venerdì 28 marzo 2014

Istria contended from the secret Agent Cionci

The story behind the scenes in the book "The Last Witness"

(ANSA) - TRIESTE - It is maybe the most charming part of the Old Yugoslavia. Even before it was known as 'province of Trieste', Habsburg for centuries and then Italian. Istria, a land contended for long time, is today Croatian and Slovenian, fully in the European Union. However, its history in the twentieth century has been also formed by brutal fights, of Nazi massacres, revenges from the men of Titus, and, at last, of the escape of the Italian exiles still known as 'Istrians'. It is right in this land, difficult and fascinating, that takes place the story of Sergio Cionci, today ninety three years old, born and grown in Pola since the exodus of the Italians , began after the Treaty of Paris in 1947.

Cionci passed from cadet of the Direct aviation to partisan in the Istrian anti-fascist formations, and was recruited from the Italian secret Services for which he performed activities as agent between Trieste and Istria, since 1947 until 1952. To tell his story, in the only book about the Italian espionage during the 'Cold War', is Andrea Romoli, journalist of Rai. He collected the evidence of Cionci succeding to produce the story, narrated by the main character, as a charming tale that develops with a simple and linear style.

Cionci in one one of the 28 thousand Italians constricted to leave the native Pola. The recruitment in the secret Services occurs after the exodus and it is the easiest reaction to the wrongs suffered from the Istrian Italians. Today, after so many years away, the ex agent decided to make known that part of history remained behind the scenes. With an incredible memory, despite the years, Cionci reveals to the reader an unpublished slice of the Eastern border at the beginning of the Cold War.

Everything passes through the mysterious Mario Casale, director of the Corresponding office of the 'Venezie'. An inexistent press agency with a single unknown address: Casella postale Gorizia 72. This is the cover with which Cionci builds, and keeps up for five years, an informatics net which will frequently attack the powerful apparatus of the secret Yugoslavian Police. Agents, exiles double agents, infiltrated and courageous women are the checkers through which Cionci works. Today they relive in the pages of 'The Last Witness' with unpublished events and back stages often surprising.

Pasta made in Italy cornered market in the New Europe

Positive results 2013. Pasta Zara plans double exports by 2018

(ANSA) - ROME - Exports of Italian pasta to the markets of New Europe are growing, since in this area consumers are changing tastes and habits. Maybe because it is fashionable or maybe because a healthy Mediterranean diet is good for your health, there are more and more consumers who choose the best known product of 'Made in Italy' brand, combining it with local recipes.

These data were recorded by Aidepi, the Italian Association of Confectionery and Pasta Industries member of Confindustria, which in 2013 had a positive outcome, with an overall increase - in terms of quantity imported from the new Europe - by 6,2% (from almost 499 000 tonnes in 2012 to about 530 thousand tonnes in 2013) and by 6.8% in terms of value (from EUR 478.1 million in 2012 to 510.6 million in 2013) .

Almost all the countries of the above mentioned area showed an increase, both in terms of quantity and in terms of value.

Starting from Ukraine that, between January and December 2013, recorded a +45.6 % in terms of quantity imported and a +37.7 % in terms of value, compared to the same period last year.

Ukraine is followed by Lithuania, with a +33.8 % in terms of quantity and a +23.8 % in terms of value, Slovakia (+25.4 % in quantity and +23.5% value), Poland (+18.6 % and +19.1 %), Croatia (+16.3 % and +15.3 %), Czech Republic (+13.5% and +10.4%) and Slovenia (+12% and +6, 9 % ).

''These markest are very interesting and we are planning to double our export volumes by 2018'', said - speaking to ANSA - Furio Bragagnolo, president of Pasta Zara, biggest Italian exporter of pasta (in 106 countries) and second largest producer, after Barilla, with 250,000 tonnes per year and a turnover of 240 million per year. ''Some of our major clients are Croatia, Bulgaria, Poland , Czech Republic, Russia, the Confederation of Independent States and Ukraine. The latter used to go very well. Today, who knows?'' 

Renzi says labour decree 'untouchable'

Forza Italia willing to accept the bill without changes

(ANSA) - Rome, March 28 - Italian Premier Matteo Renzi on Friday told a meeting of his center-left Democratic Party (PD) that his government is pressing ahead with a labour-reform decree, including two "untouchable" points, regardless of opposition.

"(New rules on) fixed-term contracts and apprenticeships are two untouchable points," Renzi warned his caucus, including members who are expressing discontent with the decree. It sets out measures to establish a fixed-term three-year contract that could be used across the country, as well as new measures on apprenticeships. It began its passage through the Lower House on Thursday with hearings scheduled for next week before returning for a vote in mid-April. But some members of the centre-left PD and unions have expressed opposition, saying that the decree will increase job insecurity for Italians, and some are already presenting amendments. "I have read the messages and ultimatums on labour, of which I understand little," Renzi said. "It is not something in pieces, it is a package". In contrast to PD criticisms, the opposition centre-right Forza Italia says it will support the decree, highlighting the turmoil in Renzi's PD over the measures.

FI House Whip Renato Brunetta said that his party, founded by ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi, will approve the decree without any changes, because it is line with FI thinking. "This is, in fact, a Berlusconi decree on labour," Brunetta said in a Twitter post. Labour Minister Giuliano Poletti recently said that he intended to listen to all positions on the decree - but that the government would make the final decision.

