- The Washington Times - Monday, January 11, 2010

ITALY

Pope denounces immigrant clashes

VATICAN CITY | Pope Benedict XVI denounced the riots last week between immigrants and Italians in southern Italy, saying Sunday that migrants have rights, must be respected and are equally loved by God.

Benedict made the unusual commentary on current events during his weekly noon blessing, clearly coming down on the side of the migrants in exhorting Italians to see them as human beings and not just labor to be exploited.

“I invite everyone to look in the face of the other and discover that there is a soul, a history, a life, a person whom God loves as he loves me,” Benedict said.

The riots by hundreds of African migrant workers erupted Thursday night in Rosarno, a town in the underdeveloped agricultural region of Calabria, after two migrants were wounded in a shooting. Dozens were injured in the two days of clashes, which officials say may have been provoked by the region’s powerful organized crime group — the ‘Ndrangheta.

The violence underscored the simmering tensions between immigrants and Italians, many of whom resent the foreigners yet rely on their labor to perform the agricultural, domestic or factory work that many Italians refuse to do.

GERMANY

Heavy snow halts planes, trains, cars

BERLIN | Europeans were struggling to restore roads and railways Sunday after heavy snow caused hundreds of traffic accidents, halted flights from Germany and France, downed power lines in Poland and trapped more than 160 people overnight on a frozen German highway.

The 148 adults and 19 children stuck on Germany’s coastal A20 highway survived by running their car engines until rescuers using snowplows and excavators pushed through 6.5-foot drifts to free them Sunday morning, police in the town of Altentreptow said.

Hundreds of weather-related road accidents were reported in Germany after a second day of heavy snowfall, especially along the Baltic Coast. Two men were killed when their car hit a tree in Nordvorpommern.

GERMANY

Thousands remember Communist founders

BERLIN | Thousands of people held a rally in East Berlin to pay tribute to the founders of the German Communist Party.

Organizers said about 9,000 people gathered at Friedrichsfelde cemetery to mark the 91st anniversary of the deaths of Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht, who were killed Jan. 15, 1919, by right-wing militiamen during a failed uprising.

The commemoration rally is held traditionally on the second Sunday of each year. It was started in the former East Germany and was revived in 1992 by the Party of Democratic Socialism, a former communist party now known as the Left party, after a merger with a group of disgruntled Social Democrats.

FINLAND

Ex-lawmaker, boxer Tony Halme dies at 47

HELSINKI | Former lawmaker and boxer Tony Halme has been found dead in his apartment, Finnish officials said Sunday. He was 47.

Police said no crime is suspected, but they gave no further details.

Mr. Halme — known as “The Viking” for his 6-foot-6-inch stance — was a heavyweight boxer, pro wrestler and bodyguard in the U.S. before joining politics in Finland.

He served in Finnish parliament from 2003 to 2007 for the small, radical True Finns Party.

In 2004, a court gave him a suspended sentence for firearms and drugs violations after he fired a gun at home while his wife was there.

ITALY

Woman gives birth to sextuplets

ROME | A southern Italian woman gave birth to sextuplets Sunday in the first such case in Italy since 1997.

The ANSA news agency said the babies — boys Paolo and Maurizio, and girls Francesca Pia, Angelica, Annachiara and Serena — were listed in good condition. The babies each weighed between 1.34 and 1.76 pounds.

They were born Sunday in the 27th week of pregnancy to 32-year-old Carmela Oliva in Benevento, near Naples.

Father Pino Mele told state-run RAI television that he hopes the sextuplets’ grandparents help with the children. He said the sextuplets are the first grandchildren in the family.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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