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Articles by: Francesca Giuliani

  • Events: Reports

    Divinamente NYC: Meet Pamela Villoresi


    The third season of the Divinamente NYC festival just opened on May 18. Pamela Villoresi, the Artistic Director of the festival, told i-Italy that when she first launched the festival in 2008 her goal was to “create an intercultural stage for peace, reciprocal knowledge and brotherhood”.

     
    The idea of taking the festival to New York was suggested to Villoresi before the first Roman season of Divinamente had even started: “I was in New York visiting a friend and I noticed that the newspaper AmericaOggi had published half a page on the festival, inviting the readers to go to Rome during the Easter holidays to attend it.”
     

    Pamela Villoresi

    Scena dallo spettacolo

    "An Angel In The Slums"

     

     

     
    The success of Divinamente NYC was stunning from the very beginning.
    “In the American appointment we invite Italian artists to perform. It is a way of promoting our talents and help them grow internationally”, Villoresi explained.
    The title of this year’s season of Divinamente NYC is “Fratelli di Terra” (Italian for “Brothers of Land”). The festival will revolve around the concept of “Promised Land”, celebrating the 150th anniversary of the Unification of Italy and approaching the topic from philosophical, musical and theatrical points of view.
    “It is a way of broadening the discussion on the concept of Nation”, Villoresi said. “It is a way to talk about the sacrifices our ancestors made to unify Italy, but also about the great efforts of those Italians who had no other option but to emigrate – Italians that honored Italy even if they were living far from their homeland”.
    “New Italians” will also play a primary role in Villoresi’s festival. The show “An Angel in the Slums”, that will take place at the Asia Society on May 21, will feature young Chinese-Italian actors from the theater workshops Villoresi organized in Prato. The Tuscan city counts 100,000 inhabitants, 40% of whom are Chinese immigrants. The integration process in Prato hasn’t always been smooth, and Villoresi’s project to help second generation immigrants express their artistic talent is remarkable.
    Villoresi thinks that New York can teach a thing or two about how integration should be dealt with: “Being here is a great learning opportunity. The integration process in Italy has still to be initiated.”
    In Villoresi’s opinion, New York is also the ideal location to discuss the topics of identity, spirituality and intercultural dialogue: “It might be the city of business, but New York has a great soul.” 
     



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    PROGRAM:

     

     

    Wednesday, May 18th, 6:00 PM

    SACRED HOME, Round Table

    Debate on the theme of a "promised land", exile, acceptance, or rejection in another society. Speakers will include representatives of 4 major religions. Reading of selected poems from "Fratelli di terra"

    Italian Cultural Institute

    686 Park Avenue

    RSVP 212-879-4242, ext. 365

     www.iicnewyork.esteri.it/IIC_Newyork 

     

     

    Thursday, May 19th, 6:00 PM

    IL LEONE MAREMMANO

    A tribute to the poet Giosue Carducci directed and performed by Pamela Villoresi live music by Luciano Vavolo

    Italian Cultural Institute

    686 Park Avenue

    RSVP 212-879-4242, ext. 365

    www.iicnewyork.esteri.it/IIC_Newyork   

       

    Friday, May 20th, 8:00 PM

    PASSIO CAECILIAE

    (US premiere)

    Sacred cantata in 9 movements for orchestra, chorus, soprano and narrator composed by Monsignor Marco Frisina

    Saint Cecilia's Parish

    120 East 106th Street

    212-534-1350

     www.saint-cecilia-parish.org 

    Suggested donation $20

     

     

    Saturday, May 21st, 8:00 PM

    AN ANGEL IN THE SLUMS

    (US premiere)

    A theatrical production directed by Gianluca Barbadori with performers from the Italian and Chinese communities of Prato

    Asia Society

    The Lila Acheson Wallace Auditorium

    725 Park Avenue (at 70th Street)

    212-288-6400

    www.asiasociety.org/centers/new-york 

    $15 for Asia Society and ICI members, $18 for students, $20 for general public

     

    Sunday, May 22nd, 2:30 PM

    THE COIR OF ROME'S TEMPIO MAGGIORE
    (US premiere)
    The event is presented by the museum and the Centro Primo Levi for Italian Studies at the Center for Jewish History. For the first time in the US, the Choir of the "Tempio Maggiore" conducted by the renowned tenor Claudio Disegni and featuring the hazan of Rome, Alberto Funaro, and organist Federico del Sordo, will expose the New York public to the unique flavors and variations of the liturgical tradition of the Jews of Rome. 
    Museum of Jewish Heritage .
    36 Battery Place

    Manhattan, NY 10004
    For information, call (646) 437-4200 or go to www.mjhnyc.org.

     

     

     

     

     

     

  • Arte e Cultura

    Divinamente NYC: Pamela Villoresi ci anticipa




    Parte la terza edizione di Divinamente NYC, l’appuntamento americano con il Festival fondato e curato nel 2008 da Pamela Villoresi, che indaga lo spirituale nell’arte con l’obiettivo di “creare un piccolo palcoscenico di pace, conoscenza e fratellanza”, come Villoresi spiega ad i-Italy.



    Da quattro anni il festival si svolge a Roma con grandissimo successo di pubblico, un successo che inaspettatamente ha valicato i confini nazionali prima ancora che la prima edizione italiana avesse inizio: “Ero a New York per visitare un’amica e aprendo il giornale AmericaOggi ho trovato mezza pagina dedicata al festival. Addirittura il giornale consigliava ai lettori di andare a Roma durante le vacanze pasquali per potervi partecipare”, racconta Villoresi.

     

    Pamela Villoresi

    Scena dallo spettacolo

    "An Angel In The Slums"

     

     

    L’idea di far nascere Divinamente NYC nacque in quel momento, e il successo dell’iniziativa è stato significativo fin da subito. “Nell’edizione newyorkese portiamo artisti italiani ad esibirsi qui, è un modo per far conoscere e promuovere i nostri talenti”, spiega la direttrice artistica.

