Valentina Crosato

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Geopolitics

Why Podemos Or Syriza Scenarios Won't Happen In Italy

TURIN — Italian politicians from very different backgrounds have been trying to capitalize on last week's victory of Spain's anti-austerity party Podemos in regional elections: from centrist Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and the populist Northern League leader Matteo Salvini, to the banker-turned-cabinet minister Corrado Passera and leftist LGBT activist and governor of the Puglia region Nichi Vendola.

That's quite a list. Stll, even as some international observers ask if Italy is the next country to be swept up by the anti-austerity wave, there is clearly no "Italian Podemos" on the horizon. And what's left is just more bickering.

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Future

New Portable DNA Kit Aids Global Pursuit Of Biodiversity

Transportable and cheap, a made-in-Italy DNA kit prototype promises to allow molecular analysis directly in the field, sending collected data instantly across the world.

TRENTO — A torrential rain drenches the Mount Rungwe forest in Tanzania. Under a big blue tent, four researchers are patiently waiting in front of their Skype webcam. They have just sent their data via smartphones to the other side of the hemisphere — namely, to the press room of the MuSe, the Science Museum of Trento. The response they are waiting for will have to cross an entire continent.

The feedback arrives quickly: "The sample corresponds at 95% to the Arthroleptis xenodactyloides frog." The researchers smile. They're excited, tired and overheated because of the humidity. "It's a new species! We did it!"

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food / travel

Killing The Art Of Cuisine, From London To Palermo

Master Chef and other TV shows celebrating fine food are all the rage. But in real life, both rich and poor are increasingly buying pre-packaged meals. Reflections from a London-based Sicilian.

PALERMO — I learned how to cook in Mosé, in Sicily, on my family’s farm. We made the tastiest of meals with vegetables from our own garden and the best that came from the chicken coop. Once around the table, each of us chose from the serving dishes we wanted, but always left enough for the others.

It was a moment of sharing, in every sense.

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Geopolitics

From Lampedusa to Berlin, Immigrant Anger At Italy

BERLIN"You're the ones who created this mess I'm in..."

Mohammad points his finger at me, and doesn’t even want to tell me his real first name: "Call me Mohammad, we are all the same to you racist Italians anyway."

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food / travel

Buona Notte To The Birthplace Of Tiramisu

TREVISO — This kind of news is hard to swallow: the historic Beccherie restaurant in Treviso that created tiramisu decades ago, will close its doors March 30. Gone will be the original version of the legendary dessert that has become a worldwide symbol of Italian cuisine.

That’s because the economic crisis has been tough on the Campeol family, who have run the restaurant since September 1939. “Nowadays,” says current owner Carlo Campeol, “even bars and tobacco shops offer things to eat, and it’s impossible to compete.”

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Society

Were Ancient Greeks The Original Recyclers?

A common archaeological theory holds that ancient Greeks threw their trash in the fields, which would explain the abundance of ceramic shards. But a dissenting narrative has emerged.

PARIS — It may seem like a bizarre controversy, but experts on ancient Greece have been debating for more than 60 years why potsherds so often surround archaeological sites there. These scattered fragments of pottery are routinely found in explorations.

Some regard it as simple — obvious even. They hold that, as was common in most areas of temperate Europe, people threw their household and barn waste into the fields. The theory is that people were essentially composting and enriching the soil with food, manure and other scraps, and that pottery shards sometimes found their way into these piles.

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Geopolitics

Islamists Target Hindu Minority In Bangladesh

''The goal of the fundamentalists is to force us to leave Bangladesh and go to India,” says one activist for the rights of religious minorities.

ENAYETPUR — There is a pile of burned-out metal sheets and poles, and the smell of ashes still remains in Enayetpur, a Bangladeshi hamlet situated on the Gulf of Bengal. Three houses of braided palm, where 20 people were sleeping Jan. 8, did not resist long in the fire caused by attackers who threw Molotov cocktails during the night.

Miraculously, only one person, Acharjee Mitu, was wounded. He still has some burns on his forehead, a shiny pink stain. A week later, the villagers are still in shock. They belong to the country’s Hindu minority, which represents just 9% of the population. During the last year, Muslim attacks against Hindus — and occasionally against Buddhists — have intensified. The controversial Jan. 5 elections, boycotted by an opposition that includes influential fundamentalist Muslims, have worsened the climate of violence.

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food / travel

Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania's Overlooked Tourism Jewel

DAR ES SALAAM — Tanzania has a lot to offer: safaris, mountains, tropical islands. But hardly anyone knows about Dar es Salaam. The country’s largest city offers not only culture but also beautiful beaches.

In the early evening, before the tropical night sinks into the Indian Ocean’s deep blackness, the beach at the Oyster Bay fills up. Tanzanians arrive with their plastic chairs to chat, enjoy the colors of the waves at sunset and taste the specialties of different peddlers.

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Society

French Infidelity And The Internet

A website created by and for women to arrange discrete extra-marital escapades has attracted 800,000 users in France. Another tale of French sexual morals, now with a digital twist.

PARIS — Advertisements from Gleeden, which presents itself as “the first extramarital dating site designed by women,” are quite astounding. “Being faithful to two men is like being doubly faithful,” says one. “Try it, crunch it, savor it,” says another, picturing a young woman who is about to eat no fewer than eight apples.

“It satisfies a need,” says Ravy Truchot, co-founder of Gleeden. “It does not create it.” The company has launched a campaign asking its members to testify about their experiences, and three people agreed to tell their stories on condition of anonymity.

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Syria Crisis

Final Stop: Why Syrian Refugees Have Ended Up In Gaza

Khaled's family is one of the 190 from Syria that have recently moved to poor and isolated Gaza. Doors elsewhere for refugees are closing, especially to the Palestinian minority fleeing Syria.

GAZA CITY - Gaza has again become one of the most forgotten places on earth. This may help explain why hundreds of Syrians fleeing the country's civil war have found refuge there.

As the war moves into its third year, having already claimed more than 120,000 lives, it may seem like a paradox that those who escape from hell are finding shelter in an open-air prison that's home to nearly two million Palestinians.

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Society

Rent-A-Friend: A Solution For The Lonely People Of Japan

Instead of actually forging relationships, or continuing those they have already, Japanese people are hiring actors to play the roles of loved ones.

TOKYO — It used to be common in Japan to rent priests. For what exactly? To officiate at fake wedding ceremonies. Foreign guests could also be rented — it made weddings more international, more chic.

Those were just for fun. Today, though, people are hiring “friends” in Japan, but for other reasons. More and more lonely Japanese people are willing to pay a pretty yen to spend some time with people, sometimes for just a day, in the company of a random actor who is looking for a bit of income on the side.

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blog

Color Of 2014? Radiant Orchid, Otherwise Known As Purple

BERLIN — Purple is intense like no other color. It is opaque, disturbing and seductive. It is also the color of 2014.

So says the Pantone Color Institute, which has named “Radiant Orchid” this year’s preeminent hue. Red and blue combine to make it: hot and cold, fire and water, the male and female elements intertwined.

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