Italian mayor accused of Fascism as soldiers hit streets

As soldiers prepare to be deployed on Italian streets, a city mayor has been accused of Fascism after he passed an edict banning groups of more than three people congregating in parks and public gardens.

Around 3,000 troops are expected to begin patrolling streets of major Italian cities as part of a government clampdown on crime
Critics have complained that the sight of gun-toting soldiers on Italian streets will have a negative effect Photo: AFP/GETTY

The anti-gathering laws were enacted as thousands of soldiers were due to take to the streets of Italian cities for the first time on Monday under a controversial move by Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi to fight crime.

Massimo Giordano, a member of Italy’s anti immigration Northern League party, defended the anti-gathering motion and claimed it would cut down on unruly behaviour.

However opposition councillors said it was “reminiscent of Benito Mussolini’s edict of the 1920’s which banned groups of five or more people”.

Read moreItalian mayor accused of Fascism as soldiers hit streets

EU agrees to go beyond U.N. sanctions on Iran

The U.S. would see this as an act of war, if someone would do it to them.
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BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Union has agreed to go beyond United Nations sanctions on Iran, instructing its financial institutions to exercise “restraint” on export credits and allowing its navies to inspect all Iran-bound cargoes, a senior diplomat said on Wednesday.

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Dutch health system rated best, U.S. worst – polls

NEW YORK, July 7 (Reuters Life! ) – Americans are the least satisfied with their health care system – and their President –, while the Dutch system is rated the best, according to new research.

Polls about health care in 10 developed countries by Harris Interactive revealed a range of opinions about what works and what doesn’t.

In the United States a third of Americans believe their system needs to be completely overhauled, while a further 50 percent feel that fundamental changes need to be made.

Read moreDutch health system rated best, U.S. worst – polls

Berlusconi puts 2,500 troops on streets of Italian cities to patrol alongside police

SOLDIERS are to be deployed in Italian cities as Silvio Berlusconi, the prime minister, cracks down on crime as part of his government’s new domestic security package.

The troops – drawn from those who have served abroad – will patrol alongside regular state police and carabinieri paramilitary police.

They will be able to stop, search and identify suspects but will have no powers of arrest. Instead they must call for support or take suspects to the nearest police station.

Defence minister Ignazio La Russa said: “We are talking about a contingent of 2,500 troops who will patrol, alongside ordinary police, in order to safeguard the security of citizens.

“The scheme will be initially for six months and then renewed for another six months as a one-off and that will be it.

“If it was possible to recruit and train 2,500 police officers immediately then I would be delighted not to use troops.”

Opposition MPs and police unions did not share his enthusiasm with Antonio Di Pietro, of the Party of Values, saying: “Troops on the streets are only seen in places like Colombia against terrorists and armed insurrectionists. The idea of militarising cities gives an impression of insecurity and will affect tourism and the economy.”

Read moreBerlusconi puts 2,500 troops on streets of Italian cities to patrol alongside police

Italy is stealing cars

Italy has begun confiscating the cars of people driving under the effect of drugs or alcohol in the latest attempt to lower one of western Europe’s highest rates of road casualties.

Two drivers in their early 20s, a woman under the influence of alcohol and a man who had smoked a cannabis joint, have had their cars seized in northern Italy since the legislation came into effect at the end of last month.

The new legislation states that any driver who tests positive for any illegal drug or has blood alcohol levels exceeding set limits can have their car confiscated, as well as toughening fines and jail sentences.

The cars are to be auctioned off or used by the police, as is already the case for vehicles confiscated from mafia offenders and drug dealers.

Breathalyzer testing is not frequent in Italy, where 5,669 people died on the roads in 2006, the most recent data available. National statistics bureau ISTAT said the authorities must focus on curbing drunken driving to make the roads safer.

Wed Jun 4, 1:09 PM ET

Source: Reuters

Europe fuel protests spread wider

Flemish fishermen protest in Brussels outside European Parliament
Belgian fishermen have been protesting directly to the EU

Fuel protests triggered by rising oil prices have spread to more countries across Europe, with thousands of fishermen on strike.

Union leaders said Portugal’s entire coastal fleet stayed in port on Friday, while in Spain, 7,000 fishermen held protests at the agriculture ministry.

French fishermen have been protesting for weeks, with Belgian and Italian colleagues also involved.

UK and Dutch lorry drivers held similar protests earlier this week.

The strike reflects anger at the rising cost of fuel, with oil prices above $130 (83.40 euros; £65.80) a barrel.

Trade unions say the cost of diesel has become prohibitively high, after rising 300% over the past five years.

Wholesale fish prices, meanwhile, have been static for 20 years.

Fishermen’s leaders from France, Spain and Italy have been meeting in Paris to co-ordinate strikes and protests over the next three weeks in the run-up to a European Union fisheries ministers’ meeting.

