A Simple Report.

Joaquin_Pinto_-_The_Inquisition

From the Human Rights Watch: ” … Waterboarding. Mock executions. Forced nudity. Shackling wrists and ankles in painful,stress positions. Locking someone for days in a confined, dark,coffin-like box. Threatening people, naked and hooded, with power drills, rape, and death. Exposing human beings to continuous loud music and light. Depriving them of sleep. Threatening to harm a person’s family...”

Why of the 6,000-page report compiled by the US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence only 525-page were released?

A report that detailed the actions of CIA officials.

A report that took over 5 years and 40 Million to be completed. $40 Million of our money.

Why?

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Filed under 2015, blog, CIA, Crimini di Guerra, history, Human Rights, opinions, Peace, politica affari internazionali, Politica Internazionale, Stati Uniti, Storia, US, violence, war, World

No Easter Eggs.

children-lidice-4[6] (children’s war victims memorial in Lidice)

According to the United Nations children’s agency 14 million children are suffering because the war in Syria and Iraq.

No Easter eggs for them.

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Filed under 2015, bambini, blog, children, Crimini di Guerra, Easter, history

THE MAN DOG

 

david-and-goliath-2

(This is my first attempt to literary glory at age 16. I just translated in English. I hope you will enjoy it).

The Man Dog.

I

After his wife died Gipo was alone. But it wasn’t until after the funeral that he was able to embrace solitude. During those first unreal days he had, for the first time in his life, felt truly important. All his friends (few) and relatives (too many) were trying to outdo each other in the attention and consolation they gave him.

It was a few days before the gravesite would be ready so that the heavy mahogany casket was placed in its final waiting room at the cemetery that Gipo went through a liberating experience. In that surreal room, were tears flowed and took with them the pain of regret, of love, where his feelings traversed the entire rainbow of sentiments from hypocrisy to desperation, Gipo was sure that his life would change. But he had not idea how much.

During the burial everyone was mute. Gipo thought they must have run out of ideas and words to consol him. Good!

The eulogy was finally coming to an end. Soon the curtain would drop, the actors take their final bows and leave him in peace. He was glad.

The last few moments at his doorway were the worst. He couldn’t get rid of them. The last advice, phony entreaties to be called at any time, for any reasons…and finally the door closed on the people of his former life.

Gipo was about to start his new life. Alone. Free.

He leaned with his back against the door and gazed down the long corridor of his apartment. A few moments passed. Gipo stood quite still; he didn’t know what to do. Sure, everyone had promised to call on him, but he knew they wouldn’t. Even when his wife was alive they rarely received visitors or invitations, nor did they go visiting or extend invitations. This wouldn’t change. Not now.

Finally he moved away from the door. He walked down the long hallway into the kitchen. He decided to have an espresso. He fussed with the coffee pot for a bit, got the stove lit after two or three matches, sat down, stared fixedly at the apparatus and patiently waited.

The neon lighting (which his wife had had installed for reasons of economy) cast a disconcerting glow in the room. He hated that light, it was like if he was still at the morgue. Gipo gave a sudden start as the coffee pot began to rumble like a thunderstorm heard in a distance, signaling that it was ready. He inhaled deeply as he poured the ebony liquid into a small cup. The aroma and taste of coffee were two things he couldn’t resist.

Gipo noticed that strangely enough, he wasn’t thinking much about his wife and her loss didn’t cause him any grief at all. Instead he thought of how he wouldn’t have to suffer her reprimands, her sarcasm and her constant gossip on any and every subject anymore. He felt almost happy. It had been a long time since Gipo had felt anything like happy. And maybe best of all Gipo wouldn’t have to put up with the vast array of wheezing, rasping, rattling and other noises she made every night. It seemed that in whatever position she slept, indecent sounds were emitted through every orifice of her body.

Finishing his coffee, Gipo lit a cigarette. With joy he thought how he could now smoke what, when and how he wanted. And if the curtains stank of tobacco, well: he didn’t care. With the last puff on his smoke Gipo admitted that he was happy his wife was gone. He was a widower. “A happy one” he confessed to himself surprisingly without guilt.

He put on his cap and went out.

II

Of all months, November was somehow the saddest. It wasn’t cold but the damp air made him shiver just the same. He adjusted his scarf and then remembered it had been a gift from his wife. He tore it off and tossed into a trashcan.

He felt warmer.

He walked slowly, watching with childlike wonder the mist formed by the contact of his breath with the humid nocturnal air. The long boulevard was deserted. The naked trees stood like giant prisoners with their feet chained to the earth. The pavement was wet and sticky despite the lack of rain and the white light of the street lamps did not seem to penetrate and win against the dim evening. Occasionally a car raced down the street, came down to the corner going too fast and managed to stop only with a squealing of brakes and frantic downshifting.

