Implications of being 20 in the South

published earlier today in the Italian Insider.

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Implications of being 20 in the South

By Florence Brock

NAPLES – In an effort to propose stimulating discussion on plaguing issues, the top daily newspaper Il Mattino has announced the forum entitled “Avere 20 anni al Sud: le ragioni per restare e per tornare” (The implications of being 20 in the South of Italy: reasons to stay and to come back)” to be held at the Mercadante Theatre on Dec. 11.

 With the participation of Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni, the event is scheduled to start at 10:30 am and run until mid-afternoon at 6 pm. In addition, institutions, economists, entrepreneurs, businessmen, credit institutions and start-up reps from the South will take the microphone and give their input on a predicament that has been plaguing this nation for years.

“The interconnection between the haemorrhage of ‘cervelli in fuga’ (‘fleeing of southern intelligence’) and the brilliant minds that come to the territory is still very negative,” explains Director of Il Mattino Barbano at the press conference Monday. “This means that the policies adopted until now have not managed to invert a necessary tendency from which a North-South economic recovery depends,” he goes on to say.

In the last ten years, more than 200,000 college graduates have left the South of Italy to move either to northern Italy or abroad. The Association for Industrial Development in the South – SVIMEZ – has estimated that the cost of cultural impoverishment for the South amounts to nearly 30 billion Euros based on pro capita educational spending supported by the state.

The situation the association outlines is emblematic of phenomena that appears unstoppable and that, together with the ever-growing annual migration flux, risks depleting this area of the country, leaving it more and more at the margins of economic growth. In light of such a bleak perspective that interrogates the consciousness of every sector of civil life, people need to react and think seriously. Coming to the conclusion that it is impossible to ignore the role of society and it’s most significant expressions that include universities, companies, banks, and politics.

With this in mind, some of the most important national institutions, experts from the academic research world, teachers and economists that represent the knowledge of the entire country, and institutions within the territory, have all been called on to discuss the issue.

Highlighting the intense forum programme in the Siani room, the newspaper chief illustrated the discussion topics on themes concerning work, the South, and young people.

The day discussions will be centred around three sessions.

Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni will give the opening remarks followed by illustrious local leaders such as Mayor of Naples Luigi de Magistris, Governor of Campania Vincenzo De Luca, Rector of University Federico II Gaetano Manfredi and others.

At noon, Minister of Economic Development Carlo Calenda is scheduled to open the second session followed by a rich series of interventions from the business world.

The last discussion will commence at 14:30 pm with comments from Minister of the South Claudio De Vincenti, followed by editorial comments from Il Mattino journalists and various leftwing and rightwing political party members.

“In an attempt to promote discussion on themes concerning work, which are a main focus for young people and their future, the event plans on telling stories of those that fight for the dignity of a qualified and qualifying job here in the south as well as the testimony of those who have been inducted to leave but who perhaps would like to return without being able to do so,” the newspaper editor concludes.

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Hard times continue for Pd as chaos reigns over Naples vote

By Florence Brock

 

NAPLES – With the official Democratic Party provincial ballot count scheduled today at 18:00, representative Alberto Losacco has just returned from Naples where he had been sent to oversee party primaries held over the weekend.

 

As people await the election results, bystanders cannot help but give space to the chaos caused by party leaders who changed their minds three times concerning election sustainment.

 

Among the squabbles surrounding the weekend vote, commission members plan on addressing the Naples case that caused a real internal party split at a national level, involving two contrary decisions concerning the election. While undersecretary Maurizio Martina asked for the vote to be postponed, Pd organisation director Andrea Rossi gave orders to proceed with the provincial secretary election.

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It all started when one of the three candidates, Nicola Oddati, former Iervolino cabinet member from Salerno, now closely tied to governor Vincenzo De Luca, asked for the annulment of the election in order to check registered voter lists. The party thereafter proceeded with multiple changes of mind all in the same day.

