Friday, 19 January 2018

Andrea Bocelli talks about his relationship with the late Pavarotti

Even though Andrea Bocelli is not scheduled to appear in concert at the famed Hollywood Bowl until June of next year, a full page ad in the Los Angeles Times announces the sale of reserved tickets. Here is one superstar with zero awareness of how famous he is.
Andrea Bocelli talks about his relationship with the late Pavarotti
In New York to promote an Italian language film The Music Of Silence, which is based on his 2004 autobiography, the 59-year-old is handsome as ever, his hair more grey, but relaxed and good-humoured.

Why was an Englishman hired to direct the film, and how involved were you in the production?

The success of anything depends on the freedom given to the people that carry it out. Michael Radford had that. And he was chosen because of the joy he showed when he accepted the assignment. And because he made it with his heart, and with a lot of passion; he did well.
He also chose the right actors, which is something I could not have done. The only contribution I made was writing the book, I had no wish to be an actor or a director on this film.

What did you learn from making the film?

For me, the film was a discovery of a new world. I had the opportunity to be there while they were shooting some of the scenes. I’ve always been very interested in everything that is technical, recording, and so on. So, that part of the filming was extremely interesting for me.
And it was also interesting to work together with the screenwriter Anna Pavignano. She had to translate all the emotions that were in my book into a screenplay, which worried me a little, but she did a beautiful job.

How about the section when your voice was changing, did that actually happen?

That scene in the movie is actually a summary of things that actually happened. There’s a time during the life of everyone, especially males, in which your voice changes totally.
In my case when my voice did not allow me to sing, it really changed my identity. Ever since I was young, I grew up with the idea that I was a singer simply because everybody was asking me to sing. This would happen everywhere, at home and at school, in church.
When my voice changed, it was extremely frustrating for me and created a lot of difficulties.

What do you do to preserve your voice?

My family makes wine, as you probably know. In Italian there is an expression that says wine makes you sing, but the problem is it makes you sing badly. So, my singing voice is not due to the wine.
You can preserve your voice by following a lifestyle that is very close to that of an athlete. Not much food, no drink, no sex. I joke.

Were there any pop singers that inspired you as a young man?

My musical education for the first 15 years of my life was exclusively opera and classical music. At that time I was studying piano, but I always felt a particular closeness to operatic voices.
Even when I was a kid, I was always extremist in my view of music. Everything that was not opera was B-rated. Of course my schoolmates were not listening to opera, none of them. They were all listening to pop or to the current success. So we were constantly fighting over this.
They would make fun of me and say that I was listening to people that were just yelling at each other. And I would respond by telling them they were listening to music sung by people who had no voice.
And then I grew up, and I realised that in this world there isn’t just black and white; there are a lot of different shades in between. I learned that there is some very interesting music that is not opera, and I learned that there is some opera that is quite boring.

Is there any artiste outside of opera you respect?

For me the best singer in the world has been Frank Sinatra. I like his voice very much.

Did you ever feel your blindness impeded your success as a singer?

No I never did.

Could it have heightened your senses?

I don’t know. Frankly, I never thought about it. But had it been an advantage, people would not call it a handicap.
Andrea Bocelli’s favourite singer is Frank Sinatra. Photo: Filepic

What does music mean to you?

There is a beautiful definition by Leibniz, a philosopher and mathematician – he said that music is an unconscious arithmetic that does not know how to count itself.

What are your plans for 2018?

My own plans are never beyond 48 hours. My mentor always told me people that make plans for more than 24 hours in advance are not wise. But luckily there are people that are not wise who make plans for me and which allows me to move on.

Is there anything else in life you desire?

Nothing really because what I have already surpassed my dreams, and it would be too much to ask for more. I am a lucky man and I thank the heavens every day.

You always look so elegant. Are you fashion conscious?

