Italy's preparation for G8 summit does not satisfy other seven

Two days before the beginning of the G8 summit in Italy, many officials from the other countries are unhappy with the summit preparations, and are suggesting more permanent action than a strongly-worded letter:

Preparations for Wednesday's G8 summit in the Italian mountain town of L'Aquila have been so chaotic there is growing pressure from other member states to have Italy expelled from the group, according to senior western officials.

In the last few weeks before the summit, and in the absence of any substantive initiatives on the agenda, the US has taken control. Washington has organised "sherpa calls" (conference calls among senior officials) in a last-ditch bid to inject purpose into the meeting.

"For another country to organise the sherpa calls is just unprecedented. It's a nuclear option," said one senior G8 member state official. "The Italians have been just awful. There have been no processes and no planning."

"The G8 is a club, and clubs have membership dues. Italy has not been paying them," said a European official involved in the summit preparations.

The Italian prime minister has been rather busy as of late, but somehow, I suspect that won't be offered as an excuse.

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Have U.S. border guards become meaner?

Many Canadians think so, according to the Toronto-based Globe and Mail, but it may be more than a matter of temperment:

The perception among many Canadians is that today's U.S. border officers are meaner. The reality is that they are likely to be younger, under more pressure and – should you give them a reason – yes, meaner....

The report notes that the U.S. border patrol has been on a massive recruiting drive, meaning more agents with less experience.

And of course there's that whole terrorism thing keeping everyone on edge. In an incident feeding the mean image, Canadian Desiderio Fortunato was pepper-sprayed by a U.S. border agent after refusing to turn off his car until the officer said "please." According to the Globe and Mail, Transport Canada puts the cost to the transportation industry of increased security at $550 million per year. 

Though the image of the brutish U.S. border guard may be easier for both countries to imagine, Canada has been cracking down too. As many Americans are discovering to their shock, old misdemeanors, especially DUIs are causing them to be turned away by Canada. Any conviction considered a crime in either country is grounds for denial of entry.

I knew I should have paid my old parking tickets.

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