Tagged: Italy

Prostitution and drugs to be included in Italy’s GDP data

Italy’s gross domestic product is poised to rise with the addition of estimates for its narcotics, prostitution and contraband trades in its calculations.

Estimates of black market revenue will be included to comply with new European Union rules, Italy’s statistics agency Istat announced Thursday. Hidden economic activity, including prostitution, the drug trade, contraband tobacco products and illegally manufactured alcohol will be included, an Istat report said.

The information will be blended into gross domestic product (GDP) data beginning in 2015.

The new list of illegal revenue producers will be included so the European Union gets a better picture of member states’ true economies. An accurate depiction of a country’s economic status is useful in ascertaining if certain target ratios, such as debt-to-GDP, are being met.

Har. Imagine some of the other places we could use this kind of interpolation?

Congress? Non-profit charities with CEOs receiving 7-figure salaries? Twelve-step religion-du-jour?

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First bacteria to make the transition from humans to plants — and it’s named for Frank Zappa

zappa christianity

What would you do if you discovered an odd strain of bacteria that exhibited unconventional behavior? Why, name it after Frank Zappa of course!…This is exactly what a team of Italian and Austrian researchers did when they found a bacterium that had apparently transitioned from causing acne in human skin to infecting the bark of grape vines.

“This is the first time it’s been found that a microorganism can switch from a human to a plant,” study author and self-professed Zappa fan Andrea Campisano, a microbiologist at the Edmund Mach Foundation in Italy, told the Los Angeles Times.

In addition to being a tribute to the late musician, the naming of P. acnes zappae is also a hat-tip to the Italian word for “hoe,” which is “zappa.”

Campisano is such a big fan of the experimental musician – he said he even has a quote from him prominently displayed on his lab computer screen: “If you end up with a boring miserable life because you listened to your mom, your dad, your teacher, your priest, or some guy on television … then you deserve it.”

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Nun names her surprise child after the pope!

A 31 year-old nun at the Little Disciples of Jesus convent in Rieti, Italy discovered she was pregnant and about to give birth when stomach pains sent her to the hospital on Wednesday.

Hours after arriving at the S. Camillo De Lellis hospital, she gave birth to a healthy baby boy. Media reported that the nun, originally from El Salvador, has named her son Francesco, the same name as Pope Francis.

Her community was “surprised” by the birth. A local pastor, Don Fabrizio Borrello, spoke to the media about the pregnancy, telling reporters “I guess she’s telling the truth when she says she arrived at the hospital unaware of the pregnancy.”

The nun plans to keep the baby. The hospital is accepting clothing and donations for the new mother and child.

Any claims of virgin birth?

Priest says woman hypnotized him and stole church donations


He said she hypnotized him?!

A woman stole a Padua, Italy, church’s Christmas offerings after hypnotizing a 71-year-old priest, police said.

The woman, described as a Roma, or gypsy, about 35, made off with 1,800 euros collected by Padua’s Santa Giustina abbey during the Christmas period…adding she entered the cloister area of the church where the presence of women is forbidden.

The priest learned of the theft and alerted police after he came out of the hypnosis-induced trance

Uh-huh.

Anyone else think there may be a chance the “trance” was induced by something other than hypnosis?

Italian Senate strips Berlusconi of his seat

berlusconi crocodile tears

The Italian Senate voted Wednesday to strip ex-Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi of his seat because of a tax fraud conviction he insists will be reversed.

Berlusconi maintains the tax fraud conviction, which Italy’s supreme court upheld during the summer, is politically motivated by blah, blah, blah!

Berlusconi was convicted Aug. 1 with several other defendants of using offshore companies in tax-haven countries to buy movie rights for his TV networks and grossly inflating the payment amounts to avoid $502 million in taxes…

Prime Minister Letta’s Democratic Party and the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement backed the decision to eject Berlusconi…

His center-right Forza Italia party withdrew its support for Letta’s left-right coalition government and joined the opposition Tuesday…

He was sentenced to four years imprisonment, but three years were automatically pardoned, along with a public office ban for two years. Because he is older than 70, he was exempted from imprisonment and instead must do community service.

