sabato 31 maggio 2014

Italy to present Milan Expo in 180 diplomatic posts June 2

Italy to honour Republic Day promoting world fair globally

(ANSA) - Milan, May 30 - The Italian diplomatic corps on Monday are presenting Milan Expo 2015 in 180 different diplomatic posts with 200 events around the world to celebrate the Italian national holiday Republic Day.

Italian Foreign Minister Federica Mogherini on Thursday made the announcement at a press conference in Milan with Expo Commissioner Giuseppe Sala. Mogherini said the idea for using Italy's seats of representation came from Italian President Giorgio Napolitano. "We have decided to dedicate Republic Day - using the simple celebrations in our embassies and consulates - to present Expo," Mogherini said regarding festivities planned for Republic Day, when Italians honour the anniversary of the historic national vote on June 2, 1946 to abolish monarchy in favour of a republic. "Expo will be a great occasion for Italy to contribute to the global debate on sustainable development," Mogherini added.

The Universal Exposition, which takes place next year from May 31 to October 31, is themed "Feeding the planet. Energy for life", tackling issues such as food security, hunger, nutrition, and promoting environmentally, socially, economically sustainable global food production practices. "We have an enormous challenge - that of guaranteeing access to food for the entire planet and Italy, with the UN and the European Union, is playing a fundamental role," Mogherini said. It is our precise interest to create accessibility to food for all. These are not nice sentiments, but our duty," Mogherini added. "This is one of the biggest global challenges of the 21st century, with respect to which Italy has a great deal to say in terms of health food and lifestyle," said the Italian ambassador to Washington D.C., Claudio Bisogniero, who called Expo "the most important international event of the coming years in Italy and in the field of food sustainability". Expo is also expected to be "the biggest restaurant in the world" as Expo Commissioner Giuseppe Sala has said, with participants putting the best of their culinary cultures on show. Italy is fanning political figures abroad to speak at the Republic Day presentations. Mogherini is headed to Vienna, while Health Minister Beatrice Lorenzin and Agriculture Minister Maurizio Martina will talk in Washington D.C. and Berlin, respectively.

Milan Mayor Giuliano Pisapia will visit Abu Dhabi, while Lombardy President Roberto Maroni will go to Tokyo. Mogherini added that exhibitor participation in the food themed world fair was already greater than anticipated, explaining that although Turkey has pulled out, and some of the 144 countries that have signed on are now in doubt, such as Indonesia and South Africa, the turnout will still be robust. "International adhesions in Expo are greater than expected when the project began," Mogherini said. "Even if there were fewer than those who confirmed, it would be an extremely large success". "There is also interesting movement of new countries that could confirm," Mogherini added.

venerdì 30 maggio 2014

Italian smoking rates up on anti-tobacco day

More women, young people puffing, e-cigs down, roll-ups up

(ANSA) - Rome, May 30 - Italy's smoking rates were up ahead of World Anti-Tobacco Day Saturday, a survey from the country's premier health body said Friday. The Higher Health Institute (ISS) said more women and young people were picking up the habit while the use of electronic cigarettes had fallen and the popularity of roll-ups had skyrocketed.

Meanwhile Roma's Bambin Gesù (Baby Jesus) paediatric hospital said one in five of the children that were admitted had some form of respiratory issues due to passive smoking. According to the survey from the (ISS) the percentage of smokers in Italy is on the rise, particularly among women and young people.

The percentage of smokers in the Italian population rose to 22% in the latest research, up from 20.6% last year, said the report. As well, the percentage of women smoking climbed to 18.9% this year from 15.3% in 2013 while the rate among men declined to 25.4% in 2014 from 26.2% in the population last year. Average consumption is 13 cigarettes per day.

An increasing number of young people between 15 and 24 are becoming heavy smokers, with 67.8% smoking fewer than 13 cigarettes per day in the 2014 data. That is considerably less than the 81% last year who said they smoked fewer that 13 cigarettes. Anti-smoking efforts proved insipid, with 30% saying they tried and failed to quit. Meanwhile the use of loose tobacco by smokers who roll their own cigarettes has skyrocketed in Italy, increasing by 400% since 2005, the research said.

In addition to being cheaper, smokers also seemed to think that hand-rolled cigarettes were less harmful than manufactured smokes, according to the ISS survey. Young smokers in particular seem to prefer roll-ups to mass-produced brands or electronic cigarettes, said the findings. The survey added that the use of electronic cigarettes in Italy has dropped by more than half after an initial boom.

Smokers using e-cigarettes fell from 4.2% of the tobacco-addicted population in 2013 to 1.6% this year, the ISS said. Italians were among the first Europeans to embrace e-cigarettes given the lack of evidence of harm. A small proportion of e-cigarette users, 1.7%, told the ISS they were now smoking a higher number of traditional cigarettes too. 

Prandelli opts for youth in Ireland friendly

Rossi 'like first World Cup game' at Wembley

(ANSA) - Rome, May 30 - Italy coach Cesare Prandelli is opting for youth in his attempt to find an attack that can pierce the defences of England and Uruguay at this summer's World Cup in Brazil.

Prandelli on Friday announced he would field Ciro Immobile, Giuseppe Rossi and Marco Verratti from the start of their key warm-up game for the Brazil World Cup against Ireland at Wembley Saturday. "Tomorrow, against Ireland, Immobile, Rossi and Verratti will play from the first minute," Prandelli said at the Azzurri's pre-World Cup training camp. It will be the first time Torino's Serie A top goalscorer Immobile, injury-prone Fiorentina striker Rossi and Paris Saint-Germain attacking midfielder Verratti will take the field together. The three have a combined age of 72: Immobile is 24, Rossi 27 and Verratti 21. Prandelli said the starting line-up would be Sirigu, Darmian, Paletta, Bonucci, De Sciglio, Thiago Motta, Verratti, Montolivo, Marchisio, Rossi and Immobile.

