San Marino: Truth Knowledge And The History Of

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CIA FACT BOOK)

 

San Marino

Introduction The third smallest state in Europe (after the Holy See and Monaco), San Marino also claims to be the world’s oldest republic. According to tradition, it was founded by a Christian stonemason named Marinus in A.D. 301. San Marino’s foreign policy is aligned with that of Italy; social and political trends in the republic also track closely with those of its larger neighbor.
History According to tradition, Saint Marinus left the island of Rab in Croatia with his lifelong friend Leo and went to the town of Rimini as a mason. After persecution because of his Christian sermons, he escaped to the nearby Monte Titano, where he built a small church and thus founded what is now the city and the state of San Marino. The official date of foundation of the Republic is 3 September 301.

By the mid-5th century, a community was formed; because of its relatively inaccessible location and its poverty, it has succeeded, with a few brief interruptions, in maintaining its independence. In 1631 its independence was recognized by the Papacy.

During the early phase of the Italian unification process in the 19th century, San Marino served as a refuge for numerous persons who were persecuted because of their support for the unification. In memory of this support, Giuseppe Garibaldi accepted the wish of San Marino not to be incorporated into the new Italian state. Napoleon refused to take the country. When asked why, he allegedly commented, “Why? It’s a model republic!”

The government of San Marino made United States President Abraham Lincoln an honorary citizen. He wrote in reply, saying that the republic proved that “government founded on republican principles is capable of being so administered as to be secure and enduring.”

In World War I, Italy declared war on Austria-Hungary on 23 May 1915. San Marino declared war on Austria-Hungary on 3 June 1915.

During WWII, San Marino initially declared war on Britain. Then when Italy surrendered San Marino declared neutrality. September 21, 1944 San Marino declared war on Germany.

The head of state is a committee (council) of two captains-regent. San Marino also had the world’s first democratically-elected communist government, which held office between 1945 and 1957.

San Marino was the world’s smallest republic from 301 to 1968, until Nauru gained independence.

San Marino became a member of the Council of Europe in 1988 and of the United Nations in 1992. It is not a member of the European Union.

Geography Location: Southern Europe, an enclave in central Italy
Geographic coordinates: 43 46 N, 12 25 E
Map references: Europe
Area: total: 61.2 sq km
land: 61.2 sq km
water: 0 sq km
Area – comparative: about one third times the size of Washington, DC
Land boundaries: total: 39 km
border countries: Italy 39 km
Coastline: 0 km (landlocked)
Maritime claims: none (landlocked)
Climate: Mediterranean; mild to cool winters; warm, sunny summers
Terrain: rugged mountains
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Torrente Ausa 55 m
highest point: Monte Titano 755 m
Natural resources: building stone
Land use: arable land: 16.67%
permanent crops: 0%
other: 83.33% (2005)
Irrigated land: NA
Natural hazards: NA
Environment – current issues: NA
Environment – international agreements: party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Desertification, Whaling
signed, but not ratified: Air Pollution
Geography – note: landlocked; smallest independent state in Europe after the Holy See and Monaco; dominated by the Apennines
Politics The politics of San Marino takes place in a framework of a parliamentary representative democratic republic, whereby the Captains Regent are the heads of state, and of a pluriform multi-party system. Executive power is exercised by the government. Legislative power is vested in both the government and the Grand and General Council. The judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislature.

San Marino was originally led by the Arengo, initially formed with the heads of each family. In the 13th century, power was given to the Great and General Council. In 1243, the first two Captains Regent were nominated by the Council. This method of nomination is still in use today, as of 2008.

The legislature of the republic is the Grand and General Council (Consiglio grande e generale). The Council is a unicameral legislature which has 60 members with elections occurring every 5 years under a proportional representation system in all nine administrative districts. These districts (townships) correspond to the old parishes of the republic. Citizens eighteen years or older are eligible to vote. Besides general legislation, the Grand and General Council approves the budget and elects the Captains Regent, the State Congress (composed of 10 Secretaries with executive power), the Council of Twelve (which forms the judicial branch during the period of legislature of the Council), the Advising Commissions, and the Government Unions. The Council also has the power to ratify treaties with other countries. The Council is divided into five different Advising Commissions consisting of 15 councilors which examine, propose, and discuss the implementation of new laws that are on their way to being presented on the floor of the Council. Every 6 months, the Council elects two Captains Regent to be the heads of state. The Regents are chosen from opposing parties so there is a balance of power. They serve a 6-month term. The investiture of the Captains Regent takes place on 1 April and 1 October in every year. Once this term is over, citizens have 3 days in which to file complaints about the Captains’ activities. If they warrant it, judicial proceedings against the ex-head(s) of state can be initiated.

The practice of multiple heads of state, as well as the frequent re-election of the heads of state, are derived directly from the customs of the Roman Republic. The Council is equivalent to the Roman Senate; the Captains Regent, to the consuls of ancient Rome.

San Marino is a multi-party democratic republic. The two main parties are the San Marinese Christian Democratic Party (PDCS) and the Party of Socialists and Democrats (PSD, a merger of the Socialist Party of San Marino and the former communist Party of Democrats) in addition to several other smaller parties, such as the San Marinese Communist Refoundation. Due to the small size of San Marino and its low population, it is difficult for any party to gain a pure majority and most of the time the government is run by a coalition. In the June 2006 election the PSD won 20 seats on the Council and currently governs in coalition with the (liberal) Popular Alliance of Sammarinese Democrats for the Republic and United Left.

