Naples:life,death & Miraclecontact: Jeff Matthews


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Naples Miscellany 13 (early April, 2008)
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—Various demonstrations have taken place, sponsored by those who produce mozzarella cheese, all in an attempt to convince the public that the product is safe. This included a man dressed as an ancient gladiator and eating mozzarella in front of the Colosseum in Rome. Trace amounts of toxic dioxin have been found in some cheeses and dairy farms in the Campania region near Naples. The airborne contaminants were attributed to the local garbage crisis in which trash was burned because dumps were at capacity. Mozzarella is made from buffalo milk, and by late March, members of the NAS (Nucleo antisofisticazione—sort of a public health police force) had taken samples from dozens of homes where the buffalo roams in the provinces of Naples and Caserta. The results are ambiguous. Reports vary from day to day and newspaper to newspaper. The situation is udderly confusing.

—The police are upset at the TV series Nuova Squadra (New Squad), a weekly crime drama centered around plainclothes agents in Naples. In a recent episode, a female agent has her pistol stolen; the weapon then turns up as the murder weapon at the scene of a crime. Much of the episode centers on how the police conspire to tamper with evidence in order to replace the agent's weapon with another. A (real) police spokesman calls the episode defamatory.

—I knew there was something wrong when I saw that high-powered Lamborghini pull into the handicapped parking space! Not quite, but, in any event, the Finance Police have just "decapitated" (their word) a large counterfeit ring that has been furnishing phony documents to people who claim to be—but are not —entitled to the financial and social benefits that accrue to the handicapped.

—I never know whether to take this one seriously, but it has happened before. Two "hypno-bandits" in Giugliano have been busted for spooking people out of their money. They walk into a place (generally not near Naples), dangle a trinket, turn on the "you are getting drowsy" routine, and get the victim to hand over money, jewels, whatever. They apparently pulled this stunt at a money exchange counter in the airport in Treviso in northern Italy and were caught on the security video camera.

—This is getting monotonous. Another WWII bomb has been found at the port of Naples, about 70 yards out from the pier where steamers leave for the islands of Sardinia and Sicily. A squad of expert bomb squad divers from the Italian naval base at Taranto were dispatched and the device was disarmed without the massive two-day-long closure of the port that occurred two months ago when a similar event occurred. The port of Naples was heavily bombed in WWII, and there is no realistic way to predict how much more unexploded ordnance is still in the water or even in the ground near the port.

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