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The Berlusconi show

Gavin Hewitt | 15:12 UK time, Thursday, 20 January 2011

Each day Italian politics blends with reality TV with participants discussing their sex lives.

So Karima El Mayroug, an 18-year-old dancer, appears on primetime TV to explain that the Italian prime minister had never "put a finger on me".

The Prime Minister, Silvio Berlusconi, releases a taped message denying there had been any sexual contact with the dancer.

Silvio Berlusconi (18 Jan 2011)

In a career studded with risk-taking these are dangerous days for the Italian leader. The prosecutors are investigating whether he had sex with an under-age prostitute and whether he abused his power in trying to cover it up.

The accusation is that he had sex with Karima when she was 17 and then, when she got into trouble with the police, he intervened to get her released.

The threat lies in the wire-taps that the Milanese prosecutors have been collecting for months. "A significant number of women" are said to have been recorded describing orgies at Mr Berlusconi's villa at Arcore.

Karima, also known as "Ruby the heart-stealer", remains the key. Crucially she denies she has ever been a prostitute. If that is true, half the case falls away because whereas sex with a 17-year-old prostitute is an offence, sex with a 17-year-old isn't.

Ruby herself says that "I meet him, he gives me 7000 euros and he doesn't put a finger on me". The Italian public may need some convincing that such payments were for an evening of conversation. Later reports said she was angling for much larger sums.

The picture that emerges from the dossier sent by the magistrates to a parliamentary committee is of various women using the prime minister as a kind of cash machine in exchange for coming to his parties.

Ultimately this is less a battle over sex and more about power and accountability.

Nightclub dancer Karima El Mahroug, also known as Ruby

The prime minister's defence is that this is the 25th time in 17 years that the Milan judges have gone after him. He paints them as left-wing and politically motivated.

So he declines their summons to appear before them. "I would like to go on trial immediately," he said last night, "but with impartial judges, not with prosecutors who want to use this case as a means of a political fight".

In explaining his defiance he goes further. He is proposing new laws to prevent magistrates from pursuing elected officials.

In his long-standing row with the judges he presents himself as victim. A recent poll suggests a significant number of people - although not a majority - have some sympathy with that.

So will Mr Berlusconi survive this latest storm? Obviously if details emerged that disproved the prime minister's version of events that could prove fatal to him.

He and his lawyers know how to prolong and to side-track an investigation with legal arguments. He will laugh off the suggestion there was a ring of prostitutes and show-girls put up in apartments at his expense. "I'd be better than Superman if I'd had parties with 24 girls," he quipped.

There has been a chorus of calls for his resignation but mainly from opposition figures. His own party continues to back him, however increasingly there are voices claiming that this entire episode is damaging Italy and its reputation. The Catholic Church, through one of its papers, has described the scandal as like a "damaging tornado". The Italian president has called for the investigation to be settled quickly.

Mr Berlusconi was able to shrug off the Wikileaks revelation that an American diplomat had found him weary due to all his partying.

But, internationally, stories of embarrassment do the circuit. In Brussels officials recount how at a council meeting in the past year-and-a-half, Mr Berlusconi spoke to the German Chancellor and said: "Angela you should do like I do. Have a girlfriend in Brussels. Don't do a press conference and then you'll have a popularity rating of 64%."
It was obviously intended as a joke but the exchange is remembered.

I hear the word "shame" used much more often. Many Italians are clearly embarrassed by this harlequinade of allegations.

Shame may weaken him but so too might scorn. Two young women who went to his parties are heard saying "he's fatter than before, more dead than alive...". Even Ruby detected a vein of sadness.

"I don't think he can be very happy," she said. "I think he suffers a lot of loneliness." And some of the papers are painting him as an old fool who was being used as an ATM machine. One headline referred to the "tragedy of a ridiculous man."

Some of these articles are written by Berlusconi's opponents but a politician who becomes a figure of fun is rarely re-elected. As recently as last Friday I was speaking to a woman in the Italian government. She maintained, like others, that despite all these scandals, he remained the only person to run Italy. The opposition was weak and divided. But slowly - in the face of drip by drip revelation - that claim to be an efficient reforming leader is being undermined.

When I was in Rome in December I walked with a man who knows Rome, its history and its secrets well.

Our route took us from the parliament in Piazza Montecitorio, past the column of Marcus Aurelius to Via del Corso.

He said to me that I had to remember that the city had seen it all. It took a great deal to surprise the populace. He spoke about the Emperor Tiberius who moved to Capri and held "dinner parties to which he invited prostitutes".

He was a leader of whom it was said that "he would have sex with people of all ages and sexes. " Suetonius saw him as a man powerful enough to go beyond "good and evil."

The Italians - with their rich history - have a great facility to understand power and human weakness. But shame and mockery can be as dangerous to a leader as the long arm of the Italian magistracy.

Comments

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  • 1. At 3:41pm on 20 Jan 2011, quietoaktree wrote:

    -- Hedonism does not appear to be a sin in Italy.

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  • 2. At 3:55pm on 20 Jan 2011, champagne_charlie wrote:

    " past the column of Marcus Aurelius to Via del Corso. "

    Well thats one question answered...


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  • 3. At 4:29pm on 20 Jan 2011, MaudDib wrote:

    "It depends on what the meaning of the word 'is' is. If the--if he--if 'is' means is and never has been, that is not--that is one thing. If it means there is none, that was a completely true statement....Now, if someone had asked me on that day, are you having any kind of sexual relations with Ms. Lewinsky, that is, asked me a question in the present tense, I would have said no. And it would have been completely true."

    Slick Willy (sometime in the past)

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  • 4. At 4:40pm on 20 Jan 2011, quietoaktree wrote:

    #2CC

    --The best one-liner in a long time !

    -- unfortunately you may be correct.

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  • 5. At 4:57pm on 20 Jan 2011, Cassandra wrote:

    At the end of the day it is a matter for the Italians.

    Maany people outside Italy think poor old Berlusconi is a joke. A chap who is used to be someone now reduced to (allegedly) paying for sex and unable to keep up the pace of his youth.

    The risk for the Italians is that Berlusconi's image will become a proxy for that of the entire country. Are they really so different? Is that why Berlusconi is continually re-elected?

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  • 6. At 5:21pm on 20 Jan 2011, Mike Dixon Londoner in Spain wrote:

    A citizen of Rome once said to me that:"It is not that Italy is impossible to govern but it is unnecessary. That is why we send all our worst people into politics."

    Rome remains the most incredible city in the world - after Barcelona!

    OK half a joke.

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  • 7. At 5:24pm on 20 Jan 2011, moriaeencomium wrote:

    What sort of state is it anyway? The state of Berlusconia.

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  • 8. At 5:26pm on 20 Jan 2011, Ellinas wrote:

    --✄-- When I was in Rome...--✄--

    Hewitt! In no way Rome as well as Roman history is representative of the today Italian nation...actually never were...that's why they hardly push for "Federalismo"...even by the today "Roman Emperor Berlusconius"

    ...it only represents Rome, the Pope and the "Romani" except the "Laziali" :-)))))))

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  • 9. At 5:32pm on 20 Jan 2011, steve wrote:

    Lega nord is disappointed with these stories as they are within spitting distance of getting the federalism it wants and this is a distraction once that is passed Belusconi will have no support. However as you point out the left is in disarray with too much infighting between the potential left wing coalition parties. I would anticipate another right wing coalition to get in but I think everyone realises it would have to have a different leader
    I am in Milan and its true the Italians are now ashamed of Belusconi but its only recently that they realised the world is looking and laughing up until recently they thought it was a mildly amusing internal matter.

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  • 10. At 5:42pm on 20 Jan 2011, Ellinas wrote:

    --✄-- Some of these articles are written by Berlusconi's opponents --✄--

    Ok Hewitt since this time you were aware to correct you yourself...so do i, shall spare you my criticism like in that past blog

    Berlusconi's last days?

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  • 11. At 5:45pm on 20 Jan 2011, Mathiasen wrote:

    I am not commenting on BBC's articles on Italy and Berlusconi.
    In the end BBC will have to write what other European medea have written a long time ago. This article is just the beginning.

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  • 12. At 5:52pm on 20 Jan 2011, BlueBa100 wrote:

    Reasons why Berlusconi is still in power (incredibly)
    1. He is a very rich businessman with a finger in every pie, so people see him as an employer! He basically buys people and their political loyalty. (He even admits this himself)
    2. He owns tv stations, newspapers, Milan football club (employs many people who all remain loyal to him).
    3. People who oppose him are accused of being 'jealous' or 'envious' of his power money and influence. The arguments against opponents are that they would like to be in his position...
    4. Italians are cynical voters, they are used to corruption, bribery, lies and hypocrisy. No one in italy expects politicians generally to behave differently!
    5. His supporters actually admire him for being able to pay for and sleep with 17 year old girls! They think he's some sort of hero!
    6. Nobody cares about 'conflict of interest'or 'morality'...
    The problem in italy is not that Berlusconi is the PM, the problem is people's mindset generally, they truly believe he is the best of a bad lot!

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  • 13. At 5:56pm on 20 Jan 2011, quietoaktree wrote:

    Considering more Italian women were executed (murdered) as partisans than Italian men, I expect a carpaccio ´Berlusconi´ to be offered in Italian restaurants.

    He may have bitten ´more than he can chew´.

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  • 14. At 5:57pm on 20 Jan 2011, cool_brush_work wrote:

    Many, many years ago as a squaddie in a WC cubicle in West Germany I paused as standing before the trough and looking at the wall read, "Do you realise you are holding the world in your hands."

    Being a modest fellow I rapidly scribbled, 'Thanks, but you shouldn't be looking!'

    Call me naive, but isn't this Italian stuff along fairly much the same inebriated & immature lines!?

    Surely Silvio Berlusconi is answerable to the Italian Electorate: And until such time as a majority of them want him out then he is the Italian Prime Minister.

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  • 15. At 6:03pm on 20 Jan 2011, Haze-Dweller wrote:

    My impression is that there are in general three types of attitude to Berlusconi in Italy. There are those people that find him an embarrassment and national disgrace; those that believe what he says about being persecuted by communist opponents such as the judiciary (these people will tend to watch the television channels he owns of course); and those who are attracted by his undoubted celebrity status and charisma.
    I think we need to be careful about being too snooty about the third approach. It could happen here (ie anywhere).
    He's an international joke, let's always be aware that we need to take a lesson from that.

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  • 16. At 6:26pm on 20 Jan 2011, quietoaktree wrote:

    #14 CBW

    -- A British saying -- and its `the future of the country ---´

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  • 17. At 6:34pm on 20 Jan 2011, steve wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 18. At 6:34pm on 20 Jan 2011, threnodio_II wrote:

    There is a curious and uncomfortable relationship between personal morality and the ability to hold high office. The French would probably be surprised if their president did not have a mistress or two. The British tended to be sniffy and disapproving but preferred to sweep such matters under the carpet unless national security became an issue - Profumo being the classic example.

    It really only becomes important if it affects the ability of the person concerned to do the job - or more properly, the perception of the public as to whether they are up to the job. Both Boris Yeltsin and the former Labour minister George Brown were accused of having an alcohol abuse problem which affected their performance. Neither ever publicly acknowledged it. On the other hand, Charles Kennedy, the former Liberal Democrat leader, walked away when he admitted publicly there was a problem which was not obvious to many of us.

    Berlusconi's problem is one of credibility and the longer and louder people laugh at his antics - real or imagined - the less credible he becomes.

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  • 19. At 6:35pm on 20 Jan 2011, cool_brush_work wrote:

    Re #16

    Tosh & gibberish!

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  • 20. At 6:40pm on 20 Jan 2011, Piggyback wrote:

    A little old man with power, attracting young beautiful girls. I have never seen it before in my life!

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  • 21. At 6:42pm on 20 Jan 2011, moriaeencomium wrote:


    In some rather rare countries such allegations would be dealt swiftly… on the other hand, you never know, for you have to allow Berlusconi to learn how to deal with Berlusconi.

    'Imperial cult' in the age of bruce almighty, so to say.

    Mafia 'sank ships of toxic waste'

    Is there a follow up?

    Italian MEPs block debate on Campania waste crisis

    Let's hope our Italian friends will get their house in order swiftly.

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  • 22. At 6:43pm on 20 Jan 2011, Ellinas wrote:

    For everybody

    INCEPTION BERLUSCONI - Eng.SUBTITLES

    Otherwise...only for the Italians friends over here i actually prefer this scoop...

    ...youtube search for "Clamoroso Fuorionda: Berlusconi ammette!" which in English means Berlusconi admits "Bunga Bunga"...

    Great fun...this last video has no English subtitles so i don't give the link because BBC will certainly obscure it

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  • 23. At 6:43pm on 20 Jan 2011, threnodio_II wrote:

    To which I would add only that Berlusconi's relationship with a teenage dancer matters nothing compared with his very cuddly relationship with Putin.

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  • 24. At 6:45pm on 20 Jan 2011, Seedorf1023 wrote:

    Forza Silvio! These leftist judges need to be taught a lesson now! I am sick of my prime minister being dragged through the mud by the left in court since they cannot win in democratic elections! Shame on these judges and prosecutors the law is supposed to be apolitical. Sometimes I think they are just jealous of all of his beautiful women.

