Thursday, January 19, 2006


Baby squirrel monkey...
A newly discovered type of insect...
A very Italian affair:
Calabria in southern Italy is famous for its ruthless mafia and hot chilli peppers and is certainly no stranger to passion, intrigue and vendetta.
But the tale of an affair between one of its female mayors and a local council leader has reached a finale worthy of grand opera - and gripped the entire nation.
Another cruel twist was the death on the town hall steps of a journalist who had chronicled their romance, just as the melodrama reached its climax.
Like the errant Eve of the Old Testament, Miss Catizone's fate was sealed by a forbidden fruit, in this case that of love.
After months of backbiting, her former allies decided to back a motion of no-confidence against her.
Her cause was not helped by a poll on Sunday showing her popularity had slipped to a mere 11 per cent. Miss Catizone alleged that Mr Adamo "was the occult director of this miserable affair". Deciding to jump before she was pushed, she handed in her resignation on Tuesday.
"I've been politically raped," she declared before rushing out of the council chamber and locking herself in the mayor's office.
Almost simultaneously, Antonino Cartera, 49, a political reporter and leading chronicler of the saga, collapsed and died of a heart attack outside.
He lay dead on the town hall steps for two hours, a victim of Italy's bureaucracy and a delay in issuing a death certificate. The council resumed its work regardless.
"Even I didn't expect such inhumanity. They [the council] didn't even stop when faced with a death," said Miss Catizone.
Her last political act, for the time being at least, was to lower the council flag down to half mast to show her respect for the journalist.
All of Italian life is there - from bureaucracy to bella figura.
There's a sobering piece in the Guardian about expolited children in Italian cities:
For three weeks, police kept the man under surveillance, watching as he picked up his merchandise in the outskirts of the city and dropped it off in one of Rome's most attractive piazzas. The 35-year-old Romanian was not dealing in drugs or contraband cigarettes but children. He controlled a group of nine boys aged between 10 and 14, who were transported every day into Rome and told to beg for money or wash the windscreens of people's cars. Each child earned €50-70 a day, which they handed over to their boss in return for food and clothing. After secretly videotaping the man's activities and amassing enough evidence, police arrested him.
There is a lot of money to be made out of the exploitation of children and a recent report by the social studies institute Eurispes and the children's charity Telefono Azzurro shows how many vulnerable young people there are in Italy. According to a survey by the two organisations, at least 50,000 foreign children are forced to beg on the streets or work instead of going to school. In Rome alone, the number is put at 8,000.
The minors, mostly young boys, are sent abroad by relatives in the hope of making better lives for themselves and arrive after long and frightening journeys, passed along the route by people smugglers. More than a third of these lone youngsters come from Romania, arriving overland and hidden in the backs of trucks, often armed only with the telephone number of a relative or a fellow countryman. Albanian minors arrive clandestinely under cover of night on the coast of Le Marche in the east of Italy, after a two-hour trip by boat across the Adriatic Sea with other illegal immigrants. Moroccan children undertake a voyage partly by sea and partly overland through Gibraltar, Spain and France.

There's also an article on the mysterious tribute paid annually to Edgar Allen Poe:
For the 57th year running, a mystery man today paid tribute to Edgar Allan Poe by placing roses and a bottle of cognac on the writer's grave to mark his birthday.
Some of the 25 spectators drawn to a tiny, locked graveyard in downtown Baltimore for the ceremony climbed over the walls of the site and were "running all over the place trying to find out how the guy gets in", according to Jeff Jerome, the most faithful viewer of the event.

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