Gentiloni to shed light on USS nuclear submarine

published earlier today in the Italian Insider:



Gentiloni to shed light on USS nuclear submarine

By Florence Brock


NAPLES- Tension mounts over a nuclear submarine spotted in Naples roadstead prior to last week’s missile attack on Syria. Accused of being the very same vessel that launched offensive missiles directed towards destroying Syria’s chemical warfare, popular TV journalist Lilli Gruber questioned Five-star movement leader Luigi di Maio on prime-time television Monday.


During the talk show Otto e mezzo, the political show host ended her daily programme with some heated questions directed towards the Secretary over Movement position on the war zone. Concentrating her inquiries on the recent Syria bombing, Gruber asked the majority party winner about the questionable presence of the same nuclear submarine in Naples roadstead before the Middle East raid.


While the Parthenope Admiral has denied the submarine present in the Italian harbour to be the very same, the matter still appears hazy. “I expect Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni will shed light on the matter tomorrow in Parliament,” stated the movement leader on air. “It’s still not clear if the submarine participated in the recent attack on Syria.”


The big question arose in the mind of Mayor of Naples Luigi de Magistris days ago as to just what the American nuclear submarine was doing in the Naples harbour. In an attempt to shine a light on the subject, the Parthenope leader sent a letter to Admiral Arturo Faraone, commander of the Port of Naples last week.


“It has come to my attention that March 20 the nuclear submarine USS John Warner reached the Port of Naples. I have read order 17/2018 sent out by you concerning necessary and correlated instructions for security and navigation. As of such, I’d like to reiterate that on September 23, 2015 deliberation n. 609 was approved, declaring this area “denuclearized”, impeding the docking or stopping of any nuclear vessel in Naples,” specifies the note.


Re-affirming Naples as ‘a city of peace’, the mayor expressed how important it was for the densely populated urban area to be viewed as respectful of human rights, entirely disarmed and promoter of international cooperation.


While discrepancies come to the surface, it appears that the cited submarine may indeed have participated in the recent missile attack in Syria. As a matter of fact, a Military Source YouTube channel published footage on the day of the attack (Saturday, April 7yh) where a Tomahawk missile is launched from a submarine similar to the John Warner – nicknamed ‘Sledgehammer of Freedom’ by its crew.


“The decision to allow foreign military ships to transit in national waters is not our responsibility, seeing we are a part of the Ministry of Transport,” nonetheless explained the admiral.


The mayor’s note does, however, indicate the ship was sighted on March 20, weeks before the suspected chemical attack on Duma and subsequent missile bombing.


“We’d like for he who has the authority to deny entrance in the Port of Naples for political reasons of disarmament, peace and opposition to nuclear weapons not to mention the danger civilians undergo due to the accidents such ships are capable of provoking,” de Magistris concludes in his note to the Admiral.


While Italian authorities have declared the country will not participate in a military action promoted by the USA against Syria, this does not exclude the use of its military bases. As in the past, Italy could furnish support through its American bases in accordance to the bilateral infrastructure agreement that disciplines the presence of such structures throughout the national territory.


The Naval Support Activity of Naples, where the US Sixth Fleet holds is primary headquarters, covers the Mediterranean, parts of Africa and Northern Europe. The Campania Region capital would thus assume a key role in case of attack within its district, participating actively on Italian soil.


Although formal authorization would be necessary to use the bases, this is considered a mere formality as the Italian government would surely give a green light.


Matteo Salvini ‘gearing up to become Prime Minister’

published earlier today in the Italian Insider:


Matteo Salvini ‘gearing up to become Prime Minister’

By Florence Brock

NAPLES – “The next leader can be none other than someone indicated by the Centre-right coalition,” warns Matteo Salvini on social media, not even twenty-four hours after parliament elected the presidencies of the House of Deputies and Senate.

 With consultations for the new Italian government to take place on April 3 in search of the new resident at Palazzo Chigi, Lega leader Matteo Salvini wastes no time after parliament vote to reach the public through Facebook and Twitter on Palm Sunday, announcing his next political agenda.

“Away with the Fornero Law and the expense metre, down with taxes and excise duties, down with waste and useless expenses, up with school and justice reform and self-defence, up with the review of European treaties, and relaunch of agriculture and Italian fishing, up for the Ministry for the Disabled, fiscal peace between citizens and Equitalia, autonomy and federalism, pro-expulsion of clandestine immigrants and enforced border control,” lists the Secretary in a summation of his rich programme ready to be implemented.

