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Rubble in Amatrice
Rubble in Amatrice
Giacomo Tognini

AMATRICE — Seven months after a powerful earthquake in central Italy reduced Amatrice to rubble and killed almost 300 people, mayor Sergio Pirozzi has declared the town a free trade area, Italian financial daily Il Sole 24 Ore reports.

Amatrice's town council approved a motion to establish an Amatrice County Free Trade Zone (ZFCA), under which the local government would contribute to a fund that will cover all tax payments and fiscal contributions of Amatrice residents, media reports say.

Mayor Sergio Pirozzi in his makeshit office on Feb. 2017 — Photo: Lena Klimkeit/DPA/ZUMA

"The ZFCA is the only thing I can do to give people some hope," Pirozzi told Rome-based newspaper La Repubblica. "85% of Amatrice is uninhabitable. We can't live on disaster tourism, we need a long-term vision for our economy."

After the earthquake in August last year, further shocks in October and then January, four regions of central Italy were ravaged and tens of thousands of people were displaced.

The Italian government has also passed legislation to suspend all taxes until 2020 in the towns affected by the string of earthquakes in an effort to help local businesses return.

A measure to establish a special economic zone in the areas devastated by the quake is supported by only 32 MPs in the lower house but Il Sole 24 Ore reports that Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni may include the measure in the government's next reconstruction plan.

While the Italian government works out such a proposal, mayor Pirozzi is forging ahead with his own free trade zone. The ZFCA is slated to come into effect within weeks.


Pirozzi wrote in a council declaration that, "It will help rebuild the social and economic fabric of our town."

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Society

In Denmark, Beloved Christmas TV Special Cancelled For Blackface Scenes

The director of the 1997 episode complained that TV executives are being "too sensitive."

Screenshot of a child wearing apparent blackface as part of a vintage "TV Christmas calendar" episode on Danish TV

Screenshot of the controversial scene in a vintage episode of Denmark's traditional "TV Christmas calendar"

Amélie Reichmut

If there’s one thing Scandinavians take seriously, it’s Christmas. And over the past half-century, in addition to all the family and religious traditions, most Nordic countries share a passion for what's known as the "TV Christmas calendar": 24 nightly television episodes that air between Dec. 1 and Christmas Eve.

Originally, the programs were strictly aimed at children; but over the years, the stories evolved more towards family entertainment, with some Christmas calendars becoming classics that generations of Swedes, Danes, Norwegians and others have watched each year as national and family traditions in their own right.

But this year in Denmark, one vintage episode has been pulled from the air because of a blackface scene.

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