29 September, 2009

Roman Polanski

Frédéric Mitterand (now there’s an interesting name), the French Culture minister, has said that Roman Polanski should not be detained under a valid extradition warrant and in this he is backed by a host of arty farties, pleading, on what grounds I do not know, that he be released. Jacek Bromski, head of the Polish Filmmakers Association said ‘most people feel he has atoned for the sins of his young years’. Is this right? Do they? I rather think they don’t.

Polanski was convicted, having pleaded guilty, to having had sex with a minor. In America as in Britain and other civilised countries this is regarded as rape because a child cannot be deemed able to consent. Again as in other countries it is not subject to a statute of limitations.

Of course Polanski must return to America to serve his sentence just as any other fugitive from justice would have to. What I want to know is how he came to live openly in France, having taken French citizenship. Is it the custom in France to offer sanctuary to convicted rapists and paedophiles on the run? What has been going on here? Mitterand says Sarkozy himself is urging that the warrant be dropped.


28 September, 2009

Hitler Shock

The Daily Mail reveals that tests have shown that the skull believed to be Hitler's, taken from the bunker, is in fact that of a woman.

This can mean one of two things: either it is not Hitler's skull or.....

Makes you think, doesn't it?

25 September, 2009

EU: The Lisbon Treaty - hope?

Mary Ellen Synon writes in the Mail that the Irish referendum on Lisbon isn't as important as everyone thought. The excellent Vaclav Klaus, President of the Czech Republic, has said he will sign the thing only after the November elections there, but it now appears that the caretaker government will last well into next year, perhaps June, when there must be elections in the UK. Cameron, if he wins, will hold a referendum in which the British will certainly vote NO.

I can't say I quite share Mary Ellen's optimism - there are some fairly unscrupulous people involved here - but this might just be a ray of hope that the countries of the EU will retain some of their democracy for a little while longer.

24 September, 2009

Baroness Scotland (2)

There is a petition on the Downing St website to urge the immediate dismissal of Baroness Scotland. You can sign it, if you like, here

Silvio for the Nobel!

Just when you thought the great man was on his last legs, we learn that there is a movement to award the Nobel Peace Prize to Silvio Berlusconi. It is said to be receiving hundreds of signatures every day, although its website, http://silvioperilnobel.sitonline.it/ lists only around 30, most of whom, by an astonishing coincidence, appear to be members of his PdL party. The website is linked to Facebook and Twitter and invites you to contribute by credit card if your impatience is overwhelming you. No Italian has received the Peace Prize since 1907 and, as the website points out, it has been awarded in the past to Yasser Arafat and Al Gore. Cometh the hour, cometh the man.

The next event in the programme of the Leader’s candidature is on 29th September at the Piazza Colonna, Rome, to celebrate his 73rd birthday. Nearest airports are Fiumicino and Ciampino in case you want to leave Rome in a hurry.

But the great news is that there is a campaign song for you to sing along with, ‘Peace can’ written by Loriana Lana, who has contributed to some of the Berlusconi / Apicella smash hit albums. It is available here. At the risk of spoiling it for you, I can reveal that it contains the line (my translation) ‘The Abruzzo awakes incredulous, the snow and the sun meet, and your hand is here.’ I found it a moving experience.

They are correct to refer to these previous winners. I think this is the direction the Nobel Prize committee has been seeking. Come on Silvio!

22 September, 2009

Baroness Scotland

Scarcely believable. This is the position as I write. Some time ago the Labour Party pushed through a change to the immigration procedures making it a criminal offence for anyone employing an illegal immigrant not to have done the necessary enquiry into the employee's status and not to have kept a copy of the documentation supplied. It was a typical Labour law designed to put further burden on small private sector companies. Little did they think it would one day snare one of their own.

The minister responsible for pushing this legislation through Parliament was Baroness Scotland who is now Attorney General, the chief legal adviser to the Government.

It turns out that Lady Scotland herself employed an illegal immigrant without keeping copies of the documents and has now been fined £5,000 by the UK Border Agency. Gordon Brown's office says it was not intentional and she can stay in her job.

The whole point of this legislation was that you can still be guilty without it being intentional: a further example of being guilty until proven innocent, a concept which has been creeping into our legal system over the last decade or so.

It is quite impossible for the Attorney General to stay in her job now, indeed she should have resigned days ago. Otherwise it is a case of making laws which everyone has to obey except the Party Apparatchiks.

