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Gianfranco Fini

Gianfranco Fini is an Italian politician, former President of the Italian Chamber of Deputies, former leader of the conservative National Alliance, the post-fascist Italian Social Movement and the center-right Future and Freedom party. He was Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs in Silvio Berlusconi’s government from 2001 to 2006. Fini was born on 3 January 1952 in Bologna, his grandfather, a communist activist, died in 1970. His father, Argenio "Sergio" Fini, was a volunteer with the Italian Social Republic, his mother, Erminia Marani, was the daughter of Antonio Marani, who took part along with Italo Balbo in the march on Rome, which signaled the beginning of fascism in 1922. The name Gianfranco was chosen in remembrance of a cousin, killed when he was 20 years old by partisans soon after the liberation of Northern Italy on April 25, 1945. In the 1980s he met Daniela Di Sotto, at that time married to Sergio Mariani, a friend and party officer. Mrs. Di Sotto ended her marriage to stay with Fini.

Mariani would try to kill himself soon after. In 1985 they had Giuliana. Fini and Di Sotto married in a civil ceremony in Marino in 1988, they separated in 2007. Five months after his separation, his relationship with Elisabetta Tulliani, a lawyer, was revealed. In December 2007, they had Carolina, their second daughter is called Martina. Gianfranco Fini attended "Laura Bassi" high school in Bologna, his first known involvement with politics occurred in 1968 when, the 16-year-old Fini was involved in clashes with communist activists, among them a protest in front of a cinema against the screening of the John Wayne movie The Green Berets. At this time, he became involved with a neo-fascist political party, he began his political career in the Fronte della Gioventù, the MSI youth organization. Three years he moved with his family to Rome. In August 1976 he served his military service in Savona in Rome at the Ministry of Defence. In 1977 he became national secretary of the Fronte della Gioventù, chosen by Giorgio Almirante, secretary of the party that now called itself "MSI - Destra Nazionale".

Fini had placed fifth among seven candidates elected in the national secretariat of the youth. In the meantime, Fini had graduated with a degree in pedagogy from La Sapienza University in Rome, he collaborated with the party's newspaper, Il Secolo d'Italia, along with the youth movement magazine Dissenso. Fini was first elected to the Chamber of Deputies on 26 June 1983 as a member of the MSI. Re-elected in 1987, in September he was nominated by Almirante to be his successor as the party's secretary. In 2009 it emerged that as early as 1980 Almirante had identified Fini as one among a group of young Italians who were "young, non-fascist, non-nostalgic, who believe, as I do by now, in these institutions, in this Constitution; because only in this way the MSI can have a future". Giorgio Almirante died in May 1988, at the party's congress in Sorrento that year, Fini defeated the right wing of the party, headed by Pino Rauti, was elected party secretary, he remained in the national secretariat of the MSI until January 1990, when at the next party congress in Rimini, Pino Rauti was elected secretary.

But in July 1991, after a tough electoral defeat in administrative and regional elections in Sicily, Fini returned to his role as party secretary. He held this post until the dissolution of party in 1995. During his time as national secretary, he confirmed the MSI’s role as the inheritors of Benito Mussolini’s Fascist legacy with a number of famous polemical statements, including: "Dear comrades, MSI claims its right to refer to fascism", "We are fascists, the heirs of fascism, the fascism of the year 2000", "After half a century, the idea of fascism is alive", "There are phases where freedom is not among the key values", "Mussolini was the greatest Italian statesman of the twentieth century", "Fascism has a tradition of honesty and good government". In the autumn of 1993, Fini ran for mayor of Rome, garnering enough votes to participate in a runoff election that resulted in the victory of Francesco Rutelli. For the first time an MSI candidate received significant support in a major election.

