sabato 5 luglio 2014

Screenwriter Francesco Piccolo wins Strega Prize

Author of Human Capital script scoops Italy's top book award

(ANSA) - Rome, July 4 - Francesco Piccolo won the 68th Strega book prize Thursday night with his bittersweet memoir of life on the Italian Left, 'Il desiderio di essere come tutti' (The Desire To Be Like Everyone), published by Einaudi.

Caserta-born novelist and screenwriter Piccolo, 50, won by just five votes over Antonio Scurati with 'Il padre infedele' (The Faithless Father), published by Bompiani. It was the second near miss by Scurati who in 2009 lost to Tiziano Scarpa by a single vote. "I dedicate this to my wife, Gabriella, to Einaudi and Caserta," said Piccolo, who earlier this year scooped an Italian Oscar, a David di Donatello, for the screenplay to Paolo Virzi's acclaimed 'Il capitale umano' (Human Capital).

Last year's winner was Walter Siti with his seventh novel, Resistere Non Serve A Niente (It's No Use Resisting). In 2012 the prize went to Alessandro Piperno with Inseparabili (Inseparable). The Strega is perhaps the most high-brow of Italy's three big book awards. The others are the Viareggio and Campiello prizes.

Recent winners of the Strega have included Niccolo' Ammanati, Maurizio Maggiani and Sandro Veronesi. Of these, Ammanati is perhaps the best known abroad because of his 2001 cult thriller Io non ho paura (I'm Not Scared) which was turned into a 2003 film of the same name by Oscar-winning director Gabriele Salvatores. The Einaudi publishing house was founded by Giulio Einaudi, the son of Italy's first president, in 1933 and published some of Italy's best-known authors. It was also the first house to publish Boris Pasternak's Doctor Zhivago, in 1957, when the famous novel was banned in the Soviet Union.

The Strega prize was founded in 1947 by author Maria Bellonci (1902-1986). Bellonci, best-known for her successful biographies of historical figures like Marco Polo and Lucretia Borgia, wanted to encourage literary freedom of expression after its repression under Fascism.

The name Strega, which means witch in Italian, refers to the prize's sponsors, producers of the famed yellow liqueur of the same name. Past winners include Cesare Pavese, Alberto Moravia, Giorgio Bassani, Elsa Morante, Dino Buzzati, Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa, Carlo Cassola, Natalia Ginzburg, Primo Levi, Umberto Eco and Gesualdo Bufalino. In the past, the Strega prize has been marked by controversy. There have sometimes been rowdy arguments involving publishers and writers and even allegations of vote rigging. 

Italy out to give EU 'hope, passion' during presidency-Renzi

Barroso says EC fully supports Rome's reforms

(ANSA) - Rome, July 4 - The chief goal of Italy's duty presidency of the EU is to restore "hope, passion and enthusiasm in EU citizens, who are our stakeholders, the reason we work," Premier Matteo Renzi said after meeting European Commission chief José Manuel Barroso in Rome Friday.

Barroso led a EC delegation visiting Rome after Renzi kicked off Italy's six-month presidency with an address to the European Parliament on Wednesday. During that speech Renzi said that if the EU took a selfie today it would show "fatigue, resignation and boredom" and he reiterated his call for the union to focus on promoting growth and fighting unemployment after years of painful austerity. The speech drew criticism from members of the centre-right European People's Party (EPP) and from the Bundesbank, which are against Renzi's drive for greater flexibility in the implementation of the EU's budget rules.

Renzi, the leader of the centre-left Democratic Party (PD), replied Friday by saying that the EU belongs to its citizens, "not the bankers, neither Italian or German ones". "Italy did not request flexibility. Europe needs flexibility, not Italy. What Italy needs is reform, which is what we are doing," Renzi added, referring to the ambitious reform programme his government has embarked on. Barroso said the EC fully supported Renzi's drive and said the EU needed his "enthusiasm" and "passion". "We need a strong Italy for a strong Europe," he added. But Barroso also said that the EU was not imposing reforms as Italy needed these anyway.

He also stressed that Italy had not won any changes on fiscal rules at last week's EU summit, just clarification that all the existing scope for flexibility in the budget regulations should be used. "Flexibility was increased when we revised the Growth and Stability pact. The reform is already there but within full respect of the pact, as sanctioned by our treaties," Barroso said. 

venerdì 4 luglio 2014

Fugitive Russian tycoon Yuriy Megel nabbed on Ligurian coast

Former Naftogaz MD arrested in Cinque Terre hotel

(ANSA) La Spezia, July 4 - Fugitive Russian magnate Yuriy Megul was arrested by Italian police on the Ligurian coast Friday on charges of fraud and tax evasion, ending a five year hunt by Interpol, police said. Megul, aged 41, had been managing director of numerous companies including the Ukrainian energy concern Naftogaz before he went on the run.

Police arrested the Russian at his hotel in the resort of Levanto in the tourist-famed Cinque Terre district as he was about to go to the beach together with an Austrian girlfriend, police sources said. Megul was taken to the Villa Andreino prison where he was being held pending a formal extradition request from Russian authorities. 

