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Archive for the ‘Italy’ Category

A delegation of Millennium has been engaged from the 3rd to the 17th of November in Lebanon, in the difficult period that elapsed between the unfolding of the civil conflict in Syria and the indiscriminate bombing of Israel still ongoing on Gaza. The delegation held as planned the visits of representation in the Palestinian refugee camps and headquarters of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine of Balbeck and Beirut. The Italian delegation also met with the political representation of Millennium in Lebanon.

In the picture: Hassan Abou Nasseh, representant of Millennium in Lebanon, and Francesco Piscitelli, Regional Coordinator of Millennium in Friuli.

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Millennium, has participated in the international conference held from September 4 to 6 at the Federal University of Paraíba, in the city of João Pessoa (Brazil).

The conference, focused especially on the foundations of the theory of geopolitics, on the relationship between it and the philosophical field, on the need for multipolar global order and on the development of the “fourth political theory“, was attended by the founder and president of Millennium, Orazio Maria Gnerre, alongside the philosopher and theorist Alexander Dugin, the professor of the University of Sao Paulo, André Martin, the scholar and essayist Mateus Azevedo, and the expert in geopolitics Edu Silvestre de Albuquerque.

The topic covered by Orazio Maria Gnerre was “The sacral conception of the spaces”: from the symbolic and archetypal interpretation of geography to the highest geopolitical categories.

The meeting brought to light the convergence of objectives of Millennium, of the Eurasianism and of the South American Meridionalism in promoting the transition to a multipolar global order and the creation of a fourth political theory, adapted to the historical context and capable of a radical reformulation of the same.

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Venezuela’s new socialist city Caribia in the evening time

This year, the Venezuelan government will present the concept of its new socialist cities at the International Architecture Biennale in Italy, which is due to be held from August 29th to November 25th. The architectural exposition, which will be hosted in the cultural hub of Venice, was founded in 1980 as a way of promoting the development of urban spaces across the globe.

In a joint effort between the ministry of culture and the ministry of foreign relations, the Venezuelan government’s contribution to this international celebration of architecture will focus on the Chavez administration’s “great housing mission,” which aims to construct 3 million “dignified” houses before 2017 with the help of organised communities. The exposé will be called “the socializing city vs. the alienating city” and will be presented by national architect and artist Domenico Silvestro.

According to Silvestro, the presentation is aimed at exploring the “home” as the nucleus of social transformation, the urban reality of Venezuela in the 21st century and the solutions that the Venezuelan government has used to solve the housing problem in Venezuela.

The artist has used sketches and paintings in an attempt to depict the lived experiences of the government’s new housing mission, as well as audiovisual testimonies from families who have already received their houses as part of the scheme. These testimonies also feature recordings from families who helped to build the houses, in an attempt to explore the individual and collective experience of constructing your own home and then later living in it.

“The piece will depict the solutions that the State has been implementing to resolve the housing deficit in the poorest and most vulnerable areas of society. It’s a presentation which explores the human and essential dream of having a dignified home,” said Silvestro.

The Venezuelan presentation has been celebrated as an examination of the social and human component of architecture which brings it to life, yet it is also an exposé which asks questions and poses solutions; it reflects the ongoing creation of a new kind of socially inclusive architecture, both in construction and design, that is currently being promoted by the Venezuelan government.

Inside the socializing city

So what is it exactly that makes Venezuela’s new communal cities a socializing experience? How different are they to the barrios in the country’s cities, which are all too often described as dens of inequity, violence and poverty by the Western press, with little respect for the inhabitants who live there and in fact, constructed them?

It is true that for decades Venezuela’s barrios have been sites of social, economic and cultural exclusion; yet it is undeniable that the houses and communities which welcome you at Caracas airport and span all the way into the city have a certain charm.

The millions of brightly coloured homes built haphazardly on top of one another, with absolutely no regard for the rules of town planning or even gravity, are a vibrant testament to human resilience and creativity. It is unsurprising that they have been described as symbols of anti-capitalism, and there is certainly something subversive in their asymmetrical and unregulated design.

The buzz of barrio life on the ground can be felt right up in the hilltops, sometimes a 25 minute jeep ride away, and there is always music, usually salsa, being played. The mountain air is a surprising and refreshing change from the smog which engulfs the centre of Caracas, and some people even raise chickens in their makeshift courtyards.

It is the same atmosphere inside. The design of the houses, which traverse numerous levels and are a labyrinth of stairs and building blocks, means that you have to pass the entrances to numerous homes before you reach your own. This set-up promotes a certain kind of cooperation and interaction inside the home; community meetings and politics become topics which are discussed on doorsteps as you make your way to your front door.

