"Buon Giorno e Buon Anno!" Welcome to the only newsletter that believes you can shoot the messenger for ruining your day, "Only In Italy!"
Oh-oh, haven't you read? Obama has put an Italian as head of the CIA. I thought Obama was smart! Oh well, bye-bye America. I'm sure I don't have to elaborate of past Italian imbroglios of relationships with America...do I? Nick
Thanks for the letter, Nick.
We can understand your concern of President Obama's hiring of an Italian of Calabrese roots to be the head of the CIA. However; we feel Signore Leon Panetta will do a good job and make Italy proud of him.
After all, Obama and Signore Panetta share a passion for hot spicy food! Ever try hot peperoncino from Calabria on your food?
Enjoy the issue, keep writing and Grazie!
Rome - December 30, 2008 - Italy's state airline Alitalia went bankrupt because it suffered from "illusions of grandeur" and acted way beyond its means, according to the carrier's government-appointed administrator.
"Alitalia was much too big and costly for the amount of revenue it was capable of generating," Augusto Fantozzi said in an interview.
"Alitalia paid three times as much for everything. If a crew had to be picked up three cars were sent, on the grounds that one could get a flat tire and another suffer engine failure. A total waste of money," he added.
Fantozzi admitted that Alitalia's unions complicated his efforts to sell the airline's flight operations, after it was declared bankrupt in August, because they were "more interested in a power play".
"The unions were playing games, some agreeing to conditions for a sale while others held out for better conditions," he explained.
"The pilots made the biggest mistake. They could have seen their professionalism rewarded but preferred to lock horns in a power struggle, a battle to see who was stronger than whom. This instead of making a case of how indispensable they were," Fantozzi added. The ANPAC pilots union, he observed, "was its own worst enemy".
Now that Alitalia's flight division has been sold to Compagnia Aerea Italiana (CAI), a group of private Italian investors, Fantozzi is now left with the task of selling or liquidating Alitalia's other assets. The administrator admitted that the airline's debts were far greater than the value of its assets and recalled that its accounts were the subject of several judicial investigations.
"Debts total some 3.2 billion euros. Aside from what we get from CAI (1.052 billion euros), we can count on the revenue from the sale of the cargo business, maintenance services and call centers... for a total of some 500-700 million euros," Fantozzi said.
"Then we have land at (Rome's) Fiumicino airport and five or six apartments around the world," he added.
It may take as much as seven years to totally liquidate the national carrier, "although I hope to take care of the lion's share long before then," Fantozzi said. As far as his own compensation was concerned, Fantozzi said "I'm not greedy but I'm no fool either and I have no intention of working for free".
In regard to the controversial figure of 15 million euros cited by the press, Fantozzi said "it could be that but it could also be less. The amount will take into consideration how much debt there was, what the value of the assets were and how much I am able to recover. The premier's office must still decide how much I get"."Cacchio", is this the 16th or 17th act of a "coglione" busting opera that appears to go on and on with no singing fat lady in view?
Would you consider Alitalia a airline? Of course not!
Alitalia is a case study in how crappy and incompetent management, short-sighted unions, and self serving whore politicians can work in harmony to sink a major so-called company. Here's how it's done:
First, run the airline in such a way that it won't possibly make any money. Start with the classics like lost luggage and canceling overbooked flights.
Then bring in a new and overpaid pizza management team that proposes (sensibly) big cuts in Alitalia's bloated and inexperienced employee ranks (example: Hire 3 employees for each service job; one to do half the job and the other two on standby in case of death or disease).
Watch unions bare their cavity-ridden fangs by threatening strikes and leaning on politicians, until the government caves in and writes Alitalia a big check to keep the brothel going without job cuts (example: 100 flights were scrapped on December 22 and another 40 on December 23, 2008 as the extremely selfish employees decided to walk off the job and take out their frustrations on innocent passengers).
Rinse and repeat annually for 20 years!
Rome - December 31, 2008 - A leading consumer protection association has asked that sales of a non-alcoholic imitation champagne be banned because it is targeted for children and is potentially dangerous.
After running its own tests on the beverages, Codacons filed an official complaint with health authorities against the drink, which named after the popular Italian cartoon characters Winx.
The group claims the beverage has excessive levels of acesulfame potassium, an artificial sweetener, which is suspected of being carcinogenic because it has caused leukemia and lymphoma in rats in laboratory tests. It said that the drink also contains the sweetener cyclamic acid, which is another suspected of carcinogen links to testicular tumors. An artificial coloring agent in the drink has been found to cause liver damage and is banned in Austria, Norway and Sweden, Codacons added.
The Winx characters, created by Italian cartoonist Iginio Straffi, are a group of teenage girl fairies who study magic at a school in the world of Alfea. They dress like hip teenagers, tussle with adolescent-type problems and frequently save the world from the powers of evil.
The Winx are very popular among girls from five to 12 and are the subject of a TV cartoon series, a stage musical and a feature-length film.
"Cazzo, what a tough day in elementary school. I need a stiff Disney drink."
The day is quite long so you have to give something to these kids to do otherwise they make you want to tear the badly colored hair out of your head. There are no extra-curricular activities in Italian public schools (for lack of funding, interests and brains).
There is no music,
And you can't motivate the cute little tired bastards into taking initiatives for 19% of them do not eat anything for breakfast.
And to no one's surprise, there is a student government which is mandated by law, but only two class representatives (plus two for the entire school) are elected per year, and learn to do the absolute minimum just like the older children in the Italian Parliament.
