Street artist paints giant Nelson Mandela mural in Florence | AFP

From Naples to Palestine to Florence, Neapolitan street artist Jorit is painting charismatic icons on giant walls. His murals often feature ‘African tribal patterns’ on the faces of his subjects.

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Venice tries to return to normal after major floods | AFP

Venice’s iconic St Mark’s Square is closed as the historic city suffers its third major flooding in less than a week, with water while rain lashing the rest of Italy prompted warnings in Florence and Pisa.

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Gov. Roy Cooper visits storm-affected areas

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper flew to the coast Friday to assure people still suffering from last year’s Hurricane Florence that recovery would continue. Cooper says hurricanes are the “new normal,” but that the people of North Carolina are resilient. (Sept. 6)

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Funeral of Italian filmmaker Franco Zeffirelli | AFP

Thousands of people gather in central Florence to pay their respects to Italian filmmaker and opera director Franco Zeffirelli, who died at the weekend. IMAGES

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Italian film director Zeffirelli’s coffin arrives in Florence | AFP

Italian film and opera legend Franco Zeffirelli’s coffin arrives in Florence to lie in state, after the director died at his home on Saturday. IMAGES

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On This Day: 24 May 2014

In 2014, Kim Kardashian married Kanye West in Florence, Italy. (May 24)

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How Marines Respond To Natural Disasters

Business Insider sent two journalists to cover Hurricane Florence in North Carolina. There, they saw how marines responded to natural disasters and rescued civilians.

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How Marines Respond To Natural Disasters

Researchers prove Leonardo Da Vinci was ambidextrous

Researchers at the Uffizi Gallery in Florence have proved what was suspected for a long time: that Renaissance genius Leonardo Da Vinci was able to write, draw and paint with both hands. The museum’s research and restoration institute confirmed Da Vinci’s ambidexterity by analysing a drawing known simply as Landscape (8P), believed to be his earliest work, dated 1473, when the artist was 21.

84-year-old Vermont pole vaulter to compete in Poland

Florence “Flo” Filion Meiler, an 84-year-old competitive female pole vaulter, is headed to the world competition in Poland this week, where she’ll be the only one in her age group for pole vaulting. (March 22)

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First Crush: Bradley James

Actor Bradley James – star of “Merlin” and “Medici: Masters of Florence” had a crush on one of his ex-work colleagues, but who was it? (Feb. 20)

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Officers charged after 2 women drowned in van

(4 Jan 2019) Two South Carolina law officers were charged Friday in the deaths of two women who drowned while locked in the back of a sheriff’s department van during Hurricane Florence. (Jan. 4)

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Da Vinci design jewel still key for Tuscan silk weavers

Leonardo Da Vinci’s works do not just hang on the walls of the world’s most famous museums. In fact, Da Vinci’s genius also extended to engineering. Today, five hundred years after his death, one of his machines resides in one of Europe’s oldest silk workshops in Florence and continues to weave some of the finest silks.

Why North Carolina Can’t Solve Its Hog Poop Problem (HBO)

PINK HILL, N.C. __ Leaning out over a bridge railing, Aaron Harris carefully lowers a basket of empty plastic bottles into the slow-moving Goshen Swamp, where they fill with water the color of weak coffee before he reels them back up.

Harris, an environmental specialist with the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality, samples the water to understand just how polluted the water is after storms sweep debris and pollution into North Carolina’s low-lying watersheds. But residents worry about one potential source of contamination and it’s also the industry that keeps this region alive: Hog farming.

When storms season hits North Carolina, hog farms are some of the most vulnerable places in the state because most hog farmers here dispose of their hog waste in massive open-pit lagoons.

And North Carolina has already endured its wettest year on record. The saturated ground can’t absorb much more rain, which increases the flooding risk. So the storm that approached the region on Thursday only made things worse.

Torrential rains can send hog waste over the top of the lagoon, where it washes into rivers and streams. Sometimes, the lagoons themselves breach, and hog waste spills into the groundwater. During Florence, both happened, with at least 50 flooded lagoons and two breaches.

Catastrophic flooding aside, neighbors say hog farms also present a regular nuisance to their quality of life. That’s in part because of the lagoons, but mostly because of how hog farms traditionally dispose of their waste: Letting the solids settle to the bottom and spraying the floating liquid effluvia onto their fields.