Renzi tells Bundesbank to butt out, all well with Merkel

Barroso says EC fully supports Rome's reforms

(ANSA) - Rome, July 4 - Premier Matteo Renzi on Friday told the Bundesbank to butt out of Italian politics while stressing that he had "excellent" relations with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Renzi sounded the warning after meeting European Commission chief José Manuel Barroso in Rome Friday for talks on Italy's six-month duty presidency of the EU. The premier launched the presidency in a speech at the European Parliament on Wednesday in which he reiterated his call for the union to focus on promoting growth and fighting unemployment after years of painful austerity.

The speech drew criticism from members of the centre-right European People's Party (EPP) and from the Bundesbank, which are against Renzi's drive for greater flexibility in the implementation of the EU's budget rules. On Thursday Bundesbank President Jens Weidmann called for "fewer words and more deeds" on Italian reforms. "The Bundesbank's job is assure that its statute goals are achieved, not to take part in the Italian political debate," Renzi, whose centre-left Democratic Party (PD) won over 40% of the vote in Italy in May's European elections, told a news conference. "The EU belongs to its citizens, not the bankers, neither Italian nor German ones".

The sparring was seen by some as highlighting different perceptions in Rome and Berlin about how far EU budget constraints can be eased to allow for growth-stoking spending. On Friday Berlin moved to play down the row, with a spokesman saying that the Bundesbank's position was not the same as the German government's. Barroso said the EC fully supported Renzi's drive and said the EU needed his "enthusiasm" and "passion". "We need a strong Italy for a strong Europe," he added. But Barroso also said that the EU was not imposing reforms as Italy needed these anyway.

He also stressed that Italy had not won any changes on fiscal rules at last week's EU summit, just clarification that all the existing scope for flexibility in the budget regulations should be used. "Flexibility was increased when we revised the Growth and Stability pact. The reform is already there but within full respect of the pact, as sanctioned by our treaties," Barroso said.

giovedì 3 luglio 2014

Culture minister visits Portus archaeological site

Wants to make it accessible to public by 2016

(ANSA) - Fiumicino, July 2 - Italy's Cultural Heritage minister Dario Franceschini and Esterino Montino, Mayor of Fiumicino, visited the 81-acre closed archaeological site 'Portus' near Fiumicino airport on Wednesday to research the possibility of making it accessible to the public by 2016.

Franceschini and Montino, together with archeological superintendent MariaRosaria Barbera, had a private tour of the imperial harbors of Claudius and Trajan, and its "jewels" such as a 2nd century hexagonal basin, third century warehouses and an early Christian basilica, as well as observing ongoing work by archaeologists as they brainstormed plans to make the closed-access sites available to visitors.

"There is no place in the world so beautiful and archaeologically important near an international airport", Franceschini said. "We absolutely will work on a project to enhance it and make it better known''. Barbera said her goals were to reach "30,000 visitors by 2016 and ensure a daily public opening. However, the need for staff, including technical supervision and human resources, is at least fivefold. Since 2007, the staff has been reduced". At present, visitors are permitted to the archaeology site by reservation on specified Saturdays and Sundays. 

Contrada del Drago wins Palio

First win since 2001 for Dragon Quarter

(ANSA) - Siena, July 3 - The Contrada del Drago (Dragon Quarter) won Siena's famous twice-yearly Palio horse race for the first time since August 2001 Wednesday night. Jockey Alberto Ricceri aka Salasso (Bloodsucker) rode grey seven-year-old gelding Oppio (Opium) to victory in the pellmell bareback contest around the Tuscan city's central piazza.

It was the third win for Ricceri, 38. Many riders and horses were nursing aches and bruises Thursday after a typically rough-and-tumble event, but no animals had to be put down. The Palio, meaning "banner", dating back to the 13th century, is one of Italy's most colourful tourist attractions although many newcomers to the event are shocked at how violent it can be and how much deep-rooted intraurban enmity it arouses.

This year's Palio looked set for trouble amid pre-race jostling that forced the 'mossiere', or starter, to call back the mounts seven times. But Ricceri's sweeping ride to leave the field straggling rather than bumping and grinding avoided major incident. Siena's iconic race, which formed the backdrop to the opening sequence of the 2007 James Bond film Quantum of Solace, takes place each year on July 2 and August 16, although some years have an extra one at the beginning of September.

Jockeys from ten of Siena's 17 'contrade' or neighbourhoods compete for the silk prize in the 90-second hurtle around the Piazza del Campo. The only rule in the competition is that the jockeys, or fantini, mustn't grab the reins of their adversaries. That means whipping a rival's horse or even knocking a jockey off his steed is allowed. Victory goes to the first horse to complete three laps of the square, even if it arrives at the finishing post without a rider.

The chaotic race in Siena's main square attracts thousands of visitors each year who are mostly oblivious to the punishment the horses take. But animal rights activists have long campaigned to get the event banned, saying it is cruel, has little to do with sporting skill and is dangerous for the horses, jockeys and spectators. More than 50 horses have died on the course since 1970. 

