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February 14 2014

A Love Story With No Kissing? That's Cinema in Iran

A Separation

Leila Hatami and Peyman Moadi in “A Separation.” Credit: Habib Madjidi/Sony Pictures Classics

This article and a radio report by Shirin Jaafari for The World originally appeared on PRI.org on February 13, 2014 and is republished as part of a content sharing agreement.

For any film to be shown in Iran, directors have to follow the strict Islamic laws.


Male and female characters can't touch. Women have to cover their hair at all times.

“Can you imagine how many stories you’re unable to tell as a filmmaker if you cannot show the slightest physical touch between members of the opposite sex?” asks Jamsheed Akrami, an Iranian director based in the US.

Akrami spent five years interviewing a dozen Iranian filmmakers, actors and actresses. The result is his latest documentary: “Cinema of discontent.”

They all lament the hardship they face in telling a story in film when they have to follow all the Islamic codes they have to follow.

“I’m not only alluding to the romantic subjects, you know, we’re talking about situations where you can’t even show parental affection or a male physician for example, cannot be shown examining a female patient,” he adds.

One of the directors Akrami interviews in his documentary is Bahman Farmanara. He explains how he got around one challenging scene in his movie “A Little Kiss.”

“There is a sequence in ‘A Little Kiss’ where the father, after 38 years of being in Switzerland, has returned suddenly because his son has committed suicide and he comes to visit his daughter,” he says. “Well, obviously according to the laws that we have to obey, a man and a woman cannot embrace each other. Even though in this particular instance they are father and daughter.”

Here’s how director Farmanara got around it.

“So what I did … when the daughter takes a few steps towards him, he takes his hat off,” Farmanara says. “So, he makes a move to stop her from coming close…”

Farmanara added that Iran is a “nation that in our films we don’t kiss, we don’t touch, we don’t hug but somehow miraculously from 37 million we’ve gone to 70 million.”

There are so many similar cases in Iranian films that if you watch enough of them, you would actually be surprised if the characters do touch or dance for example.

Yet filmmakers and actors constantly challenge the red lines.

In one film called “Gilaneh,” a mother who is taking care of her paralyzed son bathes him, moves him around and even at one point starts dancing to cheer him up.

In Akrami's documentary, the director, Rakhshan Bani Etemad says that she worried about the sensors, but felt the story had to be told to break the taboo.

Akrami says as an Iranian filmmaker “your most prized skill is the ability to work around the censorship codes. The artistic gift is actually a secondary requirement when it comes to making films in Iran.”

But with all the restrictions, Iranian films have been part of festivals around the world. And they have received recognition.

In 2012, for example, Asghar Farhadi made history when he won an Oscar for his film “A Separation.”

Many others film have won international awards.

Meanwhile Mahdi Kouhian, a documentary filmmaker in Iran, says since the election of Iran's president, Hassan Rouhani, there is a more positive atmosphere.

For example, he said he attended the Fajr Film Festival for the first time in four years.

The festival is held every year to mark the anniversary of the Islamic Revolution.

But filmmaker Akrami isn't as optimistic. That's because he says he doesn't see any fundamental changes.

“The election of Mr. Rouhani, to me, is just a cosmetic change. It's like putting make up on a monster, which basically wouldn’t change the nature of that monster. You still have a monster,” he says.

For him, the saddest part about Iranian cinema is that its best movies never got to be made.

Rap Musicians Take on Guinea-Bissau's Drug Trafficking Problem

Rapper NB on the balcony of Rádio Jovem (Youth Radio) during the interactive radio program ‘frees’. Photo shared by Buala (CC BY-NC-SA 2.5)

A longer version of this article, written by Miguel de Barros and Patrícia Godinho Gomes, was originally published on web portal Buala with the title Percepções e contestações: leituras a partir das narrativas sobre o narcotráfico na música Rap da Guiné-Bissau (Perceptions and demands: Readings from narratives on narcotrafficking in the rap music of Guinea-Bissau) on January 24, 2014.

The problem of drug trafficking in Guinea-Bissau has been gaining visibility in the African country, thanks to rap musicians who are waging a war of words against the illicit trade. “Narco-rap”, as it is called, is building resistance to drug trafficking in an innovative way by giving a voice to the people fighting against it.  

In the beginning of the new millennium, illegal cocaine trafficking reached global proportions, not only by infiltrating the traditional markets such as the United States and Latin America, but also in Western Europe, Russia and more recently some countries on the West African coast, which have become countries of transit for drug cartels.

Guinea-Bissau is one of the poorest countries in the world and lacks the capacity to control its territory, making the narcotrafficking phenomenon there and the subregion of West Africa not only a matter of lack of development, but also a security problem (see a special mention of Guinea-Bissau in the United Nations Office for Drugs and Crime reports from 2007 and 2008 [PDF]).


Song “Relatório” (Report) by MC Mário, Patche di Rima and Dom Pina

Beyond the highly publicized American intervention [en] against drug trafficking in Guinea-Bissau and the subregion, it is important to understand the internal mechanisms of resistance that are being adopted and what effects they are having at the national level.

For example, “non-institutionalized” youth from lower social classes are protagonists in the fight against the trade, denouncing it in rap performances broadcast on the radio and in concert. Narco-rap is an artistic medium through which the rappers give commentary, criticize those in power and challenge prevailing social (dis)order, combining cultural emancipation with the exercise of political and democratic participation.

Take a look at the lyrics of a handful of narco-rap songs written in kriol, or Creole, the lingua franca of Guinea-Bissau, with translations in English.

Drug trafficking, condemned

The lyrics of “Culpadus” (Guilty) by Torres Gémeos (2008) condemn narcotrafficking:

droga tchiga Guiné i djumblintinu senariu/Nhu alferis ku nhu kabu/Tudu pasa sedu bida empresariu (…)
Amadu ki chefi di izersitu/Iooode/I ka fasi nin 2 dia ki tchiga la/Iooode/I mata Djokin i subi la
Ku asasinatu ku aumenta/korupson ganha forsa
I ta troka mindjer suma ropa/I tene kumbu té na Eropa
Nunde ki sai ku es manga di kusas?/no ka sibi! 

Drugs arrived in Guinea and shuffled our scenario
Mr. Lieutenant and Mr. Private
All became businessmen
Amadu is the chief of the army/Iooode
It hasn’t even been two days since he got there/Iooode
He killed Joaquim and climbed up there
With the increasing murders
Corruption gained power
He changes women as if changing clothes
He even has money in Europe
Where did he get all that?
We don’t know!

Exploring the narcotrafficking route 

The song “Bo obi mas” (Listen again) by Baloberos (2008) travels the geographies of drug trafficking:

Guiné-Bissau nason di trafico? Tráfico
kil ku na bin bai pa Spanha? Tráfico
kil ku ta bin di Colombia? Tráfico
Mira ermanos, la fuerza armada transportando la cocaína en quantidad
haciendo negócios com nuestros ermanos de Colombia
(…) bo obi es sistema di pesa coca: kilograma, decagrama, hectograma, graaama 

Guinea-Bissau, nation of trafficking? Trafficking
the one that goes to Spain? Trafficking
the one that usually comes from Colombia? Trafficking
Look brothers, the armed forces carrying a large quantity of cocaine
doing business with our brothers in Colombia
(…) listen to this system of weighing coke: kilogram, decagram, hectogram, graaam [sic]

Calling for protest

In “Kaminhu sukuru” (Dark way) by FBMJ (2008), a call is made to the people of Guinea-Bissau:

Marca di Avion 515 tisi medicamentu pa tudu duentis
i guineensis ka na duensi mas
bardadi n`fia, Guiné i terá nunde ku pekadur ta garandi ora ki misti, di manera ki misti, tudu ta dipindi 
bardi n`fia, Guine i tera nunde ku po ta sibi riba di santchu mbes di santchu sibi na po
Ma i ka sigridu ku nha kabesa na ramasa i ni i ka kudadi
i sibidu kuma i ten djintis na Guine ora ku e misti pa tchuba tchubi, tchuba ta tchubi
ora ku é mista pa sol iardi, sol ta ratcha

An airplane branded 515 brought medicine for all the patients
and Guineans will never again become ill (…)
truth I believe, Guinea is a land where people are mature when they want to be, how they want to be, but everything is relative
truth I believe, Guinea is the land where the trees climb monkeys instead of the latter climbing trees!
But it is not a secret that I am throwing up nor that it is worrying
It's known there are people in Guinea that when they want it to rain, it happens
when they want the sun to shine, it happens

Expressing uneasiness

The song “Contra” (Against) by Cientistas Realistas (2007) regrets the state of the “narco-state”:

Cartaz de Cientistas Realistas.