Prandelli attempted to boost Rossi's confidence by predicting a fine performance from the Viola man. "I'm sure Giuseppe Rossi will play a great game tomorrow," said Prandelli, who kept faith with the US-born former Villarreal star for the Brazil tournament through several injury scares. "It'll be like the first match of the World Cup," said the coach, who will lead his men out for their opening game against England on June 14 in Brazil. "He's recovered, he only has to overcome his fear of tackles," said Prandelli of the young forward, most of whose injuries have been leg fractures. Rossi, who managed 12 goals in his much-shortened season, 10 behind Immobile, is expected to play as second striker alongside AC Milan's Mario Balotelli. Late Thursday, in a hugely unexpected development, Immobile signed a 20-million-euro deal to join Bundesliga giants Borussia Dortmund.

The revelation of the season with 22 goals from 33 starts that forced him into the Italy front line, Naples-born Immobile played for Torino but was half-owned by his first club Juventus, who just landed their third straight and 30th overall scudetto. Juve bought back Torino's half before offloading him onto Borussia amid speculation they were unwilling to see him go to one of their Serie A rivals. Immobile replaces Robert Lewandowski who moved to Bayern Munich on a free transfer. Immobile, who has scored freely with both his feet and head this year, is expected to make a big impact in Brazil. He has played once for Italy, failing to score.

Prandelli is likely to pick Immobile as a first-choice replacement for main target man Balotelli. The playing time Immobile gets in Brazil will depend on how well the sometimes erratic Balotelli performs and how far Italy get in the tournament if they proceed from one of the toughest groups. As well as traditional powerhouses England and Uruguay the group features Costa Rica - styled as minnows, but no means a pushover.

Italy are seventh or eighth favourites to land their fifth World Cup crown, according to most betting outfits. Brazil and Spain top the betting followed by Germany, Argentina, Uruguay and dark horses Belgium. The Azzurri start their campaign against England in Manaus, a city in the middle of the Amazon rain forest. They travel around 1,450 km to the Atlantic coast for their other two group games, against Costa Rica and Uruguay, in Recife and Natal respectively.

Prandelli will trim down his 30-man preliminary squad to a definitive 23-man roster on June 1. After facing Ireland in London on Saturday, the Azzurri have another pre-World Cup friendly against Luxembourg in Verona on June 4. 

Robot pet seal helps Alzheimer's patient study

University of Siena researchers probe cognitive conditions

(ANSA) - Florence, May 30 - A robot pet, created to resemble a baby seal, is helping Alzheimer's patients improve their condition through a form of 'pet therapy' in a study conducted by researchers at the University of Siena. The study, including research from the learning technologies department and the robots lab, has concluded that all patients who had contact with Paro, the baby seal robot, showed marked improvement in their cognitive processes.

Paro was first created from Japanese technology and was engineered to artificially express emotions which, in turn, arouses feelings in Alzheimer's patients including affection, tenderness and gentleness. The next challenge is to establish what elements of the robot pet are responsible for the patients' response, said Patrizia Marti, head of the project. The pilot test was conducted in residential health care facility Le Ville di Porta Romana in the Tuscan city of Siena and involved a group of women of an average age of 80 with various levels of cognitive problems.

Results of the study will be presented next month at a national conference on Alzheimer's care in Pistoia. The Paro seal has drawn international media attention with previous research conducted in the United States, Britian and Japan. 

Petit Larousse admits 2 Italian words into French dictionary

'Bruschetta' and 'antipasti' make their way into vernacular

(ANSA) - Rome, May 30 - The famed French dictionary Petit Larousse has admitted two new words into the French vocabulary having to do with Italian gastronomy. The 2015 edition will include the words "bruschetta" and "antipasti", referring to bite-sized Italian toasts and the Italian word for appetizers.

Other foreign words to pass the hurdle into the French vernacular are selfie, hashtag, hipsters, pilates and stiletto. This year Petit Larousse will mark its 110th anniversary with a special edition dictionary. It will feature 62,500 words and a cover created by a noteworthy designer. 

Italy recovery 'fragile and uncertain' says bank

Low inflation poses risks to economy, warns Visco

(ANSA) - Rome, May 30 - Italy's recovery from its longest and most severe post-war recession remains "fragile" and continuing low inflation is posing a risk to recovery, Bank of Italy Governor Ignazio Visco said Friday. Speaking shortly after the latest statistics showed inflation fell in May to only 0.5% from 0.6% in April, Visco said that such weak price pressures aren't good for the economy and will likely press the European Central Bank (ECB) into action. "This is not consistent with our definition of price stability," Visco told the Bank of Italy's annual general meeting in Rome. "If this pattern is confirmed the (ECB) Governing Council is determined to act, even with unconventional policies," said Visco, who is a member of the ECB's governing council.

The ECB aims to maintain inflation at about 2% over the medium term and has warned that if that inflation continues to fall, it will take action that could include unconventional measures at its upcoming policy meeting next week. Low inflation is particularly harmful to an economy where debt is high and growth is sluggish, as is the case in Italy, he said. The fallout from the painful recession that Italy has suffered is "heavy," said Visco. And the effects are still being felt - "the exit is troublesome and the road to recovery is still fragile and uncertain, and it will not be short nor easy," said Visco. "A real recovery is struggling to get under way," he added.