Convicted fraudster murdered in Rome shoot-out

Silvio Fanella linked to 2 bn euros Telecom - Fastweb fraud

(ANSA) - Rome, July 3 - A convicted fraudster was killed and a second man was seriously injured on Tuesday in a shootout in an affluent neighbourhood in Rome. Silvio Fanella, 41, was shot dead in a flat in the northern Camilluccia district after a gang allegedly comprising three people opened fire. One of the alleged gang members, Giovanni Battista Ceniti, was wounded in the leg and pelvis and is now in critical condition in hospital. Investigators say he may have been hit when Fanella returned fire.

Eyewitnesses say Ceniti was escorted out of the flat by two men who subsequently fled the scene, leaving him in the road. Police have found the car allegedly used in the getaway, a Fiat Croma that is believed to have been stolen. Last year Fanella was sentenced to nine years for transnational criminal association for money laundering in relation to a two-billion-euro fraud involving Telecom Italia Sparkle and its competitor Fastweb.

Investigators say he was the 'treasurer' of an alleged criminal organisation headed by Gennaro Mokbel, a businessman who is considered one of the masterminds of the Telecom-Fastweb fraud and for which he was sentenced to 15 years. Prosecutors also claim Fanella was the target of a planned abduction for allged theft by a criminal organisation operating in the southern region of Basilicata, but which was never carried out. On Thursday Fanella was reportedly due to attend the funeral of one of his lawyers who committed suicide recently.

Ceniti is a former activist in the northern Piedmont region of the fascist-inspired social centre CasaPound. However on Thursday CasaPound president Gianluca Iannone said he had been expelled from the movement "for inappropriate behaviour" over three years ago. 

Telefonica to pay 355 mn for Mediaset Spain's 22% DTS stake

Deal would make Telefonica sole owner of Spanish Canal+ pay TV

(ANSA) - Milan, July 3 - The Spanish division of former Italian premier Silvio Berlusconi's Mediaset empire has decided to sell its 22% share of DTS, which owns Spain's Canal+ pay-TV, to telecoms giant Telefonica for more than 355 million euros, sources said Thursday.

Telefonica will acquire total control of Spain's top pay-TV operator should the deal go through. “There is no complete and definitive agreement yet," Mediaset Espana said in a communiqué after a meeting of the board.

Telefonica in June offered Mediaset Spain 295 million euros for its 22% stake in DTS. Mediaset Espana will receive 10 million euros more if Telefonica successfully completes its acquisition of the 56% held by another company, Prisa. It could receive 20 million on top of that depending on how Canal+ performs in the four years after the acquisition of the 56% stake.

Mediaset would also be entitled to 30 million euros for waiving its right of first refusal on participation in Prisa. The Italian company's share price on the Milan stock exchange rose 4% to close at 3.65 euros a share in Thursday's trading. 

'Normcore' is the hot new trend in menswear

Bland anti-style strikes a collective chord in fashion

(ANSA) - Rome, July 3 - Somewhere between the new frontier in New York and tradition in Italian fashion capital Milan, a new definition has crept into men's wear fashion jargon - "normcore". Described as an anti-style invested in nondescript, timeless and logo-free clothes, this unheard-of concept in high fashion is conquering an unprecedented following, as the men's wear spring-summer 2015 collections in Milan have just shown - with a few obvious exceptions. The concept actually dates back to over 10 years ago.

It was conceived by science fiction author William Gibson for his logo-phobic character Cayce Pollard in Pattern Recognition. And it was Gibson's portrayal of a fastidiously casual and anonymous dresser that led New York Trend agency K-Hole to launch the term described in their Youth Mode report published in October last year as a concept that "moves away from a coolness that relies on difference to a post-authenticity that opts for sameness". Though the fad applies to both genders, it is being launched in men's wear, often at the forefront of fashion's cycles with women more prone to fall for seasonal flings with fads.

The notion of "normcore" might appear like fashion nonsense - a desire to blend in rather than stand out. Two decades ago, Mark Simpson coined the term "metrosexual" to describe "the single young man with a high disposable income, working or living in the city", predicting he was "the most promising consumer market of the decade". The metrosexuals' "out and proud male vanity" then developed more recently into a new wave of exhibitionist male consumers putting the accent on the sexual in metrosexual, widely dubbed "spornosexuals" - men who hone and pamper their bodies as the ultimate fashion accessory to be enhanced through clothing.

Meanwhile, men's wear sales have been steadily expanding and the fashion barometer has been shifting to accommodate an ever-growing market. Overall in 2013, men's wear sales grew a reported 5% worldwide, slightly outpacing women's wear, according to London-based market intelligence firm Euromonitor. Italian men's wear was worth 8.5 billion euros in 2013.

Prada, a fashion house traditionally focused on women's wear, announced in April it hopes to nearly double its men's wear sales to 1.5 billion over the next three to five years. And the general mood in men's wear just seen in Milan was a sedate, highly wearable compromise between traditional sartorial excellence and avant-garde.

Designers have taken stock of the underlying appeal of "plain" after an exhibitionist binge - exploring the power of high-end understated clothes which reflect the reality of men's lives today. The new fashion understatement at the core of "normcore" however is far from normal. It's all about quality which flirts with anonymity and styles seen on the street reproduced through exclusive design, craft and materials in such an understated way only those in the know notice.

Miuccia Prada, always at the forefront of fashion, recently said of her spring-summer 2015 collection for him and her showcased in Milan last month that it was about "taking stock of what counts" with items that are "so classic they look incredibly new".

