Today's Blogs

Il Cavaliere Rides Again

Bloggers try to explain the fall and swift resurgence of Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi. They also squeal about hibernating mice and pore over what they believe are satellite photos of Area 51.

Il Cavaliere * rides again: Silvio Berlusconi resigned as prime minister of Italy Wednesday, after a split in the center-right coalition that had supported him throughout his tenure as the longest-serving Italian prime minister since World War II. Italy’s richest man, Berlusconi was asked today by the Italian president to stay on and form a new government, thereby averting the need for emergency elections.

First Ringer John Swon delivers an informed primer on the changing Italian political landscape, its recent history, and its likely future. For Swon, Berlusconi was ultimately felled by a woeful performance in the April elections and the departure from his coalition, quickly thereafter, by the Christian Democrats. Though Swon thinks Berlusconi might recover some lost ground with his new focus on southern development, he believes the critical factor in the PM’s fate is his stewardship of the faltering Italian economy. “Likely, Berlusconi will remain as Prime Minister,” he writes. “But unless economic conditions significantly improve over the next year, most voters will probably be saying ‘passi, l’Italia’ to his government.”

“As government collapses go, the swift fall of the Berlusconi government has been a disappointment, an utter non-event,” writes journalist Bernhard Warner from Rome on Il Sette Bello. “The truth is Berlusconi is going nowhere. It’s a resignation with strings.” Stateside in Atlanta, Tondar thinks the fact that the government has collapsed is remarkable enough, considering how stable—well, stable for Italy—the nation’s politics have been since the fall of the Berlin Wall. “A new government, but with the same players,” quips “reformed liberal” AlphaPatriot. “I love Europolitics.”

“President Ciampi should consider the years of economic stagnance under the inept leadership of Berlusconi before deciding to give control back to him,” advises rookie blogger Tullius Cicero. “Italy needs sweeping changes throughout its leadership, starting with Berlusconi.” At The AntiCentenarian, liberal General Stan thinks Berlusconi’s fall shows more than mere domestic factionalism and poor economic performance. It was support for the war in Iraq that did him in. “Ol’Berls was left pretty burned when we shot Guiliana Sgrena and killed her Special Ops bodyguard Nicola Calipari and it became evident to Berls that his country did not support the actions of the Americans nearly as much as he did,” he argues.

Read more about Berlusconi.

Hibernating humans:A team of American scientists have induced in mice “a state of near suspended animation, raising the possibility that hibernation could one day be induced in humans,” reports the BBC. After being gassed with hydrogen sulphide—the compound that makes rotten eggs smell—the breathing rate of the mice dropped from 120 breaths per minute to fewer than 10, their metabolic rates fell by 90 percent, and their body temperature dropped from 37 degrees Celsius to 11. After six hours in hibernation, the mice were revived with fresh air and showed no ill effects.

“Now this is some serious Buck Rogers sh*t right here,” marvels tech-minded Matt at The Darthbane2112 Blog. “This might be a huge jump forward in long term space exploration,” says a newbie blogger and screenwriter at geistweg. “Being able to slip into hibernation could mean that long range space travel, the kind you see in 2001 and Aliens, would be within our reach. Of course, the first objective would be teaching the mice how to control their tiny little space craft.” Boston real estate broker Rob Sama sees another possible application. “Now if they’d only discovered this a few weeks ago,” he writes, “they’d have had the perfect solution for the Terry Schaivo debacle.”

Read more about the hibernating mice.

Spy vs. spy:Since Google added satellite views to its acclaimed map service in early April, users have explored live coverage of hometowns, urban centers, even the paths of road-trips through distant states. A Defense Tech reader named DS claims to have discovered something a bit more noteworthy: Area 51, the mythic, top-secret military installation rumored to house evidence of alien encounters. At live journal the_unexplained, Steven explores a series of satellite photographs of a site he believes is Area 51.

At OMG–The Daily Slice,Brad Thomas wonders, “If we can see this, what do our enemies see?” Sean Smith has been reading his Foucault and is more spooked by American surveillance: “[I]f satellite imaging of this high quality is what is commercially available as a bare-bones free service, then how amazing is the technology being used by the surveillance elites?”

Read more bloggers’ speculation about Area 51.

Have a question, comment, or suggestion for Today’s Blogs? E-mail

* Correction, April 25, 2005:  Originally, this headline referred to Silvio Berlusconi’s nickname as “Il Cavalieri.” That is the plural form of the word. Berlusconi is commonly known as “Il Cavaliere,” or, “The Cavalier.” Click here to return to the corrected headline.