People Population: 29,973 (July 2008 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 16.8% (male 2,608/female 2,430)
15-64 years: 66% (male 9,464/female 10,304)
65 years and over: 17.2% (male 2,229/female 2,938) (2008 est.)
Median age: total: 41.2 years
male: 40.9 years
female: 41.6 years (2008 est.)
Population growth rate: 1.181% (2008 est.)
Birth rate: 9.74 births/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Death rate: 8.37 deaths/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Net migration rate: 10.44 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.09 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.07 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.92 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.76 male(s)/female
total population: 0.91 male(s)/female (2008 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 5.44 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 5.86 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 4.98 deaths/1,000 live births (2008 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 81.88 years
male: 78.43 years
female: 85.64 years (2008 est.)
Total fertility rate: 1.35 children born/woman (2008 est.)

G7: Trump says Russia should be part of summit

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE BBC)

 

G7: Trump says Russia should be part of summit

Media captionTrump to G7: ‘They should let Russia come back in

US President Donald Trump says he wants Russia to be part of the G7 group of key industrialised nations.

Russia was expelled in 2014 following its annexation of Crimea, but Mr Trump said he wanted the country readmitted.

The build-up to the meeting has seen major disagreements between the US president and other nations over his imposition of trade tariffs.

There are also likely to be disagreements with Mr Trump over Iran and climate change.

The G7 summit, which groups Canada, the US, the UK, France, Italy, Japan and Germany, is being held in the town of La Malbaie in Quebec, Canada.

The leaders of the nations, which represent more than 60% of global net worth, meet annually. Economics tops the agenda, although the meetings now always branch off to cover major global issues.

What did Mr Trump say about Russia?

Mr Trump said he regretted the meeting had shrunk in size, putting him at odds with most other G7 members on yet another issue.

“You know, whether you like it or – and it may not be politically correct – but we have a world to run and in the G7, which used to be the G8, they threw Russia out. They should let Russia come back in,” he said.

He found support in the shape of the newly installed Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, who tweeted that it was “in the interests of everyone” for Russia to be readmitted.

Canada, France and the UK though immediately signalled they remain opposed to Russian re-entry. A Kremlin spokesperson said they were interested in “other formats”, apart from the G7.

Russian President Vladimir Putin is currently in Beijing, where he was presented with a friendship medal by Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping.

Fellow members of what was then the G8 suspended Russia after it took control of Crimea, saying it would remain until Russia “changes course”.

Presentational grey line

Trump arrives with a bang

By the BBC’s diplomatic correspondent, James Robbins

Relations between Donald Trump and America’s leading allies were already at a new low over trade tariffs before the president casually dropped his Russia hand-grenade.

Most G7 leaders think the decision to expel Russia in 2014 was right then, and remains right today. Even Russia itself seems lukewarm about rejoining.

In many ways, this seems to be a deliberate Donald Trump tactic, to distract attention from his war of words with the rest of the G7 over trade and protectionism.

President Trump dislikes the whole idea of the G7: a club of nations which traditionally comes together around shared values rooted in a world order based on agreed rules. Last to arrive, he’ll also be first to leave.

Presentational grey line

What were the exchanges on the eve of the summit?

It was mainly France and Canada v Donald Trump, sparked by Mr Trump’s imposition of steel and aluminium tariffs.

Appearing alongside host leader Justin Trudeau, French President Emmanuel Macron said: “A trade war doesn’t spare anyone. It will start first of all to hurt US workers.”

For his part Mr Trudeau described Mr Trump’s citing of national security to defend his steel and aluminium tariffs as “laughable”.

Never one to back down, Mr Trump fired off a series of tweets, keeping up the tirade on Friday.

Speaking to reporters before the summit he again criticised other nations for their treatment of the US but predicted tensions would ease and “we’ll all be in love again”.

UK Prime Minister Theresa May appeared to take a more conciliatory approach, saying she wanted the EU to act with restraint and proportion in retaliating to the US tariffs.

Unlike Mr Macron and Mr Trudeau, she won’t be having a bilateral meeting with Mr Trump, but insisted on Friday it was not a snub.

The EU has called Mr Trump’s tariffs “protectionism, pure and simple” and are among others in announcing retaliatory measures.

Media captionDairy wars: Why is Trump threatening Canada over milk?

What else can we expect in Quebec?

Mr Trump is leaving early to head to Singapore for his landmark summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, meaning he will miss some of the topics advanced by Mr Trudeau.

The five themes for this year’s summit are:

  • Inclusive economic growth
  • Gender equality and women’s empowerment
  • World peace and security
  • Jobs of the future
  • Climate change and oceans

According to the leaders’ programme, Mr Trump will be around for the economic and security issues being discussed on Friday but will miss climate change, the environment and probably gender equality on Saturday.

The US president was very much the odd man out on climate change during the G7 in Italy last year, later announcing his intention to withdraw from the landmark Paris agreement.

Media captionG7 summit: Trapped in the world’s most secure house

Iran is also a big sticking point. Mr Trump recently ditched the 2015 agreement with Tehran that aimed to curb its nuclear programme. This angered the other signatories who have since sought to shore it up.

