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Italy - page 2

A category on Italy for english-speaking readers.

Italy, a burqa-friendly country?

Italy

The decision by a northern Italian city official to allow Muslim women to wear the burqa has sparked consternation in the country, even though at least one minister supported the move.

We have already said several times, and we reiterate it now, that the use of the burqa is unacceptable,” said a spokesman for Interior Minister Giuliano Amato.

A 1975 law, introduced amid concern over homegrown terrorism in the country’s cities, forbids Italians from appearing in public wearing anything which covers their faces. Apart from this law, which appears to apply to the burqa, many politicians on both sides of parliament said the garment was also a humiliating imposition.

I am indignant. Covering up women’s faces is an offence to their dignity,” said Equal Opportunities Minister Barbara Pollastrini.

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Italy, open doors to illegal immigration

Italy

Italian Premier Romano Prodi came under fire from opposition figures on Wednesday, after saying his government backed an “open doors policy” on immigration.

Addressing the Foreign Press Association in the capital, Prodi said the centre-left coalition had no intention of changing “the open doors policy it has responsibly embarked upon” since coming to power last year. The premier’s sentiments were echoed during a Senate speech by Economy Minister Tommaso Padoa-Schioppa, who said he was in favour of a policy that welcomed foreigners. “The presence of immigrants is a true blessing: for businesses, for less skilled workers and in helping care for the elderly and disabled,” he said. But figures from the centre-right opposition coalition, which introduced the country’s tough, existing immigration laws while last in power, slammed the government’s approach. Senator Alfredo Mantovano of the rightist National Alliance party warned of an immigrant influx in the wake of the premier’s comments.

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Leftist Bullshit

Italy

French film star Fanny Ardant arrived at the Venice Film Festival on Thursday amid continuing polemics over her recent expressions of admiration for the Red Brigades, Italy’s far-left terrorist movement, and its founder.
The 58-year-old French actress triggered the row last month by telling an Italian magazine: “I have always considered the Red Brigades phenomenon very absorbing and passionate“.

Renato Curcio is a hero for me,” said the actress, referring to the leftist militant who founded the Red Brigades in 1970. Ardant praised Curcio for remaining true to his left-wing ideals. She said he “didn’t become a businessman” like his French left-wing contemporaries.

The Red Brigades, Italy’s most infamous far-left terrorist group, spread terror in the 1970s and 1980s. Their most notorious act was the 1978 murder of Christian Democrat leader Aldo Moro.

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See Naples And Die

Italy

Residents of the Campania region, where the streets of many towns have been lined with uncollected trash for weeks, pay some of the highest rubbish taxes in Italy. At 264 euros a year, the average refuse tax in the region surrounding Naples is 60 euros higher than the national average, according to a study by consumer rights group Cittadinanzattiva.
In the town of Caserta, the ‘Tarsu’ tax is 393 euros, almost four times what residents pay in Reggio Calabria, on the toe of the Italian boot.

The figures were released as the Italian parliament prepared to approve an emergency decree aimed at solving the Campania trash crisis by identifying four new sites for dumps and giving state officials special powers to take decisive action. The trash disposal system in the Naples province practically ground to a halt earlier this year when the main dumps and treatment plants were declared full or overloaded.

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The Same Old Europe

Italy/World

European Union leaders have reached agreement in Brussels on an outline of new guidelines to govern the 27-member bloc for drafting a new EU treaty to replace the bloc’s aborted constitution.
At dawn on Saturday they announced a compromise to delay until 2014 a new voting system that reduces Poland’s influence – the main stumbling bloc. German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the drafting of the treaty will begin in coming months, with ratification by the end of 2007. She said the goal is to have the rulebook in place by 2009. The main obstacle had been Poland’s demand to keep its voting power – currently equal to that of Germany’s, even though its population is only half as large.

The new system – known as a “double majority” – will now be phased-in beginning in 2014 and fully implemented three years later.

Under this system, a 55% majority of EU countries with at least 65% of the bloc’s population will be required for a change to be approved.
Britain also got what it wanted: “The four essential things that we in the UK required in order to protect our position have all been obtained,” said Tony Blair at the end of his last EU summit as British prime minister.

“Those were first of all to make it absolutely clear that the charter on fundamental rights was not going to be justiciable in British courts or alter British law.”

Mr Blair also wanted to maintain national control over foreign policy, justice and home affairs.

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Markets In Everything

Italy

Prostitutes in the northern Italian city of Padova plan to refund clients who have been fined by the police, daily Corriere della Sera reported Friday. The move follows the approval last week of a city ordinance slapping 50 euros (67 dollars) fines on drivers who stop their cars to invite prostitutes in.

