ITALY SAYS NO TO BERLUSCONI’S BROTHEL


Italy has had enough of being considered the land of bananas and clowns, the land where men still buy women to gain sexual pleasure and where political leaders are chosen on the basis of their sexual performances, where you can’t get a job without selling your conscience and your morality.

Italy yesterday and today was demonstrating loudly, peacefully and without any political colour for one simple goal: restore Italy’s dignity!

Italy is a beautiful country with so many resources starting from the people. But too many people continue closing their eyes and mouths in a coward acceptance of the behaviour of a political class that believes a brothel can turn into a Parliament.

Italy needs people who want to be heard and taken seriously, not special people – normal people – who are willing to shout NO against mafia, against corruption, against illegality, against the destruction of democracy. People who stop saying ‘this does not concern me’ or ‘there is nothing I can do to change this’. People must remember that what each one of us does / says counts. If we stop believing that our opinions have a value, that is when illegality wins and democracy ends.

We are not revolutionaries, we are not violent, we are not utopians. We know that world and life in general are not perfect. But one thing we know for sure, people faced with serious criminal charges must go to trial, because the law is the same for everyone, no matter who you are and what your job is.

ITALY CAN DO AND DESERVES BETTER THAN THIS!

All photos in this post were taken by myself during yesterday’s and today’s demonstrations in TORINO. I was unable to post my videos in this post for some reason, but you can find them on YouTube on LittleExplorersBlog channel.

Please share this post with as many people as possible to show that Italy is not silently accepting to be ridiculed before the entire world by Berlusconi!

Sudan’s Referendum: Will a New Country Be Born Tomorrow?


Tomorrow, 9th January 2011, is an important day. A referendum will be held in Southern Sudan for independence from the North. While Al Bashir’s arrest warrant by the International Criminal Court is still pending, the country is facing a possibly radical change. This has raised hopes amongst the Southern Sudanese people, as well as being a new issue of concern for the region’s (precarious) stabililty.

Thanks to the blog http://ocfordarfur.wordpress.com which I read frequently, I found out about a very instructive and interesting documentary on the history of Sudan by Al Jazeera that I would like to share here.

 

To view directly the Al Jazeera page on “Sudan: History of a Broken Land”, click here:

http://english.aljazeera.net/programmes/general/2011/01/201114134128217212.html

Nets of Peace


We hear in the daily news about the Israeli-Palestian conflict. We unfortunately tend to hear only bad news from that region: terrorist attacks, Israeli raids, settlements in occupied land, qassam rockets and much much more. Everything we hear seems to be sending one message to the world: that region is stuck in a never-ending conflict.

Rethorical comments are abundant, therefore I just aim to report a fact which appears to be practically unknown. There are very few webpages on this (one should probably wonder why), as you can test yourself through a simple Google search.

Ever heard of ‘Nets of Peace‘? If anyone has heard of it before, I’d be happy to know! I first read about this very interesting project on Pagine Ebraiche, in an article by M. Calimani. The idea is simple: to set up a large-scale fish industry in Gaza to promote peace. This project stems from the desire to solve serious issues affecting the Gaza strip and, ultimately, Israel. The team leading the project realised that there were two sets of facts which could be put in relation.

On the one hand, the serious unemployment and the malnutrition affecting Gaza. Unofficial reports estimate the unemployment in Gaza affects more than 40% of the population in Gaza, causing many people to apply for jobs with Hamas simply because they wish to support their families. The population in Gaza also suffers from serious malnutrition, in particular children. It is estimated that 60% of children in Gaza suffer from malnutrition.

On the other hand, there is a growing need for fish on a global scale and the Gaza area is a 40 km strip on the Mediterranean costline. Therefore, Gaza has a strong and long-standing marine culture. Due to high smuggling threats over the past few years, the fish industry in Gaza has reduced and consequently average price of fishfood has soared, thereby reducing the possibility for Gaza families to afford this important source of proteins.

The team of Nets of Peace, composed by 5 students (David Welch, Ohad Kot, Danielle Angel, David McGeady and Osher Perry) from Tel Aviv University, came up with the idea of creating a project to set up a fish industry in the Gaza strip. This project also meet environment-friendly criteria as it promotes environmental responsibility through the conservation and rehabilitation of the coastline on the basis of a ‘zero footprint policy’. Nets of Peace is based on the acronym BENEFIT,  which stands for the guiding lines of the project:The team has so far:

For more information on the project, visit the website of Nets of Peace: http://www.netsofpeace.org/

Meet the team in this video!

