Friday, May 31, 2013

UA group will study Mediterranean cooking

By Alexis Blue
University Communications | May 23, 2013

Eighteen students are heading to Italy this summer to learn about the Mediterranean diet and its health benefits.
Students will spend three weeks in Verona, Italy.

UA students will get hands-on cooking experience, working with students and instructors at an Italian cooking school.

The Mediterranean diet, represented in this food pyramid, is rich in olive oil, fish, whole grains, and fresh fruits and vegetables.
TOP: Students will spend three weeks in Verona, Italy.
MIDDLE: UA students will get hands-on cooking experience, working with students and instructors at an Italian cooking school. (Photo by Gianni Martini)
BOTTOM: The Mediterranean diet, represented in this food pyramid, is rich in olive oil, fish, whole grains, and fresh fruits and vegetables.

Made-from-scratch pasta, fresh mozzarella, whole-grain bread and savory olive oil – those are the kinds of items you might expect to see on a menu in a fine Italian restaurant, but on a University of Arizona science class syllabus? You can find them there, too, if you're among the lucky students taking part in the UA's new Mediterranean Diet and Health study abroad program.

This week, 18 students will head to Verona, Italy as part of the inaugural program, which was created by Donato Romagnolo, professor in the department of nutritional sciences in the UA College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, to teach students about the health benefits of the Mediterranean diet. Students in the program have diverse academic backgrounds in disciplines including nutritional sciences, dietetics, public health, biology, physiology and more.

A native of Padova, Italy, Romagnolo wanted to create a study abroad program that would expose students to the traditional diet and lifestyle habits of his native country while emphasizing the link between nutrition and health.

"The evidence is there that the Mediterranean diet has protective effects against a number of chronic diseases, and that includes cardiovascular diseases, cancer, Alzheimer's and diabetes," said Romagnolo, who also is a professor of nutritional biology and a member of The University of Arizona Cancer Center and BIO5 Institute.
"In the U.S., we are dealing with a growing population of people who are overweight, about 68 percent, and obese, 34 percent, and the number of people with diabetes has been increasingly steadily since mid-'90s. These are nutrition-related diseases," he said.

The science-based Mediterranean Diet and Health program began this month on the UA campus, where students completed a week-and-a-half of classroom work in preparation for their trip abroad. They have been learning about the various components of the Mediterranean diet as well as the diet's role in disease prevention.

Lectures will continue in Verona, where students also will get hands-on experience making meals under the guidance of students and instructors from La Cucina di Casa, a nonprofit, traditional cooking school that emphasizes everyday cooking practices and blending of Mediterranean foods into easy-to-prepare dishes.

Rich in olive oil, fish, whole grains, and fresh fruits and vegetables, and low in refined sugars, the Mediterranean diet was recognized by UNESCO in 2010 as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Italy, Greece, Spain and Morocco.

During their three-week stay in Italy, students will get first-hand exposure to the Mediterranean diet and its components by visiting an olive oil processing plant, pasta factory, cheese factory, rice plantation and grape farm to learn how various foods are made, processed and stored.

"Students will have the opportunity to see how foods are prepared and actually participate," Romagnolo said.

The Mediterranean Pyramid is not just about food; it's also about lifestyle, Romagnolo notes. Behaviors like regular exercising, incorporating wine – which can have certain health benefits – in moderation with meals, and eating smaller portion sizes are key.

Skylar Tigert, a UA senior majoring in nutritional sciences, said she looks forward to learning cooking tips from the pros and hopes she will learn new culinary skills to help her improve her diet at home.

"I've been interested in learning about the Mediterranean diet for a long time, and its role in cancer prevention really intrigues me," Tigert said. "It's important that we learn as much as we can so we can bring it back to the states U.S. and to our friends and families to help impact their health."

Students will film their experiences and create personal documentaries on what they learned about diet and culture.

The six-credit Mediterranean Diet and Health program is open to UA students of all majors, as well as out-of-state students and non-students with some background in biological, biomedical or public health sciences.

