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Silvio Berlusconi

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi (born 1936) is one of the most controversial leaders in the history of a country known for governmental corruption and vice. Primarily a businessman with massive holdings and influence in international media, he is regarded by many as a political dilettante who gained his high office only through use of his considerable influence on the national media.

Hated by many but respected by all at least for his bella figura (personal style) and the sheer force of his will, Berlusconi has parlayed his business acumen and influence into a personal empire that has resulted in Italy’s longest–running government ever and in his becoming the country’s wealthiest man. Bursting onto the scene with no political experience in 1993, he campaigned—using his vast network of media holdings—on a promise to purge the notoriously lackadaisical Italian government of corruption. He won appointment to the office of prime minister in 1994. However, he and his fellow Forza Italia Party leaders soon found themselves accused of the very corruption he had vowed to eradicate. Charges of bribery, extortion, and other abuses of power trailed the leader until he was forced to resign later in 1994. Despite convictions on a number of corruption charges that were later overturned, the suave Berlusconi was again elected prime minister in 2001, and remained in that post as of late 2004. He is owner of one of the world’s most valuable soccer franchises, the country’s biggest private television network, a publishing conglomerate, assorted department stores and insurance companies, a newspaper, a magazine, and a bank. His personal monetary worth is estimated at U.S. $10 billion.

Entrepreneurial Streak Apparent Early On Berlusconi was born on September 29, 1936, in Milan, Italy, the first of two sons of a middle–class bank clerk and a housewife. His precocious interest in business matters was matched by his passion for making money, and even as a boy he was already earning an income by organizing puppet shows for which he would then charge admission. While studying law at the University of Milan, Berlusconi sold vacuum cleaners, worked as a singer on a cruise ship, took portrait photographs, and did other students’ homework for a fee. He also formed an important friendship with Bettino Craxi, who would later become Italian prime minister. His graduation thesis from law school was titled, “The Newspaper Advertising Contract.”

As soon as he left school, Berlusconi began working in real estate because he sensed the development boom that was coming in response to the post–war prosperity of the 1960s. Declining his father’s offer of a job at his bank, the young man managed to put together enough loans to found two real estate and development companies: Cantieri Reuniti Milanesi in 1962 and Edilnord in 1963. Edilnord won the contract for the development of Milano Two, an attractive suburb north of Milan for the upper class, in 1969, and in 1974 Berlusconi entered the world of media when he decided to install a cable television network (through his new Telemilano company) to service the fashionable bedroom community. Edilnord developed the chic Milano 3 suburb in 1976, having become the top developer of residential and commercial properties by that point.

Became Media Mogul in 1970s and 1980s

Following the Constitutional Court’s 1976 ruling that the Radio Televisone Italiana (RAI) conglomerate could no longer extend to the local level its legal monopoly over national broadcasting, Berlusconi launched a massive effort to capitalize on the legitimization of “pirate” television station operators. He founded a holding company, Fininvest, to manage his expanding portfolio of interests as 700 commercial stations mushroomed virtually overnight. Berlusconi worked quickly to create a major library of films, and then rented them out to the new stations in exchange for their advertising on his new Pubitalia publishing subsidiary. By 1980, he was the dominant force in a skyrocketing television market that over the next five years increased its share of national advertising from 15 to 50 percent.

In the meantime, Berlusconi began stringing together a nationwide communications network, Canale Five, in 1977 and completed it in 1980. He created the illusion of a single channel that people could tune into by sending the same film by courier to many of the independent television stations. The pirate stations would then transmit the show simultaneously to their viewers. Unabashedly appealing to the mass market, he stockpiled foreign game shows, soap operas, and popular movies to lure viewers away from the stodgy government–run channels. Berlusconi’s position as a media baron was strengthened when the courts reversed their earlier decision and legalized private national networks as long as anti–trust provisions were observed. He bought out two of his closest competitors in 1982 and 1984, cementing his domination of the country’s commercial television market.

Meanwhile, the reach of Berlusconi’s media empire had extended to commercial television in France, where he created La Cinq in 1986; in Germany, where he founded Telefunf in 1987; and in Spain, where he established Telecinco in 1989.

