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CORRIERE DELLA SERA
Founded in 1876 as an evening newspaper ("Evening Courier), the Milan daily has long been a morning paper. The flagship publication of the RCS Media Group, Corriere della Sera is noted for its sober tone, reliable reporting and moderate political stances.
photo of a woman on the phone in front of a storefront with a black friday advertisement
eyes on the U.S.
Alex Hurst

Eyes On U.S. — Thanksgiving Gone Global, Black Friday Bad Influence

PARIS — The city of lights is littered with advertisements for “Black Friday” deals. Of course, virtually none of the city’s residents will celebrate Thanksgiving — and few probably even know that the traditional Friday shopping day is linked to the uniquely American (always-on-Thursday) holiday.

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If you’ll allow me a small moment of personal commentary, as an American living abroad: There’s something sad about this all. Leaving aside all its dark historical context (which Germany’s Stern magazine explained last year to its readers), I’ve always found Thanksgiving to be a uniquely unifying holiday. It belongs to no specific religious tradition nor stirs nationalist fervor, with its defining characteristic just a whole lot of hearty eating, and reflecting on what you’re truly grateful for.

Leave it to U.S. consumer culture to tack-on to this idea of being thankful for what you have, a mad rush to buy what you haven’t yet got — and then in more recent years to export to the rest of the world just this consumeristic flipside of the coin. Black Friday has become in the past five years, the giant sales event that conquered all, from Greece to Guyane. (Although some are pushing back, like this French store that decided to make everything free on Friday.)

Nevertheless, even if Thanksgiving itself hasn’t gone global the way the day-after sales have, there’s still a healthy amount of interest as to juuuuust what those Americans are up to with their turkey and pumpkin pie…

German site Praxtipps explains how to celebrate Thanksgiving, making note of the breaking of the wishbone. Most of these align with the “6 Commandments of Thanksgiving” as Marie-Claire explains to its Francophone audience, meaning that the French and the Germans, at least, have understood the basics.

Moving south, Brazil’s O Globo asks, in a short, gif-illustrated listicle, “What if Thanksgiving were celebrated in Brazil?” and concludes that it would probably include an aunt asking uncomfortable questions about your new boyfriend (or potential lack thereof), and might even break into family drama. So, the Brazilians as well have grasped the basics!

I find myself a Homo Festivus, removed from history, living in a continual feast.

On the other side of the world, China’s Global Times decided to play the role of your contrarian uncle (or superpower rival) at the dinner table, judging that this year Americans have very little to be thankful for, and that the dinner itself is going to be far more expensive than last year, due to inflation.

To close it all off back in Paris, I can’t help but chuckle at a take only a far-right French magazine could have. Causeur asks, “can you be a good French person and celebrate Thanksgiving?” A question filled with existential dread, and a response filled with intellectual musings (“I find myself a Homo Festivus, removed from history, living in a continual feast”) and obligatory wine snobbery (“In fact, I feel the same kind of culpability that we, the French, often feel when drinking a foreign wine, worst of all a New World wine…”). The writer ultimately concludes that, yes, one can be a good French person and celebrate Thanksgiving because, after all, the values celebrated at Thanksgiving are situated, in a broad sense, in Western civilization itself.

Would that be Black Friday’s runaway consumerism, mon ami, or Thanksgiving’s original sin of colonialism? Oh nevermind: for today, I’ll just try to be thankful…

📰 FRONT PAGE: MBS Immunity


Like other global newspapers this week, Italian daily Corriere della Sera featured a front-page report on the U.S. decision to recognize diplomatic immunity for Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. “It was improbable that the United States, trading partner and ally of Saudi Arabia, would clear the way for the arrest of MBS,” writes Corriere’s U.S. correspondent Viviana Mazza. “But guaranteeing him immunity in this way sparked protests from human rights groups.”

🌈🔫 IN BRIEF: LGBTQ+ Gun Culture

Last week’s shooting at a gay bar in Colorado Springs, which left five dead, brought the country’s problematic gun culture back in the spotlight. Reporting from Texas for Spanish daily El Pais, Ferran Bono focuses on the rise of LGBTQ+ self-defense groups in America, that aim for an "inclusive and safe" use of weapons to protect LGBTQ+ events from far-right groups like the Proud Boys. The result: firearms and bulletproof vests among rainbow flags.

