Friday, July 9, 2010


Buon giorno, Tutti!  I trust all is well!

And a “Happy Birthday, USA!” from the FSHSGRAM and FSHSWACD Editorial Staff.  I'd like to share some observations on
The Glorious Fourth (I'm particularly taken by Erma Bombek's insight…):

“The preservation of the sacred fire of liberty and the destiny of the republican model of government are justly considered... deeply, ...finally, staked on the experiment entrusted to the hands of the American people.”  George Washington

“The flames kindled on the 4 of July 1776, have spread over too much of the globe to be extinguished by the feeble engines of despotism; on the contrary, they will consume these engines and all who work them. “ Thomas Jefferson

“Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom, must, like men, undergo the fatigue of supporting it.”  Thomas Paine

“Those who won our independence believed liberty to be the secret of happiness and courage to be the secret of liberty.”  Abraham Lincoln

“Liberty lies in the hearts of men and women; when it dies there, no constitution, no law, no court can save it. “ Judge Learned Hand

“I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty.  It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward for evermore.”  John Adams

“You have to love a nation that celebrates its independence every July 4, not with a parade of guns, tanks, and soldiers who file by the White House in a show of strength and muscle, but with family picnics where kids throw frisbees, the potato salad gets iffy and the flies die from happiness. You may think you have overeaten, but it is patriotism. “ Erma Bombeck

Speaking of the FSHSWACD…

Pat Carter Bryant (FSHS 68 / and I are standing by to get all changes for the July 2010 update.  If you're in the FSHSWACD, please check your record for any needed changes.  If you're not in the FSHSWACD but wanna be, please complete as much or as little info as you want…

FSHS Wildcats Alumni Contacts Database Notional Record/Data Fields

Name: (First, Middle, Last or Last/Maiden and Last/Married, or Last/Divorced, "Nickname")
Title:  (JD, PhD, Miss, MD, II, Jr., etc...FSHS Teacher/Administrator/Parent...)
Napoli:  (the actual years you lived in Napoli)
Where in Napoli:  (where you lived...Via Manzoni, Via Petraca, Parco Azurro, Arco Felice...)
FSHS Class:  (graduation year, whether you graduated from FSHS or not)
High School Graduated:  (FSHS or other HS)
Email Address 1:
Email Address 2:
Snailmail Street/POB Address:
Snailmail City/State/Zip Address:
Phone(s):  (Home / Work / Cell)
Comments: (brief mention of anything particularly important to you about your Napoli/FSHS experience...)

…and get back to me.  I'll work all changes and new info into the Word file, and Pat will then work her spreadsheet magic for the Excel file.  We'll send the July updates to all, probably by mid-month, so, don't dawdle!

Jack Horn on Glen Horn in FSHSWACD

Jack Horn (FSHS 71 /, whose family lived in Arco Felice and at 212 Via Manzoni from 1963 to 1966, writes this note about his brother:

I've been in the Wildcats alumni database for some time, even though I graduated elsewhere.  My older brother, Glen, actually graduated from FSHS in 1966, but has never been in the FSHSWACD.  Even though he passed away several years ago, I thought his classmates might like to know what happened to him.  Glen, who retired at the rank of LCOL, US Army, passed away unexpectedly in April 2005 from a massive heart attack.  If anyone would like additional information about my brother, feel free to contact me.

Various and Sundry Reunions…

Info on those I know about:

Overseas Brats Homecoming, 5-8 August, Reston, VA:  IT'S NOT TOO LATE!

Theresa Dickie Branscom (FSHS 78 / reminds us we can still sign up.  See websites for information:

Wildcats “Wring” in the Anno Nuovo, 2011

A tradition in the DC/Baltimore region for about 10 years now, we'll “wring” in the New Year on 8 January 2011, at Cucina Vivace, Arlington (Crystal City), Virginia, from 7PM to close.   We had almost the entire ristorante to ourselves last January, and several of us have dined there other times:  squisito!  (See:  If we get at least 30 people, Chef and Owner Gordon Vivace will let us have the place all to ourselves.  I'll send out more info as we get closer.