She must go, and go immediately.

20 September, 2009

UK: the pound in your pocket

Surprise goings on in the curency markets where sterling has fallen to 1.11 against the euro. A surprise to me at least, and, it would appear, to a number of traders.

It seems the reason was some rather exuberant reporting of a statement by the Governor of the Bank of England Mervyn King, concerning reducing the rates paid on bank deposits at the Central Bank. The Bank has said this was merely a restatement of what it had said in the August Inflation Report.

There may be a slight readjustment but not much more for a bit. The markets are still worried about monetary conditions in the UK. However I still forecast a realignment against the euro as we begin to come out of recession, due to Britain's more flexible labour markets.

Berlusconi update

Incidentally there are rumours among the chattering classes of the right that a surprise contender for Berlusconi's replacement might be Mario Draghi, governor of the Central Bank and former big smell at Goldman Sachs. You heard it here first.

19 September, 2009

Berlusconi: the enemies circle

Perhaps we might say that Silvio Berlusconi is not scared who he chooses as his enemies. There seem to be a few, now.

The Church is not happy with him, in particular because he fought back; but he was right, if clumsy, to do so. Dino Boffo, the editor of l’Avvenire, the newspaper of the Bishops’ Conference, was not in a position to lecture people on their moral peccadilloes and has rightly resigned.

There has been some rough and tumble, if not exactly a rift, with Gianfranco Fini, the former leader of Alleanza Nazionale which has merged with Berlusconi’s Forza Italia into the PdL. It would appear Fini, effectively Berlusconi’s deputy, was anticipating the great man's demise and positioning himself, a little early, towards the centre. Il Giornale, the Berlusconi family paper, has advised him to get back to the right if he doesn’t want to appear any more ridiculous than he already does (their words not mine). Fini says he will sue Il Giornale.

Lastly, Berlusconi is being sued by Rupert Murdoch. Amidst great complaint from Rupe, Berlusconi increased the VAT rate on subscription TV, saying it was a requirement of the EU and that it would hit Berlù’s pay channels as well.

We now learn that Murdoch is behind much of the Berlusconi smearing that has been going on. His new York papers have been most outrageous, claiming for example that Silvio was the father of Noemi Letizia, the young model whose birthday party he attended. Murdoch has even got the classics academic Mary Beard, who writes for the Times, to pen a comparison between Berlusconi and the Emperor Tiberias.

Now there are rumours that the Mafia is turning against him. A little known member of the coalition is Movimento per l’Autonomia, regarded almost humorously in that, in a mirror image of the Lega Nord, it seeks more autonomy for Sicily and the South. But the MpA is suddenly making fantastic gains in the polls. Berlusconi has hitherto expected a clean sweep of the Sicily electorate; increasingly it is being said this is no longer on offer.

So is the great man toppling? We shall see. His goal is to become president, and Napolitano’s term expires in June 2011, at which time there must also be general elections. The president is elected not by the people but by Parliament. Some are apparently whispering in Berlù’s ear that if he were to call a snap election he would win it. He would promise Fini and the rest that he would step down to become President when Napolitano leaves. I think he would like this reasoning: it is dealing with stronger enemies seemingly from a position of power.

Whether he is the right person to become President is another matter. Still, Napolitano was a former comunist and we seem to have been happy to forget his earlier life. Why not?

18 September, 2009

UK Health: the risks

The latest horror shock from the medical fraternity is a survey of the fate of some 19,000 civil servants, aged 40-69, set up in the late 60s. The researchers concentrated on smoking, high blood pressure and cholesterol, those being the high cardiovascular risk factors, and found that the main cardiovascular risks were, yes, smoking, high blood pressure and cholesterol.

The subjects were followed up some 40 years later by which some 13,501 had died.

I should have thought that the remarkable thing about the survey was that 5,500 of these smoking, low exercising, cholesterol ingesting heroes were still alive aged between 80 and 109, comfortably past the average life expectancy.

UK: postal disaster

It seems the UK is heading for a postal strike, something contemplated by the majority of citizens with a degree of equanimity. Why? Because for most of us the product Royal Mail are offering is outdated and expensive. Now the company haemorrhaging cash. Our cash.

I remember the Tories having the chance to rid the taxpayer of this burden, but they (in particular Michael Heseltine) chickened out. We shall have paid a high price for his yellow streak by the time it is all over.

