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The Divine Comedy – (Around the world)

Dante Divine Comedy

Halfway along our life’s path. Lost in a dark wood.
Unable to find the right way….


Dear Beatrice…


“Where do they find the time?” many people are wondering in the streets of France  after their president Francois Hollande was caught having an affair with a French actress Julie Gayet  . Yes that ‘s what we’d like to know too,  because there’s not much  cause for celebration in France at the moment and one would expect  the country’s first citizen to consider more the waves of discontent he is  creating across the nation rather than his personal needs. Of course we all understand the pressure he might be under. But aren’t we all, with our daily struggle to make ends meet? and paradoxically all  thanks to those politicians who spend so much time pretending to act like leaders  but who then hide behind the privacy laws in order to cover up their own  inadequacies?  We expect them to be wiser and more profound than us common mortals but  unfortunately it is patently not the case as this kind of personal behaviour seems to be replicated across the globe.  Dear Mr Hollande the 60s mantra was “Make love not war” – not “Make love and war.


A baby a nun gave birth to in Rieti, about 50 km from Rome has been given the name Francesco.  The situation arose after an emergency call the nuns from her convent  of The Little Disciples of Jesus made to the local hospital as their fellow sister had uncontrollable stomach pains. Imagine the dismay of the doctors when she got to the emergency room and was found to be pregnant,  and imagine the shock  her mother superior must have had when she was informed of the news, especially considering it had been only last September the sister/mother solemnly promised to follow her vows of ‘chastity, poverty and obedience’!.
It is thought she may have become pregnant while visiting El Salvador in 2013. According to a spokeperson for Delio Lucarelli, the bishop of Rieti, the nun has been forced out of the convent and is now required to “lead a secular life with her baby, away from religious institutions”. Considering  the nun claimed she didn’t know she was pregnant,  why immediately discount the possibility of an immaculate conception ? Anyway when a new child comes into the world it is always something to celebrate and we are very happy that mother and child are both doing well and living in sheltered housing. Shame she had to leave the convent though, but rules in the church are strict and must be adhered to. Let’s hope Pope Francis will be up for baptising this illegitimate child especially as he has done so for the first time for a baby born to a couple still living at the time ‘in sin’. Some progress after all.


His last concert was on the 26th of August but for Claudio Abbado conducting an orchestra was summed up in a German word he used frequently: zusammenmusizieren i.e making music together He was  the music director for La Scala Opera House in Milan , principal conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra ,  the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Vienna State Opera, and principal conductor of the  Berlin Philharmonic, succeeding the great Karajan, no mean feat that!.    Nobody brought to the world stage young musicians like he did. He was founder and music director of the  European Union Youth Orchestra  (1978) and the Gustav Mahler Jugendorchester (1986). He was also a frequent guest conductor with the The Chamber Orchestra of Europe with whom he recorded a cycle of Schubert symphonies to considerable acclaim. More recently, he worked with the  Orchestra Sinfonica Simon Bolivar of Venezuela. In Ferrara (Italy) once conducting  the Chamber Orchestra of Europe he had planned to play as an encore the overture to the  Nozze di Figaro but the orchestra played the Barber of Seville overture instead, as a joke. Abbado initially was a bit taken aback but quickly saw the funny side of it and carried on conducting, laughing all the way to the end. Upon his return to the Milan La Scala Opera House he agreed his fee should be used to plant trees in the city. He was an avid environmentalist and now he’ll be ‘making music together’ in the Garden of Eden touching the hearts of the spirits as he did ours throughout his life.


Virgil what can be said of …the Marie Antoinettes of the political and economic world

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If I tell you that the 85 richest people across the globe share a combined wealth of £1trillion, as much as the poorest 3.5 billion of the world’s population?  I am afraid this isn’t a joke.  It’s a fact!
A report entitled “Working For The Few” (summary here), published by Oxfam, a charity fighting poverty across the globe, reveals that the wealth of the 1% richest people in the world amounts to $110tn (£60.88tn), or 65 times as much as the poorest half of the world, and then goes on to express its fear that  this concentration of economic resources is threatening political stability and driving up social tensions.
In the report, Oxfam warns the fight against poverty cannot be won until wealth inequality has been tackled. “Widening inequality is creating a vicious circle where wealth and power are increasingly concentrated in the hands of a few, leaving the rest of us to fight over the crumbs from the top table,” Winnie Byanyima, the Oxfam executive director, said. Certainly food for thought and a disturbing wake-up call for all of us.


