Firework fans in Naples have named the latest addition to their New Year arsenal ‘The Budget‘ because of its hard-hitting effect, like the budget law.
”It costs 250 euros and can blow up a whole building,” said a doctor leading a prevention scheme in Italy’s most firework-mad city.
The latest rockets and firecrackers – now mostly made in China – named Bin Laden, Ratzinger and Maradona Bomb, are ”extremely dangerous”. ”These are full-blown explosives”, doctors said.

The Dalai Lama on Thursday said his current visit to Italy was not meant to cause embarrassment, as China cautioned Rome against meeting with Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader. The 72-year-old, who arrived in Milan on Wednesday for a ten-day stay, said he had no desire to create diplomatic difficulties for Italian politicians. ”My visit is not a political one,” he told reporters. ”I don’t want to make problems for the state and authorities of the countries I visit.

”I am here simply as a foreign visitor,” he added. The Dalai Lama’s trip has been greeted with reticence among political figures here.

An expected meeting with Pope Benedict XVI failed to materialize, Premier Romano Prodi will be abroad when the Dalai Lama is in Rome, and public talks with Milan Mayor Letizia Moratti, a former minister, fell through at the last minute.

The lukewarm official welcome is largely the result of Chinese hostility to the Dalai Lama’s visit, creating diplomatic difficulties for both Rome and the Vatican. Beijing sees the Dalai Lama as a ”political plotter” who aims to split the country. He does not recognise Chinese rule in Tibet and in 1989 won the Nobel peace prize for his non-violent opposition to it.

Italy on Friday started expelling European Union citizens considered a threat to society. The move came amid a crime wave involving many immigrants from new EU member Romania – and after a deadly assault on a navy officer’s wife that shocked the nation.

Giovanna Reggiani, 47, died Thursday night after two days in a coma. Her autopsy was performed on Friday. The alleged aggressor, a 24-year-old Romanian gypsy (Roma) named Nicolae Romolus Mailat, was arrested on suspicion of homicide and robbery. A hearing Friday is expected to charge him with murder and robbery.

Reggiani suffered “massive” head injuries consistent with blows from a blunt object such as a rock, police said.

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.

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.

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.

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.