Latest update : 2015-10-29
Latest update : 2015-10-29
The Italian government is well aware that most migrants don't want to stay in Italy, where job prospects are dire for the locals, let alone newcomers. It has turned a blind eye to the northward flow of migrants hoping to cross the borders into France and Austria. Those who stay behind often scrape a living on the black market, working long hours in return for a pittance in southern Italy’s giant orange groves.
A year ago, investigators uncovered a corruption scheme centred around the country’s overcrowded and underfunded refugee reception system. Mafia leaders were arrested for embezzling funds intended for migrant services. "Do you have any idea how much I make on these immigrants?" one was caught saying. "Drug trafficking is less profitable."
The employment of migrants as voluntary workers to clean parks, run soup kitchens and provide care for the elderly has also come under criticism. Earlier this year, a trade union spokesman accused the city of Bari of exploiting refugees as “free labour”, a scheme he described as “institutionalised racism”. Others warned that unpaid migrants constituted unfair competition for local workers.
Shaping perceptions of immigration
The notion that migrant volunteers might be taking jobs away from Italians is rejected by Sant’Egidio’s spokesman in Rome, Roberto Zuccolini. He says the arrival of refugees has merely compensated for a decline in economic migrants. Besides, studies have shown that migrants tend to perform jobs that are shunned by most Italians.
Zuccolini points out that voluntary work is often the only activity available to asylum seekers given the dearth of jobs – it is also the only alternative to sitting idly in overcrowded shelters rife with tension. “Voluntary work is a different concept. It is about choosing to help others and feeling part of a collective enterprise,” he says. “And crucially, it helps build bridges between communities and defuse conflict.”
Initiatives such as Sant’Egidio’s – which have been reproduced across Italy and in other European countries where the group is present – play a decisive role in “shaping public opinion and perceptions of migrants”, says Zuccolini. This is particularly the case in a country like Italy that is more accustomed to emigration than immigration.
“There is a lot of generosity on display in Italy today, far more than antagonism towards refugees – even though the latter invariably gets more press,” he says, noting that by engaging in voluntary work migrants can partake in a proud Italian tradition of community service.
Roberto Zuccolini of the Community of Sant'Egidio says voluntary work helps shape perceptions of migrants in Italy. © Photo courtesy of the Community of Sant'Egidio
It is a view shared by Oliviero Forti, who is in charge of the Immigration Office at Italy’s Caritas, another Catholic institution with an extensive network of charities that work with migrants across the country.
“Community initiatives, like ours, play a crucial role in complementing the state’s welfare programmes – and substituting them where necessary,” he says, hailing the so-called “third sector” of associations and charities as an Italian specificity.
Forti believes Italy has reacted positively to the enormous challenge posed by the refugee crisis, despite the stigmatisation attempted by a handful of vocal extremist groups with a political agenda. He says: “Our country is gradually adopting a mature view of immigration, but it is a slippery slope and we have to remain vigilant.”
Rebuilding Sicily’s melting pot
Back in Catania, there are growing signs that integration is making huge strides in a region once seen as conservative and parochial. Sant’Egidio’s Abramo says more and more migrants are signing up for voluntary work, “and a growing number have found friends and partners among Italian fellow workers”.
Not all the migrants are itching to reach Europe’s richer north. Some choose to stay behind, reviving businesses and breathing new life into aging communities.
Catania is now home to southern Italy’s largest mosque. Last year, the local imam teamed up with the region’s food bank to distribute meals at the mosque. The idea proved a success and more than 80 percent of beneficiaries are now non-Muslim Italians. It mirrors similar initiatives across the country, where “pasta and couscous” events are increasingly popular.
Slowly, migrants from Africa, the Middle East and Asia are helping restore the multicultural fabric that once defined regions like Sicily, harking back to a time when the Mediterranean united civilisations rather than divide them.
As Abramo puts it, “We Sicilians are culturally predisposed to these population flows. Arabs settled here centuries ago. It is time we rebuild our melting pot.”
Latest update : 2015-10-29
The lender said it would axe 9,000 full-time jobs and 6,000 external contractor positions.
The bank will also shed businesses employing some 20,000 staff. Three quarters of the 20,000 jobs to go are at German retail unit Postbank, which Deutsche Bank is spinning off.
The job cuts come after the bank, Germany's largest lender, earlier on Thursday posted a 6 billion euro ($6.6 billion) loss for the third quarter, in line with its recent profit warning.
Cryan, who took charge in July, is under pressure to overhaul Deutsche, which is struggling to end costly litigation from past scandals and adapt to tighter banking regulations.
"I do not think that 2016 and 2017 will be strong years," Cryan warned at a press conference on Thursday.
Deutsche Bank shares, which had risen last week to a two-month high, slid 6.6 percent to 25.66 euros by 1231 GMT.
The news was taken negatively by many in the market. "Shareholders are wondering why they should stay invested," warned a Frankfurt-based trader.
