November 14, 2008

Italy's Terri Schiavo case

The Corte di Cassazione, Italy's top appeals court, removed today the last legal obstacle in a landmark “right-to-die” case which has fiercely divided opinion in Italy, by authorizing the father of 37-year-old Eluana Englaro to remove the feeding tube which has kept his comatose daughter alive for nearly seventeen years.

The Englaro case has been compared to that of Terri Schiavo, the American woman who spent 15 years in a vegetative state and was allowed to die in March 2006 against the wishes of her parents after a long court battle.

In fact, Terri Schiavo’s brother, Bobby Schindler, told he strongly disagrees with the court. “Today’s ruling,” he said, “will clear the way for Eluana to experience a barbaric and inhumane death by starvation and dehydration.” He is also worried that the kind of “bioethics” that prompted courts in the United States to allow his sister’s former husband to kill her is making its way across the globe. “This court’s ruling seems to indicate that American ‘medical ethics’ are spreading like a virus among the international community, threatening countless numbers of elderly, ailing and disabled persons in an increasing and alarming way,” Schindler noted.

Perhaps Schindler undervalues the high “progressive” standards achieved in some European countries. Nevertheless I think he is basically right.

Free Nay Phone Latt !

As it is well known Burma’s military government exercises strict control over all public media. That’s why dissidents often use the Internet—where controls are, at least up to a certain point, less stringent—to circulate information. But this time there was no escape for Nay Phone Latt, a 28-year-old blogger, whom a court in military-ruled Myanmar sentenced to more than 20 years in jail last Monday for his Internet activities.

Nay Phone Latt, who is also a former member of detained democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi's opposition party, used his blog, written in the Burma language, as a forum to discuss the difficulties of daily life, such as the regular power outages and the rising cost of living. The blog was banned by Burma's military regime, and Nay Phone Latt was arrested in January this year during a round-up of activists linked to the massive anti-junta protests in September 2007.

The sentence, say Reporters Without Borders, consisted of two years for violating article 505 (b) of the Criminal Code (which punishes defamation of the state), three years and six months for violating article 32 (b) of the Video Act and 15 years for violating article 33 (a) of the Electronic Act.

Reporters Without Borders and the Burma Media Association say that this shocking sentence “is meant to terrify those who go online in an attempt to elude the dictatorship’s ubiquitous control of news and information.” The two organizations called for bloggers around the world to post a photo of Nay Phone Latt on their webpages and write to Burma’s embassies to press for the young man’s immediate release. Hence this post, with which I willingly accept the call and ask my few but loyal readers to spread the word … [Hat tip: Nora]

The American Dream makes converts ...

“And now we may let Obama let us down. When was the last time someone deceived us?” wrote prominent Italian columnist Adriano Sofri a couple of days ago in la Repubblica newspaper (in Italian, via Luca).

That is likely the way many European leftists look at Barack Obama.
“There is a lesson,” says the Italian intellectual,

in the fact that the three contemporary personalities who more confidently dealt with the dream had African ancestors: Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela, and now Barack Obama.

Well, isn’t Obama King’s dream realized? Perhaps more pragmatically, as Sofri puts it, he is the man who

describes America as the ‘Dream’ Corporation in which every American must hold a stock of shares. In his best speeches, the redistribution of the American Dream went along with the redistribution of the wealth.

And hence his huge margin victory. I would just ask Sofri and the other European leftists one question: should Obama be successful in achieving his aims, do you think you will be ready to be converted to the American Dream? [Italian version]