If I say Radio Free Europe what do you think about?
Personally I immediately “hear” Michael Stipe’s voice on the notes of the song taken from what is their turning point with Murmur, recently worth sixth place in the ranking of the 100 biggest debut singles of all time, despite the fans’ diatribe to determine whether the original version is better in respect of the one remixed two years later will probably never end, but that’s another story.
This is the third time I quote R.E.M. after What time is the end of the world? and Shiny happy people, apart from fact that I’m keen on them, why?
Because Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) established at the beginning of the Cold War to transmit uncensored news and information to audiences behind the Iron Curtain, played a significant role in the collapse of communism and the rise of democracies in post-communist Europe.
Today, RFE/RL is one of the most comprehensive media organizations in the world, producing radio, Internet and television programs in countries where a free press is either banned by the government or nut fully established.
It was founded in 1950 with the aim of offering at least an alternative, a possibility to evaluate a different vision.
Yet 70 years later we seem to have forgotten the importance of plurality of expression since episodes of censorship are increasingly occurring.
The latest has been against a radio: or rather the Radio Radio YouTube channel, which was closed with a decidedly strange dynamic, as explained in detail by the author Fabio Duranti.
Why do we consider people unable to face alternative thoughts? Why the censorship instead of arguing and possibly refuting with well-founded explanations?
The famous phrase I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it wrongly attributed to Voltaire and actually written by Evelyn Beatrice Hall, remains essential in its concept in my opinion.
If I say Radio Free Europe what do you think about?
“They pass the years hoping that when my time comes there will no longer be anyone who will continue to insist on asking for truth and justice …”
These are the words, as hard as absolutely lawful, by Luciana Riccardi, spoken in an interview in March 2017 on the occasion of the twenty-third anniversary of the death of her daughter: Ilaria Alpi.
Just over a year later, in June 2018, the hour that Mrs. Luciana was waiting for has arrived, but her voice continues to speak.
Speak through all those who still believe in justice, and speak through all those who recognize admiration and respect for her:
In the meantime, the words her sister Annamaria Riccardi wrote in a letter before the archiving hearing ended in October 2019 were heard: the magistrate granted another six months of investigations to try to get to the truth. This 180-day deadline expired in April but for now it remains frozen like everything else.
In reality, the truth has been blocked for much longer, a very long time.
Who helped Jelle do what he did?
Who paid for it?
Why did they do it?
These are the three questions that Mrs. Luciana left us in her interview with Chiara Cazzaniga for Chi l’ha visto.
Chiara Cazzaniga in particular, has a fundamental role in the investigation: with unstoppable stubbornness convinces Ali Rage Amhed, known as Jelle, to come to Italy to testify for the innocence of Hashi Omar Hassan, in prison with a 26-year sentence. Federica Sciarelli, having a series of doubts about his testimony, instructs her to try to track him down.
In fact, Chiara finds him in Birmingham where he lives, where he has a family, and where he drives the buses, despite being officially unavailable for the power of attorney.
But who exactly are Jelle and Hashi?
Both Somalis, are united by the desire to escape from Somalia, and by the fact that on March 20, 1994 neither of them is on the place where Rai Tg3 correspondents Ilaria Alpi and Miran Hrovatin are murdered.
Yet in January 1998 Hashi, in Rome to testify against alleged violence by the Italian military in Somalia, was arrested for competition in the double murder, accused by Jelle.
Jelle alleges, as a justification for his lie, he did it in order to be able to expatriate: he is in fact granted a pass and a job with a mechanic who repairs the cars of the Ministry of the Interior. And he will declare to have escaped after being deposed at Digos, just trusting that it would not have been possible to convict Hashi in court if he had not presented himself: “look I did not do so much for the money … I took very few, because in any case I didn’t finish the job … but I had achieved my goal which was to go away from Somalia … and I didn’t think that if I had not presented to trial, an innocent would have ended up in prison, and above all I thought someone would have verified what I told “.
This is what would be expected from justice.
In fact, however, things went differently.
Three million euros are the amount recognized as compensation for the 17 years spent in prison by an innocent man, one would wonder if this is the price of a sidetrack.
No, unfortunately the price is much higher, the events are much more intricate and crammed with inconsistencies for which Giorgio and Luciana Alpi continued to demand explanations, invoking a truth that has not yet arrived.
A truth that was written on Ilaria’s notebook, disappeared, a truth probably buried under the Garoe-Bosaso road, a toxic truth.
Justice, non-violence, human rights, these issues of investigative news reports taken into consideration for the award of the Ilaria Alpi prize.
Authoritative guests at the 2007 edition: Zoe Eroshok journalist from Novaja Gazeta and Ilya Politkovsky son of the Russian journalist murdered in Moscow, Anna Politkovskaya to whom the event was dedicated.
Different stories but with a common denominator:
“The duty of [the] journalist [is] to write what this journalist sees in the reality. It’s only one duty.“
“It is sometimes said that the flapping of a butterfly’s wings in one part of the world can cause a hurricane on the other side of the globe.”
This quote comes from the 2004 film The Butterfly Effect and is inspired by a theory taken up and debated in numerous areas.
Once again, as happened for the War of the Worlds: the inspiration comes from a science fiction novel, it is in fact Ray Bradbury who in his Sound of thunder attributes to the proper death of a butterfly during a journey through time, a variation of future events:
Eckels felt himself fall into a chair. He fumbled crazily at the thick slime on his boots. He held up a clod of dirt, trembling,
“No, it can’t be. Not a little thing like that. No!”
