Correspondent, Rome, Italy
Catherine's Feed
Aug 9, 2013

Italian government in new row over housing tax

ROME (Reuters) – Italy’s economy minister has warned against scrapping an unpopular housing tax, stirring a new row in the shaky left-right coalition over the levy which Silvio Berlusconi’s center right wants abolished.

Scarcely a day passes without a new dispute in the government – an uneasy alliance of former adversaries forced to work together after an inconclusive general election – raising speculation it may fall in the autumn.

Aug 8, 2013

Pope Francis beefs up supervision of Vatican bank

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – Pope Francis on Thursday strengthened monitoring of the Vatican bank to prevent money laundering or the financing of terrorism as part of his campaign to clean it up after decades of scandal.

Issuing a “Motu Proprio” – a decree at his own initiative, Francis said the Vatican’s internal watchdog, the Financial Information Authority (FIA), would have increased powers of supervision over the bank and other Holy See departments involved in financial activities.

Aug 8, 2013

Hefty crop prospects to keep weighing on falling food prices – FAO

ROME, Aug 8 (Reuters) – Global food prices could decline
further in coming months after hitting their lowest level in
more than a year in July, the United Nations’ food agency said
on Thursday, pointing to prospects of abundant grain supplies.

Food prices surged during the summer of 2012 due to a
historic drought in the United States but improving prospects
for cereal supplies in 2013/14 are fuelling the opposite trend
this year, the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) said.

Aug 7, 2013

Head of Italian ruling party calls on Berlusconi to resign

ROME (Reuters) – The head of the party that leads Italy’s government called on Wednesday for Silvio Berlusconi to resign from politics after he lost his appeal against a tax fraud conviction, worsening tensions in the fragile left-right coalition.

Center-left Prime Minister Enrico Letta has reacted with restraint, desperate to avoid a government crisis, but the secretary general of his Democratic Party (PD) said all citizens are equal before the law and so Berlusconi should step down.

Aug 1, 2013

Black Italy minister pulls out of debate amid racial insults

ROME (Reuters) – Italy’s first black minister has pulled out of a debate with the anti-immigrant Northern League after its leader refused to condemn a barrage of racial insults she has faced from his party’s members.

Integration Minister Cecile Kyenge, who wants to make it easier for immigrants to gain Italian citizenship, was due to discuss the issue with Veneto Governor Luca Zaia at a Northern League festival near Cervia on the Adriatic Coast on Saturday.

Aug 1, 2013

Rome mayor plans traffic revolution near ancient Colosseum

ROME, Aug 1 (Reuters) – Less than two months in office, the
mayor of Rome is promising a minor revolution in the Italian
capital and risking the ire of local motorists by closing the
area around the ancient imperial forum complex to traffic.

The roads near the forum and the nearby Colosseum will be
shut down on Saturday night for a special series of celebrations
before being cut off permanently, starting from 5.30 a.m the
following morning.

Jul 27, 2013

Bananas thrown at Italy’s first black minister

ROME (Reuters) – Some of Italy’s top politicians on Saturday rallied behind the country’s first black minister, a target of racist slurs since her appointment in April, after a spectator threw bananas at her while she was making a speech.

Integration Minister Cecile Kyenge, who is originally from Democratic Republic of Congo, was appearing at a political rally in Cervia in central Italy on Friday, when someone in the audience threw bananas towards the stage, narrowly missing it.

Jul 17, 2013

Italian TV drops beauty contest that launched Loren to stardom

ROME, July 17 (Reuters) – It may have set Sophia Loren on
the road to Hollywood stardom, but the Italian state broadcaster
thinks the Miss Italia beauty contest is showing its age, and is
dropping its coverage after 25 years.

Predictably in a country where skimpily clad women are a
common sight on mainstream television channels, especially those
owned by former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi’s Mediaset
empire, the decision sparked a vigorous debate.

Jul 16, 2013

Trial of Costa Concordia captain resumes in Italy

ROME (Reuters) – The trial of the captain of the Costa Concordia cruise ship, which capsized off Italy’s coast last year killing 32 people, resumes on Wednesday after it was delayed by a lawyers’ strike earlier this month.

The trial will examine one of the most dramatic marine accidents in recent Italian history, when the huge liner struck a rock outside the port of Giglio in January 2012 and keeled over on to its side, setting off a chaotic night-time evacuation of more than 4,000 passengers and crew.

Jul 11, 2013

Pope Francis targets child abuse, leaks in Vatican legal reform

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – Pope Francis, acting to end years of scandals damaging the Catholic Church, overhauled Vatican law on Thursday to specify sexual violence against children as a crime and impose tough penalties for staff who leak confidential Vatican information.

Issuing a “Motu Proprio”, a decree of his own initiative, Francis also said he would renew the Holy See’s commitment to international conventions against organized crime and terrorism.