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by Euro Reporter
2008-12-31 09:15:33
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Lose a job in three months

In the year when the Nobel Prize went to France’s Luc Montagnier, the man who discovered the AIDS virus, an Italian molecular biologist has identified a dangerous variant: HIV-1. It’s a potential threat because it is not picked up by some of the tests most frequently used to identify the infection, including screening tests for donor blood. In the United States, the discovery was giving appropriate visibility at the recent annual meeting of the American Association of Blood Banks. AIDS is still a major issue in the world and the Lecco variant, as HIV-1, which it comes from the recombination of two distinct strains of the virus, has been dubbed has again focused attention on the safety of blood transfusions.

What puzzles Americans, and also Ms Foglieni’s British colleagues at Cambridge, where the Lecco-based biologist spent a week sequencing “her” variant courtesy of EU funding, is why the discoverer should be earning just 1,000 Euros a month (1,200 with overtime) and why she will be unemployed at the end of March. The Italian paradox strikes again. Barbara Foglieni, 32, discoverer of a new variant of the AIDS virus, is actually on a short-term contract. In three months’ time, she’ll be out of a job when her contract at Lecco’s Manzoni hospital runs out at the end of March. “I hope they extend it”, she says. Ms Foglieni works in the molecular biology laboratory at the Manzoni’s department of transfusion medicine and haematology (DMTE), directed by Daniele Prati, where she has three months’ guaranteed work left. After that, she might join the brain drain.

Another lethal discovery


No Pineapples, We’re Italian

It’s nourishing, detoxifying and aids digestion but, sadly, it’s not an EC citizen. It should not therefore feature on the peninsula’s festive tables. The pineapple, a “symbol of everything that is not Italian”, was sent into exile yesterday by the minister of agriculture, Luca Zaia. Ignoring the traditionally protected Christmas period, he called for a “pineapple strike”. His words were: “I suggest we start a pineapple strike. For Christmas dinner, choose one of the more than 2,500 typical seasonal products”.

It was little more than a sound bite but one with a very specific agenda: “We have to battle to defend Italy’s products. Let it be clear that we say no to the standardized tastes they are seeking to impose on us. Italian consumers have to know that Italian products are safe”. Mr. Zaia’s because is a noble one but telling chefs what they can and cannot use smacks of sacrilege. Chef Carlo Cracco is noted for, among other things, his natural dried fruits, including pineapple, which he serves at the end of the meal. He comments: “You don’t solve problems with bans and strikes. This reveals a certain lack of vision. What is really needed is a culture of quality regarding raw materials. We need to get it across that in schools, hospitals and army canteens, it’s better to privilege local products, which cost less, are fresh and taste good. But there has to be freedom to import. If they started doing the same thing abroad with Barolo and other premium Italian products, it would soon hurt”.

It’s all a fruit salad!


Ninety-nine Mafia arrests!

Carabinieri officers from the Palermo provincial headquarters have carried out an extensive anti-Mafia operation in various parts of Sicily and Tuscany. Officers detained 99 individuals on warrants issued by public prosecutors from the anti-Mafia directorate. Among those arrested were gang bosses, area bosses and alleged members of Mafia families involved by a group of Palermo-based gangsters in a criminal plan to “reconstitute Cosa Nostra”. Matteo Messina Denaro, Trapani Mafia boss, currently on the run, is believed to have contributed to the operation. The arrests were ordered by the public prosecutor’s office in case those under investigation decided to go to ground, and to forestall the murders that investigators think were planned. More than 1,200 Carabinieri officers, including helicopter and dog units, took part in the operation.

How many centuries is going to take?

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Emanuel Paparella2008-12-31 13:55:48
To know the answer to that question one needs to read Giuseppe di Lampedusa's novel The Leopard or see the movie starring Bur Lancaster as the prince of Salina. There is a scene there wherein the nephew of the Prince Tancredi is told this paradox by the Prince (in 1860 mind you as Garibaldi is unifying Italy)that "we need to change everything so that everything will remain the same."

Emanuel Paparella2008-12-31 14:01:43
P.S. The ancient Romans must be turning in their grave, and so the ancient Greeks.

Sand2008-12-31 17:33:41
This grave spinning has always fascinated me. Do they spin on their major axis and do their coffins spin with them or merely contain the motion? If they spin on their minor axis the graveyard scene must be spectacular indeed. Perhaps all those strange circles in cornfields are the result of the larger dinosaurs spinning horizontally. That certainly would solve one mystery although it naturally generates a few more.

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