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  • 25. At 7:01pm on 20 Jan 2011, phillipwest wrote:

    Bill Clinton for eight years kept the USA out of war (Somalia debacle and Serbia action excepted) and left with a budget surplus and plans to retire the entire US national debt within about 10 years. He left disgraced because of his personal scandals and squeaky clean George W Bush was elected in 2000. The rest is history and an unpretty history it is. This affair of Berlesconi is or should be a non-issue considering events on the world stage. This is a diversion ... a time to relax and talk about silliness. Gavin has probably joined PM Donald Tusk skiing in the Dolomites this week as this is a puff piece and little more.

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  • 26. At 7:46pm on 20 Jan 2011, threnodio_II wrote:

    25. At 7:01pm on 20 Jan 2011, phillipw

    "He left disgraced because of his personal scandals . . . "

    Did he? He was not impeached and he served a full second term.

    There is an interesting parallel here with the Profumo affair back in the sixties in Britain. The issue was not whether the guy was messing around so much as whether he lied to Parliament about it. In Clinton's case, it was a question of whether he lied to Congress. In any case, he survived.

    Personally, I don't give a flying ferret who my leaders are sleeping with providing it does not affect their performance in the role for which they were elected. If it happens to include teenage dancers - nice work if you can get it (or afford it) - good luck to the man. What matters, as I said above, is his credibility. Bill has emerged as an unscathed elder statesman on the world stage. Silvio, I suspect, will have only his vast fortune as compensation for a lost reputation.

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  • 27. At 8:25pm on 20 Jan 2011, phillipwest wrote:

    #26 Threnodio_II
    "Did he? He was not impeached and he served a full second term."

    I don't mean to split hairs here and agree with the thrust of your post, but here is a source from Wiki:

    "Bill Clinton, President of the United States, was impeached by the House of Representatives on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice on December 19, 1998, but acquitted by the Senate on February 12, 1999. Two other impeachment articles, a second perjury charge and a charge of abuse of power, failed in the House. The charges arose from the Monica Lewinsky scandal and the Paula Jones lawsuit. The trial proceedings were largely partisan, with only five Democratic Representatives voting to impeach and no Democratic Senators voting for conviction. With a two-thirds majority required for conviction, only 45 senators voted guilty on the perjury charge and 50 on the obstruction charge.[1] It was only the second impeachment of a President in American history, following the impeachment of Andrew Johnson in 1868"

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  • 28. At 8:32pm on 20 Jan 2011, cool_brush_work wrote:

    National Audit Office says UK owes EU £1bn in fines;

    Local councils may become liable for a further £1bn

    The National Audit Office has set aside around £601m to pay future EU fines, in addition to £398 million of fines already paid, over the mismanagement of EU funds spent in the UK. Most of the fines relate to EU farm subsidy payments, but regional development funds also attracted “corrections”. Open Europe Director Mats Persson is quoted in the Telegraph saying, “Undoubtedly, the UK needs to tighten its checks on EU spending, but it’s also true that this money would be much easier to control if it wasn’t channelled via Brussels in the first place. The EU budget is hugely complex and irrational and therefore more prone to mismanagement than national spending programmes.”


    Obviously the above does not reflect well on the UK Government's management of EU Funds.

    I've checked & it seems 'Fines' are being dished out to practically every EU Member.

    Nevetheless, my query is how does the EU-Brussels have the nerve to 'Fine' any Nation for mistakes/misuse of EU Funds when Brussels has not had its Budget Accounts passed for 11 years!?

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  • 29. At 8:40pm on 20 Jan 2011, Estesark wrote:

    He is proposing new laws to prevent magistrates from pursuing elected officials.

    If those laws pass, the Democracy Index compilers will have to move Italy from being a "flawed democracy" to a "hybrid regime", with Berlusconi as a semi-dictator. It's just atrocious; I can't fathom how he would be able to get away with it in Italy. If the Finnish PM tried to pass a similar law over here, there'd be rioting in the streets and a vote of no confidence in the government. The last PM, Matti Vanhanen, was practically forced to resign by prosecutors investigating possible corruption. But of course Silvio has no integrity.

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  • 30. At 8:43pm on 20 Jan 2011, moriaeencomium wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 31. At 8:52pm on 20 Jan 2011, threnodio_II wrote:

    28 - cool_brush_work

    National Audit Office, Local Councils, UK Government, EU farm subsidies, Open Europe?

    Isn't is amazing how many people you can keep in work simply by pushing paper around? As to paying the fines, why not write a cheque that is not worth the paper it is written on? Eventually, it will find its way into an accounting system which has not been signed off for decades.

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  • 32. At 9:02pm on 20 Jan 2011, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    Very good life in European Europe as it can allow itself to worry that a politician is having affairs around.
    ;o)
    If so - no victims and sufferers in the result as I understood?
    ;o))))))))))))

    (Certainly doesn't harm his image in Russia.)

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  • 33. At 9:07pm on 20 Jan 2011, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    PS
    Sorry, from a shrewd Russian perspective, another idea.
    Here, when something important is brewing up, and people need to be made distracted, they always start a song and national discussion "Is it time Lenin should be buried let the ground be feathers to him" :o)))))))

    While all quarrel opinions different "tomorrow!", "yesterday!", "don't touch the dear mummy to bring more havoc to the unstable system as it is!", "no, let's keep him and start charging money for tickets!" etc
    - somethiong important passes without public noticing.
    Lenin is awful handy in this respect; prived to be worthy may times over already in this fashion :o)

    Can it be, just a wild idea I know, that attention to politician's eh habits is also used for more practical ends, in reality?

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  • 34. At 9:13pm on 20 Jan 2011, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    PS
    Note that Putin and Alina Kabaeva (gymnastics' star girl) news never inspire in Russians the required level of distraction :o))) Like "yeah, so what".

    I guess all nations have their own patented means worked out :o)
    ______________________

    quietoak what does this Corso square mean in English, or - what was taking place there in that place in Rome afraid to ask :o(
    ;o(
    o:(
    :o((((((((((((((((

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  • 35. At 10:43pm on 20 Jan 2011, ariz wrote:

    I'm an italian girl and I ensure you the majority of Italians are fed up of Berlusconi but unfortunately until there is B. the situation in Italy will not change.He's too rich,he has got too much power and business with underworld.He thinks about his immunity and his escorts but he doesn't think about his Country.Because of him and his faithfuls we're going to ruin and the future for us,young people, seems only to go abroad and I say grudgingly this beacause my Country is a beautiful Country, full of culture that B&co are destroying.

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  • 36. At 11:32pm on 20 Jan 2011, margaret howard wrote:

    33 Webalice writes:
    "Sorry, from a shrewd Russian perspective, another idea. Here, when something important is brewing up, and people need to be made distracted, they always start a song and national discussion "Is it time Lenin should be buried let the ground be feathers to him."
    ==================================
    Yes, I think that particular tactic is as old as mankind. Our most recent example happened on 9/11 2001 in the following manner according to a BBC report the next day:

    "Conservative Party chairman David Davis has urged a high-level investigation after it emerged that a senior government advisor suggested controversial stories could be buried in the news fallout from the US terror attacks.
    Jo Moore (the advisor)apologised on Tuesday for sending a memo on the day of the US terror attacks saying it would be a good time to "bury" some controversial stories.
    Mr Davis said Ms Moore's remark within hours of the attack on the World Trade Center that it was "a very good day to get out anything we want to bury" was "tasteless beyond belief".

    Calling for the investigation he added: "This is something that assaults the integrity of the British civil service. Ms Moore's message was timed at 1455 BST on 11 September, within an hour of the second plane flying into the World Trade Center, but before either tower collapsed."

    I don't really believe that it works anymore today - people have become far too cynical to fall for it.

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  • 37. At 11:52pm on 20 Jan 2011, ecstatist wrote:

    #12
    "so people see him as an employer!"
    He is employing those most in need of jobs - young females.

    Logic.
    Catholicism: (one of the few religions where) contraception = hell.
    Italy: lowest birthrate in Europe.
    Conclusion: Italians (very Catholic) do not have much sex! (with Catholics?)(Ruby is from Morocco)

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  • 38. At 00:25am on 21 Jan 2011, UK Troll wrote:

    So Berlusconi has accused prosecutors of using "methods worthy of a Mafia criminal"?

    His words, not ours...

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  • 39. At 00:26am on 21 Jan 2011, Ellinas wrote:

    37. ecstatist

    --✄-- Logic.
    Catholicism: (one of the few religions where) contraception = hell.
    Italy: lowest birthrate in Europe.
    Conclusion: Italians (very Catholic) do not have much sex! (with Catholics?)(Ruby is from Morocco) --✄--

    Not much of a problem...

    solution: simply change Italy's name to ---> Inter

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  • 40. At 00:57am on 21 Jan 2011, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    "I meet him, he gives me 7000 euros and he doesn't put a finger on me".

    May we kind of, rent him, in Russia, for a while?

    Another thought; 7 thousand euros. Of own money.

    Compare this with - watch the hand o)))))))) - Olympic games. Formula 1. World football championship. All three to take place within four years in one country. Oh why are we suddenly so sporty! for what sins :lo)))) this all happiness befell o;)))))))))))
    This is going to costthe russian tax payer a pretty rouble!

    seven thousand euros ;o))))))))))) aha. :o))))))))

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  • 41. At 00:59am on 21 Jan 2011, Stevenson wrote:

    Yea for hedonism! Go Mr. Ber...(somethin') "And don't explain nor apologize"

    --that was Reagans Motto--it got him through Alzheimers

    :)

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  • 42. At 01:01am on 21 Jan 2011, Stevenson wrote:

    They gave us the internet at work...that is because ...I think they finally realized that our "new systems" were not going to work ..at times ...so I'm reduced to writing opinions at work

    :)))

    No offense to other work-people on internet

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  • 43. At 01:02am on 21 Jan 2011, Stevenson wrote:

    Also, do not file at this time...our records ARE NOT updated....1st 3 wks of the year we update for the new year.

    Boring..."not much I can tell you, sir, this week" "Please call back next week."

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  • 44. At 01:03am on 21 Jan 2011, Stevenson wrote:

    Hi Web Alice...how are you? Bored here....

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  • 45. At 01:06am on 21 Jan 2011, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    Right by the old song.
    '..I'll give you Bolshoy teatre,
    and the Small Sports Arena".

    "..I'd steal, for you, the whole sky-slope of stars,
    - And two Kremlin stars, in addition."

    Vysotsky forevar :o)

    Which reminds me :o)))))))) there is a talk that Kremlin walls ruby stars will be re-placed soon by two-headed eagles.
    Oh why so?! o))))))))))))

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  • 46. At 04:06am on 21 Jan 2011, Huaimek wrote:

    #1
    For a rare occasion QOT makes an accurate statement ," Hedonism does not seem to be a sin in Italy ". Quite right that is the way of life for many in Italy .

    In Italy Judges , Magistrates , Procecutors , are not drawn from the ranks of Lawyers with great adverserial experience , but qualify by examination .
    As with many intelectuals , university lecturers , teachers and journalists , they are more often socialists .

    In Roman law you are guilty until proven innocent . An Italian civil Avvocato friend of mine denied this ; but from my experience living in Italy , it is true .
    It appears obvious to many in Italy that for political reasons , Judges and Prosecutors are trying to pull Berlusconi down , on the basis that he is guilty until proven innocent .

    Berlusconi may be said to be a foolish and lonely old man , who craves pretty girls around him and lets them take pecuniary advantage of him .
    One can name heads of state in other countries who did the same .
    What has the Vatican to say on moral grounds , when so many Roman Catholic priests are committing wicked sins around the world .

    Berlusconi is foolish to lay himself open to criticism of his personal life and the danger of prosecution . Unfortunately when one is very rich one can pleasure oneself in any way one chooses .

    WE of other countries should not judge Berlusconi on his private life , but as leader of the present Italian government .
    Socialist Italian Prosecutors who have a mission to condemn Berlusconi are playing with fire . Italy is a country that is very difficult to govern and needs a strong man to hold together the many diversive factions . There is no other emerging strong man to take his place . The socialist conglomerate has little cohesion ; would be unable to handle the urgency of fiscal management , when Italy is in danger of bankruptcy .

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  • 47. At 04:53am on 21 Jan 2011, Stevenson wrote:

    Maud Dib,

    Do you agree that Bill C was a good president orr was that tryst upper most in your mind...(making you anti Clinton)

    Or was it a matter of policies/results (economic?)

    :)

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  • 48. At 04:54am on 21 Jan 2011, Mathiasen wrote:

    Before this blog closes, I think it is worth mentioning that the British PM had invited the leaders of the Nordic countries to London, Nordic in the extended meaning since it included the Baltic republics, to discuss employment and growth.
    The PM imagines that the Nordic countries can boost the trade. Of the UK. In its article the BBC wrote: "The government denied the summit was a gathering of EU-wary nations looking for alternative paths, as some critics have suggested."
    When I read this, I delete "deny" in my understanding of it. Only two of the countries are using the Euro, and two others are not members of the Union. It looks as if the British PM is looking for new friends in the European club.

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  • 49. At 04:55am on 21 Jan 2011, Stevenson wrote:

    I agree that Mr. Berlusoni is not deserving of such scorn unless his "dalliance" was with a prostitute--law breaking might not be a good thing.

    Therefore, yes, a puff piece--much gossiping,

    in other words.

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  • 50. At 04:55am on 21 Jan 2011, Stevenson wrote:

    Huamiek,

    Your comment was a good and open minded analysis.

