sabato 3 maggio 2014

Amanda Knox might get the retrial she deserves if anyone considers the facts

At the following link an intresting article, posted on their website by The Guardian.

leave a comment.

Police Clash with Demonstrators in TurinPolice Clash with Demonstrators in Turin

Opponents of TAV train challenge PD senator. Tables and chairs thrown in Piazza Vittoria. Pro-Aldovrandi chants directed at police. Three arrests, seven officers injured. Interior minister Alfano calls violence “a disgrace”

May Day tensions ran high in Turin,
where Piazza Vittorio Veneto saw demonstrators clash with police. Metal chairs flew as street cafés were devastated in the midst of smoke bombs and baton charges. For just under an hour, Turin’s biggest square was in the grip of violence. The incidents began at around 9.40 am of yesterday, may 2nd 2014, when No TAV high-speed train protesters and others in the rear section of the march spotted TAV-supporting Democratic Party (PD) senator Stefano Esposito. Many regarded his presence as provocative, partly because the PD group was only a few metres away from the No TAV marchers.

Three arrests, seven officers injured
One man was arrested. He is Marco Bolognino, 46, a familiar face at the squatted social centre in Turin’s Via Alessandria. Mr Bolognino, who has a criminal record, faces charges of violence, resisting a public official and bodily harm for striking a police officer with a pick. The other two people arrested were charged but not detained in custody. They are a 25-year-old woman from Pisa, charged with resisting arrest, and a 48-year-old man accused of assaulting a public official. He is alleged to have thrown a chair taken from a street café. Seven officers were injured and dozens of demonstrators also reported injuries, including a middle-aged man who was struck on the head in Piazza Vittorio.

Unsuccessful fascist attack”
PD senator and TAV supporter Stefano Esposito, who was attacked today [yesterday - Ed.] for taking part in the march, lives under escort and is a noted advocate of the high-speed train. This is the main reason why he is disliked by protesters and other Italians opposed to construction of the Turin-Lyon railway line in Val di Susa. Mr Esposito said: “The usual violent fringe tried to stop me and the PD from taking part in the march. An unsuccessful fascist attack. The PD went onto the streets and will always do so. It’ll take more than a handful of hooligans to stop it. Thanks go to the prefect, chief of police, police officers and the PD’s security service for ensuring the square was safe. I express my solidarity with the injured officers”.

Anti-police chants over Aldovrandi affair
Officers in riot gear took up position between the two factions but tensions continued to rise. There were chants against the PD - “Leave the march, be ashamed, the streets don’t want you, you’re with the bosses” - before demonstrators turned their attention to the police. Their grievance was the episode when members of the SAP police union applauded the officers responsible for the death of Federico Aldovrandi. Hundreds of demonstrators shouted: “You are murderers, be ashamed. You are the rotten apples, leave the march”. The chants were interspersed with rounds of applause, one for Aldovrandi’s mother, Patrizia Moretti, who wrote a message of thanks to some of the demonstrators.

Clashes and flying chairs
The situation deteriorated when a group of protesters under the porticos that feed into the square sought to approach PD activists who were chanting slogans against Turin social centre users. Police attempted to keep the two sides apart but two more large groups elsewhere in the square came into contact with the police. Baton and shield charges followed on all fronts. Various demonstrators threw ashtrays and metal chairs they had looted from Piazza Vittoria’s many street cafés. Police responded with further charges. Smoke bombs were lit and then demonstrators hurriedly dispersed as officers used broken chairs to block the wheels of protesters’ trucks.

Protesters target Chiamparino
At 11.20 am, there were more charges in Via Roma. Marchers were about to reach Piazza San Carlo, where trade unionists and public officials had gathered. The protesters had targeted PD members and Sergio Chiamparino, the Centre-left’s candidate for the regional elections. “You’re like Berlusconi, we’ve already seen Renzi the puppet”, shouted one demonstrator from Askatasuna, the leading Turin social centre for No TAV protesters. Officers charged when marchers were halted by a police cordon and lit smoke bombs in an attempt to pass through. One demonstrator said: “We do not want to disturb the peace and quiet of the PD’s May Day”.

Alfano: “Violence a disgrace”
Interior minister Angelino Alfano commented on the violence. “Any No TAV supporter who goes on a march seeking to cause a disturbance dishonours the May Day holiday”, said Mr Alfano, speaking at a New Centre-right (NCD) event in Brescia.

venerdì 2 maggio 2014

Napolitano calls jobs emergency on Labour Day

Unions want 'real action', Renzi says time for 'thought'

(ANSA) - Rome, May 1 - Italian President Giorgio Napolitano called a jobs emergency on Labour Day as trade unions urged 'real action, not smiles' from the government and Premier Matteo Renzi said it was a good day for everyone to think about ways to free up the labour market to cut record unemployment.

Italy is going through a "jobs emergency" and all political and social actors must push for employment-friendly reforms, Napolitano said in his Labour Day address. Renzi's government has crafted job-creation moves including a fund for almost a million young people and labour-market reforms, some of which have been contested by trade unions. Labour Day this year should rather be called "Jobs Alarm" amid record unemployment, Napolitano said. Youth unemployment has been running at a stubborn 43% and overall unemployment at 13%, though March apparently showed a slight dip, according to preliminary figures.

The president urged trade unions to put aside grievances and misgivings and help Renzi achieve hopefully epoch-making job-creation reforms. The unions should "collaborate as much as they can" with government efforts to create jobs, said Napolitano, a former labour-market expert in the once-powerful Italian Communist Party (PCI).

Unions should help achieve "brave, innovative, determined, solidarity-based initiatives", he said in the keynote address. There has been some union resistance to major job-creation moves hatched by Matteo Renzi's government, in particular to the raising of the amount of times temporary contracts can be renewed, or people sacked, before employers are obliged to give temps steady jobs.