Je ne suis pas une potiche!


No, you heard me well … I am not a ‘potiche‘,  namely one of these:

I’d rather see myself like her…

…a young and lovely Catherine Deneuve!

I have just seen her appearence in the film ‘Potiche’ by the talented director François Ozon that also was presented at the Venice Film Festival 2010 and that is the way I feel now: simply in awe of Catherine Deneuve’s charme!

The story is simple: a repressed wife of a rich industrialist in the 1970s in France. But the way it is told is so refreshingly modern. It looks back at trade union movements in the growing capitalist world and it reinterprets a moment of political unrest taking a feminist perspective. After being criticised by everyone, even her own daughter, of being passive and submissive, Suzanne (Catherine Deneuve) takes advantage of a difficult moment in her husband’s life to take on a new role and twist the situation to show everyone that she is not a ‘potiche’ at all, but a woman with a heart, a will and brains to get what she wants without losing her charme.

I don’t believe it should be read merely as a film that wants women to ‘rebel’ to their status of house-wives and mothers. It wants to show that inside a woman that might be quite, submissive and apparently without a strong will, there is in fact a smart and vibrant personality that allows the family and everything else around it to run smoothly, without being in the spotlight. She is the one who notices the small details around the house and who appreciates little squirrels rather than the ironies of life when running around the park. And, sometimes, a quiet ‘chipie‘ might suddenly emerge as being much louder than everyone else. Even louder than her past lover and political competitor Babin (Gérard Depardieu).

Apparently the director was inspired by Nicolas Sarkozy’s macho-attitude, and thought that this film would be a good reply to reaffirm the role of women in the modern world. Women who can keep their clothes on and show they have a brain.

Maybe we should all take note of that.

Thoughts on Globalization


UNOPS DVD:

Les Conférence du Programme Savoirs, Innovations et Politiques du Développement Human – Edgar Morin


After having watched a video interview by UNOPS (United Nations Organization for Project Service) with an interview to Edgar Morin on the topic of globalization, I feel like sharing my views here.

He first speaks about the elements that a society needs in order to exist as such. He lists four elements: a common economy, a common land, a common authority and a common awareness. On this basis, he concluded, there no such global society. There is certainly a foundation of a global society but too many elements, such as a common authority, are lacking.

One of the key points he makes, in my opinion, is that globalization is like a plane without a pilot: there is no regulation or control over this process. For this reasons, he states, a local crisis becomes a global crisis, a global catastrophe.
On this point, I believe that it needs to be pointed out that the issue here is that there is indeed some regulation, however due to the scale of involvement in the process of globalization, it is virtually impossible to find an agreement on which path is the best for the global future. The institutions, such as the WTO (World Trade Organization), which work towards clearer trade regulations and harmonization of international trade standards, are constantly reminded that they need to step back and allow state sovereignty to prevail. This is clearly legitimate from the political point of view: a state sovereignty derives from the state’s political status chosen (only in some cases) by the electorate. Thus it seems clear that the WTO, as in this example, has no right to superimpose itself over the nations’ will. However, this also shows how a ‘global’ authority – if anything as such can exist – will never be functional due to the heavily political element necessarily involved in its nature and status.

Another interesting statement by E. Morin, despite lacking originality, is that globalization has removed prejudices but also solidarity networks or what French call ‘art de vivre’. The material well being does not correspond to personal happiness. This, according to him, derives from the problematic notion of development in our current world: on the one hand, it represents Western prosperity, yet on the other hand, it is identified with obsession for consumption and for money. He commented that if China and India were to have as many cars per person as in Western countries, we would need five planets like the Earth to satisfy all of our needs. This is clearly unsustainable.

Morin focused on reminding us that development ought to be not merely quantitative but also qualitative. For something to qualify as ‘change’ or ‘metamorphosis’ it must introduce something new into the system. This element of novelty, according to him, should come from reforms. These reforms are not new plans without any foundations: they already find roots within society and we need to identify such trends towards change that can serve as a platform for change.