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  • 51. At 04:56am on 21 Jan 2011, Stevenson wrote:

    That reminds me..

    I should have chosen prostitute as a career...

    Much yuk for a few years, then

    retirement :)))

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  • 52. At 07:23am on 21 Jan 2011, samsara wrote:

    "Karima El Mayroug, an 18-year-old dancer, appears on primetime TV to explain that the Italian prime minister had never "put a finger on me".

    It's not actually his finger that we're concerned about ...

    "Prime Minister, Silvio Berlusconi, releases a taped message denying there had been any sexual contact with the dancer."

    Sure. And in similar circumstanced Bill Clinton stated that "...it depends on what the definition of "is" is ..." so I wonder what Silvio's definition of "sexual contact" is ...

    Frankly, all the appearances are that his behavior is reprehensible and that, taking a note from earlier Italian (Roman) history, if Caesar's wife's behavior must be above suspicion then even more so should be Caesar's. At this point, what would be best for Silvio, and Italy, is for Silvio to step down. He's frankly an embarrassment to himself and the world.

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  • 53. At 07:57am on 21 Jan 2011, christina wrote:

    Funny.

    Our politicians can declare wars on a whim, they can play with our money, our health systems, our education systems (and everything else, they can be stupid, they can be uneducated, they can do as they please...
    ...but we only pay attention when it involves trash tv material.

    What did the italians expect when they elected a media tycoon? They expected him to live as a monk?? Seriously, people...

    The man is as immoral as it gets, but somehow he manages to get reelected, which makes me think the italians are not so unhappy with his ''girlfriends'' after all...

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  • 54. At 08:51am on 21 Jan 2011, Buzet23 wrote:

    #48. At 04:54am on 21 Jan 2011, Mathiasen

    Re the threads here, now you see them now you don't, maybe it's worth starting a book on the estimated time each stays open, what odds this thread?

    As for Nordic countries, there are many who think the EU should be split in two, a Northern EU and a ClubMed EU, when the EU does eventually self destruct, as it will, alliances will need to be forged and the UK has far more in common with the Nordic countries than ever the Southern European countries, so a smart move by the UK PM.

    The Scots can of course leave the UK and decide to align themselves with the ClubMed countries in a desperate attempt to alleviate themselves from the awful weather and disgusting food (haggis) they suffer, and MH can, hopefully, leave her hated England for ever, cheers everywhere.

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  • 55. At 10:25am on 21 Jan 2011, nevercouldchooseagoodname wrote:

    @ Buzet23;

    I always find strange comments such as yours at least based on my experience.
    Having lived in the UK, Italy, France, Netherlands and Sweden I can assure you that yours is only wishful thinking.
    England is much closer to France and Italy as it can and will ever be to the Scandinavian countries.
    The english would like to be part of a club that noone has invited them too just in order to reiterate their superiority to the "club med" countries.
    What it should do instead is to accept its limits and work with both sides to create common grounds for everyone to improve, England as first.

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  • 56. At 11:15am on 21 Jan 2011, Mathiasen wrote:

    #55. At 10:25am on 21 Jan 2011, nevercouldchooseagoodname
    Yes, there is indeed no lack of wishful thinking here. Actually, the question is: How often are the contributions related to reality?

    I believe the invitation from Mr. Cameron had two purposes: The first was to discuss matters about future employment and growth in the Scandinavian context - exchange of experiences and ideas that is, the second was a strategic search for allies in the European politics among those with a "second class"-membership or no membership of the EU.

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  • 57. At 11:23am on 21 Jan 2011, margaret howard wrote:

    55 nevercould.....writes:
    "England is much closer to France and Italy as it can and will ever be to the Scandinavian countries."

    Hear Hear!!!! No doubt that's why someone like Buzet is so happy living in Belgium and his best buddy seems to be so out of place and a stranger in Finland. And we Scots have always preferred the French to anyone else, including our architecture.

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  • 58. At 11:35am on 21 Jan 2011, Buzet23 wrote:

    #55. At 10:25am on 21 Jan 2011, nevercouldchooseagoodname,

    Like a number here I too have lived or worked in a number of countries and have lived in Belgium for the last 20 years, Belgium is a mix of several cultures including Dutch, French and Italian. I have also worked in Germany for a while and the UK Anglo-Saxon mindset has far more to do with the Northern mindset than ever the Latin mindset and it has nothing to do with your presupposed superiority which quite frankly many of us here are bored stiff of being accused of. As for the English and French, one thing I have seen at first hand is that the French are equally distrusted by all their neighbours and few want to have close links with them, my own Wallonia which is French speaking has only a very small minority who want to become a part of France, even though they are culturally the same.

    The English are actually not interested in being a part of a club, most simply wanted a trading association with similarly minded countries, without the 'ever closer union', centralised 'Socialist' control and 'Redistribution of wealth' that the grouping of dissimilar EU member states called the EU has become. The English mostly well know the limits of the UK and are more than content to have the sort of association that EFTA and the Common Market once were, but it seems many of continental extraction are not so open minded and see only an ever closer union of European states and deem England to be nasty, evil etc because it disagrees.

    When the final crunch arrives for the EU it will be far more of a shock to many on the continent than to the English for whom the concept of trading associations with many countries is a part of the heritage.

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  • 59. At 11:52am on 21 Jan 2011, patty83 wrote:

    All this situation is disgusting!I'm Italian and I can't accept anymore to be embarrassed from a Prime Minister who seriously damages an entire popolation!
    Italy is not Silvio Berlusconi!

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  • 60. At 11:56am on 21 Jan 2011, Buzet23 wrote:

    #57. At 11:23am on 21 Jan 2011, margaret howard,

    Now whose believing in fairy tales, the Dutch protestants like the Scots because you share the same severe mentality and propensity to extremes, especially in politics, vis a vis Vlaams Belang in North Belgium (Dutch Flemish). The French certainly do not reciprocate your liking for them as to most there is only one Nation in the world, and here's a clue, it is not Scotland. You would do well to learn a bit more about the French and the best sources to ask are natural French speakers who have worked there, as they can understand the underlying attitudes that exist.

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  • 61. At 12:19pm on 21 Jan 2011, bbony wrote:

    I'm fed up with the news of Berlusconi. It looks like Mr Hewitt is using his case as an intermezzo between the boring acts of the euro classic opera. Or should we read between the lines?

    Mr Berlusconi resembles very much one another Italian from the past, a great poet Gaetano Rapagnetta, alias Gabriele D'Annunzio. He had experimented with free sexual relationships, drugs and total decadence. He was a charismatic person who revitalised many of the ancient Roman gesticulations. Some say his adventures were the basis of the future fascist regime.

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  • 62. At 12:40pm on 21 Jan 2011, Buzet23 wrote:

    #59. At 11:52am on 21 Jan 2011, patty83

    "Italy is not Silvio Berlusconi!"

    Don't worry, we all understand that, it would be like saying the former UK PM, the dreadful, highly disliked Gordon Brown, a Scot, is typical of the English.

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  • 63. At 1:38pm on 21 Jan 2011, Ralph Klemp wrote:

    ... so sad,
    ... so unfair,

    'they' are trying to catch Berlusconi at his weakest spot: vanity
    and sadly 'they' are succeeding...

    Shame on 'them'.

    What does it matter if an old man associates himself with young women?
    What matters is that he solves many of Italy's many problems, and surprisingly he (and his ministers) is doing exactly this...

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  • 64. At 1:48pm on 21 Jan 2011, powermeerkat wrote:

    'So Karima El Mayroug, an 18-year-old dancer, appears on primetime TV to explain that the Italian prime minister had never "put a finger on me".'




    And who's ever claimed Mr .B. used his finger?

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  • 65. At 1:52pm on 21 Jan 2011, powermeerkat wrote:

    GH: So Karima El Mayroug, an 18-year-old dancer, appears on primetime TV to explain that the Italian prime minister had never "put a finger on me".





    So if Mz. Merkel got herself a girlfriend would she be a worse politician for it?

    And what if it turned her into a better leader?


    Inquiring minds want to know.

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  • 66. At 1:55pm on 21 Jan 2011, powermeerkat wrote:

    "The risk for the Italians is that Berlusconi's image will become a proxy for that of the entire country. Are they really so different? Is that why Berlusconi is continually re-elected?"






    And what if it's simply because Mr Putin is his "best friend"?

    [and it means a lot to quite a few Italians]





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  • 67. At 2:01pm on 21 Jan 2011, powermeerkat wrote:

    On a more serious note...


    This is a self-described EUROPEAN blog.


    And despite that all important developments in Hungary, Poland, Russia, let alone Belarus, are permanently ignored.


    [Not covered and with posters bitching about euro or British imperialism]


    How more parochial can one get?

    Inquiring minds want to know. :-(

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  • 68. At 2:06pm on 21 Jan 2011, powermeerkat wrote:

    Buzet23 wrote:
    #59. At 11:52am on 21 Jan 2011, patty83

    "Italy is not Silvio Berlusconi!"

    Don't worry, we all understand that, it would be like saying the former UK PM, the dreadful, highly disliked Gordon Brown, a Scot, is typical of the English.






    Pardon my ignorance, but wasn't Gordon Brown even more Scottish?

    [although not a palatable Scotch, perhaps]

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  • 69. At 2:11pm on 21 Jan 2011, powermeerkat wrote:

    Stevenson wrote:
    Maud Dib,

    Do you agree that Bill C was a good president orr was that tryst upper most in your mind...(making you anti Clinton)



    Lwt me put it this way, Stevenson.


    Bill Clinton was marginally better than Himmy Carter.

    capisce?


    [I say "capisce" in view of the most recent massive arrests in N.Y.C. , New Jersey and Rhode Island areas.

    And now I'm of course going to be accused of being anti-Italian;
    not merely anti Bonanno, Gambino, Genovese, Colombo and Lucchese families. ;(]


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  • 70. At 2:25pm on 21 Jan 2011, powermeerkat wrote:

    Just to move away a little from a insignificant Italian side-show..


    Germany is set to investigate an alleged mutiny on a naval training ship said to have taken place last year.

    Naval cadets were said to have refused to climb a 40-metre mast after a student fell off and died.[...]

    He has also been under pressure after it was revealed that a German soldier who died in Afghanistan had been killed accidentally by a fellow soldier, and had not shot himself by mistake as had initially been reported. [...]


    The ship's commanding officer, Captain Norbert Schatz, reportedly threatened to return the trainees to Germany and declare them unfit for service, according to testimony from several of them cited in the report.

    Four cadets were accused of "inciting rebellion", AFP news agency reported."





    Thank God they haven't been summarily shot, like 70 years ago.


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  • 71. At 2:28pm on 21 Jan 2011, powermeerkat wrote:

    Re # 68

    A correction: wasn't much hated by British peacenicks PM Tony Blair Scottish as well?

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  • 72. At 2:33pm on 21 Jan 2011, champagne_charlie wrote:

    #65

    powermeerkat;

    "So if Mz. Merkel got herself a girlfriend would she be a worse politician for it?"

    Now that is one video I hope NEVER makes it to youtube!

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  • 73. At 2:58pm on 21 Jan 2011, phillipwest wrote:

    Patti #59
    Your lovely country will not be seen negatively by any sane person just because of Berlusconi. All countries have their class clowns in government. UK had the odious Gordon Brown, USA had G Bush, Germany had .. hmmm I'm thinking on that one, and here in Poland we had the divisive Lech Kaczynski, who incredibly is buried with the great kings of the past at Wawel Castle just a few hundred meters from where I live. His poor judgment imo killed himself and 95 others last April 10. Berlusconi has his flaws but Italy has had far worse and will likely have far worse in the future.

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  • 74. At 3:49pm on 21 Jan 2011, UK Troll wrote:

    I think the reasons why prosecutors are so keen to 'get' Berlusconi are because it has been alleged frequently that he has strong links to organised crime, he has repeatedly escaped conviction on technicalities rather than being declared innocent, and because he has attempted also repeatedly to change the law in his own favour in a way which has not necessarily been seen as in the national interest.

    While Italians may enjoy style, flair and a slightly roguish approach to the law, there is a sense that Berlusconi has taken things way too far and has damaged Italy internationally as well as internally in the process. If the rubbish hadn't been piling up in the streets, if the economy hadn't been in such a mess, etc., then they might have been content to let him continue to play away. However, given that he wields so much power behind the scenes with his iron lock on the Media and, allegedly, fingers in most pies legitimate and otherwise, he has proved very hard to unseat.

    There was no question that John Gotti was guilty of a huge number of organised crime offences in the USA. It took persistence by the authorities to bring him to book - eventually on a 'technical' crime - but they finally got him behind bars. Some see the fight against Berlusconi as being along similar lines, and one which cannot be won soon enough if Italy is to have a chance of recovery.

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  • 75. At 4:01pm on 21 Jan 2011, powermeerkat wrote:

    , champagne_charlie wrote:
    #65

    powermeerkat;

    "So if Mz. Merkel got herself a girlfriend would she be a worse politician for it?"