La Dolce Vita - Ritorno a Europa - June 2011

Dan Colon (FSHS 75 / and Michelle Di Maria (FSHS 76 / are planning a Mediterranean cruise reunion in early June 2011.  The 7-day FSHS Mediterranean Cruise Reunion departs Barcelona 17 June 2011, with ports of call in Marseille (France), Savona (Italy), Naples (Italy), Catania (Sicily) and Hammamet (Tunis).   A $100 deposit will hold a cabin without a cabin assignment.  A $400 deposit per person (based on double occupancy) is required to hold a cabin at the group price and will give you a cabin assignment. Book early to reserve the best available cabin!  We have secured a limited amount of cruise cabins starting at $989 per person.  Call for the best fare available.   Michelle can be contacted at 1516 SW 6 Avenue, Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33315, (954) 525-6235.  And, more information is available at

Any other reunion or get-togethers in the plans?  Send particulars and I'll get into the next FSHSGRAM.

Vesuvio 79 CE/AD:  God's Revenge?

The July/August 2010 issue of Biblical Archaeology Review ( has a fascinating article ¬- facts and conjecture - that the destruction of Pompeii was “God's revenge,” coming nine years, almost to the day, after Rome destroyed the Jerusalem Temple.

I've attached a PDF of the article, for those who might be interested.

That's about all I have for this issue. 
Napoli News below.  (As would be expected, the Google News search turned up hundreds of articles on the Italian team's debacle at the World Cup…but I managed to find a few other topics that might be enjoyed…although nothing on the Gomorrah or trash or Berlusconi's divorce…maybe next time!)

Be well…send info about the FSHS/NAHS and I'll work to get in next FSHSGRAM.  And, please provide current information for the July 2010 FSHSWACD, which we'll send out later this month.


Scott T FSHS 68

Napoli News

Italy squad returns to frosty reception
Soccernet, 26 June 2010

Italy arrived in Rome on Saturday and unlike four years ago, after a triumphant World Cup in Germany, there were few fans waiting for them at Fiumicino airport.

Marcello Lippi's side endured a shock early exit from the tournament after a 3-2 defeat to Slovakia ensured they finished bottom of Group F.

After their famous win over France in 2006, thousands of fans greeted the Italians in the Eternal City, but this time less than 100 supporters were on hand and many of them expressed their disappointment.

Shouts of "shame on you'' were directed mainly at coach Marcello Lippi, Fiorentina striker Alberto Gilardino and Italy captain Fabio Cannavaro.
Italy left the World Cup without a win after disappointing draws against Paraguay and New Zealand before falling to a 3-2 defeat against Slovakia in their final group game.

"There is a lot of bitterness,'' Italy forward Fabio Quagliarella said. "It's understandable. We have said sorry to our fans. Now we must construct an Italy side that is always strong.''

Italy will unveil Cesare Prandelli as Lippi's successor on July 1 and, judging by the
Azzurri's display in South Africa, he will have plenty to do if Italy are to qualify for Euro 2012.

"Next week we will present Prandelli as the new coach,'' Italy Football Federation president Giancarlo Abete said. "There's the need, the duty to start again, knowing how important this national team is for millions of fans.

"Prandelli has been chosen because of his technical quality, his capacity to work with youngsters. We want him to remain for a long time that will end after the next World Cup. He has signed a four-year contract.''

Abete does not believe announcing Prandelli as the new manager ahead of Italy's trip to South Africa earlier this month had hindered the side.

"No, I don't believe that was the case,'' he said. "In any case, we had no alternative because Lippi's wish was to leave the national team after the World Cup.

"We had to make a decision regarding the new coach in order for Prandelli to free himself from his contract with Fiorentina.''