     
    Villoresi ci anticipa i temi cardine della manifestazione, intitolata quest’anno “Fratelli di Terra”. Il festival onorerà i cento cinquant’anni dell’Unità d’Italia declinando l’idea di “Terra Promessa” in chiave filosofica, musicale e teatrale: “E’ un modo di parlare della patria con una riflessione più ampia.”


    Divinamente NYC non intende solamente porre l’accento “sui sacrifici fatti per arrivare all’Unità d’Italia”, ma anche raccontare le immense fatiche di “quegli italiani costretti all’immigrazione che poi hanno fatto grande l’Italia radicandosi in altri continenti, soprattutto in questo.”


    Interessante anche il ruolo di primo piano che i “nuovi italiani” hanno nel progetto culturale di Divinamente NYC. Lo spettacolo “An Angel In The Slums” che avrà luogo presso l’Asia Society sabato 21 maggio, infatti, è realizzato con i giovani talenti espressi dalla comunità cinese di Prato e selezionati da Pamela Villoresi e dal suo staff attraverso laboratori teatrali sul territorio, organizzati per favorirne l’emergenza.


    I ragazzi partecipanti al recital sono immigrati cinesi di seconda generazione, ossia nuovi italiani in una realtà che ha rappresentato un teatro di integrazione non semplice. La popolazione totale di Prato è infatti di centomila abitanti, quarantamila dei quali sono immigrati cinesi.


    E’ significativo e positivo che gli artisti italiani a New York agiscano come promotori di integrazione in un contesto come quello newyorkese, aperto e cosmopolita per natura: “Per noi è un’occasione di apprendimento, il processo di integrazione in Italia è tutto da fare”.


    E, secondo la direttrice artistica, non potrebbe davvero esserci contesto migliore di New York per discutere di identità, spiritualità e per stimolare un confronto artistico e intellettuale tra culture e fedi diverse.


    “E’ vero che Roma è una città religiosa e sacra per antonomasia, ma anche New York, pur essendo città degli affari e del business, è sempre stata un fertile terreno d’incontro spirituale: dalle lezioni del Dalai Lama, alla presenza di chiese di ogni tipo, al pullulare di centri buddisti, alle preghiere collettive a Central Park. New York è una città con una grande anima”, commenta Villoresi.  


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    PROGRAM:

     

     

    Wednesday, May 18th, 6:00 PM

    SACRED HOME, Round Table

    Debate on the theme of a "promised land", exile, acceptance, or rejection in another society. Speakers will include representatives of 4 major religions. Reading of selected poems from "Fratelli di terra"

    Italian Cultural Institute

    686 Park Avenue

    RSVP 212-879-4242, ext. 365

     www.iicnewyork.esteri.it/IIC_Newyork 

     

     

    Thursday, May 19th, 6:00 PM

    IL LEONE MAREMMANO

    A tribute to the poet Giosue Carducci directed and performed by Pamela Villoresi live music by Luciano Vavolo

    Italian Cultural Institute

    686 Park Avenue

    RSVP 212-879-4242, ext. 365

    www.iicnewyork.esteri.it/IIC_Newyork   

       

    Friday, May 20th, 8:00 PM

    PASSIO CAECILIAE

    (US premiere)

    Sacred cantata in 9 movements for orchestra, chorus, soprano and narrator composed by Monsignor Marco Frisina

    Saint Cecilia's Parish

    120 East 106th Street

    212-534-1350

     www.saint-cecilia-parish.org 

    Suggested donation $20

     

     

    Saturday, May 21st, 8:00 PM

    AN ANGEL IN THE SLUMS

    (US premiere)

    A theatrical production directed by Gianluca Barbadori with performers from the Italian and Chinese communities of Prato

    Asia Society

    The Lila Acheson Wallace Auditorium

    725 Park Avenue (at 70th Street)

    212-288-6400

    www.asiasociety.org/centers/new-york 

    $15 for Asia Society and ICI members, $18 for students, $20 for general public

     

    Sunday, May 22nd, 2:30 PM

    THE COIR OF ROME'S TEMPIO MAGGIORE
    (US premiere)
    The event is presented by the museum and the Centro Primo Levi for Italian Studies at the Center for Jewish History. For the first time in the US, the Choir of the "Tempio Maggiore" conducted by the renowned tenor Claudio Disegni and featuring the hazan of Rome, Alberto Funaro, and organist Federico del Sordo, will expose the New York public to the unique flavors and variations of the liturgical tradition of the Jews of Rome. 
    Museum of Jewish Heritage .
    36 Battery Place

    Manhattan, NY 10004
    For information, call (646) 437-4200 or go to www.mjhnyc.org.

     

     

     

     

     

     

  • Art & Culture

    "Le Conversazioni" is back

    Capri is one of the most charming places on Earth. The island is a gem cast in the Mediterranean sea, so small and rich in natural beauty and yet so famous and sophisticatedly chic. Hundreds of thousands of tourists choose Capri as their destination for a holiday by the sea that has no comparison, but the island has also always been very popular among artists and intellectuals from all over the world, who chose it to retreat and cherish inspiration while enjoying seafood and sunsets on the faraglioni.
     

    Since 2007, Antonio Monda and Davide Azzolini made Capri the ideal location for the Summer appointment of Le Conversazioni, an itinerant literary and cultural festival that takes place between New York and Capri and brings international writers, artists and intellectuals together to discuss engaging and challenging topics such as identity, the relationship between literature and cinema, memory, vice and human rights.  