    Now that is one video I hope NEVER makes it to youtube!





    charlie, I hate to tell ya this but I've seen much less palatable. :-(

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  • 76. At 4:03pm on 21 Jan 2011, MaudDib wrote:

    47. David

    PC was one of the more proficient politicians I have seen in my lifetime. He could and can work a crowd like a TV evangelist. Cry when needed, get indignant as required. In the end he was a "decent" president. ;o)

    I do believe if the Repulicans hadn't won the midterms in his first term of Presidency his legacy would be much different. My choice of power sharing is a "Dem" president and Repulican congress. Why? Cause there is no concensus in American on the way things should be done. You have the Left Coast and the Right Coast and all those rednecks in the middle (including me). I think Pres Obama has a chance to have a "decent" presidency now that the house is controlled by Republicans. When government is stacked with one pary and one way of thinking, it just seems bad things happen.

    I would love to sit down with Ole Bill and have a beer or two. He is interesting if nothing else. His understanding of economics ain't to bad.

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  • 77. At 4:06pm on 21 Jan 2011, powermeerkat wrote:

    Alice, just to make you feel a little better after this MAC snafu, here's a link to a story "Fly a lot, but not Aeroflot". :-)))))))))))))))

    http://www.thetravelinsider.com/2003/0822.htm

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  • 78. At 4:16pm on 21 Jan 2011, powermeerkat wrote:

    UK had the odious Gordon Brown, USA had G Bush, Germany had .. hmmm I'm thinking on that one, and here in Poland we had the divisive Lech Kaczynski, who incredibly is buried with the great kings of the past at Wawel Castle just a few hundred meters from where I live.






    Quite credibly.

    And I pray, who's premitted you to live a few hundred meters from Wawel Castle?

    Former Russian Poland's occupiers?

    Deeply buried SVR operatives in that country president Lech Kaczyński tried to get rid of?

    Or a sovereign government of Poland which has staunchly rejected phoney MAC report re top Polish civilian and military officials near KATYN?


    Inquiring minds want to know.

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  • 79. At 4:39pm on 21 Jan 2011, powermeerkat wrote:

    "And now for something completely different..."


    A veritable KGB-sponsored dictator, comrade Lukashenka, has been "re-elected" [:-)))] once again (just like KGB general Putin in Russia) with EU citizens from "Old Europe " pretending not to notice.

    [Just to get some gas in cold winter months]

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  • 80. At 5:17pm on 21 Jan 2011, MissPeggy wrote:

    I'm so glad I have dual citizenship, so I don't need to embarrass myself using an Italian passport when travelling abroad. The fact that the majority of Italians still think he's fit for his PM role, in spite of all this, says a lot about the amount of brainwashing done by most of the media here.

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  • 81. At 5:20pm on 21 Jan 2011, phillipwest wrote:

    #78 powermeerkat
    Your intro looks a lot like my comment so will assume your post is addressed to me.

    Not sure of your knowledge about politics here but Poland joined the EU Schengen zone in 2007 so anyone can travel here and live here permanently of course with some time consuming paperwork and office visits. We didn't need any other permission. The sovereign government of Poland is just that, sovereign .... not sure what more you want there but the current government seems pretty sober so far, however I do wonder about Tusk being a Europhile and leading this fair country against the best interests of its citizens. Your reference to the MAK report I guess a response to my criticism of Lech K. As usual the Kaczynskis' are dividing public opinion with a poll last week showing citizens here 54% pretty much agreeing with the MAK (not MAC) report that the Polish pilots were responsible. As a private pilot myself I have looked at the transcripts and determined the Russian controllers did just about everything they could to keep the President's plane from landing as visibility had deteriorated to fog, 200 meters and the President plane's pilot had been so advised. The pilot of any aircraft has the ultimate responsibility to maintain a safe attitude and altitude and this pilot failed to do so. Lech K. wanted to get that plane on the ground for the Katyn ceremony and pushed the pilot through his subordinates, one of which, an inebriated air marshal, who actually entered the flight deck during the approach. In short, imo, the tragedy resulted from the poor judgment of the pilot with the interference of a stubborn, volatile LK with a prior record of such conduct as a contributing factor. The Russians really tried on this one but just got a slap in the face by the current Polish government which knows better but is being pushed by Lech's even more toxic brother Jaroslaw who recently lost the election to replace Lech. Anyway, I could go on and on and on but that's my take on it, maybe you have more. Oh ahh viva Italia to stay on topic.

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  • 82. At 5:35pm on 21 Jan 2011, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    "just to make you feel a little better after this MAC snafu"

    powermeer, all minds are aware that the only type of MAK report that you will find comprehensible, should be starting and ending with
    "10:40 Putin, by his own hand, ...."

    o:))))))))))))

    You come and drop onto our heads; for the next nine months we are hearing all sorts of gibberish or how cool_brush puts it :o)), meanwhile MAK painstakingly piles up together the data, graphs, tests and whatever - and still you are not happy! We don't have a time machine for you to roll the time back we wish to but we don't.

    may be this video of 39 seconds will bring things in perspective for you a bit though I doubt.
    That's landing by using automode/ILS in 175 metres visibility in fog.
    In Smolensk the Polish plane decided to land in 200 metres visibility - and without the ILS system.
    What reports are needed after that at all I do not understand.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EgeT-F9-1KI&feature=player_embedded

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  • 83. At 5:37pm on 21 Jan 2011, powermeerkat wrote:

    "Three people have been killed in the Albanian capital Tirana during clashes between police and thousands of opposition supporters.

    An estimated 20,000 people rallied outside government buildings calling on the conservative government to resign.

    The protests follow the resignation of deputy prime minister Ilir Meta who is at the centre of a fraud scandal." (BBC News reporting)




    Completely irrelevant.

    Now back to Silvio's exciting (???) sex life.

    [who said that "when it bleeds it leads"?]

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  • 84. At 5:43pm on 21 Jan 2011, quietoaktree wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 85. At 5:51pm on 21 Jan 2011, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    A veritable KGB-sponsored dictator, comrade Lukashenka, has been "re-elected" [:-)))] once again (just like KGB general Putin in Russia) with EU citizens from "Old Europe " pretending not to notice.

    [Just to get some gas in cold winter months]

    Double standards, powermeer. That is, correction, triple :o))))) these days. One for my master, one for my day, one for the little girl who lives by the lake. (the USA, Europe and Russia I mean)

    When shall we hear how disgusting is the Communist Party of the People's Republic of China? That the USA is simply abhored to do business with them seeing how China imprisons her human right advocates? Nobel prize winners and all.
    How is your business going with Saudi Arabia, where women are beaten to death by court rulings on-going? Is it gas shielding your eyes inquiring minds want to know.
    Any one can allow itself to look goody-goody by pecking the liver of 10 million people Belorussia, without gas, nuclear arms or whatever.
    It takes much longer to see the general "ugh" when the talk is about important to you or big and scary ones.
    Cheap PC credits are these obtained on criticising Belorussian state of "democracy". Only a lazy won't do it, big deal.

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  • 86. At 5:53pm on 21 Jan 2011, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    "staunchly rejected phoney MAC report"

    staunchly rejects the commonsense you wished to say, no?

    ;o))))))

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  • 87. At 5:58pm on 21 Jan 2011, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    PS
    By the way, it seems to me we are on quite good terms with your sovereign government. Not bad, at least, given the paranoic pressure they are in.
    We may have a problem with Kachinsky - at times when he does not recognise his brother, but then it concerns us only a bit and in relation to the technicalities of that report.

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  • 88. At 6:04pm on 21 Jan 2011, quietoaktree wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 89. At 6:08pm on 21 Jan 2011, cool_brush_work wrote:

    57. At 11:23am on 21 Jan 2011, margaret howard wrote:

    "..No doubt that's why someone like Buzet is so happy living in Belgium and his best buddy seems to be so out of place and a stranger in Finland..."

    Well, doubtless Buzet23 will speak up for himself.

    I'm just completely intrigued about, *** his best buddy seems to be so out of place and a stranger in Finland***?


    I mean fragrant Margaret is well known for her inept contributions about virtually every topic ever to appear on this blog, but on what knowledge, expertise, experience does the Scot's lass living in England (not just "out of place", but out-of-mind judging from the above) base her allegation?

    Margaret, PLEASE do tell us more: What do You know about me that my Finn family, friends & acquaintances have felt unable to share!!!!!!!!???

    Or, was it just another chance for an 'anti-English speaking' load of...?

    I await in breathless anticipation Your candour & consideration for my plight

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  • 90. At 6:23pm on 21 Jan 2011, margaret howard wrote:

    60 buzet writes:
    "You would do well to learn a bit more about the French and the best sources to ask are natural French speakers who have worked there, as they can understand the underlying attitudes that exist."

    I lived in Paris for two years and travelled the country quite a bit, so I'm quite familiar with their attitudes. I'm very fond of the French and your claim that they are distrusted by all their neighbours is wide of the mark. I think the reason so many english people dislike them is because they refuse to be patronised.

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  • 91. At 7:11pm on 21 Jan 2011, Ellinas wrote:

    #57 margaret howard

    --✄-- "..No doubt that's why someone like Buzet is so happy living in Belgium and his best buddy seems to be so out of place and a stranger in Finland..." --✄--



    ( Will those wanting to get EU - married please come to the front? )
    -----------------------------------------------------------
                                      ☼
        Hewitt "Priest"   ☼
                        ☼
                (●̮̮̃•̃)
                 /█\
                 .Π.

                /    \
            /            \
         /   Anti - EU   \
      /       path            \

         ★/(,")\ ♥♥ (".)★★
           ★/♥\ ★★ /█\★★
          ★_| |_ ★ _| |_ ★

        Buzliet & CBW-Romeo

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  • 92. At 7:34pm on 21 Jan 2011, DurstigerMann wrote:

    Italy`s problems have little to do with Berlusconi.
    Let him quit and the Italians will wish him back rather sooner than later.
    Using him as a scapegoat for Italy`s ills and problems is just too convenient.



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  • 93. At 8:06pm on 21 Jan 2011, powermeerkat wrote:

    AiW wrote: the only type of MAK report that you will find comprehensible, should be starting and ending with
    "10:40 Putin, by his own hand, ...." o:))))))))))))






    Are you kiddin' me, Alice?

    Why would Putin use his own hand when he has, as you yourself pointed out earlier that very skilful gymnast at his disposal?

    [not he does not support this trashy failed spy's career.

    [Anna Chubbyone? :-)))]

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  • 94. At 8:21pm on 21 Jan 2011, powermeerkat wrote:

    "As usual the Kaczynskis' are dividing public opinion with a poll last week showing citizens here 54% pretty much agreeing with the MAK (not MAC) report that the Polish pilots were responsible."




    A poll conducted by whom?



    Btw. When anonymous poll conducted after a popular Polish TV show "Worth taking about" with its host asking "will we ever leqarn the truth about Smolensk crash?

    15% of respondents (by SMS) replied - 'yes'.

    85% - 'no'


    BTW. Do you recall how many decades it took for Moscow finally admitting to its reposibility for Katyń Massacre?

    [I do].


    "Lech K. wanted to get that plane on the ground for the Katyn ceremony and pushed the pilot through his subordinates, one of which, an inebriated air marshal, who actually entered the flight deck during the approach."


    Please do not repeat MAC's baseless patent lies, for which its chairwoman (a crooked millioneress who never saw a Russian airpot she could not certify despite its major shortcomings) is probably going to be sued in Strasbourg.

    BTW. There's no such rank/position in the Polish military as 'air marshall'. And never was.

    P.S. And to stay on topic as well, say hello to Sylvio's "best friend", you know that perennial leader, KGB general whatchamacallit? :-)

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  • 95. At 8:36pm on 21 Jan 2011, powermeerkat wrote:

    "When shall we hear how disgusting is the Communist Party of the People's Republic of China?"


    Alice in WONDERS' land indeed...

    My dear, if you had bothered to check news from the U.S. you'd have known that not only Chinese Communist regime has been staunchly critised by everybody from the very left to the very right for a very long time, but that just merely 48 hours ago the Senat Majority Leader (senator Reid, Democrat) has publicly called pres. Hujintao a 'dictator', and that during Comrade's Hu's official state visit to Washington.

    Something nobody has ever tried vis-vis that Gazputin fella.


    [Not that the Speaker of the House (Mr. Boehner) was much more polite and diplomatic during his meeting with Comrade Hu.]


    So nice try, Alice, but still - no cigar. :-)))



    So nice try, sweet Alice, but no cigar.

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  • 96. At 8:41pm on 21 Jan 2011, powermeerkat wrote:

    Re dirty deals with unsavory parties.

    Alice, if you want to discuss the subject, perhaps you should first read this BBC piece about the Victor Bout's (Merchant of Death) direct links to the very top Kremlin officials. :-)

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-12208961

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  • 97. At 9:11pm on 21 Jan 2011, Scott0962 wrote:

    How many years has Mr. Berlusconni been a subject of such allegations of impropriety? And how many times has he been re-elected during that period? If the Italian people re-elect him in spite of such allegations why all the fuss?

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  • 98. At 9:37pm on 21 Jan 2011, cool_brush_work wrote:

    91. At 7:11pm on 21 Jan 2011, Ellinas wrote:
    #57 margaret howard

    --✄-- "..No doubt that's why someone like Buzet is so happy living in Belgium and his best buddy seems to be so out of place and a stranger in Finland..." --✄--



    Oooh Margaret, look there's a child's graphic on the blog especially for You to join the dots!





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  • 99. At 9:52pm on 21 Jan 2011, cool_brush_work wrote:

    70. At 2:25pm on 21 Jan 2011, powermeerkat wrote:

    "..Germany is set to investigate an alleged mutiny on a naval training ship said to have taken place last year.

