Friday, October 26, 2007

Italy Top Court Upholds Berlusconi Graft Acquittal

ROME, Fri Oct 26, 2007 (Reuters) - Italy's top court upheld a verdict on Friday acquitting former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi in a corruption case, a lawyer for Berlusconi said.

"It was high time. Twelve years have gone by since the start of this trial, in which Silvio Berlusconi was crucified, has been slandered around the world and now his innocence has finally emerged crystal clear," lawyer Niccolo Ghedini told Reuters.

Italy's richest man, owner of broadcaster Mediaset, was first acquitted in the case in 2004. An appeals court upheld that verdict in April this year, and it was again upheld on Friday by Italy's Cassation Court, meaning the verdict is now definitive.

Berlusconi, head of the centre-right opposition, was accused of bribing judges to stop the sale of food group SME to a rival businessman in the 1980s.

Blogiorno Editorial Commentary: As we have noted time and again, there are vast differences between the United States and Italy. It is important to note that upholding justice is one such difference, as evidenced by this Reuters article. Here in the United States, well-coiffed celebrity lawyers stand firmly upon the necks of those who attempt to administer the scales of justice. Furthermore, those in America with greater means and social stature can be assured of alternate--and spectacularly unequal--forms of said justice. We here at Blogiorno wish to point out that, refreshingly, the same is NOT true in Italy. As Silvio Berlusconi's lawyer will attest, in Italy good does triumph over evil, for Italian lawmakers have not dulled their collective consciences as their counterparts have in America. Indeed, the Italians have sought and answered the higher calling of their Lady of Perpetual Justice. Therefore, today the irreproachable judges of the Italian court system have spoken. Justice has prevailed in Italy!

Thanks to Reuters for bringing us this important news. Reuters: Know. Now. Or something.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Ducati's Greatest Day

Ciao my friends! And now, for your reading pleasure, a bit of noteworthy news from the exciting world of motorcycle racing. Last weekend, the Ducati motorcycle racing team, with the help of a fine son from the Koala nation of Australia, made some serious history by clinching the 2007 MotoGP World Championship. As we've noted before here at Blogiorno, Italy is perhaps THE center for all things excellent in the world, and racing is foremost in their achievements. Ducati set about to win the MotoGP championship in 2002. Five short years later, they did exactly that, taking their very first title. Their rider, 21 year old Casey Stoner of Australia, clinched the title for Ducati and all of Italia at the Japanese Grand Prix, which took place at Motegi Circuit in Japan. Even better, the race was won by the second Ducati rider, Italian Loris Capirossi.

To clinch the championship, MotoGP rookie Casey Stoner only needed to finish ahead of Italy's beloved son, Valentino Rossi. Casey finished sixth, and it was done. Normally, anyone beating Valentino Rossi triggers an immediate blacklisting here at Blogiorno, but we paused, took several deep breaths into the oxygen masks we knicked from British Airways and let the rage pass on by. Only the balm that is Ducati could quell such anger, which was soon replaced by unbridled joy, knowing that the manufacturer of our beloved street bike has been rewarded for their travail. The result of the race in Japan was, as you might expect, laughter and tears in the Ducati Marlboro Team pit, as well as in the Borgo Panigale factory headquarters, where more than one thousand fans watched the race alongside the Ducati dignitaries. Talk about rejoicing!

In my visit to the Ducati factory, I would have loved to see the Italians building the MotoGP race bikes; in fact, the racing shop is located in the center of the factory floor. However, visitors are forbidden from entering that area, and actually, you cannot even so much as point your camera in the general direction of said shop without politely getting your hand slapped by one of the beautiful Italian tour guide girls. Why? It is because of the millions and millions of dollars that it takes to field a MotoGP team, much less finish in the top 5 or fight for the championship. We're talking hundreds of millions of dollars just to get into the game. The pressure to win is very intense, and the danger of losing your technological edge via industrial espionage is equally as intense--that is no joke, and it happens all the time.

So this--the big money game that is MotoGP--is the reason for all the secrecy. It is also the reason for big tobacco's presence in motorsport, and for Marlboro being the chief sponsor of the Ducati racing team; large conglomerates like theirs are the only ones who have that kind of money to throw around. Here at Blogiorno, we don't have any objection to large corporations sponsoring racing teams, nor do we see any reason to pile on the already fledgling tobacco industry, especially because demonizing that industry was, for a time, the favorite chia-pet cause of Hollywood least until they got distracted by all the shiny objects eminating from--cue Darth Vader's theme song--Walmart. (Cue a big eyeroll too, while you're at it. Grazie.) So while we simultaneously acknowledge the dangers of smoking AND laud the how-can-they-be-THAT-bad people at Marlboro, we also state unequivocally that if Walmart sponsored the Ducati Racing Team, we'd still be right there, sporting that smiley face mascot of theirs proudly on our official Ducati Racing Team merchandise.

