Collective Intelligence: Science on Trial, Berlusconi sentenced. Dispatch from Italy, by Jasmina Tesanovic

The Italian scientific community was stunned when Italian scientists, seismologists, were recently sentenced to years of prison for manslaughter, for failing to predict the lethal earthquake in Aquila in 2009. Other scientists have resigned to their jobs in protest, and even some relatives of the victims condemned the sentence as ridiculous.

The world press was reporting on the dark ages of inquisition in Italian courts and labs. But then, journalistic investigations discovered political scandals that implied a plot to downplay earthquake dangers in Aquila, involving Berlusconi and his cabinet. Silvio Berlusconi can't control earthquakes any more than seismologists can, but he's always been keen on controlling media.

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Bye-bye, Bunga-bunga: "Addio Berlusconi"

"I haven't been so inspired since 1994," an Italian friend of mine posted on her Facebook page.

Well, I too can remember the year 1994, when I was in Milan, giving a public speech among some so-called intellectuals, soon after Berlusconi was elected. I had come there directly from Serbia, struggling in the thick of the Milosevic reign of terror.

I remember warning my Italian friends, feeling frightened, extremely emotional. I described a 'soft dictatorship,' how a small caste of oppressors gets into power legally, because WE vote them in, and then they steal and fake everything that WE, the people, never delegated them to do. And how, finally after waging wars against all the OTHERS in our own name, they finally turn on their ultimate victims and wage their war against US.

How they destroy every aspect of reality that stands in the way of a total exploitation: meaning the destruction, the ruin, of the people, ideas, customs, habits, prosperity, morality, of a nation and its history, of a time and a space. Afterwards, after the dreadful crash, who feels empty and responsible? We, the citizens who voted, we whose states were surrendered to the exploiters and profiteers, we, the participants, we are the ones humiliated in front of our children and the whole world.

Tonight, while Italians danced in front of the parliament, impatiently waiting for Berlusconi to officially resign, I remembered, once again among many times, how Milosevic was finally toppled after his miserable endless reign. Milosevic stumbled in the elections. He took Serbian support for granted, since he controlled all the Serbian mass media, and all the local means of patronage and favors.

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Berlusconi Bye Bye?

Is this really the final end of the Berlusconi era, or just another pause for the Cavaliere to catch his breath?

Will he return on a fresh horse as the savior of an ever-crumbling Italy, as he has done repeatedly for the past 20 years? Will my Italian friends finally be able to travel abroad without a miasma of shame, and not be forced to explain to all what a bunga bunga orgy means? Will the numerous foreigners living and working in Italy, legal, clandestine, and semiclandestine, be able to face their children and say: we did the right thing to come here? Will they say: a new day dawns on the peninsula, the specter of crisis, gloom and crime has finally lifted! Work hard for your future!

These are open questions, and frightening questions today in Italy after yesterday's dramatic countdown, and Berlusconi's declaration that he will step down only after passing an emergency law on the Italian economic crisis. United Europe and its presses have closely followed the saga of the decadent emperor. They know that it was global economics and not his domestic scandals that pried the scepter from his hands.

Italians are wondering : whatever next? How badly off is the Italian political culture, which after all is to be blamed for many times that Berlusconi has managed to take and hold power? Where was the legitimate opposition, why were the counter-forces so weak? After the fall of Milosevic in Serbia, the deeply corrupted and dysfunctional state system was hard put to maintain any pretense of a normal government. Can Italy recover, and behave like a major G-7 power again? How is that possible?

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Italy's insane Internet law prompts removal of Italian Wikipedia

Prompted by Italy's punitive (batshit) wiretapping law proposal, Wikipedia has removed its Italian version and now directs anyone trying to find Italian Wikipedia to a page explaining that Italy's Internet law will make it impossible to have an Italian Wikipedia:

This proposal, which the Italian Parliament is currently debating, provides, among other things, a requirement to all websites to publish, within 48 hours of the request and without any comment, a correction of any content that the applicant deems detrimental to his/her image.

Unfortunately, the law does not require an evaluation of the claim by an impartial third judge - the opinion of the person allegedly injured is all that is required, in order to impose such correction to any website.

Hence, anyone who feels offended by any content published on a blog, an online newspaper and, most likely, even on Wikipedia can directly request to publish a "corrected" version, aimed to contradict and disprove the allegedly harmful contents, regardless of the truthfulness of the information deemed as offensive, and its sources...

The obligation to publish on our site the correction as is, provided by the named paragraph 29, without even the right to discuss and verify the claim, is an unacceptable restriction of the freedom and independence of Wikipedia, to the point of distorting the principles on which the Free Encyclopedia is based and this would bring to a paralysis of the "horizontal" method of access and editing, putting - in fact - an end to its existence as we have known until today.

Italy proposes mandatory licenses for people who upload video

Italy's Berlusconi regime, already known around the world as an enemy of free speech and popular access to the tools of communication, has now floated a proposal to require Italians to get an "uploader's license" in order to put any "moving pictures" on the Internet. The government claims that this is required as part of the EU's product placement disclosure rules, which is about as ridiculous assertion as I've heard this month.
"The decree subjects the transmission of images on the Web to rules typical of television and requires prior ministerial authorization, with an incredible limitation on the way the Internet currently functions," opposition Democratic Party lawmaker Paolo Gentiloni told the press conference.

Article 4 of the decree specifies that the dissemination over the Internet "of moving pictures, whether or not accompanied by sound," requires ministerial authorization. Critics say it will therefore apply to the Web sites of newspapers, to IPTV and to mobile TV, obliging them to take on the same status as television broadcasters.

"Italy joins the club of the censors, together with China, Iran and North Korea," said Gentiloni's party colleague Vincenzo Vita...

"It's the Berlusconi method: Kill your potential enemies while they are small. That's why anyone doing Web TV -- even from their attic at home -- must get ministerial approval and fulfill a host of other bureaucratic obligations," Gilioli wrote. He said the government was also keen to restrict the uncontrollable circulation of information over the Internet to preserve its monopoly over television news.

Proposed Web video restrictions cause outrage in Italy (Thanks, Sal!)

(Image: Manifestazione No Berlusconi Day Cartello in piazza a Creative Commons Attribution photo from Il Foro Giornale's photostream)

Jasmina Tešanović: Report from anti-Berlusconi demonstration in Rome

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(Guest-essay by Jasmina Tešanović, photos by protest participants.)

Italian people are at their best in a piazza. Yesterday, the international "No B day" was held all over the world, in public squares. The largest event happened in Rome in Piazza San Giovanni. For those few who don't understand, "No B" means No Berlusconi, the right-wing Italian prime minister who has been ruling Italy for the past two decades, undermining its brightest democratic traditions with his private and public scandals.

Only a couple of days ago, a protected mafia witness testified that Berlusconi was involved in mafia crimes. This latest allegation among many triggered many protestors to carry the banners: "no mafia in the state." However, the real hero of this manifestation was Berlusconi's ex wife, who a year or so ago denounced him as womanizer and a corruptor.

The organizers claim that they were one million participants in the Rome march, which ended in a big piazza where non politicians addressed the crowds. This country has too many parties without people and too many people without a party, said one of the participants.

"No Berlusconi" day was organized via internet, without political parties or partisan movements. The people on the streets were dressed in purple as a sign of protest, with many masks and disguises.

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