Poster for Cientistas Realistas

notícia di tera obidu ate na rádios internacionais
fidjus di Guine ta ianda npinadu é ka ta ossa ianda nin alsa rostu
tera i ka purmeru, ma anos pekaduris i restu
na diaspora no ta sta tristi suma kil ku tene disgostu
pais sta desorganizadu, corupson sta generalizadu, aparelho di no stadu aos torna un sistema di corupson
dinheru ku no djunta passa na sbanjadu a toa i grande orgulho, fama(!)
Guine-Bissau i narcotráfico
djintis di stadu na pratica di negócios ilegais
e na fasi crimes organizadu ma faladu na nomi di stadu
es tudu anos i contra
narcostadu puera lanta
tudu mundo misti sai nês coba

news from the land was heard even on international radio
sons of Guinea-Bissau are crestfallen without the guts to raise their faces
the country is not prioritized, people come last
in the diaspora we get used to being sad as if we were heartbroken
the country is disorganized, generalized corruption, the apparatus of state turned into a system of corruption
our money is now being wasted for nothing, great pride, fame!
Guinea-Bissau is a narco-state
people of the state practicing illegal businesses
carrying out organized crime, but let’s say in the name of the state
all this we are against,
narco-state raised dust
everyone wants to leave this hole

Calling for action

The song “Kaminhus” (Paths) by As One (2012) takes on a tone of indignation as well as gives a call to action:

No leis apedrejado
cheio de lacunas
li ki Guine-Bissau pa kin ku ka sibi
li ku traficantes ta dadu privilegio mas di ki pursoris di universidade
juro li te purcu ta pudu gravata i bistidu fatu
katchuris si é mata é ta dadu caru tipo incentivo
tipo se presente pa é continua mata
guineensis i sta na hora di no kunsa nota
no disa pa tras tudu ke ku na tudjinu avança…

Our laws stoned
full of holes
this is Guinea-Bissau for those who don't know
this is where the traffickers are given more privileges than college professors
I swear pigs wear ties and suits here
when they kill the dogs, they receive cars as an incentive
as a gift to keep killing
Guineans, it is time we start to notice
let’s leave behind everything that does not allow us to move forward…

Radios have been (and still are) an extremely important medium in Guinean daily life. Rappers, through their creative narratives, aim to spread the word [fr] in the freest way possible about those who are profiting from trafficking. They use radio as an opportunity to denounce via their music the various aspects of the illicit trade.

This trend proves the need to question the label of “narco-state”, keeping in mind that the living of a large majority of the Guinean population is not based on the drug business. 

Young rappers have opened up new pathways for reflection on the position of youth, the dispute over the management of “public affairs” and the emergence of new political actors in the public arena of a country in development.

February 05 2014

Podcast: Taiwan

Sinica Podcast held a discussion about Taiwan from their personal experiences. The discussion explores Taiwanese's personal identity, their culture, media situation, health care system, as well as Taiwan's political relations with the mainland.

January 15 2014

New Global Voices Podcast in Portuguese

GV podcastThe prolific team of Global Voices in Portuguese have launched a new monthly podcast, Vozes Globais, with alternative news gleaned from the internet in all Portuguese speaking countries.

Portuguese journalist Vanessa Rodrigues (@lunacronica) is heading up the podcast in partnership with community radio station RadioManobras.pt. The goal is to partner with community radios in more Portuguese language countries to see the show re-broadcast internationally.

The idea for the podcast was born at a #GVMeetup event in Porto, Portugal in December 2013. For more information on the podcast or other activities of Global Voices’ Portuguese language teams, please contact Sara Moreira.

December 24 2013

Podcast: Contemporary Art in China

Sinica podcast discusses contemporary art scene in China, including what it means to be a Chinese artist in today's China and how different things have changed in the past 20 years. 

November 20 2013

Unemployment, Poverty and Brain Drain: Italy's Crisis Only Getting Worse

https://encrypted-tbn2.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcS3eNDm_8lD6FWKdcCUxAPYzkoRCyxLqIvd7OPzCH1IWEneu3r2

Italians’ ever-emptier shopping basket
Picture: Shutterstock

While repeated tragedies [en] in the so-called “Mare mortum” (literally “Dead sea”) off the coast of Lampedusa occupy the headlines of traditional media and social networks, Italians are still in the midst of an economic crisis that offers no sign of ending: the poverty rate continues to increase and so does the number of highly educated people leaving the country.

In the second half of October, a dossier entitled “New Poverty in Italy. Italians that Help“, presented by Coldiretti at the International Agriculture and Food Forum in Cernobbio, captured a worrying situation of hunger in Italy.

On the blog articolotre, Gea Ceccarelli revealed:

Secondo quanto rivelato dall'associazione, gli italiani indigenti che hanno ricevuto attraverso canali no-profit pacchi alimentari o pasti gratuiti sono stati quasi 4,1 mlioni. Circa 303.485 di questi nuovi poveri hanno potuto beneficiare dei servizi mensa, mentre 3.764.765 sono stati coloro che, vergognandosi, hanno preferito richiedere pacchi a casa.

As revealed by the association, there are more than 4.1 million poverty-stricken Italians that have received food through non-profit food parcels or free meals. Approximately 303,485 of these new poor people have benefited from canteen services, while 3,764,765, too ashamed, chose to take home food packs.

For its part, the website ilsostenibile.it provided details of the most affected social class:

Insieme a 579mila anziani con oltre 65 anni di età (+14% rispetto al 2012), in Italia ci sono ben 428.587 bambini con meno di 5 anni di età che nel 2013 hanno avuto bisogno di aiuto per poter semplicemente bere il latte o mangiare, con un aumento record del 13 per cento rispetto allo scorso anno; ma ad aumentare con un tasso superiore alla media è stato anche il numero di anziani, ben 578.583 over 65 anni di età (+14% rispetto al 2012), che sono dovuti ricorrere ad aiuti alimentari.

Together with 579,000 over 65 year olds (+14 percent compared to 2012), in Italy there were 428,587 children under the age of 5 who in 2013 needed help just to be able to drink milk or eat; however, what increased at an above average rate was the number of elderly people, 578,583 over 65 year olds (+14 percent compared to 2012), who have had to resort to food aid.

Hit hard by the crisis, Italian families save on everything, or have to forgo the purchase of essential goods. The website riverflash.it reported:

Sei italiani su dieci, hanno tagliato le spese per l’alimentazione, che ha raggiunto il livello più basso degli ultimi venti anni. Nel 2013 il crollo è proseguito con le famiglie italiane che hanno tagliato gli acquisti per l’alimentazione, dall’olio di oliva extravergine (-9%) al pesce (-13%), dalla pasta (-9%) al latte (-8%), dall’ortofrutta (-3%) alla carne, sulla base delle elaborazioni su dati Ismea-Gfk Eurisko relativi ai primi otto mesi dell’anno che fanno registrare complessivamente un taglio del 4% nella spesa alimentare delle famiglie italiane. 

Six out of ten Italians have cut their food expenditure, which has now reached the lowest level of the last 20 years. In 2013 the collapse continued with Italian families cutting food purchases, from extra virgin olive oil (-9 percent) to fish (-13 percent), pasta (-9 percent), milk (-8 percent), fruit and vegetables (-3 percent) and meat, based on the Ismea-Gfk Eurisko data from the first eight months of the year which show an overall cut of 4 percent in the food expenditure of Italian households. 

Despite the fact some politicians continue to say that the end of the crisis is near, for the moment all there is to see is the deterioration of the situation. The website termometropolitico.it quoted alarming figures that illustrate the severity of the work situation: 

Gli occupati sono 22.349.000 circa, con una contrazione di 80.000 rispetto il mese precedente e di 490.000 in confronto l’anno passato, facendo così passare il tasso di occupazione al 55,4%. Gli obiettivi europei per il 2020 ci imporrebbero, invece, un tasso di occupazione pari al 67%. I disoccupati, sottolinea l’Istituto Nazionale di Ricerca sono arrivati a quota 3.194.00 circa. Di conseguenza il tasso di inattività (cioè coloro che rientrano nella fascia di attività 15-64) si posiziona al 36,4%, in aumento sia rispetto il mese che l’anno precedente.

There are approximately 22,349,000 employed people, a decrease of 80,000 compared to the previous month and of 490,000 compared to last year, thus causing the employment rate to fall to 55.4 percent. The European targets for 2020 would, however, require an employment rate of 67 percent. The unemployed, stresses the National Research Institute, have reached approximately 3,194,00. Consequently, the rate of inactivity (i.e. those who fall into the 15-64 age range) is 36.4 percent, increased compared to both last month and last year.

