The forgotten children of Checenia. Life in Grozny. Picture taken by Musa Sadulajew.

The forgotten children of Checenia. Life in Grozny. Picture taken by Musa Sadulajew.
The forgotten children of Checenia. Life in Grozny. Picture taken by Musa Sadulajew.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Indifference is my worst nightmare and frustration.

I am really sorry for you, dear readers, if you feel frustrated when you discover my Blog. I admit  my Blog it is not really popular on the Net, is not a Twitter trending topic, is not at least a one million Facebook followers account and other amenities like these. If you wish and like to be part of a "quantity" trend, well, absolutely forget my Blog and switch on another kind of Blog. 

On the other side it is highly probable that the small numbers of readers of my Blog have observed I have been keeping in silence for more than one month. I used to post at least 3 or 4 times per month, since this Blog was born. But lately, as you already know, I didn't post anything since the last February, 13.

Well, there are various reasons because I didn't write any comments in the last five weeks. Some are pretty personal and other are, as I can say, of professional frustration. I mean as "professional frustration" the effort coming from the unpaid job to have some deep reflections about the world all we are living in.

I don't know you but lately I feel really frustrated about what is happening in the world. My last post talking about President Barack Obama it is probably enough indicative about my general feelings. Of course the US President it is just the top of the iceberg and, for sure, he is not responsible of my frustrations. Frustrations come from the general depressed state of world economy (that is influencing my personal economy of course), Syrian civil war, Iran and North Korea nuclear plans, Europe progressive and constant ageing, the always present Human Rights violations by Chinese government, Putin coming back again in Russia, a strong political Right wind that more than a wind it seems a twister or, worst, a hurricane. I could write more, but it would be useless, so better to stop adding new items on this "black list". I imagine anybody of us could write a "black list" of things frustrating his/her personal life. Could this help us to solve our problems? No, for sure, it would be only a mere enunciation of facts and nothing more.

By the way, my frustrations are the reason because I decided I have nothing to say. I wondered: why to write on something almost nobody is interest? Why to write for a so small number of readers? Why write for people never posting a comment to my posts? 

Since I didn't get the answers, the only decision I was able to take was to forget to write in my Blog. But life, for that strange way that only life has got, I mean "a sense of mysterious", decided to deliver me the answer. 

This morning, taking a train, I found a free local newspaper at the station. Inside an article, I found the following thought of Bertolt Brecht. I report it for you:

"First of all they took away the Jewish,
but since I wasn't Jewish, I didn't matter.
Then they took away the communists,
but since I wasn't communist, I didn't mind.
Then they took away workers,
but since I wasn't a worker, I didn't mind.
Later they took away intellectuals,
but since I wasn't an intellectual, I didn't mind.
Then they followed with priests,
but since I wasn't a priest, I didn't mind.
Now they are coming for me,
but it is too much late"

Sorry to tell you it is too late, but this is what happens if you live inside indifference. This is the reason because the world is as it is. Our indifference built it. 

Now I understand why I feel so much frustrated until not to wish to write in my Blog.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Barak Obama, maybe the biggest disappointment on XXI Century

Did you still remember what happened January 20, 2009? If not, I will help you to refresh your memory. It was the inauguration of Barack Obama as the 44th President of the United States and took place on Tuesday, January 20, 2009. 

Something more than three years later, let me ask you something: how do you feel regarding Barack Obama's government way? Or, if you prefer, maybe you wish I formulate better my question as follows: how do you feel right now regarding Barack Obama's government way if you compare your feelings with the feelings you had the moment Barack Obama took possession of his charge?

Well, I know you can't answer me straight away, unless you are going to write your opinion into "Comments" section at the bottom of this post. But, yes, while I wait for reading your opinion, I can express my opinion regarding it.

When I saw Barack Obama to make his oath as 44th President of the United States surrounded from a huge crowd at his feet, I felt like a breeze of fresh air deep into my heart. I mean that after eight years of George W. Bush era, I had the hope to see a change into politic, not only in USA but all over the world. What is inside my heart three years later? There is truly a deep sense of frustration and disappointment.

I have tried to answer to myself why I feel so disappointed and frustrated. I wondered: did I have too many expectations about Obama? Did I believe that was really possible to produce a change if you are the first almost "Black Man" into the White House? Was I too much idealistic regarding Obama? Did I believe too much to his electoral promises?

Maybe there is a bit of truth in any positive answer to all these interrogations. However what really disappointed me regarding Obama was not the matter he didn't get, till now, some important result (except, of course, Osama Bin Laden death). The disappointment comes from and for another reason.

