Lukaku Stars As Belgium, Italy Reach UEFA Nations League Finals

Belgium's forward Romelu Lukaku scores his team's second goal during UEFA Nations League football match between Belgium and Denmark at the Den Dreef Stadium in Leuven on November 18, 2020. JOHN THYS / AFP
Belgium’s forward Romelu Lukaku scores his team’s second goal during UEFA Nations League football match between Belgium and Denmark at the Den Dreef Stadium in Leuven on November 18, 2020. JOHN THYS / AFP

 

Romelu Lukaku helped fire Belgium into the UEFA Nations League finals by scoring twice in a 4-2 win over Denmark on Wednesday, while Italy also secured a place in the last four with victory away to Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The world’s number one-ranked side, Belgium only required a draw from their last League A, Group 2 game at home to Denmark behind closed doors in Leuven and took an early lead through Youri Tielemans.

Jonas Wind equalised for Denmark, but Lukaku got a second-half double and Kevin De Bruyne made sure of the victory for Roberto Martinez’s side after Thibaut Courtois allowed a Nacer Chadli back-pass to squirm under his leg and in for an own goal.

Italy secured first place in Group 1 with a 2-0 triumph in Sarajevo thanks to a goal in each half from Torino’s Andrea Belotti and Domenico Berardi of Sassuolo.

That ensured they finished a point ahead of the Netherlands, who came from behind to beat Poland 2-1 away with captain Georginio Wijnaldum scoring the winner after Memphis Depay’s penalty cancelled out Kamil Jozwiak’s opener.

Italy and Belgium join Spain and World Cup holders France in a final tournament which is expected to be held in Italy in October next year.

Before the finals, European national teams will start their 2022 World Cup qualifying campaign in March and then the delayed Euro 2020 is set to go ahead next June and July.

England have more than one eye on that tournament, with the semi-finals and final scheduled for Wembley, and Gareth Southgate’s team rounded out their Nations League campaign with a 4-0 win over Iceland.

Declan Rice and Mason Mount scored in the first half and Manchester City’s Phil Foden got his first international goals with a late brace as England had three players aged 21 or younger score in the same match for the first time since 1883.

“It was a very difficult game. All the players were hearing messages that this is meaningless and there was nothing to play for but they did play for it,” Southgate told Sky Sports.

Birkir Mar Saevarsson was sent off for Iceland who, like Bosnia, are relegated and will compete in League B in the next edition.

Wales move up, Scotland miss out

Wales won promotion to League A with a 3-1 win over 10-man Finland in Cardiff that allowed them to top Group B4.

Despite manager Ryan Giggs being missing after his recent arrest on suspicion of assaulting his girlfriend, Wales came good with goals from Harry Wilson, Daniel James and Kieffer Moore.

Teemu Pukki netted for Finland, who had left-back Jere Uronen sent off after just 12 minutes.

Winning their group also improves Wales’ chances of securing a place in the 2022 World Cup qualifying play-offs, as the two best group winners in the Nations League are guaranteed play-off places if they don’t make it via the usual route.

Englands's midfielder Phil Foden runs with the ball during the UEFA Nations League group A2 football match between England and Iceland at Wembley stadium in north London on November 18, 2020.  NEIL HALL / POOL / AFP
Englands’s midfielder Phil Foden runs with the ball during the UEFA Nations League group A2 football match between England and Iceland at Wembley stadium in north London on November 18, 2020. NEIL HALL / POOL / AFP

 

While Wales go up, Scotland missed out on promotion from League B, Group 2 after losing 1-0 in Israel, their second consecutive loss since clinching qualification for Euro 2020.

Manor Solomon’s first-half goal sunk the Scots, and the Czech Republic won promotion at their expense after beating Slovakia 2-0.

“We are all disappointed with the way the week’s finished,” Scotland manager Steve Clarke told Sky Sports.

“It’s been an historic week for Scottish football. There was no lack of endeavour. It was similar to the game on Sunday (1-0 loss in Slovakia), just a little lack of quality in the final third meant we couldn’t get a goal.”

Also securing promotion to the top tier were Austria, who drew 1-1 with a Norway side deprived of stars Erling Braut Haaland and Martin Odegaard after being ordered to quarantine because of a positive coronavirus test in their squad.

