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Weekly News – Aug 29, 2019

A Sardinian Sand Caper

A French couple are facing up to six years in prison after being caught leaving the island with 90 pounds of sand from Sardinia’s beaches stashed in their car. Border agents discovered the sand, from the beach of Chia in southern Sardinia, packed into 14 plastic bottles in the trunk of the couple’s SUV as they were about to board a ferry departing from Porto Torres, Sardinia, to Toulon, France. The pair reportedly said they wanted to take the sand home as a souvenir and did not realize they’d committed a crime. The authorities were buying the excuse. As was reported in Cronaca within our August 15 edition, Sardinia’s sand is a protected resource and removing it from the island is an offence normally punishable by fines of between €500 and €3,000. This is the first reported case of someone attempting to take such a large amount of sand home with them and carries with it the potential for jail time. Our advice – they should have read the Italian Tribune…

Cruise Ships in Venice – Update

It has been widely and incorrectly reported in the press that beginning in September, a ban will be imposed on cruise ships to prevent them from docking in Venice. Here is what has actually transpired. Italian transport minister Danilo Toninelli told a parliamentary hearing that giant cruise ships could be diverted away from Venice’s center, where many currently dock. His suggestion involved rerouting one-third of all cruise ships from the city’s central Marittima terminal to other nearby ports. Somehow, the international media completely fouled up the translation and reported that the ban was in place and that vacation cruise plans for tens of thousands of people would be disrupted. As has been reported on these pages, Italian authorities have been under renewed pressure to remove the cruise liners from Venice, but if your travel plans include a cruise into this very popular spot – fear not. No ships have been banned and the government meeting was the first in a new series of planned discussions on the issue.

An Over-Zealous Ticket Inspector

Public transport authorities in the Naples have apologized for issuing a 71 euro fine to a woman who got on a bus without a valid ticket. In this instance, the 28-year-old woman boarded the bus to get to the hospital, having gone into labor. Ticket inspectors fined the woman and left her to walk the rest of the way to the emergency room on foot. After giving birth, the new mother decided to appeal against the fine, writing to a major Neapolitan newspaper to explain that she had gone out for a walk when contractions began and frightened, she got on the first bus she saw going in the direction of the hospital. “The inspector to whom I had explained my conditon, instead of accompanying me to the entrance of the emergency room, instructed me to get off (the bus),” she told media reporters. After initially contesting her appeal and facing an outcry on Italian social media, the Naples’ local transport authority ANM wisely cancelled the fine. It also issued an apology for the ticket inspectors’ “over-zealous” behavior and said it wished the mother and baby well. You can bet Ralph Kramden would have never tossed her off his bus.

A Stellar Event

About 900 million years ago, a black hole swallowed up a dead star and last week, the resulting ripples in space and time were finally detected on Earth. Scientists at the Virgo Observatory near Pisa, detected the cosmic collision, marking the first evidence of a black hole colliding with a neutron star and possibly offering new insights into the expansion of the universe. Scientists observed ripples in space-time, suggesting the cataclysmic event. A neutron star is created following a supernova explosion and is extremely small and dense, on average, having about 1.5 times the mass of the sun, but a diameter of only about 20 miles across. A teaspoon of the unimaginably dense mass would weigh the equivalent of 10 million tons. Astronomers from around the world are now working to confirm the size of the two objects that crashed together to form the cosmic ripples. They are also scanning the area with telescopes where they believe the event occurred, searching for light that may have radiated by the merger.

Bans Reach the Century Mark

Last week, the City of Venice reached the century mark by issuing its 100th ban to an individual, ejecting them from the lagoon city limits. The sanction is now universally referred to as a DASPO ban, which is the abbreviation for divieto di accedere alle manifestazioni sportive (no access to sporting events), a term more commonly associated with soccer. The DASPO was introduced in Italy to ban people accused of bad behavior at soccer matches from entering stadiums. The non-sporting version of the penalty first went into effect on June 19 in Venice and is averaging about ten bans per week. The person who drew the red card in this instance was a 32-year-old Romanian woman who was collecting money near the Rialto Bridge for a non-existent disabled children’s center. Pictured is an inspector holding a ban notice that provides instructions on the quickest way to make their involuntary exit from the city. In the case of the woman at the Rialto Bridge – she was escorted out of Venice by local authorities and was given a 350 euro fine as a parting gift.