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This week’s Monday Briefing puts the spotlight on the deadly train crash in Greece and the wave of public anger and grief that has sparked in response. We also analyse how Italian newspapers framed differently the news of Elly Schlein becoming the new leader of PD. In other news, hundreds of Iranian school girls are being targeted by poison gas attacks, US and Russia’s top diplomats met for the first time since the start of the Ukraine war, and much, much more. 

Spotlight: Anger grows in Greece as train crash deaths point to larger failures in the system

On Tuesday night, a train travelling from Athens to Thessaloniki collided head-on with a cargo train that had been advancing on the same track in the opposite direction. The passenger train was carrying 10 staff members and 342 passengers on board, many of whom were university students returning home after celebrating the start of Greek Orthodox Lent. After the incident, 66 injured people were hospitalized and 57 were confirmed dead; almost all of them were young people in their 20s. On impact, the two front carriages of the passenger train burst into flames. Passengers who survived the crash by either fleeing or being ejected through the windows had to struggle through the flames to get to safety.

It is the worst train accident in living memory in Greece, and a three-day period of mourning was declared on Wednesday. The President of Greece, Katerina Sakellaropoulou, described the incident as “a senseless tragedy”. The two trains are believed to have travelled on the same track for 15 minutes before the collision occurred. Just hours after the incident, Transport Minister Kostas Karamanlis resigned stating that he was undertaking the responsibility for the state’s “long-standing failures.” Moreover, a 59-year-old stationmaster in Larissa, who was overseeing signalling on the tracks, has been charged with manslaughter by negligence and appeared in court on Sunday. He is now detained pending trial. The man, who had been in post for only four days before Tuesday’s tragedy, has admitted to having a share of responsibility in the accident. Nonetheless, a former head of the railway employees’ union told Greek newspaper Kathimerini that the “signalling system in the area where the accident occurred malfunctioned six years ago and was never repaired.”

In a televised statement the Prime Minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, suggested that “tragic human error” was mainly responsible for the train collision, however, public anger mounted over the government’s failure to properly manage the rail network. On Thursday, rail workers in the country held a one-day strike blaming government neglect as cause of the crash. While, on the same day, thousands gathered outside Hellenic Trains’ Athens headquarters to protest against the decades of failure to improve rail network safety, despite close calls in past years. Criminal charges are being considered against Hellenic Train, owned by Ferrovie dello Stato Italiane who took over and privatized train network operations in Greece in 2017.

On Sunday, in a definite shift of tone from his initial remarks, the PM apologized “both personally, and in the name of all those who ruled the country for years” to the victims’ families, and to “everyone”. 

Around the World 

China and Belarus express ‘extreme interest’ in Ukraine peace.  This week, Chinese President Xi Jinping met with Alexander Lukashenko to discuss in Beijing. The meeting comes shortly after the Chinese government had released a peace talks plan for the war in Ukraine, where they called for a respect of peace and states’ national sovereignty. According to political analysts, the meeting indicates China’s possible intention for strengthening ties with Russia. 

Related:  Monday Briefing 06/12/2022

Nigeria 2023: Bola Tinubu declared winner by electoral commission. Nigeria’s electoral commission says ruling party candidate Bola Tinubu has won the presidential election, beating out Peter Obi and Atiku Abubakar.

Third-party candidate Peter Obi to challenge Nigeria election result. On Wednesday, election results for this year’s most expected democratic exercise in Africa put Bola Tinubu, president of the ruling party in first place, with 37% of the votes. In a public address one day later, third-place opposition member Peter Obi claimed that he had won the election and that he would plan on challenging the outcome. The election was marked by delays, irregularities, and violence at multiple polling stations across the country.

Hundreds of Iranian schoolgirls targeted by mysterious poison gas attacks. Over a thousand schoolgirls have fallen ill in Irans as a result of a stream of poison gas attacks. The first registered attacks happened Qom, a holy city and home to the country’s clergy, back in November but were kept from the public by the authorities according to the media. Within the country there are those who suspect the poisonings were organized in retaliation for the anti-government protests of September last year, to which all girl schools served as organizational centers, while others claim the opposition has targeted young women to “wake a silent majority” that did not participate in the prior protests and incite revolution. 

