Italy

Regional News • Europe • Italy
Italy entered a three-day Easter lockdown amid vaccination snags
Italy entered a three-day Easter lockdown amid vaccination snags
Credit: Illustration: Pendect, Ashley Winkler (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

Italy entered a three-day nationwide coronavirus lockdown Saturday to deter Easter travel and get-togethers even as the country's variant-fueled spike in new infections began to wane.

The government had announced last month that it would place all regions into the strictest "red zone" lockdown over the Easter weekend to limit the chances of contagion, taking the same precautions it enforced over Christmas and New Year's. But because Italian hospitals in most regions are still well over their Covid-19 capacity in both intensive care units and other wards, the ministry concluded that new infections were still "too high ... to allow any reduction in current restrictive measures."

Technology • Internet & Web
Google to pay Italian publishers for news
Google to pay Italian publishers for news
Credit: Google

Google has announced its first agreements with Italian publishers for Google News Showcase.. Google will pay Italian publishers for content and will give them access to Google News Showcase, a new product launched in late 2020 that will allow them to enhance their online content and strengthen their relationship with their readers. Publishers that signed are RCS Media Group, il Sole 24Ore, Gruppo Monrif, Caltagirone Editore, il Fatto Quotidiano, Libero, Il Foglio, Il Giornale, Il Tempo, Ciaopeople, Edinet, Gruppo Corriere, Citynews and Varese web.

Regional News • Europe
UK health minister admits preferential treatment from AstraZeneca
UK health minister admits preferential treatment from AstraZeneca
Credit: Illustration: Pendect, Ashley Winkler.

As 29 million apparently hoarded AstraZeneca vaccine doses have been traced in Italy, Britain's health minister Matt Hancock has conceded preferential treatment for his country by the British-Swedish pharmaceutical company.

"I believe that free trading nations follow contract law," Hancock told the Financial Times. "Our treaty trumps theirs. It's called contract law and it's clear," he said, referring to the dispute between the EU and AstraZeneca over cut supply volumes.

Regional News • Europe
EU tightens Covid-19 vaccine export controls
EU tightens Covid-19 vaccine export controls
Credit: Illustration: Pendect, Ashley Winkler (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

New regulations announced Wednesday will make it easier to halt shipments of Covid-19 vaccines outside of the EU. The new rules were announced as a report emerged about 29 million AstraZeneca doses that were found during an inspection of a bottling plant in Italy.

The European Commission had negotiated vaccine supply contracts on behalf of the 27 EU member states, and Brussels has been frustrated by the slow pace of deliveries. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson took note of the new EU rules without mentioning vaccines but saying they could influence companies' decisions on where to invest.

Regional News • Europe
AstraZeneca hid 29 million doses of vaccines in a facility near Rome
AstraZeneca hid 29 million doses of vaccines in a facility near Rome
Credit: Illustration: Pendect, Ashley Winkler. (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

Italian inspectors found a secret stock of 29 million doses of the AstraZeneca Coronavirus vaccine in a filling plant of the company near Rome. AstraZeneca delivered around 30 million doses to the EU so far, but promised three times as much. The EU Commission is now demanding accountability.

Science • Medicine
More European countries to resume AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccinations after it was deemed "safe and effective" by the EMA
More European countries to resume AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccinations after it was deemed "safe and effective" by the EMA
Credit: gencat cat, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Several European countries, inclduing France, Italy, Cyprus, Latvia, Portugal, Germany, the Netherlands and Lithuania will resume administering AstraZeneca's Covid-19 vaccine in the following days after European Medicines Agency (EMA) announced the vaccine was "safe and effective".

Emer Cooke, head of the EMA, said that while "a small number of cases of rare and unusual but very serious clotting disorders" were uncovered, the agency did not find that the vaccine caused an increase in the risk of blood clots.

Regional News • Europe
More European countries suspend AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine

A total of 13 European countries have suspended the use of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine as of Tuesday due to blood clot concerns. Germany, France, Italy, Span, Portugal, Luxembourg and Slovenia suspended the vaccine on Monday, Sweden and Latvia followed on Tuesday.

Regional News • Europe • Germany
Germany halts use of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine
Germany halts use of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine
Credit: Illustration: Pendect, Ashley Winkler. (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

Germany on Monday halted the use of the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine, the Health Ministry announced in a statement. Italy, France and Spain follow suit later in the day.

"After new reports of thrombroses of the cerebral veins in connection with the vaccination in Germany and Europe, the PEI considers further investigations to be necessary," the Health Ministry announced.