Hamsik sorry for Italy exit
[Yeah…I'm sure he is…!]
Soccernet, 26 June 2010

Slovakia captain Marek Hamsis admits he feels sorry for Italy after his side dumped the reigning champions out of the World Cup on Thursday.

Hamsik was one of Slovakia's key players in the 3-2 victory over the
Azzurri, but is still shocked that the nation where he plays his club football crashed out at the group stage.

"Few people expected the Italians to be bottom and exit so early," Hamsik told "It is sad that they lost.”

"Messages that have come to me from Italy, though, is that they will now root for Slovakia. This is a big failure for them, but it's football. But we are very happy now.''

New coach Prandelli optimistic over Italy's future
AFP, 2 July 2010

ROME - Italy's new coach Cesare Prandelli said he was optimistic over the future of the national team after their disastrous exit from the World Cup last week.

"I don't want to think about troubles, I want to start off with optimism. I want to offer a national team with quality players, since there are" such players, he said at a press conference.

Prandelli, 52, said his goal was to "prove to everyone that this was only a parentheses."

Reigning champions Italy were embarrassingly bundled out of the World Cup following a shock 3-2 defeat to Slovakia on June 24.

That left them at the bottom of what had looked like a fairly easy Group F, including Paraguay and rank-outsiders New Zealand, condemning Italy to their worst ever World Cup showing.

Many observers blame the fiasco of the reigning world champions on former coach Marcello Lippi's conservative choice of bringing experienced but ageing players to South Africa, and hope Prandelli will change that.

Presented by embattled Italian Football Federation president Giancarlo Abete, Prandelli said "those that deserve it will be called up," adding that the new team would be the result of "meritocratic choices."

"We shouldn't be throwing away everything. Italian soccer has qualities," Prandelli said.

Prandelli also opened the door to Italian players born abroad, a subject of much debate in Italy.

"If they have Italian citizenship and they play really well I don't see why one should not call them up," Prandelli said.

Formerly a Juventus midfielder, Prandelli spent five years at Fiorentina, twice taking them into the Champions League having previously coached Parma and AS Roma.

Prandelli also said he hoped Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon, who was forced out of Italy's opening match at the World Cup by a recurrence of a herniated disc would be part of his team.

"I hope to be able to give him the captain's armband at the (2012) European championships," he said.

Buffon, 32, has had back problems for two and half years

Quagliarella wants Napoli stay
Lavezzi also hopes to remain at club despite interest
28 June 2010

Napoli striker Fabio Quagliarella insists he wants to stay at the club, despite speculation linking him with a transfer.
The 27-year-old has been linked with Russian clubs Rubin Kazan Aenit St Petersburg and Spartak Moscow, who are all reportedly lining up big-money offers for the frontman.

Quagliarella was one of the few players to impress for Italy during this summer's World Cup, as the Azzurri crashed out in the group stage of the tournament.

He states that he loves Nappoli and wants to remain with the Serie A outfit, and hopes the club want him to stay too.

"Napoli is my team, my shirt. The club that I wanted since I was a child, which I chose for love," he told
Corriere del Mezzogiorno.

"The Russian clubs? I have played against them several times and I scored versus Spartak Moscow and Zenit.

"I have no intention of leaving Napoli. But if the club decides otherwise, I cannot do anything.

"I'd stay forever, but they will decide whether to evaluate offers and if they propose them to me. I love my fans and I love Naples. I hope the club doesn't do crazy things."

Meanwhile, fellow Napoli forward Ezequiel Lavezzi also says he wants to stay at the club.

The Argentinian striker said: "In Naples I'm maturing and I am fine, I want to stay there.

Napoli Prez Aurelio De Laurentiis:
We Will Not Sell Our Best Players
Goal, 30 June 2010

Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis has insisted that the Neapolitans will not sell their best players in the summer and that he is keen to carry on building his club.