US and Russia’s top diplomats meet for first time since start of Ukraine war. On Tuesday, G20 Summit began, hosted by the Indian PM Narendra Modi and including the world’s 19 wealthiest nations plus the EU. On Thursday, the US and Russian foreign ministers, Blinken and Lavrov have been seen talking for about 10 minutes on the sidelines of a meeting. The official said that Blinken explained how the US is willing to support Ukraine for as long as it takes, and that Russia should reverse its decision on its suspended participation in the nuclear arms control treaty between the two powers.

El Salvador new mega prison for gang members. President Nayib Bukele has proclaimed a state of emergency in El Salvador to fight the country’s criminal gangs that let, since March, to the arrest of more than 63.000 suspected members. On Monday, Bukele posted on twitter a video of 2000 inmates being transferred in a new prison built to host 40.000 suspected gang members as Human Rights Watch reports mass arbitrary detention, torture, deaths in custody, and abuse-ridden prosecutions.

Columbia: 79 police officers taken hostage. On Thursday, violence erupted in Colombia’s Southern province during a blockade in an oil exporting company where indigenous protestors were asking Emerald Energy to build new road infrastructure around the area. During the protests a policeman and a civilian got killed, while 79 police officers were kept hostages. The hostages were released later Friday, while President Petro unexpectedly twitted his demand to conduct a criminal investigation on corruption involving his own son and brother: “My government will not give out benefits to criminals in exchange for bribes”.

No 10 gives DUP legal assurance that Northern Ireland will remain in the UK. The British government has promised to underline Northern Ireland’s place in the UK with legal “assurances” to convince unionist to back Prime Minster Rishi Sunak’s Brexit deal. Northern Ireland secretary Chris Heaton-Harris said that the government would introduce legislation to allay Democratic Unionist party (DUP) concerns about the Windsor framework.

Related:  Monday Briefing 08/05/2023

FBI director endorses theory virus may have leaked from Chinese lab. FBI director Christopher Wray, appearing on Fox News, endorsed the theory that the virus potentially originated from a leak in a Chinese laboratory. “The FBI has for quite some time now assessed that the origins of the pandemic are most likely a potential lab incident in Wuhan,” were his exact words.

Scientists prove clear link between tropical deforestation and drop in rainfall. Using satellite and meteorological data from 2003 to 2017 across pantropical regions, the research team at Leeds University showed that microclimates become drier with lower tree covers. The study, which was published in the journal Nature, increases concerns that the Amazon jungle is close to reaching a tipping point where it will no longer be able to produce its own rainfall.

Italian News 

Naufragio Crotone, oltre 60 migranti morti. Fermati 3 presunti scafisti: L’imbarcazione, partita dalla Turchia, domenica mattina si è spezzata in due a causa del mare mosso a pochi metri dalla riva del litorale di “Steccato” di Cutro, a Crotone. Circa 80 persone sono state salvate, ma si temono quasi 100 morti in totale. Tra le vittime anche molti bambini. 

Elly Schlein prima donna a guidare il Pd: “Sono una donna, non sono una madre – disse – Ma non per questo sono meno donna” furono le parole pronunciate da Elly Schlein sul palco di Piazza del Popolo, alla chiusura della campagna delle politiche e quasi a sfidare la nuova premier. La giovanissima neoeletta a segretaria del PD è la prima donna a ricoprire questo ruolo. Nel suo primo discorso da segretaria, Elly Schlein ha tracciato le linee del programma del suo PD: “Il popolo democratico è vivo, c’è ed è pronto a rialzarsi con una linea chiara”. 

Migranti, Mattarella a Crotone. Schlein attacca Piantedosi: si dimetta. Il ministro: pronto ad assumermi responsabilità. Sul naufragio di migranti a Cutro la segretaria del PD Elly Schlein chiede a Matteo Piantedosi di dimettersi: “Dal punto di vista politico mi unisco alle voce dei colleghi che mi hanno preceduto e che suggeriscono le sue dimissioni”. Commentando le affermazioni di Piantedosi sull’assenza di senso di responsabilità dei migranti che si imbarcano con i figli, Schlein ha detto che “sono apparse a tutta Italia indegne, disumane e inadeguate al ruolo ricoperto”.  