Italians were dealt a harsh blow earlier this month when national statistical agency Istat reported that the country's gross domestic product (GDP) fell by 0.1% in the first quarter of this year rather than showing growth, as expected. The implication is that the economy is not yet in recovery. Part of that recovery will involve cleaning up the national books, including such "unavoidable" measures as cutting Italy's huge debt, said Visco. "The reduction in the ratio of debt to GDP remains the unavoidable challenge for our country: its speed depends on the return to a stable and sustained growth," he said. Italy's debt-to-GDP ratio is the second largest in the eurozone next to Greece, at approximately 133%. Visco added that "significant results" have been achieved and "we are close to a structural balance of public finances".

Italian Premier Matteo Renzi's tax bonus of 80 euros per month is a "good" move, but labor reforms are greatly needed to help boost economic recovery and growth, said Visco. However, wary consumers who cannot afford to spend or are afraid to open their wallets can "drag down the benefits of the recently approved tax cuts like the 80-euro bonus," said Visco. And the most important factor in boosting consumer confidence is jobs. "(Consumers) will not become the driving force of recovery without a sustained increase in employment," he said.

To try to help small- and medium-sized businesses (SMEs), often a key driver of growth and jobs, the Bank of Italy will soon have in place new lending measures for commercial banks that will target that sector, he said. The program will help banks to allocate lines of credits, create more flexible collateral management programs, and other measures aimed at getting more money flowing to SMEs, said Visco. 

Rome shooting to become capital of street art

Eternal City to be like 'Berlin, Miami, NYC' says councillor

(ANSA) - Rome, May 30 - The facades of four buildings in the San Basilio neighborhood in northeast Rome are part of a massive project to redecorate neighborhoods on the outskirts with street art, a city official said Friday. "Rome (will be) like Berlin, Miami or New York," said Roman Periphery Councillor Paolo Masini. "Its peripheries are like a great blank canvas," Masini added. The Spanish street muralist Liqen and Italian street muralist Agostino Iacurci took part in the 'SanBa' project in San Basilio.

Masini said the initiative has taken root and expanded to a number of other neighborhoods with the participation of artists, associations and companies. "In a few months, the citizens of Rome have seen our neighborhoods become colourful, from Tor Marancia to Testaccio, from Roma 70 to Ostiense," said Masini, mentioning some Roman neighborhoods better known for blight than urban beauty. 

New Michelangelo exhibit showcases 'universal artist'

156 masterworks at Capitoline Museums starting Thursday

(ANSA) - Rome, May 30 - A new show on Michelangelo opening Thursday at the Capitoline Museums in Rome focuses on the complexity of his art and the epic quality attributed to his life by the formidable works and challenging technical difficulties he embraced. The exhibit, Michelangelo 1564-2014: Meeting a Universal Artist, which runs until September 14, in particular vies to investigate the genius of the artist and emotional trials of the man through opposites he portrayed - from life and death, to earthly and spiritual love. Organized on the 450th anniversary of Michelangelo's death, the show was curated by art historians Elena Capretti and Sergio Risaliti and organized by the Metamorfosi Association and Zetema. It features 156 works - including 70 by the artist - ranging from sketches and preparatory drawings, to paintings and sculptures.

Cristina Acidini, the superintendent of the State museums of Florence who first conceived this exhibit, called it a ''complex but extremely thrilling experience, a sort of impossible show'' in which the ''sparks'' of Michelangelo's genius are highlighted through a selection of works which give an insight into his creative process with the ambition of providing an in-depth take on the brilliant inspiration behind masterworks including the Last Judgement. In particular the show overcomes the objective impossibility of exhibiting ''non-transportable'' key masterpieces by Michelangelo - notably the Sistine chapel's frescoes - by displaying paintings, sculptures, poems and architectural projects alongside one another to focus on the crucial themes of his art.

The exhibit is divided into nine display sections, showcasing key works including the Brutus sculpture, on loan from the Bargello National Museum in Florence, the Madonna of the Steps, a relief sculpture by 15-year-old Michelangelo, the Risen Christ statue found in Bassano Romano, an unfinished work similar to the Christ in the nearby Church of the Minerva, and three devotional wooden crucifixes. The show opens with a group of statues in the Hall of the the Horatii and the Curiatii overlooking Piazza del Campidoglio, which Michelangelo revolutionized by placing an equestrian statue of Marcus Aurelius at the center instead of laterally as was customary at the time. Here, the Bargello's Brutus, a political masterwork which Michelangelo sculpted in Rome, can be admired alongside earlier classical busts, the bronze Brutus from the Capitoline Museums and Caracalla from the Vatican Museum, for a direct comparison of two works which inspired the artist.

Michelangelo Buonarroti, who was born in Arezzo in 1475, began his art apprenticeship with Domenico Ghirlandaio in Florence in 1488 but had to move to Rome in 1496 after the death of his patron Lorenzo de Medici threw the city into turmoil. The Madonna of the Steps, on loan from the Buonarroti Foundation, is an early work focusing on the search for beauty and perfection of the human body as delineated in the devotional crucifixes from the Santo Spirito church in Florence, and the Louvre and Bargello museums which have been controversially attributed to the artist. They will be on display alongside one another for the first time. Also on show are the Fall of Phaeton from the Accademia in Venice and the Study of the Head of the Cumean Sibyl from Turin's Biblioteca Reale.

