Entries in italy (118)


Two Policemen Shot Outside Italian Prime Minister’s Office

iStockphoto(ROME) -- A gunman in Rome wounded two policemen in a crowded square near the prime minister’s office on Sunday.

Police arrested the suspect, identified as Luigi Preiti according to BBC News.

A Rome prosecutor says the gunman intended to target politicians, but could not find any and opened fire on police. instead.

He was apparently motivated by economic woes and frustration with the Italian government. Two months of political impasse and a deepening economic crisis have left many Italians fed up with what they see as out-of-touch politicians.

The gunman had recently lost his job and was desperate. He confessed everything to the police when he was arrested, and according to the prosecutor he did not appear mentally imbalanced.

BBC News reports that one of the injured policemen is in serious condition with a wound to his neck, while the other has a serious wound to the leg. They also report that a pregnant woman was slightly hurt.

While this was happening, Prime Minister Enrico Letta, and the new government were being sworn in a few blocks away. The swearing-in followed two months of political deadlock.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Italian Cardinal Could Have the Inside Track in Pope Sweepstakes

GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Is there a favorite to become the next pope?

The Washington Post lists Italian Cardinal Angelo Scola as the leading candidate based on his popularity with conservative theologians and the fact that the 71-year-old came very close to succeeding Pope John Paul II in 2005.

As it happened, the cardinal from Venice lost to Joseph Ratzinger, who became Benedict XVI, perhaps because he was too young -- that is, in his mid-60s.

However, Scola, a strict adherent to Roman Catholic doctrine but someone who is also media savvy, doesn't seem to have that problem now.  If chosen, he would resume the long line of pontiffs from Italy going back centuries that was broken by John Paul II in 1978.

Familiar in the way of Italian politics, it’s also reported that Scola has a particular empathy for the poor and disenfranchised and is regarded as something of a reformist who has called African, Asian and Latin American churches “beacons of hope” while also encouraging inter-faith dialogue with Islam.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Plane Carrying Missoni, Italian Fashion Boss, Reported Missing 

Medioimages/Photodisc/Thinkstock(CARACAS,Venezuela) -- Vittorio Missoni and his wife are reported missing, who were last seen on board a flight from the archipelago of Los Roques heading towards Maiquetia Airport in Caracas, according to the BBC.

The aircraft disappeared midmorning on Friday and has not be traced since, reports the BBC.

Missoni, 58, is the co-owner of the Missoni Italian fashion empire with his siblings.

The Missoni brand was popular in the fall of 2011 when they did a designer collaboration with Target and sold out of many of their products.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Italian Chefs Make World's Largest Gluten-Free Pizza

Lara Hata/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Is it a sign of the apocalypse?  The world's largest pizza has been baked in Italy and it is gluten-free.  The mega-pie was put together by five Italians chefs.  

According to, it contains "19,800 pounds of flour, 10,000 pounds of tomato sauce, 8,800 pounds of mozzarella cheese, 1,488 pounds of margarine, 551 pounds of rock salt, 220 pounds of lettuce and 55 pounds of vinegar."

The humongous pizza weighed in at a whopping 51,257 pounds.  It was made with 5,000 batches of dough and took 48 hours to bake.  

The old record for the largest pizza didn't even come close to this one.  It measured 122 feet in diameter and was created in South Africa in the 1990s.

The chefs named their creation Ottavia to pay tribute to Rome's first emperor Octavian Augustus, who enjoyed a good slice of pizza every now and then.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Italy's Former Prime Minister in Love Again

Ian Waldie/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Although he's lost his job and was sentenced to four years in prison for tax fraud, former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi still knows love is the most important thing in his life.

On Monday, it was announced that the 76-year-old tycoon had gotten engaged to his 27-year-old girlfriend, Francesca Pascale, described by her fiancée as "a beautiful girl, beautiful from the outside, but even more beautiful inside."

The age gap doesn't seem to disturb Berlusconi too much, who was previously married twice before and has five children.

Pascale may have her work cut out for her since Berlusconi is known to be something of a tomcat.  He was previously accused of having sex with an underage girl at one of his infamous "Bunga Bunga" parties at his villa in Milan.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Heavy Floods Kill at Least Four in Italy

Marco Sabadin/AFP/Getty Images(ROME) -- Heavy floods in Italy have become deadly, with at least four people killed in Tuscany, BBC News reports.

