Wednesday, January 28, 2009
Thursday, January 22, 2009
Scandal investigation motivated by a political bias
Tuesday, May 30, 2006
There remains only 10 days before the world comes to a standstill to watch 32 of the very best national soccer teams go head to head in the most prestigious and challenging tournament in sport. Among the favorites to win the World Cup in Germany this summer are the 23 men called up to play for the Italian national team. However, with the recent match fixing scandal to emerge just a month before the pride of the nation is to take the field in Germany to try and win their first International trophy in over 20 years, their morale could very well be drained and their focus completely shaken. Undoubtedly, the work of the magistrates and Judiciary to tackle this recent emergence of corruption is vital to cleaning up the sport and instilling confidence in one of the sports most respected domestic leagues. However, Italian society is never as one sided as either party would want people to believe and although those who have done wrong should be punished, questions must be raised about the motivation behind the committee set up to administer these punishments
Fabio Capello, the coach of the condemned Old Lady of Italian football – Juventus, made an interesting comment during an interview with journalists for La Gazzetta Dello Sport. "This situation can be compared to the bribesville scandal of the 1990’s, as Juventus is just like the Italian Socialist Party of that time and are being targeted for similar offences." It is unclear what Capello truly meant by his comments as some argue he was simply stating the obvious correlations between the cleanup operation of corruption that was taking place in the sport to that of the political one 16 years ago while others suggest he was hinting of some sort of political bias as the true motivation behind the crackdown. It should be made perfectly clear that the world of soccer has condemned Luciano Moggi, Juventus and anyone else who has been involved in the scandal and rightfully so. However, there are indications that the team assigned to hand justice down and make soccer a fair playing field once again are involved in much more than the upholding of simple ethics.
The political scandal of the 1990’s was an epic time in Italy as the grip certain politicians, businessmen and criminals had on society was beginning to unravel and in doing so exposed an alarming network of secret dealings, payoffs, pressure tactics and widespread corruption that was out of control even for Italy’s standards. Benito Craxi, leader of the Italian Socialist Party which was in power at the time was accused of helping prominent businessmen, such as Silvio Berlusconi, who would go on to become Prime Minister of the country twice, in gaining additional access and use of government media networks which helped enrich Berlusconi considerably. The list of additional accusations is quite long but suffices to say the investigation found that there was significant involvement of members of organized crime and that the corruption was truly embedded in all areas of Italian society. The investigation, called the clean hands campaign was initiated and carried out by Milan magistrates and led by a prominent member of the Judiciary at the time, Francesco Saverio Borrelli. No one can deny the importance of the work carried out by Borrelli and the Milan magistrates during the scandal but it has been argued, more acutely by members of the business community and certain right wing political leaders that there was a slight bias to the investigation
Italy, as we know is a relatively young country. In 1948 in signed its present constitution and thus is somewhat new to the democratic principles of government. In addition, the animosity that exists within the country is still a very prominent problem; north, south, east, west, even the small town a few miles away, the differences Italians project have political, cultural and social implications. As a member of the G7 and strong ally to the Untied States, it may come as somewhat of a shock to learn that there is still a strong communist contingent in the country and strong support for it. Men such as Craxi and Berlusconi represent the right wing mentality of Italy; devotion to the individual, to business and to continued productivity. They argue that men such as Borrelli and the Judiciary have always been politically bias towards the more conservative voices of Italian society even though they are given total independence to do their own work. The investigations 16 years ago did target Berlusconi and many other politicians and businessmen but at first glance it would be hard to prove the Judiciary was out to get them. However, a