    Naval cadets were said to have refused to climb a 40-metre mast after a student fell off and died.[...]

    The ship's commanding officer, Captain Norbert Schatz, reportedly threatened to return the trainees to Germany and declare them unfit for service, according to testimony from several of them cited in the report.

    Four cadets were accused of "inciting rebellion", AFP news agency reported."



    Must say from experience my sympathies are entirely with the Naval Cadets.

    Back in the 1960s this Sea Cadet (HMS Chaucer), aged 14 was one of hundreds on parade for a 'Royal' Regatta at Dartmouth - - before we went I and the others of my unit (presumably along with all those from other units across the country) were tried out for climbing the rigging of an immensely high mast - - which the 'successful' ones would be obliged to climb on a floating 4-master infront of HM, Admirals, visiting dignitaries etc.

    I failed the test: I can attest to this day, that this former Paratrooper with 40+ 'drops' to my credit still sighs in relief as I recall watching the swaying ship, the height and courageous skill & balance of those Sea Cadets who had 'successfully' passed the test on dry land!
    As they say, 'Caps off! Navy!'

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  • 100. At 10:32pm on 21 Jan 2011, phillipwest wrote:

    #94 powermeerkat

    The poll I referred to I read in dziennik.pl a few days ago. Don't recall the name of the pollster.

    Since you seem pretty sure the MAK report is all lies you should counter the report with some better explanation. It does appear at the very least the Polish pilot flew into CATII precision approach conditions at an airport where there was only an NDB. Quite astonishing and reckless. They ignored the multiple audio warnings and continued level flight after reaching DH. All of this is against regulations.

    The title of the military official who entered the flight deck may not be air marshal as I stated but the reference I saw was air force commander, as I recall. Also an assistant of LK entered the flight deck as well about 20 min before impact.

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  • 101. At 11:44pm on 21 Jan 2011, uksmart wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 102. At 11:52pm on 21 Jan 2011, margaret howard wrote:

    31 threnodio writes:
    "Eventually, it will find its way into an accounting system which has not been signed off for decades."

    Yawwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwn - not that old chestnut again.

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  • 103. At 00:00am on 22 Jan 2011, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    "When anonymous poll conducted after a popular Polish TV show "Worth taking about" with its host asking "will we ever leqarn the truth about Smolensk crash?

    15% of respondents (by SMS) replied - 'yes'.

    85% - 'no' "

    And who would blame them?! They were shown the flight simulation film done a-la MAK fashion the difference being the Polish version shown on that TV channel was starting 2 minutes later in the trasnscript, skipped the two minutes when ground control warned the crew of poor visibility and said "no conditions for landing".
    Then the film goes on, before it ends the commentator stops it for a while and says gravely "thus, Russia never warned our plane of poor visibility and did not forbid them landing". Then they show the awful end the crash the all, and then interview the audience - So what do you think?

    If it were me asked after that awful tensions high film just shown to me where pilots fly to sure death and Russia doesn't wink does not warn them it is un-landing weather - I'd vote the same!

    very rough work ;o)))))) powermeer ends and bits stand out from the cooking fabric in full visibility ;o)))))

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  • 104. At 00:56am on 22 Jan 2011, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    cool_brush, my Mum done that :o) In her student years, naturally ;o)
    She studied for meteo degree, faculty - oceanology (how weather is cooked over the oceans, for the rest of the planet) (those, typhoons, cyclones, etc) - and they were made all girls included do summer practice on ships, the idea was getting used to future employemnt places :o) observing/watching hurricane "eyes" and other pleasant eh phenomena, as true scientists - on the spot :o)

    Who thought they would be doing this in their future career in big sail ships is unknown :o)))))))) but she remembers the scare to this day :o))))) how she was made to walk that rigging eh? ropes high up hell knows where and climb all masts :o)))))) To top it all the place of the exercise were White Sea and Barents Sea, and she later found out they sailed where that big bomb was exploided before in complete radiation background. She changed hair colour in that summer rapidly from blond to light brownish and attributes it to tricky radiation influence as all their cohort blond girls did.

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  • 105. At 01:10am on 22 Jan 2011, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    Come to think of it, I, for my part, had university summer practice in hospitals, training to be "a nurse of civil defense", to put it simply -preparing to the war with United States. That when you attack there will be lots of wounded and ill and all, and many teachers in USSR had an additional course included into the study programme of a medical nurse, to be recruited come a war. They reasoned that if there isn't a war - anyway a teacher deals will kids, who tend to fall and hurt themselves or fight or climb places or eat everything around on the ground :o)))))) and get poisoned, so a teacher must be able to react quickly, put various bandages onbroken limbs, do anti-shock injections and, in short, somehow manage himself/herself until proper medical help arrives. If it will :o) suppose one is sent to teach in a distant village where there is nothing. And all villages in Russia are kind of distant :o))))
    So give me a kit - I can to this day define a blood group! slip a paper under a tight rope stopping blood circulation if an artery is hit - marking the time when it was put on - no longer than 45 minutes!
    Vaguely remember symptoms of anthrax :o))))))) come you start fighting chemical and biological weapons, and in other words still have somewhere note-books listing various horrible symptoms of about all possible awful poisoning symptoms, say if a child stepped on a snake or is allergic to bee bites. Was kind of interesting but all very scary.

    Especially I think would come useful ability to write medication prescriptions in Latin come a nuclear war o:))))))))))
    but then Soviet education was deep and profound and never bothered re narrow perspective kind of more is not less ;o))))))))))

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  • 106. At 04:54am on 22 Jan 2011, Huaimek wrote:

    #64 Powermeerkat

    " And who's ever claimed Mr B's used his finger "?

    Enough said ! It's a manner of speaking ! If we enlarge upon your comment , the moderators will instantly close the blog ; not withstanding a comment from QOT Blaming the British Royal family and English aristocracy .

    #63 Ralf Klemp
    Well Said !

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  • 107. At 10:38am on 22 Jan 2011, Buzet23 wrote:

    #90. At 6:23pm on 21 Jan 2011, margaret howard

    "I lived in Paris for two years and travelled the country quite a bit, so I'm quite familiar with their attitudes. I'm very fond of the French and your claim that they are distrusted by all their neighbours is wide of the mark. I think the reason so many english people dislike them is because they refuse to be patronised. "

    As always, wide of the mark and you totally missed the point, no matter how good your French is you would have to be a native French speaker to understand the twists, innuendo's that get used by the French. You will have missed so much as a non-native speaker, it surprised a French born friend of mine who is a Belgian francophone and lived/worked in France for the last eight years and who dealt with sites across the whole of France. You may think you know the French but you don't, as for their neighbours what I said stands examination, their neighbours neither like nor trust them.

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  • 108. At 10:40am on 22 Jan 2011, cool_brush_work wrote:

    102. At 11:52pm on 21 Jan 2011, margaret howard wrote:
    31 threnodio writes:
    "Eventually, it will find its way into an accounting system which has not been signed off for decades."

    Yawwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwn - not that old chestnut again."



    Well, no surprise at all that fragrant Margaret can write copiously berating England/English for a multitude of sins committed 500, 400, 300, 200, 100, 50, 25 years ago, BUT, the EUropean Union FAILING to Balance its Accounts for 11 of the last 15 years is just a YAWN!!!!?

    How typically high-handed, dismissive and utterly unprincipled (as befits someone who lambasts the Poppy Day Appeal BUT considers the Dresden bombing a 'war crime') of MH to ignore that 11 years of misappropriated EU Citizen Tax-Payers money is not worth considering!

    A quick go on the calculator & it appears spendthrift MH & her 'pro-EU' cronies are prepared to overlook Brussels being unable to account for huge chunks of some 1,000+ Billion Pound during those 15 years.

    With Margaret's boredom over "chestnuts" that expensive to the Tax-Payer I'm fairly sure she'd get a full-time post as a Brussels' apparatchik the moment they see her application with requisite Mathematical shortcomings!
    Failing that & given Margaret's expressed "fondness" for all things France she could apply to the Elysee Palace as that is where the majority of the disappeared EU Tax-Payer monies end up: She'll fit right in.

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  • 109. At 10:47am on 22 Jan 2011, Buzet23 wrote:

    #90. At 6:23pm on 21 Jan 2011, margaret howard

    I forgot to say, the rest of France do not like Parisians, they consider them arrogant and patronising. To go into a village with the Paris departmental code on your car invites bad service, but I guess that went over your head as well.

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  • 110. At 10:49am on 22 Jan 2011, Buzet23 wrote:

    #91. At 7:11pm on 21 Jan 2011, Ellinas

    A child with his pictures are easily amused.

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  • 111. At 10:52am on 22 Jan 2011, nevercouldchooseagoodname wrote:

    @ Buzet23,

    I love the UK and its people; OK, I guess I have a specific crush on the scots but also always got along really well with both english and welsh.
    I lived for two years in London, then in Bristol; if my work ever brought me back to live in the UK I would be very happy of doing so.
    And this is also because the UK and its people are so very similar to my latin roots but are to afraid to acknowledge it.
    While you pretend to be all self-control in public, you know that in your homes you are much more passionate and chaotic and while I agree that in terms of business your mentality is somehow different than the french or the italian you are never as cold and distant as the dutch or the swedes just as an example.
    Your society is so much different than those of the scandinavian countries; when I say wishful thinking is because you cannot even get close to what happens in Bergen or Goteborg...I believe that I find more similarities in Trento or Bolzano (Italy) to these countries than what I could find in any UK city!
    I also disagree on what you say about the french; we get along very fine with all of our neighbours, the mix between french and italian in the south east, german and french in the east, spanish and french in the south west is remarkable. The Wallons would adore us if we quit making fun of them so very often! Parisian are another story but Paris is always another story isn't it?

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  • 112. At 11:07am on 22 Jan 2011, powermeerkat wrote:

    Alice in Wonderland: " Vaguely remember symptoms of anthrax :o))))))"



    And do remeber, even vaguely, that awful anthrax epidemy in Sverdlovsk?
    [now Yekaterinburg again].

    I recall vividly that after an intentional release (test?) or unintentional valve opening in its biological weapons lab infuriated Mr. Yeltsin has ordered that place closed ASAP.



    But now, it seems it has been reopened and working full steam.

    Without any publicity of course. :-)))


    [Alice, if you ever want to visit the lab (not that its guard dogs will leave you in one piece) it's at Eremina 5 ulitse. :-)]



    BTW. I wish Severny 'airport' had been closed on time as well.

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  • 113. At 11:10am on 22 Jan 2011, Buzet23 wrote:

    #111. At 10:52am on 22 Jan 2011, nevercouldchooseagoodname

    You sort of touched on a certain characteristic by accident, the origin of the English is Anglo-Saxon, who were tribes from Northern Germany, likewise the Dutch have a similar origin and a sort of Germanic trait but very severe and cold, and the Germans are generally very reserved to strangers and it takes a while to break the ice. In that sense the English, are much easier to get to know on a social front.

    However where it really counts is how the various peoples are in the work place and in that the British are very similar to the Belgians and Germans as well as Scandinavians, whereas the Latin peoples are quite dissimilar. In a common market or trading association it is better to be associated with peoples that share the same working ethic than those that do not, and ClubMed most certainly do not. Belgian people I know find working with French people almost impossible due to their impossible ego's and the need to claim sole credit for any potential successful venture. This gives rise to the oft used phrase, yet another defeat pulled from the jaws of victory.

    I think what you have to remember that there is a world of difference between socialising with a people and working alongside them, and in terms of the EU the EU is not a social club but a business venture, albeit failing and almost bankrupt.

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  • 114. At 11:13am on 22 Jan 2011, cool_brush_work wrote:

    WebAlice

    Hats off! To Your redoubtable Mum!

    Russian womenfolk are made of very stern stuff, resourceful as well as being intelligent and very often incredibly beautiful.
    All 3 are my personal observations from a life-times interaction (nothing sordid) with Your nation's splendid females.

    My youthful Sea Cadet experience was 3 years & included incredibly cheap Royal Navy sailings to the Scottish Isles & Gibraltar: It had been my intention to join the Navy, but for reasons not to go into here I eventually opted for the Army & via that the Paratroop.
    All the same I did love the sea voyages and the warships were phenomenal: It is memories that will last & as I enter the twilight years I realise how fortunate I was as in the modern day the UK cuts/slashes/devastates its brilliant Naval heritage just so some very rich bankers can continue to get richer at the Nation's expense! Few modern British/English youngsters will experience the thrill & demands of being aboard such mighty vessels.

    Can't claim to have been a 'nuclear fall-out' area like Your mum, but I imagine with the Above-ground Nuclear testing by the US, UK, France & USSR in the 1950s-60s fairly much the whole World ended up being a part of a very dangerous (hair-raising, though in Your mum's case hair-colouring!) heating experiment!
    My hair's much thinner these days but I attribute that to age and making myself read MargaretH's rent-an-insult to England dross.

