Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Foreigners in Italy

Source: Istituto Nazionale di Statistica

The following is a graph of foreign population of men (in blue) and women (in red) in Italy on 01/01/06.

This graph demonstrates:
- The highest population of men are 37 years old.
- The highest population of women are 31 years old.
- There is a significant increase in the men/women ration starting at the age of 10.
- There is a significant decrease in the men/women ratio at the age of 47.
- Immigrant women are roughly the same in numbers.

The 2004 movie Saimir chronicles an Albanian teenager that gets involved in human trafficking of other illegal immigrants. It is unclear on how the immigrant youth live in Italy. The increase of immigrants at the age of 10 is rather startling and hopefully the boys are not starting to immigrate at the age of 10 all alone. It is unclear how many alone teens there may be but there may be a higher probability that the boys are coming with a father leaving the mothers and sisters in their native land.

Regardless of how it is completed, it does seem tragic to think that families are divided for financial or political pressures.

The 47 year old gender tipping point is also noteworthy. This may demonstrate that the men return to their native country in their 40's, or it may mean that their lifespan is that much less than that of Italy on average. I find the former rather unlikely as even impoverished nations have higher lifespans.

The immigration issue is hard to analyze as there are so many undocumented and they are hard to track. Above all, it is hoped that the children are cared for properly.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Italian Reporters Killed In Iraq and Afghanistan to Date

As this is an old post that was getting a lot of hits, I thought I would update a couple of numbers. Sorry for no posts for so long. Someday I will have the time.

Amazingly, the war in Iraq has had more journalists killed than in any other conflict (assuming there were few journalists in wars prior to 1900, which is a fair estimate).

Reporters for Italian news killed in Iraq and Afghanistan to date (10/03/08):

- Independent journalist, Enzo Baldoni

- Afghan aid to Daniele Mastrogiacomo, Ajmal Nakshbandi

- Iraqi freelance producer and translator who worked for the television station TG3, Adnan Al-Bayati

- Unknown driver for Baldoni

Italian reporters abducted and released:

- Reporter for Il Manifesto, Giuliana Sgrena - Saved by Italian secret service agent Nicola Calipari who put himself in the line of fire to protect her from US troop mistaken fire.

- War correspondent for La Repubblica, Daniele Mastrogiacomo

Total number of journalists killed to date since 2003:135

Total number of media support killed to date since 2003:51

Journalists killed in conflicts:
Algeria (1993-96): 58
Colombia (1986-present): 54
Balkans (1991-95): 36
Philippines (1983-87): 36
Turkey (1984-99): 22
Tajikistan (1992-96): 16
Sierra Leone (1997-2000): 15
Afghanistan (2001-04): 9
Somalia (1993-95): 9
Kosovo (1999-2001): 7
First Iraq war (1991): 4 (In the aftermath)

Earlier conflicts before CPJ statistics were logged in 1981:
Central American conflicts (1979-89): 89, Source: Freedom Forum
Argentina (1976-1983): 98, Source: Freedom Forum
Vietnam (1955-1975): 66, Source: Freedom Forum
Vietnam (1962-75): 71, Source: The Foreign Correspondents Club of Japan
Korean War: 17, Source: Freedom Forum
World War II: 68, Source: Freedom Forum
World War I: 2, Source: Freedom Forum

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Italian Emigration and Immigration

A lot can change from in 3 years...

N. Italy in 1796:

N. Italy in 1799:

That was just at the time when the US congress passed the Alien and Sedition Act of 1798. It says says anyone "opposing or resisting any law of the United States, or any act of the President of the United States" could be imprisoned for up to two years. This gave rather unreasonable powers over immigrants to the US.

From the late 1800s to the early 1900s, Italians were emigrating in droves when starvation and disease drove Italians to America. 25 million emigrated from a nation left with only 32 million.

Up until WWII, the nation still saw mass emigration in the 1930s of 300,000 per year. During WWII, Italians had been interned in the US like the Japanese and Germans.

Boundary changes have produced refugees since ancient times. And now strife in Africa, the former Yugoslavia, and the fall of the Soviet Union have caused mass refugees fleeing their country. Italy is a gateway for entrance to Western Europe. It has the largest coastline sitting in the middle of the Mediterranean.

Currently, the birth rate is smaller than the death rate (8.5% and 10.5% respectively). This sort of emigration is slowly eating at the Italian population. The only rises in population are now due to immigration of which standards have just been eased.

