Alleged Saputo Mafia Link
In December, Montreal cheese magnate and Canada’s fourteenth wealthiest man, Lino Saputo, was alleged by Italian authorities of being linked to a Mafia money-laundering operation. Saputo strongly denied the allegation, saying that he is “a victim of his reputation” and that “someone is using my name.” Italian police arrested Rome-based entrepreneur, Mariano Turrisi in November, in connection with a plan to launder 600 million dollars through Florida-based Saputo Enterprises Corp., a company, which according to Saputo, is not connected to his group of companies. Saputo is suing several Canadian and Italian media for slander.
Naples: A Trashy Place?
Since December, garbage collectors in Naples have not been picking up the trash because there was no more room at dumping sites. Furious residents have had to tolerate the growing garbage heaps in the streets. The Italian government’s current plan to resolve the garbage crisis has been criticized as a temporary measure, not addressing the real problems which are mafia control of waste disposal and politicians’ inability to guarantee safe dumps. In January then Prime Minister Romano Prodi announced a series of measures, including the building of three incinerators and the army’s aid in removing accumulated garbage. A new trash commissioner was named to oversee the implementation of the plan as well as recycling programs across the region.
Source: International Herald Tribune
Italian Election Set for April
Just two years after the last parliamentary vote, Italy's president dissolved parliament on February 6, clearing the way for a spring election. President Giorgio Napolitano made the decision after Prime Minister Romano Prodi's centre-left government fell in January and subsequent efforts to form an interim government to change voting rules failed. Prodi will continue as caretaker prime minister until the election, which has been set for April 13 and 14. Italy was plunged into political crisis after Prodi's government collapsed January 24. The legislature was the second-shortest in Italy's postwar history, according to Italian media.
Source: CBC News
Pope Cancels Visit
Pope Benedict XVI cancelled his January 17 visit to La Sapienza University in Rome after lecturers and students protested his views on Galileo. The pope was to make a speech to open the university’s academic year but ultimately declined, with the Vatican issuing a statement that “it has been considered opportune to postpone the event.” Academics and students at La Sapienza said the pope’s views on Galileo “offend and humiliate us” and that given his anti-science views, it would be “inappropriate” for him to open their academic year. The Vatican insisted the pope is not “antiscience,” and sent the speech to be read in his absence. La Sapienza’s rector Renato Guarini was regretful, pointing out that a small faction of leftist students and faculty had created this climate of hostility; he plans to issue a new invitation to the pope.
Sources: BBC News and CatholicWorld News
Milan Textile Fair Opens Doors
The sixth edition of Milano Unica, Europe’s largest textile fair, opened on February 11 with more than 650 Italian exhibitors displaying their production. The trade fair is a showcase for the latest mate rials and, this year, for the first time, hosted shows of finished products by Italy’s leading fashion houses, including Ferragamo, Ferré, Valentino and Versace. Aside from the exhibitors’ booths, the show featured four themed areas dedicated to accessories, the trendiest cloths, innovative materials and the colours of the fashion season.
Sexy stiletto heels worn by Hollywood icons Marilyn Monroe and Brigitte Bardot and contemporary stars Cameron Diaz, Kylie Minogue and Heidi Klum went on display in February at an exhibition dedicated to the famous shoe in the northern town of Vigevano. Dozens of pairs of heels took centre stage for the show at the Bertolini International Shoe Museum, which also included photographs and design sketches as well as the machinery and raw materials involved in stiletto manufacture. Sponsored by Milan Fashion Week organizer, the Italian National Fashion Chamber (Camera Nazionale della Moda Italiana), the show kicked off with the first official image of the stiletto taken in 1953 at the 16th International Shoe Show in Vigevano, where the design was originally launched on the road to its unfathomable success.
New Soccer Hero?
The exultant face of AC Milan's eighteen-year-old striker Alberto Paloschi dominated Italian sports pages in February after an astonishing Serie A debut against Siena. Paloschi, who came on in the eighteenth minute of the second half and scored after just 18 seconds, prompted dailies to note excitedly that this was the fastest-ever goal in a Serie A debut. “Homage should be paid first of all to the courage of this newcomer, who jumps on the first decent ball with the confidence of a veteran and slams it in the net. Kid, you've made history! No one has done better on their debut,” wrote Gazzetta dello Sport.
Italian Canadians to Run for Seat in Italian Parliament
The Harper government has reluctantly agreed to allow Canadians who hold Italian citizenship to run for a seat in the Italian parliament in general elections slated for April. However, under rules set by the Canadian government, candidates cannot purchase campaign ads in radio, television and printed media, though the penalties to which candidates who defy the Canadian government’s prohibition expose themselves to are not clear. According to a statement released by the Italian embassy in Ottawa, this restriction gives candidates from other countries an advantage, in that they are not obliged to abide by the Canadian government’s order. Torontonian and Italian Democratic Party member Gino Bucchino, the only Canadian elected to the Italian parliament in 2006, has announced plans to seek re-election.
Reasonable Accommodations, Unreasonable Proceedings?
In November, the National Congress of Italian Canadians– Quebec Chapter presented a brief at the Bouchard-Taylor Commission, otherwise known as the commission on “reasonable accommodations” appointed by the Quebec government to gauge public opinion on how to best integrate immigrants into Quebec society. In the brief, the Congress expressed its concern about the commission itself, which in the first weeks was seized upon by numerous organizations and individuals who expressed extremist and anti-immigrant positions. According to the Congress,“… it is possible to find compromise, to work together and harmonize our ethno-cultural differences in order to be able to live together and respect the rights and values of Quebec society." The Congress also urged the Quebec government to promptly and efficiently recognize foreign credentials as, all too often, immigrants that do not integrate into the labour force are reluctant to integrate into the larger society.
Compiled by Carolyne Van Der Meer
New Book by Longbridge
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