IL FATTO QUOTIDIANO
Il Fatto Quotidiano (which translates to “The Daily Fact” or “The Daily Happening") is a daily Italian newspaper founded in 2009 and published in Rome. The editor-in-chief is currently Marco Travaglio and the paper is known for its left-leaning, anti-establishment stance. In 2015 it has a circulation of 84,000 copies.
Photo of a laptop on an office desk with an empty chair
Work In Progress
Rozena Crossman

Work → In Progress: Where Have All The Workers Gone?

Reams have been written about the shift to remote working. And yet, for many people, the more pressing issue right now isn't where, but how much they work.

After the economic slowdown brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, companies all over the world are taking advantage of loosened lockdowns and progress on the vaccine front to ramp up operations and make up for lost productivity. But the frenetic spurts of the recovery are getting serious pushback: From the rise of the four-day work week to legally punishing overtime, the world is waking up to the importance of a balanced workload.

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Top Milan Welfare Official: 'No Rush' To Vaccinate Those Over 80
WHAT THE WORLD
Cassidy Slockett

Top Milan Welfare Official: 'No Rush' To Vaccinate Those Over 80

For Leitizia Moratti, head of welfare policy in the Lombardy region and former Milan Mayor, it wasn't the first outrageous statement on Covid-19.

In the Italian region of Lombardy, hit particularly hard by the pandemic, Leitizia Moratti serves as chief of welfare policy. She's also fast becoming queen of the COVID gaffe.


Moratti, 71, who had a successful business career and married an oil baron before entering politics, made headlines last month when she said that Italy's criteria for vaccine distribution should include which regions have higher GDPs. In other words, rich regions (like Lombardy, where Milan is capital) should get vaccines sooner because they would be better able to help the economy overall. Huh? The statement made in a private meeting of her party allies was vilified in her own region and around Italy, with one prominent economist saying the idea was a form of eugenics. Moratti, a former mayor of Milan, says her comment was taken out of context — though Il Fatto daily has a tape recording.

Moratti serves as chief of welfare policy —​ Photo: Bruno Cordioli

Now, according to La Repubblica, Moratti has suggested another unlikely approach to vaccine distribution. As the Lombardy region was launching its campaign to get vaccination appointments for the 80 and older population, Moratti responded to concerns about the efficiency of the system. "People need to stay calm," she said. "All those over 80 will be vaccinated. There's no need to rush." Huh? again...


Twitter, well, didn't have to wait. One resident suggested that the head of welfare should say the exact opposite: "we need to rush." Another tweet read: "This morning I booked the vaccine for my 86 year-old mother-in-law, Now Moratti says there's no rush! What have I done wrong?" Yes, calling for calm can set off a riot — and rushing to judgment is sometimes the most rational response.

French President Emmanuel Macron visiting a supermarket in western France on April 22
Geopolitics

For World Leaders, The Hard Choices Of COVID-19 Have Only Begun

As governments now brace themselves to begin a tightrope walk between saving lives and saving their hemorrhaging economies, one thing is certain: No decision will lead to a perfect outcome. National leaders must quickly pivot from a posture of disaster relief to satisfying often contradictory demands from their populations as the pandemic's rally-around-the-flag effect starts to fade. Indeed, for all of us, hovering over the burdensome journey ahead will be the same doubt that comes in times when old certainties are suddenly up for grabs: Will it bring us closer together, or drive us farther apart? It is question posed both within and among nations.


So far, the most acute phase of the pandemic has offered national leaders some temporary respite from dissent. In Italy, where the virus has been particularly devastating, approval of Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte reached 71% in March — far higher than those achieved by his two most recent predecessors, reports Il Fatto Quotidiano. In Sweden, where authorities have been under both domestic and foreign fire for its light-touch approach, approval of Prime Minister Stefan Löfven has nonetheless increased from 26% to 47% since the crisis began, reports daily Expressen. In South Korea, where the widely praised reaction to the coronavirus outbreak limited death tolls, President Moon Jae-in's ruling Democratic Party coalition won a landslide victory earlier this month.

Still, cracks in support are beginning to show, which may be explained only in part by some examples of objectively poor management of the crisis. In France, President Emmanuel Macron's support has dropped the past few weeks, reaching 40% on Monday, its lowest level since the pandemic arrived, reports Les Echos. U.S. President Donald Trump is finally paying the price for his ham-handed (and much worse) management of the coronavirus response.