When the courts ruled later in 1984 that Canele Five had usurped RAI’s state–sanctioned right to broadcast a national service simultaneously, Berlusconi summoned his old friend Craxi, who had since become prime minister, to reverse the order. Thus benefiting from a general move toward deregulation, Berlusconi was permitted to maintain a virtual duopoly with RAI over the nation’s television market. For the remainder of the 1980s, he continued to acquire more and more media holdings.

One of Berlusconi’s key purchases during this period was of the Milan AC Soccer Club in 1986. A passionate soccer fan, he poured money into the club until it soon became the most successful Italian soccer team ever. (With him as chairperson, the team has since won the Champion’s League title four times, the National League title seven times, and the World Cup Championship twice). He also bought the popular Standa department store chain in 1988 and, after a gigantic legal tussle, the Arnoldo Mondadori Editore S.P.A. magazine, book, and newspaper publishing group in 1990. The latter purchase gave Berlusconi instant control over 20 percent of the Italian publishing market. His relentless acquisitions also exponentially increased Fininvest’s debt load to dangerous levels, but Berlusconi had already become a billionaire.

Launched Political Career

At this point, Berlusconi found himself increasingly hounded by demands from all quarters that he break up his media empire for violating virtually every anti–trust law in the books. As these pressures increased through the first part of the 1990s, he made a decision that some saw as foolish but that others perceived as an effort to grab the power of the very forces opposed to him: he announced that he would run for prime minister. In typical aggressive fashion, Berlusconi handed over to close friends all his positions at Fininvest and other companies to avoid political conflicts of interest and immediately organized a political coalition named Forza Italia (after the ubiquitous soccer chant meaning “Go Italy”). He appointed himself as its leader.

Allying the new grouping with a federalist party and the remains of a disbanded neo–fascist group, he geared up his media companies to begin a television and print blitz to advertise his candidacy. Several editors of his press concerns resigned in protest at being told whom to endorse in the typically free–for–all run–up to elections. Berlosconi pressed on, portraying himself as honest and in touch with the concerns of young Italians while pledging to eradicate corruption, lower taxes, increase personal choice, and promote free–market economics. In 1992, a national poll revealed that Italian teenagers ranked Berlusconi ahead of Jesus Christ and the Italian president when asked about the ten people they admired most. However, disaster struck when the leader of the fascist group praised deceased Italian dictator Benito Mussolini as the century’s finest statesman. It was a testament to the power of Berlusconi’s personality that he was quickly able to smooth over the outrage that instantly arose over the comment about the hated leader.

Berlusconi held up his lack of political experience as a virtue to voters, telling them that his success as a businessman was excellent preparation for him to transform the bloated, inefficient Italian government into a lean, streamlined machine that would work for the people and provide a fresh start for all, with sweeping tax cuts and millions of new jobs. The media (much of which he ran, of course) quickly dubbed Berlusconi “the Knight.” Support for him built rapidly despite virulent attacks by his detractors. The media and Berlusconi’s own personal flair prevailed, and the Freedom Pole won 43 percent of the popular vote in March 1994 elections—enough to enable him to form a government of which he was appointed prime minister.

However, despite his precautions, allegations of conflicts of interest arose quickly, fueled by the fact that Berlusconi and his family had retained 51 percent of Fininvest’s interests. Coupled with these suspicions, when one of the coalition’s parties bailed out of the union, Berlusconi’s government collapsed after only nine months in power. In the meantime, his carefully cultivated image as a politician who was above the nation’s traditional corruption began to crumble when it was revealed that Berlusconi had in 1978 joined the sinister Propaganda Two group. This was a secret Masonic lodge that had created a powerful state within a state with strong influence on the secret police, banks, the government, and the military.

Undaunted by these obstacles, Berlusconi began selling off more and more of his shares in his wide array of holdings, and in 1996—just two days before the April general election—he officially declared that he no longer had a majority control in any business. His past continued to haunt him, however, with further allegations of corruption and misdeeds, and although he succeeded in being elected as a member of Parliament representing his right–wing coalition, he was forced to abandon his bid for the premiership.

