Silvio Berlusconi & Daniel Ellsberg
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A media titan turned politician who served as Italy’s prime minister three separate times, Berlusconi died June 12 at age 86. Berlusconi grew up in Milan and founded the country’s first private TV station there, growing it into a nationwide network. After earning a fortune, he entered politics, founding Forza Italia, a center-right political party, months before 1994 parliamentary elections. His alliance dominated the polls, and Berlusconi soon took office as prime minister. He proved a divisive leader, with fans embracing his populist rhetoric and detractors pointing to his scandals, including claims he hosted sex parties at his villas. Despite a tax fraud conviction, Berlusconi won reelection to Italy’s Senate in 2022.
Ellsberg, a defense analyst and economist whose Pentagon Papers leak precipitated one of the biggest classified document scandals in American history, died June 16. He was 92. In 1967, Ellsberg joined a team commissioned by the Defense Department to study the Vietnam War. While poring through classified material, he became disillusioned by the U.S. prospects in Vietnam, photocopied classified documents, and in 1971 gave a New York Times reporter access. Ellsberg would eventually be charged under the Espionage Act and faced up to 115 years in prison, but the charges were dismissed after lawyers proved the Nixon administration had illegally wiretapped him.
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