I am very, very grateful to all of the fashion designers who have been so kind to dress me.
But the truth is my relationship to clothing is the most casual of anyone on the face of the earth. Whatever is on my chair next to my bed in the morning is what I put on. I don’t ask questions.
And I would have no difficulty going around with two different shoes on my feet. But that would be a problem for the people who I work with, so I’m very grateful to all those who help me with this.

After having two boys (aged 22 and 20) and now a daughter (five years old), has your second marriage made you a better father?

No, it’s the same thing, it’s no different. My daughter Virginia is like my boys when they were the same age. I think it will be very different in 12 years, when she discovers boys.

Do you still miss Pavarotti (who died in 2007)?

Maestro Pavarotti was always a very important person in my life. Wherever I was around the world, sometimes I would call him on the phone and we talked for an hour about singing.
So, I have very sweet memories of him. I liked who he was, I still like his singing, I have all his recordings on my iPod. And an artiste like him, they don’t die, they continue to be in our life through their recordings.

Thursday, 18 January 2018

Cleaning up plastic waste

KUALA LUMPUR: When Seah Kian Hoe was just 10 years old, he would jump on the back of his parent’s small truck during school holidays and help them collect scrap, going door-to-door around neighbourhoods in Malaysia’s southern state of Johor.
Wednesday, 17 Jan 2018
Nothing but waste: A recycling centre employee showing compressed blocks of plastics in Hillsboro, Oregon. For decades, shipping containers have been loaded with American waste and dispatched to China for recycling until the recent ban. — AFP
Nothing but waste: A recycling centre employee showing compressed blocks of plastics in Hillsboro, Oregon. For decades, shipping containers have been loaded with American waste and dispatched to China for recycling until the recent ban. — AFP

Taking their haul back to the family yard, they would spend hours separating the glass bottles, aluminium cans, discarded newspapers and metal.
Seah now employs 350 people to help him run Heng Hiap Industries, one of Malaysia’s top five plastic recycling businesses which processes about 40,000 tonnes of waste per year from both domestic and overseas suppliers.
“Thirty five years ago, it was just scavenging – a very different era compared to now,” Seah said.
Before the ban, which shocked many in the industry, China was the world’s dominant importer of such waste. In 2016, it imported 7.3 million tonnes of waste plastics, valued at US$3.7bil (RM14.6bil), accounting for 56% of world imports.
Over the past two decades, China was keen to suck in as much plastic waste as possible, helping feed its manufacturing expansion. But policy makers took action after a string of scandals involving unscrupulous players in the waste market.
As part of efforts to clean up China’s environment, including promoting electric cars and cutting coal use, Beijing launched a campaign against harmful “foreign garbage” last year.
Some of the worst-hit exporters of plastic waste are based in the United States and Britain – leaving those two countries scrambling to find alternative places to take their rubbish.
Unable to send their plastic waste to China, Britain and the United States are now likely to increase their domestic recycling capacities in an effort to reduce exports.
But industry officials say this could take years and may still not be enough.
Faced with growing stockpiles of plastic waste, many British and US companies are either burning some plastics for energy recovery or sending the materials to landfills, several industry researchers said.
Both of these methods will have a catastrophic impact on the environment, they warned.
The labour-intensive job of taking bales of plastic waste to be broken down, cleaned, separated into different plastic resins and finally made into pellets ready to be reshaped into new products is now expected to fall to South-East Asian countries.
Malaysia, Vietnam, Indonesia and Thailand are among the South-East Asian countries that have attracted Chinese investors in the plastics recycling sector over the past year, keen to fill the void left in China, industry officials said.
Preliminary data from the Brussels-based Bureau of International Recycling (BIR) showed imports of plastic waste into South-East Asia are already rising fast.
Due partly to a ramp-up in shipments in the final quarter of last year, the BIR estimates that annual imports of plastic scrap into Malaysia jumped to 450,000-500,000 tonnes in 2017 from 288,000 tonnes in 2016.
Vietnam’s imports rose by 62% to 500,000-550,000 tonnes for 2017, while Thailand and Indonesia showed increases of up to 117% and 65% respectively.
The industry fears, however, that a flood of unregulated plastic waste to these countries could lead to similar problems as those experienced in China, resulting in copy-cat bans.
To avoid this, industry officials urged South-East Asian nations to tighten health and safety regulations, so that they can properly monitor what plastics enter their countries, and stop illegal practices.
Greenpeace East Asia plastics campaigner Liu Hua wants to see companies use less plastic packaging in the longer-term, but for now, South-East Asian governments should strengthen environmental controls to limit the spread of hazardous chemical waste and any negative impact on human health, he said.
To date, the world has produced more than eight billion tonnes of plastic, said Surendra Patawari Borad, a businessman who runs a recycling company in Belgium and the United States and chairs the plastics committee at the BIR.
Only 9% has been recycled, while just under 80% has been treated as waste – sent to landfill sites or dumped in the oceans.
As awareness rises over the dangers of allowing plastic waste to end up in the sea where it poisons fish and can enter the human food chain, recycling capacity will need to grow considerably worldwide. — Reuters


