Free The Hikers

•November 17, 2009 • Leave a Comment

I met Josh Fattal in Macerata, a small city right in the central of Italy, on the Adriatic coast.  It was almost 4 months ago. We met through a friend. We spent the night together with a bunch of other mates, having some fun. We went to a houseparty, then we spent the night in the city square, chatting and drinking. It was very good. Josh is a very cool guy, that’s what I thought at the time. Josh was travelling around Italy and Europe. He then went to the Middle East, travelling with curiosity and craving new experiences. He met other 2 guys: Shane Bauer and Sarah Shourd.

You can read what happened next from the website

“Shane Bauer, Josh Fattal and Sarah Shourd have been detained in Iran since July 31, 2009, when news reports say they accidentally crossed an unmarked border during a hiking trip in Kurdistan, a peaceful region of northern Iraq that is increasingly popular with tourists.

The three young Americans, all graduates of the University of California at Berkeley, are being held in Evin Prison, Tehran. They have not been charged, and have had no contact with their families.”

I strongly recommend to take a look at the website and to support their cause.


The following is an article Alex Fattal (Josh’s brother) wrote about him that was published on newsweek (here)

“There are certain crises that always loom as possibilities: a chronic illness in the family, strife in a relationship, a car accident. To have a brother detained in Iran, with no way to contact him and little information about his legal status or the conditions in which he’s held, is not one of them. Never would I have imagined putting my Ph.D. research on hold to lobby for my brother’s release from Evin Prison; I didn’t expect to move back to my parents’ house at the age of 30, either.

But that’s what happened after I learned July 31 that Iranian authorities had detained Josh and his two friends Shane Bauer and Sarah Shourd on the border with Iraqi Kurdistan, where they had been hiking. Soon, TV trucks were parked in front of the house, and reporters were asking questions to which we didn’t have the answers. More than 100 days later, we still don’t. All we know is that they were near the Ahmed Awa waterfall, an area that’s become popular with Western tourists—and that, last week, Tehran insinuated that they are being accused of espionage.

The last time I saw Josh was 5 a.m. on July 5. He had come to visit me in Stockholm after his teaching responsibilities for the International Honors Program had ended. He was traveling to Damascus, where Shane and Sarah were living, before the three of them headed to Iraqi Kurdistan. The night before, I gave him a big hug and told him, “You may be my little brother, but I look up to you.”


I miss Josh terribly—but this isn’t the first time I’ve waited for him to come home. Josh is an environmentalist. In 2001 he spurned my parents’ offer of a frequent-flier ticket to bike 3,000 miles home to Philadelphia from Seattle. Josh was free to sleep beneath the stars then. He pedaled through Glacier National Park in Montana, the Lake Country of Minnesota, and the hills of upstate New York. Our mom could send care packages and know he received them; we could pick up the phone and hear his voice whenever we felt like it. We waited 42 days for him, knowing that, with each one, he got closer. Then, finally, he pulled up into the driveway—his bike seat on crooked, his handlebars loose—and we hardly let him dismount before we wrapped our arms around him. Now my family, along with Shane’s and Sarah’s, waits for the day when we can hug our loved one once again.

The hikers’ families maintain the Web site”

By Alex Fattal


China’s Pollution Map

•November 12, 2009 • Leave a Comment


A map of the worst polluted places of China is spreading all over Chinese internet. The brute arm of the censorship didn’t smash it, yet. Inspirated by a series of photos by prize-winning Chinese photographer Lu Guang, describing the horrible situation of pollution in China  and its devastated environment, online activists compiled a pollution map of China.

You can take a look at the map here.

To know more, check out this.

The Situation of Justice in Italy

•November 12, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Stefano Cucchi

Stefano Cucchi was a 31 years old Italian guy. He died on 22 October in an Italian prison, at 6,20 am. He was arrested on the night of 15 OCTOBER by police for possession of about 20 grams of marijuana. He had a fast-track trial on 16 October. The he spent 6 days in prison, waiting for the next hearing. His parents and family weren’t allowed to communicate with him in that period, although they had the right to. On the 22 October his family received the notification that he was dead. He actually died of prison.

