What I am reading now

Sunday, August 29, 2004

The last Medals

Stefano Baldini Stefano Baldini got the Gold Medal at the Marathon but it is very sad that an unidentified man ran onto the race course about 5km short of the finish line and pushed the previous leader, Vanderlei de Lima, into the roadside crowd. "If that spectator didn't jump in front of me in the middle of the race, who knows what would have happened? Maybe I would have won. It disturbed me a lot," De Lima told reporters. To be honest, before the aggression, he was ahead 28 seconds at the 35th km, and he was losing 7 seconds per Km....

It is very sad that the Olympics Games are already over. I wish that in Beijin 2008 the OG will last for 2 or 3 months.

Sport comparison

I made a quick comparison of three of the most popular sports in the world, Basketball (blue), Soccer (green) and Baseball (yellow).

As a tool, I used BlogPulse which compares 3 keywords across all blogs. The result is stunning: Soccer got more hits than Basketball and Baseball. Strange, isn't it?

Saturday, August 28, 2004

Wonderful Advertising

I just inserted a quick and dirty adv which is scanning my postings and determining its topic. Google AdSense™ delivers ads targeted to my smirky's content pages. Funny enough: as a title I put "Wonderful Italy". The adv was: "Green card lottery" and Immigration to the US".

Thank you Google ad....

Friday, August 27, 2004

Wonderful Italy!

Athens: basket, Italy in the final

The last time we reached the final at the Olympics Games in Basket was in 1980 at Moscow. Bulleri (in the picture, from Yahoo.com) helped our team to win a fantastic game with Lithuania (100-91). I would have loved to play with the US in the final, but they were unlucky today (sorry about that).

Potito won the third round at the US Open

Potito Starace has got acceptance to the main Tournament. He won today 64 63 with Florent Serra. The statistics of the third round are here. Potito will play on Monday with Alexander Popp, 82nd at the ATP ranking. Also Andreas Seppi won with Uros Vico and he will start on Monday the first round with Rainer Schuettler, number 12 of the ATP and 11 of the seeding at the US Open. There are other 2 Italians at the main tournament, Volandri (with KJ Hippensteel from the US) and Sanguinetti (with Tommy Hass)

Modern Pentathlon


On TV I am watching the Modern Pentathlon at the Olympics Games. It is pretty interesting, but it is very difficult to follow. For instance, at the fencing, every players has to play against each other (Corsini, the Italian Modern Penthathlon athlete who arrived 4th at Athens 2004 is in the right-hand side).

How can this sport be more spectacular?

Thursday, August 26, 2004

Potito won the second (qualifying) round at the US Open

Potito Starace won the second round with Fred Hemmes Jr, 6-3, 6-4 from Netherland (see picture below).

Potito will play the third round at the US Tennis Open with Florent Serra, from France. Potito was able to reach the third round at the Roland Garros French tournment, starting from the Qualifying Rounds. Seppi and Uros Vico also qualified for the third round, while Luzzi lost with the Czech Vacek.

More details of the Qualification Rounds at the US Open URL.

Inter signs three young players

News from Inter.it (Thursday 26th 2004)

Inter's youth sector has completed the signings of three promising young players. Siqueira Guillerme Magdalena, a Brazilian left winger with an Italian passport born in 1986, joins the Nerazzurri from Ipatinga F.C. and will be part of the Primavera squad coached by Daniele Bernazzani. Italian central defender Vincenzo Sgambato, born in 1988, is an U17 international and joins Inter's Allievi Nazionali team from Napoli. Former Ancona central defender Andrea Ballini, born in 1987, will play for the Juniores side.

Italian U19 international defender Marco Andreolli, who played for Inter Primavera last season then moved on loan to Padova, has now been bought by the Veneto club in a joint ownership deal.

Inter and the Champions League

Inter Milan will play in the next Champions League within the Group G. The competitors will be:
* Valencia, which has many Italian players (Stefano Fiore, Bernardo Corradi, Marco Di Vaio, Carboni, Emiliano Moretti) and Ranieri, the old trainer of Chelsea FC.
* Anderlecht
* Werder Brema

La Vuelta - the Spanish Tour

In a few days, starting from September the 4th, we can see "La Vuelta", the Spanish tour. Damiano Cunego, the Italian 2004 Giro winner, will be there. I am not sure he is going to compete for the title (I hope so, since he is the guy who can beat Amstrong sooner or later).