man at the forefront of the accusations such as Berlusconi argued with some degree of accuracy that the government’s regulations which the Judiciary was indirectly defending prevented him and anyone else from pursuing a perfectly justifiable business venture. The Judiciary seemed to care more about his involvement with Craxi which was justifiable but they did very little to deny Berlusconi’s accusations. The possibly of a political bias was fairly weak then but today, the suggestion is much more potent. It has been cleverly dubbed the clean feet campaign and once again at the forefront of the investigation is Borrelli. In addition, the man appointed to take temporary control of the Italian Football Federation after the resignation of Franco Carraro is Guido Rossi, another prominent Italian lawyer but more interestingly, a former senator of the Italian Communist Party
Perhaps the most striking element of this investigation, in addition to Borrelli and Rossi being appointed, is the timing of the scandal’s release to the public. Italy, in past world cups have not done as well as many expected but in all fairness, expectations were somewhat unrealistic as they simply have not been able to field a team capable of dominating on the world stage in the last decade or so. This year however, is much much different. Youth, charisma and self belief have eclipsed the inconsistency and doubtfulness of the past. Six of the starting eleven players have never been to a world cup, and their starting attackers have scored a combined total of 48 league goals in this year’s Serie A campaign, a remarkable feat which has rarely been matched. Francesco Totti, the boy king of Italy and named the best player in the world by Brazilian legend Pele has recovered in time from his broken foot and pundits, for the first time are positive that Marcelo Lippi, Italy’s head coach will abandon the traditional defensive approach to the game they’ve applied in recent years and go for an all out attacking formation. With all this confidence emitting from the training ground, the country and the world suddenly expected Italy to do so much better this summer. It was at this peak that the Judiciary decided to release wire tap evidence they had accumulated over the past year or so and humiliate the entire Italian domestic league at a time when the eyes of the world were focused on the sport and in particular Italy’s chances of success. In addition to the obvious ramifications the scandal has had on the morale of the national team, as the son of Lippi has been put under investigation and star keeper Buffon was questioned about illegal betting, it is once again men of business who are being targeted. Three team presidents are under investigation for match fixing, fraud and tax evasion and a number of players, while training for the world cup have had their homes raided by financial police. The issue is not whether they deserve this treatment or not, because if they did wrong then naturally they should be punished, whether it be fraud, match fixing or any other crime. The timing and obvious lack of interest in the humiliation this scandal has caused certain members of the national team as well as the manager is enough to question the true motives of the investigative team headed by Borrelli and Rossi. Their eagerness to imprint their ethical muscle on the sport has blinded them from the consequences the potentially harsh penalties they will hand out will have on Italy’s national sport. Three of the teams that finished in the top four in this year’s domestic league are being targeted and many believe they will feel the brunt of the Judiciaries will to make an example out of them. Retrocession to Italy’s second division is the harshest penalty they can enforce and those in charge of the investigation seem quite keen to make it happen to all three clubs. If these teams were to get sent down a division, Serie A would effectively collapse for a year and the financial ramifications would be devastating while worldwide support would crumble.
Once again, the experience these men bring to the matter is not being questioned nor the work they are trying to do to clean up the sport in order to discourage corruption in the future. Perhaps stiff penalties are the only way to go. However, the unprofessional and nonchalant attitude they have taken in regard to how much they may be indirectly affecting Italy’s chances for glory this summer in Germany and the pompous attitude to what Serie A and football means to the country both financially and culturally warrants a certain degree of constructive criticism. Old habits and bitter rivalries die hard in Italy, while the potential for national unity and celebration die easily in its shadow.