"The idea behind the program is: What can we do as faculty to educate students about possible alternatives and solutions to some of the health problems we are facing?" Romagnolo said. "That's our mission, and we hope we can make a little dent in changing the way students and the general public relate to food for the prevention of chronic diseases such as obesity, diabetes and cancer."

Proof that Obamacare cuts Medicare costs

According to a front page article in the Friday, May 31 edition of The Arizona Republic, a Congressional Budget Office report shows that Medicare and Medicaid costs will drop by $618 billion over the next decade due to innovations adopted and accelerated by the 2010 healthcare law.

"Those changes include new payment plans, improved efficiency and a move toward consumer-driven plans," the Republic reported.  According to the story, which originally appeared in USA Today, the report showed that "costs for the two programs in 2012 were 5 percent less than projected in early 2010...."

To read the entire article, click on  To have the Republic delivered to your doorstep seven days a week, call 1-800-332-6733.  It's easily the best newspaper value in the Rim Country.

AZ woman freed from Mexican jail

The Republic |
Fri May 31, 2013 7:50 AM
NOGALES, Ariz. — A mother from Goodyear whose detention in a Mexico jail on suspicion of drug smuggling made international headlines, inspired a “Free Yanira” hashtag on Twitter and won the attention of politicians on both sides of the border was freed by a judge late Thursday after spending nine days in jail.

A small sedan carrying Yanira Maldonado and her family members could be seen crossing through the Nogales port of entry at 12:20 a.m. Friday morning.

Click to read the whole story.  Call 1-800-322-6733 for your subscription to The Arizona Republic, the best newspaper value in the Rim Country.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Security focus overshadows border benefits

Above: The border between Mexico and the U.S. (Photo by Jim Keyworth)
Below: Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Tucson, said “The State of the Border Report” shows possible border benefits, not just the negatives that are often highlighted. He is with Andrew Selee of the Wilson Center’s Mexico Institute at the release of the report. (Cronkite News Service photo by Nela Lichtscheidl)

Cronkite News Service 

WASHINGTON – Rep. Raul Grijalva, D- Tucson, knows there are benefits to be had from a U.S.-Mexico relationship, but fears the possibilities have been endangered by the hostility that has become part of the immigration debate.

“The border lines went from a unique American landscape of people, history, and land itself, to a threat … to something to be feared,” Grijalva said. “Making that transition has affected the border tremendously.”

His remarks came this week at the release of a report that highlighted the many economic benefits that Mexico provides neighboring states, including Arizona – benefits that the authors said most Americans do not realize.

“I think there’s a giant awareness gap (about) what kind of country Mexico is and what it means to have a good, or a better, relationship with Mexico,” said Erik Lee, one of the authors of “The State of the Border Report,” which was released Thursday.

“It’s the 12th-largest economy in the world,” said Lee, associate director of the North American Center for Transborder Studies at Arizona State University.

The report – prepared jointly by the center, the Woodrow Wilson Center and El Colegio de la Frontera Norte –  cited a 2007-2008 University of Arizona study that said Mexican visitors generated more than 30,000 jobs in Arizona that year, leading to more than $2.6 billion in revenue.

Despite benefits like that, Lee said policymakers’ overemphasis on national security is causing grave harm to our relationship with Mexico. That has been particularly true in Arizona, which has seen a hardening of the border in recent years.

“Arizona has really witnessed a buildup in border patrol,” Lee said. As a result, he said, the state “really has underperformed in terms of its trade with Mexico.”

The report said the U.S. Border Patrol now has more than 21,000 agents assigned to Southwest border sectors, a more than 500 percent increase in staffing since the early 1990s. The resulting spike in arrests, besides deterring illegal immigration, has also dissuaded the many migrant workers who would typically have come from Mexico, Lee said.

An improved relationship could be beneficial to the quality of life on both sides of the border, Lee said, but the ongoing immigration debate could make or break Arizona’s relationship with Mexico.