In the quest to remain young, many have turned to supplements, such as fish oil and vitamin B12, to stave off dementia or to simply remember where we put the car keys. And with population projections indicating an increase in Alzheimer's disease across the world, researchers are looking for ways to prevent cognitive decline and a possible health crisis. The Alzheimer's Association estimates that 16 million people could have the disease by 2050.
Nutritional epidemiologist Martha Clare Morris and her team at Chicago's Rush University Medical Center found that people who ate one to two servings of leafy green vegetables each day experienced fewer memory problems and cognitive decline, compared with people who rarely ate spinach. In fact, Morris estimates that veggie lovers who ate about 1.3 servings a day had brains that were roughly 11 years younger, compared with those who consumed few greens, like spinach or kale.
The study involved 960 people, all between 58 and 99 and without dementia. Everyone enrolled in the study was part of the Memory and Aging Project, which has been ongoing since 1979 at the Knight Alzheimer's Disease Research Center at Washington University. As part of their involvement in that project, participants completed questionnaires about their dietary habits over nearly five years. Questions included assessments of how often people consumed salad, spinach, kale, collards or other greens. Participants also took yearly thinking and memory skills tests to gauge cognitive ability.
Then researchers divided the subjects into groups depending on their consumption. Those who ate the most leafy greens averaged about 1.3 servings per day, while those who consumed the fewest greens averaged 0.1 servings a day. Scientists followed up with participants for 10 years and discovered that the rate of decline for those who ate the most greens was the equivalent to being 11 years younger in terms of brain age.
Of course, people who eat a lot of salad are likely to have other healthy behaviors that could influence memory, but these findings took into account other factors associated with cognition, like education, physical activity, alcohol consumption, obesity and depression
The study was published Wednesday in the journal Neurology.
But it’s not just leafy greens that could keep our memories alive. According to co-author Martha Morris, the nutrients found in these vegetables that may be responsible for the brain-boosting benefits are found in other food sources too.
“Some of the nutrients already have excellent scientific evidence, such as vitamin E, a potent antioxidant which has been demonstrated in carefully controlled animal models to protect against neuron loss, oxidative stress and inflammation, and the accumulation of amyloid plaques,” she told Newsweek in an email. “Other [qualities] of the nutrients are newly identified.”
Morris cites nitrate, vitamin K and kaempferol as potential contributors to brain health that warrant further examination.
Because this study was observational, the data provide no concrete evidence of a causal relationship between spinach and brain health. For now, the connection is only a correlation and does not extend to younger, nonwhite or Hispanic people. But adding a serving of spinach into your diet is never a bad idea.
“Daily consumption of leafy greens may be a simple and effective way to protect against loss in memory and other cognitive abilities,” Morris said.
Her research used half a cup of cooked spinach as a single serving, which would have about 3.35 milligrams of vitamin E, according to the Harvard School of Public Health. Other good sources of the nutrient are almonds and some oils, like sunflower and safflower.