Giorgio Armani, whose company is turning 40 next year, also just showcased a man dressed for the real world - though a few items bow to the "metrosexual" mode and bring to mind its symbol, soccer star David Beckham. The near-perfect procession of clothes in traditional shades dominated by blue seen at Florence's Pitti trade fair and Milan's men's shows was all about timeless, formal and casual staples for men who don't need to point out their status by being different.

The new mania for sneakers, for example, mixed and matched to suit any occasion - from the office to a night out on the town - has seen a wave of expensive new models designed by top fashion houses, from Valentino to Saint Laurent and Céline, openly bowing to all-time classics seen on the street for decades - from the Adidas Stan Smiths to Nike's Air Force Ones. The serious dapper mode now translates into wardrobe basics - from well-cut trousers to the popular slip-on shoes - the more luxuriously plain and detail-free the better. From tailor Lardini's well-suited gentleman to Gucci's bedevilled sailor, men next spring will be just plain unique and will have no need to shout about it. 

Jail term requested for ex-Finmeccanica boss Orsi

Six years behind bars in AgustaWestland helicopter kickback case

(ANSA) - Busto Arsizio, July 3 - Prosecutors on Thursday asked that former Finmeccanica CEO Giuseppe Orsi be sentenced to six years in prison on international corruption charges. Orsi is suspected of being involved in bribes allegedly paid to secure a 566-million-euro contract to sell 12 AW-101 helicopters made by Finmeccanica subsidiary AgustaWestland to the Indian government.

Orsi denied any wrongdoing and told the judge he had no knowledge of any malfeasance concerning the 12-helicopter deal. He also denied knowing the Tyagi family, members of which prosecutors say received bribes paid by Finmeccanica to secure the contract in India. India's Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) last year questioned former Air Force chief of staff Shashindra Pal Tyagi and his cousins, cousins Julie and Docsa Tyagi, in connection with the alleged kickbacks.

Also on Thursday, prosecutors requested a five-year prison term for Bruno Spagnolini, the former CEO of AgustaWestland, for the State to confiscate 7.5 million euros from both defendants, and for them to be banned from holding corporate office and from doing business with the public sector for three years. As well, a lawyer for Italy's inland revenue agency asked the court trying the two former Finmeccanica executives to award it damages of 8.35 million euros in moral and material damages. The Indian defence ministry is also expected to sue for damages from the pair. India froze payments on the choppers in early 2013 after only three had been procured, and cancelled the deal at the start of this year.

The trial has been adjourned to September 30. Formed in 2000, AgustaWestland is a wholly owned subsidiary of Finmeccanica and employs some 13,000 people. Finmeccanica's largest shareholder is the Italian government with a 30% stake. It employs some 63,000 people and posted profits of 74 million euros on revenue of 16 billion euros in 2013. 

mercoledì 2 luglio 2014

Re-floating top 'risk' in Concordia liner salvage operation

Director says remainder of trip to Genoa uncomplicated

(ANSA) - Giglio, July 2 - The main risk in moving the Costa Concordia from Giglio Island to Genoa for salvaging will be during the first day of refloating the cruise liner, Nick Sloane, director of the salvage operation, said Wednesday. "Whether the convoy passes north or south of Giglio Island makes no difference," he added, "we probably will choose the route the day before leaving, according to the weather and sea conditions".

The Concordia slammed into a reef off the island of Giglio in January 2012 and capsized, killing 32 people. "The real risk? The re-floating. But only the first day. The rest doesn't worry me," said Sloane, who is working with the Titan Micoperi salvage team. The "definitive" decision to begin re-floating will be taken by the "commander of the leading tug in the convoy after listening to my opinion as senior salvage master," he added.

"Based on my experience there are no great risks to take the Concordia to Genoa by sea. Not in this period. July and August are the best months. It would have been different in January or February. "The weather and sea conditions then are more complicated and the risks would be increased. Now no, the greater risks are of other kinds. "The"most critical phase is the initial one, starting the refloating. We can expect a couple of difficult days. The first day will be the most complicated when we have to refloat the wreck for the first time, lifting the ship for the first two metres. We will be on board to follow all the operations". "That is the moment that worries me most also because it is an operation that has never been attempted before. Once that obstacle is overcome, however, the voyage will not present any special complications," Sloane said. 

Mussolini's husband risks trial in teen prostitute case

Mauro Floriani among 60 clients ID'd in probe

(ANSA) - Rome, July 2 - Rome prosecutors on Wednesday said they will request indictments for some 60 men, including the husband of right-wing MP Alessandra Mussolini, on suspicion of hiring two underage prostitutes working out of an apartment in an upscale Rome neighborhood.

The statement comes a day after the courts convicted eight people, including the mother of one of the teenage hookers and including clients Gianluca Sammarone and Francesco Ferraro, who were sentenced to a year in jail. Prosecutors in March said they identified eight young women, two of them minors, as working in the teen bordello allegedly run by Army Major Corporal Nunzio Pizzacalla and pimp Mirko Ieni, a barman. Wiretaps revealed Mussolini's husband Mauro Floriani is one of the suspected johns who contacted the girls most often.

