of pasta with a glass of red (one, no more - doctor's orders).

And take note of this: there are two ways to cook pasta properly, ie al dente. The first one is the most difficult but it is not impossible: you put five litres of water in a pot with some salt, wait until it comes to boiling point and then you put your pasta in. You must have occhio (a ready eye) and keep trying the pasta before it's ready. It's a learning curve, but pasta is part of Italian culture, for men and women alike, and it should be part of your culture too.

Alternatively, if you are lucky enough to have someone waiting for you at home, you can call before you set off from the office with the popular old refrain: "Amore butta la pasta che sto arrivando," which means, roughly: "Darling, put the pasta water on, I'll be there very soon."

So that's lunch. The next bit involves rest, something the British are bad at. There are still quite a few Italian people indulging in a nice pennichella (a little rest) after lunch. Why not try it too? After all, whatever the scientists say, however much evidence they come up with, one will probably never really be sure what adds up to that extra decade of good health - the only safe thing to do is to ape us in everything.

And on that note, stop going jogging like a horse at noon, when you should be heading home for your leisurely lunch. What is the point of being slim and fit if it means sacrificing a decade of good health?

This more Italian, more leisurely approach to your day should be carried through to the workplace. When you are back at your desk, some time in the afternoon, after a nice stroll, spend at least half your remaining working time drinking coffee with mates or spreading gossip about your boss. Sure, the scientists don't talk about this stuff - but it's all part of the Italian way.

Yesterday, in the British papers, one scientist was saying that the weather may also play a part in the differences in good health between European countries. Of course, I have no way of helping you here. You know, Italy, not the UK, is o' paese do' sole

But why don't you stop keeping records of every single millimetre of rain? Why don't you stop complaining because, you know, it's the first week of Wimbledon and it's rain as usual, as it was in 1949, 1950, 1953, 1954 etc etc. And now it's the second week of Wimbledon, and it's as bad a heatwave as it was in 1961, 1962, 1964 etc etc. You see what I'm getting at here. Just take what God sends to you, as we say.

Guido Santavecchi is a London based correspondent for Corriere della Sera. And the above contains some excellent advice.

4th July

Today is 4th July, American independence day. Happy independence day to you all.

Maybe today would be as good a day as any for the Americans to stop for a moment and take stock of their place in the world. What does the world really think of America?

I saw a piece in the Telegraph online yesterday, a YouGov survey on how the Brits view the Americans.

It seems the majority of Britons think that American culture, and the actions of the present American administration, are making the world a worse place to live in. More than half of those interviewed regard the US as an imperial power bent on world domination by one means or another.

More than three quarters think that George W Bush is a poor, if not terrible world leader and almost as many believe that for all his hot air about promoting democracy in the world, his real aim is to push American values and national interests.

Americans, as individuals, are still held in fairly high regard, but the American 'special' role in the world is not. Britons tend to like Americans "a little" (49 percent) or "a lot" (21 percent) and more than half, 54 percent, feel positive about the US in general.

The core problem seems to be with Americas relations with the rest of the world. And, 69 percent of Brits say their opinion of the US has gone down in recent years. Respondents were asked to assess the impact of the Bush administration beyond the shores of America. Less than 1 quarter of those, just 22 percent, believe that American governments present policies and actions make the world a better place to live in. Three times that proportion, 65 percent, view American actions in the world as detrimental.

American culture generally fared slightly better, with one third approving of the impact of American culture world wide. Even so, 52 percent viewed American influence, on balance, as harmful.

It seems many Americans like to view the US as 'a beacon' in the world, the last best hope the world has. Just 11 percent accepted that view. A massive 77 percent were startled that Americans believe they are setting the world a good example.

George W Bush fairs very poorly in this poll, it seems no other former US president has had such a negative impact on the world stage. 34 percent think he is a "pretty poor" leader, with 43 percent thinking he is "terrible." The majority of Britons view Bush as incompetent and a hypocrite, with little regard for democratic values. 72 percent believe he uses pro-democracy rhetoric as little more than a pretext for pursuing selfish American interests. Even more, 76 percent, take the view that if Bush really does want to promote freedom and democracy, he is going about it in the wrong way. Only 9 percent think Bush is doing a good job.

America is viewed as a society split by class and race. Forget the American dream, one nation united together. 72 percent of britons view American society as unequal. 65 percent view America as "vulgar" whilst 56 percent say it is "uncultured"

73 percent believe America is badly led, 73 percent again view America as ignorant of the outside world and 83 percent belive America doesn't care what the rest of the world thinks.

The last question in the poll:

"If you had the chance, would you go to live in America?"

19 percent said they would, but 67 percent said they preferred to stay where they are or choose another country.

Happy Independence day.