The ordinance was promoted by Mayor Flavio Zanonato, who says customers cause traffic jams and accidents by suddenly stopping to take a look at the streetwalkers. Essentially, this is a move to compensate negative externalities.
A total of nine people have been fined in Padova since the ordinance was approved on May 4, italian news agency Ansa reported.

According to Corriere, the prostitutes have decided to fight back by wearing a pink “love sticker” on their breast and offering to refund fined clients with free services. The girls also plan to protest against the ordinance by taking part in a rally through the streets of Padova on Wednesday.
Soliciting is illegal but rarely pursued by the police in Italy.

Are you depressed? No helmet!

Italy

Naples’ ever-resourceful scooter riders have found a new way to get out of fines for not wearing helmets: claiming they’re depressed. A rash of very similar cases – at least ten – have occurred over the last two weeks, local daily Il Mattino reported on Tuesday.

The young offenders have been trooping into courts armed with doctor’s certificates stating they are “depressed or under unusual stress,” it said.

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Stealing the future

Italy

Germany enacted Friday a hike in its retirement age from 65 to 67, with the Bundesrat upper house putting its seal on the legislation which aims to head off a crisis in ageing German society.
With Germans living longer, there are no longer enough active workers in the workforce to fund pensions for the older generation, so the line between the two groups is be gradually moved between 2012 and 2029.
Labour groups have campaigned against the change, accusing the government of robbing workers and plunging unemployable people in their 60s into poverty, because they must wait longer for pensions.
Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government has left in place provisions that will allow workers to opt for a lower rate of pension till they die if they retire early. Her Christian Democrat and Social Democrat supporters earlier voted the bill through the Bundestag lower house.

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An Unreliable Ally

Italy

Daniele Mastrogiacomo was freed on Monday in exchange for the release of up to five Taliban prisoners being held by the Afghan government. Our prediction was correct, unfortunately.
An unnamed official in the administration of US President George W. Bush, told news agencies on Wednesday that Washington had expressed “disappointment” over the deal to the Italian government on Tuesday, just a few hours before Massimo D’Alema, Italian foreign minister, said that U.S. Secretary of State, Condollezza Rice, expressed “comprehension” about Italy’s move to free Mastrogiacomo. The official said that “striking deals with kidnappers is never a positive thing”, adding that the released militants would go on to help the Taliban fight US and NATO forces in their bid to retake power in Afghanistan.

“The way Mastrogiacomo was released increases the risks for our troops, Afghan troops and international forces,” he said.
The official added that Washington had been “taken by surprise” by the exchange. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s spokesman said on Thursday that the U.S. were unaware of the exchange talks. Edward Luttwak speculated that American officials made the political calculation that for the sake of good relations with Italy, it was better not to stop the transfer.
“They certainly didn’t lean on the Afghans” to trade the prisoners, Mr. Luttwak said. “But they didn’t interpose themselves. They let them have it.”

Meanwhile, an official at the British Foreign Office told to news agencies on Wednesday that the British government was “concerned by the implications of the release of the Taliban” and had raised the matter with both Rome and Kabul.
“There is concern that this could send the wrong message to those who are thinking of taking hostages,” the official said.

The Dutch Foreign Minister, Maxime Verhagen, criticized on Wednesday the exchange of Taliban prisoners by the Afghan government to secure the release of Mastrogiacomo, saying it would “support the taking of hostages” by the Taliban. “When we create a situation where you can buy the freedom of Taliban fighters when you catch a journalist, in a short term there will be no journalists anymore”, Verhagen told reporters at the headquarters of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Kabul.

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Déjà Vu

Italy/World

The Taliban want Italy to quit Afghanistan in exchange for the release of a kidnapped reporter, Italian public broadcaster Rai reported today.

Rai interviewed a Pakistani journalist, Rahimullah Yousefzai, who claims to be in direct touch with the Islamists holding La Repubblica correspondent Daniele Mastrogiacomo. As well as the withdrawal of Italy’s some 2,000 troops, the Taliban wants NATO to halt an offensive unleashed Monday and release two Taliban spokesmen from jail in Kabul, Yousefzai said. However, the Italian ambassador in Kabul said Italy had received no such demands.

Italian diplomats and the country’s intelligence are working in Rome and Kabul to obtain the release of Daniele Mastrogiacomo, 52, a correspondent for Italian daily La Repubblica, gone missing while trying to talk to Taliban leaders in southern Afghanistan. Officials at the Foreign Ministry in Rome appeared certain on Wednesday that the reporter was abducted in the southern city of Kandahar by a “military structure” answering to the Taliban.

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