If he actually ever performs any community service, I hope his first attempt at real labor in a life of fraud and crime is dedicated to the senior citizens of Italy. They are dishonored by counting him among their peers.

Berlusconi barred from office for two years over fraud conviction


You actually had the balls to say – Mission Accomplished!

A court in Milan has banned Silvio Berlusconi, Italy’s former prime minister, from holding public office for two years, following his conviction for tax fraud…However, the ban must be approved by parliament before taking effect.

Earlier this month, a cross-party panel of the Italian Senate recommended his expulsion from the chamber.

If he is expelled from parliament, Berlusconi will lose his immunity from prosecution in a string of criminal cases.

Berlusconi had threatened to topple the coalition government over the issue but backed down during a confidence vote…

He will also spend a year under house arrest, or doing community service – his preferred option, according to a request he formally submitted last week.

The votes on his expulsion and ban on holding office are expected to take place within the next few weeks.

He was sentenced to four years in prison, automatically reduced to one under a 2006 pardon act. He was also banned from holding public office for five years.

That sentence was upheld in August.

As erratic as the course of justice may be in Italian politics, by comparison, this case is one more example of the ineffectual and cowardly attitude towards politicians in the United States. Liars and frauds like George W. Bush and Dick Cheney committed inexcusable crimes against humanity – and left taxpayers with a bill for trillions of dollars.

The financial cost is conveniently forgotten by Republicans. The ethical failure is ignored by both of the TweedleDeeDum parties we are allowed. Add to this Obama’s legalization of government snooping into the lives of ordinary citizens and you need no explanation as to why America’s international reputation for corruption continues to grow.

Priest from Vatican Bank busted in plot to smuggle €40 million into Italy from Swiss bank accounts

A senior Catholic cleric with connections to the Vatican bank was arrested on Friday for plotting to help rich friends smuggle tens of millions of euros in cash into Italy from Switzerland, in the latest blow to the Vatican’s image.

Monsignor Nunzio Scarano, 61, who worked as a senior accountant in the Vatican’s financial administration, was arrested along with an Italian secret service agent and a financial intermediary in a tale that reads like a spy novel.

It involves police wiretaps, a private plane rented to collect the cash from Locarno, burned cell phones and an allegedly corrupt secret services agent who promised to get the money past customs.

Details of the case against Scarano will come as an acute embarrassment to Pope Francis, who, since his election in March, has pointedly eschewed many of the trappings of office and sought to stress the importance of a simple life of devotion…

Scarano, who was arrested in a Rome parish and taken to Rome’s Queen of Heaven jail, had hatched a plot to bring up to €40 million into Italy for a family of shipbuilders in his hometown of Salerno in southern Italy, magistrate Nello Rossi told reporters.

Rossi is already investigating the Vatican bank for money laundering, and the latest arrests stemmed from that…

According to Rossi, in July last year Scarano engaged Giovanni Zito, a paramilitary Carabiniere policeman on loan to the secret services, to help him get the money, which was in a Swiss bank, into Italy without tax and customs controls.

The third person arrested was Giovanni Carenzio, a financial broker with offices in Switzerland and the Canary Islands and who was acting as the fiduciary for the owners of the money…

It was not clear how or when the money got to Switzerland in the first place.

Rossi said his office would seek permission from the Vatican, which is a sovereign state, to question officials. “This is just a piece in a much larger mosaic,” he said.

Scarano, who Rossi said had worked for a German bank before he became a priest, was for years a senior accountant for a Vatican department known as APSA, whose official title is the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See…

Seriously, does any of this surprise anyone? Aren’t we beyond the era of naïveté about the Roman Catholic church and corrupt wealth?

RTFA for lots of details. A farce worthy of being made into a comic Italian movie.

Best news, this morning: Berlusconi guilty In underage sex trial

Former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi has been found guilty of paying for sex with an underage prostitute.