The government, helped by the social partners, should do much more to tackle unemployment in the poorer south of Italy, Napolitano went on. "Too little attention is paid to the alarming jobless situation in the Mezzogiorno, especially for women and young people," he said.

Since the start of the global financial crisis in 2007, the president said, the south had lost double the jobs of the richer north. The youth unemployment rate was also more than double in the south than in the north, he said.

As well as measures to lift the economy further out of its longest postwar recession, Napolitano went on, Renzi should take form action to address public disaffection after a seemingly endless stream of spending scandals. The government, he said, should attack entrenched waste, graft, perks and parasites to achieve a "transparent and productive" use of public money, as well as making those key labour-market and tax reforms, he said. Renzi's government has announced moves to tackle endemic corruption and cut crippling red tape as well as freeing up the labour market and lowering taxes to help boost growth and create jobs.

Napolitano's clarion call on youth unemployment, amid widespread reports about a lost generation, were echoed by Labour Minister Giuliano Poletti. Bringing down Italy's record youth unemployment is a priority for Renzi government, Poletti said at the Quirinale Labour Day event. "The country won't see a real recovery unless it offers fresh opportunities to those who represent our future," said Poletti, who has been negotiating with unions and employers over labour-boosting measures.


Italy's three main trade union federations on Thursday said the time for "smiles" and "announcements" was over and real, urgent action was needed on the country's "dramatic" jobs crisis.

"Enough of smiles and announcements, we need reforms that change the country to its very roots," said Susanna Camusso, head of the largest and most left-wing union, CGIL, addressing a Labour Day rally in this northern Italian city. "We need to change gears, we need a government that gets things done," said Luigi Angeletti of UIL, the third-largest union, of Socialist extraction. Raffaele Bonanni of CISL, the Christian Socialist union and second biggest, said: "basta with posing on the stage, we need clear and transparent projects".


Labour Day is a "time for reflection on what we have to do to create jobs," Renzi said. Italy's youngest-ever premier told the weekly l'Europa that it was not easy to rid Italy of decades of accumulated red tape and other brakes on business. "It's not easy," he said, a day after postponing key reforms of the public sector. "A strong modernising action cannot be achieved top-down and can't be done in a day, or even a month," Renzi went on. "We need initiative from all, an aware participation and sharing of ideas". That did not mean "a return to the past, however, he stressed, when it took "ages" to hammer out backroom deals with unions and employers.

Renzi has already said he will go over the heads of the social partners to achieve the reforms Italy desperately needs, irking the unions in particular who have said their input is "indispensable". "We can't repeat the script of the past," Renzi said, "with the extremely long times of traditional politics and infinite negotiations. "But we have to say: let's move, institutions, community, nation. "That is why we need this May Day to gather together and reflect on what we are doing and what we mean to do".


The Italian version of an EU plan to help young people Not in Education, Employment or Training (NEETs) kicked off on Labour Day. The European NEETs programme spans the ages of 15 to 24 but Renzi's government has decided to extend it up to 29 years of age. The National Youth Guarantee Programme earmarks more than 1.5 billion euros for the two years 2014-2015 and aims to offer young people a "qualitatively valid" prospect of work, apprenticeship, education, self-employed business or national (non-military) service. "The potential target of young people is around one million," said Labour Minister Poletti. "The Youth Guarantee program is the first bridge to the future for recent graduates and NEETS, who have dropped off the radar", said Poletti. "Staying home without taking action is just not an option," he added. "We must give everyone an opportunity".

Italy has the highest proportion of NEETS in Europe, with almost a quarter of 15-to-29-year-olds not in education, employment or training. National statistics agency said in its annual report last year that 2.25 million 15-to-29-year-olds were NEETs in 2012, 23.9% of the total, an increase of 100,000 on 2011.

The percentage of people in this age group considered part of the workforce - in that they are not in education and are actively seeking a job - who are unemployed was 25.2% in 2012, compared to 20.5% in 2011. The number of 15-to-29-year-olds who were studying in 2012 was stable at around four million, 41.5%.


Thursday saw peaceful demonstrations for jobs around the country and the traditional workers' celebrations including mega-concerts in Taranto and at Rome's historical leftwing rallying point, Piazza San Giovanni, featuring liberally inclined headliners. But the demos took an ugly turn in Turin, where anti-capitalist protesters clashed with police. Police said "several" 'antagonist' demonstrators, who included long-time protesters against a new high-speed France-Italy train line north of Turin, were arrested. Seven police officers suffered cuts and bruises while one security-police official was hit over the head with a pick-axe handle. Police said they seized iron bars and sticks from the demonstrators.

Many Italians simply enjoyed their day off picnicking or making escursions to see the sights. One in four Italians opted for a picnic or barbecue on Labour Day Thursday, farmers' association Coldiretti said. "We reckon some two million Italians are having a bite and a drink with friends in the open air," they said.

Millions of Italians took to the road and rails with art cities like Rome, Florence and Venice favourite destinations. "Art and cultural sites are being taken by storm, as well as the countryside," Coldiretti said on the basis of figures supplied by the Ixè polling agency. Other tourist getaways like the Cinque Terre and the Amalfi Coast, as well as the islands of Capri and Ischia, boasted a record influx, according to initial estimates. 

Economic crisis leaves Italy poorer, crime-ridden

14.8% of Europe's destitute, counterfeit goods quadruple

(ANSA) - Rome, May 2 - Italy's longest recession since World War II has left a legacy of poverty, money crimes, and a more educated - yet less employed - workforce, the research centre of the business trade association CNA revealed Friday. From 2007 to 2013, the ranks of the impoverished in Italy have risen by three million to 18 million people, and from 6.8% to 14.5% of the population, according to the National Confederation of Crafts and Small and Medium Companies (CNA).