So there you have it...the good folks at Marlboro, with their smooth good taste and rich tobacco flavor, now have themselves a World Championship racing team. But much more importantly, the Ducati Racing Team have realized their dream of taking motorcycle racing's highest honor, the MotoGP World Racing Championship.

Here are a few memorable quotes from the champions:

CASEY STONER, 2007 MotoGP World Champion
"At the moment it all feels a little bit unrealistic! I'm struggling for words, I don't think there's any feeling that can compare to this...we finally did it!"

LORIS CAPIROSSI, race winner, 7th in World Championship
"We struggled a lot this weekend, but I won my third consecutive race's a great moment for me. It's also a great day for Casey, for Ducati and for the team."

"This success is the best demonstration of Ducati excellence, is a triumph of Italian intelligence, talent, competences and the warmth that is one of our country's most vital assets. It's an important and remarkable achievement. It is a dream come true. We are speaking of a great feat realised thanks to Casey's commitment, bravery and team work, united with the work of our draughtsmen, technicians, engineers, team members, sponsors and everyone at the factory."

["Corse" means "Racing" in Italian. - AA]
"It is a dream come true - a fantastic feeling, really fantastic. I don't have enough words to thank all the guys who have contributed to this incredible achievement, which shows that Italy is a nation whose passion and talent can succeed in a hugely technically advanced field. It's certainly a good reason for Italians to be proud."

Bravo Signor Casey Stoner, Scuderia Ducati, e Italia!

Monday, October 01, 2007

Attrezzo dell'artista

Hello friends! This blog entry will be only slightly off topic, and more "informational" about the inner workings of the writing staff at Blogiorno. Here at Blogiorno, we have always used Apple as the primary tool with which to create this blogging magic. Recently, we were pleased--okay, fine, I was pleased--to purchase a new 13 inch widescreen Apple MacBook [pic, above]. It is powered by an Intel Core 2 Duo processor, running at 2.16GHz speeds, which makes it snappy fast. Also, it is aesthetically pleasing and lends itself to creativity in ways that just seem to be a stretch for Windows machines...from the pearly white case and keyboard, to the graphics rendering, to the Tiger operating system. Really super.

On the subject of computer "platform" preference, I have found that, for many otherwise dispassionate people, things seem to verge on the radical. There is precious little middle ground in the "Mac versus PC" ground war. Generally, I say to each their own. "Live and let live." That is, unless you're speaking in the ethical/moral sense of life. That whole laissez-faire attitude in things moral is dragged out of the gutters far too often in order to justify all manner of deviant behavior. And it is particularly bad in the realm of parenting. You've seen said parents at Starbucks, taking full-fist blows to their nether-regions from their darling cherub kid, then admonishing the little troll that they're not supposed to hit Mommy: "Stop it Dakota, I'm only going to tell you 50 more times and then you're getting a time-out and an imaginary demerit". Yes, as a way of life, laissez-faire is completely self-serving, leads to personal/social/spiritual ills, and is generally a bad idea. But anyway, let's not deviate any further from the topic at hand...back to uh...where were we...oh yes, computers! For me, creativity and Apple go hand-in-hand. And, few would contest that Apple are tops at creating the slickest, earthiest, most user-friendly products around.

The only downside with Apple is the elitist attitude that some "creative types" tend to put on display whilst floating about in Apple stores. Honestly, when I go into Apple stores--which is very rarely--sometimes I have had to fight hard not to roll my eyes in derision at some of the arrogant artsy types who just came from Starbucks with a kid named, say, "Dakota", demanding this and that from the poor minimum-wage kids working there. Not right. Can't we all just get along?

I happened to read a humorous article from Wired magazine about some celebrities who fit in that latter, unfortunate category. You might get a laugh from it too; a few off-color words, yes, but hey, I didn't write it. [See link below].

Okay then. I will see you next time. Meanwhile, visit an Apple store and check out some of the nice products they offer. There really is something for everyone. The stores are in most major cities, including my hometown, San Luis Obispo, California, and of course, Milan, Italy. Ciao, ciao!

Click to read the article from Wired Magazine.