We've seen the whims of popular support in other dramatic events in the recent past. After 9/11 when President George W Bush briefly hit 90% approval, while Francois Hollande, the most unpopular French president in post-War history got a 21% boost after the 2015 Charlie Hebdo attack, only to see his support quickly plummet in the succeeding months.

Still, as fearsome as the current crisis may be, it is something different than a terrorist attack — both more insidious and harder to track, tearing at every part of our societal fabric. It also comes as many countries were already suffering a surge in polarization, populism and growing distrust of government leaders.

Indeed, the threat of an economic depression turning into a democratic collapse is very real for many countries. The IMF has projected an economic downturn 30% worse than the 2009 financial crisis and a $9 trillion hit to global gross domestic product. Indeed, the financial crash a decade right now seems to pale in comparison with a perhaps more fitting, historical analogy taking us back to the mind-bending devastation of World War II.

That too was an event that destabilized nearly every corner of the planet, sparking a recognition of the need for some kind a minimum of established norms and shared values. What followed were the Nuremberg trials which, however inconclusive, were part of a broader effort to engineer a new world order and establish a common humanity as a legal principle. The post-1945 divisions, of course, brought us the Cold War, but also such institutions as the United Nations, and the Coal and Steel Collaboration that led to the European Union.

With the current uncertainty, and rising nationalist sentiment, it is still hard to envision such a rosy recomposition of the world order. In an interview last week with Le Monde, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian was rather pessimistic: "My fear is that the world "after" will look a whole lot like the world before, but worse," Le Drian said. "We seem to be witnessing an amplification of the fractures that have been threatening the international order for years. The pandemic is the continuation, by other means, of the old power struggles."

It will be months or years before we know whether this dark forecast comes to pass, or the COVID-19 dynamic somehow manages to advance a new kind of collaboration in domestic and international politics. What we do know is that the pandemic has laid bare the fragility of our globalized world while also demonstrating its potential for good — setting the stage for what might very well be recalled as a turning point in history.

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Matteo Renzi and Hassan Rouhani filmed on Iranian TV on Tuesday
blog

Italy's Renzi, First Western Leader In Post-Sanctions Iran

TEHRAN — Prime Minister Matteo Renzi's diplomatic visit to Tehran this week, the first by a Western leader since the Iranian nuclear deal, is seen back in Italy mostly as a smart business trip.

The focus of the two-day trip, which concludes Wednesday, has been in opening up trade between the two countries, after the lifting of economic sanctions on Iran after it had agreed last year to roll back its nuclear activities as part of a deal reached with the U.S., China, Russia, the UK, France and Germany.

Rome-based daily La Repubblica quoted Renzi as saying that in addition to commercial connections, "Iran and Italy are two great cultural powers, each with a great history, that want to create a great future together." He also said it would be important for the West to involve Iran in fighting against ISIS.

The allusions to cultural links may recall a widely-publicized kerfuffle in January, when Italian officials draped sheets over nude statues in Rome's Capitoline Museum ahead of Rouhani's visit with Renzi.

There was fresh criticism this week, too: Writing for Il Fatto Quotidiano, Middle East correspondent Tiziana Ciavardini acknowledged the economic opportunity for Italy, but took Renzi to task for avoiding the topic of human rights in Iran, including the continued high number of executions.

"That the Italian government does its part to incentivize bilateral relations between the two countries is certainly a positive step. If Italy needs to invest, then a country experiencing an economic upswing — assuming that's the case for Iran — is a welcome partner. But we're sure that some themes… will never be addressed," she writes. "I would have liked to see in Prime Minister Renzi the same tenacity that he exhibited in 2009."

Back then, Renzi was the up-and-coming mayor of Florence, which also happened to be a sister city to Isfahan in Iran. In a gesture of solidarity with young Iranians protesting against the alleged rigging of the 2009 national elections, Renzi draped a green flag, symbolic of the fight for democracy in Iran, over the facade of Palazzo Vecchio, Florence's historic city hall. Such democratic impulses in Italy were a far cry from the statue-covering episode of 2016, and also clearly not on Renzi's mind as he inked business deals this week in Tehran.