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How can 39 million buffalo be wrong?

NEW DELHI, India — A few years ago, when my Midwestern parents visited me in India, my mother provided a running commentary as we navigated our way through a long traffic jam on the famous Grand Trunk Road, which runs through Delhi on its way to Peshawar from Bangladesh. “Water buffalo,” she'd point out. “Another water buffalo ... another water buffalo.” Uh. Yep. Are we there yet?

What feta and reindeer meat have in common

NIS, Serbia — In early autumn in southern Serbia markets are ablaze with the new crop of peppers and minds turn to the arduous task of making ajvar, a garlic-infused red pepper paste that is a beloved culinary treasure. This year, however, there was a shadow hanging over the ritual roasting, peeling and packing of the peppers. Rumors were rife that Serbia’s Balkan neighbors were seeking to claim ajvar as their own.

Italy, the CIA and rendition

NEW YORK — The label “War on Terror” may be out of style as a description of American counterterrorism strategy, but Wednesday in Rome an Italian court served notice that some of its more controversial practices — including the abduction of alleged terrorists known as “extraordinary rendition” — would not be forgotten as quickly as some Americans might prefer.

Swordfighting at a chestnut festival

Italian food: now mafia free!

PALERMO, Italy — Wine, olive oil, pasta, tomato sauce: For such products, the Sicilian sun is itself a guarantee of quality. But those who market such delicacies under the label Libera Terra say their products come with a bonus — the “taste of freedom.” “From lands freed from the Mafia,” reads the light blue pack of penne rigate pasta on display among dozens of other products in a dedicated shop in Via dei Prefetti 23, in the heart of Rome. To understand that label, travel 250 miles as the crow flies south, to Sicily.

The Moroccans of San Nicola Varco

Italian immigration law has left the future unclear for hundreds of Moroccans living in a shantytown.

Musings of a homesick baseball fan

NETTUNO, Italy — It's been more than 15 years since I last lived in the U.S., and when people ask me what I miss most my answer is always baseball. I was never much of a player, but I'm a long-time fan and started out as a journalist covering spring training and minor league games in my home state of Florida. But attending a baseball game in Italy, where I live now, is a little bewildering.

G20 Pittsburgh: They meet again

LONDON, England — Why do political leaders do this: meet at the summit? Why do we write about it? Do you really care? Back in early April, the last time the G20 met, I stopped off at Canary Wharf in London's new financial district to talk to merchant bankers and speculators about the meeting that was, in theory, supposed to result in measures to save the global financial system.

Doing business in Slovenia (not Slovakia)

LJUBLJANA, Slovenia — If you’re an American thinking of buying a new mattress, you might check out the website for Dormeo and see a short promotional video with promises of Italian luxury set against the Florence skyline. What you would not know is that while those mattresses are manufactured in Italy, their production was outsourced by a Slovenian company, Studio Moderna, that sells them around the world.

Creative destruction in Venice

VENICE, Italy -- The world’s oldest film festival is usually not a place for new talent. Now in its 66th edition, landing a slot at the storied Venice festival is one way a film director knew he or she had arrived. The famous red carpet, the history, the atmosphere, the paparazzi — they have long been alluring, but inaccessible, to young directors.
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