The 76-year-old was sentenced to seven years in prison and banned from holding public office by a judge in Milan.

He had denied having sex with Karima El Mahroug, also known as Ruby the Heart Stealer, after what prosecutors claimed were erotic parties at his Milan mansion in 2010.

Berlusconi was also accused of calling a police station to pressure for Miss El Mahroug’s release from custody when she was arrested for theft.

The state prosecutor asked for a six-year sentence because of the severity of corruption in Italian political life that Berlusconi represented. The judge gave him seven years!

Overdue.

Italy court upholds Berlusconi tax fraud verdict

ITALY — Former Premier Silvio Berlusconi’s tax fraud conviction and four-year prison sentence were upheld on the first appeal Wednesday in a case that could see him barred from public office for five years.

In Italy, defendants are legally considered innocent until all appeals are exhausted, and Berlusconi’s lawyers are expected to appeal the case to the nation’s highest Court of Cassation once the reasoning for the decision is published.

Still, the ruling, which comes just days before prosecutors wrap up closing arguments in his sensational sex-for-hire trial, raises the question of whether Berlusconi’s days as a political force are numbered…

The case already is tightly tied to Berlusconi’s political fortunes. He announced he was stepping aside just two days before the October lower court verdict convicting him in a scheme that involved inflating the price his Mediaset media empire paid for TV rights to U.S. movies and pocketing the difference. Shortly after the guilty verdict, he renewed his political campaign, and his lawyers began seeking a series of trial delays for his electoral commitments…

His lawyers had argued to move the Mediaset appeal and the sex-for-hire case to the nearby city of Brescia, arguing that Milan courts are partial. The high court denied the motion earlier this week…

The ruling also upheld barring him from managing any company for three years. Even if the jail sentence is confirmed, it is unlikely Berlusconi would serve any time for the tax fraud case because a furlough shaving three years off the sentence would likely be applied and one-year sentences are not normally served…

On Monday, the sex-for-hire trial will resume with prosecutor Ilda Boccassini wrapping up closing arguments that were started in early March, before the trial was slowed by delays over Berlusconi’s campaign commitments, his health and the motion for a change of venue. In that case, the media mogul is on trial in Milan on charges he paid for sex with an underage Moroccan teen during the infamous “bunga-bunga” parties at his villa and then tried to cover it up. Both he and the woman, Karima el-Mahroug, better known as Ruby, deny sexual contact.

Overdue. Which is typical in what passes for judicial proceedings in Italy if you have sufficient power and political clout.

Touring the world’s greatest science labs


The CERN lab near Geneva, like many other research facilities, offers tours of the premises

They may be at work pursuing the greatest mysteries of the physical world—yet the men and women who operate the world’s most prestigious physics and astronomy laboratories aren’t necessarily too busy to host guests. Throughout the world, physics and astronomy labs—many of them shimmering like stars in the wake of tremendous discoveries and achievements, some on mountaintops, others underground—welcome visitors to tour the premises, see the equipment, look through the telescopes and ponder just why they almost always make you wear a hardhat.

CERN. It’s the little things in life that really matter to the researchers at CERN, or the European Organization for Nuclear Research. This facility—located near Geneva, Switzerland—has gained superstardom over the last year, after announcing the discovery of what had been a holy grail of physics for decades—sometimes called the “God particle.” First predicted by physicist Peter Higgs in 1964, the then-theoretical particle, which pops from a field that is believed to give other particles their mass—became known as the Higgs boson before more recently assuming its grandiose nickname.

CERN’s $10 billion atom smasher, called the Large Hadron Collider, had been at work for several years in its subterranean home in the Alps, beneath the French-Swiss border, colliding protons at high speeds before rendering what seemed to be evidence for the God particle in 2012.

Should you be in the charming Swiss countryside this summer, consider taking a guided tour of this most distinguished of the world’s great physics laboratories.

RTFA and consider many other tours around the world’s leading science labs. Leave more suggestions if you’re so inclined.

Thanks, Ursarodina