Too little, too late for Di Maio: Varoufakis forges on without Italy’s Prime Minister for a progressive Europe

varoufakis.jpgToo little, too late for Di Maio: Varoufakis forges on without Italy’s Prime Minister for a progressive Europe

By Florence Brock

NAPLES- Former Greek Minister of Finance Janis Varoufakis joined Mezz’ora in più Sunday to speak about Europe and his Diem25 movement that continues in its plight towards a progressive and fair Europe.

In an effort to continue increasing consensus for his transnational movement, the former Tsipras cabinet member emphasized the importance of the upcoming European Parliament election in the spring of 2019. “Our goal is to have other European progressive groups similar to ours come together in a united fight for pillars of Europe based on rights, social justice, the common good and the environment,” stated Varoufakis.

 

Echoing the very same pillars Vice Prime Minister Luigi Di Maio described just moments before Varoufakis was interviewed, host Lucia Annunziata asked him if this meant the Greek movement founder would have accepted someone as Di Maio or Five-star Movement party members in the Diem25 movement, Varoufakis immediately pointed out: “It is too little, too late. Minister Di Maio is in the government coalition and supporting League leader Matteo Salvini; I’m pleased Di Maio wants to change Europe, but who is he going to do that with? Politicians with fascist ideals such as France’s Marie Le Pen? Austria’s Sebastian Kurz? Or Hungarian leader Viktor Orban and others from the far right? We have a completely different idea of Europe and how we would like it to be. Di Maio has chosen Matteo Salvini and now he can stick with him,” he stressed.

 

As politics has been unable to cross such borders and respond with effective policies until now, DiEM25 has begun to invite Europeans to join together. Ready for next year’s Parliament vote, Diem25 will show another Europe is not only possible; it’s here.

 

Diem25 has been a vehicle for convergence of local independent movements that in other parts of Europe have been demonstrating there is indeed a different and effective way of conducting politics.

 

With fervent supporters such as Naples Mayor Luigi De Magistris, former Mayor of Parma Federico Pizzarotti and activist and Mayor of Barcelona Ada Colau, the next move of Diem25 sees Varoufakis running for the European Parliament in the German Jurisdiction.

According to a report on the Euractiv.com website last week, Varoufakis is quoted as saying he plans to run – even though the European Parliament “is not a real parliament” – because he wants to show that “federalism is possible, and also that Germany’s current politics is harmful to Germans.”

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.

According to the Greek politician, Italy’s government is right to have made significant public spending proposal for the 2019 budget, causing the deficit target to rise to 2.4 per cent of Gross Domestic Product. “Nonetheless, the country is making a big mistake by going to Brussels and demanding to bypass the rules, showing the third most important nation in Europe actually accepts the unfair austerity rules outlined by the old continent,” he asserted.

 

Claiming Prime Minister Conte should demand a change in laws such as fiscal compact that has been unfairly punishing European states, the Greek economist is convinced the right thing to do offer an alternative new rule equal for all European member states.

 

While shaking the ground under a continent that has been dictating austerity law, the 25 members states need to change; it is the only way for Europe is to halt the deepening rift in the European Union, securing a true future for itself.

 

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.

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Salvini and Saviano buck heads over Riace Mayor arrest

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Salvini-Saviano buck heads over Riace Mayor arrest

By Florence Brock

 

NAPLES – “Mimmo Lucano’s arrest is the first step towards an Authoritarian government,” thunders Roberto Saviano in his editorial on the daily newspaper La Repubblica early Wednesday.

After Minister of the Minister of Internal Affairs made a blatant attack on Roberto Saviano, addressing him personally from his microphone during a press conference that followed the farewell meeting in Naples in honour of Public Order and Safety, calling him a do-gooder for standing beside authorities such as the mayor of Riace who was arrested Tuesday.

Just after Domenico Lucano was placed under house arrest by the District Attorney’s office in Locri, province of Calabria for aiding and abetting clandestine immigration, Vice-Prime Minister Salvini ignited a political debate that crowded social networks and headlines.

“Who knows what Saviano and all the other do-gooders who want to fill Italy with immigrants are going to say now. I’m marching straight ahead,” the government leader later tweeted.

“Through this investigation, from which Mimmo will certainly know how to defend himself in every way, this government has carried out the first real act towards Italy’s final transformation from a Democracy to an Authoritarian State with the approval of the other political forces,” the Gomorrah author declared. After adding that the accusations pending over the mayor were never for personal gain, but for civil disobedience, Saviano concluded: “Mimmo is alone.”

While the two have bucked heads, The Minister has received solidarity from his own government.

Five-star Movement undersecretary Carlo Sibilia stated: “The Democratic Party reception system for immigrants has created more people under probe than those intergrated,” in a post, adding “I’m pleased this government of change has declared war on the immigration business.