    The 2011 edition of “Le Conversazioni – Scrittori A Confronto” was recently presented at Casa Italiana Zerilli-Marimò, where Monda and Azzolini introduced this year’s topic for the festival: Eros. The topic of love and its nuances, from the most platonic to the most sexual and all the way to disruptive passions and the lingering presence of thanatos into love will be at the core of the conversations between Monda and Azzolini’s guests at the Piazzetta Tragara. The list of participating authors is qualitatively stunning and features names such as Cathleen Schine, Mario Desiati, Jonathan Safran Foer and Nicole Krauss, just to mention a few.

    In a country where sexual scandals decide the fortune of political leaders and the discussion on gender equality is open - see the “Se Non Ora Quando?” (If Not Now, When?) demonstration by Italian women against the “bunga bunga” mentality last February 13 – approaching such a topic and taking the discussion about it to a higher level is certainly an admirable effort.
     
    Monda, however, candidly admitted: “The idea came to me years before the season of the sexual scandals in Italy. I wanted to approach the topic of sex at least for three years now. Initially, I wanted the conversation to revolve on the eros-thanatos dynamic, then I realized the topic of death would have spontaneously come into discussion when talking about sex.”
     

    The theme of love is very dear to Monda, who told i-Italy: “It’s an attempt to reflect upon what we like, what seduces us, what we find attractive in a man or woman. It’s an attempt to investigate the relationship between sex and love, desire and satisfaction, will of life and will of death. It’s one of the fundamental themes of life.”
     

    While discussing how Capri has always been a cosmopolitan and ecumenical island, used to different cultural influences and a second home for many international great minds such as Neruda, Lenin, Wilde and Greene, Monda stressed the importance of intercultural dialogue between Anglo-American and Italian intellectuals that takes place during the Conversazioni in Piazzetta Tragara.

    “It is the cornerstone of the initiative,” he affirmed. And the audience, which is always international as well as Italian, responds to it “warmly and welcomingly.”

  • “Obama Dimezzato: L’America verso Il 2012”

    Maria Teresa Cometto (Corriere della Sera) e Glauco Maggi (La Stampa) sono due giornalisti che sull’America la sanno lunga. La osservano e la studiano per il pubblico italiano dal 2000, anno in cui si sono trasferiti a New York. Hanno fatto in tempo ad ammirare le Torri Gemelle ancora erette e le hanno viste sbriciolarsi, increduli in quel tragico 11 settembre che ha cambiato le direzioni della storia contemporanea.

    Oggi Cometto e Maggi pubblicano “Obama Dimezzato: L’America Verso Il 2012”, un agile saggio che ripercorre le vicende del mandato presidenziale di Barack Obama alla luce del trauma subito alle elezioni di medio termine, analizzando i risultati raggiunti e le promesse non mantenute e proiettandoli verso il 2012, ormai sempre più vicino. I-Italy ha parlato del libro con uno dei due autori, Maria Teresa Cometto. Glauco Maggi è in questi giorni in Italia per una presentazione del libro.

    Il titolo è “Obama Dimezzato”: cosa significa?

    Si riferisce alle elezioni di midterm che hanno segnato la metà del mandato di Obama. Obama è arrivato a metà del guado, ma ha anche perso metà del Parlamento. Dimezzata è la supermaggioranza assoluta di cui godeva quando è stato eletto, e che gli ha consentito di far votare la riforma finanziaria e la riforma sanitaria, due punti importanti della sua agenda.

    Dimezzato, inoltre, perché fino a prima del blitz contro Osama Bin Laden il tasso di approvazione nei suoi confronti era sotto al 50%. Nel gennaio ‘09 era partito con un indice di gradimento pari al 70%. Il calo è stato notevole. Dopo il successo dell’operazione contro il capo di Al Qaeda comunque c’è stato un balzo all’insù di 9 punti percentuali ed il tasso di approvazione è tornato sopra il 50%.
     

    Il midterm è stato un duro colpo per il presidente, ma era possibile mantenere aspettative così alte come quelle che su di lui molti nutrivano quando è stato eletto?

    Le attese su Obama quando è stato eletto erano a livello messianico, del resto però
    sono state alimentate da lui stesso. In un famoso discorso aveva detto che, se fosse stato eletto, gli oceani si sarebbero abbassati perché il global warming avrebbe smesso di minacciare la terra.

    L’entusiasmo era esagerato ed era realistico che venisse ridimensionato. Comunque ci sono diversi esempi di presidenti sconfitti a midterm che poi si sono ripresi benissimo, Clinton è senz’altro il caso più simile. Obama ha davanti a sé molto tempo per recuperare.

    A suo favore gioca il fatto che l'opposizione non ha ancora espresso un candidato credibile per poterlo sfidare.
     

    Nel vostro libro è presente una sezione dedicata alla “pagella di Obama”. Com’è questa pagella per il momento?

    Dipende da come la si vede. Le due promesse più importanti mantenute, la riforma sanitaria e la riforma finanziaria, continuano ad essere molto controverse.

    La riforma sanitaria tra l’altro non entrerà completamente in vigore fino a dopo le prossime elezioni, quindi Obama può godere di un intervallo di tempo in cui gli americani non avvertiranno ancora gli effetti negativi della manovra come l’aumento del costo delle polizze sanitarie, ma non avvertiranno nemmeno gli effetti positivi, come l’allargamento delle prestazioni sanitarie anche per chi è sotto una certa soglia di reddito.

