Archive for the ‘International Herald Tribune’ Category
(letter sent to the Editors of the International Herald Tribune)
Say what you will of Italy and its Prime Minister, there remains one powerful counterpoint to Silvio Berlusconi, resolutely bringing him a large amount of support: the intolerable pseudo-intellectualism that makes Frank Bruni and his (selected) Italian sources believe there is any correlation between “having a higher education” and “voting Left” (see Frank Bruni’s “The Affliction of Comfort”, IHT, 19 Sep 2011 ).
It doesn’t take much really to understand the utter inability to govern of a political side (such as the Italian Leftists) incapable for two decades of overcoming Mr Berlusconi and his supporters. To consistently lose against people despised as mentally inferior, it is the best evidence of being even more intellectually challenged than them.
From: Maurizio Morabito
Date: Tue, Feb 22, 2011 at 3:01 PM
Subject: Insane Ed’s and Op-Ed’s (IHT, 22 Feb)
To: Letters IHT
it’s difficult to say if your line about the revolts in the Middle East is appalling or just insane. In the same pages (editorials and op-ed‘s, 22 Feb) where you appear at least in theory to support millions yearning for democracy and free and fair elections in the Middle East, you spend considerable ink arguing that the free and fair electoral wishes of millions of people in a major Democracy should be tramped upon.
I am talking about Italy of course.
Are democracies to be supported only when voters follow your advice? Isn’t yours the very same attitude that made murderous dictators rest easily, safe in the knowledge that all it took them in order to get billions in US aid was to present any democratic alternative as not of Washington’s liking?
And so your dislike for Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi reveals you yourself as hypocrites, dreaming of getting the World you dream by pretending to care about distant people whose own dreams you wouldn’t think twice to destroy.
As an “ironing and cooking” Italian man “who does not ask my partner to make sure the pasta is cooked “al dente” when I get back home from work“, I am puzzled by Chiara Riffa and Rosa Raffaelli’s exhortation for more respect to be accorded to women in Italy (“Enough Machismo Italian Style“, IHT Printed edition, 19 Feb).
Ms Riffa and Ms Raffaelli’s goals are as laudable as daft and nonsensical are the chosen means of changing the status-quo. For example, as enthusiastically “reported” by IHT Rome-based journalists Rachel Donadio and Elisabetta Povoledo, the “women’s dignity” mass demonstrations of 13 Feb were overwhelmingly focused against Italian PM Silvio Berlusconi. That was a sure-fire way to degrade any “demand” to low-level party-political diatribe.
It is also unclear what yet another demonstration achieved, what if anything has changed or is going to change at least in the participants’ lives, and most of all how could a person, even a Prime Minister, affect the “dignity” of a mass of individuals (unless, perhaps, it’s North Korea we’re talking about). Like for everybody else, my “dignity” is all mine, and for me to nurture, not to abandon to the care of however-politically-powerful strangers. Actually, by associating themselves to the controversies regarding Mr Berlusconi, the “women’s dignity” demonstrators might have ultimately shown how low their self-respect is, and how weak their demands, all too easily manipulated for the sake of provoking a change in Government.
I can’t wait for the day when “machismo” will be an obsolete word, in Italy and everywhere else. Tough chance though, unless and until the problem is dealt with in a practical, truly apolitical way capable of positively affecting the day-to-day behaviour of millions of people; and unless and until the educated, cosmopolitan, financially-liberated victims of machismo will (at least!) start self-respecting themselves.
Mohammad Ali Salih’s analysis of what has brought about the USA and the rest of the world to do nothing at all to prevent the splitting of Sudan in two halves, is singularly unimpressive (“My country divided“, IHT, Feb 17, 2011).
What is impressive is Mr Salih’s inability to spell “DARFUR”. Genocide or not, hundreds of thousands have been killed or forced into fleeing from their villages in Darfur, and even those that don’t want to believe in a direct support for those shameful actions against civilians by the Sudanese government, will have to admit it’s hard to win friends when you cannot guarantee the safety of your own citizens.
Compound with that the fact that the Darfur crisis was started just as the Sudanese civil war North vs South was drawing to an end at last.
