Category Archives: Life

(GUA) Bad diets killing more people globally than tobacco, study finds

(GUA) Eating and drinking better could prevent one in five early deaths, researchers sayS

A half-pounder burger and chips in a takeaway carton
 While sugar and trans-fats are harmful, the biggest problem is the lack of healthy foods in our diets, researchers found. Photograph: Philip Toscano/PA

Unhealthy diets are responsible for 11m preventable deaths globally per year, more even than smoking tobacco, according to a major study.

But the biggest problem is not the junk we eat but the nutritious food we don’t eat, say researchers, calling for a global shift in policy to promote vegetables, fruit, nuts and legumes.

While sugar and trans-fats are harmful, more deaths are caused by the absence of healthy foods in our diet, the study found.

The research is part of the Global Burden of Disease study by the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) in Seattle, published in the Lancet medical journal.

Heart attacks and strokes are the main diet-related causes of death, followed by cancers and type 2 diabetes, say researchers.

The study found that eating and drinking better could prevent one in five deaths around the world. Although diets vary from one country to another, eating too few fruits and vegetables and too much sodium (salt) accounted for half of all deaths and two-thirds of the years of disability attributable to diet.

“Our findings show that suboptimal diet is responsible for more deaths than any other risks globally, including tobacco smoking, highlighting the urgent need for improving human diet across nations,” they write.

Rather than trying to persuade people to cut down on sugar, salt and fat, which has been “the main focus of of diet policy debate in the past two decades”, it would be better to promote healthy options, they say.

“Generally in real life people do substitution. When they increase the consumption of something, they decrease the consumption of other things,” said Dr Ashkan Afshin of the IHME, the lead author.

Countries that have a mainly Mediterranean diet eat more fruit, vegetables, nuts and legumes, said Afshin, naming Lebanon, Israel and Iran among the better performers. “But no country has an optimal level of consumption of all the health foods. Even in countries that have a Mediterranean diet, the current intake of many other dietary factors is not optimal.”

The paper is the most comprehensive analysis on the health effects of diet ever conducted, says the IHME.

It looked at 15 different nutrients – some good for health and some not so good. The main risk factors were eating too much salt and too few whole grains, fruit, nuts and seeds, vegetables and omega-3 fatty acids from seafood. Other risk factors considered were consuming high levels of red and processed meat and sugary drinks, low milk consumption and low fibre.

Poor diets were responsible for 10.9m deaths, or 22% of all deaths among adults in 2017. Cardiovascular disease was the leading cause, followed by cancers and diabetes. Nearly half – 45% – were in people younger than 70.

Tobacco was associated with 8m deaths, and high blood pressure was linked to 10.4m deaths.

Israel had the lowest rate of diet-related deaths, at 89 per 100,000 people, followed by France, Spain and Japan. The UK ranked 23rd, with 127 diet-related deaths per 100,000 and the US was 43rd with 171. Uzbekistan was last, with 892.

Prof Walter Willett from Harvard University, a co-author of the study, said that the findings were consistent with a recently published analysis of the benefits for cardiovascular health of replacing red meat with plant sources of protein.

“Adoption of diets emphasising soy foods, beans and other healthy plant sources of protein will have important benefits for both human and planetary health,” he said.

Tom Sanders, a professor emeritus of nutrition and dietetics at King’s College London, said the analysis put too much emphasis on individual components rather than the overall diet. “Obesity is a major driver for risk of type 2 diabetes as well as cancer and the health evidence for this relationship is strong. Obesity is caused by eating more food energy than required rather than specific dietary components such as sugar. The trend for populations to become increasingly sedentary is a major reason why there is an imbalance between energy intake and expenditure but increased availability of foods with a high energy density (more calories/gram) makes it too easy to overeat.”

Dr Christopher Murray, a director of the IHME and one of the authors, said: “This study affirms what many have thought for several years – that poor diet is responsible for more deaths than any other risk factor in the world.

“While sodium, sugar, and fat have been the focus of policy debates over the past two decades, our assessment suggests the leading dietary risk factors are high intake of sodium, or low intake of healthy foods, such as whole grains, fruit, nuts and seeds, and vegetables. The paper also highlights the need for comprehensive interventions to promote the production, distribution, and consumption of healthy foods across all nations.”

(GUA) ‘Buildings that defy categorisation’ – Arata Isozaki wins 2019 Pritzker architecture prize


He’s designed an inflatable concert hall, an underground sports arena and envisaged entire cities floating above the earth’s surface. Now, at 87 years of age, Arata Isozaki has been crowned the winner of the 2019 Pritzkerarchitecture prize, an honour regarded as the Nobel prize of architecture.

Regarded as a visionary who helped foster an architectural dialogue between the east and west, Isozaki’s style has remained fluid for more than half a century of work. He first made waves with his futuristic 1962 City in the Airproject, in which Tokyo’s Shinjuku district was reimagined with a new city suspended over the old one on tree-like structures. Though unrealised, the project was a taste of what was to come: among Isozaki’s best-known works are the red sandstone Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, the twisting, metal Art Tower Mito in Ibaraki, Japan and the Palau Sant Jordi, a 17,000-person sports arena designed for the 1992 Summer Olympic Games in Barcelona, that sits partially below ground in order to draw focus to the surrounding hillside.

Visionary ... Arata Isozaki.
 Visionary … Arata Isozaki. Photograph: Courtesy of the Pritzker Architecture Prize

In their praise of Isozaki, the jury noted: “In his search for meaningful architecture, he created buildings of great quality that to this day defy categorisations.”

Isozaki was born in Ōita on the island of Kyushu, in 1931. The 1945 atomic bombing of nearby Hiroshima had a profound impact on him as a child. “I grew up on ground zero,” he recalled. “It was in complete ruins, and there was no architecture, no buildings and not even a city. Only barracks and shelters surrounded me. So, my first experience of architecture was the void of architecture, and I began to consider how people might rebuild their homes and cities.”

Submerged ... Palau Sant Jordi in Barcelona, Spain
 Submerged … Palau Sant Jordi in Barcelona, Spain Photograph: Photo courtesy of Hisao Suzuki

Isozaki had travelled the world several times by the time he was 30. “I experienced many places before I started designing buildings,” he said. “I wanted to feel the life of people in different places around the world. I travelled extensively inside Japan but also to the Islamic world, villages in the deep mountains of China, south-east Asia, and metropolitan cities in the US. Through this, I kept questioning: ‘What is architecture?’”

After graduating from the Department of Architecture at the University of Tokyo in 1954, Isozaki designed buildings in his hometown: Ōita Medical Hall and Ōita Prefectural Library were both heavily influenced by European brutalism. Isozaki went on to fuse these ideas with those from the Japanese postwar metabolist movement, in which designers took inspiration from plants, the oceans and organic biological growth.

Tsukuba Center, 1979-83, Ibaraki, Japan.
 1983: Tsukuba Center, Ibaraki, Japan. Photograph: Yasuhiro Ishimoto

Isozaki has not showed signs of slowing down. Following the 2011 tsunami that devastated parts of Japan, he created Ark Nova with Anish Kapoor, a travelling inflatable concert hall that could visit the affected areas. He recently designed the Shanghai Symphony Hall in China and the Allianz Tower in Milan, the latter in collaboration with Italian architect Andrea Maffei.

The Pritzker architecture prize was founded in 1979, and each year honours an outstanding living architect or architects who has produced consistent and significant contributions to humanity and the built environment through the art of architecture. This year’s jury, which included 2007 winner Richard Rogers and 2010 winner Sejima Kazuyo, summarised Isozaki’s lifetime achievements by noting: “[He] became the first Japanese architect to forge a deep and long-lasting relationship between east and west. Possessing a profound knowledge of architectural history and theory, and embracing the avant garde, he never merely replicated the status quo but challenged it.”

Isozaki is the 46th laureate of the Pritzker prize, and the ninth to hail from Japan. The 2019 Pritzker prize ceremony will take place in France this May, accompanied by a public lecture in Paris.

(BBC) Why humans have evolved to drink milk

(BBC) Humans didn’t start out being able to digest animal milk – but now many populations do. Why has evolution favoured tolerating dairy? 

Dairy milk has competition. Alternative “milks” made from plants like soya or almonds are increasingly popular. These alternatives are often vegan-friendly and can be suitable for people who are allergic to milk, or intolerant of it. The runner-up in the 2018 series of The Apprentice (UK) ran a flavoured nut milk business.

But the rise of alternative milks is just the latest twist in the saga of humanity’s relationship with animal milk. This relationship dates back thousands of years, and it has had a lot of ups and downs.

When you think about it, milk is a weird thing to drink. It’s a liquid made by a cow or other animal to feed its young; we have to squirt it out of the cow’s udders to obtain it.

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In many cultures it is almost unheard of. Back in 2000, China launched a nationwide campaign to encourage people to consume more milk and dairy products for health reasons – a campaign that had to overcome the deep suspicions of many older Chinese people. Cheese, which is essentially milk that has been allowed to go offcan still make many Chinese people feel sick.

Milk is poured at a dairy farm in Russia

Milk is poured at a dairy farm in Russia. Compared to humanity’s 300,000-year history, drinking milk is a new habit (Credit: Getty)

Set against the 300,000-year history of our species, drinking milk is quite a new habit. Before about 10,000 years ago or so, hardly anybody drank milk, and then only on rare occasions. The first people to drink milk regularly were early farmers and pastoralists in western Europe – some of the first humans to live with domesticated animals, including cows. Today, drinking milk is common practice in northern Europe, North America, and a patchwork of other places.

Baby food

There is a biological reason why drinking animal milk is odd.

Milk contains a type of sugar called lactose, which is distinct from the sugars found in fruit and other sweet foods. When we are babies, our bodies make a special enzyme called lactase that allows us to digest the lactose in our mother’s milk. But after we are weaned in early childhood, for many people this stops. Without lactase, we cannot properly digest the lactose in milk. As a result, if an adult drinks a lot of milk they may experience flatulence, painful cramps and even diarrhoea. (It’s worth noting that in other mammals, there aren’t any lactase-persistent adults – adult cows don’t have active lactase, and neither do cats or dogs, for example).

So the first Europeans who drank milk probably farted a lot as a result. But then evolution kicked in: some people began to keep their lactase enzymes active into adulthood. This “lactase persistence” allowed them to drink milk without side effects. It is the result of mutations in a section of DNA that controls the activity of the lactase gene.

Artwork from the tomb of Methethi in Egypt

Artwork from the tomb of Methethi in Egypt, dated to around 2350BC, shows an ancient Egyptian milking a cow (Credit: Getty)

“The first time that we see the lactase persistence allele in Europe arising is around 5,000 years BP [before present] in southern Europe, and then it starts to kick in in central Europe around 3,000 years ago,” says assistant professor Laure Ségurel at the Museum of Humankind in Paris, who co-authored a 2017 review of the science of lactase persistence.

The lactase persistence trait was favoured by evolution and today it is extremely common in some populations. In northern Europe, more than 90% of people are lactase persistent. The same is true in a few populations in Africa and the Middle East.

But there are also many populations where lactase persistence is much rarer: many Africans do not have the trait and it is uncommon in Asia and South America.

A woman purchases soy milk in Hong Kong

A woman purchases soy milk in Hong Kong. Dairy can make many people feel sick in Asia, where the lactase persistence trait is uncommon (Credit: Getty)

It is hard to make sense of this pattern because we don’t know precisely why drinking milk, and therefore lactase persistence, was a good thing, says Ségurel: “Why was it so strongly advantageous in itself?”

The obvious answer is that drinking milk gave people a new source of nutrients, reducing the risk of starvation. But on closer inspection this doesn’t hold up.

“There’s a lot of different sources of food, so it’s surprising that one source of food is so important, so different from other sorts of food,” says Ségurel.

People who are lactase-non-persistent can still eat a certain amount of lactose without ill effects, so drinking a small amount of milk is fine. There is also the option of processing milk into butter, yoghurt, cream or cheese – all of which reduce the amount of lactose. Hard cheeses like cheddar have less than 10% as much lactose as milk, and butter is similarly low. (Read more about parmigiano, a cheese with so little lactose it can be eaten by the lactose-intolerant). “Heavy cream and butter have the lowest lactose,” says Ségurel.

Hard cheeses like parmigiano-reggiano can have little to no lactose

Hard cheeses like parmigiano-reggiano can have little to no lactose (Credit: Getty)

Accordingly, people seem to have invented cheese rather quickly. In September 2018, archaeologists reporting finding fragments of pottery in what is now Croatia. They carried fatty acids, suggesting that the pottery had been used to separate curds from whey: a crucial step in making cheese. If that is correct (and the interpretation has been questioned), people were making cheese in southern Europe 7,200 years ago. Similar evidence from slightly more recent times, but still more than 6,000 years ago, has been found elsewhere in Europe. This is well before lactase persistence became common in Europeans.

That said, there is clearly a pattern behind which populations evolved high levels of lactase persistence and which didn’t, says genetics professor Dallas Swallow of University College London. Those with the trait are pastoralists: people who raise livestock. Hunter-gatherers, who do not keep animals, did not acquire the mutations. Neither did “forest gardeners” who cultivated plants, but not livestock.

It makes sense that people who did not have access to animal milk were not under great evolutionary pressure to adapt to drinking it.

The question is, why did some pastoralist people acquire the trait and not others?

A Sudanese boy milks a cow at a cattle camp

A Sudanese boy milks a cow at a cattle camp; an enduring mystery is why only some pastoralist groups acquired lactase persistence (Credit: Getty)

Ségurel points to east Asian herding peoples, such as those in Mongolia, who have some of the lowest rates of lactase persistence even though they rely heavily on milk from their animals for food. The mutations were common in nearby populations in Europe and western Asia, so it would have been possible for them to spread into these east Asian groups, but they didn’t. “That’s the big puzzle,” says Ségurel.