As he paves his way as a protagonist in the next political struggle, his potential ally Luigi Di Maio of the Five Star Movement stops any idea of uniting the two poles into a governing coalition. “We have always asserted that the fight for parliamentary presidencies is unlinked for that of the government,” he emphasised over the weekend.

Even with regards to guaranteed minimum income, devoted Lega member Giancarlo Giorgetti openly leans towards the Five Star Movement. “Let’s see if we can elaborate the guaranteed minimum income in another way,” he declares. “There’s no discussion if it means we’re talking about a universal measure that would substitute retirement. If, on the other hand, it intends to orient or give citizens an incentive to look for a job, it would be worth considering,” he reconciles.

With that and other themes to discuss such as tax cuts and overriding the Fornero Law, the two March 4 political winners do not seem very opposed in their views.

In the meantime, Pd Secretary Maurizio Martina scoffs at the Five Star Movement leader’s comment during Sunday’s episode of Mezz’ora in Più. “Please do not come and tell me that the choice of dividing up the Parliament into two between the Centre-right and the Five Star Movement is untied to the government! They need to be honest and tell the people who voted for them: they have a common project.”

While the Democratic Party has backed out of the limelight, claiming the huge party election loss on March 4 has put Renzi’s party in the shadows of the opposition, the standing Secretary nonetheless claims: “we shall listen to the indications President Matarella gives us, but I cannot anticipate possible scenarios that are not my competence,” in answer to host Lucia Annunziata’s insistence on being politically responsible.

“It’s no longer our turn,” he goes on to say. “It’s up to the winners to indicate a way. On our behalf, this is a real act of responsibility. If they are unable to guarantee a prospective, we’ll have to work hard and make our political force available to the country.

Within Salvini’s own coalition, right-wing wounds seem to have quickly healed after deceiving his political wing Friday with a secret new Lega candidate vote. Perceived as a traitor by several Forza Italia members, one wonders if the coalition can resist until the march up to the Quirinale next week or will possible internal lesions have caused irreparable damage?

Implications of being 20 in the South

published earlier today in the Italian Insider.


Implications of being 20 in the South

By Florence Brock

NAPLES – In an effort to propose stimulating discussion on plaguing issues, the top daily newspaper Il Mattino has announced the forum entitled “Avere 20 anni al Sud: le ragioni per restare e per tornare” (The implications of being 20 in the South of Italy: reasons to stay and to come back)” to be held at the Mercadante Theatre on Dec. 11.

 With the participation of Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni, the event is scheduled to start at 10:30 am and run until mid-afternoon at 6 pm. In addition, institutions, economists, entrepreneurs, businessmen, credit institutions and start-up reps from the South will take the microphone and give their input on a predicament that has been plaguing this nation for years.

“The interconnection between the haemorrhage of ‘cervelli in fuga’ (‘fleeing of southern intelligence’) and the brilliant minds that come to the territory is still very negative,” explains Director of Il Mattino Barbano at the press conference Monday. “This means that the policies adopted until now have not managed to invert a necessary tendency from which a North-South economic recovery depends,” he goes on to say.

In the last ten years, more than 200,000 college graduates have left the South of Italy to move either to northern Italy or abroad. The Association for Industrial Development in the South – SVIMEZ – has estimated that the cost of cultural impoverishment for the South amounts to nearly 30 billion Euros based on pro capita educational spending supported by the state.

The situation the association outlines is emblematic of phenomena that appears unstoppable and that, together with the ever-growing annual migration flux, risks depleting this area of the country, leaving it more and more at the margins of economic growth. In light of such a bleak perspective that interrogates the consciousness of every sector of civil life, people need to react and think seriously. Coming to the conclusion that it is impossible to ignore the role of society and it’s most significant expressions that include universities, companies, banks, and politics.

With this in mind, some of the most important national institutions, experts from the academic research world, teachers and economists that represent the knowledge of the entire country, and institutions within the territory, have all been called on to discuss the issue.

Highlighting the intense forum programme in the Siani room, the newspaper chief illustrated the discussion topics on themes concerning work, the South, and young people.

The day discussions will be centred around three sessions.

Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni will give the opening remarks followed by illustrious local leaders such as Mayor of Naples Luigi de Magistris, Governor of Campania Vincenzo De Luca, Rector of University Federico II Gaetano Manfredi and others.

At noon, Minister of Economic Development Carlo Calenda is scheduled to open the second session followed by a rich series of interventions from the business world.

The last discussion will commence at 14:30 pm with comments from Minister of the South Claudio De Vincenti, followed by editorial comments from Il Mattino journalists and various leftwing and rightwing political party members.

“In an attempt to promote discussion on themes concerning work, which are a main focus for young people and their future, the event plans on telling stories of those that fight for the dignity of a qualified and qualifying job here in the south as well as the testimony of those who have been inducted to leave but who perhaps would like to return without being able to do so,” the newspaper editor concludes.



Hard times continue for Pd as chaos reigns over Naples vote

By Florence Brock


NAPLES – With the official Democratic Party provincial ballot count scheduled today at 18:00, representative Alberto Losacco has just returned from Naples where he had been sent to oversee party primaries held over the weekend.


As people await the election results, bystanders cannot help but give space to the chaos caused by party leaders who changed their minds three times concerning election sustainment.


Among the squabbles surrounding the weekend vote, commission members plan on addressing the Naples case that caused a real internal party split at a national level, involving two contrary decisions concerning the election. While undersecretary Maurizio Martina asked for the vote to be postponed, Pd organisation director Andrea Rossi gave orders to proceed with the provincial secretary election.

new Fotosud - PD via Santa Brigida nella foto Nicola Oddati (newfotosud Alessandro Garofalo)

It all started when one of the three candidates, Nicola Oddati, former Iervolino cabinet member from Salerno, now closely tied to governor Vincenzo De Luca, asked for the annulment of the election in order to check registered voter lists. The party thereafter proceeded with multiple changes of mind all in the same day.


With regional leaders such as Secretary Assunta Tartaglione standing by the democratic election, undersecretary Maurizio Martina claimed: ”after considering political evaluations immersed nationally, it would be a good idea to postpone the elections”.


Such communication, however, did not make its way to poll booths such as Bagnoli, Herculaneum and Pomigliano d’Arco where voting commenced on schedule.


Candidate Oddati now states he will not recognise the election. “I abide by the statements undersecretary Maurizio Martina made before the vote as he is an elected party member and not merely in office by appointment.”


The candidate equally goes on to emphasize he cannot recognise the outcome of a vote that was cancelled and then re-instated.


Following a hard loss to a united right-wing front and the Five-star Movement in the Sicilian Regional elections just one week ago, putting off Sunday primaries might have given voters time to fall back and regroup.


As the party nonetheless seems determined to uphold Rossi’s words and proceed with the ballot count in via Nazareno, the discussion over the weekend primaries appears far from over.


De Magistris teams up with Varoufakis

published earlier today in the Italian Insider.


De Magistris teams up with Varoufakis

By Florence Brock

NAPLES – As De Magistris increases in popularity as General Secretary of the DemA party founded earlier this year, despite his insisting he will not step down as current mayor of Naples before the end of his mandate to run in the 2020 race for Campania Region governor, he seems to have his eyes set on Europe.

With Germans at the voting booths this past weekend to elect their political leader for the next four years, Italy wasted no time in interrogating itself on what kind of Europe is at the door.

In her season premiere Sunday, In mezza’ora, now entitled Mezz’ora in più for this year’s supplementary broadcast time, host Lucia Annunziata moderated a varied panel discussion on Europe that included former Greek Minister of Finance Janis Varoufakis.

Expressing a clear need for transnational democratic unification if Europe intends on securing a future for itself, the Greek politician mentioned Naples mayor De Magistris as a fervent embracer of his new political movement.

With growing consensus, DemA party has been forging its way towards the convergence of local independent movements that in other parts of the world have been demonstrating there is indeed a different and effective way of conducting politics.

Networking similar global movement beliefs, DemA adhered to DiEM25 movement founded by the Greek economist in 2016.

“Along with many other European travel companions, our political will to build a European list for 2019 is very strong,” stated De Magistris last week in reference to Varoufakis and his upcoming visit to Naples.  Scheduled for September 30 in the southern city, the mayor will meet with the former Greek Minister of Finance where they plan on laying the foundation of an administrative process. “We are going to form a list against the oligarchs and new forms of Fascism. It will be a people’s Europe based on rights, social justice, common good, the environment, peace and a Mediterranean area no longer stained with such a vast extension of blood,” he went on to say.