Floriani, a former finance police officer, is currently a manager at State-controlled national rail company Trenitalia. He has three children with his wife, who is the grand-daughter of Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini and has recently served as chair of a parliamentary children's rights committee. Floriani reportedly made a voluntary statement to police as to why his name was likely to show up on the girls' phone records. The underage hooker case made headlines in October when five men were arrested on suspicion of paying for sex with two girls aged 14 and 15, who studied together at the same high school in Rome.

The girls told investigators they began working in May 2013 after being lured through a social network called 'Bakeca Incontri' (Meetings Bulletin Board). They went to school in the morning and worked in the afternoon, earning up to 300 euros per client. They reportedly used part of the money to supply their pimps - including one of their mothers - with drugs. The Italian unit of international child protection agency ECPAT says there could be as many as 11,000 underage sex workers in Italy. 

Alitalia negotiations 'must be wrapped up next week'

Minister says talks with unions, banks mustn't drag on

(ANSA) - Rome, July 2 - Transport Minister Maurizio Lupi said Wednesday that all the negotiations related to Etihad's plan to buy a 49% stake in Alitalia must be completed by the end of next week. The government and Alitalia are in talks with Italian unions and banks over the conditions attached to the deal, including around 2,250 redundancies. The deal also requires restructuring Alitalia's debt, reported to be over 800 million euros. After meeting unions on Wednesday, Lupi said negotiations with all interested parties, including trade unions, the airline, creditor banks and stakeholders, must not run beyond the end of next week.

The unions so far have shown little inclination of accepting the job losses, even though they have been warned the issue is a deal-breaker. "There is no take it or leave it when the future of thousands of people are on the line," said Susanna Camusso, the head of Italy's biggest trade union confederation, the leftwing CGIL, on her way into Wednesday's talks. "It's necessary to build prospects for Alitalia and the workers". Gian Maria Gros Pietro, the chairman of the management board of Intesa Sanpaolo, which is a creditor to Alitalia as well as its biggest shareholder with a stake of around 20%, said Wednesday that it was not prepared to invest in Alitalia if trade unions do not give their full support to Etihad's business plan. "We have made our participation in the financing conditional on all problems posed by Etihad being resolved, starting with the agreement with the unions," Gros Pietro said. 

Italo-Latin American Institute focuses on Colombian women

Colombian women's collective is microcosm of Italy migrants

(ANSA) Rome, July 2 - A collective of Colombian women working in Italy has provided a rare microcosm of working conditions among immigrant women in Italy and their insertion into Italian society, a seminar organised by the Italo-Latino American Institute underlined Wednesday.

In all there are more than 5.5 million foreigners in Italy, of whom 400,000 are from south America and 70% of those are women. Such woman play a dominant role in the intricate balance between the world of work, the economy and remittances that are sent back to their home countries. The role of Colombian women previously had been little studied. Presented by the Institute's Secretary General, Giorgio Malfatti di Monte Tretto, the seminar on female migration explored the significance of the Colombian women's collective, underlined the nature of the migration flow of Colombian women to Italy, examining their conditions and characteristics in the labour market and in entrepreneurial ventures.

Among those attending the seminar were the Colombian Ambassador, Juan Sebastian Betancur. Speakers included Ginevra Demaio, Curator of the Roman Observatory on Migrations IDOS, Maria Parente, an ISFOL researcher, José Angel Oropeza, Director of the OIM, Alessandra Ciurlo, lecturer in social research at the Pontifical Gregorianan University. The moderator of the event was José Luis Rhi-Sausi, the Socio Economic Secretary of the IILA. 

MotoGP: Rossi renews with Yamaha till 2016

'Very happy' nine-time world champ tweets

(ANSA) - Rome, July 2 - Italian ace Valentino Rossi said Wednesday he was renewing his contract with Yamaha until 2016. "I'm very happy to tell you I'm going to ride my M1 for the next two years too," the 35-year-old nine-time world champ said on Twitter. "It's very important to me because I really enjoy working with my crew and all the guys from the team, both the Japanese and European members that have been with me almost my entire career," Rossi added in a statement on the Yamaha homepage. "It's great because this was my target; I wanted to continue, I am feeling good and I'm motivated to keep giving my best. I am very happy that I can keep riding my YZR-M1, that has been my love for so many years and will still be my love this year and the following two seasons. "A big 'Thank You' to everybody, I will try to keep giving the maximum to arrive in front and make good races. Enjoy!" Rossi, who has seven premium-class titles, has been the only rider to get close to reigning MotoGP champ, Honda's 21-year-old phenom Marc Marquez, in the last season and a half. 

Germany broke fiscal rules first, Renzi to Weber

Italy PM replies to EPP caucus chief

(ANSA) - Rome, July 2 - Germany broke the EU's fiscal rules first and that helped it enact key reforms for growth, Italian Premier Matteo Renzi told EPP caucus leader Manfred Weber Wednesday. "If Weber was speaking on behalf of Germany, I remind him that during the last Italian presidency (in 2003), there was a country that was not only allowed flexibility but was also allowed to breach the limits so as to be a country that is growing today," he said. 

