At least, Romanians had an occasion to take pride in losing. After losing some 10 billion euros to thieves in the past 15 years, after losing any confidence in politicians, after losing most of their self esteem because of poverty, last night we were proud to lose the football game against Real Madrid. Well, at least they played as heroes!

A single mistake made by Banel Nicolita brought Real Madrid a new victory against Steaua Bucharest after a game in which Steaua truly challenged the “half billion euros team” led by stars like Beckham and Ronaldo. 1-0 after a shameful 1-4 in Bucharest is a fair score.

And since this is the only piece of good news, one can imagine the rest.

For starters, Romanians gave up reading, as Evenimentul Zilei found. The bookshelves disappeared from all furniture shops, replaced by furniture designed for TV sets and audio equipment. Some say it’s because books are too expensive, others say it’s about the new aesthetics of multifunctional designs.

Since we don’t read, it is difficult to put together a fair analysis of today’s society. There is nothing shocking in finding out about a new bribe case. Still, Wednesday’s cases were a bit different from the everyday battle against corruption.

The president of the Human Rights Protection Organization, Florentin Scaletchi, was taken into custody by the Anti Corruption Prosecutors (DNA) for an alleged bribe of some tens of thousands of euros. Scaletchi supposedly promised to influence a trial.

Last year, Scaletchi managed to help Omar Hayssam, the only Romanian citizen accused of terrorism, moving him in a cell with religious fellows, Evenimentul Zilei reads.

Well, with the wolf watching for the sheep in human rights, some may expect a bit more from the media.

Not a chance: the scandal that burst in Cluj, involving at least five blackmailing journalists seems to spread all over Transylvania, with dozens of politicians and businessmen claiming they were also blackmailed, as Evenimentul Zilei begins to see.

Not even the future life in Europe is something to come easily: Romanian must absorb at least 55% of the EU funds for Romania in 2007, representing a total of 30 billion non-refundable euros. Unless the goal is achieved, the funds would diminish during the following years, Romania Libera reminds.

The best thing in Romania is now to be a right-wing extremist, and we’re not saying Liberals, but extreme nationalists.

For 50,000 euros and a seat in some commissions, members of the Great Romania party prepare to join the European extremists, so that the right wing would have a group of its own, Gandul reads.

Still, another extremist, “New Generation” leader Gigi Becali, also Steaua Bucharest owner and a controversial businessman, doesn’t seem to be interested in the proposal and leaves it all up to Great Romania.

Back home, he has a game to play against the Anti Corruption Prosecutors, investigating him for a 100 billion lei fraud, according to Adevarul.

Liberals aren’t doing any better. The six top dissidents expelled from the party find support from Liberals all over the country and a scission begins to look as inevitable, Cotidianul reads.