😅 SO AMERICAN: Wacky *Yankee Fans

The 2022 World Cup is under way, and virtually nobody outside the U.S. will be paying much attention to the American team’s performance on the pitch. Perdona. Instead, the team’s supporters in the stands are earning some serious applause, from Elvis to Wonder Woman and a very subtle full-body bald eagle.

Forever Godard: 20 International Newspapers Bid Adieu To French New Wave Icon
Society
Chloé Touchard

Forever Godard: 20 International Newspapers Bid Adieu To French New Wave Icon

International outlets are saluting the passing of the father of the Nouvelle Vague movement, considered among the most influential filmmakers ever.

Jean-Luc Godard, the French-Swiss filmmaker who revolutionized cinema in the late 1950s and 1960s as the leading figure of the Nouvelle Vague (New Wave) movement, died Tuesday at the age of 91.

The Paris-born Godard produced now-cult movies such as À bout de souffle (“Breathless” 1960), Le Mépris (“Contempt” 1963) and Alphaville (1965), with his later works always garnering interest among cinephiles, even if often considered inaccessible for the wider public.

Godard's lawyer reported that that the filmmaker had been “stricken with multiple incapacitating illnesses," and decided to end his life through assisted suicide, which is legal in Switzerland, where he'd lived for decades.

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Russia’s "Smaller" Operations And Shrinking Ambitions
In The News
Meike Eijsberg, Cameron Manley and Emma Albright

Russia’s "Smaller" Operations And Shrinking Ambitions

U.S. Department of Defense officials report that instead of the typical battalion tactical groups in Ukraine, which number several hundred soldiers, the Russians have now shifted to attacks by smaller units.

A new Pentagon report has found that Russia is continuing to reduce the scale of its military actions toward more "small" operations, which is another sign that it has lowered the ambitions of its invasion of Ukraine.

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The Washington Post, citing a U.S. Department of Defense official, reports that instead of the typical battalion tactical groups, which number several hundred soldiers, the Russians have now shifted to attacks by smaller units, each ranging from a few dozen to a hundred soldiers. These smaller units have also scaled down their objectives and are targeting towns, villages and crossroads.

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Will Putin Declare War On May 9? Or Peace?
In The News
Anna Akage, Bertrand Haugier, Emma Albright

Will Putin Declare War On May 9? Or Peace?

The annual May 9 commemoration of the defeat of Nazi Germany has extra significance this year with Russia in the full throes of the invasion of Ukraine. There are conflicting reports about how President Vladimir Putin may use the occasion.

There’s no doubt that next Monday, May 9, all eyes will be on Russian President Vladimir Putin. The annual commemoration of the defeat of Nazi Germany in World War II, known in Moscow as “Victory Day,” has extra significance this year with Russia in the full throes of the invasion of Ukraine, which may indeed be the riskiest war since 1945.

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Of course, two months since the invasion, Putin hasn’t even acknowledged that Russia is at war, calling it a “special operation.” And some sources believe that he will use the May 9 occasion to officially declare war — again, against “Nazis,” as the Kremlin refers to the government in Kyiv.

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Why The Right To Die Is Expanding Around The World
Society
Anne-Sophie Goninet

Why The Right To Die Is Expanding Around The World

Euthanasia and assisted suicide laws are still the exception, but lawmakers from New Zealand to Peru to Switzerland and beyond are gradually giving more space for people to choose to get help to end their lives — sometimes with new and innovative technological methods.

The announcement last month that a “suicide capsule” device would be commercialized in Switzerland, not surprisingly, caused quite a stir. The machine called Sarcophagus, or “Sarco” for short, consists of a 3D-printed pod mounted on a stand, which releases nitrogen and gradually reduces the oxygen level from 21% to 1%, causing the person inside to lose consciousness without pain or a sense of panic, and then die of hypoxia and hypocapnia (oxygen and carbon dioxide deprivation).

While active euthanasia is illegal in Switzerland, assisted suicide is allowed under certain conditions and under the supervision of a physician, who has first to review the patient’s capacity for discernment — a condition that Sarco aims to eliminate. “We want to remove any kind of psychiatric review from the process and allow the individual to control the method themselves,” Australian doctor Philip Nitschke, the machine’s creator, told news platform SwissInfo. Some argue that this is against the country’s medical ethical rules while others expressed concerns about safety.