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Potito Starace at the US Open

Potito Starace won the first qualifying round at the US Open. He will play the second round with Fred Hemmes Jr. of Netherland. Potito's friend, Federico Luzzi and Andreas Seppi, also got the second round (Uros Vico got the second round too). I hope those guys can make it!

By the way, it is possible to see the update scores. Pretty cool, isn't it?

The king of the mile

From "Reuters, Agence France-Presse" (Wed, August 25th 2004)

Hicham El Guerrouj claimed the gold medal yesterday that had eluded him in two previous Olympic Games, confirming his status as unquestionably the greatest 1,500 metres runner in history. The 30-year-old Moroccan moved to the front at 800 metres in a bold bid to dictate the race. He was still ahead at the bell, as the field began to accelerate, and held off Kenyan Bernard Lagat in the straight to win in 3 minutes 34.18 seconds. Despite four world titles and world records over both the 1,500 and its imperial equivalent, the mile, a question mark had hung over his ability to perform on the biggest stage of all. El Guerrouj fell just before the bell at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics and was beaten in a frenzied sprint finish by Noah Ngeny of Kenya in Sydney four years later.

But all doubts were assuaged yesterday as El Guerrouj crossed the line first. He then embarked on an ecstatic victory lap draped in the Moroccan flag, stopping at one point to dance an impromptu jig as the theme tune from Zorba the Greek thundered through the Olympic Stadium. "I am really happy," El Guerrouj told reporters. "I feel like a baby, a three-month-old baby."

Last Sunday after the semi-finals, he told reporters he was thoroughly confident that Athens would be different from Atlanta and Sydney. "It will be third time lucky for me," he said. "Just wait and see, I'll make you believe me." The world record holder for the metric mile was as good as his word. Nothing was going to stop the man from Berkane. "Hicham had done everything before this competition, world records, world titles, everything except an Olympic gold medal," long-time coach Abdelkader Kada said.

But Kada admitted last night that he was both stunned and delighted that his pupil had finally passed the greatest exam in athletics. "Now, I think he can claim to be the best miler in history. It's what we've been working toward for the past 17 years."

The summer did not get off to a promising start for El Guerrouj, and many feared he was in danger of entering the athletics history books as the greatest middle-distance runner never to win Olympic gold. He pulled out of one race at the start of his planned 2004 racing program and then suffered a surprise defeat in the 1,500 metres at the Rome Golden League meet. El Guerrouj attributed the defeat to bad weather conditions that curtailed preparations at his Atlas Mountains training base. Sources closer to home also said he had suffered sleepless nights after the arrival of his daughter Hiba. Whatever the reason, all was forgotten when he crossed the line yesterday. "He's a great champion," said Lagat, who beat him just more than two weeks ago in Zurich.

Tears flooded down El Guerrouj's face moments after he crossed the line, but they were tears of joy and relief, compared with the ones of frustration that welled up after his two previous Olympics finals. "Only victory can dry the tears of Atlanta and Sydney," he said recently. "Everything I am doing this year is geared toward winning in Athens because I will move up distance soon. There will be younger distance runners coming into this event soon."

Inter brush Basel aside

Two goals from Adriano lifted Inter Milan past Swiss side Basel and into the lucrative group stages of the Champions League here Tuesday. Inter, semi-finalists in Europe's top club competition two years ago, prevailed 4-1 in this third round second leg qualifier to go through 5-2 on aggregate.

Adriano, whose 44-year-old father died after a sudden and undisclosed illness at the start of the month, put the Italians ahead in the opening minute, the 22-year-old Brazil international doubling up at the start of the second half.

Yugoslav midfielder Dejan Stankovic scored Inter's second with Uruguyan striker Alvaro Recoba completing their haul a minute before the hour mark. Basel's consolation goal came in the 49th minute from Mile Sterjovski.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

No sweat

From the electronic version of the Economist (Aug. 19th)

ADIDAS may be upset that the star Australian Olympic swimmer whom it sponsors, Ian “the Thorpedo” Thorpe, has cast doubt on the firm's claims that its new swimsuits “help you swim faster”. Mr Thorpe reckons that most of the recent advances in swimsuits have been “visual”. But several other top sporting-goods brands have a different reason to fret. The shirts and shoes they make for athletes are the target of perhaps the biggest-ever crusade against sweatshops. The Play Fair at the Olympics Campaign was launched jointly in March by Oxfam, Global Unions, an international confederation of trade unions, and the Clean Clothes Campaign. It juxtaposes the ideals of the Olympics with the realities of the sportswear industry. And big brands such as Puma and Umbro are starting to sweat.

