Wednesday, November 09, 2011
Europe's most "incorrect" Prime Minister finally falls
Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is reportedly set to resign after passing financial reforms promised to EU
ITALIAN Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has become the biggest victim yet of Europe's economic crisis after surviving a career-killing run of gaffes and raunchy sex scandals.
The 75-year-old billionaire, who has led Italy for half of the past 17 years, is the longest serving Italian leader since Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini.
He has been dogged by allegations of bribery and corruption and currently faces three criminal trials - including paying for sex with an underage prostitute and nightclub belly dancer known as Ruby the Heart-Stealer.
He promoted several long-legged beauties to high political positions and has been accused by critics of tainting Italy's image abroad. He recently admitted he was "no saint". Without him, there would be no "Bunga bunga".
Here are the top Berlsuconi gaffes:
1. In 2003, Berlusconi asks US investors to relocate to Italy because Italian secretaries are better looking than US ones. "Another reason to invest in Italy is that we have beautiful secretaries... superb girls."
2. The same year he refers to German MEP Martin Schulz as a concentration camp guard.
"I know that in Italy there is a man producing a film on Nazi concentration camps - I shall put you forward for the role of Kapo (a guard chosen from among the prisoners) - you would be perfect."
3. Italy suffered its biggest earthquake in 30 years in 2009, leaving 17,000 people homeless. On a tour of the tent sites around the quake site, Berlusconi said the victims should see it as a camping trip: "Of course their current lodgings are a bit temporary but they should see it like a weekend of camping."
4. Berlusconi misses a Nato ceremony for fallen soldiers the same year because he was too busy talking on his mobile.
5. At the G20 photo shoot in London in 2009 he yells at US President Barack Obama, earning a rebuke from the Queen: "What is it? Why does he have to shout so loud?"
6. Still with Obama at the G20. Berlusconi tells the world his response to the global economic crisis differs from the president's because "I'm paler". "I’m paler because it's been so long since I went sunbathing. He's more handsome, younger and taller." The year before he calss Obama "handsome, young and also suntanned".
7. In 2006 he manages to offend China: "Read the black book of Communism and you will discover that in the China of Mao, they did not eat children, but had them boiled to fertilise the fields."
8. The year before it was the turn of the Fins. Berlusconi said he had to “dust off my playboy charms” to convince Finland’s female PM to set up the EU Food Safety Authority in Parma.
9. Just last week Berlusconi defied the world'as opinion of Italy’s economy . "Life in Italy is life in a prosperous country. We see that on every occasion, consumption has not gone down, the restaurants are full, you have trouble booking seats on aeroplanes, holiday areas are totally booked out on long weekends. I don’t think that if you went to live in Italy that Italy is feeling anything that could resemble a serious crisis."
10. A wiretap catches Berlusconi bragging about his male prowess. He says he was "doing only eight girls, because I couldn’t do more".
Welcome to the era of the post-moral panic
In our morally unanchored society, elite fearmongers prefer to use so-called science rather than moralism to reshape our behaviour
One question we should ask ourselves is whether it’s possible to have a moral panic at a time when there is no moral consensus. At a time when traditional values are going down the toilet, and when traditional morality no longer holds sway, is it possible to have a panic about ‘folk devils’ who allegedly pose a threat to the moral fabric?
I don’t think it is. Because in order to have a proper moral panic, you need to have some proper morality. You need to have a generally agreed-upon set of moral values that people can be accused of transgressing. And we just don’t have that today. In our era of moral relativism, it is actually increasingly difficult to have an old-fashioned moral panic.
That might sound like good news. No one is really in favour of moral panics, except maybe the Daily Mail. But the tragedy is that moral panics have been replaced by something even worse – by panics underpinned by science rather than by morality. And these new, post-moral panics are having a seriously detrimental impact on society.
What we have seen over the past few years is a massive rupture between panic and morality, a massive dissociation of the politics of fear from any system of moral meaning. These days, panics are not motored by moral sensibilities – they’re motored by scientific claims or health advice or what are presented to us as objective facts.
