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McDonald’s sues Florence, Italy for $20 million over site refusal

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Hard on the heels of stoking anger over plans to open a restaurant in the Vatican, McDonald’s has filed a $20-million lawsuit against Florence for blocking a proposed outlet in the city’s most revered square.

The US fast-food chain told AFP Monday it was claiming 17.8 million euros ($19.65 million) in damages after the city rejected an application to open an outlet in the historic Piazza del Duomo, one of the most visited places in Europe.

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McDonald’s said the suit was being filed with the administrative court, which arbitrates in governance disputes in Italy. The firm gave no other details.

Florence’s centre-left mayor, Dario Nardella, turned down McDonald’s application in June, in a decision that was confirmed the following month by a technical panel in charge of preserving the city’s ancient heart.

“McDonald’s has the right to submit an application, because this is permitted under the law, but we also have the right to say no,” Nardella told the city council, saying he wanted to support “traditional business” in the area.

“We don’t have any prejudice” against McDonald’s, Nardella said, noting that the company had opened restaurants “in other parts of town.”

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According to several reports in the Italian media, McDonald’s is particularly aggrieved in the case of Florence as it had promised to make major changes to its business model to fit in with local regulations.

– Cardinals in a tizz –

Worried about the proliferation of fast-food outlets catering to backpackers in the city of Michelangelo, Florence introduced new licensing regulations in January requiring restaurants in the historic heart to use “typical products” either of the city or from the Tuscany region.

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The Piazza del Duomo — “Cathedral Square” — is a treasure of Gothic and Renaissance architecture. Its buildings include the domed Santa Maria del Fiore cathedral, the Giotto bell tower and the St. John Baptistery.

Last month, the daily La Republicca reported that plans to open a McDonald’s in a piazza next to Saint Peter’s Square (NYSE: SQ – news) in Rome had angered cardinals who live above the proposed site.

The scheme is “by no means respectful of the architectural traditions of one of the most characteristic squares which look onto the colonnade of Saint Peter’s,” it quoted Cardinal Elio Sgreccia as saying.

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In their expansion into historic locations in Europe, McDonald’s and other fast-food chains often encounter opposition on cultural or architectural grounds.

Many disputes, though, end in a compromise, in such areas as menu choice, litter control and the design of the business facade.

 
 

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Final Emmys beckon for TV stars of ‘Thrones’ and ‘Veep’

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TV stars from Westeros to the White House will hit the red carpet in Los Angeles on Sunday as "Game of Thrones" and "Veep" take their final tilts at Emmys glory.

The long-running HBO smash hits helped the premium cable network raise the game for the small screen -- with 74 Emmys between them, they are among the most decorated shows ever at television's answer to the Oscars.

Both hope to add to their record hauls before they bow out at the glittering ceremony in downtown LA's Microsoft Theater.

While the divisive final season of "Thrones" enraged many fans, it is the Television Academy's 24,000-plus voters who get to choose the winners.

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WATCH: Trump admits he talked to Ukraine president about Joe Biden and his son

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President Donald Trump Sunday morning admitted he brought up Joe Biden and the former Vice President’s son Hunter Biden while speaking with the President of Ukraine.

“The conversation I had was largely congratulatory, with largely corruption, all of the corruption taking place and largely the fact that we don’t want our people like Vice President Biden and his son creating to the corruption,” Trump said, speaking to reporters from the White House lawn.

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BREAKING: President Trump admits that he talked to the Ukrainian president about former Vice President Biden. #MTP #IfItsSunday@kristenwelker: "From the president's perspective, the only way to put this story to bed is to release the transcript." pic.twitter.com/aaJ6DjMN0E

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‘Left wing hack’: Fox News fans lose it after anchor calls Ukraine allegations ‘a problem’ for Trump

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Fox News viewers lashed out at the network on Sunday after host Arthel Neville grilled New York Congressman Peter King (R) about President Donald Trump's alleged effort to get Ukraine to help him defeat Joe Biden.

Neville twice asked King about Trump's Ukraine scandal, and both times he evaded the question by saying that Congress does not have a right to know the details of Trump's conversations with foreign leaders.

On her third attempt, Neville got to the point by noting Trump's alleged actions are "a problem."

"We don’t know that it’s true, we hope it’s not true," the Fox News host said of the allegations against Trump. "But if there is a possibility that our president used his office to put pressure on a foreign government -- president-elect -- to dig into his possible, potential political opponent, then that’s a problem."

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