Selected Works

Nonfiction
A look at life in little-known mountain towns of the Sicilian hinterlands.
A true account of the last years of an ancient Sicilian giant bluefin tuna trap.






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Out of Palermo

Italy and self-esteem

November 19, 2017

Tags: italy, self-esteem

From The Guardian:
Millions of Italians have been understandably despondent for the past few days. The results of the regional elections in Sicily proved that former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi is back in the big time. With a face that looks more sinister with each passing year, the 81-year-old politician took the credit for (more…)

Man fom mali

November 18, 2017

Tags: amadou sumaila, mali, refugee, trouble, sea, mediteranean, rescue, escape, danger

Amadou Sumaila was one of 118 people rescued from an inflatable boat drifting 20 miles off the Libyan coast on a clear, calm morning in August last year. The kind of day for which people smugglers hope and their passengers pray.

The young Malian and more than 363,000 other migrants and refugees crossed the Mediterranean to reachEurope in 2016. Like many of them, Sumaila had never seen the sea, never imagined that so many people could be crammed into a small boat and never thought it would be so hard to breathe.

They were starting to think about death when dawn came, followed by a boat from the German NGO Jugend Rettet. The crew of the Iuventa had come to save lives, but one of its passengers, the Spanish-Iranian photographer César Dezfuli, had come determined to preserve faces.

Once the 118 were safely aboard, Dezfuli asked if he could take their pictures.

Capo dei capi dead

November 17, 2017

Tags: Words or phrases to categorize this post for the tags section

The Gua dian

First published on Friday 17 November 2017 03.06 EST

The former “boss of bosses” Toto Riina, one of the most feared godfathers in the history of the Sicilian mafia, has died in hospital while serving multiple life sentences for masterminding a bloody strategy to murder Italian prosecutors and law enforcement officers trying to bring down the Cosa Nostra.

Riina, who is thought to have ordered more than 150 murders, had been in a medically induced coma after his health deteriorated following two operations for cancer.

He died in the prisoner wing of a hospital in Parma, in northern Italy, just before 4am local time on Friday, a day after he turned 87, according to the country’s main dailies and the Ansa news agency.

Nicknamed “the Beast” because of his cruelty, Salvatore “Toto” Riina led a reign of terror for decades after taking control of the Cosa Nostra in the 1970s.

Palermo police reveal secret symbols used by thieves to mak houses

November 14, 2017

Tags: thief, lexicon, symbols, police, publish

Palermo police warn of an uptick in house break-ins, with the elderly being targets.
They published a lexicon of symbols thieves use to mark prospective houses for a hit.

Meanings of symbols, top to bottom, left column first:
Good target
Very good house to rob
Don't touch, house of friends
Dog in house
Dog
Police active
Danger or Always at Home
Night is the best time to strike here.
Rich people here.
Women willing to give money
House just hit
No use trying
Not interesting
Public official
Avoid this town
Here they give work (Company or home not to be touched)
Sunday is the best day
Morning is the best time
House with alarms.

26 Nigerian girls found floating dead in the Sea

November 14, 2017

Tags: nigerian, sex slaves, trafficking, africa, italy, corpses.

From NPR:
The bodies of 26 Nigerian girls and women were recovered from the Mediterranean Sea, and Italian prosecutors are probing whether their deaths are linked to sex trafficking.

"Salvatore Malfi, the police prefect of the southern town of Salerno, said the 26 [victims] may have been thrown off their rubber dinghy into the waters ofthe Mediterranean," NPR's Sylvia Poggioli reports from Rome. "The cause of death appears to be by drowning."

Cantabria, a Spanish warship, brought their bodies to Salerno, Sylvia adds. That ship had carried out other Mediterranean rescues and had 374 rescued migrants on board.

According to the BBC, Italian authorities are questioning five migrants. The broadcaster adds that "twenty-three of the dead women had been on a rubber boat with 64 other people."

Agence France Press reports that a spokesman for the EU anti-trafficking force Sofia said "another three bodies had been discovered during other life-saving operations in the Mediterranean this week."