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A salad a day keeps brains 11 YEARS younger, boosts memory and could help prevent dementia, new study suggests

Older adults who eat at least one serving of leafy greens or salad daily showed slower memory declines 

There was a difference of more than a decade of mental aging between those who ate salad and those that did not

The findings suggest that balanced diets are critical in preventing dementia in older people  

Eating greens or salad every day boosts our memory, according to new research.

 The findings suggest that eating about one serving per day of green, leafy vegetables may be linked to a slower rate of brain aging - the equivalent of keeping our brain 11 years younger.

The Rush University study found that people who ate at least one serving of green, leafy vegetables a day had a slower rate of decline on tests of memory and thinking skills than people who never or rarely ate such vegetables.

Salad eaters' brains functioned as though they were more than a decade younger than those of people who did not eat their greens, according to the research team.   

For older people, eating one salad a day was linked to slower mental decline in a new study 
For older people, eating one salad a day was linked to slower mental decline in a new study 
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Study author Professor Martha Clare Morris, of Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, said: 'Adding a daily serving of green, leafy vegetables to your diet may be a simple way to foster your brain health.

'Projections show sharp increases in the percentage of people with dementia as the oldest age groups continue to grow in number, so effective strategies to prevent dementia are critical,' she said. 

The study, published online by the journal Neurology, involved 960 people with an average age of 81 who did not have dementia and were followed for an average of 4.7 years.

The participants completed a questionnaire about how often they ate certain foods and had their thinking and memory skills tested yearly during that time.

The survey asked how often and how many servings they ate of three green, leafy vegetables: spinach, with a serving being a half cup of cooked spinach; kale, collards or greens, half cup cooked; and lettuce salad, with a serving of one cup raw.

The participants were divided into five equal groups based on how often they ate green, leafy vegetables.

The people in the top serving group ate an average of about 1.3 servings of greens per day. Those in the lowest serving group ate on average 0.1 servings per day.

Overall, the participants' scores on the thinking and memory tests declined over time at a rate of 0.08 standardized units per year.

Over 10 years of follow-up, the rate of decline for those who ate the most leafy greens was slower by 0.05 standardized units per year than the rate for those who ate the least leafy greens.

That is the difference of about 11 years worth of change, according to the study authors. 

They said the results remained valid after accounting for other factors that could affect brain health such as smoking, high blood pressure, obesity, education level and amount of physical and cognitive activities.

But Professor Morris noted that the study doesn't prove that eating green, leafy vegetables slows brain aging, it only shows an association.

She also warned that the study cannot rule out other possible reasons for the link.

Professor Morris added that because the study focused on older adults and the majority of participants were white, the results may not apply to younger adults and people of other races.

Wednesday, 17 January 2018


While smokers may be able to undo some of the damage to their lungs, there’s no debating that cigarettes cause long-term effects and increase cancer risk. However, new evidence indicates that certain foods could actually slow declining lung function both in smokers and nonsmokers, according to a release.


Researchers from John Hopkins University found that tomatoes and fruits, particularly apples, slowed how much people's lungs decline over the course of 10 years, indicating that these foods might share certain nutrients that boost health.
For the study, 650 adults underwent tests analyzing lung function. Then, the same test was performed 10 years later to determine how the participants' lungs aged over time. Questionnaires analyzing diets and nutrition were given to people from Germany, Norway and the United Kingdom. Additionally, subjects were given a spirometry test, which measures how much oxygen their lungs can take in.
The team discovered the magic number of tomatoes seemed to be two a day, while three servings of other fresh fruit slowed the decline, as compared to people who included less than one tomato or fewer than one serving of other fruit a day. Processed foods that included fruits and vegetables, like tomato sauce, did not appear to have any benefit in terms of lung health.

