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October 27, 2015

Passaparola. Let’s save Italy’s artistic heritage, by Salvatore Settis

Without what Article 9 of the constitution calls the natural landscape and the historical and artistic heritage of the Nation, Italy would not be what it is today.Salvatore Settis, archeologist and historian specialising in Italian art history. He’s a former director of the Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa.

“I believe that there should be public museums and private museums. There are private museums in Italy just as there are in other places. For example I could mention the Doria Pamphilj Gallery in Rome - one of the greatest private museums in the world. It’s always been a really important museum belonging to the Doria Pamphilj princes. I would leave those private museums as they are.

No to the privatisation of public museums
But, on the other hand, there are some really ancient museums, the Capitoline Museums, the Uffizi Gallery, and others, that have to stay in public hands and we have to bear in mind that the cost to the State of these public resources is not simply a cost without any benefits. Without these museums, and without these monuments, and without our landscape, without what Article 9 of the constitution calls the natural landscape and the historical and artistic heritage of the Nation, Italy would not be what it is. In order to have the identity we have, for us to be happy to be Italians, we have to show that we are able to look after this landscape and this historic artistic heritage.

Culture is food - words of a Nobel prizewinner
Not only must we look after our artistic heritage, we have to improve it!
Among the particularly great economists, there’s for example, the Nobel prizewinner, Amartya Sen. He has put forward some great arguments in relation to his nation, India, saying that in order to develop economically and improve the economic satisfaction of the citizens, the pride in their origins, the pride in belonging to a certain culture, there’s a factor that is absolutely necessary, absolutely essential: a multiplier of inventiveness of productivity and of creativity.
This has been Italy’s history for thousands of years. If we don’t want it to end, we have to protect and take care of our historical and artistic heritage with more public expenditure and recover what’s missing. Not continuing to just say the same old words, the rosary, the litany of the different episodes of crisis, but recovery of what’s missing from the terrible abyss of tax evasion that distinguishes ltaly and makes it the third country in the world after Mexico and Turkey. This isn’t a record that we should be pleased with.

The social role of the museums
These days, people talk about museums and they say loads of stuff that in the main is not true or not entirely true, however, very rarely do we remember that the museum is a very recent cultural institution. The concept of a museum that we think of nowadays, basically came into being in the 18th century, and I said then, that if it’s got a date of creation, it can also have an expiry date. Let’s keep that in mind. Do we want to close them down? OK. And yet we should continue to constantly ask ourselves what their role is. The connection with the school is incredibly important, and it’s important to remember with all this rhetoric about beauty that is produced in Italy ad nauseam, that many people indulge in (whether they are the President of the Council, a mayor or a former mayor) with all this rhetoric about beauty, we forget that beauty is nothing unless it’s history.

We are all guardians of our artistic heritage
Beauty is History, the fact that with the latest education reforms, there’s a tendency to abolish the history of art, reducing the space and perhaps talking about art education as though everyone has to be presented with a blank sheet, all of a sudden they become Rembrandt or Picasso or Michelangelo, this is a really serious mistake, because - in the words of a great art historian, Gombrich: “Unless all Italians are the guardians of their heritage, then our heritage, the heritage that belongs to everyone, will die.” Salvatore Settis

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Statute of Limitations, State failure


“When all’s said and done, in Italy, the Statute of Limitations is the safety net for the delinquents and it’s also one of the main causes of the courts being clogged up. Today, a delinquent who has blatantly been caught “red-handed” does everything possible to draw out the trial procedures to arrive at the desired objective: for the trial to collapse due to the Statute of Limitations. In fact, the Statute of Limitations should avoid the State being able to “wake up” at any time and go after a citizen for a crime committed, thirty years earlier, for example. Obviously, when the State starts to take action or when it sends someone for trial, (which means that it has been given the go-ahead by a prosecuting magistrate or a Judge for the Preliminary investigation) then it’s obvious that the Statute of Limitations must be suspended.
That’s what happens in nearly all of the rest of Europe, where, with different mechanisms, the Statute of Limitations is obviously suspended or interrupted for the duration of the trial. In France and Germany, it is interrupted by the investigation activities, for example, simply by a preliminary interview with a suspect. In the United Kingdom, the Statute of Limitations does not even exist. As soon as it gained saeats in Parliament, the M5S proposed the interruption of the Statute of Limitations as soon as someone is sent for trial - for as long as that trial is ongoing. It’s a simple and effective measure that would avoid many many injustices. When a crime runs out of time because of the Statute of Limitations, the State fails twice: once because it wasn’t able to discover the truth; and once more because all the effort of the judges, the lawyers, the court officials, the investigators and so on - is just thrown away - with an atrocious waste of public money.
From 2003 to 2013, about one and a half million trials disappeared into thin air because of the Statute of Limitations.