Vice-Prime Minister Luigi Di Maio also spoke in defence of the government actions, asking others to avoid promoting models when they end up entangled with the law, while President of the House Roberto Fico stated more cautiously that the truth has yet to be unveiled; the case has to be tried before a court of law.

During his trip to Naples Tuesday however, locals met the government official with posters and banners in protest. “Free Mimmo – you don’t arrest hope,” read one of the banners in defence of the arrested mayor.

“The Riace mayor arrest is creating a precedence similar to a regime,” commented David from social centre Insurgencia. With its administration, Riace is a model of immigration reception. We ask for his immediate release.”

Even the Mayor of Naples spoke in defence of his fellow colleague. “I’d like to express my complete solidarity to Mimmo Lucano. He had the capacity to transform an abandoned village in a town that’s alive. Even Lucano admits that he might have violated a rule or two,” comments the Parthenope mayor. “If the state wants to try a case against him, they can go right ahead, but arresting him is like arresting a hand stretched out to help those who are the most fragile,” concluded De Magistris.

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Riace Mayor Domenico Lucano, a champion of migrants, was placed under house arrest on charges of facilitating illegal immigration and unlawfully assigning rubbish collection services Tuesday.

The Finance Police arrested Lucano’s partner Tesfahun Lemlem for the same crimes.

A statement from the local prosecutor’s office said the pair had organised “marriages of convenience” between Italian men and foreign women and had set up “simple yet efficient” systems to bypass migration rules.

Mr Lucano became famous for reviving Riace, a medieval village on Italy’s south coast whose population had been dwindling, by laying out the welcome mat for migrants. These new arrivals revitalized the Calabrian town’s population and economy.

The mayor’s scheme to settle refugees gained him international recognition along with, in 2016, a place among American Fortune magazine’s 30 greatest leaders in the world.

May continues losing ‘Brexiteers’

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May continues losing ‘Brexiteers’

By Florence Brock

 

NAPLES -Theresa May’s government continues losing pieces of her government after Minister of Foreign Affairs Boris Johnson resigns, in the latest domino effect of the British Prime Minister’s ‘soft’ Brexit line.

Just hours after fellow Minister David Davis handed in his resignation (after deeming May’s Brexit strategy too light and weakening for Britain), key ‘Brexiteer’ Minister Boris Johnson walked into his fellow cabinet member’s footsteps.

Having conducted divorce negotiations with the European Union until now, Minister David Davis stepped down Monday after dissenting to May’s recent post-Brexit political line.

As British nationals residing in Italy remain concerned over how Brexit will affect their rights and status, the internal battle continues over Prime Minister May’s proposed ‘soft Brexit’, criticised by conservatives as a “betrayal” to the 2016 referendum results.

An exponent of the Euro-sceptical Tories, Davis could not digest the outcome of last Friday’s cabinet meeting when May imposed her new ‘lighter’ strategy. After a few days of thinking things over, the minister caused an internal tear by resigning. He was shortly followed by undersecretary Steve Baker.

The question of internal dissent and government criticism concerns the transition period after Brexit and designing future relations with the European community.

May has been accused of backing a ‘mild’ line to post-Brexit based on aperture to the EU in the hypothesis of creating a free trade zone, with common rules, relative to industrial goods and agriculture, in addition to defining new customs regulations with the EU.

“At best, the political direction taken on by May will leave Great Britain in a weaker position for negotiations,” declared Davis. On the other hand, the Prime Minister replied that her position in the negotiations was coherent with the Brexit referendum mandate and with the election manifesto that brought her to lead the country.

The Prime Minister has had to carefully manoeuvre among requests from Brussels and conservatives in her government who have been pushing to adopt a harder line once Britain leaves the European Union.

As a milder plan proposed for post-Brexit has been deemed as too ‘soft’, Britain’s executive branch is in danger of falling to pieces.

On its part, the EU has shown signs of being ready to soften up on its position, yet it remains firm on one fundamental point: the internal market is off limits; it’s either all or nothing. Britain cannot select what points it would like to maintain.

While the British government has proven to hold up, voting to approve the plan, apparently some ministers continue dissenting such as key Brexit leader David Davis who has resigned.

In the meantime, spokesperson for the European Commission Margaritis Schinas has stated: “We have no particular comments to add; we will continue negotiating with Prime Minister Theresa May in ‘good faith’ in order to reach an agreement. President Jean-Claude Juncker has already had a telephone conversation with Theresa May,” she added Monday.

The Prime Minister has chosen 44-year-old Dominic Raab to replace Davis. Until now, Raab covered the position of Vice Minister of Justice and in the past, he was an exponent of the pro-leave movement during the 2016 referendum campaign.