Gipo looked at the piles of garbage overflowing from the too few containers on the roadside. He thought that even if his city was one of the most beautiful in the world, it certainly wasn’t one of the cleanest. A bunch of cats were intent on the feast in the pile of rubbish. When they heard Gipo’s steps they turned to look. Like two tiny green lights their eyes were focused on the walking man for an instant. Then they turned back to the business at hand.

At the end of the road Gipo saw a light. It was an all-night coffee bar. Going in, he asked for a coffee. Lazily, the man at the bar fiddled with the machine, slid a cup under the spout and waited. Gipo looked around. It was a dark and squalid place. He drank the coffee, which was horrible, asked for a glass of water to wash the taste from his mouth, paid and left.

A big dog was standing just outside the door. It seemed to have been waiting. It stared at him. Gipo always liked dogs very much. But his wife had never allowed one. “They are SOO dirty!” she would wine in her nervous and acidic voice. Well, now that she was gone, he was the master of the house and if he wanted a dog, who was going to stop him?

He stretched out his hand and caressed it on its head. The dog was docile and let him do it.

So Gipo’s solitude only lasted a short time. Now he had a friend. Didn’t they always say that a dog was man’s best friend? They became virtually inseparable, and Rey (the name Gipo gave him) was an exceptional dog; he never barked, never got in Gipo’s way. Didn’t make the apartment dirty. In short, he had all the qualities that a man could hope to find in a dog. At the same time Gipo had all the positive traits a dog could wish for in a man; he was a good man, never demanding, gave him plenty of food, was punctual in talking him for walks. You know how it is… certain beings seem to be made for each other. With the passage of time the man and the animal grew even closer. Gipo could speak for hours to Rey; Rey always listened.

But one day something extraordinary happened.

Gipo was in the armchair, watching TV. Rey lay at his feet, dozing placidly like only dogs can do it. Then, as he often did, Gipo began to talk to his dog.

“…You see Rey, if you could speak, you’d be perfect, not like my wife who could speak but had none of your good qualities. I sure was lucky to find you that night…”

“…I was lucky too, to find you, Gipo…”

For a moment Gipo felt he had followed his wife to the otherworld. Where did that voice come from? Dogs don’t talk!

“…don’t flip out old friend, it is really me, your dog Rey that’s speaking to you; you see, you humans have always thought that we dogs can’t talk, but you’ve always been wrong…”

“…But…but…dogs bark…” Gipo murmured in a trembling voice

“…It’s you humans that say we bark and you speak but from our point of view, we speak and you bark…”

Gipo couldn’t accept what he was hearing. “…I must have had too much to drink or I am going crazy…or maybe…I am just dreaming…Yes, that’s got too be it. It’s a nightmare…”

“…Nightmare or not dear Gipo, it’s true that I am talking to you and you are listening to me. You are not the only one. It happens from time to time…”

“…What happens?…” asked Gipo.

“…Well, have you ever seen a dog that remind you of someone you once knew?…”

“…Yeah…so?…”

“…You see…those aren’t actually dogs…they are mandogs…”

“…Mandogs! What does that mean?…” demanded Gipo, beginning to panic about what was happening.

“…it means that certain men, like you for example, that are particularly good to dogs can, in turn, become dogs, but can still talk to human if they want to help them become other mandogs too…”

“…You mean you were once a man…?”

“…Exactly…I was an accountant in a small village. I was alone. The society of men had cast me out, or at least I was never considered by other people but amongst the dogs I am an important fellow, and above all I am not judged…”

“…Oh, my God…”

“…Now Gipo do you want to become a mandog? You will never be alone. There’ll always be somebody to help you, either a dog or a man. We dogs always help each other and we sometimes find help from a human…”

Gipo made no response. He let out a whistle and fell back into the armchair.

Outside, the rain was gently knocking at the window. Sad, lonely drops, begging for help.

A long time passed and Gipo wasn’t seen. One day a niece of his wife’s was out for a stroll with her husband and she pointed out a stray dog to him.

“…Doesn’t that dog look like the husband of my dear departed aunt, God bless her?…”

“…What?…” he replied “…But yes, I guess it’s true. Funny, but out of all men he could look like it would be that half-wit uncle of yours…”

“…He’s not my uncle anymore! Who knows what has happened to him…living just like a dog…”

“…Just like a human…” thought the dog as he turned and trotted off down the street.

 

“…The only thing I miss is coffee and cigarettes…”

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Filed under 2015, art, blog, Books, dogs, Human Rights, leggere, letteratura, libri, literature, Pace, Peace, Poesia, Poetry, racconti, reading, storie, Uncategorized, Writers

March 21, World Poetry Day

leonardo-da-vinci-quotes-painting-poetry-700x560

Let’s make the world a better place.

