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Italian report Italian report
by Euro Reporter
2011-10-03 07:16:34
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Businessman buys space to deride politicians

A prominent Italian businessman bought space in newspapers on Saturday to attack Italy's political class, adding to a swell of criticism of the government's failure to pass meaningful reform. In a full-page article in Italy's main dailies, Diego Della Valle, the head of luxury shoe maker Tod's, said politicians' focus on personal and party interests was damaging Italy's reputation in the world and taking it towards ruin. "Wake up to the fact that many Italians no longer have any esteem or confidence in many of you and do not want to be represented by a political class which, with a few exceptions, has cut itself off from reality and people's needs," he said.

The insertion, entitled in block capitals "Politicians, enough is enough," made no distinction along party lines. Silvio Berlusconi's centre-right government is under increasing pressure over its tentative and erratic response to the financial crisis threatening the euro zone. Berlusconi, himself struggling with four separate trials on charges of corruption and paying for sex with a minor, has seen his approval ratings sink as infighting and policy disagreements plague his coalition.

On Friday, the head of Italy's main business federation Confindustria threatened to walk out of roundtable talks with the government if there is no swift action to stimulate growth and reform taxes, pensions and public spending. Last Monday, the head of the Italian Bishops Conference launched a devastating attack on the scandal-ridden political elite, calling for a change to "purify the air". Della Valle, a symbol of the country's Made in Italy business brands, has a reputation for straight talking - earlier this year he described veteran banker Cesare Geronzi, then chairman of Assicurazioni Generali, as typical of the "sprightly old men" who call the shots in Italian business.


Trial delayed of scientists accused over L'Aquila quake

The trial for seven people accused of manslaughter in connection to an earthquake that killed more than 300 people in the Italian city of L'Aquila was pushed back Saturday to mid-October. The seven -- six scientists from the Italian National Institute of Geophysics and Vulcanology (INGV) and a member of the Civil Protection Agency -- were members of a governmental panel that prosecutors accuse of giving a "rough, generic and ineffective assessment of the seismic risk" before the earthquake struck in April 2009. The seven, members of a so-called "major risks" panel, published "inaccurate, incomplete and contradictory information about the dangers of seismic activity undermining the protection of the population," prosecutors have said.

The attorney for defendant Enzo Boschi, then-president of the INGV in Rome, told CNN Saturday that the defence had asked for a postponement of 20 days to study new documents and videos submitted by the prosecution. The court's next hearing was scheduled for October 15. Only two defendants, Bernardo De Bernardinis, then vice-director of the Civil Protection Agency, and Mauro Dolce, head of the seismic office at the agency, appeared in court Saturday. Professor Domenico Giardini, current president of the INGV, told CNN the trial was not about science but about the way information was communicated.

"Since people have died, it's necessary to give an answer to the question, 'could some of the deaths have been avoided?'" he said. "The trial is basically on that, on the number of weak points in the communication chain." He said parallels could be drawn between what happened in L'Aquila and elsewhere in the world, such as Japan. "We all have to work on new, and more clear, protocols, on the transfer of information," he said.


Jobless rate fell in August

Italy’s jobless rate fell last month even amid a government austerity drive aimed at shielding the country from Europe’s debt crisis. The jobless rate dropped to 7.9 percent from 8 percent in July, Rome-based national statistics institute Istat said in a preliminary estimate today. The rate declined to 8 percent in the second quarter from a revised 8.1 percent in the previous three-month period. Economists had predicted the rate would be unchanged in August, the median forecast by five economists in a Bloomberg News survey showed.

Italian business confidence fell to the lowest in almost two years this month amid concern that austerity and the debt crisis will hurt growth. Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s government passed a 54 billion-euro ($73 billion) package of spending cuts and tax increases in August to convince the European Central Bank to buy Italian bonds after the nation’s borrowing costs surged to euro-era records. The plan also aims to ease firing rules to encourage companies to take on workers.

Joblessness among those between ages 15 and 24 rose to 27.6 percent in August from 27.5 percent in the previous month, Istat said. The institute originally reported a jobless rate of 8.2 percent in the first quarter.

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