    I fear the 'chemical/biological' weapons of today have us all in another World Laboratory test-tube - - again, no symptoms as yet (perhaps MH is convinced of my 'stranger' in a strange land mentality due to her knowledge of the "awful poisoning symptoms" You mention because for sure something poisoned her mind toward the English).
    You mention Soviet education and as I've told before I visted a Moscow school (No 1268) in 1998 and was deeply impressed with the enthusiasm and fine academic minds of the Russian pupils: Their facilities compared to an average London Secondary school were very poor, however the Russian teens were the brightest sparks I'd ever met - - everyone spoke English & another foreign language & all girls & boys had the ambition to be a scientist, engineer, pilot. In those days there were many hardships: The Moscow HeadTeacher was paying a part of the Salary of some Teachers from her own money! I was in a group doing deals for business-links to Russian Education & that was a school we did give some aid. My abiding memory (seem to be a lot these days) was the pupils up on a stage giving performances of Russian folk-dance, ballet, modern 'pop/rock' songs, playing instruments & a short extract from a Chekov play.

    They were wonderful Russian talents just like the 'mums' and 'grandmums' You describe - - maybe I'm wrong - - maybe my childhood of 'warships' etc. is best left in the past, and hopefully those now Adult Russians are finding their talent can be used in more constructive ways.

    Cheers.

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  • 115. At 11:18am on 22 Jan 2011, powermeerkat wrote:

    AiW To top it all the place of the exercise were White Sea and Barents Sea, and she later found out they sailed where that big bomb was exploided before in complete radiation background. She changed hair colour in that summer rapidly from blond to light brownish and attributes it to tricky radiation influence as all their cohort blond girls did.






    You must be referring to so called Tsar Bomba which was exploded over Novaya Zemlya in October of 1961 with 50 MT strength only because Andrei Sakharov insisted that detonating it at its full power (100 MT) as Nikita Khrushschev had wanted - would result in an unmitigated disaster.


    BTW. After that "show of force" Sakharov turned from nuclear weapons designer to human rights activist.

    [not that it turned out to be much much healthier for him]

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  • 116. At 11:31am on 22 Jan 2011, powermeerkat wrote:

    Buzet23 wrote:
    #90. At 6:23pm on 21 Jan 2011, margaret howard

    I forgot to say, the rest of France do not like Parisians, they consider them arrogant and patronising. To go into a village with the Paris departmental code on your car invites bad service, but I guess that went over your head as well.






    Just for the record:


    Americans have never seriously (even in anger) called the French "cheese-eating surrender monkeys".

    It was a jocular term coined by an American stand-up comedian and used only once.


    [just like that WWII vintage French rifle, dropped only once]

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  • 117. At 12:01pm on 22 Jan 2011, cool_brush_work wrote:

    113. At 11:10am on 22 Jan 2011, Buzet23 wrote:

    "..Belgian people I know find working with French people almost impossible due to their impossible ego's and the need to claim sole credit for any potential successful venture. This gives rise to the oft used phrase, yet another defeat pulled from the jaws of victory..."


    An interesting observation that tallies with a complaint made by many of my Belge 'french' speaking relatives (there's flemish speakers too): Over decades I recall their moaning the French 'look-down' on them when they hear their use of French and that French people in general seem to regard themselves as 'superior' even in the work-place when a more senior Belgian speaks French to a Frenchman/woman.

    That said, I'm unsure about the accuracy of differences between 'northern' EUrope and the alleged 'ClubMed' populations in the work-place.
    It would seem to me that anyone interested and needing to earn the price of a crust will do their 'bit' at work when required: Isn't the difference more that climate, geography have historically affected the work-place characteristics?

    E.g My daughter lives in Sydney, Australia - - her partner is a brick-layer - - when I first went to Aus I was amazed in their Summer months to see him get up between 4 & 5 each morning to go to work and home 2pmish.
    The reason was it's just too hot to work longer (unless, "..you're a drongo mongrel who don't mind the pong!") he explained.

    Isn't that the real difference between north & south EUropeans attitude to the work environment: Neither is shy of hard work, but when & how they are doing it has various options depending on the situation.

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  • 118. At 12:04pm on 22 Jan 2011, Jukka Rohila wrote:

    To powermeerkat (79):

    You wrote: "A veritable KGB-sponsored dictator, comrade Lukashenka, has been "re-elected" [:-)))] once again (just like KGB general Putin in Russia) with EU citizens from "Old Europe " pretending not to notice."

    You are wrong actually. Both the citizens and the EU have taken notice and put out measures. For instance all EU countries boycotted Lukashenko's induction ceremony to the office. Catherine Ashton also declared that if imprisoned opposition members and demonstrated aren't freed, then EU will not permit Lukashenko to travel the EU. To this Lukashenko immediately sworn revenge if the EU puts him into travel ban.

    Frankly the case of Belarus and Lukashenko only alleviate the need for the EU to create integrated military and intelligence organisations that could take care of matters where political and economical sanctions just don't work. For example it shouldn't be a that big problem for intelligence organisation with adequate resources to smuggle some RPG-7s to members of opposition that would take Lukashenko from time to eternity.

    Anyway, time will take care of both Lukashenko and Belarus. The more time Lukashenko spends in the office, the bigger the fall of the whole society and economy will be when he is dethroned. If the societal fall is big enough and violent enough, taking out most of the current crop of leadership and their cohorts, more assured it is that the new Belarus will turn to west and in time will be integrated to the EU.

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  • 119. At 2:04pm on 22 Jan 2011, DurstigerMann wrote:

    @117 cbw

    "That said, I'm unsure about the accuracy of differences between 'northern' EUrope and the alleged 'ClubMed' populations in the work-place.
    It would seem to me that anyone interested and needing to earn the price of a crust will do their 'bit' at work when required: Isn't the difference more that climate, geography have historically affected the work-place characteristics?

    E.g My daughter lives in Sydney, Australia - - her partner is a brick-layer - - when I first went to Aus I was amazed in their Summer months to see him get up between 4 & 5 each morning to go to work and home 2pmish.
    The reason was it's just too hot to work longer (unless, "..you're a drongo mongrel who don't mind the pong!") he explained.

    Isn't that the real difference between north & south EUropeans attitude to the work environment: Neither is shy of hard work, but when & how they are doing it has various options depending on the situation. "


    My personal experience with club med is quite limited, but from what I have experienced with Italians, there is no doubt in my mind that they have a completely different attitude towards work.
    It already begins in the supermarket, where nobody seems to care about the speed at which they get through the checkout counter.
    My experience is restricted to Northern Italy, mind you.

    I lived in Taiwan and have quite a few friends there. Those who came to Europe in order to work or study all think that clubmed countries are full of lazy people (Chinese tend to think that in terms of work, the longer the better).


    These are all horrible generalisations, of course.
    But I think that there definitely is a cultural difference in attitudes, e.g. towards the ressource work.
    It is no coincidence that the middle east generally is a poor region, while Israel is prospering without any oil. And it also is no coincidence that over the last 3-4 decades the most rapidly developing national economies with sound finances came from Asia (the Asian Tigers).

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  • 120. At 2:18pm on 22 Jan 2011, BluesBerry wrote:

    The Berlusconi Show! What a distraction - nothing like sex to distract the public from the most important show that has ever happened in Italy:
    JPMorgan Chase & Co. & Bank of America Corp. are AMONG banks bringing Italian municipalities to London’s courts over credit default swaps that have reached their maturity date and have been found rotten.
    With unmitigated gall, the banks are suing municipalities across Italy.
    Why?
    Some local governments have stopped making payments altogether on contracts; others are seeking to recover fees they allege were hidden (bundled).
    The banks are filing complaints, not in Italy, but in home branches. The banks are running (tail between their legs) to UK courts, where they expect I suppose to get "better" judgments.
    These investment banks have finally realized that the financial winds have turned. Deutsche Bank & Bank of America’s Merrill Lynch unit in London are suing Lazio. Lazio is not a bank; it's an Italian region made up of five provinces, including Rome. Deutsche Bank and Merrill have also filed suits against Tuscany; Merrill is suing Piedmont.
    Italian municipalities face derivatives losses of (Brace yourself because in in other countries it could be much more.) at least 1.2B euros.
    God knows how many derivative bundles and default swaps are strewn across Europe. Past losses on derivatives have led some European Governments to ban local authorities or state-owned companies from even getting close to such nefarious products.
    In 1997, the UK banned local governments from investing in derivatives. Italy banned local governments from new contracts in mid-2008 pending new rules.
    Sure the UK courts will hear these cases; after all, the swaps contain an exclusive jurisdiction clause in favor of the English courts.
    Italian municipalities want to avoid trying the cases in London because of the cost of litigation and because ENGLISH LAW IS BANK-PROTECTIVE.
    If the banks win in the UK, they will still have to ask courts in Italy to enforce the judgments. Otherwise, banks could only seize the assets that municipalities held outside of Italy.
    Now, you to tell me: which is the bigger show, the show with greater repercussions for Italy, Europe, and the UK - Berlusconi or CDS/DERIVATIVES?

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  • 121. At 2:40pm on 22 Jan 2011, powermeerkat wrote:

    R^e #118


    Jukka, there's only one small problem - Moscow.

    There's one thing to accept a EU or even NATO membership of a small, non-Slavic country (like Estonia or Latvia); quite another to agree on EU (let alone NATO) membership for such countries like Belarus, and even more so - Ukraine. [assuming they'd ever qualify].

    Let's hope that Lukashenka's era in Belarus ends without a major bloodshed.

    But you've probably noticed that the dictator signals that he may have to resort to drastic measures since "Poland and Germany have tried to stage a coup" on B's "election" day and topple him.

    To people in western Belarus that may sound like a bad joke, but I suspect than many inhabitans of its heavily Russified poor eastern part may actually "buy" it and support any drastic measures L. introduces -
    considering them justified in view of the "agression from the outside".

    [not that there isn't a drastic difference in mentality and an attitude toward the "West" between inhabitans of Western and Eastern Ukraine]

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  • 122. At 2:40pm on 22 Jan 2011, WolfiePeters wrote:

    BluesBerry @120

    BluesBerry, Do you realise that yours is the first post ever to have caused me to have the slightest (I do empasise slightest) sympathy with Banks.

    I regret the impact the action may have on the Italian publis, but few local govs in Italy have ever worried about the public anyway, so I doubt anyone will notice.

    Moreover, any subsequent enforcement by the Italian legal system could well take so long as to never happen. And with the great leader, genius and saint, at the helm, a miracle is easily organised.

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  • 123. At 2:56pm on 22 Jan 2011, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    "For example it shouldn't be a that big problem for intelligence organisation with adequate resources to smuggle some RPG-7s to members of opposition that would take Lukashenko from time to eternity."

    Well, Jukks!!! Where is the heart place the centre point of international terrorism - one wonders after that!

    "Anyway, time will take care of both Lukashenko and Belarus. The more time Lukashenko spends in the office, the bigger the fall of the whole society and economy will be when he is dethroned."

    The more time Lukashenko spends in the office, the more time Belorussians stay healthy, well-fed, well-educated and "not a worry not a care ;o)" they are doing alright compared to the rest of slavs around in life expectancy, multiplication, health etc. How to say - no prematurely infarctions and grey hair from swings and troubles and changes. When they emerge out of Lukashenko they'll be very fit.

    "more assured it is that the new Belarus will turn to west and in time will be integrated to the EU"

    Not sure about EU :o))))))) but they are already "in the west and in Europe". definitely more western feel than here, it is just this part of Europethat temporarily stays away from it and feeds on Russia.

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  • 124. At 3:09pm on 22 Jan 2011, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    There are sides in Ukraine powermeer, but there aren't in Belarus don't even hope :o)))))))))))))))
    Brest is quiet eh Western side I would say, but they all see two enemies around "eager to grabatise" their precious Belarus: Poland, Russia.

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  • 125. At 3:20pm on 22 Jan 2011, margaret howard wrote:

    109 Buzet writes:
    "To go into a village with the Paris departmental code on your car invites bad service, but I guess that went over your head as well."

    No, not my experience at all. I lived for some time in the French counryside and their dislike of the Parisians is no more than people here in East Anglia dislike Londoners or Bavarians dislike Berliners. I have never lived in Italy but I bet the Romans aren't very popular in the Italian cuntryside either. Just another tired old cliche I'm afraid.



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  • 126. At 3:25pm on 22 Jan 2011, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    And here we are not sure Lukashenko controls his KGB. It seems they put him a big swine at elections.
    For those elections began quiet swell, Lukashenko was clearly eager to mind the manners :o))), as minimum - on the surface, and run the elctions the way that DOES NOT spoil his relations with the EU, allowed for the first time TV time to his opponents, to run various camapigns and posters on streets of other candidates, allowed newspaper ads, has invited heaps of EU observers to elections - some 3,5 thousand - for the first time as well, and, in other words, by all the looks got prepared to have not only a victory but also a legalised victory, all goody-goody by the Western standards.

    Then elections are over, and in the evening-during the night AFTER the elction booths are closed and bulletins taken away to the commission - terror and horror breaks loose.

    those - already lost - candidates are grabatised, imprisoned, beaten all of them, chased and traced and arrested that night at homes those who made it home, and, in other words, it looks like a bare un-provoked aggression - mind it - with dear EU elections watchers and observers and all the media stuill flooding the country! For not all packed and flew away the minute the booths are closed or within the next 2 hrs sharp in that evening.

    There is an idea that since Belarus KGB was watching with clear unpleasantness and deep suspicion all Lukashnko's previous flirting and courting with the EU (the guy keeps to the old rule : "a tender sweetie sweetie calf is sucking milk froom two cows")(EU and Russia) - so his KGB watched and watched these visits of Lukashenko to the EU, got scared their time expires if he'll finally make his choice towards the EU side - and arranged him a big scandal in the following the elections' night.

