Forconi Take Popolo
The long running Sicilian Forconi protests have culminated in a more than a thousand protestors crowding into Rome’s Piazza del Popolo, demanding the resignation of the political class for their inability to steer the country out of the longest running recession since the second world war. The Forconi (which means ‘pitchfork’) protests are an anomaly in Italy, as they arose from grassroots and have avoided coordination from political parties and trade unions. Adriano Sola, who works in his parents’ bedroom furniture store in Caserta in southern Italy said, “People cannot even get to the third week of the month.” Adding, “and then there are some people whom we did not even vote for who make 20,000 or 30,000 euros ($40,000).” Protest leader, Danilo Calvani concurred, saying “The ruling class is made up of thieves and mafiosi, and they are destroying our country! We are better than this . . . Out, out, out!”
While Italy is not dead last in Europe’s employment rankings, unemployment remains at more than 12 percent, and the figure rises to more than 40 percent for those under 25. Massimo Colombani, whose restaurant will be shuttered due to an 80 percent tax burden, said he had boarded a bus from Viareggio in central Italy in solidarity “with the unemployed, the small business owners, the over-qualified graduates who cannot find work or are forced to work illegally”.
Golden Dawn Defunded
Following the fatal stabbing of a Greek by members of the Golden Dawn party, Greece has cut off state funding for the hyper-nationalist party, in keeping with a law that requires that punishment for parties accused of criminal activities. The result means Golden Dawn will lose its €873,000 ($1,201,000) share of an €11m package of state funding for parliamentary parties included in the 2014 budget.
The Greek Parliament voted to lift Golden Dawn’s parliamentary immunity shortly after September’s fatal stabbing of leftist rapper Luqman Shahzad. The party’s leadership denied any connection to the killing, but party chief Nikos Michaloliakos and two other Golden Dawn lawmakers have been detained since early October. At least two other Golden Dawn members are currently facing murder charges.
New Avian Flu Kills
China’s Centre for Disease Control and Prevention said a 73-year-old woman in Nanchang has died after being infected with H10N8, a bird flu strain not previously found in people. Timothy O’Leary, spokesman for the WHO’s regional office in Manila, said his organization was working to limit any potential outbreak, noting, “It’s worrisome any time a disease jumps the species barrier from animals to humans. That said, the case is under investigation [by Chinese authorities] and there’s no evidence of human-to-human transmission yet.” But Chen Ze, of the Shanghai Institute of Biological Products who first isolated the H10N8 virus five years ago, said, “the virus was capable of infecting humans and it has the capability of mammal-to-mammal transmission, but whether there is going to be human-to-human transmission is hard to tell at the moment.”
This is the second novel avian influenza strain to cross over to humans this year in China. March saw an H7N9 outbreak which infected at least 140 people, killing 45. The outbreak was controlled after China shuttered hundreds of live animal markets, slaughtering countless fowl. Scientists assumed the virus was infecting people through exposure to live birds.
Fisticuffs Among Palestine Leaders
Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas’ elite guard unit was forced to surround parliament today, witnesses told Reuters, in a bid to protect one legislator from being attacked by another senior official.
According to witnesses, as parliamentarian Jamal Abu al-Rab and top Fatah official and a former major-general in the security forces Jibril Rajoub awaited Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi in a hotel, al-Rab slapped Rajoub in the face. Al-Rab then fled and Rajoub summoned his armed guards to pursue him. Abass’ personal guard was forced to form a human barricade around the parliament building in order to avert bloodshed. It is not clear what provoked today’s slap nor why an armed cadre of fighters were dispatched to avenge the blow, but a spokesperson for the Palestinian security forces said it was investigating the incident.