    La riforma finanziaria deve essere ancora in gran parte applicata, molti già la criticano perché sostengono che a causa di essa la competitività di Wall Street sia diminuita rispetto a quella di mercati in espansione come quello cinese. Tra le promesse non mantenute da Obama spicca la mancata chiusura Guantanamo, la riforma energetica e la riforma della politica. Obama ha già messo al lavoro l’organizzazione della sua campagna elettorale addirittura due mesi fa, a Washington. Questa volta - lo si è letto su Politico – farà uso molto più pesante dei grandi finanziatori, i cosiddetti bundler, cioè coloro che mobilitano i sostenitori più ricchi. Sappiamo che questa è una zona grigia in cui il lobbismo e chi cerca futuri favori dall’amministrazione sono la regola. In questo frangente Obama non ha preso la sufficienza.
     

    Dalle elezioni di midterm si è capito che in America la presenza dei conservatori è vivissima, così come lo sono i valori di destra. Come interpreta questo fenomeno?

    L’America è effettivamente una right nation, i valori di patria religione e famiglia sono al centro dell’identità statunitense e il centro dell’elettorato aderisce a questi valori. Nei primi due anni del suo mandato Obama ha portato avanti una politica decisamente di sinistra, soprattutto con la riforma sanitaria. In vista delle elezioni 2012 il presidente dovrà tenere conto della necessità di riconquistare questo centro, o centro destra. Si sono visti degli accenni in questo senso quando ha accettato il compromesso con i repubblicani per mantenere le tasse al livello attuale, cosa molto importante perché gli tutti economisti oggi concordano che un rialzo delle tasse costituirebbe un ulteriore duro colpo all’economia americana. Anche la ripresa del tema dell’eccezionalità americana nell’ambito del discorso che Obama ha tenuto dopo il blitz contro Bin Laden rappresenta un tentativo di riconquistare l’elettorato di centro.


    Veniamo all'attualità. Il blitz contro Osama Bin Laden sarà un game-changer durante la prossima tornata elettorale?

    Sicuramente lo è stato per adesso. La campagna elettorale di fatto è già cominciata e gli americani sono stati molto contenti di vedere il successo del loro Commander in Chief, che ha mostrato ancora una volta al mondo di cosa è capace l’America, ma da qui alle elezioni la strada è ancora lunga. La cattiva notizia che Obama ha dovuto dare agli elettori, e che è giunta in contemporanea a quella buona della cattura di Bin Laden, è che il tasso di disoccupazione negli Stati Uniti è risalito al 9%. E’ senz’altro la nube più scura all’orizzonte, per Obama. Tutti sanno - lui compreso - che le condizioni dell’economia e il sentimento di stabilità delle famiglie americane saranno determinanti per la sua rielezione.
     

    E’ ancora realistica l’ipotesi dello svolgimento di primarie democratiche di cui si era discusso subito dopo la sconfitta di midterm?

    E’ sempre possibile perché l’area più a sinistra del Partito Democratico è molto insoddisfatta delle promesse non mantenute da Obama, ad esempio per la mancata chiusura di Guantanamo e per l’aumento dell’impegno militare. Sembra comunque uno scenario improbabile dopo la cattura di Bin Laden. Oggi Obama ha pienamente riaffermato la propria leadership nel partito, sarebbe suicida se qualcuno volesse sfidarlo dall’interno.

    Il lIbro viene presentato Milano il 12 maggio 2011 – ore 18:30
    Istituto Bruno Leoni - Piazza Castello 23, Milano

    Obama dimezzato: l'America verso il 2012
    Presentazione del volume di Maria Teresa Cometto e Glauco Maggi

    Intervengono:
    Glauco Maggi (coautore del volume)
    Marco Leonardi (Università di Milano)
    Carlo Lottieri (Università di Siena - IBL)
    Vittorio Emanuele Parsi (Università Cattolica di Milano).

    Coordina:
    Daniele Bellasio (Il Sole 24 Ore).

  • Facts & Stories

    Halved Obama

    Maria Teresa Cometto (Corriere della Sera) and Glauco Maggi (La Stampa) are two Italian journalists who know best about America. They have been observing it and studying it for the Italian audience since 2000, when they first moved to New York. They made it on time to see the Twin Towers, then watched them crumbling down in shock on 9/11. Now Cometto and Maggi have just published “Obama Dimezzato: L’America Verso Il 2012” (literally: Halved Obama: America towards 2012), an essay that sizes up Obama’s mandate after the midterm shock, reviewing the president's achievements so far as well as the promises he broke, and making projections for the 2012 elections.
     

    i-Italy has been talking about “Obama Dimezzato” with co-author Maria Teresa Cometto, while Glauco Maggi was busy presenting the book in Milan.  
     

    “Halved Obama”: what does it mean?

    The title refers to the 2010 midterm elections that marked the first half of Obama’s presidential mandate. Obama is halfway through the mandate, but he has also lost half of the Congress. The super-majority he could count on since he was elected in 2008, which allowed him to push financial and healthcare reforms, has, in fact, been halved. The title also refers to how Obama’s approval rating dropped below 50% before the recent blitz against Al Qaeda’s leader Osama Bin Laden. In January 2009, Obama’s approval rating was over 70%, so the slump has been visible. Bin Laden’s death bumped the rating up again; it went up 9% over the last 10 days.
     

    The 2010 midterm elections dealt a severe blow to president Obama. But could the President have lived up to his voters' high expectations?

    Expectations of Obama’s presidency were quasi-messianic, indeed, but he was the one fueling them in the first place. For example, in one of his speeches he declared that after his election the current rise in sea level would decrease because of the successful struggle to end global warming. The enthusiasm was far too high and it was realistic to expect that it would deflate. However, there are other cases where presidents who received a severe “shellacking” from midterm elections and went on to get re-elected, with Clinton being the most recent example. Obama has plenty of time to catch up, especially since the GOP hasn’t yet proposed any credible candidate to challenge him.

    The book features a section called “Obama’s report”. How did he score so far?