“We’re at a really historical moment,” Lee said.

Grijalva agreed, saying the benefits outlined in the report deserve “to be part of the discussions as we go forward.”

“These studies provide a groundwork … where we reintroduce the good aspects of what a border line should be,” he said.

“This (report) is trying to redefine, redirect, and refocus the conversation about the border lines … to talk about economics, to talk about opportunity, and what is possible in the border community,” Grijalva said.

Lee said that in addition to economic advantages – he said Arizona’s “two-way trade with Mexico is about $13 billion a year” – a solid cross-border business relationship would help border security.

But economics are only one part of the potential advantages, according to the report, which also looked at the sustainability and competitiveness issues that the border provides to the two countries.

Lee said the report will be given to policymakers as immigration talks continue and he hopes they look at the positives as they go forward instead of just focusing on security.

“On one hand I think Americans should know a lot more about Mexico than they do,” Lee said. “But on the other hand it’s a large, complex picture.”


Highlights of “The State of the Border Report,” a comprehensive look at the state of the Southwest border.

- The U.S. is Mexico’s top trading partner; Mexico is the United States’ No. 3 partner in terms of total trade.
- Mexicans are the second-largest group of visitors to the U.S. each year and account for the fourth-highest spending by a tourist group, at $8.7 billion, behind Canada, Japan, and the United Kingdom.
- Mexico is the No. 1 foreign destination for U.S. tourists.
- U.S. imports from Mexico contain an average of 40 percent U.S. content, and Mexican imports from the U.S. come over with a high level of Mexican content.
- In 2011, U.S.-Mexican trade in goods and services reached a half-trillion dollars.

Father's Day special: 2 for 1 on hardback books

During June the Library Friends of Payson Bookstore will be featuring a 2 for the price of one special on all hardback books.  Stop by and stock up on your father’s favorite author.
This is a great opportunity to purchase a Father’s Day gift that is sure to please Dad. While you’re there pick up a favorite VCR tape for 50 cents or browse the bargain table in the lobby.  All bargain table items will be on sale for 25 cents. 
Every penny spent in the Library Friends of Payson Bookstore is reinvested in the Payson Library to support the purchase of new material and many special programs.  Therefore, Bookstore customers not only benefit from one of the best values to be found in Payson, they also support an important civic institution.
Bookstore stock changes daily, so the wise shopper visits frequently.  The Bookstore is located to the right of the circulation desk just inside the Payson Public Library, 328 N. McLane Road.
For more information visit the Library Friends of Payson website at  

Social Security must be expanded, not cut

By Richard (RJ) Eskow 
Campaign for America’s Future / Op-Ed 
Published: Thursday 30 May 2013

Is our country losing the vision and values that gave rise to Social Security?

Social Security benefits lag far behind those of other developed countries. A new analysis of census data shows that elder poverty is much higher than we first realized. And yet the discussion in Washington is of cutting, not expanding, it. The number of impoverished seniors would rise sharply if that happened, or if the Medicare cuts currently under discussion became law.

The numbers say that Social Security should be increased, not cut, and most Americans agree.

But the Social Security cutters, financed by billions and aided by their network of powerful friends in government and the media, are appealing to the human heart. That’s a bitter irony for a policy prescription that even their own consciences must recognize is heartless.

We ♥ Social Security
Social Security, one of the most popular and reliable programs in the United States, is under concerted attack from corporate and Wall Street interests. Both the Republicans and President Obama have proposed to cut it.

The case against this ill-advised move has been made again and againPolls, charts, graphs and logic have been deployed in support of a simple message: Social Security must be expanded, not reduced.

So why – why, in the name of all that’s good and decent – aren’t we expanding Social Security? Why does the President’s proposed budget still include the “chained CPI,” which would raise taxes on the drowning middle class while cutting Social Security benefits?

There have been several proposals to expand Social Security. These proposals would also make it fiscally impregnable for the foreseeable future, as far as the actuarial eye can see. Why have they received so little press attention and political support?

