Tag: Italy

Thursday Links

Time to clear out my tabs.

  • Barack Obama visited a mosque this week to denounce anti-Muslim violence. Anti-Muslim violence is a real and deplorable thing. But the majority of ethnic violence around the world is anti-Semitic and it’s not really close. In France, Jews are fleeing the country for Israel due to waves of violence.
  • MLK’s “I Have a Dream” speech is one of the most iconic and important speeches in American history. It’s not good enough, college students say, because it doesn’t include gender identity.
  • Last week was School Choice Week over at Reason. And I’d like to point out that School Choice works. Check out the performance of Louisiana schools since Jindal’s overhaul.
  • Italy covered up some nude statues to avoid “offending” Iranian visitors (interestingly, without Iran having asked for it). Marc Randazza lets them have it.
  • South Africa is going to lift the ban on trading rhino horn in an attempt to save the species from total collapse. Environmentalists are aghast. I think it can’t work worse than their current conservation efforts.
  • The latest on potential breakthroughs in nuclear power. Any serious attack on global warming should start with nuclear power. Hell, any serious energy policy at all should start with it, even if we ignore global warming.
  • Trumps whining and crying is delicious. I’m very curious to see how the national polls look next week.

Down Goes Europe


The euro zone debt crisis dragged the bloc into its second recession since 2009 in the third quarter despite modest growth in Germany and France, data showed on Thursday.

The French and German economies both managed 0.2 percent growth in the July-to-September period but their resilience could not save the 17-nation bloc from contraction as the likes of The Netherlands, Spain, Italy and Austria shrank.

Economic output in the euro zone fell 0.1 percent in the quarter, following a 0.2 percent drop in the second quarter.

Those two quarters of contraction put the euro zone’s 9.4 trillion euro ($12 trillion) economy back into recession, although Italy and Spain have been contracting for a year already and Greece is suffering an outright depression.

This has an effect on our export of course. And given this week’s surge in jobless claims and the looming fiscal cliff, we could be looking at real trouble ahead.

The usual suspects are blaming “austerity” but that ignores the critical point: Europe is not the United States. We have a little leeway in how much money we can borrow (although that leeway is running out). Europe does not. Whether it’s good for the economy or bad, budget balancing is something they have no choice about.

That having been said, I’m curious about what the future brings. Economist are projecting a further contraction in Q4 followed by a stagnant 2013. But this will test their theories. If the Europeans can get their finances under control, this could work like the Reagan recession did — an awful hangover from years of bad fiscal policy followed by an expansion. The crisis Reagan faced was different: it was monetary, rather than fiscal. But they share an underlying truth: swallowing a bitter pill for future solvency.

(Of course, all bets are off if the Germans and French get tired of being dragged into the mire by the PIIGS.)

Protests and marches are going on around the Continent but I’m not sure what they expect. There’s no magic money tree the EU can shake to make this “austerity” unnecessary. The Euros are running out of Euros. Protesting and marching in the streets is not going to change that reality.

Italian Jobbed

One thing I appreciated from murderess Casey Anthony is that she had the good sense to get lost. Knowing that she got away with murder, and everyone knew that she got away with murder, she had thanked her good fortune and decided not to rub our nose’s in it by making a public spectacle of herself. I was hoping that Amanda Knox would follow suit. Although I am in the minority (thinking she and her squeeze was complicit in Kercher’s death)she came back to a hero’s welcome. And considering both her and her family are up to their neck in debt, a quiet secluded life was not in the cards. And considering how much litigation is a foot (Kercher family suing Knox for wrongful death, Lumumba taking his suit to the European Court of Human Rights, Knox’s parents charged with criminal slander by Italian court and must appear back in Italy early next year, and the forensics specialist that got her DNA work thrown out is suing everyone for damages to her reputation) Knox can’t avoid the spotlight.

We are also learning about her 4 year prison stint, and how her prison guards not only took inappropriate liberties, but resorted to clearly actionable behavior:

ABC News reported the American exchange student claims she was subjected to numerous incidents in which prison officials took liberties with her in a below-the-belt manner: On one occasion, a male guard broke policy and entered her cell alone and made sexually-based remarks; another incident consisted of a high-ranking authority at the prison calling her in his office for a late night meeting in which he wanted to talk about sex.
Most shockingly, the 24-year-old said she was falsely told she was HIV Positive by prison officials, who forced her to compose a list of all the sexual partners she’d had — a list that was subsequently leaked to Italian media and published.