The website Consumerismo, an online newspaper similar to Codacons, or the Coordination of Associations for the Defense of the Environment and the Rights of Users and Consumers, wrote:

Il tasso di disoccupazione si attesta al 12,5%, in aumento di 0,1 punti percentuali rispetto al mese precedente e di 1,6 punti nei dodici mesi.

slogan di Codacons, tratto da Codacons.it

slogan di Codacons, tratto da Codacons.it

I disoccupati tra 15 e 24 anni sono 654 mila. L’incidenza dei disoccupati di 15-24 anni sulla popolazione in questa fascia di età è pari al 10,9%, in calo di 0,2 punti percentuali rispetto ad agosto ma in crescita di 0,6 punti su base annua. Il tasso di disoccupazione dei 15-24enni, ovvero la quota dei disoccupati sul totale di quelli occupati o in cerca,

è pari al 40,4%, in aumento di 0,2 punti percentuali rispetto al mese precedente e di 4,4 punti nel confronto tendenziale.

Il numero di individui inattivi tra 15 e 64 anni aumenta dello 0,5% rispetto al mese precedente (+71 mila unità) ma rimane sostanzialmente invariato rispetto a dodici mesi prima. Il tasso di inattività si attesta al 36,4%, in aumento di 0,2 punti percentuali in termini congiunturali e di 0,1 punti su base annua.

The unemployment rate stands at 12.5 percent, up 0.1 percent on the previous month and 1.6 percent on the previous 12 months.

Codacons' slogan, from Codacons.it

Codacons’ slogan “Don't swallow the toad!”, from Codacons.it

There are 654,000 unemployed people between the ages of 15 and 24. The percentage of unemployed 15-24 year olds in this age group is 10.9 percent, down 0.2 percent from August but up 0.6 percent from last year. The number of 15-24-year-old unemployed people, that is the percentage share of total of those employed or seeking employment,

is 40.4 percent, up 0.2 percent on last month and 4.4 percent in the trend comparison.

The number of inactive individuals between 15 and 64 years old increased by 0.5 percent compared to the previous month (+71,000 units) but remains essentially unchanged compared to 12 months earlier. The inactivity rate stands at 36.4 percent, up 0.2 percent in economic terms and 0.1 percent over the year. 

The gender differences are also remarkable, with women being disadvantaged. The website romasette.it noted:

Se si considera la differenza di genere, il tasso di occupazione maschile, pari al 64,4%, diminuisce di 0,1 punti percentuali rispetto al mese precedente e di 1,7 punti su base annua. Quello femminile, pari al 46,5%, diminuisce di 0,3 punti in termini congiunturali e di 0,7 punti percentuali rispetto a dodici mesi prima. Il tasso di disoccupazione maschile, invece, rimane invariato al 12% rispetto al mese precedente e aumenta di 1,8 punti nei dodici mesi; quello femminile, al 13,2%, aumenta di 0,3 punti rispetto al mese precedente e di 1,3 punti su base annua.

Let's consider the gender difference.  The male employment rate, 64.4 percent, is down 0.1 percent on last month and 1.7 percent on last year. The female employment rate, 46.5 percent, is down 0.3 percent over the short term and down 0.7 percent compared to last year. However, the male unemployment rate remains unchanged at 12 percent compared to last month, an increase of 1.8 percent over last year. The female unemployment rate, at 13.2 percent, is up 0.3 percent compared to last month and 1.3 percent since last year.

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_H-epOMi850o/TOuJurn3U9I/AAAAAAAAAM4/zxZEguCy3cw/s320/altan-crisi-e-stabilita.jpg

“This crisis will last years. Finally a bit of stability.” Satirical cartoon by the artist Altan [en]

By analyzing the Istat data released at the beginning of October, it can be seen that in the first six months of 2013, the purchasing power of households decreased by 1.7 percent compared to the same period in 2012. Based on this, the website concluded

Tradotto in cifre – calcola il Codacons – è come se una famiglia di 3 persone, in appena sei mesi, avesse avuto una perdita equivalente a 594 euro (489 una famiglia di 2 componenti, 654 una di 4), una stangata tanto invisibile quanto disastrosa.

Se si aggiunge il dato reso noto pochi giorni fa dall’Istat, relativo al 2012, con una perdita del potere d’acquisto del 4,7%, la stangata diventa impietosa e assume contorni drammatici. In un anno e mezzo è come se una famiglia di 3 persone avesse avuto una tassa invisibile pari a 2.236 euro!!!!

Expressed as figures – calculated the Codacons – it's as if a family of 3 people in just six months has lost the equivalent of 594 euros [about 800 US dollars] (489 for a family of two, 654 for one of 4), an invisible but disastrous blow.

If you add to this the data for 2012 released just a few days ago by Istat, with a loss of purchasing power of 4.7 percent, the blow becomes merciless and takes on dramatic profile. In a year and a half it's as if a family of 3 has been subjected to an invisible tax that amounts to 2,236 euros [about 3,020 US dollars]!!!!

With the increase of poverty, the number of solidarity initiatives also has increased. In fact, the website fanpage.it reported that:

…Si contano nel 2013 ben 15.067 strutture periferiche (mense e centri di distribuzione) promosse da 242 enti caritativi che fanno riferimento a 7 organizzazioni (Croce Rossa Italiana, Caritas Italiana, Fondazione Banco Alimentare, Banco delle Opere di Carità, Associazione “Sempre insieme per la Pace”, Comunità di Sant’Egidio, Associazione Banco Alimentare Roma) ufficialmente riconosciute dall'Agenzia per le Erogazioni in Agricoltura (Agea) che si occupa della distribuzione degli aiuti. Per quanto riguarda la tipologia di aiuto alimentare offerto – conclude la Coldiretti – i formaggi rappresentano circa il 28 per cento in valore, seguiti da pasta e pastina per bimbi e anziani, che assorbono il 18 per cento del costo, dal latte con il 14 per cento, dai biscotti (12 per cento), dal riso (8 per cento), dall’olio di girasole (6 per cento), dalla polpa di pomodoro (4 per cento) e, a seguire, legumi, confetture e farina.

….In 2013 there are 15,067 peripheral structures (canteens and distribution centres) maintained by 242 charitable organisations which refer to seven organisations (Italian Red Cross, Caritas Italia, Food Bank Foundation, Charitable Works Bank, “Together for peace” Association, the Sant'Egidio Community, Rome Food Bank Association) officially recognised by the Agency for Agricultural Payments (Agea) that deals with the distribution of aid. With regards to the type of food aid offered – concludes Coldiretti – the cheeses account for about 28 percent of the total value, followed by pasta and pastina for children and adults, who account for 18 percent of the costs, milk at 14 percent, biscuits (12 percent), rice (8 percent), sunflower oil (6 percent), tomato pulp (4 percent) and, finally, vegetables, jams and flour.

Commenting on the latest Istat figures on the employment situation, the website ermometropolitico.it said:

Meno di due giovani su dieci lavorano, anche se bisogna contemplare all’interno di questo dato la presenza dei minorenni e quindi degli studenti. Di fatto il dato più preoccupante è la disoccupazione giovanile, ovvero la quota dei disoccupati sul totale di quelli occupati o in cerca, che a settembre è arrivata al 40,4%, in aumento dello 0,2% rispetto ad agosto e di 4,4% nel confronto annuo.

Less than two out of ten young people work, although we have to consider also minors and students. In fact, the most worrying figure is youth unemployment, more specifically the number of young unemployed people compared to the total of those employed or seeking employment, which in September came to 40.4 percent, an increase of 0.2 percent compared to August and 4.4 percent over the last year.

On Twitter, the problem was also deeply felt:

Six million without #work, half of them do not even seek it any more. And above all it is the #young who are disheartened. #crisis #unemployment

Young people have to hope for the future, but the strength to carry on, the 40/60 age group is paying for the crisis. #suicides #crisis

The immediate consequence of this dramatic situation, in addition to youth unemployment (which has arrived at the levels of 1977, over 40 percent) is the increase in emigration to other countries.

Cartoon strip: brains leaving Italy – Source Il nazionale

More than 400,000 Italian graduates and doctoral students have fled from Italy, and 59 percent of young people left behind would like to leave the country due to lack of employment prospects in Italy. 