Maybe it’s a matter of heart, of soul, of vision. The Social Security Cutters are putting all they’ve got – personal and emotional, as well as financial – the fight against Social Security. They’ve created a narrative which is false, but is simple and internally coherent. Their vision can be summed up with these words: We can’t afford it.

That’s not true. It’s time for a better vision, one which is more fiscally sound – and truer to our values as a society.

Motive and Opportunity
The Social Security Cutters are funded by hedge fund billionaires, major Wall Street bankers, and defense contractor CEOs. Their spokespeople include a handful of economists whose views get disproportionate attention, thanks to the money behind them, along with a hefty chunk of Democratic “centrists” whose policy prescriptions on Social Security are to the right of most Republicans. 

The funders’ motives are clear: Cutting Social Security would lead to more funds under Wall Street’s management.  It would also lead to less public pressure to tax ultra-wealthy individuals like themselves.

And policymakers who are still driven by macroeconomic misperception could then convince themselves that “government spending” (which Social Security isn’t, at least in the deficit-spending sense)  is no longer “out of control” (it’s not, but they think it is). That means they’d feel free to keep funneling hundreds of billions of dollars of public money to defense contractors every year.

Moral Certitude
As we’ve said, it’s a heartless mission: sacrificing the nation’s elderly and disabled for personal enrichment. And yet they’ve managed to convince politicians, the media – and apparently even themselves – that they’re acting for the greater good. People who know these players intimately insist it’s true: They genuinely believe that their anti-Social Security campaign is a noble venture.

That moral self-assurance has undoubtedly helped them recruit so many Democratic leaders. The list of Democratic political supporters begins with Bill Clinton, who is their tireless pitchman; Barack Obama, who has shown dogged determination in putting Social Security cuts on the table; and, most recently, outgoing Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.

(Republicans don’t have to be recruited. They’re already waiting in line to support the wealthy and powerful.)

Even Alan Simpson, the Republican senator turned anti-Social Security pit bull, clearly seems to believe that he’s fighting on the side of the angels. Granted, Simpson doesn’t appear to have a firm grasp of the policy specifics. (We’re being kind here.) And he doesn’t overemphasize the civility that one normally learns in the United States Senate. (Here, too.) But ya gotta give him this: Simpson clearly believes the nonsense he’s dishing out.

And while the Cutters prattle about “saving Social Security” – by destroying it, as a general once proposed for a Vietnamese village – poverty is rampant among America’s seniors.

Poor, Old America
The U.S. Census Bureau reevaluated its poverty figures using a “supplemental” analysis which included the cost of health care and other living expenses excluded from earlier studies. It found that 15 percent of people over 65 now live in poverty.

Article image
(It should be noted that the Social Security eligibility age is already being gradually raised to 67, which will add incrementally to these numbers with each passing year.) The Kaiser Foundation dug a little deeper into the census data and found that “the share of seniors living in poverty is higher in every state under the supplemental measure than under the official measure, and at least twice as high in 12 states.”

Compare and Contrast
Expanding Social Security isn’t a particularly generous idea. According to a pension database created by the Organization of Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD), the U.S. pension system only replaces 42.3 percent of a person’s working income. That’s significantly below the European average of 63.1 percent, or the overall OECD average of 60.8 percent.

Americans want a better Social Security system, like the ones most other developed countries have. It would be good for the economy if we had one. It would also help offset the injustices created by growing wealth inequality in this country.
But to get one we’ll need a vision.

Growth, Jobs, and Values 
Our task of reconstruction does not require the creation of new and strange values. It is rather the finding of the way once more to known, but some degree forgotten ideals and values.– Franklin D. Roosevelt

Social Security is based on simple moral principles: children who lose one or both parents shouldn’t be forced to into child labor; disabled people shouldn’t be condemned to poverty; and people should be able to retire with financial security after a full working life. For nearly 75 years it was considered inhumane and a violation of our core social values to suggest taking these economic rights away.

