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

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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.

“This is my heart, it’s my health, it’s my choice!”

Is that the Premier’s skiff?

With these words, Newfoundland Premier Danny Williams defended his decision to hop the border and go under the knife for heart surgery in Florida.

The minimally invasive mitral valve surgery he needed is not available in Newfoundland, he told his province’s NTV News channel in the first part of an interview aired last night…

But it is available in his home country, a point that cardiologists fervently made last night.

“It’s his body, it’s his money, hopefully, but don’t tell us the operation cannot be done here. It can be done,” said Arvind Koshal, director of cardiac surgery at the Mazankowski Alberta Heart Institute in Edmonton.

Some of the best mitral valve surgeons are in Toronto and Montreal, he said, noting that some even use robots, commonly employed in minimally invasive surgery. The wait times for cardiac surgery in Canada are relatively short, he added, saying such surgery could have been done within weeks…

While Mr. Williams was clear that surgery in his home province was advised against, he was more ambiguous about the Canadian options he explored.

Virtually all heart surgery can be done in Canada, a chorus of cardiologists said earlier this month when they heard about Mr. Williams’s cross-border surgery, a decision that launched a debate about private versus public health care…

From footage taken in the Premier’s sun-drenched condominium last week, Mr. Williams appeared to be the picture of health…

Another politician who’s a walking advertisement for healthcare reserved for those who can afford it. I think the sun-drenched condo had as much as anything else to do with his decision – or should we take Premier Williams at his word?

NIMBY’s should stop whining about wind farms

The premier of the Canadian province of Ontario said he’s fed up with people complaining and stalling alternative energy
projects such as wind farms.

Speaking in London, Ontario, Premier Dalton McGuinty said the “not in my back yard” attitude “will no longer prevail” and his government is poised to overrule municipalities that balk at renewable energy projects, the Toronto Star reported.

He said such projects as wind and solar panel farms and bio-energy facilities had the potential to create 50,000 jobs in the province, where unemployment stands at 8 percent, the London Free Press reported.

“We need those jobs, we need clean electricity, we need to assume full responsibility in the face of climate change and we are going to do that in Ontario,” McGuinty said. “We can’t allow interests to oppose these, simply because they don’t like them.”

Most of the people who don’t like to look at wind farms are already situated so they needn’t look at poor people or unemployment lines. They don’t worry about who has to pay the bills for outdated energy plans either.

Basque premier’s trial thrown out of court

Breakin’ the law, breakin’ the law!
Daylife/Reuters Pictures

A Spanish court has thrown out a case against the head of the Basque regional government, who was accused of illegal contacts with banned separatists. The court acted after the prosecution admitted that the contacts were not illegal, after all.

Basque Nationalist politician Juan Jose Ibarretxe went on trial last week, along with two members of Spain’s governing Socialist Party. They had met the separatist group Batasuna during a failed peace effort.

Five members of Batasuna were also on trial in the case, which was thrown out of court…

But the Basque region’s Supreme Court ruled that the case was illegitimate, since prosecutors themselves had asked that it be dropped, saying holding talks with Batasuna was not actually against the law.

Trials for talking to someone, for thinking out loud, for building communications instead of bombs – are the stupidest, most cowardly, political acts in civil life.