Matteo Renzi Can’t Possibly Be Worse Than Berlusconi? Can He? ….And Other News


Centre-left Democratic Party leader Matteo Renzi is set to become the country’s youngest ever prime minister at just 39 years old – if he can pull together a coalition that wins the backing of parliament that is.

On Monday, Matteo Renzi, currently the mayor of Florence, was asked by the Italian President to form a new government after his party rival, Enrico Letta, was ousted/resigned last week. Italy is going through a bit of a rough patch economically so Renzi has promised to create more jobs and cut taxes. As for specifics on how he will turn around the economy, he doesn’t have any. Luckily Renzi doesn’t have very big shoes to fill. As long as he stays clear of Bunga Bunga parties, he couldn’t possibly be worse than Silvio Berlusconi. Could he….? The Guardian

North KoreaThe UN’s Human Rights Council is sick and tired of North Korea and its long list of crimes against humanity. A new UN report said North Koreans had suffered “unspeakable atrocities” and that North Korean security chiefs and possibly even Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un himself should face international justice. The report, based on the findings of a year-long investigation involving public testimony by defectors, detailed the abuse and rights violations many North Koreans endure. U.N. investigators likened North Korea’s use of systematic torture, starvation and killing to Nazi-era atrocities. “Testimony was given … in relation to the political prison camps of large numbers of people who were malnourished, who were effectively starved to death and then had to be disposed of in pots, burned and then buried … It was the duty of other prisoners in the camps to dispose of them,” Michael Kirby, chairman of the independent Commission of Inquiry said. Meanwhile, North Korea “categorically and totally” rejected the allegations, accusing the West of faking the material. Sounds about right. BBC News

South Korea Ceiling CollapseNorth Korea’s not the only Korea where bad things happen. On Monday, the roof of an auditorium collapsed during a welcoming reception at the Busan University of Foreign Studies in South Korea, killing ten students and injuring a hundred more.  Icy road conditions slowed down rescuers who attempted to rush to the resort building. By Tuesday, officials “believed” all of the over 500 students had been accounted for, but wouldn’t know for sure until the building is dismantled. South Korean President Park Geun-hye expressed “deep condolences” to the victims families while North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un is probably rubbing his hands together with glee. CNN 

Pussy Riot DetainedPussy Riot can’t seem to catch a break. Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, recently released from Russian prisons after being jailed for two years for charges of “hooliganism,” were detained again – this time for purse theft. The two punk band members were meeting with journalists in Sochi when, according to Tolokonnikova, they were “shoved into a police van” and “dragged across the police office face down.”  The police initially claimed they were being questioned about an alleged purse theft at their hotel but then they changed their story and decided the Pussy Riot girls were simply witnesses to an alleged purse theft. The two women were released several hours after they were detained by Russian authorities and immediately threw on some colourful ski masks and ran down the street singing their protest song “Putin Will Teach You to Love the Motherland.” CBC News

Mel Reynolds ArrestedFormer congressman Mel Reynolds has been arrested in Zimbabwe after he was caught red-handed with child pornography at a local hotel. Or should that be white/sticky handed? Reynolds is best known for resigning from Congress after being convicted of 12 counts of statutory rape, obstruction of justice and solicitation of child pornography. Clearly the convicted sex offender has not learned his lesson. Reynolds is now being charged with possession of pornography and violating immigration laws (he was living in Zimbabwe without a valid visa). And to top it off, Reynolds has also run up $24,500 in unpaid hotel bills – most likely from pay-per-view porn. Reuters

Kiev Protests Feb 18The protests are heating up again. Violence broke out in Kiev, Ukraine after police stormed the largest protest camp on Tuesday in an attempt to kick out the demonstrators. As hundreds of riot police officers advanced on the all-but-conquered encampment on Independence Square, protesters threw stones and Molotov cocktails and set fire to anything they could get their hands on. Authorities are reporting that fourteen people have been killed in fighting, including six police officers. Meanwhile, over in Bangkok, protests against Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra have flared up again after a relatively peaceful week. Tuesday’s anti-government clashes resulted in four deaths, 60 injuries, and more than 100 detainments. New York Times

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