• Tentative About Change in Cuba: While the signs of change abound in Cuba, and most people are embracing it, there are side-effects that people are worried about, says staff writer Sara Miller Llana.
One young man who works as a taxi driver told Sara that business has slowed down considerably since the new fleet of Chinese buses has dramatically improved public transportation in Havana.
"Obviously it's better for the people, he says, but not necessarily for him," says Sara. And now that Cubans can stay at hotels, those who run guest rooms are also a bit worried. While the average Cuban cannot afford the big hotels, the tourists can. "From dozens of interviews, it seems the prevailing attitude is this: people complain about the status quo, but they also fear what might be on the other side of change. For now, they are waiting and seeing."
• O Silvio! After contributor Irene Caselli went to a rally for Italian prime minister candidate Silvio Berlusconi in Rome last weekend, she began to wonder if she was watching a politician or a pop star (see story). "He ended his speech," she says, "by sending kisses and hugs to everyone – 'especially the young ladies.' All the teenage girls responded by screaming 'Silvio!' "
Then, says Irene, the huge video screen behind the Italian presidential candidate and media magnate projected a karaoke version of the official party song ("Thank Goodness Silvio Exists"), a pop number that features staff at an ice-cream parlor and has women on treadmills singing, "We are the people of freedom, we are with you!"
– Amelia Newcomb
Deputy World editor