A report by the campaigners describes labour problems allegedly arising from the industry's long and winding supply chains. Big companies outsource manufacturing through contractors, then subcontractors, and fierce retail competition translates into a squeeze on factories in Bulgaria, China, Indonesia or wherever. Deadlines are tighter, and sportswear retail prices have slid by 5-10% in the past five years. Yet the big-brand companies still claim to have proper codes of conduct for labour practices. Seven-day weeks and 18-hour days? Oh, those are the suppliers' fault.

In the general sweat of the clothing industry, why target sportswear? Because it has a few globally known companies with big market shares. The biggest, Nike, Adidas and Reebok, which together have nearly 15% of the $58 billion market, have already been “named and shamed”. After the anti-sweatshop campaigns of the late 1990s, all three joined the Fair Labour Association, which sends inspectors, unannounced, to check on working conditions in factories. But, in an interesting illustration of how modern campaigns by activists against companies can gather momentum, the top-tier companies now complain that lesser ones get away with poor labour practices, and so impede progress in the whole sector. The Olympic campaigners are therefore targeting second-tier brands such as Puma, Mizuno, Umbro and Asics. Several of these have begun talks with the campaign and with the International Labour Organisation, an arm of the United Nations.

The campaigners sent the International Olympic Committee a petition that it said had over 500,000 signatories, calling on the IOC to ensure that products displaying its five-ring logo are made by companies that observe “fair labour standards”. The IOC has ducked, but the European Parliament has passed a resolution supporting this aim, and a bill before the United States Congress seeks to compel that country's Olympics committee to do so. How much consumers care, if at all, remains unclear.

Go Andrew, go!

Andrew, you can make it to the Semifinals tonight!
All Italy is with you tonight.

Monday, August 23, 2004

The soccer star Rooney and Coke

Drinks giant Coca-Cola vowed today to stand by shamed England footballer Wayne Rooney after he admitted visiting prostitutes.
The company, which has a sponsorship deal with the Everton star, backed the 18-year-old striker following revelations in a Sunday newspaper that he had been to a brothel in his home city Liverpool.

A spokeswoman for Coca-Cola Great Britain said Rooney’s indiscretions were at odds with the company’s image but insisted “everyone deserves a second chance”. She said: “We’re with him for his footballing ability and still believe that he is a great talent on the football pitch. “While the recent revelations about his private life are inconsistent with Coca-Cola values, we know he regretted his mistakes and we believe that everyone deserves a second chance. We now hope that he will fully demonstrate that he will put this behind him, commit himself to taking full responsibility for his actions on and off the field, and concentrate on fulfilling his fantastic potential on the pitch.”

Rooney’s contract with Coca-Cola, which he signed last year, runs until the end of the 2006 World Cup. Rooney also has an agreement with car makers Ford, which supplies him and his family with discounted vehicles. A spokeswoman for Ford UK said it did not have any formal sponsorship deal with the star. She added: “If Wayne and his family wish to continue driving our vehicles then they are more than welcome.” Sportswear firm Nike was also reported to be continuing its sponsorship deal with the star. The company was unavailable for comment today.

Rooney admitted he had been “young and stupid” following the newspaper reports. In a statement, he said: “I now regret it deeply and hope people may understand that it was the sort of mistake you make when you are young and stupid.” The revelations came as a further blow to his fiancee Coleen McLoughlin. Last month the couple were reported to have split up following claims that Rooney had slept with an escort girl. Coleen, also 18 and an aspiring actress, and Rooney are childhood sweethearts who met on the streets of Croxteth, in Liverpool, where they grew up.

Benelli shooted like a machine....

Andrea Benelli of Italy won the gold medal in skeet shooting Sunday, beating Marko Kemppainen of Finland in an event that required two shoot-offs to determine the medals.

Benelli went a perfect 25-for-25 in the final round to tie Kemppainen with a score of 149. Juan Miguel Rodriguez of Cuba won a three-way shoot-off with Nasser Al-Attiya of Qatar and Shawn Dulohery of the United States for the bronze medal. The three had finished with 147 points.

