- - Sunday, November 6, 2011

ITALY

Naples braces for flooding after heavy rains

ROME — The mayor of Naples ordered a long-awaited soccer match scrapped Sunday for fear tens of thousands of fans could be trapped by flooding, while authorities in northern Italy closely monitored the rain-swollen Po River.

Luigi De Magistris said he ordered the Serie A match between Napoli and Juventus postponed to some later date, partly because the field already was soggy, but mainly because of concern some 65,000 fans could be trapped in flooding or cause traffic problems as they drove to or from the stadium.

The sprawling outdoor ruins of ancient Pompeii on the outskirts of Naples were temporarily closed for fear of flooding, but later were reopened to tourists, authorities said.

The area has been pounded by torrential rain that already has claimed one life. Near the Naples suburb of Pozzuoli, a tree fell on a car, killing the driver, local fire chief Giovanni Fricano told Sky TG24.

Much of Italy, especially the northwest, has been pummeled by heavy rains and flooding over the last two weeks.

The latest worry in the north concerned the Po River, the waters of which swelled from two rain-fed tributaries, said Franco Gabrielli, the head of Italy’s Civil Protection agency. He told reporters that Sunday evening could be a crucial time for the Po’s level, if the rain becomes heavier.

GREAT BRITAIN

Report: Murdoch gave Brooks $2.7 million payoff

LONDON — The British newspaper the Guardian is reporting that media baron Rupert Murdoch paid former News International chief Rebekah Brooks $2.7 million and the use of an office as part of her severance package.

The newspaper said, without citing sources, that the high-profile CEO of the now-closed tabloid News of the World also was granted continued access to her company limousine and driver for two years.

The report said Ms. Brooks was given a central London office, adding that her spokesman asked the paper not to reveal the location of the office.

Ms. Brooks resigned earlier this year as a phone-hacking scandal shook Mr. Murdoch’s media empire and forced the News of the World to close. She was arrested by police investigating the claims, but was not charged.

News International declined comment Sunday.

RUSSIA

80,000 Muslims pray on streets in Moscow

MOSCOW — Tens of thousands of Muslim men knelt shoulder-to-shoulder in prayer on the freezing streets of Moscow on Sunday to celebrate the religious holiday of Eid al-Adha.

Estimates of the number of Muslims living or working in the Russian capital run from 2 million to as high as 5 million, but the city has few mosques.

Police said 170,000 people celebrated the holiday in Moscow, including 80,000 who gathered on the street outside what was once the main mosque. The 100-year-old pastel green Cathedral Mosque was torn down in September and a new mosque being built next to it is still under construction.

Many of those who braved temperatures of 18 degrees Fahrenheit to pray on Sunday morning were migrant workers from countries in Central Asia that were once part of the Soviet Union.

“Of course new mosques are needed,” said Maruv, a shop worker from Tajikistan who gave only his first name. “Look at how many people are in the street, and it’s cold. They have been standing here waiting for the beginning of prayers since 6 a.m., and there are no facilities.”

Police cordoned off the area and set up metal detectors to screen worshippers.

The mosque is located next to the Olympic Stadium, where this weekend female tennis players from Russia and the Czech Republic played the Fed Cup final.

Eid al-Adha, a feast celebrated by Muslims worldwide, is known as Kurban-Bairam in Russia.

GREAT BRITAIN

‘Occupy’ protesters commemorate Guy Fawkes

LONDON — About 200 protesters, many from London’s anti-capitalist Occupy movement, marched to Parliament on Guy Fawkes Day, the annual commemoration of the English anarchist who tried to blow up the building in the 17th century.

Many of Saturday’s protesters were wearing a grinning, somewhat sinister mask of Guy Fawkes that has become an icon of the Occupy movement around the world. The rally was largely peaceful, but the group was kept from getting close to Parliament by a heavy police presence.

Some activists said that donning the mask is a way of reminding governments that authority can be challenged by the masses.

Saturday’s rally coincided with Guy Fawkes’ Day, which is celebrated every year in Britain on Nov. 5 to mark the failure of the plot hatched by Fawkes and 12 other conspirators to destroy Parliament with explosives in 1605, assassinate King James I and install a Catholic monarch in the botched “Gunpowder Plot.”

The conspiracy fell apart when authorities found out about it and caught Fawkes guarding barrels of gunpowder in the cellar of Parliament. Fawkes was tried as a traitor, and the king’s narrow escape has been celebrated every year on Nov. 5, with fireworks and the burning of effigies known as “guys” across the country.

But some regard Fawkes as a folk hero, and Saturday’s protesters have a similar political message to his: Rebel against state power.

From wire dispatches and staff reports