    It depends on how you read the report. The two most important Obama reforms, specifically financial and healthcare reforms, are still very controversial. Besides, healthcare reform will become fully effective only after the next election. This means that Obama could benefit from a time lapse in which the negative effects of the reform, such as the rise of health insurance costs, will not be felt until after his term ends. However, this also means that the positive effects of the reform, such as healthcare access for low-income people, will not be perceptible either. The financial reform has not yet been fully implemented. Several experts are already criticizing it, saying that it is affecting Wall Street’s competitiveness vis-à-vis expanding markets such as China. Along with that, there are Obama’s broken promises, the most glaring being the closure of Guantanamo, energy reform, and lobbying reform. Obama has been working on his electoral campaign for 2012 for two months now. This time, as reported on politico.com, he will rely on large-dollar donors and bundlers much more than in 2008. What happens in this twilight zone where lobbyists operate is often unclear and suspicious. Obama failed the test this time.
     

    Midterm elections clearly showed that Conservatism in the US is not dead, nor are right-wing values. Can you tell us more about this?

    America is definitely a “right nation.” Patriotism, religion, and family values are at the core of the American identity and the majority of the electorate shares these values. In the first two years of his mandate, Obama’s policy has been definitely left-oriented, especially when we consider the healthcare reform. Looking forward to 2012, Obama needs to win more center-right voters. We saw an attempt to do so when he accepted a compromise with Republicans on the tax bill. It was a smart move, as economists agree that rising taxes now would have a terrible impact on the already troubled American economy. Obama’s drawing on the idea of “American Exceptionalism” in his speech on Bin Laden’s death can be seen as another signal to the electorate that he needs to bring to his side.
     

    Will the death of Osama Bin Laden be a game-changer during 2012 elections?

    It surely has been a game-changer as of now. Americans were pleased with the success of their commander-in-chief who showed the world what America is capable of, but the road to the 2012 elections is still long. The bad news that Obama had to give Americans right after the good news of Osama’s death is that the unemployment rate bumped up to 9%. This is the darkest cloud over Obama’s head. He knows that his re-election depends on the economy’s condition and on the nation’s faith in their financial stability.
     

    After midterm elections there were rumors the Democratic Party would have gone through primary elections for 2012. Is it a realistic scenario?

    It is still a possibility, as the most left-wing area of the party is very dissatisfied with Obama’s broken promises, especially as far as Guantanamo and his pledge to withdraw U.S. military presence in the Middle East is concerned. But it also seems unlikely to happen after the elimination of Osama Bin Laden. With this important achievement, Obama could fully reaffirm his leadership in the party. If anyone would want to challenge him from inside the party today, it would be an attempt at suicide.

  • Art & Culture

    Ennio Flaiano And His Italy: Postcards From A Changing World

    Many of our American readers will surely be familiar with Federico Fellini and his masterpieces, but to them the name of Ennio Flaiano, his collaborator for fifteen years, and most important screenwriter, is likely to sound new.

    Often underrated as a “minor” author even in Italy, where his notoriety was overshadowed by Fellini’s enormous fame, Flaiano is actually one of the most interesting and eclectic Italian literary minds of the twentieth century.
     

    Marisa Trubiano, Associate Professor of Italian at Montclair State University, is the author of the first English essay on Flaiano’s oeuvre, Ennio Flaiano And His Italy: Postcards From A Changing World, a comprehensive book that sheds a light on the artist’s poetic and his works, featuring unpublished materials and a study of what Trubiano defines as the “Flaiano effect” on Federico Fellini’s cinema.

    A dramatist, journalist, novelist, and film and theater critic, Flaiano was a very influential presence in Fellini’s creative process, and a crafty writer with a strong voice of his own.

    In the words of Professor Mario Fratti, who held a speech at the book presentation at NYU’s Casa Italiana Zerilli Marimò on May 4, Flaiano’s approach to literature is defined by a strong belief in its superiority over cinema, which constitutes a “sub-standard”.

    Fratti stressed the sardonic vein in Flaiano’s oeuvre, characterizing in particular his reflections on Italy and on Italian identity: “Italian is a profession, not a nationality”, he wrote in La solitudine del satiro (1974).

    “Flaiano is an anthropophagus who eats his own people”, pointed out Lucilla Sergiacomo, president of the Associazione Culturale Ennio Flaiano and of the Premio Internazionale Flaiano.

    However, through his sardonic and sometimes harsh remarks on Italian identity, or on the lack of a univocal Italian identity, Flaiano liquidated notions such as regionalism and nationalism, colonialism and fascism.

    In the words of Trubiano: “His postmodern autobiography emerges, punctuated by flashes of intuition about an Italian who left a provincial background to become a world citizen.”

    America holds a privileged position in Flaiano’s writing, as an observatory on cultural differences through which he theorizes the “fluidity” of Italian identity, or “italianità fluida”, as the land of opportunities for filmmakers and screenwriters.

    In Melampus, a novel that features the transposition of Flaiano’s autobiographical experience in the States, America is depicted by the author as “a side of heaven”, a land of optimism where interpersonal relationships are based on pragmatism and innocence, and most of all as a place where the word “impossible” doesn’t exist.    

  • Facts & Stories

    Italian Ambassador Terzi's Lecture at at CUNY’s Brooklyn College: Atlanticism and Europeism in Italian Foreign Policy

    Quoting the Financial Times analyst Gideon Rachman, Ambassador Terzi stated that the most compelling task for the Euro-Atlantic community today is to lead the world from an “age of anxiety” to an age of “renewed international collaboration,'" at a time when increasingly divergent interests on security, economic and environmental issues seem to dangerously weaken the appeal of international cooperation.

    «Current events in North Africa and the Middle East underline more than ever how necessary it is to have a joint strategy», Terzi said. «At stake is not only the future of hundreds of millions of young people in North Africa and other countries, but the attitude and expectations of the younger generation. If they are disappointed again, the long-term relationship with an economically more developed world will be deeply affected», he added.

