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Berlusconi: Well at least I'm not gay

Abusing the power of the office of the presidency to bust a teenage girl out of prison and bring her to the "bunga-bunga" parties at your estate is generally frowned upon, even in Italian politics. But hey, it could be worse, right? Right?

[Berlusconi] refused to apologize for his fondness for young women and denied doing anything improper, after the case of the girl known as Ruby filled Italian newspapers last week and opposition lawmakers called for him to resign.

'As always, I work without interruption and if occasionally I happen to look a beautiful girl in the face, it's better to like beautiful girls than to be gay,' he told a meeting at a motorcycle industry show in Milan.

I'm guessing a fair number of Italians actually wouldn't mind trading up for a Johanna Sigurdardottir or a Guido Westerwelle right now, but who knows?

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More on China's jade obsession

Last week we listed some items that are growing in popularity among China's increasingly wealthy middle class, along with some of the impacts of these recent obsessions, including jade. One major consequence not included in the list is the fact that China's passion for jade has been criticized by both human rights groups and the U.S. government for financing Burma's military dictatorship.

Brian Leber, a Chicago-based jeweler involved in efforts for an industry-wide boycott of jewels from Burma, wrote in to remind us that the Southeast Asian country is not only home to one of the world's most repressive regimes, it also has millions of kilograms of jadeite -- the most expensive and most sought after jade in China.

U.S. trade sanctions on Myanmar that specifically targeted the military junta's trade of jadeite have apparently done little to quell the Chinese appetite for the fine gem: According to the U.S. Government Accountability Office, jadeite from Myanmar has, unlike other gems, continued to be "primarily purchased, processed, and consumed by China."

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