Three utility workers perished when their vehicle fell off a collapsed bridge. Another man, 73, is believed dead after his car was caught in rising waters, according to BBC.

Families in parts of northern and central Italy, where water has swamped the roads and engulfed towns and cities, reportedly have taken refuge on rooftops.  Seventy percent of the historic city of Venice is submerged under water, Ansa news agency reported Monday.

Umbria and western Tuscany appear to be the worst hit areas. The governor of Tuscany, Enrico Rossi, has called for military deployment to lend aid in flooded areas.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


American Student Accused of Stabbing Roommate 25 Times in Rome

Comstock/Thinkstock(ROME) -- A U.S. student studying abroad has been arrested for attempted murder for allegedly stabbing his roommate 25 times after a drug-fueled night out in Rome on Halloween.

At an apartment around the corner from Rome's famous Coliseum, 20-year-old Reid Alexander Schepis, a first-year student at John Cabot University, a private U.S. liberal arts college, allegedly stabbed his longtime friend Fabio Malpeso, 19.  Schepis and Malpeso, friends from New Jersey, were partying late Halloween at a Rome night club.

Schepis told authorities he'd used drugs for the first time that night, mixing ecstasy and alcohol.  He told police that he has no memory of what happened after the two headed to the apartment Malpeso shared with his sister to sleep off the wild night, and he allegedly went into his sleeping friend's room at dawn and repeatedly stabbed him.

Malpeso's sister and her boyfriend heard the screams and ran to help.  Malpeso survived the stab wounds and is now recovering in a Rome hospital.

Former FBI agent and ABC News consultant Brad Garret says the evidence suggests drugs were a factor in the crime.

"The story on the surface certainly sounds like some sort of drug-induced, either psychosis or hallucination, or something, [for] this one student to stab this other student in excess of 25 times, as has been described," he said.  "That is somebody that is in a frenzy.  That isn't someone accidentally, or in a rage, [stabbing] someone."

Schepis' attorney Vincenzo Comi said his client is distraught.

"Every time that his friend was named, Reid became profoundly upset and cried while apologizing for what he had done," he said.

The stabbing occurred five years to the day that British student Meredith Kercher was found brutally stabbed to death in the apartment she shared with Amanda Knox, the U.S. student studying in Perugia, Italy, who made headlines for years as she fought murder charges.

Knox and her then-boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, had also allegedly been taking drugs the night of Kercher's death, smoking marijuana.  The two were accused and convicted of the killing in 2009, but the decision was overturned last October and both set free.

On Monday, Malpeso is still recovering in a hospital in Rome after having surgery for stab wounds to his lungs.  Schepis is under house arrest at an undisclosed location.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Uproar in Italy over Scientists Convicted for Not Predicting Earthquake

Jason Reed/Thinkstock(ROME) -- Italy is a tough place for scientists, especially those whose specialty is to predict earthquakes.

On Monday, a court convicted seven scientists and experts on manslaughter charges because they didn't foresee the 6.3-temblor that left over 300 people dead in the central town of L'Aquila in 2009.

All seven were sentenced to six years in prison, but will remain free pending an inevitable appeal of the conviction.

During the trial, the seismologists argued that the real culprit was the inferior construction of buildings in the town, which contributed to most of the deaths in L'Aquila.

The outcome of the trial has also led members of Italy's Major Risks Committee to resign in protest, charging that predicting earthquakes is virtually impossible and that early warning systems literally give people only up to 60 seconds to vacate buildings.

There are also fears that the convictions will frighten those with expertise in other areas not to share their advice with the Italian government, lest they be prosecuted if they're wrong.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Scientists Convicted of Manslaughter for Failing to Predict Italian Quake

Zoonar/Thinkstock(LONDON) -- Giustino Parisse knelt by his children's beds, trying to relax them. They had been jolted awake by a small earthquake near the picturesque Italian town of L'Aquila. He told them that scientists and local officials had appeared on TV, saying there was nothing to worry about. So, on their advice, he soothed his children to sleep.