Renzi brushed off union opposition, suggesting that organized labour may not be effective at ensuring job creation, judging by the rising rate of joblessness under the current labour policies. "We have gone from 25% to over 40% youth unemployment," demonstrating the need for change, said Renzi. 

Confindustria stresses education

Equal to 234 billion euros over 10 years, says Confindustria

(ANSA) - Bari, March 28 - An increase in education levels over the past 10 years in Italy has boosted gross domestic product (GDP) by some 15%, Italy's employers association Confindustria said Friday.

The increase is equivalent to 234 billion euros, or 3,900 euros per inhabitant, Confindustria's research unit said in a new report that was released at the conference "Social and Human Capital: the Strength of the Nation" in Bari. In the study, the confederation's internal think tank estimated that a degree boosts a person's probability of finding work significantly. In fact, the employment levels among university graduates is some 40% above those that just have high school degrees in Italy, according to the report.

Milan borse closes highest since May 2011

Index up 1.5% to 21,498

(ANSA) - Milan, March 28 - Italy's FTSE Mib rose above 21,500 during the day's trading, closing the past five trading sessions with a 1.5% gain to 21,498 points as of market close on Friday. The levels were last seen in May 2011.

Visco warns rigidity in business, unions hinder Italy

Economic stagnation serious problem, warns central bank governor

(ANSA) - Rome, March 28 - Rigidity in Italian business, labour and the bureaucracy are all serious problems weighing down the national economy, Bank of Italy Governor Ignazio Visco warned Friday. That's creating a significant problem for growth, leading to economic stagnation, Visco added in comments at a conference at Rome's LUISS university, marking the 100th anniversary of the birth of economist Guido Carli.

Visco noted that Carli, who also served as governor of the central bank from 1960 to 1975, raised similar concerns about bureaucratic barriers to growth at a time when Italy was struggling with the price inflation that shook much of the world during the 1970s. "Rigidity in legislation, bureaucracy, corporations, and unions are always the principal hindrance to development in our country," said Visco. The consequences today "are different from those that were manifested in the 1970s; at that time it was inflation, today, it is stagnation". Susanna Camusso, secretary-general of Italy's biggest trade union CGIL, said that it seemed Visco was "repeating the same recipes that have already failed".
Raffaele Bonanni, secretary-general of the CISL union, dismissed Visco's words as "nonsense". Meanwhile, Visco urged continued structural reforms in the Italy economy, adding that early signs of economic recovery are encouraging but need to be supported. "Only by tackling the structural problems that had put the brakes on the Italian economy even before the current crisis...will it be possible to return on the path of a strong and lasting recovery," he said.

Italy's gross domestic product fell by an average of 1.9% last year, but began to recover in the third-quarter and agencies including the IMF forecast growth of 0.6% this year, rising to 1.1% in 2015. GDP fell 2.4% in 2012, according to revised data from national statistical agency Istat.

To boost growth, Premier Matteo Renzi has been announcing a wide range of economic and labour market reforms, including public-spending cuts to free up cash to finance income tax cuts for low-income earners, spending on social programs, and a multibillion euro repayment of bills owed by government to business. Renzi has also pledged reforms to the Italy's electoral system and has begun the legislative process of eliminating an entire layer of government at the provincial level.

Obama leaves Rome for Riyadh

US president met pope, Napolitano and Renzi in Italy

(ANSA) - Rome, March 28 - United States President Barack Obama left Rome abroad Air Force One on Friday after two nights in the Italian capital and headed to Riyadh in Saudi Arabia. During a packed 36 hours in Italy, Obama had meetings with Pope Francis, Italian President Giorgio Napolitano and Premier Matteo Renzi and also found time for a private tour of the Colosseum. His international mission this week also included talks at the Nuclear Security Summit in The Hague, at which the United States and other members of the G8 suspended Russia from the group of leading industrialised nations over its annexation of the Ukraine peninsula of Crimea. He arrived in Rome on Wednesday from Brussels, where he attended an EU-US summit and met NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen.

In Rome, the European and American economies were brought into sharp focus given a proposed free-trade treaty between the US and the EU, which Italy chairs from July through the end of December in its duty presidency of the 28-member union. Renzi told Obama that "we hope to finalize the free-trade treaty" at that time, "or in 2015". The proposed free-trade agreement, which would encompass nearly half of the world's economy, could add $100 billion to economic output in both the US and Europe, officials in Washington and Brussels say.

Public support has dwindled since talks began eight months ago in the aftermath of reports the US spied in Europe. Recently, however, analysts say the climate to negotiate has improved amid tighter EU-US cooperation in response to Russia's annexation of Crimea. Speaking in Brussels Wednesday, Obama announced he had authorized the export of American natural gas to Europe, lessening the continent's dependence on Russian energy. Thursday's talks began with the pope, the first meeting between the two.

Topics of discussion ranged from political corruption, to youth unemployment, and ended with Obama asking the Argentine pontiff to pray for him and his family. Turning to Italian affairs, Obama met President Napolitano, then Premier Renzi.