Dairy benefits

Drinking milk might have other advantages besides its nutritional value

She speculates that drinking milk might have other advantages besides its nutritional value. People who keep livestock are exposed to their diseases, which can include anthrax and cryptosporidiosis. It may be that drinking cow’s milk provides antibodies against some of these infections. Indeed, milk’s protective effect is thought to be one of the benefits of breastfeeding children.

Women nurse their children in Bogota, Colombia

Women nurse their children in Bogota, Colombia for a World Breastfeeding Week event. Milk’s protective effect is thought to be a benefit of breastfeeding (Credit: Getty)

But some of the mysterious absences of lactase-persistence could be down to sheer chance: whether anyone in a group of pastoralists happened to get the right mutation. Until fairly recently there were a lot fewer people on Earth and local populations were smaller, so some groups would miss out by plain bad luck.

“I think the most coherent part of the picture is that there’s a correlation with the way of life, with pastoralism,” says Swallow. “But you have to have the mutation first.” Only then could natural selection go to work.

In the case of Mongolian herders, Swallow points out that they typically drink fermented milk, which again has a lower lactose content. Arguably, the ease with which milk can be processed to be more edible makes the rise of lactase persistence even more puzzling. “Because we were so good at adapting culturally to processing and fermenting the milk, I’m struggling with why we ever adapted genetically,” says Swallow’s PhD student Catherine Walker.

There may have been several factors promoting lactase persistence, not just one. Swallow suspects that the key may have been milk’s nutritional benefits, such as that it is rich in fat, protein, sugar and micronutrients like calcium and vitamin D.

It is also a source of clean water. Depending on where your community lived, you may have evolved to tolerate it for one reason over another.

It’s unclear whether lactase persistence is still being actively favoured by evolution, and thus whether it will become more widespread, says Swallow. In 2018 she co-authored a study of a group of pastoralists in the Coquimbo region of Chile, who acquired the lactase-persistence mutation when their ancestors interbred with newly-arrived Europeans 500 years ago. The trait is now spreading through the population: it is being favoured by evolution, as it was in northern Europeans 5,000 years ago.

Dairy cows munch on alfalfa in north-western France (Credit: Credit: Getty)

Dairy cows munch on alfalfa in north-western France, a part of the world where people would have adapted to drinking milk around 3,000 years ago (Credit: Getty)

But this is a special case because the Coquimbo people are heavily reliant on milk. Globally, the picture is very different. “I would think it’s stabilised myself, except in countries where they have milk dependence and there is a shortage [of other food],” says Swallow. “In the West, where we have such good diets, the selective pressures are not really likely to be there.”

Dairy decline?

If anything, the news over the last few years offers the opposite impression: that people are abandoning milk. In November 2018, the Guardian published a story headlined “How we fell out of love with milk”, describing the meteoric rise of the companies selling oat and nut milks, and suggesting that traditional milk is facing a major battle.

But the statistics tell a different story. According to the 2018 report of the IFCN Dairy Research Network, global milk production has increased every year since 1998 in response to growing demand. In 2017, 864 million tonnes of milk were produced worldwide. This shows no sign of slowing down: the IFCN expects milk demand to rise 35% by 2030 to 1,168 million tonnes. (Read more about how milk became a staple food in industrialised societies).

Still, this masks some more localised trends. A 2010 study of food consumption found that in the US milk consumption has fallen over the last few decades – although it was replaced with fizzy drinks, not almond milk. This fall was balanced by growing demand in developing countries, especially in Asia – something the IFCN has also noted. Meanwhile, a 2015 study of people’s drinking habits in 187 countries found that milk drinking was more common in older people, which does suggest that it is less popular with the young – although this says nothing about young people’s consumption of milk products like yoghurt.

While milk consumption has fallen in the US, in Asia demand is growing

While milk consumption has fallen in the US, in Asia demand is growing (Credit: Getty)

Still, it seems unlikely that alternative milks will make much of a dent in the world’s growing appetite for milk, at least over the next decade.

Walker adds that alternative milks are “not a like-for-like substitution” for animal milk. In particular, many don’t have the same micronutrients. She says they are most useful for vegans and for people allergic to milk – the latter being a reaction to milk protein, and nothing to do with lactose.

Alternative milks like almond milk don’t normally have the same micronutrients as dairy

Alternative milks like almond milk don’t normally have the same micronutrients as dairy (Credit: Getty)

It’s particularly striking that so much of the growth in milk demand is in Asia, where most people are non-lactase-persistent. Whatever advantages the people there see in milk, they outweigh the potential digestive issues or the need to process the milk.

In fact, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation has pushed for people in developing countries to keep more non-traditional dairy animals, such as llamas, so that they can obtain the benefits of milk even if cow’s milk is unavailable or too expensive.

What’s more, a major study published in January described a “planetary health diet” that is designed to both maximise health and minimise our impact on the environment. While it entails drastically cutting down on red meat and other animal products, it nevertheless includes the equivalent of one glass of milk a day.

Milk, it seems, is not down and out. If anything it’s still on the up – even if our bodies have mostly stopped evolving in response to it.

(BBC) The truth about Japanese tempura


When 16th-Century Portuguese came to Japan, they brought a special dish with them. Today, in Japan, it’s called tempura and has been a staple of the country’s cuisine ever since.

In 1543, a Chinese ship with three Portuguese sailors on board was headed to Macau, but was swept off course and ended up on the Japanese island of Tanegashima. Antonio da Mota, Francisco Zeimoto and Antonio Peixoto – the first Europeans to ever step on Japanese soil – were deemed ‘southern barbarians’ by the locals because of the direction from which they came and their ‘unusual’, non-Japanese features. The Japanese were in the middle of a civil war and eventually began trading with the Portuguese, in general, for guns. And thus began a Portuguese trading post in Japan, starting with firearms and then other items such as soap, tobacco, wool and even recipes.

The Portuguese remained in Japan until 1639, when they were banished because the ruling shogun Iemitsu believed Christianity was a threat to Japanese society. As their ships sailed away for the final time, the Portuguese left an indelible mark on the island: a battered and fried green bean recipe called peixinhos da horta. Today, in Japan, it’s called tempura and has been a staple of the country’s cuisine ever since.Y

No-one knows the exact origins of peixinhos da horta. “We know it existed in 1543,” said Michelin-starred chef Jose Avillez when I met up with him at Cantinho de Avillez, one of his acclaimed Lisbon restaurants. “But before that, it’s anyone’s guess.”

Green beans, it turns out, changed food history.

However, peixinhos da horta was only one of many dishes the Portuguese inspired around the world. In fact, Portuguese cuisine, still heavily overshadowed by the cuisines of Italy, Spain and France, may be the most influential cuisine on the planet.

Portuguese cuisine may be the most influential cuisine on the planet

When the Portuguese turned up in Goa, India, where they stayed until 1961, they cooked a garlicky, wine-spiked pork dish called carne de vinha d’alhos, which was adopted by locals to become vindaloo, one of the most popular Indian dishes today. In Malaysia, several staples, including the spicy stew debal, hail from Portuguese traders of centuries past. Egg tarts in Macao and southern China are direct descendants to the egg tarts found in Lisbon bakeries. And Brazil’s national dish, feijoada, a stew with beans and pork, has its origins in the northern Portuguese region of Minho; today, you can find variations of it everywhere the Portuguese have sailed, including Goa, Mozambique, Angola, Macau and Cape Verde.

Peixinhos da horta were often eaten during Lent or Ember days (the word ‘tempura’ comes from the Latin word tempora, a term referring to these times of fasting), when the church dictated that Catholics go meatless. “So the way around that,” Avillez said, “[was] to batter and fry a vegetable, like the green bean. And just to add to it, we called it peixinhos do horta, little fish of the garden. If you can’t eat meat for that period of time, this was a good replacement.”

The word ‘tempura’ comes from the Latin word tempora

And it had other functions too. “When the poor couldn’t afford fish, they would eat these fried green beans as a substitute,” Avillez said. And sailors would fry the beans to preserve them during long journeys, much in the way humans have been curing and salting meat for preservation purposes for centuries.

Perhaps not constricted by tradition, the Japanese lightened the batter and changed up the fillings. Today, everything from shrimp to sweet potatoes to shitake mushrooms is turned into tempura.

“The Japanese inherited the dish from us and they made it better,” Avillez said.

Avillez said Japanese people sometimes turn up at his restaurants and see the fried bean dish and say, “Hey, Portuguese cuisine is influenced by Japanese cuisine.” He added, “And that’s when I say, ‘No, in this case it’s the other way around’.” A Japanese-born sous chef at Avillez’s two-Michelin-starred Lisbon restaurant, Belcanto, even chose to train in Portugal instead of France because he recognised the influence on his home cuisine, particularly in peixinhos da horta.

Avillez said his one complaint about the dish, in general, has always been that the beans are often fried in the morning and so they go cold and limp by the time they get to the table later that day. He remedies this by not only cooking them on demand, but by adding a starch called nutrios that keeps them crispy. After the bean is blanched, it gets rolled in the batter of wheat flour, egg, milk, and nutrios and then flash fried.

Other chefs I talked to in Portugal had their own recipes for the fried green beans, but they didn’t deviate much. “It’s a very simple dish,” said chef Olivier da Costa, when I met up with him at his Lisbon restaurant Olivier Avenida, located in the Avani Avenida Liberdade hotel. “I use a batter of flour, milk, eggs, salt, pepper and beer,” he said. “Beer?” I asked. “Yes! It ferments the batter and the beer foam gives it a better taste.” He didn’t have the dish on his menu at the time so I had to take his word for it.

One reason why Portuguese love peixinhos da horta so much, da Costa said, was nostalgia. “We all eat it as children and thus have fond memories of it. These days it’s been making a comeback, not just because people are eating more vegetarian food, but because a younger generation are taking more interest in our local cuisine and because they want to be taken back to that simpler time.”

Avillez is taking this newfound interest in super traditional Portuguese cuisine to a new level. Along with his Japanese-born sous chef, he plans to temporarily offer a tasting menu called ‘1543’, the year the Portuguese first showed up in Japan, offering peixinhos da horta and other Portuguese dishes that have inspired Japanese cuisine. Alongside the Portuguese dishes, he plans to serve the Japanese versions that evolved from the Portuguese presence in Japan four-and-a-half centuries ago.

Each bite was like taking a first bite

Back at Cantinho de Avillez, an order of peixinhos da horta appeared in front of me. They were rigid like pencils with a lumpy texture and a yellow-ish hue. Each bite was like taking a first bite: crisp, light and super flavourful, the crunchy texture of the batter complimenting the sturdy feel of the bean. The dish has been one of the only consistent items on the menu at Cantinho de Avillez, which opened in 2012.

“I can’t take it off,” Avillez said. “My regulars would be enraged.”

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(BBG) If You’re So Smart, Why Aren’t You Rich?


New research suggests personality has a larger effect on success than IQ.

How much is a child’s future success determined by innate intelligence? Economist James Heckman says it’s not what people think. He likes to ask educated non-scientists — especially politicians and policy makers — how much of the difference between people’s incomes can be tied to IQ. Most guess around 25 percent, even 50 percent, he says. But the data suggest a much smaller influence: about 1 or 2 percent.

So if IQ is only a minor factor in success, what is it that separates the low earners from the high ones? Or, as the saying goes: If you’re so smart, why aren’t you rich?

Science doesn’t have a definitive answer, although luck certainly plays a role. But another key factor is personality, according to a paper Heckman co-authored in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences last month. He found financial success was correlated with conscientiousness, a personality trait marked by diligence, perseverance and self-discipline.

To reach that conclusion, he and colleagues examined four different data sets, which, between them, included IQ scores, standardized test results, grades and personality assessments for thousands of people in the U.K., the U.S. and the Netherlands. Some of the data sets followed people over decades, tracking not just income but criminal records, body mass index and self-reported life satisfaction.

The study found that grades and achievement-test results were markedly better predictors of adult success than raw IQ scores. That might seem surprising — after all, don’t they all measure the same thing? Not quite. Grades reflect not just intelligence but also what Heckman calls “non-cognitive skills,” such as perseverance, good study habits and the ability to collaborate — in other words, conscientiousness. To a lesser extent, the same is true of test scores. Personality counts.

Heckman, who shared a Nobel Prize in 2000 and is founder of the University of Chicago’s Center for the Economics of Human Development, believes success hinges not just on innate ability but on skills that can be taught. His own research suggests childhood interventions can be helpful, and that conscientiousness is more malleable than IQ. Openness — a broad trait that includes curiosity — is also connected to test scores and grades.

IQ still matters, of course. Someone with an IQ of 70 isn’t going to be able to do things that are easy for a person with an IQ of 190. But Heckman says many people fail to break into the job market because they lack skills that aren’t measured on intelligence tests. They don’t understand how to behave with courtesy in job interviews. They may show up late or fail to dress properly. Or on the job, they make it obvious they’ll do no more than the minimum, if that.

John Eric Humphries, a co-author of the paper, says he hoped their work could help clarify the complicated, often misunderstood notion of ability. Even IQ tests, which were designed to assess innate problem-solving capabilities, appear to measure more than just smarts. In a 2011 study, University of Pennsylvania psychologist Angela Duckworth found that IQ scores also reflected test-takers’ motivation and effort. Diligent, motivated kids will work harder to answer tough questions than equally intelligent but lazier ones.