The reason is the following: I have an idea about "Black Men" which is the result of observing big black character of the past like, for instance, Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, Cassius Clay alias Mohammed Alí. And even if Mama Rose was a woman and not a man, but she was black, well, I admire her a lot.

I have always admired, even if I am a "White Man", the aptitude of certain kind of "Black People", especially black people in the past decades. What I am trying to say is that this kind of "Black People" reminded me, in a certain sense, the same aptitude of French and American revolutionaries. In general terms this means I have always considered black people as the modern natural extension of the great revolutionary white men in the past.

Can I say that Barack Obama incarnate this same revolutionary spirit? Frankly speaking and observing him after three years of his administration, he his very far from the biggest figures of black people in the past. In my opinion he is just the shadow of them, sorry to tell this.

This is then the kind of disappointment that produced me Barack Obama. I was expecting a kind of "Black Man" with an indomitable spirit, not a man just able to move into the Washington “policy maze". I agree this is a good skill, I will not say it isn't. But, let me ask you: what USA and the world really needs? Do they need a President able to be a good diplomatic or do they need a President with a "couple of balls hard like steel"? In concrete terms, for instance, a President able to fight the arrogance of Wall Street and in general bank and financial corporations arrogance.

Three years later I do not have the pleasure to say: since Barak Obama went into his charge, the world is changed in a better place. I mean that this should sound like the world is now experiencing more justice and a better distribution of wealth. No, exactly the opposite. The world is unsecure as before his coming, the world has the same economic problems, maybe worst, as before his coming. The world is again on the border of a new Middle East war. So the Barack Obama era seems like an extension of George W. Bush Era, only a bit lighter.

By this I don't want to say that Barak Obama is guilty if the world is not going into the right direction. If the world is as it is, this is our fault, the responsibility is ours. However what Barak Obama failed, in my opinion, is in terms of leadership. Personally I expected a kind of leadership much more energetic. All that I have been seeing for three years was a "mild" leadership. This is the deep sense of my frustration and disappointment. And maybe this is your same frustration and disappointment.

So I would like to urge Barack Obama to revise his idea of a good leadership. Maybe he is still convinced that what brought him into success to be elected as US President was the same aptitude he used in his youth in Chicago as social assistant. I am not sure this is the aptitude the world needs right now. Probably the world needs a kind of stronger aptitude. Stronger in the sense that he should be "strong with hard people and not only with weak people". Weak people like young people, unemployed, single women/men with kids, elder people doesn't only need to receive compassion. They need, like in the mediaeval age for instance, a "Knight defending their Trampled Rights".

From here I urge Barack Obama to revise his politic position and in the next following months he should transmit a stronger aptitude to voters, if he wishes to be confirmed as US President. If he will renounce, be prepared to see again a Republican seating in the White House next year.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

How much is it fair to pay a Member of a Parliament in Europe?

How much earns a MPs in Europe? An Italian MPs earns in excess of 16,000 € gross per month. A French 13,500 €. A Deutschland 12,600 €. A Dutch 10,000 €. A Belgian 9,200 €. An Austrian 8,650 €. A Spanish 4,630 €.
Reimbursements for travelling are not included in these amounts, but a lot of times are for thousands of Euro in just one month. In UK people are complaining because their MPs are asking to be reimbursed first-class ticket when they travel. This is correct from a UK citizen's point of view. However I wonder what we have to do in the others European countries with such "a kind of vampires". What would you suggest, my dear English friends? 
I don't know yours but this is my suggestion: a Revolution French style (July, 14 1789, do you still remember?). There is no way MPs could understand it is turned up the time to behave fair. Only through a Revolution we can hope to establish a new order. The old one is too much corrupted.

And even if this exortation is in clear contrast with R-Evolution principles I must admit that, sometimes, there are cases where to make a real Revolution it is fair and correct. This is one of these cases. Sorry.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Monsanto, the worst example on how to apply the globalization concept.

Go please to "PAGES" section at the bottom of this Blog. You will find a page (page nº 8) wholly dedicated to a new global nightmare. The title of this page is:

The World According to Monsanto

"A new nightmare to fight in the Third Millenium"

Well, if you find the time not only to read what I wrote but you especially find the time to follow a long documentary realized from Marie-Monique Robin (a French investigation journalist) at the end of this documentary, for sure, you will understand how Monsanto is working to put under its control almost all the food on the planet. 

As you will see, Monsanto is a real example of a negative and bad globalization. The worst nightmare we can live, trust me.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

All you are going to read in this post is dramatically true. I promise.

By courtesy of the publisher, authors and translator, what you are going to read in the following post is dramatically true. I promise. Please read it and read my comment at the end of the post. Thank you.

