French-Italian proxy oil war in Libya continues


This 8 May 2019 video says about itself:

Italy Pressures France Over Support For Libya’s Rebels

France has backed Libyan rebel General Khalifa Haftar’s efforts … But after complaints from the Italian government, the French have apparently backed off their vocal support of Haftar’s advance on Tripoli. But the head of Libya’s Taghyeer Party says Haftar is taking advantage of diverging international interests in Libya to get ahead.

Guests:
Guma el Gamaty
Head of Libya’s Taghyeer Party

Mohamed Eljarh
Founder and CEO of Libya Outlook

Anne Giudicelli
CEO of Terr(o)Risc

By Alex Lantier in France:

Bombing of Turkey’s Watiya base escalates Franco-Italian proxy war in Libya

8 July 2020

Even as COVID-19 spreads, the decade-long civil war between rival imperialist-backed warlords triggered by the 2011 NATO war in Libya is spiraling out of control.

On July 5, unidentified warplanes bombed al-Watiya airbase, which Italian-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) forces recently retook from French-backed Libyan National Army (LNA) forces of Khalifa Haftar. The attack damaged hangars and destroyed military equipment from Turkey, which is coordinating its support for the GNA with Italy. LNA official Khaled al Mahjoub told Al Arabiya that “other attacks similar to the one on the base will soon be carried out. … We are in a real war with Turkey, which has oil ambitions in Libya.”

Turkish military sources told Spanish news site Atalayar the raid included “nine precision airstrikes against Turkish air defense systems,” which wounded several Turkish intelligence officials. They added that the attacks were “successful” and left “three radars completely destroyed.” However, Atalayar refuted reports that MiG-29 or Su-24 jets Moscow has given the LNA carried out the strikes, saying that it was the work of French-made Rafale jets.

Egypt, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and France itself all field Rafales, support the LNA, and could have bombed al-Watiya. On June 21, Egyptian dictator General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi threatened to intervene in Libya against Turkey.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s office reacted to the strike by tweeting that Turkey would escalate operations in Libya, attacking the coastal city of Sirte and Al Jufra, Libya’s largest airbase, both located in central Libya and held by LNA forces. It cited control of oil supply lines and Russian support for the LNA to justify its intervention.

The bombing of al-Watiya, barely 150km from Tripoli, followed visits by Turkish and Italian officials. It came only a few hours after Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar concluded a trip to Tripoli, during which he proclaimed, “Turkish sovereignty and our return, after the withdrawal of our ancestors, to return forever in Libya.” This apparently referred to the Turkish Ottoman Empire’s control over Libya, until Italy seized Libya and held it as a colony from 1911 until 1943 and its defeat during World War II.

On June 24, Italian Foreign Minister Luigi di Maio visited Tripoli, after meeting with his Turkish counterpart Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu in Ankara and amid joint Turkish-Italian naval drills. In Tripoli, he said the war was central to Rome’s strategic interests, calling Libya “a priority for our foreign policy and national security.”

The strike on al-Watiya has revealed the bitter divisions among the NATO imperialist powers, as well as between the regional powers, over the division of the spoils from the 2011 war.

Amid revolutionary uprisings of the working class in Egypt and Tunisia in 2011, Paris, London and Washington pushed NATO to bomb Libya and arm Islamist and tribal militias to topple Colonel Muammar Gaddafi. Berlin declined to join the war, and the belligerent powers ran roughshod over initial Turkish objections. Western media and petty-bourgeois pseudo-left groups like France’s New Anti-capitalist Party claimed it was a humanitarian war to protect Libyan protesters, but it was an imperialist rape of Libya.

It set the stage not only for the ongoing proxy war in Syria between Russia and NATO, which sent to Syria many Islamist proxy militias it had mobilized in Libya, but for a ruthless struggle to carve up Libya and its massive oil reserves.

Thousands have died in fighting between rival militias unleashed by the 2011 war, and the coronavirus pandemic is now ravaging Libya. The number of cases doubled in the last two weeks of June, to 713, and now stands at 1,117. Only 269 have recovered while 34 have died, as the disease spreads across a country whose health and industrial infrastructure have been shattered by a decade of bloodshed.

This month, the International Rescue Committee reported: “This year Libya has recorded the highest number of attacks on health facilities of any country in the world. Just yesterday, an ambulance was hit by an airstrike, severely damaging the vehicle and the health facility close by. Last week two doctors were killed by a mine that exploded under a body they were moving from a hospital. With Libya’s health system already on its knees, continued attacks such as these are making it even harder for medical teams in the country to respond to the pandemic.”