But having decided to keep it (there was some nonsense about it being a meeting point for old people) governments took their eye off the ball. In the 1990s, with a buoyant economy and the internet still something new, Royal Mail made a surplus of something like £2.5 billion. This figure, however, masks a number of problems which might have been seen even then, in particular a weak management and short sighted unions. Three things have happened more recently to turn a failed industry into a national disaster:

1 The EU has forced Royal Mail to open up to competition (ie foreign competition) for letters weighing more than 50g (about two ounces).
2 Gordon Brown’s raiding of the pension funds in 1997
3 the coming of the internet

Now not everyone can use the internet and it is not ideal for all forms of communication (enclosing a fiver in your letter to your grandson for example) but here is an indication of what should have happened.

Mrs Jones of Cornwall goes into her nearest sub post office with a letter she has written to her sister on the Isle of Skye. She feeds it into the scanner (the employee cannot read it), and gives her sister’s name and address. The letter is then faxed to Skye, arriving within one second, is printed and automatically enclosed in an envelope. Her sister can collect it or for a small extra charge have it delivered (about 2 miles). Quicker, greener, better in every way. The reason we haven’t got this system is the government failed to hand Royal Mail over to the private sector when it could have. A condition would have been providing a universal service and this, utilising simple technology, would have been what the new owners would have come up with.

Now we are left with a lunatic workforce which doesn’t realise it is in an industry on its last legs, and a massive underfunding of the pension commitments (socialists never fix the roof when the sun is shining). This shortfall is said to be some £10 billion, a sum we haven’t got. And they want to go on strike.

17 September, 2009

European Parliament: Babel

Splendid scenes in the European Parliament as Enzo Rivellini, an MEP from Southern Italy, addressed the chamber in the Neapolitan dialect. This completely floored the translation team, who were unable to do their job and even Italian members were left scratching their heads.
Unfortunately we shall never know what he said.

16 September, 2009

UK: Cuts, cuts, cuts

Mr Brown has finally uttered the ‘c’ word, without actually saying he will take any toys away. He said he will cancel ‘unnecessary’ expenditure. I do hope Mr Cameron asks him to outline how much ‘unnecessary’ expenditure he has authorised over the last 12 years.

In the meantime, Irwin Stelzer in the Telegraph warns Mr Cameron that he will need a clear mandate to cut expenditure, and that means putting detail in the manifesto.

The Liberal Democrats’ spokesman, John ‘Vince’ Cable, has to his credit set out some examples of possible cuts, amounting to £50 billion. Not enough, but a start, and interesting to see the sort of stuff which will have to go. They are on the excellent Reform site.

15 September, 2009

Sweet dreams

As I go to bed the BBC newsflash says 'A ship that may contain nuclear waste has been allegedly blown up by the mafia off Italy'.

That's OK then. Sleep tight.

Keith Floyd

So much has been said about Keith Floyd, who has died, that it needs little from me.

He made cookery OK for blokes. Not just males, but guys who drank, smoked and enjoyed themselves.

Thanks, Keith, from this bloke.

Lehman, the crisis and the politicians

I have been listening carefully to the TV, radio and blogging media about the first anniversary of the Lehman Brothers collapse. I don’t know about anyone else but I have found vagueness, confusion and wordiness as a substitute for knowledge to an extent almost unprecedented.

I should like to mention first, in passing, that if you had asked anyone in the financial markets before the crash which firm they would like to go bust ignominiously, they would have said Lehman. It had an arrogance, a class-based superiority which is less uncommon in East Coast America than most people think but which was out of place on Wall Street. At the time I and others were warning about the moral hazard of giving banks a bailout and Lehman was a perfect answer of ‘pour encourager les autres’.

The questions people seem to be asking a year on are ‘Can it happen again?’, and ‘Why didn’t we have regulation to make sure the banks had enough capital?’. The answer to the first question is yes, and it will, but not for maybe a generation. The second is more difficult, and more interesting.

Regulation is done, either at first hand or second, by politicians. Someone has wisely said that come the next collapse we will be rushing around imposing the regulation we should have had for the previous ones, as they say of generals always preparing for the previous war. Some of it is bad. The Clinton administration wanted everyone to have a house. So it told the two state bank/reinsurance companies, Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, to do most of their business with high risk poor people. It wasn’t all Lehman’s fault.