Napoli finished sixth in Serie A last season and will feature in the Europa League in 2010-11. Speaking to La Repubblica, De Laurentiis expressed his desire to keep the Azzurri in a strong position and maintain a competitive feel about the squad next season.

"Napoli will be a strong and competitive. We are working to develop a major project - a club where there are accounts in place with a solid foundation. This is our priority.

"We know one thing - we'll be able to compete in three competitions. We'll keep our jewels; we are not here to sell but to buy and make Napoli stronger, both on the domestic front and in Europe."

When asked about the future of striker Fabio Quagliarella, who has been linked with a summer move, the Napoli chairman is flattered that other clubs are interested in the Italy international.

"I bought Quagliarella. I only think of it as a good thing. Besides the three-match ban, he could collect a premium on his contract and score more goals and maybe we can even reach fourth place."

Quagliarella is reportedly being tracked by Rubin Kazan but the Napoli supremo hasn't heard anything from the Russian outfit.

"I'm easy to reach. If I get a phone call with an offer for 10 rubles, I'll say whether I am interested or not.

"This isn't only for Quagliarella, but for all players. Serious offers will be considered and we understand the value of our players."

Quagliarella stated earlier that he wanted to remain in Naples but had acknowledged that the final decision on his future was up to the club.

Maradona admits ambitions of taking charge of Napoli
27.06.10 |

Argentina coach Digo Maradona would love to take charge of Napoli in the future.

Maradona was subjected to heavy criticism in Argentina, but is winning many over in South Africa.

“I hope to be Coach of Argentina for many years, but then I would like to fulfil another ambition. It is and always has been my dream to be Coach of Napoli,” said the Stadio San Paolo hero.

“I would love to see the San Paolo packed to the rafters again. I watch Napoli's games on television and hate to see areas of the stands empty.

“I lived in Italy for seven years, but being in Naples meant it felt like 14!  I will always have those people in my heart.

“I know that now Italy are out, the Neapolitans will support Argentina. This is why I adore them and, even if others may criticise, I will never speak ill of Naples.”

Italian Scientists Who Failed To Predict Quake Indicted For Manslaughter, 30 June 2010.

Six Italian seismologists are under indictment for failing to warn the people of L'Aquila about the magnitude 6.3 earthquake that struck the city on April 6, 2009. The quake killed 308 people, injured more than 1,600 and left 65,000 people homeless.

On March 31, six days before the large earthquake struck, Italy's Civil Protection Agency held a meeting with the Major Risks Committee - composed of the six scientists - to assess the risk of a major earthquake. At that time, the committee concluded that there was "no reason to suppose a sequence of small earthquakes could be the prelude to a strong event" and that “a major earthquake in the area is unlikely but cannot be ruled out."

At a press conference after the meeting, government official Bernardo De Bernardinis, deputy technical head of the Civil Protection Agency, told reporters that "the scientific community tells us there is no danger, because there is an ongoing discharge of energy. The situation looks favorable.” In addition to the six scientists, De Bernardinis is also under investigation.

According to the group of local citizens, many of the earthquake's victims had been planning to leave their homes, but had changed their minds after the committee's statements.

"Those responsible are people who should have given different answers to the public,” said Alfredo Rossini, L'Aquila's public prosecutor. “We're not talking about the lack of an alarm, the alarm came with the movements of the ground. We're talking about the lack of advice telling people to leave their homes."

Nearly 4,000 scientists from around the world have signed a letter urging Italy's president to focus on earthquake preparation and the enforcement of strict building codes rather than castigate scientists for what they cannot do - predict earthquakes.

(See this for somewhat dated detail on Italian earthquakes:

Giffoni Film Festival, 18-31 July
OPENPRESS 29 June 2010

The Giffoni Film Festival is a children's event offering a star-studded line-up of cinematic attractions.

Families staying in Naples this summer may be planning to visit the nearby town of Giffoni Valle Piana for a special event.

Every year, the town hosts a children's film festival thought to be the largest gathering of its kind in Europe.