The NATO powers are not bringing medical and humanitarian aid, however, but plundering Libya and threatening to escalate the fighting into an all-out regional war. Several regional powers play a major role—with Turkey and Algeria backing the GNA, and Egypt and the UAE backing the LNA. Moscow has also intervened to back the LNA against the Islamist-dominated GNA. However, a decisive aspect of the conflict is between major oil corporations like France’s Total and Italy’s ENI.

On July 3, Turkey’s Anadolu news agency wrote that the GNA is “advancing on Sirte, the gateway to the east of the country and oil fields.” It called Sirte “crucial” for two reasons: “First, Sirte has significant economic value as a gateway to Libya’s oil crescent region, consisting of vital ports such as al-Zuweytinah, Ra’s Lanuf, Marsa al Brega, and as-Sidr, which reportedly supplies 60 percent of Libya’s oil exports. Secondly, it is a strategic city that could enable the GNA to take control of the Libyan coastline from the capital to the west and Benghazi to the east.”

ENI dominates the oilfields in GNA-held northwestern Libya. But many of the oil reserves and refineries in the “oil crescent” region are held by Total and LNA militias in the Cyrenaica region around Benghazi, the center of the NATO-backed revolt against Gaddafi, and in the Fezzan. This region in southern Libya borders two former French colonies, Niger and Tchad, that Paris exerts control over as part of its so-called war on terror in Mali and the Sahel.

Conflicts between the NATO imperialist powers are increasingly evident. Commenting on French support for Haftar, Tarek Megerisi of the European Council on Foreign Relations told the Financial Times: “France has different interests to Germany and Italy in Libya, and it has moved to protect these interests. It has security interests in the Sahel and a wider security partnership that it is building with the United Arab Emirates—and in which Egypt is a big part.”

Dorothée Schmid of the French Institute on International Relations (IFRI) said there is “strategic panic” in Paris at Haftar’s recently suffered reverses. She pointed to growing chaos and uncertainty in NATO: “France is rather isolated in this affair, and everyone is waiting for the American elections.”

The only way to avert a further escalation is a mobilization of the working class in Africa and the Middle East, resuming the struggles launched a decade ago, and the unification of these struggles with growing strikes and protests in America and Europe in a socialist anti-war movement. Absent a revolutionary intervention of the working class, the ruling elites are all sliding towards war.

Naval tensions continue to grow in the Mediterranean. France withdrew from NATO operations in the Mediterranean on July 1, protesting that a Turkish warship allegedly threatened to fire on a French frigate as it tried to inspect a merchant ship bound for Libya. Egypt has for its part reportedly acquired a Russian “Bastion” coastal defense battery amid reports that Turkey intends to set up a naval base in the Libyan city of Misrata.

How Italian renaissance domes were built


This 2014 video says about itself:

How an Amateur Built the World’s Biggest Dome

In 1418, Filippo Brunelleschi was tasked with building the largest dome ever seen at the time. He had no formal architecture training. Yet experts still don’t fully understand the brilliant methods he used in contructing the dome, which tops the Santa Maria del Fiore cathedral in Florence, Italy.

From Princeton University, Engineering School in the USA:

Double helix of masonry: Researchers discover the secret of Italian renaissance domes

May 18, 2020

Summary: Researchers found that the masonry of Italian renaissance domes, such as the duomo in Florence, use a double-helix structure that is self-supporting during and after construction. Their study is the first to quantitatively prove the forces at work in such masonry domes, which may lead to advances in modern drone construction techniques.

In a collaborative study in this month’s issue of Engineering Structures, researchers at Princeton University and the University of Bergamo revealed the engineering techniques behind self-supporting masonry domes inherent to the Italian renaissance. Researchers analyzed how cupolas like the famous duomo, part of the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence, were built as self-supporting, without the use of shoring or forms typically required.

Sigrid Adriaenssens, professor of civil and environmental engineering at Princeton, collaborated on the analysis with graduate student Vittorio Paris and Attilio Pizzigoni, professor engineering and applied sciences, both of the University of Bergamo. Their study is the first ever to quantitatively prove the physics at work in Italian renaissance domes and to explain the forces which allow such structures to have been built without formwork typically required, even for modern construction. Previously, there were only hypotheses in the field about how forces flowed through such edifices, and it was unknown how they were built without the use of temporary structures to hold them up during construction.

