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  • For the past 25 years, on my first day of an introductory history course, I ask students why they hate history. At first, they are surprised and even astonished by my question. But they soon lose their reticence and offer all the usual answers: “history keeps repeating itself;” “we never learn from history;” “history has no importance in our contemporary world or my life.” As professional historians, we have perhaps failed in our duty to fully engage the public with the past. I can’t help thinking of this failure as we witness hour-by-hour the fate of 630 human beings literally adrift at sea in the Mediterranean. Their lives hang in the balance because of the political choices and poisoned culture of contemporary Italy.
  • Who could have guessed that, on the very day Berlusconi was given a light sentence to nine months of occasional social service work, he would be upstaged by his former right-hand man, former Senator Marcello Dell'Utri? Dell'Utri, 72, has been Silvio Berlusconi's good friend and business associate ever since he helped build Berlusconi's TV empire and then his Sicilian political organization back in 1992. But today Dell'Utri seems to have slipped away from Italian justice.
  • Who, me, Justice Minister? Mamma mia, what an enormous responsibility!" Andrea Orlando, 45, member of Renzi's Partito Democratico PD), said this on learning that he had been tapped for what is--and not only in consideration of former Premier Silvio Berlusconi's travails--one of the toughest slots in the government of Matteo Renzi. To be sworn into office on Monday, the cabinet will be the second smallest in Italian history, with only sixteen ministers. For the first time fully half of Renzi's cabinet ministers are women--and they are young.
  • Premier designate Matteo Renzi is a man in a hurry. After being tapped by President Giorgio Napolitano on Monday, he declared that he will "go for broke" to introduce reforms and that he intends for his government to last four years, or until the natural end of the legislature. He has listed four crucial political goals, with deadlines. Most, however, are the same goals that have frustrated his predecessors in office. On entering Parliament Tuesday Renzi--who is not an MP--actually got lost and had to be shown the way. Can he help Italy find its way out of what he has called "a swamp"?
  • In his attempt to weld together governing partners so as to end over two months of dangerous political void, Premier Designate Enrico Letta, 46, of the Partito Democratico (PD) has called for a "slim and sober" cabinet that will hit the ground running. Letta was called upon to try to form a government only l7 hours after Napolitano's re-election to succeed himself as president. His program points for a "service government" reflect some of the advice put forward by the so-called "sages" appointed last month by President Giorgio Napolitano. If he succeeds, a new government is expected within the week.
  • Facts & Stories
    Judith Harris(December 09, 2012)
    Italy's election campaign has begun with a jolt. No sooner did Silvio Berlusconi throw his hat into the ring or, as he put it, entered the playing field ("sceso in campo") for the sixth time in twenty years, than Premier Mario Monti bowed out.

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