Previous G7 meetings have seen huge protests, and about 8,000 soldiers and police officers are expected to be on hand during the Quebec event.

Protester in QuebecImage copyrightREUTERS
Image captionA protester with a flare at a protest march in Quebec City, ahead of the summit

More on this story

  • G7 ministers criticise US tariffs and warn of trade war
    3 June 2018
  • G7 demand action on extremist net content at summit
    26 May 2017
  • US tariffs: Allies retaliate with levies on jam, lamps and sleeping bags
    1 June 2018
  • China warns US sanctions will void trade talks
    3 June 2018

Italy’s Political Disaster Has World Financial Markets Running Scared

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNBC)

 

Markets stabilize as Italian fears ease  

Political uncertainty in Italy has unhinged world markets, raising the specter of a euro crisis that could ripple across the global economy and even force the Federal Reserve to slow its rate-hiking plans.

Several strategists say there is little chance the euro zone’s third-largest economy will move to leave the single currency, creating a continent-wide crisis of confidence. But internal chaos and a new election could make for a rocky summer for markets and even put a dent in European economic growth.

Italy moved to the foreground as the latest source of angst for markets, after a weekend of drama in which President Sergio Mattarella on Sunday blocked the formation of a government that would have been decidedly against the euro.

Traders and financial professionals work ahead of the closing bell on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), April 6, 2018 in New York City.

U.S. markets set to rebound amid Italy uncertainty  

The anti-establishment 5-Star Movement, Italy’s biggest party, and the far-right League party picked euro critic Paolo Savona as their economy minister. The two parties, both critical of Europe’s single currency, had won more than half the votes in March’s parliamentary elections. Mattarella vetoed the choice and instead asked Carlo Cottarelli, a former IMF official,toform a temporary government, but both parties object to him, and a new vote is now expected in late July.

The euro sank, losing 0.7 percent Tuesday to $1.1540, and investors dumped Italian bonds while seeking safety in U.S. Treasurys and German bunds. The 2-year Italian yield briefly snapped above 2.73 percent, a sharp move from just 0.48 percent on Friday and a negative yield earlier this month.

Global equity markets slumped, with the Dow tumbling more than 450 points. Banks led the selloff, and the S&P financial sector declined more than 3 percent. In Europe, yields on Italian bank debt spiked as bank shares sold off.

Chris Rupkey, chief financial economist at MUFG Union Bank, said a rash of recent data has already raised concerns about European growth. “This could be the straw that breaks the camel’s back in the case of prospects for Europe. It will spill over into the U.S. They won’t buy as many of our imports,” he said.

“When world economic growth has been threatened in the last three years, it was a concern. It hurts confidence on the economic outlook for the U.S.,” he said. “Given what we know right now, I would not be comfortable rushing out and forecasting a rate hike in September.”

But Rupkey also said the markets are reacting to news that occurred over a three-day holiday weekend in the U.S. and may not be as turbulent in upcoming sessions. “It’s not a full-blown European sovereign debt crisis yet. For one thing, the Italian 10-year yield is a little over 3 percent. Back in 2012, it was at 8 percent. It’s not the same situation yet.”

“I’m sure many American traders wish that Europe, in general, would stop having these mini referendums on whether the euro is going to survive,” said Rupkey. “It’s going to be really dragged out. I don’t think we can trade on this every day. I don’t think 10-year yields in Italy are going to go higher and higher every day, waiting for that vote. The focus is going to shift back pretty quickly to the U.S., which is employment and wage data on Friday.”

For some traders, the Italian political crisis is deja vu to the Greek debt crisis, which wound down three years ago after fanning fears that the whole financial and economic fabric of the euro zone could unravel.

“The chaos in Europe is pushing down U.S. interest rates so money is flowing to the U.S., fleeing Europe, making people think, that [with falling interest rates], coupled with the rising dollar, that the Fed responds by maybe having second thoughts about the trajectory of Fed policy,” said Marc Chandler, head of foreign exchange strategy at Brown Brothers Harriman. “It also is a risk to the real economy because Europe’s a big trading partner.”

The Federal Reserve, driven by a stronger U.S. economy, is on track to raise interest rates for a second time this year at its meeting June 13. The Fed has forecast three hikes for this year, but the markets had been expecting an added hike in September, in addition to December.

“The Fed is going to raise in June, raise in September and then they’re going to play it by ear,” said Peter Boockvar, CIO at Bleakley Advisory Group.

The U.S. 2-year Treasury yield, the most sensitive to Fed rate hikes, slipped to 2.38 percent, after touching 2.60 percent recently. The 10-year dipped to 2.82 percent from 3.12 percent just several weeks ago.

Chandler said he does not expect a new Italian government to push to exit the euro, though it could threaten other measures. Italy is the biggest debtor in the euro zone, with 2.3 trillion euros in debt, or 132 percent of GDP last year. That is double Germany’s level and well above the 87 percent of the euro zone.

“Their tactics would be to make some demands like: ‘Let’s cut taxes. Let’s use our t-bills to pay down our arrears. … Let’s keep challenging the EU,'” Chandler said. “That’s the back door to leave. You place demands on the EU.”

