Their calling cards are umbrellas, tissue packets, and flowers. Hustling tourists at historic sites, or hawking their wares at stoplights, dark-skinned migrants, from Africa and South Asia, are a common sight in contemporary Italy. Little do visitors to the country know what these Italian-speaking foreigners signify about the country’s economy. (More…)

No TAV. Even if you live in faraway Berlin, for most Europeans, the slogan (and graffiti) is inescapable. The acronym for a high-speed train line between Lyon and Turin, the project has become a cause celebre for the Italian left, and, increasingly, European critics of a continent-wide high speed rail network. (More…)

Americans spend an inordinate amount of time on the road. In places like the Los Angeles, Houston and the Washington D.C. metropolitan areas, commuters may spend more time studying the cars ahead of them during stop-and-go traffic than they do their own spouses and children upon finally arriving home. That’s why bumper stickers are such an effective means of declaring one’s allegiances. (More…)

It may not have produced any results. However, few electoral races were as predicted to be as inconsequential as those held in Italy two weeks ago. Left or right victory, the results would be the same, Italians feared. That is, unless you cast your vote for the so-called ‘populist’ party, the 5 Star Movement, led by ex-TV comedian Beppe Grillo. (More…)

While leftists in Germany today often focus on the plight of immigrants, particularly from the Middle East and North Africa — and the corollary concerns in the homelands of those immigrants — attention is also directed at the self-righteous superpower whose long shadow still falls over Europe: the United States of America. (More…)

Photographer Brandon Stanton’s Humans of New York project, which has spawned “Humans of” pages in many other locales – Dublin, Mumbai, Jerusalem and the Fiji Islands to name a few – began in 2010. Stanton had just left a career in the Chicago financial industry to move to New York, where he began walking around the city, taking street portraits. (More…)

The Academy Awards had its share of surprises, but none more significant than the end of broadcast cutaway to the White House, where the First Lady helped presenter Jack Nicholson announce the winner of the Oscar for Best Picture. Like many of the media events sculpted for the Obama Presidency, this high-tech exchange stopped many viewers short. (More…)

Socially responsible investment. Since the 1980s, the practice has become commonplace in the United States and Europe. Used to describe the practice of investing money in the stock market to do good – as well as earn some returns – the idea is that capitalism doesn’t just have to be about maximizing individual gain. (More…)

Political asylum has been a major topic in Germany for decades. Because the Basic Law that has served as the Federal Republic’s de facto constitution since 1949 was intended to counter the exclusionary ideology of the Nazis, it made the nation seem more welcoming to refugees than other European states. By the 1980s, however, this “open door” policy was being sorely tested by a large number of asylum seekers. (More…)

The polls confirmed his instincts were correct. Singing the praises of Il Duce on Holocaust Memorial Day proved to be a smart decision. Now only five points behind frontrunner Pier Luigi Bersani, Silvio Berlusconi’s popularity with voters was unharmed. With a population of less than thirty thousand, in a country of over sixty million, Italy’s Jewish community doesn’t count. (More…)

Seeing the political posters Souciant features in Randomizer, readers sometimes ask if there’s a US equivalent. In cities like New York or San Francisco, and around college campuses, analogous street communications aren’t hard to spot. But elsewhere in the country, particularly suburbia, the dominant form of street communication is mobile: the bumper sticker. This startling couplet is a fine example. (More…)

It’s really easy to overlook a bandit sign. Just a few words of text and a telephone number, pasted to telephone poles in poor neighborhoods, advertising a roofing company, or the number of someone who’ll pay cash for your home or car, they prey on the needy.  Bandit signs are also an eyesore, creating more trash in already heavily polluted parts of American cities. And they’re illegal.  (More…)