Hungary won promotion too thanks to a 2-0 victory over Turkey combined with a 5-0 hammering for Russia at the hands of Serbia.

The Republic of Ireland avoided relegation to League C after drawing 0-0 with Bulgaria, but Northern Ireland and Turkey were among the sides to go down, while Montenegro, Armenia, Slovenia and Albania go up to the second level.

 

AFP

Italy Coach Mancini Tests Positive For COVID-19

Mancini 'Relieved' With Italy's Euro 2020 Draw
(FILES) In this file photo taken on March 8, 2018 Saint Petersburg’s Italian head coach Roberto Mancini gestures during the Europa League Round of 16 first leg football match between Zenit Saint Petersburg and RB Leipzig in Leipzig. ROBERT MICHAEL / AFP

 

Italy coach Roberto Mancini has contracted coronavirus but is asymptomatic, the Italian football federation (FIGC) announced on Friday.

“As part of the periodic controls undertaken by the FIGC on the Italy coaching staff ahead of the coming break for UEFA competitions, head coach Roberto Mancini tested positive for COVID-19,” the governing body said.

“He remains asymptomatic and, in compliance with the active guidelines, the Azzurri head coach went into self-isolation at his home in Rome,” it added.

Mancini’s men host Estonia in a friendly on Wednesday before welcoming top of the table Poland on November 15 and travelling to Bosnia and Hercegovina three days later in the final fixtures of their Nations League group campaign.

 

AFP

Italian FA Probe Lazio Over Possible Violations Of COVID-19 Protocol

File photos of Lazio players at the Olympic stadium in Rome on August 18, 2018.  AFP

 

Lazio are being probed for possible violations to coronavirus health protocols, the Italian Football Federation announced on Tuesday.

The FIGC said in a statement they had “opened an investigation into Lazio to ascertain any violations of the health protocols aimed at containing the Covid-19 epidemic”.

The Serie A club left for Wednesday’s Champions League clash against Zenit Saint Petersburg without star striker Ciro Immobile, goalkeeper Thomas Strakosha, and midfielder Lucas Leiva.

Italian media report that the absence of the three players, who also missed last week’s 1-1 draw at Club Brugge, is linked to coronavirus tests carried out before their planned departure for Belgium in line with UEFA protocol.

However, Italian international Immobile and Leiva both played in Sunday’s 4-3 win at Torino after tests carried out by Lazio.

“We are accustomed to this emergency situation, it saddens me not to have available the players who fought to reach the Champions League,” coach Simone Inzaghi told a press conference in Russia, without specifying whether or not the players were positive for the coronavirus.

Explanations have already been requested from Lazio management after two inspections carried out by Italian football authorities at the team’s training center in the past week.

The FIGC added that it had already asked Lazio for the new tests carried out before the match against Zenit.

Immobile, the European Golden Shoe winner last season, scored in Lazio’s opening Group F win over Borussia Dortmund, as the club returns to the Champions League after a 13-year absence.

AFP

France, Italy Step Up Rescue Efforts After Floods

Emergency personnel attempt to remove fallen trees from a bridge in Breil-sur-Roya, south-eastern France, on October 4, 2020, after extensive flooding caused widespread damage in the Alpes-Maritimes departement. (Photo by NICOLAS TUCAT / AFP).

 

French and Italian rescue services stepped up search efforts Sunday after floods cut off several villages in the mountainous border regions, causing widespread damage and killing at least four people.

Others remained unaccounted for on the French side of the border after storms, torrential rain and flash floods battered the area, washing away roads and houses, cutting off entire villages and triggering landslips.

Emergency services recovered at least four bodies Sunday on the Mediterranean coast of Liguria, Italy, ANSA news agency and other Italian media reported.

Italian and French teams were working together to try to identify them, but it was not yet clear that they were victims of the flooding or if their deaths had another cause.

In Breil-sur-Roya, a French village close to the Italian border, houses were buried in mud and turned-over cars were stuck in the riverbed.

Rescue efforts were concentrated on the Roya valley where roughly 1,000 firefighters, backed by helicopters and the army, resumed their search for survivors and helped people whose homes were destroyed or inaccessible.

Storm Alex barrelled into France’s west coast on Thursday, bringing powerful winds and rain across the country before moving into northern Italy.

