Saturday, 23 June 2007

Genoa 2001. The Mexican Butchery

(Photo: Prison, by danielel). During the 27th G8 summit in Genoa, which was held on July 2001, the Italian police made a raid on the school Diaz housing the Genoa Social Forum and arrested 93 people. Many persons were beaten and kicked, while after arrest they couldn’t talk with their lawyers (news.bbc.co.uk). Some weeks later, the head of Italian police Mr Gianni De Gennaro admitted police abuse, but Silvio Berlusconi’s government didn’t remove him (news.bbc.co.uk).
Mr Michelangelo Fournier, Vice Police Superintendent of Primo Reparto Mobile di Roma, took part in that action on Diaz school. A fortnight ago, six years later, he counted what he thought reaching Diaz school that night, during the raid: “Sembrava una macelleria messicana” [It looked like a Mexican butchery]. Mr Fournier told that he soon moved his men out of the school and called for ambulances. Mr Fournier said that he kept the silence for six years to protect the police and its institutional role (
repubblica.it). The Police Superintendent Mr Vincenzo Canterini then admitted that a police 'fruit-salad' took part in the raid on Diaz school that night and that his men didn’t hit anyone so hard (repubblica.it).
After Mr Fournier’s remarks the Left, who wanted Mr De Gennaro to be removed in 2001, renewed his request six years later (
repubblica.it), while the newspapers wrote that Mr De Gennaro is now under investigation (repubblica.it). Mr Romano Prodi’s government then explained that Mr De Gennaro would have been replaced soon; the Center-Right rose up against this decision (iht.com).
Mr De Gennaro made a wonderful carrier inside the Italian Police: he worked with
Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino against mafia; he prosecuted inquiries against many members of Cosa Nostra and arrested Bernardo Provenzano; he fought against new Brigate Rosse and against islamic terrorism in Italy (corriere.it and repubblica.it). Despite this, whether he knew about Diaz school abuses or not, Mr De Gennaro should have been removed in July 2001. Indeed, when police attacks defenceless people a basic civil right is broken: in those cases, the head of police must be replaced, because nobody should think that police is a menace for democracy. No reason indeed to believe that someone is irreplaceable in a democratic country.
What more? [..] tutte le polizie, anche le meglio organizzate sul terreno tecnico, [sono] sempre colte di sorpresa dalle rivoluzioni e ne [sono] facilmente sopraffatte. A che serve un perfetto servizio di informazione, se di queste informazioni non si capisce il valore? In ogni insurrezione, in ogni limitato movimento di piazza ha una sua parte essenziale il fattore improvvisazione. Ora, la polizia non sa improvvisare, appunto perché le manca la capacità di capire – e quindi di prevedere e di valutare – le reazioni popolari.” [Revolutions always take by surprise every police, even those that are more organized on grounds of technique, and they easily overcome them. Is a perfect intelligence service useful, if it doesn't understand the value of the informations found? In every uprising, in any limited riot, improvisation is essential. The police is unable to improvise, and the reason is that it lacks the ability to understand - and then to foresee and to estimate - popular reactions.] (
Giorgio Agosti, Dopo il tempo del furore. Diario 1946-1988, 2005, 21 ottobre 1947).

Friday, 15 June 2007

Tav Lyon-Turin and National Debt

(Photo: notav, by debsilver). Wednesday, June 14th, a meeting between the Italian Governement, Piedmont region, Turin and Susa Valley's municipalities was held in Rome to debate on Tav Lyon-Turin, the projected high-speed rail between France and Italy (corriere.it). A good deal of people in Susa Valley and in Turin stubbornly oppose this project, while main local authorities, French and Italian governments support it.
The meeting established to abandon the old project made by Lyon-Turin Ferroviaire, while the Tav Observatory lead by Mr Mario Virano will define a new scheme. Besides, before July 23rd Italian Governement will apply to get a contribution by the European Union of about 1 billion of euros. Susa Valley's mayors, moreover, acknowledged the existence of a projected tunnel on the French side that will influence the Italian rail.
Being a rail generally supposed to reduce road traffic, why the Tav Lyon-Turin finds such a huge opposition? Susa Valley is 1.5 km wide: Dora river, a railway, a highway, two national roads and a high voltage power line go all through this narrow path. Moreover, Mount Musiné contains amiantus and Ambin Massif contains uranium: making new tunnels there could produce health problems for local communities and it may damage the environment.
Mr Pier Angelo Tartaglia of
Turin Polytechnic, and member of the No Tav movement, asserts that the existent railway may has a capacity between 20 and 30 millions tons of freight per year. Nowadays the effective freight traffic is about 7 millions of tons per year, which is quite a good deal under the capacity limit. Besides, rail freight between France and Italy have been falling for forty years (Le Monde diplomatique).
Mr Rémi Proud'Homme of
Paris XII University estimates that this project will cost 20 billion of euros. Moreover, it will increase national debts of France and Italy for at last 40 years (lavoce.info).
Are we in to repeat the story of
Eurotunnel between France and England? Is another risk of bankruptcy going to come? Citizens will pay through taxes and national debt the construction of Lyon-Turin new railway, instead of financing new and more advanced industries: which companies will receive their money?
The lion's share of freight is concentrated on road traffic. As a consequence, instead of planning to spend such a huge lot of money to obtain certain costs and uncertain benefits, the first thing to do, as Switzerland has been doing for years, is to make rail freight grow, discouraging by law trucks road traffic. The Italian government said it will, by next autumn. But will Mr Romano Prodi's government resist in charge so long? The inhabitants of Susa Valley will wait without a shadow of a doubt: they'll do everything to protect their mountains.