Among the numerous people that have taken advantage of the Statute of Limitations in various ways are business people and politicians (and these are just examples): De Benedetti, Moggi, Tanzi, Geronzi, Ricucci, Fazio, Caltagirone, Gelli, Berlusconi, Andreotti, Calderoli, D’Alema, Penati, Scajola).
Today, Wednesday, in Lucca, the families of the victims of Viareggio are going to court where a really efficient team of judges is racing against time to get to the truth. Unfortunately, it’s practically impossible that three levels of judgement can be concluded before the crimes fall out of time, due to the Statute of Limitations.
You can study thousands of pages of law, but there’s not even one that makes it possible to explain to Marco Piagentini who lost his wife (aged 40) and two children (aged 2 and 4) in the tragedy, that some crimes are about to “run out of time”. The time has come to stop this. On 29 August 2014, the premier announced the reform of the Statute of Limitations; on 20 November 2014, after the shameful Eternit case, once more the premier said: “The Statute of Limitations has to change. Justice has to be done. I am struck by the interviews with the families of the victims and they make me shiver. The families are so dignified, they beliee in the justice system, even more than some public servants do. It’s not posible to console a person for the death of someone they love. There’s no verdict that can do that. However, the idea of clutching at the justice system is for me somethig that involves endless suffering and beauty.“ Did he mean what he was saying, or was he just talking to get media coverage? Almost a year has gone by: the Statute of Limitations has not changed. The PD continues to say “no” to the M5S proposal! The Statute of Limitations must be interrupted at the moment someone is sent for trial: we are asking the government to keep to its commitments!”
Alfonso Bonafede, M5S Lower House

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October 21, 2015

Passaparola: A cultural revolution to save humanity, by Serge Latouche

Passaparola by Serge Latouche, French economist and philosopher. Serge Latouche is one of the regular contributors to the journal Revue du MAUSS, he’s president of the association “La ligne d’horizon”, he’s emeritus professor of economics at the University of Paris-Sud and at the The Institute of Economic and Social Development studies (IEDES) in Paris.

“We’ve reached a point that means we can no longer go on as we are doing!
Everyone’s talking about crisis and it’s slightly paradoxical because I’ve always been hearing about a crisis ever since 1968 when there was a cultural crisis, then in 1972, with the publication of the work by The Club of Rome, there was talk of an ecological crisis, then there was the neoliberal counter-revolution and the social crisis with Margaret Thatcher and Reagan, and now there’s the financial crisis and the economic crisis after the collapse of Lehmann Brothers.
Finally, all these crises are getting mixed up and we’re seeing a crisis of civilisation, an anthropological crisis. At this point, the system can no longer be reformed - we have to exit from this paradigm - and what is it? It’s the paradigm of a growth society Our society has been slowly absorbed by an economy based on growth, not growth to satisfy needs - and that would be a good thing - but growth for the sake of growth and this naturally leads to the destruction of the planet because infinite growth is incompatible with a finite planet.
We need a real reflection when we talk about an anthropological crisis. We need to take this seriously because we need a decolonisation of the imagination. Our imagination has been colonised by the economy. Everything has become economics. This is specific to the West and it’s fairly new in our history. It was in the seventeenth century when there was a great ethical switch with the theory expounded by Bernard Mandeville. Before, people said that altruism was good and then: "no, we have to be egoists, we have to make as much profit as possible; greed is good“. Yes - to destroy our "oikos“ (our home) more quickly. And we have actually got to that point.
We can see this with Climate Change, with the loss of biodiversity, with the pollution of our air, water, and soil. We’ve reached a point that means we can no longer go on as we are doing! We either change direction, or it will be the end of humanity.
So the project is to exit from the growth society, exit from the consumer society, exit from the economy and find once more the social or better still, the societal. This revolution is primarily a cultural revolution, but it’s not a quick fix, it’s a long process that takes time.
When I started organising conferences on degrowth, I thought it was necessary to change direction before the collapse, but now I’m getting more of a pessimist. I think that we won’t avoid the collapse. We need to make preparations for the time after the collapse.. And let’s hope it’s not a total collapse and that there is a possibility for humanity to have a future, to invent a new future.” Serge Latouche

