Correo de Noticias al 16/6/07
Murdered Mafia boss was a
By Peter Popham in Rome
Published: 16 June 2007
When the man on the motorcycle
pulled alongside the convicted gangster Niccolo Ingarao on a Palermo street and shot him four times in the chest and once in
the head, he murdered the most studious Mafia boss of modern times.
It emerged yesterday that when
Mr Ingarao, 46, was not barking orders at underlings, extorting protection
money or counting the takings as the gang boss of the Porta Nuova
neighbourhood, he was an avid student of philosophy.
Twenty-four hours before his
execution-style killing, seen as a bloody move in the power struggle that
followed the arrest of the capo di capi Bernardo Provenzano, Ingarao took an
exam in the history of philosophy at Palermo University. His professor at the university, Pietro di Giovanni,
said he did very well.
Ingarao was "a model
student," Professor Di Giovanni told the Corriere della Sera newspaper.
"He followed the lessons assiduously and was very conscientious and
interested in the material. Like many mature students he was very committed.
"He had nice manners. One
day he even came to the university with his wife. He said he owned a toy shop,
and was interested in studying philosophy for his personal enrichment."
Well-read Sicilian gangsters are
few and far between. The reading matter of Toto Riina, the bloodthirsty
Corleone boss serving life in jail, is said to be restricted to La Gazzetta
dello Sport, Italy‘s best-selling sports daily. When he was arrested,
Provenzano had five copies of the Bible in his hideout, but no other reading
According to Ingarao’s lawyer,
Riccardo Russo, it was the Bible that first sparked his client’s intellectual
curiosity. "That’s where it all started," he said. "He was
particularly struck by the Book of the Wisdom of Solomon, in the Apocrypha.
From the moment he read it he began to study, with ever-increasing
Studying became a habit during
the nine years he spent in Pagliarelli jail, from which he was freed with
remission for good conduct. While serving his time, Ingarao devoured whatever reading
matter he could lay his hands on. "Some time ago it was The Name of the
Rose, more recently The Da Vinci Code," Mr Russo said.
John Lichfield: A president
drunk on his power
It is as if the mask of Sarko,
the consummate politician, has slipped
Published: 16 June 2007
Nicolas Sarkozy probably was
drunk at the G8 summit but he was not drunk on alcohol. He was drunk with
excitement at being among the big boys (and the one big girl) at last. For the
past four weeks the new French president has been drunk with excitement at his
own success; intoxicated by his huge popularity; inebriated by the easy ride he
has been given by the French media, even by a traditionally centre-left
newspaper such as Le Monde.
The big questions remain. Is
Nicolas Sarkozy genuinely something new in French politics? Answer: yes, up to
a point. Are the French people truly ready for change, including painful
change, as they and M. Sarkozy claim? Answer: it is too early to say.
"Sarko" will get a
huge parliamentary majority in the second round of the legislative elections
tomorrow. Nevertheless, there are straws swirling in the wind which could
cluster into an anti-Sarko bonfire six or 12 months from now.
Belgian Francophone TV (often
keen to tease the pompous big sister next door) showed a clip of President
Sarkozy appearing late for a press conference at the G8 summit in Germany. In the clip, he looks breathless and flustered. He is
late, the French president explains, with a vacant grin, because he spent
"longer than expected" with President Vladimir Putin. He giggles; he
smiles; his shoulders shake; he vaguely appeals for questions, as if he had
never given a press conference before.
The Belgian TV presenter, rather
cheekily, suggests that Sarkozy had "obviously not just drunk water"
with Mr Putin. The short video clip has since become the subject of one of
those unpleasant bouts of internet hysteria: an example of how the global
village threatens to turn us all into global village idiots.
There have been two million
"hits" on the "Sarko pissed" clip on YouTube and other
internet video sites. Most of those people, presumably, accept unquestioningly
the Belgian presenter’s suggestion that Sarkozy was drunk. (The journalist has
In fact, Sarkozy never drinks.
He went on to give a perfectly coherent press conference. If you look at the
tape several times, he comes over not as drunk, but as overexcited, boyish,
unprepared and unprofessional. It is as if, for a moment, the mask of Sarko,
the consummate politician, has slipped. You see instead, an excited 52-year-old
boy who suddenly finds himself President of France.
Some commentators, including
myself, have compared Sarkozy to Tony Blair. There are interesting points of
comparison but one could never imagine Blair being caught out unprepared in
public like that. Blair’s own opinion of Sarkozy is – according to my own reliable,
non-feral source – that he is "strangely unformed". In other words,
he has a tendency to make things up as he goes along; that the new French
president does not have as clear a strategy and body of ideals as he likes to
All the same, you have to hand
it to Sarkozy. His first four weeks in office have been a triumph. His approval
ratings are in the stratosphere. His centre-right party, the Union
pour un Mouvement Populaire (UMP), will scoop at least 70 per cent of the 577
seats in the national assembly tomorrow.
