giovedì 26 giugno 2014

Italian firm to make giant magnets for ITER reactor

Massive international reactor being assembled in France

(ANSA) - Rome, June 26 - The European Union's Fusion for Energy (F4E) organization has signed a five-year, one-billion-euro contract with Italian high-tech engineering company Simic SpA to produce key components of ITER, a massive nuclear fusion reactor being assembled in the south of France, F4E said in a statement Wednesday.

ITER ("the way" in Latin) is a large-scale scientific experiment to try to harness fusion energy as a sustainable long-term alternative to fossil fuels. Born at the Geneva Superpower Summit in November 1985, the ITER agreement was officially signed by China, the EU, Japan, India, Russia, South Korea, and the United States in France in 2006. Together, these seven partners represent over half of the world's population. Simic will produce 10 toroidal field coils, or gigantic superconducting magnets whose main task will be to create a magnetic cage within which to confine the reactor's superhot plasma, whose temperature is expected to reach 150 million degrees Celsius.

The challenge is to keep it burning without letting it touch the walls of the reactor. Each TF coil is 15 meters high, nine meters wide and 1.2 meters across. It weighs approximately 340 tonnes, the same as six Boeing 737-800 planes. Together, the reactor's 18 TF coils will produce a magnetic field equal to 11.8 Tesla, or one million times as powerful as the Earth's magnetic field, according to F4E. Europe is responsible for manufacturing 10 out of ITER's 18 TF coils. "This is an impressive achievement that enhances the proven track record of our company and places Italian manufacturing among the most skilled in the world", said Simic Commercial Manager Marianna Ginola.

"Thanks to this contract, the last and most decisive chapter of the TF coils manufacturing is about to be written. We will produce magnets of unprecedented size and power, following extremely complex techniques", said F4E Director Henrik Bindslev. Based in Barcelona, F4E was established under the Euratom Treaty by the European Council in 2007 for a period of 35 years. 

Italian cosmetics exports booming in spite of crisis

'Safe, effective, and fashionable' says industry association

(ANSA) - Rome, June 25 - Italian cosmetics exports are thriving in spite of the economic downturn, Cosmetica Italia national makeup association said Wednesday.

The industry posted 3.176 million euros in exports in 2013, up by 11% over the previous year and equal to 34.2% of total turnover. This is because Italian cosmetics have a reputation as being safe, effective, and fashionable, according to Cosmetica. ''The most-loved product was eau de Cologne, with total sales of 558 million euros, up 14% in 2013'', said Cosmetica President Fabio Rossello.

Among these is Acqua di Parma, which launched its product in Indonesia in April and is being used by exclusive seven-star hotels and boutiques, according to Italian foreign trade commission ICE.

Cologne was followed by beauty creams with 565 million euros in sales and growth of 4.7%, while makeup exports went from 183 million euros in 2010 to 286 million in 2013, up 8.9%. "The export growth doesn't just depend on a global consumer recovery but also on quality, the safety of our formulas, constant investment in research and innovation, and our capacity to satisfy consumers in different continents'', Rossello explained. The Italian cosmetics industry is made up of 1,500 firms, 1,000 of them exporters, according to ICE. 

hurch 'must deal with unmarried couples, divorced'

Many Catholics struggle to accept doctrine, says synod document

Vatican City, June 26 - The Catholic Church must find answers over how it deals with unmarried couples, people who are divorced, those who have married more than once and single parents, according the Instrumentum Laboris document that the Vatican has prepared ahead of an extraordinary synod of bishops on the family in October. The document added that many Catholics "show difficulties" in accepting the Church's doctrine on "birth control, divorce...

homosexuality, unmarried couples, faithfulness, sex before marriage and in vitro fertilization". The Instrumentum Laboris was compiled on the basis of feedback the Vatican gathered ahead of the October 5-19 synod on "the pastoral challenges of the family in the context of evangelisation". It said that "in areas of strong secularization, in general couples do not consider the use of contraceptive measures to be a sin" even though the Catholic Church says it is. "As a consequence they tend not to make it a subject of confession and take the Eucharist without any problems," it said.