“What we are going through is extraordinary,” said Bernard Gonzalez, prefect of the Alpes-Maritimes region, after as much as 60 centimetres (two feet) of rain fell in 24 hours in the worst-affected areas.

Italy confirmed two people died Saturday, a volunteer firefighter on a rescue operation and a man whose car was washed away.

France also announced two fatalities. The first found was a shepherd whose body was pulled from a river near the border. Firefighters later announced a man had been found dead in his car in the southeastern village of Saint-Martin-Vesubie.

France has declared the region a natural disaster zone.

Saint-Martin-Vesubie, a village home to 1,400 north of Nice, was completely cut off by the storm.

A bedraggled group of tourists and residents gathered in the village square to be airlifted to safety, an AFPTV journalist said after reaching the site on foot.

“My three-storey house, it’s in the river,” said villager Sandra Dzidt, 62, who had to flee the floods dressed only in her nightgown. “All I have left is a tiny piece of wall and a door.”

Across the region, emergency crews were handing out food and airlifting thousands of bottles of water into remote villages cut off by the storms.

– ‘Helicopter procession’ –

French Prime Minister Jean Castex inspected the damage by helicopter on Saturday, saying he feared the number of people missing could rise after dozens of cars and several houses were swept away in apocalyptic scenes.

Gonzalez called on the families of the missing not to give up hope.

“Just because their loved ones haven’t been able to get in touch doesn’t mean that they have been taken by the storm,” he said.

Many landline and some mobile phone services were disrupted, with some villages using satellite phones to communicate with rescue services.

Despite forecasts of more rain, rescue efforts were to continue throughout Sunday, Gonzalez said.

“The helicopter procession will continue all day long,” he said.

The presidents of Italy’s Piedmont and Liguria regions signed a joint letter calling on the government to declare a state of emergency with several villages cut off.

“The situation is very serious. It is like it was in 1994,” when 70 died after the Po and Tarano rivers flooded, Piedmont’s president, Alberto Cirio, told La Stampa newspaper.

“The difference being 630 mm of water fell in 24 hours — unprecedented in such a small timeframe since 1954.”

Cirio added Italy was already struggling to cope with the effects of the coronavirus which has left some 36,000 dead and shattered the economy over the past six months.

“We are already in an extraordinary situation. Because of the pandemic the region will this year receive 200 million euros less in tax receipts. If the state does not intervene (with rescue funding) we shall not recover.”

AFP

Five-Goal Atalanta Crush Cagliari, Juve Vs Napoli Under Coronavirus Cloud

Atalanta’s players acknowledge the public at the end of the Italian Serie A football match Atalanta vs Cagliari on October 4, 2020 at the Atleti Azzurri d’Italia stadium in Bergamo.
MIGUEL MEDINA / AFP

 

Papu Gomez extended his scoring streak as Atalanta crushed Cagliari 5-2 for a third consecutive win this season, but champions Juventus’s clash against Napoli later Sunday remains in doubt after coronavirus cases at both clubs.

Atalanta struck hard in their first home game this season in Bergamo, bringing their tally to 13 goals in three games played, to sit top of the Serie A table.

Atalanta’s Albanian defender Berat Djimsiti (L) and Cagliari’s Argentine forward Giovanni Simeone go for a header during the Italian Serie A football match Atalanta vs Cagliari on October 4, 2020 at the Atleti Azzurri d’Italia stadium in Bergamo. MIGUEL MEDINA / AFP

 

“This team is going through an excellent period,” said coach Gian Piero Gasperini.

“They did not suffer much, the goalkeeper was not very busy. The score could have been much bigger.

“We’ve given the maximum in three games, now there is the (international) break that interrupts this momentum.

“After that we will immediately have Napoli and then the Champions League, we have to pick up where we left off.”

 

Atalanta’s Dutch forward Sam Lammers (2ndL) celebrates with teammates after scoring during the Italian Serie A football match Atalanta vs Cagliari on October 4, 2020 at the Atleti Azzurri d’Italia stadium in Bergamo. MIGUEL MEDINA / AFP

 

Gasperini’s side were four goals up at the break with Luis Muriel opening after seven minute.

Gomez blasted in the second from a distance just before the half-hour mark, five minutes after Uruguayan defender Diego Godin had pulled Cagliari level on his debut since moving from Inter Milan.