One of the principal limits to
the president’s popularity seems to be within his own marriage. Cécilia Sarkozy
has been flitting in and out of official life as Première Dame. According to
someone who knows her well, relations between the two remain severely strained.
"Expect sparks," the source told me. "Sarkozy is more fragile
than he seems and one of the main sources of his fragility is Cécilia."
The other main source of
fragility may be M. Sarkozy’s apparent chief strength: his extraordinary energy
and determination to do everything himself (and be seen to do it). A cartoon by
René Pétillon in the satirical weekly the Canard Enchainé showed President
Sarkozy addressing a cabinet meeting. "I am going to make a broad
statement of policy," the cartoon "Sarko" says. "And then I
will hand over to myself for the details."
It has been clear from the
beginning that President Sarkozy also intends to be Prime Minister Sarkozy…
and Foreign Minister Sarkozy… and Finance Minister Sarkozy. This is dangerous
in itself. The traditional political geography of the Fifth Republic placed the Prime Minister as a kind of wind-break to
protect the President from the blasts of day-to-day public anger. Sarkozy seems
to want to be his own wind-break.
There is more – and worse – than
President Sarkozy’s ambition is
not just to change the French welfare and tax system but to change the French
collective psyche. He wants France to be a more can-do country, less instinctively
dependent on the state, less hostile to the realities of the modern world,
prepared to believe that all the old, invisible barriers to advancement in
French society have been abolished.
The appointment of a woman of
Arab origin, Rachida Dati, as justice minister was an important and welcome
advance. And yet the man who wants to break down the old social and racial
cronyism is also appointing his cronies to key positions. He has,
Berlusconi-like, installed the former head of his private office, Laurent
Solly, 36, as the head of the most watched French TV channel, TF1. Through his
billionaire friends, he already has a grip on much of the written media,
especially Paris-Match and the rest of the glossy magazine sector.
As if all this were not enough,
Sarkozy seems determined, like some kind of African dictator, to control the
opposition. Most of the sitting deputies of the old centrist party, the UDF,
have been tempted to save their careers by joining a new, pro-Sarko, fake
independent centre party. He is now talking of creating a new faction of
"left-wingers for Sarkozy" in the National Assembly.
Officially, all this is intended
to prepare the ramparts for the inevitable backlash against the Sarkozy
programme of fiscal, social and economic reforms. Like Mrs Thatcher before him,
M. Sarkozy wants to create a sense of inevitability. Il n’y a pas d’autre
solution. There is no alternative. Already, however, one can trace the
beginnings of a classic, French, political parabola. Enormous popularity turns
into enormous unpopularity as the personal impact of the reform programme dawns
on the French public.
What? We have to pay more
towards the cost of our own medical care? No way. What? We have to pay higher
VAT to relieve the burden of health and unemployment costs on the "social
charges" on employers (ie on jobs)? No way.
M. Sarkozy may still be drunk on
power and popularity but a hangover may not be far away.
Soldier missing and 40 factory
staff trapped in floods
Alexandra Topping and Helen Pidd
Saturday June 16, 2007
A teenage soldier who fell into
a swollen river was still missing and more than 40 workers remained trapped
inside a factory yesterday after thunderstorms and torrential rain caused
severe flooding across the UK. Train services were disrupted, homes flooded and
motorists stranded after heavy rainfall which is expected to continue into the
Futile, fraudulent or worse
Imperial Life in the Emerald City by Rajiv Chandrasekaran and The Occupation of Iraq by
Ali A Allawi are two very different books on Iraq that point to the same grim conclusion, writes Oliver
Saturday June 16, 2007
The paternal instinct
The number of men choosing to
stay at home and raise the kids has doubled in the past 14 years. Blake
Morrison asks them what it’s like and why they do it
Saturday June 16, 2007
‘Resist the temptation to
Has Quentin Tarantino made his
first ever chick flick? Only if you ignore the guy who rams young girls with
his car … The director tells Damon Wise why Death Proof is his most
‘real-life’ film yet
Friday May 4, 2007
For your entertainment
Mainstream movies are getting
darker and more violent. And as Quentin Tarantino’s latest project, Grindhouse,
demonstrates, the worst of the violence is often directed at women. Kira
Cochrane on the rise of ‘torture porn’
Tuesday May 1, 2007
With the Brits in Helmand
What is life really like for
British troops on tour in Afghanistan? Declan Walsh has just spent two weeks with them. Here,
in a photo special, he describes his time on the front line
Tuesday May 1, 2007
Broad Effort to Resurrect
By ROBERT PEAR
Published: June 16, 2007
WASHINGTON, June 15 — At 4:30 p.m.
on June 7, the Roman Catholic Church defied the sponsors of a comprehensive
immigration bill and urged the Senate not to move toward final passage of the
measure without significant changes.