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Watching Trump From Italy — Perils Of An American Berlusconi

Donald Trump on Nov. 24 in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
Donald Trump on Nov. 24 in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
Massimo Gramellini

TURIN — Like in a comedy that suddenly turns into tragedy, a caricature of Silvio Berlusconi may become the next president of the United States. It's not really shocking that Donald Trump would propose closing the Internet and the borders to Muslims, as Americans have grown sick and tired of President Obama's babblings and potential successors jump on any opportunity to score points with the most outlandish froth from the mouth. And no one can outdo the man with the bronze-colored mop of hair.

One suspects that Trump may be reciting his endless rosary of horrors to ultimately offend too many and conveniently be forced to end his candidacy — but has found to his own astonishment that it triggered the opposite effect instead. In normal times, a White House contender who says that "if Hillary Clinton can't satisfy her husband, what makes her think she can satisfy America?" would be consigned to oblivion for an excess of vulgarity. But today, such awful words are taken as evidence of sincerity.

As for his supposed plans for the Internet and Muslims, never mind that they are utterly unfeasible, and reveal in the man behind them an utter denial of the complexity of life. That indeed is exactly the kind of childish approach that appeals to some voters: The idea that epochal conflicts can be simplified into a joke and that the immutable rules of politics are some kind of imbroglio and a waste of time.

It all sounds familiar here. The mere fact of being a billionaire and a ladies' man entitles someone to govern those who are afraid of losing what little they have.

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Society

Genoa Postcard: A Tale Of Modern Sailors, Echos Of The Ancient Mariner

Many seafarers are hired and fired every seven months. Some keep up this lifestyle for 40 years while sailing the world. Some of those who'd recently docked in the Italian port city of Genoa, share a taste of their travels that are connected to a long history of a seafaring life.

A sailor smokes a cigarette on the hydrofoil Procida

A sailor on the hydrofoil Procida in Italy

Daniele Frediani/Mondadori Portfolio via ZUMA Press
Paolo Griseri

GENOA — Cristina did it to escape after a tough breakup. Luigi because he dreamed of adventures and the South Seas. Marianna embarked just “before the refrigerator factory where I worked went out of business. I’m one of the few who got severance pay.”

To hear their stories, you have to go to the canteen on Via Albertazzi, in Italy's northern port city of Genoa, across from the ferry terminal. The place has excellent minestrone soup and is decorated with models of the ships that have made the port’s history.

There are 38,000 Italian professional sailors, many of whom work here in Genoa, a historic port of call that today is the country's second largest after Trieste on the east coast. Luciano Rotella of the trade union Italian Federation of Transport Workers says the official number of maritime workers is far lower than the reality, which contains a tangle of different laws, regulations, contracts and ethnicities — not to mention ancient remnants of harsh battles between shipowners and crews.

The result is that today it is not so easy to know how many people sail, nor their nationalities.

What is certain is that every six to seven months, the Italian mariner disembarks the ship and is dismissed: they take severance pay and after waits for the next call. Andrea has been sailing for more than 20 years: “When I started out, to those who told us we were earning good money, I replied that I had a precarious life: every landing was a dismissal.”

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