An interesting take on the contrast between earthly and spiritual love, which was strongly felt by Michelangelo both in his life and art, is offered by a set of drawings and other works inspired by meaningful relationships such as those with Tommaso Cavalieri and Vittoria Colonna. Each theme is investigated by comparing sculptures, paintings, architectural models, select letters and poetry and drawings, which provide a masterful view into the considerable effort that went into the artist' innovative work The show then focuses on an aging Michelangelo's investigation into life and death, the salvation of the soul, time and eternity. The artist, who worked for six popes, became closer to the Christian faith in his old age, as testified by the many portrayals of the crucifixion and resurrection in the exhibit.

Michelangelo's work is shown alongside documents outlining his relationship with powerful patrons, with friends, and with those who shared his great political, artistic, and religious passions, for a new insight into an intensely scrutinized personal life which transformed the idea of what an artist could be.

martedì 27 maggio 2014

South Stream gas project 'strategic' says Guidi

Italy 'ideal hub' for energy from North Africa, says minister

(ANSA) - Brussels, May 26 - The South Stream natural gas project carrying energy from Russia to Europe is of "strategic" importance, Industry Minister Federica Guidi said Monday. "I still think South Stream is a strategic...interesting project," Guidi said, adding she will press for its approval as it moves through various stages of compliance with the European Union. During meetings with the European Competitiveness Council, Guidi said the project must be viewed in the context of diversifying energy sources for Europe and should be adopted "quickly".

She added that North Africa could also become a significant source of energy for Europe, and Italy would be "an ideal hub" for future imports to the continent. Russian energy giant Gazprom is the majority shareholder in the South Stream natural gas pipeline project, which it is building along with Italian state-controlled energy conglomerate Eni. The South Stream pipeline is designed to begin to carry Russian gas to southern Europe by 2015 and reaching full capacity in 2018. The pipeline will bypass Ukraine, a country which is at the centre of a major dispute with Russia and which has recurrent disagreements over energy with Moscow.

Italy's Saipem, Europe's largest oil-service provider and an Eni subsidiary, recently reached a two-billion-euro contract with Gazprom to extend the South Stream pipeline under the Black Sea. But there have been concerns that, with political tensions between Europe and the United States with Russia over the crisis in Ukraine, economic sanctions could hit energy exporters including Gazprom. 

Soccer: Balotelli says would only get 'f-offs' if were white

Italy forward says those who attack him are 'ignorant, stupid'

(ANSA) - Rome, May 26 - Mario Balotelli has said that his sometimes volatile behaviour would earn him no more than the occasional "f-off" if he were white and blasted people who direct racist abuse at him as ignorant and stupid. The 23-year-old striker, who has Ghanaian roots, has been subject to racist abuse many times in his career.

"I'm different and this annoys some people," the Italy and AC Milan striker, who is frequently at the centre of controversy because of his poor discipline on and off the field, told GQ magazine in Italy. "I make mistakes and I always pay for them," added the player, who can come across as arrogant in media appearances. "If I were white, they'd just tell me to f-off. The problem is not what I do, but what I'm allowed to do. "If they take things out on me, they are ignorant and stupid". Italian soccer has had a big problem with racism for years, but Balotelli has been singled out for abuse more than most black players.

Last week a teenager shouted "sh*tty black" at him at Italy's pre-World Cup training camp near Florence. Last September T-shirts saying 'if you bleach Balotelli he'll still stink' went on sale in a shop in central Naples. Porto were fined 20,000 euros because their fans racially abused him during a Europa League tie in February 2012 when he was a Manchester City player. Juventus had to play a game behind doors in 2009 after their supporters directed chants of "there's no such thing as a black Italian" at him when he was an Inter Milan player. 

Trial requested for professors in Sicily nepotism case

Cardiologist, academics accused of rigging hiring of daughter

(ANSA) - Palermo, May 26 - A Sicilian prosecutor has recommended the indictment of the head of Palermo university's cardiology school, Salvatore Novo, and the university's assistant head, Giacomo de Leo, on charges of rigging the appointment of Novo's daughter as a cardiology researcher.

Professor Novo and de Leo, who was formerly head of the university's medicine faculty, are under investigation on charges including fraud in connection with the alleged rigging of a public competition for the job given to Novo's daughter Giuseppina in 2005, judicial sources said.

Also requested for indictment in the case is Alberto Balbarini, a lecturer in cardiovascular diseases at Pisa University who was on the selection board for the appointment. The inquiry was opened by magistrates in Bari as part of a probe into rigged job competitions in faculties at several universities around Italy. 

12 arrested in anti-Camorra mafia sweep

Probe sheds light on turf war between rival Ponticelli clans

(ANSA) - Naples, May 27 - Police on Tuesday arrested 12 people in an anti-mafia sweep against the Campania region's Camorra crime syndicate. The suspects, who are said to belong to the De Micco clan operating in the Ponticelli district of Naples, were arrested on charges of mafia association for drug trafficking, attempted murder and illegal possession of firearms. In total, 14 people have been placed under investigation in connection with the probe. Two suspects are currently on the run. Investigations showed how some alleged De Micco clan members wore a tattoo reading 'Bodo' - the clan's nickname - followed by the words "respect, fidelity and honour". Police also uncovered an accounts book recording profits from criminal activities and monthly payments to be made to affiliates, as well as legal and weapons expenses. The investigation also shed light on the ongoing turf war between the De Micco clan and the rival D'Amico group, which led to the murders of respective clan members in January and March 2013. The Calabrian 'Ndrangheta and the Neapolitan Camorra have posed the most powerful threats to the legal economy in recent years, outstripping Sicily's Cosa Nosta. 