Yet it is less easy to construct this experience outside on the street. The lack of infrastructure, communal spaces, and the very real, albeit exaggerated, violence in the barrio, are all elements which impede the construction of communal life.

Walking around Venezuela’s new socialist city Caribia in the evening time, the barrio feels as if it were a million miles away. For a start, children are still out playing in the street or in the various communal spaces at 7 o’clock at night, even though it is dark. There are both stairs and ramps for disabled access, communal squares which are lit up at night and there is no rubbish in the street. People are watering the grass and trees and there is a well-attended communal meeting on the local economy and transport being held in the community primary school. It is hard to imagine how the BBC managed to qualify these cities as “ghettoes” earlier in the year.

Speaking to residents in the area, I was told that each family pays about 120 Bolivar (US$28) for the houses, to which they hold the titles. In Caracas, just half an hour away, you would be lucky to rent a place for less than 2000 Bolivar (US$465).

“Here, we all work together to keep the city looking nice, on the other hand in the barrio, you’re just looking after yourself, making sure that your house looks nice, and maybe your neighbour can’t do that because they have less income than you… there was more poverty there,” said Francis Yanis, 20, a worker in the local state-run bakery.

This response, along with wide eyed astonishment, was typical of the answers I received when I asked; “so, is Caribia really different from where you used to live?”.

“No way! There is a huge difference! Look, we used to live in a huge barrio, the kids didn’t have squares, they didn’t have anywhere to play or entertain themselves. Here they have parks and squares, or there is the sports pitch,” commented José Villa Suda Cari.

“Here you can walk around and there is always someone about, in the barrio, who are you gonna ask? You live there isolated, in your little street with your family and that’s it. Here you interact with all the people, it’s more social, you get me?” he continued.

José has been living in Caribia for a year now and his sentiments appear to be shared by the wider community.

The local kids I asked, including Jesus Lugo, 10, also seemed to agree. “It’s just better,” he said, “we have parks here.” “We’re safer,” added his friend, Evenso Villa, also 10.

In a conversation with Consuela “Tita” Manzanilla, 35, and Eddy “La Negra” Mata, 33, I was told that in Caribia there are currently 4 communal councils in operation, and that they are hoping to form a commune. Consuela believed that life in the new city had allowed residents to build a true expression of communal self-government.

“We’re organized, because there are projects. For instance, the president said we were going to build a city and develop community projects, and that’s what we are doing,” she said.

Eddy, on the other hand, noted that the workers building the houses were labouring “night and day,” to get them finished, “because they are working for the revolution,” added Consuela. They also noted that government functionaries came to the city to train people as part of the State’s work and knowledge mission; a project aimed at eliminating unemployment. Both women thought that having men and women who both lived and worked in the city increased community cohesion.

To conclude our conversation, I asked Consuela and Eddy what word they would use to describe the socialist city. “Love,” replied Consuela. Eddy went with “co-existence”.

It might be difficult for Silvestro to capture these sentiments in the Venezuelan exposé in Venice, or even to describe them to a European audience, but it is understandable why he wants to try. As Consuela told me, “it’s like an example”.

An edited version of this article was published in Correo del Orinoco International

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The Vatican is threatening to take legal action against those responsible for publishing a new book of leaked internal documents. The book sheds light on power struggles and corruption inside the Holy See and the thinking of its embattled top banker.

Pope Benedict XVI has already appointed a commission of cardinals to investigate the “Vatileaks” scandal. It erupted earlier this year with the publication of leaked memos alleging corruption and mismanagement in Holy See affairs and internal squabbles over its efforts to comply with international anti-money-laundering norms.

The publication Saturday of “His Holiness” by Italian journalist Gianluigi Nuzzi, added fuel to the fire, reproducing confidential letters and memos to and from Pope Benedict and his personal secretary which, according to the Vatican, violated the pope’s right to privacy.

Vatican spokesman Rev. Federico Lombardi said in a statement Saturday the book was an “objectively defamatory” work that “clearly assumes characters of a criminal act.” He warned the Holy See would get to the bottom of who “stole” the documents, who received them and who published them. He warned the Holy See would seek international cooperation in its quest for justice, presumably with Italian magistrates.

The Vatican had already warned of legal action against Nuzzi after he published letters in January from the former second-highest Vatican administrator to the pope. In those letters the administrator begged not to be transferred for having exposed alleged corruption that cost the Holy See millions of euros in higher contract prices. The prelate, Monsignor Carlo Maria Vigano, is now the Vatican’s US ambassador.

Nuzzi, author of Vatican SpA, a 2009 volume laying out shady dealings of the Vatican Bank based on leaked documents, said he was approached by sources inside the Vatican with the trove of new documents. Most of them are of fairly recent vintage and many of them painting the Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, in a negative light.