For Adriaenssens, the project advances two significant questions. “How can mankind construct such a large and beautiful structure without any formwork — mechanically, what’s the innovation?” she asked. Secondly, “What can we learn?” Is there some “forgotten technology that we can use today?”

The detailed computer analysis accounts for the forces at work down to the individual brick, explaining how equilibrium is leveraged. The technique called discrete element modelling (DEM) analyzed the structure at several layers and stages of construction. A limit state analysis determined the overall equilibrium state, or stability, of the completed structure. Not only do these tests verify the mechanics of the structures, but they also make it possible to recreate the techniques for modern construction.

Applying their findings to modern construction, the researchers anticipate that this study could have practical applications for developing construction techniques deploying aerial drones and robots. Using these unmanned machines for construction would increase worker safety, as well as enhance construction speed and reduce building costs.

Another advantage of unearthing new building techniques from ancient sources is that it can yield environmental benefits. “The construction industry is one of the most wasteful ones, so that means if we don’t change anything, there will be a lot more construction waste,” said Adriaenssens, who is interested in using drone techniques for building very large span roofs that are self-supporting and require no shoring or formwork.

“Overall, this project speaks to an ancient narrative that tells of stones finding their equilibrium in the wonder of reason,” said Pizzigoni, “from Brunelleschi’s dome to the mechanical arms of modern-day robotics where technology is performative of spaces and its social use.”

Cyclist Longo Borghini on virtual Giro d’Italia


This 21 April 2020 video, in Italian with English subtitles, says about itself:

Giro d’Italia Virtual by Enel | Pink Race | Elisa Longo Borghini

After stage 10, in the Giro Virtual by Enel Pink Race, the General Classification is led by Trek-Segafredo (combined time of 2h10’04”), thanks to the performances of Elisa Longo Borghini (the stage’s fastest finisher at 1h01’02) and Lizzie Deignan. Trek-Segafredo finished 4’18” ahead of the Italian national team in second place (represented by Maria Giulia Confalonieri and Arianna Fidanza). Movistar Team Women is third at 11’03”.

7,000 Giro d´Italia cyclists from 106 countries


This 19 April 2020 video is about yesterday´s Giro d´Italia online cycling race for veterans.

Today, the virtual Giro d´Italia cycling race organisation reports that meanwhile, over 7,000 amateur cyclists from 106 countries from five continents are participating, thus helping the Red Cross fight the coronavirus crisis in Italy.

The five countries from which most participants come are Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, Japan and Great Britain.

Lutsenko, Longo Borghini win Giro d’Italia stage


This 18 April 2020 video is about the first stage of the virtual Tour of Italy cycling race.

Alexey Alexandrovich Lutsenko from Kazakhstan today won the first stage of the online Giro d’Italia cycling race for men. Sixteen men participated.

Italian Elisa Longo Borghini won the women’s race. Eight women participated.

Both winners are fairly good at riding in mountains. This first stage was hilly.

The coronavirus crisis means the cyclists cannot compete on roads. So, they ride on home trainers at their homes, which are connected to computer screens showing animated virtual scenery.

This is also a way to raise money for the Red Cross to fight the coronavirus crisis in Italy.

The results were:

Men:

1. Alexey Loetsenko 44.41
2. Elia Viviani 48.21
3. Davide Martinelli 50.23
4. Fred Wright 51.45
5. Mirco Maestri 52.58
6. Grega Bole 52.59
7. Samuele Zoccarato 53.29
8. Mattia Frapporti 53.56
9. Paul Martens 54.25
10. Nicola Bagioli 54.28

Women:

1. Elisa Longo Borghini 1.01.02
2. Barbara Guarischi 1.04.46
3. Arianna Fidanza 1.05.34
4. Maria Giualia Confalonieri 1.08.47
5. Lizzie Deignan 1.09.02
6. Katia Ragusa 1.16.21
7. Sheyla Gutierrez Ruiz 1.16.21
8. Liliana Moreno 1.16.21

Over the next three days, other professional male and female cyclists, and veterans and amateurs as well, will ride this first stage. Then, onward to the second stage.

Hometrainer Tour of Italy cycling race tomorrow


This 17 April 2020 video from Italy says about itself:

Giro d’italia and a host of cycling legends launch indoor riding fundraiser in aid of the Italian Red Cross against CoronaVirus.

