Tag Archives: Italy

ISIS Threatens to Come to Rome… Traffic Permitting

 ISIS to Rome

The Italian government is on high alert after the Islamic State threatened to conquer Rome – with Allah’s permission, of course.

A recent video that appeared to show the beheading of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians in Libya included balaclava-clad extremists armed with an ominous message.

“Today we are south of Rome,” one masked militant said. “We will conquer Rome with Allah’s permission.”

Since Libya is just a stone’s throw across the Mediterranean Sea from Italy, Italian authorities are playing it safe by deploying 5,000 troops to guard embassies and monuments across the country. I mean, if thousands of refugees can make it across every year (minus a few drownings…), how hard can it be? Which is exactly why Italy’s Interior Minister Angelino Alfano urged NATO to intervene “for the future of the Western world,” adding “ISIS is at the door. There is no time to waste.”

But the Italian people aren’t too worried about the impending threat – because they know how bad Italian traffic is.

Using the Twitter hashtag “#We_are_coming_o_Rome”, Italians have responded to the Islamic State with warnings about traffic, bureaucratic corruption, and a few restaurant recommendations – because why not?

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Besides, could ISIS really do more damage in Rome than Dutch football fans?

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

Matteo-Renzi

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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Amanda Knox Found Guilty of Murder. Again. And Other News…

Amanda Knox

Third trial’s the charm? On Thursday afternoon, an Italian court found Amanda Knox and her former boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito guilty of the murder of Knox’s British roommate, Meredith Kercher, in 2007.

The court sentenced the American to 28 years and six months in prison for the murder of Meredith Kercher. Amanda Knox did not attend the retrial, but kept up to date on its proceeding from the comfort of her house in Seattle, where she’s lived since her sentence was overturned in 2011 for “lack of evidence.” It’s unlikely that the U.S. will extradite her to back Italy where she previously spent four years in prison, but she’ll never be able to vacation in Tuscany again. CNN

Scarlett SodaScarlett Johansson has chosen carbonated water over humanitarianism. The 29-year-old actress is cutting ties with Oxfam after eight years as an ambassador for the humanitarian group. At the centre of the breakup was Johansson’s support for the Israeli company SodaStream. The company, which makes home soda machines and home beverage carbonation systems, has a factory within the section of the West Bank that was won by Israel in 1967 but is currently claimed by Palestinians. Oxfam is 100% anti-Israeli settlement trade but Johansson says she is a “supporter of economic cooperation and social interaction between a democratic Israel and Palestine.” Also, she likes money. Johansson is to appear in a high-profile SodaStream ad during the Super Bowl on Feb. 2. The Toronto Star

School-LunchGeorgia Republican Jack Kingston’s dream has come true: no one gets a free lunch! Bonus: children’s tears. Children at a Utah elementary school were in tears on Wednesday after they had their meals taken and thrown away because there were outstanding balances in their accounts. The district’s child-nutrition manager decided the best way to deal with the large number of parents who still owed money for lunches was to withhold food from the children. And because cafeteria workers could not see which children owed money until after they purchased something, they had to physically take away the children’s lunches in front of the whole school and throw them out. Geez, couldn’t they at least have let the kids work it off? Perhaps sweep the cafeteria floor? Raw Story 

boston-bomber-dzhokhar-tsarnaevBoston Bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev may have to prep himself for the death penalty. Federal prosecutors on Thursday announced they will seek the death penalty against 20-year-old terrorist if he is convicted in a trial this year. “The nature of the conduct at issue and the resultant harm compel this decision,” Holder said in a statement. Which is fancy speak for “you deserve to die”. Tsarnaev has been charged with about a million things including Conspiracy to Use A Weapon of Mass Destruction Resulting in Death. Hopefully, for Tsarnaev’s sake, if his case ever does make it to death row, they get that whole lethal injection drug mishap under control – otherwise I’d think I’d rather go by bomb. Huffington Post

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Current Event Cat of the Day: Berlusconi’s Expulsion

Current EVent Cat - Senate Expels Berlusconi

The Italian Senate has voted to expel former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi from parliament following his tax fraud conviction. It’s about time…

Today ends Silvio Berlusiconi’s 19-year assault on Italian politics – or at least in theory. The former Italian Prime Minister and current leader of his Forza Italia party was expelled from parliament and could now face arrest over other criminal cases as he has lost his beloved immunity from prosecution.