Berlusconi is now accusing the new immigrants of raising crime within Italy. A recent poll said 43 percent of Italians see immigrants as a threat to public security, up from 39 percent in mid-2005.

Leftists may argue that Immigration may be a vital part in sustaining growth for the nation with a still stagnant economy. This source of cheap labor could be used to maintain Italians lifestyles.

Yet, Italians are getting progressively more concerned about these immigrants. It is hard to not remember their history of being immigrants themselves, however Italy's Italians are composed of those that have never emigrated.

The immigration issue is still unresolved even after recent legislation, and now is being used as a political tool for Berlusconi to try to regain power. It will be interesting to see how it resolves, however it may take longer than anyone may anticipate.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Italian Deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan

Italian troops killed to date (05/15/07):

- 33 deaths
- 8 non-hostile deaths (accidents)
- 16 from 1 event (car bomb in An Nasiriyah on 11/12/03)

Source: Iraq Coalition Casualty Count

Estimated Iraqi civilians reported killed by military intervention in Iraq to date:

- Min 63744
- Max 69795

Source: Iraq Body Count

Italian troops killed in Afghanistan to date (05/04/07):

- 9 deaths

Source: NATO (via Wikipedia)

Afghan civilian reported deaths since occupation in 2001:

- Jonathan Steele of the Guadian estimated 20,000 - 50,000 on 05/20/02.
- 2006 saw more than 3700 killed, about 1000 of them civilians.

Sources: BBC and the Guardian

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Afghanistan Duration, Part II

It looks as though today, Defense Minister Arturo Parisi has called for more troop and equipment reinforcement. The request is around 150 troops and a number of tanks and helicopters.

Although more reinforcement is requested says little about a pull-out. As the troops were sent for "peace-keeping" operations, it appears as though they are amid a war. The Italians voted to keep troops for another 6 months last March.

However, more interestingly (from the Middle East Online):

On May 8, the Senate in Kabul approved a bill that called for negotiations with the Taliban, a ceasefire, and a date for the withdrawal of foreign troops. The proposed legislation demands that foreign forces should not engage the Taliban unless they are themselves attacked or have first consulted with the Afghan army, police and government.

The bill reflects a growing popular rebellion against heavy-handed American army tactics and aerial bombardments, which have brought death and destruction to many parts of Afghanistan. The bill has to be approved by the lower house of Parliament and by President Karzai before becoming law.

On May 10, Iraq had followed suit with similar legislation of which a majority has required a timeline for the withdrawal of troops. The homecoming of Italian troops seems more and more imminent.

Monday, May 14, 2007

The Vatican Replies to their Accusers

As the Vatican has been recently accused of political involvement in staging rallies against newly drafted measures to give gays and unwed couples more rights, the Pope has responded even though he currently is visting Brazil.

After over a million fliers were handed out, the Pope seems to have taken the approach of arguing in semantics: "If the Church were to start transforming herself into a directly political subject," he observed, "she would do less, not more, for the poor and for justice, because she would lose her independence and her moral authority." (Quote in Italian here). He defended actions as "defending the family" and not as political acts.

The Pope then also continues to blast both the left and the right: "The Marxist system has left a sad inheritance of economic and ecological destructions and a painful destruction of the spirit. The same for the West, where the distance between poor and rich grows constantly and an alarming degradation of personal dignity with deceptive illusions of happiness are produced."

Meanwhile, estimates from 250,000 to over a million people gathered in Rome to protest the legislation. It is difficult to say that the Vatican is not involved with politics with such a sweeping protest assembled. With its strong following and support, the Vatican may more accurately be described as a political party all its own that doesn't need direct seats in the legislature than "involved with politics".

Friday, May 11, 2007

How Much Longer In Afghanistan?

From the IHT:
The Afghan government has taken over the management of hospitals run by an Italian aid group that pulled its international workers to protest the detention of a staff member by authorities, an official said Thursday.

It appears that even after the Italian NGO "Emergency" left their posts in protest to the death sentencing of the Afghan translator and aid for the freeing of the Italian journalist Mastrogiacomo, their posts were quickly filled by the Afghan government. This does bode as a good sign for Afghanistan as they are not negotiating with influential forces and enforcing their laws and have the resources to back it up. There are other recent signs of success for Afghanistan that seem promising.