Consider the panics about young people. In the past, there were moral panics about young people drinking too much, fornicating and being generally depraved. These randy, alcoholic youth were accused of sinning against the natural moral order.
Today, there are still panics about young people’s behaviour, but they’re presented as health advice. So young people are warned off underage sex and sex outside of a committed relationship through adverts telling them they will get chlamydia or gonorrhoea. They’re warned off boozing with graphic photographs of what too much drink might do to their livers.
A society that has no clear moral line on marriage or sex or hedonism is forced to fall back on a grisly, bovine form of moral pressure. Incapable of telling young people what is right and what is wrong, our society prefers to spread panic about physical decay and physical ailments. It appeals to us to modify our behaviour, not in the name of morality and decency, but in the name of protecting our own livers and genitalia from disease.
Often, what we have today is the rehabilitation of old forms of moral disgust in a new pseudo-scientific language. So one of the most unhinged panics of modern times – the panic about the so-called obesity epidemic – is really just the resurrection of the sins of gluttony and sloth. But because society lacks the moral resources to lecture people about being gluttonous and slothful, which would involve making moral judgements and behaving with explicit superiority, it instead spreads all sorts of nonsense about Body Mass Index, calorie counting, and so on.
Even the moral panic about football hooligans, one of the great mad panics of the 1970s and 1980s, has been put through the de-moralisation process and turned into a pseudo-scientific issue. So recently, Cardiff University published a report arguing that gatherings of 70,000 or more football fans are a threat to the environment. Apparently such gatherings leave an eco-footprint 3,000 times the size of the pitch at Wembley. This eco-unfriendly mass of people leaves behind it 37 tonnes of glass and eight tonnes of paper.
It reveals a lot about the moral disarray of today’s cultural elite that even one of their favourite, easiest moral panics, even their disgust with working-class football fans, now has to be swaddled in a kind of neutral academic lingo.
The rise and rise of these post-moral panics has led to some extraordinary double standards in the arena of the politics of fear. Because the new post-moral panic-mongers are often the people who are most sniffy about old-fashioned moral panics promoted by the likes of the Daily Mail.
So the broadsheet journalists who criticise right-wing tabloids and politicians for spreading panic about terrorism are the same ones who argue that actually global warming is going to burn us all to death and it’s all the fault of unthinking people taking too many cheap flights. The people who argue that the working classes are making themselves sick by eating Turkey Twizzlers are the same ones who balk when the Daily Mail says that chavs undermine moral decency.
This double standard was really brought home at the end of October. After the Lib-Con government published its report on the August rioting in England, which revealed that 42 per cent of the rioters had received free school meals, some clever members of the Twitterati started tweeting: ‘Oh I bet I know what the Daily Mail’s headline will be. It will be “Free School Meals Cause Riots”.’ Hilarious, right? But what these Twits forgot is that actually that panic has already been done. Over the past few years, respectable publications like the Times Higher Education have published articles with headlines like ‘Unhealthy school dinners linked to anti-social behaviour’, a fancier way of saying ‘School meals cause rioting’.
So the moralists at the Daily Mail can be slated for even thinking about pursuing a panic that had already been done by others, in post-moral, respectable language, of course. Today, there is no real constituency for traditionalist moral panics – it’s the new post-moral, pseudo-scientific panics that make a big impact.
The post-moral panic-mongers have developed their own language to try to distinguish themselves from their forebears. So where they accuse right-wingers of ‘playing the fear card’, they claim that they are simply trying to ‘raise awareness’. They’re always ‘raising awareness’, whether it’s about the imminent collapse of the biosphere or the gastronomical depravity of the working classes. Where they accuse old-style moral panickers of using shame and stigma, they claim only to be interested in ‘modifying behaviour’. Through such terminology, they seek to make their own playing of the fear card and their moral fury with the little people appear good, decent, driven by expertise rather than moral judgementalism.