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They Are Innocent.

a_002(Peanut Baskerville Grande)

Please.

Let’s stop hurting creatures like this one.

Please

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What Do You Think (2)? The Most Influential writers (according to me AND inspired by readers)

Budapešť_0158

I. Homer

II. Virgil

III. Ovid

IV. Tu-Fu

V. Murasaki Shikibu

VI. Dante Alighieri

VII. Francesco Petrarca

VIII. Miguel De Cervantes

IX. William Shakespeare

X. John Milton

XI. Moliere

XII. Voltaire

XIII. Alexander Pushkin

XIV. Charles Dickens

XV. Johann Wolfgang Goethe

XVI. Jane Austen

XVII. Victor Hugo

XVIII. Feodor Dostoevsky

XIX. Herman Melville

XX. Gustave Flaubert

XXI. Charles Baudelaire

XXII. Leo Tolstoy

XXIII. Emily Dickinson

XXIV. Mark Twain

XXV. Emile Zola

XXVI. Henry James

XXVII. Arthur Conan Doyle

XXVIII. Anton Chekhov

XXIX. Thomas Mann

XXX. Franz Kafka

XXXI. Robert Musil

XXXII. Federico Garcia Lorca

XXXIII. Ernest Hemingway

XXXIV. Jorge Luis Borges

XXXV. Pablo Neruda

XXXVI. Gertrude Stein

XXXVII. Gabriel Garcia Marquez

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What do You Think? The most influential books ever written (according to me)

640px-Melk_-_Abbey_-_Library (the library of Melk Abbey)

Add yours if you like…

I. The Jewish Bible, by Various Authors

II. The Iliad, by Homer

III. The Odyssey, by Homer

IV. Corpus Aristotelicum, by Aristotle

V. The Republic, by Plato

VI. Analectus, by Confucius

VII. The Aeneid, by Virgil

VIII. The New Testament, by Various Authors

IX. The Quran, by Various Authors

X. The Guide for the Perplexed, by Maimonides

XI. Summa Theologica, by Thomas Aquinas

XII. Divine Comedy, by Dante Alighieri

XIII. Institues of Christian Religion, by John Calvin

XIV. Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World System, by Galileo

XV. Principia Mathematica, by Isaac Newton

XVI. The New Science, by Giambattista Vico

XVII. Encyclopedie, by Denis Diderot

XVIII. The wealth of Nations, by Adam Smith

XIX. Phenomenology of Mind, by G.W.F. Hegel

XX. On War, by Carl Von Clausevitz

XXI. Communist Manifesto, by Karl Marx and F. Engels

XX. The Origin of the Species, by Charles Darwin

XXI. Experiment on Plant Hybridization, by Gregor Mendel

XXII. War and Peace, by Leo Tolstoy

XXIII. The Interpretation of Dreams, by Sigmund Freud

XXIV. Relativity, by Albert Einstein

XXV. I and Thou, by Martin Buber

XXVI. If This Is a Man, by Primo Levi

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Quando non ci saranno più’ Elefanti

Elephants

Che faremo quando non ci saranno più’ Elefanti?.

Voglio dire completamente. Tutti morti. Uccisi. Distrutti. Annientati. Che faremo allora? Per favore, leggete  il bellissimo articolo (National Geographic) di Bryan Christy con le fotografie di Brent Stirton sui 25,000 elefanti che sono stati uccisi lo scorso anno.

25,000.

Uccisi per nessun motivo valido. Io non considero l’uccidere per l’avorio un motivo serio. A me, che i Cinesi facciano grande uso di avorio non me ne frega nulla. Nel 1979, c’arano 1.3 milioni di Elefanti Africani nel 2007 il loro numero si e’ ridotto a poco più’ di 500,000 esemplari.

In troppi paesi al mondo esiste un mercato illegale per l’avorio. Nelle Filippine, in Cina, in Giappone. Se continuiamo di questo passo tra venti anni non ci saranno più’ elefanti, se non qualche vecchio esemplare, triste, rinchiuso in qualche zoo.

Sono animali splendidi. Forti. Intelligenti. Fanno parte della storia del nostro pianeta.

Per favore, smettiamo di ucciderli. Fermiamo il massacro. Non voglio pensare a quando non ci saranno più’ elefanti.

A proposito, in liberta’ restano 3,200 tigri, 50 Rinoceronti di Java, 200 di Sumatra e 786 Gorilla di Montagna.

Perche’?