'Italy won't be preached to' Renzi tells Weber

'The Renaissance also sprang from a financial crisis' says Renzi

(ANSA) - Rome, July 2 - Italy won't be treated with prejudice during its duty European Union presidency, Premier Matteo Renzi told European People's Party (EPP) caucus leader Manfred Weber Wednesday. "We will be happy to engage in debate, but those who would brandish the arm of prejudice against Italy will be making a mistake. We won't be preached to", Renzi said in reply to Weber's calls for fiscal rigor.

The Renaissance sprang from Europe's first financial crisis in the 1400s, the former mayor of Florence reminded Weber. "Neither Italy nor France are asking for new rules. We agree with the current ones. What we are saying is that one can't defend anything by digging in behind a slogan, not even one's country of origin", Renzi added.

Italy 'decisive contribution to Syrian disarmament'

Mogherini hails Gioia Tauro operation

(ANSA) - Gioa Tauro, July 2 - With the transfer of Syrian chemical materiel from Danish ship Ark Futura to the US ship Cape Ray at the Calabrian container port of Gioia Tauro, Italy "has given a decisive contribution to the disarmament of Syria," Foreign Minister Federica Mogherini said as the last few containers were set to be transferred.

martedì 1 luglio 2014

Sollecito reiterates innocence in Meredith murder case

Ex-girlfriend Knox provides alibi

(ANSA) - Rome, July 1 - Raffaele Sollecito, the Italian convicted together with American former student Amanda Knox of the 2007 murder of British Erasmus student Meredith Kircher in Perugia, on Tuesday reiterated his innocence, saying Knox herself provided his alibi. "It's Amanda's memories that exonerate me, she herself gives me an alibi when she says I have nothing to do with what the judges consider to be the truth," said Sollecito on filing an appeal to Italy's Supreme Court of Cassation against his conviction earlier this year. Sollecito also said he remained convinced of the innocence of Knox, his girlfriend at the time of the murder.

However, he added that her version of events as reported in the sentence issued by the Florence appeals court in January "contained a few anomalies". Knox and Sollecito were initially convicted of the murder at the original trial in Perugia in 2009 and have served a total of four years in prison including pre-trial custody. That conviction was overturned on appeal two years later, but in 2013 Italy's supreme court ordered a repeat of the appeals trial, saying evidence linking Knox and Sollecito to the murder scene had not been properly considered. In January, the Florence court repeated the appeals-level trial that sentenced Knox to 28 and a half years in prison and Sollecito to 25 years.

The Florence court said in its written explanation of the sentence that it heard "reliable" evidence placing both defendants in the Perugia flat where Kercher was killed, in "the immediate moments after the murder". With them was a third person convicted of the killing in a separate fast-track proceeding, Rudy Guede, a drifter from the Ivory Coast. The Florence court concluded that the homicide was sparked by an argument between Kercher and Knox, possibly over the cleanliness of the apartment, and not by a drug-fueled sex game gone awry, as prosecutors said at the original trial. Knox and Sollecito both said they would appeal against the ruling to Italy's highest court. 

Former Berlusconi aid Dell'Utri 'asked mafia for film money'

Wanted over 10 million euros for Channel 5 films

(ANSA) - Rome, July 1 - Former Silvio Berlusconi aide Marcello Dell'Utri asked the Mafia for over 10 million euros to fund Berlusconi film projects, the supreme court said Tuesday in its explanation of its decision to uphold a seven-year prison sentence. According to the court, Dell'Utri's relationship with the Mafia was ongoing "even during the period when he worked for (former business associate Filippo Alberto) Rapisarda and his ongoing shows for the interests of businessman friend Berlusconi" and "even from the early 1980 encounter in Paris between defendant Dell'Utri and two Mafiosi in which Dell'Utri asked for 20 billion lire (around 10.4 million euros) for the purchase of Channel 5 films".

The supreme Court of Cassation called the 72-year-old former advertising businessman and Forza Italia creative head a "particular social risk" and said that "the refusal of the extenuating circumstances and the overall treatment of sanctions were justified due to the quality and nature of the offense committed" by dell'Utri. Dell'Utri was extradited from Lebanon to Italy in mid-June, after he fled a Mafia conviction. At the original trial in Palermo, the former Senator was found to have sealed "a pact of protection" with Cosa Nostra for Berlusconi at a meeting in May 1974.

The court said that meeting "formed the genesis of the relationship that linked the businessman (Berlusconi) and the Mafia with Dell'Utri's mediation". Berlusconi employed a Mafia boss and killer recommended by Dell'Utri, the late Vittorio Mangano, as an stable manager in the mid 1970s. It is alleged that this appointment was to protect his children from the kind of kidnappings that were then rampant in Italy. Dell'Utri's lawyers said the case against him was built on testimony from ex-Cosa Nostra informants that lacked credibility. 

Poste Italiane sets conditions for more Alitalia investments

Company wants to examine impact of Etihad deal first

(ANSA) - Rome, July 1 - Further investment by Poste Italiane in the struggling national flagcarrier Alitalia is conditional upon "careful examination of the economic and financial returns associated with the industrial plan and company structure" resulting from an expected 560-million-euro investment deal with Abu Dhabi-based airline Etihad, Poste Italiane said in a statement Tuesday.