With recent Afghan unity and successes against the Taliban, with a small percentage of Italian troops in Afghanistan (1300 out of 32000 NATO troops), and when Italian aid seems unnecessary, there may be attempts for a withdrawal of troops. Especially with Prime Minister Prodi under heat from his party and others, the time may be nearing.

The French have been pressured to withdraw from the Taliban as well recently. French President Sarkozy has also talked of withdrawal which resulted in the release of a French hostage. However, concessions to hostage threats are an unlikely mechanism for withdrawal as nations fall under public scrutiny for showing "weakness" and negotiating with the enemy. Italy has already gone through their own debacle in their concession to hostage takers. We will see if the French actually follow through soon.

Nevertheless, if Italy and France both pull out, that would symbolically show a pull out of spirit for the Afghan movement. The French currently have 1100 troops stationed in Afghanistan and if both nations pull out it would be a 8% withdrawal of troops. Although a small percentage in theory, there may be more witnessing european nations that will have corroding support as a result. The US is already spread thinly with war in Iraq. Hence, NATO members, and especially the US, will probably try its best to deter Italy and France from leaving. Although it is highly politically popular now to be anti-US policy, they will probably not pull out until there is a longer streak of stability in Afghanistan.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

The Vaticans Grip

Recently, the Vatican has also been accused of interference in Italy for telling lawmakers to oppose a draft law that would grant some rights to unwed and gay couples.

From Reuters:
Catholic parishes up and down Italy have handed out millions of flyers urging the faithful to rally outside Rome’s St John in Lateran cathedral on Saturday for “Family Day”, against what they see as an attack on family values by the left.

The Vatican has a grip on Italy that is more than religion, but involves culture too. 88% of Italians claim to be Catholics, however, only 37% claim to practice. In the same survey, only 19% support abortion when the reason for abortion is that the mother does not want to have children. If only 37% practice, clearly their is a belief system that transcends going to church.

As Western Europe sees declines in church attendance, the Vatican may slowly lose its grasp of its enveloping bordering nation. Additionally, if Italy's new relaxing of immigration legislation encourages more immigration, the Albanian and North African Muslims may swing the pendulum somewhat. Statistics show that Orthodox Christians from Eastern Europe are coming in large numbers too.

The success of the current measure may help us understand better how the Vatican is fairing in what was once a ruling faction of the area for centuries.

Friday, May 4, 2007

Who Has the Conflict of Interest?

From Ansa:

An article approved by the House committee on Thursday would prevent people with businesses worth more than 15 million euros from holding government office. Those wishing to do so would be forced to sell their businesses or put them into a
blind trust.

"We're not expecting people to emulate St. Francis (who gave up all material possessions)... The blind trust isn't a weird concept - it's typically American," said Prodi, a former European Commission chief. But Berlusconi shot back that the reform bill was "an act of political assassination". "It's further proof of the Left's desire to eliminate its most dangerous political adversary, namely myself," said the 70-year-old media magnate, who is Italy's richest man. "We're not in America but in Italy, and things work differently here... Fixing a limit beyond which one has to take all one's assets and entrust them to a person who can do what he wants with them is completely crazy," said the former premier. Since his entry into politics in 1993, Berlusconi has been dogged by criticism, both at home and abroad, for his dual role as powerful businessman and leading politician.

Who has the conflict of interest here? You could easily argue both as Prodi could want to oust Berlusconi altogether as he has only a 2 member lead in the senate. Additionally, there is much to say about Italy's richest man being in politics.

Prodi interestingly references the US as a good example of having blind trust laws. What is noteworthy is how Dick Cheney's involvement in Halliburton has been far from clean. Some may claim that perhaps Prodi should have used the US as an example of how conflict of interest can have adverse affects, including going to war for financial gain.

From SF Gate in 2002, prior to Iraq invasion:

Documents uncovered by the Center for Public Integrity show that Halliburton received $1.5 billion in government loans and loan guarantees during the five years Cheney was CEO. That compares with just $100 million during the previous five years.

Cheney retired from Halliburton in August 2000. He received $4.3 million in deferred compensation that year, plus $806,332 in salary. He subsequently sold more than $40 million in stock options.

Even though he's no longer in Halliburton's executive suite, Cheney reported on his 2001 tax return that he received nearly $1.6 million in deferred compensation from the company last year.

Cheney is still receiving deferred compensation from Halliburton, but neither the company nor the White House would specify how large his payment will be this year or how long the payments will continue.