The figure counts those with salaries below 60% of Italy's average per capita income - people forced to live with other family members, who can not handle unexpected expenditures, have difficulty paying utilities and cannot allow themselves a square meal at least once every two days. Italy's poor represent 14.8% of Europe's total, CNA found. On the continent, only Greece and seven ex-Soviet countries show higher rates of destitution.

Property crimes in Italy are up 32.5% since 2007, while online and offline fraud have risen 21.8%, CNA said. Trademark infringement and counterfeit industrial goods have more than quadrupled. Meanwhile, Italians are seeking more education without reaping previous benefits in greater employment rates and salaries.

From 2007 to 2013, people garnering university degrees increased by 23.9% and high school diplomas by 11.9%. As of 2013, 47.4% of the Italian population held either a diploma or a university degree. However, the high school diploma, which once guaranteed a place in the workforce nearly on par with a university degree, has now slipped to employment levels seen by middle-school graduates. 

Organized crime behind theft of anti-cancer drugs, WSJ

Enforcement official says probe reveals crime network

(ANSA) - Rome, May 2 - An Italian probe has found that an extensive organized criminal network is behind the distribution of stolen and counterfeit anti-cancer drugs across Western Europe, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported Thursday. "Organized crime is certainly involved; there's a central structure apparently based in Italy that commissions thefts of medicines in hospitals," Domenico Di Giorgio told the WSJ. Di Giorgio is the director for the prevention of counterfeiting at the pharmaceutical watchdog Italian Medicines Agency (AIFA).

People familiar with the probe told WSJ it appears the Naples-based Camorra mafia is behind thefts along with Eastern European organized crime networks and, in particular, a Russian citizen living in Cyprus. AIFA is coordinating the probe along with the anti-fraud NAS squad of the Carabinieri paramilitary police, Di Giorgio told the WSJ.

The European Medicines Agency in mid-April warned that tainted vials of the Roche cancer drug Herceptin had resurfaced in Finland, Germany and the UK after being stolen in Italy, the WSJ reported. The agency later reported that batches of Eli Lilly's Alimta and Remicade had also been taken. Reports have caused alarm as fake or contaminated drugs may be ineffective or even deadly, as well as hit revenues for pharmaceutical companies. 

Migrant centres strain as fresh waves approach

1,200 arrivals as Italy braces for most of 800,000 more

(ANSA) - Rome, May 2 - Italy's migrant centres braced to go even further over capacity as fresh waves of immigrants approached from North Africa Friday. "The system is under extreme strain and could collapse entirely if the EU doesn't help us share the load more fairly," said Interior Minister Angelino Alfano.

Almost 1,200 asylum seekers landed in Sicily Friday, bringing to almost 2,000 the latest in a wave of new arrivals swollen by good weather and a sweeping new rescue operation launched after 400 migrants drowned in two disasters last year. An Italian Navy ship, part of the major Mare Nostrum search-and-rescue op, reached the port of Augusta where the 1,170 migrants will disembark and be processed. The migrants, from various North African countries, were picked up Thursday close to the stepping-stone island of Lampedusa.

Mare Nostrum is credited with saving almost all lives of the recent migrants who brave the perilous crossing towards a better life in Europe. But Italy says it will be overwhelmed by almost one million desperate people massing on the North African shores, and has made the umpteenth appeal to the EU for help in coping with the emergency.

Separately Friday, more than 300 North African asylum seekers were rescued south of Sicily and taken to the port of Messina. And even earlier on Friday the Navy rescued 358 migrants in the Sicilian Channel between Italy and Africa. The migrants, who are bidding for refugee status, included 43 women, one of them pregnant, and 24 children. The asylum seekers said they came from Mali, Ghana, Niger, Sudan, Syria and the Palestinian Territories. The Navy ship was rerouted from Ragusa to Palermo after it became clear that migrant centres at Pozzallo near Ragusa were overflowing. "There's simply no capacity left there, and it looks like getting worse," the interior ministry said.

In better news, an Egyptian people trafficker was arrested in Ragusa after ferrying hundreds of migrants close to Sicily. The 34-year-old is said to have demanded thousands of euros in 'bills of passage' from his human freight, and is suspected of abusing them physically and sexually during the trip. 

Italians discover protein to 'rejuvenate' heart

Medical discovery says mechanism cleans up toxins in body

(ANSA) - Milan, May 2 - Italian scientists say they have isolated a protein that helps heart cells to clean out toxic substances, regenerating the organ and preventing serious disease. The discovery of the protein Atrogin-1 could improve diagnosis and treatment of some cardiovascular disease, according to findings published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation and coordinated by the Venetian Institute of Molecular Medicine (VIMM) and the University of Padua.

The protein Atrogin-1 acts in the cells of the heart in the dual role of 'sentinel' and 'scavenger' of toxic substances by altering cellular mechanisms so they can work together on heart health. "Research has shown that the two mechanisms are not separate and independent as previously thought, but are related by the activity of Atrogin-1," said Marco Mongillo of the University of Padua. "Having identified the critical role of Atrogin-1 will have important repercussions for diagnosis, treatment and prevention of (cardiovascular) diseases," said Marco Sandri, a researcher and associate professor at the Padua university. 

Gala concert kicks off 1-yr countdown to Milan Expo

Thailand unveils farmer's hat-shaped pavilion

(ANSA) - Milan, May 2 - While Milan kicked off the one-year countdown to Expo 2015 this week with an evening musical entertainment extravaganza, Thailand unveiled its pavilion for the food-themed World's Fair in Bangkok.

