Intl. Notebook | Politique Diabolique Apr 22 2009
WINGS OF DESIRE
Italian premier depicted by artist as leering angel.


In Italy, artist Filippo Panseca recently unveiled a controversial painting in which Italian premier Silvio Berlusconi takes the form of a nude angel canoodling with a bare-breasted government minister and former starlet named Mara Carfagna. Though Panseca has created similar pieces over the years, including one showing Berlusconi’s wife Veronica Lario topless and with neat v-shaped pubes (below), the reaction to this new portrait surprised him. “I did it as a joke,” Panseca told the Associated Press yesterday. “I’ve been doing all sorts of works for fifty years. I didn’t expect to raise such clamor with this.”

Perhaps not, but in Italy, where politics and sex are so intertwined Italians once voted porno actress Ilona Staller into the parliament, it isn’t so surprising people took notice, particularly when one considers that two years ago Berlusconi commented to Carfagna, “If I weren’t married I would marry you immediately.” The aside infuriated Berlusconi’s wife, and she demanded a public apology. Intentionally or not, Panseca definitelycaptured a conspiratorial moment in his new portrait. Berlusconi might as well be whispering to Carfagna that he has a nice little stimulus package under his drape. In any case, now that he’s eternally enshrined on canvas with the object of his lust, it’s safe to assume his wife is seriously peeved again. If she buys the painting and burns it, we won’t be surprised. As for Filippo Panseca, perhaps it’s finally time to expand his repertoire beyond Italian political figures. We suggest a winged Sarah Palin flying above a crowd of heavily armed Alaskan bird hunters.

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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
December 05
1933—Prohibition Ends in United States
Utah becomes the 36th U.S. state to ratify the 21st Amendment to the United States Constitution, thus establishing the required 75% of states needed to overturn the 18th Amendment which had made the sale of alcohol illegal. But the criminal gangs that had gained power during Prohibition are now firmly established, and maintain an influence that continues unabated for decades.
1945—Flight 19 Vanishes without a Trace
During an overwater navigation training flight from Fort Lauderdale, five U.S. Navy TBM Avenger torpedo-bombers lose radio contact with their base and vanish. The disappearance takes place in what is popularly known as the Bermuda Triangle.
December 04
1918—Wilson Goes to Europe
U.S. President Woodrow Wilson sails to Europe for the World War I peace talks in Versailles, France, becoming the first U.S. president to travel to Europe while in office.
1921—Arbuckle Manslaughter Trial Ends
In the U.S., a manslaughter trial against actor/director Roscoe 'Fatty' Arbuckle ends with the jury deadlocked as to whether he had killed aspiring actress Virginia Rappe during rape and sodomy. Arbuckle was finally cleared of all wrongdoing after two more trials, but the scandal ruined his career and personal life.
December 03
1964—Mass Student Arrests in U.S.
In California, Police arrest over 800 students at the University of California, Berkeley, following their takeover and sit-in at the administration building in protest at the UC Regents' decision to forbid protests on university property.
1968—U.S. Unemployment Hits Low
Unemployment figures are released revealing that the U.S. unemployment rate has fallen to 3.3 percent, the lowest rate for almost fifteen years. Going forward all the way to the current day, the figure never reaches this low level again.
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