Obama told the young leader he had "confidence" in the reforms Renzi wants to introduce to revive the weak Italian economy and overhaul the country's political system. "The premier will know how to take Italy forward," Obama told a press conference in Rome after meeting Renzi, who became Italy's youngest premier at 39 last month. Obama added that he was "favourably impressed by the energy" of Renzi and that his arrival was positive for Italy and for a new generation of European leaders.

As he made his exit Friday, Obama suggested he may come back to Rome for celebrations surrounding the 70th anniversary of the Italian capital's liberation from Nazi occupation on June 4, Mayor Ignazio Marino said after a brief encounter. "He said the summer is a good time to return to Rome. It seems to me that he gave answer that suggested it was possible," he said.

Calabria goveror sentenced to six years

Defense 'disappointed' at ruling

(ANSA) - Reggio Calabria, March 28 - Calabria Governor Giuseppe Scopelliti was sentenced to six years in prison and permanently banned from public office late on Thursday. Scopelliti was found guilty of abuse of office and misinformation while serving as mayor of Reggio Calabria in events related to the 2010 suicide of a former finance manager for the city, Orsola Fallaro.

Fallaro was paid fees of 750,000 euros while working on Reggio's tax commission. The ruling is longer than the Prosecutor Sara Ombra's request for five years imprisonment and a five-year ban from office. The case stems from an investigation into Reggio's finances between 2008 to 2010.

The conviction will have political consequences as Scopelliti will have to step down as governor, even though he can appeal and the conviction is not definitive, because of 2012 anti-corruption law. The court rejected Scopelliti lawyer Aldo Labate's request to show new records that he argued would demonstrate balance- sheet debts were attributable to before Scopelliti's tenure. "Denying preconceived evidence limits the rights of the defense", commented Scopelitti's legal advisor Senator Nico D'Ascola, who added that there was "a vacuum of evidence that the prosecutor failed to fill".

Scopelliti was also ordered to pay a 120,000-euro fine. Former auditors Carmelo Stracuzi, Domenico D'Amico and Ruggero De Medici received three-year sentences. Upon hearing the sentence, Labate commented: "We are obviously disappointed. We are waiting for the written explanation of the verdict". 

EC refers Italy to Court of Justice over rail passengers

Commuters users often complain of delays, cramped conditions

(ANSA) - Brussels, March 28 - The European Commission (EC) said Friday that it has referred Italy to the European Court of Justice of the EU for failing to fully comply with EU regulations on rail-passenger rights. Italian train users often complain of cramped conditions and delays on commuter routes.

"Italy has not yet established an official and authorised body for the application of the Regulation in its territory, nor has it set up rules to sanction violations of rail passenger rights legislation," read an EC statement. "Without these two necessary actions, passengers travelling by train in Italy or from Italy to other EU countries will not be able to claim the rights they are entitled to if something goes wrong with their journey".

Obama 'may return' for 70th anniversary of liberation

Mayor Marino invites US president back in June

(ANSA) - Rome, March 28 - United States President Barack Obama may return to Rome for the celebrations for the 70th anniversary of the Italian capital's liberation from Nazi occupation on June 4, Mayor Ignazio Marino said Friday. Marino was speaking after going to Rome's Fiumicino airport to bid farewell to the president, who had spent two nights in the city. "I passed on a message agreed yesterday with (Italian) President (Giorgio) Napolitano about the (US) president returning for the 70th anniversary of the liberation on June 4," Marino said on Italian television.
"He said the summer is a good time to return to Rome. It seems to me that he gave answer that suggested it was possible".

'Systematic irregularities' over EU cash

Court of Justice upholds decision to cut Puglia funding

(ANSA) - Brussels, March 28 - The European Court of Justice said Friday that Italy was guilty of "systematic irregularities" in the handling of EU funding, as it upheld a 2009 decision by the European Commission to cut support from its Regional Development Fund for Puglia by 80 billion euros. "The serious shortcomings showed by the Italian authorities in the management and control of the use of EU funds are such as to lead to systematic irregularities," the court said in its ruling.

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Naples Archeological Museum reveals treasury of coins

'Hidden' cache of valuable pieces unveiled to public Sunday

(ANSA) - Naples, March 14 - One of the most popular museums in Naples will open one of its hidden treasures to the public on Sunday - a cache of 150,000 valuable ancient coins. Visitors to the National Archeological Museum of Naples will get a rare opportunity to see the "secret" collection for one day, including coinage from ancient Greece to those produced by the Bourbon mint.

The guided tour 'Coins and Economy in the Ancient World' will include remarks from archaeologists and historians, as well as experts in numismatics who will explain not only the eras in which the coins were used, but also economic aspects linked to their use. Coin collecting dates back to the 1500s, as demonstrated by the Farnese collection, created in Rome but arriving in Naples through the Bourbon inheritance of Charles VII of Naples. The collection shows the choice of coins and medallions preferred by erudite and Renaissance coin collectors: portraits of illustrious men, architects of ancient history, representations of historic episodes and celebrated ancient monuments that have disappeared or are no longer identifiable. Another attentive and passionate collector was Cardinal Stefano Borgia, a learned prelate from the late eighteenth century with antiquarian interests, whose collection was sold by one of his descendants to the King of Naples Joachim Murat. The Borgia collection includes coins from series produced in Etruria, Umbria, Lazio, Rome as well as from the central Adriatic area of Italy.