The theme of Milan Expo 2015, which runs May 1-October 31 next year, is "Feeding the Planet: Energy for Life". The fair will put global culinary culture on show and tackle issues like food security, nutrition, hunger, as well as promote environmentally, socially, and economically sustainable global food-production practices. A line-up of Italian stars took the stage Wednesday night for a concert in Piazza Gae Aulenti, Milan's newest city square at the base of the spiralling Unicredit tower, Italy's tallest building. Veteran Italian television presenter and bestselling cookbook author Antonella Clerici hosted celebrity chefs Davide Oldani and Don Gino Rigoldi, comedian-actor Enrico Bertolino, and Italian Agriculture Minister Maurizio Martina, among others.

Milan Mayor Giuliano Pisapia, Lombardy Governor Roberto Maroni and ex-mayor of Milan, Letizia Moratti, whose administration won the opportunity to host the Expo in November 2010, also took part. The collection of politicians hailing from opposing political parties was meaningful, Maroni said. "All the institutions are committed to Expo 2015. It is not often that institutions led by proponents of different parties unite to work (together), and here it is happening," said Maroni.

Maroni is a leader of the anti-immigration, regionalist Northern League party, while Pisapia is a member of the left and Moratti a former stalwart of centre-right Forza Italia party, founded by ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi. Singer-songwriter Andrea Bocelli sang a concert to the accompaniment of the RAI Orchestra, the official musical ensemble of Italy's public broadcaster. Guest conductor Andrea Morricone - son of the legendary Italian soundtrack composer Ennio Morricone - led the world debut of Expo 2015's first anthem, written by Bocelli and the elder Morricone. "One year from the event, the accent needs to be put on the nutrition theme and talk begun of social aspects tied to that," said Milan Expo Commissioner Giuseppe Sala, who also billed Expo as an epicurean attraction. "Expo will be the biggest restaurant in the world, and I think it is beautiful to say so," Sala added. The one-year countdown was also celebrated Wednesday with the unveiling of a limited edition, platinum Expo coin, and the presentation of the first month's worth of events planned to animate the streets of Milan during the fair. Meanwhile, plans for Thailand's Expo pavilion on Thursday were shown in Bangkok.

The 2,500 sq m construction on a 3,000 sq m site will be modeled after a traditional, bell-shaped farmer's hat called a "ngob", still widely in use. The woven-straw hat is made in such a way that air circulates through it, ventilating the farmers' head as they work under the sun. Thailand's pavilion was designed to exploit the same principle - for a structure active during Milan's warmest months - to have an extremely low environmental impact. The Thai pavilion will also honour the sacred with a divine symbol of water, the serpent-like Naga, and a section of a stupa, a domed Buddhist structure containing relics used for meditation. The pavilion aims to display the importance of Thai agriculture, the global stature of Thai cuisine, Thailand's food-packaging innovations, and a sustainable future for Thai farming that the country's head of state, King Bhumibol Adulyadej - known as Rama IX - strongly desires. 

Foreigners moving in on Italy's gelato market

Highest foreign presence in Milan, Florence

(ANSA) - Monza, May 2 - The art of pastry and gelato making in Italy is attracting more foreign dessert cooks, with as many as 637 such small businesses registered by foreigners on the peninsula - an increase of 7%, according to a study released Friday. Regional capitals with the highest percentage of foreigners working in the cake and cornet sector are Milan (with 28%), Florence (with 16.2%) and L'Aquila (11.5%), according to the study by the chamber of commerce of Monza and Brianza.

In all there were some 18,895 patisseries and icecream parlours active in March 2014, of which some 3,000 are concentrated in regional capitals - an increase of 1.2% over the previous 12 months. Rome has nearly 1,000 such small businesses, representing an annual increase of 4.9%. Of those 9.7% are run by foreigners catering to the sweet teeth of Romans and tourists. 

Pope urges finance, Curia reforms, extols soccer

Fan Francis meets Italian Cup finalists before Saturday match

(ANSA) - Rome, May 2 - Institutional reforms, helping the needy, and setting high standards for public role models were all themes addressed by Pope Francis on Friday. The pontiff, just days after a major international event where he canonized two popes, still found the energy to call for significant reforms to the Catholic Church, including its asset management as well as its ruling body, and to meet with rival soccer clubs. The meeting with soccer teams Fiorentina and Napoli, who will face off Saturday in the Italian Cup match in Rome, was a labor of love for the pope, an avowed soccer fan and paid-up supporter of the Buenos Aires club San Lorenzo in his homeland of Argentina.

Francis reminded the clubs that because their players and management are public figures and role models to kids, they have a duty to behave well. "I thank you for this visit: it seems to me that your role conveys a social responsibility," Francis told the players who came to the Vatican to meet the pontiff and present him with gifts including a Napoli soccer jersey emblazoned with "Francesco 1". "You are at the center of attention, and so many of your admirers are young," he added. "Keep this in mind, think about how your behavior has a resonance, for good and bad," said Francis. "Always be true sportsmen".

Meanwhile, the reform-minded pontiff told the Holy See's Economic Council that continuing the process of revamping which the Curia has started "will not be simple and will require courage and determination". "It's a sizeable challenge that requires faith and prudence," said the pope, who has been moving carefully but strongly to reshape a reportedly dysfunctional Church government since his election almost 15 months ago. Reforms to the ruling Curia must focus on how to better serve the Catholic Church "and the mission of (St) Peter," which includes greater care for the poor and needy, said the pope. Those concerns should also be top of mind in management of Church assets, with a focus on transparency and efficiency to better assist the needy, said the pope.

The Church must be "aware of its responsibility to safeguard and carefully manage its assets in light of its mission of spreading the Gospel, with particular care for the needy," said Francis. "We must not stray from this path: transparency and efficiency yes, but towards this goal," added the pope, who took his name from the humble and plain-living St. Francis of Assisi. 

