More wins for the Mediterranean diet


Looks like my lunch – main meal of the day for me – five days a week

Yet more bragging rights are in for the Mediterranean diet, long considered to be one of the healthiest in the world.

A new study published Monday in the BMJ journal Gut found that eating the Mediterranean diet for just one year altered the microbiome of elderly people in ways that improved brain function and would aid in longevity.

The study found the diet can inhibit production of inflammatory chemicals that can lead to loss of cognitive function, and prevent the development of chronic diseases such as diabetes, cancer and atherosclerosis.

“Our findings support the feasibility of changing the habitual diet to modulate the gut microbiota which in turn has the potential to promote healthier aging,” the study authors said.

The study analyzed the gut microbiome of 612 elderly people from France, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, and the United Kingdom before putting 323 of them on a special diet for a year.

While the diet was designed for the elderly, it was based on the Mediterranean principles of eating lots of fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes, olive oil and fish, and little red meat, sugar and saturated fats.

RTFA. Spend a bit of personal time reflecting on the categories of positive change added, negative categories diminished.

None of this surprises me. Over the past 200 years, about a third of my forebears came from Italy straight into the metropolitan United States Northeast. In my family, Mediterranean cooking/diet won out hands down. Easy-peasy to stay with the lifestyle once you’ve made the change – if it was a change.

Economic concerns recede — Environmental concerns grow

For the first time in Pew Research Center surveys dating back nearly two decades, nearly as many Americans say protecting the environment should be a top policy priority (64%) as say this about strengthening the economy (67%).

In addition, while a smaller share (52%) rates dealing with global climate change as a top priority, this is 14 percentage points higher than just three years ago. Today, similar shares rate climate change and improving the job situation (49%) as top policy priorities for President Donald Trump and Congress. Three years ago, 68% said jobs were a top priority, compared with just 38% who named climate change…

The issue of climate change highlights the deep partisan divides in views of many public priorities. Dealing with global climate change ranks at the bottom of the list of 18 policy priorities for Republicans and Republican-leaning independents (just 21% call it a top priority). By contrast, climate change is near the top of the list of issues among Democrats and Democratic leaners (78% call it a top priority).

Large majorities of Democrats also place top priority on protecting the environment (85%), reducing health care costs (80%) and improving the educational system (80%). For Republicans, no more than about half rate these issues top priorities. And there is a sizable divide on the importance of addressing gun policy: Democrats are roughly 40 percentage points more likely than Republicans to view this as a top priority for the president and Congress (66% vs. 25%).

No surprises IMHO. All my questions rest on the shoulders of Democrat staff who will run the nitty-gritty of the 2020 Presidential Election campaign. Frankly, I would vote for either of Mayor Pete’s shelter dogs before I’d vote for the Fake President.

Quid Pro Quo still the core of Trump’s version of justice

A lawyer for Julian Assange has claimed in court that President Donald Trump offered to pardon Assange if the WikiLeaks founder agreed to help cover up Russia’s involvement in hacking emails from the Democratic National Committee.

Assange’s lawyers said on Wednesday that former Republican congressman Dana Rohrabacher offered Assange the deal in 2017, a year after emails that damaged Hillary Clinton in the presidential race had been published. WikiLeaks posted the stolen DNC emails after they were hacked by Russian operatives…

Edward Fitzgerald, who was representing Assange in court, said he had evidence that a quid pro quo was put to Assange by Rohrabacher, who was known as Putin’s favorite congressman.

Fitzgerald said a statement produced by Assange’s personal lawyer, Jennifer Robinson, included a description of “Mr. Rohrabacher going to see Mr. Assange and saying, on instructions from the president, he was offering a pardon or some other way out, if Mr Assange… said Russia had nothing to do with the DNC leaks.”

Is there no one remaining in the GOP who still cares in the least for our Constitution, the rule of law, respect for standards constructed over decades and centuries? I’ve known a fair number of conservatives in my lifetime who I would consider to be honest men and women. They were willing to stand up for the same rights that allowed for radicals, folks like me from the Left side of the political spectrum, to fight for my beliefs. Now, the party of American conservatism throws any standards they held – onto the garbage heap of history.

Their only rationale apparently is greed.

A great variety of animals once populated our prairies — they can, again!


Click to enlargeMelanie Wynne

North America’s prairies stretch north from Mexico into Canada, and from the Mississippi River west to the Rocky Mountains. Grasslands also exist in areas farther west, between the Rockies and Pacific coastal ranges.

When Thomas Jefferson approved the Lewis and Clark Expedition in 1803, this territory was home to Native Americans and abundant wildlife. Vast, unbroken horizons of contiguous grasslands supported millions of prairie dogs, pronghorn, bison and elk, and thousands of bighorn sheep. Birds were also numerous, including greater prairie-chickens, multiple types of grouse and more than 3 billion passenger pigeons…

That changed as European immigrants moved west over the next hundred years. Market hunting was one cause, but settlers also tilled and poisoned, fertilized and fenced the land, drained aquifers and damaged soils…

Some parts of the North American prairies could support this kind of biodiversity again. The Flint Hills of Kansas and Oklahoma, Nebraska’s Sandhills and Montana’s Rocky Mountain Front all retain areas that have never been plowed, ranging from 1 million to 4 million acres. Public agencies and nonprofit conservation groups are already working in these areas to promote conservation and support grassland ecosystems

The U.S. has a history of protecting its majestic mountains and deserts. But in our view, it has undervalued its biologically rich grasslands. With more support for conservation on the prairies, wildlife of all sizes – big and small – could again thrive on America’s fruited plains.

RTFA – not only for details of how we got here; but, how we might move forward to restoration and a new life for our grasslands.

There is this black cloud wandering over our planet…


Currently, drifting over the Pacific Ocean

The scientific name is cumulonimbus flammagenitus, but the more common nickname is ‘fire cloud.’ NASA calls them the “fire-breathing dragon of clouds,” according to their website.

One of the largest fire clouds ever recorded has been drifting around the Southern Hemisphere for over a month. Heat and freak thunderstorms generated by Australia’s massive wildfires sent ash and toxic materials high into the atmosphere, where they formed a massive dark cloud of debris. It’s been measured at 15 miles high at some points, and at one point it covered more than 1 million square miles — about half the size of Canada.

NASA has been tracking the massive cloud from space as it slowly drifted over to South America and then looped back toward Oceania where it hovered over New Zealand, turning glaciers brown, and perhaps hastening their melting.

As Australian firefighters get their blazes under control, the cloud has been dissipating. Health experts say toxic chemicals and debris eventually drop back to Earth, through the air or within raindrops, where they can be inhaled or ingested by humans and animals…

And that ain’t all. Click the link above and RTFA.