Mario Pasalic and Duvan Zapata also scored in a five-minute spell before the break.

Joao Pedro reduced the deficit for the Sardinians after the break but Sam Lammers marked his first home game with an impressive solo effort with nine minutes to go.

Atalanta have the maximum nine points, but can be joined by Inter Milan who play Lazio later, with Hellas Verona and AC Milan also looking for their third wins against Parma and La Spezia.

– Napoli risk forfeit –

Napoli are also looking for a third straight win, against nine-time holders Juventus, who have four points from two games.

But their match remains uncertain with Gennaro Gattuso’s side remaining in Naples, complying with a decision by regional health authorities.

Both Napoli and Atalanta announced new cases among their players on Saturday.

Gennaro Gattuso’s side now count midfielder Eljif Elmas among those with the virus after Poland international Piotr Zielinski on Friday.

Atalanta said their unnamed player had “a low viral load” and was “asymptomatic”.

Juventus confirmed they would “take to the field” as scheduled despite two positive tests among their staff with coach Andrea Pirlo naming his match-day squad.

The Lega Serie A confirmed that the match between the title rivals remains scheduled for Turin at 1845 GMT despite Napoli remaining at home in Naples.

If Napoli do not play Gattuso’s side would forfeit the game 3-0.

The Lega Serie A are applying UEFA rules whereby a match can take place as long as a side have 13 healthy players, including a goalkeeper.

The only possible exemption would be a club which has an active outbreak of Covid-19 with more than ten new positive cases in a week.

In this case, the club can request a postponement, but only once in the season.

Genoa’s game against Torino on Saturday was postponed with the Ligurian club, who lost 6-0 to Napoli last weekend, now counting 22 cases, including 17 players.

AFP

Italy Region Makes Masks Obligatory In Public

 

The southern Italian region of Campania, which includes Naples, made it obligatory from Thursday to wear masks in public in order to stem a resurgence in coronavirus cases. 

The regional president of Campania, Vincenzo De Luca, said the rule would remain in force until October 4.

It comes as Italy logged 1,640 new cases of the novel coronavirus in the past 24 hours, with Campania reporting 248, the highest of any region.

European health authorities have warned of a second wave of the novel coronavirus, as new infections have been rising since July.

“Responsible behaviour must be restored immediately, all the more so with the opening of schools,” said De Luca.

“If we want to avoid generalised closures, the maximum rigour is necessary.”

On Wednesday, the city of Genoa in Italy’s north also made masks obligatory in the historic centre, where crowds are more likely to gather.

Currently in Italy, masks must be worn inside shops and between 6pm and 6am (1600-0400 GMT) in crowded public areas.

Nearly 36,000 people have died from coronavirus in Italy and 302,537 have been infected.

AFP

Italy Defies COVID-19 For Vote As Far-Right Plots Seismic Change

A man wearing a face mask and gloves (L) casts his vote at a polling station in downtown Rome on September 20, 2020. – Italians head to the pools this weekend, despite a coronavirus resurgence in Europe, for a referendum and Tuscan-led regional elections which analysts say could change the face of the far-right. (Photo by Vincenzo PINTO / AFP)

 

Italians head to the polls Sunday — to the alarm of coronavirus experts — for a referendum and regional elections that could weaken the government and radically reshape the political landscape.

Just a week after a Herculean effort by schools to reopen in line with last-minute Covid-19 rules, classrooms across the country will be shut to pupils and transformed into ballot stations for the two-day vote.

A triumph for the far-right in this fiercely fought campaign would sound alarm bells in Brussels.

It will be the first test for Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte’s centre-left coalition government since it imposed an economically crippling nationwide lockdown to fight the virus, which has killed almost 36,000 people.

The referendum, on slashing the number of members of parliament — from 630 to 400 in the lower house, and 315 to 200 in the upper house — is expected to pass, though there has been a late uptick in the number of prominent ‘no’ declarations.

The cost-cutting reform is the brainchild of the co-governing Five Star Movement (M5S), but while its centre-left coalition Democratic Party (PD) partner and parties on the right are theoretically in favour, their support has been lacklustre at best.

– Uncertain future –

The regional battle is for governance of Campania, Liguria, Marche, Puglia, Tuscany, Valle d’Aosta and Veneto.

