The Po Valley is a major geographical feature of Northern Italy, it runs from the Western Alps to the Adriatic Sea. This is Italian core territory and it is unlike anything else in the world.
The Po Valley is a rich land with a perfect climate nearly encapsulated by some of the world’s most rugged mountains, making the Po more secure than the United Kingdom.
In fact, that’s how we should think of the Po -- as an island. Separate from Europe, separate even from the rest of Italy, it is the center of Italian industrial heft.
In the world before World War II the Po Valley was the economic powerhouse of both: Europe and the Greater Mediterranean.
On the west side of the valley, located on the banks of the Po River is the city of Torino (Turin).
Its known, among other things, as the home of the Shroud of Turin, an important, if controversial, religious artifact of the Catholic faith. Many are convinced that the Shroud is the sepulchral cloth of Jesus Christ resurrected there after thirty-forty hours from the wrapping.
From a scientific point of view the shroud is important because it shows a double image of a man so far not reproducible nor explainable. It is an ancient linen cloth, which enveloped the corpse of a 5’10” crucified man, and the pattern of bloodstains is compatible with the torturous wounds inflicted upon Jesus as recorded in all four New Testament Bible Gospel accounts.
The blood stains are still red, which indicates thepresence of biliverdin, caused by the degradation of hemoglobin in the blood, typical of a traumatized person.
Unlike the image, the blood stains on the shroud fully penetrate the cloth front to back.
The most significant conclusion from extended studies and examination of the shroud is that there are no visible traces of any artistic substances on the cloth to account for the image.It is a discoloration of the cloth as a result of something having caused the accelerated dehydration and oxidation of the cellulose linen fibers but only in those areas immediately surrounding a body.
The image is uniform in intensity throughout the entire cloth with no variation in density or color—an impossible feat for any artist of the Middle Ages or earlier.
It is much clearer in black-and-white negative than in its natural sepia color, and this negative image was first observed in 1898 on the reverse photographic plate. A good question is: How could a medieval “artist” make or take a photo negative when photography was not introduced to the world until 500 years later?
The shroud was last displayed for public viewing in 2005 and millions of faithful show up to see it.
It is kept in the Chapel of the Holy Shroud, located within a complex of buildings, which includes the Turin Cathedral and the Royal Palace.
It was a cloudy and rainy Sunday afternoon and I was sitting in a Café at Piazza Castello, looking at the Palazzo Reale di Torinoand the long line of people waiting to see the “Leonardo da Vinci – Hidden Treasures” exposition inside.
In the corner of the Piazza was a large Huawei billboard, prominently displayed.
It snapped me back to reality and I was wondering how much longer it is going to stay there, given recent developments.
Just a few days earlier the U.S. government put the Chinese telecoms giant on an export black list, which prohibits American firms from selling them high-tech components.
Huawei’s corporate strategy – which is to say, the strategy of China’s intelligence services – was to grant massive discounts on the installation of a network’s less critical bits on the condition that Huawei can also install and maintain the cores. The problem all along was that Huawei is not technologically self-sufficient - it remains heavily dependent upon tech imports from the United States.
The Chinese not only wanted the world to pay them to spy on global communications, they expected the Americans to enable the scheme.
In which universe did they think this silly idea would fly?
In the world of high stake espionage if you go in to stop the other guys, you go in hard, hence the full stop of business with Huawei.
As Robert DeNiro’s character in the classic movie “Ronin” says:
“If there is a doubt, then there are no doubts anymore.
That’s the first thing they teach you.”
“I forgot, that’s the second thing they teach you.”
Tom Kubiak is the author of The Traveler