There is one really key difference between old moral panics and the new post-moral panics. Where the old moral panics were attempts to express or enforce an already-existing moral outlook, the new post-moral panics are a substitute for any coherent moral outlook. Today, fear is used not as a complement to morality but as a stand-in for morality. We have a situation today where society tries to reconstruct something approaching a moral outlook through fearmongering. This is quite new, and it is giving rise to a situation where basically we have constant panic – one fleeting scare after another, as our superiors try to magic up some behavioural norms and behavioural barriers in our morally bereft society.
As to what impact post-moral panics have on the public – it is a bit weird and contradictory. On one hand, precisely because the new fearmongering is detached from any bigger moral picture it doesn’t have the purchase that the old moral panics had. It doesn’t connect with the public in the same way. The politics of fear is no longer experienced collectively, as it was when we were all told to be scared of the prospect of Hell, but rather is experienced in a super-individuated way, as people are encouraged to panic about their own livers or hearts or waistlines.
But on the other hand, because there are so many post-moral panics, there is a cumulative effect. The fleeting scares build on each other to create a kind of free-floating sense of unease and dread – and often unease and dread about the most mundane things, such as eating and socialising and having half a glass of wine.
Even the moralistic panic-merchants of old never achieved something as destructive as what we have today, courtesy of the pseudo-scientific scaremongering lobby: a kind of everyday, run-of-the-mill doom.
British Government Orders YouTube To Censor Protest Videos
In a frightening example of how the state is tightening its grip around the free Internet, it has emerged that You Tube is complying with thousands of requests from governments to censor and remove videos that show protests and other examples of citizens simply asserting their rights, while also deleting search terms by government mandate.
The latest example is You Tube’s compliance with a request from the British government to censor footage of the British Constitution Group’s Lawful Rebellion protest, during which they attempted to civilly arrest Judge Michael Peake at Birkenhead county court.
Peake was ruling on a case involving Roger Hayes, former member of UKIP, who has refused to pay council tax, both as a protest against the government’s treasonous activities in sacrificing Britain to globalist interests and as a result of Hayes clearly proving that council tax is illegal.
Hayes has embarked on an effort to legally prove that the enforced collection of council tax by government is unlawful because no contract has been agreed between the individual and the state. His argument is based on the sound legal principle that just like the council, Hayes can represent himself as a third party in court and that “Roger Hayes” is a corporation and must be treated as one in the eyes of the law.
The British government doesn’t want this kind of information going viral in the public domain because it is scared stiff of a repeat of the infamous poll tax riots of 1990, a massive tax revolt in the UK that forced the Thatcher government to scrap the poll tax altogether because of mass civil disobedience and refusal to pay.
When viewers in the UK attempt to watch videos of the protest, they are met with the message, “This content is not available in your country due to a government removal request.”
We then click through to learn that, “YouTube occasionally receives requests from governments around the world to remove content from our site, and as a result, YouTube may block specific content in order to comply with local laws in certain countries.”
You can also search by country to discover that Google, the owner of You Tube, has complied with the majority of requests from governments, particularly in the United States and the UK, not only to remove You Tube videos, but also specific web search terms and thousands of “data requests,” meaning demands for information that would reveal the true identity of a You Tube user. Google claims that the information sent to governments is “needed for legitimate criminal investigations,” but whether these “data requests” have been backed up by warrants is not divulged by the company.
“Between July 1 and Dec. 31 (2009), Google received 3,580 requests for user data from U.S. government agencies, slightly less than the 3,663 originating from Brazil,” reports PC World. “The United Kingdom and India sent more than 1,000 requests each, and smaller numbers originated from various other countries.”
With regard to search terms, one struggles to understand how a specific combination of words in a Google search can be considered a violation of any law. This is about government and Google working hand in hand to manipulate search results in order to censor inconvenient information, something which Google now freely admits to doing.
You Tube’s behavior is more despicable than the Communist Chinese, who are at least open about their censorship policies, whereas You Tube hides behind a blanket excuse and doesn’t even say what law has been broken.
Anyone who swallows the explanation that the videos were censored in this case because the government was justifiably enforcing a law that says scenes from inside a court room cannot be filmed is beyond naive. Court was not even in session in the protest footage that was removed, and the judge had already left the courtroom.