Teaching personality or character traits in school wouldn’t be easy. For one thing it’s not always clear whether more of a trait is always better. The higher the better for IQ, and perhaps for conscientiousness as well. But personality researchers have suggested the middle ground is best for other traits — you don’t want to be so introverted that you can’t speak up, or so extroverted that you can’t shut up and listen.

What does any of this have to do with economics? “Our ultimate goal is to improve human well-being,” Heckman says, and a major determinant of well-being comes down to skills.

newer study published this month in the journal Nature Human Behaviour focused on the flip side of success: hardship. After following some 1,000 New Zealanders for more than 30 years, researchers concluded that tests of language, behavioral skills and cognitive abilities taken when children were just three years old could predict who was most likely to need welfare, commit crimes, or become chronically ill.

The lead author of that paper, Duke University psychologist Terrie Moffitt, says she hopes the results would foster compassion and help, not stigma. Her results also suggested that helping people improve certain kinds of skills before they’re out of diapers would benefit everyone.

(ECO) O ano em que decidimos ser estúpidos – Diogo Queiroz de Andrade


Em 2018 a máscara do Facebook caiu em definitivo. A gananciosa máquina que converte ódio e crimes em lucros é generosamente sustentada por todos nós, que já não temos desculpa.

Há um ano, já tínhamos ouvido falar da interferência russa nas presidenciais americanas e no papel que o algoritmo do Facebook desempenhou conscientemente em tudo isso. Sabíamos que o Facebook era uma excelente plataforma para a disseminação do discurso de ódio contra minorias, para a promoção do suicídio e para a fazer equivaler mentiras a verdades científicas. Mas não sabíamos a dimensão da coisa. Aliás, o quarto dia de 2018 começou com o senhor Zuckerberg a prometer resolver os problemas do Facebook. A partir daí foi uma animação. Só para destacar os casos mais graves, fica um resumo mensal do ano que passou:

  • Ainda em janeiro, no World Economic Forum, a plataforma é apresentada como uma ameaça à sociedade e um obstáculo à inovação.
  • Em fevereiro a Wired publica uma enorme investigação que detalha os pormenores e a dimensão da interferência russa na vida política americana através do Facebook.
  • Em março, o Observer dá a conhecer o imenso escândalo Cambridge Analytica, em que se confirmam os abusos de privacidade dos utilizadores para os manipular politicamente; os fundadores do WhatsApp, comprado pelo Facebook em 2016 e até aí funcionários da casa, aderem à campanha #deletefacebook; e o BuzzFeed dá a conhecer um memorando interno em que se defende o crescimento a todo o custo, mesmo que morram pessoas pela utilização da aplicação.
  • Chegamos a abril e são os próprios responsáveis a admitir que é muito provável que quase todos os dois mil milhões de utilizadores tenha sido, num momento ou noutro, vítimas de invasão de privacidade; e nas inquirições no congresso americano e no Parlamento Europeu, a postura robótica de Zuckerberg e a imagem das frases que deveria repetir expuseram a falácia de todo o processo.
  • Em maio entrou em vigor na Europa o GDPR, que deu imediatamente origem a centenas de processos contra a plataforma; e o relatório provisório da comissão parlamentar britânica que investigou o Brexit é demolidor para a suposta isenção política do Facebook.
  • Em junho o New York Times revelou que o Facebook deu aos produtores dos telemóveis acesso aos dados pessoais dos utilizadores; três dias depois, admitiu ter encontrado um erro em que a informação que estaria reservada apenas para amigos era afinal publicamente visível; e numa entrevista ao Guardian a comissária europeia Verstager alertou contra os riscos para a democracia que vêm dali, dizendo que não sabe se o Facebook tem demasiado poder porque teria antes de definir uma “teoria de maldade” aplicada à plataforma.
  • O verão não correu melhor, porque em plena ronda de relações públicas decorrida em julho, Zuckerberg admite que não quer limitar a liberdade de expressão e por isso defende o direito dos negacionistas do holocausto a estar presentes, mesmo que isso custe vidas e aumente a descriminação; uma semana depois, a publicação dos resultados financeiros faz desaparecer mais de 20% da valorização bolsista da empresa.
  • E em agosto as Nações Unidas acusam a plataforma de ter desempenhado um papel consciente no genocídio dos Royhinga em Myanmar, mesmo depois de sucessivos alertas oficiais em público e em privado; e uma nova investigação demonstrou como, na Alemanha, a propagação do discurso anti-refugiados coincidiu com ataques coordenados a refugiados.
  • Em setembro ficou a conhecer-se a extensão da manipulação política nas Filipinas e na Líbia graças à plataforma e às suas ferramentas; outra investigação jornalística mostra como o Instagram promoveu vídeos de abusos de crianças, acelerando a saída dos fundadores do Instagram por choques com Zuckerberg; e a própria empresa admitiu outra falha que permitiu o roubo de dados privados subsequentemente usados para manipulação financeira.
  • O último trimestre, por si só, seria suficiente para desgraçar qualquer empresa: em outubro chegaram as eleições brasileiras e com elas a revelação da forma como os grupos que promovem desinformação usaram o Facebook e o WhatsApp para atacar os concorrentes de Bolsonaro; na Índia, uma campanha anti-vacinação de crianças levou à suspensão de uma ação da OMS; e novos dados sobre os anúncios no Facebook demonstrou como se publicita a venda de casas e novos empregos excluindo minorias raciais e sexuais, como se falsificam informações políticas e como se podem colocar anúncios a recrutar para… o Estado Islâmico.
  • Em novembro relatou-se o impacto do Facebook nas campanhas de ódio étnico e nas matanças de minorias na Nigéria; o New York Times revelou como o Facebook pagou a empresas de relações públicas para denegrir publicamente, por vezes com base em insultos raciais, os críticos da empresa; a ameaça da nova lei de proteção de dados da União Europeia vai abrir caminho a novos processos; e a justiça britânica tomou posse de uma série de documentos que mostram como a empresa abusa do seu poder para esmagar a concorrência e abre caminho a novos processos milionários.
  • Chegados a dezembro, os próprios responsáveis de segurança da empresa admitem que as fotos de sete milhões de utilizadores foram partilhadas com mais de mil e quinhentas apps; e logo a seguir o New York Times publicou mais uma investigação em que revela como deu a empresas acesso às mensagens privadas dos utilizadores; Um dos papas de Silicon Valley, Walt Mossberg, apagou-se do Facebook pelo desconforto; o Senado americano publicou um relatório em que se revê em alta a interferência russa nas eleições americanas através do Facebook e Washington anunciou uma ação legal contra a plataforma e os seus responsáveis por causa dos falhanços na proteção de dados, provocando mais um trambolhão na bolsa (este “apenas” de sete por cento).

Nada disto acontece por acaso. Todos estes crimes ocorrem porque são inerentes ao funcionamento da própria plataforma e à forma como esta trafica tráfego e informações pessoais por publicidade.

Todos os dias, todos nós, com a participação nesta plataforma, aceitamos ser cúmplices conscientes destes crimes. Estamos a contribuir para crimes raciais, para genocídios, para manipulações políticas e para violações de privacidade. Somo parte ativa de uma máquina que promove emoções e difunde mentiras, enterrando verdades científicas debaixo de camadas e camadas de discursos de ódio. Pior do que isso, estamos a ser parte ativa de um sistema que está a pôr em causa o modelo de democracia liberal em que vivemos, com consequências dramáticas para o futuro. Sabemos isto tudo e continuamos lá. A culpa é nossa, toda nossa.

Para o ano, as coisas vão piorar. Em Inglaterra, porque o Brexit não vai ser bonito. Nos EUA, porque o Trumpismo está cada vez mais afinado como máquina de destruição da coesão nacional. Na Europa, porque vem aí uma eleição – e um parlamento – em que os populistas vão ganhar muito poder. Em Portugal, porque a informação livre vai continuar a morrer e a demagogia vai aumentar na aproximação às legislativas. Mas nada disto é grave: afinal, podemos sempre usar o Facebook para nos queixarmos.

Ler mais: O melhor resumo do caso contra o Facebook está resumido em Anti SocialMedia: How Facebook Disconnects Us and Undermines Democracy. O livro foi publicado no início de 2018 e, apesar de não ter quase nenhum dos factos aqui relatados, demonstra quão grave já era a situação. E o seu autor, Siva Vaidhyanathan, é uma voz autorizada e reconhecida: doutorado pela Universidade do Texas, fundou a disciplina de Critical Information Studies e é uma voz influente no estudo das influências culturais dos média.

(Times) What’s the best way to cure a hangover? The experts’ advice

(Times) Is there really anything we can do to reduce the pain of the morning after a big night?P

Hangovers after a big night out can persist for more than half a day
Hangovers after a big night out can persist for more than half a daySTOCKSY

It’s hard to avoid hangovers, particularly at this time of year — and, as we all know, they’re not a pleasant experience. Fatigue, dehydration, headache or muscle aches, dizziness, shakiness, and a rapid heartbeat are symptoms that three quarters of us experience at least some of after drinking, according to a study published in the journal Addiction.

The misery persists for an average of six and a half hours, with one in eight people admitting that their most recent hangover had lasted more than half a day, according to a survey by Cancer Research UK.

So what really causes us to feel so bad after drinking? And, more importantly, what, if anything, can we do to reduce the pain? The answer from scientists seems to be not as much as we would hope.

Despite what supplement and health tonic manufacturers would like us to believe, there is no cure for a hangover. “That’s because we are still not entirely sure precisely what causes the hangover,” says Sean Johnson, a researcher into alcohol and its effects at the University of the West of England in Bristol and a member of the Alcohol Hangover Research Group (AHRG).

“Researchers have ideas that are currently being tested, but we do not yet have a firm understanding of what happens in the body between consuming alcohol and waking up feeling like crap.”

What scientists do know, though, is that when we drink, our blood becomes concentrated with alcohol, and the higher the concentration of alcohol, the worse the symptoms to follow later. According to Johnson, hangover severity is worse when blood alcohol concentration reaches zero, which usually occurs 12 to 14 hours after you stop drinking. That is because, although the alcohol has left the system, the toxins left behind are at their peak.

“A hangover is the result of toxic substances such as acetaldehyde that are products of alcohol metabolism, and they contribute to us feeling sweaty and nauseous,” says Dr Sally Adams, assistant professor of health psychology at the University of Bath and another member of the AHRG panel. “These are most concentrated after 12 to 14 hours.”

A surge of other chemicals is also involved in causing hangover symptoms. “Alcohol initially produces an increase in the feel-good neurotransmitter dopamine,” Johnson says. “So you feel great at first. But there follows an immune response that triggers an elevation of cytokines — inflammatory proteins that can cause you to feel hot, flushed and queasy.”

Your choice of drink will also play a role in determining the severity of your hangover. High levels of compounds associated with fermentation, called congeners, are linked to worse hangovers. More of these are found in dark-coloured spirits, such as bourbon and whisky, than in light-coloured drinks, such as gin and vodka.

Apart from swapping to lighter-coloured drinks, is there anything else we can do to avoid the worst of the post-party pain? In 2015 scientists from the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), an independent Australian government agency, suggested that consuming 220ml of Korean (also known as Asian) pear juice before drinking alcohol could reduce blood alcohol levels by 20 per cent and cut hangover suffering.

This particular variety of pear, sold in UK supermarkets, is said to act on the key enzymes involved in alcohol metabolism to help the body to eliminate alcohol more quickly. “Reductions were seen in blood acetaldehyde levels, the toxic metabolite thought to be responsible for the hangover symptoms, with pear-juice consumption,” the CSIRO team noted. Overall hangover severity, as measured by a 14-item hangover-symptom scale, was significantly reduced in the Korean-pear group compared with those who took a placebo drink.

Alternatively, you could try increasing your intake of asparagus. A 2009 study in the Journal of Food Science, showed that the amino acids and minerals in asparagus extract may alleviate hangovers and protect liver cells against toxins.

If these pre-binge measures might help, a Bloody Mary afterwards will not, say experts. Attempting to treat a hangover with yet more alcohol is a lost cause, says Dr Laura Veach, a researcher at Wake Forest School of Medicine in North Carolina. She says that a hair of the dog the morning after may temporarily ease your suffering because it tops up alcohol in your system. “But it doesn’t cure the hangover,” Veach says. “It just sort of tricks you by masking the symptoms. They’re going to show up eventually.”

There is also bad news for older drinkers because, yes, hangovers do really get worse with time. That is because as we age, our tendons and cartilage lose fluid, which means we retain less water. And the less fluid we have in our bodies, the less capable we are of diluting alcohol, which means that any alcohol consumed is more concentrated and therefore more potent.

Menopausal women are also likely to suffer worse hangover symptoms for this reason, according to Liz Earle, a wellbeing expert and the author of The Good Menopause Guide (Orion Spring) “During the perimenopause and beyond, the body’s water content is reduced, so any alcohol consumed is more concentrated,” she says.

Johnson says that there are scientific reasons for the link. “Both alcohol and the menopause elicit an immune response and both produce elevated levels of cytokines . . . that are responsible for similar symptoms, such as hot flushes,” he explains. “In combination, alcohol plus the menopause could provide a double blow to the body, with the increased responses amplifying many menopausal symptoms, such as sleeplessness and fatigue.”

Whatever our age, our genes, too, have an affect on how bad a hangover will be. Which explains why some suffer more than others.

“We all respond differently to alcohol, with some being more sensitive than others to its effects,” Johnson says. “Some people are super-metabolisers of alcohol, meaning they experience less hangover effects. Others experience side-effects after very little.”