Kemppainen scored a perfect 125 in qualifying, equaling a world record, but his lone miss in the final gave Benelli an opportunity.
After winning the shoot-off, Benelli ran joyfully around in front of the spectators with his arms raised. "It is a dream," Benelli said. "I was preparing for four years. I enjoyed the final. I can't describe my feelings. I was lucky in the shoot-off."

The end of the Italian dream in Women Beach volley

A small sea of green and gold-clad supporters cheered Australia's Natalie Cook and Nicole Sanderson through to the semi-finals of the women's beach volleyball today. The Australian pair survived three sets to edge out Italy's Lucilla Perotta and Daniela Gattelli 2-1 (21-16, 14-21, 15-12) and qualify for Monday's semis. They were well supported by a colourful and vocal crowd at the Faliro Olympic beachball stadium.

Cook, a Sydney gold medallist with partner Kerri Pottharst, and Sanderson will meet Brazil's Adriana Behar and Shelda Bede in Monday's semi-final. Cook and Sanderson led easily in the first set, and despite some great digs by the Italians, held an eight-point lead at 17-9. The Italian pair came back to 15-19, but the Australians reached set point at 20-15 with a spike from Sanderson and then closed out at 21-16 when a scoring attempt from Gattelli went wide.

The 14th seeded Italians came back in the second set to take an early lead. With Cook and Sanderson still in the game at 12-10, Perotta and Gattelli scored five straight points to break away to 17-10. Gattelli sided out with a kill at 19-13 for match point. Sanderson attacked for one more sideout but then faulted her service to the net and the match went into a tie-breaker.

Australia led all through the third set, but Italy kept within range. At 12-11 Perotta missed an attack and the score moved to 13-11. Sanderson foiled a Perotta shot to take the Australians to 14-11. Gattelli then made a kill to pull closer at 14-12 and the Australians called a timeout. When the teams came back on court, Perotta faulted her last service for the final scoreline of 15-12.

Cook was gracious in victory. "They are a fighting team," she said of the Italian pair. "When you have your back to the wall at the Olympics in the final four, you are going to fight. When you've got something to lose, like we had in the second set, we should have come out and got on top of them. I must credit them. They are a great team."

Sanderson admitted she was struggling towards the end of the match, but was able to stay focused thanks to Cook.
"Natalie kept me in the game," she said. "I was pretty nervous but my partner supported me the whole way. She is amazing. She kept smiling, telling me what to do. It was an incredible play and Natalie got me in the end. I am still a bit shocked."

Noguchi triumphs, Radcliffe disintegrates

Hardened by gruelling hill work in the Swiss mountains and undeterred by the punishing Athens heat, Mizuki Noguchi seized a second straight gold medal for Japan in the women's Olympic marathon on Sunday.

Noguchi, 26, matched Paula Radcliffe of Great Britain, the world record-holder and heavy favorite here, stride for stride for the first half of the race before pulling away over the steep incline leading to the 32-kilometre mark. With around five kilomtres to go in the race, Radcliffe doubled over in pain and dropped out in a bitter personal disappointment. Heading into the streets of downtown Athens, the tiny Noguchi - 1.52 metres tall - used her bouncing stride to hold off Catherine Ndereba of Kenya, who closed the gap over the final 5 kilometers but could not make up the difference. Noguchi won in 2 hours 26 minutes 20 seconds. Ndereba finished 12 seconds behind. In a stunning surprise, Deena Kastor surged to take bronze in 2:27:20. It is the first Olympic marathon medal for the US since Joan Benoit Samuelson won in Los Angeles in 1984.

Noguchi, who took second at the world championships last year in Paris, appeared in control throughout a race that was considered Radcliffe's to lose. And lose Radcliffe did, in startling fashion for a front-running woman who clocked 2:15:25 in London last year to set the world record and had won all three marathons she ran before Sunday. Her marathon debut in London in 2002, a 2:18:56, had been the fastest first race at the distance by more than four minutes. Radcliffe, 30, entered Sunday's contest as Britain's best hope for a track and field gold.

But the conditions took their toll on Radcliffe, who had trained in the Pyrenees of Spain and the heat of Seville. As she stopped, Radcliffe put her hands to her head, began sobbing, and dropped to the curb, in disbelief.Noguchi, meanwhile, ran consistently to pull away from her closest pursuers, Ndereba and Elfenesh Alemu of Ethiopia.