The right-wing coalition is set to easily retake Veneto and Liguria, and it could also snatch Marche and Puglia from the left.

But all eyes will be on Tuscany, a historic left-wing stronghold that might fall to Matteo Salvini’s far-right League.

“If the left performs particularly poorly… Brussels will grow concerned,” Berenberg economist Florian Hense told AFP.

It will worry whether the national recovery plan Italy has to present to obtain grants or loans to aid its ailing economy after the coronavirus lockdown “will be ambitious enough, given the limited political capital of the coalition in Rome,” he said.

“And whether, whatever plan Italy comes up with, it will actually implement it given the uncertain future of the current coalition”.

– Concern over virus –

The poll is going ahead despite warnings against opening polling stations while Covid-19 case numbers are on the rise.

While Italy currently has fewer new cases than Britain, France or Spain, it is still recording more than 1,500 daily.

“The country is in a state of emergency; it is utterly contradictory to be massing people together at polling stations, particularly in light of the trend in Europe,” Professor Massimo Galli, infectious diseases chief at Milan’s Sacco hospital, told AFP.

He said previously that holding the elections now would be “madness”.

Some precautions have been taken however, with elderly and pregnant voters getting fast-track lanes to vote.

With older people potentially put off voting by the health risks, the left has been organising special transport.

One in three of voters for the PD and League are over 65-years old, according to Italy’s Corriere della Sera daily.

Nearly 2,000 voters in isolation due to the coronavirus have also registered to have their votes collected, including former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi.

But fear of catching the virus from voters obliged to pull down their masks to allow them to be identified has seen a flurry of last-minute desertions by polling station volunteers.

Milan was forced Saturday to call urgently for 100 fresh pairs of hands.

Prime Minister Conte has clinched a behind-doors deal with PD leader Nicola Zingaretti to fight to save each other’s political skins should the left should perform disastrously, according to the Repubblica daily.

That might not be enough.

“These elections are not going to topple the government,” Political commentator Barbara Fiammeri for Italy’s Sole 24 Ore daily told AFP.

“But there could well be a crisis, whether it be Conte’s fall, the forming of new coalition, or even a national unity government”.

AFP

 

Migrants Jump From Rescue Boat In Bid To Reach Italy

A patrol boat of the Italian Coast Guards (Guardia Costiera) transports migrants towards the port of Palermo, Sicily, on September 17, 2020 after they rescued them at sea after a group of 76 migrants threw themselves into the sea from the rescue vessel of Spanish NGO Open Arms, off Palermo, Sicily.  (Photo by Alessandro FUCARINI / AFP)

 

Dozens of migrants jumped overboard from their rescue boat outside the Italian port of Palermo on Thursday, before being plucked from the waves by the coast guard.

Proactiva Open Arms, a Spanish charity, said that 76 of the 276 migrants it had saved in the Mediterranean in its latest mission “threw themselves in the water in an attempt to reach the coast”.

“They are all safe, after being recovered by the Italian coast guard. Some 188 people remain on board, including women and children, two of whom are small,” it said in a statement.

The charity appealed to the Italian authorities to allow the remaining migrants to disembark.

The Open Arms ship has been waiting outside the Palermo port since yesterday, when it warned of a “critical situation” among the migrants, who were rescued in three operations between September 8-10 off the coasts of Malta and Libya.

AFP

Millions Return To School In Italy After COVID-19 Closure

Pupils wait behing floors markers prior to enter the Luigi Einaudi technical high school in Rome on September 14, 2020 for the start of the school year, during the COVID-19 infection, caused by the novel coronavirus. – Schools in some European nations were set to open on September 14, 2020 with millions returning to classrooms in Italy, Greece and Romania. (Photo by Vincenzo PINTO / AFP)

 

Millions of Italian children returned to the classroom on Monday as most schools reopened more than six months after they were closed to curb the coronavirus pandemic.

Although some Italian schools opened earlier this month, roughly 5.6 million students from a total of eight million went back to school on Monday, confronting a new reality of restrictions.

Italy was one of the first in Europe to be hit by the pandemic, which has now officially killed over 35,500 people out of a total of 280,000 cases.

Premier Giuseppe Conte admitted on Sunday that Italian schools faced a difficult situation, including a lack of teachers, single-seat benches and surgical masks.