That’s hog feces, hog urine and hog blood, sprayed in clouds sometimes just a few yards from someone’s house. For Elsie Herring, the stink is constant.

“We don’t come outside much, you know. And we don’t open the windows because the odor — you can’t keep the odor out, whether you open the windows or not, you just can’t,” said Herring, perched in a rocking chair on her pink house’s front porch as another spray cloud blew onto her property. “You can smell it now, can’t you.”

Herring is one of 500 plaintiffs suing Chinese-owned Smithfield Foods, the world’s largest pork producer. The plaintiffs claim Smithfield’s waste-management practice of storing hog shit in lagoons and then spraying it onto fields severely reduces their quality of life.

Nearly every hog farmer in North Carolina is a contract farmer, meaning the agribusiness corporations own the pigs and the farmers own the waste. Morris Murphy has 15,000 head of Smithfield hog on his land in Duplin County, and says the nuisance lawsuits are baseless.

While hog farms do smell, Murphy says, it’s not bad enough to affect his neighbors. His lagoons are open pits, and on a sunny morning in mid-October, didn’t present much of a smell, even just a few feet away.

He’s not being sued, but his friends are. He says at least one fellow hog farmer had his hogs taken back by Smithfield after a lawsuit.

Hog farmers say they can’t afford to operate without open-pit lagoons, and agribusiness conglomerates haven’t shown much willingness to pay to cover the lagoons — an expensive proposition that includes a whole separate system to deal with the biogasses produced by the covered hog poop.

“Personally I think the system’s fine,” Morris said. “Someone needs to come here and prove to me that what I’m doing is bad for the environment before I feel like I need to change it.”

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AP Top Stories September 25 P

(25 Sep 2018) Here’s the latest for Tuesday, Sept. 25: Bill Cosby gets prison sentence; Sen. Murkowski believes FBI investigation needed of Kavanagh after new allegations; Floodwaters from Hurricane Florence still rising in S.C.; Seville holds 20th flamenco biennial.

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SC braces for what could be record flooding

(25 Sep 2018) Georgetown, S.C. resident Lee Gantt owns a home built in 1737 which she says hasn’t flooded from the Sampit River since it was built. Tuesday, as she watches the river rise from Florence’s rains, Gantt is wondering if the luck finally runs out. (Sept. 25)

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NC river swirls with gray muck near coal ash dump

(23 Sep 2018) Gray muck is flowing into the Cape Fear River from the site of a dam breach at a Wilmington power plant where an old coal ash dump had been covered over by Florence’s floodwaters. (Sept. 23)

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Suspected power plant waste in N Carolina river

(21 Sep 2018) Florence’s floodwaters breached a dam holding back a large reservoir at a North Carolina, power plant Friday, and coal ash from an adjacent dump could be flowing into a nearby river. An environmental group rescued a turtle from the muck. (Sept. 21)

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Coping with flooding brings NC neighbors together

(21 Sep 2018) Greg Lovell has called his Hampstead, North Carolina, neighborhood home for 15 years, but only while battling floodwaters after Hurricane Florence has he met other members of his community facing the same struggles. (Sept. 21)

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Dam breach at Duke NC plant; coal ash could spill

(21 Sep 2018) Duke Energy said Friday that a dam containing a large lake at a Wilmington power plant has been breached by floodwaters from Florence, and its possible coal ash from an adjacent dump is flowing into the Cape Fear River. (Sept. 21)

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Florence batters, bruises tobacco crops in NC

(21 Sep 2018) Tobacco crops battered and bruised by Hurricane Florence stand unharvested in fields near Fremont, North Carolina. (Sept. 21)

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NC Governor: Florence damage adds up to billions

(21 Sep 2018) North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said he knows the damage in his state will add up to billions of dollars, but said with the effects on the storm ongoing, there was no way to make a more accurate estimate. (Sept. 21)

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Pollocksville still underwater, Wilmington now dry

(20 Sep 2018) The water has begun to recede in Pollocksville, North Carolina a week after hurricane Florence landed, but portions of the town near the Trent River are still underwater as seen by drone footage. (Sept. 20)

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AP Top Stories September 20 p

(20 Sep 2018) Here are the top stories for Thursday, September 20th: A Rite Aid employee opens fire at work; Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s accuser may testify; Hurricane Florence’s death toll rises; A man is charged with stealing from a toy machine.

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