Will drinking a glass of water before bed prevent a hangover? Unfortunately not, say experts. Although dehydration will play a part in your hangover, there is no science confirming that it alone is responsible for your symptoms the next day.

“A hangover is more than just dehydration,” says Dr Adams. “After heavy alcohol consumption we see inflammation of the stomach and intestines, and an imbalance of electrolyte or body salt. Together these contribute to the symptoms, and a glass of water won’t resolve them.”

In recent years, a number of hangover remedies have emerged on to the market, some containing the herbal compound dihydromyricetin, shown in studies to sober up rats immediately, but all purporting to lessen the agony of a post-drink binge. Do they work? They might help to alleviate some of the symptoms, such as dehydration and loss of body salts in some people, says Johnson, but none will accelerate full recovery. “Nothing has yet been shown to help people overcome the impairments in cognitive functioning — such as concentration, memory and psychomotor performance — that are factors of a hangover,” he says.

Ultimately, trial and error is the best route to finding out what works for you after a night on the tiles. “Some people will find they respond to electrolyte drinks, others to painkillers and a banana, and you will need rest and recovery,” Johnson says. “Then it is just a matter of waiting for alcohol to leave your system and normality to resume.”

(BBG) Wall Street Rule for the #MeToo Era: Avoid Women at All Cost

(BBG) No more dinners with female colleagues. Don’t sit next to them on flights. Book hotel rooms on different floors. Avoid one-on-one meetings.

In fact, as a wealth adviser put it, just hiring a woman these days is “an unknown risk.” What if she took something he said the wrong way?

Across Wall Street, men are adopting controversial strategies for the #MeToo era and, in the process, making life even harder for women.

Call it the Pence Effect, after U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, who has said he avoids dining alone with any woman other than his wife. In finance, the overarching impact can be, in essence, gender segregation.

Interviews with more than 30 senior executives suggest many are spooked by #MeToo and struggling to cope. “It’s creating a sense of walking on eggshells,” said David Bahnsen, a former managing director at Morgan Stanley who’s now an independent adviser overseeing more than $1.5 billion.

This is hardly a single-industry phenomenon, as men across the country check their behavior at work, to protect themselves in the face of what they consider unreasonable political correctness — or to simply do the right thing. The upshot is forceful on Wall Street, where women are scarce in the upper ranks. The industry has also long nurtured a culture that keeps harassment complaints out of the courts and public eye, and has so far avoided a mega-scandal like the one that has engulfed Harvey Weinstein.

‘Real Loss’

Now, more than a year into the #MeToo movement — with its devastating revelations of harassment and abuse in Hollywood, Silicon Valley and beyond — Wall Street risks becoming more of a boy’s club, rather than less of one.

“Women are grasping for ideas on how to deal with it, because it is affecting our careers,” said Karen Elinski, president of the Financial Women’s Association and a senior vice president at Wells Fargo & Co. “It’s a real loss.”

There’s a danger, too, for companies that fail to squash the isolating backlash and don’t take steps to have top managers be open about the issue and make it safe for everyone to discuss it, said Stephen Zweig, an employment attorney with FordHarrison.

“If men avoid working or traveling with women alone, or stop mentoring women for fear of being accused of sexual harassment,” he said, “those men are going to back out of a sexual harassment complaint and right into a sex discrimination complaint.”

Channeling Pence

While the new personal codes for dealing with #MeToo have only just begun to ripple, the shift is already palpable, according to the people interviewed, who declined to be named. They work for hedge funds, law firms, banks, private equity firms and investment-management firms.

For obvious reasons, few will talk openly about the issue. Privately, though, many of the men interviewed acknowledged they’re channeling Pence, saying how uneasy they are about being alone with female colleagues, particularly youthful or attractive ones, fearful of the rumor mill or of, as one put it, the potential liability.

A manager in infrastructure investing said he won’t meet with female employees in rooms without windows anymore; he also keeps his distance in elevators. A late-40-something in private equity said he has a new rule, established on the advice of his wife, an attorney: no business dinner with a woman 35 or younger.

The changes can be subtle but insidious, with a woman, say, excluded from casual after-work drinks, leaving male colleagues to bond, or having what should be a private meeting with a boss with the door left wide open.

‘Not That Hard’

On Wall Street as elsewhere, reactions to #MeToo can smack of paranoia, particularly given the industry’s history of protecting its biggest revenue generators.

“Some men have voiced concerns to me that a false accusation is what they fear,” said Zweig, the lawyer. “These men fear what they cannot control.”

There are as many or more men who are responding in quite different ways. One, an investment adviser who manages about 100 employees, said he briefly reconsidered having one-on-one meetings with junior women. He thought about leaving his office door open, or inviting a third person into the room.

Finally, he landed on the solution: “Just try not to be an asshole.”

That’s pretty much the bottom line, said Ron Biscardi, chief executive officer of Context Capital Partners. “It’s really not that hard.”

In January, as #MeToo was gathering momentum, Biscardi did away with the late-night, open-bar gathering he’d hosted for years in his penthouse suite during Context Capital’s annual conference at the Fontainebleau Miami Beach. “Given the fact that women are in the minority at our events, we want to make sure that the environment is always welcoming and comfortable. We felt that eliminating the after-party was necessary to remain consistent with that goal.”

In this charged environment, the question is how the response to #MeToo might actually end up hurting women’s progress. Given the male dominance in Wall Street’s top jobs, one of the most pressing consequences for women is the loss of male mentors who can help them climb the ladder.

“There aren’t enough women in senior positions to bring along the next generation all by themselves,” said Lisa Kaufman, chief executive officer of LaSalle Securities. “Advancement typically requires that someone at a senior level knows your work, gives you opportunities and is willing to champion you within the firm. It’s hard for a relationship like that to develop if the senior person is unwilling to spend one-on-one time with a more junior person.”

Men have to step up, she said, and “not let fear be a barrier.”

(OBS) Michelin. Crónica da gala histórica em que Lisboa inteira vestiu a jaleca para ver as estrelas passarem

(OBS) Fernando Medina subiu ao palco e, de jaleca colada ao peito, juntou-se aos chefs premiados no guia. Saiba mais sobre estes e outros pormenores da cerimónia que trouxe quatro estrelas novas a Portugal.


Fernando Medina, presidente da Câmara Municipal de Lisboa, está na primeira fila daquela que é a primeira gala do Guia Michelin, edição de 2019, a acontecer em Portugal. O local escolhido para a estreia nacional é o Pavilhão Carlos Lopes, voltado para o Parque Eduardo VII, no coração de Lisboa. Avançando uma hora no relógio, agora a passar das 20h, Fernando Medina está no palco, de jaleca branca vestida, entre os muitos chefs distinguidos, quatro deles portugueses — Sá Pessoa, com duas estrelas para o Alma, em pleno Chiado, e Pedro Almeida (Midori, Sintra), Óscar Gonçalves (G Pousada, Bragança) e António Loureiro (A Cozinha, Guimarães) com uma estrela cada. A noite é de festa, mais espanhola do que portuguesa, mas Lisboa está no centro da constelação.

Às 19h, hora prevista do começo da gala de atribuição das estrelas em Portugal e Espanha, a sala do pavilhão ainda está por compor. Focos de luz projetam um vermelho intenso nas cortinas que envolvem o ambiente. Centenas de cadeiras pretas, algumas ainda vazias, desfilam ao encontro do palco vermelho, vermelhão, com proliferantes “macarons” desenhados a branco — mais comummente conhecidos como “estrelas”. A sala está longe de ocupar a dimensão total do pavilhão, já habituado a receber eventos gastronómicos como o Peixe em Lisboa: atrás das cortinas estão dezenas de cozinheiros em preparos para, finda a entrega, começarem o serviço de jantar onde todos os estrelados de Lisboa apresentaram vários partos, tudo isto orientado pelo chef José Avillez, que, nesta edição, não chegou às três estrelas  — mas já lá vamos.

Discursos formais, em português, castelhano e inglês, dão finalmente começo formal à cerimónia. O diretor da Michelin em Portugal, Nuno Ferreira, passa a palavra a Mayte Carreño, diretora comercial da marca, que num português esforçado e ligeiramente arrastado passa a palavra a Ana Godinho, secretária de Estado do Turismo, que, por sua vez, passa a palavra a Fernando Medina, cuja apresentação já é dispensável. Quase todos os intervenientes se repetem e reforçam os “dois anos de namoro” para que a gala chegasse a Portugal, depois de nove anos consecutivos no vizinho ibérico.

19h34. Cabe a Mayte Carreño começar a desvendar as novas estrelas para 2019 e Gwendal Poullennec, o homem que gere 32 guias pelo mundo fora, apertar a mão aos premiados, entregar-lhes um guia vermelho — certificando-se que o seguram junto ao peito — e tira uma fotografia na sua companhia. Se houver chefrepetente, como é o caso de Martín Berasategui, que recebeu duas novas estrelas Michelin (passa a somar, no total, 10 distinções), também o retrato é repetido. Cerca de 30 chefs são chamados ao palco ao longo da noite, num espetáculo contínuo de tira casaco, veste jaleca, segura guia, posa para fotografia e espera em pé pelo final.

Entre as muitas distinções atribuídas, destaca-se a vez em que Henrique Sá Pessoa é chamado ao palco — confirmando as especulações de muitos, incluindo as do Observador –, sendo aplaudido de pé por grande parte dos presentes, com gritos de apoio e abraços repetidos — sobretudo ao chef Sergi Arola. Sá Pessoa não pode despir o casaco. Chega, ao invés, de jaleca própria colada ao peito, sem nada por baixo, como faz questão de evidenciar num gesto descontraído que quebra o ritmo rigoroso q.b da entrega de estrelas. Vai a nova jaleca por cima da “velha”.

“‘Es lo que es’, como dizem os espanhóis”

A utilização da palavra “gala” para definir o evento da passada quarta-feira remete, aos mais incautos, para uma ideia de entusiasmo, de expectativa. “Se for como as de Hollywood, vai ser brutal”, comentavam duas jovens no caminho para o Pavilhão Carlos Lopes, antes de tudo começar. Existiam pessoas bem vestidas? Sim, claro. Viam-se luzes coloridas, projeções gigantes e outros adereços? Obviamente. Mas e o “espetáculo” em si? Esse, como já é comum em noites como esta, é tudo menos empolgante. As quase duas horas de apresentação só ganham pujança quando se ouve o nome daqueles por quem se torce mais e, no caso português então, isso continua a não acontecer muitas vezes.

“Tenho pena que não tivessem havido mais, principalmente três estrelas e duas estrelas. O trabalho do João Rodrigues, do Alexandre Silva, do José Avillez, do Hans, do Koschina… Haviam muitos restaurantes que podia dar um passo para cima, mas o guia é mesmo assim, imprevisível”, disse ao Observador Henrique Sá Pessoa, um dos sortudos da noite — sim, porque ganhar uma estrela em português parece cada vez mais um ato de sorte e não de mérito –, que viu o seu Alma subir mais um patamar na hierarquia do guia, fazendo dessa forma com que a rua Anchieta, no Chiado, passasse a ser a mais estrelada do país. De um lado estão as traseiras do Belcanto e do outro, mesmo em frente, a porta principal do projeto de Sá Pessoa.

Lamentações à parte (porque elas existirão sempre), não se deve esquecer que Portugal, a partir de essa quarta-feira, ganhou mais três novas entradas no guia. No final do anúncio estrelado, toda a sala se levantou e, como de costume, a palavra foi dos chefs. Pedro Almeida, do Midori, em Sintra, foi um dos primeiros a cruzar-se com o Observador — ainda nem tinha saído completamente do palco — e, de sorriso rasgadíssimo afirmou que tinha acabado de realizar um sonho. “É muito bom, muito bom estar no meio destas pessoas todas que percebem montanhas de cozinha. Quem começa a trabalhar na cozinha quer sempre ganhar uma estrela Michelin”, atirou o chef que há vários anos tem unido Japão e Portugal num dos conceitos gastronómicos mais criativos e bem pensados do pais. Depois de satisfazer a curiosidade de uma jornalista espanhola que lhe perguntara o nome do seu restaurante, ‘Baloo’, como é conhecido entre amigos, destacou ainda que apesar da felicidade de ganhar a sua primeira estrela, isso não é motivo para se deixar deslumbrar. “[A estrela] é só um reconhecimento por aquilo que fazemos e pelo nosso valor. De resto acho que não muda nada, continuamos a ser as mesmas pessoas, a trabalhar com as mesmas paixão e força”, garantiu.

O mesmo Henrique Sá Pessoa que já foi citado há umas linhas atrás foi completamente absorvido pelos jornalistas portugueses — que era bastantes — neste momento pós-vitória. À semelhança do que acontece nos jogos de futebol, quando no final das partidas a comunicação social tenta arrancar declarações aos intervenientes, também aqui o chef do Alma foi requisitado uma e outra vez. Ao fundo da sala, no lado oposto ao palco, parou para explicar que ainda estava “meio na lua” com o que lhe tinha acabado de acontecer. Contudo, isso não o impediu de destacar o trabalho e importância da sua equipa neste triunfo: “Eu tive a sorte de ser escolhido, e muito mérito é devido á minha equipa, tivemos um ano muito duro, de muito trabalho e exigência. Senti que evoluímos muito, principalmente nestes últimos sete meses. Fico muito contente de poder partilhar esta conquista com eles.” Uma das particularidades da sua vitória foi o facto de ter surgido de forma tão célere, quando comparado com a de outros cozinheiros — só o seu vizinho da frente, José Avillez, conseguiu a mesma proeza de em dois anos passar de um para dois “macarons”. Sobre essa ascensão meteórica Sá Pessoa destacou alguns elementos que podem ter feito a diferença — “O Alma tem uma coisa boa: somos muito consistentes. Ao mesmo tempo sinto que evoluímos muito em aspetos como o serviço de sala e de vinhos. A equipa de cozinha cresceu, o menu também.” — mas no final assume que este género de coisas nunca são garantidas. “Acho que fomos dando passos no sentido da segunda estrela mas acho que é tudo muito imprevisível. Todos os anos há alegrias, tristezas e mais uma vez tenho pena que o João Rodrigues, o Alexandre Silva, o Zé Avillez e o Hans não tenha tido mais alegrias hoje, mas pronto. Es lo que es, como dizem os espanhóis.”