Inchiesta sul Covid in Bergamasca, indagati Conte e Speranza: A tre anni di distanza dallo scoppio della pandemia di Covid che, tra febbraio e aprile 2020, ha straziato la Bergamasca con oltre 6 mila morti in più rispetto alla media dell’anno precedente, è stata chiusa l’inchiesta per epidemia colposa con 19 indagati tra cui l’ex premier Giuseppe Conte, l’ex ministro della Salute Roberto Speranza, il Governatore della Lombardia Attilio Fontana e l’ex assessore della sanità lombardo Giulio Gallera. “Anticipo subito la mia massima disponibilità e collaborazione con la magistratura”, ha commentato l’ex presidente del Consiglio e ora a capo del M5, Conte, che continua: “Sono tranquillo di fronte al paese e ai cittadini italiani per aver operato con il massimo impegno e con pieno senso di responsabilità durante uno dei momenti più duri vissuti dalla nostra Repubblica.”

Related:  Monday Briefing 27/02/2023

Bocconi news

Starting from last week, second year undergraduate students were able to submit their applications for the International Exchange Program. The procedure is still open on Punto Blu until the 7th of March at 3pm. For any questions, students are advised to contact university staff through B in Touch. 

Questione di prospettiva: Elly Schlein è la nuova segretaria del Partito Democratico

Domenica scorsa Elly Schlein ha vinto le primarie aperto del Partito Democratico, diventando quindi la nuova segretaria del principale partito di opposizione del nostro Paese. Si tratta di una vittoria per certi versi storica, sicuramente inaspettata e sorprendente un po’ per tutti: è la prima volta che il Partito Democratico è guidato da una donna; è la prima volta che il voto del secondo turno delle primarie – quello aperto a tutti gli elettori, non solo quelli iscritti al partito – ribalta il voto dei circoli. Inoltre, la storia politica di Schlein è piuttosto vicina a un tipo di sinistra considerato radicale, non spesso associato al Partito Democratico odierno. È piuttosto interessante osservare come i principali quotidiani italiani abbiano presentato questo nuovo personaggio politico al proprio pubblico: quasi nessuno, né a destra né a sinistra, si è dimostrato imparziale di fronte a Elly Schlein. I titoli scelti da quotidiani più progressivi come Repubblica Stampa sono rispettivamente “Una sorpresa di nome Elly” e “Schlein a valanga, il PD volta pagina,” evidenziando sia la sorpresa provocata da questa elezione che il potenziale cambiamento per l’intero partito. Al contrario, Il Giornale titola “Il PD si chiude in salotto,” con un sottotitolo notevole che dice “Golpe in casa dem: la candidata radical chic rimonta e batte Bonaccini (grazie ai 5S). È un’altra rifondazione comunista.” Libero fa eco con il titolo “I dem perdono le primarie,” alludendo anch’esso quindi alla discrepanza tra il voto dei circoli e il voto degli iscritti e associandolo a una certa instabilità interna al partito. La Verità, il terzo grande quotidiano di destra che abbiamo in Italia, sentenzia in maniera ancora più marcata: “Arriva la Schlein, se ne va il PD,” con un sottotitolo che dice “i dem si sono suicidati facendo scegliere il segretario ai non iscritti.”

È ancora troppo presto per ipotizzare come sarà il PD di Elly Schlein, e se la netta svolta verso sinistra auspicata dagli elettori che l’hanno scelta si concretizzerà o meno, ma è interessante constatare come quella che da alcuni giornali viene vista come sorpresa, con ottimismo e curiosità, da altri viene caratterizzata come negativa ancora prima del passaggio di consegne tra il segretario uscente Enrico Letta e la neosegretaria. Impressionante se pensiamo che in teoria tutti i quotidiani svolgono la stessa funzione, ovvero di informare. Quante versioni di verità esistono?

In case you missed it

The Tra I Leoni redazione interviews Ukranian Bocconi student Yuriy Uhryn about the war in Ukraine, one year after the Russian invasion. 

Lucrezia Forcellini shares some stories from her exchange semester experience in New York City. 

Matilde Rossa con l’associazione studentesca Keiron valuta come l’introduzione della legge Gelli Bianco ha mutato il quadro della responsabilità sanitaria. 

Author profile

Every week, your TiL Monday Briefing 🗞: you better read it with a cup of coffee! ☕️

Current members of the team are Bojan Zeric, Elisa Latora, Dragos Ile, Olimpia Vitali, Marco Visentin, Federica Di Chiara, Chiara Binello and Chiara Todesco

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