It is incomprehensible that this institution is not held accountable. It is important to highlight the CBC’s despicable attempt to solidify its place in Canadian Broadcasting by fending off the competition. Recently, when a vast number of Canadians demanded that they be allowed to have the opportunity to purchase FOX News Channel, the CBC was up in arms. They proclaimed that it was not democratic to allow such a biased network into the homes of Canadian viewers. Now, allow me to point out the hypocrisy as well as the sense of entitlement here. The CBC, proven to be heavily favored to the left, is accusing FOX News Channel of being biased; that’s rich. Secondly, the CBC feels that it is in a position to choose what Canadians will enjoy and not enjoy; the sense of entitlement and elitism here is shocking. What is worth mentioning at this point is that Canada has an agency called the CRTC which is a regulatory agency that oversees what is put on the air and what media is allowed into the country; socialism at its worst. The CRTC is behind this second point I am about to make. Italians in the Toronto region of Canada make up the second largest community of Italians outside of Italy. There are other Italian Canadians in Montreal, Vancouver and Calgary. It was not long ago, that the CRTC refused to allow RAI into the homes of these Italian Canadians. Why? Because Canada had its own network called, TLN (Telelatino) which was supposed to be adequate enough for Italians in Canada who wanted to watch Italian news and programming from back home. Amazing! Here we have the CRTC implanting the full weight of their power to prevent RAI from entering Canada. After uproar from the Italian community during election time, the Liberal Government, already deeply out of favor with the public, demanded that the CRTC allow RAI into Canada but at a price. Those who wanted to purchase RAI were forced to purchase TLN as well; once again the seeds of socialism continue to blossom. So those who argue that the public was able to convince the government and its agencies must be careful; this was only allowed because of the fear the Liberals had of not being re-elected, and not because they felt that this CRTC regulation infringed on the rights of their citizens.
As I write this the CBC continues to produce shows no one will watch and continues its attempt to undermine George W. Bush and propagate Barrack Obama on the CBC pedestal. With the re-election of a Conservative minority government, the CBC is safe from any attempts to have it reformed. When the Conservatives were elected a few years ago, many argued that they would try to destroy the CBC by cutting its massive funding. However, even with a Conservative majority, the CBC’s power and influence spans across the country and runs deep into the fabric of Canadian society. Even if their programs are not all that popular, when many Canadians hear that the CBC may be destroyed (as the CBC puts it), they panic. They do not want to see such a beloved Canadian institution changed. However, this is what Canadians do not realize; the CBC is not supposed to be an institution. It is no longer even an extension of the government. It may get all its funding from the tax payer but because no one would dare question this funding, the CBC receives what it needs financially every year and does what it wants without fear of repercussion. It is in a world of its own and there is no sign that it will change.
The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation recently celebrated 70 years of broadcasting, making it the oldest broadcasting service in Canada. It offers radio broadcasts, television series, National news, Foreign News as well as a comprehensive website available to all residents of Canada. While its basic package is “free”, it has also made strides into cable television, offering subscribers various television and radio options with additional features. Many have placed the CBC in the same category as the BBC, suggesting it has reached a dominating place in the broadcasting world. I write this piece with one thing in mind; to offer a view of the CBC that is rarely ever exhumed and discussed. The CBC is not just a broadcasting service but a dominating and powerful institution that has had a profound effect on Canadian politics, culture and society. While many may view this role as a positive, the reality that this piece will attempt to reveal involves a vehement scrutiny of this institution. This piece will focus on the negative influence the CBC has on Canadian society, its left wing political bias as well as the lack of accountability surrounding its financial structure.
Perhaps the best way to start would be to demonstrate how unique the CBC is in comparison to other public broadcasting services. The first troubling sign is how it receives the public funding it needs to survive. Unlike PBS in the United States, the CBC does not depend on personal contributions from its viewers; not directly anyway, this will be addressed shortly. Also unlike PBS, the CBC receives a massive amount of money from the Canadian government; more specifically they receive close to 1 billion dollars from tax payers which is essentially deposited into their account and left for them to do what they like with it. These financial statements are available for the public to see but they do not make it easy to obtain. One has to travel deep into their website to pull these PDF files from their system. Once these files are found, yet even more troubling signs can be revealed. While the CBC receives a massive influx of tax payer’s money every year, they also have advertisements which ensure even more financial contribution. When Canadians watch their beloved hockey games they are bombarded with commercials in between periods and referee stoppages. While they watch Tim Horton’s or Labatt Blue ads, they should come to the realization that their taxes are also being provided to the CBC. Even the BBC, to which our national broadcasting service is continuously compared to, has notable differences. The first is that while they also receive funding from the government, residents of Great Britain still need to pay a small charge in order to have access to BBC broadcasts. So theoretically, if someone does not want to contribute they do not need to. In Canada, no one has a say as to how the CBC is managed, how their money is spent or who gets hired and fired. Secondly, while the BBC has public funds at their disposal, they arguably put it to good use. The BBC has always had renowned and award winning television programs and series, notably Top Gear, a witty and intelligent program dedicated to the scrutiny of some of the worlds most expensive and luxurious automobiles. The show captures audiences and is consistently inviting celebrities, public figures and notable athletes to test drive their cars. In addition, notable shows like The Office, Couples and The Thick of It have all had success in Britain and in many other nations. The CBC on the other hand has had falling ratings for the last 5-10 years. Their television programs and series have not faired well in comparison to other Canadian networks and imported American television shows. That being said, it is close to impossible to justify the amount of money the CBC receives from the tax payers and to add insult to injury, the CBC has commonly held the view that their current budget is just not enough to compete with other networks and therefore needs even more funding, hence the argument for receiving advertising dollars.