Taking place between July 18th and 31st this year, the event confers prizes on the most critically acclaimed movies, in a similar way to other film festivals.

However, the key difference at Giffoni is that the jury is made up exclusively of young people, with nobody older than 17.

Once described as "the most necessary" of film festivals by legendary French director Francois Truffaut, Giffoni has been going since 1971 and remains a highly popular event.

Celebrating its 40th edition this year, the organisers have lined up special appearances from a host of Hollywood stars - Samuel L Jackson, Susan Sarandon and Elijah Wood.

In addition, one of Italy's most popular actresses Claudia Pandolfi will be present for the festival's opening day.

The theme of Giffoni this year is "love", an emotion that will be intrepreted in a variety of ways.

In the words of the organisers: "Desire, energy, emotion, discovery, boundaries, choice, journey, dream: these are all fragments of a never ending love speech."

Mozzarella blu, allarme per un batterio
È lo stesso che uccise una modella
Il Messaggero, 23 giugno
Di Luciana Pignataro

NAPOLI (23 giugno) - Si allarga lo scandalo della mozzarella blu, quella che cambia colore qualche ora dopo l'apertura della confezione. Anzitutto le marche nel mirino dei Nas, prodotte nello stabilimento tedesco Milchwerk Jager Gmbh & Co: Land, Malga Paradiso, Lovilio, Fattorie Torresina e Monteverdi.

Poi la quantità sequestrata ormai in tutta Italia: oltre una tonnellata secondo i dati resi noti dal ministro della salute Fazio. Infine l'indagine della Ue, allargata ai mercati francese, bielorusso e sloveno. Infine l'allarme sanitario: è vero, sinora non ci sono casi di malore, anzi qualcuno, per esempio a Caserta, sostiene di averla mangiata senza conseguenze.

Ma se, come pare, il responsabile di questa pigmentazione è dovuta al batterio Pseudomonas, individuato all'inizio del secolo scorso, bisogna stare attenti perché non è assolutamente innocuo come pure qualcuno vuol far credere: sarebbe stato infatti la causa della morte della bellissima modella brasiliana Marianna Bridi, deceduta per setticemia contratta alle vie urinarie, in genere punto di attacco preferito nel corpo umano.

Un batterio infido, dunque, anche se le autorità sanitarie nazionali non ritengono necessario spargere allarmismo: la situazione al momento sarebbe assolutamente sotto controllo. Preoccupati gli agricoltori che chiedono di aprire subito un tavolo di confronto tra i ministeri della Salute e delle Politiche agricole e tutte le componenti della filiera lattiero-casearia, in quanto la vicenda delle mozzarelle blu «rischia di provocare contraccolpi tra i produttori per un possibile calo dei consumi».

Ogni allarmismo è, però, «totalmente ingiustificato - spiega la Confederazione italiana agricoltori -, i prodotti made in Italy sono sicuri e di grande qualità. Però non bisogna sottovalutare l'effetto domino che creano questi scandali, di cui gli agricoltori italiani non sono responsabili».

Le origini della confusione sono in una battaglia legale vinta sulla carta ma persa nei fatti, quando cioé il pretore napoletano Carlo Correra negli anni '80 ingaggiò un duro scontro con le grandi multinazionale sostenendo che di mozzarella si può parlare solo se prodotto con latte di bufala. Una battaglia rafforzata dal riconoscimento della dop, ma la forza della stalla Germania è stata più grande di ogni cavillo legale e commerciale: l'Europa ha bisogno di tanto latte e i tedeschi lo forniscono di buon grado.

Fatte salvo alcune norme igieniche trascurate per salvaguardare i profitti a discapito della salute, come una stagnazione del prodotto oltre il tempo previsto, necessario al batterio di insediarsi e regalare un bel colore azzurro al latticino.