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“Germans en-golf-ed!” could be the tabloid headline summing up the latest finding from ADAC (Allgemeiner Deutscher Automobil Club), regarding sales of new cars in Germany. It seems the most popular model Germans preferred above all others was the Volkswagen Golf, principally for its reliability over time. But now it turns out this statistic is the result of the facts being manipulated by Michael Ramstetter, head of P.R. at the influential German automobile association.  “We are sorry” said Karl Obermair, the number one at ADAC, “the person responsible will be punished”.  But the damage has been done not only for the most powerful car club in the world but also for image of the country as a whole. In fact there are strong suspicions this skewing of the facts has been going on for some time at the expense of non-German car producers, deliberately misrepresenting the performance of companies like Fiat-Chrysler, Renault-Nissan, PSA Peugeot Citroen, Toyota and Hyundai-Kia.
Since the scam was exposed in Bild am Sonntag, the most popular daily in Germany, nobody believes what the association has to say anymore. Oh well! It’s just the same story for every country, even the previously most trustworthy one in Europe appears no longer to be immune. “Gute Fahrt!”

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“Germany didn’t include the cost of  hospitals in the public sector. France decided the pension fund of their national phone company did not belong to the public administration and Belgium sold its gold reserves. Greece did nothing comparable”. So Nicos Christodoulakis, the former finance minister who in 2001 succeeded in taking Greece into the eurozone, has claimed in a recent interview he gave to the German finance daily Handelsblatt under the headline “Everything was legal”. Christodoulakis firmly believes that the EU must finance a maxi project of 100 billion euros of which 17 billion would be invested in  Greece and he believes that at the end of year Athens would be able to return on the market  as previously announced by the Samaras government. [/tab][/tabgroup]


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Are we all turning into a bunch of voyeurs?  That’s what Google seems to think with its latest app  “Sex with Glass”. The head of the project, Sherif Maktabi, believes that sex with glasses could be even better and introduced the new app at the Wearable Tech Hackathon in February. In practical terms the app is meant to allow couples having sex to see what their partner is seeing. It works like this, the couple synchronises their glasses and the recording starts. The resulting file is downloaded onto a server and the couple can watch the recording and share it if they like. The material is strictly private, only available for a maximum of five hours and is then deleted.  Of course we can’t even imagine do not even what misery hackers could inflict if they managed to get hold of your personal videos even within the limit of five hours, but let’s leave that particular marketing tool  to the discretion of  the celebrities and their PR machines!. But more to the point, apart from all the faff getting organised before you indulge in this sort of thing call me old fashioned, aren’t we forgetting here that the reason for  being with somebody is  the sensual experience of the act rather than watching it afterwards?  Dear techy generation addicted to apps, I say if you really want to wear something during sex, wear a condom rather than a pair of glasses. It would save you getting into trouble.  [/tab]

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“1000 Londoners a year could be saved from dying of cancer if doctors were able to detect the disease earlier”, health chiefs declared, unveiling a five year master plan to improve screening. Macmillan Cancer ‘s annual patient  survey has rated  London hospitals  as the worst in the country  for the last three years.   Dr Andy Mitchell, medical director of NHS England’s London region said “It is unacceptable for a thousand people to be dying unnecessarily each year because their cancer is not spotted early enough. Compared with other parts of the world, cancer services in London are falling short. Cancer is not the death sentence that it once was and can be treatable and beatable”. Under the plan GPs will be urged to go for specialist cancer training.  Local surgeries will be required to spend money on “stop smoking” services and provide patients with help and guidance on unhealthy diets, alcohol and excess weight. Life style factors are to blame for a third of new diagnoses in people aged 55 and over will be and this demographic will be especially urged to be screened so that common cancers, in particular bowel cancer, can be detected at an early stage and patients in London will have a better chance of beating the disease.  [/tab]

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Since former president Felipe Calderon sent in his soldiers seven years ago to fight against organised crime, more than 80.000 deaths have occurred in Michoacan, one of the 31 states which, with the Federal District of Mexico city comprise the 32 federal areas of the state of Mexico.

The most critical phase of the conflict began last year when the so-called ‘Knights Templar’ – a cartel that makes an estimated 75 million US dollars per year from drug trafficking – has diversified by getting  involved in avocado and lime production but more importantly in the exploitation of iron ore in the region, to the extent that they have taken over the port administration regulating exports to such countries as China  More troops have been sent in by current president Enrique Peña Nieto to restore the territory under government control. Last January Mexican security forces arrested 38 members, including 37-year-old Jesus Vasquez Macias, whom officials described as a leading figure in the gang. Federal forces are now in control of 27 of Michoacan state’s 113 municipalities – which leaves 86 still to go!




To what other terraces of doom and pain, dear Virgil, will you accompany me… next time….





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