Silvio Berlusconi an entrepreneur but not involved in politics, affirmed on that occasion his preference for Fini: "If I had to vote in Rome, my preference would go to Fini. After Berlusconi's election in 1994, for the first time in Italy's political history, an Italian government included four ministers from the MSI party, including the Deputy Prime Minister Giuseppe Tatarella, although Fini did not directly take part as a minister. During the 1990s Fini began to move the MSI away from its neo-fascist ideology to a more traditionally conservative political agenda. In January 1995, the Party's congress in Fiuggi marked a radical change, afterwards referred to as la svolta di Fiuggi and merged the MSI with conservative elements of the disbanded Christian Democrats to form the National Alliance, of which Fini assumed the presidency; the new party took a decisive stance distancing itself from fascism. After the House of Freedoms' 1994 victory, Fini said there would not and could not be any return to fascism and disavowed AN supporters who used the fascist salute.

Some MSI members

Tragedy at Kufra

The Kufra tragedy occurred in May 1942 during World War II, when eleven of twelve South African aircrew flying in three Bristol Blenheim Mark IV aircraft of No. 15 Squadron of the South African Air Force died of thirst and exposure, after the flight became lost following a navigational error near the oasis of Kufra in Libya and made a forced landing in the Libyan Desert. The South African Air Force's No. 15 Squadron, equipped with Bristol Blenheim Mark IV aircraft, departed South Africa in January 1942 for service in Egypt in support of Allied forces in the North African campaign of World War II. Arriving in Egypt in February 1942, it set up operations south of Amreya, near Alexandria. Only two men in the squadron – its commanding officer, Lieutenant Colonel H. H. Borckenhagen and Captain J. L. V. de Wet – had experience in desert operations. Higher command decided that the squadron would send a detachment of aircraft to the oasis at Kufra, deep in the Libyan Desert in southeastern Libya, where they were to support Allied ground forces garrisoning Kufra with aerial reconnaissance, air defence, attacks on any approaching Axis forces in the squadron's first combat assignment in the campaign.

On 8 April 1942, 47 ground staff departed for Kufra, making a journey by train, river steamer, ground vehicle. The newly promoted Major de Wet, placed in command of the detachment, meanwhile flew to Kufra on 11 April to make final arrangements for the detachment's arrival. No. 15 Squadron selected its three best Blenheims – Z7513, Z7610, T2252 – for the detachment. Each carrying a three-man crew, they arrived at Kufra on 28 April 1942, flying from Amariya via Wadi Halfa to avoid passing over enemy-held territory. Upon arrival, they found. Back in Amariya, Lieutenant Colonel Borckenhagen, who had no direct communications with Kufra, asked Royal Air Force Headquarters in the region to pass orders to de Wet on his behalf to keep the detachment grounded until the direction-finding station was made operational. By the evening of 3 May 1942, the direction-finding station was back in working order, Major de Wet briefed his crews on their first familiarisation flight, on which he would lead them early the following morning.

The flight – to be made at a true air speed of 150 mph and intended to allow the crews to become familiar with landmarks in the area and to gain experience with desert flying – was to take off in the early hours of 4 May and follow a square path, with its first leg one of 83 miles from Kufra to Rebiana, Libya, on a course of 269°, followed by a second leg of 51.5 miles on bearing 358° to Bzema a third leg of 64 miles on bearing 63° to Landing Ground 07, on bearing 162° for the 83.5-mile leg back to Kufra, with arrival at Kufra expected at 07:42 hours. In addition to its crew of three, each plane would carry a fourth man – an armourer – to assist with armament aboard the aircraft during the flight. After receiving an early-morning weather report for the region which predicted a visibility of 2.5 miles and wind from a bearing of 60° at a speed of 19 to 24 mph at 1,600 feet, de Wet declined a weather balloon check of wind conditions and the three Blenheims, each with four men aboard, took off from Kufra.

After initial communications checks with Kufra, nothing was heard from the aircraft until 7:10 hours. In the meantime, the three Blenheim crews believed that they had completed their flight, identifying each waypoint and planning to arrive at Kufra between 07:33 and 07:42 hours. However, Allied personnel at Rebiana did not hear them fly past, suggesting that they were off course by the time they thought they had completed the first leg of their flight. A contributing factor may have been that a weather balloon launched shortly after they took off revealed that the earlier weather report was wrong, that winds at 2,200 feet were blowing at 31 mph from a bearing of 290°, one of the navigators aboard the planes noted that the flight was so bumpy that he was unable to take drift readings. At 07:10, Kufra heard from the Blenheims, when aircraft Z7610 requested a bearing, Kufra requested that it transmit dashes so that the direction-finding station could establish its bearing. At 07:27, Major de Wet's Blenheim, Z7513, requested a course for a return to Kufra, but its radio operator ceased broadcasting before the direction-finding station could determine its bearing.