Kidnapped aid worker arrives from Syria after release

Federico Motka taken captive in March 2013

(ANSA) - Rome, May 27 - An Italian aid worker kidnapped in Syria in 2013 arrived in Rome on Tuesday morning, a day after being released. Federico Motka was "very tired but well" according to Italian Foreign Minister Federica Mogherini, who went to Rome's Ciampino airport to meet him. Motka was released on Monday near the Turkish border, over 14 months after being taken prisoner on March 12, 2013. Mogherini thanked the foreign ministry and the Italian security services for the successful outcome to the case and Motka's family for their faith in the public institutions. 

2.5 million bees seized near Taranto

Infected with 'American Foulbrood' bacteria

(ANSA) - Castellaneta, May 27 - Two and a half million bees in Castellaneta near Taranto were seized by Italy's State Forestry Corps on Monday after they discovered that they were infected with American Foulbrood, a highly contagious bacterial disease. The bees, which were to be exported to Finland in 181 specially made wooden containers, were confiscated during a Forestry Corps inspection following a health authority complaint about the presence of American Foulbrood. The extremely resistant bacterial disease has the potency to spread throughout an entire bee colony, ruining communities. Proper incineration is the only solution.

American Foulbrood can continue to germinate for decades in honey and beekeeping equipment if not properly destroyed. Charges were made against the beekeeper for "dissemination of plant or animal disease" and "non-compliance with authority regulations". The disease is not dangerous to humans. 

Italian Cup soccer hooligan linked to Camorra mafia bust

'Genny the Scumbag sold us our drugs' says suspect

(see previous) (ANSA) - Naples, May 27 - The 12 people arrested Tuesday by anti-mafia police in Naples for alleged drug trafficking bought their drugs from a soccer hooligan responsible for holding up the Italian Cup Final in Rome amid violence outside the stadium earlier this month, a suspect in the case said. "We bought drugs from Genny a' carogna (Genny the Scumbag)," said suspect-turned-informant Domenico Esposito, referring to Gennaro Di Tommaso by his moniker as a leader of the Napoli ultra hardcore fans. On May 3, Napoli hooligans inside Rome's Stadio Olimpico delayed the match against Fiorentina by nearly an hour in mayhem sparked by Roma ultras who ambushed a busload of Napoli fans, several of whom were shot. The chaos subsided only after Di Tommaso raised his arms to calm the crowd once he was assured by officials that no one was killed. On Tuesday the informant said Di Tommaso left the drugs inside "a modified Renault Scenic with the keys inside, parked inside the Ponticelli cemetery. We'd pick up the car then send it back". The suspects, who are said to belong to the De Micco clan of the Naples-based Camorra mafia, were arrested on charges of mafia association for drug trafficking, attempted murder and illegal possession of firearms. In total, 14 people have been placed under investigation in connection with the probe. Two suspects are currently on the run.

Di Tommaso was not listed as a suspect. Investigations showed how some alleged De Micco clan members wore a tattoo reading 'Bodo' - the clan's nickname - followed by the words "respect, fidelity and honour".

Police also uncovered an accounts book recording profits from criminal activities and monthly payments to be made to affiliates, as well as legal and weapons expenses. The investigation also shed light on the ongoing turf war between the De Micco clan and the rival D'Amico group, which led to the murders of respective clan members in January and March 2013. The Calabrian 'Ndrangheta and the Neapolitan Camorra have posed the most powerful threats to the legal economy in recent years, outstripping Sicily's Cosa Nosta. 

Ex-environment minister probed for transnational graft

Clini linked to alleged corruption in China,Montenegro contracts

(ANSA) - Rome, May 27 - Former environment minister Corrado Clini faced fresh legal woes on Tuesday when he was placed under investigation for alleged 'transnational corruption' in relation to projects in China and Montenegro. On Monday Clini, 67, was placed under house arrest in connection with a separate probe by prosecutors in the northern city of Ferrara into allegations of embezzlement in connection with a water-treatment project in Iraq.

In that investigation investigators claim he and engineer Augusto Calore Pretner skimmed 3.4 million euros from the 54-million euros New Eden project, a joint Iraqi-Italian initiative financed by the Italian environment ministry to restore marshlands in the Tigris and Euphrates basin. The latest probe by Rome prosecutors involves environmental redevelopment projects worth 200 million euros in the Chinese case and 14 million euros in the Montenegro plan. Clini's wife Martina Hauser and four or five other people are also implicated in the investigation, prosecution sources said. The Iraq probe began in summer 2013 after police spotted a series of false invoices from Dutch company GBC for payments to engineering firm Med Ingegneria Srl, based in Ferrara.

Med Ingegneria is part of a consortium, Nature Iraq, that also includes another engineering firm in which Pretner has a stake. Clini, a senior research fellow at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, was interrogated last October as part of the investigation. At the time he was director-general of the environment ministry, a position he had held before joining the government of former premier Mario Monti in November 2011, and one he resumed after the executive was replaced in April 2013. A graduate in occupational medicine and public health, Clini also coordinated the technical committee responsible for drawing up Italy's plan for greenhouse gas emissions reduction and chaired the inter-ministerial task force for the implementation of the Kyoto Protocol from 2005 to 2009. His time in office as environment minister was marked by his handling of the environmental disaster surrounding the fatal January 2012 capsizing of the Costa Concordia cruise ship, the remains of which still rest off the Tuscan island of Giglio.

Clini also handled the case of the troubled ILVA steelworks in the southern port city of Taranto, parts of which were impounded by local magistrates in July 2012 over serious environmental and health concerns, and the rubbish crisis in Rome. 

Clooney's Italian ex expecting first child

'I've grown up' says Canalis

(ANSA) - Milan, May 27 - Italian showgirl and model Elisabetta Canalis announced that she is pregnant with her first child in Wednesday's edition of an Italian weekly magazine. Canalis, who had previously told Chi magazine that she had no maternal instincts, told the weekly that "things have changed, I've grown up and opened up to the possibility of becoming a mother".

