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Italy battles Islamic caliphate

Oppressed populations around the world acquired a new rival on Wednesday with the announcement by Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi of his campaign to “Free Lampedusa” within 48-60 hours.

What the Sicilian island requires freeing from: thousands of migrants, primarily arriving from North Africa.

Why it requires freeing: residents are not pleased, and Berlusconi sympathizes. (So much so that he has spontaneously purchased a villa on the island.)

The migrants are being transferred to refugee camps on the Italian mainland, which has generated unrest among certain sectors of population of south Italy who feel that the freedom of Lampedusa will occur at their expense.

In this video below, for example, from minute 1.22-1.34 the south Italian gentleman in the red hat explains that “since the state doesn’t do shit” he has taken it upon himself to capture refugees who have escaped from the makeshift camps—in this case, the two darker men being herded in front of him.



Learning from Israel

Israeli sunbathers felt so threatened by the impending arrival of aid to Gaza in May 2010 that they organized a 16-boat protest against the flotilla, complete with banner depicting the Turkish prime minister (Photo: Reuters)

With the release of the first part of the report from its investigation into the May 2010 attack on the humanitarian aid flotilla en route to Gaza—in which nine Turkish activists were murdered by IDF commandos—the Israeli Turkel Commission has underscored Israel’s capacity for democratic introspection.

The commission’s findings include that the commandos in question acted in self-defense and that the Israeli blockade of Gaza is not in contravention of international law. According to Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak, the report proves that Israel is “a law-abiding country”.

I’ve made a short list of ideas for possible commissions in other countries interested in attaining a similar status:

1. The United States.

Commission to investigate inordinate number of civilian casualties of U.S. drone attacks on Pakistan.

Possible conclusion: Drones were acting in self-defense.


Erdoğan’s Report Card

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan visited the town of Fethiye on the southwestern coast of Turkey this afternoon for the mass inauguration ceremony of 34 new regional institutions, ranging from elementary schools to health facilities. The ceremony took place at Republic Square in the center of Fethiye, home to the town’s primary Atatürk statue. An estimated 20,000 people were in attendance, including myself.

Attendees were relieved of pens, loose change, fruit, and other dual-use items by police on the way into the square. I am including a photograph below of one of the piles of spoils in case the Israeli Foreign Ministry would like to add the image to its Flickr photo series “Weapons found on Mavi Marmara”—published following the 31 May 2010 attack by IDF commandos on the humanitarian aid flotilla en route to Gaza. (The attack resulted in the deaths of nine Turkish activists, who obviously deserved to die given that they were hoarding weapons such as kitchen knives, a bucket, and a Palestinian scarf; as Flickr specifies that the Foreign Ministry’s photos were taken between 7 February 2006 and 7 June 2010, I doubt the ministry would deem 15 January 2011 to be out of range.)


State Dept. issues vocabulary list for Lebanon

Stabilizing Lebanon, 2006 (Photo: Amelia Opalinska)

During the course of yesterday’s U.S. State Department daily press briefing, Assistant Secretary Philip J. Crowley used the word “stability” 14 times and the word “instability” 4 times in his discussion of the collapse of the Lebanese government following the resignation of 11 ministers. The ministers resigned in opposition to the politicization of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon tasked with investigating the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri, which Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah has pointed out is more concerned with investigating some groups than others.

An excerpt from Crowley’s discourse:

We’re working with the Lebanese Government and other partners who share our interest in stability and justice for Lebanon, including France, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Egypt, on next steps that will protect the work of the tribunal and help to achieve stability in the Lebanon. We encourage all Lebanese to work together to avoid threats and actions that could cause instability and to enable the governing coalition to serve the interest of the Lebanese people in justice, stability, and peace. Hezbollah is presenting a false choice for Lebanon of justice or stability. We think that Lebanon deserves both”.