The aircraft turned to this course at 07:42, Allied infantrymen at Taizerbo heard them fly past to the west. After T2252's starboard engine began to malfunction around 09:00 hours, Major de Wet ordered the aircraft to land in the desert, which they did at 09:15; the Blenheim crews concluded that they were only about 20 miles from Kufra. At 11:00, a crew took off in Z7610 and flew southwest, but returned at 11:30 having failed to find Kufra. After transferring fuel from the disabled T2252, a crew again took off in Z7610 and flew on a heading of 213° for about 24 miles, but returned at 11:40 without having sighted Kufra. A third flight leaving at 15:35 hours flew on a course of 240° – which would have led it to Kufra – but turned back after 81 miles, before reaching Kufra; the crews made no further attempts to find their base that day

An Inland Voyage

An Inland Voyage is a travelogue by Robert Louis Stevenson about a canoeing trip through France and Belgium in 1876. It is a pioneering work of outdoor literature; as a young man, Stevenson desired to be financially independent so that he might pursue the woman he loved, set about funding his freedom from parental support by writing travelogues, the three most prominent being An Inland Voyage, Travels with a Donkey in the Cévennes and The Silverado Squatters. Voyage was undertaken with Stevenson's Scottish friend Sir Walter Grindlay Simpson along the Oise River from Belgium through France, in the Fall of 1876 when Stevenson was 26 years old; the first part, in Belgium, passed through industrial areas and many canal locks, proving to be not much of a vacation. They went by rail to France, starting downriver at Maubeuge and ending at Pontoise, close to the Seine; the route itinerary has become a popular route for modern travelers to re-enact with guidebooks and maps available. Stevenson and Simpson each had a wooden canoe rigged with a sail, comparable in style to a modern kayak, known as a "Rob Roy".

They were narrow and paddled with double-bladed paddles, a style that had become popular in England and neighboring countries, inspired by Scottish explorer John MacGregor's book A Thousand Miles in the Rob Roy Canoe. Outdoor travel for leisure was unusual for the time, the two Scotsmen were mistaken for lowly traveling salesman, but the novelty of their canoes would occasion entire villages to come out and wave along the banks with cheers of "come back soon!" A fundamentally Romantic work in style and tone, the book paints a delightful atmosphere of Europe in a more innocent time, with quirky innkeepers, traveling entertainers and puppeteers, old men who had never left their villages, ramshackle military units parading with drums and swords, gypsy-like families who lived on canal barges. The first edition was published by C. Kegan Paul & Co. Since there have been several editions. Digitised copy of An inland voyage from the C. Kegan & Paul & Co. edition from National Library of Scotland. JPEG, PDF, XML versions.

Ibiblio.org This site has the full text of An Inland Voyage, using the Cockbird Press edition. Andrew Sanger, An Inland Voyage, with a Travel Guide to the route, published by Cockbird Press ISBN 1-873054-02-5, most up to date travel itinerary for those repeating the journey, includes annotations and illustrations to the original text. See also: Andrew Sanger. An Inland Voyage, from the University of Virginia. Includes pictures from an early edition and HTML format. An Inland Voyage, a edition containing a preface by the Osbourne's and an Epilogue. HTML format. An Inland Voyage, from Project Gutenberg. An Inland Voyage public domain audiobook at LibriVox "Rob Roy", drawings of the "Rob Roy" canoe from A Thousand Miles in the Rob Roy Canoe John Alexander Hammerton. In the track of R. L. Stevenson and elsewhere in old France. Bristol, J. W. Arrowsmith. From Internet Archive