But there was some regulation on capital and in retrospect it is fairly easy to see why we were all wasting our time. Let us say a bank has £10 of capital, and, looking solid, it borrows £90 and lends a total of £100. That is a leverage of ten times: its loans are ten times its capital, so it only takes ten percent of them (£10) to go bad and they have wiped out their capital and can’t repay their borrowings. Many of the banks were leveraged 30 times, which means it only takes around 3% to go bad and they are in trouble. Given that in the States, thanks to Mr Clinton, they were lending to insolvent Mississippi farmhands to buy a property and you can see there will have been problems.

Some years ago, in the early 1980s if I recall, the chaps from the Bank for International Settlements in Basel, Switzerland, came up with a formula for regulation. Naturally not all loans were the same. Lending money to the farmhand unsecured was highly risky, whereas secured against a property meant you were likely to get something back. So they made a table of different types of exposure, secured, unsecured etc, requiring different amounts of capital. Then what to do about guarantees? If the bank guarantees A’s loan to B there was the chance that B would pay it back, or part of it, so it should need less capital put by. Then suppose Barclays Bank asked Natwest to lend money to a company called Barclays Bank (Dodgy Lending) Ltd. Natwest didn’t get a guarantee but look at the name! A guarantee in itself! Then suppose BB (DL) L floats on the stock exchange, sells shares and we start selling options on their share price? Wow! Or make a market in the future price of those options? Or give the options futures away to enhance the risk on even dodgier stuff, like toys in the packet of cornflakes? Wow Wow Wow!

So as soon as the regulations appeared, banks started to devise ways to get around them, to take more profit-generating risks without having to provide more capital.

And if you put more regulations in place there will be more people paid million dollar bonuses to get round them. The solution is what we had before Gordon Brown became Chancellor. The Bank of England had its nose in every banking pie and could understand what was going on and occasionally warn that it was too much. Brown’s socialist mentality couldn’t cope with this so he split this responsibility between the Bank, the Government and the Financial Services Authority. Three times the people doing the same work but no one was responsible and no one knew what was happening. Northern Rock, which should have gone under for imcompetence, was rescued for the simple reason its base was in Labour heartlands and it had been a donator to the Labour Party. If it had been Cheltenham and Gloucester (Tory), Labour would have laughed its head off and we would have been saved billions.

That’s the problem with regulation. It’s done by politicians.


I have learned something interesting about football (something interesting! At last!), which I shall pass on to you. I expect you already knew it.

The length of a pitch must be between 100 yards (90m) and 130 yards (120m) and the width not less than 50 yards (45m) and not more than 100 yards (90m).

So the pitch could be a square, something I don’t recall ever seeing, or it could be a rectangle measuring anything between 90m x 45m and 120m x 90m, ie between 4,050 sq m and 10,800 sq m, over two and a half times the size!

They ought to introduce the same idea with tennis.

EU: claim more holidays!

In a new decision relating to the interpretation of the Working Time Directive (the diktat which makes you a criminal if you work longer hours than they want you to) the European Court of Justice has ruled that if a worker falls ill during his holiday he can reclaim the time from his employers. He just reclassifies that period as sick leave.

But don’t worry. Obviously nobody is going to try to fiddle this and claim by email from Lanzarote that they have a tummy upset. Are they?

14 September, 2009

Norman Borlaug

I don't suppose more than a tiny fraction of people have heard of Norman Borlaug, who has died aged 95, but he is credited with saving some 245 million lives, an almost incredible figure.

Borlaug developed disease resistant wheat, the principal characteristic of which was that it was short and so in heavy rain the tops didn't fall over into the water. This revolutionised production in Mexico, Pakistan and India, doubling yields when combined with modern growing techniques and staving off certain famine.

245 million. Quite an achievement.

11 September, 2009

UK: car workers, crooks and the Phoenix Four

Interesting goings on over the ashes of Rover, what was left of Tony Benn’s British Leyland by the time reality had begun to creep up.

In 2000 BMW, which had bought the group, decided it was beyond saving (something any British taxpayer could have told them several millions earlier). BMW had received government support and knew it would have to leave decently (ie tossing some more cash in). There were two bids. One, from a private equity firm called Alchemy, said quite openly that the only part worth saving was the MG sports car group and gave its proposals: the rest would be abandoned and the workers laid off.