The bulk of this piece however, centers on the political bias the CBC has within itself and the way in which they propagate that into the minds of millions of Canadians every morning, afternoon and evening. While the way in which the CBC is structured financially is cause for concern, it is nothing compared to the realm I am about to discuss.
It is no secret that the CBC has a left wing political agenda; studies at major Canadian Universities have shown that there exists a left wing bias within much of the CBC’s programming schedule and political analysis. These studies have shown that a nation wide broadcasting corporation, paid for in most part by Canadian tax payers has within its structure, a mentality that favors the economic, social and political left. Inevitably the question then arises; why is this not questioned or examined further? To an American, this question would have considerable weight because the United States has within its roots a right and left wing contingent. For conservative minded Americans, this issue would be of paramount importance due to the strong conservative backbone that exists in American culture. This particular root does not exist in Canada. Canada has always been, with the exception of Alberta and various parts of Ontario, a socialist nation. Environmentalism is rampant on the west coast, Ontario is where the NDP was born and continues to thrive and Quebec has never hidden its strong socialist traditions. The Maritimes would vote for just about anyone who isn’t a conservative and the Northern parts of the country are too disjointed from the rest of Canadians (for good reason) to care enough to take sides. So what am I trying to suggest here? The history of Canadian politics, culture and society has not allowed for a conservative base to develop and therefore, there does not exist a strong enough conservative element to voice their concerns; until now. In actual fact, putting my own politics aside for a minute, this particular issue with the CBC would be just as troubling had it been a conservative bias that they exhumed. The CBC and its problems are in a league of their own and while much of this piece will criticize the left, it is the CBC that deserves the bulk of the scorn.
The average Montrealer is a huge fan or Formula 1, or used to be, given that we no longer have a race but that aside, it is not difficult to be enamored with the sport. For many it's the machines; rockets packed with some of the world's most luxurious and powerful engines. For others it's the noise, the speed, the risk. Some enjoy the festivities that a race brings to the city and others simply like Montreal being at the centre of the world press for the week in which a Grand Prix is held.
But the hard left and its agenda has changed all that. Now, I wasn't pleased when I went to buy a bottle of wine at the liquor store and was told I had to pay extra for a plastic bag but I told myself, I could live with that. (Where this extra pay is actually going is a question left unanswered but I won't pursue it yet) Then, those of us who have houses, were made to buy a recycling bin at about 120 $, but I was able to live with that too. Why you ask? Because the things that I cherish the most in my life (alcohol is nice but it's not essential) were not being attacked by the cooks on the left. That's all changed now.
Formula 1 as a sport has had to undergo massive changes to their structure because of pressure from a delusional public, ideological governments and desperate corporations. The public have been made to believe that Formula 1 is destroying our planet, the governments act on this concern by pressuring Formula 1 executives to make changes or risk losing the chance to race in their countries and finally, Formula 1, being a sport dependent on massive investment, the corporations involved in the sport do not want to risk their brand being damaged and as a result acquiesce to these demands.