Embedded in the mud, glistening green and gold and black, was a butterfly, very beautiful and very dead.
Another coincidence, also in this case the story was broadcast by the BBC in 2011: here if you want to find the podcast (butterfly from about 35 minutes but I would advise you to listen to it all if you have time).
The butterfly symbol was taken up by Edward Lorenz, mathematician and meteorologist professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in his 1963 paper for the New York Academy of Science and later in a 1979 lecture that went down in history.
In general, the butterfly effect belongs to quantum physics and more precisely to the basis of chaos theory.
Chaos is the most congenial aspect to me, but actually I didn’t want to talk about this … not this time, at least.
Antonietta Gatti is perhaps known to most as “the wife of” despite her respectable curriculum. Her skills add up over time, and I would list, almost a bit to summarize, this recognition: she has been awarded the title of Fellow of the International Union of Societies for Biomaterials Science and Engineering for her contribution to the progress of science. The various national societies of biomaterials and bioengineering have tens of thousands of members worldwide and the union of the various companies has elected Dr. Gatti to be part of the elite of scientists that consists of 32 members, and she was part of a parliamentary commission of inquiry as a responsible consultant. I know, difficult to read, but I found her report very interesting, perhaps because I live in a highly polluted area: here the mortality rate from tumors is terrible:
She deals with nanopathology or pathologies induced by micro and nano-sized particulate exposures, i.e. powders with dimensions less than 100nm (0.1 microns) but her research has become difficult due to the reduced availability of a suitable microscope.
Her flapping wings has not changed the world yet, but she has been able to reach the hearts of people who have made it possible to buy a new electron microscope with their donations.
Let us not stop at the fact that individually we cannot make a difference, let us not stop flying lightly on the difficulties, each of us can be the butterfly of change, let’s believe it, and do not let ourselves be crushed in the mud.
“What time is the end of the world?“
No, let’s start from the beginning: The War of the Worlds is a novel written by H. G. Wells, one of the forerunners of the science fiction genre, originally published in installments in 1897 on the Pearson’s Magazine in London.
First curious anecdote: HG Wells took in part inspiration from Giovanni Schiaparelli’s theories about Mars (and if you always read me remember our save the date 🙂 )
The astronomer and director of the Brera Astronomical Observatory in Milan observed some lines on the surface of the red planet, and hypothesized that they could be natural channels for the transport of water as they changed from one observation to another.
At this point there is another beautiful smile because what is one of the painful keys for all of us Italians? Knowledge of English!
Why do I say this? Because its natural channels were translated with the wrong term that distorted the theory by transforming them into artificial canals. Hence the assumption that they had been excavated by … Martians, precisely.
These famous “Martians” who populated the fantasies of many, embodying the most varied forms and descriptions, before being replaced by the most universal aliens.
These famous “Martians” who inspired Wells first and then Welles, Orson Welles.
Curious also this coincidence, one e above all and a patented invention separates them, another curious fact, always in 1897, always in London, and always by an Italian: Guglielmo Marconi.
Why do I switch to radio? Because in the meantime we arrive in 1938, and the radio is still the fledgling mass media and, exactly as it works today for the internet, it is seen as a form of potentially dangerous communication. It is seen as a vehicle of social mutation, for the rapid diffusion to the easy reach of a large number of people, and above all harmful to the publishing giants, worried about losing their income.
And precisely at CBS Orson Welles conducts The Mercury Theater on the Air: a program consisting of the narration of the great classics of literature, for the truth poorly paid and not much followed.
But Orson, at that time a Shakespearean actor, expresses his genius by using the program also to deal a blow to the system, deciding to cut the news in real time, and in view of the imminent Halloween, structures the Martian invasion described in the book like a real-time radio commentary.
It is in fact on October 30, 1938 when the reading of the opening words of The War of the Worlds is on air, interspersed with musical broadcasts, as usual, until an announcement interrupts the music and transposes the text setting it in the United States. With the help of screenwriter Howard Koch, completed with mock interviews with experts, imitations of press releases from the authorities, and sound effects to which Orson Welles pays special attention.
At the beginning and during the transmission it is clearly stated that it is the transposition of the novel, but many tune in at different times and the illusion effect created artfully succeeds perfectly.
It is said that a man called the New York Times to ask “what time is the end of the world?” to which the famous song written by Michael stipe of R.E.M. is inspired.
There is a chorus that supports the exaggeration of the estimates that count people running in the street, panic scenes, or hysteria, and I honestly don’t intend to dwell on the numbers, since, especially in this period, we everyday hear tragic counts.
In fact, in Grover’s Mills, New Jersey, there is a commemorative plaque with the following inscription:
On the evening of October 30, 1938 Orson Welles and The Mercury Theatre presented a dramatization of H.G. Wells The war of the worlds as adapted by Howard Koch. This was to become a landmark in broadcast history, provoking continuing thought about media responsibility, social psychology and civil defense. For a brief time as many as one million people throughout the country believed that Martians had invaded the earth, beginning with Grover’s Mill, New Jersey.
The important thing that Orson Welles has more or less voluntarily shown us is that people are led to believe rather unconditionally what is communicated to them by the mainstream mass media.
How many times have we heard “TV said it?”
How many care to check the news?
This time I went beyond coffee time, but today we can also indulge in chocolate, what do you say?
Now I conclude with the last strange coincidence: in The War of the Worlds the Martians are defeated by a virus.