Dapper thief robs 32,000-euro purse from Milan Prada store

Well-dressed culprit slips in and out unsuspected

(ANSA) - Milan, May 2 - A well-dressed thief stole a purse priced at 32,000 euros from a Prada boutique in Milan on Friday.

Security footage showed the culprit slip in and out of the store without raising an eyebrow, pulling the handbag from the front window and tucking it under his coat on his way out. Shopkeepers noticed the bag missing half an hour later.

martedì 29 aprile 2014

Renzi reiterates willing to quit if reform fails

Premier not ready to go forward at all costs

(ANSA) - Rome, April 29 - Premier Matteo Renzi reiterated Tuesday that he was ready to quit if his planned institutional reforms do not come to fruition.

He also told a meeting of his centre-left Democratic Party (PD) that he did "not accept" those who call his institutional reforms, including a revamp of the Senate, "authoritarian". . The executive is trying to find a compromise over its bill to change the Constitution to overhaul the country's slow, costly political apparatus, after recent friction about its intended transformation of the Senate. The support of the opposition centre-right Forza Italia (FI) party for the reforms has looked in doubt in recent weeks, with its leader Silvio Berlusconi alternating between criticism of the plan and pledges to uphold it. Renzi won the agreement of three-time premier Berlusconi for the reforms at a meeting in January, a month before he toppled Enrico Letta, his colleague in the centre-left Democratic Party (PD), to become Italy's youngest-ever premier at 39. The central part of the package is to turn the Senate into a leaner assembly of local-government representatives with minimal law-making powers to make passing legislation easier.

Renzi has said this will also save lots of public money, as the State will no longer have to fork out extra for the salaries of Senators, who will already be getting paid at the local level.

However, there have been calls from FI and from within Renzi's own centre-left Democratic Party for the new Senate to remain an elected assembly. "We have to keep Forza Italia on board," Renzi told a meeting of PD Senators, adding that it will be up to each region to decide how to select its representatives in the new Upper House. "It's our way of telling the Italian people that we are not writing the rules on our own". Renzi has staked his credibility on reforming the Senate, saying he will quit politics completely if he fails. He has said that he was ready to make some changes and would not "hang himself" if he misses the target of having the first reading of the bill completed in the Senate before the May 25 European elections.

But he also made it plain Tuesday that he was not willing to waste time or accept a compromise that would turn the original plan on its head. "Moving quickly is the only way to give a signal of credibility to Europe," Renzi said. "We'll do everything possible up to the last minute to find common ground. Otherwise I'm ready to take a step back. "I'm not willing to do things at all costs. "It's either like this, or I'll go home". 

Italy among worst in Europe for prison overcrowding

Foreigners accounted for 36% of inmates in 2012

(ANSA) - Strasbourg, April 29 - Italy came second only to Serbia for prison overcrowding, the Council of Europe said in its 2012 prisons report released Tuesday. The Council stressed, however, that Greece, which came second-bottom in the 2011 ranking, above Serbia, but below Italy, did not provide data for 2012.

The prison population in Italy stood at 66,271 in 2012 against 45,568 available places. This translated into a ratio of 145 inmates per 100 places. In Serbia in 2012 the ratio was nearly 160 detainees per 100 places, the report said. Italy was also among the 47 Council of Europe member states with the highest suicide rate in prisons, according to the report. In 2011 63 people took their own life in Italian jails, second only to France with 100 reported suicides. England and Wales came third with 57 suicides, followed by Germany with 53 and Ukraine with 48. Italy was also the Council of Europe member state with the highest number of foreign inmates.

The foreign prison population stood at 23,773 in 2012, or nearly 36% of the entire prison population. Of these, 45% were awaiting trial and almost 21% were citizens of another European Union member state. In February Italy's Senate gave final approval to a controversial law aimed at reducing prison overcrowding by releasing some inmates early. The move came after the European Court of Human Rights ordered Italy to make dramatic improvements to its prison system to stop overcrowding and undo violations against prison rights by May 20 2014.

lunedì 28 aprile 2014

Grillo says Renzi and Berlusconi will sink together

M5S leader to 'ask president for govt' if it wins EU vote

(ANSA) - Rome, April 28 - Italian comedian-turned-politician Beppe Grillo, leader of the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement (M5S), painted opposing political rivals on the left and right as allied for mutual survival on a television program broadcast Monday morning. Grillo, who is campaigning for M5S representatives to be voted into the European Parliament in elections on May 25, also vowed to appeal for control of the Italian government if his party garners more European MPs than the currently dominant centre-left Democratic Party (PD).

"Renzi and Berlusconi will remain allies, otherwise they will die together," Grillo told talk show Agora' on the public station RAI 3, referring to Italian Premier Matteo Renzi, who is the leader of the centre-left PD, and ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi, who is head of the centre-right opposition party Forza Italia (FI). Renzi came under criticism from senior figures in his own party for being too chummy with Berlusconi after meeting him in February to come to an agreement over election reform. "But it is the end for them. Renzi is standing thanks to the banks, the European multinationals. He is the son of the troika (EU-ECB-IMF)," added Grillo, who is against economic austerity imposed by international organizations and is for pulling out of the European single currency. "If I win (the EU parliament elections), I am going to Europe and we will tear up the fiscal compact there in front of them," Grillo said.

"It is enough to have one candidate more than the PD and we have won. May 25 is a crossroads. If the 5-Star Movement wins at the European (parliament elections), I will go to Italian President Giorgio Napolitano and I will ask to have the government in hand. We will prepare a government team". 

One of Italy's most wanted nabbed in Caribbean

'Ndrangheta suspected of opening new drug traffic channels

(ANSA) - Rome, April 28 - One of the 100 most dangerous fugitives in Italy and an alleged member of the 'Ndrangheta mafia was arrested Monday in Santo Domingo. Nicola Pignatelli, 43, made the list of most dangerous fugitives compiled by the interior ministry because he is thought to be a high-ranking member of the Mazzaferro clan. A fugitive since 2011, Pignatelli had been sentenced to serve 13 years and six months on drug offences before his disappearance.