Another complication in the future will be the Italian population: in 2030, or 16 years time, there will be more over 65-year-olds than active citizens. Not even the influx of foreign immigrants can compensate for the brain drain: the many recent arrivals are due to the situations in Africa and in the Arab countries, but the phenomenon was previously already decreasing; economically more dynamic countries are the new objective, not the Italy of unemployment and economic crisis.

Reposted bycheg00 cheg00

September 06 2013

Podcast: Bo Xilai's Trial

Sinica hosts Ed Wong from the New York Times and James Miles of The Economist for a closer look at Bo  Xilai's trail. The podcast discusses the media transparency in China and historical comparisons with previous political purges, including the famous case against Jiang Qing and the Gang of Four during the Cultural Revolution.

August 09 2013

NACLA-GV Podcast—Latin America: Migrant Journeys

Global Voices Podcast HomepageSubscribe in iTunes

This post is part of our series on Latin America: Migrant Journeys in collaboration with The North American Congress on Latin America (NACLA). Stay tuned for more articles and podcasts.

What does the U.S. immigration reform legislation means for migrant communities? We talk to Global Voices contributor Robert Valencia and NACLA writer Joseph Nevins. On June 24 the U.S. Senate passed an immigration bill with a vote of 67-27. The bill seeks to create a roadmap for citizenship while strengthening border security. It also raises the cap on visas for high-skilled workers and intends to establish a new visa program for low-skilled workers.

Immigration Reform Rally 2010, Washington DC. Photo by Anuska Sampedro on Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Immigration Reform Rally 2010, Washington DC. Photo by Anuska Sampedro on Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

While many pro-immigration advocates have celebrated the legislation, some fear that the emphasis on border security eclipses the gains. The Senate bill provides for the hiring of almost 19,000 new Border Patrol agents, the building of 700 additional miles of walls, and an investment of billions of dollars in surveillance technologies.

The fate of the current immigration reform now depends on the U.S. House of Representatives. But the most likely scenario involves the house passing separate bills that will eventually be packaged in a House-Senate committee. Interest groups are expected to lobby congress after they return from their August recess.

April 18 2013

April 14 2013

India's ‘Paradoxical’ Right To Property

In a podcast at mylaw.net legal practitioner Namita Wahi talked about the paradox of the fundamental right to property in the Indian Constitution and how to deal with it.

April 07 2013

Podcast: China's Apple Attack

Sinica discusses and analyzes the Chinese state media's two-week attack on Apple's service policy as part of a campaign for Chinese consumers.

April 04 2013

Hackers in Arab Cities: Hackers, Fab Lab and Tech in Egypt

Sabine is a journalist, Ophelia is a photographer and a videomaker: both are former contributors to OWNI (a Global Voices media partner in France) and are currently shooting a web-documentary entitled ”Les hackers dans la cité arabe (Hackers in Arab Cities) about technology, applications, hacker labs and maker spaces, that are blossoming nowadays in the Maghreb and the Middle East.

Ophelia Noor (left) and Sabine Blanc (right)

Sabine and Ophelia are currently taking part in the World Social Forum in Tunis (March 26-30). They will speak about “hacking”. In the West, hacking is more or less considered part of a geeky and rather privileged culture. On the other side of the Mediterranean, it is rather the product of revolution, giving a new impulse towards collaborative practices and innovations, spaces that are open to everyone.

Over the next weeks, Global Voices will re-publish and help translate in three languages (Arabic, French, English) excerpts of their journeys and encounters with young open source developers from Algeria, Egypt, Tunisia, Lebanon and Iraq. We begin this series with an interview with Mahmoud El-Safti, co-founder of a hacker space in Giza, Egypt.

 Mahmoud El-Safti on the creation of a hackerspace in Giza

Mahmoud el Safty (Photo Ophélia Noor, reproduite avec son autorisation)

Mahmoud el Safty (Photo Ophélia Noor, used with permission)

Mahmoud El-Safty co-founded Giza Hackerspace and Fab Lab Egypt, the first of their kind in Egypt, with both projects located in Giza, in the suburbs of Cairo. This young, smiling engineer speaks with enthusiasm about his faith in hackerspaces/makerspaces.

To listen to the podcast in English click here. Below is a transcript of the interview.

I think starting initiatives like having maker spaces and hacker spaces, where people can gain practical experience and share knowledge and practice theoretical information they have, will have a great impact on society and on the educationnal system, and changing people's minds as well. When people collaborate in a fun atmosphere, not gathering to study for an exam but rather to work on projects they are passionate about and interested in, of course they will make it the best they can. Probably later, a lot of projects to come out of such spaces will be products and start-up companies. In fact, we have open source products, software and hardware, that are currently available in the market that come from hacker spaces et maker spaces.

Text and sound by Sabine Blanc.

March 15 2013

Global Voices Podcast Special: Habemus Podcast!

Global Voices Podcast HomepageSubscribe in iTunes

Hello, World – welcome to a special edition of the Global Voices Podcast.

On Tuesday, March 12, 2013 the college of cardinals assembled at the Vatican to elect the new head of the Roman Catholic church, following the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI on February 28. On Wednesday evening the Cardinal Protodeacon emerged onto the central balcony as St. Peter's Basilica and uttered the words “Habemus Papam!” (“We Have a Pope!”), and presented Pope Francis.

With two African cardinals considered at one point to be potential successors to Pope Benedict XVI, we spoke with Steve Sharra and Abdoulaye Bah from our Africa team about the possibility of an African pope, the continent's expectations of the next pope, and why cardinals at this week's papal conclave might have played games like volleyball.

Did you like the public domain Gregorian chants featured in the podcast? Get yours from Partners in Rhyme.

Thanks to Laura Morris for her support in producing this show!

January 17 2013

Senegal-Italy: 8 Senegalese hostages released with help from Sant'Egidio Community

Negotiations started in Rome around mid-October between representatives of the Senegalese Government and  Movement of Democratic Forces in the Casamance (MFDC) [it], and the mediation of the Sant'Egidio Community, have freed 8 Senegalese prisoners, amongst which were 6 solders, a policeman and a civilian, on the 9 December — as specified on the website scoopsdeziguinchor.com. The MFDC, divided into various factions, has led Guerrillas towards independence in Casamance [it], lthe most southern Senegalese region and a strip of land between Guinea-Bissau and The Gambia, since 1982.

Mappa del Senegal, con il Casamance

The blog fattodiritto.it summarises [it] the events:

Nell’ultimo anno, diversi soldati senegalesi sono stati uccisi e altri rapiti nel territorio del Casamance, a seguito di attacchi dei ribelli separatisti. La Comunità cattolica di Sant’Egidio, mediatrice ufficiale tra il governo senegalese e i separatisti, ha iniziato i negoziati a Roma, il 14 Ottobre 2012. Come prima cosa, ha chiesto la liberazione dei soldati senegalesi al leader dell’MFDC, Salif Sadiò, il quale ha aderito positivamente alla richiesta. Ieri, 9 Dicembre 2012, i soldati sono stati liberati alla presenza dei rappresentanti della Croce Rossa Internazionale e la Comunità di Sant’Egidio, composta da don Angelo Romano e Mauro Garofalo. I soldati, sono stati riportati nel territorio della Repubblica del Gambia.

Last year, numerous Senegalese soldiers were killed, and others taken hostage in the region of Casamance, following separatist rebel attacks. Sant’Egidio’s Catholic community, the official middleman between the Senegalese Government and the separatists, opened the negotiations in Rome, on the 14 October 2012. To begin, there were calls for Salif Sadiò, leader of the MFDC, to release the Senegalese soldiers. Salif Sadiò agreed to the request.  Yesterday, 9 December 2012, the soldiers were released in the presence of representatives of the International Red Cross and the Sant’Egidio Community, comprising Don Angelo Romano and Mauro Garofalo. The soldiers have since returned to the Republic of The Gambia.

Massimo A. Alberizzi adds [it], on the website africaexpress.corriere.it:

Grazie alla comunità di Sant’Egidio che ha trattato a oltranza, otto soldati senegalesi nelle mani dei ribelli che lottano per l’indipendenza della Casamance (la regione più meridionale dell’ex colonia francese) sono stati liberati oggi. Alcuni erano prigionieri da poco meno di due anni, altri da un anno. In realtà uno di loro non è un militare ma un pompiere. I guerriglieri del MFDC (Movimento delle Forse Democratiche della Casamance), secondo la comunità di Sant’Egidio, non hanno chiesto nulla in cambio. Probabilmente però un po’ di visibilità gli è più che gradita. La loro lotta dura dal 1982 e solo rarissimamente ha avuto l’onore di apparire sui giornali.

