Tom Behan

Il Divo

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Director Paolo Sorrentino; Release date: 20 March

This is an Italian film about an Italian politician, Giulio Andreotti, and as such risks travelling badly - which would be a shame.

There can't be many politicians left in Europe like Andreotti, the star (il divo) of this film and the dominant figure in politics for nearly six decades. He first became a government minister in 1945, a position he held 25 times, as well as being prime minister of no less than seven governments. You name a world figure - he has met them: Eisenhower, Nixon, Gorbachev, Saddam Hussein, Mother Teresa.

Anything Goes

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Review of 'Not A Normal Country', Geoff Andrews, Pluto Press £15.99

If you're going to write a book about contemporary politics you need a publisher committed to getting it out quickly. Congratulations to Pluto, then, for bringing this out in less than six months rather than the norm, which can inexplicably be a year or more. This book needs such speed - it is mainly about Italy over the last five to ten years, written from the left.

Italy: Berlusconi's Political Capital Goes into the Red

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The man who according to Forbes magazine is the 25th richest person in the world seems to be having a few problems lately.

Although his personal income last year was a mere € 13 million, he's just sold off a cool € 2 billion of shares in his major holding company. But is this man really in big trouble and what is he going to do with all this money?

Italy: A General Offensive is Needed

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The newsreader on the main Italian lunchtime news on 30 November began with the following words: 'This news bulletin will be shorter than normal due to strike action by journalists and technicians in support of today's general strike.

The shop stewards committee at RAI [the Italian equivalent of the BBC] authorises me to say that it fully supports today's action and calls for the government to withdraw its budget and start a policy for real economic development.' The country was at a standstill: trains, buses and aircraft all came to a halt.

Italy: Preparing a Warm Welcome for Bush

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In Italy problems are mounting up for Tony Blair's ally Silvio Berlusconi.

Last month workers scored a big victory. On the industrial front, both Berlusconi and his business allies must have thought they had ridden out the worst of the storms of protest that have characterised his government. After four general strikes in two years, the explosion and then decline of the social forum movement, the opposition had no clear victory to point to.

Italy: We are All Subversives

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Berlusconi's right wing government is cracking down on protesters, but opposition is growing.

Twenty activists from the Italian anti-capitalist movement were arrested by masked police in the early hours of Friday 15 November, while another 22 were notified that they were under investigation. Some of the accusations are laughable, like throwing vegetables at policemen and going to a demonstration 'armed with a pumpkin', but they are also facing very serious and very political charges, such as 'subversion against state authority'. This is a fascist law dating back to 1930, and carries a minimum sentence of five years.

European Social Forum: Meeting of a Multitude

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All eyes will be on Florence this month when the European Social Forum comes to town. Tom Behan analyses the Italian left while Andrew Stone talks to some activists who will be attending.

The vast majority of people at the European Social Forum (ESF) will be Italians. While I haven't the space to teach you Italian, I can provide some background on the largest organisations likely to be active in Florence

Anti-capitalism - Florence: planning the shape of Europe's future

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The echoes of last year's anti-capitalist protests in Genoa are still being felt all over Italy.

They were heard quite literally last month in Florence, during the first showing of the film Carlo Giuliani ragazzo, a documentary about the last day in the life of the protester who was murdered by the police. Some 2,000 people packed into the city's largest theatre and gave the director a standing ovation.

Creating a New Canvas

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At last month's Globalise Resistance conference in London, and at the European Social Forum mobilising committee meetings in London, proposals have been put (and defeated) about setting up an English Social Forum.

The argument is unlikely to totally disappear, so the experience of the social forum movement in Italy needs to be assessed critically.

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