Police said Pignatelli had completely transformed his appearance and suspect that he was involved in opening new channels for trafficking drugs from central and South America into Europe via the 'Ndrangheta-infiltrated Calabrian port of Gioia Tauro. Authorities are now in the process of extraditing Pignatelli from Santo Domingo, capital of the Dominican Republic in the Caribbean. Calabria's 'Ndrangheta mafia, once a poor relation of the Sicilian Mafia, has grown in heft and reach due to its dominance of the European cocaine trade, investigators have said.

The 'Ndrangheta has usurped Cosa Nostra as Italy's richest and most powerful crime syndicate with international contacts and activities. It has become a highly sophisticated global network while controlling swathes of its home turf where police fear to tread, Italian officials say. As well as being the richest, the'Ndrangheta is also regarded as the most impenetrable of Italy's mafias, with its close-knit family-based organisation outdoing the Sicilian Mafia in its ability to defeat police efforts to turn members into State witnesses.

Soccer: Italy mourns Boskov

Ex-Samp coach remembered for wit, wisdom

(ANSA) - Rome, April 28 - Italian soccer on Monday recalled the gentle wit and wisdom of Vujadin Boskov, the former Sampdoria coach who has died at the age of 82 in his native Serbia. La Gazzetta dello Sport ran a full-page story on The Great Boskov, who led Samp to a scudetto with 'goal twins' Roberto Mancini and Gianluca Vialli in 1991, before they narrowly failed to beat Barcelona in the 1992 European Cup Final at Wembley. "He coached Real (Madrid) too, he liked things his way, but not too much," a headline read over a piece celebrating Boskov's achievements as a player with Yugoslavia, Vojvodina, Samp (1961-62) and Young Boys as well as his coaching triumphs with Real (two league titles, two Copas del Rey), Samp (a league title, two Italian cups, an Italian super cup), Ascoli (promotion to Serie A), Roma, Napoli and Perugia, plus the Yugoslav national team.

La Gazzetta highlighted that Roma talisman Francesco Totti - who got his break from Boskov in 1993 - was "distraught". Totti was quoted as saying: "He was a great man, a winner, with a great sense of humour". Examples of that droll voice, in grammatically stilted but trenchant Italian, flanked the article, such as his dry reflections on the vagaries of the coach's job: "There's a law in soccer: players win and managers lose," and "coaches are like skirts, one year minis are in fashion, the next year you mothball them". On the different hats a manager had to wear, Boskov once observed: "(A) coach must be teacher, friend and policeman".

His overall view of life on the bench was summed up by a favourite saying: "After rain comes sun". The fatalistic truisms with which Boskov dodged questions about questionable refereeing decisions were also highlighted: "It's penalty (sic) when ref blows" and "ball goes in when God wants". Another oft-repeated phrase was "if we win we're winners, if we lose we're losers." Boskov was also capable of lyrical flights when describing both opponents ("Gullit like stag coming out of forest") and his own players, such as the forever young and busy bald winger Attilio Lombardo: "he's like a bullet train hurtling out of a tunnel".

On the qualities that made a player stand out, Boskov said: "A great player sees motorways where others only see narrow paths" and "a good player uses two eyes to trap the ball and the other two to watch his opponent". Though generally indulgent of journalists' failings, he once told a particularly insistent Naples one: "I think your head only good for wearing a hat". And he also, albeit rarely, chided opposing players, saying of one highly workmanlike Uruguayan midfielder playing for Samp's city rivals Genoa: "If I take my dog off the leash he plays better than (José) Perdomo". Criticised about this, Boskov as usual had the final word: "I didn't say Perdomo plays like my dog. I say he able play football only on my villa's lawn with my dog". 

Govt denies corrective action needed to economic blueprint

FI's Brunetta says Renzi's budget numbers do not add up

(ANSA) - Rome, April 28 - The Italian government denied Monday that it had any plans for corrective budget action after an opposition politician suggested it could not afford its promises and would have to make changes. Economy Minister Pier Carlo Padoan joined other government sources in saying that no changes are in the works to the Economic and Financial Document (DEF) that outlines the plans to kick-start the sluggish economy.

Premier Matteo Renzi's DEF was approved almost two weeks ago in parliament and sent for review by the European Commission, along with official notice that Italy is postponing by one year the target of balancing the State's structural budget. "We are waiting for the verdict (from European authorities on the DEF)", said Padoan.

He added that further measures to "strengthen and extend" the results of the spending review for next year's financial stability act are in play and that fighting tax evasion will be a "priority area" when Italy assumes the duty presidency of the European Union for a six-month stint beginning in July.

Controversy was stirred earlier in the day when Renato Brunetta, party whip for Forza Italia (FI) led by ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi, said that the measures in the DEF including 10 billion euros in tax cuts for 10 million lower-income Italians were not affordable. "The reality is incontrovertible, corrective action will be required (to the existing DEF)", said Brunetta. "(The government) can deny what it wants, but the reality of the accounts is incontrovertible," said Brunetta. The cost of the tax cuts this year alone, totalling about 6.6 billion euros, as well as a reduction to a regional business tax, plus other spending programs this year will not be covered by savings the government has found, said Brunetta.

However, Renzi has said the cost of the blueprint has been completed covered by savings found in an ongoing review of government spending, a new bank tax, and a cap on salaries for some public-sector managers. 