Even those who have never smoked benefited from eating copious amounts of tomatoes, according to the paper published in the European Respiratory Journal. And while this may not seem like a cause of concern for non-smokers, our lungs do lose vitality as we age.
"Lung function starts to decline at around age 30 at variable speed depending on the general and specific health of individuals,” said study co-author Garcia-Larsen in a statement. “Our study suggests that eating more fruits on a regular basis can help attenuate the decline as people age, and might even help repair damage caused by smoking.”
Poor lung function can cause a variety of concerns, as mild as getting winded easily during exercise, to an increased risk of stroke, according to a study from 2007.
In addition to keeping your lungs young, tomatoes have been linked to a decreased risk of prostate cancer and heart disease. And even better, processed tomatoes, have also been shown to carry these health benefits. Feel free to use that as an excuse to order the pasta.


Tomatoes may restore lung damage caused by smoking
 Rating: 4.4 - ‎12 votes
Dec 29, 2017 - A diet rich in tomatoes and other fruits may counteract the damage to lungs caused by smoking and slow down lung function decline among all adults.

Tomatoes help lungs | The Courier-Mail
Jun 4, 2007 - A study by scientists at the Hunter Medical Research Institute in NSW has proven that adding more antioxidants to the diet benefits lung health. In a world-first trial, the team fed a group of asthmatics a diet rich in lycopene, a key dietary antioxidant found mainly in tomatoes and tomatoproducts such as ...

Eating fresh tomatoes and apples keeps lungs young and repairs the ...
Dec 22, 2017 - EATING a diet rich in fresh tomatoes and apples keep lungs young and repairs the damage done by smoking, a study found. People who ate most portions of these fruit each day saw their ability to inhale and exhale air decline less as they aged. Tomatoes and apples were found to have positive effects on ...

A new study suggests eating tomatoes and apple could help heal ex ...
Dec 29, 2017 - More tomatoes translated to the healthiest lungs but all fruit helped. The handiest of the hand fruits, apples, were also a contender for favoured fruit. A daily diet of less than one tomato or fruit portion, by comparison, did not yield the same protection. For the full breathy benefit don't count on jars of apple or ...

Smokers, Heads Up: Eating Apples And Tomatoes Could Save Your ...
Dec 23, 2017 - This is exciting news, because even though non-smokers have healthier lungs than smokers, the lungs still decline overtime as people age. According to Garcia-Larsen, lung function begins to decline at age 30, depending of course on many health factors. The study indicates that eatingtomatoes and a ...

Apples, tomatoes could help ex-smokers repair their lungs -
Dec 21, 2017 - Doctors warn against the dangers of smoking, but a diet rich in apples and tomatoesmay be able to repair the damage to the lungs, a new report says.

These two foods could help ex-smokers' lungs heal - Chicago Tribune
New research suggests that diets high in tomatoes and apples could speed the healing of smoke-damaged lungs. (Getty Images). HealthDay. For smokers who've managed to quit, the ... Two experts in respiratory health said the findings are yet another reason to eat healthy. "This study fits into a growing body of research ...

Ex-smokers might want to eat more of these 2 foods - Futurity
Dec 21, 2017 - Ex-smokers with a diet high in tomatoes and fruit, especially apples, experience a slower decline in lung function as they age, a study suggests. The findings raise the possibility that nutrients in these foods might help restore lung damage caused by smoking. Researchers found that adults who on average ...

14 Foods for Healthy Lungs and Improved Breathing - Sunwarrior
A high fat diet has also been linked to a higher risk of developing lung cancer. On the other hand, eating fruits has been shown to lower these risks. Eating well goes hand in hand with exercise in keeping yourlungs clear, healthy, and not overburdened. Fresh, raw foods are the best way to get the enzymes, vitamins, ...

BBC News | HEALTH | Apples and tomatoes 'good for lungs'
May 22, 2001 - Scientists have found that if you want to have healthy lungs you should eat apples and tomatoes.