A boa disposição reinou entre todos. João Rodrigues, do Feitoria, aparece à esquerda, entre Óscar Gonçalves e Alexandre Silva, que está à direita.

De todos os vencedores da noite, os dois já referidos são os que mais normalmente chamam à atenção do público. Se bem que a visibilidade de Sá Pessoa se destaque mais da de Pedro, nenhuma das duas se compara sequer aos “underdogs” que viram o seu esforço premiado. “Não sou chef, sou o Óscar!”, atirou o líder da cozinha do G Pousada, o restaurante de Bragança que num instante saltou para as bocas do mundo, quando foi abordado pelo Observador. O clima na sala continuava fervilhante — se bem que alguns já se tinham pirado para a zona dos comes e bebes — mas Óscar Gonçalves parecia mais efusivo que tudo isso junto. “Ainda estou em êxtase, a viver o momento que não é só meu, atenção! Isto é de uma grande equipa que tenho atrás de mim, do meu irmão, dos meus pais, de toda a minha equipa de cozinha, de sala, de receção. Isto é um trabalho de equipa! Uma pessoa só não consegue! Quero agradecer deixar o meu ‘obrigado’ a todas essas pessoas e vamos continuar a caminhar juntos.” — sempre humilde e com os pés bem assentes na terra, Óscar falou do nervosismo da passada semana, quando muita gente o apontavam como vencedor certo da primeira estrela, e terminou falando da sua Bragança, a terra: “Conseguir fazer de Bragança um destino gastronómico era algo de muito bom.”

Foi precisamente sobre a importância desta aparente descentralização do guia em Portugal que falou António Loureiro, o chef d’A Cozinha, em Guimarães, que também foi premido. No seu jeito meio discreto e contido, o vencedor do Chefe Cozinheiro do Ano 2014 assumiu que não contava receber já a distinção, contudo, sempre trabalharam com esse objetivo em vista. Vencer foi algo de “fantástico, uma sensação espetacular”, mas não era algo com que tivesse “a contar já”, apesar de assumir que sempre teve “a ambição e vontade de lá chegar.” Sobre a descentralização afirmou que “se as cozinhas conseguirem acompanhar a potencialidade dos produtos que existem à sua volta”, faz todo o sentido  “que existam mais estrelas espalhadas pelo país e não só nos grandes centros.”

Comer, beber, adeus e um queijo

Depois da tempestade vem a bonança, costuma-se dizer. No Pavilhão Carlos Lopes, depois de ter acalmado o tufão de entusiasmo e novidade que o anúncio das estrelas trouxe, era preciso celebrar — e foi isso que aconteceu. No átrio e alas laterais deste histórico edifício estavam espalhados os tais poisos daquilo que, teoricamente, representa o melhor da gstronomia em Lisboa e arredores. De um lado, a equipa do Fortaleza do Guincho trazia o mar consigo e apresentou-o na forma de deliciosa massada de peixe que vinha numa concha crocante. Mais ou lado, ainda na mesma faixa litoral lisboeta, Sergi Arola apresentava alguns clássicos do seu LAB como a Sardinha viajante, mas também outra iguarias como a estaladiça almofada recheada com creme de peixe e forrada com pele de atum, influências cabo verdianas trazidas pelo sub-chef Vladimir, que se cimentou como braço direito do cozinheiro espanhol.

No meio destes dois poisos a multidão parecia multiplicar-se cada vez mais. Fatos e gravatas roçavam constantemente com jalecas e aventais, ora sujos (os dos cozinheiros que estavam a trabalhar) ora resplandecentes (dos vencedores da noite). Portugueses que já tivessem assistido a cerimónias anteriores percebia claramente que os espanhóis estavam muito mais contidos do que é normal quando a festa é feita em sua casa, de tal forma que até paravam para contemplar paredes de azulejos — “Mira, que bonito!”, disse uma rapariga ao jovem que acompanhava enquanto olhavam para um moral azul e branco. No geral, o ambiente estava morno, apesar do do frio e chuva que se sentia lá fora.

Numa sala mais afastada da entrada, no topo esquerdo do edifício, Alexandre Silva dava a conhecer as suas criações e teve sempre a sua banca concorrida — claramente valeu a pena fechar o seu Loco estas noites, quanto mais não fosse para que o cozinheiro espanhol Diego Guerrero reencontrasse a equipa com quem trabalhou, num dos jantares a quatro mãos que Silva tem vindo a promover. Mal se viram, desfizeram-se em abraços.

“Tenho tanta pena de só ter chegado hoje e de me ir embora já amanhã… Gostava muito de provar mais coisas por cá!”, comentou uma jornalista espanhola que aguardava para ir à casa de banho. De copo na mão, lamentava já ter acabado a açorda com lavagante que provara no posto de Joachim Koerper, o alemão que há décadas orienta os desígnios do Eleven, em Lisboa. “Está demasiada fila, logo vou lá, se já estiver mais calmo”, rematou.

Os ponteiros do relógio iam andando e o aproximar das 22h foi fazendo com que alguns convidados fossem desmobilizando, quiçá encorajados pelo mau tempo que se fazia sentir. Como é hábito nestes eventos, no final é sempre oferecido a todos os convidados uma lembrança com algo um produto típico da região onde a gala se desenrola. O chouriço que foi dado em 2016, quando foi Girona o palco do evento, serviu de exemplo inteligente para provar que existe mais de uma maneira de deixar uma cidade na cabeça de alguém. Já foi várias vezes repetida a importância de ter a gala a acontecer em Lisboa, ela é de facto uma montra para as potencialidades gastronómicas (e não só) de um país. Quando chegou a altura de abandonar o Pavilhão, portanto, levantou-se a dúvida: o que seria o presente de agradecimento? “Aqui tem, muito obrigado!”, atirou a rapariga jovem, loura, que geria a entrega dos “miminhos”. Quando surge uma aberta e foi possível perceber o que vinha no saco preto que todos os que abandonaram o Parque Eduardo VII tinham na mão, a desilusão.

A já clássica fotografia de família, tirada depois de se anunciarem todas as novidades.

Por um lado, uma das prendas era um queijo amanteigado de ovelha, tudo certo. Acontece que vinha também um saco de café… italiano. “Não tinham nada mais português para oferecer aos espanhóis, principalmente, pois não?”, ouviu-se na fila. O argumento pode parecer débil mas, infelizmente, não deixa de ser verdadeiro. Quando toda a gente fala na importância de um evento desta dimensão acontecer em território luso, não devia haver mais iniciativa em promover o que é nosso? Também existem cafés portugueses…

Se a forma como Portugal é negligenciado já prejudica a visibilidade nacional, atitudes menos criativas como estas acabam por enfraquecer ainda mais o desejo de mostrar o que é nosso. Como se consegue fazer isso quando não há quase nada típico português no saco que é oferecido a todos os jornalistas espanhóis (e não só)? Decisões, decisões… Numa escala maior, essa noite de estrelas serviu para, principalmente, pôr no mapa certas áreas que até muitos portugueses ainda não devem conhecer, como Guimarães, Sintra ou Bragança. Por outro continuam a existir demasiados e aparentes motivos para não termos ganho tudo o que merecíamos. Ao menos deu para no final da noite usar aquela expressão — tão típica de Portugal: “Ora então, adeus e um queijo”.

(OBS) Sá Pessoa ganha segunda estrela e Guia Michelin já inclui Bragança e Guimarães

(OBS) O Guia foi mais longe e fugiu à capital: os restaurantes G Pousada, em Bragança, e A Cozinha, em Guimarães, ascenderam à constelação Michelin. Segunda estrela para Sá Pessoa

O Alma, de Henrique Sá Pessoa, é o novo restaurante português a ser distinguido pela “cozinha excecional” e a “merecer o desvio”. O projeto que abriu em soft opening em setembro de 2015 acaba de arrecadar a segunda estrela Michelin, igualando-se ao Belcanto de José Avillez, até agora o único estabelecimento na capital a ser consagrado com dois “macarons”.

A gala desta quarta-feira, que apresentou a edição de 2019 do reputado — mas também polémico — Guia Michelin, realizou-se pela primeira vez em Portugal e ocupou o Pavilhão Carlos Lopes, no centro da capital. O evento ficou marcado por três novos restaurantes com uma estrela: um deles é o Midori, em Sintra, que passa, assim, a ser o primeiro espaço de cozinha luso-nipónica no país a entrar para o universo das constelações.

Em 2019, a vitória é sobretudo da descentralização. Fora de centros mais urbanos, o guia optou por estrelar o G Pousada, em Bragança, que está sob a direção dos irmãos Gonçalves e aposta na “valorização da cozinha moderna da região de Trás-os-Montes”, tal como se lê em comunicado, e o restaurante A Cozinha, em Guimarães, aos comandos do chef António Loureiro.

Dois novos restaurantes portugueses entraram ainda na categoria Bib Gourmand, que destaca a “melhor relação qualidade-preço”, e outros sete figuram como Prato Michelin, atribuição que significa “cozinha de qualidade”. São eles a Tasca do Zé Tuga, em Bragança, e o Avenida, em Lagos.

Ao contrário do que aconteceu em novembro de 2016, considerando o Guia para 2017 que viu 9 estrelas serem atribuídas a Portugal, na mais recente edição não houve qualquer “chuva de estrelas”. Ainda assim, os resultados mostram-se mais favoráveis em relação ao ano passado, quando apenas dois restaurantes receberam estrelas.

De Espanha, bons ventos e três estrelas

O Dani García, em Marbella, foi o único restaurante em Espanha a receber três estrelas Michelin. E apesar das novidades ao nível das duas estrelas (mais três restaurantes do que na edição anterior) e de uma estrela (mais 22 estabelecimentos), o grande destaque vai para o emblemático chef Martín Berasategui, que conseguiu incorporar mais dois restaurantes na lista de estabelecimentos com estrelas — chegou, assim, às 10 estrelas Michelin e consolida ainda mais o estatuto de chef espanhol com mais galardoado pelo guia.

De referir que 1.447 restaurantes espanhóis integram o Guia Michelin nas suas diferentes categorias, contra apenas 167 estabelecimentos em Portugal. Por outro lado, se em terras lusas não há qualquer estrela suprimida, o mesmo não se pode dizer em Espanha, país onde 13 restaurantes perderam os seus “macarons” por completo (à exceção de El Club Allard, que baixou de duas para uma estrela).

Lista dos restaurantes premiados (* indica novidade em relação ao ano passado):

1 estrela

  • Midori (Sintra, chef Pedro Almeida)*
  • G Pousada (Bragança, chef Óscar Gonçalves)*
  • A Cozinha (Guimarães, chef António Loureiro)*
  • Antiqvvm (Porto, chef Vítor Matos)
  • Bon Bon (Carvoeiro, chef Louis Anjos)
  • Casa de Chá da Boa Nova (Leça da Palmeira, chef Rui Paula)
  • Eleven (Lisboa, chef Joachim Koerper)
  • Feitoria (Lisboa, chef João Rodrigues)
  • Fortaleza do Guincho (Cascais)
  • Henrique Leis (Almancil, chef Henrique Leis)
  • LAB by Sergi Arola (Sintra, chefs Sergi Arola)
  • L’AND (Montemor-o-Novo, chef Miguel Laffan)
  • Largo do Paço (Amarante, chef Tiago Bonito)
  • Loco (Lisboa, chef Alexandre Silva)
  • Pedro Lemos (Porto, chef Pedro Lemos)
  • São Gabriel (Almancil, chef Leonel Pereira)
  • William (Funchal, chefs Luís Pestana e Joachim Koerper)
  • Willie’s (Vilamoura, chef Willie Wurger)
  • Vista (Portimão, chef João Oliveira)
  • Gusto (Almancil, chef Heinz Beck)

2 estrelas

  • Alma (Lisboa, chef Henrique Sá Pessoa)*
  • Belcanto (Lisboa, chef José Avillez)
  • Il Gallo d’Oro (Funchal, chef Benoît Sinthon)
  • Ocean (Alporchinhos, chef Hans Neuner)
  • The Yeatman (Vila Nova de Gaia, chef Ricardo Costa)
  • Vila Joya (Albufeira, chef Dieter Koschina)

(BBG) Meat Has a Replacement But No One Knows What to Call It

(BBG) Battle lines blur over labeling lab-grown substitutes as Big Meat invests in the startups making them.

Lab-grown. Cell-based. Clean. In vitro. Cultured. Fake. Artificial. Synthetic. Meat 2.0. These are all terms that refer to the same kind of food, one that’s not even on the market yet.

But the companies making it have already raised hundreds of millions of dollars worth of investor cash and earned the close attention of U.S. regulators. Rather than methodically slaughtering animals, this industry uses science to grow what it claims is essentially the same thing as traditional meat. Given the planetary damage wrought by mass-market animal husbandry, such cellular agriculture is seen as the future of meat.

But what to name it, and getting people to eat it, is another matter altogether.