And the Associated Press has this on that:

Italy: bacteria made mozzarella blue
(AP) - Jun 22, 2010

ROME - Batches of Mozzarella balls turned blue because of bacterial contamination during production in Germany, Italian prosecutors and health officials said Tuesday, after more than a ton of the suspect cheese was seized.
But the German maker was insisting that the problem was resolved a month ago.

Last week, Italian paramilitary police specializing in food contamination seized 70,000 balls of mozzarella in Turin after consumers complained the milky-white cheese turned blue after the package was opened. Cheese was also seized in Trento, in northern Italy. This week more suspect cheese was found in Sardinia and in Abruzzo near the Adriatic, authorities said.

The Turin prosecutor looking into the mozzarella mystery said testing had found bacterial contamination, but it wasn't clear yet how the contamination occurred.

"Surely it happened in the production phase," but investigators will not say more until they discover how the bacteria contaminated the mozzarella, prosecutor Raffaele Guariniello told The Associated Press by telephone. He declined to say which bacteria had been found.

Mozzarella suspected of being contaminated has been found in Bologna, in Sardinia, including in Sassari and on the tiny Sardinian island of Isola della Maddalena, and in Bologna, Guariniello said.

In Teramo, a town in Abruzzo where blue mozzarella was found, health officials said results to identify the bacteria would be ready in about 48 hours.

The health ministry in Rome said it has received no complaints of illness linked to the blue mozzarella.

So far more than a ton of mozzarella produced by the German maker Milchwerke Jaeger Gmbh in Germany under five brand names has been seized, the ministry said.

A director of food health services in Teramo said the bacteria didn't appear to have toxic effects.

"Those who ate the mozzarella didn't get any type of illness," said Teramo food official Rolando Piccioni.

Consumers have reported that it takes time for the cheese to turn blue after the package is opened, so some of them ate the cheese without realizing it might have been contaminated, Piccioni said.

In some cases the mozzarella turned blue after six to eight hours, but in other cases, it took two days, he said.

Italy's health minister urged mozzarella distributors in Italy to remove any of the cheese made by Milchwerke Jaeger.

In Germany, Hermann Jaeger, the owner of the company that bears his name, expressed surprised at the Italian seizure. He said a harmless germ often found in ground water was identified as the problem in mid-May and insisted it had since been filtered out of the water used in production.

He told The AP there have been complaints about only around 10 mozzarella balls exported to Italy - out of a production of 800,000 a day.

Jaeger claimed that there have been no problems since mid-May, that the cheese was since tested in Italy and was fine.

Italy has most bank robberies in Europe, study finds
By the CNN Wire Staff
July 1, 2010 11:36 a.m. EDT

Italy has the highest rate of bank robberies in Europe, an Italian study said this week.

Of the 4,150 bank robberies that were reported in Europe in 2009, 1,744 -- or 42 percent -- were done in Italy, according to the study, which was carried out by the Italian bank watchdog Osservatorio and a trade union, CISL.

Northern Italian cities, including Milan and Turin, saw the highest numbers of bank robberies, said the study, which was released Wednesday.

One of the reasons Italy sees so many robberies is high cash liquidity, it said.
The majority of robberies involve direct intimidation, including kidnapping the relatives of a bank employee, the study said. The result for staff is absenteeism, low productivity, difficulty concentrating, disturbed sleep, an anxious state of mind, complications in personal relationships, and irritability, it said.

The amount of money lost from bank theft in Italy in 2009 was 36.8 million euros ($48 million), the Italian Association of Banks (ABI) calculated.

ABI has carried out its own studies of the bank robbery phenomenon, the Italian daily La Stampa reported. It found that in two out of every three robberies, the thieves made off with about 15,000 euros ($18,600) and took less than three minutes.

It also found thieves preferred to use small knives and paper cutters as weapons, and that most robberies happened on Mondays and Fridays.

The Osservatorio-CISL study and the one by ABI said Italian banks spend more than 700 million euros ($870 million) every year on anti-theft equipment such as closed-circuit cameras and alarms.