If this Italian situation gets worse, it could mean pain in the short term: Randy Warren

If this Italian situation gets worse, it could mean pain in the short term: Randy Warren  

He said the next coalition government could have a list of proposals to challenge the existing rules of the EU. “That’s why despite what their lips say, ‘We’re not looking to leave immediately,’ what it increases is the stress on the system, the demands they are placing,” Chandler said.

But the likelihood Italy leaves the euro are “slim to none,” he said.

Spain is another worry for markets, with a vote of confidence later this week on the administration of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy because of a campaign finance scandal. That could force a new election for that country, which has already seen a deep divide over the Catalan region’s wish to split from Spain.

“The outcome in Italy is hard to see as an investment-friendly outcome. It’s much easier to see an investor-friendly outcome in Spain. Spain is bad, but Italy is a lot worse,” he said.

Chandler said one outcome in the next election is that Silvio Berlusconi, former prime minister, could run for office again. A court ruled that the three-time prime minister may again seek office, after being banned because of tax fraud for more than five years. Berlusconi has been supportive of a “parallel” currency to the euro, Chandler said.

Also unclear is how the European Central Bank will respond to the turmoil kicked up by Italy, and some strategists say ECB President Mario Draghi would be sure to retain stimulus as needed. The ECB is expected to announce in September that it will put aside its asset purchases, but if Italy’s woes spill into the broader economy, that could be in doubt.

“He’s completely lost control of the Italian bond market in two weeks,” said Boockvar. “I think he’s going to do his best to verbally calm nerves, but as far as legally using his balance sheet to help, I don’t see what he can do.”

But some traders appear to see the Italian situation as enough of a red flag to slow the Fed, particularly after the U.K. Brexit vote led to a market correction.

“The market is still pricing in a Fed hike for next month. It’s already in the cards. Why would the Fed not raise interest rates, given the kind of economic data we expect this week?” said Chandler. “Where I really see this having an effect is on the back end, the September hike.”

Robert Sinche, chief global strategist at Amherst Pierpont, does not see enough damage from Italy to slow the Fed.

“I think this will be a lot of noise, but I’ve seen this movie three or four times before. Italy stays in [the euro zone], and life goes on. There could be a little more uncertainty over the summer. They’ve realized that, which is why they pushed up the election to late July/early August,” he said.

“The ECB has been notoriously quiet because I think they like the signals the market is sending to Italy on the type of fiscal policies they’re talking about,” said Sinche. “I think we’ve had this spasm of risk off and in another couple of days we’ll be focused on some other bright light that comes along. I think what we’re seeing now is really a lot of liquidations of shorts in the bond market that were feeling pretty confident in Fed hikes and inflation.”

WATCH: Costa says Italian political risk way overdone

Italian political risk way overdone: Costa

Italian political risk way overdone: Costa  

Lost World Of Shipwrecks Have Been Found In The Black Sea Off Of Bulgarian Coast

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE NEW YORK TIME’S, SCIENCE SECTION)

An image of the well-preserved medieval ship found at the bottom of the Black Sea, one of more than 40 wrecks discovered. Photogrammetry, a process using thousands of photographs and readings, produced a rendering that appears three-dimensional.Credit Expedition and Education Foundation/Black Sea MAP

The medieval ship lay more than a half-mile down at the bottom of the Black Sea, its masts, timbers and planking undisturbed in the darkness for seven or eight centuries. Lack of oxygen in the icy depths had ruled out the usual riot of creatures that feast on sunken wood.

This fall, a team of explorers lowered a robot on a long tether, lit up the wreck with bright lights and took thousands of high-resolution photos. A computer then merged the images into a detailed portrait.

Archaeologists date the discovery to the 13th or 14th century, opening a new window on forerunners of the 15th- and 16th-century sailing vessels that discovered the New World, including those of Columbus. This medieval ship probably served the Venetian empire, which had Black Sea outposts.

Never before had this type of ship been found in such complete form. The breakthrough was the quarterdeck, from which the captain would have directed a crew of perhaps 20 sailors.

“That’s never been seen archaeologically,” said Rodrigo Pacheco-Ruiz, an expedition member at the Center for Maritime Archaeology at the University of Southampton, in Britain. “We couldn’t believe our eyes.”

A photogrammetric image of a ship from the Ottoman era that most likely went down between the 17th and 19th centuries. The discoverers nicknamed it the Flower of the Black Sea because of its ornate carvings, including two large posts topped with petals. Credit Expedition and Education Foundation/Black Sea MAP

Remarkably, the find is but one of more than 40 shipwrecks that the international team recently discovered and photographed off the Bulgarian coast in one of archaeology’s greatest coups.

In age, the vessels span a millennium, from the Byzantine to the Ottoman empires, from the ninth to the 19th centuries. Generally, the ships are in such good repair that the images reveal intact coils of rope, rudders and elaborately carved decorations.

“They’re astonishingly preserved,” said Jon Adams, the leader of the Black Sea project and founding director of the maritime archaeology center at the University of Southampton.

Kroum Batchvarov, a team member at the University of Connecticut who grew up in Bulgaria and has conducted other studies in its waters, said the recent discoveries “far surpassed my wildest expectations.”

Independent experts said the annals of deepwater archaeology hold few, if any, comparable sweeps of discovery in which shipwrecks have proved to be so plentiful, diverse and well-preserved.