The document added that the faithful still considered abortion an "extremely serious sin" and "always a subject of confession". It said that while the Catholic Church should not recognise gay unions, it should baptize children living with homosexual parents if those parents request it. The document said that bishops conferences all over the world were against "legislation that allows unions of people of the same sex". But it added that if people belonging to those gay couples requested that their children be baptized, the Church should welcome them "with the same care, tenderness and concern that other children receive". 

Air France, KLM may consider raising stake in Alitalia

Says deal between Italian airline, Etihad 'positive'

(ANSA) - Milan, June 26 - The chief executive officer of Air France-KLM said Thursday that the carrier may eventually consider increasing its investment in Alitalia. Alexandre de Juniac said that boosting its stake in code-share partner Alitalia is not a priority at the moment but that he will watch the present deal shaping up between the Italian airline and Etihad Airways of the United Arab Emirates, Bloomberg reported. Etihad is expected to invest as much as 560 million euros in the struggling Alitalia in exchange for a 49% stake.

The two airlines have confirmed the deal, pending regulatory approval and other steps, and de Juniac said Air France-KLM sees the arrangement as "positive". "We have always said that we could look at it with favor," de Juniac told French radio, according to Bloomberg. "We could consider an increase in our share, but it is not a priority at the moment".

Last fall, Air France-KLM considered boosting its then-25% share in Alitalia, but was not able to reach a deal with the Italian carrier on issues such the size of its debt and staffing levels. Since then, the Air France-KLM stake has dwindled to about 7% but it remains in an eight-year partnership with Alitalia signed in 2009. 

Soccer: Suarez banned for nine games, four months

Uruguay striker bit Italy's Chiellini

(ANSA) - Rome, June 26 - FIFA said Thursday that it has banned Uruguay striker Luis Suarez for nine international matches and suspended him from all football activity for four months for biting Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini in his side's 1-0 win at the World Cup on Tuesday. TV replays showed Suarez sink his teeth into Chiellini's shoulder in an off-the-ball incident. The Juventus centre-back had teeth marks to show he was bitten.

The incident took place shortly before Uruguay defender Diego Godin scored the goal that ensured the South America side would win the decisive Group D match and progress to the last 16, while Italy were sent packing.

Liverpool striker Suarez's third ban for biting means he will take no further part in the World Cup in Brazil. He was also fined 100,000 Swiss Francs. "Such behaviour cannot be tolerated on any football pitch, and in particular not at a FIFA World Cup when the eyes of millions of people are on the stars on the field," said Claudio Sulser, chairman of the FIFA Disciplinary Committee.

Suarez was also banned for 10 games last year after biting Chelsea's Branislav Ivanovic in a Premier League match and in 2010 he was suspended for seven games for a similar offence against PSV Eindhoven's Otman Bakkal while playing for Ajax Amsterdam. Italy were furious at the referee for missing the biting incident and for his 59th-minute sending off of midfielder Claudio Marchisio for a dangerous challenge.

Most Italian commentators say the foul was a yellow-card offence at the most, although replays did show Marchisio's studs land on the leg of Uruguay's Egidio Arevalo Rios. The Azzurri's early exit from the World Cup prompted coach Cesare Prandelli and Italian Soccer Federation President Giancarlo Abete to quit. The squad returned to Italy on Thursday.

Health reform agreement to shore up ministry and funding

'I am very satisfied,' says Lorenzin

(ANSA) - Rome, June 26 - The Italian health minister announced Thursday that an agreement dubbed the Health Covenant for public healthcare reform and funding had been finalized with the consensus of regional public health representatives and the Italian economy ministry. "I am very satisfied," said Health Minister Beatrice Lorenzin. "It will truly be a decisive step for guaranteeing the sustainability of our health system for the next 15-20 years".