Therefore; when you're badgered into selecting a political party at the age of six, chances are you'll be tapping the wine casks in your grandfather's basement to get away from the trauma.
"Bella Italia!" Nothing like watching Italian children puking all over their cartoon character trading cards when they've had one grappa too many at lunch time.
Genoa - December 30, 2008 - Officially, Gaetano Malia is a building worker who has been unemployed since February. Luciana is a housewife with a minimum pension and serious diabetes issues. Nicolò Catania is a retired factory worker. Pensioner Antonio Pertichini's wife is an invalid. Maria Grazia Licheri is a full-time granny to three grandchildren.
Yesterday, they met as arranged outside the Via Airaghi post office in Prà, a district in the west of Genoa, at a quarter to one. In all, there were thirty of them with an average age of about seventy. They are the anti-Post Office pensioners' hit squad, the oldies from the CEP, the Italian acronym for social housing units. One of the districts that were put up in the 1970s or thereabouts, CEP is a wasteland of low-quality concrete tower blocks with no services, no shops and potholed roads. It has had problems since it was built.
On 12 December, the postal service shut the only office serving CEP's 6,000 residents. A sign appeared on the door to announce that it had been closed after a "criminal event", a robbery on 11 December. The nearest post office is five kilometers, and two bus rides, away in Via Airaghi, where yesterday the CEP pensioners staged their protest. They called it Operation Tortoise, partly because the protest hinges on slowness and partly because tortoises have faces as lined and wrinkly as those of the demonstrators. The plan was for thirty protesters to turn up every day at closing time and keep the counter staff busy by asking all sorts of questions.
From one o'clock to three, under the eyes of watching police and Carabinieri officers, the protest continued as the smiles on the three counter clerks' faces began to slip. Maria Grazia says: "We fought to get a post office ten years ago and we aren't about to lose it now. The robbery was just a pretext".
Each protester was equipped with a sheet of instructions, printed by the CEP district's former chemist Carlo Besana, explaining how to waste counter staff's time. Questions to ask included: "What will happen to my post office account when I die?" One or two protesters touched wood just in case but why not? Everything went as planned, with a little bit of extemporization: "My son works abroad. Can he withdraw money with the Bancoposta ATM card?" "How much will it cost him?" "And if he worked in China?" "Is there a Post Office in China?" First into the breach was Nicolò Catania, 70, a former steelworker and CGIL trade unionist. He asked to speak to the manager: "I've got 100,000 euros and I want to open an account. What interest will you give me? Is that all? It isn't small change. And what if I'm not happy and want to close the account. How much will it cost?"
Pensioner and manager looked each other in the eyes. Both knew there was no 100,000 euros but they kept up the charade. It was good fun for a while. Mr Catania's contribution lasted eighteen minutes but Susanna beat his record, spending twenty-three minutes at the counter before she took pity on the clerk and left. Given the average age and infirmity of the protesters, some had brought with them a folding chair, a bottle of water and paper cups. They lingered at the counters, making one-euro contributions to the postal account of Emergency or the Gigi Ghirotti hospice, being careful to ask for the discounted rate of commission: "I'm over 70. I'm entitled to a discount". They even had a slogan to chant: "I haven't got a knife or a gun at my hip. My offensive weapon is a pay-in slip". In the afternoon, the Post Office admitted defeat. The CEP post office will re-open on 12 January "after work to make it secure".
The president of the regional authority who had written to the minister, Claudio Scajola, and to the Post Office management, expressed satisfaction: "Closure of the office is unacceptable". Mr Burlando went on: "It's a victory for ordinary people. It makes no sense for the regional authority, the municipality and voluntary associations to expend their energies on CEP if the only signal from central government is the closure of an essential service". The pensioners' hit squad was all set to descend on the post office again on 2 January but now that won't be necessary.
"Excuse me, grandissimi figli di puttane, will it be possible to pay this phone bill before the next government falls?"
Enter the mesmerizing world of any Italian post office and you'll find two or three incredibly long lines or a huddle of people all waiting for the same thing. No, not stamps but to pay bills such as taxes and utilities and withdraw pension payments.
Part of the problem is that it's a befuddled system that tries to do too many things...and badly!
As in other European countries, in Italy the post office functions as a kind of government bank. As you can already imagine (while laughing), this banking function leads to chaos and long lines, especially during the early part of the month when all the senior citizens (and perfectly healthy, conniving, rat-bastard Italians who swindled the government into giving them disability pensions) show up to collect their pension money.
And, in the early years, it somehow never occurred to the "eggplant parmigiana" in authority somewhere to separate postal functions from banking functions: "Porca miseria", No! It's the SAME line, SAME window, whether you're paying a bill, collecting a pension, trying to mail a letter, or bad mouthing your next door neighbor and her whore of a daughter simply because they exist.
After much worry and concern about the Italian people and how they should conduct themselves in public, a small brainstorm by the other eggplants in charge brought about the solution of a sophistication of the post office and that was a client-number waiting system...just like the ones at busy delicatessens.
You go in, pull a numbered ticket out of a yellow machine on the wall and wait until your number is displayed above the teller's window. This sounds like a civil idea that could bring a tear of joy, but in practice the service is even slower than before. All it does is accomplish the devious and sneaky psychological feat of making the customers feel as if they're going to be attended to soon. In fact all it does is take the immediate pressure off the lazy and useless clerks.
"Vaffanculo", now they operate at an even slower pace and find an additional ten reasons to do anything except their remedial postal tasks.