Sardinian family credit minestrone for world record age

From front left: Maria (97), Vitalia (80), Concetta (91), Mafalda (78), Claudina (99), Consolata (105), Adolfo (89), Antonino (93), Vitalio (86)

Doctors, dietitians and divines have long sought to identify the secret of a long life. The answer minestrone soup, according to nine siblings from Sardinia who were on Tuesday recognised as the world’s oldest in terms of combined age.

The oldest member of the Melis family, Consolata, will be 105 on Wednesday, while the youngest of her siblings, Mafalda, nicknamed “the Little One” by her older sisters and brothers, is 78…

Scientists have to tried to work out what makes Sardinians live so long – 371 are over 100, or 22 for every 100,000 – and credit genetic heritage, frugal Mediterranean diet and a hardy lifestyle.

“We eat genuine food, meaning lots of minestrone and little meat and we are always working,” said Alfonso Melis, 89, who narrowly escaped being captured by Nazi soldiers during the second world war and can be found today discussing bond spreads with customers in the cafe he runs.

“Every free moment I have I am down at my vineyard or at the allotment where I grow beans, aubergines, peppers and potatoes,” he told the Guardian.

You just keep working and you eat minestrone, beans and potatoes,” added his older sister Claudia, 99, who attends church every morning…

The world’s oldest man living is Jiroemon Kimura, 114, from Japan. But Guinness World Records editor in chief, Craig Glenday, said that seven out of the 70 people known to be older than 110 are Italian.

And Sardinia is the perfect environment to produce centenarians…The prevalence of farming and shepherding means people are physically active.”

Food was also key, argued Prof. Luca Deiana. “A glass of red and a chunk of sheep’s cheese or goat’s ricotta is the standard meal for these 100-year-olds – all local, genuine food,” he added.

The article has a few humorous anecdotes, Sardinian versions of urban legend – and the genes help, of course.

The Mediterranean diet is what I grew up with. I always credit my Highland genes; but, my Italian-American mom did all the cooking. So, maybe I’ll last as long as some of these folks.

Media credibility declines again – especially for Republicans

For the second time in a decade, the believability ratings for major news organizations have suffered broad-based declines. In the new survey, positive believability ratings have fallen significantly for nine of 13 news organizations tested. This follows a similar downturn in positive believability ratings that occurred between 2002 and 2004.

The falloff in credibility affects news organizations in most sectors: national newspapers, such as the New York Times and USA Today, all three cable news outlets, as well as the broadcast TV networks and NPR.

Across all 13 news organizations included in the survey, the average positive believability rating…is 56%. In 2010, the average positive rating was 62%. A decade ago, the average rating for the news organizations tested was 71%. Since 2002, every news outlet’s believability rating has suffered a double-digit drop, except for local daily newspapers and local TV news. The New York Times was not included in this survey until 2004, but its believability rating has fallen by 13 points since then…

The believability ratings for individual news organizations – like views of the news media generally – have long been divided along partisan lines. But partisan differences have grown as Republicans’ views of the credibility of news outlets have continued to erode. Today, there are only two news organizations – Fox News and local TV news – that receive positive believability ratings from at least two-thirds of Republicans. A decade ago, there were only two news organizations that did not get positive ratings from at least two-thirds of Republicans. By contrast, Democrats generally rate the believability of news organizations positively; majorities of Democrats give all the news organizations tested ratings of 3 or 4 on the 4-point scale, with the exception of Fox News…

Facts are a real problem for conservatives aren’t they?

Republicans have long held a more negative view of the credibility of the news media than Democrats and this continues to be reflected in current assessments of news outlets. Republicans rate the believability of nine of 13 news organizations less positively than do Democrats. Fox News is the only news organization that is rated higher for believability by Republicans…

The partisan difference in news providers – to me – is a pretty accurate reflection of what has become the predominant ideology in the Republican Party. If the news and the world are presenting facts, information, anecdotes which contradict what they believe should be reality – than the reporting is wrong – not the reality Republicans believe in.

Take away the portion of results skewed by a Republican belief system and all the news organizations are believable except Fox News.

Republicans have moved from a political analysis and ideology to being a religion. And that is concurrent with the influence of fundamentalist religions within the rank-and-file as well leadership of that party. Sad but true.