Corriere della Sera > Italian life > 

Senate Stenographer Paid As Much As King of Spain
Senate Stenographer Paid As Much As King of Spain
Stenographer’s €290,000 salary. Salaries quadruple by end of service. Clerks receive up to €160,000

Can a senator earn half of what the Palazzo Madama barber takes home? Yes, according to some parliamentarians who say their monthly salary is only €5,000 and sidestep questions from voters furious that cuts have failed to materialise. But no, it’s not true. It’s the same old trick – point to the “allowance” net of expenses, attendance allowances and other additional benefits. Taken together, other items all but treble a parliamentarian’s take-home pay.

The story has been dragging on for weeks. On one side, first-term Italy of Values (IDV) deputy Francesco Barbato waved his pay packet on television to show that salary, attendance allowances and assistant’s allowances took his net monthly pay to more than €12,000. On the other side is exclusive focus on the basic allowance. The claim is that other items don’t count. Many deputies (230 against 400 who haven’t) have actually signed contracts with their assistants and a large number pass some of the money on to their party. Often, they do so under duress but the gesture is a legitimate, and even noble, one. Yet is it right to burden the taxpayer with this, in addition to election expenses and allowances given to parliamentary groups? Would relations with the public not be better served by showing an actual pay slip? In the wake of a series of cuts, today’s pay is genuinely lower than the €14,500 revealed by Communist Refoundation (PRC) parliamentarian Gennaro Migliore.

But a confrontation in which both sides focus solely on how much deputies and senators are paid doesn’t make a lot of sense. Worse, it could turn voters off politics and distract attention from the real issue. And that issue is the overall cost of Italy’s resource-devouring political merry-go-round – the 52 buildings occupied by the parliamentary powers-that-be, the cost of red tape and the cost of the political structures, regional authorities, provincial authorities, myriad intermediate bodies and mixed capital enterprises that serve to feed a self-referential system.

The pay packets handed out to Senate employees say it all. Senate staff’s professional excellence has always earned high praise from senators on right and left, whether they come from the south of Italy or the north, but pay levels have risen to heights unparalleled elsewhere. Parliamentarians may be willing to attack Monti, Berlusconi, Bersano or even the Pope but they never criticise the clerks who cosset them day by day. Some hint, however: “We’re not the only ones who are overpaid around here”. The Northern League serjeant-at-arms Paolo Franco says quite openly: “The contract for Palazzo Madama staff is jaw-dropping. It gives them unbelievable career progression. Clearly, no more contracts like these should be stipulated in future. Everything needs to be changed”. How can a system survive when a stenographer can earn more than the King of Spain? It sounds unlikely but that’s the way it is. Without the three-year solidarity cut imposed by Giulio Tremonti for salaries over €150,000, a stenographer in the top pay band rakes in nearly €290,000 gross. Only €2,000 less than Spain pays Juan Carlos de Borbón and €50,000 more than Giorgio Napolitano’s gross salary of €239,181 as president of Italy.

Naturally, no one is stealing anything. Like Ermanna Cossio, the youngest pensioner in the world who retired at the age of 29 on 94% of her final salary, the stenographers can say that they didn’t make the rules. Fair enough. But those rules enable Senate staff to quadruple their pay in real terms over their career, thanks to a ridiculous system of automatic increments. Today, the rules generate sky-high earnings at a time when the rest of the county is being asked to make big sacrifices. Gross of tax and the Tremonti cuts, a clerk or barber can pick up €160,000, an assistant €192,000, a secretary €256,000 and an adviser €417,000. And that’s not all because the salary can be padded out with allowances. A chief clerk in the Chamber of Deputies is entitled to a monthly supplement of €652 gross, which rises to €718 in the Senate. A head service adviser at Montecitorio receives a supplement of €2,101 while a colleague in the Senate gets €1,762, to say nothing of the top-flight jobs. According to l’Espresso magazine, junior minister for the Prime Minister’s Office with responsibility for relations with Parliament Antonio Malaschini earned €485,000 gross in 2007 as the Senate’s general secretary. Subsequently, he received a €60,000 hike that took his pay to an all-time record for the post. Obviously, pensions are in proportion, and according to the tables are never lower than €500,000 gross per annum.

