Category Archives: World Politics

Time for a new Papa

Tonight the Catholic cardinals chose a new pope, or “Il Papa” as they call him here in Italy.


We are watching live television coverage, awaiting to know the nationality of the new Papa as well as the name he chooses. It will be interesting to watch the changes the new papal leadership has on Italy. Meanwhile, the Italian newscasters are passing time much the same as they likely are around the world, discussing the presumed front runners, making vague statements about the consequences of each front runner being elected, and discussing mundane details such as “Where will the new Papa sleep toight?” Surely not in the pontiff’s apartment already?!!

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Sunday News Edition

While the mind-numbingly juvenile back and forth of the U.S. political machine drones on, here are are few snippets that are more compelling, interesting, and have a certain joie de vivre…

Pussy Riot sentenced to two years …joie de vivre might lead to jailtime, but freedom has never been truly free now, has it?

Speaking of things that aren’t truly free, the Blackfeet tribe has opened its land to oil exploration, a decision that was controversial even among tribe members. As my father-in-law points out, it isn’t always pleasant to think about the sacrifices that are made around the world to fuel the cars and planes we use to visit these beautiful places. Fuel consumption has been the albatross around my neck since moving to Sicily. Whereas I went the entire month of May 2011 without driving my car once, I now put on at least 200 miles a week. Ugh.

…while it might not have been an active prejudice, it was still there.

Akio Suyematsu has passed away. I stood under the gaze of this then-living legend during my volunteer work on Bainbridge Island, Washington. A wise soul whose humility was so pervasive as to be invisible, but for those who knew even a part of his history, instant admiration was a sure result. His obituary was passed on to me this week.

Reading this blog post and any of the articles just made your mind that much more nimble, so says the Harvard Business Review.

Have a great day!

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Berlusconi, Berlusconi


Wow – there is so much going on in the world at large that sometimes I have to take my head out of the Sicilian sand (a.k.a. lava rock, ancient ruins and temples) and realize that according to contemporary media, Italy is on the verge of financial collapse.

And, then, I look around me and realize that there is a 3-day gas strike going on, too. Yep, no fuel sales for three days (except the Agip by the base today) – unless my interpretations are incorrect and the strike is next week. This is completely possible because Italians (and many Europeans) plan strikes ahead of time. The goal is to cause enough discomfort that complaints reach high up, but not to inconvenience the everyman (who is the hero of the strike, after all).

The La Repubblica article I link to (in English!) writes the tale of the Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde character Berlusconi has always been – balancing his personal financial interests with Italy’s financial interests. But is that a balance that can actually be achieved? Perhaps not, as indications abound that Berlusconi may finally step down.

Here at the Cinquecento Project, Berlusconi has been a symbol of the enigmatic Italian people. The people whose artistic essences and poetic souls created the conglomeration of villages and regions into this great nation we know as Italy. Like Berlusconi, Italians are known for being outrageous in completely contradictory terms. Women are known for holding the family together – dinner at Mama’s; yet boys are the uncontested darlings of Italian society and Italians have their own brand of machismo. Forward thinking and open talk are pillars of the warm and expressive Italian society; yet the dominant Catholic religion maintains strict norms on social behaviors (that are largely believed, if loosening in response to economic demands on families).

While Berlusconi has mirrored the enigma of the Italian people, he has largely inspired mild disgust in me. I turn my nose and then I turn my head. I do not vote in Italy. While I am interested in world politics, I have little interest in dissecting or critiquing Berlusconi’s actions, because I can only gauge them against my values and social norms. And, my values and social norms are decidedly not Italian. Well, not yet.

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