But Nitschke says he found the solution: an online AI-based test, which will give a code to the patient to use the device if he passes.

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Members of Italy's far-right gathered in 2019 in Predappio, Mussolini's birthplace
LA STAMPA
Mattia Feltri

Italy And Fascism, A Lingering Question Of National Character

Giorgia Meloni, rising star of Italy’s far-right, was a member of neofascist organizations in her youth. She insists that she's changed her way, and that fascism is not an Italian peculiarity. Not all agree.

-Essay-

ROME — A couple of weeks ago, under our apartment window, my kids and I heard a neatly lined-up demonstration passing by, chanting a single uninterrupted chorus: "Where are the anti-fascists?" It wasn't a huge crowd, and maybe that's why my kids heard the slogan differently: "Where are the other fascists?"

I recalled this after reading a letter in the Corriere della Sera daily penned by Giorgia Meloni, rising star of Italy's far-right. Her party, Fratelli d'Italia (Brothers of Italy), has recently shot up in opinion polls, on the verge of becoming Italy's most popular party. Meloni, now 44, was a member of neofascist organizations in her youth, and uses the letter to insist that fascism is not an Italian peculiarity.

Mussolini once acknowledged that fascism had not been his invention.

If the founder of modern fascism, a certain Benito Mussolini, could read that line, Meloni would get a good talking to. But then again, even Mussolini (never known for his modesty) once acknowledged that fascism had not been his invention — he had extracted it from the unconscious of Italians.

Supporters of the Leader of the Lega Matteo Salvini hold up a sign in solidarity — Photo: LaPresse/ZUMA

Writer and critic Ennio Flaino once wrote that fascism is bossy, rhetorical, xenophobic; it loathes culture, despises freedom and justice, despises the weak, serves the strong, and is always ready to indicate in others the causes of its helplessness. As the years go by, rather than fading, the standard portrait of the fascist seems to become more vivid. And that of the Italian fascist too, which Flaiano argued is part of the national character.

After all, Meloni is a fascist just like most of the rest of us are. But as she becomes more and more convincing to Italians, Meloni has the additional problem of having to tend to the few people who also claim out loud to be fascists — like those parading under my window — and who make up her hardcore supporters, around 20%, according to recent polls. And so, maybe my kids heard right — and I was wrong. They were out looking for the other fascists after all.

Workers of Rome funeral parlors protesting against the situation in Roman cemeteries, April 2021, Italy.
Geopolitics
Alessio Perrone

Italy To India To Brazil, How COVID Has Trivialized Mass Death

We've gotten used to too many people dying, and too many dying alone.

-Analysis-

MILAN — I was recently alerted to an event I had missed here in Italy: A couple of weeks ago, as the government announced the easing of coronavirus restrictions and restaurant workers protested because Italy wasn't reopening fast enough, funeral parlors also took to the streets of Rome. It was "a funeral of funerals," they said.

With wreaths of flowers, hearses and signs of condolences, participants quietly marched near the Baths of Caracalla, close to the city's center. It was an act of mourning, a reaction to the staggering loss of life, yes, but also to the burial crisis that is taking place in Rome as a result.

With hundreds of people still dying of COVID every day in Italy, the capital's cemeteries and crematoriums have been overwhelmed. Crematoriums have waiting lists of hundreds of bodies. Some 2,000 coffins are stacked in improvised waiting rooms as they await their turn to be buried in the city's cemeteries.

Covid_Italy_funeral_parlors

Funeral workers with placards ""Apologies but they don't let us bury your loved ones "" during the protest of workers in the funeral sector. — Photo: Cristiano Minichiello/ Avalon/Avalon/ZUMA

The grief of thousands of families remains truncated as a result, and there's little indication that things will change anytime soon. In at least one case, the Italian dailyCorriere della Sera reports that a family has been given an appointment to bury a relative nearly seven months after his death. "We live in a city where dying, too, has become difficult," Paolo Conti wrote for the paper.

We have become numb to the mass death that occurs around us.

I was surprised to catch myself thinking that 2,000 coffins seem like a small number these days. Last week, we gazed mesmerized at the photos of mass cremations in India, as the country became the epicenter of the pandemic and went through a tsunami of deaths. In a spine-chilling quote, a Delhi crematorium worker toldScroll.in that at his workplace: "There are more bodies than wood" to cremate them.