The European Medicines Agency will decide "whether and how the new information will affect the authorization of the vaccine"

Regional News • Europe • Italy
Italy: lockdown starts Monday, exponential Coronavirus growth
Italy: lockdown starts Monday, exponential Coronavirus growth
Credit: unsplash.com/Gabriella Clare Marino

Italy headed into another strict lockdown on Monday. Regions that are considered red zones are affected by the new measures to contain the spread of more potent Coronavirus strains.

“I am aware that today’s measures will have an impact on children’s education, on the economy but also on the psychological state of us all,” Prime Minister Mario Draghi said Friday. “But they are necessary to avoid a worsening that will make inevitable even more stringent measures.”

Regional News • Europe
Biopharma company to produce Russian Sputnik V vaccine in Italy
Biopharma company to produce Russian Sputnik V vaccine in Italy
Credit: Illustration: Pendect, Ashley Winkler. (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

The Swiss biotech company Adienne Pharma & Biotech signed an agreement to manufacture the Sputnik V vaccine at its production site in the Milan region, said Antonio Francesco Di Naro, founder and president of the company.

The deal comes as Prime Minister Mario Draghi pledged to speed up Italy's fledgeling vaccination campaign amid a new rise in infections from the disease that's led to more than 100,000 fatalities in the country.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on Monday lashed out at manufacturers for failing to uphold their commitments as countries in Europe struggle to step up the pace of inoculations.

Regional News • Africa
Italian ambassador to DRC killed during attack on World Food Programme field mission
Luca Attanasio
Luca Attanasio Credit: Italian Embassy in DRC (Public Domain)

Luca Attanasio, Italy's ambassador to the Democratic Republic of Congo, has been killed in an armed attack.

According to diplomatic sources in Kinshasa, the ambassador to his injuries on Monday after an attack on a World Food Programme convoy near the city of Goma in the east of the country.

A policeman from the escort and the driver also died.

Climate & Environment
Italy's Mount Etna erupts, spews smoke & ashes and forces Catania airport to close
Mount Etna eruption as viewed from Naval Air Station Sigonella.
Mount Etna eruption as viewed from Naval Air Station Sigonella. Credit: Official U.S. Navy Page (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0)

Mount Etna erupted for the second time this month Tuesday evening. Etna is one of the most active stratovolcano, located on the east coast of Sicily, Italy, in the Metropolitan City of Catania. Due to ash in the air, the Catania international airport was closed.

Stefano Branco, the head of the INGV National Institute for Geophysics and Vulcanology, said that they had "seen worse" and that the activity was "not at all worrying."

Regional News • Europe • Italy
Mario Draghi accepts mandate to form new Italian government
Mario Draghi
Mario Draghi Credit: INSM (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0)

Mario Draghi, the former European Central Bank chief, has accepted a mandate to try to form a new Italian government as the country seeks a way out of the political crisis triggered by the collapse of its most recent coalition. Draghi was summoned on Wednesday to meet Italy’s president, Sergio Mattarella, after ruling coalition partners failed to form a majority following Giuseppe Conte’s resignation as prime minister last week. Mattarella ruled out calling early elections, adding that a “high profile” technical government was needed to steer the country.

Draghi said on Wednesday he was confident “unity will emerge” from dialogue with political parties and parliamentary groups. However, it is unclear whether he will win the broad support needed from political forces.

Regional News • Europe • Italy
Giuseppe Conte quits as Italy's PM in tactical move
Giuseppe Conte
Giuseppe Conte Credit: G20 Argentina (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0)

Italy’s prime minister, Giuseppe Conte, has resigned in a tactical move aimed at maximising his chances of leading a new government.

Conte officially handed his resignation on Tuesday to the president, Sergio Mattarella, who will begin consultations with party leaders on Wednesday. Mattarella asked Conte to stay on in a caretaker capacity while talks continued.

If Mattarella believes Conte has a strong enough prospect of forming a majority, then he could be reappointed and tasked with forming a new executive with a broader coalition.

Conte’s resignation comes after he survived confidence votes in both houses of parliament last week after the former prime minister Matteo Renzi triggered a political crisis by withdrawing his small Italia Viva party from the ruling coalition. However, the confidence votes left Conte with only a slim majority and he has since failed to strengthen support.

If Conte succeeds in forming a broad coalition, it would be his third administration in less than three years.