The Senate voted 192 to 113 to strip the 77-year-old billionaire of his seat, following a three-month debate that began after an Italian court upheld Berlusconi’s tax fraud conviction and four-year prison term. The tax fraud conviction stems from his Mediaset empire’s purchase of television rights to U.S. films, but Berlusconi has also been convicted of paying for sex with an underage prostitute at one of his infamous Bunga Bunga parties and of a breach of confidentiality over a police wiretap.

The former PM will only have to serve a one-year sentence (for the tax fraud charge), and most likely under house arrest or by doing community service because of his old age. Nevertheless, Berlusconi is not taking the news of his expulsion well.

Claiming he didn’t receive a fair trial and that the judges were out to “eliminate” him, Berlusconi told supporters gathered outside his Rome residence that “no political leader has suffered a persecution such as I have lived through.”

“It is a bitter day, a day of mourning,” Berlusconi declared.

Despite being kicked out of parliament, Berlusconi still wields a lot of influence as the head of the Forza Italia party and will likely remain a problematic opponent for the government. As James Walston, a professor of international relations at American University of Rome, said “He is not out of politics, he is out of government.” 

Via: BBC News

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Lesus Christ! The Italian Mint Screws Up… And Other News

Lesus Christ

What would Lesus do? He would probably spell his name correctly.

The Italian State Mint misspelled Jesus on special medals for the Vatican to commemorate a new pontiff. The Vatican has had to pull over 6,000 of the gold, silver, and bronze collectibles that went on sale Tuesday which spelled “Jesus” as “Lesus.” The four lucky buyers who managed to get their hands on the Lesus medals before the error was noticed may be in for a treat – experts are predicting the value of the medals will soar. Lesus Christ! The Telegraph

Christie Big MacNew Jersey goes gay! A New Jersey judge has ruled against the state’s request to delay same-sex marriages, meaning same-sex couples could potentially walk down the aisle in as little as two weeks – no thanks to Chris Christie. The New Jersey Governor wanted to push off gay marriage until the appeal of an earlier decision is settled. But mainly he felt that if he couldn’t marry what he loves (Big Macs), homosexuals shouldn’t be allowed to marry who they love. The Guardian

StarbsStarbucks for President? No one likes a shutdown but Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz really hates a shutdown. The Starbs mogul is offering customers in the US a political petition, along with their $5 coffee, that urges Washington to get over their differences and end the government shutdown. Customers can sign the “Come Together Petition” online or print a copy, gather signatures and return it to the store. But how exactly can Congress end the government shutdown? By passing a “bipartisan and comprehensive long-term budget deal by the end of the year.” Easier said than done – especially when you’re dealing with Tea Party nuts. Maybe Starbucks should stick to coffee beans. CBC News

MigrantsAgain!?! A week after more than 300 African migrants drowned when their vessel capsized, another boat carrying 200 migrants has capsized off the same Italian island of Lampedusa. They should really look into their boat making skills – or at least find a better route. 27 people are confirmed dead but a significant number of the “undocumented Italian citizens” were rescued  by a life raft tossed down by a military aircraft. Rescuers are still searching for additional survivors. BBC News

elephant-pointElephants get the point! A new study published this month in the journal Current Biology reveals that elephants can understand pointing – something cats certainly can’t do. Researchers found that African elephants could read their visual cues and locate buckets of fruit. Meanwhile, in Missouri, a 41-year-old elephant charged and killed a zookeeper who had come to feed her. What set off the incident is unclear but I’m pretty sure the zookeeper gave the elephant the finger. CNN

thanksgiving-cat-is-not-happyHappy Thanksgiving weekend to Canadians! This year Canadians have a lot to be thankful for – mainly that they got rid of Ted Cruz at a young age and he wasn’t able to shutdown their government. Also, they don’t have a looming debt-ceiling crisis. Yay!

