Our favorite corrupt politician, Silvio Berlusconi paid €127,000 to witnesses in trial

Silvio and his best American bubba

Italy’s former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi has handed out cash gifts worth more than €100,000 to young women due to testify in his trial on charges of paying an underage prostitute.

Berlusconi has reportedly paid €127,000 to three witnesses since his trial began last April before allegedly putting pressure on Milan police to hush up the case. The trial centres on Moroccan runaway Karima el-Mahroug, known as Ruby the Heart Stealer, who attended so-called “bunga bunga” parties at Berlusconi’s mansion outside Milan in 2010.

Prosecutors allege the parties were organised by Nicole Minetti, a former dental hygienist turned TV showgirl who was nominated a councillor for the Lombardy region by Berlusconi’s party. Minetti, who is also standing trial separately for procuring prostitutes for the former prime minister, was paid €55,000 by him in two instalments in October and November, prosecutors say, according to Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera.

Two regular guests at those parties, sisters Eleonora and Imma de Vivo – models who appeared on an Italian celebrity reality show – received €72,000, paid by Berlusconi via their father, in July and October.

One party guest, dancer Maria Makdoum, has told prosecutors she saw the de Vivo twins dancing around Berlusconi in their knickers and bra at one of his after-dinner bunga bunga sessions. Berlusconi “was touching their intimate parts and they were touching him,” she said.

Berlusconi’s lawyer, Niccolò Ghedini, admitted payments had been made to Minetti and the de Vivos, but denied they were intended to sway their testimony.

The linking of the payments with the fact they are witnesses in the so-called Ruby trial is absolutely spurious and without foundation,” Ghedini said.

“With his usual generosity, Berlusconi has sought to blah, blah, blah della blah!

The trial continues next week.

RTFA if you feel the need to catch up on the lawyer-speak. Otherwise –

Italy won’t climb back into the modern world until a couple of responsibilities are resumed. They used to be ordinary parts of life – excepting the part about hiding money instead of paying taxes. And even that was only for the very rich.

But, Italy needs to stop listening to people because they own newspapers, television stations and football teams. Even if the football teams are decent. And Italy needs to put away the corrupt – even if they own newspapers, television stations and football teams.

Yes, I know we ain’t doing much better here in the United States. But, at the current rate, we’ll sort this out before Italy – and 50 years ago, I couldn’t have said that.

Just the gift for bioterrorist moms!

Shopping online can be a real time-saver, and you can get some great deals. But skip lollipops that come with the virus that causes chickenpox.

This caution comes after a woman in Nashville, Tenn., advertised lollipops contaminated with the varicella virus on Facebook. The tainted pops were intended for parents who want to expose their children to the disease.

A Nashville TV station spotted the woman’s posts, in which she also offered to ship spit and cotton swabs, all for a mere $50, payable through PayPal. The woman, Wendy Werkit, told WSMV reporter Kimberly Curth that she had shipped lollipops that had been sucked on by her children, “so that other peoples’ kids can get chickenpox.”

State health officials were horrified at the prospect, and pointed out that not only is the varicella vaccine much safer for children than getting the disease itself, but spreading the virus could pose a serious risk to children who can’t be vaccinated because they are undergoing cancer treatment or have other health problems…

Before the vaccine was introduced, parents would sometimes expose their children to others who were sick with the disease, so the children would have a reduced risk of serious infection as adults. The idea has since been adopted by some parents leery of vaccines.

Some parents also think that the natural immunity children gain from having a disease is better than the immunity they get from shots…

These people are a case study in being “naturally” stupid. Yes, that’s stupid not ignorant. If you have at least a 6th grade education, you know better.

Of course, a lot of this centers around the nutball home-schoolers dedicated to one or another religious sect. They work very hard at excluding reason, science and rational thought from their children and their own lives. They equally pose a health threat to members of the larger community who may not know they’re standing in the grocery checkout line next to the village idiot.

How about a pajama party with pandas and parrots?

For wild animal lovers not content with watching tigers and gorillas during the day, a growing number of zoos are offering a more thrilling after-dark experience — overnight stays.

From Philadelphia to Denver nocturnal visitors are learning what happens when the gates slam shut, the sun goes down and the moon rises over some of America’s most well-known zoos…

The Philadelphia Zoo has been running its Roars and Snores Overnight Programs for about 20 years. The most popular theme program is the Night Flight Overnight Program where children aged five to 12 sleep in the zoo’s tree house.