A photogrammetric image of the stern of the Ottoman-era ship showing coils of rope and a tiller with elaborate carvings. A lack of oxygen at the icy depths of the Black Sea left the wrecks relatively undisturbed.Credit Expedition and Education Foundation/Black Sea MAP

“It’s a great story,” said Shelley Wachsmann of the Institute of Nautical Archaeology at Texas A&M University. “We can expect some real contributions to our understanding of ancient trade routes.”

Goods traded on the Black Sea included grains, furs, horses, oils, cloth, wine and people. The Tatars turned Christians into slaves who were shipped to places like Cairo. For Europeans, the sea provided access to a northern branch of the Silk Road and imports of silk, satin, musk, perfumes, spices and jewels.

Marco Polo reportedly visited the Black Sea, and Italian merchant colonies dotted its shores. The profits were so enormous that, in the 13th and 14th centuries, Venice and Genoa fought a series of wars for control of the trade routes, including those of the Black Sea.

Brendan P. Foley, an archaeologist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution on Cape Cod, Mass., said the good condition of the shipwrecks implied that many objects inside their hulls might also be intact.

“You might find books, parchment, written documents,” he said in an interview. “Who knows how much of this stuff was being transported? But now we have the possibility of finding out. It’s amazing.”

Experts said the success in Bulgarian waters might inspire other nations that control portions of the Black Sea to join the archaeological hunt. They are Georgia, Romania, Russia, Turkey and Ukraine.

Dr. Foley, who has explored a number of Black Sea wrecks, said the sea’s overall expanse undoubtedly held tens of thousands of lost ships. “Everything that sinks out there is going to be preserved,” he added. “They’re not going away.”

For ages, the Black Sea was a busy waterway that served the Balkans, the Eurasian steppes, the Caucasus, Asia Minor, Mesopotamia and Greece. It long beckoned to archaeologists because they knew its deep waters lacked oxygen, a rarity for large bodies of water.

The great rivers of Eastern Europe — the Don, the Danube, the Dnieper — pour so much fresh water into the sea that a permanent layer forms over denser, salty water from the Mediterranean. As a result, oxygen from the atmosphere that mixes readily with fresh water never penetrates the inky depths.

In 1976, Willard Bascom, a pioneer of oceanography, in his book “Deep Water, Ancient Ships,” called the Black Sea unique among the world’s seas and a top candidate for exploration and discovery.

A photogrammetric image of a Byzantine wreck, dating perhaps to the ninth century. Superimposed is an image of one of the expedition’s tethered robots that photographed the lost ships.CreditExpedition and Education Foundation/Black Sea MAP

“One is tempted,” he wrote, “to begin searching there in spite of the huge expanse of bottom that would have to be inspected.”

In 2002, Robert D. Ballard, a discoverer of the sunken Titanic, led a Black Sea expedition that found a 2,400-year-old wreck laden with the clay storage jars of antiquity. One held remnants of a large fish that had been dried and cut into steaks, a popular food in ancient Greece.

The new team said it received exploratory permits from the Bulgarian ministries of culture and foreign affairs and limited its Black Sea hunts to parts of that nation’s exclusive economic zone, which covers thousands of square miles and runs up to roughly a mile deep.

Although the team’s official name is the Black Sea Maritime Archaeology Project, or Black Sea MAP, it also hauls up sediments to hunt for clues to how the sea’s rising waters engulfed former land surfaces and human settlements.

Team members listed on its website include the Bulgarian National Institute of Archaeology, the Bulgarian Center for Underwater Archaeology, Sodertorn University in Sweden, and the Hellenic Center for Marine Research in Greece.

An illustration of what the research team believes the medieval ship found in the Black Sea looked like during its heyday. Credit Jon Adams/University of Southampton/Black Sea MAP

The project’s financial backer is the Expedition and Education Foundation, a charity registered in Britain whose benefactors want to remain anonymous, team members said. Dr. Adams of the University of Southampton, the team’s scientific leader, described it as catalyzing an academic-industry partnership on the largest project “of its type ever undertaken.”

Nothing is known publicly about the cost, presumably vast, of the Black Sea explorations, which are to run for three years. The endeavor began last year with a large Greek ship doing a preliminary survey. This year, the main vessel was the Stril Explorer, a British-flagged ship bearing a helicopter landing pad that usually services the undersea pipes and structures of the offshore oil industry.

Instead, archaeologists on the ship lowered its sophisticated robots to hunt for ancient shipwrecks and lost history.

In an interview, Dr. Pacheco-Ruiz of the University of Southampton said he was watching the monitors late one night in September when the undersea robot lit up a large wreck in a high state of preservation.

“I was speechless,” he recalled. “When I saw the ropes, I couldn’t believe my eyes. I still can’t.”

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Dr. Pacheco-Ruiz said the vessel hailed from the Ottoman Empire, whose capital was Constantinople (today Istanbul), and most likely went down sometime between the 17th and 19th centuries. He said the team nicknamed it “Flower of the Black Sea” because its deck bears ornate carvings, including two large posts with tops that form petals.

In an interview, Dr. Batchvarov of the University of Connecticut said most of the discoveries date to the Ottoman era. So it was that, late one night, during his shift, he assumed that a new wreck coming into view would be more of the same.

“Then I saw a quarter rudder,” he recalled, referring to a kind of large steering oar on a ship’s side. It implied the wreck was much older. Then another appeared. Quickly, he had the expedition’s leader, Dr. Adams, awakened.