Alemu finished second in Boston this year in a memorable shoulder-to-shoulder duel with Ndereba. Noguchi came into the marathon as part of a Japanese trio who had trained around the globe. Noguchi prepared in St. Moritz, Switzerland; Reiko Tosa in China; and Naoko Sakamoto in Colorado. What they lacked in heat training, the Japanese made up in altitude.

The Japanese, who have won marathon medals in four straight Games, revere the race. The competition takes on an almost patriotic discipline. None of the three, following Radcliffe's model, had granted foreign interviews before the race. Noguchi, however, was considered the main threat to Radcliffe's command of the marathon scene, which she joined after struggling to match the speed of African runners at 5,000 and 10,000 meters in the 1996 and 2000 Olympic Games.

Speed wasn't the issue on Sunday. The heat was, and Radcliffe simply appeared to wilt in the 32 degree plus temperatures.
The course traced the approximate route that Pheidippides, an Athenian messenger, ran in 490 BC, carrying news of the great Greek victory over the Persians on the plains of Marathon.
Once in Athens, Pheidippides fell dead after delivering his message of ``Nike,'' or victory.

Radcliffe, who carried the heady expectations of a nation that never had won a long-distance Olympic event, led a pack of 15 runners through 5 kilometres in 17:09. At 10 kilometres, Radcliffe still set the pace, head bobbing in her unique style, at 34:14. But by 15 kilometers, at 52:10, Noguchi had pushed a few metres ahead of Radcliffe, tossing aside her cap and bearing down to test Radcliffe's will and reserves. The pack had dwindled to seven by the halfway mark, where Tosa led in 1:14:02. Noguchi was fourth and Sakamoto fifth, both a fraction of a second behind. At 25 kilometres, Noguchi had opened up a 23-second lead on Alemu, with Radcliffe and Ndereba close behind. The gantlet had been thrown, and none but Noguchi could maintain the pace. After a total of 25 kilometres, in which Noguchi had not run a five kilometre segment faster than 17:09, she strung together intervals of 16:57, 17:02, and 16:56 to put the race away and the gold around her neck.

After her victory, the soft-spoken Noguchi walked quietly past Japanese reporters and fans in the stadium. Noguchi prepared for the hilly course by training hard in the Swiss mountains. ``I was well-prepared for the race,'' Noguchi said. ``I knew there would be difficult conditions, like the heat, the sun, and a great deal of fatigue.'' Kastor, 31, who was runner-up in the US marathon trials, also closed quickly. Kastor passed the half-marathon in 1:15:40, in 12th place and 98 seconds behind Noguchi, before covering the final 13.1 miles in a stunning 1:11:40. The American record-holder (2:21:16) said she didn't know whether she held third or fourth place when she entered Panathinaiko Stadium, the finish line and site of the first modern Games in 1896. ``It's incredible. The whole last lap I was in tears,'' Kastor said.

Sunday, August 08, 2004

Out of Blogger

I will be in the mountains for 7 days.

Microsoft and MSN Web Messenger

Microsoft Corp. is testing a new version of its MSN Messenger that can be used over the Web without having to install software, the world's largest software maker said on Friday. The new service is the latest attempt by Microsoft to extend its reach in the market for messengers, used to send instant text messages between users logged on to different computers and devices.

MSN Web Messenger, offered by Microsoft's MSN Internet division, is being tested while being prepared for a wider launch by the end of the year, a Microsoft spokeswoman said. Both the test and final version are expected to be free. Web-based messengers, which typically have more limited features than the ones installed on personal computers, are aimed at users accessing via public computers or on corporate PCs that don't allow software installations.

MSN rivals America Online Inc. and Yahoo Inc. already offer Web-based instant messaging, as do other Web-based messaging service providers. The messenger, available at http://webmessenger.msn.com, is being tested at MSN sites in the United States, Britain, France, Germany and Japan.

Saturday, August 07, 2004

Porto sack coach Del Neri

European champions Porto fired new coach Luigi Del Neri on Saturday following his repeated absences from the club, news reports said. Del Neri had his contract rescinded at an early morning meeting with club officials in Porto, according to private TSF radio and the website of the A Bola sports newspaper.