Only one or two decades ago it would have been considered alien to our values to suggest, as so many politicians and pundits do now, that it was more important to coddle wealthy “job creators” than to strive for the best interests of the elderly, disabled, and young.

Back then both parties understood a fundamental economic principle: that material support given to populations like these results in greater spending, economic growth, and more jobs. Social Security can and does, as Franklin Roosevelt put it, “take care of human needs and at the same time provide for the United States an economic structure of vastly greater soundness.”

A Bright, Shining Web
Our national vision seems to have lost the concept of mutual reliance which spurred growth and made us stronger. We’ve lost the vision of an interconnected web of common interests, a matrix of fellowship and trust spanning generations, ethnicities and income levels.

Sure, there were always those who condemned this web of interdependence and advocated a dog-eat-dog world. But their primitive views, once the exception, now seems more like the rule.

In mythology, “Indra’s Web” was an infinitely large net with a jewel placed at every interersection of its threads. Each jewel reflects all of the others, so that a change to one immediately affects all of the others.

Americans instinctively understand that a healthy society is like that web. We know in our hearts that an injury against any one of us affects us all – and that whenever each of us shines brighter, we all shine brighter.

Beyond the Arithmetic of Selfishness 

Like as the waves make towards the pebbled shore,So do our minutes hasten to their end; Each changing place with that which goes before …– William Shakespeare

The Cutters would turn generation against generation by employing a false and selfish arithmetic of what is contributed and what is received, shredding this ancient and beautiful web of mutual support with a vulgar and misapplied mathematics.  But, as Franklin Roosevelt noted:

"Security was attained in the early days by the interdependence of members of families upon each other and of families within a small community upon each other. The complexities of great communities and of organized industry make less real these simple means of security … Therefore we are compelled to employ the active interest of the Nation as a whole through government in order to ensure a greater security for each individual who composes it."

Nobody in a traditional family or community ever ran a profit/loss statement on feeding Grandpa, or asked if Grandma had offered as much food to her children as she was eating now in her elder years.

And we still understand a simple truth: That today’s Gen X-er or Millenial is tomorrow’s senior citizen or disabled person. 

A Call to Conscience – and Soul 
The complexities Roosevelt spoke about are even deeper now. Our families and communities aren’t just separated by geographic distance. Millions of Americans are bound into bank servitude by debt and driven from their communities by foreclosures and job searches.

Social Security benefits are calculated from lifetime earnings. Middle-class Americans have already seen their Social Security benefits reduced already as the result of wage stagnation. Millions of people have seen even greater cuts as the result of  short- or long-term unemployment.

And yet, when we need this bright shining web more then ever, there’s talking of cutting its threads instead. We need to strengthen our web of mutuality – for the sake of Social Security, but more importantly for the sake of our national soul. 

When they falsely claim that “we can’t afford to increase Social Security,” give them the right facts and figures. But also tell them that, for the sake of our future and our consciences, for the sake of our national vision, we can’t afford not to.

Author pic

ABOUT Richard (RJ) Eskow

Richard (RJ) Eskow is a well-known blogger and writer, a former Wall Street executive, an experienced consultant, and a former musician. He has experience in health insurance and economics, occupational health, benefits, risk management, finance, and information technology.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Frog Fire 100% contained

Final Frog Fire Update
Tonto National Forest:  100 % containment
6 miles east/northeast Young, Ariz.
May 28, 2013, 2015 hrs.
Fire Facts
Incident Commander:

Date reported: May 27, 2013 1518 hrs. 
Number of personnel: 100
34 08 40 x 110 48 44
6 miles east/northeast Young, Ariz.

Resources committed:
5 engines
1 water tender
Type 3 IC
2 Hot shot crews

Cause: Under investigation
1 helicopter
Air tanker/air attack

Size: 21.5 acres (improved mapping)
Structures lost:  1 under investigation (no details yet)
Gila County Sheriff’s office:  (928) 425-4449

Containment:  100%

Terrain: Rocky, steep

Fuels: Heavy mixed conifer
Demobilization:  Will begin tomorrow

Summary:  Crews engaged in mop-up activities today 50’ in from the containment line.  Tomorrow, crews will continue deeper into the containment area mopping up hot spots.  Demobilization of personnel will begin tomorrow.