Canalis and boyfriend Brian Perri, an American spinal surgeon based out of Los Angeles' Cedars-Sinai hospital, are expecting their first child in autumn. "I think I've found the right person for me and I hope to be for him. I'm demanding, a pain in the bum, but Brian brings out the best in me".

The model also commented on the upcoming nuptials of ex-boyfriend George Clooney and Amal Alamuddin, saying, "I can only give him my best wishes". Canalis recently joined Unicef to help promote its 100% Campaign, a program to make sure all children across the world receive basic vaccinations.

lunedì 26 maggio 2014

Renzi's PD projected to land big win in European elections

M5S second, Berlusconi's FI third

(ANSA) - Rome, May 26 - Premier Matteo Renzi's centre-left Democratic Party (PD) is set to be Italy's top party in Sunday's European elections by a big margin, according to early projections. A projection by SWG marketing for Sky gave the PD 36.8-38.8% of the vote, compared to 23.3-25.3% for comedian-turned-politician Beppe Grillo's anti-establishment, Euroskeptic 5-Star Movement (M5S) and 15.6-17.6% for ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi's opposition centre-right Forza Italia (FI).

Another projection by IPR marketing for State broadcaster Rai gave the PD a whopping 40.2% of the vote, compared to 23.1% for the M5S and 16% for FI. The PD said that, if the outcome is confirmed, it is an endorsement of the ambitious programme of institutional and economic reforms Renzi has embarked on since unseating his party colleague Enrico Letta in February to become Italy's youngest premier at 39.

These include a drive to change the Constitution and transform the Senate into a leaner assembly of local-government representatives with limited lawmaking powers as part of an overhaul of the country's slow, costly political machinery. Although the M5S may increase on the stunning 25% of the vote it achieved in last year's inconclusive general election, the movement was not on course to live up to Grillo's prediction it would come first this time.

Grillo had forecast that a victory by the M5S, whose stated aim is to destroy the current party system, would cause Renzi to suffer a political "lupara bianca" - a term used to refer to a mafia hit that leaves no trace of evidence. Grillo had also threatened to lead hordes of M5S supporters in Rome next week to demand new national elections and the resignation of President Giorgio Napolitano, who he says is not a fair arbiter of Italian politics, if his movement came first.

domenica 25 maggio 2014

NYU's arts season debuts at Villa La Pietra in Florence

Dialogues and readings with contemporary U.S., Italian writers

The stunning 15th-century Villa La Pietra in the Montughi hills of Florence will be open May 28 through August 7 to host readings with contemporary Italian and American authors, concerts and theater performances organized by New York University Florence. The 10th edition of NYU's The Season, a city-wide annual event, will debut with the first of four readings on May 28 which will see novelist Nicola Gardini present "Fiction Talk - Heroic Dogs and Hysterical Sopranos: A Portrait of Italy as a Would-Be Country" at Villa La Pietra.

La Pietra is one of Florence's few intact historic estates which was bequeathed by British-American scholar and writer Sir Harold Acton at his death in 1994 to New York University and its School of Fine Arts. The other readings will continue at Palazzo Strozzi in downtown Florence, in cooperation with cultural institute Gabinetto Vieusseux, with poets Dorothea Lasky and Eileen Myles on June 4, writers Jonathan Lethem and Chris Kraus on June 11 and poets Marco Simonelli and Mark Wunderlich on June 18. All readings are part of the NYU Creative Writing Department's program.

The Writers' Season, a two-day literary extravaganza June 5-6 organized by NYU Florence professor and writer Alessandro Raveggi, will see American writers in residence Kraus, Lasky, Lethem and Myles, as well as Thom Donovan and Heidi Julavits, dialogue with Italian authors including Gian Maria Annovi, Vincenzo Latronico and Giorgio Vasta in both English and Italian. Readings from novels and poems are part of the Writers' Season program along with two concerts with Bettibarsantini duo Marco Parente and Alessandro Fiori on June 5 and the interesting literary cabaret of the Rapsody group on June 6. Comedy traditions in the 21st century will be at the centre of the lecture "Commedia Tonight" on May 29 by NYU arts professor Laurence Masion, who will trace the evolution of Commedia dell'arte and its influence on contemporary theater, film, television and the Internet.

Maison is the co-author of the Emmy-nominated PBS documentary series Make Them Laugh: The Funny Business of America, and the lecture at Villa La Pietra will include clips from the series with highlights from Groucho Marx, among others. On June 10 Mark Wing-Davey, chair of Graduate Acting at NYU and the only non-scientist to become a member of the Emotional Brain Institute (EBI), a joint initiative between NYU and New York State to study emotions and their impact on mind and behavior, will discuss whether neuroscience, neurobiology and neuropsychology can help us in our jobs and whether great actors can contribute to transform neuroscience, investigating the connection between theater performers and spectators in Being Me, Being You: Acting, Neuroscience and the Audience.

Theatrical events will follow with Iliad: Guerrillas of Troy performed by the Continuum Company of the NYU Tisch School of the Arts on June 19 at Villa La Pietra, an insight into Homer's epic through the eyes of English literature greats ranging from Alexander Pope to William Shakespeare as interpreted by NYU professor Laurence Maison. The event continues at Palazzo Strozzi on June 25 with The Maiden & The Tyrant about the biblical story of Judith Slaying Holofernes performed by the NYU undergraduates' Commedia Troupe. The same company will perform July 3 in Captain Gloriosus by Plautus, a comedy about a soldier who swaggers his way through high society, wars and lovers until he falls for Lucinda.