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Current Event Cat of the Day: Migrants Overboard

Current Event Cat - Swim Migrants

The Italian coastline strikes again! But this time it wasn’t a cruise liner, it was a boat carrying African migrants – or Europe’s equivalent of illegal Mexicans.

The boatload of migrants, mostly from Eritrea and Somalia, sank off the southern Italian island of Lampedusa after a fire broke out onboard.  The boat was thought to have been carrying about 500 people at the time of the sinking but only 100 or so managed to swim to shore. Of the 100 survivors, only three were women and none were children.

The death toll is currently around 150 but is expected to rise quite a bit, making the tragedy one of the deadliest migrant shipwrecks in modern history. Soon after the sinking, Italian divers began pulling the bodies out from the water and laying them down along the shoreline.

It’s horrific, like a cemetery, they are still bringing them out,” Lampedusa Mayor Giusi Nicolini told reporters.

The route is a popular but perilous one for migrants seeking to reach Europe from Africa. Almost 500 people were reported dead or missing making the crossing from Tunisia to Italy last year and earlier this week, 13 migrants drowned while trying to reach Sicily.

The boats carrying migrants are often overcrowded and not as seaworthy as one would want them to be. Add that to the fact that no one taught these migrants how to swim and it makes for a pretty deadly journey.

The question is, is Europe worth it? After coming from Eritrea? Probably.

Via: BBC News & Current Event Cats

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Current Event Cat of the Day: Operation Salvage Costa Concordia

Current Event Cat - Costa Concordia

What do you get when you roll a giant cruise liner upright after it has been rusting in the sea for 20 months? Answer: a really boring live news feed of the Costa Concordia and a bill for $800 million.

The operation to salvage the Costa Concordia off the coast of Italy began Monday morning after a three-hour delay due to storms. The costly, painstaking and potentially hazardous operation has been successful so far after engineers managed to lift the wrecked cruise ship from the rocks. Although the ship has been detached from rocks and moved on to a platform constructed on the sea bed, operation Salvage Costa Concordia is far from over. Efforts to get the massive ship upright are expected to take alllll day (hence the slow pace of the live news streams…)

The Costa Concordia crashed into some rocks in January 2012 as passengers were sitting down to dinner, killing 32 and stranding 4,200 on board. No sign of the two bodies that were never accounted for.

Unlike the captain of the Titanic, the ship’s captain, Francesco Schettino, did not go down with the ship. Instead he’s currently on trial accused of manslaughter and abandoning ship. Lesson: Always go down with the ship! And try not to steer the ship into a rocky shoreline…

But there is some good news to the whole salvage operation. The residents of the small island of Giglio are excited to get rid of the eyesore which has apparently been putting a dent in the island’s tourism.

Giglio mayor Sergio Ortelli said that the removal of the ship would bring an end to “a huge problem that we have in our port and that we want to solve as soon as we can”.

“Islanders can’t wait to see the back of it,” he said.

And if they’re lucky, the Costa Concordia will leave behind a wonderful parting gift: chemicals, lubricants and diesel that could leak into the pristine waters of Giglio.

Via: The New York Times & Current Event Cats

Italian Senator Roberto Calderoli Likens Black Minister to Orangutan

Roberto Calderoli

If you thought right-wing American politicians were bad, meet Italian Senator Roberto Calderoli.

Roberto Calderoli, vice president of the Senate and leader of the right-wing, anti-immigration Northern League party, compared the country’s first black minister, Cecile Kyenge, to an orangutan.

