Tuesday, April 25, 2017

FRYING TONIGHT? MAYBE NOT



Since 4th April a new crime has existed in Italy and it is that of causing "olfactory nuisance" via cooking smells.  

It all began with a dispute between neighbours in a block of flats in Monfalcone [Gorizia, on the Gulf of Trieste]. A couple living in the building often cooked what must have been vast quantities of pasta sauce and fritti misti di pesce [mixed fried seafood] and the resulting odours caused real distress to another family, who said they felt as if the couple's kitchen were in their own flat. Neighbours complained of noise and smoke coming from the kitchen too.

Having been found guilty of anti-social behaviour by two courts, the couple took their case to the Cassazione, Italy's Supreme Court in Rome. There the previous two rulings were upheld and the judges decided that the crime of "olfactory nuisance" is covered by article 674 of the Italian Penal Code, which deals with the "dangerous ejection of things".  The term "things" apparently includes fume emissions and the level of tolerability is covered by article 844.  The couple were fined €2,000.

In Italy over 70,000 people a year consult their lawyer about offensive smells caused by neighbours or restaurants situated near their home.




Sunday, April 23, 2017

DOMENICA MUSICALE

If, like me, you need cheering up, who better to do it than the lovely Mr Buanne?  Found this by chance.

Patrizio Buanne - Gli occhi miei [Help Yourself]

Saturday, April 22, 2017

AN AWARD FOR A HUMANITARIAN



In the midst of so much tragedy and sorrow in the Mediterranean and when it so often seems that recognition that it is happening at all only comes from the wider world when politicians want to use the migration crisis for their own ends, an acknowledgement of Italy's humanitarian work with migrants and, in particular, the part played by one tiny island, is a welcome development. 

This week, Giusi Nicolini, Mayor of Lampedusa, was awarded the UNESCO Peace Prize or Félix Houphouët-Boigny Prize for the humanity and commitment with which she has managed the migration crisis as thousands of refugees - and, often, sadly, their bodies - have arrived on Lampedusa over the years.

In her acceptance speech, Giusi Nicolini said.

"At a time when there are those who want to close their borders and build walls to stop a non-existent invasion, the award of this prize gives us hope for a Europe of solidarity, which has not lost its humanity. It is upon these principles that Europe is built. If we ignore them we, too, risk drowning along with the refugees and migrants who try to cross the Mediterranean."

Giusi Nicolini dedicated the prize to "the migrants who didn't make it across the Mediterranean because they lie beneath it", to Gabriele Del Grande, an Italian journalist and human rights activist who has been imprisoned in Turkey since April 9th for interviewing refugees near the Syrian border and, of course, to the people of Lampedusa.

SOS Méditerranée was also awarded the UNESCO Peace Prize for saving lives in the Mediterranean.

Update, 25.4.17:  Gabriele Del Grande has been freed and is back in Italy.

You can find links to all my posts on migration in the Mediterranean since 2006 here.

Monday, April 17, 2017

HAPPY BUNNIES

At the Liolà in Modica
I reckon they get to eat all the ice cream at night!

PASCHAL TIDES



On this Easter Sunday, while most of us celebrated with friends and family, while a Queen, resplendent in turquoise, attended church, while a sportsman triumphantly drenched his teammates in champagne, while two statues met and kissed in Modica, a drama which operatives involved have described as "unprecedented" in its scale has been taking place in the Mediterranean and once again, people have died in it and are probably continuing to die as I write.

Calmer seas, the escalating war situation in Syria and the continual lack of hope in other countries of provenance have seen migrant boats leaving for Europe without cease and on Friday more than 2,000 migrants were reported to have been travelling in the Sicilian Channel. The Italian Coast Guard says that, in 19 operations involving 16 migrant dinghies and three small wooden boats, 2,074 migrants were saved. One teenager was found dead in one of the dinghies. The SOS Méditeranée ship Aquarius was last night bringing 500 of the rescued migrants, including three children under the age of five, to Pozzallo.

Early reports today said that at least 20 migrants had drowned off Libya in the preceding 24 hours but this was later corrected to seven. However, there are conflicting reports, probably because of the number of rescue operations necessary and the difficulties encountered in them, so the situation is still unclear. MOAS [Migrant Offshore Aid Station] had saved 1,500 people on nine boats since Saturday morning and, taking them on board their ship Phoenix, had to give priority to women, children and the sick.  Once capacity was reached at 453, they issued life jackets and supplies to the migrants still waiting for rescue on board their inadequate boats.  

In all 4,500 people were saved on Saturday and a MSF ship has taken 649 migrants, saved off Libya on Friday, to Calabria. Many of these migrants had signs of torture on their bodies and some had gunshot wounds. An eight-year-old boy is also  reported dead.

In this video of 7th April, Dr Pietro Bartolo of Lampedusa mentions what he calls the "illness of the dinghies", as witnessed by medics since the people traffickers have started using dinghies: this illness, which can lead to death, is caused by a mixture of petrol and water soaking migrants' clothes and causing burns.  It affects mostly the women, he says, as it is the women who tend to be crowded together sitting on the floor - a different sort of drenching, then, to the one inflicted by our friend the sportsman above.