Deutsche Bank's staff will also feel the pain in their pay packets, with remuneration linked more to profits and less to revenue. "I have said that it would not be all sweetness and light," Cryan said, adding it would be unacceptable not to share some of the cost of the settlement of interest-rate rigging and consequences of poor past behaviour.
The bank is exiting 10 countries, including most of its Latin American operations, and moving its Brazil trading activities to other hubs.
(FRANCE 24 with AP, REUTERS)
The Presidency says the World Bank’s Doing Business R2017 Report, released on Tuesday is an indication that the government’s reform initiatives are yielding positive results.
“The Buhari administration is gratified that the various reform initiatives put in place towards instituting a positive business environment is slowly but gradually yielding some dividends.
“Nigeria’s ranking in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business remains static, halting a falling trend in the past several years,” the Vice Presidential spokesman, Mr Laolu Akande, said, via a release issued on Thursday in Abuja.
Akande recalled that the latest report had ranked Nigeria 169 out of 189 countries in the overall Ease of Doing Business rank.
He described the ranking as “a positive indication that the focus and tenacity of President Muhammadu Buhari to reposition the nation’s business and economic environment is working and on course.
“While Nigeria’s position remains the same as at last year on the index ranking, it is encouraging that Nigeria has recorded some positive outlooks in four critical areas of the ranking.”
Akande listed the areas as: Starting a Business; Dealing with Construction Permits; Registering Property and Access to Credit.
He noted that the objectivity and reliability of the report coming from an international development institution, lent weight to the milestone recorded in particular on the distance to frontier (DTF) metric, according to News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).
Akande observed that on the metric, the country’s score improved slightly from 44.02 in Doing Business 2016 to 44.63 in Doing Business 2017.
According to the World Bank report, the improvements noted mean that last year, Nigeria’s business regulatory environment as captured by the Doing Business indicators improved slightly in absolute terms.
According to the report “the country is decreasing the gap with the global regulatory frontier.
“This is a morale booster for stakeholders involved in the efforts aimed at removing existing bottlenecks in the business environment.”
Akande declared that the observation by the World Bank was recognition of the bold initiatives and untiring work of President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration.
He said it was particularly achieved through the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC), chaired by the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo.
He said Buhari in August had set-up PEBEC, which had an active collaboration with the private sector, “to remove the bottlenecks that stifle businesses and create the right enabling environment and investment climate.”
PEBEC has nine ministers, the Head of the Service and the CBN governor as members and is mandated to give progress reports to the Federal Executive Council every month.
The council’s secretariat with a team comprising staff from both public and private sector, is supported by knowledge experts and collaborates across ministries, departments and agencies as well as private sector stakeholders to achieve reform objectives.
According to Akande, Buhari is absolutely committed to boosting reform activities so as to continue to arrest the past decline, where the country fell from number 94 in 2006 to number 169 in 2016.
He said the reforms would positively project the business climate to an enviable position in the international business community.
“With the reform efforts being put in place now, indications are that in subsequent years, Nigeria will scale up significantly in the ranking,” he declared.
One person has been killed and five others injured after a bridge collapsed over a busy road in Italy.
The bridge, in Lecco, fell when a heavy goods vehicle, weighing 108 tonnes, crossed over it around 3.20pm this afternoon.
At least four cars were involved in the crash and one was completely crushed underneath the collapsed bridge.
Anas, the company which runs Italy’s main roads, has accused local authorities of not acting fast enough after it had asked for the bridge to be closed at about 2pm when its workers spotted problems.
It reportedly said Lecco province officials had demanded the information in writing and said they needed a formal inspection of the site.
The company which runs Italy’s main roads has blame local authorities for not closing the bridge in time (Picture: AP)
But the bridge had collapsed before an inspector could get to it.
Lecco officials have denied Anas’s version of events.
A preliminary criminal investigation has now been opened.
London (AFP) - An oil price rally fuelled by OPEC's deal to cut crude output ran out of steam Thursday with analysts doubting the cartel's ability to seriously tackle a supply glut.
Following a meeting that included Russia, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries stunned markets Wednesday by saying it planned to trim total production by some 750,000 barrels per day.
This followed talks in Algiers as world oil producers seek ways to prop up prices that have plunged from $100 in 2014 to near 13-year lows below $30 at the start of 2016, mainly owing to excess supplies.
"We are confident that OPEC countries will not stick to the agreement," commented Commerzbank analyst Carsten Fritsch.
But even if they do, exemptions from cuts granted to Iran, Nigeria and Libya mean that "the problem of surplus will not be solved if these countries take full advantage of their capacities again", Fritsch said.
Exact details of the deal remain to be agreed and analysts said markets will now wait to see whether non-OPEC producers such as Russia, the United States and Canada will make cuts of their own.
In a reaction Thursday, Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said that his country intends to keep oil production at current levels.