    Terzi, who has also served as Italy’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, heading the Italian Delegation to the Security Council for the 2007-2008 term, dealt with major issues such as humanitarian intervention and protection of civilians in armed conflicts. Addressing the subject of the military intervention in Libya, he declared the need for an even stronger bond between NATO and the EU, based on those common values «that explain the ethical approach of the transatlantic partnership when meeting international challenges». A bond, he added, which should marry economic support to North African countries and Libya with the respect of fundamental freedoms, human rights and the Rule of Law.

    As far as bilateral relations between the US and Italy are concerned, Terzi stressed the fact that the shared values and the sense of cultural belonging which joins Americans and Italians «at an even deeper level than the political and economic one» are the reasons why Italy has always had a prominent role in strengthening the connection between the States and the European Union: «Atlanticism and Europeism are the two pillars upon which Italy developed its post-war foreign policy. The enormous impulse Italy has always ensured to the process of European integration has always corresponded to parallel initiatives aimed at consolidating the transatlantic dimension».

    However, the European pillar received a severe shock two days ago, when Brussels refused to activate the European directive on the temporary protection of refugees from North Africa, which would have allowed Italy to save the southern-most island of Lampedusa from an unsustainable immigration emergency. The island, with a population of five-thousand people, was overcome in the last few weeks by a «human tsunami» of thirty-thousand illegal immigrants.

    The EU, said Terzi, was unable to speak with one voice despite the fact that article 222 of the Treaty of Lisbon itself contains a ‘solidarity clause’ indicating that the Union and its Member States shall act jointly in a spirit of solidarity if a Member State is met with an especially serious crisis. «On this occasion, we wanted to bring up the topic of immigration in Europe as a global matter to be met together. But policy was lacking.»

    ----

    Brooklyn College

    Martin and Syma Mendelsohn Lectureship in International Relations
    April 12, 2011
     
    Italy-USA, The Transatlantic Partnership
    in a Changing World

    Full text of Ambassador Terzi's Lecture

     
    I am delighted and privileged to be here, in such a prestigious setting as the Brooklyn College, and to address such a distinguished audience.
     
    My sincere thanks to go Brooklyn College President, Dr. Karen Gould, to the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, Dr. William Tramontano, to the Distinguished Alumnus and Sponsor of the lecture series, Mr. Martin Mendelsohn and his wife Syma, to the Vice President for Institutional Advancement, Dr. Andrew Sillen, and to the Dean of Undergraduate Studies, Dr. Donna Wilson, for allowing me to share my considerations on the transatlantic partnership, and on Italy and the United States in the new global context.
     
    Gideon Rachman, one of the most important Financial Times analysts, has recently summed up changes in the international context in three great phases.
     
    The first, which Rachman called “The Age of Transformation”, went from 1978-1991 and was marked by Deng Xiaoping’s Four Modernizations in China, by Thatcher and Reagan’s economic revolutions, by the collapse of the Soviet Union, the impressive integration of the European market, by German reunification and, lastly, by the first Gulf War. In just over a decade a new unipolar world took shape. A world which, without question, orbited around the United States. American hegemony seemed destined to become the new center of gravity for the world. And  Francis Fukuyama wrote his renowned essay - “The end of History?”
    The second phase, according to Rachman, the “Age of Optimism”, spanned nearly twenty years, from 1991-2008. It was a period marked by globalization and the fast deregulation of financial and services markets; information technology  developed exponentially; US economic growth led analysts to believe that the persistency of growth would avoid future recessions. Nowhere as in Europe did the progress towards a supranational integration proceed so quickly.  
    Today, Rachman believes we are in a third phase, “The Age of Anxiety”: each State, or each player in global issues represents increasingly divergent interests and tends to clash onmatters of security (Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan), of the economy (US, EU, China) and the environment (climate change, carbon dioxide emissions and diversification of energy sources).
     
    In other words, we are at a time when the appeal of a logic cooperation may become less strong and we incur a serious risk of entering a context, once again, typical of international relations in the Cold War. In short, we may once again witness the revival of the “zero-sum” game: the rule according to which each participant in this game is rewarded or punished if he is not able to compensate losses or gains obtained by opponents. During the Cold War, this rule found its application in, for example, the East-West balances: the “containment” policy of the soviet empire was a gain for the West to which the communist bloc opposed a direct support to pro-communist regimes in Africa, the repression of democratic movements in eastern Europe and expansionism in North Korea and in Vietnam. Whenever there were gains for the communist bloc, the game had to be re-balanced on another level. The final and most effective rebalancing took place, in the end, with the greater  competitiveness and efficiency of western Europe’s economic model, which ultimately  led to the collapse of the Soviet Union.  
     
    What is it that makes us fear that this logic will once again prevail? How can the transatlantic partnership transform the “Age of Anxiety” into anAge of re-found international collaboration?
     
    *   *   *
     
    Despite the success of China, India, and other emerging countries, the Euro-Atlantic community continues to be the main economic powerhouse on the world scene by far. The US-EU partnership ranges from defense to security, from science to culture, from trade to economy. It has not only ensured peace and stability, but also development and economic welfare to both sides of the Atlantic.
     
    Our public opinions share the idea of a common destiny. Polls show that 70% of Americans and 67% of Europeans state that they share the same values and that we must cooperate in the international arena. 66% of Europeans hold a very positive opinion of the United States (Italy ranks among the top in this group), and 60% of Americans have an equally positive opinion of Europe.
     