Much of the documentation is fairly Italy-centric: about a 2009 scandal over the ex-editor of the newspaper of the Italian bishops’ conference, a previously-unknown dinner between Benedict and Italy’s president, and even a 2011 letter from Italy’s pre-eminent talk show host Bruno Vespa to the pope enclosing a check for 10,000 euro for his charity work and asking for a private audience in exchange.

But there are international leaks as well, including diplomatic cables from Vatican embassies from Jerusalem to Cameroon. Some concern the conclusions of the pope’s delegate to the disgraced Legion of Christ religious order. In a memo sent to the pope last autumn he warned that the financial situation of the order, beset by a scandal over its pedophile founder, “while not grave, is serious and pressing.”

Ettore Gotti Tedeschi, the head of the Institute for Religious Works, otherwise known as the Vatican Bank, gets significant ink. His private memos to the pope with his take on the Vatican’s response to the global financial crisis and how to handle the church’s tax exempt status amid Italian government efforts to crack down on tax evasion have also been published.

The bank has been trying for some two years to remedy its reputation as a shady tax haven beset by scandals. One of them is the collapse of Italy’s Banco Ambrosiano and the death of its head, Roberto Calvi, who also helped manage Vatican investments and was found hanging from London’s Blackfriars Bridge in 1982.

In a bid to show it has mended its ways, the Institute for Religious Works this week invited ambassadors from 35 countries in for a tour and a chat with its managing director as part of a new transparency campaign. The tour came on the same day Holy See representatives were in Strasbourg discussing the first draft of a report from a Council of Europe committee on the Vatican’s compliance with international norms to fight money laundering and terrorism financing.

British Ambassador Nigel Baker, who went on the Institute for Religious Works tour, later blogged that the Vatican’s reputation depends on showing that its institutions are transparent.

“Plenty still needs to be done. But the Holy See needs to stick to its guns. It is in their interest, and ours,” Baker wrote.

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An anarchist group claimed responsibility on Friday for kneecapping an Italian nuclear engineering executive and warned it would strike another seven times at the firm’s parent company, Finmeccanica.

In a four-page letter sent to an Italian newspaper, the group, calling itself the Olga Nucleus of the Informal Anarchist Federation-International Revolutionary Front, said two of its members had shot Roberto Adinolfi, the CEO of Ansaldo Nucleare, in Genoa on Monday.

The firm is owned by Italian state-controlled defence and aerospace group Finmeccanica, which operates 16 sites and employs 10,000 people in the UK.

The letter, which was deemed credible by investigators, said the cell named itself after Olga Ikonomidou, one of eight Greek anarchists it listed as currently jailed in Greece. Seven further attacks would be carried out, one for each of them, the letter stated.

After the shooting Finmeccanica’s CFO, Alessandro Pansa, said the firm would not be intimidated. On Friday a spokesman declined to comment on the letter.

The letter takes aim at Adinolfi, calling him a “sorcerer of the atomic industry” and criticising him for claiming in an interview that none of the deaths during the Japanese earthquake and tsunami in 2011 were due to nuclear incidents.

“Adinolfi knows well that it is only a matter of time before a European Fukushima kills on our continent,” the letter stated.

“Science in centuries past promised us a golden age, but it is pushing us towards self destruction and slavery,” the group wrote, adding: “With our action we give back to you a small part of the suffering that you scientists are bringing to the world.”

Adinolfi, who was discharged from hospital under police guard on Friday after he was wounded in the shooting, said “Thank God I am OK”.

Before the letter arrived at the offices of Corriere della Sera in Milan, investigators had suspected the attack could be the work of the Red Brigades, the terrorist organisation that kidnapped former Italian prime minister Aldo Moro in 1978.

The so-called Olga Nucleus stated that another cell within the Informal Anarchist Federation had sent a letter bomb to Italy’s tax collection agency, Equitalia, in December, nearly blinding an official. Other letter bomb attacks in Italy have also been claimed by anarchist cells within the Federation.

As Italy’s economy dips, Equitalia offices have become a target for violence. After an armed man briefly took hostages in an office in Bergamo last week, police on Friday clashed with protesters outside a Naples office, while a suspect package containing powder was sent to a Rome office.

On Thursday, the industry minister, Corrado Passera, warned Italy’s economic crisis was threatening social cohesion.

In its letter, the Olga Nucleus said it could have chosen to attack Equitalia but was not looking to win public support. “We have nothing to do with citizens who are indignant about something which doesn’t work in a system in which they want to be a part,” it wrote.

“We are wild lovers of freedom, and will never renounce the revolution or the complete destruction of the state and its violence.”

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For our Italian reading Comrades Millienivm’s Journal NOMOS’s third issue  has been released as a free download.  Show Support!

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