The Habits of Driving Corpses


(Photo: Fiat500 by jovike). According to an analysis made by Genitori Antismog (Parents Against Smog), Northern Italy is more polluted than Germany and Poland. During the first five months of the year, Milan broke 80 times the particle pollution limits set by European Union and World Health Organization (iht.com).
Granted that heating strongly contributes to pollute the air, we need to focus on cars too. The National Institute for Statistics (Istat), said that every day 75,5% of the population reaches the office by car. Italians prefer to spend between 40 to 60 minutes per day at the wheel than using buses, bicycling or simply walking (repubblica.it).
In Turin, the car industry town where Fiat was born, the municipality has recently decided to apply road rules in the two city graveyards, where every day 300 to 500 authorized vehicles circulate and may produce car-accidents and traffic jams (lastampa.it).
Why so? We're probably accustomed to live like driving corpses: "'Lo nostro scender convien esser tardo, / sì che s'ausi un poco in prima il senso / al tristo fiato; e poi no i fia riguardo.'" [We must delay our downward journey here / So that our sense may gradually grow used / To the foul gas-fumes; then we will not mind it.]" [(Dante Alighieri, Inferno, XI, 10-12, translation by James Finn Cotter).

Monday, 11 June 2007

George W. Bush, War and Democracy

(Photo:Anti-Bush demonstrations in Rome, by zoen). Saturday, June 9th, U.S. President Mr George W. Bush visited Rome and Vatican City. Thousands of people demonstrated in the streets of the Italian capital against war: a good deal of pacific citizens, in spite of about a hundred violent hooded men making brawl with the police (repubblica.it).
Besides, few people joined the sit-in protest set up in San Giovanni square by Comunisti Italiani, Rifondazione Comunista and Verdi. Sinistra Democratica did’t join the sit-in, while Democratici di Sinistra’s Minister for Foreign Affairs Mr Massimo D’Alema criticized all of them, saying that MP supporting the government shouldn’t demonstrate at all: “abbiamo un solo dovere: governare, e non scendere in piazza” [we've got just one duty: to rule, and not to protest] (
repubblica.it). The Center-Right stigmatized the divisions inside the Center-Left coalition (corriere.it).
Peaceful citizens, such as the
No Dal Molin movement from Vicenza, were left alone: they were squeezed between many doubtful politicians and few violent protesters. Those peaceful thousands of citizens were all marked as ‘anti-American’ (corriere.it), even those Americans who joined the demonstration to reject war in Iraq.
May protests against war really damage democracy? “Le nombre toujours croissant des propriétaires amis de la paix, le développement de la richesse mobilière, que la guerre dévore si rapidement, cette mansuétude des mœurs, cette mollesse de coeur, cette disposition à la pitié que l'égalité inspire, cette froideur de raison qui rend peu sensible aux poétiques et violentes émotions qui naissent parmi les armes, toutes ces causes s'unissent pour éteindre l'esprit militaire. [...]
Tous les ambitieux que contient une armée démocratique souhaitent […] la guerre avec véhémence, parce que la guerre vide les places et permet enfin de violer ce droit de l’ancienneté, qui est le seul privilège naturel à la démocratie.
Nous arrivons ainsi à cette conséquence singulière que, de toutes les armées, celle qui désirent le plus ardemment la guerre sont les armées démocratiques, et que, parmi les peuples, ceux qui aiment le plus la paix sont les peuples démocratiques; et ce qui achève de rendre la chose extraordinaire, c’est que l’égalité produit à la fois ces effets contraires.”
(
Alexis de Tocqueville, De la démocratie en Amérique, 1840, vol. II, ch. XXII).