Crucial to public acceptance of any consumer product, of course, is branding. But no one can agree what to call this stuff. Originally, there was a push for the label “clean meat.” This was seen as a better alternative to the more clinical “lab-grown meat,” said Bruce Friedrich, co-founder and executive director of the Good Food Institute, which lobbies for these new products.

But then the traditional meat industry weighed in, saying the cellular version shouldn’t be called meat at all. “We’re using the term ‘lab-produced cultured protein,’” said Dan Kovich, deputy director of science and technology at the National Pork Producers Council. Other groups representing meat producers, including the North American Meat Institute, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and the National Chicken Council, also objected to the “clean meat” label.

The U.S. meat industry represents almost $200 billion in sales, according to one industry estimate, and spends millions of dollars annually to keep Washington in its corner. Investing in this new sector could be giving it more leverage in the debate over what to call the product and how it should be labeled for consumers.

Now, other terms seem to be gaining traction, both in the U.S. and abroad. Mark Post, co-founder of Dutch company Mosa Meats, told AgFunder in July that he doesn’t use the “clean meat” label. “It can’t translate into Dutch, French or German, and it kind of suggests that current meat is dirty,” he said. A spokeswoman for the company told Bloomberg the term is “too antagonistic to industry.”

Meat producers have said “clean meat” is offensive, said Sarah Lucas, head of strategy & communications for Mosa Meat. Investors, meanwhile, “haven’t particularly said that they would like us to use one term over another,” she said.

In August, cellular agriculture company Memphis Meats (which counts among its financial backers meat giants Cargill and Tyson) used the term “cell-based” in a letter sent to the White House. The co-signer of the letter was none other the Meat Institute, the meat industry’s main lobbying arm.

“We thought it was reasonable and far better than ‘clean meat,’ which is inappropriate and inaccurate,” Eric Mittenthal of the Meat Institute told Bloomberg. Cell-based is “clear, factual and inclusive,” Eric Schulze, vice president of product and regulation at Memphis Meats, told federal regulators last month during a two-day meeting in Washington. “It is distinct from plant-based proteins and animal-based meats. It differentiates our products while also clearly conveying that cell-based meat is, in fact, real meat.”

JUST Inc., which said it may make its first commercial sale of a cultured chicken product this year, is in the “cultured” camp when it comes to names. Labels should include “a statement of identity which indicates that the product is cultured, as well as the species from which the product is derived,” Peter Licari, chief technology officer, said at the meeting.

JUST “Chicken Bites.”
Source: JUST

Friedrich’s opposition notwithstanding, Good Food Institute Policy Director Jessica Almy told Bloomberg her organization has rethought its position on how to talk about the products, too. “It feels like ‘clean meat’ doesn’t resonate with everybody right now,” she said. Others see this budding consensus in a more cynical light.

“I think the meat industry has done something very clever,” said Sarah Sorscher, deputy director of regulatory affairs at the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), a consumer advocacy group. By investing in companies such as Memphis Meats, it now has a voice from within its own aspiring competition. “They’re not up against the meat industry,” she said of meat substitute companies. “They are the meat industry.

At the meeting last month, officials of the Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture listened as industry representatives chewed over the labeling issue. It’s important to protect consumers with transparent labeling, Almy testified, adding that there should be some flexibility in labeling requirements. Meanwhile, Danni Beer of the U.S. Cattlemen’s Association said new processes should be spelled out explicitly.

Brian Spears of New Age Meats argued that it would be dishonest to label meat substitutes as anything other than meat, since it’s really the same thing.

“This conversation is feeling more and more premature,” said Tyler Lobdell, a food-law fellow at the Animal Legal Defense Fund, who told Bloomberg the group seeks to ensure that the meat industry doesn’t hamper consumer options. “We just don’t know what the product looks like, so it’s hard to say what’s misleading when there are no products available.”

Barbara Kowalcyk, a professor in the department of food science and technology at Ohio State University, said there are still too many unknowns about the products and how they’re made—including food safety risks—for regulators to make any decisions.

“When I asked questions, there weren’t good responses, and that suggests we’re not ready for prime time,” she said. “Before we put it in the marketplace, we need to know the answers.”

Photographer: Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg

One look at the American food landscape reveals that organic sales are outpacing everything else at the grocery store. Restaurant menus are highlighting the locality and diet of the animals they serve. Consumers are hungry for more natural foods and willing to pay more for them.

Key to the success of any new “meat” product, however, is overcoming what’s colloquially called the “ick” factor, and labeling is a big part of that. Almy contends that consumers aren’t overly concerned with the provenance of their meat (or its substitute). “I don’t think most consumers care how their meat is produced,” she said. “There’s a strong desire to not have requirements about distinguishing the origin of these products.”

Sorscher of CSPI called this approach a “horrible mistake.” Using the example of widespread consumer mistrust of genetically modified organisms in food, she predicted “there would be such a backlash from consumers, it would ultimately undermine these products.” Indeed, only 5 percent of Americans think such meat substitutes should be labeled as “meat” without further explanation, according to a survey conducted by Consumers Union, which has also called for more transparency.

Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg

“The labeling issue surrounding products of cellular agriculture is fundamentally a public policy question,” said Robert Hibbert, a partner at law firm Morgan Lewis who focuses on food and agriculture regulations. Because the FDA has allowed food companies wiggle room around identity standards (think “soy milk”) while also bringing enforcement actions when it sees potential for confusion, Hibbert said, it’s hard to predict how these labels will be treated.

Even those rooting for meat substitutes said consumers deserve to know what they’re getting. Jessica Resler is creative director at Participation Agency, an experiential marketing firm. A vegan who wants to see all slaughterhouses closed, she said a failure to disclose the meat’s origins will anger consumers.

Still, Resler said. “It has to be described on labels, for sure.”

Eventually, consumers will develop their own shorthand for meat substitutes, for good or for ill. “The mass-adopted term is going to be decided by the public.” Nik Contis, a branding expert at PS212, said.

(CNBC) Tim Cook: Personal data collection is being ‘weaponized against us with military efficiency’


  • Apple and its CEO have long touted personal privacy, distancing themselves from recent, growing scandals among tech companies — but the comments from Cook are some of the strongest to date.
  • CEO Tim Cook said the business of selling ads against personal data has become a “data industrial complex” and stopped just short of naming tech giants like Facebook and Google in his criticisms.
Apple backs federal privacy laws in the US, says Tim Cook

Apple backs federal privacy laws in the US, says Tim Cook  

“Every day, billions of dollars change hands, and countless decisions are made, on the basis of our likes and dislikes, our friends and families, our relationships and conversations. Our wishes and fears, our hopes and dreams,” Cook said. “These scraps of data, each one harmless enough on its own, are carefully assembled, synthesized, traded, and sold.”

“Your profile is then run through algorithms that can serve up increasingly extreme content, pounding our harmless preferences into hardened convictions,” Cook said.

Apple and its chief executive have long touted personal privacy, distancing themselves from recent, growing scandals among tech companies — but the comments from Cook are some of the strongest to date.

He said the business of selling ads against personal data has become a “data industrial complex,” but stopped short of naming tech giants like Facebook and Google in his criticisms. However, Facebook and Google are the two largest companies that make money selling ads the way Cook described.

“We shouldn’t sugarcoat the consequences. This is surveillance. And these stockpiles of personal data serve only to enrich the companies that collect them,” Cook said. “This should make us very uncomfortable. It should unsettle us.”

GDPR: Why everyone is freaking out over four letters

GDPR: Why everyone is freaking out over four letters  

Cook’s comments at the 40th International Conference of Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners (ICDPPC) received warm applause in the Belgian capital.

Many of the world’s data protection regulators gathered in Brussels — a city increasingly at the forefront of tech regulation — as the conference coincided with the introduction of General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) earlier this year.

GDPR refers to a piece of legislation that aims to give consumers control of personal data collected by tech companies. It came into force in May, just weeks after the Cambridge Analytica data misuse scandal enveloped Facebook — and raised the profile of data protection as a consumer need.

The scandal also prompted governments worldwide to finally consider taking action against an often-overlooked area of law. But, U.S. lawmakers are seen as lagging behind their European peers.

Apple’s chief executive lauded the “successful implementation” of GDPR on Wednesday. And, in a thinly-veiled message to tech behemoths stateside, Cook insisted U.S.-based companies had no need to fear more stringent privacy regulation laws.

“This crisis is real. It is not imagined, or exaggerated, or crazy. And those of us who believe in technology’s potential for good must not shrink from this moment,” Cook said.

“We at Apple are in full support of a comprehensive federal privacy law in the United States. There, and everywhere, it should be rooted in four essential rights,” Cook said — the right to have personal data minimized, the right to knowledge, the right to access, and the right to security, he said.

—CNBC’s Josh Lipton contributed to this report.

Here’s Cook’s full speech:

Good morning.

It is an honor to be here with you today in this grand hall, a room that represents what is possible when people of different backgrounds, histories and philosophies come together to build something bigger than themselves.

I am deeply grateful to our hosts. I want to recognize Ventsislav Karadjov for his service and leadership. And it’s a true privilege to be introduced by his co-host, a statesman I admire greatly, Giovanni Butarelli.

Now Italy has produced more than its share of great leaders and public servants. Machiavelli taught us how leaders can get away with evil deeds, and Dante showed us what happens when they get caught.

Giovanni has done something very different. Through his values, his dedication, his thoughtful work, Giovanni, his predecessor Peter Hustinx — and all of you — have set an example for the world. We are deeply grateful.

We need you to keep making progress — now more than ever. Because these are transformative times. Around the world, from Copenhagen to Chennai to Cupertino, new technologies are driving breakthroughs in humanity’s greatest common projects. From preventing and fighting disease, to curbing the effects of climate change, to ensuring every person has access to information and economic opportunity.

At the same time, we see vividly — painfully — how technology can harm rather than help. Platforms and algorithms that promised to improve our lives can actually magnify our worst human tendencies. Rogue actors and even governments have taken advantage of user trust to deepen divisions, incite violence and even undermine our shared sense of what is true and what is false.

This crisis is real. It is not imagined, or exaggerated, or crazy. And those of us who believe in technology’s potential for good must not shrink from this moment.

Now, more than ever — as leaders of governments, as decision-makers in business and as citizens — we must ask ourselves a fundamental question: What kind of world do we want to live in?

I’m here today because we hope to work with you as partners in answering this question.

At Apple, we are optimistic about technology’s awesome potential for good. But we know that it won’t happen on its own. Every day, we work to infuse the devices we make with the humanity that makes us. As I’ve said before, technology is capable of doing great things. But it doesn’t want to do great things. It doesn’t want anything. That part takes all of us.

That’s why I believe that our missions are so closely aligned. As Giovanni puts it, we must act to ensure that technology is designed and developed to serve humankind, and not the other way around.

We at Apple believe that privacy is a fundamental human right. But we also recognize that not everyone sees things as we do. In a way, the desire to put profits over privacy is nothing new.

As far back as 1890, future Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis published an article in the Harvard Law Review, making the case for a “Right to Privacy” in the United States.

He warned: “Gossip is no longer the resource of the idle and of the vicious, but has become a trade.”

Today that trade has exploded into a data industrial complex. Our own information, from the everyday to the deeply personal, is being weaponized against us with military efficiency.

Every day, billions of dollars change hands and countless decisions are made on the basis of our likes and dislikes, our friends and families, our relationships and conversations, our wishes and fears, our hopes and dreams.

These scraps of data, each one harmless enough on its own, are carefully assembled, synthesized, traded and sold.

Taken to its extreme, this process creates an enduring digital profile and lets companies know you better than you may know yourself. Your profile is then run through algorithms that can serve up increasingly extreme content, pounding our harmless preferences into hardened convictions. If green is your favorite color, you may find yourself reading a lot of articles — or watching a lot of videos — about the insidious threat from people who like orange.

In the news almost every day, we bear witness to the harmful, even deadly, effects of these narrowed worldviews.

We shouldn’t sugarcoat the consequences. This is surveillance. And these stockpiles of personal data serve only to enrich the companies that collect them.

This should make us very uncomfortable. It should unsettle us. And it illustrates the importance of our shared work and the challenges still ahead of us.

Fortunately this year you’ve shown the world that good policy and political will can come together to protect the rights of everyone. We should celebrate the transformative work of the European institutions tasked with the successful implementation of the GDPR. We also celebrate the new steps taken, not only here in Europe, but around the world. In Singapore, Japan, Brazil, New Zealand and many more nations, regulators are asking tough questions and crafting effective reforms.

It is time for the rest of the world — including my home country — to follow your lead.

We at Apple are in full support of a comprehensive federal privacy law in the United States. There and everywhere, it should be rooted in four essential rights: First, the right to have personal data minimized. Companies should challenge themselves to de-identify customer data — or not to collect it in the first place. Second, the right to knowledge. Users should always know what data is being collected and what it is being collected for. This is the only way to empower users to decide what collection is legitimate and what isn’t. Anything less is a sham. Third, the right to access. Companies should recognize that data belongs to users, and we should all make it easy for users to get a copy of, correct and delete their personal data. And fourth, the right to security. Security is foundational to trust and all other privacy rights.

Now, there are those who would prefer I hadn’t said all of that. Some oppose any form of privacy legislation. Others will endorse reform in public, and then resist and undermine it behind closed doors.

They may say to you, “Our companies will never achieve technology’s true potential if they are constrained with privacy regulation.” But this notion isn’t just wrong, it is destructive.

Technology’s potential is, and always must be, rooted in the faith people have in it, in the optimism and creativity that it stirs in the hearts of individuals, in its promise and capacity to make the world a better place.

It’s time to face facts. We will never achieve technology’s true potential without the full faith and confidence of the people who use it.