“I love animals – bears and wolves, as everyone knows – but when I see the pictures of Kyenge I cannot but think of, even if I’m not saying she is one, the features of an orangutan.” Calderoli said at a political rally Saturday.

Well, at least he’s smart enough to know she isn’t actually an orangutan. In fact, Kyenge is pretty far from an orangutan. The current immigration minister is Italy’s first-ever black cabinet minister and also an eye surgeon. Kyenge has Italian citizenship but was born in the Democratic Republic of Congo before she moved to Italy in 1983.

But it’s Cecile Kyenge’s success that also has Roberto Calderoli all riled up. He said the success of Kyenge encouraged “illegal immigrants” to come to Italy, and she should be a minister “in her own country”. He was also quoted as saying she “makes so many clandestine migrants who come here dream” that they will find “America” in Italy.

After receiving some heat from politicians and local media over his remarks, Calderoli initially gave a half-assed apology:

 “I did not mean to offend and if minister Kyenge was offended I am sorry, but my comment was made within a much broader political speech that criticized the minister and her policies,” he said.

But after extensive international condemnation, Calderoli was pressured into calling Kyenge to apologize directly – which she accepted.

“I accept the apology,” Kyenge said. ” “I don’t want to address Calderoli the person, but as a representative of an institution: reflect on what you want to represent through your language.”

“I do not take Calderoli’s words as a personal insult but they sadden me because of the image they give of Italy.”

This isn’t the first time Kyenge has had to deal with racial slurs. Since becoming the immigration minister in April, another Northern League politician accused her of wanting to to impose “tribal traditions” on Italians and a local politician suggested on Facebook that someone should rape Kyenge so that she “can understand what victims of atrocious crimes feel”. Both politicians were expelled and many are now calling for Roberto Calderoli to resign. However, if Silvio Berlusconi can be voted in as the Prime Minister of Italy on three separate occasions, there’s still hope for anyone! Literally anyone.

Via: The Independent

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Silvio Berlusconi Sentenced to One Year in Jail / Italians Aren’t Great at Choosing Leaders

Berlusconi

Italy’s former Prime Minister and resident sleazebag Silvio Berlusconi has been convicted and sentenced to a year in jail for publicizing a recording of a confidential phone call related to a 2005 banking scandal.

Berlusconi is accused of arranging for a police wiretap concerning a political rival to be leaked and published in a newspaper run by his brother. However, the 76-year-old media billionaire is likely to appeal and under Italian law, he won’t have to serve any time until all appeal trials are completed. It’s pretty unlikely that Berlusconi will actually serve jail time over the wiretap case, but the conviction will damage his already less-than-stellar reputation.

Speaking of his not-so-great reputation, Berlusconi is also facing two other trials for accusations of alleged tax fraud and sex with an underage prostitute. Over the years Berlusconi has also been accused of charges including accounting fraud, perjury, bribery, corruption, having unlawful sex with a minor, and fraud over the sale of film rights.

Which brings us to the question: how the hell does this guy keep getting votes?

After resigning in November 2011 amid allegations of criminal activity (see above…), Berlusconi decided to run for prime minister for a fourth (and final?) time. During the elections last week, Italian voters somehow managed to their notoriously corrupt former primer minister another shot. The results turned out better than expected for Berlusconi, leader of the center-right People of Freedom (thanks to his usual round-the-clock media coverage and promises of tax refunds).

Berlusconi won 125 seats out of 630 in the lower house of Parliament and 30 percent of the seats in the Senate. Although his centre-right coalition only finished third in the parliamentary elections, it was a tight race that saw no clear winner.

But if you compare this with his 2008 results, he lost more than 6 million votes or about 50 percent. Is Berlusconi’s political persona slowly fading after years of scandals? Maybe this will be the last run for the 76-year-old. He has to get back to his bunga bunga parties anyway…

Via: Reuters 

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