Italian media outlets are reporting that the deceased females were mostly between 14 and 18, Sylvia adds. "Police Prefect Malfi called this a human tragedy and said his office has appealed to neighboring towns to provide dignified burial for the Nigerian women." (more…)

Outgoing governor of Sicily to give Rolex to Fra Biagio Conte's mission

November 11, 2017

Tags: rolex, watch, rosario crocetta, fra biagio conte, missione di speranza e carita

Outgoing Sicilian Governor Rosario Crocetta was cleaning out his office and packing up mementos while La Reppublica photographer Igor Petyx was there with his camera. Crocetta picked up the bauble and said, " This gold Rolex encrusted with 60 diamonds has been my torment for the last five years. It was given to me by the last governor, Raffaele Lombardo who in his turn had received it as a gift from the Sultan of Oman. I have finally decided to get rid of it. I will give it to Biagio Conte. The diamonds will turn into loaves of bread for the poor of Palermo."
Fra Biagio Conte is a self-made monk who, with hundreds of volunteers and benefactors, feeds and houses more than a thousand homeless people every day in Palermo through his Mission of Hope and Charity.

Mafia destroying Sicily's farms

October 15, 2017

Tags: mafia, sicily, farms, intimidation, ruin, Napoli sisters

From The Guardian:
The Napoli sisters keep their entire harvest in a glass jar, resting on a wooden table in the living room. Inside, there are only a dozen stalks of wheat. The rest of the crop – 80,000 kilograms – was destroyed by the Sicilian mafia, determined to force out these three women working in the land of The Godfather.

For three generations, the Napoli family farmed wheat and hay in Corleone, the historic stronghold of Cosa Nostra. Their father, Salvatore, was a hard worker who, after much sacrifice in the fields, managed to send his three daughters – Marianna, Ina and Irene – to university.

But a crisis in what was the world’s most notorious mafia, broken apart by prosecutors, has pushed Cosa Nostra back to their rural origins, and they want their land back.

Rescue ship Aquarius lands 606 shipwrecked immigrants at palermo, "city of welcome."

October 13, 2017

Tags: immigrants, drowning, sicily, africa, trouble, border, europe, death, immigration, flow, people, africans, rescue, drowning

From Palermo Today:
Of the 606 migrants, 241 were children, 120 of those children came unaccompanied.
The shipwrecked migrants were rescued in seven operations in less than 36 hours. On board the Franco-Italian-German rescue ship were 11 pregnant women, two of whom were in their ninth month. There was also a week-old infant.
"The extremely high numbers of minors," said Palermo Mayor Leoluca Orlando, "is the confirmation of a human drama without pause and without Europe feeling shame. Today we found ourselves before a dramatic choice made by members of the families of these minors put in the hands of the merchants of death with the hope of getting them to Europe, which, however, continues to ignore this drama, staining themselves with criminal behavior that produces and feeds criminal organizations. We here in Palermo are quite different from all that and the city with its organization and its institutions make it the "Capital of Welcome."

Ship Aquarius rescues 339 people in 24 hours

October 11, 2017

Tags: immigrants, drowning, sicily, africa, trouble, border, europe, death, immigration, flow, people, africans, rescue, drowning



Translation:
🔴 rescue
339 people rescued at sea in the last 24 hours are now safe on the Aquarius.
The teams from SOS MEDITERRANEE France intervened on 3 operations Tuesday (2 rescues and a transfer to another ship in the night) and on a first rescue this Wednesday morning.
All rescue operations on Tuesday and Wednesday were coordinated by the MRCC of Rome, which asked the Aquarius to move to other vessels in difficulty identified in international waters off Libya.
The Humanitarian Emergency continues in the Mediterranean!
#TogetherForRescue

Prudence being taken out of action

October 7, 2017

Tags: immigrants, drowning, sicily, africa, trouble, border, europe, death, immigration, flow, people, africans, rescue, drowning

As a consequence of a drop in the number of boats reaching international waters in the Mediterranean Sea, MSF has decided to reduce its activities at sea and to end search and rescue operations of its boat Prudence. MSF will continue its presence in the Central Mediterranean with the ship Aquarius, run in coordination (more…)

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