Christopher Buckley

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Ciao, Alitalia

“The Pope’s Airline, Alitalia, to Fly Last Flight” — MarketWatch

Alitalia may have had its faults, but how many airlines can claim to have been the “pope’s airline” for over five centuries?

According to Flying Pontiff Quarterly, the trade journal that has covered papal air travel for some centuries now, recent scholarship has unearthed a long-buried document in the overdue section of the Vatican library purporting to trace Alitalia’s role as the official carrier of supreme pontiffs to the papacy of Julius II (1503-13).

The document, titled in Latin “Numquam ad Tempus” (“Never on Time”), asserts that Alitalia had its beginning in the early 1500s, a time of great turbulence (grande turbolenza) and papal fastening of seatbelts as the Holy See engaged in fierce power struggles with the Holy Roman Empire, France, Venice, Naples, Florence and Reykjavik.…  Seguir leyendo »

Since the Soviet Union folded in 1991, Russia has been tippy-toeing around the dead mouse on the national living room floor, namely Lenin’s embalmed corpse.

Every few years, someone suggests doing something about it. Some weeks ago, Vladimir Medinsky, Russia’s minister of culture, said in a radio interview that he thought it was time Lenin was put to use pushing up the daisies. Not his exact words, but you get the drift.

When the subject came up in 2009, the Community Party leader, Gennadi A. Zyuganov, went predictably ballistic.

These periodic suggestions send Russia’s Communists into a spluttering rage. Yes, Russia still has a Communist Party; some myths really do die hard.…  Seguir leyendo »

Do the lives of Gandhi, Solzhenitsyn and Mandela tell us more about the future than those of Stalin, Hitler and Mao? Several prominent world-watchers tell us what they think.

Ai Weiwei, Chinese artist and activist.

Throughout history, political and social change only existed in the forms we knew because protest actions, be they violent or peaceful, were carried out with a lack of resources, especially in terms of communications. Individuals could mobilize and share information with others only to a limited extent. Such circumstances posed obstacles to protest actions that people can take and hindered the impact of their efforts.…  Seguir leyendo »

Tengo enmarcada una caricatura del semanario The New Yorker en la que aparecen dos caballeros muy correctos, con sus trajes, sus gafas y sus sombreros, que se presentan ante la garita de guardia que hay delante de la Casa Blanca. El pie del dibujo reza: «Somos de la Extrema Derecha. Hemos venido a que nos tranquilicen un poco». El chiste data de la época del primer Gobierno de Reagan y, en mi opinión, refleja con amabilidad la tempestad, por aquel entonces desenfrenada, que desató la supuesta traición de Reagan a los principios fundamentales de los conservadores. ¡Qué curioso! A juzgar por las declaraciones que en la actualidad hacen los candidatos a ambos lados (¡ejem!)…  Seguir leyendo »