Italian government optimistic court ruling on
crucifixes in classrooms will be overturned
Catholic News Agency, 2 July 2010

The Italian government has expressed optimism about the outcome of an appeal against a European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruling barring the display of crucifixes in school classrooms. Officials said the crucifix is not a threat to “secularity” and is not used for indoctrination.

Last November the court said the display of crosses in Italian schools violated children's and parents' freedom of belief. The government requested that the case be referred to the Grand Chamber, the court's appellate body.

After a three-hour hearing on Wednesday, Italian foreign minister Franco Frattini said Italy had “everything in order to ensure a positive result.”
“This is a great battle for the freedom and identity of our Christian values,” he said, according to ANSA.

European Policies minister Andrea Ronchi said the appeal allowed the court the opportunity to “re-establish common sense principles.”

"It is obvious the crucifix is not a symbol that damages the principle of secularity in education and it threatens the rights of no one," he said. "I am therefore confident of a positive outcome to this appeal."

Both officials noted the significance of the fact that eight member states from the Council of Europe, the human rights body of 47 countries that founded the ECHR, had intervened in support of Italy.

The Grand Chamber also authorized written observations from 10 non-governmental organizations including Human Rights Watch, Interrights, the Italian Christian Workers Association and the Central Committee of German Catholics. Further, 33 members of the European Parliament, which has no link to the ECHR, were given permission to intervene for the first time ever.

According to ANSA, the Grand Chamber rarely agrees to hear appeals and then only on matters deemed of particular significance to the Council of Europe's member states.

The 20 European judges present at Wednesday's hearing will reconsider the original arguments and are not expected to publish their decision for several months.

In November 2009, the Strasbourg court unanimously upheld an application from a Finnish-born Italian mother, stressing that parents must be allowed to educate their children as they see fit. The court said children were entitled to freedom of religion.

Although the crucifix could be “encouraging” for some pupils, the court said, it could be “emotionally disturbing” for pupils of other religions or those who profess no religion. The court said the state has an obligation to refrain from “imposing beliefs, even indirectly, in places where persons are dependent on it or in places where they are particularly vulnerable.”

Italian government representative Nicola Lettieri argued against the court, saying the crucifixes in Italy's classrooms are "a passive symbol that bear no relationship to the actual teaching, which is secular." He said “no indoctrination” was involved and contended that the cross did not deprive parents of the right to raise their children as they saw fit.

“Italy without the crucifix would no longer be Italy,” said Joseph Weiler, a jurist representing the eight countries supporting Italy. He said the crucifix is both a national and religious symbol, suggesting that religious references and symbols are pervasive in Europe and do not necessarily connote faith. As an example, he noted that not all Britons who sing “God Save the Queen” are believers.

Crucifixes are a fixture in Italian public buildings. The postwar Constitution ordered a separation of Church and State and Catholicism ceased to be Italy's state religion in 1984.

Oldest known images of apostles found
By the CNN Wire Staff
23 June 2010

Rome, Italy (CNN) -- The oldest known image of the apostles Andrew and John have been discovered in catacombs under the city of Rome, dating back to the 4th century AD, archaeologists announced Tuesday.

The paintings were found in the same location where the oldest known painting of St. Paul was discovered last year, the Pontifical Commission for Sacred Archeology said Tuesday.

They are part of a group of paintings around an image of Jesus as the Good Shepherd on the ceiling of what is thought to have been a Roman noblewoman's tomb, experts said.

A painting of St. Peter makes up the fourth member of the group, but older images of him are thought to exist, Vatican experts said.

Their inclusion in the tomb shows the aristocrats were among the last Romans to convert to Christianity, archaeologist Fabrizio Bisconti said.

The Roman matron must have been very rich, he said, as the colors and richness of the decoration show.

The images of the apostles' heads and shoulders against a deep red background were uncovered after two years of work, Vatican experts said.