At Apple, respect for privacy — and a healthy suspicion of authority — have always been in our bloodstream. Our first computers were built by misfits, tinkerers and rebels — not in a laboratory or a board room, but in a suburban garage. We introduced the Macintosh with a famous TV ad channeling George Orwell’s 1984 — a warning of what can happen when technology becomes a tool of power and loses touch with humanity.

And way back in 2010, Steve Jobs said in no uncertain terms: “Privacy means people know what they’re signing up for, in plain language, and repeatedly.”

It’s worth remembering the foresight and courage it took to make that statement. When we designed this device we knew it could put more personal data in your pocket than most of us keep in our homes. And there was enormous pressure on Steve and Apple to bend our values and to freely share this information. But we refused to compromise. In fact, we’ve only deepened our commitment in the decade since.

From hardware breakthroughs that encrypt fingerprints and faces securely — and only — on your device, to simple and powerful notifications that make clear to every user precisely what they’re sharing and when they are sharing it.

We aren’t absolutists, and we don’t claim to have all the answers. Instead, we always try to return to that simple question: What kind of world do we want to live in?

At every stage of the creative process, then and now, we engage in an open, honest and robust ethical debate about the products we make and the impact they will have. That’s just a part of our culture.

We don’t do it because we have to. We do it because we ought to. The values behind our products are as important to us as any feature.

We understand that the dangers are real — from cyber-criminals to rogue nation states. We’re not willing to leave our users to fend for themselves. And we’ve shown we’ll defend those principles when challenged.

Those values — that commitment to thoughtful debate and transparency — they’re only going to get more important. As progress speeds up, these things should continue to ground us and connect us, first and foremost, to the people we serve.

Artificial Intelligence is one area I think a lot about. Clearly it’s on the minds of many of my peers as well.

At its core, this technology promises to learn from people individually to benefit us all. Yet advancing AI by collecting huge personal profiles is laziness, not efficiency. For artificial intelligence to be truly smart, it must respect human values, including privacy.

If we get this wrong, the dangers are profound.

We can achieve both great artificial intelligence and great privacy standards. It’s not only a possibility, it is a responsibility.

In the pursuit of artificial intelligence, we should not sacrifice the humanity, creativity and ingenuity that define our human intelligence.

And at Apple, we never will.

In the mid-19th century, the great American writer Henry David Thoreau found himself so fed up with the pace and change of industrial society that he moved to a cabin in the woods by Walden Pond.

Call it the first digital cleanse.

Yet even there, where he hoped to find a bit of peace, he could hear a distant clatter and whistle of a steam engine passing by. “We do not ride on the railroad,” he said. “It rides upon us.”

Those of us who are fortunate enough to work in technology have an enormous responsibility.

It is not to please every grumpy Thoreau out there. That’s an unreasonable standard, and we’ll never meet it.

We are responsible, however, for recognizing that the devices we make and the platforms we build have real, lasting, even permanent effects on the individuals and communities who use them.

We must never stop asking ourselves, what kind of world do we want to live in?

The answer to that question must not be an afterthought, it should be our primary concern.

We at Apple can — and do — provide the very best to our users while treating their most personal data like the precious cargo that it is. And if we can do it, then everyone can do it.

Fortunately, we have your example before us.

Thank you for your work, for your commitment to the possibility of human-centered technology, and for your firm belief that our best days are still ahead of us.

Thank you very much.

(BBC) Paul Allen: Microsoft co-founder and billionaire dies aged 65


Paul Allen speaks at a New York event in 2011Image copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionAllen announced his diagnosis earlier this month

Paul Allen, who co-founded Microsoft, has died aged 65 from complications of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

He had revealed the disease’s return only two weeks ago, after previously being treated for it in 2009.

He had said he and his doctors were “optimistic” about treatment.

His Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates said: “I am heartbroken by the passing of one of my oldest and dearest friends… Personal computing would not have existed without him.”

In a statement confirming his death on Monday afternoon, his sister Jody described the businessman as a “remarkable individual on every level”.

“Paul’s family and friends were blessed to experience his wit, warmth, his generosity and deep concern. For all the demands on his schedule, there was always time for family and friends,” the statement said.

“At this time of loss and grief for us – and so many others – we are profoundly grateful for the care and concern he demonstrated every day.”

The businessman made his fortune alongside school friend Bill Gates, after they co-founded technology giant Microsoft in 1975.

“From our early days together at Lakeside School, through our partnership in the creation of Microsoft, to some of our joint philanthropic projects over the years, Paul was a true partner and dear friend,” said Mr Gates.

“He deserved much more time, but his contributions to the world of technology and philanthropy will live on for generations to come. I will miss him tremendously.”

Paul Allen and Bill Gates at an 1987 eventImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES

He left the company in 1983 following his first diagnosis of the blood cancer Hodgkin’s disease, but recovered to become a successful venture capitalist with his media and communications investment firm, Vulcan that he set up in 1986.

Presentational grey line


Dave Lee, BBC North America technology reporter, San Francisco

I’ve spent Monday at the 25th anniversary of technology magazine Wired, an event celebrating the history of not just the magazine, but technology itself.

Paul Allen, who will be deeply missed by those here, was one of the industry’s giants. His name would have been on Wired’s pages many, many times.

Mr Allen had beaten cancer before, and he had appeared confident that he could beat it again. Those close to him said he was active, on emails at least, until the very end – offering advice, strategy and insight to the many, many people who looked to him for support.

Mr Allen didn’t always have a great relationship with his co-founder, Bill Gates. The pair had a well-publicised row over stock ownership. But they shared an awful lot in common, first as children learning programming, and then as adults donating billions to philanthropic efforts.

Presentational grey line

Mr Allen’s investment firm confirmed news of his death on Monday evening.

“Millions of people were touched by his generosity, his persistence in pursuit of a better world, and his drive to accomplish as much as he could with the time and resources at his disposal,” Vulcan CEO Bill Hilf said in a statement.

He is estimated to have donated more than $2bn to philanthropy throughout his life including science, education and wildlife conservation causes, the Associated Press report.

He was also an avid sports fan, owning both the Portland Trail Blazers basketball team and Seattle Seahawks NFL team, who won the US Superbowl in 2013.

(BBG) The Hamburger of the Future Is Here, But Will You Eat It?

(BBG) It won’t be from a cow, or even plants.

Despite a long love affair with red meat, more Americans than ever are turning toward plant-based imitators at restaurants and grocery stores. Not the hockey puck veggie burgers in the back of your freezer, mind you—these are plant-based patties engineered to mimic the taste of real meat.

But making vegetation seem like flesh has always been tough. To create something that satisfies carnivores, Silicon Valley decided you have to use the components of real meat—and that means heading to the laboratory. Whether consumers will readily devour burgers made out of cells cultivated in a bioreactor, though, is an open question.

As with most everything Americans buy, branding such cultured meat will be critical. That’s the takeaway from a study released last week by Faunalytics, an animal-advocacy group, and the Good Food Institute, a nonprofit alternative animal products industry group. “Lab-grown,” “in vitro” or “cultured meat” burgers are unlikely to fly out of the freezer case. But calling them “clean meat,” a term pushed by the nascent industry, may encourage new adopters.

There’s a growing movement to rein in the global industrial meat complex. Consumers in developing nations with more disposable income are increasingly turning to beef products, matching the perpetual U.S. appetite for a food whose mass production has had negative environmental and health consequences. But first, you have to sell it.

“Appetite appeal is everything,” said Nik Contis, a senior partner at PS212, a brand consultancy. He agrees that of all the potential  names, “clean meat” is the most favorable of what are generally “dystopian” monikers. “Whatever they label this, ultimately it can become a sort of linchpin in communicating to consumers,” he explained. “You want ‘yes,’ not ‘yuck.’”

Two thirds of people in the Faunalytics survey said they’d try meat generated from cell cultures when described as “clean meat” and after hearing positive descriptions of the products. The term, according to the survey, “reduces feelings of disgust.” Negative messages about conventional meat also helped with consumer acceptance.

Research by other firms not associated with animal advocacy, however, has been less favorable. According to data from food and agriculture marketing firm Charleston|Orwig, only 3 percent of consumers expressed “no reservations” about eating such products, while 57 percent responded, “No, absolutely not.” A third survey, by food trends research firm Datassential, found that 68 percent said they were “not interested” in cultured meats.

There’s another hitch: The beef, pork and chicken industries insist that if it doesn’t come from an animal, it shouldn’t be called meat at all. Ironically, Big Meat companies such as Tyson Foods Inc. and Cargill Inc. are pouring millions of dollars into startups seeking to make meat and fish products without killing animals.

The technology, if it can reach the right price point and be brought to scale, is nothing less than the disruption of agriculture as we know it, said Will Sawyer, lead economist for animal protein at CoBank. Aside from impacting the meat industry, there would also be substantial effects on global grain production, which exists mainly to feed animals, and on water and air quality, he said. Neither Tyson nor Cargill responded to requests for comment.

One might think that the benefits that flow to the environment and animal welfare would be key selling points for cultured meat—but you would be wrong. While younger consumers are attuned to such issues, they are, overall, the least-selected reasons for cutting meat consumption, said Kyle Chamberlin from Datassential.

The growth of plant-based foods is instead largely driven by health concerns. Almost half of consumers are buying veggie burgers because they think it’s better for them, according to a March Datassential report. GFI said there are health benefits to cellular agriculture. Unlike conventional meat, these products will be free of fecal contamination and won’t require antibiotics, thereby not contributing to human antibiotic resistance. But neither of these are the typical health-related drivers, like avoiding saturating fat and cholesterol and losing weight.

Companies could also theoretically combine animal muscle and fat cells to create a healthier nutritional profile, but that’s “an open question at the moment,” according to Matt Ball of GFI. For example, there’s been discussion of making beef without heme iron, a component of meat which some studies found may be linked to cancer.

Andrew Noyes, a spokesman for JUST, a startup that makes both plant-based meat substitutes and cellular agriculture, said his company’s prototypes have nutritional profiles “very similar” to conventionally produced meat. (His company recently raised $220 million.)

While cultured meat faces several obstacles, cultured fish may be easier to introduce. Finless Foods co-founder Mike Selden said “clean” fish will have an advantage over the real thing in that it doesn’t contain mercury and plastic. On the other hand, the fatty acid chains that make real fish good for you come from algae consumption. So companies are working on putting that nutrition back into the product.

The future of cultured meat will depend on whether it tastes as good as the real thing, is convenient and has the right price, said Justin Kolbeck and Arye Elfenbein, cofounders of Wild Type, a San Francisco-based cellular agriculture company. Their startup pledges to make “delicious, accessible, and affordable meat and fish,” starting with cultured salmon and trout. The company said it’s also designing a production process that could reduce the risk of food-borne illnesses.

The Datassential report points to one way of increasing consumer interest in these products. Many respondents said they’d be more interested if they knew more about production methods and a lack of health risks. Selden of Finless Foods agreed, saying that the more consumers learn about cellular agriculture, the more accepting they become.

Others aren’t so sure.

“This is a vast unknown,” said Mark Gale, Charleston|Orwig’s chief executive. Companies “shouldn’t assume that just because they might be able to make it, that necessarily, there will be broad adoption.”

P.O. (TheWeek) Love Island is more lucrative than a degree from Oxbridge


"The things we've seen..."
The Hollow Crown: Shakespeare's Henry IV, Part II


‘Love Island’ is more lucrative option than Oxbridge

Appearing on the show boosts your lifetime earnings more than Oxbridge degree, economists find

And that’s were we are today…

As you might imagine, this is not a great incentive for young people to study and work hard…

At the same degree of success i would argue that a young boy or girl is wealthier earlier in life than an academic…

And that is precisely were the problem is.

Francisco (Abouaf) de Curiel Marques Pereira

(TheWeek) Economists find that appearing on hit ITV show boosts your lifetime earnings more than attending Oxford or Cambridge.

A group of economists have revealed that appearing as a contestant on Love Island is more lucrative than a degree from Oxford or Cambridge.

Analysis by Frontier Economics, an economic consultancy, estimated that someone who appears on the show could expect to earn at least £1.1m from subsequent sponsorship and appearance fees, while completing an undergraduate Oxbridge degree would leave you with with a comparatively meagre average return of £815,000.

“If you’ve got an offer from Oxbridge and Love Island, you’re better off going on Love Island,” Kristine Dislere, who completed her masters degree in economics at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada, told the Financial Times.

In order to estimate how lucrative a stint on the show could be, Dislere and fellow economists made calculations based on a number of factors. These included the typical rates for sponsored Instagram posts, club appearances, how often they appear and how much their earnings will decrease every year.

According to Frontier Economics, contestants who have been in the villa for the full series can be expected to earn £2.3m over the next five years.

Winners can expect to earn more, but not much more. Their expected return is £2.4m.

Even for those slightly less lucky it’s still a good proposition. Someone who is accepted onto the island (at any stage in the series) can expect to make an average of £1.1m once back out in the real world.

And it appears British school leavers “have instinctively come to a similar conclusion, with 85,000 applications to appear on the 2018 series, compared with only 37,000 applications for undergraduate degree courses at Oxford and Cambridge universities combined”, says the FT.

However, Dislere conceded, an academic path might actually be a better bet once acceptance rates are factored in. “One major thing we haven’t included are the odds of getting in [to Love Island], and the odds are stacked against you,” she said.

(OBS) A hora mais trágica – Rui Ramos

(OBS) Ao contrário do que sugere o filme A Hora Mais Negra, a decisão britânica de continuar a guerra em 1940 não foi o resultado de sondagens de opinião, mas de uma liderança que “caminhava com o destino”.