The alliance between Alitalia and Etihad "can create the premise for strengthening and relaunching the airline," Poste Italiane said. "However Alitalia has not yet supplied all the elements necessary for a full evaluation of the impact the agreement might have on the company's capital structure and debt," continued the statement. The Italian carrier received a 75-million-euro capital injection from State-owned post office Poste Italiane in December 2013 as part of a government-engineered 500-million-euro rescue package. Now the airline is putting its hopes in the Etihad deal, which could be closed in the coming weeks but involves "painful and arduous" restructuring including up to 2,500 layoffs. 

Unemployment nudges back up

Consumer group describes figures as 'disastrous'

(ANSA) - Rome, July 1 - Consumer rights group Codacons on Tuesday described as "disastrous" new figures for unemployment in Italy, which saw the national jobless rate nudge back up to 12.6% in May from 12.5% in April and 12.1% in May 2013 as the country struggled to emerge from its longest and deepest recession since the second world war. The figures "testify to the total failure of Italy's political class," said Codacons of the preliminary estimates published by the national statistics institute Istat, which nonetheless put joblessness among 15-24 year olds down slightly at 43% from 43.3% the previous month but up 4.2% compared to May 2013.

In absolute terms an estimated 3.2 million people of employment age were out of work in May, 127,000 more than in the same month in 2013, Istat said. However, on a percentage basis this represented a "slight improvement" over the all-time high of 12.7% in January and February, the agency added.

Meanwhile female unemployment reached 13.8%, the highest level since monthly records began in 2004. Susanna Camusso, leader of Italy's biggest labour union confederation CGIL, urged the government of Premier Matteo Renzi to invest in job creation as the only effective tool for kickstarting the economy and bringing the jobless rate down. "There can be no chance of a real recovery without investment in creating jobs and a reduction of the unemployment rate, which is now extremely high both among those who have been made redundant and among youth," Camusso said in a radio interview with state broadcaster RAI.

lunedì 30 giugno 2014

Marchionne says Fiat rejoining Confindustria unlikely

Chrysler merger 'should be approved in August'

(ANSA) - Grugliasco, June 30 - Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne said Monday it was unlikely Fiat would rejoin the powerful industrialists' confederation Confindustria. "I won't exclude it, but I won't include it either," said Marchionne. The Italian automaker left Confindustria in October 2011 to avoid national labor contracts struck with unions by Confindustria. Marchionne was speaking at a Confindustria assembly held in a Maserati factory outside Turin, where Maserati's parent company Fiat is based. He went on to discuss Fiat's merger with Chrysler, which he said should be approved at a shareholders' assembly at the beginning of August. Marchionne reiterated that the new company, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA), will make its Wall Street debut in the first two weeks of October. By listing on the New York Stock Exchange, FCA will be more widely traded and better able to raise capital.

Fiat gained full control of Chrysler in a $4.35-billion deal with a United Auto Workers union healthcare trust earlier this year. The world's seventh-biggest automaker will have its headquarters in the Netherlands, maintain a UK tax base, and will be listed on the New York and Milan stock markets. 

More than 65,000 illegal immigrants to Italy already in 2014

Total illegal immigration already exceeds 2011 previous record

(ANSA) - Rome, June 30 - As many as 65,000 illegal immigrants already have arrived in Italy by sea this year, more than in the entire previous record year of 2011, the Interior ministry said Monday. In 2011 some 63,000 illegal immigrants were recorded but ministry statisticians predict that as many as 100,000 could land on the peninsula and its islands in 2014 unless action is taken in countries such as Libya to prevent departures of Africans and others trying to reach Europe illegally, the ministry said.

In all 61,585 foreigners have landed in Italy this year while nearly 5000 others will be dropped off in Italian ports over the next two days after they were rescued in the Mediterranean over the past 24 hours by Italian Navy ships deployed to help clandestine immigrants as part of Operation Mare Nostrum and by Italian merchant ships, the ministry said. 

Anti-mafia spending 'investment' for Italy, crimefighter say

True development contingent on curbing mob - national prosecutor

(ANSA) Naples, June 30 - Southern Italy's economy will never develop truly as long as powerful organised crime gangs scare off foreign investors, the National Anti-Mafia Prosecutor, Franco Roberti, said Monday. "Up to now security and justice have been seen as debits against the state budget, now the philosophy of public expenditure needs to be inverted so that they are considered as investments," Roberti told reporters on the fringes of a ceremony awarding the Amato Lamberti prize in Naples.

Roberti called on politicians "to make a choice that has never been done so far and consider the struggle against organised crime a priority for government action." "This means putting all the means necessary into the field, without looking too much at the spending review, but going beyond it in the name of the priority that the fight against organised crime ought to be". "There will never be true development in Italy's south as long as there is the organised crime risk for investors, especially foreign investors," he added. "That is why I say that security and justice are necessary for economic development and should be considered investments," Roberti said. 

Porn star ex-companion charged with 'lady in lake' murder

Franco Mossoni 'killed Federica Giacomini aka Ginevra Hollander'

(ANSA) - Vicenza, June 30 - The former companion of an Italian porn star was charged with her murder Monday, 13 days after her body was found in a crate at the bottom of Lake Garda. Franco Mossoni, 55, currently in a psychiatric hospital after breaking into a ward dressed as Rambo in March, was arrested on suspicion of killing Federica Giacomini aka Ginevra Hollander and throwing her body into the lake.