Lorenzin explained that total consensus was reached among all 20 regional public health representatives and the economy ministry "after 15 days of non-stop meetings". She said all that was missing for the agreement to move forward was the approval of Italy's regional governors. "I hope that next week there are no surprises and that this extremely important reform can go through, which reorganizes planning for the next three years and solves a number of problems left open and unresolved in recent years in the national health system".

The agreement gives greater powers to the health ministry, who will become less dependent on economy ministry for taking action. It also foresees that all money saved through reforms and efficiencies introduced will be reinvested in public healthcare, not given over to other national budget considerations. As of Wednesday, agreement appeared imminent to increase the national healthcare budget from 109.9 billion euros in 2014 to 112 billion euros in 2015 and 115.4 billion in 2016.

Lorenzin told the Senate Thursday that 900 million euros over the three years 2014-2016 would be designated to updating basic levels of healthcare, and that the budget allocation would be made by September 30. Co-payments for health treatment will be based on patient income and family size. For low income patients under a certain threshold, public healthcare will cost nothing. Vigilance over pharmaceutical prices for public health will be overseen by an "observatory" of regional representatives.

The pharmaceutical watchdog agency AIFA will delineate categories for homogeneous treatments to prevent regions from creating and following their own separate, divergent criteria. The pact also foresees the reorganization of Italian pharmaceutical agency AIFA, the national health system development agency Agenas and the national health institute ISS. Regional Affairs Minister Maria Concetta Lanzetta said Wednesday she would guarantee that the agreement foresaw regional healthcare budget deficits dealt with through restructuring and efficiency measures rather than straight spending cuts. 

Gabrielli calls for immediate removal of Costa Concordia

MP Matteoli characterizes towing to Genoa as ill-advised

(ANSA) - Grosseto, June 26 - Italian Emergency Commissioner Franco Gabrielli on Thursday urged the prompt removal of the Costa Concordia shipwreck from the Tuscan island where it smashed into rocks in January 2012.

Gabrielli told residents of the island of Giglio, who have endured living with the Costa Concordia shipwreck, that the carcass of the cruiser "must leave as soon as possible" and promised that it could be towed away as soon as clearance is granted the cabinet of ministers, expected Monday. The decision was sent to the national cabinet of Premier Matteo Renzi after a meeting on Wednesday that was supposed to approve the transfer of the Costa Concordia for dismantlement and disposal in Genoa failed to reach consensus.

Costa Cruises, the regional government of Tuscany, and the province of Grosseto voted against the transfer during a meeting called by Gabrielli. But another 17 parties voted in favour of the removal, including the administration of the island of Giglio.

President of the parliamentary commission on public works and transport, Altero Matteoli, said the wreck should be taken to the nearby Tuscan port of Piombino rather than Genoa and called for further study of the logistics of transferring the ship. The MP, who is a former infrastructure minister under ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi and a member of the centre-right Forza Italia (FI) party, said it would take at least a week to tow the wreck up to Genoa and transport might be delayed or endangered by adverse weather conditions.

Leopardi manuscript pulled from auction

Questions surround authenticity of 'The Infinite'

(ANSA) - Ancona, June 26 - A manuscript of Giacomo Leopardi's famous poem The Infinite was pulled from auction in Rome on Thursday, possibly for questions of authenticity. The early-19th-century poem of the Romantic's yearning to travel was put on the block with a starting bid of 150,000 euros by Minerva Auctions. The news of its withdrawal was announced by the culture assessor of the central Marche region, where Leopardi was from. It was unclear if the manuscript simply found no bidders or if concerns were raised about whether it came from Leopardi's hand. "It earned us time to deeply analyze the manuscript," said Marche Councilor Pietro Marcolini.