Now, let's go through for a minute what the hard left sees as so environmentally and socially damaging. They claim 1) that 20-22 cars travelling a distance of 300 km on average at speeds of up to 330 km/hr burn an excessive amount of fuel and that this is much too damaging to the environment. 2) that cigarette advertising should be banned completely and that there should be limits on the advertising of alcohol.
These two points represent the bulk of the complaints by the hard left and they don't even realize how delusional they are on both.
1) The obsession they have on the amount of fuel that is being consumed is misplaced. A 747 Jumbo Jet Airliner, burns more fuel on a trip from New York to London than Formula 1 does in an entire season. For clarity, I am referring to the entire sport of Formula 1, meaning every single car and for those who do not know, a Formula 1 season consists of 17-18 races a year and this number continues to rise. Ironically more and more races are being held in Asia and the Middle East, perhaps a sign of Formula 1's loss of patience with the mantra of the more Western nations. So the fact that Formula 1 is attacked by the hard left on this platform is ridiculous. Formula 1 is a sport, yes, but it is a business and it is a source of incredible revenue for those cities who are fortunate enough to hold a race. On this note, I move to the second point.
2) Many cried foul when Montreal lost the Grand Prix, claiming that the greedy executives of the sport cared simply about money and did not care about the loyal fan base that exists in the city. Local, provincial and federal governments tried to intervene but to no avail. This intervention coupled with public outrage makes me sick. The double standard is striking. On the one hand, Canada, along with another left wing nation like Belgium was the most vocal about banning cigarette advertising. Now, I won't get into how ridiculous the banning of cigarette advertising is in this post, but I need to reveal how hypocritical the public and the governments are in this matter. By banning cigarette advertising, Formula 1 teams and more importantly their sponsors, lose a great deal of revenue and are less likely to want to race in such a place where these sponsors are banned. And yet, the same governments are crying foul over the Formula 1 pullout of Montreal by suggesting the city will miss out on the biggest injection of revenue this country had in a given year. And what is more, the public are backing the government's efforts and are voicing their own discontent, ignorantly claiming that Formula 1 executives and the teams are just greedy and want more money. These are the same people who buy into the ban on plastic bags and who buy into the notion that if a plastic bottle is mistakenly thrown into the trash can; the world will turn into a fireball.
This left wing agenda has consumed and twisted the minds of the public and has made all levels of government seem completely incompetent in their decisions and public announcements.
Just as an added bonus, the team most vocal about a green revolution in Formula 1, Honda, has since pulled out of the sport.......
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
Oh but wait, it's not global warming any more folks, it's climate change. Yes, climate change. I'm just wondering, what do they call it when the temperature goes up and down? What do they call it when it rains and then the sun comes out? Are we to assume that the next time it gets a degree warmer or colder that the earth is in danger of spinning off its axis or imploding on itself?
Recently, a headline in the local newspaper read something along these lines; "Colder temperatures in
Think about that for a minute, do not confuse the weather with the climate.......desperation like this hasn't been seen in a long time.
I wonder if Tom Hanks will do the voice over? Oh wait, this isn't a cartoon, this isn't a pixar movie, it's reality. Sorry, I got confused. The decorations on the train looked a bit like a scene from Harry Potter, although I'm beginning to think Obama has the same type of powers. I think every gun around the world just stopped firing, I think every nuclear bomb just disarmed itself, I think every raging lunatic who wants us all dead just completed a 12 step program and joined the Red Cross.
