TIME animals

This Italian Beach Says ‘Si, Per Favore’ to Dogs

So your four-legged friend can enjoy the beach like you would

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Have you ever brought your dog to the beach only to see a sign of your best friend with an “X” on top?

You won’t see any such thing at Italy’s “Baubeach,” one of the few places that welcomes both two-legged and four-legged guests, according to the Agence France-Presse. The dog-friendly beach is located on the outskirts of Rome and features a play circuit, parasols for shade and, of course, the sea–open to all pooches, whether they want to jump some waves or simply paddle in the shallow water.

[AFP]

TIME Photos

Feel Good Friday: 9 Fun Photos to Start Your Weekend

From cliff climbers to underwater elephants, here's a handful of photos to get your weekend started right

TIME Foreign Policy

White House: EU, US to Impose New Russia Sanctions

(WASHINGTON) — The United States and European Union plan to impose new sanctions against Russia this week, including penalties targeting key sectors of the Russian economy, the White House said Monday.

The show of Western solidarity comes as the U.S. accuses Russia of ramping up its troop presence on its border with Ukraine and shipping more heavy weaponry to pro-Moscow separatists in eastern Ukrainian cities.

President Barack Obama and the leaders of Britain, Germany, France and Italy discussed the crisis during a rare joint video teleconference on Monday. The discussion follows days of bilateral talks on how to implement tougher sanctions after the downing of a passenger jet in eastern Ukraine, an attack the U.S. says was carried out by the separatists.

The U.S. and European sanctions are likely to target Russia’s energy, arms and financial sectors. The EU is also weighing the prospect of levying penalties on individuals close to Russian President Vladimir Putin, who appears to only be deepening Russia’s role in destabilizing Ukraine.

“It’s precisely because we’ve not yet seen a strategic turn from Putin that we believe it’s absolutely essential to take additional measures, and that’s what the Europeans and the United States intend to do this week,” said Tony Blinken, Obama’s deputy national security adviser.

Europe, which has a stronger trade relationship with Russia than the U.S., has lagged behind Washington with its earlier sanctions package, in part out of concern from leaders that the penalties could have a negative impact on their own economies. But a spokesman for British Prime Minister David Cameron said following Monday’s call that the West agreed that the EU should move a “strong package of sectoral sanctions as swiftly as possible.”

French President Francois Hollande said in a statement that the Western leaders “regretted Russia has not effectively pressured separatists to bring them to negotiate nor taken expected concrete measures to assure control of the Russian-Ukrainian border.”

The U.S. penalties are expected to be imposed after Europe finalizes its next moves. Neither set of penalties is expected to fully cut off Russian economic sectors from the West, an options U.S. officials have said they’re holding in reserve in case Russia launches a full-on military incursion in Ukraine or takes a similarly provocative step.

As the West presses ahead with new sanctions, U.S. officials say Russia is getting more directly involved in the clash between separatists and the Ukrainian government. Blinken said Russia appeared to be using the international attention focused on the downed Malaysia Airlines plane as “cover and distraction” while it moves more heavy weaponry over its border and into Ukraine.

“We’ve seen a significant re-buildup of Russian forces along the border, potentially positioning Russia for a so-called humanitarian or peace-keeping intervention in Ukraine,” Blinken said. “So there’s urgency to arresting this.”

Nearly 300 people were killed when the Malaysian plane was shot down by a missile on July 17. The West blames the separatists for the missile attack and Russia for supplying the rebels with equipment that can take down a plane.

Other leaders participating in Monday’s call were German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi. The White House said the leaders also discussed the stalled efforts to achieve a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas, the need for Iraq to form a more inclusive government and the uptick in security threats in Libya.

TIME Sudan

Sudanese Christian Who Refused to Renounce Faith Meets Pope

APTOPIX Italy Mideast Sudan
Mariam Ibrahim, from Sudan, disembarks with her children Maya, in her arms, and Martin, accompanied by Italian deputy Foreign Minister Lapo Pistelli, after landing from Khartoum, at Ciampino's military airport, on the outskirts of Rome, Thursday, July 24. Riccardo De Luca—AP

Mariam Yahya Ibrahim and her family landed in Italy en route to a new life in the U.S.

Updated: 9:14 a.m.

A Sudanese woman who faced the death sentence for refusing to renounce Christianity met with Pope Francis on Thursday, hours after she safely landed in Italy en route to the United States, the Vatican said.