Archaeologists used a new laser technology to remove layers of white carbon calcium deposited on the frescoes over the centuries without disturbing the paintings.

They are located in the catacombs of St. Tecla, one of the 40 Roman catacombs under Rome. It sits under a modern eight-story building in a working-class neighborhood. It is closed to the public and its entrance is mostly hidden.

The Vatican spent about 60,000 euros (about $74,000) on the archaeological work, it said.

The apostles were a group of a dozen men, according to Christian tradition, who spread the gospel of Jesus after his crucifixion.

Everything forbidden in Italy
Straits Times, 3 July 2010

ROME - ITALY is in danger of losing its reputation as a land of romance and passion, as everything from building sandcastles to sitting on public monuments has been banned.

Since Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi granted local city and town councils the extra powers to enforce 'public security', more than 150 new by-laws have been instituted reported the UK's Daily Telegraph on Saturday.

In Vigevano, a town near Milan, a young couple was slapped with a fine of 160 euros (S$280) for simply sitting on the steps of a local monument, the Daily Telegraph reported.

'It was really hot, so we just sat down for a moment,' said Giada Carnevale, 24. 'The only other alternative in the piazza is to go to a bar but there they charge you five euros just for a drink. We were just chatting - we weren't eating or drinking or smoking.'

Other new bans include kissing in a moving car in the town of Eboli, with a fine of 500 euro if caught; the building of sandcastles at Eraclea because they 'obstruct the passage' of people on the strand; smoking on the beaches of Oristano with a fine of 360 euros and wearing wooden clogs on the island of Capri.

The Italian media has decried the rash of new prohibitions, saying that they are a 'return to the bureaucratic straightjacket of the Mussolini era,' reported the Daily Telegraph. 'Kisses, clogs and beach balls - Italy, the country where everything is forbidden,' was a recent headline in La Stampa.

Italians strike against austerity package
By Guy Dinmore in Rome, Published: June 26 2010 03:02 | Last updated: June 26 2010 03:02

Italy's first major strike action against the centre-right government's E25B ($31 Billion) deficit-reduction package caused disruption for both the public and industry on Friday but did more to reveal deep divisions within the country's labour movement.

CGIL, the main left-wing trades union federation, called the one-day strike and organised mass marches of tens of thousands, but the call to down tools was boycotted by Italy's other more centrist unions.

Transport workers were on strike for four hours, while public sector workers and members of the Fiom metalworkers division stayed away all day. Carmaker Fiat, the largest private sector employer, said about 16 per cent of its workforce heeded the strike call.

The transport wing of CGIL claimed that 86 flights were cancelled at Rome's Fiumicino airport and that half of Rome's and Naples' underground network were shut down. Sea ports were also closed.

Pierluigi Bersani, leader of the main centre-left Democratic opposition party which has strained relations with CGIL, surprised observers by taking part in the union's demonstration in Milan.

Union officials said that across Italy some one million people joined protest marches, although police estimates were considerably lower in some cities.

“No one denies that we need to make cuts, but they must be cuts which are fair and look to the future, rather than just slashing spending,” Susanna Camusso, deputy leader of the CGIL, told a march in Bologna.

The CGIL says the proposed cuts - which include a three-year freeze in wages for the public sector - will hit the most vulnerable sectors of society, in part through reduced health and other services.

Although the strike action is the most visible expression of growing discontent with Silvio Berlusconi's centre-right government, the prime minister's austerity package is more likely to be amended in parliament through pressure from his own allies as well as heads of regional and local governments who will have to bear the brunt of the cutbacks.

Mr Berlusconi, his popularity ratings at their lowest point since he took office over two years ago, keeps repeating that the government will “not put its hands in the pockets of Italians” but local governments insist they will have to raise taxes to maintain services.

The Treasury estimates the cuts, which are intended to bring the budget deficit to below 3 per cent by 2012, will reduce GDP growth by 0.1 percentage points this year and by 0.2 points in 2011 and 2012