This is not the first time Europe has heard the Greek politician’s words echo across borders. Varoufakis was nominated Minister of Finance under the Tsipras administration in 2015 and was a key figure in Greece’s fight against continued European austerity toward his country debts.

At the time, he sustained that placing European partners under pressure would lead to more favourable conditions for Greece. While his openly declared “Grexit” failed to receive votes of confidence among fellow cabinet members and, in turn, forced him to step down, the Greek politician has continued his battle for a cohesive Europe.

While Varoufakis would soon resign from his position in the Tsipras government, in order to facilitate degenerated relations between Greece and its creditors, he founded DiEM25, a political movement for the transformation of a democratic European Union, just a short time after in February 2016.

To panel surprise during the show, Varoufakis announced that he would even welcome the fourth and final term of German Prime Minister Merkel, hoping in her driven desire to really unite the continent without imposition.

With growing questions plaguing European people, big issues such as inequality, multinational tax evasion, migration and the launching of a new ecological productive system have gone much beyond national borders.

As politics has been unable until now to cross such borders and respond with effective policies, DiEM25 has begun to invite Europeans to join together.

From September 27 to October 1, the political movement takes its tour to Italy and will face some of the big questions present today and define a concrete way of getting out of the mire.

DiEM25 plans on travelling to five Italian cities, stopping in Milan Turin, Ferrara, Bologna, Palermo and in Naples where the movement is scheduled to hold its first national assembly.

“Transnational lists will give people the opportunity to vote for a true democratic Europe,” confirmed Former Prime Minister of Italy Enrico Letta, equally a guest on last weekend’s show. “Now European elections are held only on a national basis. Either Europe heads towards a cross-border democratic Europe and takes a step forward or it will remain at a standstill,” he added.

With 70,000 members, DiEM25 has taken on the challenge, including mayors across the continent such as activist and mayor of Barcelona Ada Colau together with global public figures such as Brian Eno and philosopher Noam Chomsky already on the bandwagon.

By the next European elections in 2019, the movement aims at successfully building a real rupturing force, capable of driving forward an innovative and breakthrough campaign from Portugal to Poland…passing through Italy.

Solfatara crater swallows mother, father and elder sibling



Solfatara crater swallows mother, father and elder sibling

By Florence Brock

NAPLES – Tragedy touches a small town just north of Naples as three tourists on vacation from Turin lose their lives at Solfatara of Pozzuoli, when a crater opened up at their feet.

Almost an entire family was destroyed Tuesday in an accident involving a 45 year-old man, his 42 year-old wife and their 11 year-old son. Their other son, who just turned seven, is the only immediate family survivor.

Firemen and authorities arrived immediately at the scene and have closed off all access to the crater.

At the moment, authorities are trying to reconstruct the scene of the terrible accident that took the tourists’ lives. It is still unclear if the three deceased died as a result of the almost five foot fall or if they fell to their death following strong gas inhalations.

According to the civil defence squad, the elder son of the Turin couple apparently crossed over into an off-limits area where there was quicksand and crumbly soil. Over-powered by gas inhalations, the boy lost his senses. In an attempt to reach him, both his parents seemingly fell into the crater that had newly opened under their feet, all dropping in together in boiling mud three metres deep. In an attempt to pull up the boy, the father was sucked down and the mother as well when she, in turn, tried to help her husband.

Firemen extracted the three bodies from the chasm.

“I saw a boy crying as he was running away. I had no idea I was dealing with the worst tragedy of my life,” states Neapolitan pizza maker Diego Vitagliano present during the tragedy.

“I have been here for 40 years and I have never seen an incident like this,” says coffee bar owner Armando Guerriero just outside the geyser grounds. Just after the accident, the younger surviving sibling was brought into his establishment. “We tried to calm him down as he was clearly very shaken up. He kept asking for his family,” explained keeper.

Solfatara, from late Latin Sulpha Terra meaning land of sulphur) is a site where you can visit boiling water up close with its vapours and steaming mud and is one of the main attractions of the Phlegrean Fields. Known for its characteristically strong rotten egg-like smell, the earth, tormented by fire, creates surreal scenes of unimaginable colours displaying dramatic geysers, springs of gas, and bursts of hot mud and seismic tremors.