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Have you heard any comments or criticism by the Congressional Italian-American delegation regarding MTV’s degrading show “Jersey Shore”?  The delegation is co-chaired by Rep. Bill Pascrell, who coincidentally represents New Jersey’s Eighth District, and Rep. Pat Tiberi from Ohio.  Their silence is deafening.  If you know whether they have commented on the program, please share it with this blog.

On the other hand, Supreme Court Justice Sam Alito recently lashed out at the media, accusing them of using the Mafia to “slander Italian-Americans.” Alito also took a swipe at the entertainment industry for the “perversely romantic” image of the Mafia it has “shamefully promulgated.” Thumbs up to Alito!

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Have you heard any comments or criticism by the Congressional Italian-American delegation regarding MTV’s degrading show “Jersey Shore”?  The delegation is co-chaired by Rep. Bill Pascrell, who coincidentally represents New Jersey’s Eighth District, and Rep. Pat Tiberi from Ohio.  Their silence is deafening.  If you know whether they have commented on the program, please share it with this blog.

On the other hand, Supreme Court Justice Sam Alito recently lashed out at the media, accusing them of using the Mafia to “slander Italian-Americans.” Alito also took a swipe at the entertainment industry for the “perversely romantic” image of the Mafia it has “shamefully promulgated.” Thumbs up to Alito!

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Dr. Iavarone headed the research

Dr. Iavarone headed the research

Two Italian American scientists at Columbia University Medical Center, Antonio Iavarone, M.D., associate professor of neurology in the Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center, and Andrea Califano, Ph.D., director of the Columbia Initiative in Systems Biology, have discovered two genes that, when simultaneously activated, are responsible for the most aggressive forms of human brain cancer. This finding was made possible by the assembly of the first comprehensive network of molecular interactions that determine the behavior of these cancer cells, a map so complex and elusive that, until now, it could not be constructed. The discovery may lead to completely novel strategies to diagnose and treat these incurable tumors. The findings were published in an advanced online edition of Nature on Dec. 23, 2009.

Dr. Iavarone emigrated from Italy about five years ago after apparently questioning the lack of meritocracy in the university system in Italy.

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We thought to reprint the comments that Carmen posted earlier on this blog.  We suspect that most Italian Americans share Carmen’s view.

What a bunch of idiots. I thought it would be fun to laugh at them, but it’s more sad than funny. The show is put together poorly and it’s obvious that MTV thinks people will watch anything with shock value. Do these people even work?

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy watching “ethnic” Italians; I am one. My family is hilarious also, but these people are devoid of any respect or dignity. These characters make mobsters look like Rhodes scholars.

I’d rather watch a show like Cake Boss, which features hard working, entertaining people with a strong sense of family. They’re funny, as they remind me of my own family, but they’re talented and grounded.

Jersey Shore is an insult to Italians, to young people, to the people of New Jersey, and to viewers in general.

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We thought to reprint the comments that Carmen posted earlier on this blog.  We suspect that most Italian Americans share Carmen’s view.

What a bunch of idiots. I thought it would be fun to laugh at them, but it’s more sad than funny. The show is put together poorly and it’s obvious that MTV thinks people will watch anything with shock value. Do these people even work?

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy watching “ethnic” Italians; I am one. My family is hilarious also, but these people are devoid of any respect or dignity. These characters make mobsters look like Rhodes scholars.

I’d rather watch a show like Cake Boss, which features hard working, entertaining people with a strong sense of family. They’re funny, as they remind me of my own family, but they’re talented and grounded.

Jersey Shore is an insult to Italians, to young people, to the people of New Jersey, and to viewers in general.

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Joe Bruno

Joe Bruno

Last Monday, former N.Y. State Senate majority leader, Joseph L. Bruno was convicted on two federal corruption charges. The testimony and evidence introduced at his trial suggested that he used public institutions and resources for private gains.  “The prosecutors and agents involved in this case take no pleasure from what the trial revealed about the culture of the N.Y. State Senate under the leadership of Joseph L. Bruno,” said U.S. Attorney Andrew Baxter.  Bruno, 80, was born in  Glens Falls, N.Y., and was first Italian American elected to the N.Y. Senate in 1976.

On Tuesday, in Massachusetts, Michael Capuano, a member of the House of Representatives, sought to win the Democratic primary for Senator Kennedy’s vacant seat but pulled in only 28% of the votes. He was not the only Italian American in the democratic primary.  In fact, with the exception of the winner, they were all Italian Americans.   Stephen Pagliuca, owner of the Boston Celtics, brought up his Italian American roots during his campaign; he got 12 % of the votes. The third candidate,  Alan Khazei, who takes his last name from his Iranian father,  played up the fact that his mother was Italian.  He received 13% of the votes.  If  they had all agreed to support one Italian American candidate, that person would likely have won.  Instead, the three-way split left Martha Coakley with 47% of the votes and a ticket to the U.S. Senate.

On a more positive note this week,  Italian American  brothers, Michael and Bryan Voltaggio showed America what good cooking is all about! Michael, a chef in L.A., took the top prize on Bravo’s TV show Top Chef.  Bryan, owner of Volt restaurant in Frederick, Md, ranked in the top three. The Voltaggios grew up in Frederick, the sons of a clerical worker and a state trooper whose moonlighting in hotel security apparently got them into the Holiday Inn kitchen as teens.  According to the judges, Michael’s fried broccoli was the highlight of  the final meal.  For those of  us who grew up in Italian  families, where fried broccoli were a delicacy, it was a fitting season ending.

One final note: on Friday, John Mancini, editor-in-chief of Newsday, “resigned” after 2o years at the paper. Rumors are that he was pushed out by Cablevision, the paper’s owner, after a reputed tussle with the company’s head.

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They came to Monongah, West Virginia, from some of the poorest regions of Italy– Abruzzo, Calabria, Campania–to work the coal mines. Like the millions of Italians who migrated to “L’america” in search of a brighter future, most had no idea of the challenges they would face. The promise of a financed voyage and a secure job was an incentive that few could resist. But none, one suspects, could have imagined that they would end up working in conditions as inhumane as in those in the mines of Monongah. Yet, they left their homes in Frosolone, Roccamandolfi, Duronia, San Giovanni in Fiore, Castrovillari, Canistro, and dozens of other Italian towns and came in droves to Monongah.

One hundred and two years ago, on December 6, 1907, an explosion ripped through the Monongah mines, shaking the earth as far as eight miles away, and killing, according to contemporaneous official records, 362 miners. It was, and remains, the worst mining disaster in American history. Officially, 171 Italians died that day. But those figures may underestimate the number of miners working that day; often young boys who assisted their fathers were not always “officially” counted. According to one newspaper story, it is possible that an estimated 956 lives were lost in the explosion.

We hope that Italian-American organizations across the country continue to take an interest in this mining disaster, and to support the scholars who seek to research a tragedy that has been buried for too long.

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