What a bunch of perv’s.

I was always under the impression that Italy was a civilized country, but what are male guards doing watching and supervising female prisoners? Do doubt the sensationalism of the case (and the fact that she was American) proved too much for the any expectations of normal stay, no, she got the full treatment. And that HIV stunt, what bastards, that hand was played purely for sadistic reasons. We all knew that Knox was a “player”, and the list that she felt compelled to compile was probably single spaced, but the whole process (and linking the list to the press), those guys are no better then some Sharia court.

The article mentions the possibility of legal action in this manner, but a trip back to Italy would be required and many Italians are fuming mad about this whole sordid affair, thinking that “Foxy Knoxy” got special treatment because she was an American.

In the earlier thread Poosh had mentioned that the judge was either being brought up on charges or was convicted of corruption, but the Knox trial and how it was adjudicated does not put the Italian judicial process in a good light. And now this stuff we learn about those masochistic prison guards. I know Italy is little better then Greece wrt their debt problems, but they have been around for a while, what would Lucretius, Seneca, or even Gaius Julius think about what their nation has evolved into?

Knox Released


In a ruling read to a tension-filled courtroom, an Italian jury on Monday cleared Amanda Knox of murder and other charges, nearly four years after she was arrested on suspicion of having killed her roommate in this picturesque Italian university town.

There was an audible gasp in the courtroom as the verdict was read, then an eruption of emotion, prompting the judge to call for silence. Knox herself was nearly hysterical, according to CNN’s Matthew Chance, and had to be assisted out of the courtroom by two people.

I’ve been casually following the case and I my opinion was been expressed by Bill James: nothing will restore your confidence in the American system of criminal justice than watching that of another country. This seemed a case built more on sensation and innuendo than evidence.

But I’m interested in your opinions. Murderess or victim?

Get ready for a stock market hammering today..

And it’s this time mostly courtesy of our Western European socialist economies that have wasted 2 years trying to pretend they can keep the EU together AND keep their craddle-to-grave socialist nanny states. But alas, the end is near:

For two years now, Eurozone leaders have tried to deny reality, concocting one temporary bailout scheme after another in an effort to sweep Europe’s budget problems under the rug. But this game is nearing its end, says Rupal Ruparel of London-based think-tank OpenEurope.

A crisis that began in countries like Greece that seemed too small to worry about has now spread to countries like Spain and Italy that are big enough to take the whole Eurozone down. The only way to actually solve the problems, says Ruparel, is to acknowledge the facts: “Austerity” programs won’t help countries pay back their debts. Either the whole Eurozone has to combine its fiscal spending–a solution in which German taxpayers would pay for Greece’s deficits–or the debts have to be restructured.

Ruparel believes the “fiscal unity” solution is politically untenable. So that leaves restructuring. A planned restructuring will be painful, Ruparel says, but it will be a lot less painful than a market-forced one. And the sooner Europe’s leaders acknowledge this and get cracking, the better.

We are running out of other people’s money. In Europe they already have massive systems of wealth transfers that would make US demcorats swoon, and yet, they still have not been able to make their nanny states fiscally solvent. Even the Germans are coming to grips with the reality that while on their own they might have lasted a few more decades, the rest of the Eurozone will drag them down in a matter of years if not months.

Get ready for a bumpy ride as the world’s sock markets react to this reality and stocks likely plunge again today. of course, this is all “bad luck” to the collectivists, not the fact that the nonsense they believe in can’t work.

UPDATE: And if the European concerns aren’t enough to make the stock market take a tumble, we get some more ”bad luck”, from team Obama, where the community organizer is now not only trying to blame Wall Street, and not Washington D.C. and himself, for the economic morass we are in, but suggesting we should spend a lot more yet again!. Isn’t the definition of insanity that you are trying to do the exact same stupid shit over and over again, and expecting this time to produce different results?

Scapegoating: Not Just for Backwards Micronations Anymore

Not too long ago there were a few stories here and there, rather bemused over a small nation where the ruling council, in a bit of disgrace, decided to have a literal scapegoat ritual. It wasn’t a very big deal, and I can’t even seem to find it in the news archives anymore. (As you might imagine, googling things like “scapegoat” and “small nation” tends to turn up mostly stuff like people blubbering about how America murdered Osama bin Laden.)

