Mark Covell is a 33-year-old computer web designer who was one of the five British protestors at the Genoa G8 summit meeting assaulted last Saturday night and kept in custody by the Italian authorities for alleged terrorism. Four of the five have now been released and have returned to Britain but Mr Covell is still in hospital recovering from the serious injuries he received. He gave a graphic interview to the BBC yesterday morning; nobody hearing him almost break down as he described feeling my bones breaking inside my body could doubt the ferocity of the attack on him. There are two distinct issues arising from the experiences of Mr Covell and his colleagues who were among ninety young people in a building being used by the Genoa Social Forum which is generally regarded as a peaceful organisation. The first concerns the anger felt because the British consulate was not able to gain access to Covell and the others for over three days; it is being asked how this could happen to citizens of the European Union. The answer is that since those arrested were suspected of terrorism - rightly or wrongly - the Italian authorities were within their rights in denying consular access for three days. Britain would act in the same way in a similar case if it was thought necessary. The second, and more serious, point is the apparent lawlessness of the Italian police. No doubt they had been provoked intolerably by some of the violent protestors during the G8 meeting but that cannot be a justification for responding with unprovoked violence against others who were not behaving illegally. The Italian government should investigate the circumstances of these arrests and assaults and make a full statement on them as soon as possible.
In the steps of Carnegie
The news that Bill Gates' £2.6 million donation to British libraries is to be used to enable those in some of the most deprived areas of Britain to set up information technology learning centres will serve as a reminder that Mr Gates is following in the footsteps of another American benefactor to learning in Britain. Andrew Carnegie, who made a fortune in the American steel industry after emigrating from Scotland, endowed a great number of public libraries in the United States, Britain and other English-speaking nations in the early years of the last century and in doing so opened up access to information, knowledge and the pleasure of reading to countless poor people. In the same way, the Gates donation will bring Internet services within the reach of people who do not have their own computer system. In a famous essay, The Gospel of Wealth, written in 1889, Carnegie said that a rich man should, after acquiring his wealth, distribute the surplus for the general good. It seems probable that Mr Gates is familiar with Carnegie's philanthropic philosophy. In addition to the gift already mentioned the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has recently given $210 million to Cambridge University to provide special scholarship places there for outstanding overseas students; the first 150 to benefit from this scheme, which is being called a 21st century equivalent of Oxford University's Rhodes Scholarships, are already installed at Cambridge. Bill Gates, the richest man in the world, seems a worthy successor to Andrew Carnegie.
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