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In Italy only the poor are on the increase


The number of poor people in Italy is increasing. According to the July figures published by the official statistics agency, ISTAT, there are 10 million poor people. According to the report published this week by the study group Unimpresa, just last year, there’s been an increase of 30,000 - that’s as though a whole town has fallen into poverty. There’s just no sign that this epidemic is going to calm down.

The working poor

The ones affected are not only those without a job, who represent about a third. Most of the people who are poor, are working! They go into the office. They’ve got a boss. They’ve got responsibility. They pay taxes. However, they don’t manage to have a dignified life. They can’t pay for medical treatment. They do without going away on holiday. They eat low cost rubbish food that makes them ill. They suffer because they cannot guarantee a future for their offspring and because they have to queue up at the Caritas soup kitchen when they’ve finished work. They are not free people. They are slaves. According to the Unimpresa results, some are employed part time (740 people), some full time (1.66 million people), some are freelancers working part time (802 thousand), some are contractors (349 thousand) and some have long term part time contracts (2.5 million). In total there are 6.1 million such workers living in poverty - with fragile job prospects and low income. They are thus slaves. The triumphalist announcements of the government’s propaganda have no meaning and show that there’s an underlying intention of taking us for a ride: more people in work and more people in poverty. The government doesn't want to eliminate poverty. It just wants to normalise it with the “Jobs Act”.

VIDEO “There’s nothing to celebrate”. The truth about the GDP and unemployment

The government’s propaganda lies

The unemployment figures are meaningless and everyone knows that. The nespapers and the government spout off about three figure numbers. They talk about more than 300 thousand more fixed contracts than there were in the first 8 months of 2014. Of these 300 thousand, almost 230 thousand are simply already existing contracts that have bene converted and counted as new contracts. There are in fact only slightly more than 10 thousand new worker-slaves a month because the "increasing-protection-contract" allows the employer complete freedom to fire the employee in the first 3 years. Workers will all be fired shortly before the end of their three year limit and then they will either be taken on again or replaced by new slaves. According to ISTAT, those who are trainees, the workers with the least amount of security, are counted as officially employed. How much does a trainee earn? In certain cases, a pat on the back and at the end of their training, a kick up the backside. There’ve been 30,772 new trainees taken on in 8 months just in Sicily, 11,912 in Lazio, 9,021 in Emilia Romagna and 4,843 in Veneto. If you think about all 20 regions, you can understand the trick.

The Citizens’ Income is the only way out

Jobs are no longer being created and poverty is increasing. What the government is doing is propaganda and they are just finding ways of publishing figures that keep the "market“ calm. The GDP is increasing thanks to drugs, prostitution, and contraband, thanks to favourable international conditions, and thanks to more people with jobs - people that are still poor. For an Italian person, nothing has changed. The M5S Citizens’ Income that lifts out of poverty someone who hasn’t got a job (and helps them find one) , as well as someone who has a job, but is still poor, - the M5S Citizens’ Income is the only way to save Italy.

VIDEO Shock admission from PD person talking live: THEY ARE KEEPING UNEMPLOYMENT HIGH ON PURPOSE!


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October 12, 2015

Climate change and preserving life on the earth: the M5S in Bolivia


Mirko Busto, M5S spokesperson in the Lower House

The M5S is the only Italian parliamentary entity to participate in the “World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Defense of Life“ that will be held at Cochabamba in Bolivia from 10 - to 12 October. I am greatly honoured to be able to represent our hope of building a society that is more just, more equal and finally more able to live in harmony with our only home: Mother Earth.

