March 3, 2016

Top News Stories –

Italian parliament bar clamps down on bill-dodging –
The bar inside Italy’s lower house of parliament has deployed “receipt inspectors” to ensure that MPs pay their bills, it’s reported. The establishment at Palazzo Montecitorio, home to the Chamber of Deputies, has lost a significant chunk of revenue because some politicians have been failing to settle up, Corriere della Sera reports. The company that took over running the bar last year noticed that takings were 30% lower than expected. Staff have now been told that customers must pay for their order and show their receipt to the barista before actually being served any refreshments – something that is done in some Italian bars. They’ll be backed up by a team of receipt-checkers, whose job will involve being “discreet, but inflexible”, observing patrons and intervening if anyone fails to pay up, the paper says. [BBC]
Palazzo_Montecitorio,_RomePalazzo Montecitorio, Rome

Spain’s Princess Cristina denies role in tax fraud at ‘trusted’ husband’s company –
Princess Cristina of Spain denied any involvement in tax fraud on Thursday when she gave evidence in the first criminal trial held in the country with members of the royal family among the accused. King Felipe’s sister said that she had been completely unaware of the business operations at a company she owned jointly with her husband, Iñaki Urdangarin, who is accused of a series of crimes including embezzlement of public funds and money laundering. Asked by her defence lawyer why she became the co-proprietor of the company called Aizoon, Princess Cristina it had been Mr Urdangarin’s idea and she had agreed: “Out of trust. He asked me and I accepted.” The 50-year-old princess, who has been stripped of her aristocratic title of Duchess of Palma by King Felipe, said that Aizoon existed “to channel my husband’s income”. “He was the administrator and he took the decisions”, she added. The public prosecutor has requested a 19.5-year jail sentence for Mr Urdangarin, who, along with his business partner, is accused of diverting €4.5 million of public money from a non-profit organisation to private accounts. [Daily Telegraph]
Infanta_Cristina,_Duchess_of_Palma_de_MallorcaInfanta Cristina Duchess of Palma de Mallorca

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Other News Stories –

Armed conflicts and attacks
Disasters and accidents
  • A nationwide power outage hits Syria. The Syrian government says shortly before the power outage, militants had hit part of a power-generating station with rockets in the city of Hama, though it hasn’t said whether this damage was linked to the nationwide outage. Also, it isn’t clear how many people are affected by the power outage as many cities outside of the government’s control already weren’t being served by the government-run power grid. (CNN)
  • At least 31 people are killed in Kwekwe, Zimbabwe, when a bus, with a blown front tire, switches lanes and slams into an oncoming public transport minibus. (AP ia Fox News)
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