Its a genetic test, but no body parts or blood are being analyzed
Italy Launches DNA Profiling Of Wine
Its a genetic test, but no body parts or blood are being analyzed its bottles of wine instead.
A team of researchers have developed a system they say will revolutionize the concept of traceability used in proving the origins of agricultural products: in this case, the vine, the quality of yeast used in the fermentation of the must (pulp) in Malvasia, Muscat and Nero dAvola grapes, among others.
This research, funded by the Rural Development Plan for the Sicilian Region, has revolutionized the current approach (DOC, DOP, IGT) which monitors the production process and leaves too much room for discretion to those who make the wine.
Today, wine is history, its culture, its the areas heritage, says Francesco Carimi, project manager for the CNR. This (method) is crucial for attributing definitive identity. Our research team interviewed elderly farmers, scrambling to pick up wild vines from ancient history, and comparing descriptions of medieval Latin texts to identify the plants. It was hard work, but it was fascinating.
The Premier Romano Prodi\’s sale of Alitalia to the French in favour of an operation that cost more than 3 billion of public money (2008).
Air France Manoeuvres and Alitalia’s Future as Regional Airline
Doubts of Air France partner KLM.
Source: Corriere della Sera, by Antonella Baccaro, English translation by Giles Watson
ROME – The future of Alitalia is in the balance today at a meeting of the Air France-KLM board, when the majority shareholder could opt to increase its 25% holding in the Italian airline. Sources deny the issue is on the table and it will not be easy to discover the actual intentions of the French, just a month before the end of the lock-up period during which the partners are obliged to sell holdings only to each other.
For now, it’s all a matter of tactics. Silence has descended on the feelers Alitalia put out through Rothschild to Etihad to see if there was any interest in acquiring a holding. The United Arab Emirates-based company has excellent relations with Paris and could well flank Air France-KLM but any expression of interest would enable Alitalia to raise the asking price with the French, with whom Etihad would be in direct competition. For similar reasons, rumours of interest from Aeroflot are unlikely to up Alitalia’s price ticket. The Russian carrier is part of the Skyteamgroup, led by Air France-KLM.
Whichever way you look at it, the French call the tune, albeit with some serious doubts. These regard not so much the benefits of acquiring Alitalia, whose market the French cannot hand over to Lufthansa or British Airways, as the costs that such an operation would entail. The Dutch are understood to be blowing cool on the move, likely because they remember the snub they received in 1998 when they came within an ace of acquiring the Italian carrier. Yet there is more to this than pride: Air France-KLM has just announced a new round of 2,800 voluntary redundancies, reductions in mid-range flights, withdrawal from the B747 programme and the postponement of break-even until 2014.
Significantly, the French press reported a few days ago that any doubling of the Alitalia shareholding would come with stiff conditions: no assumption of debt; capital to be injected only after the Italian partners have done so first; and a free hand with planning for the airline. The deal could involve a capital increase with Air France-KLM underwriting its own quota and also, either alone or with Etihad, taking up the unoptioned portion. If the cost came to 200 million, Air France-KLM would have to fork out 50 million for its quota and up to twice that figure to acquire control, while staying below 50% so as not to consolidate Alitalia’s debts. On the financial front, the condition could be to make the capital increase only when the banks have agreed to release a further 200 million in finance to Alitalia. These figures are the minimum required for Alitalia to stay afloat.
Strategically, strengthening Air France-KLM’s shareholding would torpedo the part of CEO Gabriele Del Torchio’sproject that aims to expand intercontinental services and brings Alitalia back to the original recovery plan to make the company a regional carrier. Alitalia partners are mainly concerned about recouping the investment made in 2008. It is unlikely that politics can change the course of events this time, even though developments will unfold in an unrelentingly pre-electoral atmosphere. Evidence of this came yesterday in a surprise statement by Renato Brunetta. The People of Freedom (PDL) group leader tackled the media impact of a possible sale to the French, against whom in 2008 Silvio Berlusconi organised a band of captains courageous of Italian industry. Mr Brunetta played down the incident: If Italian capitalism was unable [to save Alitalia – Ed.], I think there should be another transfusion of blood. Former transport minister Altero Matteoli took a different tack: Alitalia needs to be recapitalised. Air France-KLM is very welcome if this helps to recapitalise the Italian carrier. They should certainly not exceed 50% so an act of courage is required from the Italian partners.
Italy to leave 500 to 700 troops in Afghanistan after NATO pullout
HERAT, Afghanistan, June 20 (UPI) — Several hundred Italian troops will remain in Afghanistan after Western troops withdraw at the end of 2014, Italian Defense Minister Mario Mauro said Thursday.
Mauro made the announcement in the Afghan city of Herat during a meeting with his counterparts, DismillahMohammadi of Afghanistan and Thomas De Maiziere of Germany, Italy’s ANSA news agency reported.
Mauro said between 500 and 700 Italian troops would stay in western Afghanistan, while De Maiziere said about 800 German forces would remain in northern regions of the country.
Italy now has about 3,000 troops in the country.
“We can’t turn our backs on this country if we don’t want the atrocious dictatorship of the past to return,” Mauro said in declaring the Italian troops would stay.