Dr Bartolo also had strong words for Europe's leaders, saying that he does not understand why a great and civilised continent cannot deal with the migration crisis with intelligence and rationality but he puts it down to indifference rather than inability to act.

The other person who has uttered strong words about the migration tragedy is Pope Francis, who said the following at Friday's Easter Vigil in Rome:

"We can see the faces of those women* in any number of other faces: the faces of mothers and grandmothers, of children and young people who bear the grievous burden of injustice and brutality. In their faces, we can see reflected all those who, walking the streets of our cities, feel the pain of dire poverty, the sorrow born of exploitation and human trafficking. We can also see the faces of those who are greeted with contempt because they are immigrants, deprived of country, house and family.
Shame for all the scenes of devastation, destruction and drownings that have become ordinary in our lives."

* The two women Pope Francis refers to are Mary and Mary Magdalene as they visited the tomb of Jesus.

Update - 17.4.17 at 20.29:

UNHCR has said that the number of migrants saved in the Mediterranean by naval or NGO operatives from Friday to Sunday was a staggering 8,300.  It has now been confirmed that seven migrants were found dead. A pregnant woman was evacuated from a migrant boat last night and brought to hospital in Modica, where she is said to be in a very serious condition.
Source: La Repubblica

Friday, April 14, 2017

BREKKY BREAK WITH BERTIE

Stopping for refreshment on our walk the other day, Bertie thoroughly enjoyed her little taste of a seasonal Sicilian brekky!


Tuesday, April 11, 2017

IN WHICH I GIVE UP!

Over the years, I have tried my best - I really have - to promote, whenever possible, a positive image of Sicily, to reassure readers that it is a safe and lovely place to visit and, above all, to dispel the stereotypes. Italy, however, is even better than Britain at shooting itself in the foot and the latest instance of this is the app distributed to accredited foreign journalists for next month's G7 summit in Taormina. This is the opening image of the app., which has been approved by the Italian government:



Not the Greek theatre in Taormina, the azure-violet sea that surrounds the island, the majesty of Etna, Sicilian food or wine or, as La Sicilia's editorial remarked this morning, Sicilian fishermen saving migrants in the Mediterranean but this, which to me looks, at best, like a Dolce & Gabbana fashion show gone wrong. Are we in the 1950s? What does this say about women and what does it say, for that matter, about Sicilian men in the 21st century? So much for former Prime Minister Renzi's announcement in October that this would be "a G7 characterised by themes concerning education, culture and Italian and Sicilian identity". 

The objections are being voiced thick and fast on social media, as they should be, and President of the Sicilian Regional Assembly Giovanni Ardizzone has announced that he is writing today to Prime Minister Gentiloni to demand that the image be withdrawn.

Italy, I give up!

Update - 12.4.17:  The offending image has been removed from the app., I am glad to say.

AN IRONY AND AN INITIATIVE - A MIGRATION POST

If I have been absent from this blog again, it is because, just like most of you, I imagine, the news of the past week has found me glued to my television screen and not in any positive way. Millions of words have been written about the shocking events themselves but I have seen little acknowledgement of the irony of wringing our hands over the treatment of children in a war-torn country and the refusal of many of our own countries to take in those very children - which brings me, again, to the theme of migration in the Mediterranean and its subsequent tragedies, which can only increase given the current situation.

On Friday 7th April the SOS Méditeranée ship Aquarius brought 432 migrants, including 77 minors, six of whom were aged between one and four and 59 of whom were unaccompanied, to Catania. The migrants had been saved by Aquarius and other ships from four migrant boats which had got into trouble off the coast of Libya.  Later the Italian Coast Guard ship Dattilo brought 1,131 migrants, saved in eight operations, to Catania along with one body. 

The above figures represent only a proportion of the migrants rescued in the Mediterranean every day and it is not unusual for as many as 3,000 to be saved in just 24 hours.  To the Italian Coast Guard, Navy and NGOs such as SOS Méditerranée falls, too, the tragic task of recovering and bringing into port the bodies of those whose journey of hope brought them, not to their hoped-for destination, but to death and I have chronicled the sad numbers over the years.

There is, however, some good news for migrants in a world that doesn't seem to care about them and this news comes from Italy where, on 29th March, Parliament passed a law to protect unaccompanied child migrants: from now on their treatment should be consistent all over Italy, they cannot be deported, will be appointed individual, trained guardians and will have the same rights to healthcare, education and other services as Italian children. UNICEF has called it "a historic law" and you can read more about it here.  Well done, Italy, for shining a light amid so much darkness.

According to figures released by the Italian Ministry of the Interior, 25,845 unaccompanied child migrants reached Italy in 2016 and 4,000 have arrived here since the beginning of 2017. This article reports that in 2016 one person in every 113 in the world was a refugee, internally displaced or seeking asylum - not a figure we can be proud of in the 21st century.

I ask again and I direct my question to the men and women in power:  how can the world express horror at what is happening to civilians in a war zone and, at the same time, attempt to push them back when they flee for their lives?

Sunday, April 02, 2017

DOMENICA MUSICALE

To reach no. 25 in the Italian singles charts isn't bad for a song from 1977, so congratulations to Umberto Tozzi who, to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the song, has recorded it with Anastacia. It features in a new album, Quarant'anni che ti amo.


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