A leap is then made in the second part of the Naples museum collection, which includes about 70,000 coins recounting the monetary history of southern Italy from the 6th century B.C. to the medieval era and modern times, ending with the coinage of the Kingdom of Naples - a journey spanning 25 centuries. In the rooms dedicated to the Roman period, a place of importance is dedicated to Pompei, with about 15,000 coins found in excavations through 1970. That includes the cash box of a shop; the change or larger hoards in cloth or leather purses recovered next to the skeletons of fugitives; the conspicuous sums preserved in safes with jewelry and silverware; sculptures, ornaments, frescoes and inscriptions that communicate the lively daily life of the citizens' market and productive activities. Sunday discoveries of "hidden" art treasures in Naples are organized by Campania Artecard, a project that is creating an integrated system of cultural assets with transport and services.

On March 23, there will be a visit to the hidden rooms of the Royal Palace of Naples. "The two appointments will be an opportunity for tourists, but also for Neapolitans, to discover treasures and protected places in these two great, world class points of excellence, which are the Archeological Museum and the Royal Palace of Naples," said Gregorio Angelini, the regional director for the Ministry for Heritage, Culture and Tourism. 

UAE Expo deals

Accords for world fairs in Lombardy capital, Dubai

(ANSA) - Rome, February 7 - Italian Premier Enrico Letta on visits to Abu Dhabi and Dubai struck a bundle of agreements with authorities in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for progress in upcoming world fairs in the two countries, trade, tourism and energy. Two agreements signed in Dubai concern Universal Expositions Milan Expo 2015 and Dubai Expo 2020 to lower customs barriers between the two countries for the next two world fairs. In keeping with the effort to use Milan Expo 2015 as a platform for trade and policy promotion, an agreement signed in Abu Dhabi between Gruppo Cremonini Inalca and the UAE sovereign fund Emirates Advanced Investment Group will create an innovative technological platform to import and distribute Italian agrifood products in the Gulf and throughout the Middle East. The theme of Milan Expo 2015 is ''Feeding the planet. Energy for life'', which runs May 1 to October 31 next year, and deals with food security, combating hunger, and promoting environmentally, socially and economically sustainable global food production practices. A fourth agreement deals with city water treatment and environmental protection, opening cooperation in public bids between the two countries. Moreover, a letter of intent was also signed between the Perugia-based pollution research centre Ciriaf and the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology to develop sustainable ''roof cooling'' technology. A working demonstration of the UAE's Masdar City - an entirely sustainable, clean-energy enclave - will be on show at Milan Expo 2015, where the UAE's pavilion will be built following sustainability principles such as rainwater recovery, recycled materials and solar panels, demonstrating the relationship between water, food and energy. Other agreements dealt with building a floating, one-million-barrel oil tank; a partnership between Italian and UAE based hotels; and an accord between Italian and UAE culture authorities. Environmental sustainability is playing a key role too in Milan Expo 2015's official coins and medals, presented Friday at the international World Money Fair in Berlin. Milan Expo's Eco Coins are made in recycled metals - gold, silver and colored titanium. Milan Expo is also producing experimental ''intelligent'' card-coins, and special edition pink metal coins for ''We Women for Expo''. Milan Expo 2015 will also present two of the biggest coins in the world to the two presidents of the Berlin numismatic fair - each measuring 15 cm across. Produced by minters of euro coinage, the big Expo coins represent the unity of the continents, with depictions of five trees from each of the five continents. 

Campania to plug Med Diet at Expo

Mediterrean Diet brand is one of Italy UNESCO products, rep says

(ANSA) - Naples, February 14 - The Southern Italian Campania region will plug the so-called Mediterrean Diet that Italy is famous for at the upcoming Expo 2015. "We will barge into the event with the Mediterranean Diet, which is our UNESCO asset", said Campania Governor Stefano Caldoro. "We wanted to strongly mark a brand with which seven nations are currently involved, but of which we host the headquarters in Cilento, we bear the flag, which we defend and protect".

The Expo 2015 event runs from May through October in Milan next year. It is expected to draw more than 20 million visitors to see exhibits from over 140 nations and entities that have formally agreed to participate in Milan Expo 2015.

Rome mayor flies to Riyadh to woo donor for restorations

Marino seeks funds to save ancient treasures

(ANSA) - Rome, March 27 - The mayor of Rome is flying to the Saudi Arabian capital on Saturday to woo a Saudi prince in an ongoing effort to find donors to fund restoration for nine Roman monuments. Ignazio Marino will land in Riyadh to present his fundraising dossier - which has accompanied the mayor on recent foreign travels - to the art lover Sultan bin Salman bin Abdulaziz.

Marino's portfolio of projects includes a 1.3-million-euro plan to restore the facades of the Palazzo delle Esposizioni - a neoclassical exhibition hall and museum completed in 1883 - and a six-million-euro effort to return the Seven Halls, an ancient Roman cistern that once supplied the Baths of Trajan, to their former glory. Marino's trip is part of a larger effort to find private donors to underwrite important renovations in a time of pinched public coffers.

Luxury goods company Tod's is sponsoring the renovation of the Colosseum; Fendi is giving aid for the Trevi Fountain; and Japanese fashion entrepreneur Yuzo Yagi is financing a makeover for the 2000-year-old Pyramid of Cestius. Other donors include Bulgari and the embassy of Azerbajian, while contacts are underway with Coca Cola.

