Category Archives: Uncategorized

Chi vuole scatenare una guerra nello stretto di Hormuz

Come fareste se voleste scatenare una guerra in una regione che vive di petrolio e gas e attraverso la quale passa buona parte dell’approvvigionamento di idrocarburi del mondo? Semplice, attacchereste le petroliere.

È esattamente quello che è accaduto il 13 giugno nel mare di Oman, nei pressi dello stretto di Hormuz attraverso il quale transitano ogni anno circa 2.400 petroliere. Due navi cisterna cariche sono state attaccate e sono stati pubblicati video che le mostrano in fiamme. Gli equipaggi sono stati messi in salvo.


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Posted by on June 14, 2019 in Middle East, Uncategorized


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Un altro modo di fare la spesa è possibile

Ha una Coop a cento metri di distanza, un Natura sì proprio di fronte, un Eurospin due strade più in là. Inaugurato da poco più di due mesi nel quartiere di San Donato a Bologna, l’emporio di comunità Camilla sembra letteralmente sulla linea del fronte. Certo, le dimensioni di questo supermercato alternativo non sono neanche lontanamente comparabili a quelle dei colossi vicini: tre stanzoni per circa 150 metri quadri, poca scelta e mirata, frutta e ortaggi freschi e di stagione, legumi, pasta e riso, formaggi, uova e qualche prodotto per l’igiene e la pulizia della casa.

Camilla è un nano in un mondo di giganti. Ma coltiva l’aspirazione di indicare una nuova via: ribaltare la logica della grande distribuzione organizzata (gdo), che offre cibo ai consumatori a prezzi bassi facendo tirare al massimo la cinghia ai fornitori. Qui non ci sono sconti, sottocosto, tre-per-due.

C’è in compenso la trasparenza totale della filiera: tutti i prodotti vengono da aziende rigorosamente biologiche, che aderiscono alla filosofia del progetto. E che ricevono per i loro prodotti una più che adeguata remunerazione.

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Posted by on June 7, 2019 in European Union, Uncategorized



Modi does it again

That Narendra Modi’s party would win again was never really in dispute. The only question was whether the BJP (the Bharatiya Janata, or Indian Peoples’ Party), would emerge merely as the single largest party in the Lok Sabha, and thus be forced to seek coalition partners, or whether it would repeat its astonishing success of 2014 and govern alone. In the end it did better than that. The BJP-dominated alliance now has 351 seats, the Congress alternative 95. The size and scale of the victory is breathtaking. In West Bengal, a state run by the Communist Party for forty years (and subsequently by a maverick Congress split-off), the BJP won 18 seats out of 42. The left and other ‘secular forces’ were wiped out without trace. In Uttar Pradesh, the largest state, the BJP won again, and the Congress lost Amethi, a pocket borough of the Nehru family that had voted blindly for the dynasty for almost half a century. Were it not for India’s quaint electoral laws permitting the same candidate to contest seats in a number of constituencies, Rahul Gandhi, the Congress leader, would not even be in the new parliament. As the results started coming in, a veteran Congress leader in Bhopal, Ratan Singh, had a heart attack and dropped dead. A tragedy overlaid with symbolism. There was some resistance to the BJP, especially in the south: in Andhra Pradesh, Kerala and Tamil Nadu, the BJP didn’t win a single seat. But overall the results showed that, contrary to the predictions of the commentariat, there was no anti-incumbency vote. If anything, the opposite. This has never happened before in Indian politics.

The main opposition, the Congress, turned the campaign into a referendum on Modi. Could the tea-seller’s son, an untutored, uncouth, bigoted, small-town petit bourgeois (who can’t speak English) be trusted again? India’s electorate has now provided the answer. They love their Modi. Another landslide victory for the orchestrator of pogroms against Muslims. The post-independence consensus which some yearn for is dead and cremated. The BJP and its parent organisation, the Hindu nationalist RSS, are now pacemakers, embedded in the heart of a modernising Indian state and using all its facilities and resources to impose their ideological views and punish those who don’t conform. History is a crucial battleground and is being systematically rewritten to chime with the Hindutva ideology. We can only hope they don’t go so far as to burn the books of Romila Thapar (a bête noire of the BJP because of her knowledge of ancient Indian history) and Irfan Habib’, or treat Arundhati Roy as Joan of Arc. What’s not in doubt is that most mainstream publishers will be scared away from publishing critical, scholarly works on the origins and development of Hinduism, the RSS etc. This is already happening and will get much worse. Self-censorship, the result of fear, cowardice and declining profits, eats the soul.