Costa Concordia called police motorboat asking to be towed

Testimony questions captain's state of mind during fatal crash

(ANSA) - Grosseto, April 28 - The Costa Concordia called Italian finance police for a patrol boat to tow the massive cruise ship just after smashing in 2012, a high-ranking police officer on Monday told a court in the port city of Grosseto. Officers on board the police motorboat, one of many used by Italian finance police for law enforcement along Italian coasts, commented with irony that it was difficult for a small patrol boat to tow the massive, 290-metre cruise ship, said Andrea Lachi, head of Grosseto's provincial command of the Carabinieri paramilitary police.

Lachi was called to testify at the trial of ex-captain Francesco Schettino, who is accused of multiple manslaughter and dereliction of duty with an account expected to cast doubt on Schettino's state of mind during the disaster that cost 32 lives and forced the evacuation of 4,900 passengers and crew on January 13, 2012. Schettino's defense lawyer Donato Laino later told journalists, "Commander Schettino did not ask the (finance police) motorboat to tow the Concordia but asked for intervention to stabilize the prow with a cable," since towing the massive ship would be impossible. The lawyer criticized Lachi's testimony as "his interpretation of the circumstances". A wiretapped conversation between engineer Hugo Di Piazza and a friend describing the disaster was also played on Monday to the panel of judges.

Lawyers for passengers on the cruise ship said it illustrated "the error of the ship crew" who they claim sent people in harm's way to the side of the ship that inclined and "was where the most of the deaths took place". "There were people who fell in the water, there were those who swam, other people who banged from one side of the ship to the other like a game of pinball. They weren't just the passengers, there were others of the crew too, like the Filipinos," said Di Piazza in the recorded conversation. 

Soccer: Renzi, Prandelli eat banana to back Alves - update

Premier, Italy coach show solidarity against racism

(ANSA) - Rome, April 28 - Premier Matteo Renzi and Italy coach Cesare Prandelli on Monday ate a banana, copying Barcelona player Dani Alves's reaction to racist abuse and giving a symbolic demonstration of solidarity. Brazilian defender Alves won international acclaim for his intelligent response to having a banana thrown at him from the stands while taking a corner during Sunday's 3-2 win at Villarreal - peeling it and then taking a bite. Renzi and Prandelli showed their support during a meeting with Italy's Five-A-Side football team, who were recently crowned European champions. Many other high-profile Italians also hailed Alves. "Bravo Dani Alves. Fight racism forever. With elegance and imagination," tweeted former immigration minister Cecile Kyenge, whose short tenure as Italy's first black minister under ex-premier Enrico Letta was plagued by racist verbal attacks and gestures from the anti-immigrant Northern League party. Solidarity ballooned across social networks and media. "We are all Daniel Alves," wrote Fanny Neguesha, the girlfriend of AC Milan striker Mario Balotelli, an Italian of Ghanian descent. Balotelli's Belgian model girlfriend, who is also of colour, posted an Instagram with a photo of herself with three friends saying, "If you think people of color are monkeys...well, let me say that I am proud to be a monkey". "I was watching the game. I played with Dani Alves. I felt like a party to this offense. I immediately felt great sorrow.

Here racism is spoken of, but I come to associate it with a very deep ignorance," said AS Roma goalkeeper Morgan De Sanctis, an Italian footballer who played with Dani Alves during a stint at Sevilla. "Sport has demonstrated many times its own dissociation from every discrimination," De Sanctis added, speaking at an event for cancer awareness held at the Italian Olympic Committee headquarters in Rome. 

Rome's chief rabbi seeks info on missing war children

Fate of Jews in convents during Second World War still unclear

(ANSA) - Rome, April 28 - The fate of Jewish children taken in by Rome convents during the Second World War still remains unknown and their families seek answers, the chief rabbi in the Italian capital said Monday. Riccardo Di Segni raised the issue during a conference on dialogue between Jews and Christians organized by the community of Sant'Egidio, saying former pope Benedict XVI had initiated a probe but no answers have yet been found.

It is believed that some of the children were converted to Catholicism from Judaism and remained with Catholic families after the war. They should be found and given their full history, said the rabbi. "We have to track down these people and restore their identity and then they will decide what to do," said Di Segni. In similar cases in other countries, Jewish refugee children raised during the Second World War as Catholics often decided to remain in the Church, but at least they were aware of their origins, he added.

He also criticized actions taken in 1946 by then pope Pius XII, who he said did nothing to help Jews find their children sheltered in convents during the war and Holocaust in which six million Jews were exterminated by Nazi Germany. The controversy was raised one day after Pope Francis named former popes John XXIII and John Paul II, who were both young men during the Second World War, as saints. A decade ago, the Corriere della Sera newspaper published a document from 1946 that ordered Catholics in France to keep orphaned Jewish children, saying the decision had been approved by the pope. But pope John XXIII, who was at the time nuncio for France, reportedly ignored the directive.

As well, a "charming story" about John Paul II tells of him helping a Jewish mother to find her child sheltered by a convent and if it is true, that pope's actions would set a good example, said the rabbi. "It is a beautiful, charming story that is very appreciated by the Jews, but that still has not been verified," he said. 

'Cataraman Killer' breaks out of jail again

Filippo De Cristofaro poisoned, chopped up yachtswoman for boat

(By Denis Greenan).

(ANSA) - Livorno, April 28 - The notorious 'Catamaran Killer' has broken out of jail for the second time, prison sources said Monday, sparking a row about furloughs and job permits for Italy's worst criminals. Filippo De Cristofaro, 60, who made his first jail break in 2007, failed to report back to Porto Azzurro open facility on the former prison island of Pianosa after a three-day Easter furlough for good behaviour, judicial source said. “This must not happen again," said Interior Minister Angelino Alfano, claiming that regulations on good-behaviour leave and other easements of incarceration had become "laxer" under a previous centre-left government.