The German foreign minister said NATO and Afghan leaders first had to decide “on what coalition troops can and cannot do.”
After the withdrawal, Italy plans to assist and train Afghan troops.
Finally, the scientific team looked at making the system robus
Polish and Italian get advanced language recognition system
Recording real, um, conversations for, like, smarter language recognition software.
European researchers have developed the most advanced spontaneous language understanding (SLU) system for both Polish and Italian. In fact, it is the first one.
European researchers have developed the most advanced spontaneous language understanding (SLU) systems for both the Polish and Italian languages. It is the first time SLUs of this level were developed for these languages, according to the Luna project behind the work.
Spontaneous language understanding is far more advanced than the traditional interactive voice response (IVR) systems that people may already be familiar with. In traditional IVRs, the user is required to answer questions with specific words or short sentences proposed by the systems.
But with SLU, language systems are designed to respond to spontaneous speech: real conversations between people that include the sentence fillers and pause words like um and er.
You know what I mean?
With spontaneous language understanding, machines know the meaning of what you are saying, it is considerably more intuitive and pleasant than simple menu-driven speech applications, explains Silvia Mosso of Loquendo in Italy which is coordinating the research.
Up to now, these sorts of systems have been unavailable in Polish or Italian, but the EU-funded Luna project has created fully functional prototypes that should be ready for commercial development shortly after the project finishes later in 2009.
To achieve this level of sophistication, the project investigated language and semantic modelling for speech understanding, and research into automatic learning, where the software studies a series of sample conversations, called a corpus.
Finally, the scientific team looked at making the system robust and studied the portability of Luna components across the languages. The upshot is that it will be easier to take the advances developed in the project and apply them to other languages.
SLU systems already exist for languages like English and French, but Lunas work means it will be easier to apply these techniques to a host of other languages, and Italian and Polish were a test run.
The polish system will be used for public transport. People will be able to ring a public transport company and get travel information for their itinerary. The Italian system will focus on an IT helpdesk service for a public administration.
So people will be able to call and say my printer is not working, and they will be able to get help for that, reveals Mosso, Lunas coordinator. The advantage is that these systems can be applied to other types of helpdesks, or other types of transportation.
It will still be necessary to record the original conversations, which teach the machine the correct responses, for any target language, but the Luna system means that it will become much easier to create high-performance automatic telephone services.
The Luna project received funding from the ICT strand of the Sixth Framework Programme for research.
Italians meat amid economic crisis
Students and protesters march in front of the Colosseum during a demonstration to protest against the cuts in the education budget and against the austerity measures in Europe.
Edited time: May 22, 2013
As a severe recession and unprecedented unemployment sweeps Italy, millions of people are struggling to make ends meet. The number of those receiving food assistance has doubled in the past two years, according to a government report.
The data comes from national statistics institute ISTAT, which published an annual report demonstrating, among other issues, that Italy is witnessing youth unemployment of nearly 40 percent the highest in Europe.
A reported 23.9 percent of young Italians are neither in the job market nor receiving education, the report stressed. In southern Italy, one in three young people aged 15-29 fell into this category.
Just over half (57.2 percent) of youths who graduated were currently employed, with the Europe-wide average standing at 77.2 per cent.
Fourteen percent of Italys population 8.6 million people is living on food assistance, a number that has doubled over the past two years, according to the report.
Nine poverty indicators were taken into account while carrying out the study; if a family meets more than four, it is considered to be seriously deprived. Some 15 million people 25 percent of Italys population are living in families that meet three or more of the poverty indicators, the research found.
The recession, which has now lasted almost two years, has taken a heavy toll on Italians, who are increasingly digging into their savings, ISTAT stressed. The savings rate, traditionally high in Italy, is currently far below that of France and Germany, Reuters reported.
Italians’ purchasing power also fell by 4.8 percent last year, an “exceptionally steep” decline caused largely by aggressive tax hikes aimed at battling the economic crisis gripping the country.
The study results come just a few days after thousands gathered in Rome to protest austerity measures and high unemployment. Demonstrators urged Prime Minister Enrico Letta to create jobs to pull the country out of recession. Protesters held banners reading, We cant wait anymore and We need money to live.
According to a Friday poll conducted by the SWG institute, the governments approval rating has dropped to 34 percent, down from 43 percent at the start of May.
It was a bad day for Italys hackers.
Four Arrests and Searches Throughout Italy as Postal Police Swoop on Anonymous Hackers
Arrestees suspected of belonging to criminal hacking ring
It was a bad day for Italys hackers. Postal police officers have dismantled a suspected criminal hacking organisationthat exploited the notoriety of the Anonymous movement to launch attacks on the computer systems of key infrastructures, institutional websites and leading companies. Four arrests were made. Investigators believe that those detained are the leaders in Italy of the international Anonymous movement.
ARRESTS The hackers arrested are thought to be responsible for attacks on websites belonging to the government, the Vatican and Parliament. Four suspects have been placed under house arrest and about ten searches were carried out. Investigators believe that the four detained belong to Anonymous, although they also used the movements logo for their own personal purposes. The operation, codenamed Tango Down, was conducted by the postal polices national centre for cybercrime and the protection of critical infrastructures (CNAIPIC), and coordinated by the Rome public prosecutors office.