 

With regional leaders such as Secretary Assunta Tartaglione standing by the democratic election, undersecretary Maurizio Martina claimed: ”after considering political evaluations immersed nationally, it would be a good idea to postpone the elections”.

 

Such communication, however, did not make its way to poll booths such as Bagnoli, Herculaneum and Pomigliano d’Arco where voting commenced on schedule.

 

Candidate Oddati now states he will not recognise the election. “I abide by the statements undersecretary Maurizio Martina made before the vote as he is an elected party member and not merely in office by appointment.”

 

The candidate equally goes on to emphasize he cannot recognise the outcome of a vote that was cancelled and then re-instated.

 

Following a hard loss to a united right-wing front and the Five-star Movement in the Sicilian Regional elections just one week ago, putting off Sunday primaries might have given voters time to fall back and regroup.

 

As the party nonetheless seems determined to uphold Rossi’s words and proceed with the ballot count in via Nazareno, the discussion over the weekend primaries appears far from over.

 

De Magistris teams up with Varoufakis

published earlier today in the Italian Insider.

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De Magistris teams up with Varoufakis

By Florence Brock

NAPLES – As De Magistris increases in popularity as General Secretary of the DemA party founded earlier this year, despite his insisting he will not step down as current mayor of Naples before the end of his mandate to run in the 2020 race for Campania Region governor, he seems to have his eyes set on Europe.

With Germans at the voting booths this past weekend to elect their political leader for the next four years, Italy wasted no time in interrogating itself on what kind of Europe is at the door.

In her season premiere Sunday, In mezza’ora, now entitled Mezz’ora in più for this year’s supplementary broadcast time, host Lucia Annunziata moderated a varied panel discussion on Europe that included former Greek Minister of Finance Janis Varoufakis.

Expressing a clear need for transnational democratic unification if Europe intends on securing a future for itself, the Greek politician mentioned Naples mayor De Magistris as a fervent embracer of his new political movement.

With growing consensus, DemA party has been forging its way towards the convergence of local independent movements that in other parts of the world have been demonstrating there is indeed a different and effective way of conducting politics.

Networking similar global movement beliefs, DemA adhered to DiEM25 movement founded by the Greek economist in 2016.

“Along with many other European travel companions, our political will to build a European list for 2019 is very strong,” stated De Magistris last week in reference to Varoufakis and his upcoming visit to Naples.  Scheduled for September 30 in the southern city, the mayor will meet with the former Greek Minister of Finance where they plan on laying the foundation of an administrative process. “We are going to form a list against the oligarchs and new forms of Fascism. It will be a people’s Europe based on rights, social justice, common good, the environment, peace and a Mediterranean area no longer stained with such a vast extension of blood,” he went on to say.

This is not the first time Europe has heard the Greek politician’s words echo across borders. Varoufakis was nominated Minister of Finance under the Tsipras administration in 2015 and was a key figure in Greece’s fight against continued European austerity toward his country debts.

At the time, he sustained that placing European partners under pressure would lead to more favourable conditions for Greece. While his openly declared “Grexit” failed to receive votes of confidence among fellow cabinet members and, in turn, forced him to step down, the Greek politician has continued his battle for a cohesive Europe.

While Varoufakis would soon resign from his position in the Tsipras government, in order to facilitate degenerated relations between Greece and its creditors, he founded DiEM25, a political movement for the transformation of a democratic European Union, just a short time after in February 2016.

To panel surprise during the show, Varoufakis announced that he would even welcome the fourth and final term of German Prime Minister Merkel, hoping in her driven desire to really unite the continent without imposition.

With growing questions plaguing European people, big issues such as inequality, multinational tax evasion, migration and the launching of a new ecological productive system have gone much beyond national borders.

As politics has been unable until now to cross such borders and respond with effective policies, DiEM25 has begun to invite Europeans to join together.

From September 27 to October 1, the political movement takes its tour to Italy and will face some of the big questions present today and define a concrete way of getting out of the mire.