Donations will be collected until May 10th via the Rete del Dono giving portal, available at www.retedeldono.it/giro. The Giro d’Italia Legends – the “prologue” to the Giro d’Italia Virtual – follow the final 37.4km of stage 9 of the original 2020 Giro route, offering fans and ex-professionals alike a new digital experience created in collaboration with Garmin Edge.

By Dane Cash, April 17, 2020:

Stars of past and present set to ride Giro d’Italia Virtual

While the cycling world waits for clarity on the future of the real Giro d’Italia, organizers have a plan in place to bring some big names together with amateurs (virtually, that is) for a seven-stage event that will run over the course of a few weeks starting on Saturday.

The Giro d’Italia Virtual will join stars of the current peloton with past Italian cycling icons and amateurs from all over to race the finales of select stages of this year’s Giro from the comfort of the (interactive smart) trainers, via GPX files from Garmin Connect uploaded to their bike computers.

Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma),

Roglic’ teammates Steven Kruijswijk and Robert Gesink will participate as well. Ellen van Dijk from the Netherlands will participate in the women’s race.

Elia Viviani (Cofidis), Jakob Fuglsang (Astana), and Trek-Segafredo’s Lizzie Deignan and Elisa Longo Borghini are a handful of the current stars set to participate, with Ivan Basso, Alessandro Ballan, Claudio Chiappucci, and Andrea Tafi among the veterans slated to start in the “Legends” race.

The event will kick off with the final stretch of the 10th stage of the Giro, with racing starting on Saturday, April 18, and staying open until Tuesday, April 21. From there, riders will take on stages 12, 16, 17, 18, 20, and 21, with the event concluding on May 10.

The pro men and women will compete for team classification titles, with Astana, Bahrain-McLaren, Movistar, Jumbo-Visma, Bardiani CSF, and an Italian national squad contesting the men’s event and Trek-Segafredo, Movistar, Astana, and an Italian national squad in the mix for the women’s event. Amateurs, meanwhile, will race for individual general classification honors on both the men’s and women’s side.

A fundraiser to support the Italian Red Cross is being run in conjunction with the event with the aim of helping the organization “continue working at the front line of the Covid-19 emergency, offering first responder aid, virus screening and psychological and logistical support, amongst other vitally important activities in the fight against the epidemic.”

On the virtual Tour de Suisse and virtual Giro: here.

Tour de Suisse update: here.

Bella Ciao song in coronavirus-hit Italy


This 19 March 2020 musical video from Italy shows saxophone player Daniele Vitale, confined to his home like many Italians during the coronavirus crisis, playing the song Bella Ciao. While on the balconies opposite Vitale´s home, people, also confined to their homes, clap and sing along.

Bella Ciao was a song of the resistance against dictator Mussolini and his German Hitlerite allies.

To win the fight against coronavirus now, in Italy and elsewhere, it is also necessary to fight somewhat fascist-like politicians who prefer Big Business profits to human lives, like Donald Trump in the USA and Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil.

Anti-Semitic Catholic painting in Italy


This video from the USA says about itself:

The Blood Libel Then and Now: The Enduring Impact of an Imaginary Event

October 9, 2017

YIVO Institute for Jewish Research | Co-sponsored by American Jewish Historical Society, American Sephardi Federation, Center for Jewish History, Leo Baeck Institute, and Yeshiva University Museum

By Ben Cohen in the USA:

March 27, 2020 2:08 pm

Protests Greet ‘Repulsive’ Painting by Italian Catholic Artist Depicting Antisemitic Blood Libel

A new painting by an Italian Catholic artist that promotes the antisemitic blood libel of medieval times met with outrage on Friday, as Jewish and Catholic commentators condemned the work and called on the Vatican to do the same.

As reported by The Algemeiner on Thursday, the painting — titled “The Martyrdom of St. Simon of Trento in Accordance With Jewish Ritual Murder” — was revealed by its artist, Giovanni Gasparro, on his Facebook page on Tuesday.

The work shows an infant boy surrounded by a crowd of sinister Jewish men, variously wearing side-curls and religious items, who strangulate him, cut him open and drain his blood.

It is based on one of the worst episodes in the history of the “blood libel”, which falsely accused Jews of using the blood of Christians in their religious rituals — the March 1475 disappearance and death of a 2-year-old boy named Simon in the Italian town of Trento, whose fate was blamed on the local Jewish community.

