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Italian report
by Euro Reporter
2014-07-13 15:22:44
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Italy Prepares to Refloat the Costa Concordia

Italian authorities gave the green light to refloating the wrecked Costa Concordia cruise ship on Saturday, setting the stage for the next step in the largest maritime salvage in history to begin on Monday morning. The operation to raise the 290-metre hulk from underwater platforms next to the Italian island of Giglio where it sank, killing 32 people, should take six or seven days, the group organizing the removal said. The refloating will go ahead if the summer weather remains calm, and then the Concordia, which is around two and a half times the size of the Titanic, is due to be towed to the northern port of Genoa to be scrapped.

The government's Civil Protection Department said that documentation submitted for the refloat was "valid", allowing it "to give the go-ahead for the operation to refloat the Concordia". The defunct luxury liner is due to depart Giglio on July 21, two and a half years after it struck a reef while performing a display maneuver to move close to shore and "salute" the port. Residents of the tiny island, which depends on tourism, hope this stage in the salvage will repeat the success of a complex "parbuckling" operation which stabilized the wreck last year.

"I am happy they are taking it away because to see a ship like that always there, with the deaths that happened, it gives us the shivers," said ferry worker Italo Arienti. The ship's captain, Francesco Schettino, is on trial accused of manslaughter, causing a shipwreck and abandoning ship. He is fighting the charges. Paying for the disaster, including breaking up the vessel and repairing damage to Giglio, is likely to cost the ship's owner and operator Costa Crociere, a unit of Carnival Corp, more than 1.5 billion euros ($20.46 billion), its chief executive said last week.


Italian mayor wants to ban PDA, kissing between gay couples

An Italian mayor said this week that he finds kissing between people of the same-sex so "morally harmful" that he wants to ban it in his municipality. "Kissing in public between homosexuals? No thanks," Gianluca Buonanno, the mayor of the Italian municipality Borgosesia, told Italian newspaper La Repubblica, per a Huffington Post translation. "I don't like two people of the same sex making public displays of affection. It's a question of respect. And I'm convinced that it's also morally harmful for children."

La Repubblica reports that the mayor is proposing a new ordinance that would ban PDA between gay couples, who could be fined up to 500 euros for sharing a kiss on the streets of Borgosesia. As Pink News notes, Buonanno -- who also told La Repubblica that he intends on putting up a photograph of virulently anti-gay Russian President Vladimir Putin in his office -- has a "reputation for inane stunts."

Earlier this year, for instance, he was expelled from Parliament for pulling a sea bass from under his bench and waving it around. According to The Local Italy, the mayor had used the fish to protest a bill that called for the decriminalization of undocumented immigration.  Responding to Buonanno's latest comments regarding PDA between same-sex couples, European Parliament member Daniele Viotti said the "new decree is just the latest, pathetic publicity stunt by a narrow-minded man who desperately wants to be in the spotlight." “Mr Buonanno is only able to give a voice to all the worst values that, unfortunately, are still circulating in Europe. As always, he is focusing his political frustrations on citizens who are more vulnerable to discrimination," Viotti said, per Pink News.


Italian religious procession sparks mafia row

The Catholic bishop of a small diocese in southern Italy has suspended all church processions after a parade took a detour to salute a mafia boss who was under house arrest. The mayor, police and priests had been among those following a statue of the Virgin Mary through the streets of Oppido Mamertina. When the procession changed course, two policemen left and lodged a complaint. It comes two weeks after Pope Francis condemned the mafia and its members. The BBC's Alan Johnston in Rome says the incident in Oppido Mamertina seemed to fly in the face of Francis's powerful message. Italy's interior minister described the episode as "deplorable and repulsive".  Oppido Mamertina is in Calabria which is the stronghold of the 'Ndrangheta crime syndicate. The local archbishop said it was a pity the priests present did not have the courage to walk away from the procession - as the police officers had done - when it became clear what was going on.

Police said on Monday they were investigating possible collusion between the leaders of the procession and mob boss Giuseppe Mazzagatti, 82, who is serving a life sentence under house arrest for health reasons. Prosecutors said they were looking at video footage taken during the event. "Whoever made the Madonna bow has committed a double sin," Nunzio Galantino, head of the Italian episcopal conference, told the Corriere della Sera newspaper. "It's absurd. The Madonna can bow to poverty, to those in need, in front of a sincere conversion, but not in subjugation to a delinquent." In a Mass held in Calabria last month, Pope Francis described the 'Ndrangheta as the "adoration of evil".

Correspondents say the mafia has benefited in the past from historic ties to the Church, with many priests turning a blind eye to its crimes. The 'Ndrangheta is one of the most powerful mafia organisations in Italy, along with the Sicilian Cosa Nostra and the Neapolitan Camorra.


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Emanuel Paparella2014-07-13 15:59:12
In the famous movie The Godfather, which is a take-off from the novel by Mario Puzo with the same title, there is a conversation between the Godfather's son (the future godfather) and his fiancé where he says something to this effect: what difference is there between what my father does, the power he wields, and the power exercised by of our politicians who send young people to die in useless wars to protect the interests of the rich and powerful? As one thinks of some of our so called leaders and politicians,those words become food for thought.

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