The real reason for the removal is the fact that the British government is obviously petrified of seeing a group of focused and educated citizens, black, white, old and young, male and female, go head to head with the corrupt system on its own stomping ground.
In their efforts to keep a lid on the growing populist fury that has arrived in response to rampant and growing financial and political tyranny in every sector of society, governments in the west are now mimicking Communist Chinese-style Internet censorship policies in a bid to neutralize protest movements, while hypocritically lecturing the rest of the world on maintaining web freedom.
Via a combination of cybersecurity legislation and policy that is hastily introduced with no real oversight, governments and large Internet corporations are crafting an environment where the state can simply demand information be removed on a whim with total disregard for freedom of speech protections.
Poppy ban on England football stars is an outrage, says PM
Banning England's footballers from wearing a poppy on their shirts is an outrage, David Cameron said yesterday. The Prime Minister told the sport's ruling body to reverse its 'absurd' ruling against 'political' symbols.
Fifa is thought to have made the decision to avoid offence being given to German players and fans. Team chiefs in Berlin insisted however they could not understand the decision, which was revealed in the Daily Mail last weekend.
Mr Cameron said: 'This seems outrageous. The idea that wearing a poppy to remember those who have given their lives for our freedom is a political act is absurd. 'Wearing a poppy is an act of huge respect and national pride. I hope that Fifa will reconsider.'
His intervention increases the pressure for the ruling to be overturned in time for England's friendly against Spain on Saturday.
Fifa bosses apparently feared problems if England ever faced Germany in a fixture around Remembrance Day. They worried that the poppies could cause tensions between the sportsmen of two nations who have twice fought world wars.
That argument lay in tatters after Wolfgang Niersbach, general secretary of the German Football Federation, said he fully backed England's move to have the symbols stitched on to their shirts. 'I am totally surprised [by the suggestion German people may be offended], because it just hasn't been mentioned here,' he said. 'To my mind, this is a decision for England to make, and we would be happy for them to make it. 'The Federation has not heard of, or been involved in, any discussions about poppies and whether England should be allowed to wear them on Saturday.
'I cannot imagine we would have any objection to the idea of England's players having poppies on their shirts. It just wouldn't be a problem.' He said his federation had not even been contacted by Swiss-based Fifa over the issue.
Sports minister Hugh Robertson yesterday wrote to Fifa asking it to reconsider allowing England and Wales to wear the poppy emblem this Saturday. In a letter to Jerome Valcke, Fifa general secretary, he said: 'The British public feel very strongly about this issue which is seen as an act of national remembrance to commemorate those who gave their lives in the service of their country.
'It is not religious or political in any way. Wearing a poppy is a display of national pride, just like wearing your country's football shirt.'
But a Fifa spokesman insisted: 'Such initiatives would open the door to similar initiatives from all over the world, jeopardising the neutrality of football.' The governing body decrees that shirts should not carry political, religious or commercial messages.
Instead, it has allowed a period of silence to be held before Wembley's England friendly, which comes the day before Remembrance Sunday.
England midfielder Jack Wilshere wrote on social networking website Twitter: 'My great granddad fought for this country in WW2 and I'm sure a lot of peoples grandparents did. 'England team should wear poppies on Saturday. It's the nation's tradition and it would be disrespectful not to.' Midfielder Frank Lampard and other players in the team are also deeply unhappy.
The Poppy Appeal is in its 90th year and is run by the Royal British Legion to raise money to help thousands of serving and ex-servicemen and women and their families.
Last year it raised £36million. Patrick Mercer, a former Army officer and Tory MP, said: 'It is telling that our former foe is happy to honour those who have laid down their lives for peace. They are riding to our rescue. It is absolutely tremendous news.
'Again it shows the extent to which Fifa have taken their eye off the ball. There is nothing political, religious or xenophobic about the poppy. It symbolises sacrifice which is something Germany understands. It is a disgrace Fifa apparently does not.'
Colonel Richard Kemp, who commanded British forces in Afghanistan, said: 'This symbol does not seek to perpetuate historic animosities nor to glorify war.'
Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.
American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.
For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here or Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.