“He came immediately,” Dr. Batchvarov recalled. “We looked at each other like two little boys in a candy shop.”

Dr. Batchvarov said the wreck — the medieval one found more than a half-mile down — was part of a class known by several names, including cocha and “round ship.” The latter name arose from how its ample girth let it carry more cargo and passengers than a warship.

Dr. Adams said the remarkable color images of the lost ships derived from a process known as photogrammetry. It combines photography with the careful measurement of distances between objects, letting a computer turn flat images into renderings that seem three-dimensional.

He said tethered robots shot the photographic images with video and still cameras. The distance information, he added, came from advanced sonars, which emit high-pitched sounds that echo through seawater. Their measurements, he said, can range down to less than a millimeter.

A news release from the University of Southampton refers to the images as “digital models.” Their creation, it said, “takes days even with the fastest computers.”

Filmmakers are profiling the Black Sea hunt in a documentary, according to the team’s website.

Another part of the project seeks to share the thrill of discovery with schools and educators. Students are to study on the Black Sea, the website says, or join university scientists in analyzing field samples “to uncover the mysteries of the past.”

The team has said little publicly on whether it plans to excavate the ships — a topic on which nations, academics and treasure hunters have long clashed. Bulgaria is a signatory to the 2001 United Nations convention that outlaws commercial trade in underwater cultural heritage and sets out guidelines on such things as artifact recovery and public display.

Dr. Pacheco-Ruiz said the team had so far discovered and photographed 44 shipwrecks, and that more beckoned.

Which was the most important? Dr. Adams said that for him, a student of early European shipbuilding, the centerpiece was the medieval round ship. He said it evoked Marco Polo and city states like Venice. The ship, he added, incorporated a number of innovations that let it do more than its predecessors had and paved the way for bigger things to come.

“It’s not too much,” he said, “to say that medieval Europe became modern with the help of ships like these.”

Massive sinkhole prompts evacuation of 22 families in Rome

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

Massive sinkhole prompts evacuation of 22 families in Rome

A view of a large sinkhole that opened in a street of a residential area in Rome on Wednesday.

(CNN)A massive sinkhole swallowed several cars in a Rome neighborhood, forcing the evacuation of surrounding buildings and raising pressing questions over safety protocols in the Italian capital.

The incident took place on Wednesday in via Livio Andronico, in Rome’s Balduina district, just before 6 p.m. local time, according to Italian firefighters who were called to the scene.

The sinkhole opened up near a building site.

“The road had sunk for about 10 meters, dragging parked vehicles with it,” firefighters said in astatement.
About 22 families were evacuated from the surrounding buildings. No injuries have been reported.
As of Thursday morning, firefighters were still carrying out security and stability checks on the scene with help of technicians.
The sinkhole appeared near a building site where construction workers are erecting residential buildings, according to public broadcaster RAI News.

Workers remove cars that were sucked down into the sinkhole.

Some of the residents said they had complained to authorities about cracks in the roads.
Lawyer Giancarlo De Capraris told La Repubblica newspaper: “In the last three months I filed a complaint to Carabinieri (national police) and firefighters. Everything remained unheeded. I flagged the cracks on the road surface that became deeper every day and the continuous passage of heavy vehicles. This was a disaster waiting to happen.”
One resident told RAI News she felt the floor of the house shaking in the past few days.
Rome Mayor Virginia Raggi told Italian news agency ANSA: “Those responsible will pay.”

Construction of the Leaning Tower of Pisa

(I FOUND THIS ARTICLE ON THE GOOGLE + SITE OF MABELXXXBXB, IT IS ALSO FOUND UNDER THE TITLE OF ‘LEANINGTOWEROFPISA.NET’)

 

Construction of the Leaning Tower of Pisa

Begun in 1173, the process by which the leaning tower of Pisa had transformed into the monument as we know it today was long and drawn out. In fact, it took over 800 years from start to finish.

Intricate carvings, columns, arch’s, and other design elements are incorporated into the construction of the tower. For medieval Europe, these types of design themes and construction processes were way ahead of their time, resulting in a structure that has remained timeless in appearance through the ages.

The tower was built with limestone and lime mortar, though the exterior of the tower is covered in marble. Ironically, the limestone is probably why the tower has not cracked and broken- the rock is flexible enough that it can withstand the pressures placed on it by the lean. It is doubtful that the original architect, Bonanno Pisano, had any idea that the qualities of limestone would play a role in preventing its ultimate collapse.

Originally, the leaning tower of Pisa was to be a bell tower for a cathedral. Five years after the initial construction of two floors it began to lean once the third floor was completed. At the time the cause of the lean was not known, though it was discovered many years later that the lean was the result of the tower being built on a dense clay mixture that was unable to fully support the weight of the tower.

As you can imagine, the construction process was halted for nearly 100 years. The architects of the time hoped that the soul would settle and harden over time, allowing them to resume construction and correct the lean.

Giovanni di Simone, Alessandro Della Gherardesca, and Benito Mussolini

100 long years passed before Giovanni di Simone constructed four additional floors. He had also intended to counteract the lean during the construction process but, like the original architects, made a critical miscalculation. The result was the four floors being built crooked, causing the tower to shift even more.