Giacomini went missing from Vicenza February 9. Mossoni recently completed a jail term for killing a man in Lombardy in the late 1970s. He had been living with the well-known performer, 43, in her home town Brescia.

Mossoni has been sectioned in a psychiatric ward since the March 20 incident, when he threatened staff with a toy gun. Police later found crossbows, knives, women's clothing and documents belonging to Giacomini in the room Mossoni had in her flat. 

Suarez says sorry to Chiellini, 'won't bite again

'There will never be this kind of incident again' tweets striker

(ANSA) - Rome, June 30 - Luis Suarez on Monday apologised to Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini for biting him during Uruguay's 1-0 knockout win over the Azzurri last week. "I'm deeply sorry for what happened, I apologise to Chiellini and the whole football family, and I promise the public there will never be an incident of this kind again," Suarzez tweeted.

It was the fist public admission of guilty by the talented Uruguay striker who as recently as Saturday said he hadn't meant to bite the Juve defender but had fallen over and accidentally hit him with his teeth. The striker got a 9-match, 4-month ban which Chiellini described as "harsh".

Uruguay fans waved face masks of Suarez in his honour during their 2-0 round of 16 exit to Colombia Saturday. Uruguay President José Mujica said Sunday Suarez was the victim of an "old band of sons of bitches" at Fifa. 

Trevi fountain restoration starts

Fendi funds renovation of icon immortalised by La Dolce Vita

(ANSA) - Rome, June 30 - Rome Mayor Ignazio Marino and the management of the Fendi fashion house on Monday opened restoration work on the world-famous Trevi Fountain, one of the most iconic spots in Rome.

"We hope to restore this treasured landmark to the city in the autumn of 2015, Marino said. "Doing a traditional lucky coin toss into the legendary fountain," Marino said "it's fundamental to get private sponsors for this kind of large-scale work where public funds simply aren't enough to cover the costs". Workers on Monday were giving the final touches to a walkway above the central portion of the fountain which will enable tourists to get a better glimpse of ongoing work on the 18th-century Baroque masterpiece by Nicola Salvi immortalized by many movie stars, including Anita Ekberg and Marcello Mastroianni in Federico Fellini's La Dolce Vita. A small white fountain was also installed on Monday morning so visitors will still be able to cast their coins for luck.

Water has been drained for the renovation process which is expected to last one year and a half. Fendi is funding the restoration of the Trevi Fountain in an initiative similar to work on the Colosseum and the Spanish steps, funded respectively by Tod's entrepreneur Diego Della Valle and jeweler Bulgari. Fendi, one of the biggest names in Italian fashion, has donated 2.12 million euros to restore the Trevi Fountain in the first of a series of projects aimed to protect Rome's historic fountains.

In January, then Rome mayor Gianni Alemanno and the chairman and chief executive of Fendi, Pietro Beccari, announced Fendi's ambitious plan to save one of the city's most romantic landmarks at a joint media conference with Silvia Venturini Fendi and designer Karl Lagerfeld, the creative director of Fendi who is also backing the project. Entitled 'Fendi for Fountains', the initiative includes sponsorship for a two-year restoration of the Trevi Fountain as well as plans to restore the Four Fountains sculpture on the busy Via XX September in the heart of the Eternal City.

After several months of negotiations Fendi handed over the funds for the restoration of the Trevi in December last year and made a significant contribution towards the preservation of the other fountain, which is covered in the sooty emissions of the thousands of cars that pass by it every day. "The restoration of the Trevi Fountain, one of the best-known Roman monuments in the world, shows the importance of cooperation between public and private support," Mayor Alemanno said at the time. Italy's cash-strapped cultural authorities are increasingly looking to private sponsors for support despite widespread concern that they might commercially exploit their link with the country's beloved monuments.

Last year cultural officials approved a controversial plan to restore the Colosseum with 25 million euros in funding provided by luxury shoemaker Tod's. Opponents have raised questions about whether Tod's will exploit the move for publicity and its commencement was long delayed by a legal challenge. But officials stressed that Fendi was willing to cover the cost of covering the restoration of the Trevi without seeking any publicity in return. "This is an historic day for our city," said Dino Gasperini, the councillor for cultural affairs and the historic centre. "This doesn't happen every day".

The Trevi Fountain was built between 1732 and 1762 above an ancient Roman aqueduct. Every year millions of tourists from around the world stop by the fountain for a photo or to toss a coin over their shoulder which according to local legend will bring them back to Rome.

Last year the city of Rome was forced to carry out emergency work at a cost of 320,000 euros after a piece of the monument fell off and Alemanno appealed to large companies and wealthy individuals to intervene and help save the monument. At Monday's media conference, Umberto Broccoli, Rome's cultural superintendent, held up a fallen fragment of the fountain to underscore the urgency and importance of the Fendi proposal. Restoration of the Trevi is expected to take 20 months and be completed in 2015 while work on the Four Fountains monument is expected to be put to tender before the end of 2013.