Two other confirmed manuscripts of the poem are known to exist in Naples and Visso, in Marche. The manuscript up for auction was discovered by the culture director in the town of Cingoli, Marche among the papers of a private collection. The Infinite Always dear to me was this solitary hill and this hedge, which, from so many parts of the far horizon, the sight excludes. But sitting and gazing endless spaces beyond it, and inhuman silences, and the deepest quiet, I fake myself in my thoughts; where almost my heart scares. As the wind I hear rustling through these trees, I, that infinite silence, to this voice keep comparing: and I feel the eternal, the dead seasons, the present, and living one, and the sound of her. So in this immensity drown my own thoughts: and sinking in this sea is sweet to me.

martedì 24 giugno 2014

Promoting young entrepreneurs ahead of Expo 2015

Under-35s for Italian, Libyan, Moroccan, and Tunisian companies

(ANSAmed) - TUNIS, JUNE 23 - The Chamber of Commerce ItalAfrica Centrale aims to foster youth employment in the Euro-Mediterranean area and support international relations for Expo Milano 2015 through selecting 115 entrepreneurs or aspiring ones under age 35 for four-month internships with Italian, Libyan, Moroccan and Tunisian partner businesses. In addition, 30 university graduates under age 35 will be chosen for collaboration with Expo 2015 and another 30 for facilitated finance projects for developing countries.

ItalAfrica Centrale has been awarded a training mission by the European Commission as part of the ENPI/2013/5 - Euro-Mediterranean young entrepreneurs - EMYE project to foster youth employment in the Euro-Mediterranean area and for training programs for the insertion of young entrepreneurs into the workforce. The project aims to promote help find positions for specialized professionals as well. ''We wanted to focus the training project on Tunisia,'' ANSAmed was told by Alfredo Cestari, the head of the Chamber of Commerce ItalAfrica Centrale, ''since we believe that the productive and institutional fabric of the country - on its way towards lasting socio-political stability - is ready to develop joint business initiatives with Italian counterparts. The project aims to ensure the promotion of youth employment in the Euro-Med area.'' He went on to say that the aim is to encourage and support the setting up of new businesses and entrepreneurial initiatives in the area through interaction and an exchange of experience and professional skills between those active in the northern Mediterranean and those in the southern part.

The training is open to all those who - even simply on the basis of a project idea - envisage entrepreneurial development based on the involvement of the productive spheres of the countries involved. Cestari added that ''to this end, the training is meant to be useful and inclusive. Commitment by ItalAfrica Centrale, the European Commission and the institutions involved with which ItalAfrica has signed collaboration agreements will ensure its feasibility. For Tunisia, this body is the Tunis Chamber of Commerce and Industry, which will also be tasked with selecting the young Tunisian entrepreneurs.''

NYC cop killer maybe uncovered 100 years later in Palermo

Joe Petrosino, pioneering anti-Mafia officer, shot in 1909

(ANSA) - Palermo, June 23 - Italian police may have uncovered who was behind the infamous murder over 100 years ago of Italian-American New York City police officer Joe Petrosino, it emerged Monday after police arrested 95 suspected Mafia suspects in Palermo. Among those arrested included Domenico Palazzotto, who was caught bragging in police recordings that "the uncle of his father, Paolo Palazzotto, committed the murder of the first police officer killed in Palermo, Joe Petrosino, on behalf of Cascio Ferro" in 1909. Vito Cascio Ferro (1862-1943) was a boss of the Sicilian Cosa Nostra who also operated in the United States.

He was let off charges of assassinating Petrosino, a pioneering anti-Mafia policeman who had traveled to Palermo on a top-secret mission that was leaked to the American press. Petrosino continued on his mission despite the danger, believing the Mafia would not dare harm a member of law enforcement. While waiting to meet with someone who claimed to be an informant, Petrosino was ambushed and gunned down in Piazza Marina. Charges against the suspected assassin's heir and others arrested Monday ranged from extorsion and association in a criminal network, in the towns of Resuttana and San Lorenzo. Police code-named the operation Apocalypse. 