Appointed Premier Again Despite Lingering Charges

As charges of misdeeds continued to pile up, Berlusconi alleged that left–wing politicians had mounted a plot against him. He was convicted of several financial crimes related to accounting and illegal political funding in 1997 and 1998. He managed to have these overturned on appeal, but those charges were followed by allegations of bribery and other misdeeds in 1999. Nevertheless, he was reelected as a member of the European Union Parliament in 1999 and remained opposition leader in his own country’s Parliament until 2001, when he was once again appointed prime minister on May 13. Berlusconi and his House of Freedoms coalition had won the popular vote by 18.5 million votes, propelled once again by his image as a forceful, self–made man who would at last straighten out the Italian government. Nevertheless, plenty of people were outraged by Berlusconi’s second rise to power, and in 2002 hundreds of thousands of them staged a massive protest to drive home their point—that his heavy involvement in the world of business made him incapable of being an impartial and fair national leader.

The government was shaken to its core later in 2002 when a mammoth corruption scandal came to light that involved some 6,000 politicians and business leaders, including Berlusconi’s brother Paolo and his friend Craxi, and billions of dollars in graft. Meanwhile, Berlusconi himself served as foreign minister in addition to his role as prime minister for ten months in 2002.

Berlusconi got a reprieve from the courts in 2003 when Parliament passed a controversial law making the government’s top officials, including the prime minister, immune from prosecution. It looked for a while like the legal challenges to his leadership were behind him, but the Constitutional Court soon overturned the law. Meanwhile, Berlusconi’s firm decision to stand as an ally with the United States in the war in Iraq had become extremely unpopular, and by 2003, a full 75 percent of Italians were opposed to his decision. In July 2003, Berlusconi assumed the rotating six–month presidency of the European Union, using that position to urge other European countries to support the United States in the war.

By 2004, Berlusconi and his government had enacted numerous bills and laws aimed at reforming the nation’s school and labor systems, reduced taxes and other financial burdens on citizens, increased government support of the unemployed, elderly, and disabled, and, not surprisingly, loosened regulations on limits of private ownership of media. However, critics from both Italy and elsewhere warned that Berlusconi’s liberal spending could soon have major negative impacts on the country’s long–term economic outlook. Nevertheless, the prime minister now had the honor of heading Italy’s longest–running government ever.

In 2004, Forbes magazine ranked Berlusconi as the 30th wealthiest man in the world, up from 45th in 2002, and estimated his personal fortune at $10 billion. He has been married twice, first to Carla Dall’Ogglio, with whom he had two children, and then to actress Veronica Lario, with whom he has three children. He released a CD in 2003 of Neopolitan love songs. The prime minister prefers to spend his spare time at his 70–room villa in Sardinia named “Arcore,” whose amenities include a private park, a movie theater, and walls of large–screen televisions

Annunci

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Torpenhow Hill is a hill about 200 metres above sea level in Cumbria in north west England on the side of which the village of Torpenhow is situated, close to the A595 between Cockermouth and Carlisle. The hill is located at grid reference NY206390.

Its main claim to fame is that its name is a tautology: “Tor”, “pen”, and “how” all mean “hill” in different languages; the first two are Brythonic and the last Anglo-Saxon. Therefore “Torpenhow Hill” means “Hillhillhill Hill”. The theory is that successive residents took the previous residents’ name for the hill and added their own word for hill.

The local pronunciation of “Torpenhow” is IPA: /ˈtrʊpənə/.