Mariam Yahya Ibrahim met with the Pope in a “very serene and affectionate” environment, Vatican spokesperson Federico Lombardi said in a statement. He said Francis met with Ibrahim and her family to show “his closeness and prayers” for everyone who suffers as a result of their faith.

Ibrahim, 27, was imprisoned for apostasy in February under Sudan’s strict Islamic law, after converting from Islam to marry her Christian husband, a U.S. citizen. Born to a Muslim father but raised Orthodox Christian, she refused to convert back under threat of death.

Ibrahim was ultimately spared the death sentence amid growing international outrage, but was detained when she tried to leave the country last month. She has since been sheltered in the U.S. Embassy in Khartoum, and the State Department has been negotiating for her departure.

Sudan’s Sharia laws have been used sporadically since they were imposed in the 1980s, and no one has been put to death for apostasy since 1985, according to NBC News. But Ibrahim’s case drew widespread international attention, and the U.S. and human rights groups called for her release. She is now expected to head to the U.S. in the coming days with her two children and American husband.

 

TIME New York

Bill de Blasio Learns How to Eat Pizza Like a New Yorker…in Italy

New York mayor Bill de Blasio (L) eats a pizza made by Napoli's pizza chef Gino Sorbillo (2nd from L) in Naples, Italy on July 23, 2014..
New York mayor Bill de Blasio (L) eats a pizza made by Napoli's pizza chef Gino Sorbillo (2nd from L) in Naples, Italy on July 23, 2014. Pietro Avallone—Zuma Press

Proof the mayor of the Big Apple can also eat pizza with his hands

New York City is a place famous for welcoming inhabitants of all stripes and persuasions—”Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free”—but the one thing New Yorkers will not abide, it seems, is a mayor who eats his pizza with a fork.

No New York City mayor—in recent memory, at least—has had his pizza eating style critiqued quite so much as Mayor Bill de Blasio. Within days of his election in January, de Blasio was fending off verbal barbs from irate denizens of the Big Apple after he was caught on camera eating pizza with a fork at a pizzeria in Staten Island. (The Boston-born, Italian-lineage de Blasio later said he was employing the methods of his “ancestral homeland.”)

While on vacation with his family Wednesday in Naples, Italy — that “ancestral homeland” of his — de Blasio was busted again using a fork while devouring an authentic Italian pizza pie. But before your inner Yankee dusts off the old pitchfork, see this photo taken the same day—proof that Mayor Bill de Blasio is fully capable of standing upright while awkwardly wielding a handful of napkins and folding a greasy pizza slice in half before shoving it into his pie hole, like any civilized New Yorker would.

TIME Italy

The Costa Concordia Makes Its Final Voyage

Two and a half years have passed since the cruise ship Costa Concordia ran aground outside of Giglio, Italy, killing 32 people and leaving the ship partially submerged in shallow water. Salvage crews worked tirelessly to re-float the wreck last week, filling steel boxes with air to serve as pontoons. Other boats will now tow the ship on its 240-kilometer (150-mile) journey to Genoa, Italy.

The Costa Concordia operation is the largest salvage attempt to date, with the ship weighing in at 114,500 tons. Dismantling the vessel on the reef was not an option. “It’s far more dangerous to the environment to leave it where it is than to tow it away,” Italy’s civil-protection chief Franco Gabrielli told Giglio residents.

The floatation and salvation project is expected to cost more than $2 billion. TIME takes a look at the Costa Concordia’s journey so far.

TIME privacy

Italy Gives Google Deadline to Change Data-Use Policies

Google must present a game plan in September

An Italian data-regulation official told Google it has 18 months to change how it stores users’ information.

Italy is one of several European countries that have been jointly investigating Google’s consolidation of 60 different privacy policies into one last year, Reuters reports. The Italian watchdog said in a statement that Google’s disclosures about data use were insufficient, despite the company’s efforts efforts to abide by local laws.

A spokesperson for Google said the tech company has consistently cooperated with the inquiry and will continue to do so after it reviews the watchdog’s latest decision.

Google has a year and a half to, among other demands, start asking for users’ consent to profile them based off their data for commercial purposes. The official also asked Google to follow through on users’ requests to delete their personal data within two months.

In addition to the 18-month deadline, Google must also present in September a detailed plan for how it intends to meet the regulator’s demands. If Google ultimately does not comply with the regulator, it could face fines.

France and Spain have already fined the company for violating local data-protection laws. A Dutch regulator is still deciding whether to take steps to enforce changes following similar legal breaches in the Netherlands.