Del Neri, formerly the coach at Italy's Serie A club Chievo Verona, was hired in June to replace Jose Mourinho, who left to become manager at west London club Chelsea. Porto officials were irritated by Del Neri's absences, A Bola and TSF said. He took two days off this week and was not at Friday's training session alleging he had missed flight connections while returning to Portugal.

Players and officials also were unhappy with his handling of the team, A Bola and TSF said. They did not mention a replacement. A club spokesman was not immediately available to comment. Porto won the Champions League final in May with a 3-0 victory over Monaco and are defending Portuguese League champions.

Starace is in the Semifinal at the Trani Challenger (€50k)

Potito won with the Spanish Navarro Pastor 6-4, 0-6, 6-3 during the Quarterfinals at the Trani cup. He is going to play today the Semifinal today at 7pm with Filippo Volandri, the Italian number 1 player. In the other Semifinal, Francesco Aldi will play with the Czech Jan Vacek.

Sunday, August 01, 2004

Potito Starace won the San Marino (€100K) Tennis Championship

I did not watch the game, but Potito will enter the ATP ranking inside the first 100. Good job!

Next week Potito will be at the Trani cup (€50K). He will be playing the first round on Tuesday with Haehnel, a good French player. It is a great opportunity for him, but I guess he can start other kind of tournaments....

Next week I will be in Heillbron where I plan to stay for a few days.
The town of Heilbronn is situated between the conurbations of Stuttgart and Heidelberg/Mannheim/Ludwigshafen in the beautiful scenery of the Neckar Valley.

No More National Service in Italy

ROME - Farewell to national service. The last young conscript to be called up for military service will leave home no later than December 31 2004. From January 1 next year, that's it. After the end of the year, no more young men will be summoned to the recruiting offices to get ready for the "naja", as military service is known. The last to go will be males born in 1985. Defence minister, free-marketeer Antonio Martino, has ever since his arrival at the ministry viewed military service as an "unjust tax" levied on young men. Mr. Martino has decided to abolish it two years earlier than scheduled and yesterday, his bill became law. There was applause from both sides of the chamber after the vote. One hundred and fifty three years after national service was introduced, the lower house approved the provisions that will abolish it. Opposition parties also voted in favour. The final tally was 433 ayes, 17 noes and seven abstentions (the Greens and Communist Refoundation).

According to the new dispositions,
young men who are able to defer military service for reasons of study until after January 1 will be safe and need no longer worry. The armed forces will follow the example of almost all other Western countries and will be made up exclusively of professionals, that is young people who enlist as volunteers and choose the military life as a career.

Abolition of national service will create an overall shortfall in the ranks of army, navy and air force amounting to about 25,000 personnel. It will have to be filled quickly by holding entrance examinations to enlist new recruits. To ensure a sufficient inflow of young recruits, the law lays down that anyone wishing to enlist in state law enforcement forces, the Carabinieri, the police, the customs authority, fire service or forestry commission, will have to serve for at least one year in one of the three armed forces. Remuneration for this year of military service comprises a salary of 850 euros a month for the first three months, and 980 euros in subsequent months. Anyone refusing to wear uniform for a minimum period of 12 months will not be admitted to the examinations for entry into the law enforcement forces.

Young people who stay in the armed forces for three or five years will be eligible for assistance in finding employment when they are discharged. New opportunities are available in the armed forces themselves. Previously, a total of 61,000 volunteers could opt to remain in the standing army; now, the number has been raised to 73,300. Their salary will be 1,260 euros a month.
Clause ten deals with the "Alpini", the mountain troops. The Alpini are granted a status of excellence in the context of the army. This means that those who choose to don the feathered Alpino hat will be entitled to a special incentive allowance that will boost their salary by about ten per cent. In addition, an Alpino headquarters will be maintained in all the regions where the mountain troops have traditionally been rooted. The provisions will encourage above all young people resident in northern Italy to enlist.

A parliamentary agenda presented by the
Daisy Alliance and approved against the government's advice lays down that the Alpini barracks in Cividale del Friuli, which were scheduled to close, will now be kept open. Mr. Martino calls the law "an epoch-making measure" that is in the "interests of many young people who have hitherto been hindered by military service from entering the world of work". It is not just to the advantage of young people, adds junior defence minister Salvatore Cicu, "the armed forces themselves will also benefit as they need professionals for their arduous missions abroad".
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