Saturday, 9 June 2007

Public Loans, Taxes and Innovation

(Photo: +Molinos, by DavidGorgojo). According to a study made by Met, between 1999 and 2005 the Italian State gave to enterprises public loans for 36 billion EUR. In 2006, including loans for railways and highways, this amount would reach 11 billion EUR. Besides, 40% of the enterprises which received this money didn’t invest, didn’t make R&D and didn’t create new jobs at all (espresso.repubblica.it).
In his last speech, May 24th, Mr Luca Cordero di Montezemolo, President of
Confindustria, said: “Siamo disponibili a scambiare qualunque incentivo in cambio di minore pressione fiscale sulle imprese” [We’re ready to swop any incentive with lower taxes on enterprises] (confindustria.it).
Instead of reducing public loans to enterprises, it would be highly likely to choose which sectors and projects should benefit of those incentives. Is Confindustria really ready for competition and innovation? What about financing just energy, environment, biotechnology, nanotechnologies and R&D in other sectors? What about strongly reducing public loans for textile, cement, building, transports and mechanics industries if they don’t show a real commitment for innovation? What about checking what enterprises do with public money?
Fabrizio Barca (“
Compromesso senza riforme nel capitalismo italiano”, Roma, Donzelli, 1997) explained that in 1946 the then conservative sectors, such as electricity, iron metallurgy and cement, conquered Confindustria and Assolombarda, while the then innovating sectors, such as mechanics and cars, lost their struggle. Are we in for the same scenario or may we hope for a better one?

Wednesday, 6 June 2007

Resigning Strenghtens Democracy

(Photo: I will take care of it, by Centrifuga). Friday, June 1st, the Assistant Secretary of Economy Vincenzo Visco suspended himself temporarily while the Government decided to remove General Roberto Speciale, the Commander of Guardia di Finanza, the fiscal police (corriere.it). Those decisions came after an intensive press debate.
A year ago, in June 2006, Mr Speciale suggested Mr Visco a rotation of a good deal of officers. Mr Visco then suggested to include in this rotation some others officers in service in Milan. Mr Speciale accepted Mr Visco’s suggestion, but then he actually didn’t include those officers in the scheduled rotation (
repubblica.it).
According to Maurizio Belpietro, Mr Visco wanted those officers to be removed because they were investigating over financial and power relationships – apparently disclosed by the Antonveneta-Bnl case – between the insurance company
Unipol and Mr Visco’s party, the Democratici di Sinistra (ilGiornale.it).
On the contrary, Giuseppe D'Avanzo asserts that Mr Speciale is member of a network aiming to interfere with democracy, a new
P2 which is conditioning the regular activity of republican institutions: the cases Telecom, Abu-Omar and Antonveneta-Bnl would be all emerging symptoms of this disease (repubblica.it).
First, Leopoldo Elia explained that the Government has the right to remove the Commander of Guardia di Finanza (
corriere.it). Second, a year ago Mr Visco should have told the public opinion everything he knew. Besides, last Friday he should have resigned completely: indeed, if he is faultless and irreproachable, as the Center-Left says, he could now thouroughly defend himself. Suspending himself temporarily, on the contrary, Mr Visco weakens both the Government and the Republic.

Saturday, 2 June 2007

The Liberty of the Press

(Photo: Saint Peters Dome, Rome by Lost Bob). Thursday night, May 31st, the italian public television network Rai2 broadcasted “Sex Crimes and the Vatican”, a documentary made by Mr Colm O'Gorman in October 2005. Many Italian politicians and Rai managers had previously and tried to prevent the journalist Michele Santoro to show the movie in his programme “Anno Zero” (repubblica.it).
The movie deals with several cases of children abuses made by catholic priests in Ireland, the U.S. and Brasil. According to the film, a Church secret document of 1962, “Crimen sollicitationis”, compels victims, torturers and witnesses to keep silence forever; who breaks the silence can be punished with excommunication.
After the programme, some Center-Right politicians protested again (repubblica.it). But why shouldn’t we be able to see this movie? The liberty of the press, established in Italy by the article 21st of the Constitution, is clearly under attack.

"The peculiar evil of silencing the expression of an opinion is, that it is robbing the human race; posterity as well as the existing generation; those who dissent from the opinion, still more than those who hold it. If the opinion is right, they are deprived of the opportunity of exchanging error for truth: if wrong, they lose, what is almost as great a benefit, the clearer perception and livelier impression of the truth, produced by its collision with error." (John Stuart Mill,
On Liberty, 1859, ch. II).