I believe that Morin’s view is at the same time disarmingly optimistic yet also powerful in giving some hope for change.
As he states, the most encouraging recent event showing radical and unpredictable change is Obama‘s election.

If it happened once, why could something so unpredictable not occur again to give a new vibe to our society?

Icelandic Volcano Ash Cloud


Only a week ago, the volcano Eyjafjallajoekull in Iceland erupted after having been dormant for 200 years. It has now erupted causing a massive ash cloud which has put Europe to a complete halt. From what at first seemed a mere environmental event, it is now the cause of massive flight disruptions which are having consequences on all sort of people, industries and sectors – not merely tourism.

Not many know that industries such as the flower industry are suffering a major loss due to the transport problems. Another category deeply affected by the situation is that of foreign students who are generally about to enter their examination period. For instance, UK university students who left the country to return home for the Easter holidays and who are now forced to find other means of transportation to return to their universities on time before exams start. It is also clear that postal and delivery services could also be affected causing an immediate and radical change in the European industrialized and interconnected system.

Unfortunately, not only Europe but also other parts of the world will be or already have been affected by the current situation in two ways. Either due to the risk of the winds changing direction of the ash cloud spread (it has been forecast that the cloud might go towards Canada) or due to the transportation and economical problems affecting countries that are connected to European ones (virtually, the entire world!).

It has already been stated that the damages have surpassed those of 9/11 in 2001 deriving from an intentional terrorist attack. It makes us wonder how weak our system is if something so major and unpredictable disrupts it to such an extent.
Our globalized system of interconnectedness and interdependence is strong when everything works according to ‘plan’, however one single disruption quickly and practically instantaneously become near to catastrophe for the entire world on a social, economical, political level. I think this should also be a hint to question ourselves on whether the greatest risks of the current world mainly come from terrorism – as the recent Nuclear Summit seems to suggest – or whether the risks are more wide-fold, thus deriving from natural and unforeseeable causes such as natural calamities. It is also interesting to note that these natural catastrophes could serve the interests of those terrorist groups that attempt or intend to carry out large-scale actions to disrupt or destroy. If we look at the more recent natural events that have affected the world – from the Chile earthquake, to the Chinese Sichuan province earthquake – we can see how unprepared we were and how disruptive they have been. The most peculiar character of the Icelandic volcanic eruption is that it has not taken human lives but it has, quite literally, invested so many of them in a number of different aspects of their lives. This ‘disruption model’ has proven to be extremely effective and maybe it could be used by terrorist groups to gather ideas and data on how to create similar consequences through intended and deliberate actions. This feature is what, in my opinion, makes it a very good starting point to review our general system of interdependence also with the view of protecting ourselves from possible terrorist attacks.

This is not a man


Questo non è un uomo

I have decided today to post the poem by Adriano Sofri, a prominent and controversial Italian political activist and critic, because of its depth and value. My English translation is posted just below the Italian original poem.

This poem is inspired by the famous poem ‘If this is a man’ (Se questo è un uomo) by Primo Levi, which was written by the well-known survivor of the Auschwitz concentration camp to convey the feeling of degradation and inhumanisation experienced by the people kept in the Nazi extermination camps.

Voi che vivete sicuri / You who live safely
Nelle vostre tiepide case / In your warm houses,
voi che trovate tornando a sera / You who find warm food
Il cibo caldo e visi amici / And friendly faces when you return home.

Considerate se questo è un uomo / Consider if this is a man
Che lavora nel fango / Who works in mud,
Che non conosce pace / Who knows no peace,
Che lotta per mezzo pane / Who fights for a crust of bread,
Che muore per un sì o per un no. / Who dies by a yes or a no.
 
Considerate se questa è una donna / Consider if this is a woman
Senza capelli e senza nome / Without hair, without a name,
Senza più forza di ricordare / With no longer the strength to remember,
Vuoti gli occhi e freddo il grembo / Vacant eyes, cold womb,
Come una rana d’inverno. / Like a frog in winter.

Meditate che questo è stato / Realise that this has happened.

Vi comando queste parole. / Remember these words.

