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Is the end nigh for Berlusconi?

INTERNATIONAL PAPERS, Tuesday, 14th December 2010: Is it the end for Berlusconi? Probably not but it's another case of the man staring his political death in the face as he prepares for a vote of no confidence today in the Italian parliament. We look at the Italian front pages and get reaction from a Corriere della Serra columnist. Also, Wikileaks revelations on the Madeleine McCann case and how much women spend on their hair.

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First off this morning, we look at the Italian front pages as Berlusconi prepares to face off a vote of no confidence. Il Giornale’s headline reads, “Fini is afraid”. The paper is owned by Berlusconi’s brother so perhaps it’s no surprise that its front page focuses on the worries of Berlusconi’s great political foe, Gianfranco Fini – the man responsible for pulling the plug on the Italian Prime Minister’s majority. La Stampa’s headline is “Battle of the last vote” while Corriere della Serra’s headline reads “Government on a thread, the final call of the Prime Minister.” We also spoke to Corriere della Serra columnist Sergio Romano who gave us his point of view on Berlusconi’s prospects in today’s vote.
 
The front page of The Guardian provides the latest installment in the Wikileaks drama. We are transported back to 2007 when the media was completely fixated on the disappearance of the British girl Madeleine McCann while on holiday in Portugal with her family. For a time, Madeleine’s parents were officially suspected of being behind their daughter’s disappearance and the British media poured scorn on the Portuguese police for following such a line of inquiry. The US diplomatic cables suggest that the British police helped to develop evidence against the parents. In fact British authorities were working “hand in hand” with their Portuguese counterparts.
 
Le Monde carries an interesting feature today by political scientist Aurélien Colson. What will happen to the rules of diplomacy and the secrecy that underpins confidence in diplomatic communications with the onslaught of “transparency”, Wikileaks-style? Colson argues that Wikileaks could claim to be the torchbearer for America’s Founding Fathers. George Washington, Benjamin Franklin and others established the principle of refusing any secrecy in international negotiations –  this was an overt refusal of the conventions of European diplomacy which were hitherto marked by secret treaties passed by monarchs answerable to no one, Colson underlines.
 
François de Callières was an Ambassador for Louis XIV and he wrote in 1716, “Secrecy is the weapon of all negotiations”. Such a view contrasts significantly with Benjamin Franklin’s: “I have for quite a long time observed one rule – to stay out of any issue that could embarrass me if it is made public.” Colson concludes that transparency offers an antidote to the abuse of power which is enabled by secrecy.
 
We finish with The Daily Mail and women who spend “hair raising amounts of money” on… their hair! On average, women spend around €30,000 (£26,500) on their hair throughout their lives. They also spend about a year of their lives styling it! This is according to a poll commissioned by the stylist Nicky Clarke, who himself looks like he spends a small fortune on his elaborate coif!
 

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