This is one of the issues. Extremely favourable methods of calculation turn high salaries into equally spectacular pensions. We could mention that staff hired before 1998 can still take their pension at 53, albeit with relatively bearable penalties. Like an example? A 53-year-old parliamentary adviser hired at the age of 27, who purchased pension rights for four years spent at university, has accumulated 38 years of pensionable service. This means he or she can retire on €300,000 gross per annum, the equivalent of 85% of final salary. Should he or she stay on to the bitter end – age 60, in this context – then the pension becomes 90% of final salary, more than €370,000 of the maximum €417,000. Lower pay bands work in much the same way. At 53, a clerk can retire with a pension cheque worth €113,000 a year, which can rise to over €140,000 if he or she hangs on until the age of 60. The consequences are mind-boggling. A senator with maximum contributions will never be able to pocket such a healthy pension and all this is still going on as the Save Italy package racks up the retirement age for ordinary Italians while trimming pensions with the move to a pro-rata contribution scheme.

Yet it would be wrong to say that Parliament has done nothing. In December, the Senate’s presidency council decided that pro-rata contributions should apply for staff currently in service. But as Paolo Franco explains, before the ruling becomes operative, it will have to survive the administration’s negotiations with the unions, of which there are about ten in Palazzo Madama for fewer than 1,000 employees. The locking of horns will be relentless. Following months of arguing over costs, a 2008 clamp-down backed by serjeant-at-arms Gianni Neddu looked to be in place. But when the new majority took office, it opted to avoid a clash and union vetoes torpedoed the initiative. This time, negotiations are set to be even more entertaining. Lined up against the unions is the deputy president of the Senate, Rosy Mauro of the Northern League, a party that is strongly opposed to pension reform. Ms Mauro is herself a trade unionist and the serving president of SINPA, the Northern League’s union.

In the meantime, parliamentary staff who head for the door are being showered with gold. Parliamentary adviser Sig. X – as we will call him but he has a name and surname – left the Senate in July 2010 at the age of 58. Since then, until the three-year solidarity contribution for top pensions came into effect, Palazzo Madama was paying him a monthly pension of €25,500. Twenty-five thousand five hundred euros. Fifteen times a year. In proportion, the 13 payments ordinary mortals receive would be worth €29,423. This even outstrips the pension of former Senate employee and former parliamentarian Giuseppe Vegas, who today chairs the Stock Exchange watchdog CONSOB. His monthly pension is reckoned to be €20,000. Then there is Sig. Y, who was hired with only a junior school leaving diploma. After retiring in July 2010, again at 58, he can’t complain about his €9,300 a month, minus the Tremonti cuts. Fifteen times a year. In other words, he takes home better than €20,000 more than the maximum salary of Barack Obama’s 21 closest aides.

The figures spotlight the privileges lurking in a crazy system that should be corrected before – before! – anyone touches the pensions paid out by the social security institute INPS. The accounts of the Senate and Chamber of Deputies couldn’t be clearer. In 2010, the average pay of the Chamber’s 1,737 employees, from humble clerks to the general secretary, was €131,585, or 3.6 times the average pay of a civil servant (€36,135) and 3.4 times the pay (€38,952) of a counterpart in the UK’s House of Commons. We are talking about pay, not the cost of labour. If we factor in social security contributions, the average cost of each member of the Chamber’s staff shoots up to €163,307 while the 962 staff members in the Senate cost an average of €169,550. But there is more. The Senate’s accounts feature an item that refers to “non-employee staff”, which includes committee consultants and other collaborators but in particular workers contracted for various obscure “special secretariats”. Despite the much-trumpeted cuts, the cost of these contracts rose in 2011 from €13.52 million to €14.99 million. A hike of 10.87%, or three times the inflation rate, as Italy’s GDP headed south.

Sergio Rizzo and Gian Antonio Stella
4 gennaio 2012 | 16:36

English translation by Giles Watson

Let me now ask you this simple question: how do you classify similar behaviours and earnings, moral or immoral? If, as I think, you classify them as immoral, then let me ask you something more: is it ethic or not to ask people to behave like French revolutionaries on July 14, 1789? Is ethic or not to ask people to not have any kind of fears and go onto the streets to ask for a new political, social and democratic order? Is it acceptable to ask people to do do something hard and strong to stop "a gang of vampires"?

If your answer is yes, then let me tell you something more: please, don't think this kind of foolishness is an exclusivity of Italian political system. If you think this you are wrong. Because this foolishness is like a virus that is expanding worldwide. All the so called "democratic" political systems in the Western World are infected of such corrupted bad people and their bad behaviours. In my opinion there is only a possible, acceptable and valid solution. The solution is to come back to behave like an old Japanese samurai. If you don't remember which kind of power owned an old samurai, please go to "PAGES" section at the bottom of this same Blog and read my previous post titled "The Honour of Samurai as learnt by Takashi Matsuoka" (you can click on the title if you prefer to go straight to the post). You will refresh your memory and your consciousness as well, especially morally and ethically.