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AN EARLY EVENING IN PARIS

???????????????????????????????????????? (previously posted on February 2013)

“…at the intersection near Saint-Eustache, the opening to the Rue Rambuteau was blocked by a barricade of orange pumpkins in two rows, sprawling at their ease and swelling out their bellies. Here and there gleamed the varnished golden brown of a basket of onions, the blood-red of a heap of tomatoes, the soft yellow of a display of cucumbers, and the deep mauve of aubergines; while large black radish, laid down in funereal carpets, formed dark patches in the brilliance of the early morning…”

This beautiful passage was written by Emile Zola in his La Ventre de Paris (The Belly of Paris). An immensely descriptive, humorous and exciting novel, it is the third of his twenty-volume series of Les Rougon-Maquart novels; still little known in this country.

La Ventre de Paris captures the essence of Le Forum des Halles: the central gathering place and traditional market integral to the lives of Parisians for 800 years.

In 1971 the food stalls of Les Halles were removed. Intricate glass and metal sculptures were built-in their place, which though controversial, create the strong impression that you are standing in a former open-air market -and it is today every bit as colorful and chaotic as it was in Zola’s day.

I love this bustling nucleus of Paris: its noise and confusion; the filthy, arrogant pigeons that march around us as if they own the place (which of course they do in their little bird brains). I am fond of the restaurants where I spent innumerable hours in (in another life and many years ago) like La Poule au Pot and Au Pied de Cochon, which is open 24 hours.

Here, at the tip of Rue Montorgueil, in the midst of the bailemme that is Les Halles sits Saint Eustache church, a masterpiece of late Gothic architecture. Designed by Italian architect Domenico da Cortona, the construction was lengthy (1532-1637). During that period the gothic style fell out of fashion in favor of renaissance, which explains why a gothic church features unexpected renaissance details. It has a ground-plan analogous to that of Notre Dame with a nave of five bays and a choir aisle with 24 chapels. The high cupola reaches a height of 190 feet.

So, I was in Paris -breathing in the city rather than exploring her, and casually I strolled inside Saint Eustache. It was the first time in almost 20 years that I ventured within its sacred walls. No, I did not take a trip down memory lane. I just admired my surrounding silently. Saint Eustache has not changed much.

The beautiful stained glass windows, which were created by Antoine Soulignac, and likely modeled after drawings by Philippe de Champaigne were still there. Intact and with the perfect radiance of a minor masterpiece.

The pipe organ, containing 8,000 pipes, is the largest in France. It was silent during my visit, but it is a sleeping giant capable of producing some of the world’s perfect music.

And of course I admired the paintings by Santi di Tito, fellow renaissance brethren to Piero della Francesca (and fellow citizen) and Rubens.

The church was mainly empty. A couple of tourists were looking around with tired faces and uninspired expressions. The silence was covering the gorgeous interior like a warm blanket. A beautiful woman with striking red hair was admiring the expansive interior, walking slowly, her figure occasionally obscured by the shadow created by the game of light.

I sat in a chair, thinking of the young Louis XIV taking his first Communion here. In my mind I saw the Cardinal Richelieu and Jeanne-Antoinette Poisson (the future madame de Pompadour) being baptized, and I saw the distressed face of Mozart at the funeral of his mother. I also saw the happy expression of Moliere getting married to Armande Claire Bejarde. I thought of all of them, all of the events that have happened here at Saint Eustache.

One thing has become clear since my last visit. Saint Eustache requires a great deal of love and attention. Centuries of smoke from the candles have left a dirty gray coat on the walls; the marble pillars are chipped in many places; chairs are scattered around like fallen leaves. Many of the 24 chapels are as unkempt as the hair of a rock star.

Saint Eustache parish hosts numerous activities, and touches the lives of many in the phantasmagorical surrounding that is Les Halles. Music, both sacred and contemporary can be heard here regularly, and the rotations of expositions and events make Saint Eustache as busy as an American airport on Thanksgiving. Social justice and community outreach also play a fundamental role in the life of the parish; and the Center Cerise, a cultural hub for artists and arts group (some well-known) is housed here.

Sancerre is a great white wine. Produced in the easter region of the Loire Valley, it is a semi-dry variety that comes from Sauvignon-Blanc grapes. In my opinion it is also a perfect aperitif. It is what I was drinking in the evening after my visit to Saint Eustache, sitting at a cafe’ across from the church and the Rue Montorgueil. As I was sipping that flawless, cold Sancerre, I thought about the universal value of art and architecture. Of how sacred places of worship are fundamental pieces of the community everywhere, and beautiful architecture is the mirror of an intense community life.

Yes, indeed universal.

Just like those pigeons that were lazily moving about outside Saint Eustache.

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Filed under blog, Church, Europe, Europe, France, literature, racconti, Sacred Architecture, Paris, Churches, Arts, French Wines, Emile Zola

Just Peanut…

noname-1

How can I resist?…

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Filed under dogs, love, padri