    Data show that this perception corresponds to economic reality:
    - The United States and Europe are the two largest economies in the world, with a GDP equivalent to 54% of the global total.
    - Each year, EU and the US trade goods for five trillion dollars – nearly a third of American GDP. Fourteen million people on both shores of the Atlantic owe their employment to trade between the E.U and the US.. Europe is the primary foreign source for jobs in the United States and vice-versa.
    - We are each other’s principal investors: Europe in the United States and the United States in Europe. Between 2000 and 2009, American firms invested 29 billion dollars in China, which is less than that invested at the same time in Belgium and just a third of American investments in Ireland.
    - Each day Europe and the United States exchange goods and services for a total of about two billion dollars: 40% of world total.
    A more important political dimension must be added to the economic-financial one. NATO is the clearest example. The Atlantic alliance’s history is one of a great success. In over 50 years, it has ensured the freedom of Western Europe through the permanent involvement of the United States in Europe; it has provided a decisive contribution to set the whole world free of global war; it has broadened its space to include Greece and Turkey in 1952 and Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic in 1999; it has attained, above all, the objective for which it was created in 1949: to neutralize the Soviet threat.
    NATO succeeded precisely because of its specific, unique characteristics which other alliances seem to lack. First and foremost, its homogeneous values: democracy, freedom and rule of law.
    Can we consider the transatlantic community, in its ethic, security and economic dimensions, to be truly ready for the new global context? Conditions have deeply changed over the last ten years:
    - China and India are growing exponentially;
    - Russia has re-emerged on the world scene;
    - global economy is in the throes of financial uncertainty;
    - agricultural productivity is growing less than in past decades, thus adding an element of tension in countries with food scarcity and subsequent occasional social explosions in poorer countries;
    - insufficient action on climate change entails a deteriorating environment.
     
    Globalization has shifted our spatial-temporal coordinates. It has injected new categories of problems which expand at a pace which was unthinkable just a few years ago. It has progressively shrunk the “local” dimension in favor of the  “global” one. There are certainly some positive aspects: societies tend to be more transparent; knowledge and information is shared by many more and instantaneously, and growth opportunities flourish. But the impact of imbalances grows too. Never as today  do they have such a global and multi-thematic reach.
    Let me mention migrations. They have taken on many new dimensions:
     
    - a social one  (pertaining to the impact immigrants have on demographic assets of destination countries);
     
    - an economic one  (an increasingly important role for the economies of the destination countries);
     
    - one of cooperation for development (need to deal with migration causes at their source);
     
    - a public order dimension (such as the control of external borders, fight on illegal
    immigration, repression of occurrences such as racism and xenophobia) and, naturally,
     
    - a security dimension(terrorist infiltration in migratory flows).
     
    *   *   *
     
    The Euro-Atlantic community – NATO and the European Union – has responded with vigor to today’s dynamic and multi-dimensional world. The former has done so with the “New Strategic Concept”; the latter with the Lisbon Treaty. The Strategic Concept looks not only at new threats, but also at how NATO must evolve in order to accomplish its new tasks. The Lisbon Treaty is a crucial political turning point. It increases the Union’s powers in matters of internal security and justice, defense and foreign affairs, trade and service regulation and environmental protection. Also, for the first time the EU has committed to manage energy market and energy security better.  
     
    The above shows how NATO and the EU adapt vis-à-vis their growing complementarity.
    Let us return to the example of migrations. European strategy is based on two pillars: a social one and the other connected to security. Among its main goals is the fight on terrorism and organized crime. The mission established by the “European Security Strategy (ESS)” sets up a direct link with NATO, specifying: “This is not only in our bilateral interest but strengthens the international community as a whole. And NATO is an important expression of this relationship”.
     
    In the last few months the integration of immigrants has increasingly become a feature in the political debate in Europe – particularly, in Italy – also in view of our societies’ security. We have experienced one of the largest increases in foreign resident, which has reached nearly 4.2 million - almost 8% of its entire population. Twenty-five thousand North African immigrants have landed on Italian shores in the last three months, mainly from Libya and Tunisia.
     
     It was last June that the Italian Government approved a “Plan for a safe integration” which is also consistent with the social dimension of our Country. Integration, security and legality are the starting point of a process including rights and duties, responsibility and opportunities, which Italy wishes to promote and give priority to.
     
    *   *   *   *
     
    At this point, I would like to refer to some of the most critical international issues which we have been facing, to stress the point that the transatlantic venue is the best means to enable us to respond to this international context appropriately.
    Let me start with Libya. Our countries, together with select number of NATO partners, played a pivotal role in bringing together international consent: they did this first by encouraging the Arab League to set the fundamental political framework for Libya, and then by paving the way for the approval of UN Security Council Resolution n. 1973 whose overall objective is to ensure the highest level of humanitarian protection. American determination to take the concerns of some of its closest allies into consideration, starting with Italy, and to thus insist with NATO to bring the whole operation under allied command and control, was a particularly significant step for the credibility of the entire Atlantic alliance.
     
    From a more general point of view, current events in North Africa and the Middle East underline more than ever how necessary it is to have a joint strategy. At stake is not only the future of hundreds of millions of young people in North Africa and other countries but the attitude and expectations of the younger generation. If they are disappointed again, the long-term relationship with an economically more developed world will be deeply affected.
    Aside from the Middle East and North Africa, other priorities in our respective international relations range from economy to climate to China, which belong to a first cluster I will dwell on, and others to Afghanistan, Europe integration and Russia, which are part of a second cluster I will mention. There are certainly also many other points which cross the whole spectrum of international relations, such as nuclear proliferation, terrorism and, as I mentioned before, migratory flows. However, these points, at least conceptually, seem to be “sub-systems” of the overall scenario in which a deeper transatlantic partnership should be, and remain, engaged.  
     