DiEM25 plans on travelling to five Italian cities, stopping in Milan Turin, Ferrara, Bologna, Palermo and in Naples where the movement is scheduled to hold its first national assembly.

“Transnational lists will give people the opportunity to vote for a true democratic Europe,” confirmed Former Prime Minister of Italy Enrico Letta, equally a guest on last weekend’s show. “Now European elections are held only on a national basis. Either Europe heads towards a cross-border democratic Europe and takes a step forward or it will remain at a standstill,” he added.

With 70,000 members, DiEM25 has taken on the challenge, including mayors across the continent such as activist and mayor of Barcelona Ada Colau together with global public figures such as Brian Eno and philosopher Noam Chomsky already on the bandwagon.

By the next European elections in 2019, the movement aims at successfully building a real rupturing force, capable of driving forward an innovative and breakthrough campaign from Portugal to Poland…passing through Italy.

Solfatara crater swallows mother, father and elder sibling

 

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Solfatara crater swallows mother, father and elder sibling

By Florence Brock

NAPLES – Tragedy touches a small town just north of Naples as three tourists on vacation from Turin lose their lives at Solfatara of Pozzuoli, when a crater opened up at their feet.

Almost an entire family was destroyed Tuesday in an accident involving a 45 year-old man, his 42 year-old wife and their 11 year-old son. Their other son, who just turned seven, is the only immediate family survivor.

Firemen and authorities arrived immediately at the scene and have closed off all access to the crater.

At the moment, authorities are trying to reconstruct the scene of the terrible accident that took the tourists’ lives. It is still unclear if the three deceased died as a result of the almost five foot fall or if they fell to their death following strong gas inhalations.

According to the civil defence squad, the elder son of the Turin couple apparently crossed over into an off-limits area where there was quicksand and crumbly soil. Over-powered by gas inhalations, the boy lost his senses. In an attempt to reach him, both his parents seemingly fell into the crater that had newly opened under their feet, all dropping in together in boiling mud three metres deep. In an attempt to pull up the boy, the father was sucked down and the mother as well when she, in turn, tried to help her husband.

Firemen extracted the three bodies from the chasm.

“I saw a boy crying as he was running away. I had no idea I was dealing with the worst tragedy of my life,” states Neapolitan pizza maker Diego Vitagliano present during the tragedy.

“I have been here for 40 years and I have never seen an incident like this,” says coffee bar owner Armando Guerriero just outside the geyser grounds. Just after the accident, the younger surviving sibling was brought into his establishment. “We tried to calm him down as he was clearly very shaken up. He kept asking for his family,” explained keeper.

Solfatara, from late Latin Sulpha Terra meaning land of sulphur) is a site where you can visit boiling water up close with its vapours and steaming mud and is one of the main attractions of the Phlegrean Fields. Known for its characteristically strong rotten egg-like smell, the earth, tormented by fire, creates surreal scenes of unimaginable colours displaying dramatic geysers, springs of gas, and bursts of hot mud and seismic tremors.

Ryanair chooses Naples for nine new routes

Published earlier today in the Italian Insider.

 

Ryanair chooses Naples for nine new routes

By Florence Brock

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NAPLES- Ryanair plans to attract 500,000 new passengers by 2018 by adding nine new route connections for Capodichino International Airport, Naples. While holding up a flashy sign at a meeting Wednesday morning, CEO Michael O’Leary boasted the latest company expansion, to be added to the 19 destinations already departing from the southern Italian airport.

Estimating a total of two million passengers within 15 months, the Irish low cost airline will now fly to Bologna, Budapest, Brussels Charleroi, Dublin, Cracow, Malta, Porto, Thessaloniki and Wroclaw.“What is particularly important for us are the new flights planned for the winter season, confirming Capodichino as key for the Ryanair network,” declared Gesac CEO Armando Brunini with satisfaction at the morning meeting. “Even with assured success, we did not imagine we would reach 2 million users so quickly,” admits O’Leary.

While the low cost company continues its expansion, rumours of the possible acquisition of Alitalia has also been in the air.