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Posted by on June 6, 2019 in Asia, Uncategorized



Can we stop AI outsmarting humanity?

Fifty thousand years ago with the rise of Homo sapiens sapiens.

Ten thousand years ago with the invention of civilization.

Five hundred years ago with the invention of the printing press.

Fifty years ago with the invention of the computer.

In less than thirty years, it will end.

Jaan Tallinn stumbled across these words in 2007, in an online essay called Staring into the Singularity. The “it” was human civilisation. Humanity would cease to exist, predicted the essay’s author, with the emergence of superintelligence, or AI, that surpasses human-level intelligence in a broad array of areas.

Tallinn, an Estonia-born computer programmer, has a background in physics and a propensity to approach life like one big programming problem. In 2003, he co-founded Skype, developing the backend for the app. He cashed in his shares after eBay bought it two years later, and now he was casting about for something to do. Staring into the Singularity mashed up computer code, quantum physics and Calvin and Hobbes quotes. He was hooked.

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Posted by on May 29, 2019 in Uncategorized


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Smart talking: are our devices threatening our privacy?

On 21 November 2015, James Bates had three friends over to watch the Arkansas Razorbacks play the Mississippi State Bulldogs. Bates, who lived in Bentonville, Arkansas, and his friends drank beer and did vodka shots as a tight football game unfolded. After the Razorbacks lost 51–50, one of the men went home; the others went out to Bates’s hot tub and continued to drink. Bates would later say that he went to bed around 1am and that the other two men – one of whom was named Victor Collins – planned to crash at his house for the night. When Bates got up the next morning, he didn’t see either of his friends. But when he opened his back door, he saw a body floating face-down in the hot tub. It was Collins.

A grim local affair, the death of Victor Collins would never have attracted international attention if it were not for a facet of the investigation that pitted the Bentonville authorities against one of the world’s most powerful companies – Amazon. Collins’ death triggered a broad debate about privacy in the voice-computing era, a discussion that makes the big tech companies squirm.

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Posted by on May 29, 2019 in Uncategorized


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The Real Reason Fans Hate the Last Season of Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones, in its eighth and final season, is as big as television gets these days. More than 17 million people watched the season’s opening. Judging by the fan and critic reaction though, it seems that a substantial portion of those millions are loathing the season. Indeed, most of the reviews and fan discussions seem to be pondering where the acclaimed series went wrong, with many theories on exactly why it went downhill.

The show did indeed take a turn for the worse, but the reasons for that downturn go way deeper than the usual suspects that have been identified (new and inferior writers, shortened season, too many plot holes). It’s not that these are incorrect, but they’re just superficial shifts. In fact, the souring of Game of Thrones exposes a fundamental shortcoming of our storytelling culture in general: we don’t really know how to tell sociological stories.

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Posted by on May 28, 2019 in Uncategorized


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Report from Rojava: What the West Owes its Best Ally Against ISIS

As the de facto chief negotiator of the liberated region called the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria, Ilham Ahmed, the Kurdish co-chair of the Syrian Democratic Council, has much on her mind. In recent months, she has traveled in the US and Europe, negotiating the future of a domain that is home to an estimated 5 to 6 million people, including a substantial portion of Syria’s 6.2 million internally displaced persons, and, now in addition, thousands of families implicated in Islamic State terrorism who are today living in refugee camps. As Ahmed continues delicate talks with the world’s superpowers over the status of this territory, its future is, to a certain degree, in her hands.