The forest has no information about structures or personal residences.  Please contact the Gila County Sheriff’s Office in Payson:  928-474-2208.

For more information, please contact the Tonto National Forest at (602) 225-5200, or check online at  

New way to tell if PRMC is charging too much

ADHS Debuts AZ Hospital Compare

New tool empowers patients to
make better healthcare decisions

The Arizona Department of Health Services is launching AZ Hospital Compare, an online searchable database, to help consumers make educated decisions about their healthcare. The new website will allow patients and their families to explore the care, costs and charges of Arizona’s licensed hospitals.

For example, expectant mothers can look for a hospital that excels in uncomplicated newborn deliveries. Patients planning a knee replacement or shoulder surgery can learn how much they would be charged at one hospital versus another.  (In a recent Arizona Republic cover story, Payson Regional Medical Center was the most expensive in the state for joint replacement.)

The online tool will also help healthcare professionals, policy makers, and legislators to develop and implement important health policies and best practice guidelines that will increase the quality of health care, while reducing costs.

WHAT: AZ Hospital Compare Demonstration

WHEN: Monday, June 3, 11:00 a.m.

WHERE: State Public Health Lab Auditorium, 250 N. 17th Avenue, Phoenix

WHO: Arizona Department of Health Services’ staff

The hospital comparison reports are generated by MONAHRQ, a web development tool created by the Federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). The information available through MONAHRQ is based on discharge rates and AHRQ Quality Indicator (QI) measures derived from Arizona hospital discharge data.

The report also includes detailed quality statistics and the numbers of hospital visits for a given condition and the average charges associated with that hospital stay.

Congress's average IQ expected to rise in 2015

The Borowitz Report

May 29, 2013

Michelle Bachman will be leaving Congress in 2015. (photo: Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call)
Michelle Bachman will be leaving Congress in 2015. (photo: Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call)
WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)—The average I.Q. of a member of the House of Representatives is expected to rise sharply in 2015, experts said today.

The experts, who indicated that they were “cautiously optimistic” about the development, said that the gains were most likely to be made in the Midwest.

The expected rise in I.Q. could mean that the average congressperson would have a greater grasp of basic concepts in math and science, including the law of evolution, as well as addition and subtraction.

The last time a branch of the federal government experienced such a significant increase in average I.Q., experts said, was the executive branch in 2009.

Photograph by Alex Wong/Getty.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Frog Fire near Young causes evacuations

  Frog Fire on Tonto National Forest  
6 miles east/northeast Young, Ariz.
Fire Facts
Incident Commander:
Date reported: May 27, 2013
Number of personnel:
34 08 40 x 110 28 44
6 miles east/northeast Young, Ariz.
Resources committed:
5 engines
1 water tender
Type 3 IC
2 Hot shot crews
3 engines
1 dozer
Cause: Under investigation
1 helicopter
Air tanker/air attack
Size: 21.5 acres
Structures lost:  1 under investigation (no details yet)
Containment:  20 percent
Terrain: Rocky, steep
Fuels: Heavy mixed conifer
Precautionary evacuation:  Vail Ranch and Frog Pond subdivisions:  Gila County Sheriff’s Office.  This is a precautionary evacuation.
To report a wildfire, call 1-866-746-6516 or dial 911.

Time short to register for summer at GCC

cid:image001.jpg@01CE56D2.1D0F35A0Summer Session at Gila Community College begins Tuesday, May 28.

You may register for classes through May 31.

There is still room in most classes, including T’ai Chi, eBay, Buried Cities and Lost Tribes, English 101 and 102, as well as many others.

You may view the entire schedule at, or pick up a schedule at the campus at 201 N. Mud Springs Rd.