The reason I bring this up is that apparently Italy thought this was a really good idea, only since they’re so much more sophisticated and intelligent than some Backwardsistan, they decided to throw some actual people to the wolves instead.

Six Italian seismologists and one government official will be tried for the manslaughter of those who died in an earthquake that struck the city of L’Aquila on 6 April 2009.

See, turns out these guys took a look at their seismic readings and told everyone that a full-on quake wasn’t likely. Turns out they were wrong, quake happened, people died. Well, fuck. That’s a tragedy, but these things happen in science. You screw up, you make mistakes, then you publish anyway and try to paint anyone that disagrees as equivalent to Holocaust deniers oops, sorry, wrong science, nevermind. But anyway, yeah, misreadings happen all the time, (some) scientists admit when they’re wrong, there is no such thing as an absolute scientific discipline. (Except, as mathematicians would eagerly point out, mathematics. I call bullshit, if something is an absolute you can’t have “Swedish-style algebra” or what-the-fuck-ever.)

Try telling that to a bunch of Europeans who have been raised believing that personal responsibility is someone else’s problem.

At the time of the 31 March 2009 meeting, seismic activity had been going on in the area for more than three months, causing alarm in the population. De Bernardinis summoned the meeting and asked the scientists to assess the risk of a major earthquake and its possible consequences. The meeting was followed by a press conference by De Bernardinis and Barberi, where the two reassured the population that the seismic sequence did not necessarily hint at a major earthquake. De Bernardinis, in particular, appeared on television saying that “the scientific community tells me there is no danger, because there is an ongoing discharge of energy. The situation looks favorable”. A major earthquake did hit on April 6 though, killing 309 people. In the aftermath, many citizens quoted those statements as the reason they did not take precautionary measures, such as fleeing their homes. According to the accusation, many people who would otherwise leave the area decided to stay, and were eventually killed in the collapse of their houses.

Really, the most that you could say here is that De Bernardinis overrepresented the scientists’ assurances. It sounds like they told him the readings didn’t necessarily indicate a quake, and he decided that sounded better as “There won’t be a quake”, but even then it sounds like he worked in those “most likely”s and so on. People elected to stay in a region that had been undergoing months of seismic activity supposedly on his word alone, and this is supposedly the sole reason they were still there when the actual quake hit.

So okay, you can maybe make a case for trying De Bernardinis. It was his job, after all, to counsel people properly on their safety. If they could determine that his language was sufficiently placating to give people a false sense of safety, then you know what? Fine. Even if it is rather scapegoat-ish, why not hold a public servant accountable when he screws up? (It’d certainly be a refreshing change of pace if we did it over here.) Actually trying him for manslaughter seems rather extreme, but it’s their country, their standards, fine.

The problem comes in indicting every scientist they could apparently get ahold of that was involved in this. Not only is it blatantly scapegoating them, to give the people an outlet for their pain and rage, it is telling the scientific community “You are not allowed to be wrong, and if you are wrong we will make you suffer for it.” A fairly anti-science view from the supposedly enlightened Europians, don’t you think? This would be like if every time some American journal of health or whatnot put out a study saying “Eggs are actually deadly poison! Eat an egg and you’ll instantly fall over dead!”, we rounded up everyone that had ever been involved with the last journal of health that said “Eggs are vital to continued existence! If you aren’t eating an egg within the next five minutes, I hope you’ve lived a life without regret!” and put them through a public show trial before tossing them in jail for a few years.

Like the villains in some console RPG or dramatic TV show, Italy has a bunch of mourning, angry people on their hands, and has decided that the best way to deal with that is to give them someone to hate. The trial will be as much of a chance for Italians to focus that anger and helplessness into hate for specific faces (that are most definitely not their current government officials), able to tune in every day and see these guys being marched into the courthouse, and to either see them triumphantly convicted for their “crimes” or rage at them for escaping justice if they’re acquitted. Either way, their emotions are given vent, and they go home from the circus with their pockets full of bread.

As techdirt says:

That seems crazy, but the judge refused to dismiss the case, and it will apparently start this fall. What’s next? Will someone sue the weatherman for being wrong?

I might have gone for the Galileo reference myself, but either way. Ultimately it comes down to “I listened to some bad advice and I did something stupid. I don’t want that to be my fault. You find someone else’s fault for it to be for me.” A popular viewpoint in certain circles.