Before India, the center of our attention was Brazil, where more than 4,000 people died every day, and where the agony mixed with fury at President Jair Bolsonaro's staggeringly bad management of the pandemic. Yet we forget that here too — among us! — hundreds die every day.

It must be one of the most distinctive characteristics of this phase of the pandemic. More than a year into restrictions, obsessing over how quickly we should get vaccinated, eager to savor our newly found lives, captivated by the incredible tragedies occurring in poorer far-away places, we have become numb to the mass death that occurs around us.

As Celso Ming recently wrote in Estado de Sao Paulo: "One of the consequences of this pandemic is the trivialization of death." People continue to die in large numbers, he pointed. And they die alone, without a funeral, company or last rites, departing for early oblivion and curtailing the mourning of their families. The rest of us, in the meantime, just accept it all — "as if it were a new normal."

LGBTQ protest in Milan, Italy, October 2020.
LGBTQ Plus
Clémence Guimier

Why Italy Is So Slow In Protecting LGBTQ From Violence

Proposed Italian legislation to punish public acts of homophobia continues to be blocked by both the Catholic Church and right-wing politicians. But the country's most popular rapper has entered the debate.

-Analysis-

Whether it's newlywed visitors to the canals of Venice, lovers under Romeo's and Juliet's balcony in Verona or bronze-skinned couples on the beaches of Sicily, public displays of affection have long been part of the everyday scenery in Italy. But if you're gay, it could put your life at risk.

As reported in Corriere della Sera, Christopher Jean Pierre Moreno, a 24-year-old from Nicaragua, was assaulted on a Rome metro platform in February after he'd exchanged a kiss with his boyfriend, Alfredo Zenobio, 28. Before them, a young man had to go under reconstructive surgery after a group of seven people beat him up. His crime? Holding hands with his partner in the central Italian city of Pescara.

These and other stories (with video evidence) have been widely shared by LGBTQ activists who continue to call for a better legal protection of gay people. Some 8,000 people turned out last Saturday for a demonstration urging senators to pass long-awaited anti-homophobia legislation, La Repubblica reported.

Italy remains one of the few European countries deprived of a law specifically punishing homophobic discrimination and violence — the Netherlands passed its Equal Treatment Act as early as 1994, while Britain and France respectively passed similar discrimination protections in 2003 and 2004.

Too many in Italy still see gay people as a threat to the traditional idea of a family.

Over the course of the last 25 years, many attempts have been made by legislators to include LGBTQ rights in Italian law with the most recent being "Ddl Zan", a bill drafted last November by Parliament Member Alessandro Zan. If approved by the Parliament, this new law would punish violence and hate speech with additional fines of up to $7,200 and four years in prison.

With the historical influence of the Catholic Church, too many in Italy still see gay people as a threat to the traditional idea of a family. Despite recognizing same-sex unions five years ago, Italy has the highest rate of social, political and institutional homophobia in Europe, according to the Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA).

Catholic organisations such as Courage continue to categorize homosexuality as a disease, reports Italian news website Linkiesta, proposing to cure it through so-called "conversion therapy," a practice still legal in Italy.

Though Pope Francis has gone further than any of his predecessors in defending the rights of LGBTQ, the Italian Bishops Conference and rightwing politicians continue to block progress. "There is no need for a new law," the Bishops said in a statement. "(It) would risk opening up to controls on freedom; whereby, rather than sanctioning discrimination, the expression of a legitimate opinion would be targeted." Right-wing League party leader Matteo Salvini recently declared that his duty was to "defend the right of a child to have a mother and a father."

Salvini_Italy_protest

Matteo Salvini joins a demonstration against a proposed trans-homophobia law, in Rome, in June 2020. — Photo: Tenagli Piero/Abaca/ZUMA

Ever since November, the hate-crime legislation has been blocked in the Senate by Salvini's party allies, recently citing the priorities of the pandemic as a reason to stonewall.

One potential breakthrough came at a widely viewed televised concert on May 1 when popular Italian rapper Fedez took to the stage to accuse the League of homophobia. The 31-year-old rapper, very publicly married to fashion icon Chiara Ferragni, made his declaration in Rome, just a mile or so from the metro station where Christopher Jean Pierre Moreno was punched for simply kissing the man he loves.