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USB RAM

[10:47:27] <geckosenator> do they make usb ram?
[10:47:37] <geckosenator> I guess even 480mbits is too slow
[10:48:01] <J4k3> pci-e 16x would be an acceptable add-on card speed for memory
[10:48:11] <geckosenator> I have a laptop
[10:48:20] <geckosenator> it has to be either pcmcia or usb
[10:48:31] <J4k3> why can't you just buy the proper ram for it and snap it in there?
[10:48:52] <geckosenator> maybe I can
[10:48:56] <J4k3> if the laptop is too old/crusty to support a decent quantity of ram, you need a newer laptop
[10:48:57] <geckosenator> but then it is not easy to remove
[10:49:05] <geckosenator> the laptop has 512 megs
[10:49:08] <J4k3> you don't want to take it back out
[10:49:11] <geckosenator> but if I put more ram in, it will use more power
[10:49:16] <J4k3> usually theres an access door on the bottom
[10:49:23] <J4k3> or you have to take the keyboard out
[10:49:25] <geckosenator> I'm running on solar power
[10:49:29] <J4k3> which can take anywhere from 2 minutes to 2 hours
[10:49:35] <J4k3> depending on skill and the laptop model.
[10:49:45] <geckosenator> hmm
[10:49:52] <J4k3> add a bicycle
[10:49:55] <J4k3> pedal harder
[10:50:02] <geckosenator> I would rather just have a pcmcia card that I stick in and it gives me like 4 gigs more ram
[10:50:15] <J4k3> way too slow to be useful
[10:50:15] <geckosenator> heh
[10:50:22] <geckosenator> how slow is it?
[10:50:27] <geckosenator> I just need it to record movies
[10:50:39] <geckosenator> since my hard drive is 28 megs per second is actually too slow
[10:50:59] <geckosenator> well maybe it isn't if I drop the resolution, I don' thave enough cpu to compress on the fly though
[10:51:58] <Fear_cult> quadcore fool
[10:52:08] <Fear_cult> or atleast phenom
[10:52:12] <geckosenator> if I had a quadcore I would probably have enough ram
[10:52:25] <geckosenator> maybe I will just take short clips of 10 seconds or so then splice them together
[10:52:31] <Gigs> they used to do that
[10:52:38] <Gigs> you could get an ISA card with ram
[10:52:41] <Fear_cult> noo
[10:52:44] <Gigs> it was real real slow
[10:52:48] <Fear_cult> geckosenator, are you out of slots?
[10:52:57] <geckosenator> I have 2 pcmcia slots
[10:53:08] <geckosenator> but one is needed so that I can get usb ports
[10:53:17] <geckosenator> so I have a free one for ram
[10:53:34] <Fear_cult> i meant ram slots not pcmcia
[10:52:38] <Gigs> you could get an ISA card with ram
[10:52:41] <Fear_cult> noo
[10:52:44] <Gigs> it was real real slow
[10:52:48] <Fear_cult> geckosenator, are you out of slots?
[10:52:57] <geckosenator> I have 2 pcmcia slots
[10:53:08] <geckosenator> but one is needed so that I can get usb ports
[10:53:17] <geckosenator> so I have a free one for ram
[10:53:34] <Fear_cult> i meant ram slots not pcmcia
[10:57:10] <J4k3> well
[10:57:31] <J4k3> ISA wasn't really that slow compared to the CPU on an 8088/8086/286 level machine
[10:57:39] <J4k3> it wasn't til the 286/12 did anyone really care.
[10:58:04] <geckosenator> I just need it to be faster than the harddrive
[10:58:21] <geckosenator> the harddrive is like 20 megs/second
[10:58:44] <geckosenator> maybe I can have a raid array of like 3 drives on external usb

(##electronics @ freenode)

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[18:20:04] * SpeedEvil writes personal ad. "Wanted – girl with machine shop. Send picture of machine shop."
[18:21:19] <archivist> we have a machine shop…send girls
[18:21:43] <Strogg> with a good machine shop, you could make your own girls
[18:22:12] <archivist> a cold steel girl is not the same
[18:22:43] <Strogg> put a 100W resistor inside it 😛
[18:24:27] * chr0n1c wrote a poem once titled “if the machines only had breasts”

Source: ##electronics@irc.freenode.net

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Dinosaurs, WTF!

holy fucking shit
it’s a dinosaur
jesus christ
what the fuck
oh my fucking god
fucking dinosaurs
holy shit
what the fu-u-u-ck!

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