U.S. president doffs tie to tour iconic Colosseum

Franceschini describes 'wonder, admiration' in Obama's eyes

(ANSA) - Rome, March 27 - United States President Barack Obama doffed his tie but kept his dark raincoat as he toured Rome's iconic Colosseum Thursday at the end of a day of meetings with Pope Francis, Italian President Giorgio Napolitano, and Premier Matteo Renzi.

Television footage showed a relaxed Obama asking questions of his tour guide, security agents hovering in the background.

The US president was also joined by Dario Franceschini, minister for cultural heritage who tweeted about the experience.

"I welcomed President Obama to the Colosseum. A pride for our country to see the wonder and admiration in his eyes," posted Franceschini on his Twitter feed. 

Obama has 'confidence' in Renzi's reforms

US president 'impressed' by Italian premier's energy

Rome, March 27 - United States President Barack Obama said Thursday that he had "confidence" in the reforms Premier Matteo Renzi wants to introduce to revive Italy's weak economy and overhaul its political system. "The premier will know how to take Italy forward," Obama told a press conference in Rome after meeting Renzi, who became Italy's youngest premier at 39 after unseating his Democratic Party (PD) colleague Enrico Letta last month. Obama added that he was "favourably impressed by the energy" of Renzi and that his arrival was positive for Italy and for a new generation of European leaders.

He also said he was "anxious" to receive Renzi at the White House. Renzi, meanwhile, said Obama was a "source of inspiration" for him and his cabinet. "Today's talks confirm the great friendship and partnership (between the US and Italy)," the centre-left Italian leader said. He said Obama's campaign slogan "Yes we can" also applies in today's Italy and that he was modelling his economic policy on the US president's. "We opted to use the same name, Jobs Act, to find work for young people," he said. "The US is a model but Italy needs to do its own homework through structural reforms".

Italian Premier Matteo Renzi thanked United States President Barack Obama for talks in Rome Thursday that reflected the two countries' "common values and ideals" and the importance of protecting them. "Our cooperation and partnership range from major international issues to everyday life," said Renzi.

In the same meeting Barack Obama said he was "proud to announce" that the US will participate in Milan Expo 2015, the next World's Fair. "We'll come back to Milan with a pavilion," said Obama after meeting with Italian Premier Matteo Renzi in Rome. 

Italian wins 'brain prize', first for country

Giacomo Rizzolatti honored for neuroscience breakthroughs

(ANSA) - Rome, March 27 - The 2014 'brain prize' for neuroscience went to an Italian for the first time on Thursday.

Giacomo Rizzolatti, a neurophysiologist at the University of Parma, is best known for leading the team that discovered mirror neurons in the frontal and parietal cortex of the macaque monkey. Rizzolatti shares the one-million-euro prize with scientists Stanislas Dehaene and Trevor Robbins for their "pioneering research on higher brain mechanisms underpinning such complex human functions as literacy, numeracy, motivated behaviour and social cognition, and for their efforts to understand cognitive and behavioural disorders," said the Denmark-based Grete Lundbeck European Brain Research Foundation, which awards the annual prize. Rizzolatti said he hoped the prize would "stimulate the new (Italian) government to invest more research, to overcome the lack of attention it currently gets". An official award ceremony will be held in Copenhagen on May 1.

giovedì 27 marzo 2014

Italian mortadella to be exported to China under new deal

Prepared meat products included in trade arrangement

(ANSA) - Rome, March 27 - Italy has received approvals to export mortadella sausage, as well as other prepared pork products, to China after 10 years of talks, the industry's association announced Thursday.

Ham and other meat products are included in the deal announced by Assica, the industrial association of meat and sausage producers and pig slaughterers, which is also part of major business employers association Confindustria. Cooked ham - known in Italy in proscutto cotto - as well as mortadella and other types of sausages have been approved for export after health authorities in both Italy and China endorsed the trade deal.

Negotiations began 10 years ago between Rome and Beijing to open the Chinese market to production from pigs born, reared and slaughtered in Italy. Eight years ago, Chinese authorities, including veterinary officials, first visited Italian facilities to inspect processes, said Assica.

The group applauded the trade arrangement, although its president said she hoped it would be widened to include more products including fresh pork as negotiations continue. "This is a significant opening, although unfortunately it is still limited for our companies," said Lisa Ferrarini, president of Assica. "Our next goals are bringing Chinese authorities to Italy for a new mission in order to obtain the authorization to export for other companies, and to expand the range of exportable goods to include other products made of seasoned pork, such as salami, coppa, pancetta, as well as the export of fresh pork," she said.

Ferrarini estimates the trade arrangement has the potential to be worth 25 million euros annually, based on exports last year to Hong Kong worth five million euros.

Eco-Mafia has 'raped' parts of Italy, says minister

Whole country must tackle problem, says Galletti

(ANSA) - Naples, February 5 - The so-called 'Ecomafia' has "raped" parts of Italy with the dumping of toxic waste and the whole country is responsible, Environment Minister Gianluca Galletti said after arriving in the southern region of Campania Thursday.