The overnight stays are not only popular with young children. Teen programs are offered at many zoos for those young adults interested in the zoo industry. They are also a favorite venue for birthday sleepovers, family trips and with scout troops…

Most overnight stays include a night tour during which youngsters experience the mysterious sights and unusual sounds of the zoo without the usual distractions. A midnight snack and breakfast are also served…

Guests at the new overnight program at the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Queens Zoo in New York make breakfast treats for parrots, bears, pigs, pumas and coyotes, and watch the keepers feed them to the animals the next morning, said Education Curator Tom Hurtubise.

With visitors at the Denver Zoo coming from as far away as Wyoming and Montana, Patterson said parents tend to be more worried about leaving their children than the children themselves. They have rarely had to call up a parent in the middle of the night.

“They love it,” Patterson said about the children. “For many, it’s their first overnight away from home. They are so excited that by the end of the day they are so tired that they have no opportunity to worry.”

Kids with groups of their peers, families sharing a learning experience together, any number of combinations can form up for a special adventure. Consider it. Add a special night to your kid’s memories.

In our neck of the prairie, the Albuquerque Zoo offers guided night walks for $10 – discounts available for the kiddies and old geezers like me. 🙂

Berlusconi gave €7,000 to 17-year-old belly dancer

Daylife/Getty Images used by permission

The latest sex scandal threatening Silvio Berlusconi has deepened after a 17-year-old Moroccan belly dancer linked to the Italian prime minister said he had given her €7,000 and jewellery when she sat next to him at a Valentine’s Day dinner held this year for 10 women at his mansion near Milan.

The girl, named in the Italian media as Karima Keyek but known more widely by her stage name Ruby Rubacuori, or Stealer of Hearts, denies sleeping with Berlusconi.

“It is the first time in my life that a man has not tried to take me to bed. He behaved like a father, I swear,” she told La Repubblica from Genoa, where she is hiding out in an apartment allegedly lent to her by a former porn star.

But she has painted a vivid portrait of private parties held by the 74-year-old prime minister, known by the Italian media as lavish affairs that often transformed into “bunga-bunga” sessions involving after-dinner sex between male and female guests.

In La Repubblica yesterday, Keyek said her host had told her not to come to see him any more after discovering she was not, as she had claimed, 24. “Berlusconi said he had had enough problems in the past with another underage girl,” she said…

“He gave me an envelope with €7,000 in it and I told him I dreamed of gaining Italian citizenship and becoming a policewoman.” She told La Repubblica: “It was like going to the church charity where they give you a bag of shopping…”

Yesterday the respected Corriere della Sera newspaper reported that Berlusconi had personally informed a senior police official that Keyek was related to Egypt’s President Hosni Mubarak. Berlusconi says he merely told police he was dispatching a colleague to take temporary custody of Keyek should she be released – from charges of theft.

My kin in Italy wouldn’t vote for Berlusconi on a bet. He reminds him too much of the Fascisti they fought against 80 years. That’s not just style, either.

In Italy – it is surprising how often a four-flusher can succeed by pushing the Right buttons. Patriotism, piety, bigotry have always been more profitable than civil rights and civil liberties. But, then, Italy doesn’t have the world market cornered on sophistry, Old colonial powers have been forced to share that with the 20th Century’s champion.

Merkel says multiculturalism in Germany has utterly failed

Merkel and Seehofer in front of their guru, the late Konrad Adenauer
Daylife/Reuters Pictures used by permission

Chancellor Angela Merkel has declared the death of multiculturalism in Germany, saying that it had “failed utterly” , in what has been interpreted as a startling shift from her previous views. The German leader said it had been an illusion to think that Germans and foreign workers could “live happily side by side”.

“We kidded ourselves for a while that they wouldn’t stay, but that’s not the reality,” she said at a conference of the youth wing of her Christian Democratic Union party at the weekend, referring to the gastarbeiters, or guest workers, who arrived in Germany to fill a labour shortage during the economic boom of the 1960s.

“Of course the tendency had been to say, ‘let’s adopt the multicultural concept and live happily side by side, and be happy to be living with each other’. But this concept has failed, and failed utterly,” she said, without elaborating on the nature and causes of this failure.

Merkel’s verdict marks a shift in her previously liberal line on immigration which had always put her at odds with the more conservative wing of the party…

Sharing the same podium as Merkel in Potsdam, Horst Seehofer [Bavarian State Premier] also said “multiculturalism is dead” and that both the rightwing parties were committed to a “dominant German culture”. If Germany did not revise its immigration policies, he said, it was in danger of becoming “the world’s welfare office”…

Sound familiar?

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