We shine the spotlight this week on Italy:
MAFIA IN ROME
A second wave of corruption arrests has swept the Italian capital, with several local politicians charged with involvement in what has been dubbed Mafia Capitale. According to investigators, a criminal organization headed by a former fascist terrorist with links to the Naples mob collaborated with and coerced members of the city council to sign lucrative public works contracts, including housing for migrants, with the proceeds distributed among the politicians and mafiosi. The scandal has tarnished politicians across the ideological spectrum, and Rome Mayor Ignazio Marino of the center-left Democratic Party is facing growing pressure to resign after several of his aides were caught up in the latest sweep, writes La Stampa.
BACK TO EARTH
Milan-born astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti, the first Italian woman in space, has returned to Earth after 200 days on the International Space Station. A former fighter pilot for the Italian Air Force, Cristoforetti also set a new record for the longest time spent in space for any female astronaut, reports La Repubblica. Over the course of her journey, she gained more than 500,000 followers on Twitter with her daily photos of Earth's beauty from the cosmos.
NO THANK YOU
As tens of thousands of migrants land on Italy's southern shores, governors in four regions in the country's north have instructed city councils in their territories to refuse government funds and block the resettlement of refugees. Lombardy, Veneto, and Liguria, all governed by center-right parties and among Italy's richest and most populous regions, have been joined by the tiny Aosta Valley in their revolt against the central government. According to La Stampa, the dispute stems from Rome's regional quota system for distributing asylum seekers across the country, designed to alleviate the burden currently borne by Italy's poorer southern regions.
The Rome-based Il Fatto Quotidiano reports that the parliament of Italy's northwestern Piedmont region passed a law legalizing medical marijuana, allowing for the research and distribution of cannabis. It joins ten other Italian regions that have already passed similar laws, with medical marijuana now legal for a majority of Italians. Alto Adige, the local newspaper of Bolzano, an autonomous province that approved a similar law last week, writes that prices will remain high at 30-35 euros per gram as the medicine must be imported from — you guessed it — the Netherlands.
Looking for a new place or an exotic holiday home? According to the Naples-based newspaper Il Corriere del Mezzogiorno, the cash-strapped Italian government is auctioning off old lighthouses and fortresses across the country. Aiming for total revenues of over 2 billion euros, the authorities are offering leases on almost 700 different sites. How about the historic but crumbling San Domino lighthouse in the spectacular Tremiti Islands, up for grabs for "only" 10 million euros?