French composer Desplat to chair Venice Film Fest jury

'Italian cinema my biggest influence' says Oscar nominee

(ANSA) - Venice, June 23 - Award-winning French composer Alexandre Desplat was named president of the International Jury for the Competition section of the 71st Venice International Film Festival on Monday. "Alexandre Desplat is not only one of the great contemporary composers of film scores, but a passionate cinephile, whose extraordinary artistic sensitivity is complemented by a deep knowledge of cinema, its history, its language", Venice Film Festival Director Alberto Barbera said.

Desplat is a six-time Academy-award nominee for The Queen, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Fantastic Mr. Fox, The King's Speech, Argo, Philomena, as well a winner of a BAFTA, Golden Globe, three Cèsars (the national film award of France) and two European Film awards. "It is a great honor and a daunting responsibility to be president of the jury of such a prestigious festival. Italian cinema has influenced both my taste and my music more than anything else and I'm proud to come to the Venice Film Festival the year following Bernardo Bertolucci," Desplat said. The Venice Film Festival takes place from August 27 to September 6, with Desplat and jury presenting awards, including the coveted Golden Lion for best film, on September 6. 

Fashion icon Armani wants to bring prestige to Milan Expo

'Silos Armani' will be a 'kind of Tate Gallery'

(ANSA) - Milan, June 23 - Italian designer Giorgio Armani is planning on bringing prestige to Milan Expo 2015 in the form of a mega-park and archive, in spite of worries about the upcoming World's Fair's organization.

The Milan designer is in the process of transforming the more than 24,000-square-meter former Nestlè factory into Silos Armani, an archive collection with an exhibition timed to the Expo's opening next spring. "I hope we'll be able to open it for May 2015, it is an important thing, not only a museum, but a kind of Tate Gallery", the designer told ANSA, adding "Aren't we all worried about making fools of ourselves?" Expo has been the center of a scandal since last month with several high-profile arrests were made over alleged corruption on contracts.

Meanwhile regional officials have warned that the event risks opening behind schedule. According to Armani, the goal of Silos Armani is to bring "prestige" to Milan, where his career began. The privately organized Silos Armani will coordinate with the city of Milan on daily openings, not to exceed more than "a few days weekly". 

Florence opens 20th century museum

'No longer city of the past', mayor says

(ANSA) - Florence, June 23 - Florence is "no longer a city of the past", Mayor of Florence Dario Nardella, told audiences at press conference on Monday for the inauguration of 20th Century Museum, the city's newest modern art museum. "After 50 years of waiting, Florence will have its museum of the Twentieth Century: a must-have in a city that wants to rely more and more on the contemporary and wants to be a national model for a new way of conceiving cultural heritage", Nardella said at the press conference.

The 20th Century museum, which was inaugurated on Monday, is housed in the former Leopoldine convent and hospital at the Piazza Santa Maria Novella, an 800 square meter space. The collection includes 300 paintings, sculptures, videos and installations by world-recognized Italian artists such as Giorgio de Chirico, Fortunato Depero, Alberto Moretti, Giorgio Morandi, Lucio Fontana and Carlo Carrà.

The 20th century museum, along with a national photography museum and restoration to Florence's basilica, represents the culmination of a decade-long commitment with Florentine financial bank Ente Cassa di Risparmio di Firenze for the redevelopment of the piazza area, an over six million euros project. "Florence can no longer be considered a cradle of the past, without worrying about renovating itself", Nadella said As part of its event partnership with Lotto, Italy's state-run lottery, the museum "will offer free guided visits, family workshops and musical entertainment on June 28 and 29" Marzia Mastrogiacomo, director of Lotto, said. 

Franceschini says Pompeii 'essential service'

Move made to ban strikes at national archaeological site

(ANSA) - Rome, June 23 - Culture Minister Dario Franceschini on Monday said he would add Italian museums and archaeological sites to the list of public places declared essential, making it harder for their workers to strike.

