From British weekly The Observer:
G8 summit venue shaken by tremors
Berlusconi under fire for picking quake-hit town
* Tracy McVeigh and Tom Kington in Rome
* Sunday 5 July 2009
The tremors, which have reached 4.1 on the Richter scale, have forced the Italians to consider moving the conference and newspapers are reporting that the security concerns for leaders, including Gordon Brown and Barack Obama, could cause the summit to move to Rome.
In the meantime briefing papers that have gone out to all eight leaders contain a sheet of instructions in the event of an earthquake, a British diplomat confirmed.
The logistical nightmare for delegates and their security as well as the charities, observers, journalists and strategists booked to attend the summit are further complications for what is becoming the most chaotic G8 ever. It is also another credibility blow to Italy’s prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi, the current G8 president. His perfomances on both the world stage and in his private life have been subjected to derision.
Diplomatic eyebrows were raised when Berlusconi decided to move the conference from Sardinia – where work building a G8 conference centre was way over budget – to the site of April’s earthquake, which left 300 dead and 53,000 people still homeless. Much was made of how leaders would stay in a “barracks” at L’Aquila, a police college, setting a suitably austere tone to discussions on climate change and economic disaster. Even the beds in which delegates slept would later be donated to the homeless.
Guido Bertolaso, the civil protection chief, said the compound could withstand an earthquake stronger than April’s 5.8 magnitude, but aftershocks this weekend are reported to have sent crockery crashing to the ground.
The Italian green group Legambiente said the decision was always madness. “It’s a good idea to talk about the suffering of the earthquake victims, but you don’t actually have to go there to do it,” said spokesman Maurizio Gubbiotti. “The homeless are already having a miserable time and this G8 will restrict their movements even more. Is it wise to get over 3,000 people up there to the conference while aftershocks rumble on?”
No matter where the summit takes place, the charity ActionAid says it needs to focus on hunger – it says $23bn (£14bn) is needed from G8 leaders to save the 25,000 people around the world who die of hunger every day. In a report “Let them eat promises”, it says the factors that have pushed the hungry above one billion will worsen unless G8 leaders increase aid to agriculture in the developing world and halt global warming.
Meredith Alexander of ActionAid said: “It’s not often that eight people must take responsibility for the fate of one billion. Unless the G8 leaders commit to serious new money for food and farming, they will have to answer to the one billion people, and rising, who live with chronic hunger every day.
“Given that the world has already spent $18 trillion propping up the global economy, we know they can afford it [the $23bn]. We are asking for peanuts from elephants.”
Update On G8 Actions: here.
At least 36 people have been arrested after protesters and police clashed in Rome a day ahead of the Group of Eight (G8) summit: here.
Writers attack new Italian ‘race laws’: here.
Italy: Train explosion leads to angry outbursts against Berlusconi: here.
Berlusconi sex scandal: here.
Italian PM’s wife speaks out over divorce from ‘ridiculous’ Berlusconi: here.
The estranged wife of Premier Silvio Berlusconi says in a book published Wednesday that it was her husband’s alleged lies that pushed her to file for divorce at the outset of the sex scandal involving the Italian conservative leader: here.
The Italian government of Silvio Berlusconi has led a contemptible months-long campaign against African refugees and is quite prepared to accept the deadly consequences of its policy: here.