A Hard blow to May’s soft Brexit

Press conference on Brexit negotiations

A Hard blow to May’s soft Brexit

By Florence Brock

 

NAPLES – Rough turbulence hits the British government as UK government leader in charge of Brexit negotiations has handed in his resignation in the latest of a series of complicated negotiations concerning Brexit, reports said.

Having conducted divorce negotiations with the European Union until now, Minister David Davis stepped down Monday after dissenting to May’s recent post-Brexit political line.

As British nationals residing in Italy remain concerned over how Brexit will affect their rights and status, the internal battle continues over Prime Minister May’s proposed ‘soft Brexit’, criticised by conservatives as a “betrayal” to the 2016 referendum results.

An exponent of the Euro-sceptical Tories, Davis could not digest the outcome of last Friday’s cabinet meeting when May imposed her new ‘lighter’ strategy. After a few days of thinking things over, the minister caused an internal tear by resigning. He was shortly followed by undersecretary Steve Baker.

The question of internal dissent and government criticism concerns the transition period after Brexit and designing future relations with the European community.

May has been accused of backing a ‘mild’ line to post-Brexit based on aperture to the EU in the hypothesis of creating a free trade zone, with common rules, relative to industrial goods and agriculture, in addition to defining new customs regulations with the EU.

“At best, the political direction taken on by May will leave Great Britain in a weaker position for negotiations,” declared Davis. On the other hand, the Prime Minister replied that her position in the negotiations was coherent with the Brexit referendum mandate and with the election manifesto that brought her to lead the country.

The Prime Minister has had to carefully manoeuvre among requests from Brussels and conservatives in her government who have been pushing to adopt a harder line once Britain leaves the European Union.

As a milder plan proposed for post-Brexit has been deemed as too ‘soft’, Britain’s executive branch is in danger of falling to pieces.

On its part, the EU has shown signs of being ready to soften up on its position, yet it remains firm on one fundamental point: the internal market is off limits; it’s either all or nothing. Britain cannot select what points it would like to maintain.

While the British government has proven to hold up, voting to approve the plan, apparently some ministers continue dissenting such as key Brexit leader David Davis who has resigned.

In the meantime, spokesperson for the European Commission Margaritis Schinas has stated: “We have no particular comments to add; we will continue negotiating with Prime Minister Theresa May in ‘good faith’ in order to reach an agreement. President Jean-Claude Juncker has already had a telephone conversation with Theresa May,” she added Monday.

The Prime Minister has chosen 44-year-old Dominic Raab to replace Davis. Until now, Raab covered the position of Vice Minister of Justice and in the past, he was an exponent of the pro-leave movement during the 2016 referendum campaign.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Meloni demands immediate naval block

Published earlier today in Italian Insider.

 

Direzione nazionale di Fratelli d'ItaliaMeloni demands immediate naval block

By Florence Brock

 

NAPLES – In reaction to a Gambian man’s arrest for his ties to ISIS terrorists in Naples, right-wing leader Giorgia Meloni expressed Italy’s need to take immediate action with the hashtag #bloccoNavaleSubito (Immediate naval block) tweeted on her account Monday.

“Gambian national, who landed in Sicily in 2017, accused of ISIS connection and ready to attack Italy. Thank goodness there’s no link between immigration and terrorism,” she goes on to say.

The Brothers of Italy president’s strong words follow the right-wing trend of criticism in the latest debates concerning immigrants and their rights.

As part of a group of immigrants who landed in Italy a year ago, 34-year-old Sillah Osman becomes the second Gambian national detained in the Neapolitan area after 21-year-old co-national Alagie Touray was stopped last April in Pozzuoli.

Identified as members of a group linked to ISIS terrorists, Naples prosecutor Giovanni Melillo reported to journalists Monday that the two Gambian nationals have been involved in a possible terrorist attack somewhere in France or Spain.

With a first arrest this spring, the prosecution office has been able to reinforce its investigation, using Touray’s key testimony offered to authorities.

Both Osman and Touray belong to a well-organised group of violent terrorists who were radicalised in Libya and North Africa and are trained in the use of knives, explosive weapons and automobiles as battering rams.

Touray allegedly published a video of himself pledging loyalty to ISIS and its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi via the Telegram online service. He allegedly received an order via the same service to ram a car into a crowd.

After a long stay in the Puglia Region, where Osman was a guest at a reception centre for immigrants financed by the state, he was lured to Naples in connection to a possible and eminent attack that made authorities suspicious. After his detainment, he was soon placed into custody and imprisoned.

Osman’s arrest comes after long-time surveillance that began after finding his name in Touray’s mobile phone.

During the encounter with reporters, the prosecutor announced that in the days to come there will be further meetings and contact with French, Spanish and German authorities during which they will relay the information acquired during the Parthenope probe.

Gentiloni to shed light on USS nuclear submarine

published earlier today in the Italian Insider:

 

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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:

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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?