“By October 2, Ryanair will present a bid offer for Alitalia”, the CEO communicated just days ago in a press conference at the Bologna airport. “We see a very interesting long-term future for Alitalia. If it were to become part of our group, it would remain separate from Ryanair and continue as a competitor. We do not want to transform it in a low cost company, subsidiary of Ryanair,” he affirms, insisting they would keep on most of the pilots, cabin crew and engineers.

Mounting as a possible solution to airline and its economic troubles, the desire to purchase a mere fleet of 90 aircrafts appears as going clearly against the wishes of the Italian government.

Identifying any dismemberment of the former Italian flagship company as unacceptable, commissioners are not in favour of “slicing-up” the company. “Cutting up Alitalia would be a serious mistake and I am saying this as Minister of Culture and Tourism, underlining the position of the government,” voiced Dario Franceschini to Sole 24ore. “Besides the value of its property, Alitalia is nonetheless the first glimpse travellers have of the country when arriving from all parts of the world: aircrafts are the first place where people can begin appreciating Italian food, cinema, art, beauty and style. That’s why slicing up the company would be a big mistake,” he concludes.

In the meantime, Ryanair has also announced it will not bid for any assets of insolvent German airline Air Berlin, calling the process “a stitch-up”. Although the Irish company had expressed real interest in the acquisition of the German airline, O’Leary has complained that its bankruptcy was engineered to help strengthen Lufthansa, number one airline in Germany.

“If there were a fair and equal opportunity, we would get involved, but it’s a stitch-up” and they are not letting us participate,” affirmed the Irish CEO at a news conference in Berlin last month.

While Germany’s economy ministry rejects Ryanair’s claims that the insolvency was staged, the low cost Irish company has asked German and European anti-trust authorities to probe into what he said was a “conspiracy” between Air Berlin, Lufthansa and the German government which would lead to higher prices for consumers.

President Mattarella helicopters to Ischia

Published earlier today in the Italian Insider.

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President Mattarella helicopters to Ischia

By Florence Brock

NAPLES –  Italian President Sergio Mattarella landed on the Island of Ischia to applause from locals late Tuesday afternoon in support of the green island that suffered a devastating earthquake eight days ago.

“We are here to help you,” declared the head of stsate as he arrives to Maio Square in the heart of the island red zone hit by last week’s tremor. “Do not worry. Have faith in the state. We will not abandon you,” said the president to some women left without a home in Casamicciola.

“I no longer believe in the government,” calls out another woman enraged and pained. “You must believe in us, you must,” replies the head of state, quick to add: “ You will get back on your feet soon and I will stand by your side.”

Walking around the earthquake epicentre, Mattarella met with the family whose three children were buried under rubble for hours before being pulled out to safety.

Speaking with journalists at the close of his visit on Ischia, the president made it a point of emphasizing how the island has nonetheless managed to maintain its order and efficiency despite the recent island disaster. “The tourism present now is the guarantee of Ischia and its extraordinary beauty,” he insists, underlining the welcoming capacity of the southern location.

Earlier today, the Council of Ministers met upon Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni’s request and deliberated a state of emergency for the island caused by the seismic event that took place on August 21. The small towns of Casamicciola Terme, Forio and Lacco Ameno are the objects of the seven million Euros allocated by the government out of the National Emergency Fund.

Currently, there is a CFS task force (Formation and Security Centre) from Naples are busy at work to furnish free consultation to ensure the security of the damaged buildings from the earthquake and the proper removal of rubble and debris.

As debate ensues over possible abusive construction at the bottom of the disproportionate damage for the light 4.0 quake, the INGV (National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology) has released a report from samples taken August 23 from the heart of the earthquake devastation. Most of the buildings involved in the damage were well made in brick, rock or tuff, but deprived of simple anti-seismic protection that can be found, for example, in many homes located in the Appenines.

Governor Vincenzo de Luca and Perfect Carmela Pagano were equally present to welcome President Mattarella.