Scolpitele nel vostro cuore / Engrave them in your hearts,
Stando in casa andando per via / When at home or in the street,
Coricandovi alzandovi / When going to bed, when getting up.
Ripetetele ai vostri figli./ Repeat them to your children.
O vi si sfaccia la casa / Or may your house be destroyed,
La malattia vi impedisca / Illness bar your way,
I vostri nati torcano il viso da voi / Your offspring turn away from you.

This poem, which is of extraordinary strength, focussed on the humiliation of the camps that sought not only to destroy people physically, but also – and especially – emotionally. People there were not to be people anymore. The key aim of the Nazis was to make these prisoners forget they were humans too, and, as such, had natural rights.

Sofri’s poem posted above is a serious cry for help – help for those black people in Southern Italy (Rosarno – in Calabria, region just North-East of Sicily) who this week (January 2010) have rebelled to the constant racism that reigns over their difficult and sad lives  They rebelled against the racism of the locals (e.g. spitting at them in streets, shouting insults at them) and against the slavery-like treatment reserved to them for years in the fields where oranges and other typical southern-Italian products are grown and collected. This market is under the control of the Mafia from many years and the immigrants, whether they are legal or not, are taken under what is real modern slavery. They earn 1 euro per hour or less, they live under what can hardly be called rooves, and they wash in the streets. These black men and women have been humiliated in the streets, attacked, hit and killed because they ‘disturb’ the town.

This has caused a very big debate amongst Italian politicians as to whether the local inhabitants are ‘racists’. Some politicians seem to think the key problem in this case is that there are far too many immigrants. The problem of uncontrolled immigrants is real and under everybody’s eyes. However, few people (and politicians) seem to have the courage to denounce what is the real problem: the Mafia, which encourages people from abroad, who live in appalling conditions and thus have nothing to lose, to migrate to Italy with the promise of a safe and honest job to help their families. These people abandon their families to go to the ‘promised land’ only to find themselves trapped in a condition of slavery and illegality, without the protection of law, since for the State they are ‘non-existant’ individuals hidden by the Mafia. Once their job is no more required, they are abandoned in their situation of desperately poor immigrants (60% of the immigrants involved in the situation in Rosarno were legal immigrants) and they are not accepted by the population that attributes their condition to their own lack of attempt to be follow the ‘welcoming country’s laws’.

The poem by Sofri wants to remind us all that no matter whether legal or illegal, an immigrant is a human being like any one else: someone who has a right to a dignified life and a right to be treated as equal to any other man or woman. Let us stop manipulating a reality which we, Italians, have greatly contributed to create and let us stop closing our eyes in front of the atrocities which are being committed against these poor people.

The Poem
…………………………………………………

In the Ghettos of Italy
This is not a Man

by Adriano Sofri

Once again, again consider
if this is a man,
like a toad in January,
who is on his way when it is dark and foggy
and returns when it is foggy and dark,
who collapses on the side of the road,
who
at Christmas smells of kiwi and oranges,
who knows three languages yet can speak none,
who fights his meals with mice,
who has two spare slippers,
an asilum request,
an engineering degree, one photograph,
and he hides them under cardboards,
and sleeps on the Rognetta cardboards,
under an asbestos roof,
or without a roof,
who lights a fire from the rubbish,
who stays in his own place,
in no place,
and comes out, after shooting,
“He got it wrong!”,
of course he got it wrong,
the Black Man
from the black misery,
of the black market, and from Milan,
after begging for attenuating circumstances
they write in big letters: BLACK,
discarded by a corporal,
spat in the eye by a miserable local man,
hit by his owners

chased after by their dogs,
what an envy for your dogs,
what an envy the jail
(a good place to hang oneself)
Who urinates with dogs,
who bites the dogs without owners,
who lives between one No and another No,
between a Police office for mafia
and a last welcome Immigrants Centre
and when he dies, an offer
of his brothers paid one euro per hour
sends him overseas, over the desert
to his land – “To whatever land!”
Meditate that this has been,
that this is now,
what a State this is,
Reread your essays on the Problem
you who adopt from a safety distance
in Congo, in Guatemala,
and you write in your warm homes,
neither here nor there,
neither goodness, something left to charity,
nor brutality, something left to internal affairs,
tepid, like a gun in the night,

and you move your eyes away from her

who is not a woman
from him, who is not a man
who has not got a woman
and his sons, if he has sons, are far
and prey again that your newborns
will not turn  their faces away from yours
in disgust.