How much is this inauguration costing? 45 million right? Or is it 50? 55? Who cares?! It's Obama! Bush got blamed for spending too lavishly on his big day, especially since it was in the middle of a war. But aren't we in the middle of an economic crisis? One that Obama himself said might get worse before it gets better? Ah but who cares right? This is historic! Why is it historic? It's not because he is African American is it? Because I seem to recall that during the campaign, people supported him, not because of his skin color but because he represented hope and change, a departure from the evil tyrant and human being that is George W. Bush. Hmm, but now that he got elected, we have Usher, we have Oprah, Sam Jackson, we have CNN putting out Obama clones to do the reporting of the inauguration. It is historic, but it's not because of his skin color is it? Had he lost,
But really, thank goodness he won, because now
Funny how as soon as Obama was elected,
I am grateful for Entertainment Tonight for their continued efforts in broadcasting political news, I can't wait to hear what George Clooney has to say about all of this. Anyone see Will Smith? I think he's off shooting the new film, Yes, We Can! Is Oliver Stone involved in this one too? Maybe Brolin can play Biden, I think he's feeling pretty down at how "W" bombed at the Box Office, or maybe that's exactly what they wanted, sort of ode to the Bush Presidency.
But alas, this is historic....why? I'm not sure...it's how I'm being told to feel.
Maybe I'll pop in Polar Express.
AC Milan became the most talked about soccer club in the world yesterday and a game hadn't even been played.
Yesterday was D-Day for AC Milan, its President, administration, investors, fans and pundits. Their superstar playmaker, nicknamed Kaka, was on the verge of completing a transfer from the world's most successful club to a team ensconced in mediocrity.
About 6 months ago, Manchester City Football Club was bought by a wealthy consortium from the Middle East and shortly after purchasing this
However, in typical Italian operatic fashion, when the fat lady was about to reach her high note, Milan's devoted President Silvio Berlusconi announced that Kaka would not be moving to Manchester and would be staying with the club that loves him dearly.
"He chose with his heart" is what Berlusconi and his entourage declared. Given that Kaka did not ask for
Kaka's decision to stay in
George W. Bush - Born in Texas, wealthy businessman, former owner of a successful baseball franchise and current President of the United States.
The similarites go deeper than these brief biographies. Both staunch family men, men of faith, confident and unyielding, men of principles; specifically the promotion of free market capitalism, democracy, freedom, a strong military, family values and an adherence to the protection of the humanity of others. They also both happen to have an extemely good sense of humour and a bond that is second only to the one Bush shares with Tony Blair, as far as political friendships go. Bush and Berlusconi have not only shared backgrounds and personalities but over the last 8 years they have shared a devotion to a firm set of political initiatives and action that will stand the test of time. Berlusconi was an indispensible ally when the United States waged wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and during a recent trip to Washington (where Bush honored Berlusconi as part of the Columbus day celebrations) Berlusconi announced to the American press that history will say that Bush was a magnificent President. Given Bush's approval ratings, Berlusconi's comments must have surely touched the outgoing President and as these two men stood tall as both the Italian and American national anthems played out in front of the White House, I believe no other President of the United States or Prime Minister of Italy will have the privilege of working with such a similar and patriotic counterpart.
Note: In Mona Charen's article on National Review's website, the close relationship between Bush and Berlusconi is touched on. http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=NTU3MjJmZDU4MzdlY2YwNWRkODIyNDJkMTVjZGUyZWU=
Monday, January 19, 2009
Berlusconi, who has not hid his ability to mediate with leaders who are rough around the edges ( Putin and Gaddafi) also announced that the Italian Para-Military Police Force, the Carabinieri would assist in humanitarian aid in Gaza and that Italy would contribute to a "Marshall Plan" for the suffering part of Palestine. These statements are also noteworthy in the sense that Berlusconi,commonly known for his eloquence, humour and spontaneity has continuously backed up statements like these with action. The Italian presence in Iraq is one example, Afghanistan another and finally these latest statements will most likely lead to further action that can only bring good to the crisis in the Middle East. Italy continues to contribute to the promotion of freedom and democracy across the globe and they do not shy away from acting on these positions. Berlusconi is often vilified, laughed at and likened to Mussolini but many of his actions as Prime Minister, particularly in foreign affairs, go unnoticed. Given the great deal of good the women and men of Italy have done in Iraq, Afghanistan and shortly in Gaza, we should not wait for history to tell us that Prime Minister Berlusconi was behind all of these initiatives.