Thanks to the Sant’Egidio Community che ha trattato a oltranza, eight Senegalese soldiers in the hands of the rebels fighting for independence in Casamance(the most southern region of the ex-French colony) were freed today. Some had been held hostage for little under two years, other for a year. In reality, one was not a soldier, but rather a fireman. The guerrillas of the MFDC (Movement of Democratic Forces in the Casamance), according to Sant’Egidio Community, have asked for nothing in exchange. More than likely they will relish the increased visibility. Their fight, despite having been on-going since 1982, has only occasionally appeared in the press.

The release has sparked great reaction and talk throughout Senegal. The blog ferloo.com, while interviewing Jean Marie Biagui, MFDC general political secretary, writes [fr]:

 Les huit (8) soldats libérés le dimanche grâce à l’intervention de la communauté chrétienne de Sant-Egidio, ont été capturés par le Mfdc d’abord lors de l’attaques du cantonnement de Kabeum (Sédhiou) et ensuite quelques semaines plus tard de Brigade de gendarmerie d’Affiniam (Bignona). Le Président de la République qui a accueilli dimanche les ex-otages à la base militaire de Ouakam (Dakar) a réaffirmé son engagement à tout mettre en œuvre pour le retour de la paix en Casamance où une crise à l’irrédentisme a commencé en 1982.

The eight (8) soldiers who were freed on Sunday, thanks to the intervention of the Sant’Egidio Catholic Community, had been taken prisoner by the MFDC during the course of the first attacks against the Kabeum (Sédhiou) regiments and then, only a few weeks later, against the Gendarmeria in Affiniam (Bignona). The President of the Republic, who on Sunday welcomed the ex-hostages to the military base in (Dakar,) reiterated that they are making every effort to restore peace in Casamance, where problems first started in 1982.

The website senenews.com writes [fr]:

 Depuis la capture de ces soldats plusieurs structures ou personnalités sont entrées en médiation pour leur libération. Il s’agit notamment du Cicr, de la Communauté Sant’Egidio. L’ancien ministre d’Etat, Robert Sagna, a été également très actif. Il a été l’émissaire de Macky Sall sur ce dossier. Sans tambour ni trompette, l’ancien maire de Ziguinchor se rendait très souvent dans le maquis, en passant par la Gambie pour rencontrer Salif Sadio pour libérer ces vaillants soldats.

Ever since the capture of these eight soldiers, various organisations and famous faces have played a part in working towards their release.  Amongst these include the CICR and the Sant’Egidio Community. The Ex- Minister of State, Robert Sagna has also played an active role, as has the affluent Macky Sall in this report. Senza clamore, the ex Ziguinchor syndicate often went to the woods, passing through The Gambia in order to find Salif Sadiò, so that they may negotiate the release of these courageous soldiers.

The Cardinal Theodore Sarr, archbishop of Dakar, has commented on the unfolding of events in an interview with Helene Destombes [it], in a French transcript of Radio Vaticana:

E’ veramente una bella notizia per tutti i senegalesi: ne sono veramente molto, molto contento. E’ davvero un motivo di sollievo e contemporaneamente di speranza. E’ un primo passo: c’erano già stati contatti preliminari, a Roma, tra una delegazione del governo del Senegal e una delegazione del Movimento di Salif Sadiò, alla presenza della Comunità di Sant’Egidio che ha svolto le funzioni di testimone. Si è trattato sostanzialmente di preliminari, eppure questo atto è una grande prima tappa che consentirà il proseguimento dei negoziati e, come noi crediamo fermamente, un loro esito positivo. C’è una seconda ala del Movimento, l’Mfdc, con il quale è necessario prendere contatti e so che questo è un momento favorevole per farlo, so che è ben disposto al dialogo. Quindi, se veramente le due principali ali del Movimento iniziano un dialogo con il governo del Senegal, penso si possa dire di essere sulla buona strada per la pace.

This really is great news for all Senegalese people: they truly are very, very happy. It’s a reason to breathe a sigh of relief, and should inspire us all with great hope. It’s a first step:there has already been preliminary contact, in Rome, between the delegates representing the Senegalese Government and Salif Sadiò’s movement, all of which have taken place in the presence of the Sant’Egidio Community, who is acting as witness. Although still in the early stages, this act is a huge first step that will allow negotiations to continue and, as we firmly believe, a positive outcome. There is a second wing of the MFDC movement, in which it is necessary to make contacts, and this is the most opportune moment in which to do so, as people are still open to talk. For this reason, if the two main bosses from the movement are capable of starting up dialogue with the Senegalese government, then I believe it can be said that this is a step towards peace.

Fattodiritto.it still provides [it] many other stories to better understand the reasons that motivate the Guerrilla movement:

Secondo gli storici, la guerra per l’indipendenza del Casamance è iniziata a causa di una mancata promessa del celebre presidente e poeta senegalese Leopold Senghor. Nel 1960 egli promise ai leader del Casamance, che, se si fossero uniti al Senegal per vent’anni, avrebbero ottenuto successivamente la loro indipendenza. Quando ciò non accadde, nel 1980, il Casamance insorse con manifestazioni violente per le strade della capitale, Ziguinchor. Manifestazioni represse brutalmente con violazioni di diritti umani. Da quell’anno, iniziò una guerra civile fatta di rapimenti, attacchi, rivolte, che ha comunque prodotto nel tempo circa un milione di profughi e migliaia di morti.

According to the stories, the Casamance’s war for indipendance started as a result of a broken promise, made by the President and the Senegalese, Leopold Senghor. In 1960, he promised the leader of Casamance that, if they were to be united in Senegal for 20 years, they would be granted their independence. When this failed to happen, in 1980, violent demonstrations broke out in streets of the Casamance capital, Ziguinchor. The demonstrations demonstrated such brutality that they violated human rights.  Since then, a civil war comprising kidnapping, attacks, uprisings broke out. This war, over time, has led to around one million people becoming refugees as well as leading to thousands of deaths.

The website diasporas.biz [fr] describes the ways in which the Sant’Egidio Community has carried out its work:

 Salif Sadio, qui se présente comme “chef d’état-major général, commandant en chef des forces combattantes du maquis” du MFDC affirme, dans un communiqué transmis mardi à l’AFP à Dakar, qu’il reste “disponible au dialogue” à condition que le dialogue se déroule en terrain neutre, hors d’Afrique. Salif Sadio a ainsi rappelé que l’ancien secrétaire général de Sant‘Egidio, l’abbé Augustin Diamacoune, décédé en 2007, “souhaitait qu’après l’échec de la médiation conjointe de la Gambie et de la Guinée-Bissau, la Communauté mette sa propre médiation à la disposition” des parties. Ce souhait “reste en nous” parce que le MFDC “espère que celle-ci fera preuve de neutralité dans sa médiation”.

Salif Sadio from the MFDC, who is presented as “the head of generally the biggest state and commander for the armed forces currently fighting in Macchia”, stated in a press release issued on Tuesday to the AFP in Dakar, that he is still “open to dialogue” on the condition that the dialogue take place on neutral territory, outside of Africa. Salif Sadio he recalls that the ex-general secretary of Sant’Egidio, Father Augustin Diamacoune Senghor, who went missing in 2007, “wanted the community to take its own steps,after negotiations failed in The Gambia and Guinea-Bissauche. This want “is ours”, as the MFDC “wants the Community to demonstrate its neutral status”.

However, in reality, it was the ex-President, Abdoulaye Wade who indicated that the Sant’Egidio Community should act as intermediary, during an interview with Radio France internazionale [it] on the 5 January last year, just before the elections, explaining the reason wascioè poco prima delle elezioni, spiegandone così il motivo:

Le 5 janvier dernier, lors d’un entretien à RFI, c’était le président sénégalais Abdoulaye Wade qui avait révélé avoir demandé à la Communauté de Sant’Egidio, proche du Vatican, de servir d’intermédiaire entre le gouvernement et la tendance du MFDC de Salif Sadio, afin de “régler cette question” de la crise en Casamance s’il est réélu.( ..) “je connais les gens de Sant’Egidio, parce que j’ai travaillé avec eux quand j’étais dans l’opposition (…) et je leur ai demandé d’être des facilitateurs entre le gouvernement du Sénégal et la tendance de Salif Sadio”.

On the 5 January, Senegalese President, Abdoulaye Wade, revealed himself to having asked the Sant’Egidio Community, near to the Vatican, to mediate between the Government and the MFDC, in order to “resolve the issue” of the Crisis in Casamance, if he were to be re-elected. (…) I know the people of Sant’Egidio, because I worked with them when I was in the opposition (…) and have asked them to faciliators between the Senegalese Government and Sadio’s MFDC.”