We need to act. Climate Change is a priority among the emergencies affecting our world. The most recent estimates portray a bleak future with a planet that is warmer and more arid (more than 4 degrees warmer by the end of the century) with a higher number of more extreme events like flooding, storms and typhoons. More droughts, less water and soils that are less fertile. In other words, a less hospitable planet. A planet that is less able to feed the life that inhabits it.
But also a planet that is yet more unjust. Climate Change increases the disparities at a world level, because its effects are already having a bigger impact on the poorer countries in the south of the world, the more vulnerable ones and those with fewer financial resources to tackle the effects. Fundamental resources like food and water are the new petroleum oil. Their scarcity or unjust distribution will always be the cause of wars and mass migrations.
We have to act immediately and decisively.

VIDEO Global fever killing the planet

The only thing that counts in relation to the limitation of temperature rises is the total quantity of greenhouse gases that we are allowed to emit, our “budget” and if we continue at the present rate, we’ll use up this allowance very rapidly. According to The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) this will be used up in just 21 years if we go on emitting at the current rate. Ths is the massive challenge that we are summoned to address. It’s a challenge that falls above all on the more developed countries, those that have been responsible over many years - those that have been the major contributors to this problem.
What’s before us is a period of great change. We need to rethink how we live, how we move around, what we are eating and how we produce our food, how we keep warm and how we produce energy. This is a period that can see us full of enthusiasm, like a new Renaissance, or it could be traumatic if we are not able to manage the transformation.
We can do it - and the change is already under way. We do have the technologies for this transition and the experiences of change from the grass roots are growing very fast.
The question we need to ask ourselves is another one. Is this political system able to facilitate this change - or make it possible? The answer is definitely not. To come out of the climate crisis we need a political system that is free - one that doesn't have to answer to any “master”, or lobby or multinational. One that answers just to the citizens and to the common good.
The M5S is the first experiment on a national scale that attempts to bring about this new paradigm and ever since its first steps inside parliament, it has been putting forward draft laws encapsulating its vision for the future.
We have the solution to transform the failing Italian policies of waste disposal that are financing incineration and poisoning citizens and destroying million of jobs. We are drawing up an energy plan to take a system that is completely dependent - addicted - to fossil fuels, and transforming it into a system that is totally based on renewable fuels.
We are working towards a system of agriculture thatt guarantees healthy food that is sustainable and local. We have to safeguard our food sovereignty. We need a basis of respect for biodiversity and the protection of soil fertility. But we also need to have the strength to promote food choices that are more sustainable.
Every day we are fighting to reduce military spending, especially that aimed at the participation in wars that are camouflaged as peace missions that contribute, not just to the most pitiful annihilation of human life, to the destruction of natural resources, and the mass exodus of peoples and to an infernal military-industrial vicious cycle that increases the climate costs.
So - it’s true. Time is short. Timeframes are very short. The old system, with its monstrous network of interests and both human and political corruption, still seems strong and able to keep us in a straitjacket - petrified - making choices that offer no future. But the elements to resolve this puzzle are already available and change is already happening under the surface, starting from the ground upwards and it is growing thanks to initiatives coming from the citizens and from the communities. What’s necessary is just to remove the obstacles and perhaps to give the right impetus.
We have the freedom and the will to do this. They simply cannot do it.
This is why the President of Bolivia Evo Morales invited us to come to Cochabamba. In the next few weeks, everyone will be talking about the Climate Change Conference in Paris - COP21. Leaders of nations and governments from countries that are developed and those that are not developed will try to negotiate for the umpteenth time - - they’ll be attempting interventions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions with the aim of limiting temperature rises to a maximum of two degrees centigrade. The powerful people of the world have been having useless meetings for years now. Enough. “there’s no time to spare“. This was the warning of Pope Francis in October 2014 when he met Evo Morales in Rome. It’s time to have a reaction from the grassroots by mobilising the peoples and the campaign groups to establish change. It’s time to set off for Cochabamba.


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#DeutscheBank full of holes


“Two days ago, Deutsche Bank, a bank with assets worth more than Italy’s GDP, has declared the need to adjust the results for the third quarter of 2015 to reflect losses of almost 6 billion euro.

70 thousand billion in derivatives
Details of the reasons for these losses are not yet available but it is well known that the bank has an anomalous concentration of derivatives in its portfolio: 75 thousand billion dollars (about 65 thousand billion euro!), equivalent to 20 times Germany’s GDP. It seems that Deutsche Bank has really not learned much from the 2008 crisis, even though America’s Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) in May of this year, penalised its structured finance dating back to the time of Lehman Brothers, with a fine of 55 million dollars.