The visual concert Action Painting and Irascible Composers - New York and Europe during the Abstract Expressionism Time on June 26 will see the joint performance at Villa La Pietra of pianist Luisa Valeria Carpignano and video-artist Veronica Citi to link visual arts to music. Standing in a Safety Zone, a sound performance on July 1, will reflect on the universality of culture and will be followed by a concert with Justin Randolph Thompson and the Blip Trio. Other concerts will include Winterreise, Franz Schubert's great lieder cycle presented on July 6 by two internationally acclaimed performers, tenor Ian Bostridge and pianist and Thomas Ades to mark the birthday of the late Sir Harold Acton.

A concert by pianist Kirill Gerstein is scheduled on July 7. The event will end on August 7 with Shakespeare's The Tempest presented by the Aquila Theater Company. Along with the events and performances scheduled, NYU's The Season offers a unique occasion to get acquainted with Villa La Pietra, the most important building at the 57-acre estate that is the university's Florence campus, and its stunning park.

Sir Harold Acton's parents, Arthur Acton and Hortense Mitchell, bought La Pietra in 1907, pursuing a vision of Renaissance revival of the house and grounds, reinventing its garden and collecting furniture and paintings over decades. Intellectuals and artists including Vita Sackville-West and Henry Moore were regular visitors, as well as the British royals. The fascination with historic revivals cultivated by Arthur Acton, a painter and dealer who collected art for the mansions designed by Stanford White, and his heiress wife Hortense, has given an aura of timelessness to La Pietra's garden and the ancestral house built in the 1460s by Francesco Sassetti, which showcases Renaissance, Baroque and Modern art. 

All events are free and must be booked in advance. For further information 

Food exports can be worth 70 bn euros, Cibus says

Italian food products presented at international trade fair

(ANSA) - Parma, May 23 - Increasing demand abroad for Italian food products could drive exports to reach 70 billion euros in 10 years from the 26 billion totalled in 2013, according to a study presented earlier this month at Italy's leading international food trade fair Cibus. The 17th edition of Cibus, held in the northern city of Parma on May 5-8 and organized by Fiere di Parma, saw 67,000 commercial operators, including a reported 10,000 foreign buyers from 115 countries, attend the event to test hundreds of new products presented by 2,700 Italian food companies.

Many new products which debuted at the fair were aimed at the rising number of health-conscious consumers and included organic, gluten-free products and foods low in fat and sodium, Cibus organizers said. Italy is a world leader in the fast-growing organic-food market as well as in gluten-free products for those diagnosed with celiac disease. Also a hit were foods tailored for home cooking.

The fair devoted to sector professionals showcases offerings from all parts of the food chain, from wholesalers to grocers, from restaurants to catering businesses. It also debuts products for niche markets, like Kosher and Halal foods for Jewish and Muslim consumers at home and abroad, as Italy's food producers are not only embracing deep-rooted culinary traditions but are also adapting local cuisine to the demands of a multicultural global society . Indeed in the first 11 months of last year, food exports to Algeria grew as much as 67% while exports to Libya registered a 42.6% increase.

Food exports to the United Arab Emirates also rose 27.7%, followed by Turkey at 20.7% and Saudi Arabia at 16.9%. Overall, while internal demand shrank 4% in 2013, Italian food exports grew a record 5.8% on 2012 to reach 26.2 billion euros out of a total turnover of 132 billion euros of the Italian food industry. taly's top foreign markets are in the EU, up 5% year-on-year, and estimated to be worth 22.5 billion euros, according to data from national statistics agency Istat, elaborated by the Coldiretti farmers' association.

Exports to the United States also went up 6% and were worth 2.9 billion while those to Asian markets rose 8% to 2.8 billion and exports to African markets registered a 12% increase to 1.1 billion. record 2,700 exhibitors signed up for this year's edition of Cibus, with 400 more firms participating from last year, after the event underwent significant revamping also in view of Expo 2015, the World's Fair to be held May 1-October 31 in Milan next year.

The Expo's theme, Feeding the Planet: Energy for Life, centres on fighting famine and malnutrition worldwide through sustainable and healthy development, global cooperation and new technology. talian businesses are pinning their hopes on spin-off economic benefits from Expo. he Fiere di Parma pavilion at the World's Fair will host a reported 500 firms and 200 events. 

Florence prepares for Kardashian-West wedding

Celebrity couple celebrates with Paris pre-events

(ANSA) - Paris, May 23 - The city of Florence was preparing Friday for the arrival of American celebrities Kim Kardashian and Kanye West as the couple began pre-wedding festivities in Paris.

The reality television and hip-hop music celebrities arrived at designer Valentino Garavani's Chateau Wideville, a luxury castle about 60 kilometres outside of Paris, for a brunch with 50-some guests to kick off what has been considered a marathon wedding event. Traveling in a motorcade of sedans scented with Chanel perfume, the couple and their guests were greeted by reporters outside of the 17th-century mansion. After brunch, the wedding party went for a private visit at Versailles - reportedly, the couple's first choice of wedding venue. Kardashian, West and guests were scheduled to fly via private jet to Florence on Friday for the Saturday wedding ceremony, which could potentially net $21 million in sponsorship and photo deals. 

Japanese pop star weds Italian barman in Bari

'Strictly private' wedding for couple

(ANSA) - Polignano a Mare, May 23 - Japanese pop star Hikaru Utada wed Italian barman Francesco Calianno in a discreet ceremony on Friday in Polignano a Mari, near the southern city of Bari.