Later that night, a much more powerful earthquake hit his town. His house collapsed. Both of his children died.

"They gave the impression to the outside world that there was nothing to be afraid of," Parisse, a journalist, told the BBC, sitting on the rubble where his kitchen used to be. "That message had no basis to it."

Parisse and a group of residents sued the scientists and a local government official for failing to warn him. His children would still be alive, he argued, had the scientists done their job properly.

Science cannot predict earthquakes. But Monday, in a decision that stunned many, Parisse and fellow residents won their case. A court in L'Aquila found the scientists guilty of manslaughter, of providing "superficial and ineffective" assessments and of disclosing "inaccurate, incomplete and contradictory" information about earthquake danger.

The verdict's shockwaves travelled quickly.

"I'm dejected, despairing. I still don't understand what I'm accused of," Enzo Boschi, former president of the National Geophysics and Vulcanology Institute, told reporters Monday. Boschi faces six years in jail if his appeal is rejected.

Tom Jordan, a seismologist with the University of Southern California who chaired an international commission on earthquake forecasting, investigated the quake and wrote about what they learned for the Italian government.

He called the verdict the "seismological trial of the century" and said it's being talked about by seismologists everywhere.

Jordan also did not think such a verdict could be reached in the U.S.

"Our legal system is quite different than theirs and I don't think this would have played out that way in the U.S. But I think it does have a chilling effect," he said. "[As a result of this] there are a lot of discussions between scientists regarding how they communicate what they know to an audience."

Before the verdict, 5,000 scientists from around the world signed a letter supporting those on trial, arguing it was impossible to predict an earthquake and accusing the court of putting science on trial.

"It is manifestly unfair for scientists to be criminally charged for failing to act on information that the international scientific community would consider inadequate as a basis for issuing a warning," said the letter, signed by Alan Leshner, the CEO and executive publisher of the journal Science. "Subjecting scientists to criminal charges for adhering to accepted scientific practices may have a chilling effect on researchers, thereby impeding the free exchange of ideas."

But the plaintiffs focused on a particular moment that they say influenced their decision not to evacuate their homes, as they normally would. On March 31, 2009, Italy's equivalent of FEMA -- the National Commission for the Forecast and Prevention of Major Risks -- responded to residents' concerns following a series of small earthquakes. The commission concluded in a memo that a major quake was "unlikely," according to the Italian news agency Ansa, though it stressed it was not impossible.

Franco Barbieri ended the meeting by saying there was "no reason to say that a sequence of shocks of low magnitude can be considered a precursor of a strong event."

On television, Bernardo de Bernadinis, then the deputy director of the civil protection department, tried to reassure the population. "The scientific community keeps saying the situation is favorable because of the continuous discharge of energy," said de Bernadinis.

The earthquake that killed Parisse's children and 300 other people – including more than 10 percent of L'Aquila hamlet – hit six days later. Much of L'Aquila is still destroyed.

The six scientists and one government official who were convicted will now appeal.

This is "a profound mistake," argued physicist Luciano Maiani, who currently chairs the High Risks Committee. Those convicted "are professionals who have spoken in good faith and were not driven by personal interests."

But residents who lost family members in the earthquake hailed the verdict.

"The State's main duty is to provide security," argued Aldo Scimia, whose mother was killed. "And they failed."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Giraffe Dies of Cardiac Arrest After Escaping from Circus

Barcroft Media /Landov(IMOLA, Italy) -- A giraffe shocked townspeople in Italy Friday when it sprang free from a local circus and ran through the streets for four hours.  Police managed to tranquilize it, but it died shortly after of cardiac arrest.

The giraffe escaped from the Rinaldo Orfei circus in Imola, Italy, the BBC reported.  Police chased the 16-foot, 2,000-pound giraffe as it galloped through the streets during rush hour, scaring passersby and damaging vehicles with its hooves.

Photos show police chasing the giraffe down a highway and a group of people desperately trying to push the giraffe into a cage using a ladder.

Two giraffes died at a zoo in Lodz, Poland in May after vandals broke in and threw benches and other debris into the animal cages, the BBC reported. One giraffe died of a heart attack shortly after the break-in and the other was found dead the next day from stress.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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