- The Washington Times - Monday, April 21, 2008


Rapes change political agenda

ROME — Two rapes over the weekend involving foreign victims and foreign suspects have pushed crime and immigration to the top of Italy’s political agenda as Silvio Berlusconi prepares to return to power.

The widely reported rapes of an American student near a Milan nightclub and a student from Lesotho on the outskirts of Rome will bolster Mr. Berlusconi’s tough-on-crime stance.

In both cases, foreigners — an Egyptian and a Romanian — are being held as suspects.

“The most alarming and humiliating problem that the new government has inherited from the last one, which ended so ingloriously, is personal security. It will be a big responsibility,” said Il Giornale, a newspaper close to Mr. Berlusconi, which ran a front-page headline: “Rome raped.”

Fears over crime and illegal immigration contributed to a doubling of support at last week’s general election for the Northern League, a junior partner in Mr. Berlusconi’s coalition. The league’s campaign included a poster featuring an American Indian with the slogan: “They also were subjected to immigration and now they live on reserves!”


Port workers plan to strike

MARSEILLE — French longshoremen are to stage a daylong strike Wednesday against government plans to outsource some heavy machinery operations as part of an overhaul of the nation’s harbors.

The walkout — called by the dockers’ branch of the CGT labor federation — coincides with a meeting of Cabinet ministers to examine the proposed reforms, the union’s General Secretary Daniel Lefebvre told Agence France-Presse.

“Most of the autonomous ports will not be functional the day the council of ministers meets,” he said. “It’s a call for a national 24-hour strike.”

Longshoremen have already walked off the job at France’s biggest cargo terminals in Le Havre, Marseille, Nantes and Rouen.

A full strike started Thursday among crane-drivers and signals operators, with the already privatized dockers and other handling staff also staging timed walkouts.


Zapatero plans visit to Morocco

MADRID — Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero’s first official trip abroad since his re-election last month will be to Morocco in May, officials said.

Firm dates for the visit have yet to be set by the prime minister’s office, but Spanish prime ministers traditionally make Morocco — across the Straits of Gibraltar — the destination of their first foreign visit.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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