Stefano’s family decided to diffuse his autopsy’s pictures, in which it’s clearly evident that he have livids and fractures that he didn’t have at the moment of the arrest. Moreover, Stefano was a tiny guy, but perfectly healthy, weighting 43 kg at the moment of the arrest, but only 37 kg when he was found dead. Investigations on the case are still running and it’s very probable that the exhumation would be necessary. You can see the pictures here. Meanwhile, the Italian government party’s undersecretary, Carlo Giovanardi, publicly calls Stefano Cucchi “a drug addict” that died “because he was an anorexic junkie, also probably HIV positive”.

This is not the first time that the Italian Justice system is under investigation in recent times. Another 32 years old guy, Giuseppe Saladino, was found dead in his prison cell in Parma some days after Stefano Cucchi’s case. Also, Aldo Bianzino, a 54 years old carpenter, was arrested in 2007 for possession of some marijuana plants and died in prison under mysterious circumstances. At the moment of the death, hee had several fractures as well as traumas.

Is it really possible that things like these still happen in 2009?!

Obama rejects (or, more politically correct, delays) Dalai Lama’s visit

•October 5, 2009 • Leave a Comment

It looks like China’s economical influence is becoming very crucial also for our pluri-celebrated US president..

Check out the Washington Post:

Obama’s Meeting With the Dalai Lama Is Delayed

Italy Beyond Stereotype

•October 5, 2009 • 1 Comment

This post is just to inform you of this blog a friend of mine has. It is about “what does it mean to be Italian”. It has got some useful posts intented to try to make people understand that Italy is not (only) pizza, spaghetti, blognese sauce and Berlusconi. Go check it out!

Italy Beyond Stereotype

#3 Eye on: Muay Thai

•September 29, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Different country, different national sport. In Italy is soccer, in Australia.. well I don’t want to get involved in the discussion of wheter is cricket or footie or rugby, but still it should be one of those.

However, all of this was only to introduce Thailand National Sport: Muay Thai มวยไทย.


I have to admit that I love this sport and that I have been practicing it for quite a long time now. I found that it is, in my personal opinion, the most effective martial art out there. Trainings are hard and exhausting, and it is quite easy to get punched in the face, but no pain no gain, what do you reckon?!

Muay Thai is believed to originate two thousands years ago, somewhere in Indocina, from some Chinese and Indian martial arts techniques. It is also called “Art of Eight Limbs” because it uses punches, knees, elbows and kicks. Accordingly, one needs to train every of these ( this is called “conditioning”) as well as the whole body. Conditioning consists in hitting harder and harder things, such as dense sandbags all the way up to car tyres and flexible trees, in order to strengthen one’s shinbones, elbows and knees, considerated real weapons in this sport.

Modern Muay Thai evolved from Muay Boran (ancient boxing), a martial art that is believed to be taught to Siamese soldiers in order to be used if they lose their weapons in battle.


Muay Thai fighters in Thailand usually start training at a very young age (9 or 10 years old) and finish their career as early as 20 because of the intensive training that this sport needs. It is usually a good way to earn some money for their families; as a matter of fact, it is quite hard to see middle-class Thai fighters competing in Muay Thai.

Thai fighters usually win over foreigners (socalled farang in  Thai), because of their major experience, but there are some exceptions, such as the Dutch Ramon Dekkers (in the video below).

Muay Thai, being a martial art, involves rituals. The most important one is the Wai Kru, performed just before the match begins. This ritual is altogether practical and spiritual: the fighter imitates the moves of a soldier, a hunter, and a fighter as well, with the intention of scaring the opponent, albeit showing humility and gratitude. Nonetheless, it is also a great exercise to stretch and warm up before the fighting. The Wai Kru is usually accompanied by traditional music. The video below shows the first part of the ritual.

The last video I present today is one I have recorded in my gym, here in Melbourne. The gym is called Sityodtong and is situated in Brunswick. Everyone is welcome to come and watch, or to have a free trial if you ‘d like to.

“If it looks pretty it isn’t Muay Thai, it has to be exact and punishing 100% of the time” Samart Payakroon, Muay Thai fighter

Word of the Day(Thai)> ศอกตี (pron. Sok Tee): elbow slash


Muay Thai show in Melbourne: EVOLUTION 18 – FRI 9th October 2009


How does it feel?

•September 14, 2009 • Leave a Comment

A link to an article I found emotionally interesting on how does it feel to be a foreigner…

Finding a place to call home by SEKAI NZENZA