Ironically, the De Cristofaro break-out came just as parliament was discussing new alternatives to jail time as a way of easing overcrowding in Italy's jam-packed prisons. The new moves are being discussed after repeated criticism from the EU and under strongly reiterated input from Italian President Giorgio Napolitano and Pope Francis.

Milan-born De Cristofaro, also nicknamed 'The Rambo of the Seas' for his failed romantic flight to Polynesia with a 17-year-old Dutch girl after murdering a yachtswoman when he was 34 in 1988, has been sought by police since he failed to report back to Carabinieri after his permit ended on Easter Monday, police said.

His escape was not detected until two days after, on the Wednesday, because he was in any case out of the facility on a work detail helping maintain Pianosa's historic and now-closed high-security prison - once home to Risorgimento and anti-Fascist heroes - and its lush gardens. For his Easter holidays De Cristofaro reportedly went on a trip to the Island of Elba, Napoleon's famous place of exile after his first downfall and before the 100 days leading up to Waterloo, judicial sources said.

The killer's flight led prison guards' union OSAPP to call for "urgent action to reverse a very disturbing trend towards ever-greater leniency". This was partly due to budget cuts which have meant less expert advice being available, or the views of warders being ignored, OSAPP said.

Rome still buzzing with pilgrims after popes' canonisations

Polish pecial Mass of thanks at St. Peter's

(ANSA) - Vatican City, April 28 - Tens of thousands of pilgrims and tourists continued to "lay siege" to Rome Monday following Sunday's canonisation of popes John XXIII and John Paul II. A big crowd packed St Peter's Square for a second straight day as a Mass of thanks for Saint John Paul II was celebrated by Cardinal Angelo Comastri under partially sunny skies. The service was originally meant to be for Polish faithful inside the basilica, but it was moved to the square outside when the Church authorities realised how many people wanted to take part.

The Archbishop of Kracow, Stanislaw Dziwisz, greeted pilgrims at the start of the Mass, recording that, while he was personal private secretary to John Paul for 40 years, Italy had become the pope's "second home". Later in the day thousands filed past the tomb of the newly sanctified Polish saint inside the Basilica of St Peter's. Pilgrims from John XXIII's home city of Bergamo also filed past the tomb of the new Italian saint. Many pilgrims took time off their devotions to follow other tourist trails, visiting the Vatican Museums, or shopping for souvenirs, clothes or bags. 

Berlusconi unapologetic as death-camp furore escalates

Darker image of ex-premier appears in Bari 'bunga bunga' case

(ANSA) - Rome, April 28 - Former Italian premier Silvio Berlusconi on Monday said his claim that Germans still deny the existence of Nazi concentration camps "was extrapolated out of context" by "the European left", and affirmed his "historic friendship with the Jewish people and the State of Israel". Berlusconi, long known for verbal gaffs, refused to apologize and said that he was a victim of political opponents who set a "campaign trap" to ensnare him ahead of European parliamentary elections on May 25. Controversy erupted when, over the weekend, the media magnate and centre-right leader said that "for the Germans, the concentration camps never existed," in a fresh attack on an old foe, Martin Schulz, the German head of the European Parliament and centre-left candidate to become the next European Commission president.

The 77-year-old Berlusconi, who has been smarting after an Italian court upheld his ban on standing for election to the European parliament due to a tax-fraud conviction, had clashed before with Schulz, leader of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats. During an angry exchange between the two in June 2003, Berlusconi described Schulz as a guard in a Nazi death camp. On Monday, Berlusconi refused to back down from his comments about Germans, saying he had "no need to apologize either to Holocaust survivors or to German citizens". In an interview for Piazzapulita to be aired Monday evening on the La7 television channel, he said it was "surreal to call me hostile to the German people, my friends".

Instead, Berlusconi said his frustration was with German-led fiscal austerity. "If I'm hostile to something it's counterproductive austerity, and rules and regulations that in my opinion are seriously flawed, which are burdening all of Europe with long-term economic stagnation," he added. Berlusconi sparked a similar storm late last year when he said his adult children had told him they feel they way Jewish families must have felt under Hitler because of the alleged judicial persecution against the ex-premier. The ex-premier was quickly lambasted by prominent members of Italy's Jewish community, who denounced comparisons of his wealthy family with the Jewish people under the persecution of Hitler.

Berlusconi's list of current legal woes is lengthy: the year of community service from his tax-fraud conviction, which also carries a ban from office; he is appealing a six-year sentence for sex with an underage prostitute and abuse of power to cover it up; and he is on trial for allegedly bribing a centre-left Senator to switch sides. Throughout more than 20 legal cases since he first swept to victory in 1994, Berlusconi has said he is the victim of left-wing elements in the judiciary.

Meanwhile, a darker image ex-premier was being presented in a courtroom in the southern Italian city of Bari where magistrates said "a disconcerting picture" of a prostitution ring including Berlusconi had been revealed. The statement was made in a Bari court's explanation of a December 2013 guilty verdict and one-year sentence against lawyer Salvatore Castellaneta for organizing 21 "bunga bunga" sex parties for Berlusconi from September 2008 to May 2009 in which 26 young women were "recruited". Berlusconi is not on trial in that case and says he never paid anyone for sex. 

New shrine found at Pompeii ruins by Neapolitan researchers

Discoveries at buried ancient city to be presented Tuesday

(ANSA) - Pompeii (Naples), April 28 - New discoveries at the ancient Roman ruins of Pompeii including a shrine outside the main city will be made public Tuesday, researchers said Monday. The discoveries were made during recent excavations by archaeologists from the Sister Orsola Benincasa University of Naples.

The discoveries were coordinated by the archaeologist Mario Grimaldi and by Umberto Pappalardo, the director of the Amedeo Maiuri International Centre for Pompeii Studies, the university said. Also to be unveiled to the public Tuesday is a project for the house of Marcus Fabius Rufus.