Todd Akin and Paul Ryan are more alike than you think – or Romney would care to admit

Paul Ryan/Todd Akin mutual support league addressing Ryan’s voodoo budget
Daylife/AP Photo used by permission

Todd Akin’s remarks about some rapes being “legitimate,” and the ability of a woman to miraculously self-abort in those instances, have many of his fellow Republicans desperate to distinguish him from others in their party. This isn’t easy.

Akin, a member of the U.S. House of Representatives who is seeking to unseat Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri, is not an outlier. No less than Paul Ryan, the Republican candidate for vice president, shares his views. Ryan, Akin’s colleague in the House, has sponsored legislation with him that also sought to distinguish between types of rape: Instead of “legitimate,” it used the word “forcible.”

What Akin’s remarks have unleashed is a discussion in the presidential race over social issues that will be hard for Republicans to control. They were reasonably sure they could paper over the differences between Ryan and his running mate, Mitt Romney, on Medicare. On social issues, the problem is the opposite: The difference between Ryan’s views and Akin’s could fit on a Post-it note.

On Sunday…when asked on a St. Louis TV program if he would make an exception to his anti-abortion stand for rape, Akin said he would not because in those instances a woman’s body will somehow know to end the pregnancy itself…

The Romney-Ryan campaign has come out with escalating rejections of Akin’s remarks. Yet Ryan and Akin are in the mainstream of the prevailing House Republican view on abortion.

Not only did Akin and Ryan co-sponsor legislation redefining rape, Ryan ran for Congress as a strong pro-lifer and has a 100 percent rating from the National Right to Life Committee. “This includes support for the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act, the Unborn Victims of Violence Act, the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act,” the committee notes. Last year Ryan and Akin were co-sponsors of the Sanctity of Human Life Act, also known as “personhood” legislation, which would give a fertilized egg the same rights as a human being and would outlaw some forms of birth control…

What Akin apparently fails to understand is this: Just because colleagues like Ryan share his views, that doesn’t mean he can talk about them when there’s a presidential race going on — especially a race in which his party’s candidate is fudging his views on the subject in hopes of attracting moderates…

Given that the clown-in-charge of the Republican platform committee for their convention is Governor Ultrasound from Virginia, Akins won’t have to worry about being separated from the Kool Aid science portion of the Republican Party. So-called leaders remaining from the dregs of traditional Republican politics haven’t grown testosterone-producing organs in the interim.

Join those two currents with the Ron Paul voodoo-economics brigade and the Republican convention might be fun watching for someone who doesn’t DVR segments from daytime Bloomberg TV or House Hunters International. Since my household falls into the latter category, I’ll give the Republicans a miss to match our non-view of the Democrats.

Admittedly, the Dems may come up with a few decent speeches that touch down into the reality column – a little bit of science, economics bypassing Herbert Hoover’s last campaign, a willingness to support civil rights for all Americans, support of libertarian choices for women as well as men. You know – stuff today’s Republican Party rejects out of hand.

The only process I find interesting enough to track is where and when Democrats have sufficient backbone to pursue a progressive agenda to counter the nutballs in charge of the GOP – instead of sticking to the Clintonesque drone about centrist ethics. Whatever that might mean – this week?

Traders in Nazi souvenirs take to grave-robbing for supplies

Bodies dug from graves to fuel trade in Nazi souvenirs…

Servicemen’s groups have condemned the trade in Nazi souvenirs, which has seen hundreds of artifacts – including dog tags and tank parts – stripped from graves in Demyansk, near Novgorod in Russia, and Kurland in Latvia.

The items end up for sale on websites or at specialist fairs while the bodies are dumped in mass graves.

Paul Reed, a military archaeologist, told The Times: “It’s wholesale looting of battle sites, and the bones are just tipped into holes at the end of the day.

“Second World War archaeology is in its infancy at the moment, and these people are destroying our future, as well as desecrating the graves of fallen soldiers. None of them deserved to have their bones dug up.”

Items have reportedly been offered at War and Peace, the biggest military fair in Europe, which takes place at Hop Farm, in Kent.

While the trade is outlawed in France and Germany, it is legal in the UK. And, of course, the US.

Collectors insist they are military historians rather than neo-Nazis who prefer to buy modern replicas.

I don’t care which specific kind of creep these people are – they still are ghouls. Especially the flavor who know damned well they’re buying from grave-robbers.

An early morning bee

Click photo to enlarge

We have several bushes outside the living room windows planted just because they keep the neighborhood bees happy. Though we haven’t any beekeepers in the family, right now, the tradition is honored. Who knows? Maybe one of us will add it to life on Lot 4?