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What does Renzi’s defeat mean for Italy?

Matteo Renzi press conference, Rome

The results of last night’s Italian Referendum are out and the ballots show that the No vote leads with 60%, whereas the Yes vote is only at 40%. The turnout was at 70%. The Italian Prime Minister, Matteo Renzi, has announced his resignation after his heavy referendum defeat concerning his proposal to reform the Constitution. It is now up to the Italian President, Sergio Mattarella, whether he will appoint a new replacement or hold elections.

What was the referendum about?

The Italian voters were asked if they approved the constitutional law calling to alter the Italian Constitution that would reform the complex political system. It would reduce the size of the Senate from 315 to 100 and would have made law-making a more speedy process. The former Prime Minister, Renzi, claimed it would improve Italy’s reorganisation and economic growth.

Why did Renzi lose?

Addressing his loss, Matteo Renzi said, “My experience of government finishes here”. “We tried, we gave Italians a chance to change but we didn’t make it,” he said. “I lost. I can admit it and I am sorry. I was not able to lead you to the victory. Good luck to us all,” he concluded.

Renzi’s opponents not only included members of other parties, but also people within his own party. They all believed that the referendum would mean that the Prime Minister would end up with too much power in his hands. The voters agreed. An opposition leader, Matteo Salvini, called the referendum “a victory of the people against the strong powers of three quarters of the world”.

The referendum was not only calling for a change in the Parliament, but also regarded as a chance to reject establishment politics.

How is the rest of the world reacting?

The Italian Referendum comes in hot pursuit of the victories of the UK’s Brexit and the US’s Presidential Elections. Across the globe, far-right parties are beginning to take the upper hand. Despite Norbert Hofer’s defeat in the recent Austrian Presidential election, other far-right wing leaders in Germany, France and Greece have secured great advantages.

The result is being viewed as yet another blow to the EU (after Brexit), however, it is not an indication that Italy will be following the UK’s outside the EU. The Northern League and Five Star may be opposed to the Eurozone, but not for the Italy’s EU membership.

German Finance Minister, Wolfgang Schaeuble, said that “there was no reason for a Euro crisis but that Italy urgently needed a functioning government”. However, Marine Le Pen, the leader of the Front National in France, tweeted: “The Italians have disavowed the EU and Renzi. We must listen to this thirst for freedom of nations.”

What has happened to the economy?

Overnight, the currency has toppled to a 21 month low, following the departure of Renzi. Both stocks and the euro dropped last night, but were raised by the morning. Nevertheless, the referendum could have more long term effects, as there have been growing concerns over the financial stability of the country.

What will happen now?

As Renzi announced his resignation after the final cabinet meeting, he will hand his position to the President Mattarella, who could ask him to remain in his position until Parliament has passed a bill due later in the month.

Early elections are thought to be quite unlikely, therefore it is possible that Mattarella may appoint a caretaker administration led by the former PM’s party until the next elections due in the spring of 2018. Pier Carlo Padoan, the Finance Minister is the favourite to succeed Renzi’s position of Prime Minister.

London Weather Forecast for Friday 2nd December – Sunday 4th December

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The weather this evening will be cloudy for much of the night and light showers will move across the country from east to west. Skies will clear later on in the night, bringing a risk of frost and patchy fog. The temperatures will drop to 4 degrees Celsius this evening.

Saturday and Sunday will be mostly dry for many areas and with relatively more sunshine. There will be stronger winds, however, and the areas of the south west and north west will experience patchy rain.

The week will begin on a chilly note for many areas, with the patchy fog from the weekend gradually clearing. There will be sunny spells, but from Tuesday onwards will be much cloudier with rain.

7 Cheap Locations To Visit This Christmas

Looking for somewhere to go to this Christmas but you don’t have much in your bank account? It’s that time of the year where everyone wants to escape from the city for a couple of days either alone or with their loved ones. Whether it’s a brief countryside trip you desire, or even travel abroad, there are always cheap solutions for those who are on a tight budget.

Here are some ideas that might get you going:

  1. If spending a relaxing Christmas with your significant other but without going too far away from London sounds ideal to you, then escaping to Bournemouth is just for you. Just minutes away from the beach, The Royal Bath Hotel offers a one-night stay for two with breakfast for the price of £49. Bournemouth is ideal for those that admire Victorian architecture and beautiful seaside views. Tourists can enjoy plenty of attractions, including beaches, the Lower Gardens and also the renowned Bournemouth Oceanarium.
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The beach at Bournemouth

2. Located at the border between England and Wales, the Wye Valley is a beautiful location for those who would like to experience the woodlands, landscapes and architecture that the area has to offer. The NDAC Wooden Wigwams are an excellent opportunity for those who would like to reconnect with nature and enjoy a trip including various outdoor activities such as hiking, cycling and horseback riding. A standard wigwam stay for up to five people (in case you wanted to enjoy a trip with your friends) costs £45 for one night and £75 for two nights. If you don’t want to leave your pets behind, you could pay an extra £5 fee per animal.

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Chepstow Castle at Wye Valley

3. In case you wanted to enjoy a stay at a 17th century English manor house close to London, then staying at the Mercure Letchworth Hall Hotel at Hertfordshire should be one of your options. The hotel offers a stay for two with breakfast, a three-course dinner (on the first night only) and a leisure club access. The price is £99 for one night and £159 for two, which makes it a bit pricier than the previous options – but a fairly good deal! Travelers can enjoy the Gothic architecture of St Alban’s Cathedral or even immerse themselves into Roman history with the Verulamium Museum and the Roman Theatre.