In 1372 the bell chamber was finally attached to the leaning tower of Pisa, and there were no further modifications or additions made until the 19 th century.

Alessandro Della Gherardesca decided to increase the value of the tower to the tourism industry by digging a pathway around the base of the tower that would allow tourists to see the detail that was put into the base. This took place in 1838, and resulted in the tower leaning even more when Gherardesca’s workers struck water, flooding the ditches and increasing the tilt.

Benito Mussolini was the next to try his hand stabilizing the tower in 1934. He felt that the tower was an embarrassment to Italy and that it must be corrected and returned to a perpendicular state. As a result of his orders, 361 holes were drilled into the foundation of the tower and 90 tonnes of cement were used to fill them. The cement, rather than form up in the holes and act as a counterweight, sank into the clay beneath the structure, causing the tower to lean over even more.

End of Construction

The Leaning Tower of Pisa was closed for construction in 1990 and was then reopened once it was safe for everyone to tour. From start to finish, the leaning tower of Pisa took over 800 years to be constructed- probably the longest construction time in the world!

 

 

 

11 Year old boy and his parents die after falling into a volcanic crater in Italy

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

A boy and his parents die after falling into a volcanic crater in Italy

Rescue workers stand near the crater in Pozzuoli, Italy, after three people died there Tuesday September 12.

Rome (CNN) An 11-year-old boy died after he fell into a volcanic crater in Italy and his parents also died when they tried to help him, police said.

The incident happened Tuesday at the Solfatara Crater in Pozzuoli, a popular tourist attraction near Naples.
Naples police told CNN the family of four was visiting from Turin, and the 11-year-old boy wandered into an area that is off-limits to visitors.

A view of Solfatara crater near Naples on September 12.

The Solfatara, a dormant volcano, emits sulfurous fumes. The area around it is known for a type of quicksand, which makes the ground unstable.
It’s not known if the boy lost consciousness because of the fumes or if the quicksand pulled him in. But when his parents tried to rush to his rescue, they too were were sucked in, police said.
Another child, 7, survived.
“I’ve been here for 40 years and such an accident has never happened,” Armando Guerriero, owner of a bar located near the entrance to the volcano, told the ANSA news agency.

Italian mafia kingpin arrested in Uruguay after two decades

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

Italian mafia kingpin arrested in Uruguay after two decades on the run

Rocco Morabito was arrested in Uruguay.

Story highlights

  • Rocco Morabito was convicted in Italy and sentenced to 30 years for drug trafficking
  • He fled Italy in the mid-1990s, was arrested in Uruguay on Friday

(CNN)A convicted drug kingpin in the Italian mafia has been arrested in Uruguay after being on the run for over 20 years, the Uruguayan Interior Ministry said in a statement.

Rocco Morabito — described by authorities as a prominent member of the Ndrangheta, or Calabrian Mafia — had been wanted since 1994. He was convicted in absentia for drug trafficking and organized-crime activities in Italy, and was sentenced to 30 years in prison.
Italian authorities said that Morabito had been responsible for shipping drugs into Italy and arranging distribution in Milan.

View of the villa where Italian mafia fugitive Rocco Morabito lived in the resort town of Punta del Este, Uruguay.

The Uruguayan Interior Ministry said Morabito was arrested Friday in a hotel in the Uruguayan capital of Montevideo. Italian police said the arrest followed “months of international cooperation and intelligence activity.”
Italian Interior Minister Marco Minniti lauded Morabito’s arrest, saying he was “considered one of the sought-after members of the Ndrangheta”.
Uruguayan authorities said some months ago Morabito tried to enroll his daughter in a local school using his real name, and his fingerprints were confirmed by Italian authorities.
Interpol issued a red notice for Morabito — its highest-priority international arrest warrant — in 1995 following an arrest warrant issued by Italian prosecutors in Reggio Calabria.
Authorities said Morabito — one of Italy’s five most-wanted fugitives — entered Uruguay in 2001 using false Brazilian identification papers including a bogus birth certificate. For the last decade he lived in a comfortable rural villa near the town of Maldonado, adjacent to the resort city of Punta del Este.
When he was arrested, Morabito had 13 cell phones, an automatic pistol, 12 credit and debit cards, a large quantity of Uruguayan money and US $50,000 in cash, plus currency certificates worth US $100,000, the Uruguayan Interior Ministry said.
In a search of Morabito’s home in the town of Maldonado, authorities seized a 2015 Mercedes and a Portuguese passport in his false Brazilian name. His wife — an Angolan national with a Portuguese passport — was also arrested, authorities said.
According to the Uruguayan Interior Ministry, Morabito was indicted for three crimes of forgery and will remain in preventive detention for three months while extradition proceedings are underway Italian police say once extradited, Morabito will face the 30-year sentence handed down two decades ago.

7 climbers fall to their deaths in the Alps

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

7 climbers fall to their deaths in the Alps

A view of the Zillertal Valley in the Austrian Alps, near an area where five climbers were killed.

Story highlights

  • Five climbers were killed after falling onto a glacier in the Austrian Alps
  • Two others were killed in Italy climbing in a group roped together

Rome (CNN) Seven climbers fell to their deaths in two separate incidents in the Alps on Sunday, officials said.

