I'm Dreaming of a White... Easter? Italian City Sets World Snowfall Record -- as 100.8 inches fall in 18 Hours
The next time the people of Capracotta, Italy, hear the folks in Boston complain about a snow season of more than 100 inches, they'll be like: "That's nice. We've been known to get that much in one day." In 18 hours, actually -- when 100.8" (8 ft., 4 in.) fell on March 5, 2015. This blows away (snow blows perhaps) the previous 24-hour record which was set in the town of Silver Lake, Colorado, where 76 inches (6 ft. 4in.) of snow fell on April 20-21, 1921. The Italian village which got 100.8 inches now holds the all-time record for most snow in 24 hours. Pescocostanzo, about 21 miles away, got a mere 94.5 inches in that same time frame. To put this in perspective, this is more than the city of Boston got in January and February 2015 combined -- and this was Boston's snowiest winter ever. (Though it just shy of Boston's 108 inch total snowfall, thus far, for the whole winter season -- December-March). While Bing Crosby yearned for a "White Christmas," the folks in Capracotta might be enduring a white Easter!
Italy’s Highest Court Upholds Sex Case Acquittal for Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi; Decision May Not be Appealed
Italy’s highest appeals court on Tuesday upheld the acquittal of former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi on charges of paying for sex with an underage girl and then abusing his power in trying to cover it up [referred to in the Italian media as the "Bunga Bunga" case]. The verdict, which came after deliberations that lasted almost until midnight, is a boost to 78-year-old Mr. Berlusconi, who has argued that his myriad legal problems are the product of a witch hunt against him by politically motivated magistrates. But it is unlikely to restore the political fortunes of the billionaire politician, who has been overshadowed by the rising popularity of Prime Minister Matteo Renzi. Mr. Berlusconi has been scrambling for months to hold together his party, which is sinking in the polls and riven by internal divisions. The ruling follows an appeals court’s decision last July, when Milan magistrates overturned a previous conviction and a sentence of seven years in prison for the conservative leader. Mr. Berlusconi has denied the charges in the sex case. Tuesday’s decision is definitive and can’t be appealed.
The trial is related to events that occurred in 2010, when then-Prime Minister Berlusconi phoned a Milan police station asking for information about a Moroccan woman, Karima El Mahroug —an underage nightclub dancer nicknamed “Ruby Heart-Stealer”—who had been detained for allegedly stealing cash. Ms. El Mahroug has denied the allegations. Prosecutors alleged that Mr. Berlusconi abused his power by pressing the police to release the woman. They also argued that Mr. Berlusconi sought to have her released to cover up an alleged payment he made to her for sex when she was 17. Mr. Berlusconi said he met the woman during dinner parties at his mansion and acknowledged phoning the police station, but denies having pressed police to free Ms. El Mahroug. Both he and Ms. El Mahroug deny having had sex with each other, and Mr. Berlusconi told a court that he didn’t know that Ms. El Mahroug was a minor.
Mr. Berlusconi has faced at least two dozen trials since entering politics in 1994. Yet his first—and only—final conviction came in August 2013, when he was sentenced to a four-year jail term for tax fraud. The sentence was reduced to one year of community service, which the former premier has just finished serving. Mr. Berlusconi was also banned from public office until 2016 and ousted from Italy’s Senate because of the tax fraud conviction. The tax fraud charge was related to Mediaset , Italy’s dominant private television broadcaster, which is controlled by Berlusconi’s family. A court found that the broadcaster bought U.S. film and television rights at inflated prices, allowing the company to fraudulently lower its tax bill. Mr. Berlusconi is also under investigation for alleged witness-tampering related to the trial on the sex and abuse-of-power charges. Prosecutors are investigating whether the media mogul, together with other people including two of his lawyers, sought to corrupt witnesses to give false testimony during the first phase of the trial, which led to the seven-year jail sentence. Mr. Berlusconi and his lawyers deny all charges.
After his tax conviction in August 2013, Mr. Berlusconi’s political leadership has been severely dented. In European elections of May 2014, his center-right party Forza Italia garnered just 17% of the vote.The party, weakened by deep internal divisions, is now polling around 13%. While Mr. Berlusconi’s political power is waning, his financial empire is also under heavy pressure. His family wealth has been halved from 2007 to 2013 according to Forbes, and Fininvest—the holding company his family controls—posted a net loss of €428.4 million in 2013, the latest data available. (excerpted from the Wall Street Journal for educational purposes; byline: Manuela Mesco)
Italy is planning to introduce a national minimum wage as part of its labor market overhaul, although the level is yet to be established. The country is mulling setting the wage at about $7.00 per hour with the details set to be woven into law and addressed by the cabinet over the next few weeks. The wage would only apply to those working in sectors whose salaries are not already regulated by an employment contract that applies to specific categories of workers (i.e., union workers). If Italy makes this change, Austria and Cyrus will be the only non-Scandinavian European nations without a minimum wage in place.
With a goal of promoting cultural exchange, tourism and economic opportunities, officials have announced that Toms River has joined the Sister Cities International program and has formed a partnership with Matera, Italy. The partnership, announced at dedication ceremonies for the Jay and Linda Grunin Center for the Arts at Ocean County College, makes Toms River the first town in Ocean County and third in New Jersey to form a sister city partnership through Sister Cities International.
According to Sister Cities International, the program was introduced at a White House conference by President Eisenhower in 1956. The idea is for individual sister cities, counties, and states across the United States to link up with the citizens of other countries in an effort to bring about citizen diplomacy. Sister Cities International’s member programs focus on four main areas of exchange: arts and culture, youth and education, business and trade, and community development and technical exchange to connect citizens around the globe.
“It’s not just the signing of a proclamation. It’s the things we can do together in the future,” Dr. Andrea Canepari, Consul General of Italy in Philadelphia said of the new relationship between the towns. “We can open doors for new opportunities in technology, the arts, science. The possibilities are endless.” Canepari recently visited Toms River for a meeting about the partnership. “I think this will be a great partnership between the two cities and a great exchange of culture and history,” Cav. Mario Marano, commissioner of the New Jersey and Italian American Heritage Commission said. “What a wonderful opportunity for residents in Toms River to develop relationships with residents of Matera, Italy. We hope this partnership will blossom into both cultural and economic ties in the future,” Mayor Thomas F. Kelaher said.
Council President Jeff Carr said Matera has been selected as the European Culture Capital of 2019. “This will certainly be an opportunity to improve and increase the cultural awareness of both Toms River and Ocean County,” Carr said.
About this Page
All members of Alpha Phi Delta are bound by oath to promote the Italian Heritage of our Fraternity. This page is one way of promoting that heritage.