Hora mais negra, que agora anda pelos cinemas à espera de um Óscar para Gary Oldman, não é um documentário histórico, mas apenas um filme, e, como filme, pouco mais do que estimável. Mas como será visto por muito mais gente do que aquela que alguma vez há-de ler Maurice Cowling (The Impact of Hitler), John Charmley (Chamberlain and the Lost Peace), Andrew Roberts (Eminent Churchillians) ou Graham Stewart (Burying Caesar), talvez justifique algumas reflexões. Porque a Primavera de 1940 não foi apenas a origem da lenda de Churchill, mas um dos momentos que definiu o mundo contemporâneo.

Para a elite inglesa, tratava-se de saber se fazia sentido continuar a guerra, depois de Hitler ter subjugado quase toda a Europa ocidental. O filme faz, como é costume, depender a decisão de Churchill. Ao contrário do costume, porém, sugere que não foi fácil. Churchill ainda não era um herói, mas apenas um político desacreditado por trapalhadas e deslealdades. Há porém dois equívocos que o filme mantém. Ao contrário do que parece sugerir, Chamberlain e Halifax, os contrapontos de Churchill, não estavam simplesmente intimidados pelo poderio da Alemanha, nem Churchill alguma vez poderia ter apelado, para desfazer as dúvidas da elite, a uma qualquer opinião popular (que a elite concebia, aliás, como algo relevante, mas controlável através de propaganda e de administração).

Winston Churchill com Neville Chamberlain, primeiro ministro inglês entre 1937 e 1940.

Chamberlain e Churchill, cuja rivalidade prolongava a dos respectivos pais, ficaram como o contrário um do outro. Mas Churchill nunca poderia ter sido primeiro-ministro sem o apoio de Chamberlain (mais decisivo do que o do rei ou dos passageiros do metro no filme). Essa é a chave desta história. Os conservadores tinham conseguido salvar o Reino Unido da ruína da I Guerra Mundial e do colapso da ordem mundial a partir de 1929. Chamberlain, porém, sabia que mais uma grande guerra europeia, fosse qual fosse o seu desfecho, comprometeria de vez o Império Britânico e a ascendência conservadora na Grã-Bretanha. Por isso, tentara tudo para evitar uma guerra.

Churchill, um feroz imperialista e anti-socialista, não era menos apegado ao mundo conservador. Mas estava convicto de que a Inglaterra não podia tolerar um continente dominado pela Alemanha. De facto, Chamberlain pensava o mesmo. Por isso, declarara guerra em 1939, quando se tornou claro que era impossível negociar com Hitler, entretanto reforçado com a aliança da União Soviética. Em 1940, Chamberlain não cedeu por causa da retórica ou de outros apoios de Churchill, mas porque sabia que o seu rival estava certo: era impossível ao Reino Unido aceitar a situação de um Estado cliente da revolução nazi, sem negar tudo aquilo em que, enquanto conservadores, ambos acreditavam.

Gary Oldman como Winston Churchill em A Hora Mais Negra.

A continuação da guerra não foi o resultado de sondagens de opinião, mas da afirmação de uma liderança. Em 1940, Churchill não disse que se sentia em sintonia com a opinião popular, ao contrário do que o filme sugere, mas a “caminhar com o destino”, isto é, com a interpretação providencialista que um grande aristocrata como ele tinha da história do Reino Unido e do seu Império. Para Churchill, aquela era uma batalha que a elite conservadora não podia evitar, custasse o que custasse.

A hora mais negra não foi apenas um momento difícil. Foi a hora mais trágica. Chamberlain estava certo: os conservadores perderam o poder em 1945, e quando voltaram, em 1951, já não havia Índia e as grandes indústrias tinham sido nacionalizadas. O mundo imperial e conservador de Churchill e de Chamberlain desaparecera, e não o devemos confundir com o “atlanticismo” da Guerra Fria. Mas ao sacrificar esse mundo na resistência contra Hitler, Churchill conseguiu isto: associar o velho espírito da liberdade conservadora a um momento de heroísmo, e assim fazer passar esse espírito, transfigurado e desamarrado da sociedade que o cultivara, para o novo mundo – um mundo que já não o percebe, mas ainda o sente, pelo menos numa sala de cinema.

+++ O.P. (EXP) Parlamento defende necessidade do Governo pressionar Espanha para fechar Almaraz


Estou inteiramente de acordo que haja uma fiscalização a sério (a sério nunca houve) sobre as águas do Tejo, e subscrevo integralmente todos os esforços para que a Central Nuclear de Almaraz seja encerrada, e por completo.

Portugal não tem energia nuclear por opção.

Mas é como se tivesse…

Ou pior…

A Central de Almaraz tem problemas constantes e recorrentes por ter uma tecnologia muito antiga.

Já há muito que foram ultrapassados todos os prazos de vida da central definidos aquando da sua construção.

Uma central nuclear a 100 kms de Portugal e a 300 kms de Lisboa e no maior rio da Península Ibérica que justamente desagua em Lisboa…

Nunca devia ter sido construída!

As Autoridades do País vizinho afirmam que não existe qualquer problema de contaminação radioactiva.

Mas o que é facto é que existem dezenas de reportagens sobre a população da zona.

Que descrevem uma situação totalmente diferente…

Um elevadíssimo numero de doenças , algumas delas raras, gado que não come e morre, pequenos animais que morrem precocemente, terrenos que se não podem utilizar etc.

E agora há a decisão de lá construir um cemitério nuclear…

O problema é de ambos os Países.

Urge é ser resolvido.

A bem de todos.

Francisco (Abouaf) de Curiel Marques Pereira

(EXPParlamento defende necessidade do Governo pressionar Espanha para fechar Almaraz.

A Assembleia da República defendeu esta quinta-feira a necessidade de o Governo adotar, em parceria com o congénere espanhol, medidas de combate à poluição do rio Tejo e de insistir no encerramento da central nuclear espanhola de Almaraz

O tema de Almaraz foi abordado esta tarde no Parlamento na sequência da discussão de uma petição, da autoria do movimento ambientalista ProTejo, e de seis projetos de resolução.

O texto da petição exorta o Governo português a insistir junto do Governo espanhol na necessidade de proceder ao fecho da central nuclear de Almaraz e a atuar junto das instâncias europeias para que seja cumprida a Diretiva Quadro da Água e feita “uma fiscalização ambiental mais rigorosa à poluição do rio Tejo.

Os projetos de resolução apresentados pelos grupos parlamentares, que serão votados na sexta-feira, foram igualmente no sentido de a tutela tomar uma posição mais forte junto de Espanha para que seja encerrada a central nuclear e pelo aumento das medidas de vigilância e de ação ambiental.

Nesse sentido, durante a discussão, houve um consenso alargado de todas as bancadas para a necessidade de o Governo atuar “com mais firmeza” na defesa do Tejo.

Portugal chegou a apresentar à Comissão Europeia uma queixa contra Espanha, mas acabou por retirá-la depois de um acordo patrocinado pelo executivo comunitário que previa a realização de um estudo de impacto ambiental transfronteiriço, em que o grupo de trabalho criado pelo Governo português considerou o projeto “seguro e adequado”.

A central nuclear de Almaraz localiza-se em Espanha, a 100 quilómetros da fronteira com Portugal.

(JTA) Why food makers in Portugal are going kosher


Rabbi Elisha Salas, right, instructing a baker in Belmonte, Portugal, in the preparation of kosher challah, April 2012. (Courtesy of Shavei Israel)

(JTA) — Portugal’s tallest mountain range, the Serra da Estrela, is famous for its breathtaking waterfalls, turquoise lakes, terraced hillsides and challenging bike paths amid vast woods.

In winter especially, tourists from all over northern Europe flock to the sunny Serra, a thinly populated plateau the size of Rhode Island, for its exquisite wines, world-renowned sheep cheeses and exotic regional dishes (think breaded sweet sardines and Juniper beef stew).

In addition to these delicacies, Serra da Estrela in recent years has also emerged as Portugal’s undisputed powerhouse for kosher food – an unlikely development in a region with about 50 Jews.

Earlier this month, one of Serra da Estrela’s oldest producers of olive oil, Casa Agrícola Francisco Esteves, located in the town of Manteigas, launched a new kosher label in time for Hanukkah, the holiday when Jews celebrate a miracle connected to oil.

In the nearby town of Covilha on the range’s southern tip is the Braz Queijos cheese factory, which in 2009 obtained a kosher certificate for most of its products, becoming the first to do so in Portugal in modern times. Five years earlier, a winery in the same town produced what was said to be Portugal’s first kosher-certified wine in centuries. And in 2010, the town of Belmonte began hosting an annual kosher market ahead of Rosh Hashanah.

Visitors browsing the annual kosher market in Belmonte, Sept. 17, 2017. (Courtesy of Jornal de Belmonte)

This uptick in kosher food production is occurring amid Portugal’s growing awareness of its rich Jewish history. Perhaps hundreds of thousands of Jews lived in Portugal before 1536, when Portugal’s church and royal house joined the Spanish campaign of expulsion, executions and forced conversions known as the Inquisition.

The kosher trend is a way to “reconnect with our past,” according to Jose Braz, the cheese maker, who is not Jewish.

On a national level, Portugal and Spain have both undertaken extraordinary moves to atone for the Inquisition. In 2015, for example, both countries put into practice laws adopted two years earlier that have permitted some 5,000 descendants of Sephardic Jews to obtain Spanish and Portuguese nationalities. The measures were the world’s first Jewish laws of return since Israel passed its own in 1952.

Coupled with government investments of millions of dollars in Jewish heritage sites, officials in Madrid and Lisbon describe the move as correcting historical wrongs. But some observers believe it is also motivated by a desire to revive the Portuguese and Spanish economies, where unemployment is double the U.S. rate and more than a quarter of adults under 25 are jobless.

“The Sephardic Diaspora can be viewed as a large pool with the potential to benefit Spain and Portugal’s economies, provided that pool can be drawn to visit, settle and invest,” said Michael Freund, founder and chairman of Shavei Israel, a Jerusalem-based nonprofit that runs outreach programs for the descendants of Sephardic Jews.

Officials from both countries regularly cite tourism when spending public funds on restoring and highlighting Jewish heritage sites. For example, the recent $8.25 million investment in Portugal’s Rotas de Sefarad project — a statewide network of routes that highlight Sephardic heritage — “must contribute to strengthening tourism,” Celeste Amaro, a Portuguese Culture Ministry official, told the Journal do Centro newspaper last month.

But in the Serra da Estrela region, where many non-Jews have Jewish roots, gestures toward Judaism are more personal than those of Lisbon, according to Rabbi Elisha Salas, Shavei Israel’s Portugal envoy, who is based in the town of Belmonte. That municipality holds an annual kosher products market under the supervision of Salas, who ensures that the products brought there for sale by local farmers — including honey, olives and bread — meet the requirements of halachah, or rabbinic law.

“I don’t go over their financial reports, but I can’t see a huge demand for kosher products in Portugal that would make a certificate profitable,” he said. “What’s at work here in Belmonte is that you have firms and factories with owners who have Jewish roots, so they seek to get closer to Judaism at least through the products they make.”

That may be true, but the operators of newly kosher ventures seem unwilling to elaborate on that connection.

Patricia Duarte Madeira, the director of the Esteves oil factory, told JTA that she sought a kosher certificate only to serve the needs of customers in Belmonte, which she defined as “one of Portugal’s largest Jewish communities.” (While it’s true the city is home to one of Portugal’s three functioning synagogues, the Jewish population is about 50, according to Salas.) Madeira twice declined to answer when asked whether her family has Jewish roots.

Bakers prepare kosher challah for the Jewish community of Belmonte, April 2012. (Courtesy of Shavei Israel)

Braz, the Serra da Estrela cheese maker, also appeared skittish about his connection to Judaism. Although he had told the Israeli media that he descended from Anusim (Jews who were forced to convert to Christianity) — and he also told JTA that at least one of his grandmothers was aware of her Jewish ancestry and had retained some Jewish customs — he downplayed the matter in the Portuguese media.

“I think all of us here have Jewish DNA, but it’s speculative,” he said in 2009 during an interview with the Publico newspaper about the Israeli media’s interest in his kosher cheese.

Braz noted a 2008 study suggesting that 20 percent of Iberia’s population has Jewish genes.

“But I’m Catholic, I recently hosted the bishop of Guarda at the factory,” he said, adding that his “real interest is cheese,” not genealogy.

Yet many houses in Serra da Estrella require no research to demonstrate their Jewish provenance. In the town of Trancoso, near Covilha, for example, the stone walls of many homes feature well-preserved incisions made during and after the Portuguese Inquisition. Some marks read “horror” in Hebrew when read inversely; some ancient door frame panels include hollows that once would have held a mezuzah.

Visible only in small towns with concentrations of forcefully converted Jews large enough to give them some safety in numbers, the markings were preserved by the former owners as a “way of showing, without saying, that they remember who they really are, where they come from,” said Shavei Israel’s Freund.

The subterfuge extended to the kitchen: The country’s famed Alheira de Mirandela sausage, whose generous amount of garlic tends to overpower the taste of its other ingredients, was especially developed during the Inquisition for Jews who sought to eat kosher while appearing to be consuming pork like the general population.

Freund said such techniques are a testament to the brutality of centuries of persecution that extinguished one of the world’s most illustrious Jewish communities.

“After centuries of silence and persecution, it’s almost inevitable that people with Jewish roots should be careful about advertising it,” he said. “But for people in the food industry, obtaining a kosher certificate is a way of doing so in a tangible way that doesn’t bring up too many personal questions.”