With determination in her eyes and a furrowed brow, her face bears witness to this formidable responsibility. But riding in her black armored utility vehicle through plains lush with green spring grasses and grazing sheep, south toward Deir al-Zour province for the official announcement last month of the defeat of ISIS’ so-called caliphate, Ahmed allowed herself a moment to muse about a lesson from history. In the year 612 BCE, she told me, the Guti, ancient inhabitants of Mesopotamia whom Kurds sometimes identify as forebears, banded together with the Medes and other tribes to throw off their oppressor, the Assyrian King Zuhak.


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Charging Julian Assange Under the Espionage Act Is an Attack on the First Amendment

It’s a sad day in America when the most appropriate thing to say is the line often misattributed to Voltaire: “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” When basic rights are under attack from the government, the arguments that are called for are neither original nor subtle. On Thursday, the Justice Department announced that it was charging the WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange under the Espionage Act, for his connection to the leak of some seven hundred and fifty thousand confidential military and diplomatic documents, in 2010. The indictment of Assange is an offensive on the First Amendment that is as banal as it is blunt.

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Posted by on May 28, 2019 in North America, Uncategorized


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CO2 ǀ Hört endlich auf zu fliegen! — der Freitag

CO2 Weniger als 20 Prozent der Weltbevölkerung haben jemals ein Flugzeug bestiegen. Diese Luxuselite sind wir – eine Bedrohung für das Klima des Planeten

Kennen Sie den? Drei schwäbelnde Alt-Hippies wollen auf ein Festival nach Marseille und streiten sich über die beste Route: die eine kostet zu viel Maut, die andere zu viel Sprit. So geht das hin und her, bis die Tochter dazwischengeht: Warum fliegen wir eigentlich nicht? Die Botschaft: kostengünstig und kraftstoffsparend mit dem Flugzeug reisen, den O-Saft gibt’s umsonst dazu, „Fliegen ist das neue Öko.“ Kein Witz, sondern ein Werbevideo, mit dem sich der Bundesverband der Deutschen Luftverkehrswirtschaft, die Lobbyorganisation von deutschen Fluglinien und -häfen, im Jahr 2016 blamiert hat.

Es war der verzweifelte Versuch, dem Fliegen das schlechte Gewissen zu nehmen. Denn entgegen allen PR-Maßnahmen wissen heute immer mehr Menschen: Fliegen schadet dem Klima. Die Stimmung nähert sich langsam, aber sicher dem Kipppunkt: Rund 47 Prozent der Bundesbürger können sich laut einer Umfrage des Instituts Yougov sogar vorstellen, auf Flugreisen aus Umweltschutzgründen zu verzichten. Die Klimadebatte ist ein wachsendes Imageproblem für die Luftfahrt.

Und das aus gutem Grund. Das Flugzeug bleibt pro Kopf gerechnet das schmutzigste Verkehrsmittel: Laut Umweltbundesamt (UBA) produziert die Bahn pro Personenkilometer sechs Mal weniger Treibhausgase als ein Flug, sogar der Pkw liegt weit dahinter. Am klimafreundlichsten bewegt man sich immer noch mit dem Reisebus fort.

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Posted by on May 27, 2019 in Reportages, Uncategorized



A true European democracy begins with equal rights for all

For the current round of European elections, it has been European citizens who have taken the lead: they are out on the streets of Europe, organising demonstrations (such as European May, or #oneEuropeforAll), running roadshows (“European Alternatives”), offering free interrail journeys to young people, writing one manifesto after the other (VoxEurop, EuropaNow!, Civico Europa’s call for a new European renaissance, and many others), creating transnational parties (Volt, DiEM25, European Spring) and making their presence felt at markets across Europe each and every Sunday at 2pm, like PulseofEurope.

Virtual European passports are being distributed online by Austrian rock band Bilderbuch, along with German comedian Jan Böhmermann. There has been an unprecedented popular mobilisation during these European elections, and it seems to be working: 59 percent of Polish citizens intend to go to the ballot box, which would be twice as many who voted in 2014; similarly, 69 percent of Germans say they will vote, which would represent a 20 percent increase in turnout. Never has the European Commission spent so much time and money on communication and events to discuss the benefits that the EU brings, and challenges it faces.

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Posted by on May 27, 2019 in European Union, Uncategorized