“There will be difficulties and inconveniences, especially in the beginning,” Conte wrote on Facebook.

He also saluted teachers, who he said had “made an extraordinary effort in the months of confinement to continue lessons and distant learning”.

“We are grateful to you,” he said.

With the country registering more than 1,500 infections a day, Conte also had particular words for youngsters.

“You have to do your part. You have to commit yourselves to the rules of caution that will allow you to protect your health and the health of the people you love,” he said.

Italian Education Minister Lucia Azzolina said more than 5,000 extra classrooms had been created to give pupils more space.

Nevertheless, some southern regions like Puglia and Calabria already postponed the reopening until September 24, over concerns they were not ready to meet all the new requirements.

Italian officials said the back-to-school strategy involved immediate quarantine of those “in close contact” with a student or teacher testing positive.

After a positive result, pupils will be allowed back to school only after returning two negatives, carried out a day apart.

AFP

18 Films Chasing Top Prize At Venice Film Festival

Azerbaijani director Hilal Baydarov, Azerbaijani actress Rana Asgarova and Azerbaijani actor Orkhan Iskandarli attend a photocall for the film “Sepelenmis olumler arasinda” presented in competition on the tenth day of the 77th Venice Film Festival, on September 11, 2020 at Venice Lido.  Tiziana FABI / AFP

 

The Golden Lion, the top prize at the Venice film festival that wraps up Saturday, will be awarded to one film among 18 contenders from across the globe.

Here are the films in the running:

‘Le Sorelle Macaluso’ (The Macaluso Sisters): Italy

The story of five sisters in Palermo seen at various points in their lives and culminating in a family funeral in Emma Dante’s film.

 ‘The World to Come’: US 

In Mona Fastwold’s upstate 19th century New York, Abigail (Katherine Waterston) tends a farm with her husband (Casey Affleck) but falls in love with a female neighbour.

 ‘Nuevo Orden’ (New Order): Mexico/France 

A dystopian film from Michel Franco depicts social and economic disparity in Mexico, starting with a well-to-do family wedding and ending in a coup d’etat.

 ‘Amants’ (Lovers): France 

Nicole Garcia’s film tells the story of Lisa and Simon, lovers who paths cross again three years after Simon fled Paris.

 ‘Laila in Haifa’: Israel/France 

Five women’s stories interweave in the course of one night at a Haifa club. As one of the few spaces where Israelis and Palestinians can mingle, director Amos Gitai turns the venue itself into a protagonist.

 ‘Dorogie Tovarischi!’ (Dear Comrades!): Russia 

Based on the true story of a 1962 labour strike in Novocherkassk, USSR, in which 26 protesters were shot by Soviet troops. Andrei Konchalosky’s film retells events kept secret until the 1990s.

 ‘Spy No Tsuma’ (Wife of a Spy): Japan 

Against the backdrop of a looming World War II and the invasion of Manchuria, a wife’s love is tested and her Kobe merchant husband struggles with loyalty and betrayal in Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s film.

 ‘Khorshid’ (Sun Children): Iran 

Ali and his friends work small jobs and hustle to support their families. Majid Majidi’s film explores what happens when Ali learns of an underground treasure.

‘Pieces of a Woman’: Canada/Hungary 

Martha and Sean (Vanessa Kirby and Shia LaBeouf) are a Boston couple whose baby dies after a home birth. Director Kornel Mundruczo shows how grieving Martha navigates her relationships with her husband and mother (Ellen Burstyn), while facing the midwife (Molly Parker) in court.

 ‘Miss Marx’: Italy/Belgium 

Susanna Nicchiarelli tells the story of Eleanor, the youngest daughter of Karl Marx, who battled for the rights of workers and women while dealing with an unhappy love affair.

‘Padrenostro’: Italy 

The life of 10-year-old Valerio is turned upside down when he and his mother witness a terrorist attack against his father in this autobiographical film from director Claudio Noce.

 ‘Notturno’: Italy/France/Germany 

Shot over three years on the borders of Iraq, Kurdistan, Syria and Lebanon, Gianfranco Rosi’s documentary follows people trying to survive despite the violence around them.

 ‘Sniegu Juz Nigby Nie Bedzie’ (Never Gonna Snow Again): Poland/Germany 

A mysterious masseur from Ukraine, Zhenia becomes a guru for a spiritually barren gated community in this film by Malgorzata Szumowska and Michal Englert.