    For his, Belorussian, KGB, are real true by heart old calibre KGB :o)))), old dinosaurs of USSR past, not those eh capitalistic KGB versions we've got in Russia :o))))). Belorussian KGB don't know the word "profit" and are proud of that! :o))))

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  • 127. At 3:35pm on 22 Jan 2011, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    Sure Russia is also for the immediate return of those presidential candidates back to places, homes, because this is hell knows what.
    If Lukashenko can't manage his KGB - what is he doing there.
    There is one horrible case, when both mother and father of a 4-year old boy are grabatised to prizon, father a candidate mother a journalist - then to that home come "social workers" and start "investigating conditions" of that 4-year old meals and sleeping room convenience and whatever, with the idea he had stayed with grandma and isn't it time to declare him "an orphan" and pick up to the state orphanage!!!!

    That grandma shouts high and low, in all Russian media - help, somebody!
    and Russians even tour now by Belorussian embassy doors with posters type "Hands off that Anthony boy, Lukashenko, you stole his parents."

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  • 128. At 3:52pm on 22 Jan 2011, nevercouldchooseagoodname wrote:

    @Buzet23;

    I would be careful at generalizing too much; from my experience I could say that the working productivity of med-countries VS northern countries is very similar but has some essential cultural differences.
    For example, in Italy and Spain you stay at work many more hours than in the UK or in Germany and Scandinavia; in Spain and Italy they always make fun of their english colleagues that at 5pm drop their pen on the table wheras they stay at work until 7PM or later.
    But then it is also true that in the UK you start earlier (8AM VS 9AM) and lunch time is longer in med-countries (one hour) whereas in the UK for example most people eat a sandwich in front of their PC.
    So it is all a question of perspective.
    This at least in the private indutry; if we want to talk about public offices then you might have a point there; italian, french and spanish public workers are scandalous.
    Then there are incredible differences within the same countries; some Northern italian regions (Lombardia, Veneto, Trentino, Friuli, Emilia, Liguria and Piemonte ) are as rich as the richest german lander while some southern italian regions are as poor as the poorest spanish ones. The same ould be said of Basque region or of Catalunya...etc. The UK is generally much poorer than any place in Northern Italy or Southern/Central France excluding the London area.
    Generalizing sometimes can be very confusing...

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  • 129. At 4:22pm on 22 Jan 2011, threnodio_II wrote:

    #125 - margaret howard

    You really do have to stop resorting to sweeping generalisations when reality sits uncomfortably with your arguments. For example, your dismissive 'yawn' reaction to my post about signing off on the EU budget simply flies in the face of the fact that CBW is right. There remain 11 years not properly accounted for. You may find it boring but it is true. We seem to be back to the absurd situation reminiscent of our encounter before Christmas when you refused to identify the website from which you copied and pasted the spurious claptrap about the non-existent German statutory minimum wage. Never let it be said that inconvenient things like the truth get in the way of your opinions.

    Unlike CBW and Buzet, I am staunchly in favour of the EU but I do require as a minimum standard that it is run properly and democratically. If the back room boys with all their statistics and sophisticated computing cannot balance the books from on years end to the next, either they are incompetent charlatans or there is some serious corruption being none-too-cleverly covered up. Either way it is not good enough. The same is true of the way in which the Lisbon Treaty - love it or loathe it - has been flagrantly violated in order to engineer the recent bailouts. You cannot have it both ways.

    I too have lived in rural France and to treat it as a planet apart from Paris is absurd. The Normandes and the Bretons are very different from the Auvergnese or the Provençales and there is some truth in the perception that Parisiens tend to be sniffy and boorish in their dealings with their rural cousins but everyone is an individual and to tar large groups of people with a single brushstroke is neither just nor justifiable. By coincidence, I have also spend some time in rural East Anglia where I did not encounter any anti-London feeling and not a lot of anti-Scottish feeling either but you must stop misspelling 'countryside' otherwise people might take the Freudian slip as a deliberate insult.

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  • 130. At 4:36pm on 22 Jan 2011, cool_brush_work wrote:

    120. At 2:18pm on 22 Jan 2011, BluesBerry wrote:The Berlusconi Show! What a distraction - nothing like sex to distract the public from the most important show that has ever happened in Italy:
    JPMorgan Chase & Co. & Bank of America Corp. are AMONG banks bringing Italian municipalities to London’s courts over credit default swaps that have reached their maturity date and have been found rotten.
    With unmitigated gall, the banks are suing municipalities across Italy.


    Italian municipalities want to avoid trying the cases in London because of the cost of litigation and because ENGLISH LAW IS BANK-PROTECTIVE.
    If the banks win in the UK, they will still have to ask courts in Italy to enforce the judgments. Otherwise, banks could only seize the assets that municipalities held outside of Italy.
    Now, you to tell me: which is the bigger show, the show with greater repercussions for Italy, Europe, and the UK - Berlusconi or CDS/DERIVATIVES?"



    Totally unaware of any of that until I read it here:SUPERB piece of information. Well done.

    Though unrelated it does come in-line to my complaint at #114 that the UK's Con-LibDem Coalition Government policy is, "..cuts/slashes/devastates its brilliant Naval heritage just so some very rich bankers can continue to get richer at the Nation's expense!"

    My opinion is much like Your's, the UK/England Law protects/favours/serves Bank 'interests' before anything else.
    How else could the Royal Bank of Scotland, 85% Government-owned as it had to be saved from Bankruptcy by the UK Tax-Payer, be announcing BONUS PAYMENTS to its Senior Executives & Managers for 2009-2010!?

    It is a sickening endictment of UK Financial Services in league with Political elite: Then again, my constant refrain of complaint about EU-Brussels is that it has exactly the same approach to 'big-Business/big-Government' enterprise - - the proposals for EU 'Ovwersight' of all 27 Financial Services simply reinforces that view - - it is a an ever-deepening well of 'money' opening up for the EU Leadership & civil service.
    As the UK Financial experience of the last 3 years shows, with not 1 Banker or Senior Financial Services rep even interviewed about their avaricious bonus-driven excesses further Brussels intervention is merely a recipe for more of the same: Gross corruption & colossal avarice.


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  • 131. At 4:50pm on 22 Jan 2011, Ellinas wrote:

    #113. Buzet23

    --✄-- You sort of touched on a certain characteristic by accident, the origin of the English is Anglo-Saxon, who were tribes from Northern Germany, likewise the Dutch have a similar origin and a sort of Germanic trait but very severe and cold, and the Germans are generally very reserved to strangers and it takes a while to break the ice. In that sense the English, are much easier to get to know on a social front. --✄--

    Let me simple that:

    cold level 3 : Dutch

    cold level 2 : Germans

    cold level 1 : Anglo-Saxon

    cold level 0 : French

    ...So Anglo - Saxon is more similar to French than to Scandinavians just like nevercouldchooseagoodname said so...


    --✄-- I think what you have to remember that there is a world of difference between socialising with a people and working alongside them, and in terms of the EU the EU is not a social club but a business venture, albeit failing and almost bankrupt. --✄--

    Let me see:

    socialising with a people : Uhmm! socialism

    working alongside them : Uhmm! capitalism

    EU is a business venture : Uhmm! business-ism

    So Scandinavians, British, Germans are capitalists and ClubMed Socialists where EU a bilderberg-Bankers club who controls everybody ?

    Ok thanks Buzliet that is certainly amusing...

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  • 132. At 5:02pm on 22 Jan 2011, threnodio_II wrote:

    #130 - cool_brush_work

    I entirely agree with your sentiments but I have one question. In the years of deregulation following Thatcher and Reaganomics, the financial services sector showed a lamentable inability to self-regulate or to curb its greed and excesses. They clearly have to be controlled. If it is not to be the FSA or the BoE or the ECB or the EU - then who?

    As you rightly say, notwithstanding the government's 85% holding, the bonus trough at RBS has been dragged out again for the pigs to have a good scoff. Someone has to do something. So, again, who?

    As our Polish-American friend would say, enquiring minds want to know.

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  • 133. At 5:26pm on 22 Jan 2011, margaret howard wrote:

    129 threnodio writes:
    "...but you must stop misspelling 'countryside' otherwise people might take the Freudian slip as a deliberate insult."
    Yes you are right, I really should have checked my spelling but it's easily done as you can see from your "......cannot balance the books from on years end to the next.." Still, maybe a gentleman would have overlooked it - 'honi soit qui mal y pense' when the lady slipped her garter.

    However, maybe you should read things a bit more closely before jumping to the wrong conclusions. My dismissive 'yawn' reaction had nothing to do with the EU's inability to sign off its budget but the fact that not a day goes by without someone on this blog banging on about it.
    As for my observation about the French this was in reply to Buzet at 125 who maintained that Parisians are cheated and abused by their countrymen, something I suggested was not my experience. But you are certainly wrong about 'anti-London' feeling in East Anglia - believe you me it exists but maybe again according to Buzet you don't speak their language properly and missed the nuances!
    Finally, your reference to the German minimum wage affair -'Yawwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwn, not that old chestnut again'

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  • 134. At 5:59pm on 22 Jan 2011, threnodio_II wrote:

    #133 - margaret howard

    Oh, I mistype all the time. I was allowing myself the luxury of a bit of cheap points scoring.

    As to the budget, we bang on about it because someone has to do something about it. Don't you realise that the more people yawn and moan about 'old chestnuts', the more likely they are to get away with it? That is precisely the reaction they want and precisely the one they are not going to get - at least not from me.

    As the the other question, identify your source and I promise faithfully that you will only ever see one more post from me on the subject - either an apology or a criticism - not of you, you are entitled to rely on information provided - but of your source. This is not personal, Margaret.

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  • 135. At 6:01pm on 22 Jan 2011, Tisseyre wrote:

    Maybe Tony should call his friend George, and save those poor Italians from such an awful leader. (I think they may have oil also - Olive oil, that is)

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  • 136. At 6:24pm on 22 Jan 2011, threnodio_II wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 137. At 6:37pm on 22 Jan 2011, threnodio_II wrote:

    136. At 6:24pm on 22 Jan 2011, you wrote:

    Something totally innocuous which has, yet again, been censored. This time I really have had enough.

    Goodbye all!

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  • 138. At 6:45pm on 22 Jan 2011, cool_brush_work wrote:

    133. At 5:26pm on 22 Jan 2011, margaret howard wrote:

    "..However, maybe you should read things a bit more closely before jumping to the wrong conclusions. My dismissive 'yawn' reaction had nothing to do with the EU's inability to sign off its budget but the fact that not a day goes by without someone on this blog banging on about it..."


    Don't know about others, but I did 'read it (#102) again' because You have this habit of denying Your own contributions just as soon as they're proven inaccurate (e.g. supporting Nik's assertion Churchill responsible for same millions dead as Hitler), or straightforward deception (e.g. Germany's National Minimum wage), or just plain tawdry (e.g. denigrating Remembrance Sunday)

    Thus at Your #102 You wrote, "Yawwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwn - not that old chestnut again."

    No reference to ***not a day goes by without someone on this blog banging on about it.***

    You wrote only that one sentence: It means exactly as it reads as it referred to ***"Eventually, it will find its way into an accounting system which has not been signed off for decades."***

    I don't mind You ducking & diving Margaret, everytime You do & You do a lot it just highlights & sustains the overall impression You've left on this blog that nothing You contribute may be relied upon as Factual or Reality.

    So, though You apparently live out East Anglia way & assert there is animosity to London/ers, in view of Your past record I will still take the view of Buzet23 even though he lives in Belgium: To my mind the likelihood of You being honest in that discussion is about as likely as Your assertion about the 'British' behaviour overseas when You trawled back 5yrs to find an article to back-up a claim some 'English (of course) wives' were very badly behaved on holiday in Spain.




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  • 139. At 6:50pm on 22 Jan 2011, DurstigerMann wrote:

    @132 threnodio_II

    "I entirely agree with your sentiments but I have one question. In the years of deregulation following Thatcher and Reaganomics, the financial services sector showed a lamentable inability to self-regulate or to curb its greed and excesses. They clearly have to be controlled. If it is not to be the FSA or the BoE or the ECB or the EU - then who?

    As you rightly say, notwithstanding the government's 85% holding, the bonus trough at RBS has been dragged out again for the pigs to have a good scoff. Someone has to do something. So, again, who? "

    In Germany, the financially most catastrophic banks were those with strong government holdings and politicians sitting in the management boards and board of directors.

    And while it is true that those financial institutions lack the ability to regulate themselves, they are not the only ones to blame.
    Go to the next shopping mal, hand out goverment chequebooks and see what happens.
    The idea of a capitalist market economy is not that people are good or always acting ethical. It works, because people can act to their own benefit and to further their own interests, which is a strong incentiv.

    Our political leaders failed not only to put into power sufficient institutions to regulate market power and therefore the ability to harm the economy.
    They also suspended one of the fundamental laws of market economies: that firms that fail on the market must go under and make way for new firms.
    All this was financed by outdated and wrongly adapted theories of Keynes. There will be no economic boom that allows to pay back those debts, thus they can be considered as future taxes.
    Not only the averge tax-payer, but most of all future generations are burdened with suffocating costs to shoulder, just to allow the financially strong to keep their assets.
    The emerging EMTU (T for transfer) is nothing but the transfer of wealth from the normal tax-payer to affluent investors as well.