The powerful Naples-based Camorra mafia has long infiltrated the rubbish-collection industry and has raked in huge profits even as its illegal dumps and uncontrolled burning of waste and other toxic materials have been blamed for unusually high levels of cancer and other disease linked to pollution that will plague future generations. The burning of waste in the area between Naples and Caserta has led to it being dubbed the "land of fires".

Although the waste is usually disposed of in southern Italy, it is often produced by firms in other parts of the country and sometimes by foreign companies too. "The land of fires is a priority for my ministry," Galletti said after arriving in Naples. "Here the land has been raped and the whole country is responsible, so the whole country must tackle this problem... "There are responsibilities that go from north to south and no one is exempt, which is why it's a national problem. "I'll come to Campania often because this land deserves to be given back to the people of Campania and to all of Italy". In February parliament passed an emergency environmental law that, among other things, makes burning rubbish without authorization a crime.

The law also introduced tougher controls on agricultural land, where waste is often illegally dumped, which will be reportedly checked and fenced in the next 150 days. It provides harsh penalties for those found guilty of burning waste and allocates an additional 600 million euros to the 300 million euros previously granted to Campania to clear land used for illegal rubbish dumps.

Levels of toxicity in the soil of land used for farming will be tested under the measure. This month the government said that products from areas considered at risk would be stopped from going on the market after Campania farmers and food producers said their sales had been badly affected by the scandal. 

Senate committee approves magistrate as anti-corruption czar

Raffaele Cantone chosen by Renzi, endorsed by senators

(ANSA) - Rome, March 27 - The Senate's constitutional affairs committee unanimously endorsed magistrate Raffaele Cantone as president of a national anti-corruption agency on Thursday.

Cantone, who received 24 yes votes, had been selected by Premier Matteo Renzi. The 51-year-old Naples native worked until 2007 in that city's anti-mafia directorate and was involved in investigating major criminal organizations including the Casalesi clan of the Camorra mafia.

he anti-corruption agency is responsible for assessing transparency and integrity in public administration.

China's central bank boost Eni, Enel holdings

People's Bank holds more than 2% in Italy's major energy firms

(ANSA) - Milan, March 27 - China's central bank, the People's Bank of China, now holds more than 2% of Italy's largest State-controlled energy firms, the Italian financial market watchdog announced Thursday.

The People's Bank holds 2.102% of Eni, and 2.071% of Enel, Consob reported in an update on financial market activity. The regulator noted that the Chinese bank exceeded a 2% limit that triggers a disclosure requirement. 

Obama meets Napolitano after talks with pope

US president set to have talks with Napolitano, Renzi

(ANSA) - Vatican City, March 27 - United States President Barack Obama arrived at the presidential palace in Rome on Thursday for talks with Italian President Giorgio Napolitano after a 50-minute private meeting with Pope Francis at the Vatican.

The talks will be followed by lunch at the Quirinale palace and Obama will then meet Premier Matteo Renzi at the Renaissance-built Villa Madama, where Italy often receives international guests. It is the fifth meeting between the two presidents, after one in Rome and three in Washington DC. The two are known to have a cordial relationship, with the White House calling Napolitano ''a good friend''. Before the meeting with the pope, Obama told Italian daily Corriere della Sera that he would illustrate to the pope "the initiatives that we are taking to create jobs, increase salaries and overall incomes and help families to keep going". Francis has won plaudits for his simple, humble style and his focus on the poorest and weakest since being elected the head of the Catholic Church last year. Obama landed in Rome late on Wednesday and spent the night at the 15th-century Villa Taverna, the residence of US Ambassador John R. Phillips. 

Italian business confidence at highest level since Sept 2011

Istat index reaches 89,5 due to upbeat manufacturing, services

(ANSA) - Rome, March 27 - Italian business confidence has climbed to its highest level in two and a half years, national statistics agency Istat said Thursday. Istat said its business-confidence index climbed to 89.5 points in March, the highest since September 2011.

This compared to 87.9 in February and signalled the fifth consecutive monthly rise. The upturn was due to improvements in the manufacturing and service sectors, Istat said.
Business confidence in the construction and retail sectors continued to decline. Italy is slowly emerging from its longest postwar recession.

The downturn ended in the second half of last year, but the recovery is weak and Italy's gross domestic product grew just 0.1% in the fourth quarter of 2013.

Obama concludes private meeting with pope

President and Francis have 50 minutes of talks

(ANSA) - Vatican City, March 27 - United States President Barack Obama concluded a 50-minute private meeting with Pope Francis at the Vatican on Thursday.

The smiling president had a long, warm handshake with the pope before bidding farewell.
"Welcome Mr President," the pope said as he greeted Obama.

"Thank you, thank you' were the first words Obama said to the Argentine pontiff. The smiling president had a long, warm handshake with the pope before bidding farewell.
Before the meeting, Obama told Italian daily Corriere della Sera that he would illustrate to the pope "the initiatives that we are taking to create jobs, increase salaries and overall incomes and help families to keep going". Francis has won plaudits for his simple, humble style and his focus on the poorest and weakest since being elected the head of the Catholic Church last year. Obama landed in Rome late on Wednesday and spent the night at the 15th-century Villa Taverna, the residence of US Ambassador John R. Phillips.
Next on his schedule is a meeting with Italian President Giorgio Napolitano at the presidential palace. It will be the fifth such meeting between the two president, after one in Rome and three in Washington DC. The two are known to have a cordial relationship, with the White House calling Napolitano ''a good friend''. The face-to-face meeting will be followed by a working lunch that will include US Secretary of State John Kerry, National Security Adviser Susan Rice, Italian Foreign Minister Federica Mogherini, Ambassador Phillips, and Italy's ambassador to the US, Claudio Bisogniero.

