Strategic

Dedication

The new government in Italy sees Putin as a panacea, Ariel David writes in Ha'aretz:

'More than two months after an undecided election left Italy with a hung parliament, the scenario that terrified many moderates and EU supporters has materialized. For the first time in post-war history, a major western European democracy will be led by a majority of Eurosceptic populists and far-right politicians. Following weeks of negotiations, Rome is now poised to fall to the coalition formed by the far-right anti-immigrant League party and the grassroots anti-establishment 5 Star Movement.
The two parties have signed a broad coalition agreement and are now finalizing the government team, after their respective leaders – the firebrand Matteo Salvini for the League and the fresh-faced Luigi di Maio for the 5 Stars – agreed to set aside their personal ambitions and leave the premiership to a more moderate and technocratic figure. The job is widely expected to go to Giuseppe Conte, a little-known law professor with no political experience.'

(...)

'While section nine of the coalition agreement is titled “Foreign Policy,” it deals overwhelmingly with prospective policy toward a single country: Russia.
The contract pledges to keep Italy in NATO and preserve the alliance with the United States, while “reaching out to Russia, which should not be perceived as a threat but as an economic and commercial partner.” The joint platform goes on to call for an “immediate” end to all western sanctions on Russia and for the “rehabilitation” of Moscow as a “strategic counterpart” to solve a host of regional conflicts in Syria, Libya and Yemen. The text concludes that “since Russia is not a military threat,” NATO and the EU should focus on other issues in the Mediterranean, such as Islamic extremism and the “uncontrolled” flow of migrants.
This single-minded dedication to improving ties with Moscow as a panacea for all that ails the world is in line with the close links both parties are known to have cultivated with the Kremlin.
The 5 Star Movement, which, over the last decade, has pioneered the use of social media in Italy to channel voter outrage at the country’s corrupt political establishment, routinely hosts propaganda material and fake news sourced from Kremlin-linked outlets such as Sputnik and Russia Today on its vast online network.'

Read the article here.

Putin won in the US, Putin won in the US, Merkel just turned her only eyes to Putin, she just visited him in Sochi with a beautiful bouquet of flowers.

I don't believe that this Italian government will last more than twelve months, but a year is a long time, and it's by no means sure what will follow this government will be better.
Let's hope that Italy will not turn itself once again into a laboratorium for destruction and bloodlust.

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Clear

Mission

Gail Collins on school shootings in NYT:

"There was a time when the news that 10 people had been gunned down at their school would have been a terrific shock. You’d have talked about it with everyone at work, with your family at dinner. All through the weekend.

But now it’s beginning to feel way too normal."

And the last paragraph of the column:

"Our mission, however, is pretty clear. The problem is guns, not knives or too many school doors. And when children lose their lives to a mass shooting, we have to keep talking about it."

Read the complete article here.

This sounds pretty desperate indeed, everybody is wore down, some more than others.

To quote Leonard Cohens: "Every knows the good guys lost."

But had the shooting been a terrorist attack committed by a Muslim the new normal would have been less normal.

That's the dirty secret of much of our moral outrage: solidarity with the victim is too often just an excuse to spread the message of hate.

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Toms

All kinds

Saturday May 19, from 1 p.m.: Marianne and her team will introduce you to the world of Peeping Toms. No pornography, just art. Suitable for children and seekers of all kinds

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Better

Acquisition

The football table arrived in the museum, one of its better acquisitions. The guards appear to love the table, as do many visitors.

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