    The EU is not the cause of the political crisis that will arise in Europe in the not too distant future, it is merely a side-effect.
    Most of our political class are doing the very best in their power to
    undo the social achievements of the last two centuries and to turn the majority of their sovereign in to the increasing market power of a minority.

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  • 140. At 6:51pm on 22 Jan 2011, Clive Hill wrote:

    #135 Tisseyre

    Maybe Tony should call his friend George, and save those poor Italians from such an awful leader. (I think they may have oil also - Olive oil, that is)

    Darfur is partly located on block 6 of Sudan's oil prospecting areas yet no-one UK or US has ever suggested doing anything military about it.

    Or perhaps the whole 'Iraq was about oil' story was another ludicrous conspiracy theory, given that Iraq's oil rights have been publicly auctioned and the first round of rights went to CNPC, the China National Petroleum Corporation - in fact they revived a deal from before the Iraq War.

    But who am I to interrupt the flow of such a well known 'fact' with less well publicised facts ?

    Anyway, Silvio Berluscoi's natural defender is Vladimir Putin. They both have substantial media holdings in one way or another.

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  • 141. At 7:03pm on 22 Jan 2011, cool_brush_work wrote:

    132. At 5:02pm on 22 Jan 2011, threnodio_II wrote:

    "..As you rightly say, notwithstanding the government's 85% holding, the bonus trough at RBS has been dragged out again for the pigs to have a good scoff. Someone has to do something. So, again, who?"


    Well, ideally I would want it to be the FSA and the enforcement of the Law & Regulation at National level.
    I cannot see why if Madoff etc. are sent to prison that UK Financial miscreants are not also given years of penal servitude (preferably breaking rock with nail files).

    However, whilst acknowledging all the faults at the UK/National level how anyone in their right minds can imagine an institution as un-accountable, un-representative & un-democratic as the EU-Brussels will be any sort of improvement just leaves me totally baffled!?
    IMO it is rather like quite a number of 'pro-EU' (Yourself included) who write regularly that the EU only needs to do this, that & the other to improve the Democratic Deficit: And, of course the EU has done & patently will not do any of it because the last thing the EU entity wants is to be subject to Democratic methods!

    I'm afraid I don't have the answer anymore than the many clever people who've tried to 'police'/'regulate' the Financial Services sector for the last 20 to 30 years. What I propose for the UK is straightforward enough:

    1) Binding Legislation restricting the Bonus culture to maximum 3% on top of Fixed Monthly Salary.

    2) Binding Legislation guaranteeing the Senior Executives of any Bank or Financial Institution that becomes Insolvent/Bankrupt or needs to Borrow Tax-Payer Money are FINED ALL THEIR BONUS PAYMENTS for the year of the crisis & where NEGLIGENT GREED-DRIVEN Policies are shown to have been put in place thsoe responsible are IMPRISONED.

    It really is no different from any other Employment: Quality Control of Car/Computer/Ship/Nut&Bolt Production affects Pay & Bonus, so it should be for the Finance services' bosses & employees - - Do their job responsibly or face the consequences - - afterall, if we are going to have League Tables for Schools, Hospitals etc. then I'm damn sure UK could have the same for these fabulously wealthy & powerful institutions that use Individual & Group monies.

    It has often been said ove the last 2 to 3 years this Bank, that Business is "..too big to be allowed to fail..", and IMO there is much truth in that, however, if such an entity is on-the-brink then surely it is never too late to SACK THOSE IN CHARGE WITHOUT COMPENSATION for bringing that Enterprise so low!?

    Anyway, that's my view as a financial layman on a fixed Pension.

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  • 142. At 7:33pm on 22 Jan 2011, margaret howard wrote:

    140 Clive Hill writes:
    "Or perhaps the whole 'Iraq was about oil' story was another ludicrous conspiracy theory, ..."

    Along the lines of 'weapons of mass destruction' perhaps?

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  • 143. At 7:46pm on 22 Jan 2011, cool_brush_work wrote:

    140. At 6:51pm on 22 Jan 2011, Clive Hill wrote:
    #135 Tisseyre

    Maybe Tony should call his friend George, and save those poor Italians from such an awful leader. (I think they may have oil also - Olive oil, that is)

    Darfur is partly located on block 6 of Sudan's oil prospecting areas yet no-one UK or US has ever suggested doing anything military about it.

    Or perhaps the whole 'Iraq was about oil' story was another ludicrous conspiracy theory, given that Iraq's oil rights have been publicly auctioned and the first round of rights went to CNPC, the China National Petroleum Corporation - in fact they revived a deal from before the Iraq War.

    But who am I to interrupt the flow of such a well known 'fact' with less well publicised facts ?"


    You & I just know that the Factual Reality will never suit those who long ago made up their minds about the Iraq Campaign.
    I've been following the BBC Blog comments on the Chilcott 2nd intervew with ex-PM Blair: The number of 1 or 2 liners just demanding Blair/Bush are had up for 'war crimes' and yet they cite not a single piece of evidence is astonishing.
    Likewise those who assert Blair is lying, but they never manage to pinpoint any lie: The dodgy dossier comes up time & again, but no one ever connects it to Balir and yet they keep claiming it's his work!

    The 'oil for the US/UK' conspiracy theorists have moved their goalposts so often they're laughable: All the oil was going to USA when less than 10% has; then it was US oil companies own it al, but its owned by Iraq's democratically elected Government (another neglected aspect of the anti-Blair diatribes); so now the oil has gone to the highest bidder the conspiracists don't know what to write... especially as it went to China which held first refusal on it from before 2003!


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  • 144. At 8:04pm on 22 Jan 2011, cool_brush_work wrote:

    137. At 6:37pm on 22 Jan 2011, threnodio_II wrote:
    136. At 6:24pm on 22 Jan 2011, you wrote:

    Something totally innocuous which has, yet again, been censored. This time I really have had enough.

    Goodbye all!



    MODERATORS SHOULD BE ASHAMED!

    MODERATION HAS NO RHYME, REASON OR RATIONALE!

    Similar to Threnodio's experience: On yesterday's BBC Blog concerning Tony Blair's 2nd interview by the Chilcott panel:

    I wrote a reply to a comment & began it with a copy of the comment which had referred to Blair as a 'war criminal' & that he should be on trial for 'war crimes'.

    My reply which opposed that view, but used precisely the same language and called for evidence to support the suggestion of a 'trial' was REJECTED.
    The E-Mail explanation was as per usual NO EXPLANATION at all just a rehash reminder of the House Rules.
    I submitted precisely the same Comment again: It too was REJECTED & in time the same E-Mail NON-EXPLANATION turned up.

    I left it an hour & then submitted the Comment for a THIRD time with the only change a first sentence requesting MODERATORS PLEASE EXPLAIN why the original comment was Published & my 2 replies were not?

    Incredibly, my THIRD SUBMISSIONN of precisely the same content as the FIRST & SECOND was PUBLISHED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    MODERATORS SHOULD BE ASHAMED!

    MODERATION HAS NO RHYME, REASON OR RATIONALE!



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  • 145. At 8:27pm on 22 Jan 2011, Mel wrote:

    I am Italian and I am not happy at all to have a PM like Berlusconi.
    I think Italians know well that he is the shame of the country!

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  • 146. At 9:16pm on 22 Jan 2011, lumilumi wrote:

    Uhm... Very interesting reading, you all, and I'm afraid I haven't had time to properly read every single comment...

    As to Mr Berlusconi, the Italian electorate elect and re-elect him so fair play to him. However, the fact is that from the outside, it's beginning to look increasingly farcical. Mr Berlusconi is losing credibility in the international arena. I don't give a flying fish about who people sleep or don't sleep with, but I am deeply concerned about people, politicians, who seem to be trying to bend, or even change, the law to suit them. That's how dictatorships work. I'm confident that ordinary Italians won't let that happen to their country.

    I've never much liked Mr Berlusconi, initially because of his right-wing policies, being a bit of a lefty myself, and now I'm very concerned about the control he has over media in Italy through his ownership. I can't help but to think of Putin in Russia, who has similar control, though through different means.

    Mr Berlusconi is at the moment damaging Italy's international reputation, or "image", which is a shame, Italy is a beautiful country, rich in history, and all the Italians I have met or know personally are wonderful, intelligent, friendly people.

    Reading (skimming) through the comments, I found it interesting that so many commented on the north/south divide in Europe. I agree, there seems to be a cultural difference. Someone once put it as milk/beer drinking north, wine drinking south.

    Interesting that Mr Cameron invited Nordic and Baltic "new friends" to a mini-summit in London on Thursday... Cynics in Finland say that he just wants to sell arms to Finland. The Scottish First Minister Mr Salmond has for years wanted closer ties with Northern Europe (especially Norway... oil) and now the UK PM steals his show! Be that as it may, but from a Finnish perspective England has more in common with the Central European biggies Germany and France than with us in the northern and eastern fringes. An independent Scotland would be a natural partner to the Nordic countries but the UK is not. Not that I'd say no to closer ties with the UK, as long as it doesn't include getting involved in illegal wars abroad.

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  • 147. At 9:21pm on 22 Jan 2011, threnodio_II wrote:

    #142 - margaret howard

    Yes - I know - I said I was going but ...

    Halabja - ring any bells? Estimates of immediate fatalities range from 3,200 to 5,000 people. Civilians for the most part, which makes something of a nonsense of the Geneva Convention.

    I am no defender or apologist for the Bush/Blair over reaction but we must be clear - chemical and biological weapons were not only at the disposal of the regime, they were used to deadly effect. The big lie was about delivery systems - whether or not it was possible for these to be launched into NATO territory. That was clearly rubbish. Again, this is a question of definition. What is a WMD? Something that can kill millions in seconds or something that kills thousands over a few hours and carries on maiming and destroying so for generations? It is a similar question to the definition of genocide. Is that really defined simply by numbers?

    It is time to get real. How much longer are we going to be sold all this rubbish about 'the axis of evil', 'the evil empire' and so on. Let us be clear - anyone who, in pursuit of a political or geopolitical ambition, kills, maims or otherwise harms innocent civilians is a criminal. Anybody who resorts to the physical or psychological abuse of individuals in order to extract intelligence is a criminal. Halabja was a crime against humanity and so was extraordinary rendition and Guantanamo Bay. Saddam ended up on the end of a rope, Bush lives in comfortable retirement in Texas, Blair runs around the Middle East trying to look important and occasionally turns up in London to change his story for the benefit of Chilcott. Go figure.

    What the hell has this to do with Burlesconi?

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  • 148. At 10:07pm on 22 Jan 2011, lumilumi wrote:

    Oh, and one more (trivial) comment about Mr Berlusconi... Isn't it unfortunate to his image that the picture accompanying this blog shows him in a suit that seems to be at least two sizes too big?

    As an Irish songwriter put it: "Josephine, be careful of small men with big ideas..."

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  • 149. At 10:28pm on 22 Jan 2011, Mel wrote:

    #148
    I think it is not a suit, it is a overcoat...

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  • 150. At 10:39pm on 22 Jan 2011, quietoaktree wrote:

    #147 threnodio

    " What the hell has this to do with Burlesconi?"

    --- He pays for his fun --and the world pays for Bush and Blair!

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  • 151. At 10:53pm on 22 Jan 2011, lumilumi wrote:

    #149
    Too big, nevertheless. But that is trivial.

    Mr Berlusconi is now (again) denyining any allegations and having decided that the best form of defence is attack, (again) discredits the judiciary and bombasts about being spied on etc. He's now the poor victim of an insidious conspiracy... (Really, who buys this?)

    Hey, maybe a lot of people in Italy have an axe to grind with him and aren't being entirely fair either, but from a northern point of view, this type of political antics in Italy serve to make the nation look like a banana republic, only, the Del Monte man who says "Yes" is home-grown!

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  • 152. At 10:56pm on 22 Jan 2011, quietoaktree wrote:

    CBW

    "All the same I did love the sea voyages and the warships were phenomenal: It is memories that will last & as I enter the twilight years I realise how fortunate I was as in the modern day the UK cuts/slashes/devastates its brilliant Naval heritage----"

    --- Does your present bath-time rubber ducky have guns, sails and a flag ?

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  • 153. At 11:18pm on 22 Jan 2011, phillipwest wrote:

    #144 CBW
    I hope you reconsider your leaving this blog as I for one enjoy your contributions. My comment #100 was held back for some 24 hours and has nothing that broke house rules that I can see so I doubt the restrictive application is reserved for you. Do reconsider as I find your posts usually well-crafted and persuasive.

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  • 154. At 11:22pm on 22 Jan 2011, quietoaktree wrote:

    I see little difference in intelligence between the Italian supporters of Berlusconi and the British and American supporters of Blair and Bush.

    However ( as far as I am aware), Berlusconi can never be accused of mass murder and torture.

    This is surely positive and worthy of mention when he is criticized.

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  • 155. At 11:36pm on 22 Jan 2011, quietoaktree wrote:

    #153 phillipw

    That was threnodio !

    -- CBW Persuasive ???

    --he preaches to the converted --or haven´t you noticed ?

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  • 156. At 11:56pm on 22 Jan 2011, quietoaktree wrote:

    #106 Huaimek

    I have NEVER compared the behavior of British aristocracy with that of Berlusconi.

    ---I wonder why I missed that one ?

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