Regional News • Europe • European Union
Refugee rescue ship Ocean Viking is allowed to bring 370 refugees to Sicily
Refugee rescue ship Ocean Viking is allowed to bring 370 refugees to Sicily
Credit: Von Daniel Leite Lacerda - http://volfegan.deviantart.com/art/Ocean-Viking-anchored-245729067, CC BY-SA 3.0,

The rescue ship "Ocean Viking" is allowed to bring more than 370 boat migrants rescued from distress at sea to Augusta in Sicily. This was announced by the operator organization SOS Mediterranee on Sunday evening. Italy had assigned the crew the port near Syracuse. A heavily pregnant woman had reportedly been flown to the island of Lampedusa earlier by Italian authorities.

After that, there were still 373 people on board who had been rescued by four inflatable boats off Libya in recent days, he said. The crew had appealed to Malta and Italy to take them in. The arrival is expected for Monday.

Technology • Internet & Web
Italy blocks TikTok for certain users after death of girl allegedly playing 'choking' game
TikTok Logo
TikTok Logo Credit: Illustration: Pendect, LogoTikTok (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

Italian prosecutors have opened an investigation into the accidental death of a 10-year-old girl who allegedly took part in a "blackout challenge" on the video-sharing network TikTok.

TikTok, which is owned by Chinese company ByteDance, said on Friday it had not managed to identify any content on its site that could have encouraged the girl to participate in any such challenge, but was helping the authorities in the probe over possible "incitement to suicide".

Medical experts have warned about the danger of the challenge being taken up by some young people, who refer to it as "scarfing" or "the choking game" in which restricted oxygen to the brain results in a high.

Regional News • Europe • Italy
Giuseppe Conte wins confidence vote in Italy's senate by slim margin
Giuseppe Conte wins confidence vote in Italy's senate by slim margin
Credit: Presidency of the Italian Republic / via Wikimedia Commons

The victory ends the turmoil triggered by former prime minister Matteo Renzi, who last week yanked his small Italia Viva party from the ruling coalition, which includes the Five Star Movement (M5S) and Democratic party (PD), over disagreements about the handling of the pandemic and a post-Covid-19 economic recovery plan.

Conte, who has led two different administrations since 2018, was supported today by 156 lawmakers in the senate on Tuesday, with 140 voting against and 16 abstaining. Conte also won a vote of confidence in the lower house on Monday.

Thus, Italy’s prime minister, has managed to cling to power, but he will plough ahead with an even more fragile government as the country battles to emerge from the coronavirus pandemic and recession.

While minority governments are nothing new in Italy, what will be unprecedented is a minority government (backed by an unwieldly coalition) attempting to lead the country out of the deepest economic crisis since the second world war in the middle of a pandemic that has claimed more than 83000 victims while also trying to create a multi-year plan to manage €209bn (£185bn) of recovery funding from the EU.

Health
Pope Francis and his predecessor Pope Benedict received first shot of Covid-19 vaccine
Pope Francis and his predecessor Pope Benedict received first shot of Covid-19 vaccine
Credit: Vatican News

The Vatican confirmed on Thursday that Pope Francis, aged 84, and retired Pope Benedict, aged 93, have had their first doses of a coronavirus vaccine. The pontiff and his predecessor got the first half of their vaccinations as part of a campaign for Vatican City residents and employees launched on January 13th.

"You are gambling with your health, with your life, but you are also gambling with the lives of others," Francis said in a recent interview with Italian broadcaster Canale 5. He said "anti-vaxxers" were living in inexplicable "suicidal denial."

In December, the head of the Vatican's health service said the tiny city-state would roll out its vaccination program with the Pfizer medication.

Regional News • Europe • Italy
Italian Government left without Parliamentary Majority as Matteo Renzi Pulls his Party from Ruling Coalition
Matteo Renzi
Matteo Renzi Credit: Università Ca' Foscari Venezia

The Giuseppe Conte-led administration is teetering on the brink of collapse after the former prime minister, Matteo Renzi, pulled his small Italia Viva party from the ruling coalition. Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte could now either offer his resignation to the president, Sergio Mattarella, who could give him a mandate to try to forge a new alliance, or go to parliament for a vote of confidence. Other possible outcomes include Mattarella putting together a broad-based government of national unity or, failing that, calling elections.

Regional News • Americas • United States
World Leaders condemn DC protests

Political leaders across the globe, have expressed their concern and shock as Pro-Trump supporters stormed the US Capitol and condemned the violence happening on the day the US Senate was to certify the Electoral College results.

"The right of people to exercise a vote, have their voice heard and then have that decision upheld peacefully should never be undone by a mob," so Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern of New Zealand and said she and her countrymen were "devastated" by the events.

Leader of the nationalist League party in Italy, Matteo Salvini, who has been a vocal supporter of Trump, said on Twitter that "violence is never the solution" and Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India called for an "orderly and peaceful transfer of power."