The Sant’Egidio Community has worked on various projects on African soil, including mozambique, Algeria, Guinea and the Costa d’Avorio, having also received international recognition for its activities. In addition to managing the DREAM [it] programme in the fight against Aids [it], which covers 10 African countries, 38 treatment centres, 20 laboritories, and 4,500 specialists. Andrea Riccardi, one of the founders of the same community, is Minister without portfolio [it] from the Monti Cabinet (outgoing) [it] for international cooperation and integration activities.

November 29 2012

Syria Plunged Into Total Info Darkness

This post is part of our special coverage Syria Protests 2011/12.

On Thursday, the US-based internet connectivity monitoring firm, Renesys, reported that internet was cut off in Syria. Starting at 10.26am GMT on Thursday, the company reported that all of Syria's 84 IP address blocks were inaccessible, “effectively removing the country from the Internet.”

Renesys also posted the following graph which seems to show a nationwide total internet shutdown:

Image courtesy of Renesys

Renesys' observation was later corroborated by Akamai, a major internet monitoring company, which posted a similar graph indicating a complete collapse of internet connectivity on Thursday morning.

Google Transparency Report, a tool that provides information about traffic to Google services from around the world, indicates a collapse in the use of all of its services in Syria, starting at 13:36 GMT on Thursday.

Scattered reports on Twitter from activists and Syrian expats unable to reach friends and loved ones inside the country also suggested a major disruption of mobile phone and landline networks.

Leila Nachawati Rego, a Syrian-Spanish expat, tweets:

Trying to call my family in Damascus for hours now. Internet and all communications shut down. Help us trend #InternetCutinSyria

Reuters reported that on Thursday activists were resorting to satellite phones to make contact with the outside world.

Who pulled the plug?

Many seem to believe that the outage is a deliberate effort on the part of the Syrian government to cut the country off the internet.

Lama Bashor tweets :

The #InternetCutInSyria could mean one of 2 things: Either a bad sign of things to come or a regime that has completely run out of moves.

The Syrian Government has resorted to internet blackout tactics in the past. Last September, the internet was cut off focal fighting areas like Aleppo for 10 days as regime forces intensified their attacks against rebel forces in the city. This is, however, the first time the entire country is plunged into a near total information darkness.

“Terrorists,” not the state, were responsible for the countrywide Internet outage on Thursday, Syria's minister of information is said to have told al-Ikhbariya, a Syrian state-owned TV station. A claim swiftly rejected by experts. “In order for a whole-country outage, all […] cables would have had to been cut simultaneously. That is unlikely to have happened,” comments CloudFlare, a website specialized in internet security and performance.

Any cracks in the wall?

As during the Egyptian revolution in early 2011, when the deposed regime decided to shut down the entire internet in an effort to take the steam out of the growing popular uprising, online activists rushed to provide alternate ways to connect to the global network. Telecomix, a hacktivist group, offers dialup numbers and access codes as tweeted by Anonymous earlier on Thursday:

Dial up access #Syria: +46850009990 +492317299993 +4953160941030 user:telecomix pw:telecomix OR +33172890150 login:toto pw:toto

Many international flights in and out of Syria were reportedly cancelled as fighting erupted near the Damascus airport area fueling speculations that the regime may be preparing for a major offensive against rebel forces.

Later on Thursday afternoon Syrian state TV announced the Damascus airport road was “secured” following major fighting.

For recent updates, please follow our coverage page of the Syrian revolution, and #internetcutinsyria and #syriablackout on Twitter with comments related to today’s internet blackout.

This post is part of our special coverage Syria Protests 2011/12.

Reposted bycheg00paketmynniadarksideofthemoonRKjaggervitaminbsic

November 24 2012

Pakistan: Five Bomb Explosions Rock Three Cities In A Day

Wednesday, November 21 was a horrendous day when Taliban attacked Imambargahs, Muharram mourning processions, and law enforcement agencies in KarachiRawalpindi, and QuettaIn total, 20 people lost their lives and more 43 people got injured.

Taliban spokesperson Ehsan Ullah Ehsan bluntly accepted the responsibility for the sectarian attacks on Shia Muslims, and vowed that more attacks of such magnitude will continue to take place in future.

Bomb Blast in Karachi

Two bombs exploded consecutively near an Imambargah in the area of Orangi town. The bomb was planted inside a rickshaw. Mourning processions were not taking place at the time of the blast. Security forces swiftly surrounded the area, pushing the crowd and media people out of danger. Suddenly, a second blast erupted. Major causalities were not reported.

People and Security officials gather at site after bomb blast near Imambargah Hyder-e-Karrar in Orangi Town in Karachi. Image by Owais Aslam Ali. Copyright Demotix (21/11/2012)

On 18th November, a bomb blast exploded in front of an Imambargah in the locality of Abbass Town killing 2 people and left 15 injured.

Bomb Blast in Quetta

This attacked was explicitly targeted on the law enforcement agencies. A 15kg bomb was planted on a motorcycle near the main gate of the district jail. 7 people were killed including 3 personnels from the Frontier Constabulary (FC). More than 16 people got injured.

Bomb Blast in Rawalpindi

A suicide bomber - probably 17 or 18 years of age - exploded himself in between a mourning procession in Dhok Sayidan area. The technique was similar to that used in Karachi. Two bombs exploded one after the other with a forty minute gap in between. This was the most sanguine act of all, killing 23 mourners that included 8 children.

People gather around to look at the destruction caused by a suicide bomb in Rawalpindi. Image by Sajjad Ali Qureshi. Copyright: Demotix (21/11/2012)

Reactions

Human Rights Watch vocally condemned the terrorists acts against Shia Muslims in Pakistan:

“Pakistani authorities need to address the severe danger faced by the Shia population with all necessary security measures. They can start by arresting extremist group members responsible for past attacks.”

Twitter users and netizens condemned these acts of terrorism.

Marvi Sirmed tweets:

@marvisirmed: dear LeJ, many Shias dead. Islam saved. Right? La'anat tum logon per.

Dear Lashkar-e-Jahangvi [A banned extremists organisation], , many Shias dead. Islam saved. Right? May God damn you.

Shamama Abbasi tweets:

@shamama_abbasi: Heart goes out to victims n their families in rawalppindi,karachi blast,what a senseless and tragic act of terror. Salaam Ya Hussyn [Peace be upon Hussain]

Many noted the fact that acts of terrorism perpetrated against Shia Muslims didn't get the same level of attention compared to Israel's attacks on Gaza Strip (See Globalvoices report)

Ghaffar Hussain tweets:

@GhaffarH: Dozens of shia killed in bomb blast in Karachi but the victims aren't Gazans and the killers not Jewish so move along, nothing to see here.

Rohan comments:

I wish pakistan will accept the extreme Islam as their main threat, rather blaming India. I hardly see any gathering or rally protest in streets for these killing. But you people worried about gaza, barma, assam. ?? Dont you feel ashamed about everything??????????

In his blog post, Abdul Nishapuri asks a very pertinent question:

“Why are 6000 Shia children killed in Pakistan less worthy than a few dozen Palestinians?”

Shafi Sial tweets:

@Sahfisial: People in #Pakistan cry loud for Gaza which 90% of them have only heard of whereas#Shia #Hazara & #Ahmadis being killed in their own land!

Basit Saeed tweets:

@basit_saeed: We protest against killings in Gaza but don't even bother condemning Shia genocide! Shitty standards! #Karachi

November 17 2012

Hurdles in Making Italy's Illegal Workers ‘Legal'

[all links in Italian unless otherwise stated]

On 16 July, 2012 the Monti government approved a legislative decree to conditionally allow, the regularisation of thousands of illegal workers following a declaration by their employer.

Unfortunately, several months later the results of this conditional amnesty have been below par. The video below, published on the website of the voluntary association Naga, explains the conditions and the application process set out by the decree:

Meanwhile, at the heart of a recent “il professionista risolve” [the professional's response] column on Tgcom24.it was the following assessment of the initiative:

Poco più di 134.000 le istanze inviate, meno della metà del potenziale pubblico interessato, che si è ipotizzato oscilli tra i 300.000 e i 500.000 soggetti.