Alchemy’s proposal was too much (ie too honest) for the then DTI Secretary, Stephen Byers, who was brokering the deal using our money. He went for the only alternative, a bid by the ‘Phoenix Four’ led by John Towers who had previously run the group (not, you might have thought, a great thing to have on your CV). The Phoenix bid claimed to save mass production of cars in England. Anyway Byers, terrified of the response of the unions, and in the middle of an election campaign adopted the bid, seemingly without looking at it too closely. Of course taxpayers’ money went in - £6.5 million was the last instalment but there had been many more before that.

We knew three or four years ago that these people took out around £40 million in cash and pensions while the company went under. While we are on the subject of overpayment for work done or not done, it should be mentioned that we seem to be no further on now after a report which took four years to write and cost £16 million. Peter Mandelson delayed the publication of the report, again for party (or personal) poitical reasons.

The Government is not criticised by the report, due to its terms of reference (these people aren’t fools). What we need is a report (costing a fair bit less than £16 million) to determine whether Stephen Byers made the right decision (the workers would have been laid off 5 years earlier but would have got their full redundancy money and pensions which they didn’t in the end), whether he was negligent in not preventing asset stripping of the rump of the company for private gain (don't forget it was our money which went into this) and whether he made that decision in the interests of country / economy / workers or for narrow party political reasons.

Naturally no such report ill ever be commissioned. Labour Party politicians have saved their necks and the people who have suffered are the workers they claimed to represent.

08 September, 2009

Health: they're at it again

The British medical Association want a ban on the marketing of alcohol. In a report made by the BBC, another organisation which seems to think its métier is to tell people how to behave, it says over a third of adults are drinking over recommended amounts. Two thirds, or a clear majority, aren't, we may conclude. They want minimum pricing, a ban on happy hours and two-for-one purchases and higher levels of tax. A spokesman for the British Liver Trust (did you know there was such a thing? Guess who pays for that!), said the report put a "compelling case for change".

The guidelines for these people ought to be clearly defined and they ought to know them. If the National Health Service believes that it could save money (that is if we would have to pay less into it) by advertising or informing the public on a matter of health (fewer GP treatments and hospital admissions because of the adverts) then it should go ahead and that money should come out of its budget. If it is trying to tell us how to live (and what a lot of people we are paying to do that) it should shut up.

Literacy Day

Someone at the UN (actually I bet it's a large committee with undersecretaries, sub-managers and interns) is charged with naming days for whatever is the current preoccupation (non-smoking day is some time in May, I think, and there's bound to be a 'wearing cycle helmets' Day soon). But here is one which seems to be of some value if, as I suppose, the aim is to get us thinking about it. Today is International Literacy Day.

Some West African countres have literacy rates at only 15%. The average for South and West Asia is under 60%. And of course without literacy these people cannot make progress and will remain poor, barbaric and increasingly subsidy dependent. The figures for female illiteracy in some places are appalling.

A useful one, for once.


I think the only time I have been in agreement with one of those Papal Bulls which emerges from the Eurocracy with such regularity is when they tried to stop Cadbury calling their Dairy Milk product 'chocolate', on the grounds that it contained so little of the stuff as not to qualify.

I should be glad if the company were bought by Kraft, which owns Tobler Suchard, and could teach them how to make a bar of chocolate. Start with Lindt 70% and work up to their 85%, is my advice. There is also a 99% if you are barking mad, as I am.

Libya: the compensation struggle

The silence, excuses, volte-faces and dithering which passes for the Government’s policy on Libya seems to have taken a rather strange turn.

Victims of IRA bombings, noticing that our own terrorists bought their explosive from Libya, are asking for compensation from Colonel Ghaddafi. Notice that no one thinks that Ghaddafi was involved in the bombings, just that he sold them the kit. This is a new and disturbing development. Britain is one of the largest arms manufacturers in the world. Will we pay compensation every time someone is killed using British made arms? Can the bereaved families of Falklands victims claim compensation from the French who made the exocet missiles?

The victims’ families would do as well to contact the Kennedy family in America for its support for NORAID (the IRA had to get the money to pay Ghaddafi). And I note that Britain has just sold Ghaddafi some riot control gear. I hope we are ready with our compensation money when he turns this stuff on his own citizens.

07 September, 2009

Alan Turing

There is a petition on the Downing St website for an apology for Alan Turing, the famous mathematician and computer genius (one of those few occasions where the use of the word is not an exaggeration).

