Silvio Berlusconi

At the turn of the twentieth century, Gabriele D'Annunzio was as famous as any writer alive and certainly as well-sexed. If his personal example was naughty, his political example was dangerous.

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History repeats itself first as tragedy, then as farce.

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Another month, another EU Summit. And once again, markets are judging the compromise as, at best, incomplete—at worst, disastrously insufficient. On top of everything else, the new agreement has managed to formally isolate Britain from the other 26 EU member states. (British euroskeptics are applauding their country's newfound estrangement, but more considered commentators realize the situation is fraught.) So is Europe ultimately doomed to all that jazz about euro breakup and financial apocalypse? Not quite.

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Sabina Began, a German-born topless model, has became a microcelebrity in the Italian press for her role in Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s notorious bunga bunga parties. Those very parties may now have gotten her in trouble. An investigation is underway to determine whether she rounded up prostitutes for Berlusconi’s guests. Began’s denying those allegations—but earlier this week, she positively gushed to Italian Vanity Fair about her personal liaisons with Berlusconi, saying she fell in love with him within hours of their first meeting.

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While the United States resolved its own (manufactured) brush with default last week, global stocks have continued to slide on the more legitimate threat posed by the sorry fiscal state of several European countries. Greece was the recipient of a major euro zone bailout at the tail end of July—but concerns over its financial stability remain. Spain and Portugal are also facing serious questions, as are Ireland and Iceland.

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Belarus Betrayal

On December 19, citizens in the former Soviet republic of Belarus will head to polls to vote in the country’s presidential election, the fourth since 1994. But Belarusians don’t have any real hope of unseating incumbent Alexander Lukashenko, who has ruled the country with an iron fist since winning the presidency 16 years ago. Widely known as “Europe’s Last Dictator,” Lukashenko has cracked down on independent media, routinely broken up public protests, and “disappeared” prominent opposition leaders.

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Personally, I believe that Silvio Berlusconi is the best prime minister that Italy has had in years. And certainly the most interesting. Now, being the Italian p.m. is not exactly an honor, given the number of them who've served in the office, especially since the collapse of the Mussolini dictatorship during the Second World War. But Cavour was the first premier of the United Kingdom of Italy, and he was certainly a distinguished intellectual. On the other hand, he died in 1861, two and a half months into office.

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Sentence of the Day

From The Sun's report of the attack on Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi: Mr. Berlusconi's office yesterday denied reports that he doodled pictures of women's underwear in climate talks in Brussels last week.

Annals of Berlusconi

Italy's top court has decided that Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is not immune from prosecution, and political analysts are speculating that his corrupt, absurd reign will soon come to an end. Berlusconi struck back at his critics yesterday. Here is Rachel Donadio's brief summary in today's New York Times: Mr. Berlusconi said he had no plans to step down. “I am the best prime minister ever,” he said at a news conference on Friday, Italian news media reported.

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I love The New Republic, even when I disagree with its gifted writers. This is not the case of Alexander Stille's "The Prime Minister of WTF" about Silvio Berlusconi's performance at the last G20 meeting in Europe. I loved the funny TNR headline, but the article is ridiculous, something good for The National Enquirer, not for a serious publication.

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