The protesters are calling for direct immediate aid for the fisheries industry, coupled with increased subsidies.

The European Commission said in a statement it was willing to show flexibility towards the industry but it has ruled out subsidies to offset rising fuel costs.

Short-term aid packages were acceptable as long as they were used to address structural deficiencies in the fleets, it said.

‘Ruin for fishermen’

Several thousand fishermen marched on the agriculture ministry in Madrid, where they handed out 20 tonnes of fresh fish to members of the public in an attempt to draw attention to their ailing industry.


Fishermen held protests in Brussels and Madrid

Many blew whistles and klaxons, and let off firecrackers producing red smoke.

The BBC’s Steve Kingstone at the protest said he could see flags from Catalonia, the Basque country and Galicia.

Read moreEurope fuel protests spread wider

French fishermens’ fuel strikes set to go Europe-wide

Fishermen across western and southern Europe are threatening an open-ended strike from Wednesday in protest at rising fuel costs. Several ports in France have remained blocked for more than a week despite a government aid deal, and fishermen in the Spanish region of Catalonia began strike action yesterday.

Their colleagues across Spain, Portugal and Italy plan to join them tomorrow. The industry has seen marine diesel prices almost double in six months. French President Nicolas Sarkozy has said he’ll look for a cap in fuel sales tax across the EU. He told a French radio station this morning: “I will ask our European partners: if the price of oil continues to rise, shouldn’t we suspend the VAT tax part of oil prices?” For that to happen, all 27 EU members would need to agree.

However the European Commission has responded negatively to Sarkozy’s proposal, saying modifying tax levels on oil products to fight inflation would be sending a bad message to oil producing countries.

The French haulage industry has joined the fishermens’ protest, leading to some fuel depot blockades and fears of petrol shortages.

Read moreFrench fishermens’ fuel strikes set to go Europe-wide

Rotting corpses pile up as Myanmar stalls on aid

(CNN puplished this article (check the title with google) but has it entirely rewritten just a few minutes ago. – The Infinite Unknown)

YANGON, Myanmar (CNN) — Myanmar’s cyclone survivors have insufficient fuel to burn the rotting corpses of the dead as the ruling military junta is accused of being too slow in letting aid groups into the country.

Relief agencies say decomposing corpses litter ditches and fields in the worst-hit Irrawaddy delta area as survivors try to conserve fuel for transporting much-needed supplies.

The international community is growing increasingly frustrated with the junta’s lack of progress in granting visas for relief workers and giving clearance for aid flights to land.

They are concerned the lack of medical supplies and clean food and water threatens to increase the already staggering death toll.

Read moreRotting corpses pile up as Myanmar stalls on aid

Bush under fire at Paris climate meeting

Leading players in talks to forge a pact for tackling climate change took the lash on Thursday to President George W. Bush’s new blueprint for global warming, with Germany mocking it as “Neanderthal.”

At a ministerial-level meeting of major carbon emitters, South Africa blasted the Bush proposal as a disastrous retreat by the planet’s number-one polluter and a slap to poor countries.

The European Union — which had challenged the United States to follow its lead on slashing greenhouse-gas emissions by 2020 — also voiced disappointment.

His proposals “will not contribute to the fight against climate change,” EU Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas told AFP, adding he hoped the US would “reconsider its options and policies.”

“Time is running out and we have the duty to reach an agreement in Copenhagen in 2009,” said Dimas.

Germany accused Bush of turning back the clock to before last December’s UN climate talks in Bali and even to before last July’s G8 summit.

In a statement entitled “Bush’s Neanderthal speech,” German Environment Minister Sigmar Gabriel said: “His speech showed not leadership but losership. We are glad that there are also other voices in the United States.”

Read moreBush under fire at Paris climate meeting

The Collapsing Dollar – Authorities lose patience

Jean-Claude Juncker, the EU’s ‘Mr Euro’, has given the clearest warning to date that the world authorities may take action to halt the collapse of the dollar and undercut commodity speculation by hedge funds.


Jean-Claude Juncker, who is calling for Washington to
take steps to halt the slide of the dollar

Momentum traders have blithely ignored last week’s accord by the G7 powers, which described “sharp fluctuations in major currencies” as a threat to economic and financial stability. The euro has surged to fresh records this week, touching $1.5982 against the dollar and £0.8098 against sterling yesterday.

“I don’t have the impression that financial markets and other actors have correctly and entirely understood the message of the G7 meeting,” he said.

Mr Juncker, who doubles as Luxembourg premier and chair of eurozone financiers, told the Luxembourg press that he had been invited to the White House last week just before the G7 at the urgent request of President George Bush. The two leaders discussed the dangers of rising “protectionism” in Europe. Mr Juncker warned that matters could get out of hand unless America took steps to halt the slide in the dollar.

Read moreThe Collapsing Dollar – Authorities lose patience