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Italians Overestimate Immigrant Population More than Any Other Europeans



Italians overestimate the numbers of non-EU immigrants to their country more than any other Europeans do, according to new research that compared survey results with population data. While Italians believe that immigrants from outside the EU make up 25 percent – an entire quarter – of Italy’s total population, the real figure is just under 8 percent.

That makes for a “perception error” of 17.4 percent, said Bologna-based think tank the Istituto Cattaneo, which compared the results of the latest EU-wide Eurobarometer opinion poll with official data from the EU statistics office Eurostat. No other European country showed such a wide gap, the institute said. The closest other countries were Portugal (14.6 percent), Spain (14.4 percent) and the UK (12.8 percent), while at the other end of the scale, people in Croatia (0.1 percent), Sweden (0.3 percent) and Denmark (2.2 percent) gave the least inflated estimates of immigrant numbers. Estonians were the only respondents to underestimate the number of immigrants in their country, by -1.1 percent.

Among Italians, people in the south and centre of Italy, big city dwellers, people without a university education, the working class and those who identified themselves as right-wing tended to overestimate the number of immigrants in Italy the most, the Istituto Cattaneo said.

Countries with the biggest misperception of immigrant numbers tended to show more evidence of hostility to immigrants and minorities, the Istituto Cattaneo found when it cross-referenced its analysis with a recent survey on nationalism by the Pew Research Center. In that poll, Italians scored highest out of 15 European countries on a scale of nationalist, anti-immigrant and anti-religious minority attitudes.

Italy’s attitudes to immigration are also more negative than most of its neighbours, according to the Eurobarometer. Some 74 percent of Italian respondents said that immigration leads to higher crime rates, while 58 percent said that immigrants take jobs from natives and 62 percent thought they were a burden on the welfare system, all rates that were higher than the EU average. Italy’s new government has taken a hard line on immigration, with Interior Minister Matteo Salvini promising to end migrant arrivals by boat and deport hundreds of thousands of people who don’t have permission to stay.

Salvini, whose League party has seen its approval rating rise since he took office, has accused immigrants – including those who are in Italy legally – of committing a disproportionate number of crimes and regularly uses his social media accounts to highlight reported offences by foreigners. His opponents have accused him and his allies in government, the populist Five Star Movement, of stoking a “climate of hatred”. Though Salvini dismisses such claims as “nonsense”, since the coalition came into power in June Italy has seen a rise in reports of attacks suspected to be racially motivated, including a beating that left a Moroccan man dead, an attack on a teenage Senegalese waiter and an air pistol shooting that injured a 14-month-old Roma girl.

While Italy is “not necessarily” becoming more a more hostile place for foreigners, historian and nationalism researcher Dr Andrea Mammone told The Local recently, “a minority of people now are much more outspoken, where they probably were not outspoken before. And this is because the political climate in Italy is fundamentally supportive of hostility towards migrants.”

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Iran Blocks Nearly All Internet Access



Iran imposed an almost complete nationwide internet blackout on Sunday one of its most draconian attempts to cut off Iranians from each other and the rest of the world as widespread anti-government unrest roiled the streets of Tehran and other cities for a third day, The New York Times reported.

The death toll for the three days of protests rose to at least 12; hundreds were injured; and more than 1,000 people have been arrested, according to semiofficial news agencies like Fars News.

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has the last word on all state matters, called the demonstrators “thugs” and endorsed the government’s decision to raise prices it sets for rationed gasoline by 50 percent as of Friday and by 300 percent for gasoline that exceeds ration limits. Even after the price hike, gasoline in Iran is still cheaper than in most of the rest of the world – now the equivalent of about 50 cents a gallon.

In a speech on Sunday, Khamenei said he would support rationing and increasing gas prices because heads of three branches of government had made the decision.

Khamenei also acknowledged that Iranians had taken to the streets to protest and that some had died – however, he blamed the protests on monarchists and opposition groups trying to destabilize Iran, the Times added.

The widespread discontent on display across the country marked yet another crisis for the country. Iran has been struggling with an economic crisis after the United States exited a nuclear deal and reimposed harsh sanctions that ban Iran’s oil sales.

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HASC Chairman Claims Legislation to Create a Space Force in 2020 ‘Still Possible’



House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith said last week that negotiations on the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act are “proceeding reasonably well” but he expressed doubt that the NDAA will include language to authorize a Space Force as a separate military branch, SpaceNews reported.

“It’s still possible but by no means guaranteed,” Smith told reporters on Capitol Hill last week. When asked for specifics, Smith said, “I don’t think it would be helpful for me to make predictions.”

The biggest sticking point in the NDAA negotiations is language in the House version of the bill that restricts the use of military funds to pay for the wall that President Trump wants to build along the U.S.-Mexico border, SpaceNews adds.

There are other dealbreaker issues. The authorization of a Space Force as the sixth branch of the armed forces is one of them, Smith said. Other contentious matters include extending the “war powers” legislation that authorizes the president to use military force, and allowing transgender people to serve in the military.

Smith said the House and Senate NDAA conference in recent weeks worked on compromise language on hundreds of provisions and “reduced the stack significantly, and we’re down to a few really contentious issues.”

Smith characterized the Space Force as a “higher echelon” issue that is proving divisive. Both Republicans and Democrats in the House and Senate continue to have reservations about the administration’s Space Force proposal, said Smith. “There is bipartisan concern on the proposal and bicameral concern about the specifics of that proposal.”

The House version of the NDAA creates a Space Corps and is closer aligned with what the administration proposed. The Senate bill would rename the Air Force Space Command the U.S. Space Force and does not specifically authorize a sixth branch of the armed forces.

Smith noted that the House has been a proponent of a military space branch since 2017 while the Senate had adamantly opposed it. “In their bill they didn’t have the same language that we did. But the president has persuaded them to look at it differently.”

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Gunman Kills Four at California Backyard Party



Police in the California city of Fresno were investigating a mass shooting at a football game party on Sunday in which at least 10 people were shot, killing four, with five others left in critical condition and another wounded, Reuters informs.

Three men died at the scene and another died at a hospital, Fresno Deputy Police Chief Michael Reed said in a late night news conference. Six more were hospitalized, he said.

“Our hearts go out to the families of the victims of this thing,” Reed said. “This was senseless violence. We’re going to do everything we can to find out who the perpetrators were and bring them to justice.”

A gunman walked into a backyard and started shooting at a south Fresno home, where a gathering of about 35 family and friends was watching a football game before 8 p.m., said Reed. Neighbors soon flooded 911 dispatchers with calls for help, Reuters adds.

The suspect fled the scene and police were combing the neighborhood for witnesses and possible security camera footage, police said. Police did not release further information about the shooting in the city about 200 miles (320 km) north of Los Angeles, except that the dead were men between the ages of 25 and 35.

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