"It seems to me indisputable that archeological museums and sites are essential public services and are of great value and importance," said Franceschini. He spoke after workers mounted a demonstration that blocked the entrance to the world-famous archaeological site of Pompeii for a few hours earlier in the day. It was re-opened to visitors after unions representing striking staff agreed to meet with State officials on Friday.

Franceschini said that step was "certainly positive" but warned that strikes do too much damage to the image of archaeological site which, in turn, "threatens to undermine the hard work" on Pompeii at all levels.

He said that the new standard would mean strikers could be ordered back to work in "exceptional cases". Massimo Osanna, superintendent of Pompeii, said management wants to work "to return to normalcy" regarding agreements with local unions. 

Shorts surprise at Pitti Uomo

Designers redefine formal wear for young urban target

(ANSA) - Florence, June 23 - As the 86th Pitti Uomo trade fair closed Saturday after five days of shows and parties to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Florentine center for Italian fashion, the recognized birthplace of all things made in Italy, a new mood and a new look emerged: a preponderance of shorts worn with extremely fitted blazers, all in assertive colors, signaling that a certain optimism and flair have made a comeback. Postwar periods of yesteryear saw women's skirts shortening to save on fabric. But this time, in terms of menwear, the story is different.

Although economic times continue rough the world over, this particular shift could be a harbinger, not of a lack of raw material, but rather of a shift in taste and customs demanding that men put their bodies on display, and perhaps also of the tropicalization of weather through planetary climate change. The new client identified by the companies showing at Pitti Uomo is young, trendy, particular about details, and fussy about the care of his body: the fair's main pavilion even dedicated an area to a barbershop installed by the century-old barber supply company Proraso.

Shorts dominated the runway of Au Jour Le Jour Garcon, a collection designed by the new enfants terribles of fashion, Mirko Fontana and Diego Marquez. Hosted by Pitti Italics, they seated their public in a former customs warehouse, at genuine school desks lent by a Florence high school. Au Jour Le Jour's imaginary of a "schoolboy" was both playful and refined, choosing shorts below jackets printed with toy cars, the letters of the alphabet, lions, jellyfish, and rhinoceroses. Theirs is a fellow both retro and tongue-in-cheek, whose wardrobe favors tailored suits in fabrics stolen from women's couture, in a palette of brilliant reds, greens, and yellows, with a dash of sequins jazzing it all up in a mischievous masculine-feminine mix. Likewise, the guest designer at this edition of Pitti Uomo, the Trivero Group's Z ZEGNA, turned out a collection by designing duo Murray Scallon and Paul Surridge targeting the active urban dweller: both formal and experimental, elegant and high-tech, tailored and sporty, it features slim-fitting trousers and Bermuda shorts paired with tailored jackets as well as parkas - all in lightweight fabrics, including high-performance wools, technical cottons and advanced sportswear. The palette was cement and carbon with a dash of jade green, citrus yellow, and royal blue, and of course, black and white.

Italian manufacturing company Lardini placed itself in the hands of Kansas-born designer and Instagram sartorial style icon Nickelson Wooster, also known in the blogosphere as the WoostGod. A former fashion director at Bergdorf Goodman and Neiman Marcus, Wooster is slated to become the brand's ambassador to the United States. Based on the concept of "imperfection," his collection of jackets and trousers, some shorts and a variety of accessories featured crisp shirts in mixed fabrics under narrow, single-button jackets in bold stripes and polka dots, paired with everything from below-the-knee Bermudas in excessive volumes to dropped-crotch Ghurkas. 

Pope excommunicates mafiosi as police arrest 95

Francis visits Calabria region hit hard by organized crime

(ANSA) - Rome, June 23 - Police arrested 95 suspected Mafia figures in Palermo Monday on suspicion of involvement in extortion and other crimes, soon after Pope Francis announced the excommunication of all mafiosi. Investigators said they had identified leaders of a widespread gang involved in construction, real estate, and moving companies that allegedly drove out competition and suffocated the local economy.