Regarded as a “martyr” by the Catholic Church for centuries, Simon of Trento’s status was removed by Pope Paul VI in 1965 — the year that the Second Vatican Council issued its historic “Nostra Aetate” Declaration disavowing antisemitism.

The legacy of “Nostra Aetate” was cited by many of those who expressed disgust at the antisemitic imagery that dominates Gasparro’s painting.

“It’s repulsive to see so many classic antisemitic stereotypes stuffed into a single painting,” Sohrab Ahmari — the oped editor of the New York Post who converted to the Catholic faith — told The Algemeiner after seeing the photographs Gasparro’s canvas.

“It’s also a reminder of the wisdom and necessity of the Vatican Council’s ‘Nostra Aestate declaration,” Ahmari continued. “That clarified once and for all the Church’s opposition to antisemitism.”

Abraham Foxman — the former national director of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) who has actively promoted Jewish-Catholic dialogue — remarked that the appearance of the painting in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic was itself instructive.

“Crisis times bring out the best and the worst,” Foxman told The Algemeiner on Friday. “So while we continue to be shocked by the classic antisemitism that’s surfaced during the coronavirus crisis, we shouldn’t be surprised.”

Foxman observed that the “blood libel is one of the oldest antisemitic conspiracy themes to have resurfaced in recent weeks.” He further noted that it was “sad that it should surface in Italy of all places,” given the terrible toll wreaked by the coronavirus in that country.

“One new virus fuels the ancient virus of antisemitism,” Foxman said.

Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal Center (SWC), pointed out that the painting’s appearance also coincided with the holidays of Passover and Easter.

“Now, on the eve of the Passover and Easter holidays, this Italian artist decides to promote the original, vicious, lurid, and long-debunked blood libel against the Jewish people through his art?” Cooper stated. “We have contacted Facebook to demand that they not provide their powerful social media platform for a screed that has led to the killing and maiming of Jews for hundreds of years.”

Cooper added that the SWC was urging the Catholic Church to condemn the painting. “This isn’t art, its hate,” he said.

Emails sent by The Algemeiner to Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the Catholic Archbishop of New York, seeking his comment had not been answered by press time.

On social media, the painting attracted a mix of shock and fury, with many users asking how an old and discredited libel could reappear in the 21st century.

Greedy corporation sues life-saving Italian coronavirus doctors


This 20 March 2020 video from the USA says about itself:

Greedy Company Wants To Sue Life Saving Hero Doctors During Pandemic

After two Italian volunteers used a 3-D printer to manufacture a desperately needed ventilator component for those stricken by the coronavirus, the medical company with the patent for the device threatened to sue—even as the printed valves saved at least 10 people’s lives in a hospital in the northern Italian city of Brescia.

“There were people whose lives were in danger, and we acted,” Cristian Fracassi, who along with fellow volunteer Alessandro Ramaioli made the valves, said in a Facebook post on Sunday. “Period.” …

Fracassi and Ramaioli were asked by physicist Massimo Temporelli to assist with producing the valves for only $1 after supplies from the source medical company were not forthcoming. The company, which charges $11,000 apiece for the devices, did not share the technical specifications for producing the valve—leading the volunteers to measure the valves and print from those numbers—and has threatened to sue for patent infringement.

Read more here.

Italian musical solidarity during coronavirus disaster


This 2020 video from Italy says about itself:

Solidarity cacerolazo in Italy

A compilation of scenes from the national cacelorazo on March 13. “We open the windows, go out on the balcony and make noise”, said the call that hoped to become “a giant free concert”.

These Italian high rise residents make that music to show solidarity during the coronavirus disaster, now very lethal in Italy.

In Italy, bosses tell workers keep working, coronavirus danger from many people jammed together in factory halls or no coronavirus danger. Making big profits from selling cars etc. is supposedly more important than workers dying.

Italian workers at Fiat and elsewhere who don’t accept that have gone on strike to protect their health and lives.

However, the Italian government has banned strikes.

The music by the Italian high rise residents reminds me of a Chilean opera singer singing a freedom song from her high rise flat, and getting applause from her fellow high rise residents. These Chileans then were not confined to their high rise homes by the coronavirus, but by the violent right-wing Chilean’government‘s state of emergency, which included a ban on singing or making other sounds.

Coronavirus sparks nationwide strikes in Italy. Unions are calling for a halt to all non-essential production to ensure safety and sanitation of workplaces. By Paola Tamma.