Just over 134,000 requests were submitted, that's less than half of the number of people who are potentially affected, which is estimated to be somewhere between 300,000 and 500,000

The conditions attached prevented the expected results being achieved. The CGIL union in Lecco, Lombardy, outlined some examples of the process and conditions set down by the law:

L’emersione può riguardare un rapporto di lavoro dipendente di qualsiasi settore, a tempo pieno, e per il solo lavoro domestico, anche a tempo parziale. Il rapporto di lavoro deve essere in corso almeno dal 9 maggio 2012.
Il datore di lavoro dovrà pagare la somma di €1.000 alla presentazione della domanda. Alla firma del contratto dovrà quindi dimostrare di avere versato contributi e retribuzione per almeno 6 mesi. Sono esclusi i datori di lavoro condannati per tratta o sfruttamento di prostituzione e minori, per aver dato lavoro a immigrati irregolari, per caporalato, per favoreggiamento dell’immigrazione clandestina.

The regularisation can apply to employment in any sector, if full-time, and, if part time, only in the domestic sector. The employee must be in the position since the 9th of May 2012, at the very latest. The employer must pay the sum of €1,000 when submitting the request. When signing the contract the employer must, therefore, prove that they have paid contributions and wages for at least six months. Employers excluded from the initiative include those who have been convicted of trafficking or exploitation of prostitutes or minors, who have employed illegal immigrants, who participated in the gangmaster system and employers who have encouraged illegal immigration.

Louis Benjamin Ndong, in a post on the blog of the collective “Alzo La Mano Adesso” [I put my hand up now], declares that:

Se da un lato questa regolarizzazione darà la possibilità a molte persone di uscire dalla propria condizione di invisibilità, conseguendo un riconoscimento anche da parte della società istituzionalizzata che finora l’aveva negato, dall’altro costituirà un nuovo ed ennesimo limbo per i tanti immigrati che, privi degli adeguati strumenti, quale un reale contratto di lavoro, si affideranno nelle mani di truffatori e venditori di bugie dell’ultima ora. Purtroppo la legge in questione, concepita in primo luogo per fare cassa, non possiede i vincoli necessari per arginare questo rischio …

Although, on one hand, this regularisation of their legal status will give many people the chance to escape from their seeming invisibility and represents their recognition which has always been denied them by the institutions. On the other hand however, it will be yet another limbo for the very many immigrants who, deprived of adequate resources, such as a genuine work contract, will put their trust in conmen and those who trade in the latest lies. Sadly the law in question, originally conceived to top up the state coffers, cannot prevent this risk…

Demonstration in Brescia, Lombardy, 6th of November 2012. Photo by Zic Photo on Flickr, under Creative Commons Licence.

As Marco Massaroni writes on the citizen journalism website FaiNotizia:

La disposizione transitoria, prevista dal decreto sulla regolarizzazione si è  presentata non priva di criteri restrittivi, controversie e difficoltà.
Da subito si sono espresse preoccupazioni sul fatto che questa regolarizzazione possa aprire spazi a numerose truffe, poichè in un Paese con centinaia di migliaia di irregolari è facile trovarne tanti disposti a pagare, anche a caro prezzo, la promessa di un permesso di soggiorno.

The temporary nature of the arrangement, as set down by the regularisation law, is not without restrictive criteria, controversies and difficulties. Concern was immediately expressed about the fact that this regularisation could leave the door open for fraud because, in a country with hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants, it's easy to find lots of them who are prepared to pay, even very high prices, for the promise of easily obtaining a residence permit.

A post on the website Meltingpot points out:

I prezzi lievitano e dai 3.500/4.000 euro di media della scorsa procedura, sono passati a 5.000/8.000 euro per accedere a questa emersione.     

Un mercato dei diritti di soggiorno che nessuno vuole fermare e che anzi, proprio grazie alle scelte del Governo, trova sempre più spazio.

Eppure lo sanno tutti. Basta mettere il naso nei luoghi di incontro dei migranti nelle diverse città per scoprire questo o quel commercialista offrire emersioni facili a caro prezzo, questo o quel procacciatore che promette, dietro il pagamento di lauti compensi, di farti avere il tanto sperato permesso di soggiorno.

Prices are increasing and, from the €3,500 - 4,000 it cost before, it has increased to between €5,000 and €8,000 under this initiative. 

It's a market in residency rights that no-one wants to put a stop to and that, thanks to the Government's choices, is becoming ever more widespread.

And they all know it. You only need to go to where migrants gather together in any city to find this or that adviser offering to ensure regularisation, at a high price, or this or that agent promising, on payment of a generous fee, to get you the longed for residence permit.

Pubblicogiornale.it uploaded this video which shows an encounter between an immigrant and an agent who wanted to be paid 5,000 Euros to get his paper work in order. And another video from antefattoblog exposes also their faces.

 The credibility of these amnesty results achieved so far are open to question. Massimiliano Zani, the organiser of CNA World Rimini explains why, in his view, this amnesty should be considered a lost opportunity:

Intanto è da rilevare che non è assolutamente credibile la corrispondenza degli invii, rispetto all'attività svolta.

Basta il dato dei lavoratori provenienti dal Marocco, tradizionalmente assenti dal settore domestico; su un totale di 15.600 domande, ne sono state inviate ben 12.600 per lavori di colf o badante; lo stesso dicasi per il Bangladesh, Pakistan, Egitto, Senegal, Tunisia, ecc. Viene spontanea una domanda: se da questi Paesi non sono mai giunti lavoratori che si impiegavano nel settore domestico, come mai le domande sono concentrate in quell’area di attività? La risposta è evidente: infatti il costo per una richiesta relativa a colf e badante non supera i 2.000 euro (tra una tantum e contributi previdenziali), mentre in settori come l’edilizia, il commercio, o l’ agricoltura il costo può essere tra due a quattro volte maggiore.

To start with, it must be pointed out that the correspondence between the requests submitted and the work carried out stretches credulity.

You only need to look at the data on workers from Morocco, who have not, traditionally, been represented in the domestic sector. Of the 15,000 applications submitted, 12,600 of them have been for jobs as a home help or carer. The same applies to Bangladesh, Pakistan, Egypt, Senegal, Tunisia and so on, which immediately prompts the question, if domestic workers have never come from these countries before, how can it be that the applications are concentrated in this activity sector? The answer is obvious, the cost of an application for home help or a care-giver is no more than €2,000 (a one off payment plus social security contributions), while, in the construction, trade or agricultural sectors the cost can be between two and four times higher.

And it goes on to explain how certain employers get around the law by declaring on the application that their employee works as domestic help or as a care-giver:

Ecco dunque che molti datori hanno optato di spendere al massimo euro 2.000, come previsto per l’emersione di una colf o badante a tempo parziale, rispetto ai €3/8.000 per l’emersione di un lavoratore a tempo pieno di ogni altro settore; ovviamente appena ottenuto il permesso di soggiorno, si potrà migrare in altro contratto di lavoro con lo stesso o con altro datore. Un altro elemento che ha influito sul modesto risultato è costituito dalla dimostrazione di essere stati presenti sul territorio italiano ininterrottamente, dal 31 dicembre 2011, con attestazione di un “organismo pubblico”.

That is why many employers have opted to spend €2,000 at most, the sum required for a part-time home help or care-giver, compared to the €3,000 - 8,000 for the regularisation of a full-time worker in any other sector. Obviously, once they have received the residence permit, they can change to another work contract with the same or another employer. Another element which has influenced the modest result is the need to prove that you have been in Italy since the 31 December 2011, without having left the country, and to have this certified by a “public body”.

How can that last condition possibly be fulfilled when the illegal immigrant, by nature of that very status, risks imprisonment if discovered? In fact, as Antonio Maria Ricci points out on his blog:

Il reato è previsto nel  DLG 286/98 del 2009 detto pacchetto sicurezza Maroni.

Si articola in due parti: articolo 10 bis che istituisce il reato di clandestinità perseguibile penalmente con ammenda e/o reclusione e articolo 14 che prevede la sanzione amministrativa che comporta l’espulsione.

The crime was established by ordnance 286/98 of 2009, known as the Maroni security package.
It is laid down in two parts: in article 10 bis, which established the crime of being an illegal immigrant, punishable under law with fines and/or imprisonment and in article 14 which sets down the administrative sanction of deportation.

In order to simplify this requirement the following measures were adopted, as outlined on the blog ItAliena:

Saranno accettati, sempre se di data antecedente al 31 dicembre 2011: certificato di iscrizione scolastica del figlio del lavoratore straniero, tessere nominative dei mezzi pubblici, sanzioni stradali o amministrative o multe di ogni genere, titolarità di schede telefoniche di compagnie italiane (Tim, Wind, Vodafone, 3, ecc…), documenti rilasciati dai centri di accoglienza o ricoveri anche se religiosi o del privato sociale, documentazione rilasciata da ambasciate o consolati in Italia.