Wednesday's deal came after OPEC kingpin Saudi Arabia allowed bitter rival Iran to be exempted from the cutbacks, as the Islamic republic recovers from years of sanctions on its oil exports.
The cartel's announcement of a first official reduction in eight years at first sent crude prices surging six percent Wednesday, while energy firms across the globe have seen their share prices soar.
But early Thursday the oil price slipped lower again, before showing slight gains by the late European afternoon.
The US benchmark oil contract, West Texas Intermediate for delivery in November, was up 27 cents at $47.32 a barrel.
Brent North Sea crude for November rose 19 cents to $48.88 a barrel compared with Wednesday's close.
- Saudi 'blinks first' -
"OPEC's commitment to cut output by between one-half and three-quarters of a million barrels a day has done more for oil-sensitive stocks and currencies, as well as overnight risk sentiment, than for oil prices themselves," Societe Generale said in a note to clients.
"Time will tell whether oil prices will trend higher (after a knee-jerk rally), and the market will first wait to see how the cuts are divvied up between members, which will be decided at the November OPEC meeting."
At the end of six hours of negotiations and weeks of horse trading, OPEC said it would cut production to 32.5-33 million barrels per day from around 33.5 million in August.
"It is Saudi Arabia who has clearly blinked first, allowing Iran, its main rival, to ramp up production," said Jeffrey Halley, senior market analyst at Oanda trading group.
"We shouldn't underestimate the major shift by Saudi Arabia," he told AFP. "These two don't see eye to eye on anything so this is a huge concession by Saudi Arabia to 'lubricate' the process."
Saudi Arabia and Iran, the Middle East's foremost Shiite and Sunni Muslim powers, are at odds over an array of issues including the wars in Syria and Yemen.
The Paris-based International Energy Agency called the agreement "an important development for the oil market", but it also cautioned that it was too early to tell how it would actually affect market balances.
"The IEA continues to believe that oil prices should be determined by market fundamentals," it said.
- 'Tipping point' -
The cartel's richer members, particularly the Gulf states, have preferred to battle it out with non-OPEC producers such as the United States for global market share by keeping production high.
"Saudi Arabia has perhaps reassessed their dumping oil strategy to put US shale out of business as the pressure on their budgets has clearly reached a tipping point as well," Halley added.
The plunge in oil revenues has left Saudi Arabia with a record deficit last year, prompting the country to cut the salaries of cabinet ministers and freeze the wages of lower-ranking civil servants.
MOSCOW — Russia’s Foreign Ministry on Friday suggested that President Vladimir Putin expel 35 U.S. diplomats and close two properties used by the U.S. Embassy in Moscow as part of the growing diplomatic slugfest over Russia’s interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential elections.
The tit-for-tat measures were suggested one day after President Obama announced he would expel 35 Russian diplomats from the United States and order the closure of Russian-owned facilities on Maryland’s Eastern Shore and on Long Island in New York believed to have been used for intelligence purposes.
“It is regrettable that the Obama administration, which started out by restoring our ties, is ending its term in an anti-Russia agony. RIP,” Russian Prime Minister DmitryMedvedev wrote Friday on Twitter.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, in a statement carried by the Interfax news service, called for 31 employees of the U.S. Embassy in Moscow and four diplomats from the U.S. Consulate General in St. Petersburg to be declared “persona non grata” and forced to leave the country.
[Obama announces measures to punish Russia for election interference]
Further, he suggested the Russian government ban the use of a vacation cottage, or dacha, on the outskirts of Moscow often used for holiday receptions and a warehouse in the Russian capital used by diplomatic staff.
“We hope that these proposals will be considered as quickly as possible,” Lavrov said, portraying the response as symmetrical to the U.S. measures. “Of course, we cannot leave such acts unanswered; reciprocity is a diplomatic law in international relations.”
Lavrov also denied accusations made by U.S. intelligence agencies that Russian state-backed hackers had leaked information about former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton in order to sway the election in favor of her opponent, President-elect Donald Trump.
Russian politicians and officials have been sounding off for the last day on how to respond to the Obama administration’s sweeping measures against Russia, the largest mass expulsion of diplomats since the United States expelled 51 Russian diplomats in 2001 for spying. Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, promised Friday that Russia’s response would “cause serious discomfort to the American side.”
But other Russian officials have suggested hedging the response, so as not to antagonize the incoming Trump administration, which Moscow has hoped will be more amenable to its interests. They, like Medvedev, have sought to focus blame for the new sanctions on the Obama administration, which is in its final month.
"Countermeasures, which are typically mandatory, should be weighted in this case, considering the known circumstances of the transitional period and the possible response of the U.S. president-elect," said Konstantin Kosachyov, chairman of the foreign affairs committee of Russia’s upper house of parliament.
A final decision on a Russian response will be made by Putin and is expected Friday. - The Washington Post