Obama then have talks with Premier Matteo Renzi at the Renaissance-built Villa Madama, where Italy often receives international guests. He will also tour the Colosseum, which will be off-limits to the public beginning at 13:00 local time, as will the Roman Forum and the Palatine Hill, police said. Obama will also tour the Colosseum, which will be off-limits to the public beginning at 13:00 local time, as will the Roman Forum and the Palatine Hill, police said.
Italy has deployed 1,000 police in the capital to watch over the American president as well as any other potential targets, such as embassies. The bomb squad is also afoot, with dog units combing the presidential itinerary, while river police scour the Tiber river near St. Peter's Basilica and the Holy See.

Throughout the visit, Obama's motorcade will be watched over by a helicopter and by snipers placed on every building along the route. The president is being escorted at all times by an estimated 200 US special forces and military personnel, including marines.
Obama's visit to Rome and the Vatican is his next-to-last stop in a week-long international mission to the Netherlands, Belgium, Italy, the Holy See, and Saudi Arabia. His trip has already included international talks at the Nuclear Security Summit in The Hague, at which the United States and other members of the G8 suspended Russia over its annexation of the Ukraine peninsular of Crimea. He arrived in Rome from Brussels, where he is attended an EU-US summit and meet with NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen.
Obama was last in Italy in 2009, when he attended a G8 summit of industrialized nations in the city of L'Aquila.

mercoledì 26 marzo 2014

Renzi says he will 'go all the way' on salary cap

Bill on stripping provinces of powers becomes confidence motion

(ANSA) - Rome, March 26 - Premier Matteo Renzi vowed Wednesday to go "all the way" on capping the salaries of top earning public-sector managers as part of his plan to tighten up and redirect government spending. "The government intends to go all the way, whether people like it or not," said Renzi said, building on plans revealed in recent days to narrow the gap between the salaries of top civil servants and ordinary workers. "It's the way to make peace with the Italian people," he added, while visiting a school in southern Italy, part of his pledge to tour a different school each week to highlight educational issues. His plan, which would see salaries capped at the same level as the 248,000 euro wage paid to President Giorgio Napolitano, has been controversial with some high-earning managers. However, it is likely to play well with Italians who have seen taxes steadily erode their take-home pay while the gap between rich and poor widens. Soon after Renzi spoke, the economy ministry released statistics showing that in 2012, the latest data available, 5% of Italians reported almost 23% of all income.

Meanwhile, as part of the same theme to simplify government across Italy and trim costs, Renzi's government cabinet authorized a confidence vote in a bill to strip Italian provinces of their most significant powers, after struggling to drum up support in the Senate on Tuesday. Eventually, the Renzi government intends to amend the Constitution to eliminate the provinces entirely, but that is a longer-term project. Putting the present bill, named for cabinet undersecretary Graziano Delrio, to a confidence vote obliges supporters of Renzi to approve it or risk toppling the government.

The bill also aims to encourage mergers and streamlining of municipal governments, while other planned measures to simplify governing Italy include a bill to eventually strip the Senate of its lawmaking ability, leaving that role solely to the Lower House. The weaknesses of Italy's complex political system were brought into sharp focus in February 2013, when a virtual three-way tie in national elections brought parliament to a grinding halt that lasted for two months.

Although Renzi has been working with his spending commissioner Carlo Cottarelli to identify billions in budget savings to redirect to other programs, on Wednesday he said that he agrees with Napolitano's call to avoid "groundless" cuts to the budget. "That principle is absolutely sacrosanct, I agree completely," said Renzi, whose government is now picking and choosing from a list of at least five billion euros in possible spending cuts identified by Cottarelli.

Renzi also said that Italy needs to change the way it manages European Union funding. "Let's look at ourselves in the eyes, because it's necessary to have the courage to say that we have to totally change approach with the management of European funds, leaving behind a bureaucratic way of managing them," Renzi said.

There are frequent complaints that Italy fails to pocket its full allocation of EU funds and mismanages parts of the money it does receive. Renzi added that Italy no longer faces EU meetings like a naughty child who has not done his homework because of imbalances in its public finances. "I go to Europe with my head held high when I represent Italy, a great country," Renzi said, reiterating that Rome will respect its budget commitments to the EU.

Prosecutor calls for Dolce & Gabbana to be acquitted in tax evasion case

In an unusual turn, a prosecutor in the Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana tax evasion appeal has argued that the designers are 'not guilty as charged'

Prosecutors in the Italian fashion capital of Milan are calling for the overturning of the sentence which last year saw designers Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana sentenced to 20 months in jail on tax charges.
In June 2013, the Dolce & Gabbana design duo were found guilty of evading around €400 million (£342 million) on a €1 billion business deal - the sale of their D&G and Dolce & Gabbana brands to a holding company in Luxembourg in 2004.
But Italian news agency AGI reports that on the first day of the appeal, the prosecution argued that Dolce and Gabbana were "not guilty as charged" of willfully failing to report company incomes.
Prosecutor Gaetano Santamaria also argued that if the conviction were upheld it would "run counter to common sense".
reading the article linked below, article posted on UK Telegraph website last 25 july 2013, Designers Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana have said they are 'being crucified like thieves' and will go out of business if they are forced to pay a £300 million fine for tax evasion.
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European stocks rise on easing tensions over Ukraine

Investors also optimistic on positive US data

(ANSA) - Milan, March 26 - European stocks rose Wednesday as tensions eased over Ukraine and positive US economic data showed the American economy is expanding at a rate that investors speculated won't outpace interest rate increases, analysts said.