And yet Deutsche Bank passed the European Banking Authority’s stress tests without any particular censuring. However, the US stress tests carried out by the Federal Reserve before the summer, definitely found the German bank to have done badly and classed it among those that would not survive another financial crisis.
So perhaps those that said the European stress tests put too much emphasis on the spread of the yield of government bonds among the various member countries, were not wrong. It’s a phenomenon that has become dangerously familiar to us, to such an extent that now, very few are aiming to tackle the root causes of the problems.

VIDEO Beppe Grillo at the meeting of the Monte dei Paschi di Siena bank

MPS and Deutsche Bank
Even with us, derivatives continue to wreak havoc on the commercial banks (example: MPS) and on the coffers of the State. But let’s take things one at a time, starting with the commercial banks and then the public sector. MPS has recently concluded a transaction with Nomura after having concluded another one last year with Deutsche Bank to put an end to the episode involving Alexandria and Santorini derivatives. Regardless of the details of the transaction, it’s difficult not to connect these losses with the “Monti Bonds” and the various capital increases that pulverized the share values and impoverished the small-scale shareholders to the extent of billions of euro, as well as destroying the country’s third largest bank. We know that the government has pulled out of the game; it has already implemented (in an excess of virtue!) the new European regulations regarding bank bail-ins that will come into force next year and thanks to which losses will be offloaded directly onto the poor current-account holders, as well as others, including the minority shareholders.
We know that the Milan Prosecutors Office has started a number of indictments on this issue and it is also investigating matters arising form the time of Alessandro Profumo and Fabrizio Viola, but we know that even for the Italian Securities and Exchange Commission (CONSOB) and the Bank of Italy, up until now, everything has been basically OK. As usual, accounting issues come to the notice of “Supervisory bodies“ when the prosecutors decide to take action. It’s a shame that bodies like the Bank of Italy and CONSOB exist to prevent mismanagement and not to pretend to intervene when the prosecutors arrive.

What’s happening in Italy
160 billion in derivatives and more than 40 billion in potential losses. One thing is clear that we learned from this year’s investigation. These measures were not aimed at providing cover but they were purely speculation at the expense of the citizens! And that’s how they generate profits or losses. Unfortunately for us - since we bet on the wrong side - they turned out to be losses. And as though that were not enough, as well as saddling us with the disastrous losses that these contracts can generate, they even deny us access.
In fact we have used all possible methods and in all possible places, and we have asked to be able to see THE CONTRACTS that are underlying these figures so that we can have them analysed by people that understand these things. The Movement has so many quality resources that it can access independently.
What was the reaction? What response was given by the State and by the government to our transparency operation? They have in fact imposed “State Secrecy”.

Derivatives: State omertà = State secrecy
In fact, just 2 days ago the two-chamber committee for access to government documents DENIED us the possibility to view the contracts. This latest slap in the face of transparency seems to us to be in revenge for our denunciation to the Rome Prosecutors Office for omission of official actions in relation to our access to the official documentation relating to the derivative contracts of the Ministry of the Economy and Finances (MEF) presented about 10 days ago. Thus, in this case, the government is involved but it is not acting to aid transparency but to make things more murky, even though only a few months ago, Renzi himself declared that the derivative contracts would be published on the Internet - on the Ministry’s website.

What are they hiding from the citizens?
Even more early closures that we are not allowed to get information about until they happen and that will perhaps generate losses to be offloaded in the forthcoming Stability Law, as happened at the end of 2011 when there were losses of more than 2 billion euro (as well as the stunning new council tax - called IMU and also the FORNERO LAW).
Obviously we hope that we’re wrong. Anyway, the highest common denominator in these stories is the LACK OF CLARITY. No one knows how it is that Deutsche Bank can suddenly have losses of 6 billion, just as it’s not yet known today whether the MPS accounts are or are not being honestly presented and nor is it known how much of that potential loss of 40 billion in derivatives is actually happening.
Stay tuned. We’ll keep on going with this issue.” Carla Ruocco, M5S spokesperson in the Lower House


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