Note also how the US government had no qualms in trying to help the displaced Darfurians, Muslims driven away from their normal lives by other Muslims. It is therefore apparent that it wasn’t Islamophobia the driver of outside intervention supporting the separation of South Sudan. It was Khartoum’s obviously pernicious policies in “dealing with” internal affairs.
And since even Northern Sudanese people with an international outlook like Mr Salih cannot even mention Darfur, the separation of South Sudan sounds like a very good idea indeed.
From: Maurizio Morabito
Date: Mon, Feb 7, 2011 at 8:32 PM
Subject: factual error in book review “Polar Distress” by Holly Morris (last weekend’s)
To: Letters IHT , Letters NYT
Dear Sirs or Madams
Ms Morris quotes from Ms Wheeler’s book about
one boggling case: Endocrine-disrupting chemicals handed up the food chain have triggered changes in the sex of unborn children in the first three weeks of gestations, resulting in the birth of twice as many girls as boys in some villages in Greenland and among the Inuit nations of eastern Russia
That is an unwarranted claim that originally appeared in The Guardian in 2007 and was attributed to the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Program (AMAP), AMAP itself has distanced itself from that very same claim, for example writing in its 2009 SOAER report that
Systematic epidemiological studies, including all possible confounders and other relevant contaminants, must be performed before any conclusive statements can be made about contaminants and sex ratios in Arctic populations
And if you check, AMAP has been consistently reminding its reports’ readers about the preliminary nature of any suggestion of a link between pollution and sex ratios in humans, at least since 2006.
Neither Ms Wheeler, and worse, nor Ms Morris appear to have been curious enough to verify what they were writing about, and especially concerning such a “boggling” example. Please publish a correction as soon and as prominently as possible, otherwise your readers will find themselves severely mislead by a demonstrated falsehood.
Thanks in anticipation
to Letters IHT
date Wed, Jul 14, 2010 at 2:21 PM
Is climate change a threat large enough to make you undermine the very foundations of your trade? That’s the most important question upon observing your cavalier attitude to Freedom of Information (FOI) in the editorial titled “A Climate Change Corrective” (printed on the IHT on 14 Jul 2010), regarding the alledgedly “manufactured controversy” also known as Climategate.
Forget science, and forget politics for a moment: Climategate, as established by every official British investigation about it, has shown a deliberate, concerted attempt at circumventing the letter and the spirit of the local FOI Act. In more than one circumstance, the Information Commissioner’s Office has found that FOI requests were not dealt “as they should have been under the legislation“. Lord Oxburgh’s and Sir Muir Russell’s reports say as much too, just like the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee’s.
A wide range of commentators of all scientific and political stances have remarked this, and the general consensus is that from now on science itself will have to change its practice, becoming more transparent and open especially to knowledgeable members of the public. We are talking FOI, after all, an extension to the freedom of speech, a right that people including journalists, and The New York Times, have successfully fought for during the past half-century.
It’s only because of the statute of limitations that there has been no prosecution in the UK regarding the attacks on FOI revealed by Climategate. And what do you have to say about that instead? Absolutely nothing, apart from an absurdly understated remark about “a timid reluctance to share data“.
And so you have sacrificed the right to FOI in an attempt to get “firm action to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases“. Good for you. And good for Governments the world over: they will surely rejoice upon hearing that the most influential and authoritative global and US newspaper does not care about FOI. Why, all they have to do is claim “a timid reluctance” to open up their files: and all you will be able to print, will be regurgitated propaganda and half-truths.
I have heard the hamburgers are good, in Pyongyang.
journalist and blogger, “The Unbearable Nakedness of Climate Change“
Nazenin Ansati and Jonathan Paris claim that “many in the [Iranian] Green Movement […] would like to see the international community exert pressure on the regime through a progressive set of smart, vigorous and targeted sanctions and more forceful advocacy of human rights” (“The message from the streets of Tehran“, IHT, Nov 7).
But haven’t “targeted sanctions” against the Iranian regime and a seemingly perennial “advocacy of human rights” been in place for decades? And what would any Iranian internal opposition movement ever gain from associating itself with foreign Powers, given the anti-Western-Governments paranoia widespread among the ruling classes, and the evidence of History suggesting that foreign intervention in Iran has invariably been for the worst?