The police sweep, dubbed Apocalypse, came on the heels of a visit to the nearby region of Calabria by the pope, who issued one of the strongest condemnations of organized crime heard from a pontiff in years. Francis accused criminal groups of the "adoration of evil" during a Mass on the plains of the small town of Sibari in Calabria, a region that has been racked by violence, corruption and mafia activity. Police have said that the Calabria-based 'Ndrangheta mafia has become the most powerful of Italy's mafias for its virtual stranglehold on the European cocaine trade.

Italians were particularly horrified this spring by the murder of a three-year-old boy in an indiscriminate revenge hit by a mafia clan. The charred remains of tiny toddler Nicola Campolongo, nicknamed Coco, were discovered in a burned-out car in the Calabrian town of Cassano allo Ionio. Organizers of the papal Mass in Sibari suggested as many as 200,000 people gathered under a hot sun to hear the pope condemn the violence around them. "Your land, which so beautiful, knows the signs of the consequences of this sin," said Francis during his Saturday visit to the region. "This evil must be fought, must be expelled".

He called on the local church to drive itself even more "so that good can prevail". "Our children ask this of us," he added. Francis has previously warned the mafia that their power and money are "dirty" and that hell awaits if they continue on their criminal path. "The power, the money that you have now from...mafia crimes is blood money and you cannot take it to the next life," Francis said in March during a memorial day for victims of crime. 

Italy wants room for growth, Merkel seems to bend

Hopes rising that Germany willing to relax on stimulus spending

(ANSA) - Rome, June 23 - Hope was growing Monday in Italy that some room for stimulus spending may be created within European Union budget rules when leaders meet later this week, after German Chancellor Angela Merkel signaled an opening.

Leaders from across the EU will meet on Thursday and Friday, first in the Belgian city of Ypres and later in Brussels where they will not only nominate a new president for the European Commission but also consider the future of eurozone fiscal rules. The summit may mark a "turning point" from a sustained emphasis on austerity to policies more oriented towards encouraging growth, Foreign Minister Federica Mogherini said Monday.

She spoke after German Chancellor Angela Merkel signaled an opening towards growth-stoking spending, an idea Mogherini said had been promoted by Italian Premier Matteo Renzi and Economy Minister Pier Carlo Padoan. A spokesman for Merkel said that she is "open" to greater flexibility within the EU's stability pact, so long as the basic rules are obeyed. Merkel also believes that the rules permit consideration for "negative economic cycles" as well as investments for structural reforms, added spokesman Steffan Seibert.

This would allow more flexibility into the pact, which basically requires member States to maintain their budget deficits within 3% of their total gross domestic product (GDP). "But it must be observed, credibility of the pact comes from compliance with the rules," said Seibert. Merkel had previously said that the pact should not be changed, but Renzi and other countries, including France, have argued that flexibility could be found inside the rules for such measures as increased investment spending to stimulate economic growth. Earlier in the day, Italy called on the European Union to "encourage structural reforms on the national level...because they are the principal engine of growth". In a letter to European Council President Herman Van Rompuy seen by ANSA, the Italian government said such reforms were especially effective when "contemporaneous with other countries".

Italy has been working closely with Van Rompuy preparing for this summit, as it will hold the six-month rotating presidency of the EU beginning next month. The issues of jobs and growth "should be put at the top of the agenda" for the EU leaders summit, according to Padoan and Henk Kamp, minister for economic affairs for the Netherlands after the pair met Monday in Rome.

Italy in particular has been struggling hard to pull itself out of its worst recession since the Second World War. Renzi's government has come up with a range of measures and reforms to try to help households and businesses to get back on their feet and to kick-start the economy. 

