THE ITALIAN far right has been plunged into chaos after its leader attacked Mussolini, the dictator of the 1920s and 30s.
Alessandra Mussolini, the granddaughter of the famous fascist, has left the National Alliance party. On a visit to Israel this week its leader, deputy prime minister Gianfranco Fini, appalled many of his followers by denouncing fascism.
Fini, who organised and celebrated the repression of protesters at Genoa two years ago, represents a wing of the far right that wants to become more mainstream and perhaps win a parliamentary majority.
Other sections of the European far right, such as France's National Front, are taking a different route by becoming more thuggish.
Fini's party has its roots in the fascist organisation of the past and includes many old fascists. So it was a surprise when he said fascism was an 'utter evil', and that Mussolini's 1938 anti-Jewish laws were 'disgraceful'.
ONE OF Italy's best known politicians, the former prime minister Emilio Colombo, stunned prosecutors in Rome last week by telling them he is a regular cocaine user.
Colombo said he used the drug for 'therapeutic purposes'.
Colombo led Italy between 1970 and 1972 and has held almost every senior ministerial portfolio. The admission of drug taking is embarrassing for a man who was a leading figure in the right wing (and Vatican-backed) Christian Democrat party for more than 40 years.
Talking telephone numbers
THE WAY that the US fixed the award of contracts for Iraq's mobile phone system has long been a scandal. Now it has been exposed as even more corrupt.
The US first made sure that the operating system imposed suited its own suppliers. A company called Orascom won the contract.
This firm has now been accused of bribing the Coalition Provisional Authority's communication minister.
Nadhmi Auchi, a businessman who helped to negotiate Orascom's contract, was recently sentenced by a French court for his involvement in a scandal involving the Elf oil company.
The Atheer Group won the contract to run the phone network in southern Iraq.
Ali Mudhar Shawquat, one of its major shareholders, is the son of the media director of the Iraqi National Congress-an Iraqi group heavily backed by the US.
His father is himself the major shareholder in Dijla Telecommunication Corporation, which owns half of the Atheer Group's shares.
Terry Sullivan, a former CPA official, resigned in June this year so he could bid for the mobile phone contracts. He is also listed as a shareholder in the Atheer Group.
Truth gets mashed
FAST FOOD giant McDonald's is well known for its tasty and nutritious food.
However, according to the Advertising Standards Agency a recent advertising campaign went too far.
The adverts showed one of the cartons that McDonald's uses to put its fries in with a potato sticking out. The advert read, 'The story of our fries. End of story.'
The text underneath explained how McDonald's makes its fries:
'First we take the potatoes. We only use Russet Burbank, Shepody and Pentland Dell varieties because they are the perfect shape and especially good for frying. We peel them, slice them, fry them and that's it. This simple process might not make for a very long story, but it certainly makes for irresistibly long fries.'
McDonald's was forced to admit that the story of how its fries are produced is a little more complicated.
As well as considerable amounts of salt, the healthy ingredients added to make their fries include a 'low concentration dextrose solution' to give the fries their golden colour.
It sounds like McDonald's is stealing a competitor's product-the Whopper.
They need metal hoods
THERE IS more to being a member of the US white supremacist outfit the Ku Klux Klan than lynching blacks, burning crosses and parading around with a white pillowcase over your head.
In Tennessee, during one of their initiation ceremonies, Jeffery Murr was welcomed into the Klan by being tied to a tree with a noose, blindfolded and shot repeatedly with paintball guns.
Gregory Freeman, another Klan member, attempted to fire a gun into the air to provide sound effects for the ritual. Sadly he missed, shooting Jeffery Murr through the skull and critically injuring him.
Fizzing about Coke boycott
WE REPORTED that students at Trinity College in Dublin have been organising a boycott of Coca-Cola.
Now the company has threatened to sue them.
Students have been distributing leaflets containing reports that Coca-Cola bottling plant managers in Colombia allowed paramilitary death squads to murder trade unionists.
The multinational heard about the student activity and told the senior dean at the college that they would sue any societies involved in the campaign.
It's burger all for top workers
WORKERS AT Air Canada have much to be grateful for.
Management has graded workers according to customer service, and the top 100 workers have received a bonus.
Each has received a voucher for a £2 hamburger.
But the lucky workers will have to move fast, as the vouchers expire after five weeks.
Figure it out - £364
The value the US military places on an Iraqi life. The US government is 'compensating' families of Iraqi civilians it killed. A US officer revealed his division paid $106,000 to settle 176 claims since July-£364 each.
In this week - snapshots from history - 1923
JOHN Maclean, the great Scottish revolutionary, died.
He was a committed socialist involved in the great wave of strikes on the Clyde shipyards in Glasgow during and after the First World War.
His opposition to British imperialism during the war landed him in jail.
In a famous speech in court in 1918 he argued, 'I am not here as the accused, but as the accuser of capitalism, dripping with blood from head to foot.'
'Up yours, I thought-you can't fool me, Mr Blair. You want to privatise us all, you want to send us all to war. You have poured the working class dream of a fair, compassionate, caring society down the dirty drain of empire.'
BENJAMIN ZEPHANIAH, radical poet on why he turned down an OBE offered to him this week
'His visit cannot be considered as a visit to Iraq. It was really a visit to an American military base. He did not conduct any official meeting with Iraqis. He did not meet with ordinary Iraqis.'
MAHMOUD OTHMAN, member of the Iraqi governing council on Bush's visit to Iraq
'They will be able to boast that they forced the most powerful man in the world to come in through the back door.'
anonymous member of the Iraqi governing council on the impact Bush's Iraq visit will have on the Iraqi resistance
'A great two weeks.'
LIEUTENANT GENERAL RICARDO SANCHEZ, top US officer in Iraq, gives his assessment of the carnage in Iraq
'I express our absolute indignation at the offence we have been made subject to. It was an offence to the Spanish nation.'
JUAN ANTONIO GOMEZ-ANGULO, Spanish sports minister, after the Republican anthem from 1931-9 was played at the Davis Cup instead of the version reimposed by General Franco