Turing, from his work at Bletchley Park, helped win the war by decrypting enemy messages. After the war he began to work on computers. In 1952 he was convicted of gross indecency, involving a homosexual relationship with a young man. He took his own life a year later.

No one has more respect for Turing than I (inasmuch as I can understand his work) and I do not believe in persecuting homosexuals. But I have to say I am tired of this continual apology business. We have been urged to apologise for Britain’s actions in all manner of fields, recently soldiers shot for cowardice and the slave trade.

But why apologise? Why should Gordon Brown apologise for something that happened shortly after he was born? What effect would an apology have? To say we're not against homosexuality? Of course we're not: it's been legal for over 40 years now. The people who persecuted Turing are long since dead and were they still alive might or might not regret their actions, we'll never know.

Homosexuality was not legalised until 1967. Turing was breaking the law and knew he was breaking the law. If a law changes do we have to apologise to everyone convicted under the old law? Why?

This would be just an opportunity for Brown to wallow in his comfortable beliefs assuring the Guardian readers that he was on their side. An apology would do nothing to help poor Turing and would demean the Government. Not signing the petition doesn’t mean you hate gays and doesn’t mean you don’t respect one of the country’s greatest ever mathematicians. It means you’ve got common sense.

04 September, 2009

Jonathan Ross

Interesting news of the foul mouthed celeb, who, you will recall, was found to have left vulgar messages on the answerphone of a 70 year old actor, while earning £6 million a year from the BBC (ie the taxpayer).

The Sun newspaper reports that the BBC are busy renegotiating his contract, and that they are terrified the independent ITV would like to have him.

Let us monitor this. I think the BBC would be well advised to lose this particular race and that the market price of the performer will turn out to be a fair bit less than £6 million. The BBC, and I think it has forgotten this, is supposed to be a public service provider, maintaining all that is good in broadcasting (much of it is) and not competing for ratings with the private sector which does not have state support.

Berlu and the Bishops (2)

Boffo resigns. The extraordinary story of Silvio Berlusconi’s relations with the Roman Catholic Church – I was going to say ‘deteriorating relations’ but things seems to have passed that point – has taken a new twist.

Dino Boffo, the editor of l’Avvenire, the newspaper of the Bishops’ Conference, has resigned, citing the attack on him by Bruno Feltri, editor of Il Giornale which is owned by Berlusconi’s brother. In his statement Boffo said that whilst it was true he had been convicted of harassment and paid a fine, it was not he but a former drug addict to whom he had given shelter who had made the harassing calls on his mobile phone. This is really the most astonishingly stupid thing to say: that, accused of homosexuality (a sin in the world he inhabits), he denies any wrongdoing and says there was a bit of rough trade staying with him and using his mobile ‘phone.

Boffo has denied suggestions of a homosexual relationship in this case – although does not appear to deny being a homosexual. It seems the Catholic Church, given its attitude to homosexuality, has some questions to answer here. It is inconceivable that they did not know Boffo was gay, and actively so, and must have known that he had been convicted of harassment. How come he was allowed to stay in his job, particularly making moral accusations against a public figure? Pictures of a smiling Boffo shaking hands with the Pope are only gong to make things worse.

This will look as if it is Round 1 to Berlusconi. But this is the wrong enemy to take on. He must settle matters with the Church soon, it is too influential to fight.

02 September, 2009

Italy: hunting

The Italian hunting season has started, and from 6am our house sounds as if it were in a First World War battle zone. Italians take this very seriously and are beautifully kitted out: imagine male catwalk models where 'paramilitary' was the style of the day. Their guns are often sophisticated multi-round pump action repeaters and their sunglasses more Schwarzenegger than Lennon.

They don't hit much - to be fair there isn't much left to hit. Last year some people were fined for shooting thrushes but there is little policing. If it moves they shoot it, be it squirrel, hare, blue tit or whatever. They have the right to walk all over your land in pursuit of this slaughter and many is the domestic dog or cat fed poisoned titbits to prevent it from disturbing the game.

About 20 years ago there was a referendum on whether these hunting rights should be restricted and the voting was about 15:1 in favour of stopping it. But unfortunately the turnout at under 50% did not constitute a quorum and the attempt failed.

This is one of the very few areas of Italian life which is crude, selfish and unlovely. Apparently a new attempt is in the offing to stop it. We shall see.