The following will be accepted, once they date to before the 31 December 2011: the school inscription certificate of the foreign worker's child, public transport pass, traffic or administrative sanctions or any other kind of fine,  phone cards from an Italian operator (Tim, Wind, Vodafone, 3, etc.), documents issued by reception centres  or shelters, including religious or private ones, documents issued by embassies or consulates in Italy.

There's just one problem, as illegal immigrants how can they possibly enter into any contract?

To give an insight into illegal immigrants terror at the prospect of seeing all the sacrifices they have made since leaving their home country to reach the longed for Italy vanish into nothing, Maruan shares the story of Blessed, the young daughter of illegal Nigerian immigrants, on the web page Anolf - Giovani di 2° Generazione [the Youth of the 2nd Generation], in a post entitled: La storia di Blessed, clandestina prodigio promossa con tutti dieci [The story of Blessed, the illegal immigrant at the top of her class]:

La sua pagella è l'unica rimasta a scuola, affissa in bacheca ma non ancora ritirata dai genitori, che la maestra sta provando a contattare da giorni. Se è vero che la legge italiana garantisce il diritto-dovere dei figli di immigrati di essere iscritti alla scuola dell'obbligo, indipendentemente dalla regolarità della propria posizione e da quella dei genitori (articolo 45 del DPR n. 394/1999), non c'è norma che tenga di fronte al terrore dei genitori di essere espulsi.

Her report card is the only one left at the school, still pined to the noticeboard but still not collected by her parents, who the teacher has been trying to contact for days. While it may be true that Italian law sets down the right and obligation for immigrants' children to be enrolled in compulsory education, regardless of their own legal status and that of their parents (article 45 of Presidential Decree n.394/1999), there's no law which stands up in face of the parents' terror of being deported.

Another relevant requirement is the obligation to pay €1,000 per worker and the other costs owed to the Treasury and the INPS [National Institute of Social Insurance] for six months. These should be paid by the employer but, in reality, it has fallen to the worker to pay them. The French site bayediouf.seneweb.com calculates that, just counting the 6,296 Senegalese affected, the total amount is around €12,056,918  and adds [fr]:

Ce montant de quasi 8 Milliards CFa est le chiffre déboursé par nos compatriotes et en attendant la convocation pour le contrat de séjour et successivement le permis de séjour. En cas de rejet les sommes ne seront pas remboursées.

This sum of almost 8 million West African CFA francs is the figure paid out by our countrymen while waiting for the summons for the provisional residence permit and then, eventually, the residence permit. In case of refusal the money will not be returned.

In the last few years, under the influence of the right, Italian governments have accumulated a veritable arsenal of xenophobic judicial measures. Meanwhile, according to a report by the Berlusconi government, between 2010 and 2020 the working population in Italy is predicted to fall between 5.5% and 7.9%; as a result, more immigrants will be needed. Between 2011 and 2015, around 100,000 additional immigrants may be needed while, from 2016 to 2020, this number is predicted to rise to 260,000.

September 24 2012

Four short links: 24 September 2012

  1. Open Monograph Pressan open source software platform for managing the editorial workflow required to see monographs, edited volumes and, scholarly editions through internal and external review, editing, cataloguing, production, and publication. OMP will operate, as well, as a press website with catalog, distribution, and sales capacities. (via OKFN)
  2. Sensing Activity in Royal Shakespeare Theatre (NLTK) — sensing activity in the theatre, for graphing. Raw data available. (via Infovore)
  3. Why Journalists Love Reddit (GigaOM) — “Stories appear on Reddit, then half a day later they’re on Buzzfeed and Gawker, then they’re on the Washington Post, The Guardian and the New York Times. It’s a pretty established pattern.”
  4. Relatively Prime: The Toolbox — Kickstarted podcasts on mathematics. (via BoingBoing)

August 14 2012

Global Voices Podcast: More From #GV2012

Global Voices Podcast HomepageSubscribe in iTunes
Hello World,

Welcome to the Global Voices Podcast. In this edition you'll hear more from the the Global Voices Summit which took place in Nairobi, Kenya, back in July.

The Summit is a meeting of minds, friends, new acquaintances and public participation. Many of our authors, editors and content gatherers only get to meet in person once every two years, when the Summit takes place. You can find out more about the Summit by checking the Twitter hashtag #GV2012 and by taking a look at the dedicated Summit pages.

As well as being a gathering for the public, Global Voices authors and editors to all meet and discuss their ideas, selected academics from around the world were also invited to share their knowledge and learn from the community.

Ivan SigalIvan Sigal is the executive director of Global Voices and he describes why it was important for the academic group to join in at the event.

There were many sessions discussing processes and methods of highlighting under-represented voices and making the most of citizen media tools that are the everyday methods of the Global Voices community. We also asked a selection of academics about their thoughts and experiences of the Summit to find out what they learned and what knowledge they might return to their work with.

Origins and futures

Of course Global Voices sprang from academia and also present at the Summit was Rebecca MacKinnon, the co-founder of the organisation, who is also an author as well as a senior fellow at the New America Foundation think tank where she works on Internet policy issues. We caught up with her to talk about the future of the Internet and what it means for freedom of communication.

Global Voices would be nothing without its contributors. So to round up our coverage of the Summit for the podcast, enjoy some closing thoughts and experiences from the authors, translators and editors who create this extraordinary source of news and information.

The Global Voices 2012 Summit location.

The Global Voices 2012 Summit location.

Thank you to all of our podcast contributors, the Summit event organisers and to you for listening.

The Global Voices Podcast. The world is talking. I hope you've been listening.

Music credits

In the podcast you can hear lots of lovely Creative Commons music. Thanks to Mark Cotton  for his fantastic creations and thanks also to all of the wonderful voice over performances and clips that help to glue the podcast together.
Global Voices Podcast HomepageSubscribe in iTunes

May 02 2012

Global Voices Podcast: Food for Thought, Food to Eat

Global Voices Podcast HomepageSubscribe in iTunes

Hello World!

Welcome to another edition of the Global Voices Podcast.

In this edition we explore the latest work and events in the Global Voices community. We also speak with some friends about the cross cultural elements of our lives, with a special focus on food: both food for thought, and to eat!

Silvia Vinas

Silvia Vinas


First up, Silvia Viñas our Latin America regional editor, has been finding out more about translation on the Web. Intercontinental Cry is is a grassroots journal for the global indigenous movement, providing news, videos, petitions, commentary and action alerts. The site recently launched in Spanish, so Silvia had a chat with Editor and Publisher John Ahniwanika Schertow, about spreading the news in a different language.

New Rising Voices grantees

Rising Voices

Rising Voices

Last month we announced, six new Rising Voices grantees from Guatemala, United States, Paraguay, Palestine, Peru and Myanmar. These new project have joined our global community will each receive microgrants to help get their ideas off the ground. Congratulations to all of the grantees!

Beatrice Catanzaro is a visual artist and one of the newest additions to the Rising Voices community with her project, Food Tales from Nablus. Alongside her friend Fatima she is working with women from the heart of the Old City in the city of Nablus, Palestine, to celebrate their culinary skills. One of the major components of their project will be the creation a cooking school for foreign visitors that will employ local women as chefs and instructors. We speak with these two amazing ladies to find out more about their work.

Food across borders

If there’s one thing we like to share together at Global Voices - as well as news and stories - it has to be food. This July 2-3, we will be at the Global Voices Summit 2012 in Nairobi, Kenya, and it will be a pleasure to meet, discuss and eat with colleagues from around the world.

Gustavo Arellano, editor of the OC Weekly in Orange County, California and the writer behind ‘Ask a Mexican‘, has been on a culinary journey to find out how Mexican food has become so popular in the United States in his new book, Taco USA. Journalist, producer and blogger, Cyrus Farivar chats with Gustavo about the flavours that cross borders.

Mexican food sign in San Francisco

Mexican Food on 1806 Haight St in San Francisco, California. Photo by Rupert Ganzer on flickr (CC BY-ND 2.0)

We hope you enjoyed this edition of the podcast. As ever a huge thank you goes to all of our contributors and interviewees, and especially to Yazan for being great company and a brilliant co-presenter. Whether it is food for thought or something to eat, the Global Voices community always has it covered.

The Global Voices Podcast, the world is talking, we hope you’re listening!

Music credits

In the podcast you can hear lots of lovely Creative Commons music. Thanks to Mark Cotton for his fantastic creations and thanks also to all of the wonderful voice over performances and clips that help to glue the podcast together.

Global Voices Podcast HomepageSubscribe in iTunes

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