    Economy, climate and China are part of the first cluster because these issues are intrinsically connected. Should a trend to privilege “national logics” prevail over a multilateral and cooperative one, a zero-sum game could well emerge on three fronts:
     
    a)   on the economic one, by ignoring the need for a more coordinated growth and for countering protectionist impulses;
     
    b) on the climate front, by pursing national policies instead of aiming at a qualitative leap, and by ignoring the need for global and binding agreements against global warming;
     
    c) on the overall relationship with China, by underestimating the need for a better collaboration on essential issues and delaying confidence –building measures in regional security in Asia and the South China Sea, leaving the status-quo.
     
    *   *   *   *
     
    As for the other regional crises, the transatlantic alliance has been the backbone of the intervention of the international coalition in Afghanistan and indispensable in each regional crisis which the international community faces (except, perhaps, for North Korea). We are all perfectly aware that many destinies cross in Afghanistan. The crux of the issue is not only to deal a significant blow to terrorism, but also to ensure a positive result of our efforts towards NATO building and the revitalization of transatlantic relations.
     
    As for Russia, a shared transatlantic approach is essential to maximize the positive effects of dialogue and cooperation. The reset decided by the Obama Administration proves just this, with its corollary of an improved relationship between Moscow with eastern European countries. We have to point on a renewed agenda to be able to overcome the past approach; an agenda which looks to the future and goes beyond focusing merely on points of friction. We must also point on the future of economic trade, industrial cooperation and people-to-people exchanges in order to allow the West’s soft power to unfold in all its strength.
     
    *   *   *   *
     
    From what I have described up to now, we can already draw the important conclusion that the transatlantic community—from the political and economic aspects and from its security profile worldwide—is better equipped than other geopolitical areas to change/transition the ‘Age of Anxiety’ into the Age of Renewed International Collaboration.
     
    But this greater capacity and attitude depends also on a fundamental aspect, based on the complex of values on which it is founded. It is our values that explain the ‘ethical’ approach of the transatlantic partnership when meeting international challenges.
     
    Shortly before I gave the example of Libya. In this case, the Atlantic community intervened for a moral imperative: to prevent a massacre. This was repeated just yesterday by Minister of Foreign Affairs Franco Frattini in his address to the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) in London. When Italy was asked to do its part to stop the shocking violence the Libyan regime was inflicting on the people, the decision of the transatlantic community to act was consistent with our common values. We are not bringing war to Libya, rather we are saving lives and providing assistance to a people that is paying a high price for its desire for change.
     
    In fact, in Libya and in North Africa our approach is more general, because we want to lay the foundations to guarantee stability, growth, and integration. We do need a stronger transatlantic bond which marries the economic support to these countries with the respect of fundamental freedoms, human rights and the Rule of Law. 
     
    And if the Atlantic Alliance plays a fundamental and differentiated role in providing such an important framework for security—think only of NATO’s Mediterranean Dialogue—it is up to the other pillar of the transatlantic community, the European Union, to do more. The objective of the growth of our partners on the southern shore through institution building, governance, and economic integration is attained with a revitalized leadership of Europe and its commitment in critical dossers, such as the fight against illegal immigration, which is and must be a common issue.
     
    And on this Brussels must certainly do more. Because of the latest events in North Africa, the island of Lampedusa, that last strip of Italian territory in the Mediterranean, was overcome in the past few weeks by 30 thousand illegals, that on an island populated by 5 thousand people. In this case, we must admit that we were expecting greater support at the European level. Just yesterday, it was decided in Brussels not to activate the European directive on the temporary protection of refugees from North African countries: Italy’s proposal to activate it in order to meet the immigration emergency was rejected by the EU Council. On this occasion, we wanted to bring up the topic of immigration in Europe as a global matter to be met together. But policy was lacking. The EU was unable to speak with one voice despite the fact that article 222 of the Treaty of Lisbon itself contains a ‘solidarity clause’ indicating that the Union and its Member States shall act jointly in a spirit of solidarity if a Member State is met with an especially serious crisis.
     
    *   *   *   *
     
    Before I conclude my remarks, I would like to share some thoughts on Italy and on my Country’s prominent role in strengthening the transatlantic bond. Atlanticism and Europeism are the two pillars upon which Italy developed its post-war foreign policy. Indeed, Italian governments, parliaments and public opinion of the last twenty years have never had any reservations, or after-thoughts, on that. collaboration between the two shores of the Atlantic.  The enormous impulse Italy has always ensured to the process of European integration has always corresponded to parallel initiatives aimed at consolidating the transatlantic dimension.  
    NATO and the European Union must develop and grow stronger, in close cooperation, with a harmony of purposes. Italy constantly strives for Europe to be at America’s side in centers of crises, in Afghanistan, the Middle East, Iran, in the war on al-Qaeda, and in the great challenges of climate, environment and the economy.
     
    At a strictly bilateral level, I would like to recall the recent visit, here in New York, of the President of the Republic, The Honorable Giorgio Napolitano. This opportunity once again emphasized the special bonds between our Countries. President Napolitano brought to the United States the exceptional, strong message of a national unity based on the strong values of the Risorgimento - a message which is all the more meaningful this year given that Italy is celebrating the 150th anniversary of its unification. President Obama manifested his utmost respect and personal friendship for both the Italian President and Italy as a Country with his March 17, 2011 “Presidential Proclamation” on the occasion of Italy’s important anniversary. This most significant proclamation was also accompanied by an additional tribute by Congress which, thanks to Leader Nancy Pelosi’s initiative and the entire Italian-American caucus, approved a Congressional Record to celebrate Italy’s unification. 
     
    These two important documents show full well the depth and significance of these celebrations in the United States, in particular for the vibrant and active community of Italian origin in this great Country. Above all, what emerges from these exceptional tributes is the unmatched common wealth of shared values and sense of cultural belonging which joins our two peoples at an even deeper level than the political and economic one, and the recognition of Italy’s role and position in the international arena.  
     
    Thank you.
     
     

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