Protected by bodyguards and umbrellas, Utada arrived to the Santa Maria Assunta cathedral shielded from on-looking paparazzi, reporters and uninvited guests. Strict instructions on ceremony and party behavior were required by guests, which included a ban on photography and sharing wedding information to any news or reporting outlets. Father Gaetano Luca, Polignano's parish priest, presided over the ceremony. Celebrations follows on Friday evening at the San Lorenzo abbey in Fasano.

The 31-year-old pop star announced her engagement to the 23-year-old Calianno in February on her official website. The couple met at the Bulgari Hotel in London, where Caliano works. This is the second marriage for Utada. Born in New York, Utada made her debut at 16 with the album First Love, which with seven million copies sold still holds the record in Japan. 

Tension high, as Renzi, Grillo, Berlusconi wrap up campaigns

Premier says EP election won't alter coalition, vows to press on

(ANSA) - Rome, May 23 - Premier Matteo Renzi, 5-Star Movement (M5S) head Beppe Grillo and centre-right leader Silvio Berlusconi on Friday made their final appeals for votes in Sunday's European elections at the end of a particularly bitter campaign, even by Italian standards. Grillo has predicted his anti-establishment, Euroskeptic M5S, whose stated aim is to destroy the current party system, will win the vote and that Democratic Party (PD) leader Renzi will suffer a political "lupara bianca" - a term used to refer to a mafia hit that leaves no trace of evidence - as a result.

Berlusconi, whose opposition Forza Italia (FI) party was trailing well behind the centre-left PD and the M5S before a pre-election ban on the publication of opinion polls kicked in two weeks ago, has repeatedly compared Grillo to Hitler. The three-time premier also called Grillo, who expects the M5S to do even better than the 25% of votes it claimed at last year's inconclusive general election, a "killer", referring to a 1980 manslaughter conviction for a car accident in which the comedian-turned-politician was the driver and three people died.

Grillo, meanwhile, at one stage said that Berlusconi's poodle should be chopped up, before backtracking by saying he didn't want vivisection for the animal but for his owner. Adding to the tension is Grillo's threat to lead hordes of M5S supporters in Rome next week to demand new national elections and the resignation of President Giorgio Napolitano, who he says is not a fair arbiter of Italian politics, if his movement comes first. "Grillo isn't funny any more, he's scary," Berlusconi said Friday, adding that Italians would be better not voting at all rather than voting for the M5S. "There's a risk of disturbing public disorder if he wins. "Authoritarian regimes were born in the same economic conditions as today. He's not a tin-pot dictator, he wants to destroy everything".

Renzi, meanwhile, has sought to portray himself as the man who is trying to turn the country around. He has said Sunday's vote is a "derby" match "between those who think the future of Italy is evoking terror and bet on defeat" and those "how are putting ourselves on the line and trying to change things".

Renzi has embarked on an ambitious programme of institutional and economic reforms since unseating his PD colleague Enrico Letta in February to become Italy's youngest premier at 39. These include a drive to change the Constitution and transform the Senate into a leaner assembly of local-government representatives with limited lawmaking powers as part of an overhaul of the country's slow, costly political machinery. He defended the record of his government in its first 80-days at a press conference on Friday, saying the introduction of a 80-euro tax bonus per month for low earners would boost Italy's recovery from its longest post-war recession. "Those who think that we have done publicity interventions for the first 80 days will have to think again," he said. "It's only by lowering taxes that Italy will be saved".

The PD had a big lead in the most-recent polls, but Grillo is confident his M5S can come first with a late surge. The premier has stressed that government will "keep going" even if the PD does not come first on Sunday.

Grillo, meanwhile, said the M5S represents the "Plan B" for the Europe. "Communism didn't work. Capitalism is what we have now and it doesn't come with democracy. We are Europe's plan B," Grillo told a rally in Rome to close his campaign. Grillo is a extremely critical of the European Union and wants a referendum on whether Italy should stop having the euro as it currency. But the M5S has spurned links to other Euroskeptic parties, such as the Northern League in Italy and the Front National (FN) in France. 

Govt confirms Italian photojournalist killed in Ukraine

30-year-old loses life in Slavyansk

(ANSA) - Rome, May 25 - The foreign ministry in Rome on Sunday confirmed that an Italian photoreporter, Andrea 'Andy' Rocchelli, had been killed in eastern Ukraine along with his Russian interpreter Andrey Mironov.

The 30-year-old, who had recently become a father, was killed on Saturday in Slavyansk, the theatre of some of the most intense fighting in recent weeks between Ukraine government forces and pro-Russia separatists. Representatives of the separatists said the pair were probably killed by mortar fire from government forces. Italian Foreign Minister Federica Mogherini expressed condolences to the families of the dead men and called on the Ukraine government to establish what happened. 

Le Pen appeals to Grillo to 'join us'

Front National leader says Euroskeptics must join forces

(ANSA) - Nanterre, May 25 - Marine Le Pen on Sunday urged Beppe Grillo's anti-establishment 5-Star Movement (M5S) to start cooperating with her far-right, Euroskeptic Front National (FN), which is poised to be France's top party in the European elections.

Grillo is extremely critical of the European Union and wants a referendum on whether Italy should stop having the euro as it currency. But his Internet-based M5S has so far spurned links to other Euroskeptic parties, unlike Italy's regionalist, anti-immigrant Northern League, which has opened up a partnership with the FN. "Join us," Le Pen said in response to a question from ANSA about what she had to say to Grillo's movement.

"Everyone who is in favour of liberty and independence and against the European Union must join us. "The European Union must give back what it has stolen, with weakness, cowardice and betrayal by the European elite. It must give back sovereignty to the people. We have to build another Europe".