Mogherini candidature as EU foreign minister 'a hypothesis'

Netherlands supports Mogherini to succeed Baroness Ashton

(ANSA) Luxembourg, June 23 - Italian Foreign Minister Federica Mogherini acknowledged Monday her possible candidature to become High Representative for European Foreign Policy "is a hypothesis" under consideration by Premier Matteo Renzi's government.

"As far as the hypothesis about me is concerned, it is a hypothesis," she told reporters. However she added that "I am focussed on doing what is my job at the moment, which is very beautiful and very demanding and makes me proud: being foreign minister of the Italian republic, I am concentrating on that". Earlier her Dutch counterpart, Frans Timmermans, told reporters that "without doubt" Mogherini "is a good candidate" to replace Britain's Baroness Catherine Ashton. 

Google Art wants to showcase Sistine Chapel

Sistine Chapel is Google creator's 'secret fantasy'

(ANSA) - Florence, June 23 - Google creative head Amit Sood dreams of bringing Rome's Sistine Chapel into the virtual walls of the innovative Google Art Project. "My secret fantasy? To bring the Sistine chapel to Google Art," Sood, founder of Google Art Project and Director at Google Cultural Institute, said when asked about the project's plans for the future which has already seen the inclusion of 345 cultural heritage partners including Florence's Uffizi Museum, Rome's Capitoline Museums and Venice's Doge's Palace, as well as Tate London, Versaille Palace and the White House.

Sood would like to add Michelangelo's photography-restricted masterpiece to the 110 museums that users can "walk through", via an indoor version of Google's Street View, a technology that provides panoramic views from positions along streets and inside museums, as well as add it to personalized Google art collection. "Our visitors are passionate about art, but also curious. They can add text, video and anyone can create their own collection by artist, era, taste. We already have 460,000 user galleries", Sood said.

Launched in 2011 as a virtual and user-interact museum to catalogue artifacts and landmarks, with Florence's Uffizi Gallery as one of its very first partners, Google Art Project is now an enhanced and interactive virtual museum of 63 million pieces and a traffic volume of 19 million users who can go on gallery and site tours, view artwork at microscopic levels and listen and watch educational content. "When the project launched, many feared that the public would stop physically going to museums. Instead, there has never been such a high attendance as today. And the trend is still growing, because when you admire something online, then you want to live the emotional experience in person, with your own eyes," Sood said.

With contributor experience playing a key part in the project, Sood encourages user interaction with monuments, museums, and cultural projects. Earlier this month, Google unveiled its Street Art project at Rome's Ara Pacis museum where users can walk up to and around different pieces. Street Art is a collaborative project with 30 partners, showcasing murals in 15 countries by international artists including Italian artists Agostino Iacurci and duo StenLex.

The next phase of the Google Art Project line-up may just be Rome's archaeological sites, according to Sood. "The next goal will be 3D, to be used in all the museums, even in the archaeological sites of Rome. I think the museum of the future will be closely tied to physical and digital exhibitions", Sood said. 

Rome mayor denies Rolling Stones undercharged for concert

Northern League says low fee 'slap in the face' by Rome

(ANSA) Rome, June 23 - Rome Mayor Ignazio Marino came under fire Monday for renting the Circus Maximus to the Rolling Stones for just 8000 euros a short time after asking the central government to bail out the Eternal City administration.

Northern League MP Marco Rondini said his opposition party will table a parliamentary question on whether the symbolic price charged for using the ancient Roman charioteers' racecourse for the British group's concert on Sunday constitutes damages to the Italian treasury. "This free gift by the mayor of Rome is a slap in the face for citizens of other cities obliged to pay for the deep hole in Rome's finances caused by incomprehensible choices like this," Rondini claimed.

Marino defended the price saying that the costs of the concert were paid for entirely by the Rolling Stones and that the concert brought 50,000 people to Rome from outside the city who spent money in restaurants, hotels and museums. The Rolling Stones left Rome's Ciampino Airport Monday for Oslo aboard a Boeing 737.