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The Roman Theatre at Hertfordshire

4. Another great holiday spot would be Dublin, where the traveler can appreciate the River Liffey, the old stone bridges, and various avenues and parks. The Best Western Sheldon Park Hotel is an ideal location where the visitor can explore the Irish capital, as it is in close proximity to the Dublin Zoo and downtown Dublin. The price of a two or three night stay ranges from £99 to £179 (depending on the number of nights and dates chosen), including the flights to and from London and spa access.

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Downtown Dublin

5. If a cruise is what you fancy then look no further! Escape the city with a two-night return cruise sailing from Newcastle to Amsterdam in a two to four berth cabin, brought to you by DFDS Seaways. The price is £69 for a two-berth cabin and £116 for a fourth-berth cabin. So, not only do you get to enjoy a cruise, but you also have the chance to go abroad. In Amsterdam, one can enjoy the vibrant nightlife and festivals, along with beautiful Renaissance architecture and cultural events. The capital city of the Netherlands is a convenient place to explore and relax for a few days.

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Snowy Amsterdam

6. From famed historic sites to the vibrant nightlife, Rome is an excellent place to go to this Christmas for a few days if you wish to leave the country. Visitors can enjoy the city’s main attractions such as the Pantheon, the Vatican Museums and the iconic Trevi Fountain and also relish the traditional Italian Christmas ‘Panettone’. The tourists can explore many shops and markets in the Eternal City and enjoy a stroll at night in the iconic streets. The price of the trip is £79, but can increase depending on the number of nights and dates chosen. The price Hotel Saint Paul offers includes two nights in a double room with breakfast and return flights.

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St Peter’s Square in Rome

7. Last but certainly not least, the capital of Hungary is one of the most beautiful places one can visit this Christmas outside the UK. With £69 for a two-night stay including return flights, you can discover the gems of Budapest, while staying at the Hotel Mediterran which is close to the inner city and constitutes a good starting point for exploring the city. There are many things to do in the city, ranging from a stroll along the River Danube to visiting plenty of landmarks like the historic Lajos Kossuth Square and the majestic Parliament Building to name a few.

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Snowy Budapest

Hopefully you might have been inspired from these ideas. Honestly, if one plans their trips out carefully with their budget in mind, most destinations can be adapted to suit everyone’s purse. You just need to do your research and look for the best deals out there! Happy travelling and enjoy your holidays!

Moving to mars – Humans are now closer than ever to colonising the red planet

The prospect of humans moving to Mars has always been an interesting topic for debates. Scientists have been researching the Red Planet for many years and now they have come up with the possibility that humans may inhabit Mars by the 2030s. This poses a very interesting question: how will humans be able to survive on the Red Planet?

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Image of Mars taken from The Daily Mail

Industrial work, gas emissions and litter are among the main threats to our home planet. As a result, climate change is one of the biggest threats to us all which makes the prospects of moving to another planet slightly more real.

Humans have always speculated on how life would be like on Mars, ranging from where we would live to how we will find food and water. In collaboration with Stephen Petranek, the author of “How We’ll Live on Mars”, the astronomers from the Royal Observatory in Greenwich have created the first ever model of a Martian home.

The display gives an insight into where and how we might live on the Red Planet in the next few decades. The igloo-shaped construction would be made of recycled spaceship parts and Martian soil. Inside the home, all the essentials for living on Mars will be included. There would be a space where people could grow their own food, a ‘living room’ area, a bed and even an exercise machine. It is also said that all the houses on Mars would be connected by an underground system.

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Our future home taken from National Geographic

However, the real question is: are humans even close to colonising Mars as the Royal Observatory claims? The astronomer Marios Karouzos states that we are closer than ever, since ‘’science is progressing and our technological abilities are becoming better each year”.

“This doesn’t mean that we are close enough. At this stage, going to Mars requires the same skillset as an astronaut,” he adds.

Going to Mars requires people to be able to respond to any kind of emergency that may arise at any moment. For example, engineering, physics and medicine are among the skills that are essential for humans to survive on Mars. Karouzos also points out that people travelling to Mars “need to be healthy with fully functional bodies”.

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Arriving to Mars taken from National Geographic

In order to survive, humans would have to grow their own food, melt ice for water and produce their own fuel. The physicist and senior lecturer at Imperial College London, Dr David Clements, also says that new developing technologies would create a radiation shielding using magnetic fields as a form of storm shelter. He adds: “It won’t just be a quick ‘stay a couple of days and fly straight back’ job as it was with Apollo”. “There’s a lot of work to be done on Mars itself.”

The plan would also involve a further exploration of the planet. Dr Clements believes there might be geology and maybe even biology by the time we finally colonise Mars. Nevertheless, it is important that humans take precautions and educate themselves on possible hazards we could face before jumping into the unknown.

The astrobiologist and professor of planetary science at Birkbeck University, Ian Crawford believes that people should make sure whether life exists on Mars or not, before sending people there. “I think we should certainly learn more about the composition of the Martian dust”, he says. “That red dust is very oxidised and could be quite toxic. We don’t know, because we’ve never studied it.”

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Rocks on Mars

Crawford stresses that it is crucial to send robotic missions to Mars first, in order to collect samples of rocks and soils and bring them to the Earth and study them. In this way, he says, we can determine the chemistry of the dust and decide whether it is a hazard or not.

While sending people to the Moon was a Cold War competition, moving to Mars should be a political opportunity for international collaboration. Relocating to another planet is something that involves a global effort.

But for now travelling to Mars is still a long way ahead of us. Therefore, we must make sure that our planet stays liveable for as long as possible, working hard to preserve all the natural resources it offers. In the meantime, it is wise to explore all the options that our universe has set aside for us.

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Mars robot