Five of the climbers died in the Austrian Alps, Zell am See provincial government chief Martin Reichholf told CNN. Two others were killed as they climbed in a group roped together in the Italian Alps, according to an emergency center there.
Reichholf said there were indications that the climbers were German citizens, adding that details were still emerging.
The climbers in Austria fell around 300 meters (1,000 feet) onto a glacier near the town of Krimml, according to Dr. Egbert Ritter, a trauma surgeon at the AUVA hospital in Salzburg.
Adamello Glacier
Krimml
Map data ©2017 GeoBasis-DE/BKG (©2009), Google, Inst. Geogr. Nacional
A sixth climber — a 60-year-old man — is in intensive care at the hospital, but his injuries are not life-threatening, Ritter said. Six helicopters were at the scene of the accident, he told CNN.
The climbers fell at around 10 a.m. (4 a.m. ET) about 1.5 kilometers south of a mountain cabin called the Zittauer Hutte at an altitude of around 3,000 meters, he said.

Group roped together

In Italy, a man and woman who appear to be in their mid-30s were killed as they climbed the Adamello glacier in the the Trentino Alto Adige region, according to the emergency rescue center in the town of Trento.
They were part of a group of nine Italians from the city of Brescia. The climbers were connected by three ropesThey fell when those on the lowest rope slipped on the glacier, dragging down others higher up the slope, according to the rescue center.
A further two climbers were seriously injured, including a 14-year-old boy who is being treated in Trento hospital.
Three helicopters were used to rescue the group, officials said.

Why Terror Suspects in Europe Slip Through Security Cracks

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT AND FROM THE WASHINGTON POST)

Why Terror Suspects in Europe Slip Through Security Cracks

London- About a year ago, police stopped a young man in the airport of Bologna, a town in northern Italy. Youssef Zaghba, an Italian citizen of Moroccan origin, had raised suspicions because he was to embark on a one-way ticket for Istanbul: They feared he was trying to reach Syria through Turkey to join a terror group.

After ISIS propaganda materials were found on his smartphone, Zaghba was arrested and briefly detained between March and April 2016. (Attempting to join a foreign ogranization is a crime in Italy, since a special law was introduced in 2015.)

Eventually authorities had to release him because his lawyer found irregularities in the arrest, but the secret services kept monitoring him and put his name in the Schengen Information System (SIS), the database where European Union member states share security information, so that other countries could be alerted that Zaghba posed a danger.

On June 3 of this year, Zaghba participated in the London Bridge attack that left eight people dead, along with the three terrorists.

Despite being in the EU’s watch list, Zaghba was let into Britain at least twice. Moreover, according to the local media, he was not considered “a subject of interest” by British security. Most recently, Zaghba traveled between two countries in January: He was briefly questioned in London’s Stansted airport. (It is unclear if the British failed to go through a check of the SIS database, or if they saw his name on the database and simply ignored the warning, as the newspaper Repubblica suggests.)

How could a terror suspect be on Italy’s watch list and not in the British one? And why didn’t the presence of Zaghba’s name in the SIS prompt UK authorities to keep an eye on him?

The London Bridge attack raises issue about the sharing of security information between European countries, at a time when terrorists have been shown to move often across the EU’s open borders.

It is not unusual after an attack to learn that the perpetrators were already known to anti-terror agencies. Some analysts argue that this doesn’t always imply a security failure, because there are too many people on watch-lists to monitor effectively all of them: There are some 23,000 “subjects of interests” for anti-terror agencies in the UK and 15,000 in France.

“Since it takes at least four agents to monitor a single suspect, it becomes apparent that many European countries lack the resources to monitor all of them and that there’s an overload of security information,” said Arturo Varvelli, the head of the Terrorism Program at ISPI, a think tank in Milan.

However, Zaghba’s case is different — and the way he slipped by, despite all the warnings, might not be just the result of an overburdened security system but also symptomatic of a different problem: European countries still haven’t fully learned how to read (and perhaps trust) each other’s red flags.

“It’s the second time, in less than a year, that a terrorist already known to Italian authorities has carried an attack in another European country,” notes Francesco Strazzari, a security expert at the Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies in Pisa, referring to last winter’s attack in Berlin. The Christmas Market attack was carried by a Tunisian man who immigrated to Italy, and whom Italian authorities had tried to deport because they were aware of his radical tendencies.

In an interview, Strazzari recalled that the November 2015 attacks in France were also carried out by terrorists that had ties to a different country, Belgium, and who seemed to move freely between the two.

Critics of the EU have blamed its open borders for security failures, while its supporters point out that assets such as the SIS database are actually supposed to improve the security of each country. But Strazzari says that the main problem is that sometimes information gets “lost in translation.”

The EU, he says, doesn’t really have a pan-European security apparatus, but only a system that aims at coordinating the security services of each of its member states.

Varvelli, the ISPI researcher, argues that lack of trust might also pose a problem. Red flags about individuals are not clear cut, he explains: “Security officials need to interpret them, in order to grasp the level of danger, and knowing where that information comes from plays an important part in the process.”

But while they are bound to share information, the secret services of different countries aren’t keen on sharing with each other how they gathered that information — which ends up making the information less useful.

Varvelli said that ISIS is “well aware” of this weakness and are exploiting it: “Terrorists have realized that if they are closely monitored in the country they are based in, a good strategy is to move to a different country.”

The Washington Post