 ‘The Disciple’: India 

Director Chaitanya Tamhane tells the story of Sharad, chasing his dream of becoming an Indian classical vocalist in the sprawling metropolis of Mumbai.

‘Und Morgen die Ganze Welt’ (And Tomorrow the Entire World): Germany/France 

In Julia von Heinz’s film, Luisa and her anti-fascist group question how far they’re willing to go to battle hatred after a wave of racist attacks in Germany.

 ‘Quo vadis, Aida?’: Bosnia-Herzegovina 

Based on true events in 1995 Srebrenica. Aida is a translator working for United Nations peacekeepers. When the Bosnian Serb army invades, she and thousands of others seek safety in the Dutch UN camp in Jasmila Zbanic’s film.

 ‘Nomadland’: US 

Director Chloe Zhao tells the story of Fern (Frances McDormand), who sets off from her impoverished Nevada town in her van to scratch out a living as a modern-day nomad.

 ‘In Between Dying’: Azerbaijan/US 

Davud is a restless young man on a journey of self-discovery through Hilal Baydarov’s film, keeping ahead of men pursuing him. When his journey ends at home, Davud finds the love he’s seeking — but is it too late?

AFP

Italy’s Berlusconi ‘Strong Immune Response’ To Virus

File photo: Former Italian prime minister and media tycoon Silvio Berlusconi, 82, was hospitalised in Milan on April 30, 2019, reportedly with kidney stone pain. / AFP

 

Former Italian premier Silvio Berlusconi “showed a strong immune response” and appeared to be improving after being hospitalised last week with coronavirus, his doctor said Monday.

The 83-year-old media tycoon is being treated for a lung infection at San Raffaele hospital in Milan where he was admitted on Thursday night.

“The overall clinical picture appears to be improving and is consistent… with the resumption of a robust specific immune response,” his doctor Alberto Zangrillo said.

Berlusconi tested positive for Covid-19 last week after returning from a holiday at his luxury villa in Sardinia.

Two of his children — daughter Barbara, 36, and son Luigi, 31 — have also contracted the virus, as has his companion Marta Fascina.

Following a check-up on Thursday evening at Berlusconi’s home, Zangrillo insisted that the former PM go to the hospital the same night.

On Friday, the doctor said the billionaire was “a patient at risk because of his age and previous illnesses”, including open-heart surgery.

Zangrillo said Berlusconi had a lung infection that had been diagnosed early but that he was not on a ventilator.

Berlusconi had insisted on Wednesday that he would continue his political activities despite the positive test.

Regional elections are to be held in Italy in two weeks as well as a referendum on reducing the number of deputies in parliament.

AFP

Italy Plunges Into Recession As COVID-19 Bites

People shop at the outdoor market and walk about in central Rome on May 9, 2020, during the country’s partial lockdown aimed at curbing the spread of the COVID-19 infection, caused by the novel coronavirus. Tiziana FABI / AFP.

 

Italy posted a record economic contraction Monday as household spending and investment crashed during the country’s coronavirus lockdown, driving the eurozone’s third-largest economy deep into recession.

The country’s gross domestic product fell by 12.8 percent in the second quarter compared to the previous quarter and by 17.7 percent versus the same period last year, national statistics agency Istat said.

“The full estimate of the quarterly economic figures confirm the exceptional extent of the drop in GDP in the second quarter, due to the economic effects of the health emergency and the containment measures adopted,” Istat said.

The contraction was even worse than predicted in July, when Istat estimated a second-quarter drop of 12.4 percent.

A recession is commonly defined as two consecutive periods of a quarter-on-quarter drop in GDP.

Italy’s economy shrunk 5.4 percent in the first quarter.

In the second quarter, household spending fell by 11.3 percent compared to the first quarter, while exports plummeted 26.4 percent, the agency said.

Italy, the first European country to be hit full force by the coronavirus outbreak, went into total lockdown in early March as Covid-19 tightened its grip on the country.

The peninsula is set to suffer its worst recession since World War II this year, with experts estimating GDP to plummet between 8.0 to 14 percent.

The eurozone economy is predicted to contract by a record 8.7 percent this year, with mass unemployment and other dire consequences still very much a possibility.

AFP