[Reuters]

TIME Italy

Italian Court Acquits Berlusconi in Sex Case

An appeals court reversed a lower court conviction

MILAN (AP) — An Italian appeals court on Friday acquitted former Premier Silvio Berlusconi in a sex-for-hire case, reversing a lower court conviction that had carried a seven-year prison sentence and a lifetime ban on holding political office.

The case has grabbed global attention, offering an unseemly peek into the 77-year-old three-time premier’s private life, with witness testimony revealing raunchy, sex-fueled bunga-bunga parties at his private villa attended by a bevy of aspiring showgirls.

The prosecution alleged that Berlusconi had paid for sex with an underage prostitute, a Moroccan named Karima el-Mahroug, better known as Ruby, and then using his influence to cover it up.

He denied the charges, and both he and el-Mahroug, who was 17 when she frequented Berlusconi’s villa, denied ever having had sex.

The acquittal was announced just as Berlusconi was leaving a facility for Alzheimer’s patients where he is performing community service for a separate conviction on a tax fraud charge. That is the only case finalized against Berlusconi, who has faced dozens of trials, mostly for his business dealings.

Berlusconi thrust his hand from a car as he was being driven away from facility and a political supporter waiting at the gate grabbed his hand and shook it. The window was then rolled up and the media mogul waved as he was driven away.

Berlusconi’s defense lawyer, Franco Coppi, said the decision “goes beyond the rosiest predictions,” adding that he would have been satisfied with an acquittal for lack of evidence. But the court went further, saying that no crimes had been committed.

While the court has 90 days to issue its reasoning, Coppi said the decision to acquit for paying an underage prostitute for sex could have been due to Berlusconi’s testimony that he believed el-Mahroug was over 18.

The case may not end there, however. Prosecutors can challenge Friday’s acquittal in Italy’s highest criminal court, the Court of Cassation.

Berlusconi also is on trial in Naples accused of political corruption, and under investigation in Milan accused of witness-tampering in the sex-for-hire trial and in another related case involving three aides who were convicted of procuring prostitutes for his parties.

Berlusconi remains influential on the Italian political scene as head of his Forza Italia party, despite the tax fraud conviction’s ban on holding political office for two years that led the Senate to yank his seat.

The verdict was widely lauded by political backers. One of Berlusconi’s staunchest, lawmaker Renato Brunetta, hailed “Berlusconi innocent!!!” on Twitter.

TIME Italy

It’s Make or Break for the World’s Biggest Marine Salvage Operation

The Costa Concordia salvage operation has entered its next, most dangerous phase

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It’s a record attempt in heavy lifting that nobody wishes to ever be matched. On Monday, the operation to raise and refloat the capsized 114,500-ton cruise ship Costa Concordia was finally started. If all goes well, the vessel will be towed away to the Italian port city of Genoa, where it will be decommissioned. However, after more than two and a half years on the sea floor, experts fear the delicate maneuver will rupture the prone ship’s hull, spewing out its toxic load — including fuel and dangerous chemicals — into the pristine Tuscan archipelago.

The Costa Concordia veered off course and ran aground outside the island of Giglio in January 2012, killing 32 people and leaving the enormous liner partially submerged in the shallow waters. In tandem with a legal process against the ship’s captain, a salvage operation of unparalleled proportions was commenced. All but one of the victims’ bodies have been recovered, and in a massive September 2013 exercise, the ship was turned upright (parbuckled) and secured on an artificial platform.

Now begins the final phase. Giant tanks welded to the sides of the 290-m-long wreck will be emptied of water, slowly raising it out of the water. Every floor surfaced will be cleaned of debris and potentially harmful substances that could spill into the sea. They will also be surveyed for signs of Russel Rebello, the Indian waiter who remains missing.

“I strongly believe they will find the body of my dear brother,” writes Russel’s brother Kevin in a Facebook post.

Weather conditions have delayed the operation on several occasions, but even though the forecast still isn’t ideal, the salvage crew has pushed ahead, since the hulk would unlikely survive another winter. In fact, it could already have deteriorated too badly for the refloating procedure and subsequent 240-km tow to Genoa. The first 2 m of the raising are the most dangerous, and the hull will constantly be monitored for possible cracks and fissures.

Cutting up the ship in place is not an option. “It’s far more dangerous to the environment to leave it where it is than to tow it away,” Italy’s civil-protection chief Franco Gabrielli explained to Giglio residents. With luck, they could bid farewell to their unwanted, view-spoiling neighbor in just a couple of weeks. Refloating Costa Concordia and moving it into open waters is estimated to take between five and seven days, tugging it to safety another four to five.

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