In Milan, the FTSE-Mib index advanced by 1.37% to close at 21,108 points, while Madrid's IBEX-35 index added 1.50% to close at 10,140.80 points. The Frankfurt DAX index rose by 1.18% to end the trading day at 9,448.58 points. The Parisian CAC-40 index added 0.94% to end at 4,385.15 points and the Athens Stock Exchange General Index (ASE) closed up 0.21% to close at 1,331.96 points.

In London, the FTSE-100 index ended flat at 6,605.3 points, against 6,604.89 at Tuesday's close.

Soccer: Roma present plan for swanky new stadium

American-owned club hope 52,500-seater can be ready in two years

(ANSA) - Rome, March 26 - AS Roma on Wednesday presented their plans to build a swanky new stadium in the southern Tor di Valle area of the Italian capital. The American-controlled club, who are currently second in Serie A, hope the 52,000-capacity ground will be ready in two years.

The three-time Italian champions currently pay the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) to use Rome's Stadio Olimpico, which they share with city rivals Lazio and occasionally, the national rugby team. "The project, we hope, will take only two years, and it will create many jobs," said Chairman James Pallotta, a member of the Boston consortium that made Roma Serie A's first foreign-controlled club in 2011. "It will be ultra-modern and amazing".

The fact that most Italian clubs do not own their grounds, and therefore cannot use them to generate revenue, is widely blamed for Serie A's recent decline in spending power and loss of competitiveness with respect to the top flights of Spain, Germany and England.

The project for the new stadium includes facilities for music and entertainment, including a 500-person stage in a Roma-themed Restaurant, a 5,000-seat outdoor amphitheater and a 13,000-seat amphitheater within the Stadium. It will also be possible to host big music concerts at the stadium itself, which will also be home to shops, bars and conference facilities.

"It is extremely important that the project provides a safe and secure year-round sports, entertainment, shopping and dining experience for the people and visitors of Rome," said Pallotta. "For a stadium development to be truly successful today, it must become part of the everyday fabric of people's lives".

Juventus have prospered since they became the first top-flight Italian club to open their own stadium in 2011 and the Turin giants look on course to win their third consecutive Serie A title. American Architect Dan Meis said the aim of Roma's stadium was to recreate the "glory and power of the Colosseum". At Wednesday's presentation the club uncovered a model of the ground, which is not dissimilar to the Olimpico, minus the athletics track that separates the fans from the field.

The new plan for the wood-and-steel structure was not a hit with everyone though as famous Italian architect Massimiliano Fuksas on Tuesday called it "horrendous", "ugly" and "of bad taste". On Wednesday Meis responded that "any architect would be jealous because they would have liked to create Roma's stadium".

Roma's hopes of having the ground ready in two years will in part depend in planning permission and bureaucratic procedures, which can be especially time-consuming and arduous in Italy. But Rome Mayor Ignazio Marino said the city was ready to do its part.

"I want to throw Jim (Palotta) a challenge - we will do our work diligently, but we want (Roma captain) Francesco (Totti) and others already to be able to play for the season 2016-17 in the new stadium," said Marino. The mayor said that, while the stadium would cost around 300 million euros to build, the overall investment may amount to around one billion euros when all the related infrastructure works are considered.

Former Italy forward Totti, a born-and-bred Roman who has only ever played senior soccer for the club he supported as a child, was enthusiastic.

"It's a wonderful project," said the 37-year-old, Serie A's second-top scorer of all time with 233 league goals. "Let's hope it is built quickly. The Giallorossi fans deserve a unique stadium that gives you goose pimples". Other Serie A teams use stadiums owned by local councils, grounds that are often uncomfortable and in poor condition because clubs have little incentive to invest in facilities they do not own.

Right-wing anti-Obama posters appear in Rome

Organizations blame US for economic crisis, side with Putin

(ANSA) - Rome, March 26 - Pro-Russia, anti-United States posters signed by right-wing associations appeared in Rome Wednesday ahead of a visit by US President Barack Obama, who lands at Fiumicino airport later in the day.

"Rome is with Putin. Obama unwelcome guest," read the posters, referring to friction over Russia's annexation of Crimea.

''Obama symbolizes the worst American imperialism. To those who would demonize Putin, we answer that Europe is still occupied by more than 110,000 American soldiers and 170 American bases. Europe has no say in its foreign policy outside of what NATO dictates. The economic crisis is the price paid for submission to the American economic model'', the organizations said in a communique.

It was signed by Roma Nord, Movimento Sociale Europeo, Contro Tempo, XX Flotta, Comunità Militante Formello, Ostia. The city authority quickly set about removing the posters.